Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
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The Giant Swing in Bangkok, Thailand, stands in front of the City Hall. It was formerly used in a Brahman Hindu ceremony and later dedicated to the Thai King.

Click on title to view photo in large format: The Giant Swing in Bangkok, Thailand, stands in the center of the city, with the City Hall on one side and Wat Suthat Thepwararam on the other. The teak contraption was formerly used in a Brahman Hindu ceremony, during which young boys attempted to swing high enough to grab a bag of Read More

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I arrived in Hua Hin, Thailand, this past December just in time to celebrate the 88th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The King, who is also known as Rama IX, is so revered in Thailand that they hold a five-day celebration for his birthday. Streets and buildings were draped with white lights and stages were setup for musical performances, but the highlight of the festival was carving what was reputed to be the world’s tallest ice sculpture of Buddha.

In Hua Hin, Thailand, to celebrate the King's 88th birthday, a crew of world renowned ice carvers created the tallest ice sculpture of Buddha ever made from ice

In Hua Hin, Thailand, to celebrate the King’s 88th birthday, a crew of world renowned ice carvers created the tallest ice sculpture of Buddha ever made from ice

Since Hua Hin is the location of the King’s summer palace, the town has always gone all-out for his birthday, however this year’s celebration was more intense than usual due to the King’s declining health. As darkness fell and finishing touches were applied to the monolithic Buddha, locals gathered in front of the historic Hua Hin Railway Station for a candlelight ceremony to pray for the King. Read More

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At the far southern end of the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand, troupes of Hua Hin monkeys roam the wharves and seafood restaurants around Khao Takiab mountain, searching for food. This Dachshund, a pet of one of the restaurant owners, was fearless when confronted by a monkey three times his size

Click on title to view photo in large format: At the far southern end of the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand, troupes of monkeys roam the wharves and seafood restaurants around Khao Takiab mountain, searching for food. This pet Dachshund was fearless when confronted by one of these these aggressive Hua Hin monkeys, which was three times his size. When the dog didn’t back off, Read More

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Slipping an offering into the slot in the belly of this giant seated Buddha at Khao Tao temple in Hua Hin, Thailand is said to bring the donor good luck

Click on title to view photo in large format: Slipping an offering into the slot in the belly of this seated Buddha at Khao Tao temple in Hua Hin, Thailand is said to bring the donor good luck. After making a donation, visitors are directed up a short stairway to a terrace containing more Buddhas and cast iron bells, then further up to a museum that contains Read More

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Fishermen in Hua Hin, Thailand clean and prepare float lines after returning to the wharves at Khao Takiab with the morning's catch

Click on title to view photo in large format: Fishermen in Hua Hin, Thailand clean and prepare float lines after returning with the morning’s catch. Each day the fleet leaves before dawn from the canals and backwaters of Khao Takiab, on the south end of Hua Hin, returning when they have caught the day’s quota. Open-air restaurants next to the wharves display Read More

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The seaside town of Hua Hin, Thailand, has been a sanctuary for almost as long as it has existed. The village was founded in 1834 when farmers from the drought-stricken north moved south in search of a better life. When the railroad reached Hua Hin in 1911, Bangkok’s elite began to build bungalows. Among those who were enchanted with Hua Hin were members of the Royal Family, and before long the King Rama V had also built a summer palace on the beach. Down through the decades, Hua Hin has continued to be a weekend escape for Thais, and more recently, for tourists from all over the world. While it has a reputation as a “beach town,” during my recent month-long stay I discovered that it offers much more than sea, sand, and sun. If you’re considering a visit, check out the following review of what to do in Hua Hin:

Beaches:

Hua Hin beaches are generally very shallow with mild currents, thus they are especially good for families with young children. Jellyfish can be encountered during certain times of the year, but warning signs are posted during these times.

Hua Hin Beach: Located in the center of town, in front of the Hilton Hotel and Resort. Wranglers offer pony rides on this beach, and a variety of cafes and restaurants run the length of this beach.

Hua Hin Beach, in the center of town at the Hilton Hotel

Hua Hin Beach, in the center of town at the Hilton Hotel

Khao Takieb Beach: Located at the southern end of Nongkae-Takieb Road, this beach offers affordable day rentals of chaise lounges and chairs. The seafood restaurants of Khao Takieb Hill are just steps away. Read More