New Year Eve’s Trip to Hua Hin That Wasn’t
I wanted to do something special for the first of what I hope are many New Year Eves in Thailand and I didn’t want to spend it in Bangkok. So I checked out some of the hotels in Pattaya, Rayong and lastly Hua Hin to celebrate it with my Thai fiancé. The one thing they all had in common was that they’d upped their prices for the one night by up to 300% and the ones that hadn’t were all booked out. I have been to Pattaya and Rayong but never to Hua Hin, so I really wanted to go down there as I’d read and been told how nice the place was. But when I told my partner that all the hotels were either too expensive or fully booked she told me that she had a friend that lived close to Hua Hin and we could spend the night there.
This sounded like a good idea, but this being New Year’s Eve I asked her if her friend would be alone or have the whole family over. I was told that there’d be about four to six people at the most and they had a spare room for us to sleep in and anyway, we’d be coming home late so the place would most likely be quiet. So this sounded like a good idea and come 31st of December we were off to Hua Hin to celebrate the New Year.
The plan was for us to drive to her friend's house, say hello, drop our stuff off and freshen up and then go into Hua Hin to enjoy New Year’s Eve then go back and sleep the night before returning home some time the next day as I had to be in Bangkok on the 2nd to meet up with some friends from Australia who were flying for a one day stop-over on their way to Africa.
So we’re supposed to leave around 10am but it’s already 11.30am and we’re still in the apartment. Guys, how long does it take your Thai girl to get dressed! Don’t answer! I know a long time, but after trying on 3 pairs of jeans, 5 tops, 4 pairs of shoes and putting on some makeup we’re finally ready to go. As I’m locking up the place I hear those dreaded words! One moment please! (here we go again) I tell her I’m going down to put the gear in the car and for her not to be too long. Well 10 minutes later and she comes down in a totally different outfit but this doesn’t surprise me the least as I’m well used to it by now.
So we are making good progress down towards Hua Hin and apart from a few kamikaze Thai drivers the trip is good and after about two hours of driving we arrive in Cha-Am, just north of Hua Hin so we stop for some lunch as I’m famished.
We find this small roadside restaurant and their cooking pig on the spit, so we pull over and decided to try it.
Well this has to be the best pork I’ve tasted since coming to Thailand some 7 months ago. So much so that I ate 1 kg of it with some sticky rice (I paid for it the next day though). After this we went for a leisurely walk along the beach.
Well the beach was nice but very crowded with lots of Thais and overweight tourists, no joking! The women here were downright scary and their partners no better so we jumped back in the car and made our way to Hua Hin.
About 40 minutes later and we were in Hua Hin and drove around a bit to look the place over, finding the main beach wasn’t easy but found it eventually and went for another leisurely walk along that beach. Yes this place was nice, very open wide beaches and even though there were lots of people it didn’t seem that way. We found a small coffee shop on the beach and had iced coffee while watching the world go by and the sun starting to set behind us. This was my cue to get us moving again since we’re supposed to go see her friend and then come back later.
So we start driving out of Hua Hin heading south as her friend said she lives just south of here. We’re driving along and my partner rings her friend and asks for directions to her place.She puts her husband on as she doesn’t drive and he can give us better directions to their place. While this is going on I can see that my partner is starting to look at me with a little smirk on her face and when that happens it usually means that I’m not going to like hearing what’s going to be said. She finally gets off the phone and tells me to pull over so that she can look at the map. Well she starts looking and says she can’t find the place. I ask her for the name and she tells me it’s called Bang Saphan Noi. I find it after a bit and guess what! It’s 200 km south of Hua Hin. I try to put a smile on my face and tell her I thought it was close to Hua Hin. Well my friend said it was but she tells me she comes home by bus and sleeps all the way down and only wakes up in Hua Hin then sleeps again until she gets to her stop!
So my nice enjoyable New Year's Eve has been shortened somewhat but we decide to keep driving as we’re told there’s some nice restaurants on the beach that we can eat at and still enjoy the night. It took us close to 2 hours to get to the turn off for Bang Saphan Noi and then a further hour to get to the beach even though it was only 20km from the turn-off. Why 1 hour? Well we’d stopped at a road side check point for directions only to be lead down a road that was closed due to roadworks a mere 2 km from the beach. So we drive all he way back and the Thai at a roadside checkpoint smiles and says sorry and gives us new directions which did lead us to the beach. You might wonder why we didn’t ask the husband! Well their phone wasn’t answered and just as we drove into Bang Saphan Noi they finally ring us back. Here comes the smirk again and I know I’m not going to like it. My partner tells me there’s a slight change of plans as it turns out there’s now over 40 people at her house and she advises us to find a place at the beach as it's going to be an all night party now.
