I’ve debated several times whether to actually give away the location of this next place we traveled to (are still are after a week, with no plans to jump up and leave just yet)… I honestly can’t believe it hasn’t been discovered more! While there are a handful of Europeans living here, foreigners are a very uncommon sight. Thai tourists and locals (of course) are the ruling majority. It’s just my kind of place to really feel like a part of the culture and life!
We bought tickets for the mini-bus to this gem of a place from Hua Hin, and though were told it would only be an hour wait for the bus to arrive, it turned into almost 2 before we even got on. And when we did get on, the bus was so full that literally 2 of the passengers had people sitting on their laps, all the seats were taken AND 3 people had to stand (rather uncomfortably by the looks of it) in the aisle of the bus. Essentially a bus equipped to seat 14 passengers had 19 PLUS our huge travel bags (which are about the size of a small human). Luckily within the hour or so however people started exiting the bus, so space opened up a tiny bit to at least allow everyone to have their own seat. I suspect that the bus was so crowded because of the upcoming Holiday of Songkran.
Arriving in Prachuap
Once we arrived, we set off on motorbike taxis to a place called Ban Thai Hut, where we were told had cheap accommodations. We settled on a tiny hut complete with a bed, bathroom, fan and TV (which we’ve yet to actually plug in or turn on) just a short walk across the street from the beach. The place is absolutely darling, and while very rustic (there are some parts of the room we fear to put too much weight on just in case the floor falls through) it has been suiting our needs quite well.
Mini-Hut for Buddha
Ban Thai Hut
Ban Thai Hut_2
Ban Thai Hut_3
Prachuap Khiri Khan is the name of this adorable town. It consists of 3 semi-circular bays separated by jutting hills and islands. Farthest to the North is the little Ao Noi bay then the Prachuap Khiri Khan bay and finally Ao Manao. Each location offers so many outdoor things to do that it just boggles my mind when the locals say tourists only stay here for a couple of days because “there isn’t much to do”. Seriously?? They have a Wat inside a cave in Ao Noi, beautiful beaches on all three bays, hikes to a Wat on the top of a hill in Prachuap, a hike to another tiny Wat at the top of another hill (Khao Lommuak) which gives the highest panoramic view of the entire area, plus snorkeling (I still have to check that out myself!) and within driving distance several day trips could be planned to surrounding National Parks! There is so much to do around here that when you add in days to just relax and beach, you would need at least a week to get it all done leisurely!
Now Those are Crabs!
But I digress… This place really is darling though! I would recommend it over and over but hope that even when it does get properly discovered, the integrity of the place as it currently is doesn’t get destroyed. The weather is always delightful (though admittedly quite hot), the beaches are never overcrowded, the beach water is deliciously warm and refreshing and there is a ridiculous amount of fun sea life to play with (hermit crabs, clams, sand dollars, etc). Seriously, what more could one ask for?
The next day, having risen at the rear-crack of morning (also known as 11 am) we bounded out for something to eat before hitting up the beach. Now, again, we had been so very starved of food selection while living in Sangkhlaburi, so food or eating or snacking or anything to do with any food topic seriously took up most of our consideration! I also wanted some coffee, so we found a place down the street, on the way to the beach, called The Coffee Club. They also served food of course!
En Route to Beach
En Route to Beach_2
En Route to Beach_3
En Route to Beach_4
Now, another thing about me… I never, I mean NEVER take pictures of my food. I’ve never understood it before… I understand plating can be quite well done and very picturesque, but in general have never understood why people take pictures of their food. However, on this occasion, after having looked at their menu and seeing that they had a grilled chicken sandwich that included AVOCADO (I seriously almost fainted when I saw that and then nearly cried!!!) I couldn’t help but take a picture of both the menu AND the food once it arrived. I mean, come on! It was even served on ciabatta bread!!! I again almost cried at seeing REAL bread again!! So yes, I’m now a photographer of food…
In any event, we spent the rest of that day lounging on the beach with some beers and I proceeded to get one of the worst burns I’ve had in a long time! Not just along my shoulders, but my stomach and high up on my thighs as well. It’s now been almost a week since that burn, and though I’ve been slathering myself with coconut oil and pure aloe vera, I’m still red and a bit itchy, lol! The day basically just passed on the beach (rough life I know) then we went off for a few happy hour cocktails on one of the beach bars along the pier. We sipped on several cocktails, talking away the hours when we were suddenly visited by some interesting guests on the roof of the next bar over.
