Sailing Yacht SEA BUNNY

Thailand

Blue Water Rally reunion followed by a few days in Bangkok, three weeks in Cambodia and New Year in Singapore

In November 2006 we flew from Brisbane to Singapore then on to Phuket for a week-long reunion whith some of the Blue Water Rally participants.  Following this we had a few days in Bangkok.


Singapore

A pleasant daytime flight direct from Brisbane to Singapore underlines just how big Queensland is! We only have one night in Singapore on this visit and spend the next morning looking for silk shirts and electronics!

Blue Water Rally reunion, Phuket

Blue Water Rally reunion, Phuket

Owners from the 2001-2003 Blue Water Rally gathered in Phuket, where one of them has a house. It was an excellent opportunity to catch up with friends and have a relaxing time, with activities laid on for us.

We were able to visit some of the projects supported by the fund established by Barry Cager (Coco de Mer) in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. These included a boatbuilding enterprise constructing longtail fishing boats and a number of small beach restaurants. The fund also supports children orphaned by the disaster with education costs.

Evening entertainments included several meals at beach restaurants, one of which included a "ladyboy" show. Unfortunately the sight of these performers was too much for our new Nikon digital SLR, which ceased to work!

Of particular sailing interest was the huge Rolly Tasker sail loft, making most UK sailmakers look like cottage industries!

Boats represented were: Coco do Mer, Franz Too, Hecla, Kalypso, Kastaway, Windfall and Sea Bunny


On to Bangkok

A short and cheap flight took us to Bangkok, arriving in sufficient time to check into our hotel and locate the Nikon repair agent to get the camera fixed. Here there was good and bad news. It could be fixed quickly, but we would have to pay as Nikon do not give an international warranty on their digital products.

Bangkok - Kings Birthday

Bangkok - Kings Birthday

Our first full day in Bangkok coincided with the King's Birthday, a national holiday. We acquired the appropriate yellow shirts and headed off towards the Royal Palace, using the river ferry - probably the best way around the city.

The palace was closed to visitors so we crossed the river, found a restaurant for lunch and visited a couple of small temples before returning to the palace where we took our place among the crowds outside the palace to wait for the King to pass. Police arrived and lined the road in front of the barriers that had been erected. Then they moved everyone who wasn't wearing a yellow shirt out of the area on the palace side of the road, where we were. After a couple of hours there was a lengthy parade and eventually the motorcade. We caught a glimpse of the King in his Rolls Royce as it passed.

There seemed to be no move to remove or even open the barriers, but a movement of peoplle started towards the palace gate, where there had earlier been a point at which the road could be crossed. No longer! The barriers remained firmly closed for the next 3 hours or so until the King again left the palace for the ceremonies in the park opposite! We wished we had crossed the road with the non-yellow shirt wearers!

Caught by a scam!

Caught by a scam!

Returning to the Royal Palace we are approached outside the gate by a man claiming to be "the manager". He says the palace is closed until 1430 and suggests we visit the Standing Buddha and an interesting market. A tuk-tuk will only cost 40 baht. He calls over a tuk-tuk, which takes us to the 32 metre high Luang Pho To buddha at Wat Inthawihan. It is, indeed, an impressive sight, and the adjacent temple has some excellent wall paintings and smaller gilded buddha figures.


We now come to the scam - the interesting market turns out to be a tourist trap selling jewelry. We take one look and return to the tuk-tuk, somewhat to the driver's concern. Hedoes however take us back to the palace and the charge is indeed only 40 baht.

Emerald Buddha

Emerald Buddha

Returning to the palace we find the correct gate for visitors to enter. The main palace is closed for continuing birthday celebrations. However, we could still enter the adjacent Emerald Buddha temple. In fact access is free as it is normally bundled with the palace.

The temple and its surrounding buildings are impressive, well kept with huge quantities of gilding. The emerald buddha itself is set at the back of the inner temple and only a distant view is available.


Jim Thompson Museum

Jim Thompson Museum

Jim Thompson made his fortune by popularising Thai handicrfts, particularly silk production and weaving. He lived in a traditional thai house which has been excellently preserved and is now open as a museum, surrounded by a peaceful garden. The house itself is furnished as it was during his lifetime.

Jim Thompson vanished while trekking in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and the mystery of his disappearance has never been solved.

Grand Palace

Grand Palace

At last the palace is open to visitors.

The Crown Jewels museum contains a lot of impressive gold, jewels and regalia.

After a quick second look at the Emerald Buddha temple we enter the palace grounds, conforming to the dress code enforced at the gates.

The palace complax itself comprised numerous buildings, all highly decorated. Unfortunately access to the interior is limited to a small number of these, even less than the guidebooks imply

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Over the road from the Royal Palace is the Wat Pho temple complex, the largest in Bangkok. It contains over a thousand buddha images as well as the huge Reclining Buddha and an active monastery and school of Thai massage.


The Reclining Buddha is 46 metres long and 15 metres high. It is gilded, except for the eyes and feet. The feet are covered with text engraved on mother of pearl. Because the figure takes up most of its enclosing buildng photography presents some challenges!

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

Over the river from the palace and Wat Pho is the imposing Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. This is a very tall tower or "prang" surrounded by four smaller towers. They are ornately decorated in mother of pearl and stones brought as ballast by sailing ships.


Unfortunately access is only allowed to the first platform, despite the guidebook enthusiasm about the view from the top.


Khon show

Our last evening in Bangkok was spent at a "Khon" (traditional masked dance) show at the Royal Theatre, Sala Chaloem Krung. Despite being excellent, the show was very sparsly attended, most tourists apparently preferring to go to one of the venues offering a buffet dinner and a highly amended show.

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Last updated on 13 September 2011

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