Hua Hin Thailand Gay Life: we visited the big/little city of Hua Hin Thailand on the east coast of Thailand’s south stretching peninsula into the Gulf of Thailand for about a thousand miles where it runs into northern Malaysia. Surprisingly this city of about 50 thousand people has virtually no gay scene—virtually meaning almost no gay scene. One evening I went in search of and almost found what I was looking for, a minuscule gay scene that was supposed to consist of two small bars, one gay-owned hotel/restaurant and nothing else that I could discern.
No doubt there are katoeys (lady-boys) who work in beauty and massage parlors and other professions that require or appreciate good grooming ( and call-boys can be ferreted out for night pleasure by walking the streets or going online. But I was not looking for katoeys but did see one here and there offering seductive looks to any willing buyer.
(photo left: Royal Train Station)
Rather what I found near the Hilton Hotel was a labyrinth of small alleys lined with hundreds upon hundreds of bars, restaurants, gift shops, massage parlors populated with many foreigners, married and single, out for a meal, a carnival-like ambiance and sometimes more. At dinner I was surrounded by Europeans, Americans, Aussies mostly straight middle age couples. There was no sign of gays or katoeys mixed in the crowd—no surprise since LGBTs consist only of about 5% of the population. This was clearly a hetero neighborhood.
In the background, next door, I heard German polka music and beer songs. I asked about six different local people at random if they knew where Red Indian Boy Bar was. Instead of saying I don’t know they pointed me to a direction, turn left, turn right, two blocks over, back the other way; slowly, question by question, a guy walked me to the space that he alleged was occupied by Red Indian.
Nobody there. Some disorganized furniture. No set up. Closed. Definitely not a bar, not even a sign that said Red Indian. At this point I gave up. It was about 7:30 PM. If there was any business in this cubicle of space it was not apparent. Perhaps my guide was mistaken. There were no signs of life in this small corner surrounded by bustling restaurants and bars. Here was nothing. On the Internet there were no images that made sense other than a fluorescent blue and white sign that said Red Indian. I suspect I was led to the wrong location. (photo right: New Guy Bar)
By this time I was hungry and my husband had gone into a steakhouse to order Pad Thai. I joined him among chattering European couples speaking several different languages.
The search continued after dinner, looking for the second venue named appropriately ’New Guy Bar’ (http://newguybar.weebly.com/). I had looked it up on a Google map so at least there was a named street and number. Of course the map image and the real location were different but walking around the area and asking for the street, we stumbled on the New Guy Bar, a real place with a sign and live people.
But not many. We went in and order juice drinks and started chatting with staff guys, at first server guys who quickly revealed their virtual ignorance of English, which led to the manager Tony being called over. Tony had big hair and looked as if he’d just come a football game, spoke a little English but not much or well although he tried to be friendly. After a few fragmented attempts at questions such as how long the bar had been opened and uncertain replies Tony pointed to another man who had just come in. “He big boss” meaning the guy was the owner. Tony called him over and introduced us.
His name was Tam, which was a nickname as all Thai guys have when speaking to foreign ‘farangs’. His real Thai name was Nakharin Kummueang. (That’s why they have nicknames.) Tam spoke reasonably good English to say he opened the bar seven years ago. Looking around at the lack of customers—it was now 8:30 PM on a Saturday night—I wondered how he managed to keep the place open.
Before Tam arrived talked a cute lithesome twink with pretty black hair and sweet lips slithered his way up to our table and started chatting with us in very fragmented English. (photo left) He seemed to understand every fifth word so our conversation reduced to single syllable words such as ‘family? home? boyfriend? day work? (“cut hair”)… Name? Puttipan. Then he offered “massage, good, make you happy” wiggling his fingers, which usually meant an unprofessional rubdown followed by masturbation. (I once took a guy up on such an offer only to find out he knew little about real Thai massage technique and quickly headed south–but we didn’t finish!)
I declined Putt’s offer but he stayed to listen to my chat with Tam. Thai guys I’ve talked to who spoke reasonable English said they learned it from talking to American, Brit, Canadian and Australian tourists. I doubt that truth since some of these guys were able to handle the subjunctive tense and could make humorous jokes.
Tam said business was slow because of the late king’s death last year and this year’s cremation, which I understood with a grain of salt. We were in the same general area of the absent Red Indian that was surrounded by thousands of tourists. I had read online that business at New Guy Bar was usually slow. This was verified by my accidentally speaking to the one other paying customer—other than us— having a drink at the bar, an expat from UK-Scotland who lived in Hua Hin Thailand and was a regular here. “It’s always like this,” he said when I asked; even on a Saturday night? “Yes. It’s never crowded.”