Yes, three macaques decided to see what all the happy hour fuss was about! I wasn’t sure what to expect from them because they can be quite violent at times, but these three just seemed to keep to themselves, accepting bits of food they wanted from sharing people. Once dinner time came around, we opted for the Spanish Tapas restaurant It did not disappoint!! We ordered a liter of homemade sangria and had about 6 different dishes between us! It was quite a treat that neither of us had had in a long time. We were supposed to have left the next day but Jo heard that there was a Muay Thai fight the next night, so we decided to extend our stay for a night in order to catch it.
Hua Hin Beach
Hua Hin Beach_2
Hua Hin Beach_3
Hua Hin Beach_4
When we rose that next day, it seemed to just be a comedy of errors. Of course, despite my burns we still had to go to the beach to hang out and swim for a bit. We didn’t last that long though as the heat of the day felt twice as hot on my skin and as there wasn’t any shade to sit under, I could only bear it so long. From the brief beach time, we went off to scout where the fighting was to take place but when we got there, we found out they only had fights 2 nights a week (Thursdays and Saturdays- and we were on a Friday). Dejected by that, our next thought was to go get some food (again with the food, I know!! ;)). Jo had seen something on TripAdvisor about a mexican food place that got great reviews along Dechanuchit Alley, near Prapokkiao (street?). So off we went in search of that…
Hua Hin Beach_5
Hua Hin Beach_6
Hua Hin Beach_7
Another brick wall was hit as even though we were using the GPS app on TripAdvisor to find the place, it seemingly didn’t exist. However, the street where it was supposed to exist on was an absolute bustle of energy! There were restaurants lined one after another along this strip of road and though they were each already quite spacious, the street was being turned into an extension of the restaurants so people could sit in the street and other general shop owners were setting up for a street market!
Hua Hin Beach_8
Hua Hin Beach_9
Hua Hin Beach_10
At this point I was seriously kicking myself for not bringing my camera because it seriously was a sight to see! Hundreds of people walked about busily setting up their shops. I mean not a single person was simply hanging about (except us). Everyone had a job to do and there were even people who set up a little lemonade stand and walked up and down the road selling cups of lemonade to the workers. Jo and I got a coffee from a shop nearby Ko’s restaurant and simply watched the life around us.
Interestingly for us, a bar was even being set up on the street just next to where we sat! So of course, even though at this point neither of us had had any breakfast or lunch, we just HAD to get some cocktails once the bar opened up! As we sat on the street downing some beverages, a banner caught my eye several food stalls down. I went to get a closer look and (suspenseful music here) lo and behold it was an advertisement for a Muay Thai fighting match TONIGHT!! Yay!!! So essentially, had it not been for us wandering to find the non-existent Mexican food place, and for us to decide to hang out with coffee to watch the street wake up for nighttime activities, and for us to decide on having a few cocktails at the street bar, then I never would have seen the advert for the Muay Thai!! We took this as a very good sign that we were supposed to see a fight on this night!
