I have felt a little bit like there was not anything that truly surprised me so far on this trip to Thailand. I have loved what we have done up to this point and have found everything exciting and fun, but our chance trip to The Venezia on Monday left me feeling like I should take more chances and be a little more humble.
On our numerous drives to and from Bangkok we had passed by this new shopping center and quite honestly we made fun of it. Who would want to go to an outlet mall designed to look like it is in Venice, Italy while in Thailand?! It looked out-of-place, gimmicky, and just another way that expats bring their original home to wherever they live. Not to say that all those things are bad, just that I sadly thought that real
obviously egotistical travelers, such as ourselves, did not partake in things such as that. We only want to experience the authentic Thailand (I am sure we were feeling that same way as we shopped in the “western” grocery stores for Christmas things).
On Monday, we had to run out of the house quickly so we didn’t inhale nasty pesticide fumes. We drove north of Hua Hin city center and on a whim, we pulled into The Venezia. We were hoping to let Z run around and burn some time before we could finally venture home again.
We parked and were a bit taken aback that they were charging 50 baht per adult to enter the shopping complex. Weird… But a sign said that if we shopped in the Villa Market you could get a refund for our entrance fee. We decided to head there first to get our money back right away especially since nothing else was open yet. The shops and restaurants open at 11 am and we arrived around 10:20am.
As we started walking to the very back of the complex where Villa was located, we realized why they charged an entrance fee. This was not an outlet mall, it was actually a whole “experience”. We walked along a replica of a venetian canal complete with pretty bridges, green water, and gondolas for hire (400 bant a person) and passed by a carnival area with games and a mechanical bull, a small ferris wheel, cute little shops selling souvenirs and the normal Thai products, restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries. Everything was clean and well maintained, and most of the walkways covered (which saved us as it was the hottest day yet I think).
As we made it to the market we looked to one side and found Zoë’s mecca, not only was there an outdoor playground that was absolutely massive, but there was also an indoor play land, and a petting zoo. None of these were open yet, so we did some
real traveler shopping and waited for them to open.
Before we started letting Z run around crazy, we decided it was probably best to give her some energy first. We stopped into the Pitta Café just as it opened. We sat down thinking we would most likely be served sub par overpriced Thai food, and were pleasantly surprised when it was delicious (some of the best Thai food we have had in the area in fact) and not that expensive at all!
Z was ready to go and we quickly ate and started on our way. The outdoor playground and the petting zoo cost 50 per adult (or use your entrance ticket, ahhh… now I saw why we paid the entrance fee, you could use it towards one of the areas or games, or get a refund). We started with the Dino Playground, which was out-of-doors and as it was so hot and there were no other kids there, Z didn’t want to play there long. We moved onto the petting zoo, which advertised deer, cows, horses, sheep, and rabbits. This turned out to be very disappointing. We went in and bought some alfalfa to feed the animals (10 baht) and proceeded to feed the captive sheep. There was no petting zoo here, it was just the poorly cared for sheep, and one sad looking horse. I actually went and asked the gentleman that was taking everyone’s money where the rabbits, deer, and cows were. He kindly pointed at the horse and sheep and told me that was it. It was a waste of 50 baht in my opinion, unless you have never seen a sheep or horse before.
We decided to temper
my our disappointment with a trip to the indoor kiddy land. With three levels of fun, two huge slides into ball pits, other slides, a little obstacle course, and a balloon room (fans in the room cause the balloons to fly around) it was well worth the 100 baht for 40 minutes per child (30 baht for parents that wanted to enter as well). Z played happily in there with Chad while I took pictures and relaxed for a bit.
Our last stop was in the indoor shops, the actually outlet mall part of the place. As we entered there were large ride-on stuffed animals that you could ride for 20 baht for 3 minutes. Z picked the bear and she and Chad were off. It was hilarious watching Chad riding on the back of a large motorized teddy bear and Z absolutely loved it. It was 20 baht well spent.
As we walked towards our car, we vowed that we would come back again. We had all had a great time, and we left without doing many of the things that were available to us. So I guess that the moral to this story, is that no matter what you can’t judge a shopping area by it’s gimmick. It may end up being a wonderful day.
*Sorry for the lateness of this post, I got a bad flu and thankfully it only lasted 24 hours… my Monday, Wednesday, Friday posts will hopefully be right on time next week (I am really tempting fate with that remark, I am currently knocking on wood though, so…).