Unfortunately I did not stay long enough to pick his brain about the LGBT scene in Hua Hin Thailand. He did say that Red Indian was closed until another owner was found. His name was John, a veterinarian from Scotland who volunteered his time to an animal rescue program here… Our chat was cut short by my husband urgent desire to leave this empty boring place! But the point was made about the gay scene being minimal and minuscule in this city of about fifty thousand people. It is overwhelmingly a hetero tourist ‘trap’ where northern people come to be warm or get way from work. The night scene, surrounding the Hilton, is an intense habitat of noisy touristic bars and restaurants and shops and parlors which I did not find pleasant; crowded noisy narrow alleyways full of Europeans…
Hua Hin is a ‘big’ city now, with about 50k population stretching miles along the Gulf of Thailand across from Jomthien Beach. It has endless beaches and sublime sea views. It grew into a fashionable escape for residents of Bangkok after the 1920s, when the Thai royal family built a summer palace here. It’s still here and is used occasionally by them but is not open to the public most of the time. (I found many photos of the palace and grounds online.) Hua Hin Beach is popular for kite surfing and other water sports; the main stretch of sand, lined with high-end hotels and seafood shacks said one online review. (photo left: Hua Hin Thailand coastline)
There is nothing village-like here anymore except the rare wooden house and garden. Mostly it is an urban city with every amenity of Bangkok—huge multi-story shopping malls, countless mom-and-pop shops for clothing, convenience stores (many 7-11 stores), massage parlors, merchandise stores (for kitchen, living room, bathroom), car dealerships, real estate offices offering new and used condos for sale or rent, countless big and small hotels, many banks, ubiquitous ATM machines cafes, restaurants, private residences for locals and expats such as the Swiss couple I spoke with yesterday, and the Brit who lives here near the Pony Cafe.
On the main street, Thanon Naresdamri, there was only one live gay bar that I had read about. Mostly there are amusements such as golf courses, elephant safari rides, Thai boxing matches (muay Thai), a big temple a few miles inland, facial salons, pizza parlors, night market, a water fun park, PaLa water falls, and the big Wat Huay Mongkol shrine west of the city, (photo left) famous for its enormous statue of one of Thailand’s most famous monks, named Luang Phor Thuad.
There is also Hua Hin’s newest “water park Santorini a fun day out for young and old. The park has fun rides for all levels of bravery, a lazy river and wave pool for those just wanting to relax.” It was built to resemble the island of Santorini in Greece. There’s Hua Hin’s first butterfly and herbal garden featuring indigenous plants from all over Thailand.
Some six kilometers south of Hua Hin Thailand lies the small village of Khao Takiab. From Hua Hin beach you can see Khao Takiab mountain with its most distinct feature, a very impressive golden colored Buddha statue 20 meters high overlooking the sea. (Wat Khao Lad temple) Khao Takiab is a beautiful and relaxed place with a great sandy beach and a number of classy hotels and seaside restaurants. On top of Khao Takiab hill, also known as monkey mountain or Chopstick hill is Wat Khao Lad temple, which is also known as the monkey temple, because of the many monkeys that live there.
Gay Bar Scene–Not
Unlike Pattaya or Phuket, Hua Hin Thailand Gay Life is minuscule since most visitors who come here are not gay. Over the years, several gay bars have opened but two (maybe) venues have endured.
(photo right: Jeff with house cat at MJ Gallery)
I tried to find one, Red Indian gay bar, listed online but without success. It was allegedly located in a dense maze of small and large bars and restaurants adjacent to the Hilton; the alleged bar was closed at the time I visited about 7 PM on a Saturday; its space was grim, small, un-aesthetic, tumbled and scattered in a narrow alley. It appeared to be closed permanently.
Later I searched for New Guy gay bar a few blocks away from Indian, more easily found but not convenient, also in a back alley, soi 65. Only two other customers were there (at 8PM) in addition to us. I talked with owner ’Tam’ nickname for Nakharin Kummueang. Tam opened the bar seven years ago. He said low attendance was due to the cremation of the king that weekend and a conservative government in Bangkok. The other single customer named John from Scotland lives here said the attendance is always low; he was not sure why there was no gay community in Hua Hin Thailand. (I did not ask him about a massage, which one blogger suggested could be had here but with it was an unsatisfactory review.)
My exploration of the ’Hua Hin Thailand scene’ ended at the MJ Gallery the next day, which openly advertises as a “gay-owned” hostel and restaurant. The owner call it a ‘poshtel’ (posh hostel). It is also a small zoo with a menagerie of one wild but tame ‘serval cat’ from South Africa (photo right) plus one silver fox and assorted house cats. We had a delicious lunch there with hosts Jeff and Mayumu. The hostel is new, three years old, is informal and basic but clean and satisfactory. It attracts low-budget travelers with affordable rooms (some with bunk beds) costing as low as USD15, including breakfast. It’s about a mile south of the main downtown near the Ibis hotel.
The serval cat pet is the main attraction. It stands about two feet tall, has spots like a leopard and is kept in an a large glass enclosure. It was legally bought in Thailand. Mayumu said it was born in captivity and therefore could not fend for itself in the wild. Jeff feeds it one cooked chicken a day. The silver fox was kept in a smaller cage and taken out for walks a couple times a day. There were also two small domestic cats that wandered around the restaurant and pet enclosure. One had curled up for a nap in the serval cat’s house in its enclosure.
“There its no gay community here in Hua Hin Thailand,” Jeff said, just a few scattered friends who saw one another occasionally. Usually they work at local low-wage jobs and live at home with no expectations of a lively ’scene’ with lights and disco music. If they want to dance they can go to one of of the numerous mixed straight dance bars and clubs. No one would notice if two men were dancing together in the crowd. It was a vacation destination where life was looser and less noticed. It was not uncommon to see foreigners (mostly men) hooking up with local young women but straight older European couples were most common in the mix.
Hua Hin Thailand is a nice place, less intense than Bangkok. Gays looking for action should go elsewhere. Otherwise, there are the sun, sand and sunshine here.