Going back a hundred years or so Hua Hin was a sleepy fishing village. Then, the then King, King Rama VI, decided to build a summer palace away from the heat of Bangkok. He chose a beautiful location overlooking the sea in spacious grounds

Sea view at Phra Ratchaniwet Maruekkhathaiyawan Palace

and named his new home Phra Ratchaniwet Maruekkhathaiyawan (พระราชนิเวศน์มฤคทายวัน).

Ground of Phra Ratchaniwet Maruekkhathaiyawan Palace

It was built in 1923 and the King first visited the following year.

The palace has three large wooden pavilions on stilts which run parallel to the sea front.

Wing of Phra Ratchaniwet Maruekkhathaiyawan Palace

Separate rooms are connected by walkway, with other walkways circuiting around the rooms to allow courtiers and others to move about without disturbing the occupants.

Red teak floors at Phra Ratchaniwet Maruekkhathaiyawan Palace

One pavilion was dedicated to the King’s consorts. It’s entrance was guarded by female guards who stood in these niches. The only man allowed to enter was the King himself.

Following the King’s death the palace was abandoned and fell into a state of ruin. It has since been lovingly restored (in the 1970s) to its former glory and is now a popular destination for domestic tourists and for school groups.

Girls being photographed at Phra Ratchaniwet Maruekkhathaiyawan Palace

Photograph of the interior wasn’t permitted, so there are no photographs from me of the King’s bathroom, with its imported Western porcelain, including a bidet, high flush toilet and enormous bath.

There’s little in the way of furniture in the palace; the King had his furniture transported from Bangkok whenever he visited.

A modest exhibition captured the costumes of the court’s women of the era – all very flapper.

Dress exhibition at Phra Ratchaniwet Maruekkhathaiyawan Palace

The King didn’t enjoy the palace for long. In fact, he only visited twice; he died in 1925.


Plern Waan (เพลินวาน) – the name means something like “enjoy yesterday” is – a recreation of an old-style Thai market, with stalls selling old-style goods such as traditional toys, sweets and ice lollies, postcards, nick-nacks and clothing.

Plern Waan Market, Hua Hin

There were also places serving “ancient” coffee, which is strong and sweet.

The individual stores and stalls are run independently, but the owner, Pattra Sahawat, vets them to make sure that they’re keeping to the spirt of the place; no Starbucks or McDonalds here.

Like any old-time Thai market, this place has its own radio station.

Plern Waan radio station

It’s all rather fake, with astroturf “grass”, concrete boxes fronted with pre-rusted metal panelling and strategically placed old signs.

Old signs at Plern Waan Market

It’s really the sort of place I feel I should hate. However, I enjoyed myself watching people enjoy themselves – most far too young to have remembered the old markets of this style.

And it seems that the Market is flourishing, because they’re in the process of doubling its size.

Plern Waan Market expansion

This place isn’t on the usual tourist trail. In fact, I didn’t see another pale face in there; though there were a few Japanese and Korean tourists, most of the visitors were Thai

Plern Waan Market

There’s virtually nothing on the Internet about this place in English, and it doesn’t, as far as I know, make it into any English-language guidebook. There is, however, a very modest website about the place in English:



In Bangkok, at Sanaam Luang, the large, open ground near the Royal Palace, about 300 people sleep rough every night. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) isn’t too happy about this. You might have thought that they’d be investigating how the problem of homelessness in Bangkok can best be resolved. They’re not.

In the district of Paak Khlong Talaat the traffic congestion is terrible. You might have thought that BMA might be investigating ways to relieve the choked streets. They’re not.

Now, Paak Khlong Talaat houses Bangkok’s largest flower market, so the BMA’s “solution” to both these problems is to turn Sanaam Luang into a flower market. With all the land covered by flower stalls the homeless will have to find somewhere else to sleep, and there’ll be less traffic in Paak Khlong Talaat.

There are a few problems with this apparent stroke of genius:

  • Sanaam Luang is used for ceremonies and other official functions several times a year, so would need to be completely cleared for these
  • The traffic around Sanaam Luang is already heavily congested. A flourishing flower market could only make it worse
  • How will the merchants at the existing market cope with the extra competition?
  • What will happen to the homeless?

It seems that the heady floral aroma has already affected someone’s senses.


A young boy in Thailand is an absolute whiz at making paper aeroplanes. It’s his great passion in life. So good at it is he that he won the Thai national competition in 2008 and was invited to compete in the international Origami Airplane competition at Chiba, Japan.

You’d like to think that Thailand would celebrate its young people who excel. However, 12 year old Mong Thongdee (หม่อง ทองดี) was deemed a “threat to national security” by the Interior Ministry and was denied papers to travel. You see, Mong had the misfortune to be born in Thailand to migrant labourers from Myanmar and is considered a stateless person.

Mong Thongdee, a treat to national security
Mong Thongdee – a treat to national security

It took the personal intervention of the Prime Minister to persuade the Interior Ministry to change its stance, and Mong has now been granted a temporary passport so he can take part in the event. And, all being well, he’ll go. And I hope he does well for Thailand.

A boy of his skills could perhaps, in the future, be a great engineer or designer. However, Thailand will never benefit from his special talents. He’s on the list of stateless people to be repatriated to Myanmar on 28 February next year. There he and his family will face the tyrannical oppression of the junta faced by others of his ethnic group – a tyranny close approaching ethnic cleansing.

Sadly, this tale will have no happy ending.