Hua Hin

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Hua Hin Jazz Festival

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

© Frank P. Schneidewind

A yearly event at Hua Hin, the charming royal seaside resort on the western gulf-coast was drawing plenty of Jazz music lovers to town. The tenth repetition of this festival is now scheduled for the weekend of August 26th and 27th 2011. Since that is starting in a day from now, you guessed it right if you said that below pictures are from our own archives from an earlier festival visit!


A Dutch beer company sponsored this event visibly before. New Thai laws prohibit this, as beer companies aren't allowed anymore to finance festivals for adults of this kind. Sounds stupid to you? Yeah, the Thai government loves to tell their people what they may do and what not. Selling of alcohol to minors is indeed an objectionable practice, but since every other Ma-and-Pop store in the boonies (Isaan, right!) sells hard-core moonshine booze with a 40% alcohol content to buyers in school uniforms – I personally would o.k. beer consumption at a Jazz-Festival, where the audience is mature and surely past their school uniform days. I beg Dutch readers to pardon me, if I express my dislike for that beer-excuse with a green corporate identity. But I sure liked their comfy beach chairs and the sexy sales ladies around Hua Hin.

Parts of the beach and parts of the town were converted into stages and beer tents, the most fun was to be had on the beach, where a neat breeze helped to cope with the heat.

The parking lot by the beach promenade was converted to an open air catering area, this picture was taken before any activity was scheduled, just prior to the event's start.

A short while later, things got busy and music lovers prepared for Thailand's biggest Jazz event. It was some sort of countdown and we were happy to be present. Due to heavy sponsoring, all upcoming concerts were free to visit on any stage town-side or beach-side. And there was a lot of them, all kinds of Jazz was offered and musicians came from far to participate in Hua Hin.

Things have deteriorated quite a bit with the financial sponsor plug pulled and the festival activity shrank. From four or five different stages down to two in 2010 and now in 2011, they have only one left on the beach (Centara area).

TAT is not to blame in this case, although their time and date-coordination lacks the standard professionalism. Websites keep broadcasting a June 2011 event that never took place, because of some election-clash in event-timing. Wrong dates are still on the web 2 month after the false June date! ;)

About the quality of entertainers I can't say much nor do I claim any expertise in the Jazz scenario. Expect some local entertainers and a few selected internationals. The massive amount of known names in the scene like in the past has faded much due to the lack of funding. I am sure it's worth your while if you're in the area, but a dedicated Jazz fan probably wouldn't travel far for this mini-event.

To give you an idea of what it was like in the good ol' days, here are some impressions of past events:

Lets start with the female presenters, the beer dudes paid hundreds of them to be omnipresent anywhere in the early years.

The army of green clad beauties were hired marketing students from Bangkok, shuttled in for this event through a promotion agency. The chicks gave the festival a nice touch, even if you're just a straight dude and Jazz wasn't exactly your cup of tea.

Beauty without the raunchy dresses and chrome pole palaces, Hua Hin was partying two days and nights. Night pics turned out bad, because of a faulty camera (or my level of long drinks consumed).

Melona usually does all the picture work, but she chilled in the sand at the beach stage with some female band members (local performers), while I run bezerk with the cam through Hua Hin town, shooting the green beauties by the score.

They almost never objected to have their portraits taken and smiled generously for me. And you kept the camera ready for shooting at all times, because one hardly made ten steps, before the next one popped up in front of the lens.


The only male staff on-site kept jugs filled and girls busy serving the thirsty crowds. Note the sleek saxophone, doubling as a beer spout!

 

When this event had a multitude of stages, it was a citywide event. The future will show if the organizers can rekindle the spirit from the years past. I have my doubts, but maybe they can pull it off again!

This year will only have a very limited number of performers. It is still a free of charge event, geared to bring some activity to this sleepy resort town in off season.

Spectator turnout will tell, although I personally will not trust TAT's reports later. They are much too famous for their self-shoulder-padding and boasting.

