Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wora Bura, I remember your Spa

By the Beach
On arrival early in the morning, we contacted the Spa for our pre-booked session knowing that we will not be able to check into our rooms until after 12. Spas, they all smell alike, the aroma of an entire lemon grass forest squeezed into a tiny space, it was pleasant. Rooms, rustic with a heavy touch from the colonial era. The polished handles of water taps that had rounded knobs, reminiscence of eras gone by. Two massage beds with holes for your face and always that mysterious bowl with orchids directly below. The next room featured a large Jacuzzi tub and a shower. And where the hissing was coming from, the steam bath in yet another adjacent room. Our package started with a 15 minutes steam bath to get our pores working. I would have preferred a proper bath before my spa, but it was not part of the course. So my perspiration and stickiness plus the steam were not at all too comfortable for me.

The Spa Underwear
Oh, there it was again, the peculiar black genderless underwear. We put that on before what followed next, being scrubbed from top to bottom in grounded coffee beans for 15 minutes. What was the therapeutic nature of the coffee I had no idea, but it felt good when my back was rubbed. Masseur however, did not rub between my butt cracks, and sides of scrotum. Those were no-touch zones. As the intense scrubbing continued, I was flipped over for more till I nearly dozed off to the constant sound of how you rub salt on a fish. I was being marinated and what almost always followed next is into a baking oven. Since cremation was not part of the spa treatment, we were told to bath ourselves. That’s where I used the residual coffee all over my body for the butt crack and sides of scrotum.

45 minutes of aromatic massage. Marinated again, in the lavender oil I had chosen previously. I told my masseur to focus on my palms and aching lower back from countless hours of desk bound computer work. I soon succumbed to slumber as the masseur worked on my back. And when I was awoken gently to flip, I was drooling down that face hole. That was when I knew the purpose the bowl filled with flowers below every massage bed.

The Zoo
Our rooms were ready at 2 after our lunch. Well matching the price paid for and instilled with wooden styled furniture of mainly dark wood. A large bathtub looked into our bedroom separated by wooden window sills we could close. A change into swimwear and to the pool I went, who wouldn’t want a lazy afternoon under the salt laden Hua Hin sun. Everyone did and literally everyone. The pool was a zoo, of screaming children and Thais immersed fully clothed. As with all other resorts here during the weekend, it has always been a zoo. The pool was big and perpendicular to the sea. There was a poolside bar, it was deserted. At the end of the pool facing the sea, it overlooked a bar with a variety of alcohol laid out tasteful in a row, ready for mixing into concoctions of sinful cocktail. After some pool time, the earlier than normal dusk arrived, the so called “Thai winter” season had set in.

Tamboon by the Hotel Beach
Food wise, dinner was not too impressive for my palate. I have had better hotel food. It was a company dinner and so the reason I was dining there. In Hua Hin, you just gotta have seafood cheap and good around town. In the morning, breakfast was impressive. Wide varied and appetizing. It was also when I discovered the official time for Thais to have breakfast nationwide was between 8.45 and 9. Even King Nareasuan did not have a place to sit. I saw the actor who played King Naresuan, I did not know his real name. So, be early for breakfast on weekends before the crowd sets in. A pleasant stay in all, avoid weekends if can.

Rough Seas
Swing under the Vines
Spa Room

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hua Hin I-Am-On-Vacation Syndrome

Chilling Out at Hua Hin

Hua Hin does beat all places in surrounding Bangkok to top herself as the number one dress pretty and walk around to be seen destination. Bangkokians who travelled there looked like they came out from Esprit’s summer fashion posters. They dressed pretty to be seen eating as gingerly as possible on English cakes or cookies. They also feature that raised pinky when sipping from English teacups both men, women and the undefined.

Bangkokians can also been seen in their fancy I-Am-On-Vacation outfits near any inanimate object that had a hint of I-Am-On-Vacation in them such as the road signs, that old bicycle and always the bright red letter box. For some reasons, they are always attracted to letter boxes. It is believed that Bangkokians on vacation ritually wear the same I-Am-On-Vacation outfit into bed so that the next morning, the first thing they do is a selfie and a post to Facebook and Instagram.

