Last Days in Hua Hin, Visiting the Beach and Saying Goodbye

This has been a bit long in the making, I’ve had a few personal issues which led to me sort of shutting down and panicking for a brief moment.. Now I’m back on form, thought I’d write about my trip on a bike down to Sam Roi Yot beach.

The day after arriving to Peter and Dtor’s and realising that it’s quite far out from the centre of Hua Hin, decided to hire a bike for the next two days. Peter recommended a good rental place, and once again I was free to go where I pleased.

The first day all I really did was get to know the surroundings – especially my way back and forth from Peter and Dtor’s, and catching up on blogging at ‘The Shed‘ guest house with a plethora of shakes. For those following my Facebook, this was the first time I also got stopped by the traffic cops for my non-Thai appearance and asked for my licence:

Loud whistling
“Oh, I didn’t think I needed a licence to drive this”
“License at home?”
“No license”
“Over there please” “What happen to nose?”
“Oh this? It was sunburn”

Two more traffic cops sat behind a desk, both of whom didn’t speak English asked for my passport via the English speaking traffic cop.

“Where you go”
Told them Peter’s village name
“When you leave?”
“A few days I think”
“You from England?”
“Yes, London”
“Ah Chelsea!”
“Yes but I’m an Arsenal fan”
“Not the same since Robin Van Persie left”
“Ha!” “So you support Chelsea?”
“No, Man Utd”

Whereupon I was issued a 200 Baht fine, they were remarkably pleasant I must add, given a slip of paper, and asked politely to go on my way.

“But I still don’t have a license, can I drive the bike?”
“Yes, 24 hours with ticket”
“Thank you, I’m so very sorry I really didn’t know you need a license”
“It okay, okay, you like Thai girls?”
“Yeah but that’s not why I’m here”
“Oh you like men?”
“Ha, no”
Laughter from all the cops
“Okay, good luck, happy new year, bye”

Straight to ‘The Shed’ again to Google license necessity for Thailand! Turns out they were right, so I guess I was just unlucky to get stopped, you do need a license but no-one ever asks for it when you hire a bike – oh, and as a side note, you should never hand your passport out – take a photocopy and give it to the rental place – if they don’t accept it then go to another.. If you’re stopped and you don’t have a passport then you could get in big trouble.

And, as Dtor said when I told her, it’s cheaper than a taxi fare! Ha, so true.. I guess at the end of the day it’s gonna happen, and worse will befall you if you get angry about it or with them, so smile, say sorry, go about your day.

After finishing up the blogs it was around time to head home before it got dark. Driving around is dodgy enough in the day, I’m a bit like my mum when it comes to driving in the dark, forget it! If you add my virgin driving skills together with insane drivers on Thai roads, and the only protection a styrofoam helmet, I’d rather not risk it.

Peter suggested that we go back into town, that he was going to drive us in, he’d switch the car for the bike, and drive home on it, then I could see the night market and check out Boots the chemist! Ha, 5,400 miles away from home and there’s a bloody Boots here! Then I could head over to the shop for about 10 to 10 and get a lift back with Dtor after she closed the shop. Peter also suggested that I could stay another night, which I gladly accepted, and we headed into Hua Hin.

I didn’t go to the night market, I was set on doing the last blog I’d photographed for, all about the Family Tree and its beautiful products. So, after visiting Boots, getting some Tylenol, Ibruprofen and some back ache pads – headed back to ‘The Shed’ and sat and blogged (and got bitten by mozzies all to hell).

Finally finished it at 9:30, so sat and enjoyed life passing by, and a very generous glass of Merlot from the Mancunian owner, then headed back to the shop just 5 minutes away.

When I got there, supposed to be closing at 10, a pair of Chinese girls were racking up the total by buying lots of the beautiful soaps and lotions from the Bangkok women’s group. However, they were after a huge discount – and getting quite stressy when they weren’t offered it – fair enough haggling is bound to happen, but these girls were asking for more than it was profitable for the shop to let them go at.. You have to make more than you buy the item for and I saw for a moment, just how calm and balanced Dtor is! I’d have straight kicked them out of the shop.. and I dare them to try that to an Arabian merchant haha! They’d get laughed out of the shop.

But, then a really nice pair of ladies walked in, one from Sweden, one from Denmark, they’d become very good friends in the last day just by being neighbours in their hotel.. Such warmth and smiles in direct comparison to the two Chinese girls previous. After they’d bought some beautiful jewellery and been given a small gift FoC from Dtor, they left beaming and we could shut the shop up.

After telling Dtor how amazing I thought she handled the rude Chinese girls, we had a great chat about Buddhism and the principles.. now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a religious man, neither am I some hippy, but Buddhism and it’s way of life suddenly seemed really appealing.. For one it’s nothing like Christianity, Catholicism, or any of the main organised religions.. You study and learn, and – at after a certain point you can choose to become a buddhist if you wish, or not, or whatever you like.. Instead of having to become a Christian/etc.. and then learning more about it – I find buddhism fascinating, positive, rewarding and maybe I’ll read some more about it.

