I ended up with five days to spare and not wanting to spend them in Bangkok, just because the accommodation is expensive and it would mean being there nine days. Looking at the map Phetchaburi (Phetburi) was close and read reasonably interestingly so after much ado with arsehole Tuk-Tuk drivers I found myself sat on a train heading in that direction.
My first impressions of the place were fairly negative as I got to my accommodation and the women tried her best to charge me for a double despite the fact I had rung ahead and booked a single, which no longer happened to be available. She conceded and I set myself down in the little wooden room amid a swarm of mosquitos. Luckily a net was provided so not all was bad. The next day there was much more positive as I got a good feel for the town and the distinct lack of tourists which is generally what I prefer. It felt similar to Sukhothai; just a small city getting on with life. Food was really cheap and my daily budget could have quite easily been £5. There are lots of strange local deserts and sweets all over the town. I had some yellow balls, which I believe were some form of shredded dried egg yolk sugared and were really nice. I also had what I thought was a cake in a tin but turned out to be a lovely firm Thai baked rice pudding. It’s always so satisfying to find local food that you like.
The temple complex Khao Wang is an enjoyable visit, even after being numbed to the novelty of temples this one stood out for having a great setting and excellent views. It was also my first experience of being in close contact with monkey and I was particularly cautious as I was alone with no other people in sight. After walking right past a few of them I realised if I keep to myself they will keep to themselves. And they also provide some amusing photo opportunities so I’ve realised they aren’t so bad. On my way back down the hill I saw lots of Thai tourists letting their children tease and get right in the faces of the monkeys, with street vendors selling corn to give to the monkeys. This sort of thing is annoying as they will then blame the monkeys for reacting or scavenging food.
The bus journey to Hua Hin was pleasant but unfortunately it was downhill from there. The town is unusual but really expensive. I managed to find a cheap place to stay but it could quite reasonably be described as a shithole. As I wandered the streets looking for something to eat I realised all the food prices are about four times higher than those I’ve seen anywhere else in Thailand and everywhere is western owned with no option of anything local. Strangely enough there are huge amounts of Scandinavians, of which I have not found anywhere else so far. Apart from Scandinavian restaurants (of which the food really has little appeal to me) the streets are lined with tailor shops and opticians. Hua Hin is a beach town and when I arrived it was simultaneously the first beach and the first rain I have seen in Thailand.
After walking out onto the streets of Hua Hin at night I made the instant decision I would be leaving the next morning. The streets were alive with prostitutes and chavs, and of course the middle aged creepy men of whom, many here seemed to have a Geordie accent. It’s the tensest and most uncomfortable night scene I’ve seen in Thailand, and probably in Asia as a whole. I’ve always known there was this side to Thailand but through my destination choices have managed to avoid it. The scene has only made me so much gladder that as my Island trip I have chosen the quieter, more backpackery, Koh Chang over somewhere like Phuket. Especially if the prices of food here are anything to go by, Fish and Chips in ‘O’Neill’s Irish bar’ was £6 which I’m sure is more than it would cost in O’Neill’s in England, and this from somewhere on the coast in Thailand. It’s amazing what places can get away with charging and receive the money because people are on package holidays and have no idea what the true price of things should be.
It always sounds cliché when people say they are going travelling to ‘find themselves’ but I think in a way this is unavoidable. When you are going from location to location with so few home comforts you begin to realise exactly what you like and don’t like in places. I can now generally choose places on a description and know I will like them. I don’t like places that are mainly cantered around drinking and I really like places that feel historic or close to nature. I enjoy the activity of big cities but only for a maximum of three days and the same goes for really remote places that have close to nothing to do but have a true sense of them being typical to that country.