Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A tale of many Kings in a Kingdom of Smiles

Finally we have access to the internet again - you can't start to understand how frustrating it is for someone like me to not be 'connected'.  Even in the air it is frustrating 😄 

The flight in to Bangkok from Sydney wasn't too bad - it was not full, so we had a bit of spreading room.  We are on an older 747 without a nose or body camera, so you can only follow your trip via the map - ho hum!  
So I take to the movies and watch The Zookeepers Wife and then A Cure for Wellness - two very different, but good movies.  We feast on Chicken in Pa-Nang Curry with rice, and a crab meat salad and carrot cake.  All very nice.
And an hour before we land we are fed again - this time, fruit salad, Stir fried Udon noodles with chicken in Black Bean sauce and Wattle seed cookies.

For some reason, we seem to always arrive on flights that land at the furthermost gate from the airport entry.  In Bangkok, this meant a walk of 1000 metres - measure in 150 m increments from the gate to customs.  Crap!

We arrived in Thailand in the peak of the monsoon season, but it had not rained at all on Saturday.  This meant that the humidity was near 100% the whole eight hours we were there - you could feel it as soon as you stepped off the plane.  That was, until you stepped out in to the carpark - at which point I think I began to perspire in a constant stream.

Our guide Suttira met us as planned and introduced us to our driver Jack who had a late model HIGH SUV.  Very comfortable once I managed to climb up into it backwards.
And off we set to do a whirlwind tour of Bangkok by car.  It is a huge metropolis and much like other big cities, is filled with lots of skyscrapers and in the midst of a growth spurt of numerous more. However the new ones are far more interesting in design with many demonstrating gravity defying shapes - there is one that is almost done that looks like an unfinished 3D jigsaw puzzle.  Not sure how I would feel about working or living in one of the extruded pieces.
What you see in large cities in this part of the world though, is high levels of poverty abutting the wealthy areas.  Some of these areas astound you in the fact that they are still standing - most look like they should have fallen years before.
Suttira was explaining that the 6th King of Siam (don't recall his name) after a visit to Europe came back to the then Siam and told the population that slavery was no more, and that the wealthy who had held power in the ownership of land and slaves, freed their slaves and divided the farmlands with them, encouraging them to stay there and farm with them.  This has resulted in the phenomenon of the wealthy sitting comfortably beside the poor.

We drove through Chinatown which could be transported to Chinatown in any other city, before driving through the flower markets that operate 24 hours a day to provide opportunities for the local population to buy offerings for their Gods.  I have never seen so many flowers - ever.  
There were streets and streets and streets of sellers.  Predominantly orange marigolds, but flowers of every colour and type.

As each new King builds a new palace/s, they are all over the city. Palaces and temples.  And at the moment, everywhere there are photos of the former King, for whom they City is still in mourning - King Bhumibol - the People's King, and his successor - King Maha Vajiralongkornralongkorn, who will be crowned following the funeral of his father in October.

At this time of the day (5 pm onwards), all the tourist attractions are closed, so we can only see them from outside (thankfully in an air conditioned car!) - but it is enough to give us a fairly good idea of the size and bustle of this eastern port.
On the way back into the city centre, we see the street vendors setting up for a nights brisk trade.  Once the shopping areas are closed, the footpaths are given over to this ad hoc trade.  Predominantly food, you see sellers of all varieties of meat and seafood as well as fruits - durians were on every corner and every second stall in between.  Suttira tells us that after eating durian, a 'hot' fruit, you should eat mangosteen, a 'cool' fruit to keep the body balanced. She seemed surprised that we knew of both these fruits!

From here, it was around to a 2000 seat auditorium where we had seats to watch the Siam Niramit show with more than 100 performers and 500 costumes which told the story of the history of Thailand. A true spectacle in every sense of the word!
Suttira had suggested that we eat here at the buffet restaurant, but I had asked her to take us to a local restaurant, rather than one that caters to the tourist palate.  So after waiting 1 1/2 hours for the show to finish, she and Jack drove us around to the Kohl Lanta restaurant - a 'posh' restaurant that locals frequent. It is now almost 10 pm and we four are their last customers - we insist that Suttira and Jack join us.  We feast on fried groper, chicken with cashews and broccoli and mushrooms in oyster sauce, with rice.  I am happy to report that the local Thai restaurants in Maryborough and Hervey Bay offer authentic foods if what we eat here is any comparison!

Then or time in the Venice of the East is at an end and we are driven back to the airport for our 00:50 flight to Munich.  
This flight is fuller than our flight in from Sydney and we are cramped with two others in to the centre seats.  Hopefully, we can sleep.  We now sooner take off than we are pumping zzz's only to be woken and offered a meal in under an hour - and you know how hard it is to get back to sleep after you are woken!  We weren't hungry, just tired, so declined this meal.

Someone near a window opened their shade in the wee hours and at 4:22 am I witnessed the most beautiful dawn looking to the east. Meal time again, and this time we are served, omelette, sausage, tomatoes and hash brown, with brioche rolls and jam.  And coffee.  Had. to. have. coffee!
This morning I began watching Jackie - but the thought of arriving looking like I had bawled for the entire flight put me off, so I turned over to Collateral Beauty - not much better really.  And finished this leg off with Just for Laughs - GAGS - hilarious and laughed myself stupid.

And before long, we were landing in Munich.

Will need to post photos when I work out how to get them from the camera to the laptop!

1 comment:

Hels said...

Ahh MnM, how I have enjoyed reading your new blog posts. They make me feel like I am there with you. Your writing style is such a gift! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Sending love to Steph and her family and all my travel vibes to you two. Xxx Hels