Category Archives: Random Travel Stories

prachuap kirikhan

A Weekend in Prachuap Kirikhan

prachuap kirikhan

This post is about a weekend away in the dreamy seaside town of Prachuap Kirikhan, a few hours south of Bangkok. Tucked away in picturesque Prachuap Bay, the small fishing town of Prachuap Kirikhan is surrounded by spectacular natural beauty, with dramatic limestone outcrops framing an expanse of tranquil turquoise waters, punctuated only by colourful fishing boats bobbing on the waves.

Prachuap has yet to develop the dominant tourist industry of neighbouring town Hua Hin, and remains cheaper, more authentic and more true to Thai life. As such, while the town does rely on tourism, it is mainly from neighbouring cities like Bangkok, and it also has a strong local fishing industry which furnishes the many seafood restaurants along the front with fresh seafood.

Prachuap Kirikhan - Fresh fish at the night market

The first stop for many weekend visitors is the bustling night market that stretches along the prom after dark. There is no better way to acquaint yourself with the intimacies of local life than a leisurely stroll through this hive of activity. From puppies to massages, and beachwear to Thai delicacies, you can find a diversity of goods here that makes for an interesting and engaging introduction to the locality. I found it to be far more worthwhile than the much hyped night bazaar of Chiang Mai, which seemed to offer much of the same mass purveyed wares that could be found anywhere. The range of food available here offers a great opportunity to sit on the waterfront and enjoy an evening meal overlooking the waves.

The next morning, we decided to take a trip to the temple that was situated on a large hill overlooking the town. Overrun with macaques, the monkey temple Chong Khra Chok offers a challenging ascent up a monkey-infested hill to appreciate a supposedly magnificent view above the city. Not that I would be appreciating such a vista.

prachuap kirikhan - monkey temple

An early start was necessary to conquer the hill before the heat of the day made the climb intolerable, so we rolled into the carpark opposite at around seven am, past a group of monkeys loitering at the base of the hill awaiting their daily feed.

On parking the scooter, a kind and wizened old thai lady suggested we move it slightly so she might keep a watchful eye over it, gesturing to the gnawed cover of her own scooter as a warning!

After a few words in Thai, she then pressed a slingshot into my hands, miming the motion I would need to scare away any particularly territorial monkeys who might block our way.

So it was, flanked by soi dogs acting as stalwart security guards, and followed by a guide casting hunks of corn to distract and allow passage, we began the journey up to the monkey temple.

The stairs wound up the hill past curved temple roofs and through trees and undergrowth, around which swarmed tribes of macaques, preening, fighting, playing and protecting their young.

prachuap kirikhan - monkey

Our guide informed us that the monkeys were increasingly hungry towards the top, where a single solitary monk lives and feeds them once a day. As such, the monkeys relied on the guides who conveyed visitors up the hill to provide them with food.

Luckily the slingshot proved effective at startling any mischievous monkeys who ventured a little too close for comfort.

That was until we met a suspicious character, who the guide later informed us was a particularly fearless individual!

As we approached the stairs he sat motionless on the stone wall. Cleaning himself, preening, but watching our approach with eyes wide open.

A moment later we were too close, and suddenly he was prancing and snarling on the bannister, hissing and showing his teeth.  His body coiled like a spring, ready to hurl himself onto my shoulder and sink his teeth into my neck!

Confronted with this I backed away slowly until out of jumping range! And then retreated back to the guide who was feeding monkeys just down the stairway, crying ‘ban ban’ come come eat monkeys!

At this point the slingshot went firmly in the pocket.  Having witnessed a peaceful man walk past with only his sun umbrella for protection, I saw that walking peacefully was the way to go. An obvious lesson for most perhaps, but fear begets fear, and peaceful coexistence was my goal.

With this in mind I decided to have a go feeding the monkeys. The guide offered me a bag of pellets which I initially scattered on the floor, and then placed a few into my open hand for the curious monkeys to scoop out into their mouth. The monkeys swarmed around hungrily eating up the pellets.

prachuap kirikhan - monkeys

I could see the timidity in their eyes, the babyish, almost human concern. I was overwhelmed with a strong sense of kinship. I could feel the hunger in their eyes.

Suddenly, feeling a movement behind me, I became aware that the bag of food pellets i had clutched to my side was gone. A swooping monkey had taken the opportunity to relieve me of it.

Looking up, I noticed on my hand a small scratch was drawing blood, and I began to feel a little faint. Blood was rushing to my head, and I suddenly I needed desperately to sit down. At once the concern of being surrounded by strange mammals was replaced by a sense of utter loss of control. Dizzy and dry-mouthed, my head was swimming.

Sitting on the steps, I took a few moments to rest and gather my thoughts. A few deep breaths later, and after some reassurance by our guide in soft Thai tones, I felt ready to continue, but decided to retreat down the steps, leaving the temple for another day.

