Yindee tonrab Hua Hin & Cha Am!

I am just waiting for someone to correct/laugh at my attempt to write Thai words. Google translator has probably made me write some embarrassing or insulting phrase.

After negotiating a taxi fare (okay honestly I didn’t do much negotiating as things are fairly cheap in Thailand and it feels weird to argue about a few dollars), we decided to just take a taxi from Bangkok to Hua Hin. For about ~40-50 US dollars more than it would have cost to take the train, we saved ourselves several hours of time. Taking a taxi was about 4 hours shorter than it would have been to take the train. Not to mention the hassle of trying to find the train stations, deal with our luggage, and find our hotel in Hua Hin. Knowing me that would have added an extra few hours to the journey. When I think about all of the hours we spent in Europe wondering around aimlessly looking for our hotel, I 100% think this was a good decision.

It was also good that we took a taxi because it was at this time that I got a text from my mother in the States that said, “call me”. That is the kind of text that anyone away from their family dreads to get. You know it is going to be something bad. With my heart tense and my stomach in a knot, I called my mom on Viber. I know this blog isn’t the place for delving into too much of my personal life, so I don’t want to focus on this too much. I will say, it wasn’t good news. I can’t even explain to people that haven’t experienced this how hard it is to be thousands of miles away from family when your family needs you. Logic tells you that there isn’t anything you could do even if you were with them, but your heart knows otherwise.

Attachment-1 (1)After a two and a half hour tearful taxi ride (and I must say our taxi driver was awesome), we reached our hotel situated between Hua Hin and Cha Am. We stayed at the Veranda Resort and Spa. We chose this place because I bought a Cobone deal. I think I have mentioned Cobone before – it is similar to Groupon.

It was nice staying at the resort. We needed a few days to rest and just have quiet time together.  The resort was peaceful. They had a large pool and it was right on the beach. Our room had its own jacuzzi on the balcony. Unfortunately, a private jacuzzi is a bit more awesome in theory than it really is. It takes forever to fill a jacuzzi tub, and the whole time I kept thinking about how much water it was wasting. Plus this place had a serious issue with mosquitos, so it was not too much fun hanging out in water once the mosquitoes came out to play.

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On our first day there, we got massages. They were part of the Cobone package. This was Kassandra’s first massage ever. We were in a couple’s type massage room, so the beds were near each other. I spent most of my massage wondering what she was thinking. At one point the masseuse, did my chest as part of the massage. I have never had this done before. I didn’t necessarily mind – it wasn’t done in a sexual way, but I was a bit anxious about how Kassandra was taking it. It turns out her masseuse didn’t do her chest. That was probably for the better.

The next day I decided we had to go do something to get our minds off of our family. I booked us a guided tour to a waterfall and rides on an elephant. I am sure if I hadn’t booked through the hotel, I could have saved money, but again, for this vacation I decided to relax and stop worrying about every little penny. Even if I splurged here and there, or didn’t bargain as much as a I could of, I knew this vacation was going to be waaaaaayyy cheaper than the Europe trip.

We took our tour with a couple from Belgium and a couple and their daughter from the U.K. Our tour guide was very good. His English was great and he was quite the conversationalist. On the way to the waterfall, we stopped at a temple. We watched people go under the elephant and rub its penis. I am really curious to know why people were doing this. At first, we thought maybe it was a measure for fertility or something, but it seemed like both young and very old were doing it, so we couldn’t figure it out.

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After the temple it was time for our hike to the waterfall. It felt good to get out and be in nature. I hadn’t really been able to do that since my hikes during the summer back at home.2013-12-17 19.55.43

2013-12-17 19.57.01    2013-12-17 19.58.07Once we got to the waterfall (just less than one mile), we all debated on if we really wanted to swim or not. There were tons of carp fish everywhere, and the water was pretty cold.

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2013-12-17 20.30.48But, being the adventurous kind of girl that I am, I decided to go for it. I had to jump in because I could not stand sliding in near the edge where all the fish were hanging out. After I got in, the other people in our group ventured in too. It was cold! But once you got in, it wasn’t too bad. The bigger challenge was trying to stand on the slippery rocks with the water pushing you down. The rest of our tour group got in after watching me do it.

