Trip and first day
It all started with the flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok which takes about 10,5 hours. I flew Thai Airways which is supposed to be one of the best airlines in the world but I was a little bit disappointed. When I was watching my second film I realized that one of the other passengers who sat opposite to me at the other side of the aisle had started whisteling songs. As a lot of people were trying to sleep this was annoying... shortly after he got his wooden beads and loudly started singing buddistic prayers for about 15 minutes. After he had finished that he continued singing loudly but this time carnival songs... :mad: Might have been more interesting if it hadn‘t been the same 2 songs for three hours.... The poor girl which was unlucky enough to have seat in that row must have played ‚dead‘ as the guy several times started talking to her. At a certain point 5 stewards came and asked him to be quiet. He went mad and I really thought we would have to throw him out of the plane (little bit difficult though when you are flying over Pakistan and Afghanistan). In the end they told him he had to check out in Bangkok (don‘t know where he was going). He was loud every now after that (don‘t know which stewardess was stupid enough to still give him something alcoholic to drink...) but when during the descend towards Bangkok he started to call people with his mobile phone, I went mad and went to get the steward again. I don‘t want my life in danger just because of such an asshole.... :eek: :( :emb:
Last part Bangkok - Phuket went smooth, was only one hour. My tour operator expected me already and they brought me to my hotel. I could catch a short glimpse on Thailand and was really enthusistic. The temples are so colourful and I even saw buddistic monks (they have orange clothes so they can be easiyl identified) as in the house where I saw them obviously somebody had died. If that happens chairs and tables are brought on to the street and the monks get invited. The little I have seen so far made me very keen to see more...
My hotel ist okay, have a great room. Looks like the ‚towel game‘ is not going on here and I am more than happy about it. The heat after the snow just killed me though... wasn‘t able to keep my eyes open on the beach so I slept most of the rest of the day...
Went to the beach rather late as I woke up only at 8 am and didn‘t want to rush. I‘m on vacation after all.... today I discovered that the towel game is played here too but there are a lot of chairs so you probably find one anyway... but the chairs are on grass and only a few are actually in the sand. But I decided that when I am on the beach I want my feet in the sand... so I got a chair with an umbrella in the sand. Learnt only later on that you have to pay BHT 100 for 2 chairs plus the palapa. But who cares. Not spending much money here anyway. Day went by without much diversion. Lots of beach vewndors came by to sell various kinds of goods. One had miniature motorbikes, other ones clothes, jewellry or miniatures. One woman came by who sold food. It was funny as she had a stick over her shoulder which had a big pot on either side. On one side she had miniatue barbeque and in the other pot was the food. Don‘t knw though what food this was (fired fihs or fried vegetables or whatever).
In he afternoon clouds began to come up the sky and at a certain time went for a swim for the last time and then up to the room. Unfortunately my back is red so I decided to organize a tour around Phuket for tomorrow. My hotel arranged a taxe for me which will take me around the island for 2,000 BHT. Furthermoer I booked a show for monday evening. Phantasea... looks very thai, so I hope I‘ll like it. Went around a little bit to discvoer the area. There is not much around here but the Internet-cafe around the corner is way cheaper than my hotel (doesn‘t cost even half of it) so sent some emails from there. But - it‘s strange, as much as I am on the Internet at home.. I don‘t miss it here... when I got out of the cafe I saw that everybody excepßt me left the shoes outside. Shame on me next time I go there I hopefully remember to leave my shoes outside! Buffet today was not as good as yesterday. Too much pasta and not as much choice of thai food as yesterday.
As I was eager to see more of Thailand I hired a taxi with a driver who drove me around Phuket. 2,000 BHT (about 50 bucks) is not really much if you think that we left at 9 am and came back around 3 pm. And although my brochzre said that taxi drivers don‘t get any tips I tipped him anyway because he stopped whenever I wnated to take pics and weited patiently until I had finished.
We drove around the norther half of Phuket Island. Started at Surin and Kamala Beach followed by Patong, Karong, Kata and Kata Noi beaches. Patong is just horrible. Although there are shops everywhere the beach is crowded with some buildings having about 20 floors best estimate) so for who likes it.... guess some people must like it otherwise it wouldn‘t be THAT crowded.