The monkey in question was blind in one eye. He had not intended to scratch me. He was hungry, unable to hunt effectively because of his disability, and his poorly aimed swipe was the result of desperation.

At the base of the hill vendors cleaned the small wound with alcohol and offered reassurance. ‘mai pen rai’ no worries! However, being a concerned, hypochondriac westerner, I wanted professional confirmation, and a hospital visit later that day subscribed me to a course of rabies vaccinations and an insight into the efficient medical facilities of Thailand.

Later that morning we visited Wat Aao Noi, a hillside cave overlooking a fishing cove, containing a huge statue of a reclining Buddha. At the foot of the hill stood a magnificent teak temple, aside a lake bristling with carp and catfish.

We ascended up a broken stairway to a mysterious cave. A hole in the hill occupied only by stray dogs and buddha statues.the silence was an extraordinary contrast to the forest humming with life outside.

After a tiring morning of exploration, it was necessary to recuperate, and a taste of familiar western food. Sitting on the seafront metres from the shore, Pizza Khiri Khan is a small pizza restaurant running out the bottom of the owners home, a charming and helpful proprietor.

prachuap pizza

We had visited the restaurant the evening before at closing time, and on seeing the disappointment in our faces when we realised food was no longer being served, agreed to open up early for an exclusive meal the following lunchtime.

This was a great opportunity to enjoy homemade pizza. And sitting on the verandah amongst the palms watching the waves, the setting was unbeatable.


Any visit to Prachuap is incomplete without a refreshing dip in the bay. Ao Manao is a sheltered beach set within an air force base to the south of the town.  Although signing in to a military checkpoint in flipflops and beachwear is quite novel and a little disconcerting, it means that the manicured grounds provide a majestic parkland setting to the white sands of the beach itself, which is fringed with fragrant pine trees providing shade.

The shallow waters of the bay stretch out into the distance providing a basin of water that is so warm to the touch on entering it feels like bathwater, gradually cooling as you tread further into the bay.

Infact they were so inviting I decided to paddle out into the centre of the bay, and was swimming away feeling blissfully free when I noticed my baggy swimming shorts had come loose, and before I knew it were adrift, rapidly sinking from sight into the increasingly murky waters.

prachuap kirikhan bay beach

A moments freedom, as warm and inviting as a baby in the womb, and then panic! My black shorts had sank out of sight, and no amount of scouring the sandy bottom with my feet was finding them.

An embarrassing predicament. I began to ponder the options in my mind. Cast away my dignity and crawl up the beach shielding my dignity with my hands, casing controversy on this sweetly serene beach!

Surely not. I would have to find a remote cove and crawl out, but what then without shorts! In an airbase! As my predicament became increasingly real a panic rose in my belly. As naked as a baby in the womb, i would soon have to crawl out, visible to the world in all my glory!

In my confusion I called out to my companion, who was swimming over on the other side of the bay. Refusing to believe me, she swam over, and by the grace of god happened to catch my drifting shorts in her doggy paddle!

After plenty enough excitement for one day, it was time to board the minivan back to Bangkok.

Kieran Smith

Landscape architect, and writer at SIM Tourist. Kieran hails from the English Midlands and specialises in travel and environmental issues.

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Saint Thomas, Tropical Storm Emily, and Travel Plans

As some of you may know, I’ve been living in Saint Thomas for the last five weeks to get a break from Seattle. That time is rapidly coming to an end, as I’m scheduled to fly back to Seattle this coming Wednesday (only 2 days left!). However, we’ll see if “Emily” turns into an actual tropical storm or hurricane and changes that departure date. My friends and I were planning to spend the day on Saint John snorkeling tomorrow, but Emily may put a damper on that. More on Emily here and here.

I’ll keep you posted as to whether I make it off this rock on schedule.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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I’m Lovin’ It?

McDonald’s is one of my favorite fast food chains. I am well aware that this is not a popular position to take (both on McDonald’s and fast food more generally), but I love the two beef patties and special sauce, the french fries, the apple pies, the attempt at healthier foods like apple slices that nobody ever eats. Sure there are things I wish they would do better: be more socially conscious, purchase from farms that treat their animals humanely, the list could go on and on. But at the end of the day, sometimes a delicious fast food burger and some fries really hit he spot.

