Hey everyone! Instead of doing gifts for Christmas this past year, my family decided to take a trip together. We chose to go to Hua Hin Thailand, which is about a four-hour drive from Bangkok. Hua Hin is a more rural and less touristy area with a relaxed atmosphere and great local people. This has been my parent’s favorite vacation spot for the past two years and this was my first time to go and experience it for myself. I have always wanted to visit Asia, and this trip was such an exciting time for me. I definitely recommend foregoing gifts and planning a family adventure that you won’t forget next Christmas. For this post, I’m going share with you some of things I learned on the trip!
THINGS TO DO:
Markets: Asia is known for their markets, which are usually outdoors and are filled with delicious food and other items for sale. The night markets in Hua Hin open around sunset, and they are some of the cleanest night markets you’ll find in Thailand. There was live entertainment at the Hua Hin night markets, where Thai people performed a lot of American songs, including Sweet Home Alabama, which I was not expecting at all. The musicians can sing pretty much any song you request. There is also a floating market near Hua Hin, as well as a train market. The floating market takes you by boat throughout the market, and you can stop at different stands or hook onto other boats that are selling items you want to haggle for. At the train market, all of the vendor items are laid out on the train tracks, and when the train comes, they move their stuff and then set it up again. It is really fun and unique thing to watch. You can find some really great souvenirs and food at any of these markets.
Hiking: One day, we hiked up a mountain to visit a temple at the top. If you don’t like monkeys, then hiking anywhere in Thailand probably isn’t for you. They’re absolutely everywhere. However, I’m terrified of monkeys and I survived. Monkeys here also like to steal, so don’t wear your sunglasses or keep them on your head. Also make sure that things like your phone or camera are tucked safely away when you’re not using them. I’m glad that I got over my fear of monkeys because the views were incredible. The top of the mountain was a cavern-like space with light shining down on this beautiful little temple. I just wish I was in better shape so that I could’ve enjoyed it more, because man that hike was painful.
Temples: Beautiful temples are all over Thailand, and this was definitely my favorite part of the trip. My brother and I rented a motor bike and drove through Hua Hin finding magnificent temples in the most random places. Doing this gave us a lot more freedom to explore on our own and spend more time at places than we could if we had a tour guide. I definitely recommend renting a motorbike if you are comfortable driving one. Just make sure to always watch your surroundings, because the driving rules and regulations are extremely lax in Thailand, making driving and traffic pretty chaotic.
Food: Thailand has the freshest fruit, so I love to get pomelo, coconut, and mango from vendors. They also have a lot of durian fruit, but that is a fruit that people either love or hate, and I personally am not a fan of it. My favorite snack to eat in Thailand is the mango sticky rice, which consists of fresh sliced mango, sticky rice, and condensed milk. I also love almost any meat that’s on a skewer, which they sell everywhere. The seafood is also delicious, and steamed whole fish is a popular item that I enjoyed. Thai Tea is another must-try when you visit.
Products you should stock up on: Elephant pants are so comfortable that I bought three pairs for myself. They are called elephant pants because they were traditionally made to ride elephants with, but now everyone wears them. They are super light, loose, breathable, and they come in so many different patterns! Prickly Powder is another thing to stock up on. Thailand is very hot and humid, so this was a must-have for me, and I also brought some home to help combat the Texas heat. The powder creates a cooling sensation on your body and relieves itching caused from the heat and humidity. I also brought home Soffell mosquito repellant, which works great and since Texas also has a lot of mosquitos, I stocked up on it as well. The last product I stocked up on was Poy-Sian. It’s a little tube that has two uses. You can smell it and it helps relieve vertigo, or you can put it on bug bites to relieve pain and itching. It provides a cooling/numbing sensation to itchy bug bites, and the smell repels other bugs as well. It’s definitely one of my favorite travel finds of all time. Souvenir-wise, I personally always choose a piece of local art to take home. I like how art varies from place to place, and I love having different pieces from different countries on my walls to remind me how big and beautiful the world is.
-Alyson McAnear, MS-LS Candidate 2020