Monday, August 31, 2009

Baja Taco Going Mobile?

FBF just talked to Fred and he confirmed that the Baja Taco Stand is no more.

However, there's a possibility he may be going mobile, as in a cart. He made the rounds last night selling tacos and burritos and did well. Billy and his mates were beneficiaries and Billy was happy also.

So, after a month or two break, we could very well be seeing the Baja TacoMobile tooling the streets of Hua Hin.

Here's hoping.

Have a good break, Fred and be sure and include Bo Fai in your rounds.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 3:05 PM   2 Comments Links to this post

Friday, August 28, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

Turning off Petchkasem Road onto Soi 6 under the arch for Wat Bo Fai used to take you down a narrow road lined with old houses, a couple of restaurants and Mom and Pop shops. The two restaurants, Don Sadao and Ja Beak did OK.  Don Sadao was and is popular with the lunch crowd and Ja Beak got the evening families. Both have been there for many years.

Then they started building ticky-tacky homes and townhouses with bright orange and blue roofs. They widened the road as traffic increased with all the estates being built in the hills. It became harder to park on Soi 6 and then Toyota built their showroom and more townhouses sprang up across from Toyota.

Lots of shops have come and gone in the new townhouses. Stylish coffee bars became noodle stands; Internet gaming rooms get frequent visits from the guys in brown, close for a few days and re-open. Beauty salons open and close more often than the bars on Soi Desperation downtown.

More stands selling food in the evening near the tracks and the school and the Petchburi mob have opened a karaoke bar near the school.

Ja Beak was a home and restaurant with the tables in an open area where the lawn once was. Seldom full but usually a few tables every evening though for the past year or so they've done better selling bags of curry in the mornings and evenings.

A few weeks ago Ja Beak quit opening and then there were a couple of signs saying the house and restaurant were for sale.  In just a few days, the signs were down and the dismantling of the restaurant started.

Not sure what it will be but it sold so fast that my bet is that it will be another restaurant or commercial activity. Good location albeit parking will be a problem.

The owners were friendly folk and did good meals for a long time. Hope they got a good deal.


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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 12:08 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

UPDATE--Hua Hin Free Concert Festival

In recognition of the 100 Year Anniversary of Hua Hin, the Hua Hin Free Concert Festival will be held from the 28th of August through the 6th of September at Pone Kingpetch Park on Damnern Kasem Road near the railway station.  Most of the music will be Luk Tung with some big stars on several nights.

OK, FBF erred.  It appears that this series of concerts will be not be where he thought but in a different location:

View Festival in a larger map

This site has good potential. While not in the central business district, it's right next to it and close enough where folks can walk and/or park nearby. There are already several small restaurants and drink establishments along the railway track so there will be plenty to eat and drink and one can probably pick out a good restaurant and just sit there to watch the crowds and listen to the music.

Lots of possibilities here.

For those not clear on the map, the entrance at Soi 68 is roughly across Petchkasem from the Highway Department Office or just north of the Thai Farmer's Bank or Bangkok Banks on Petchkasem.  The other entrance is along Chomsin Road or Soi 70 where Chomsin cross the railway tracks.

This could work out fine for everyone.

More as I hear of it.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 4:46 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Baja Taco Calling It A Day?

This is not good news. Just in from the rumor mill but from one of the more reliable mongers:

I had what might be my last burrito from BT last night. They close at the end of the month (next week). Too high rent and not a great location for that biz.

Too bad.
This is not good at all. FBF has posted here before about how the location is not convenient for his nighttime partaking of burritos and haven't been there since Fred gave up on opening during the day.

Hope he looks for a better location so that FBF can once again have some of the best Mexican food he's ever paid for in Thailand.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 12:10 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ASEAN Summit Venue Is Thailand's Hua Hin

It's deju vu all over again. FBF figured it must be a misprint or a bug in someone's press release but double checking sees that Hua Hin is hosting yet another ASEAN Summit.

MCOT says here:
BANGKOK, Aug 14 (TNA) – The venue of 15th ASEAN Summit has been changed from the Andaman Sea coastal resort island of Phuket to the seaside resort towns of Cha-am and Hua Hin in the Upper South, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya announced on Friday.

The 15th ASEAN Summit and related Summits with dialogue partners was previously scheduled to be held in Phuket. The summit will take place October 23-25 as was originally planned.

The new venue is considered appropriate in terms of both accommodations and transportation, Mr Kasit said.

Cha-am is located about 178 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, while Hua Hin is about 100 kilometres further south.
Don't believe everything Channel 9 tells you though putting Hua Hin 100 kilometers south of Cha Am could very well put us in the Upper South. goes on to add that:
[The date] coincides with a religious Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, where devotees pierce their bodies with skewers.

The original summit (April 11) at the beach resort of Pattaya was canceled after anti-government demonstrators stormed the summit's hotel venue, where 16 leaders had assembled.

Rescheduled for June 13, it was postponed once again, citing inconvenience of some ASEAN leaders to attend it.