But this isn’t just a post about McDonald’s, it’s a post about travel and McDonald’s. You see, I have taken it upon myself to try to eat burgers in foreign countries that aren’t available in the U.S. So far, I have only done this in two countries: Greece and Japan. There was a burger in England (whose name escapes me) that I wanted to try, but the wife guilt-tripped me into eating at a “real restaurant” that didn’t serve “terrible food.” I will get back there some day, and I will eat the heck out of that burger. But back to the burgers I have tried:

The wife and I honeymooned in Greece. We flew from New York City, had an 8 hour layover in Amsterdam, and then arrived in Athens at about 4 in the morning. As we were walking in the airport, I spotted a McDonald’s. Seeing as to how I was really hungry, I decided to eat there. After browsing the menu, I noticed something that seemed gloriously amazing: the McFarm. I couldn’t really tell what it was based on the picture, but I ordered it. The first thing I noticed is that the Greeks have an extra utensil that I had never seen before. It was a tiny trident that I assume was used to eat the fries. It was a marvel of engineering, and let me tell you, it’s extremely fun to stab a fry with your trident and then dip it epicly in a pool of ketchup. The McFarm, meanwhile, was a huge disappointment. It was some sort of a sour pork burger, and I could only eat two bites before I tapped out.

The next time I tried a burger was in Japan. They had something called the Tsukimi burger, which seemed to be something close to a Big N’ Tasty with an egg ontop of the meat patty. And there may have been some special sauce or something. This burger was great going down, it was such a different experience from the McFarm that I remember shouting “this burger can’t beat me!” while I was knocking it out. Well, it turns out that this burger did end up beating me, because I really didn’t feel well for the next three to four hours. For those of you wondering, I was able to bounce back by dinner time, and the trip as a whole was a success. As you can probably guess for both cases, when things took a turn for the worse, I got that “I told you so” look from the wife.

My goal is to try to eat a burger at every country we go to. Then maybe someday I’ll break away from Drew and make my own travel blog, dedicated solely to eating McDonald’s in foreign countries. Even though I’ve had bad experiences in 100% of the times I’ve tried this so far, there is just something incredibly alluring about going to a fast food restaurant that I can find on every block of every city in the U.S. and find something unique and different on the menu.

Doe, A Deer

Hey guys, I’m a new contributor and this is my first post! First a little background: Drew and I met in college and I left for grad school on the east coast around the same time he caught the travel bug during the infamous European Adventure of 2005. I lived vicariously through Drew’s Facebook updates for a while, and then met my beautiful wife, who also loves to travel. We’ve been to a couple places now, and will be going to a couple more. My posts will be about these adventures, trips to come, and my general thoughts on whatever pops into my head. So here we go!

Ever been to Japan? If you have, have you ever been to Nara? This is Wikipedia’s first paragraph on Nara: “Nara (???, Nara-shi?) is the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, directly bordering Kyoto Prefecture. Eight temples, shrines and ruins in Nara, specifically Todai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kofuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gango-ji, Yakushi-ji, Toshodai-ji and the Heijo Palace remains, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara“, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

This is the first thing I would have written if that was my entry: the deer in Nara are crazy! If you want to see them, head over to Nara Park and get ready for a show, because it’ll be a wild ride. The wife and I had read about the deer, heard stories about the deer, seen pictures of the deer, but you really can’t understand the deer until you actually go pet and/or feed one. If you want to feed the deer, you’re going to need these special rice crackers that vendors sprinkled throughout the park will sell to you. I didn’t buy into the idea of the rice crackers, so I just figured I’d feed them with whatever was in my backpack. I basically ended up trying to feed them the equivalent of Japanese Doritos and it didn’t go over too well. I picked out a deer that was standing by itself, walked calmly over to it, and tried to feed it (we’ll call it Carl just to make this story more interesting).

I figured the deer would be happy to eat anything, but that is most definitely not the case. At first, Carl ignored me, then he rolled his eyes at me, and finally, when I persisted in my attempts to feed him, he kicked me and left. My wife, who is much smarter than I am, purchased the special rice crackers. So I stole one from her and reapproached Carl. Now Carl was happy to see me. He let me pet him, let me hug him, and he even let me feel his antlers (they felt like velvet). Carl  became my Facebook friend and we talk all the time. Ok, I lied about that last part, but it was awesome. So what did I take away from this experience at Nara? Japan is just a unique place. They really know how to domesticate deer there. And run 7-11s.

Pogosheepo — I Miss You (in Korean)

While talking to my friend living in Seoul on Facebook chat, I just learned that “pogosheepo” means “I miss you” in Korean.

Is that the most awesome word or what? I think so.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Yes, You Can Use Electrical Tape to Extend the Life Span of Flip Flops

My flips flops (which I’ve had for about 8 years now) have been slowly deteriorating over the past couple months on Santorini. Then, about a month ago, the tears in them officially became full on rips – making them impossible to keep on my feet. I was fully ready to buy a new pair of flips flops — but island life wouldn’t have any of that. Unfortunately, I can’t find any shoes my size (48-49) on the entire island of Santorini; the largest size of shoe you can find here is a 46. So I have to resort to somehow keeping my current pair of flip flops in tact for another week before flying to London — electrical tape seems to do the trick though I have to patch them every few days as a result of the effect of water, pebbles, and sun.

You can bet, come next Thursday when I take off to London, these things will be in the trash.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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