We said goodnight, and I slept, as usual, to Blackadder playing on my laptop!

Beach day!

The previous day Peter had mentioned Sam Roi Yot beach as a long, but well worth it ride.. we were both up around 8:00, and after coffee and a cigarette he suggested leaving early to make the most of it, and it’s around an hour and a half’s drive away.

Hopped on the scooter, and drove – I still can’t get over what an amazing experience this is! Within 20 minutes I was outside Hua Hin and the roads were less busy.. Peter had given me some awesome directions which I saved as a pic to my iPhone, as I knew I may not be within wifi range out in the sticks. It took slightly longer than 2 hours, mostly because I went one turning too far and drove for 10 minutes before realising my mistake, asking a local for the Tesco Lotus which is a key landmark for the route, and heading on my way.

Water mirages on one of the many long stretches of road en route from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot

Water mirages on one of the many long stretches of road en route from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot

Stunning scenery.. peaceful, quiet, no cars on the road, to the left and right were mountains, farms and – okay, at one point – some nasty swamp that I’d hate to be living near to!

One of the swamps en route from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot beach

One of the swamps en route from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot beach

Stunning roadside scenery en route from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot

Stunning roadside scenery en route from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot

One of the many cattle farms en route from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot, a cow pictured

One of the many cattle farms en route from Hua Hin to Sam Roi Yot, a cow pictured

Is this a Heron...? I'm not sure, but there's loads of them in Thailand

Is this a Heron…? I’m not sure, but there’s loads of them in Thailand

The real beauty was, after turning off at Tesco Lotus it was nigh on a straight road all the way there! I eventually arrived to Sam Roi Yot beach, running low on fuel so I needed to refill – found a road side local shop with a petrol pump and decided the 50 Baht per litre was a bit expensive, and only got one litre, then sat in a beachside bar having a well deserved mango and passion fruit shake! (The best shake I’ve had so far). Possibly the only down side was that it’s a place for high end tourists, and people that can afford a beach-side condo.. At the bar I had eyes on me for my tattoos, and travelly appearance. Mostly by a German family who clearly had money.. I had my ‘dude it’s a free country’ hat on, and ignored, enjoying the sun and shake.

This beach is damn long.. like at least two miles, I drove up and down it once before heading to the far end, parking up the bike, changing into shorts and t-shirt, taking off the flip flops and walked a mile up the beach half in and half out of the water.

This gave me a lot of time to think, and photograph of course!

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

Wise from the last motorcycle outing, I’d covered my arms and neck with sun cream… but, stupidly not my legs (the last 4 days have been very painful, and would be more so if it wasn’t for the Aloe Vera from Dtor – thank you so much!!) I’d walked as far as I could so I turned back, stopped halfway for a shake and a meal, the owner of the place had a real nice bike, a Honda Steed:

Honda Steed belonging to the owner of the Monkey Beach Bar, Sam Roi Yot Beach, Thailand

Honda Steed belonging to the owner of the Monkey Beach Bar, Sam Roi Yot Beach, Thailand

One thing I’ve noticed in Thailand, heat haze! Jeez, makes it near impossible for a photographer to get some good shots of anything more than 500 metres away.. There were islands just offshore, but thanks to the haze they haven’t come out well in the photos.

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

The beach at Sam Roi Yot

I finally reached my bike, thankful it was still there, after about 2 hours walking (and burning my legs).. so I changed back to long sleeve and bottoms, and set off back home. I could have felt sad for leaving such a beautiful vista behind, except put me on a motorbike and watch me smile!

I arrived back in Hua Hin in just under the time it took me to get to Sam Roi Yot – near the San Paulo hospital though were traffic cops, they eyed me – waved their implements in their hands and whistled whilst pointing me to park up.. bar-stewards!! Knowing I had the ticket from yesterday, and although it was out of time (by around 2 hours) the traffic cop pulled me over.

“Ah, no I don’t have a license”
“400 Baht”
“400? Oh, but I have this from yesterday” and pulled out the slip
“Ah, 200 Baht”
“Really? But..” oh stuff it, act nice, say sorry, hand over the cash

Then, the guy looks around and pockets the 200 Baht.. sneakily.. little sneaky so and so!

“Do I get a ticket? Like this??”
“No, now go, bye”

Well, cheaper than a taxi fare, and 200 Baht cheaper than he originally wanted. But sensed this was going to be a regular occurence in Hua Hin, so I was glad my bike was going back in the morning.. maybe if you’re going to rent a bike, try and think of it costing 350 Baht per day, rather than the hire of 150.. that way if you get lucky you’re saving money if you don’t get stopped by the traffic cops!

Back to Dtor and Peter’s place to help with the online marketing of The Family Tree, before going to sleep..