 

The Hua Hin Jazz Festival of 2011 expected Lineup

26 August 2011
16:30 – 18:00 University Band
18:00 – 19:00 Opening Ceremony
19:00 – 19:50 Kina Grannis
20:00 – 20:50 Orange Pekoe
21:00 – 21:50 Jirapan Ansvananda and Blue Sapphire
22:00 – 22:50 Maew Jirasak Panphum
23:00 – 24:00 Infinity

27 August 2011
16:30 – 18:00 University Band
18:00 – 18:40 Ganesha
18:50 – 20:00 P.O.P.
20:00 – 21:30 Ford & Friends
21:40 – 22:20 Koh Mr.Saxman
22:30 – 23:10 Norman Browns
23:20 – 24:00 Fourplay

 

Enjoy it, if Jazz is your thing. I personally am happy to have witnessed this event during it's peak period and would probably be disappointed, considering the efforts and cost to get there now. Make sure to stop by, if you're in the area – because Hua Hin is always worth a trip. My friend Rene Banagudos and his band (rock music of the finest variety) can now be watched nightly in the Hilton at Hua Hin. That highly talented band from the Philippines rocked Koh Chang's Sabay Bar before and they are missed much by their fans. Make sure to look them up and say "Hello" from Frank and Melona, you surely won't regret the stop-over there! 

And if hotel beds in Hua Hin outscore your budget, just camp out near the surf, like hundreds of Jazz festival guests before:       ;););)


Sea Pine Garden – Hua Hin, less known Jewel for Beachfun

Friday, December 4th, 2009

© Frank P. Schneidewind

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This prime piece of beach is to be found easily just south of my beloved City of Hua Hin, the Royal Seaside Resortcity on the western Gulfshore. Sea Pine Garden is the English term for the Suan Son Pradhipat, a retreat open to the public and run by the Royal Thai Army as a recreational facility. The distance from Hua Hin Town is a mere 9 KM or just over 5 miles. A songtheauw (public transport) runs to Khao Takiab, the mountain flanking Suan Son Pradipat to the north. The beach features great bathing opportunities in unpolluted waters and a well kept sandy area, shaded by huge Casuarinas or Sea Pines. http://www.tripadvisor.com  ranks it presently under the Top 5 of Hua Hin’s attractions!

Just follow Phetchkasem Road (Route 4) in southerly direction, until you see this sign:

A few Meters past it, you will arrive at a security gate and a PTT gas station, here you need to turn left. Unless during situations of heightened security, a friendly greeting by the guards is all you have to do here. Oh yes, almost forgot. A small nominal fee for the vehicle parking is sometimes charged. I forgot the exact sum, because it was under 1 $ in value and only charged occasionally. From here you follow the blacktop road eastbound to a parking area for cars and mopeds right next to their beachside Cafeteria and Snackeria.

The business is operated and run under the Command of the Military by civilian contractors, which are friendly and offer drinks of all kinds and some assorted Thai snacks.


It is sparkling clean here and their “Sai Lek Moo”, a noodle soup for only 30 Baht is a delicacy. Drinks are served in bottles or cans, chilled and at very reasonable prices. They also have a well maintained toilet facility here with freshwater showers. Toilet use is 3 Baht, they don’t charge extra for a shower. The early morning breezes here and their excellent and inexpensive foods made this a “must-stop” on all my Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur drives in the years past. It also is a great location to spend all day in the water, on the beach or on the terrace. For Bangkokians only a 3 to 3 1/2 hour drive away, it makes a perfect weekend get-away or a destination for a fun filled day trip. Untainted by much trash or annoying and intoxicated mass tourists, it is also highly recommendable to those with children. I have seen seniors playing chess all day on the terrace, but it never really appeared crowded like those dreadful public beaches in selected tourist areas.

The entire beach appears spotlessly clean, reason for that being is a 5 people cleanup-crew, which combs the beach daily in the early A.M. at first sunlight. Every forgotten straw, all small trash is being removed to have this pristine piece of land again ready for its daily bunch of guests.

