Monday, November 25, 2013

Exploring Hua Hin

So first things first we rented a scooter at the place right next to our hotel. One day, 200 baht (about $6.50 US). Good deal. What we didn't realize is the gas gauge was not broken - it was empty when we got it. :( That will come into play in a minute.

We drove directly out to Wat Huay Mongkol.

This is a giant statue of a famous Thai monk (Luang Phor Thuad) that sits on a hill about 20 minutes inland from Hua Hin. Apparently this monk is well known for his enlightenment and for performing miracles and his mere presence (even as a statue) guarantees your safety. Which may come into play in a minute. :(

The whole thing is free - free parking too. I'm not sure if we would pay to see this, but it's definitely worth seeing for free.

As you walk around the statue, you find other images and statues covered in gold. We found out that you could purchase these little stickers and pay your respects by sticking them on the statue of your choosing.

They're like little gold post-it notes.
At the base of the hill, on both sides, sit exquisitely carved elephants with three trunks.

We left just as seven coach buses arrived together, so it was a good time to take off for sure. We drove for about two or three minutes and then stalled. Weird, right? I got it going again, only to stall a few seconds later again. :( I thought it had died, but when I opened the gas tank, it was dry as a bone.

Out of Gas. Middle of Nowhere.

So here we are, 20 minutes outside Hua Hin, with no idea where to go or what to do. No phone. No ability to communicate. Stuck.

So we said a prayer. Because that's pretty much all we could do.

So I start pushing the moto down the road in the direction of town, and barely a minute later, a kid on a moto stopped to help us. He had zero english ability, but using hand gestures and foot gestures, he got Isa on the back of his moto and me on ours. We're so grateful he was patient with us because we had NO idea what he was trying to accomplish. We knew he wanted to help us, but we couldn't figure out what he could do without a rope or a truck. Then he managed to get behind me just to one side, he put his foot on my back foot rest and he started to move, pushing me along. We started slowly, then quicker and quicker. We drove for about a mile or so, crossing a large intersection that we just prayed wouldn't have any cars coming so we wouldn't have to stop - we didn't, whew! - and he pushed us into a gas station.

If you were ever wondering if God answers prayers, now you know. My goodness were we grateful for that kid. And it looks like Luang Phor Thuad's statue indeed helped guarantee our safety. :)

With a full tank of gas, we took off toward the beach.

Khao Takiab

We parked in the dirt parking lot leading into the beach on the far side of the hill and wandered out onto the sand.

We decided not to hang out here because we wanted to go up monkey mountain (that's the other side of the hill in the picture above - it's actually called Chopstick Mountain, but everyone calls it monkey mountain because, well, you'll see).

You can drive most of the way up the hill and park in the lot just below the temple, right next to this sign.

Which is serious, because if you do decide to feed them, they swarm and it's crazy.

But if you keep your food in your bag, they just hang out with you.

We hiked up the stairs to the temple on top (well, it's actually about half the way up - I couldn't find a way to get to the peak).

But even if it's not the very top, the temple still gives you a pretty good view of the coastline.

We returned to our moto and drove around to the backside of the mountain and found a vacant platform with a few pagodas and statues. It was interesting and photogenic, especially on a nice day like today.

There were a few rogue monkeys down here, one of which tried to run off with my water bottle after he stole it from my backpack. I chased him down and he dropped it and ran off. I need my water when it's this hot!

At the base of the hill, we stopped by a cute little fishing village. We were going to grab some fresh food because a friend of ours said it was delicious, but none of it looked quite right and so we chickened out.

From here, we drove north of Hua Hin toward Cha-Am in search of a better beach. We failed. So we returned to Hua Hin and set up camp near the town center.

Hua Hin Beach

We watched people playing games, horses strutting by, and the sun setting. (Well, kinda. It set behind us, but the sky was still cool.)

That's monkey mountain and the temple in the distance.

For a pre-dinner snack, we stopped and got Rotee, a Thai favorite. It's like a crepe with bananas or nutella and fried crispy. It was yummy.

Then we headed over to the night market. Full day. Good day.

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