Dogs. Horses. Monkeys. Chickens. Bats.

A fairly busy day, today. I started off with a bit of a chill-out, eating semi-melted chocolate and drinking water. I’m actually getting into the habit of drinking enough non-beer fluids which will suprise many people back home. Then off I went for a quick bike ride around the nearby lake, armed with my camera.

On the way back I booked a taxi for 1:00 to take me to Khao Tao, then plonked my bottom in front of my laptop and watched Bad Santa from a dodgy DVD. Hilarious and utterly not family-friendly viewing!

Before heading to get the taxi, I took the “dog-which-would-not-be-comfy-with-me” for a walk on the beach. Eddie was well-behaved as ever due to my Dr Dolittle abilities and the fact that she’s soft as muck.

The taxi, however, tried to be too helpful. Because the people at the resort I got it from knew I was staying with people who worked at Chiva Som, they decided that this was where I really wanted to go and I’d obviously made a mistake. Hence, I found myself dropped off about 2 miles from where I wanted to be… and without the right money. Typically Thai, the chap who drove me ran off down the street and finally found a shop where he bought something really cheap so he could get enough change. Needless to say, I tipped well! After all, he was only doing what he thought was best and I can hardly complain about being “forced” to walk down a beautiful beach like the one south of Hua Hin.

The fun bit was getting to the beach as I was on of the main roads running parallel to it. I’d bee told to just “go through” the Hyatt. So I did. I spotted the sign, turned left and walked up a huge, posh driveway. I was “wai”‘ed at the entrance by a man in a very smart suit, welcomed by the reception staff, greeted by the porters and nodded to by the pool attendants. While all the time just using their stupidly expensive 6-star hotel as a pathway to the beach. I could have gone into the toilets, changed in to a swimming cossie, and stretched out by the pool. I could probably even have billed stuff to a room I wasn’t staying in, but I’m too nice.

Once on the beach, I stopped to take some pictures of some very interesting crabs. They’re tiny – millimetres across- and hide in little holes you can see all along the surface as soon as they see/feel something approaching. They feed by searching through the sand for vegetative matter, rolling the sand into balls as they go, and creating huge “fields” of balled-up sand. I got a few photos of one of the critters and a little video of him making sand-balls.

The target at the end of my walk was Khao Takiap (literally Chopstick Mountain), commonly known to tourists as Monkey Mountain for reasons which are about as obvious as you probably think from the name. After walking past a huge golden Buddha, up some very steep steps, over a rise next to the cat shelter, down and left past a seafood restaurant you encounter the first shop selling bags of bananas “for the monkeys”. Only 50Baht, so I took some and put them in my backpack for safe keeping.

A couple of hundred more yards gets you to a courtyard area with a temple, some shops and a hundred or so monkeys. I think they’re Japanese Macaques, but there’s little information anywhere about them. Again, there is a shop selling bags and baskets of various sizes which you can feed to the little critters. If you’ve ever wanted to feel popular, this is one way to do it. As soon as you have food, you’ll find yourself surrounded. And literally jumped on. Sadly, I didn’t get any photos of the monkeys on my back as I was there by myself. Maybe next time!

It’s hard not to feel sorry for the smaller ones, but feeding them is tricky as the larger monkeys are quite bullish and will shove them out of the way. They can also be rather sneaky, hiding one bit of food in a foot, pretending they don’t have any so you hand them another banana. There was even a handful of recent mothers, strolling along with their new-borns clinging to them.

I absolutely lost track of time. These creatures are so fascinating and so absorbing to watch. The tricks they pull to get food, playing with each other, picking up rocks and toying with them, teasing the local dogs… it’s like a school playground with no rules.

Eventually, though, I had to make my way back up the beach to Chiva Som. Everywhere else on the beach is pretty much wide open. Not Chiva Som. There’s a big, locked gate and a security guard (in full uniform despite the 40 degree heat) stood there to stop the likes of me getting in. Shortly after work finished, Lou and Sharon came out and we hired three horses for a trot down the beach to Khao Takiap and back. We ended up with two horses as Sharon’s huge stallion seemed to decide it was going to walk her and not the other way around.

Now, I’ve never ridden a horse before. At least, if I have it was so long ago I’ve forgotten. My bottom won’t forget that day in a hurry. Ambling along is fine, but giving them a quick tap so they start galloping results in compound bruising to the posterior. Still, I’d do it again. Lovely creatures.

The evening ended with me breaking a 14-month KFC drought and pigging out on a burger, three crispy strips and strawberry cheesecake desert. Yes, all the way to Thailand and I eat a KFC. IN fairness, I boycotted them until they stopped last year’s awful advertising campaign and they have.

The food over here’s different, though. First off, they don’t do tower burgers (boo). I also think the chicken was a little tougher than I remember, but it has been over a year. I do, though, like their “supersize” rules. You can have a larger drink for 5Baht, or larger fries for 5Baht, or both for 10Baht. I always found in the UK that to get a large fries I also had to get too much Pepsi which I then insisted on drinking. The drinks come in plastic cups instead of waxed paper, and the drinks carriers are a simple but ingenious plastic bag with bits sealed so you can put several cups in them and carry them easily. Smart stuff.

Batman Begins was watched with dinner. And wine. Much sleep occurred soon thereafter.

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