Elephant Polo in Hua Hin Thailand
I went to watch the famous game of Elephant Polo in Hua Hin. So allow me to explain a little bit about this stunning city.
Hua Hin was originally named Samore Riang, which in Thai means "Rows of rocks." I stood looking at the breath-taking, white sandy beaches with the endless lines of boulders and giant stones. I saw that it was easy to comprehend its original name. I loved the name, But obviously His Royal Highness Prince Krom Phra Naresworarit did not, since he renamed the beach Hua Hin.
For many years I had been saying "I want to visit "Hua Hin" Since I was spending rather too much time lolling around and vegetating in Bangkok, and as we all know it's wonderful to do sweet nothing, but not good for mind or body! Sternly taking myself in hand, one beautiful morning I finally decided to get off my backside and make the four-hour train journey to my patiently waiting town.
His Majesty the King of Thailand when visiting Hua Hin resides in the palace "Wang Klai Kang Won" and built in the reign of King Prajadhipok who had it built for Her Majesty Queen Rambhai Barni. The palace lays on the beach of Hua Hin Sub-district. When the royal family are not in residence members of the public may visit this stunning building and enjoy the incredible oriental garden for 20 Baht
After a relatively comfortable but uneventful journey, I arrive at my destination. The station is just adorable as it looks like something that you would find in a child's toy shop. I am not kidding! It is gorgeous. I would even dare to say that it is one of Thailand's most beautiful train stations. According to a fellow backpacker, the wooden building used to be a royal pavilion in Sanamchan Palace, Nakhon Pathom province. The Thais rebuilt it at Hua Hin in 1968. In other words, the building was transported, like the Americans do with our English castles but on a smaller scale.
I managed to get some great shots of the station before I opted to catch a taxi to my guesthouse. On my arrival, I have to admit I wasn't too impressed. But there was a friendly young man called Chris and his Vietnamese girlfriend How How. ( Yes, that was her name!) They made me very welcome, so I mistook them for the owners. When in fact, they were guests of the hostel. I was persuaded to stay. Silly me, the noise at night from the bar below my room went on till four o'clock a.m. I hardly slept a wink! Come seven the next morning the music starting blasting out again. (Perhaps they thought we all needed a wake-up call!) Not to mention the bathroom. OMG, it was almost sitting in the middle of the billiard table. So every time I wanted to go to the loo or have a shower, well you can imagine. No, don't imagine, please. As my nephew would kindly say "Too much information" I am seriously beginning to doubt all these fantastic reviews that they post on the hostel websites. Perhaps you should all ignore what I wrote on "Why Backpack" - and how I find a hostel. Sorry folks!
On reflection about the name "How How.” Since my flight of fancy was in overdrive, I pictured that poor girl if she ever got to England! How would one say? "How do you do" to 'How How?'Imagine. Hello "How How," How do you do? Or "How How" tell me how in heaven's name, could your Mother saddle you with a name like "How How." Or please "How How" How the hell do you stand it? Poor "How How," I will never again complain about my Mother calling me Geraldine.
That evening I went with Chris and How How to visit the night market and Oh my goodness gracious me! What a mouth-watering sight. The seafood was just as the photo above portrays. Cross my heart no Photoshop on this one! Now imagine the whole length of the night market road, a continual repetition of fabulous succulent shellfish. And for those, who can't or won't eat fish or seafood, they also had the most amazing assortment of the major juicy steaks. There were fabulous vegetables, fruits, and pastries. If you are a gourmet and love excellent food like me, then this is a hundred percent must visit.
On my trip to Hua Hin, I was very lucky to coincide with the tenth King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament. As I was aware that this was something I couldn't miss, I joined Chris and girlfriend, to see this unusual event. Chris was in charge and fortunately knew exactly where we had to go! We piled onto the local bus, and we were on our way. Forty minutes later we alighted from the bus. And hey ho! You are not going to believe this! Yes, of course, we had gone in the opposite direction! Oh, Boy was I glad that Chris knew the way! We miserable paupers had taken the bus to save a few Thai Baht’s, but of course, we finally had to take a taxi. If we hadn’t, we would still be looking for the flipping polo fields. The mere fact that the driver wasn't very clear on how to get there either is something I should mention. "By Jaesus" as my mother would have said! We finally reached out destiny.
We marched into the polo match, with lovely lady taxi driver in tow. As luck would have it, the match was just about to begin.
Just to fill you in a little about this type of polo. A player and a Mahout ride together on each elephant. The word "Mahout" derived from the Hindi words mahout and mahavat. Which means "the person who drives the elephant." The elephants run down the field Guided by their Thai mahouts. The helmeted polo player who wields a long cane with a polo mallet head at the end sits behind the mahout.
It is a rather slow game compared to horse polo. There is much confusion in the field as the elephants collide and unintentionally kick the ball with their feet or trunk. But I loved every minute of the games. It was all very colorful and classy with a great atmosphere. It was something very different to what I was accustomed to seeing. I would highly recommend anyone who has the chance, go to see the next King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament. For sure I will be there!
As every backpacker will tell you when traveling there are always highs and lows; one tends to turn a few blind eyes to the lows because the highs are so rewarding it's unbelievable.
Please note: It would appear the King's Cup Elephant Polo has now changed location and they now hold at Anantara.