Hua Hin

Another early wake up for another early start and another 100km day to reach the city of Hua Hin. We rode along Highway 4 towards Hua Hin. The road was extremely flat so we made excellent time with our highest average speed ever (21.8km/h)! The road has been getting increasingly busy and ugly the closer we get to Bangkok and today was definitely the busiest and ugliest yet. Lots of trucks, lots of flat run down buildings full of garbage on the highway – definitely a scenic low point. We did pass our first rice paddy, though, which was a beautiful bright green:

We stopped for a Coke when we started to feel overheated. The girl at the counter asked if we wanted her to remove the bottle caps for us, we said yes. Then, she poured each of our drinks into one of the inescapable plastic bags! I’m not sure what the point of doing this is when the Coke comes in a nice glass bottle to start with…

We arrived in Hua Hin and were surprised to see that it was such a developed, tourist focused city. There were hotel high rises all over the place, and we saw our first Starbucks since entering Thailand. The guesthouses were a bit pricey and the ones we looked at were a little on the dirty side. We chose a place where we could lock our bikes right outside our room.

I took a shower as soon as we checked in and realized I’d developed heat rash all over my legs! I was pissed. I have had so many weird health-type issues on this trip and Jamie has had absolutely zero. I spent the rest of the afternoon out of the sun, reading my book in front of the fan. I also spent the afternoon fuming about my heat rash and the maddening fact that Jamie didn’t have it! By the next morning I’d gotten over my bitterness. I was also happy because we’d decided that we wouldn’t cycle to the next city, 65km away, but would instead take the train from Hua Hin to Bangkok. The highway is simply getting too busy and non-scenic to be enjoyable and neither of us want to waste any more days of our tour on this when we could be in other regions of the country.

In Hua Hin, we also saw the most Thai women with western men that we have seen so far. Our theory is that there are three types of arrangements: flat-out prostitutes, women who marry older men to improve their financial situation, and then something that seems like a girlfriend-for-hire. These are usually young, attractive Thai women spending time with young, western backpackers. Maybe some of these are actual love connections, but we have seen several of these girls (some of whom speak little English) dragging their backpacker “boyfriends” into shops with womens’ fashions to buy them expensive gifts. We keep looking for a book that explains what is going on – maybe there’s a guide on how to get a Thai girlfriend for a week? We are dying to know how this works, but it’s hard to decipher what’s going on just by watching these people on the street. I think Jamie should go into one of the tourist bars to chat up the Thai girls that hang out there and find out how it works, but he won’t do it. Hostess bars are also popular here. These are bars full of very attractive Thai girls where westerners buy the girls drinks and in return the girls flirt and chat with them for the evening.

5 Responses to “Hua Hin”

  1. Jon Nostdal Says:

    Hello Sarah and James;
    You will be happy to know that the “race bike” still gets (and gives) a great workout, though probably not to the level of your pre-departure training. I read your initial entries about NZ but then went travelling myself-to some intensive yoga work at Kovalam, Kerala state, South India. There’s an international airport close by (16 Km) with good connections, including Sri Lanka and I believe Singapore. Lighthouse beach and the adjacent one around the point to the south is a lovely place, actually free of human waste. The village is isolated by a pedestrian-only zone about a square kilometer, and in from the beach. Idyllic to be able to walk everywhere unhindered by traffic.
    Yoga was first thing in AM, then leisurely bkfst ($2-3). Beach was great diversion. I did an ayurvedic “cure” which is not cheap, probably like a European spa treatment, for 2 1/2 weeks there, at about $100/wk, difficult with simultaneous yoga work. Cheaper is possible. It seemed to help my own case of heat rash or hives or sun allergy or whatever the hell it was, but it is not fast or immediate, some dietary suggestions were helpful, but very general (avoid irritating foods?!) Dinners were about $3-4 and lodging, non air conditioned, about $8/night ($12 Dec-Jan). European standards and AC will easily add many multiples, up to 200/night. Other parts of India easily 1/3 of these costs for acceptibly clean but not sparkling accomadations.
    Spent my last 2 weeks in Mysore, where my main yoga teacher lives, and had classes there. Economy slower here than Kerala, prices lower here but accelerating rapidly as Bangalore IT spills over. Completion of a 110 mile, 4 lane road Mysore- Bangalore caused 10 acre parcel land prices to increase about 6-8 times in 2 1/2 years.
    Wondered in December when I read of your braking problems, maybe a second set of old style caliper-clamp brakes on the other side of the fork or strut from your Vee brake? But then you have local heating of rim perhaps too much for pad composition and cooling surface dissipation area. If they could be separated 180 degrees on the rim it might work, but how to do that? What about an additional hub-mount disc brake? (requires rebuilding wheel, drats). I also like the wheel hub lighting generators.
    (Dangerously close to a lecture) Still getting flats? A wheel is a tension structure, so the weight at the fork tip/stay end is transferred to the wheel hub where the spokes pointing upward carry the bike weight. The horizontal spokes keep the wheel arc circle controlled in a circle shape. If the spokes are loose enough or stretchy enough to allow the hub to fall too far from the upper wheel arc circle, the lower down-pointing spoke may be compressed, into the inner surface of the inner tube, since the spoke barral-adjuster is only held away by tension. If it moves at all it will chafe whatever is in contact. If you cannot tighten the spokes enough to prevent this without breaking spokes, stripping adjuster threads or deforming the holes in either hub or rim aluminum structure, then you need bigger, thicker or stronger materials. Have you tried a Harley-Davidson spoke? I’ll be interested to hear how you solve this.
    Good luck and very best wishes, Jon.

  2. Jon Nostdal Says:

    PS, the internal Indian airfares have come down nicely since independent operators like Air Deccan, Spice Jet, and Kingfisher now offer real competition. The government monopolies have responded by asking permission to merge Air India with Indian Airlines. Airfare from Trivandrum to Bangalore R.T. was about $110 with all taxes, fuel surcharges, airport fees, etc. Baggage allowances are restrictive, excess charges on anything over 20 or 25 Kilos. Cheers, Jon.

  3. rich ligato Says:

    hey guys
    I tried to PM you through Thorntree but it did not seem to work. Amanda and I just arrived in Bangkok from the Cambodian border. We’re staying at SUK 11 at sukhumvit soi 11. Where are you?

  4. Mark Stosberg Says:

    I suspect the drink-in-bag is used because it’s valuable for the shop owner to keep the bottle and recycle it.

    Thanks for the stories.

  5. Johnny Wilkinson Says:

    Sarah, you definitely sound high maintenance. Whinge, whinge, whinge. And being pissed off that your husband doesn’t get sick or has other health issues. WOW!

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