So my next installment the start of which happened as we were floating on the highway from Pattaya to Bangkok just above the rooftops and overlooking the diverse and varied countryside. Contemplating our trip to Bangkok and wondering what it was that I liked so much about Thailand. I usually say when asked – the people – the food – the weather – the sea and beaches and the history and diversity. Further contemplation concluded that it was ‘comfortable’. Day time wear is easy – shorts and T Shirt. Evenings long trousers and shirts. Mainly because covering ankles and arms deterred mosquito bites – though at this time of year not quite such a problem.
Whether you have been to Thailand or not you will have your own thoughts on the country. There are many misconceptions, many rumours and gossipy things but I have to say firsthand experience is by far the better judgment. Many years ago when I first visited I thought it to be a small place. In land mass it is about three plus times the size of the United Kingdom. From Bangkok to Chaing Mai the second city about the same distance from London to Edinburgh. Then to the South Bangkok to Phuket the same and in both cases almost as much again before the respective borders. In width it just seems to go on forever. Four main regions each with its own diversity culture and traditions.
The Thais by and large are a shy people and mostly do not like confrontation and everything is greeted with a smile – I guess the first lesson in “face”. When there is trouble it can be very extreme and also quite unpleasant too. So by and large all goes along very serenely and whether the question deserves an answer the Thai answer is always yes. Now that could mean no or yes or even maybe – so first lesson – learn to live with it as they say here T.I.T (This it Thailand!). One thing is very obvious. They are very nationalistic and very loyal to the King and the Royal Family. This is seen everywhere you travel with numerous pictures on huge hoardings all over the place. They are a very proud nation of their dynasty and culture. The other fascination is the huge diversity in so many things whether its the wealth or lack of wealth. This manifests itself in so many ways. The Technology, Architecture, Industry and Health Services. The country is linked by a huge network of bus services and not much in the way of train services. People with money fly and those without use buses. Roads have improved over the years and have been built but wander off the beaten track and you are on dirt tracks and you haven’t had that far to wander.
I guess enough of ponderings and a little more of our adventure to Bangkok. We went for two nights and stayed at the Bandara Suites in Silom managed by some friends of mine. We chose not to drive but hire a driver to take us to save the angst of navigating Bangkok and the traffic and he would collect us on the Thursday about midday. On arrival we were greeted by the management escorted to our suites and settled in. Luncheon was appropriate so we went to the Hotels Maison Chin ( see Internet) Buffet Luncheon and enjoyed. Lam went off to Thonburi to see his Mum – Eileen went to see the shops and I went for wander in the Silom area. The Silom shopping Mall had been re-opened after a refurbishment so a look was in order. Eileen and I gathered at 17.45 and took a taxi to Soi 11 Sukumvit to rendezvous with friends for drinks and then onto dinner. Soi 11 is one of ‘the’ places to go now in Bkk to socialize and is full of bars – restaurants – clubs and hotels. Our first stop ‘Oscars’ nibbles and Pink Prosseco. We were joined by our friends a further three of us. Having ‘watered’ and paid the bill, across the road to Aloft Hotel and the 8th Floor restaurant Crave with roof terrace and fabulous modern restaurant. Menu came on IPads as also the extensive wine list. Wines very reasonably priced almost at retail shop prices to encourage and titillate your palate. Much chatting and amusement saw us through a very nice meal and wine and we called it a night about 11.15. Taxi back to the Hotel. Wednesday now and breakfast. Eileen had a business appointment and Lam and I set off to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall to see the Arts of the Kingdom Exhibition. At this point I would like to make you aware that Thai way seems to be very good at promoting its heritage to its people but not quite so to Farangs (foreigners – tourists). So many times have I found a snippet of information and pursued it to find a great treasure or find of huge significance or interest and this is just one. We had but seen less than half before declaring that we could not absorb much more. If you have a chance please see www.artsofthekingdom.com and click on Masterpieces. As an aside I would also mention another great Thai secret that of ‘Muang Boran’ just outside Bkk – www.ancientcity.com/en another worthwhile excursion.
After our visit luncheon called and we retired to MBK (Mah Boon Krong) boasted as the largest shopping Mall in Bkk and Thailand but not sure now if that is still true. Then a return to the Hotel for a siesta. Our reason for coming to Bkk was for the Wednesday night excursion with the SKAL Group Bkk. A River Dinner Cruise on an old rice barge. So off to Wat Yannawa (The Boat Temple) near Saphan Taksin Sky Train, Station for boarding. www.asian-oasis.com/product/mekhala-cruise . We departed just at about 18.30 hours as the sun was setting and went up river seeing the sites and floodlit building and gardens. Passing the Temple of Dawn and Grand Palace. Two and half hours with candlelit tables – Thai Food and Beers and Drinks. A great and different evenings entertainment enjoyed by all. So to Thursday and time for our return to Jomtien. Our driver arrived a little late due to traffic but off we set. Happy to be back home and to relax. Shopping on Friday a lazy day Saturday and Sunday a Luncheon round the pool at Eileen’s with friends starting at 14.00 hours and finished about 20.00 hours and no clearing up to do as the domestic staff dealt with such things – oh bliss.
A new week and already social activities and networking business events. Wednesday took us to supper and then a Charity Cabaret at The Venue in Jomtien Plaza a UK artist now from Sitges known as Lady Diamond complimented the usual troupe and raised money for the Pattaya Streetkids Project. 120 Euros gets a child on the streets housed clothed and accommodated for a year here and every baht – pound and euro counts.
Describing our domain of Pattaya destined now to become the ‘hub’ of the 10 Asean Countries in the next few years is that it is like all the coastal resorts of the UK the good and the bad – the best and the worst and more than you can imagine. Some of it you want – some you don’t and some you most definitely do not want to take home. We live out of it but close enough to dip our toe in from time to time. We are not more than 15 minutes walk to a more than five mile long beach front and about one and half to two hours to Bangkok traffic permitting. More restaurants and bars that you can visit in a year – shops and markets to amuse and drain you of your money and far more enticing amusements too if that is your want. The area boasts four of the finest Golf Courses – most water sports and gardens and parks to visit too not to mention an exhaustive variety of temples all with their own history and dedication. Boat trips – fishing – swimming – lazing in the sun or just chillin. It is hard some mornings to decide in which direction to point oneself.
Now I must go and prepare myself for our evening attendance of the monthly wine tasting evening and supper at the Amari Hotel Pattaya. So until the next time ‘happy days’ and just think though you may have snow Spring is just around the corner
Hugs to you