When we were living down there, closer to downtown Hua Hin, we didn’t go. Now we are in Cha Am staying in a hotel for a bit and they have a night-shuttle so we did. The Hua Hin night market is a major attraction in the area.
But the night market at Hua Hin is not all that it is cracked up to be. Chinese mass-produced junk, stupidly overpriced food and a bit too much cynicism in the vendors for me. When the street food-courts employ touts to lunge out at you to ‘charm’ you into their establishments against your will, you know the night market thinks it has gone up market. The tourists are no longer customers, they are marks and dupes. Quality is gone. Genuine is gone. Respect is gone. Money rules. Smoke and mirrors are now on sale.
Takes the fun out of it for both sides.
To illustrate: a small bunch of bananas a block or two away are 20 baht (and that is Farang pricing). In the night market they are 50.
But this one example set even the always cheerful Sal off: “OK, now that makes me mad!” Big, well-lit toilet signs a few feet into the market direct one down a hallway and both Sal and I decided to avail ourselves of the amenity despite the issue not being pressing at that point in time. We know how to plan our bladders. Entry to the bathroom was 5 baht or 20 cents. Whatever. BUT the woman manager didn’t like mopping up every once in a while after dirty-shod people so pee’ers had to wear clean shoes in. If you did not bring an extra pair of clean shoes with you (who does?), you had to rent a pair of flip flops for 50baht ($2.00). And, of course, a few Farangs were doing just that.
We passed. Both muttering curses as we did so. And kept wandering. Imagine my surprise to find another, deeper-into-the labyrinth of the market toilet facilities that suited my purposes just fine. Entry fee: 3 baht (12 cents). No ‘clean shoe’ requirements. I was relieved, so to speak.
“Why would that be?” Because the other loo was well lit up and closer to the main course of traffic. Most tourists just accept. Most ‘entrepreneurs’ push the envelope. And most Thais knew enough to walk past the tourist bathroom on their way to the 3-baht loo.
And that pretty much says it all about the Hua Hin night market.
Well, not all. I fell for a tourist trap. I wanted to resist it but I just couldn’t. In the end, I took off my shoes and sat in the window for all the world to see. Rasps cleaned my feet.
Please understand, I have relatively clean feet. I do not need a dead-skin eating fish to fine-clean my lower extremities but, and I say this with not just a little embarrassment, it looked like fun.
And it was.
Call me crazy but dozens of little fish nibbling at my feet was hilarious. Well, it was at first, anyway. It was kinda fun for five or so minutes. Then it was just amusing for a bit and then it was ‘just me sitting in a window with my feet in someone’s aquarium.’
When you go in for a rasp-fest or fishy foot-job, you pay 100 baht ($4.00) to feed the man’s fish with your dead body parts. But only for 15 minutes. There is a limit to all the fun you can have. By the twelve minute mark, Mr. Fish-owner indicated that my time would be up in four minutes. I decided to check out early. So I had an eleven minute experience and it was just right. Four more minutes would have ruined what had been – up til then – something special.