Monday, April 6, 2015

Day 37 - 5 April 2015 - Pattaya to Hua Hin

When planning is done for overnight halts distance to be covered in a day and availability of accommodation are critical factors. I had zeroed in on Prachuap Khiri Khan as the possible night halt location between Pattaya and Phattalung in southern Thailand, as it was almost equidistant between the two cities. Prachuap Khiri Khan is situated in the narrowest land mass between the Gulf of Thailand and Myanmar. However, while searching for accommodation in Prachuap Khiri Khan the city of Hua Hin cropped up all the time with better hotel options. Later I discovered it as a city with some royal connections and Hua HIn was finalised.

Last evening I had informed the reception that I was not keen on Indian breakfast and that I need not be clubbed accordingly. I had a full blown continental breakfast before loading the car and checking out. It was slightly over 300 km to Hua Hin and the excellent road condition would mean about four hours. Most hotels have a 2 pm check in and hence, I took the roads slowly. The motorways were outstanding. The route to Hua Hin actually skirted the one to Bangkok and passed by the Suvarmabhumi International airport. Closer to Hu Hin the traffic slowed down, at times to a crawl, perhaps because of the long weekend and vacationers from Bangkok.
I have been depending on Google Maps during the journey. Once I left India the application had gone silent and pops ups mentioned that voice directions are not available in these countries. Surprisingly this morning, the lady’s voice assumed control. I was not in the least bit amused. I was used to the preview and uninterrupted GPS tracking. Anyway, since the voice tracking was on I considered it an added advantage. I was mistaken. The lady, as ladies are wont to, switched off when it was most critical. I am not joking. Just when I had to make a decision at a junction the application shut off. Not once, but twice. Trust a lady with your life and this is what she does – pulls the plug at the most critical time! I had to turn into a fuel station to try and remedy the situation. In the first case I tanked up and got the application back on track in a coffee shop that had WiFi. It did not cost me much time. In the second instance I found a fuel station with car wash facility. When the car was being spruced up I roamed around the vicinity in search of a WiFi location. Finally, after much time, I located a young and friendly girl in a store who gave me directions to reach the hotel.

Despite being challenged navigational skills wise I managed to reach the hotel without losing my way. The hotel is placed in a busy street and very close to attractions of the city. I parked and checked in, which meant that I paid room charges upfront. I was only upset about the room being on the fourth floor without access to a lift. Mercifully someone carried the luggage up to the room for me. The hotel did not serve food and beverages. But there are so many eateries in close proximity, of different types, that one does not feel that a constraint. I walked across to a small one and had noodle soup with grouper fish for lunch. The chilly sauce added spice to the otherwise bland fare.
After lunch I walked to the Hua HIn Railway Station. This is on the rail route from Bangkok to Malaysia. The Hua HIn railway station is considered one of the most beautiful in Thailand. The wooden structures painted bright red and off white is excellently maintained. The railway station was part of the popular getaways from Bangkok and Singapore to Hua hIn beach resorts in the early to late 20th century. Part of the premises is used as a museum cum historical experience for tourists. It is made more famous by the pavilion used by the royalty while waiting for a train. The pavilion was fully reconstructed at the station in 1968.

After a snooze I was ready for the Hua Hin beach and the night market, by the time I reached the beach business had started winding down and people had started leaving the beach. It was just after sunset, even though a few glows still remained on the horizon. People were still sprawled on easy chairs with beers lying around. The smell of food had started dying down, though. The toilet enclosures were busy with people bathing and getting dressed to head back home. I walked to the Night Market, the Chatsila and Chat Chai Markets. At one glance all night markets look the same, but on closer scrutiny you will discover the uniqueness of each, be it food or local wares. I was blown by the amazing food on offer and so cheap too. But the most wonderful experience was a session of foot reflexology. It has been the most amazing session I have experienced all my life. The elderly lady went about her business most professionally and knew exactly what had to be done on my feet; it was extremely therapeutic. By the time that was over I was ready to eat anything in sight. I gravitated to a small place that gave me excellent Phad Thai shrimp noodle. I picked up a green soda lime to wash down the food.
I hit the sack late after zeroing down on the places to visit the next day.

2 comments:

  1. Yup - Google Navigation, as indeed all GPS navigation is not fully reliable in India too. Similar must be the situation in the SE Asian countries. Hopefully the lady readers of your writing don't bash you on the head !

    As you head south, I would guess that the Myanmarese are more Thai than Myanmarese - you wouldn't be able to cross the border, but I am speculating so. After all they are so far away from mainland Myanmar. I wonder why countries get shaped like these - historical accidents surely.

    Longer drive tomorrow consequent to the slightly earlier break. But if the motorways are great, then it'll be an easy drive. I suppose you might be traveling right along the coats - so should make for a picturesque drive too.

    Heading across to Facebook to see your pictures.

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