Along the way we saw lots of little ‚ghost houses‘. Those are set up in places where people died. We stopped in one place where there were lots of some, at least half of them already fallen down. Must have been a dangerous part of the road. At the first glance I was a little bit sad that people left their ‚garbage‘ (i.e. empty water and Sprite bottles) on them until it came back to my mind that Thais put food and drinks in those ‚ghost houses‘ for the gods or ghosts or whoever they are.....
When I think about the beaches further south and compare them to Bangtao where I am staying then I have only one conclusion: in Phkuet you have the choice between lots of people on the beach but with night life or there are not so many people on the beach but in the evening there is nothing (here in Bangtao in the evening you can‘t do aynthing). AND if you compare the beaches to Mexico: ecept in Patong there is a maximum of two rows of chairs on the beach - that‘s less than in the beach clubs in Playa....
Went to the southern point of Phuket where there is a special lighthouse. Elephants are very important in Thailand and you see it on lots of Altars. From the lighthouse on the southern point I could see (and take pics) of some budda statues on an island in front. Was pretty impressing. On the way to Wat Chalong my driver took me o the ‚Shell museum‘. There are nice shell‘s but I still ask myself why I didn‘t go back to the cashier asking her why she had made me pay 400 Baht, when an notification said that admission was 200 Baht (about 3 bucks). It‘s not much but still I don‘t wanna pay the double price.
From there we went to Ho Chalong, another beach, and then to Wat Chalong, the first thai temple I visited. There were several buidlings and when I went to take some pictures I suddenly heard bangs (like fireworks) and then I saw a big brick building which had started steaming. Don‘t know what this was for but it smelled and the guy who did this did it several times again afterwards. The temple Wat Chalong is the biggest on Phuket and it IS impressing. So much gold and read and white. Inside the main temple there are a lot of golden statues.
When entering you have to take off your shoes... a habit I still have to remember.
Although the temple was pretty impressing we left when I had taken enough pictures. My driver stopped at a cashew factory where I just bought buttered cashews (tasted good!). Afterwards he took me to a gem factory where I didn‘t wanna buy anything because I didn‘t need anything but in the end I bought an elephant pendant (can take that to India too)
After that I was just tired. We stopped at another temple which was one of those I had seen on my way from the airport to the hotel and this was even nicer than Wat Chalong. It was closed so I couldn‘t go inside but from outside it was even more colourful....
Back in the hotel I had a first glance at the pics and then went for a swim. The sea was like a mirror... no wind and very warm water. After that I went to my chair but some germans were talking tooooo loud for my modest feelings and so I went to have the first thai massage of my life (1 hour massade is 400 baht in my ressort which is about 9 bucks). It hurt several times and I am not sure I feel better after it. Next time I try the oil thing... (but I might go to the beach as the girls doing the massages for the ressort were very busy with observing people on the beach and I didn‘t really like that). The girls doing this on the beach do concentrate on their work.
One thing here in Thailand is somehow strange for me: whenever I see streetsigns or anything I can‘t even read it much less understand it. Today I wanted to get money from an ATM and there were some instructions in english. I entered my PIn and pressed ‚enter‘ but after that nothing happened. So I tried again... nothing happened I didn‘t get any money. There was an arrow near to soemthing written in thai though and I just pressed that button. Worked fine as I got my money...
Another thing is that I have a sun allergy all over and wanted to get other sun protection. This is rather difficult here in Bangtao. Had to buy Nivea (which I don‘t really can use either) for about 8 bucks (smmmmaaalllllll bottle). Will have to try to find a pharmacy sometime within the next days.
Spent the day on the beach but Nivea was even worse for my skin so now allergy on the hands too. When I arrived on the beach I took a walk towards the rocks on the left side of the beach. Wanted to now what‘s on the other side and take some pics of the longtail boats which are ancoring there. When I passed the boats a fisherman came out with a big basket of fish. He allowed me to take his pic and I guess he was proud of his fish....
I the afternoon when the transport to Fantasea was due dark clouds appeared on the horizon in the mountains. And then a very hard thunderstorm started. The poor people in the mostly open vehicles on the road were SOAKED. Some waited in Tsunami shelter for the storm to pass... when we arrived at Fantasea they had improvised. The fairs outside were still closed but the had built protected paths from one building to another but just setting umbrellas up. We went to the buffet first (lots of great food!!!!) and when we had eaten the rain was gone. So with a guy from London I went around and we had some fun on the childrens games. Even won a ‚Nemo‘ on the ‚catapult the frog into the basket‘
The show itself was great. It‘s the story of the pirnce of Kamala who saves his princess from evil. There was a lot of thai culture in it and that‘s what made it so special. At one point 8 guys wer hanging from the ceiling on a trapez but they were held by elastics as well. Those guys were just great. They had several animals in the show (don‘t know how they succeeded in making some chickens run across the stage without stopping and doing whatever they want...). In the end there were about 25 elephants in all sizes on the stage. It was really impressing.
