Hua Hin, Thailand

I turn 30 at the end of this year. I have been waiting for this moment since I was 14 and have always had at the back of my head that I would do something spectacular. Teenage me had dreams about quitting my adult job and life, showing a big middle finger to society and disappearing somewhere more exotic than India. Teenage me didn’t really know much about adult responsibilities and this evil thing called money.

However, teenage me is the reason I have quit many jobs and showed the middle finger to the world and gone somewhere more exotic than India. Adult me realised that in between two foreign escapes, there has to be at least one corporate stint. Someone has to replenish the treasure chest after all. But 30 will soon be here and in a bid to do something different/grand, I decided I indulge my itchy feet hopefully in a way that doesn’t break the bank. And instead of doing one long backpacking trip (don’t worry, that plan hasn’t been called off just yet), I will travel every now and then to add up to a grand 30th year.

I am not running around like a headless chicken though. I have a plan. I want to see 30 new places before my 30th – even if it means an area of Bangkok I haven’t yet visited. I also intend to document it here so that I can look back on it and say ‘Wow, I actually did those things!’. See, in many ways, I am still teenage me.

First trip on the list was to a coastal town in Thailand called Hua Hin. I found out that my Japanese retiree of a neighbour moved from Japan to Hua Hin because it has a reputation of being a resort city – complete with healing sea air, warm beaches and rainbow coloured cocktails with parasols on them. So far, we’ve seen virgin islands, scandalous party towns and a metropolitan, sky-scraper filled locations. Hua Hin had a completely different vibe.

We had an extended weekend and most of what we know about the place, we learnt when we were there. We decided to stay at a garden resort some distance from the city and it was a choice we really enjoyed. Hua Hin has a very laid back atmosphere and all around us we could see big houses and older people. We found out that it was converted from being a quiet fishing village to a relaxing seaside resort thanks to the patronage of the Thai royal family who used Hua Hin as a getaway from Bangkok. The current king of Thailand lives there now and I can see why.

When your introduction runs to 500 words, you know it’s time to turn to pictures and let them do the talking! :) Having quickly found out that taxis were a rip off, we decided to hire a bike and went exploring.

Hua Hin

Welcome to Hua Hin

 

Garden Resort

Our accommodation – a garden resort!

 

Pool at Garden Resort

The inviting pool at the Garden Resort (aka, sun bathing and deck chair reading station)

 

Hua Hin Beach

Hua Hin Beach. Word to the wise, it is a long beautiful walkable beach. We decided to walk all the way to Cicada Night Market. However, after dark, there are no lights. You have to rely on the moon and stars (we got lucky). Also, the beach is riddled with Jelly Fish blobs. We careful if you choose to do what we did.

 

Cicada Night Market

Cicada Night Market – There was a free jazz concert on the occasion of the King’s Birthday.

 

Performance at Floating Market Hua Hin

Performance at Floating Market Hua Hin

 

Hua Hin Floating Market (2)

Hua Hin Floating Market

 

Goats at Floating Market

I ain’t afraid of no goats (at the floating market!)

Fish and Geese at Hua Hin Floating Market

Some friendly (aka scary) Geese and koi at the Hua Hin Floating Market

 

Hua Hin Postboxes

Old fashioned letter boxes at Hua Hin Floating Markets. They are still functional.

 

Huay Mongol Temple

After a long and scary ride down the highway, we reached the impressive Huay Mongol Temple. Absolutely magnificent and a bit terrifying.

 

Gold Leaf Offerings at Huay Mongol Temple

We observed an interesting ritual. People purchased gold leaves. Made a wish and then pasted it on the statue.

 

Huay Mongol Temple Sign

Funny sign at the Huay Mongol Temple

 

Huay Mongkol Temple

At the exit of the Huay Mongkol Temple

 

Baan Sillapin Artists Village

On the way back, found an interesting Artists Village with working artists. It was such a peaceful place.

 

Hut at Baan Sillapin Artists Village

One of the huts at the Baan Sillapin Artists Village

 

Sculpture at Baan Sillapin Artists Village

My favourite sculpture at the Baan Sillapin Artists Village in Hua Hin

 

Hiking at Hua Hin

We also saw a little hill that we climbed without really knowing where we were going. There was an arrow pointed down this trail saying ‘View Point’. We had to explore.

 

Hua Hin Views (4)

Our first view at the view point.

 

Hua Hin Views (5)

When we reached the top, we saw we weren’t alone. Someone was already there enjoying the view. She made a light call when she saw us.

 

Hua Hin Views (3)

We had some return chatter from the woods on the left. Within 5 minutes, the hill was full of monkeys from different tribes. We were terrified and exhilarated at the same time. Since there was no obvious escape route, we made like trees, put our phones away and enjoyed the views. Woods on one side, city and sea on the other!

 

Hua Hin Views (1)

The city and sea views. You’ll be happy to hear we made it back alive. Only to find out that you can buy a bucket of food for the monkeys and feed them. We also found out that there were 7 more view points which included ledges on top of a cliff. We visited all of them.

 

Hua Hin Railway Station (2)

The old Hua Hin Railway Station is truly a must-visit . It is the same as it has been since it was first erected.

