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Hua Hin
By Justin Barnwell
29 July 2010

Hua Hin is a comfortable 2-3 hour drive from the bustling city of Bangkok and very popular with weekend warriors escaping the lack of air in the city to the open stretches of beaches in search of relaxation, rejuvenation and a little bit of self indulgence. With this in mind I slid out of bed, stretched on my balcony then sunk into the lagoon like pool lapping quietly beneath my number 27-studio pier. The water must have been a balmy 25 degrees or so and after swimming the length of the 125 meter pool and back my body was awake and ready to start the day. As a Z-Luxe guest of the resort my holiday host presented me the options of enjoying my included breakfast in the privacy of my resort studio or by the beachfront restaurant. I will never turn down the opportunity to be surfside so I casually strolled through the manicured lawns, past friendly faces and was greeted at the restaurant. I learnt that the restaurant was built prior to the hotel and is a very popular destination of other hotel's guests. Later, the accommodation was built taking full advantage of the unusually long and narrow perimeters completing the resort. The smell of fresh coffee mixed with sea air floated through the open air restaurant and I took a prime seat over looking fishermen in thai boats pulling in small schools of fish with the background of fiery skies meeting the gulf of thailand. My breakfast of bircher muesli with fresh mint garnishing, a latte and fresh carrot and apple juice was a healthy start to the day.

After lazing in the pool and soaking up some sun I decided to have a walk along Hua Hin beach with the destination of the 20 meter high golden Buddha statue that I could see at the end of Khao Takiab beach.

I set off with camera in hand and a bottle of water passing beachfront hotels lined up next to each other until I saw crowds of people at a restaurant called Madame Greens Seafood. Being nearly lunch I decided to stop for a bite and see what all the fuss was about. My Thai fish chili curry was great but had an emphasis on the chili and my mouth caught fire… I got the impression that this was a local favorite with many Thai groups sitting by the beach enjoying freshly caught seafood and panoramic views. With the chili moving from my mouth to my belly I continued on to the Golden Buddha at the base of the cliff, leaving a donation at the shrine with a memorial to King Rama the 5th and collecting my brightly colored bracelet. I climbed the steep stairs and lost count after the 50th or so, reaching the top of the mountain and enjoyed the views overlooking the bay. It was a clear day and the view was breathtaking. I met a Thai family up at the lookout and sat with the father learning how he was here on holiday from Bangkok spending a relaxing time with his wife and daughter who currently lives in America. They offered to give me a ride back into town and I kindly accepted. We drove past the market type stalls and shop fronts that nestle at the bottom of the mountain and weaved through tuk tuks, motorcycles, food carts and general chaos in his luxurious 4wd. They were very friendly and offered to take me for a snack at the local shopping mall. I would of loved to have enjoyed food with them but needed to get back to Let's Sea for my afternoon spa appointment in which I was very much looking forward to.

Motorcycles are everywhere in Thailand and I flagged down a motorcycle taxi to scoot me back to the resort. I dumped my camera gear and headed back to the lobby where I was greeted and escorted up the stairs to the Gaia spa. I showered under the heavy rain shower then spent 5 minutes in the steam room prior to my treatment. The indulgence lasted for 2 hours starting with a traditional Thai massage relieving any muscle tension I had from sitting on a plane for 8 hours the day before. After awaking me from my nirvana my masseuse proceeded to knead me with a Thai herbal heat compress. The soft heated cloth wrapped herbs contrasted to the strong hands of the traditional Thai massage and was a perfect way to end this heavenly experience. After the 2 hours were up I felt lighter and seemed to float down the stairs to the resorts lobby. What an experience.

Back down in Let's Sea Lobby I was introduced by my Holiday Host to Khun A, The hotel owner who was to accompany me to dinner at Let's Sea's restaurant. We took advantage of the happy hour drinks in the lobby first and enjoyed a chilled glass of white wine. I hope I wasn't too vague after coming out of complete bliss of the Thai specialties treatment package but he was a very warming and comfortable man and we got along very well. Khun A explained the finer details of the hotel to me, in which I was very interested. The local producers of the resorts products, the design and inspiration of the resorts architecture and the higher pay rate his staff get which you can truly believe with the care and passion that they show to you as a guest. We finished our wine and proceeded to the restaurant and sat at a garden table overlooking the moon rising… there were groups of guests on table around us all enjoying their Hua Hin experience. Khun A introduced me to a Hua Hin Sun Rise cocktail with a refreshing raspberry flavor to start the dinner. We ordered starters of chicken sate skewer with Thai bread and a delicious Thai vinaigrette dipping sauce and deep fried A-Day dried squid with tartare sauce. We talked why Khun A opened the restaurant prior to the hotel proving that he could excel in the food and beverage area not having any prior experience in this field. Once happy with the restaurant and receiving fantastic reviews he commissioned the hotel to be built and thus completing Let's Sea. I learnt how Hua Hin is a place of relaxation from the overlooking 'palm facing to the sea calming the ocean' Buddha, to the horse rides on the beach, in which the hotel leaves out drinking water or as they call it a 'Horse Bar'.

Our mains of Fried Tiger prawns in a Garlic & pepper sauce, Steamed sea bass with spicy lime sauce and Baked pork spare ribs with pineapple arrived. Although too much food for two people Khun A wanted me to experience his favorite dishes from his restaurant. Although all delicious my favorite was the steamed sea bass with contrasting lime, Thai herbs and coriander flavoring. Khun A was all about contrasts and believes this is a distinguishing characteristic of the Thai and a basis of theme throughout his resort. Whether it was the contrasting colors of the resorts lobby, the contrasting textures of the rooms interiors or the contrasting flavors of the tasty food it was all about mixing two opposing things to unite to be one. I like this theory.

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