Of course went to bed immediately after came back to the hotel. Still have to comment that the organization and the security around Fantasea is very tight and efficient. Thailand is terror-prone and they know it. The bags were searched twice and they didn‘t allow cameras or videocams into the theatre. You had to deposit them. But the number you got had a colour so after the show there were the lines divided by colours. So it didn‘t take long to get the camera back after the show. The organisation of the whole infrastructure was really perfect.
Went to Kamala Beach with the Ressort Taxi. After we had prepared our diving stuff we walked over to the beach where we entered one of the longtail-boats (they have a long tail that‘s where they get their name from....) Then we went out on the sea and headed towards Patong. Still hated the sight of it especially since there was a big cruise ship. Hated the sight of it but we were still far enough away from it. Our dive was not deep but it was great. Saw lots of fish but the most impressing thing was saw during that dive was a big jellyfish. It swam quietly while little fish were swimming in and out of it.... I just hated that I didn‘t have my cam with me...
After the dive we stayed in the shadow on the longtail boat to wait for our physics to get back to a good diving level. This time we went near some rocks in front of Kamala Beach. Our dive guide had never been there so it was a first for her too. From above I could already see a seastar. But there were many more of them down and they were white and blue. We saw a murraine and small ‚naked snakes‘ as well as lots of very small fish you usually never see (this is what the more experienced guys said as I am still excited about EVERYTHING I see...). This was a great dive too. Will dive again in two days.
For the way home I took a Tuk-Tuk. Those are small cars which are open in the back (i.e. no windows). Funny little things... in the back the door is open too so you have to pay intention to not fall out during the ride....
Back in the hotel went to the beach but all chairs were occupied. Couldn‘t believe it. When some people left I grabbed one of their chairs. After about an hour the sky went black again and so I went to my room. Soon after another downpour.... Just made it in time to grab my stuff from the balcony. When it stopped went to the Internet cafe to check some emails and then went to a tailor to have a suit made for me. I am curious how he does it. Paid 6,500 BHT (about 160 Dollars) for a tailor made suit and a blouse. Could choose all the tissues I liked. Fitting is in two days.
In the morning the sky was really clouded but this was good for my skin which is really burnt. So I took a walk on the beach in the direction of the high price ressorts. In some areas of that part of the beach you can still see how devastating the Tsunami was. If you talk to people they all were here... the guy who works renting jet skis on the beach told me this morning that he staid on the water (outside on the ocean) with the jetski for four hours. It is sad how things got destroyed....
Went to Pattong in the afternoon as I needed more sunprotection. My skin is allergy all over. Even on hands and feet I have pickel all over. When I arrived in Pattong I first went into a shopping mall. Not much women clothes I liked... bought just some necessities like toothbrush, sunpotection. And Diesel- flip flops for 350 BHT and a Gucci bag (at least I believe it‘s a Gucci imitation) for 900 BHT. Walked a little bit around Pattong and just hated it. There is so much traffic that you can hardly cross the streets (this will be even worse in Bangkok *ouch*). So after an hour and a half I had enough and jumped on a TukTuk. I LOVE Tuk Tuks. Even though they are not really comfortable I find them more authentic. During the ride to Bangtao I got all the smells from outside and it is just a great feeling...
For Dinner we had another great buffet and afterwards there was a show with traditional thai dances. The waiters who are really friendly accompanied me to a desk near the stage so I could see everything. Those guys are just great! The dance itself was nice. When I got back to my room I had a message from the dive shop to check my emails so I had to rush to the internet cafe again. No diving tomorrow but one day more dive safari instead. *wwwooohhhooo*
Went to the beach and as it was cloudy just tried to relax. Went for a walk but wile walking the sky went black so I got back just in time to hopp into the water as it was raining hard. After a short shower it cleared up again but only for half an hour or so and then it started raining slowly again. As the sky went darker by the minute I decided to head to my room, take a shower and spend the afternoon shopping in Phuket town. While I was taking my shower it started raining cats and dogs again so it was probably the right decision not to stay on the beach.
