1/20/17 – 1/26/17
The flight out of Chiang Rai was early but it got us to Bangkok in plenty of time to find transportation south. We settled on Hua Hin for our beach experience in Thailand. We didn’t choose Hua Hin for its beautiful beach, picturesque landscape or crazy moon parties like many of the other beaches in Thailand. We chose it entirely for convenience and lack of flooding. South Thailand as of 1/15/17 had been experiencing some of the worst flooding in a decade. Both the train and the highways were closed and there have been conflicting weather forecasts as to whether or not more rain was in store. Therefore, we went to Hua Hin because it was easier to get to.
We’ve found that one way to reduce our spending has been to find the cheapest and most efficiently way to get from place to place. Sometimes that means rending a moto, hiring a taxi, using bicycles and mostly using bus for longer destinations. Travel guides and blogs usually have the best ways to get from A to B but nothing can beat a helpful person.
Guides and blogs from multiple sources had said you could grab a minivan from Victory Monument in Bangkok to Hua Hin, they leave every 30 minutes and cost 5 USD per person. We hopped on a dollar shuttle going from DMK airport to Victory Monument. This is where the fun began. Though most sources, including the Lonely Planet, said there were shuttle vans to Hua Hin, they weren’t around. Victory Monument is a major city round-a-bout that spiderwebs out into 5 main thoroughfares, which in turn continue expanding into side streets and alleys dotted with minivan shuttles. Each person we talked to pointed us in a new direction, most with an impatient shewing motion. This went on for nearly 2 hours, no one speaking English and fellow travelers looking just as lost in the chaos that came with a constant cycle of honking and a 4 lane round-a-bout filled with traffic. At the beginning of our trip,I would’ve been freaked out in this huge city – carrying our big packs and no idea of our next move. I probably would have seriously considered hiring a 3 hour taxi just to get the hell out of that square. But, cooler heads prevailed and after 2 coinciding answers from 2 different women in uniform, we jumped on the free 515 shuttle bus. Not sure where it was taking us, it went 45 minutes west of the city, which was in the right direction at least. It dropped us at the shuttle bus terminal of Bangkok. They no longer leave from Victory monument to Hua Hin but we found our ride, paid our 10 bucks and headed for the beach.
Since arriving in Thailand, the only place we’ve stayed longer than 2 nights was in Chiang Mai. Both of us are a little tired of bouncing around so we decided to make Hua Hin our home for a week. It wasn’t a crazy week or particularly exciting week but it was a very relaxing week. We spent 7 days walking on the beach, swimming in the ocean and eating some really good food.
Hua Hin seemed like a retired beach community. There was no shortage of over 60-year-old overweight guys in Speedos or heavy grannies rocking a 2 piece or in a few cases, going topless. The liveliest part of the beach was the kite surfing. On few days the weather was just right and there were dozens of kite surfers up and down the beach, playing in the surf and out quite a ways out into the ocean. There were usually Thais out on the beach offering horseback rides, the workers following close behind thier fare, quick to pick up any fresh horse apples.
Since the area was crawling with second home owners from all over Europe, the restaurants around the strip were a great variety. We got to enjoy some Irish, Italian, Indian, Greek and some Thai seafood. The Indian was especially good; we went back and gave it a few tries. Our last night we went out to a restaurant set out on a pier over the ocean,watched the sunset and had some really good seafood. I went with clams and chilis, McKayla got a seafood sizzler with all sorts of steamy seafood goodness.
Nightlife in Hua Hin focuses mostly on the walking street which consisted of about 80% bar/brothel combos. So most nights we would grab a few beers from the convenient store, write and play a few rounds of cribbage. We even splurged on a Guiness one night. It was the first dark beer I’d had in months and it was so tasty and so filling that I felt the strength of Guiness (just like the posters).
Due to an early morning dog fight, McKayla and I were awake early enough to check out the sunrise from the beach. Getting there before dark, our only company was one jogger, a monk and some staff setting up resort chairs parallel to the beach. We got a little exercise in and got to check out a really nice sunrise over the water. It was a great way to start the day, then I was ready for a nap.
The biggest downside to Hua Hin was the NFC Championship. The game was at 3:00 a.m but in a busier town, we had figured that we could find a rerun later in the day without issue. They tend to repeat playoff games on the local sports stations. We woke up with a strict “no phone” policy (no texts, no internet, no updates). Figuring the Irish bar might have American Football, we went for breakfast. By 11 am, both of us were antsy to know the score and most importantly, see the game without spoilers. It was decided that McKayla would very purposefully and very carefully search the internet to find the Thai cable network programming. We spoke quietly to one another about how best to find the right channel and the correct time. As we conversed privately, a loud dickhead Englishman yelled through his ugly mouthful of eggs and sausage, “Oh aye, the Packers got trounced, didn’t put up much of a fight really. 44-21.” Day ruined.