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Well, everyone that is except for Kassandra. She chose to stay on the rocks and photograph the animal life. Oh and the tour guide who just kept shaking his head at us and looking worried that he thought we might freeze to death.2013-12-17 20.23.28     2013-12-17 21.14.34After the hike, our guide took us to a restaurant where they served us a nice Thai lunch surrounded by a lovely view. Those that know me know that I sometimes have a hard time socializing with strangers. However, as part of the new adventurous me, I made small talk with the other people in our group. I was pretty proud of myself.

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Finally, after lunch it was time to go see the elephants! On our drive there, we saw a monkey along the edge of the road. The driver stopped so we could take a picture. The next thing we knew, a whole troop of monkeys (yes, I had to look up what a group of monkeys is called!) started venturing out of the forest and towards our van. Unfortunately, I was sitting in the only seat that didn’t have a window that could open, but fortunately the Belgium guy offered to take a few pictures for me. (*See – my chit chat at lunch paid off!) By the time we drove off, there were at least 15 monkeys creeping up to the van. The driver said we had to leave because he didn’t want to be responsible for getting the monkey hit by another car. Apparently this isn’t that common of an event. The tour guide seemed a bit surprised by it. I thought they looked like they were posing for us!

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2013-12-18 14.57.33The elephant rides were fun. I guess I don’t know what I expected an elephant to feel like, but I guess I didn’t expect it to feel hairy and coarse. My mind kept going back and forth being “Wow! I am on an elephant. This is awesome” to “I’m on an elephant. I feel bad that this elephant has to lug people around all day.” This picture to the left is our “Selfies on an elephant”. I never thought I would be able to say I have done that!

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ElephantI think our elephant almost looks like she is smiling for the camera. Our elephant was fairly well behaved. When our elephant guide got down in order to take our picture, our elephant started to wonder a bit, but they are all clearly trained. However, the elephant that the father from our tour group was riding started getting a little mischievous. It started going off the path in search of food. The mother and daughter had a good laugh at his misadventure.

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After the elephant rides, we could feed the elephants bananas and buy souvenirs. There was also a bunch of little puppies running about. I almost wonder if Kassandra had just as much fun playing with the puppies as she did riding the elephants. They were pretty cute. Then it was time to head back to our hotel. Overall, a very fun day of adventure.

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Our last two days in Hua hin were spent hanging out by the pool and the beach. It wasn’t super warm, so we didn’t do much swimming. We went into the city of Hua Hin one of the days to just look around a bit, and another day we briefly went to a local market, but mostly we just spent the time relaxing.

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SoupThe whole week I kept telling Kassandra that the first week of our vacation was “a week for trying new food” and promised her that the second week I wouldn’t nag her about it as much. To show her that I was willing to eat whatever came my way, I tried out some spicy seafood soup. It was quite delicious as long as I didn’t spend too much time thinking about everything that was in – which I had no idea what it was, and I could swear I saw something wiggle. I have to give Kassandra credit. She is typically a VERY picky eater, but she was very good this vacation about trying new things (within reason). We had some great food even when we were ‘stuck’ at the resort.

On day 8 of our vacation it was time to head back to Bangkok as a transition night before taking a flight up to Chiang Mai. I had booked our hotel in Bangkok with the idea that we would be arriving back on the train late in the evening. I figured somewhere near the train station would be practical. However, since we took a taxi back instead of the train, we got back much earlier than I had planned. Normally this would be a good thing because it would mean we would have time to explore. But in this instance, it meant that we were stuck in a part of town that I didn’t feel overly comfortable exploring in. As is the case with most areas near train stations, it was a bit shady. Also, even though we never saw any, I kept hearing rumors about the protestors. Of course maybe we just couldn’t see them because our hotel room had no windows.

Thailand 039It was okay. It was just one night. Plus we got to watch three really great movies (sarcasm intended here) Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters. My only wish is that Thailand would have better chip flavors. I love snacking on chips while watching bad movies, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat seaweed or shrimp flavored chips. It was enough to make even the icky chip flavors in the UAE sound good.

The adventures of Tori in Thailand continue north in Chiang Mai.

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