Best Bangkok Side Trip
Hua Hin is the ideal place for a weekend getaway from Bangkok for locals and tourists alike with a diverse range of activities to do. For a romantic vibe, take the train from Bangkok Railway station. The trip takes four hours including a slow-moving hour long portion through the streets of Bangkok. The scenery is a bit different than what one might normally see in Bangkok and the rural portion of the trip is equally as interesting. Chose an afternoon train and you may catch a beautiful sunset enroute. We chose to pay the higher fee to have a fold out bed and some privacy. This was 600 baht per person.
Getting back is fast (approximately 3 hours), cheap & convenient with vans (180 baht) leaving all day long. Ask your hotel and one will stop right out front.
Brief History of Hua Hin
Hua Hin got its start in 1834 when a group of farmers from a neighboring province left their home due to severe drought. They settled in the area now known as Hua Hin and named it Samor Riang (row of anchors) after the fishing boats anchored at the beautiful beach. In 1921, Prince Purachatra built the Railway Hotel along with a connecting railway from Bangkok. Hua Hin soon became a favorite retreat for Thai Royalty and Hi-So (high society) alike. Palaces have been built, including Klaikangwon which is still in use today. We arrived on the one month anniversary of the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. A suitable commemoration was going on adjacent to the Hua Hin railway stop upon our arrival.
Eating in Hua Hin
Pete and I found an awesome restaurant in the middle of the seafood night market. The place is called Rod Fai Restaurant (meaning railway train) and has giant portions of delicious grilled seafood at prices much lower than Bangkok. The food is prepared street vendor style, so you can watch it being cooked or sit down and enjoy people-watching.
Speaking of Pete, this is a good time to introduce this amazing person I have been spending time with for the past week. He is so much fun to be with and is also a creative type. He completely disproved my previous disdain for traveling with others!
Chiara Capobianco Centara Grand Beach Resort
We were fortunate to meet the highly accomplished Italian musician Chiara Capobianco at the historic Centara Grand Beach Resort. My friend & video production assistant, Wi Winnasa made a virtual introduction to Chiara who resides in Hua Hin and plays harp regularly at high tea at the Centara. The music, coffee/tea, and lovely atmosphere was the perfect kick-off to the Loy Krathong holiday.
Loy (to float) Krathong (small container made of leaves) is a traditional Thai holiday held on the full moon in the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. The festival may have evolved from an ancient ritual paying respects to water spirits. Regardless, the traditional activity is to float a Krathong on the water. This can be done privately or people can join a large festival as Pete and I did at Khao Tao Lake about 10 kilometers south of Hua Hin. The krathong is fitted with a candle, and some sort of offering (food or money) and a wish is made as the krathong is let loose.
Sadly, due to overwhelming crowds, we arrived late and I did not get any good images of the festival itself. However, I was overjoyed with this HDR image captured in the adjoining neighborhood. This was taken around 10 PM. The bright light is the super moon!
One amazing thing happened after Loy Krathong. After the event, there was a mad rush of thousands of people trying to get out of this small community. There were no taxis or public transportation. Pete asked a man how we could get back and he literally took Pete by the arm and walked us over to a group of traffic cops. One of the officers STOPPED the flow of cars to ask a couple in a pickup truck if they could give us a ride and they did! It was such a wonderful experience.
Abandoned Graffiti Building
Located across the main highway and slightly to the north of the Hua Hin Airport is a really neat abandoned building filled with graffiti from artists hailing from around the planet. Meeting of Styles coordinated the painting event in April of 2014. With Pete as stylist, we used this building as a backdrop for a photoshoot of Chiara, the Italian harp player. This will be featured in a future blog post.
Earlier in the year, I did a self-portrait shoot at another of their events in Pattaya.