Travel Tales Home Page

Previous Page      Asian Experience Home Page      Next Page

  Hua Hin

November 7 continued ...


The train arrived in Hua Hin around noon.  From street side, the station in dark pink and cream colours, reminds us we are now in a tropical climate.
Like everyone else, we negotiated a price for a ride to our hotel and climbed into the “taxi” – a pickup truck with narrow benches running down each side and a plastic tarp-like canopy over top.
 
 
The Casa del Mare was pleasant.  A little more rustic than we had expected but one we would have no problem in recommending.  The pool looked inviting but we only had one night here and we wanted to get a good look as to what Hua Hin had to offer.
 
 
 
It didn’t take long to settle in and we were back in another “taxi” heading to the post office in town to buy stamps.  The post office was closed so we used it as our starting point for a walk around town.  There are a few streets dedicated to attracting tourist dollars.  These streets are lined with massage parlours, tailors, art galleries, jewellery stores and restaurants.  The roadway to the beach is lined with souvenir stalls selling all kinds of brick-a-brac and goo-gaws.  
 The beach is long and wide and fringed with bending palms.  There are lounge chairs shaded by umbrellas that people can rent by the day.  You can also rent horses for a gallop in the surf. 

Off shore a battleship stands at the ready to protect the royal family in their Hua Hin summer palace.
 
 
 

Before we got too hot and melted, we wanted to dip into the five star Sofitel Centara Grand Resort and Villas with rooms starting around $200 USD.

The guard at the gate questioned our entry.  “Are you guests here?” he asked.  “No,” we answered with Terry adding, “We are here to have a drink in the Elephant Bar.”  He looked us over and we guess concluded that we looked harmless enough to let in. 

The place was indeed beautiful.  Set within its French influenced architecture were antique cars and an antique tuk-tuk.  Soft Thai music floated throughout the open air lobby from a young man playing a classical xylophone-style instrument made of bamboo.  We peeked into the Elephant Bar – no one was there.  Perhaps it wasn’t open yet.  We strolled like guests through the grounds and down to the beach where wedding pictures were being taken.  The grounds were impeccable but there were other things to see in Hua Hin.  As the sun set we left the Sofitel grounds under a very loud chorus of birds finding their evening perch. 

 
 
 
 
 
We strolled along one of the tourist’s streets. 

Salespeople for tailors came out of their shop doors to solicit Terry.  Girls encouraged us to have massages while other’s praised the restaurants we passed and held up menus to view.   It was dark when we made our way to the docks.  Each evening the fish boats return and the day’s catch is unloaded and scurried off to the different restaurants, hotels and buyers for the retail market.  It was a hub of activity while other businesses were closing for the night.

 
Women crouched over big tubs of water cleaning squid for the market place.  One boat was unloading a variety of fish, some were being loaded directly into a box truck while a lady stood by and every so often would divert a box of her choice to the back of her pickup.  Another boat, finished with its unloading, kept the crew busy mending and storing the nets in readiness for another trip out into the Gulf of Thailand.    
  
 
 
 
 
  
For some the fishing was just beginning.  Shining over the edge of the pier and on some boats, were bright green lights to attract fish.  At just the right time, weighted nets were tossed into the lit water in hopes of a good catch. 

  
 
 
 

With all kinds of restaurants to choose from, we took a break from Asian cuisine and selected Italian; sitting on the restaurant's porch to enjoy the cooling air.  Over dinner we made plans for tomorrow.

Back at Casa del Mare, we took a stroll around the pool and looked into the massage area thinking that in these surroundings the massages must be more relaxing than the dig, jerks and yanks we experienced in Bangkok. 

 

NOVEMBER 8

We took the opportunity to sleep in.  Our train wasn’t leaving Hua Hin until 11:30pm so we had a long day ahead.  Checking out of our room at 11:00am, they allowed us to hang around and we used one of their breakfast tables to play Skip-Bo.

Leaving our bags at Casa del Mare, we took a “taxi” back into town and this time the post office was open. 