The clean-up crew has been watched by me and observed over many years now, high season or not, Suan Son Pradipat keeps its great reputation. Several times over they sweep the grounds in their routines. Broken pieces of glass, commonly found on less maintained beaches have never been spotted by me here. Seating opportunities for families on tree stumps are provided near the Snackeria, you are allowed to bring your own food and drinks. Leave nothing, but footprints in the sand later and everyone will be happy.

At lunchtime it gets a little busier under the mighty Casuarinas or Sea Pines, when folks gather here for their family picnics. Bring a hammock or rent a beachchair for a low daily fee. Its chillout time here.

The terrace cafeteria is an ideal spot to start hourlong beachwalks, indulge in beachgames or submerge in the refreshing waters of the gulf. No noisy jetskis endanger your life or disturb the tranquility. There is room for plenty of people here.

The clear water is shallow, ideal for kids and seniors. Waves aren’t of threatening heights and my 3-year old niece always loved it here. Khao Takiab, the Chopstick Mountain with it’s temples and hordes of monkeys looms to the north. During the King’s presence in his Klai Klangwol Palace in Hua Hin, the silhouettes of three Royal Thai Navy vessels are on the distant horizon.

Lifeguards aren’t on permanent duty, but on public holidays this harmless beach boast extra safety for the swimmers. No strong currents were detectable, no sharp rocks or reefs pose any danger here.

Tarrifs and fees for the necessary rentals are signposted in Thai script, but helpful attendants will collect your coins or small bills for this great and inexpensive service.

The rental of inner tubes is also handled here, they add fun and safety to many and are very popular with Thai folks. The young soldiers manning this look a bit “Rambo-like” in their fatigues, but I can assure you they are as friendly as can be and keep a certain unwanted group of youngsters with a deficit in behavior and beach-bums away here.

Many stay until the late hours, as breezes amplify and the thirst for a cold beer when the lights grow dim pops up in young fellows. The spontaneous parties here in the evening are something special.

Portable grills are allowed, quite a few guests fix their lunches or dinners themself.

The Southern Railway Line has a Stop here too, I could not figure out the exact timetable, but inquire at Hua Hin Station if you want to travel here cheaply and efficient by rail. Hua Hin hotel guests and holiday folks might like this feature a lot.

The southern overview shows another hill in the distance, several Kilometers away. The beach is wide enough even at high tide and the sand appears to be fine sand all the way.


Suan Son Pradipat isn’t run by profiteers or greedy folks, you can spend a wonderful time here and add memorable impressions to your lot. No masses of beach vendors, no elephant beggars or annoying timeshare-touts – this has quickly become my favorite hidden jewel for most beachfun action within easy reach from Bangkok. A rental car, moped or bicycle gets you here from Hua Hin in a whisk of time. Public transport in Hua Hin offers songtheauw rides to the other side of Chopstick mountain as seen in above picture, it still leaves a good walking distance to be covered by you. Taxis in Hua Hin are famous for overpricing foreigners. You may want to inquire with the train station or your hotel’s concierge for a possibe rail transport, if you don’t like to get your own set of wheels for a great day out.

For those living in Bangkok, there is a multitude of transport options wth the slowest being the train (6h). Bus Terminal Sai Mai has plenty of departures to southern destinations with scheduled stops in Hua Hin hourly (4 h). The quickest option may be the DeLuxe minivan from Victory Monument to Cha-Am and Hua Hin. It costs roughly 200 Baht one way and gets you there as quick as any Taxi would for a fraction of the fare.

My apologies to those of you, that feel double-served by this article – we at SIAMPEDIA have indeed published a similar one in German language before. It was originally being produced for a German magazine, called “Der Farang”. I have updated this and rewritten it for our English speaking friends on request by dear friends, which were looking for an uncontaminated beach to go with their children to play.