Welcome to Hua Hin…

Home to miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches, thousands of multi-coloured beach umbrellas and chaise lounges, hundreds of pretty, friendly, young Thai ladies just waiting to say hi and make your acquaintance, many, many trinket sellers and acres of brown, sagging European men with a few yards of bathing material covering their nether regions. Have these men no sense of pride – or even consideration for the small children they are marring for life? As Terry said, they have clearly thrown in the towel and now enjoy their beer and bratwurst with abandon.  What is in very short supply up and down the beach are people not yet available for even early retirement.

(Ed. note: I know many of you have been wondering what is going on – have we  been kidnapped by Myanmar terrorists and being held for ransom? Perhaps we have been waylaid by a couple of the lovely Thai women who frequent the bars around our hotel and they won’t let us go. Or maybe we are so caught up in kite-boarding, that we just don’t have time for you anymore. Happily, none of the above is true. Sadly it is because my computer died on Sunday and I haven’t been able to get it fixed. Hopefully that can be in Shanghai on Friday. We will blog using the ipad – but there will be no photos. I will do something about that when I get my ‘pooter  fixed.)

On the other hand, if you can’t let it all hang out in your eighties, what’s it all about anyway?

We’ve been feeling somewhat peevish about our accommodation here and in Chiang Mai, only because we spent a big buck on this tour and expected everything to be top notch.  Buyer beware!  We were definitely spoiled in Bangkok at the Shangri La, but Le Meridian in CM doesn’t make the cut.  A smallish room with a smaller bathroom, a closet whose sliding door also closed the bathroom–if you we didn’t give each other good warning, we could seriously hurt each other.  Here in Hua Hin, any money that has been spent renovating the Hilton has been put into the lobby, restaurants and pool area.  The rooms are a good size but old; ditto with the bathrooms.  I would guess that they were last update in the 70’s, judging by the “futuristic” taps in the shower.  We have a picture tube TV (who cares, we are not watching it anyway, but…) and hard beds, a shade above Jiaxing.  Our balcony has a view of the sea but is above the noisy A/C units so you can’t hear the ocean.  Just  a bit of whining because we didn’t get what we paid for, not because we’re spoiled brats!

Hua Hin is a beach town with golf near-by and very little else.  It’s a great location to end our trip as we will alternate golf with swimming in the ocean or pool and lounging around reading and relaxing.   The sad news is that because of the clientele, even the tiny family-run cafes and restaurants are reluctant to serve real Thai food, blanding everything down so that it doesn’t at all resemble the taste sensations that are Thai.  When we first arrived, we went to a pub near-by and ordered some seafood curry, “medium Thai” which means with about 10 hot chiles.  It arrived with 2 pieces of chile.  When we talked to the server, he went back to the kitchen and came back with some chilies in a little bowl–not the same thing at all.  Still, meals are really cheap.  Today at lunch, I had a really decent chef salad and Geoff had a burger–the first non-Thai food we’ve had in 2 weeks.   Not bad and hit the spot after a very hot game of golf.

Speaking of golf, we played at a military course today.  After waiting on several T’s, Geoff told me that TripAdvisor said that the military have priority and basically do whatever they want–play 5’s, take endless time, play through if they feel like it but won’t let you play through if you’re a twosome and they are not.  So I was somewhat surprised, then, on the 17th hole that he decided to get into it with them.  In my albeit limited experience, it is NOT the best idea to mess with the military in any country, never mind in one where the king is good and gawd help anyone who says anything to the contrary!  So there we are, waiting–AGAIN–for these four guys to get going and Geoff starts chirping, shaking his head, sneezing in the guy’s back-swing–all stuff that could set off the mildest golfer.  By this time, another group was waiting on our T-box–they joined us so now we were 5 and our pace slowed down so I didn’t have to worry about facing interrogation; when we arrived in the clubhouse, fortunately the group in front was gone. (Ed. note: Come on – it was the Thai army.)

It is true in Thailand that the king and the royal family are revered and also true that one mustn’t say anything to the contrary.  Tuk-tuk and cab drivers offer up their opinions unsolicited and invariably they say, “He is a very good king.”  All around the country are posted giant photos of the king at age 60 or so.  He is actually in his mid-80s and has spent the last 3 years of his life living in the hospital, suffering from respiratory disease.  The photos show him to be a man of the people–fishing, reading a newspaper, sunning with his wife–always looking kind, intelligent and thoughtful.  For every temple in the country, there are probably 20 or more giant photos of the king everywhere–along roadways, suspended from overpasses, in front of industrial parks and private businesses, out in the country along-side rice fields.  One is never very far away from these images, much like China was images of Chairman Mao in his day.

Although the weather is hot and dry, Thailand is polluted, as mentioned in a previous blog.  As we drove into town yesterday, we saw the black smoke rising from the rice fields and settle over the horizon.  We haven’t seen a blue sky for two weeks and it really does get tedious, not to say a bit worrisome.  What about that king and his health problems?  A disappointment, to be sure, but Thailand is still a great place to be.

(And it is also home to the Hilton which, in turn, is home to the world’s slowest and most confused bank of 4 elevators. It is a practice in the art of zen when you want one and we are only on floor 3.)

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