Part of my adventure took me to Hua Hin, which is on the Thai peninsular in between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. The journey to Hua Hin, from the Southern Bus Station (Sai Tai Mai), takes around 3 hours. I arranged to meet Ron, who is a friend from home, at Starbucks. However, not knowing my way around I couldn’t find it, so I waited in a cafe for him. He finally found me and we had a beer before making our way to his place. He was renting his bungalow for about 8000-11000 baht a month (around £105-£150. With the lower exchange rate now, the same bungalow would be around £165-£230). It was located not far from the shops and beach, and had 2 bedrooms, large living area, kitchen, and bathroom.
We got ready and went for dinner and drinks, and he introduced me to a few people he had gotten to know. I met my first lady-boy, Jennifer. I have since had a lot of experience with lady-boys and have had some great nights out with them, but I could not tell that Jennifer used to be a man. She was gorgeous and had no sign of her previous life, although apparently she still had male “bits”. I also met a couple of guys from Leeds, who were married to Thai girls, and on the way home we stopped at another bar, run by a Norwegian guy and his Thai girlfriend. They were bikers and part of “The Vampire Club”. I asked what it was about and, randomly told him that I love vampires! (mmm not really a sane thing to say! Methinks the alcohol was to blame). He told me that they had raised 80,000baht as part of a charity bike ride to help the local school children. It was really interesting and inspiring to listen to the story.
When we got back to Ron’s, one of his neighbours was having a party, but from the volume it sounded more like a small concert in someone’s back yard. I have since learned that Thai’s don’t understand the concept of volume control!
The next day we took a trip to see Wat Mongkol, a massive Buddha sitting cross legged. It is huge! On the way we got lost- in Thailand there are massive signs, directing you to attractions, and then further up the room the signs disappear- but we found it in the end. We gave an offering to the Buddha and said a silent prayer, which felt a bit weird, as I am not religious, but knelt and said my prayer anyway- to keep me safe traveling and for good luck. We also put a piece of gold leaf onto the 3 different statues around the temple. Afterwards Ron took me to the beach, and a little bar called Maria’s, where we sat for a couple of hours, just watching the world go by.
In the morning we had breakfast and then onto Monkey Mountain. There is a fishing village, at the bottom of the mountain, where some of the locals live and fish the seas of the Gulf. You can see all the freshly caught fish and crabs ready for sale. Monkey Mountain, as the name suggests, has lots of macaque monkeys living there. There are hundreds of them, and you can pay to feed them. When you throw the food they swarm around like rats, trying to beat each other to the scrap of food. It is quite amusing watching them because some of them appear to have human dispositions, like being moody if they don’t get to the food first, and then seeming like they didn’t want it in the first place. There are a few temples at the bottom of the mountain, and you can walk up the steps to see the main temple at the top, which provides some excellent views of Hua Hin.
After a day of sightseeing we went for a lovely Thai dinner, and then onto a Muay Thai Boxing competition. This was my first experience of Muay Thai, and it was awesome. Some of the boxers were so young, about 12 years old, but they were still pros at their game. Brilliant night, absolutely loved it, and gave me some insight into the world I would be entering for the next 8 weeks.