For those who like to combine a little travel with golf, your mind will likely reflect on countries like Scotland, the home of golf, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand or Thailand. If your travel plans are during the winter/spring season, like us, Scotland is definitely out. In 2002, we settled on a Thailand golf holiday and never, ever, regretted the choice.
Our flight from Calgary, Canada to Bangkok, Thailand was roughly seventeen hours with a fuel stop in Hong Kong. All of our golfing was done in the Cha-Am area on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand. We stayed at the Dusit Resort and Polo Club in Hua-Hin.
But before we ventured down to Cha-Am, since we landed in Bangkok, we did all of our sight-seeing and visiting in this area. Actually, there are so many places and sights of interest around Bangkok that you will probably forget all about golfing for the moment.
The first thing you will notice is the architecture of the buildings. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, having been plunked into a wonderland of intricate stonework, spires, angles and colors of the structures. Every place that we visited, we all stood around with our mouths wide open phrasing the word “wow”! The tour of the Grand Palace is an all day affair. Along the way, we drove by buildings like the Democracy Monument and the replica of the Buckingham Palace.
Dusit Resort and Golf
You will leave the Bangkok area very reluctantly at first as there are so many other places to go and see; however, after a few miles of travel southward on a three-hour bus ride to Cha-Am, you will begin to get anxious about the forthcoming golf tour.
We stayed at a complex called Dusit Resort and Polo Club, right on the bank of the Gulf of Thailand. I tried swimming in the bath-tub warm waters of the bay but it occurred to me that there may be sharks in there so I never went back. Instead, I settled for pony rides on the beach.
We golfed three courses several times each; the Lakeview Golf Club, Majestic Creek Country Club and the Springfield Royal Country Club. This is a golf experience that you will not forget. Because we were a group, every day when we got to the clubhouse, caddies in uniforms will be lined up waiting by their respective carts. Yes, you get a live caddie as well as an electric cart. I have not mentioned the temperature around here so far, but this is something to remember, having come from a frigid northern country. The temperature can soar to forty-two degrees Celsius, in the shade! The caddies (all female) are covered from head to toe in their respective club colored uniforms with some, barely their eyes exposed. The caddies are extremely helpful in that they help you read the greens and point out which way the putt will break. On one hole, I gunched two balls into a gully over fifty feet deep and I said “Aw…forget it”; but she went scurrying down the embankment, through dense undergrowth, and came back up with three golf balls! This, when the outside temperature was over forty degrees!
Enjoyable as the golfing is, you will relish going back to the air-conditioned hotel after having drained all the moisture out of your system on the golf course. It will be such a treat to relax in the cool bar area to hoist a few tall ones prior to going off to dinner.
Of course, there was excellent cuisine at the hotel, but our preference was to grab a Tuk Tuk (motorized rickshaw) to the center of Hua-Hin. The fare for the one-way trip was a resounding one hundred and fifty baht (six dollars). You would be wise to spend some time roaming through the town and take in the number of bargains (that you need to negotiate) offered by the countless street vendors. You should never pay the initial asking price. The price is invariably about sixty percent less than the asking price. You should also have most of your meals here as I noticed on our souvenir photo, that an “American Breakfast” is shown as ninety baht (about three dollars and sixty cents).
There is sightseeing to be done in town as well. The lawns at the Hilton and Sofitel Resort Hotel are adorned with plants sculpted into various animals.
The River Kwai
One of our days was spent taking a train ride to the province of Kanchanaburi West to the site of the bridge over the river Kwai. If you ever saw the movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, you will be disappointed that the water roaring under the bridge where Alec Guinness just about drowned, is now as calm and docile as any waterway that you’ll ever find. Isn’t it amazing what a little movie magic can do!
If you take this trip on a tour basis, the tour will include a raft ride down the river Kwai. The rafts are built with several layers of long bamboo holes, piled several layers deep and built on five huge pontoons. You would not be able to tip or sink this raft even in a cyclone! On the river bank, you will be able to take an elephant ride, with a guide of course, and then get to feed the young ones stalks of green bamboo.
World War II
The only sobering moment of the trip to this area of Kanchanaburi province, is to visit the acres and acres of the cemetery of the fallen soldiers of World War II. If you look at the stones, you will note that the ages of the soldiers are mostly between twenty and twenty nine years old. You can also walk through a hut where souvenirs of the Japanese soldiers are displayed…uniforms, guns and katanas (swords).
The tour of the Bangkok area is not complete without sampling the wares at the Coconut Farm where they make coconut syrup, gazing at the acres of salt flats where seawater is being evaporated for its salt and of course, the world famous Floating Market. The canal to the Floating Market wends its way on a wide u-turn that ultimately ends up at the market. The market itself is a number of boats loaded with local produce and tied up at the pier. The visitors can walk along the pier and gaze at or sample some of the products or go into the restaurant section for lunch.
Final Thoughts On Our Thailand Golf Holiday
Needless to say, if you decide to take a golfing vacation that entails a long flight, there is no better destination than Thailand. It was not mentioned before, but as soon as you land, you will be made to feel as though you were someone special. The people are so nice and obsequious that you will feel like the kings and queens at the Grand Palace.
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