Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Two Days and "One Night in Bangkok"

Bangkok Thailand Day One
We signed up for a Treasures of Thailand tour. We boarded the great air conditioned coaches which had the seats above the traffic. Our guide Marina was really warm and taught us how to say hello, Soweeta ka for women and soweta cup for men. We first departed from the port in Lam Chebang for a 2 hour drive to Bangkok. It was quite industrial and mixed with farms. The toll highway was much like any good highway in North America, in good condition.
They love the royal family who are very in touch with the common folk and very proactive to make the country a better place to live. The Thai people are extremely friendly and family oriented. Unlike many other neighbouring countries they have never been colonized. Formerly known as Siam, Thailand means Free Land.
We visited the beautiful former Palace of King Rama V. It was very unique in design lots of carving and beautiful silk tapestries and drapes. The furnishings however were very European as the King of that time was a world traveler and admired many styles of the countries which he visited.
Bangkok is the Venice of SE Asia. Lots of rivers and canals. We boarded a rice barge that was converted into a floating restaurant. Very beautifully carved teak wood and lovely linen tablecloths
We sped along the river and had a delicious Thai Buffet. We even had a Thai beer which was so refreshing. We were under a canopy and the breeze was a welcome relief from the heat.
We then went to visit 2 temples. One had gold Buddha that was amazing. The other had a 46 meter long 20 meters high reclining Buddha. The Thais are Buddhist, and come from 4 main ethnic groups; Thai, Chinese and Indian Malay and a small amount of “other’. The architecture is very unique with lots of spiraling towers and BIG pictures of the King Rama the 9th. Who was actually born in Boston, Mass while his father was attending Harvard..

Day 2

Yesterday we were in Big Bangkok city, big and pretty clean. Today we are in the countryside. We visited a place on the roadside that made carved granite items, such as mortar and pestles (we bought a small one) and garden d├ęcor items. We watched a man working on a stone tiger, by hand.
Then we went to a golf club for drinks, it was very hot. And the caddies are all girls. They have to pass a golf test to get the job and wear full uniforms head to toe including a hat and they wrap white towels around the hats to keep the sun off their faces.

From there we drove to a mountain in the middle of farmland that had a 200 foot Buddha carved on the side of a mountain. Utilizing a laser, the stone was carved to the image of the Buddha, then gold coated mosaic tiles were cemented in the groove giving the appearance of gold drawing on the rock. Quite spectacular. There they also had Elephant rides which we witnessed, no we didn’t take one!
Then we travelled on to see a Chinese Temple that had been converted into a museum with hundreds of antiquities. It was quite amazing to see some tomb clay soldiers (life size) from thousands of years ago.
Next stop was Pattaya. A lovely beach resort, with a reputation for foreign men ‘renting’ a girlfriend for holidays. Everywhere you could see middle aged and older men with Thai women who were at the most in their 20’s. We had a Western style lunch at a hotel there that was nicely prepared. And we met another couple from Toronto. We keep trying to meet new people and invariably we end up meeting Canadians, it’s quite humourous.
Condos there were about ½ million dollars.
Last stop was a market, where we browsed around and bought some gifts. No hints.
Tomorrow we arrive in Saigon taking a long all day tour. It will take 3 hours to get there from the ship and we spend the whole day and return at 6 pm to the ship.
L & R
Ps My second presentation went amazingly well. I had 60 people all up and trying the tai chi. They seemed to enjoy it and I had a blast.