The summit involves 10 ASEAN countries and their allies-- Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
So, it'll soon be time to move the push carts off the streets and hide the stalls selling Man U shirts and Ferrari jackets for a couple of weeks. Don't know if we'll be getting another coat of paint or not but the NO PARKING signs will be out for sure.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 9:21 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Yearning For The Past

You've probably seen it, the pile of rust that could easily be mistaken for an abandoned cotton gin in West Texas or perhaps something gleaned from the back lot of MGM.

A lot of money was obviously spent on the building (the rumor being spread by the Essan construction hands in Bo Fai that the rusted out tin was imported notwithstanding) and there are hundreds of Bangkok cars and fleets of identically painted VIP tour coaches parked up and down Petchkasem Rd every weekend. So there must be something interesting there, right?

Before visiting Plearn Wan, FBF checked out their website and learned that someone has a thing for the Hua Hin of days past when travel to the resort by train was very convenient. Looking at their site, I wasn't sure if I'd be greeted by Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr or perhaps a Sarit lookalike and minor officials in pith helmets and khaki knee breeches.

FBF stopped by on a week day, hoping to avoid the hordes of the weekend. There was no one strutting around saying "et cetera", or anyone else for that matter, but there were lots of old movie posters and ads for patent medicines though my favorite ad of the gas passing elephant of Standard Oil wasn't present.

There's a sign at the bar saying that DJ Kob plays a special set of 70's music including rock 'n roll, pop, and disco in the evenings but the movie posters include Jarunee and Surapong who were more popular in the '80s. There's also a poster of Tata Young's first movie and Tata wasn't born until 1980.

Behind the 2-story facade, the place does look like a movie set. There's a stand selling sugar water, an ice cream shop, and a boutique selling an assortment of clothes that got a very strange look from Mrs. FBF.

There's what is called a miscellaneous shop that sells the five and dime junk stuff normally found in the Mom and Pop shops located near elementary schools. There's a little corner with a barber's chair and other tonsorial paraphernalia but there are large signs saying no standing or sitting or touching that really wouldn't make a nice addition for anyone even thinking of taking a photo.

The bar opens at 1700 for those longing to hear Love Me, Love My Dog. That's pretty much it.

There's a lot of construction taking place out back that looks like the makings of many small shops so there may be more delights in store in the near future.

As it is, it's like a theme restaurant or park, full stop.  Most of us have been to an Outback, or Disneyland, or even a Hooters. They have things to look at and things to eat or ride or ogle at while we empty our wallets. Right now, Plearn Wan has about 5 minutes of things to look at and then...

The grand opening was at the end of April and movie and TV stars of yesteryear put on a show to the delight of those who remembered who they were.

The website has a notice board with a list of activities but hasn't been updated since July. There's mention of an Open Air Cinema and Holiday House but they are both Coming Soon.

FBF realizes that even with a tad over 6 weeks in Thailand, he's just an F, and will never understand Thailand. FBF accepts that and wouldn't change a thing. Only problem is: Mrs. FBF was born in Thailand, can sing the anthem and understands 110% MORE than what FBF does not and she had one single question as we were leaving---"Why?"

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 7:16 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

More Bad News For the Tourist Sector

It's the perception that counts. Whether or not King Power and their supposed cronies the Blue Shirts have a thing going on with the boys in brown is true or not is not the issue. What is true that the story has made the Associated Press, the BBC and several other agencies (A Google of "Bangkok Airport Scam" gives you over 300,000 hits). If foreign governments are issuing travel advisories about Suvarnabhumi, then insurance companies are raising their rates, or at least thinking about it, and tourists are thinking twice about visiting The Land of S***s.

From the AP story

Warnings issued about alleged Bangkok airport scam
By JOCELYN GECKER, Associated Press Writer Jocelyn Gecker, Associated Press Writer – Fri Aug 7, 3:31 am ET

BANGKOK – Travelers to Thailand have braved a variety of hazards in recent years but foreign governments are now warning about a new and different one: duty-free shopping at the airport.

Several European tourists say they were falsely accused of shoplifting at the Thai capital's main airport and some recount being taken to seedy motels where they were shaken down for thousands of dollars by a shady middleman.

The Thai government has vowed a crackdown at Bangkok's scandal-plagued Suvarnabhumi Airport, which has barely recovered from last year's public relations disaster when anti-government protesters shut it for a week and stranded 300,000 visitors.

The airport opened in 2006 and has been dogged by corruption allegations, taxi touts with "broken meters" and baggage thefts — prompting a recent order for luggage handlers to wear uniforms without pockets.

But the allegations of extortion take things to another level.

"We are quite concerned about this," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Vimon Kidchob said Thursday. "The government of Thailand is doing everything we can to ensure the safety of tourists."

It's hardly the image the self-proclaimed "Land of Smiles" wants to project, particularly as Thailand's vital tourism industry faces its worst crisis in years after political instability, the global financial crisis and swine flu scares.

The scandal has spawned lengthy chatter on travel blogs about other scams to watch for in Thailand and a string of overseas travel advisories on the perils of duty-free shopping in Bangkok.