Ok, I’m fine with this as it was getting late and I’m happy in knowing I’ll have a real bed for the night, so we start looking for a resort that's not already full. Easy here as there’s hardly any other tourist sthat we can see. I spot a place that looks nice called Chanthima Resort.
We stop to take a look and first impressions are good now to check out the room, OK the bed is hard but that’s normal so I pay ฿1,000 for the night which also includes breakfast. It's getting close to 9pm so we just freshen up and go looking for a nice place to eat. Five minutes down the road and we come across one right on the beach so we stop and look the menu over. The food looks good but a little pricey. But hey, it’s New Year's Eve and I’m tired & hungry so we stay there and order some food. There were a few other people there and the food came out reasonably quickly and it was very nice. I order tempura prawns for starters followed by barramundi cooked in a garlic sauce and my partner had som tam and two other Thai dishes that I can’t remember but all were very hot and just smelling them made my eyes water, but that how she likes her food, hot & spicy.
By the end of the meal I was back in my relaxing mood (the Heineken helped too) and we drove back to Chanthima Resort at the other end of the beach and parked the car then went for a stroll along the beach. We met few fellow tourists and chatted with them for a bit then continued on by ourselves. We found a nice spot on the beach and cuddled up watching the stars and having a bit of a laugh about the day’s events. Suddenly there was a loud bang close to us followed by many others further down the beach and the sky lit up with a long procession of fireworks. It was midnight and we wished each other a happy New Year. Once the light show was over we headed back to the Resort and went to sleep.
I was woken up around 6am to be told, "Charles, I want to see the sunrise!"
But love you never like getting up early, let alone to watch the sun rise!
Yes she says but this is different! It’s the first sunrise of 2009 and I want to see it. So we get dressed (never seen her dress so quickly) and down to the beach we go to see the sun rise. It’s just a shame that the weather didn’t co-operate as there was heavy cloud cover and we just saw the day get lighter. But my love saw the sun rise for the first day of 2009 and that made her happy. By 8 AM we’d done enough walking and went back to the tesort and I was thinking of going back to sleep but that was quickly dashed as someone was now hungry so off to breakfast we go.
After breakfast we went for a walk along the beach then a cool swim in the ocean. We relaxed on the beach for a few hours before checking out of the resort. By then it was close to lunch time so we went back to the same place we ate at the night before for some more good food.
While we were eating lunch I told my partner that after lunch we’d be able to start driving back to Bangkok as I’d like to stop in Hua Hin again for a short time, Oh! She says I forgot to tell you we have to pick up my friend from her house as she’s coming back with us to Bangkok. So we made a slight detour and went to her friend's place and let me tell you I’m glad I didn’t stay here!
It was small and cramped and the spare room was actually a small straw house. I was told that we’d just go and see the beach that was close by then we’d be on our way. Well this was 2pm and by 4pm we finally left Bang Saphan Noi and were on our way home. It was too late to stop at Hua Hin so we kept driving for Bangkok. It was close to 9pm by the time we got into Bangkok and we dropped her friend off close to where we live. It turns out she works as a full time carer for a Thai family who’ve got an elderly grandmother who needs care 24/7.
So in less than 2 days we’d driven close to 1,000 km but we did have a nice New Year’s Eve, even if it wasn’t what had been planned at the start.
This is something that I’m starting to learn. In Thailand you just have to go with the flow sometimes and let things unfold and see where they lead you and try to enjoy the ride.
On the 3rd we did it all over again when we drove to Surin to see her family for 3 days.
So when my love asked me after this 5 day break why I looked stressed I told her!
Try driving close to 2,000km in 5 days and while doing this try also to avoid Thais that drive like kamikaze pilots and seem to have a death wish and think that the 1 meter of room your leaving between the car in front of you is their cue that there’s room for their Toyota Hilux 4X4!
I hope everybody had a safe an enjoyable New Year and that this year is better than the last. We can only hope as TIT (this is Thailand).
Nice trip report. I gave up going with the flow a long time ago. I am not shy to ask lots of questions and pick out all the flaws in the plan…even though I know I am hated for it!