Monday, 18 February 2008

Hua Hin. A Settled Life. Thailand The Fabled Country

The morning after our arrival in Hua Hin, after we had changed our hotel and moved in Jing's Guest house, we changed for the beach. At the very entrance is a hair saloon and massage parlor, not with girls in hot pants and closed doors, but a legitimate place where you can have body massage, foot massage and a hair cut. Outside, the street is full of bars and food stalls and shops. Let me describe below the street scene.

Outside on the left is a Chinese laundry (naturally) where we left our dirty laundry. All the women working bowed to us and we bowed back. Everybody smiling. You turn right and first is a tailor's shop where an old woman sits, stitching clothes the whole day. Also Chinese and very dignified and does not speak English. In front are three bars where young girls sit the whole day. In the evening when the business starts, there are more. Every body says "Good morning" "How are you"?. As if we had been living in the street for a year or so. Next is an art gallery, a shop selling canvas paintings really. The painter sits on a small stool, starts with an empty canvas in the morning and by the time we return in the late afternoon, he has almost painted a large canvas with an eye catching scene or already finished it and gone and left the canvas to dry. I have put some of his paintings on my Photo Gallery. Then a few food shops, where the girls every morning put two or three heads of pigs on a tray, some food offerings and flowers and incense, and are some times worshipping as we pass. Near the end of the street which joins the main road, on the left hand side is a pizza restaurant, in front an English pub with billboards announcing english football matches. At the top is a tailoring shop with a Nepali young man, greeting every body who passes by, saying hello before you even reach him, as if staking his claim on you. "Where are you from?" he asks and tries to shake your hand and tries to touch the woman if it is a couple. If you say "Denmark" then the man perks up and starts in Danish, if you say you are German then the sales pitch is in German. This is the same all over Hua Hin. "Same Same" as the Thai say.

We come out on the main road and turn right, pass the Hilton and stop at a bank, take out Bht.200 from ATM cash point and progress to the end of the road, turn left and after walking 200 hundred meters, reach the beach. Hua Hin beach is good four kilometers long with white sand. The beach is not crowded at any time of the day, although where the beach bars are, beach chairs are full. Fat tourists, women mostly, lying on the sand or or chairs getting open air Thai massage for Bht.200 for less (if you bargain). A luxury so cheap.

The water is warm, the sand is warm and horses with riders running, strolling, trotting, walking and sometime galloping from one end of the beach to the other. Business is brisk. The sea in Hua Hin is not turquoise or moss green or dark blue as it is in the islands, it is dusty and Grey. Not a single sail boat, a ship or a tanker on the horizon. Some days the wind picks up and within a few minutes the beach is empty.

Hua Hin is a homely city, people are friendly and every where you go, you have a feeling of a well received visitor. A large number of expats live there and English, German and Scandinavian real estate promoters have developed properties there. The prices are still relatively modest but it is question of time when there will not be much difference in prices in Europe and Thailand.

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