 

Hua Hin Railway Station (3)

The ticket booth at the Hua Hin Railway Station

 

Hua Hin Railway Station (5)

A model train at the Hua Hin Railway Station

Hua Hin Railway Station (1)

The waiting room at the Hua Hin Railway Station

Hua Hin Railway Station (4)

You can only travel two ways on this track

 

Khao Takiab Beach

Our last night on the Khao Takiab Beach at Hua Hin. That hill you see is called Monkey Hill by the locals.


And it’s only 2.5 hours away on a bus!

A Weather Update

A Weather Update

It’s always interesting to see how people deal with change. With the weather being what it is currently, everyone’s turning from shorts and skirts to jeans and thick jackets. The street dogs are also sporting a certain fall-winter collection. Kind … Continue reading

The Bangkok Freeze

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View from my bedroom

I never thought I could feel so cold in Thailand. I am used to drowning in puddles of my own sweat in between the short distance from my condo to the doors of the BTS. In fact, when I came back from a colder Christmas at home, I stowed away the only warm jacket I had. Perks of living in a tropical country.

And now?

I am regretting putting it away where I can’t reach it (I am vertically challenged). There has been a 20 degree drop in temperature over the course of the day and the cold, cold wind is leaving me having flashbacks of my life so far.

Bangkok Skyline Freezing

View from my office

85 people so far have died from the cold in Taiwan. Vietnam has seen snow. There are icicles growing from every lamppost in Hong Kong and Bangkok with it’s usual 36 degree weather is now struggling under fur coats larger than the person wearing them.

Apparently there is a cold wave flowing down from Siberia to parts of the tropics whose idea of ‘winter’ is wearing shorts on a beach while sipping sunset coloured cocktails. On the plus side, you get to see some really fugly winter jackets (clearly no one knows how to deal with a different temperature here).

For those of you who say that climate change is a made up thing – my thick scarf says hi.

 

Masala Chai and Misty Mountains

Chai Wala

I had a bizarre dream last night. It started of as a stress dream about work. I was sent out on an errand. While wandering the streets, I saw an old Caucasian man sipping a cup of chai (the elixir of life). I felt a sudden and unconquerable urge to buy myself a cuppa. I asked him where it was. He pointed me to a scene that made my chest constrict and my eyes tear up.

Unfortunately, I had to get to work so I had to peel my eyes off, wipe off my drool and slowly walk away. While attending to boring work details, I suddenly hit upon a thought that work didn’t really care about me, so why should I care about them? It was an idea put into my head thanks to a lovely cup of chai. And so I left work and went in search of the chai wallah.

I couldn’t find him.

Depressed Gif

Someone bumped into me and I found myself holding a key to a dilapidated old staircase. I decided I might as well climb it and see what was above. After a long “I’m going to die”climb, I reached the top. Opened the creaky door at the end of the claustrophobia inducing tunnel.

What I saw next blew my mind. Instead of blue sky, the earth was filled with green, misty mountains and rivers. So when I looked up, I could see mountains instead of stars and the sky was where the rivers were supposed to flow. I was on a tiny ledge on a cliff. It had a tiny wall around it to stop people from accidentally falling off, I guess.

You might want to turn this image upside down to see it in its original form

You might want to turn this image upside down to see it in its original form

And there on the corner of the ledge was the hot kettle of masala chai.

I wonder what the universe is trying to tell me.

Thai Spirit Houses

No I don’t mean bars or breweries although there are plenty of both here. While it is tempting to hit one to deal with the stresses of everyday corporate life (CORPORATES ARE EVIL!), I am talking more about a little cultural phenomenon I almost overlooked. It is so easy in the daily grind to forget that I am actually living in a foreign country and while I have moved here for work, 90% of the appeal of moving to Bangkok was the opportunity to travel and explore more of a culture that is alien to me.

One of the little discoveries are Thai Spirit Houses. Every building – house, mall, giant condo, market – has a miniature house-like structure that is draped in flowers and surrounded by incense. You will know these to be Spirit Houses when you see a couple of fruits and opened bottles of cola with straws lain in front of the mini building. Inside the building, you will sometimes spot statuettes, figurines of humans, dancers and gods. I just assumed they were little external prayer houses.

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Curiosity getting the better of me, I soon found out that Spirit houses aren’t Buddhist tradition as I originally thought. The practice goes back to pre-Buddhist times when people believed that all land is occupied by spirits of our ancestors. In encroaching their land and building your own structures, you are rendering them homeless and as such, are probably bringing bad luck to yourself.

To counter this, everyone builds a miniature home for the spirits in the corner of the property so that the Spirits can continue to live on the land but also have proper shelter to spend their days in comfort. The house is built on a prominent spot and a lot of people build it so that the shadow of whatever structure would soon occupy the land will not fall on the Spirit house. In addition to this, people leave the spirits food offerings. If the cola bottles are anything to go by, the Spirits seem to have an affinity for Strawberry Fanta!

When the room land-mates of the Spirit House decide to build a new mini-house, a colourful ceremony is conducted so that the Spirits may travel to the new house peacefully. At the end of the ceremony, the old house is discarded near a temple.

There is just something about this simple tradition that has really captured my imagination. If I ever settle down in one place and own a house someday, I might have a Spirit House of my own. Would you?