Took the taxi to Phuket and went shopping. Unfortunately I had taken my Senator-card instead of my credit card so I had to get cash (fortunately I had brought the ATM card otherwise I would have had to get back to Bangtao immediately). Strolled around a little bit in the shops and afterwards in Phuket too. Went to a chinese temple and the Clock tower. Phuket is not really nice... when I had enough I jumped on a Tuk Tuk and headed back to Bangtao where I still had to get some grocery for the boat and a new snorkel. Furthermore I had a fitting for my new clothes... first time I have clothes tailor made and I didn‘t know you had to take so many decisions.....
When I went to dinner it started raining again and it‘s been a flood ever since. When I went back to my room they had to move the buffet as the floor was flooded and at the pool there is no difference between pool and outside area any more... just glad I will be in the water anyway in the next 4 days....
Day 8-11 Dive trip Similan/Richelieu
The first day we went with the speed boat to the Similan Islands where we got on our Liveabord-boat. And then it was immediately diving time. It was so great to see all those colurful fish. There are lots of clownfish in the anemones. It‘s amazing how big the giant murraines are. They are REALLY giant! Did 3 dives during the day and then my first night dive. We didn‘t see much but there were small worms swimming in the water and if you kept your hand quiet they swam to the light and suddenly your hand was surrounded by lots and lots of these little worms... little bit like in a horror movie 'The worms'... :joker:
The next morning we had to get up early to jump into the water at 7. Did 3 days on the Similans again before we headed off to Koh Bon. The Similans are great for diving. On the 3rd dive we were on a wreck but just as I wanted to take the first pics, my cam told me to change the batteries - thanks a lot! :( :emb: We did our 4th dive of the day at Koh Bon and then we headed towards Ko Tachai. While we went there a big thunderstorm came up so most of us went to their cabins till dinnertime as it was too wet upstairs although everything was covered and the open deck was closed.
Day 3 of the tour was definitely one of the highlights of my Thailand trip. Went again in the water early at 7 am at Richelieu Rock I saw my first Manta. Those animals are so majestic when they swim. It was absolutly fantastic. When it first came I took one pic and then I let the camera down because I just wanted to enjoy the sight of it and didn't care about taking pictures. It came back and swam directly over me then I took more pics. After it was gone the divemaster showed me little seahorse. It was a great dive. Even the second dive of the day was gigantic. It was just Monique and me amidst hundreds and hundreds of fish in all colours. We were enthusistic and unfortunately all the pics and videos we took don't give enough credit to the whole beauty of that dive. At one point we saw 7 dragon fish all close together. After the dive we headed back towards Kho Tachai. On the way there the captain suddenly stopped and blew the horn. We went upstairs on the sundeck and could observe a mink whale. I am a whale person so it was an additional plus for me.
The third dive of the day was a little bit difficult as Kho Tachai is full of strong currents. But all the fatigue was forgotten when suddenly another Manta appeared. It was bigger than the one we had seen in the morning and it stayed longer around us. It was just fantastic. Of course we took pics and videos again.... Passed on the 4th dive of the day though. In the evening we all sat together in the lounge with our laptops and the Manta-movies Monique and I had made went from my laptop to Japan and from there to Russia and Italy... :joker: (we all sat there together). It was a mixture of lots of nationalities on the boat. We were 5 germans, 2 british, 1 american, 3 japanese, 2 danish, 2 italians, 1 russian, 2 cheks, the whole thai crew... the crew worked a lot to make us comfortable. They helped us out of the water, changed our dive-bottles (the ones containing our air) and were just once not careful enough to count the divers on board... :eek: :joker: But all in all they were great. We always had plenty of food and felt comfortable on the boat. I shared my cabin with a japanese woman and she was nice.
Day 4 started with another early morning dive during which we went very deep (I was below 40 metres which is nothing you really should do). The dive site was full of strong currents to I was glad we had a mooring line we could hang to when we did our safety stops whenn re-surfacing. Unfortunately the jellyfish-stings liked the mooring line too (even more unfortunately one of them got stuck near my arm - that's why today I looked like a drug addict on the plane ;) :D). The second dive was relaxed although once again there were currents. We saw blue spotted stingrays and several scorpion fish. The problems came when we surfaced as obviously we were the only ones who had gone with the current and all other groups had changed direction in the middle and swam back. So we saw the boat getting everybody else in but they were far away and yepp - they forgot us. Monique couldn't quite believe it aht after about half an hour we saw the butt of the boat and it started heading towards the next island. Max, our third guy, had stayed at the mooring line while MOnique and myself had drifted off. Do you know what a torture it is when 7 kg of weightbelt are lying on your bladder and you really need to go to the toilet but the toilet is just heading off to the next island? :D When we just started to swim towards the other boat of the same company (was baout 100 metres away from us) they finally realized on our boat that we were missing and came to finally get us out of the water. When I was on board I was really exhausted and took a bath in acid to minimize the impact of the jellyfish stings.
