Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Off the Beaten Track to Hua Hin

A trip to Hua Hin and anyone will tell you to take Rama II road, onto Phet Kasem and through Phetchaburi. Eventually one arrives in Chan Am where one takes the straight road south, skirting pass Hua Hin airport and finally arriving into her town. Getting there on weekends means raised blood pressure in stupid traffic because everyone in Bangkok wants to go there at the same time.

Off the Beaten Track
Now, there is a more interesting and relaxing way to get there for the traveler, a shorter way, but on narrower roads. This means slower drive but at least, one is moving in car instead of swearing and extending curses to all the ancestors of the drivers in surrounding vehicles. This is a less well known route through the coastal planes inundated by salt farms. To get on to this alternative, head left just immediately off a PTT petro station on Route 35. Not sure what the name of this road is but to the station is mark 13°21'25.53"N, 99°56'17.36"E on the GPS. The turn off is also also spots a small sign that states Shortcut to Cha Am.

The Alternative
Immediately, you will be greeted by a vast expanse of flat lands on the rural roads that you travel. On both sides will be waterlogged pastures of which some are for aquaculture but mostly for harvesting salts. You could easily tell which areas are meant for what by simply winding down your windows. Stench of a thousand rotten fish means fish farming, no stench means where the salt is. If the season is correct, which unfortunately for me was not, there will be salt flats gleaming white and visible, stretching for miles beyond and into distance.

To satisfy your hunger, the area is dotted with countless small restaurants offering very fresh seafood from the region. We found what was called Boat Restaurant (13°15'53.26"N, 99°56'35.98"E) and never regretted our decision to try it out. As the name says it, it is a restaurant on a boat. There was a not so common exotic vegetable dish that we ordered and it seemed to be the kind of stuffs that you scrap off the bottom of fishing boats. But hey it was tasty nevertheless and we found out eventually that it was harvested from the many mangroves surrounding. We had baked crab and we hit jackpot. It was fully pregnant with roe and ohhhh roe so good.. but so bad for the cholesterol. The Fried River Prawns with Garlic was fantastic too with the white meat deep fried in good hot oil. The shell was a crisp and the meat retaining moisture with the taste of garlic well coated and permeated. All in all, the meal was reasonably priced at a mere 700 Baht.

Took us 4 hours to get to our destination but it was a great drive and the Boat Restaurant was an added discovery. Get off the beaten track and onto something new. Thailand is so big and so full of places to fascinate one that seeks. Always something amazing and unseen at every turn of the common roads.

PTT @ 13°21'25.53"N, 99°56'17.36"E
The Scenic Route is full of View Points
Roe, so much Roe
Signs stating you are on the Scenic Route
In the Restaurant
The Strange Weedy Dish
Boat Restaurant

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