First a statement: There are too many cars in Thailand that are white, grey, black or variations on that theme. Multi-coloured taxis are everywhere, but otherwise coloured cars are few and far between.
However our Mazda 2 test car was certainly not greyscale, but Dynamic Blue. Dynamic in colour, but also dynamic in styling. Externally the ‘KOFO’ or to anglicise from Japanese; the ‘soul of motion’ styling adheres to an intent to portray the pent up energy of an animal about to pounce. Perhaps this is the origin of another colourful Mazda option; ‘Soul Red’. These are eye-catching ‘Zoom-Zooms’ by any standards; real head-turners! However for the more conservative, shades of white, grey, silver and black are also available. Internally there’s an obvious quality look and feel as soon as you open the door, a sophisticated instrument binnacle, a sporty shape for the seats and more front shoulder room. Craftsmanship takes a big leap forward over the outgoing model.
You’ll also see a small pop-up translucent speed-reading screen, we all need to be mindful that there really are speed limits in Thailand. Our test drive of the 1.3 litre petrol engine Mazda 2 focused on the Pala-U area, not just to the well-known multilevel waterfalls but also to check out the areas renowned durian crop and a newer tourist destination; the Dao Caves. With modern ‘Skyactiv’.technology, this apparently small engine provided more than enough ‘Zoom’ to manage the hilly terrain. If you are still driving an older 2 litre vehicle, be prepared to be amazed. This area was recently the destination of bicycle run to promote sustainable and green tourism in Hua Hin.
Launching the event were the Hua Hin mayor Mr. Nopporn Wutthikul, the TAT director of central Thailand Mr. Somchai Chomphunoi and the Deputy Governor of Prachuab Khirikhan Mr. Pramote Samphao-ngern. Over 300 amateur and professional bikers from Prachuab Khirikhan, Phetchaburi, Samut Prakan and Bangkok took part. The Director of TAT’s office of Prachuab Khirikhan, Mrs. Orasa says that the Pa La-U Waterfall is an area where the TAT wants to promote ecotourism, agrotourism and cultural tourism in its marketing strategy plan for 2015 to 2016. Apart from waterways, bird and butterfly watching, Pala-U is famous for succulent and very sweet durian and a royal initiative for dairy produce, supported by Their Majesties.
This is a good example of how Thai people can live a simple but happy life under the established selfsufficiency principle. We can vouch for both of these produce items. Durians are easy to observe on roadside trees and slow-moving milktankers can be a very minor interruption to the tranquility of the drive. Bearing in mind the ban on taking durian on public transport (the odour is too offensive for some), we didn’t want to destroy that desirable ‘new-car’ smell so only a flavour test, rather than a take-home purchase was possible. Although the going rate of 120 THB per KG at roadside stalls was tempting.
There is a story about one unfortunate visitor who left several durians in her car while she visited the waterfalls. She found that elephants had stolen them by the time she had returned, leaving her car rather like an empty tin of pet food. Durians will do that to hungry elephants and it’s not a good idea to feed wild elephants. We didn’t see a single elephant however ‘elephant evidence’ was everywhere on the roadside.
Talking about undesirable odours, that was one issue at the nearby Dao Caves. One parody of a well-known Christmas song goes ….”Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin ran away …………..”, but I suspect that real musty bat guano smells much worse that Batman ever did. Unfortunately my olfactory memory seems to have retained that smell to this day! At the caves, the first obstacle is a steep climb of 118 steps to the entrance. Internal lighting is not really the best, but this only adds to the atmosphere; just watch your step as well as holding your nose. There is a map inside to guide you in several directions.
Deeper into the cave there are many huge stalactites and stalagmites, thousands of years old. The cave winds into the side of the rock going lower and smaller with a rickety ladder so you can climb down through a small entrance that opens up into an inner cave. A fantastic experience with Buddhist embellishments and bats flying overhead to complete the scene. Our thanks to Hua Hin’s main MazdaMan, Khun Wijanprida Isararee for providing such a dynamic vehicle for this recommended day-trip. Apart from Mazdas, ‘Alex’ (as he is known to his friends) also has a passion for two wheels and more specifically Harley Davidson’s, but that’s another story. Our Test Car: Mazda 2, two door sedan, 1.3 litre petrol (hatchback and 1.5 litre diesel available).
Price: From 550,000 THB
Provided by: Mazda Hua Hin, 40/24
Contact: Phone 032 522 200
More information: www.mazda.co.th