The next day I was heading back to Bangkok, never outstay your welcome of course! And before heading to the minivan, Peter and Dtor offered to buy me breakfast and I went with them whilst they went to the local school that Louie would like to go to in May, I stayed in the car whilst they made their best effort to come across as nice people (not very hard) and to try and beat the insane competition to secure a place for Louie. Now I know what dogs feel like when they’re locked in a car! Wow.. sweat dripping off me, I eventually fell asleep – feeling lucky that I’d brought some water with me.

They came back and we headed to nearr the shop, me and Dtor went for a shake in the awesome place next door to the shop, but I soon finished and waved goodbye to Dtor and Peter, the kids and the awesome and unique place that’s Hua Hin, destined for bustly Bangkok!


Cabbages and Condoms

Yesterday I was so tired.. I don’t know why, but also I had the sweats and a bad stomach, I was hoping it was just temporary.

I checked out of the Pak-Up Hostel and into Good Dreams, just next door and half the price for a private room. Fair enough it didn’t have air conditioning but it had a powerful fan so I was happy.

I was told the blanket was still drying and they’d drop it off to me later. It didn’t bother me to be honest, I dumped my stuff on the bed, curled up around it and fell asleep from around 12 noon – 5pm.

So, I felt it was a bit of a wasted day, pootled about after waking up and a shower, just locally, came back and watched the Beach. Then noticed the stack of DVDs to borrow and picked a couple out (Bangkok Dangerous, and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life) popped a sleeping tablet because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep and settled in for the night.

Woke and got out for 11, hit the Choke Dee restaurant for my usual pineapple shake, then – as it was too late for the four islands tour – I thought I’d hire the bike again and go to Ao Nang beach.

Now, as a non-driver, and given that all roads seem to lead to Krabi, I went round in a massive circle at first. Then started again and intentionally took a right instead of a left at the junction I thought caused the misunderstanding the first time..

Wrong again, I headed North, up towards Ao Luek and although after a short time I knew that I’d done the wrong thing again, I still saw some great things:

Beautiful Mosque Just Outside Krabi

A beautiful mosque not far from Krabi, I got invited in but declined as I had to get moving

Krabi Golf Driving Range

Krabi golf driving range, I bet my dad’s golf course would love this backdrop!

Cabbages and Condoms, Thailand's first, global award winning, social enterprise, set up to promote safe sex

Cabbages & Condoms, thanks to Peter telling me this is Thailand’s first, global award winning, social enterprise, set up to promote safe sex

And of course, littered with limestone rock outcrops, like this:

Limestone Rock Detail

Close-up of a limestone rock outcrop

My Dream House

Now my idea of a dream home, what a view

And so it was, after an hour and a half of driving the wrong direction, I turned back, destined to head to Krabi and grab an espresso from the Choke Dee restaurant.

Sun, the head waiter there was smiley as usual, picked up on my sunburned quarter length arms, bib shape around my throat from wearing an open shirt, and bad sunglass tan face!

Refreshed I was determined to see out the last few hours of my bike rental and see the beach while I was down south.

Set off, found the right direction at last, after a measly 45 minutes ride I found paradise.

Ao Nang Beach 2

The beautiful beach at Ao Nang, limestone rocks in the distance

Transport to and from Krabi

A little piece of paradise

Panoramic Image of Ao Nang Beach

A panoramic of the beach – not amazing, but using a free online program, click to enlarge

I was gutted to have not made it earlier in the day, as I’d have definitely gone in the sea. I didn’t have the right gear with me really so I took a load of pictures whilst there, relaxed on a beach bar, watched life going by and the tour attendants ferrying people to and from the beach by boat.

Group of People Carrying their Belongings to the Boat on Ao Nang Beach

Look closely to see the girl at the back with two suitcases! That’s 3 foot of water close to the boat!

Worrying that I wouldn’t get back in time to hand my bike in, I set off early and headed back to Krabi.

Here’s my route:

My route from Krabi to Ao Luek to Ao Nang to Krabi

The cackhanded route I took to Ao Nang beach today, 125km instead of around 50

So, an eventful day today compared to yesterday.. I have to really make a decision about what I’m going to do next. Peter has kindly offered me a roof over my head in Hua Hin, but the transport situation from here is a concern.. On one hand I could hopefully check out at 6-7, get the 3-4 hour bus to Surat Thani at 10:40, and arrive at 16:01.. but, it’s a bit touch and go.. Seriously though if you want to work out train times, you should check out this site, it’s helped me a load.

The other alternative is a train at 16:46, but that arrives at 00:40, and it’s a bit harsh to expect a family man to wait up.. so I think I’ll head up that way and stop at two places along the way for 1 night each.. This coincides perfectly with Peter’s days off on the 31st/1st, so it’ll be New Year’s in Hua Sin!

That’ll be my next Skype window with the family and friends too, so I’ll hit them up when I get there.