I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Entries in Thailand (7)


Phang Nga Bay


We began the day with the usual – breakfast outdoors, under the awning, surveying the prospects for the day.




Today, there was a distinct cloud on the horizon.  We’d heard thunder during the night and been woken by flashes of lightning, but hoped that it would have cleared by the time we arrived here, off Phuket in Patong Bay.




Clear it did, and by the time we were sitting aboard one of the tenders going ashore, it was starting to warm up nicely.




Thailand doesn’t change – we love it here and spent a few moments waiting for our group to assemble watching these young men try to get the old lorry engine to work.  There were clouds of exhaust fumes, a few stuttered starts and finally it sprang into life.  Basic – yes.  Effective – most certainly.




Our destination was north of here, actually involving a drive over the bridge onto the “mainland” and to the area known as Phang Nga Bay, a National Park with kharst rock formations very similar to those of Halong Bay in Vietnam, or Guilin in China.




Here we boarded a rather more sedate craft than the long tail boats we enjoyed zooming about in on previous trips.  We travelled out into the river delta, amongst the rocks and making a first stop at some cave paintings.




The boat tipped to one side as the whole contingent leaned out to get photos.




Next, we sailed by the Muslim Fisherman’s Village of Koh Panyee with the promise of stopping there on our return.




After a scoot through a hole in a rock (which I recorded on my Flip video rather than on camera, since it was a bit dark), we arrived at the end point – James Bond Island or Kao Ping-Gan, scene of The Man with the Golden Gun.




As we were taking photos, the small police boat came alongside, the two officers smiling, waving and saluting when they realised there were cameras in hand!  They were there to collect the toll for being in the park area and our driver having coughed up the required fee, they sped off, saluting us all once again as they did.




We didn’t land at this island, because there wasn’t a sufficiently reliable landing stage for we delicate souls to disembark – or so we were told.  I guess health and safety precautions together with fears of US litigation made it simpler to “just say no”.  As it happened, it didn’t really matter, to us at any rate.




On the way back we did indeed make a short stop at the market at Koh Panyee, where things were plentiful and very reasonably priced, especially for those prepared to bargain.  Some paid $10 for a small T shirt, others got a handbag for less than a quarter of that Winking smile




As often happens on these trips, I find myself finding amusement/delight in the more everyday occurrences.  On this occasion, having seen one kharst rock formation after another, the local Pepsi delivery was, for me, more interesting!




Lunch was good.  A hot Thai buffet with a fine selection of tasty local dishes washed down with a Singha beer hit the spot perfectly for us.




No, this isn’t the bread from lunch but the sheets of latex rubber being processed at the demonstration farm on the way back to the ship, later this afternoon.  I’d seen these sheets hanging out along the fence on the way out this morning, but had not recognised them at all.  It was interesting to see how this was done and to recognise the amount of work which goes into this very hands-on production.




There were a few animals at this tourist centre, including these elephants taking people off into the forest.




The little monkeys weren’t as bored as this picture would have you believe. This one was jumping all over the place whilst we were there, sitting still for just long enough for me to snap his picture.




The water buffaloes were doing just what water buffaloes love to do




whilst we contemplated how an elephant might ride the motor bike…

(cute, isn’t he?)




From there it was back to the ship and a long, cool shower.  As I dressed, I heard the ship’s horn blast three times to signal our departure for Chennai.  I noticed the sun was setting and stepped outside onto our verandah to see one of the tenders returning to the ship, which now seemed to be sailing away.




Along with several of our fellow passengers, we peered over the rails to watch the goings on – this is quite a performance, involving precision in manoeuvring this small boat alongside and getting it hoisted aboard.




Bearing in mind this is really one of the ships lifeboats, everything needs putting back   exactly as it should be and Mark was particularly bothered that the zipped window coverings needed closing.  One by one they were fixed, until there was only the doorway to do.




By the time everyone was off, the last man zipping up the doorway to leave just enough of a gap for him to squeeze out of, the boat was being hoisted up and in, through the space where the rails had been taken out, and into place.  A quick hose down and all was shipshape again.




We lifted our glasses and sailed off into the sunset.

Goodbye Thailand.  We’ll be in Chennai, India in a couple of days time!


Starting as we mean to continue…




The view from our breakfast table this morning.  Not the most picturesque but surprisingly captivating to watch those huge containers being moved about like building blocks.




We’re had a great day here in Bangkok.  We’ve been templed and marketed out on previous visits, so booked ourselves on the “Historic Homes” excursion.  At 7.45am, we found ourselves in a group of just seven boarding a minibus with our guide Kenny and set off down the same motorway as we’d arrived yesterday.  Two hours later, we arrived at the first home – that of former Prime Minister M R Kukrit.




