China and Thailand-2007 travel blog

Samui

palace decoration

palace

 


We left early for our flight to the island of Samui. . We arrived to the mountainous island with many coconut palms. The water was Caribbean blue and there were quite a few other islands in the distance. It reminded me of the Caribbean or maybe Hawaii. After we arrived at the Peace hotel we walked past the pool to the beach and there was a stiff breeze. There was a mix-up with our bungalow. Our first one had an open bathroom plus bugs, but the one we moved to was very new and nice. They had a pavilion for spa services.We walked down to the hotel next door and they were setting up tables for dinner on the beach. They invited us to stay for dinner buffet. This was a 4 star hotel for $350 (cheapest) a night so we figured dinner would be good. The way the buffet worked was you purchased salad bar if you wished (G did -I didnt) and the raw meat or fish (lamb, squid, lobster, fish) by the gram and the potatoes and rice and condiments were included.All the meat or fish was prepare on the grill right there... The centerpiece of the buffet had the loved carved fruit I had been waiting to see. G was happy to get a westernized meal and he didn't care how much it cost.(just 18 dollars for both of us). After our meal we walked on the beach and watched as people set -floating lanterns of cloth adrift on the ocean breeze. They got smaller and smaller until they disappeared in a burst of flame. Oh, the south seas island is nothing like on survivor!

Massage is the big thing in Thailand. On every corner there are loungers or shops. I was the first one down at the pavilion for a morning massage (1 hour) and it was great and only 300 baht (9 dollars) so I also had a pedicure. The girls wondered how old I was (I wouldn't tell) so they guessed I was 40 and said I had beautiful skin. Absolutely worth 9 dollars!

The airport in Samui is a collection of thatched pavilions with check in counters and seating and café and gift shop...all open to the air and noise. In the waiting area for Bangkok Air they had complimentary café with pineapple juice, homemade lemonade, and cookies and pastries...pretty sweet! We were fed n every flight even as short as an hour.I will come back to Samui!! Now it's on to Bangkok.

On the taxi ride in we found the city to be big (10 million people),modern and clean. I thought there would be more high rises here but this is not like Hong Kong. There are building a new portion of the skytrain to link the airport to the downtown. Arrived at the Sheraton Orchid and checked into the room on the 24th floor that has a great view of the river and boats. We also have a city view in the hallway. The hotel is nice and has two pools .We went down to the pool and there were Thai musicians down in the mini pavilion where you can eat. There is a hotel boat that takes you to the skytrain and locals boats that dock just by the hotel.

We decided to try the boat to go the Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) a few stops down. It was nice on the river but stifling on land even though it was late in the day. From afar the Chedi was impressive and you could tell it was tiled with ceramic. T I've never heard of a Wat that you can climb and it reminded me of the Mayan Temples. When you got up close you could see that the decorative flowers on the façade were made of plates of broken china. They had broken the plates in the middle and made the sections into petals. It was a work of art.

When we got back to the hotel we were hungry and made reservation for a restaurant nearby called Tongue Thai'd . It was a 10-minute walk away but I thought it would be fun to take the Oriental Hotel's boat down to the next stop. It's a very beautiful wooden Thai boat outlined in lights. It was beautiful weather and we disembarked at best hotel in Bangkok—the Oriental. Overlooking the water a lavish buffet that was set out for the evening. The 65$ USwas too expensive for us!!.. The grounds were beautiful and we were impressed as we made our way to the lobby. Everyone seemed to be westerners and dressed very nicely for dinner. The beautiful oriental chandeliers in the lobby were impressive. I think this hotel starts at 350-400 and then up.

We walked around the block and found the restaurant, which was like many nice places we have in the states. There was only two other people there eating. They seemed to rush us a bit to order (maybe going home early?) so we ordered the fried banana flower, scallops with fried basil leaves, beef paneang curry and Mee Krob (fried noodle with sweet chili sauce). Delicious light tempura, crispy basil leaves and the seasoning all perfection and not too hot. G. pronounced the meal best so far on the trip.

The next day we were just about to leave to go to the King's Palace when a little rain blew up so we headed next door the a shopping complex called River City. Lots to look at here like silks, jewelry and expensive Thai antiques but nothing to buy. We cruised on down the local packed boat to stop 8 on the river and walked through a small food market and onto a busy street with an air-conditioned café (as the sun was out). So we waited for the palace to open. Then we walked a gauntlet of touts on the most touristed street in Bangkok. I was getting a little sick of them harassing us by now. One man stepped out pretending to be a guard and said the usual," where are you going". I said boldly (to usher him out of the way, "across the street." The books say the touts will try to tell you that the wat or palace is closed today for a ceremony etc and try to get you to go somewhere in a tuk tuk.

As you entered the grounds you could see across the grassy outer courtyard to the tops of the buildings beyond the wall. After we got the tickets, we entered a glittery golden world. As you turned around you could see the famous fierce guards from the inside, two for every gate. The first thing we noticed was the huge layered golden Stupa. The Stupas or Chedis are for ashes of people or relics of Buddha. It was very sunny great for pictures but I was melting.... There were lots of paintings of portrayals of Wats. Glass mirrors and the colors: blue (power), red (happiness) and yellow. You could hear the tinkling of bells at the top of the eves. They were renovating the main Bot (temple) and it had scaffolding and fabric covering it. Inside was a golden over the top display with the Jade Buddha. He was a very small Buddha for the building. There was a surprisingly lot of greenery inside the compound. Then we walked over to the King's old palace and its lovely bonsai trees, which were over 120 years old.

That evening the concierge sent us to eat around the corner to The Gallery. It was a very nice place with great Thai food. We ordered the hot and sour soup with prawns, green curried soft-shell crab, sea bass with garlic slices (lemongrass, chilies, ginger etc) and fried rice with Chinese sausage (very sweet). It was all very hot and delicious. Mine didn't stay down long.

Today we headed back up river to the Wat Po. I was really disappointed after seeing the palace. This Wat was in disrepair and in the process of renovations and I would only recommend it for a quick visit to the giant reclining Buddha. We took pictures of the golden Buddha and it's elaborate feet with their inlaid mother of pearl figures.

I then made a fateful decision to go to Chinatown.we shopped until the huge deluge hit. It had a roof .... sort of... It rained buckets and people scrambled to cover their products .The alley became a little river and we were soaked from the knees down (even though we had an umbrella). We went to a shopping plaza to dry out called Siam Square. There were silk shops and tailors but in the middle was a food court with stall in the middle. It looked very clean and there were lots of sweets. I bought a steamed cupcake and some little sweets made of sweet bean paste and flavored with almond. They were painted to look like vegetables and fruit and coated with a shiny gel.

The 12th-15th is the "water festival" and the teens and children really get into it.They get water guns and shoot each other and take buckets of water and splash the buses ,tourists or anyone nearby.One kid shot me on the arm. He was playing it safe with this old lady foreigner.

Next day we decided to go on the sky train to the Jim Thompson outlet.We found it to be very overpriced.We went on to the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall.This mall is the ultimate. It has a comprehensive accessories ,art supplies,electronics department etc The store has various side shops for designers like Longchamp,Burberry,Coach,Ferragamo,Bvlgari etc.The food court has tables with giant aquariums in the middle in the basement is called Aquaworld. Pretty impressive Id say.



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