|Hi all. Sorry for neglecting you, but I ran out of oomph to write any more journal entries until now. We are finishing our last day in Thailand and we leave in 24 hours.
We spent two nights here last week when we arrived at the Shanghai Mansion, in the large Chinatown area of Bangkok, and had a magical Thai massage the first night, right after heading out into the melee on the streets for prawns and Thai food that was so deliciously fresh and scarily prepared in who knows what kind of sanitary conditions. The hotel was a gem. A boutique hotel based on the theme of "Shanghai Girls". But very proper, clean, and very courteous staff. They gave us lots of perks: a great cosmopolitan choice of free breakfast; a free bar fridge complete with one beer, one Coke, one Sprite, two waters, one package of three Oreo cookies, a minuscule bag of Lays potato chips, and a pineapple juice; plus a free tuk-tuk ride to either the subway, the shopping mall, or the Imperial Palace.
We chose the palace, but when we arrived they wouldn't let Brian in while wearing shorts, and it was so terribly hot we had trouble thinking, so finally decided to listen to the selling job the little Thai man was doing next to us, and we followed him to the river and took a boat ride through all the canals in the breezy cooling water-splashed long-armed motor boat. There's a name for them but I don't know it. Is it Klong? It was heavenly and the best thing to do in 37 degree humidity. We saw a very weird large lizard about 6 or 7 feet long, sunning itself on the bank, which would eat fish, rats, cats or dogs. We saw a bit of a floating market where we bought a beer for Brian and one for the driver (as the vendor suggested) at 700% markup; and lots of various habitat styles, from luxurious homes to tin shacks to monasteries. We got off the boat at the Chinatown pier and managed to figure out how to walk back to our hotel, which was pretty good considering that in the two nights we stayed there we used three different taxis at various times, and all three got lost! Walking back we passed through dozens of blocks of street and sidewalk vendors all selling either food or plastic Chinatowm 'stuff'. Made me realize we don't need anything. Lots of gold merchants and restaurants in the main buildings.
That day was Loy Kratong, or the Full Moon Celebration. Not knowing what to do, the hotel staff suggested we go to a pier called Asiatique. We headed off in a cab, but the driver didn't want to take us because of the huge anticipated crowds, so convinced us to go instead to a riverfront restaurant with a huge buffet. We acquiesced because he was driving, and he managed to get us a table along the water where we could watch all the super expensive dinner cruise boats, the yachts, and the tourists on ferries going by. Seems all the tables had been booked weeks ago, and people were all dressed up, with all their families celebrating, so we were quite lucky to experience it all. We bought a flower bouquet with candles and joss sticks, and the waitress helped me launch it into the river after dinner, with a special long handled wire mesh shovel that reached down to the water. I said a prayer for Mom and Dad, and sick cousin Gord, and Jud, and Sheeja, and it floated out Into the river, the full moon shining down, with the whole city of Bangkok lit up behind it in silhouette.
The next day we headed out to the airport once again, to go to Patong Beach on the Island of Phuket, an hour and a half flight away. We spent four nights there in the Nap Patong hotel, about 100 meters from the beach, where the tsunami hit a decade ago. It was a bit eerie thinking of that whole scenario while swimming in the Andaman Sea looking up at the hills where survivors escaped fearing a third big wave. Patong reminded us a lot of Playa del Carmen in Mexico south of Cancun. Lots of international tourists and t-shirt shops. What Mexico doesn't have though is the thousands of massage girls, attractively clad, beckoning to you every 20 feet, nor at least four tattoo parlours every block. An evening stroll down Bangla Road was enough for us to forgo a visit to Pat Pong Road in Bangkok. We swam in our lovely hotel pool, spent a few hours on the beach, bought some trinkets, ate, and read. It was a nice way to end our travels.
Back to Bangkok for a couple of nights. We went to a large gem wholesale-retail outlet, where we had two rings sized for us, and Brian bought my Christmas present for me. He picked a pair of Burmese ruby earnings in the uncut cabochon style set in 18 karat gold. We went to the large shopping malls and peeked into the exclusive shops selling: Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Ducattis, Hermes, Dolce and Gabana, Prada, Jimmy Choo, etc, and ate Pad Thai in the biggest food court on the planet. We went back to see the Imperial Palace, but this time, there was no place to park the car, so we opted for my first choice, the golden reclining Buddha. It was amazingly huge and the temperature is amazingly hot, so back to the Admiral Premier Hotel with the swimming pool on the roof, and here I sit sending you this update.
We had sad news this morning that my cousin Gord passed away yesterday in Calgary, surrounded by his close family, of wife Jean, four children, and their partners and spouses. Our hearts and prayers are with you all, and although you are devout Christians, know that we paid obeisance and said prayers for you at the shrine of the reclining Buddha.
And so we leave this journal and our adventures in this part of the world, in this part of our life. To head home tomorrow. Back to blessed Canada, the garden city, Victoria, our son, cats, and responsibilities. Lots of love. Enjoy life. Deb and Brian