I thought about passing on the third dive that day as I was really exhausted after drifting for so long in the water but it was our last dive so of course I didn't pass. It was a nice dive, we all stayed together and took some pics of us divers together. There was some current but it was a shallow dive and we just drifted along the reef.
Btw. you could see in some places that the Tsunami had damaged the reef in some places. But the coral is growing back.
Going home was strange as the divers on the boat generally were really nice people and after 4 days together we felt a little bit like a small family. But once I was back at my hotel in Bangtao, I just took a shower, went down to grab something to eat and then went to sleep....
And here is the first teaser pic - the breakfast manta... ;)
Day 12 - 14
Nothing much to tell... was too tired to do much so I just relaxed on the beach or went with Monique to Patong to do some shopping. In Patong we sat in a bar and had a white whine while we watched the european (male) tourists with their thai girl friends walking around. It's not so nice seeing that but I guess the girls just take what they can get. I am not judging anyone but on the other hand I can't understand that the guys are really believing that the girls wait for them to come back (what lots of them do is look for another boyfriend while the other one is away though).... some might actually wait but the majority doesn't.
Flight to Bangkok uneventful.
Once I was in my hotel I had a first glimpse on the river which I can see from my room (that's why I booked this hotel with river view) Later on I went to look for a pharmacy as I somehow had gotten an ear infection and I desperately needed eardrops. So I went around in the streets surrounding my hotel but it's strange to look for something if you can't read what's written on the shops. And in the small streets it was amazing what you see. I didn't take much pictures there as I didn't want to impose on anybody. For example I saw one house which had an opening in the front (don't know if it can be closed at all) and inside there was a bed (like the ones you see in a hospital) and someone was lying in it. Maybe an old, sick grandmother who still needs to be entertained by watching people passing by. Don't know as I didn't want to stare...
Found a pharmacy in a supermarket and went back to the hotel. The streets are not really what I am used too so I first had to get accustomed to it... didn't do much for the rest of the day (at least not on the streets in Bangkok). :)
Had to get up early and was surprised when I came down that I was asked for my room number when I stepped out of the elevator. Looks like they control that only people who checked in are actually staying here. Might be a side-product of the sex-tourism in Thailand. But not sure. It's the first time this happened to me.
Had booked a half day tour to the kings palace and the lying and the emerald buddas. The way there was already interesting as we were stuck in traffic... I learned that the guys with orange vests on motos are moto-taxis. And I was surprised how green Bangkok is. There are lots of blooming trees and other plants around. I didn't expect that.
Firsts we went to the golden Budda. It's just a small one but crowded all the same. There are street vendors who take yor pics when you go in and when you come out they try to sell you a badge with your pic on it. They want about 5 bucks for it, so it's not really a bargain. But they have to react quickly as always groups of people come out together and they have to look whom they have badges for....
Once we were at the Kings Palace it was just amazing. There are big colourful buidlings and sculputures everywhere. There is lots of gold involved too and as the sun was shining it was glittering everywhere. Here is one teaser pic again... ;)
We stayed at the Kings Palace for more than one hour. It is amazing that whenever you think that there can't be something more beautiful you walk around the corner and you stop and your mouth falls open. I especially liked the sculptures. Those wearing shoes are demons, those without are monkeys. And then there are the Kinnares, half humand-half bird... went inside several of the buildings but it's not always allowed to take pics. In the hall of the Emeral Buddha we got instructions how to behave as for example it is not allowed to point your feet to the Buddha.
After these amazing hours at the King's Palace we went to the Lying Budda (he is not telling lies he is just lying... hope speeling is correct... ;) ) and he is made out of pure gold. He is sooo HUGE. It's the biggest on ein Thailand and if you just see the pic you will not be able to get a realistic idea of how huge he was....