Ireland is warning its nationals to "be extremely careful" when browsing at Suvarnabhumi (pronounced "sue-WANNA-poom").

Britain and Denmark have updated their online travel advice to warn that Suvarnabhumi's sprawling duty-free zone has hard-to-detect demarcation lines between shops and patrons should not carry unpaid merchandise between them.

British couple Stephen Ingram, 49, and Xi Lin, 45, technology experts from Cambridge, took the alleged scam public in late June. Their ordeal was pieced together based on accounts from police, airport and embassy officials and an interview the couple gave to British media.

The couple was approached by airport security before boarding a flight to London on April 25 and told that security cameras showed they had taken a Givenchy wallet.

King Power, the company that owns the duty-free store, has posted CCTV footage on its Web site that appears to show Lin putting her hand in her bag while browsing a wallet display. The security guards found nothing, but turned the couple over to police, said Sombat Dechapanichkul, managing director of King Power Duty Free Co.

"We are not aware of what happened next. It was then the job of the police to proceed with the case," said Sombat.

Ingram told The Sunday Times of London that they were questioned at an airport police office and then transferred to a nearby police station where their passports were confiscated and they spent the night in jail. The next morning they were introduced to a translator — a Sri Lankan named Tony — who said he could arrange bail and get their case dropped, warning it could otherwise drag on for months.

Tony took them to a nearby motel, called the Valentine Resort, Ingram said. The couple managed a visit to the British Embassy on April 27 but then returned to the hotel fearing Tony, who had warned they would be watched, Ingram said. They didn't leave Bangkok until May 1.

An investigation found that the couple transferred into Tony's bank account 400,000 baht ($11,800) — half for bail and the other half for Tony's "fees," said police Col. Teeradej Panurak, who oversaw the case.

"Tony came in to translate for us. We can't control what the accused agree to with a translator," said Teeradej. He said the couple was released because there was not enough evidence to press charges.

A visiting British government official recently raised the case with Thai authorities, and the British Embassy was consulting other embassies about the alleged scam, said embassy spokesman Daniel Painter.

Tony resurfaced in June, when a Danish woman was arrested.

Danish Embassy Consul Tove Wihlbrot-Andersen says the woman was accused of stealing an item worth about 1,500 baht ($45) after she unknowingly crossed from one shop to another. Her allegations mirror those made by the British couple: She was taken to a police station, contacted by Tony the translator, released on bail and then "taken to a bad hotel in the vicinity for almost a week," until she reportedly paid Tony 250,000 baht ($7,400) — for an offense that normally results in a 3,000 baht ($90) fine, the consul said.

Newspapers have published a steady stream of outraged letters-to-the-editor that note the Thai police force's reputation for taking bribes and to call for arrests in the airport scam.

One recent letter in The Nation newspaper came from Mike Gilman in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, who lamented the scandal's potential damage: "More nails in the coffin of an already devastated Thai tourism industry."


Associated Press writer Ambika Ahuja contributed to this report.
It's very quiet in Hua Hin for those who live here. Much too quiet for those trying to make a living. Handing your passport to an unsmiling person upon arrival, taxi touts and broken meters are things many travelers get used to. Fears of being locked up in a Love Hotel while some sneak named Tony brokers with unseen faces is enough to put anyone off.

Many are saying they've never seen a low season this quiet and have just about given up on any kind of high season in the near future.

For those willing to come to Thailand and Hua Hin this year, they're going to find some very quiet beaches and probably some very good rates in the hotels.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 2:08 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, August 8, 2009

New Mini-Van Service Between Hua Hin and Bangkok and Kanchanaburi

This is one of the lowest low seasons we've seen in Hua Hin in many years but it's getting easier and easier to get to and away from the resort.

FBF hasn't heard any more about the new ferry service but road transport is improving at a steady pace.

There is a new mini-van service between Kanchanaburi and Hua Hin. There are four trips daily for the 3 hour journey (leaving Hua Hin at 0900, 1200, 1500 and 1800). The office in Hua Hin is near Hua Hin Tansamai Shop on Petchkasem (Soi 56) and the van stops in Kanchanaburi at MuBan Jong Charoen which (I am told) is near the main train station in Kanchanaburi. The cost is 220 Baht each way. This should be great news for those wanting to visit Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai but don't want to go through Bangkok.  Hua Hin: 086-623-1828, Kanchanaburi: 083-485-2530.

In addition, there is now another company offering mini-van service between Hua Hin and Bangkok. This company also goes to Victory Monument in the Big Mango. Their office in Hua Hin is very near the original company on Petchkasem Rd. The office is located next door to Top Charoen Optical shop just north of Chomsin Rd (Soi 70). The price is currently 180 Baht each way. The new company starts service an hour or two earlier than the other, something like 0400.

Mini-vans are not known for their luggage space but a small day pack or overnight case shouldn't be a problem.

One more thing. The VIP bus between Hua Hin and Korat continues to add more buses. There are now 3 or 4 trips each day.

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posted by Falang Bo Fai @ 5:40 PM   3 Comments Links to this post