While we weren't in the classroom taking out TESOL course, we tried to get out and explore what Hua Hin has to offer. Located three hours South of Bangkok, Hua Hin is a popular tourist destination for Thai people. Even the royal family has their vacation palace in Hua Hin.
Hutsadin Elephant Sanctuary
Although I don't think any animals should be held captive, the elephants at Hutsadin Elephant Sanctuary are treated well. They are a nonprofit organization that takes in old, retired, sick, or abandoned elephants and aims to provide them with the best life possible. Elephants are such amazing animals. One elephant at the sanctuary has lived through both World Wars! It is so devastating that they have been abused and exploited throughout the years. Riding an elephant is one of the worst things a tourist in Thailand can do because it promotes the continuation of this abuse. I was confused that this sanctuary actually allows bareback riding. They claim it is more comfortable for the rider and elephant, but I still think it is wrong. It is my understanding that the sanctuary is underfunded, so I guess you gotta make money somehow.
Anyways, we purchased fruit unfit to sell at market from a local pineapple farm and fed it to the elephants.
Located 30km from Hua Hin, Sam Roi Yod National Park was one of the best day trips we made. After getting dropped off at the park, we paid a small entrance fee and embarked on a 3km hike to the cave. The hike took us up and over cliffs along the coast - it was beautiful! We passed a small beach with a restaurant then made the final 800m ascent to the cave. It was a steep climb but SO worth it. The cave is HUGE and one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. There is a temple in the center of the cave where the light shines through. It was an amazing place.
After the hike back we enjoyed refreshing banana chocolate smoothies before heading back to Hua Hin and finishing our lesson plans for the next day.
I didn't take any pictures at Rescue Paws, but it is a fantastic organization we visited that I need to mention. Rescue Paws not only takes in stray puppies and finds them proper homes, but its primary goals are to control the stray animal population through vaccinations, sterilizations, and education. Volunteers feed thousands of stray dogs all around Hua Hin. Once a pack of dogs trusts a volunteer (this takes months of patience and persistence), Rescue Paws is able to provide necessary treatments and procedures before returning the animal to its pack. They do incredible work and it was a lot of fun! Marissa and I volunteered here on the weekends while in Hua Hin. They provide free accommodation for anyone interested in volunteering!
Just a short walk from our apartment, the bars in Hua Hin were wild. The beloved King of Thailand passed away after our first week in Hua Hin, so the nightlife was drastically different the remaining three weeks in the city. The entire city was in mourning and it would be extremely rude to party and celebrate during such a devastating time. Some bars were open, but they played music quietly and closed promptly at midnight. These leniencies were likely because Hua Hin is a tourist destination and rely on the business of foreigners. However, if you happen to be in Hua Hin and are looking for a good time, The Blue Monkey is where it's at. The Hilton is also fun and has music even on weeknights, but is much more expensive.
My favorite places to eat while I was in Hua Hin were The Baguette, Tiger Cafe, and 31 Burger. The Baguette had amazing bread- something extremely difficult to find in Thailand. Their chicken sandwich is dope. Tiger Cafe is very close to our accommodation at Glory Place Hotel and served caesar salad and pizza. The pizza is great and the people are even better. 31 Burger has mac and cheese burgers, chickpea burgers, turkey burgers and beef burgers. You get to choose from a large variety of sauces and toppings to create your dream burger. You are sure to be disappointed with the Thai-size portion of fries though. I think they give you seven fries. Obviously, all of these places serve Western food and therefore are fairly expensive.
We ate street food whenever possible. Still a newbie in Thailand, I ate a lot of pad thai, fried rice, spicy chicken and basil with rice, and spicy papaya salad. These dishes will cost 30-70 baht ($1-2), whereas Western food will be 100-200 baht ($4-6). Though this doesn't seem like much, when you aren't earning any money and are drinking a lot of beer, it really adds up.
7-Eleven is life
I never appreciated these bad boys enough in America. Everything you need is at 7-eleven. You can add data to your phone and buy beer, snacks and anything else important. I think I'm gonna write an entire post reviewing the food at 7-eleven. I'll link it here when I write it. I was shy to try the prepared food at first, but my eyes have been opened and I'm never going back. Open 24/7 these places are the perfect backup plan for any situation.