From there I came back to the hotel and it was lots of traffic again. But it was nice to be able to watch people on the sidewalks. You can buy food nearly everywhere on the sidewalks and I took lots of pics from the bus too.... :)
Now I am tired and might retire to the pool (question is whether another thunderstorm is coming up which is what I suspect). But I might sleep a little bit as I have two full-day excursions booked for the next two days. Might be a good idea to relax a little bit as it is HOT outside.
Just took another stroll outside and I believe that the area around my hotel is not among the best ones in Bangkok. Found some places where obviously very poor people live. They just have huts made of corrugated iron above a small canal and some don't even have the huts but sleep near the walls (their sleeping bags were hanging there).
What I forgot to mention so far too is that you see big portraits of King Bhumipol everywhere. Most of them have the thai flag and flowers around them and near many of these pictures is the sign 'long live the king'.
As I am a little bit hungry I looked out for something to eat but it's hard to get something to eat if you can't even read the menue....
Last day. Will have to pack my stuff this evening as I will leave for the airport after tomorrows day trip.
Had to get up early again as we were heading out of Bangkok to the floating markets in Damnoen Saduak. First stop was at an 'Orchid garden'. They actually had some orchids and you could watch how coconut oil is made but for the rest it was all souvenir shops. Then we continued and when arrived at Damnoen Saduk we were loaded in Longtail boats and made a tour through the canals. I liked that part as there are lots of houses at those canals, people wash in the canals and as the houses were built somehow with nothing below there were hammocks below the houses... looked really cozy. Then we arrived at the floating market and I had read somewhere that it's mostly tourist scam nowadays. Have to say that this is true. We were pestered by guys who wanted to sell us tiger balm or other stuff. I don't like it when they touch me to get my attention (I am not buying anything anyways). This time when pics of us were made, they made little plates out of them. I am waiting for the guys who make towels with my pic (maybe tomorrow :D :D :D). As we had been loaded off the boat very immediately after having arrived at the floating market I was not really surprised that our bus was just outside....
From there we headed to Phra Pathom Pagoda which is the biggest Chedi (special form - you will see it on the pics later on) in Thailand and THAT was impressing. Thailand doesn't cease to amaze me. There are so many different and amazing buildings. The Pagoda today was golden again and there were several altars around (one in each direction - west, north, south and east). On the main one you could see people putting leeve-gold on budda statues. There were buddistic monks again. Two were arriving when I was up there and I moved away as the buddistic monks are not allowed to touch women (not even their mothers) or take something from women (has to be put on the ground first before the monk can take it). On a tour around the Chedi we saw little boys in clothes like the monks wear but they were not orange but white. They had their heads shaved and coloured in yellow or green. When we asked our tour guide he told us that those boys are 'trial monks'. They have 3 months to decide whether they really would be monk. Hard decision for 7 year old boys. But often the parents are poor so for them it's easier as the boy gets food and a good education from the monks. Don't know whether being a monk is so easy as they can't wear shoes, have to follow 267 rules and are supposed to eat only in the morning (they go and get their food from the inhabitants of the villages where they live). But on the other hand they can cease being a monk and get married or something like that.
There were lots of different budda statues around the Chedi as well. As nobody really knows how budda looked like all the statues have different faces. It was really impressing.
Next stop was at a wood-handycraft factory. They do lots of great stuff. I finally bought a small elephant which is fishing... (you can put it on a shelve and it just sits there and fishes...). :) Had seen something like this at the beach in Bangtao when one of the vendors passed by but hadn't bought it.
From there we went to a Rose Garden where we had a lunch buffet. Was supposed to be thai food but first thing I read was 'Sauerkraut' (which by the way was not even Sauerkraut but red coleslaw). Food was good though just not thai. They had a nice garden around and I saw some very strange flowers which I hadn't seen before. There was a show then with traditional thai dances, Thai Boxing, a wedding ceremony and stuff like that. What I found very rude was that even before the show was at an end, people jumped up and ran out. But not only a few but nearly everybody. This was ridiculous as the busses don't go without people being there... Haven't seen anything like this before. The crowd on the stage (and there were lots of children) didn't even get a final applause.
When we came out of the theatre it was raining again but no problem as we just had to head back to Bangkok.
When you go to Thailand, make sure to bring PLENTY of memory space as I know you will take lots and lots of pics. While being on the streets today I realized again how colourful this country is. Every village has it's own temple and even the trucks and busses are in bright colours. It's an amazing country.... you find foto opportunity everywhere. I don't know how many pics of these little 'ghost houses' in front of the buildings I have...