From there we weaved through the streets of town where the locals live, eat and do business, until we came out on a tourist street across from the Hilton. 

Finding an internet "cafe" we took time to email some journaling home and check up on email and news reports.

 
 
After listening to different sales pitches, we picked a massage shop and enjoyed a foot massage.  In fact, we enjoyed it so much we immediately booked in again for a neck and head massage  – very relaxing.

The Casa del Mare had been so kind to let us stay on and then keep our backpacks, we felt it was only right that we have dinner in their restaurant.  Afterwards, we took our bags and bid them goodbye and went back into town. 

A drink at a table overlooking a tourist avenue allowed us to wile away some time people watching.  It is unnerving how many couples we see in Thailand that are made up of a way-over-the-hill-older-white-guy and a young attractive Thai woman.   We followed that pastime by going to an internet café before taking another “taxi” to the train station. 
The overnight train was running about a half hour late, we were told.  A bench provided a place to play Skip-Bo while Ted (the teddy bear we travel with) sat atop Sherrie’s backpack and got looks and giggles from locals.  A train pulled in – not ours – and some locals carrying trays on their shoulders loaded with food in styrofoam boxes and open bowls of stew, called out their wares to the open windows of the train.  People looked out.  Some pointed to a bowl, it was passed up and money came down into the vendor’s hand.  One young person went onboard.  He may have been selling drinks.  When the station master came out of his room and rang the big brass bell hanging from a post on the platform three times, the young fellow made his last transaction and then headed for the door before the train left the station.

The train was running about a half hour late, we were told.  A bench provided a place to play Skip-Bo while Ted (the teddy bear we travel with) sat atop Sherrie’s backpack and got looks and giggles from locals.      
A train pulled in – not ours – and some locals carrying trays on their shoulders loaded with food in styrofoam boxes and open bowls of stew, called out their wares to the open windows of the train.  People looked out.  Some pointed to a bowl, it was passed up and money came down into the vendor’s hand.  One young person went onboard.  He may have been selling drinks.  When the station master came out of his room and rang the big brass bell hanging from a post on the platform three times, the young fellow made his last transaction and then headed for the door before the train left the station. 

A lady stood near us and watched our game of Skip-Bo.  When Terry won, Sherrie looked at her and smiled. “I see,” she said, “but do not understand.”  Through the next game she sat on the other bench which ran back to back with the one we were playing on.  Now she had a closer look and Sherrie gave her a running commentary on what she was doing and why.  Sherrie won and shared the celebration with the Thai lady.  She was forty-three and had two sons.  She is originally from Hua Hin but now lives and works in Bangkok .  She asked a lot about Vancouver and our family, so Sherrie pulled out the little photo album we travel with.  It is sometimes so much easier to show than tell.
A grandmother, or perhaps a great grandmother, was watching over a little two year old on the station platform.  The little fellow was adorable ... and cool; for he was only wearing a little long sleeved T-shirt ... that’s all.  She brought him over to have a closer look at Ted and went away with a gold balloon from our stash. 

While Sherrie continued her conversation with the Thai lady, waiting for her train to Bangkok , Terry struck up a conversation with some people – one from England , a girl from Scotland who will soon be moving to Calgary with her policeman husband and another from Koh Samui (our destination).  They had tried to get a sleeper compartment as we had, but the train had sold out.  They would be sitting up all night.

A signal sounded to announce another approaching train.  Again the platform came active with food vendors.  The three that Terry was talking to started to walk down the platform.  We followed.  The ticket man stopped us.  “Not your train,” he explained.  “Your train late.”   Another half hour was added to our wait time and we waved good bye to the others.  Ours was now expected in at 12:30am.

When it finally did arrive, we didn’t waste any time climbing into our bunks.  It would be an early wake up call.

 
click here to continue to November 9 and Koh Samui (via Surat Thani) ... 
     

Previous Page      Asian Experience Home Page      Next Page

Travel Tales Home Page