The Last Stop: Hua Hin

by David on December 1, 2009

Nov 21-pp-kl-tr-hh 033 (640x480)

The train ride from Trang was fairly awful. Once again I was stuck with the overhead bunk, but I wasn’t worried because the 12-hour ride to Chiang Mai was rather painless.

I was concerned though, about the inconvenient arrival time of 3:35am. Almost everyone on the train was headed to Bangkok, and I was only headed three-quarters of the way, to Hua Hin. So I knew I’d have to rouse myself by 3:30 and jump off in the dead of night when we arrived at Hua Hin. Then I’d be stuck at the train station with nowhere to go for a few hours. Thai trains are reliably late, so I figured I’d probably get there at 4:30, leaving only two hours of sitting in the well-lit train station before the sun came up and I could explore the waking town.

Seats in second class face each other in pairs, so you’re pretty much forced to meet at least one person. My partner was an old Thai man, who seemed disappointed that he was sitting across from the only person on the train who couldn’t speak Thai. Out of courtesy, or perhaps disgust, he vacated his seat while I ate my overpriced train dinner (a not-bad chicken cashew), and a giggly Thai teenager took his place and stared at me.

After a few minutes of snickering at me like like I was wearing a clown nose, he leaned in, pointed to my chest and said “White,” and exploded into giggles again.

I said “yes.”

He spoke some Thai to me slowly, and eventually I gathered he wanted to know where I was from. I said “Canada,” which he didn’t recognize. He leaned in again and said “U…S…A.” I tried to tell him no, but he kept calling me “U.S.A.” Eventually he left, the conductor converted the seats to bunks, and the old man gladly disappeared into his lower berth.

The tracks on the southern line must be about a hundred years old, because it was an extremely rough ride. My bunk was adjacent to the exterior door, and it sounded like the train was perpetually crashing, all the way to Hua Hin. I was in and out of sleep, never for more than a few minutes, and eventually it was 3:30, a few minutes from the earliest possible arrival time.

Everyone else was asleep, so I knew there wouldn’t be any staff to tell me when we were in Hua Hin, so I stood between the cars to watch for city lights (upper bunks don’t have windows, and the train stops often.)

As we pulled into a tiny station at around 3:40, I noticed a man in the next car, near panic, trying to get the locked door open at the far side of his car. I figured he was going to Hua Hin too. Dragging a suitcase and golf clubs (Hua Hin is a golf destination for Thais), he raced to the door near me and I opened it for him.

The station turned out not to be Hua Hin at all, so the two of us stood in silence in a dark room the size of a bathtub, for a long hour before we got to Hua Hin and jumped out.

I was dead tired, too tired to read, and sunrise was almost two hours away. Somehow the time passed and I set out into the long shadows of the morning to explore my newest home.

I liked it right away. Lots of shops, a comfortable amount of western influence, but still mostly Thai.

Early morning in a sleeping Hua Hin

Early morning in a sleeping Hua Hin

The best in town!

The best in town!

And the award for "Grossest band name" goes to...

And the award for "Grossest band name" goes to...

Hua Hin is very much geared towards retiree-age European expatriates. There are more European restaurants than Thai, and they’re correspondingly more expensive. Still, they are loaded every night with baby-boomer-and-older couples from Germany, France, Holland and the UK.

After Trang is was a rather comfortable place to stay, so I decided to spend all but one of my remaining Thailand nights there. I don’t quite remember how I spent my days. I seem to remember looking for items I needed (deodorant, razors, etc) and making arrangements for New Zealand, but after all that errand-running I don’t feel particularly organized.

Every night I took a trip to the night market, for my banana roti with chocolate sauce and sometimes some meat on a stick.

All in all it was a pleasant, easy last stop.

The night market. For all your cheap DVD and meat-on-a-stick needs.

The night market. For all your cheap DVD and meat-on-a-stick needs.

The banana-chocolate roti, my true love.

The banana-chocolate roti, my true love.

One Night in Bangkok

On the eve of my flight to New Zealand, I took a short busride back to Bangkok and checked into the same guesthouse I’d stayed in before. I managed to get a hold of a Winnipeg couple (now living near Bangkok) who wasn’t able to meet up with me when I arrived. We went for dinner and then drinks on a rooftop bar on Khao San Road.

The place was packed with gap-year fa rang, and drinks were relatively expensive, but it had live music and it was easy to have a good time. Two acoustic guitarists belted out western favorites to the mostly-UK crowd (you should have heard them singing during Don’t Look Back in Anger.)

A random Khao San character.

A typical Khao San character.

I wanted to take this contraption to the airport, but it didn't appear expressway-worthy

I wanted to take this contraption to the airport, but it didn't appear expressway-worthy

We had a great time, bid each other goodbye, and I went back to my tiny room. In the morning I had one last glorious Thai stuffed omelette, and caught a taxi to the airport.

The Land of the Long White Cloud

The flight was rather uneventful (and sleepless) until our descent into the Auckland area. I had the aisle seat, an English girl had the window seat, and the middle seat was mercifully vacant, so I could see New Zealand as we approached.

When the plane banked to my side, it brought my first glimpse of the green country into view. Emerald hills and islands, coral blue seas, stray white puffs of cloud in an otherwise clear sky. I beamed inside. I’m an inexperienced traveler, a poor planner, and a relatively timid soul, and somehow my hazy, ad hoc plans actually delivered me.

{ 7 comments }

Twan December 2, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Touchdown, what a great journey through Tai!

Brenda December 2, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Gosh, that banana thing looks delicious!

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) December 2, 2009 at 5:53 pm

I want a Cat Massage~ claws retracted I hope. Those streets are so clean! Your roti looks like a heart attack waiting to happen ~:-)

Preparation in new situations is a little difficult yes? Just, don’t wear those thongs (flip flops) unless your going for a swim, shower or a store. Now your prepared for adventure! (oh, hat and water too btw ~:-)

Lisis December 3, 2009 at 6:28 pm

So… do they massage your cat, or does their cat massage you? Either way, it’s probably a pretty good deal and would make for some interesting pictures.

BTW, I LOOOOOVE that first picture, at the top. That may have to become my wallpaper. :)

Angelika December 31, 2009 at 9:03 pm

… hehe I hope you don’t mind I saved the Cat Massage (ref. you) – can’t stop smiling wildly … with a whiff of the banana accompanying it. Hmmm very enjoyable read too.
cheerio, Angelika

Jim Jones January 13, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Hi, I travel to Thailand every six months and tour all around. I always spend time in Hua Hin which is my favorite place, coming in second is Ao Nang in Krabi. I too have arrive at “silly” o’clock so I walk down into town (5 mins) then go to the 7/11 and buy a coffee and a hotdog then go sit at the temple (your first pic) and have my breakfast whilst waiting for the sun to shine. The pictures all remind me of my next trip soon, thank you.

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