Thursday 18 June 2015 – Hua Hin, Thailand
Many of the old piers in Hua Hin (a former fishing village, according to Lonely Planet) have been converted to restaurants. I wandered to the end of one this morning to see the view. It has few apparent features and none of the stunning scenery and geology that make the south so stunning, but it does have a fine white sand beach and palm fringed waters (where the resorts and development have allowed them), making for a safe, relaxed atmosphere. There are restaurants and umbrellas & deck chairs along the beach and a lot of European tourists for whom this probably represents an exotic summer break.
Colourful fishing boats lay on the wet sand below the pier waiting for the tide. A shrine to fishermen stood on the rocky point between the piers, the Hilton resort and the beach, with a stunning red flowering tree (later identified by my Facebook mates as a poinciana) spreading out over the cove.
I walked up and down several times during the day, along both the beach and the main road. Apart from one large mall and some smaller shops plus the usual range of massage places, restaurants and bars, there seems little else to do or see in the town. Taxi touts list sites such as a war monument, a water park and a temple and Royal Palace, but the No.1 tourist attraction appears to be the railway station and its associated Royal Waiting Room pavilion. Both charming in their teak architectural way, but hardly major drawcards.
A striking number of Western men are to be seen with their Thai wives/girlfriends/companions. I only noticed one young Western man with his Thai boyfriend. Golf is apparently one of the main activities here; that and the seafood restaurants which apparently attract weekenders from Bangkok, which is only a couple of hours’ drive away.
During the evening I strolled to a second night market a few blocks to the south – less impressive than the first. Settled on a restaurant near the hotel that was only patronised by locals and had the spiciest curry I’ve ever had. Listed in the menu as a ‘minced shrimp with curry’, it had bits of shrimp with other veg – corn, Thai pea eggplant, mushrooms, shallots, beans – in a dark green, thin salty sauce heated with chillies but also with green peppercorns. Within moments my eyes were watering and my hiccups started & my nose ran. Delicious, it certainly dispensed any last vestiges of congestion from the head cold I had in Malaysia. The waitress did warn me it was spicy and for once the dish lived up to its prediction.
Funny, after eating about half of it, wondering if I could finish, the effects entirely wore off. I could have been eating tomato soup. I accompanied the dish with some crispy fried pork rib and some fried rice and a Chang beer. I fully expected to be up half the night dealing with the consequences, but at the time of writing, nothing dire has eventuated.