We arrived back at Hualumphong station off the Chiang Mai train to be met by a really nice chap at the entrance who we initially mistook for a taxi driver and tried to ignore, but then realised he was trying to help and was directing us to where we needed to go.
Another 4 hours or so on the train to Hua Hin was a bit wearing, but the landscape (which we had mostly missed on our overnight journeys to and from Chiang Mai) was astonishing and our ticket included refreshments (cake when we set off and then a curry and rice meal at around 11:30am). The same train goes on to Surat Thani for the ferry to Koh Samui and Krabi and I was quite relieved that we had opted to terminate our journey in Hua Hin!
There were a number of Songtao’s at the station and a lady driver approached us and asked us where we were going, she quoted 200 baht which was exactly the amount Kayla at the Anantasila had said we might have to pay, so we said yes immediately.
I should explain about Kayla. Once we booked the Anantasila I emailed the hotel with a couple of questions and she was brilliant both in responding immediately and in her hugely helpful answers. During our stay in Chiang Mai, I had a crisis of confidence over getting back from Hua Hin to Bangkok for our last night. The train times were really inconvenient and we didn’t want to experience the Bangkok Bus Station again (not with cases anyway), so I asked Kayla about arranging a taxi and she suggested that we take the 10:45am Dusit Thani bus back for 600 baht pp which was an ideal solution. Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet Kayla during our stay, but I am hugely grateful for her excellent information and help.
Our room at the hotel was large and comfortable and overlooked the pool and, as we were staying midweek and slightly out of season, it was very quiet with just a few families with children and some other couples.
We went for our usual walk to scout out the area. There is a beautiful sweep of beach from the Khao Takiab headland and it looked very clean until, as I was walking barefoot along part of the stretch, I came across a broken bottle buried in the sand.
We then walked away from the hotel along the road. There is a huge amount of building work and development taking place at Khao Takiab but the surrounding options for food were really quiet. The seafood market which operated between 9 and 5am was deserted and the road towards the bus terminus is via a bridge over a sewage outlet which, when the tide is out is nauseating and we couldn’t even bear the thought of stopping at any of the bars on either side of the drainage ditch!!
We had lunch in the hotel and then sat by the pool for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening we enjoyed cocktails and supper in the restaurant. As I mentioned in my hotel review, the food was excellent and it was obvious that their chef was passionate about his menu including both Thai and European food.
As this was the “relaxing” part of our holiday and the weather was beautiful, we were straight on the beach and settled on our sunbeds after breakfast. There was a lot going on – horseriding, a banana ride which wasn’t hugely entertaining as it was pulled behind a jet ski and all of the riders just got dumped in the surf! No chance of hanging on. We were offered pedicures, manicures, massage, sunglasses, swimwear, sarongs and fruit baskets by the various sellers and we listened to the thunder storm along the coast.
Rather than swim in the sea (Jellyfish warning and memories of the sewage outlet were a bit offputting), we used the pool which was deliciously warm and had the illusion of an infinity pool once in it.
We took a 15 baht bus ride into Hua Hin for supper, but had a true failure in our search for somewhere suitable to eat and ended up, via a tuk tuk taxi ride, back at the hotel for one of the most excellent margarita we had had in the who holiday followed by the lovely set thai “meal of the day”!
I had arranged a wine tasting package at Hua Hin Hills vineyard and, as we opened the curtains to pouring rain, it seemed like a good plan. The Hotel’s tuk tuk service dropped us at the Baht Bus terminus and we got off at the Market Village with ½ hour to spare. The package included a minibus transfer to the vineyard which was about 45 mins drive, but another great way to see the surrounding countryside. We were welcomed at the vineyard with a grape juice drink and then taken, in a truck with an Australian couple who were obviously regular visitors to Hua Hin, to meet Honey, the elephant for our ride around the vineyard…
finally! I got to see (and sit on) an elephant!
Chatting to the Australians, we discovered that there was a whole area of Hua Hin we had missed on our attempt the previous evening, and they recommended that we try a seafood restaurant on the seafront along from the Hilton for a meal (duly noted).
Back at the vineyard restaurant , our package included a tapas taster menu and accompanying wines. The food was excellent and just right for lunch and the wines were the first we had since leaving Heathrow… I wouldn’t necessarily choose Thai wine, but the ones we tried weren’t undrinkable and it was a fun experience. Our bill came with a gift bag each containing grape juice, grape vitamin drink and grape jam and coconut cookies. The morning had been a really different experience. It would have been good if it had included a tour guide who would explain the growing season , they types of grapes etc, but as its quite a new enterprise that might come with time.
The bus dropped us back at Market Village and we set off to find the seafront and do a reccy of the recommended seafood restaurant and, after a beer in seafront bar, we headed back to the main road to hail a baht bus back to Khao Takiab for our hotel and to spend the remainder of the afternoon by the pool.
We took the Baht bus back into town for the evening and walked back down to the seafront, past the Centara Resort and the Hilton. We had a cocktail in a small bar almost opposite the seafood restaurant (I think it was called the seabreeze) and then headed for the recommended restaurant. It was packed with side by side tables on the raised area over the beach (all uncovered so not sure what the bad weather plan was). We spotted our Australian friends from the vineyard (which meant that we had found the correct restaurant) and sat on a table next to another Australian couple who were happy to explain the dishes they had in front of them!! The food was excellent, it was a wonderful night and our 200 baht ride back to Anantasila was worth it for the experience.
We were collect by minibus and driven to the Dusit Thani Resort after breakfast. We then handed over our 1200 Baht and moved to a new minibus for the drive back to Bangkok. Definitely the most convenient way both to travel and arrive and when we explained to the Dusit Bangkok staff that we weren’t staying in their hotel, they very graciously arranged a taxi to the Siam Heritage for us! How accommodating was that!?