What I found here is that I needed way more cash than I usually need on my trips. I am used to paying everything with credit card but in Thailand this is often not possible. So take traveller cheques or your ATM card with you. I had both but used the traveller cheques only when I didn't have an ATM around.
When I just went to the Supermarket to buy a can of beer the guy at the cash register took the can away and then showed my a notice on paper that due to election day tomorrow they stopped selling alcohol at 6 pm today. If you want to buy alcohol this sometimes is possible only at certain hours anyway (saw some signs on Phuket indicating as much).
Had booked a trip to Ayutthaya the former capital of Siam (you all know the film 'The King and I' with Jodie Foster, don't you?). Had to get up VERY early as usually the traffic is a mess but as it was sunday and election day nobody else was on the road so Dale (an australian) and I had some time to stroll around the river while we were waiting for the rest of the group to be brought to the meeting point.
Then we finally started the tour. Menna (that's how we called her as her thai name was unpronouncable for us), our tour guide, talked a lot but she gave us lots of info too. The first stop was at the kings palace where the kings of Siam had lived (and had all their wifes/mistresses). One of the kings is supposed to have had 100 wifes. The explanation for this was that he loved to dress as a 'normal person' and then travel around. People found out anyways though that he was the king and gave him their most precious gifts: their daughters and of course he could not refuse them as it would have been unpolite (good excuse for so many wifes, isn't it? ;) :D ). The area is nice with a chinese palace too but was not really as impressing as a lot of other stuff I've seen.
Then we headed off to the ruins of the former capital. And those were really impressing again. Although they have been destroyed by the burmese people (the burmese beheaded ALL budda statues they found in Ayutthaya although budda was their own god too but they wanted the gold they were made off) they were quite beautiful. It's hard to explain this with words, you will see what I mean once I upload the pics. The colours were different here as the ruins were only red and grey and brown. Outside the ruin area was another thai temple with a golden budda statue.
Next stop were other ruins but I don't know how to explain how they looked like. Whoever has already heard about Angkor Wat in Cambodia will understand when I write that those buildings are very similar to the ones in Cambodia. So they were not like the other thai architecture I had seen so far either.
In between the stops Menny made us eat thai specialties. First deep fried bananas and potatoes and later on candy which looked like homemade spaghetti and got wrapped in rice paper before it gets eaten. Delicious!
From there we drove to a boat where we had a thai buffet and we went back to Bangkok on the river. The river cruise was once again one of the highlights of my trip. Along the river there are lots of temples but lots of thai houses as well. You could see thais fishing, washing, playing, sitting in the shadow... it was authentic Thailand not something made up for tourists. We just sat there and enjoyed the whole 3,5 hours. Not bored even one minute.
Back in Bangkok we were brought back to our hotel and I had to start packing my stuff. I was a little bit pissed off though as I had asked at the reception 2 days earlier whether I could stay in the room until at 8 pm when I had to leave for the airport and was told that this was okay. Suddenly my doorbell rang (never had a hotel room with a bell before ;) ) and somebody wanted to clean the room. I told him that this didn't make much sense as I would leave two hours later. As I was tired I tried to take a nap but then my phone rang. Reception desk... they wanted to ask when I was checking out. I told him that I had been at the reception desk and had assumed that she had entered this into the computer when she told me it was okay to have the room until later that day (of course she hadn't done that). And another half an hour later I found a message at my door to come to the front desk to confirm my check out time... this was something I didn't really like. For a 4 star hotel the Menam Riverside did not have a very good service anyway. At the restaurant I was ignored most of the time (apart from the fact that the buffet had been much better in the hotel in BangTao) and I still don't know how all those moscitos could come into my room although I had windows and door closed all the time.
For those going to Thailand: don't trust people that they understood what you said although they tell you they understood (it would be impolite to say they didn't understand). One of my co-workers who was in Thailand in January told me yesterday that she wanted to go to the floating markets but the driver brought them to the River Kwai (which is about 30 km away) and they once were checked out of the hotel although they had wanted to stay one additional day... ;)
Flight back was delayed a lot so I missed my connection in Frankfurt but as the trains are going every hour it was not really a problem. I just arrived two hours later at home as originally planned and was in the office only at lunch time. AND my suitcase made it home together with me! Nice again though that before landing all women in the plane of Thai Airways got orchids. :)