Set in lush gardens in the centre of this lively city, the traditionally built wooden house was a haven of peace.  We were lucky to meet the present custodian who generously waived entrance fees and photography restrictions for us and we spent a happy time wandering about, all the time listening to traditional Thai music performed by a group of youngsters, shyly playing to an appreciative audience.




These stately teak buildings are now dwarfed by the towering skyscrapers which surround them on all sides.  But the cool darkness of these small rooms was inviting and stepping inside barefoot, we enjoyed the privilege of a closer look at the family photos, the books and other personal belongings which were there.





The contrast between this haven of peace and the busy world outside was drawn again as we left.




Having bid farewell to the spirits in their teak house in the garden, we looked up to see another aspect of life in modern Thailand as we hopped aboard and on to the next stop.




The Suan Pakkard Palace had been the home of minor royalty who had bequeathed their palace to the nation to be used as a museum.  Another little tranquil spot, this was an altogether less personal place and the commercial characteristics were there in the form of facilities for events and meetings.




We were guided by a local docent, who led us through a series of buildings, some of which contained collections of shells, of geodes, of pottery or whatever.  We took our shoes off to enter some of them, others we simply peered through the open windows at the dusty things inside.  No photos inside, so we’ll have to rely on those we stored in our heads!




Returning across a series of bridges, we took photographs of the gardens, the lovely tropical foliage and brightly coloured flowers.




There were lotus flowers on chinese-inspired stools




and the real thing, floating in large blue pots of water, teeming with small fish.




Nearly lunchtime by now, we were headed to the Jim Thompson House, an altogether more commercial and bustling place, full of tourists led by local guides.  We were lucky to be met by Noppasri whose charming smile and friendly good humour made our visit all the more special.  Again, no photographs inside, but we could peer in through windows and try to capture the vibrant colours of the silk cushions and other furnishings with some limited success.




Hungry and ready for a chilled beer at the very least, we followed our noses to the restaurant, where lunch was promised.  Filled with the appetising aromas of a Thai kitchen, we found our places at the table and enjoyed the welcome glass of lemongrass cordial.  Deliciously cooling, it sat there with a bottle of water and a bottle of beer…we were lining up our drinks!




Lunch was included, so we sat back as one tasty dish after another was brought. 




The Pomelo salad was divine – crunchy, sweet, sharp and with just the right amount of chilli “bite” to it, the peanut flavoured dressing would be the most challenging hurdle to overcome were we to try making it at home.  There followed a bowl of coconut and chicken soup, a dish of prawns with jasmine rice and some beef in a red curry sauce.  These dishes were hot hot hot but truly tasty and the perfect choice for us.  We’d return in a shot.




Just time for a little shopping in the silk shop there and we were on our way back.  We made a stop at a “Gems Store” which was all part of the fun, returning to the ship by the same old motorway…by now becoming rather familiar.  At 5pm we had the obligatory lifeboat drill and as I sit here looking out over an altogether different arrangement of containers from this morning, the rain is falling heavily.  In five minutes we sail for Singapore and we have the champagne ready for our sailaway.

Bye Bangkok!  We’ve had a terrific day!


A few more good things from the trip



Uploading photographs from our trip, I came across a few which didn't quite fit in earlier posts but which I think are interesting in some way, for example, these shampoo and shower gel bottles in an hotel.



What about the "odd" tile in the Cao Dai temple? To illustrate that only God is perfect, perhaps.

Is buying rice a simple purchase? A market stall in Saigon, Vietnam.

I loved the way the yellow building brought this Saigon view to life.

On the Mekong, in Laos, the flowering teak trees of the forest are doing fine above the high water mark from last weekend's flood.


A store selling handmade paper and books in Luang Prabang, Laos.

The outside of the same store


Rice cakes drying in the sun, Luang Prabang, Laos

Silk scarves, Luang Prabang Night market, Laos.

Bead store in the Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Woven wall hangings for sale in hotel shop, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Three characters from the garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

In case of boredom, a basket of wooden puzzles from the bar, Chiang Mai, Thailand.


Embroidery colours



I love the richness of the colour here. The rooms are rather dark during the daytime, shady and cool and the colours appear subdued and understated. But add a little light - sunshine or electric - and they pop out, bright pinks, greens and yellows all used together with, it seems, little or no "design". I would never have used these combinations and would most probably only stick to a very considered palette of carefully chosen colours.






The two parasols at either end of the enormous sofa are another riot of colour. They don't match but it doesn't seem to matter and that bit of gold "bling" makes all the difference.



I think it's really effective, proving that whole-hearted works better than half. What do you think?



A few interesting roof structures


coconut leaves, Mekong delta area, Vietnam





clay tiles, Luang Prabang, Laos


clay tiles with stencilled wooden battens, Buddhist temple, Luang Prabang, Laos


Irregular clay tiles on plain wooden battens, Luang Prabang, Laos.

wooden shingle on canopy, Chiang Mai, Thailand