Hua Hin Beach_11
Hua Hin Beach_12
Hua Hin Beach_13
After our several cocktails (and a free whisky shot) we stumbled our way to the site of the fight (the name escapes me now, go figure!) bought our tickets (800 baht each!!) and finally had some food at the Italian place next door. Though all the events of the day seemed to just line up in random ways so that we could see a Muay Thai fight, after having seen the 7 fights, I still call the day a comedy of errors. I say that because only about 3 of the 7 fights were actually worth watching. It was a disappointment and honestly we saw better fights over New Year’s in Sangkhlaburi than what we watched there. Oh well! And we weren’t the only ones who felt cheated as there was another couple in 7-11 (where we went after for more booze) who were talking about how lack-luster the fights were and how disappointed they were. I mean, come on, for 800 baht we were expecting some really good fights! Not seemingly mismatched, gloves on, not highly ranked matches! Oh well. Just goes to show not everything turns out as you’d like. 🙂
The bus ride to Hua Hin was mainly uneventful. I say that because I had gotten a wee bit tipsy before meeting Jo at the bus station and therefore don’t recall most of the trip. However, at one point between little naps, the inevitable sensation that always creeps up when one drinks started to kick in… Yes, I REALLY needed a bathroom!! I had heard that the trip was only a couple of hours, so I figured I would be ok… But just like all mini-bus journeys in Thailand: whatever time you are given for the trip, double it! However, given that, what’s also nice about the mini-buses is that they inevitably always take a bathroom break about halfway or just an hour shy of reaching the destination. Thank goodness for this!!
I seriously was starting to worry whether my poor bladder would hold up! I kept asking the driver “hong nam??” (room water literally) in hopes he would hear the absolute desperation in my voice and make a potential emergency stop just for me. “Ha nittie” (5 minutes) is all he kept saying as I kept praying that THIS time it really would be ‘ha nittie’… Sure enough we did (eventually) make a stop at a gas station for food, drinks and bathrooms (hooray!!!). Fully content (and about a quarter less body weight in water) we continued on the last little bit to the coast.
It’s amazing how much you miss something and don’t ever recall that you do until you are faced with it again… I speak of the ocean. We pulled up at a random junction near the clock tower (which is really a HUGE poster of the King with a teeny clock at the top) where the driver said to us “falangs” (foreigners) and pointed for us to get out. True to my style (and thankfully Jo’s too) we didn’t have any place planned to stay just yet. Jo used her phone to track down a potential place to stay and we headed off in the direction It showed, which was also in the direction of the water.
Peek of Water
Urination on a Tree
About 10 minutes later we hit Naret Damri Alley, a bustling tourist street full of every possible worldwide cuisine restaurants that you could possibly imagine. I mean they had German, French, Spanish Tapas, Italian, Norwegian, Swiss (seriously!!), Greek, American, Indian, Finnish, and more!! Having come from and lived in the small town of Sangkhlaburi where the most exciting thing was pad thai or fried rice, we just about fainted when we saw all these delicious food options!! Keeping ourselves in check (wiping the drool from our chins as we walked by each place) we first found a place to stay. Memory Guesthouse just down the street from Dechanuchit Alley on Naret Damri Alley was where we decided to settle for 400 baht a night. We paid for 2 nights, settled in and then headed out for some FOOD!! We opted for an Indian restaurant just across the street and dined as if we had never had food before!
At this point the sun had already set so going to the beach wasn’t an option as far as tanning was concerned. So instead we got a couple of beers and headed out just to scout where the beach actually was from us. First we went the wrong way down N.D. Alley to basically a dead-end, along the way checking out and continuously being shocked even more so by the array of differing cuisines available. We turned around and went the other way down N.D. Alley, past our guesthouse toward the Hilton. We reached what looked like another dead-end (a parking lot near what looked like a Chinese Temple of sorts) but continued on as I was determined that there HAD to be a beach nearby!
Luckily, just around the corner from the Chinese Temple, the land opened up and a vast beach lay ahead of us. The water was severely choppy and there was absolutely no way to swim in it, so we just dipped our toes in for a bit (gloriously warm water!!) then sat on the beach drinking and talking. We watched the moon rise, a fabulous red-orange glow coming over the horizon through bits of hazy clouds and eventually headed back for some rest.