Middle East ain;t It?
Anyway, it had been near to a year since my last Hua Hin trip. We left early, very early at just before 7 and reached in 2 hours. It was wise to do so. Saturdays are when Bangkokians make their mass pilgrimage to the seaside town. Any later and it would have taken 4 or even 5 hours to reach our destination. Stayed at Wora Bura, it was a good hotel, but pricey. Colonial styled she was and that added uniqueness of sorts to our stay. Hua Hin had changed much. On this trip we discovered that Camel Republic had sprang up. The Middle Eastern influence had arrived in this seaside town. Great magnet for seflies in I-Am-On-Vacation outfits. We had to pay get in, so we did not.

For good cheap live seafood picked from buckets and have their lives BBQed painfully outta them for our enjoyment, it would normally had been the shores of Cha Am. But we found a new place this time round. And it was the area around Khao Takiap where a small peak of a granite hill with a temple on top extended out to sea. Laid on the outcrop facing the sea, a restaurant. I think the whole town was there for lunch. So we went elsewhere. The fishing boats were all moored along the dock alongside the road leading in. The fresh catches were laid out for purchase in concentration denser than those in Cha Am. Opposite the road that divided, the row of many simple restaurants that produced a wide array of gastronomy from the fishermen’s catch.

Wilaiwan Interior
And to Wilaiwan for lunch. Nice cottage styled restaurant, yet another picturesque venue for I-Am-On-Vacation pinkie raised tea sipping. I was skeptical if the food was as good as the place looked. I took my skepticism back when I had a mouthful of the spaghetti that had dried tomatoes, bacon and grinded basil which made the dish green. Spectacular, if it can be a word for taste. That was what I would call that awesome creation. The Wagyu burger was not at all too bad, but I did not know how much of a Wagyu cow was actually in that patty. Many Thai restaurants had gotten to know of the new Wagyu word and are profusely acquainting their dishes with it. It was just like when everyone was going nano this and nano that. There was nothing nano about those products, other than naturally occurring nano bacteria. Anyway, the burger was cooked right, had that trait of juiciness within and the searing on the surface I liked. The French Fries that accompanied was aromatic in flavor, not your average fries done in normal cooking oil. Till this day I wondered, what did Wilaiwan fried them in. There was this red mysterious BBQ powder of some sort sprinkled over them which made the taste even more dazzling. Wilaiwan tasted as good as she looked. Not every themed restaurant in this country I know can achieve that.

Hua Hin Hill Vineyard
And then there was Hua Hin Hill Vineyard. Food was not impressive at all. I had the spicy bacon spaghetti. Home delivered spaghetti from The Pizza Company actually tasted better. This vineyard was located deep within the mountain range westwards and she was pretty isolated. She produces what is known as new latitude wines (aka, wines produced in the wrong climate). There was a crowd at the wine tasting station, girls accessorized like a Christmas tree in their long flow white dresses, again the I-Am-On-Vacation syndrome where iPhones and Samsungs were heavily involved. The vineyard offered elephant rides among the grape vines and I bet the huge chunks of elephant dung are use to fertilize them grapes. I did not know how good these wines were, but the last encounter with such wines by a seasoned drinker was - “please put this wine away”. Still, maybe things had changed just like how Hua Hin had evolved, and Thais had figured out the art of wine making.

Lone Monk on the Beach
Hua Hin is now filled with so many attractions. With 2 artificial floating markets now and many more artificially inseminated cultural sites such as Santorini, I wonder how long more will it be before the Pyramids of Egypt are plagiarized there. A relative of mine from Singapore who visited said “only the blue and white colors looked like Santorini she visited”. She was not too impressed with her stay in this seaside town. However, to many, Hua Hun is a place still to get excited for. For me, she is a pleasant stone’s throw away from city life. To be in a pool surrounded by clear skies not obstructed by tall buildings, the sound of the reverberating sea to accompany.

The pool in Wora Bura

Fresh Catch at Khao Takiap
The street of Khao Takiap
Where our food Comes From
Along Khao Takiap
Boats at Khao Takiap
Wora Bora