Day Two, I went jogging.
It sounds horribly exotic to go jogging in Hua Hin specially when I duck it so frequently at home, but I did lace up and start running bright and early. Only to find food within minutes. A hundred yards out of the hotel gates a most odd barbecue cart pulled up next to me; it was attached to a scooter and the man was driving it around like a perfectly normal scooter - fire, meats, grill and all. I was to learn later that this was not unusual in Thailand, but it certainly provided a quirky start to my day. Barbecue in hand from this mobile pork heaven, ornate temple in the background, I continued my jog now accompanied by a very hopeful street dog (he eventually did get half my barbecue).
Another kilometre of uneventful jogging later, I found myself at a canal lined on either side with kaccha roads that the recent rains had turned to mud. The crossing - a small road bridge - yielded another postcard moment. Against the backdrop of the canal was a hugely fat man running a barbecue stall, an ancient fan blackened with age and burnt grease powering the flames, serving the locals gathered for elections.
And it was election time in Thailand. On the other side of the bridge was what looked like a small village market where a few people were lining up at the polling booth. The market itself was dominated by a large banyan, wrapped with sashes and adorned with deities like something straight out of India - except for the soft drink. The Thais apparently like to propitiate their gods with offerings of food and drink, which usually means a bottle of bright red soft drink complete with straw.
The market turned out to have a clutch of street carts selling all kinds of goodies, from delicious garlic sausages to banana fritters and much in between. There was this strange pork-n-blackbean sticky rice - really sweet sticky steamed in a pandan leaf, mixed with savoury pork and back bean into a sort of limbo between snack and dessert that I found to disturbing to like. Much nicer were these things that a mother and two daughters were vending - they looked like fried idli - I later discovered they were called khanom krok. Made of coconut milk mixed with rice powder, they had crisp outsides, sweet soft insides, you ate them two at a time and were quite addictive.
The market also had a few stalls that boasted chairs and tables, focusing on full meals rather than snacks. This was more challenging in a sign-language world, since no one (not even the young) speak any English. Point and shoot was much harder than with the street carts, since I had no real idea what was being sold in the first place. In any case, a few gesticulations and vacant stares later, I was handed a bowl of pinkish liquid with rice noodles, a few thai fish cakes and a lot of seafood broth, and told to sit in front of a tray full of fresh herbs that it seemed I could add as I liked. The herbs really were very fresh; young perky leaves that looked like they had been plucked hours ago (and in a fridge-free world, probably had). All were strange; one looked like bay leaf but was sour, one tasted like basil, one had a crunch and so one. All in all, lots of fun, though it will take time and a few repeats to get a favourite combination going. Few people sat and ate with me (and hence no chance to imitate) but the place did brisk business in takeaways.
My iphone running app told me I lost three hundred and eleven calories on that run.