I left Sangkhla with a vet volunteer who popped in the sanctuary during the last few weeks I was there. Bettina, from Denmark is seriously a star vet and reminded me quite a bit of Nyzil, the vet who worked at the sanctuary when I first arrived. She was amazing with the animals, the other volunteers and had a ridiculous amount of knowledge in her craft. Her calming aura during times of stress was unbelievable and inspirational!
Mon Side Street
Mon Side Temple_2
Mon Side Temple
I recall one particular time when we insisted she take the day off (she had been working without rest for quite some time and needed it). Only a few hours after she left to enjoy her day, a cat was brought in that had been bitten by a dog. At first glance I couldn’t see any immediate damage. But when I lifted the cat out of its carrier and a line of blood spurt out from its side, I knew this was more serious than it looked like. Now I’m not queasy about blood or guts or animal bodily functions, and I tend to stay calm where others panic… But when I saw that, I got a little panicked. It was evident that poor Bettina’s day off would be cut short.
Mon Side Worker
Monks Receiving Alms_5
Monks Receiving Alms_4
I hopped on the motorbike and started into town in search of her, luckily finding her only about 10 minutes later. As I pulled up, I could feel my sense of urgency creeping up. I almost ran her over with the bike trying to get to her and immediately started rattling away that there was a cat bitten by a dog, blood spurting, will need stitches, fluid building up in the belly, yada, yada. Her reaction? “Ok, not a problem. Let me just pay for this real quick and we will get going.” Her confidence immediately soothed me. Snapped me back into a state of calm that I had let go of before. We headed back, she took care of business and the cat is doing very well.
Monks Receiving Alms_3
Monks Receiving Alms_2
Monks Receiving Alms
Market LIVE Fish
In any event, Bettina had planned to go to a horse facility in Nepal and had plans to do so around the time I was planning to leave. Since our plans coincided nicely, we thought it would be great to leave together and spend a couple of days in Kanchanaburi before parting ways. Those few days spent with her were among some of the most relaxing I’d had in a long while. We walked to the Death Railway at night, which is beautifully lit up by changing colored lights (though unfortunately my camera takes crap photos at night!!), visited probably every coffee shop in town and dined on delicious food. Oddly, time seemed to just absolutely dissipate anytime we started talking. We would arrive at a coffee shop at 10am and the next thing we knew it was 3pm! We stayed up until 2am one night just talking, sharing experiences, things we want for ourselves, discussing politics and ideas, etc. I think in the 48 hours that we spent in Kanchanaburi, probably about 36 of them were spent talking, lol!! (555!!)
Funnily enough, the last night we were there, two volunteers from the sanctuary surprised us while we were hanging out for some dinner. They had two dogs that required more medical attention than they were able to give at the sanctuary (X-ray and major surgery for a dog hit by a car) so they brought them down to the vet in Kanchanaburi. Needless to say that night turned into a late one, at least for me! Bettina sadly was still feeling under the weather so didn’t join in drinks till 5, but as I thought it would be the last time seeing the other two volunteers (Jo & Oli) I couldn’t resist a few drinks.
The next day Bettina and I said our goodbyes and as she headed out I opted to stay in Kanchanaburi a couple more days so I could actually plan where and how I Was getting to my next destination. It was about a couple of days later that I got an email from Jo (who at this point was back in Sangkhla) saying she too was leaving the sanctuary and wondered if we could travel together for a couple weeks. Though I have traveled a lot, I’ve never really traveled with people. I’ve met people along the way and we’ve kept each others company for several days or just shy of a week, but I’ve never really traveled with people. I’ve always enjoyed traveling alone because of the fact that I never have to answer to anyone else: what do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do??… I hate those conversations!! But seeing as she and I got along well at the sanctuary, I thought why not? It would be nice to have some company for a couple of weeks. So a few days later we met at the bus station in Kanchanaburi and headed South to Hua Hin on the Thai bay coast.
Oh and I should probably state, the images in this section are kinda random- just several I found that I’ve taken from the Sangkhla area and didn’t fit in other posts:)