Moving to Thailand | Our New Home, Hua Hin

June 9, 2011 No Comments by afamilyinmotion
Jellyfish Poking in Hua Hin | A Family In Motion

Jellyfish Poking in Hua Hin | A Family In Motion

Hua Hin, Thailand: beautiful, warm, friendly, safe…perfect?

I don’t know if I have mentioned this already, but I lived in Thailand once before.  After graduating from college in Seattle, I decided it was time for a break from academics, and I moved to Thailand to reconnect with my Thai roots.  Unfortunately, none of the locals believed I was actually Thai, so I was in this weird limbo state where no racial group truly accepted me.  Kind of like the dilemma that Lieutentant Commander Spock faced being half-human, half-vulcan.  But I digress…

Back in my 20s, when I first arrived in Bangkok, I decided it was too big and dirty to live in.   I later regretted my decision after visiting this buzzing metropolis with Adrienne a few years ago.  Bangkok is an amazing city full of life, diverse cultures, and exciting opportunities.  It has amazing public transportation, great restaurants, museums and interesting people doing interesting things.  I can’t think of a more exciting place to live than Bangkok.  But I ended up moving to Chiang Mai instead.  I liked it alright, but I remember it being rather small for my taste back then.  In the entire city, there were only two traffic lights, just outside the main square.  And they were not used for regulating the flow of cars, as traffic rules were optional at best.  I know Chiang Mai has grown up a lot since my twenties.  I am confident that there are more than two stoplights in town now (though whether they regulate the flow of traffic any better is up for debate).  In fact, I’ve been told that Chiang Mai is fairly cosmopolitan these days, and that for all my snobbishness I wouldn’t recognize it from its former self.  I am anxious to go back and visit.

Hua Hin Beach | A Family In Motion

Hua Hin Beach | A Family In Motion

Laying Down Roots In Hua Hin

However, we’re not moving to the big, beautiful chaos of Bangkok nor the cool mountain city of Chiang Mai.  We are relocating to Hua Hin, a small beach town a mere two hours south of Bangkok (approximately 200km).  It’s the official permanent residence for the King of Thailand and, like most of the long coastline in Thailand, boasts a beautiful, tropical beach.  Many land-locked, urban Thais travel to Hua Hin for their weekend getaways.  Unlike most of the long coastline in Thailand, however, it is not known for its 24 hour party scene, full of rowdy Australians or the more prolific and sometimes insidious Russians (there are street signs now in Russian all over Phuket and I witnessed a belligerent Russian patron overturn a restaurant table because the waitress refused to play his CD).  There are some good schools there for Little Miss (hooray for all-girls Catholic schools with uniforms!), and Adrienne can set up a studio to help yogis touch their toes and discover their inner chakras.

Hua Hin Fishing | A Family In Motion

Hua Hin Fishing | A Family In Motion

Hua Hin, An Abbreviated History

It seems that originally Hua Hin was a sleepy fishing village, but today it’s a thoroughly modern beach town of approximately 84,000 inhabitants that has somehow managed to retain its quaint, historic charm.  A quick little history of Hua Hin: the town was established around 1834 when farmers from a neighboring province experienced a severe drought, packed up their belongings and headed south, arriving at a village with rocks and white, sandy beaches.  In 1921 Prince Purachatra, Director of the State Railway, constructed the western style Railway Hotel (still in use today as the Sofitel), coinciding with the new railway line from Bangkok down south.  The royal connection endures, and began in the early 20th century when Prince Chakrabhongse came to Hua Hin on a hunting trip with Russian nobility.  He liked what he saw, and returned to build the first Thai beach villa in Hua Hin.  King Rama VII later built a palace there, which is still in use by the current royal family.  The first golf course in Thailand was completed in 1922 and is located in Hua Hin.  Today the town still enjoys frequent visits by the royal family, and is a wonderful destination for golf, fishing, martial arts, hiking, water activities, and plain-old-lazing-around-beachside.

I have been surfing Reddit.com for advice and interesting tidbits regarding expats living in Thailand.  People post all sorts of random stuff on Reddit, ranging in subject from polls on the most common expat careers to debates on the best places to stay during holiday; the best Phad Thai in Bangkok; general Thai politics; and sometimes you’ll find a helpful post about something you never thought you needed to know.  For example, I found this little jewel of information regarding owning a business in Thailand as an American citizen: the Treaty of Amity.  It basically says that Americans can own businesses in Thailand, with (quite a few) exceptions, of course.

One of my new favorites for all things Thailand is ThiaVisa.com.  One can find all sorts of helpful info regarding accommodation rentals, dog sitters, jobs, and news headlines on Thailand.  Of course, some of the news on these websites is negative.  News regarding Islamic insurgents in the South of Thailand makes me nervous; statistics about car wrecks makes me nervous; food poisoning (and/or insecticide poisoning) makes me nervous.  But there are plenty of problems worldwide with random violence, drugs, religious nut jobs, environmental contaminations, etc.  In fact, there’s probably more of the nasty stuff here in the US, just by virtue of having a larger, more diverse population.  Every single time I’ve wandered around Thailand late at night, walking through dark alleyways in Bangkok searching for the best Naam Tok or accidentally stepping dangerously close to a snake on one of the islands, I still felt safer there than in many of the places I’ve randomly found myself in here at home in the US.

So, full disclosure: the Mrs and I have never been to Hua Hin.  We have not stepped one foot in the Prachuap Kiri Khan Province of Thailand.  Everything we’re going on is second hand knowledge.  However, my parents are quite familiar with Hua Hin and swear it’s the best thing since sliced bread–something we’ll have to learn to do without during our Thailand experience–a great loaf of sourdough, that is.  We are avidly surfing real estate websites and talking to people who have either lived there already or have spent some time vacationing on the beach.  All feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  Nonetheless, I know it sounds risky to move to a locale sight unseen, and perhaps we are setting ourselves up for great disappointment and financial ruin, but that’s part of the adventure.  But, frankly, that’s kind of how we roll.  And if we hate it, there’s always Bangkok or Chiang Mai as options.  But, really, it’s a gorgeous beach town–what’s not to love?

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