Monday, June 4

A Thai Holiday Remembered

In about 1990 or 91 GOM & I took a trip to Thailand. It seemed a dream come true, to both of us.

As I remember the trip now, I am surprised at how few souvenirs we seemed to bring home with us. Not even very many photographs! Which I really now regret, of course.
This was taken at the Rose Garden, as you can see. The photographers were waiting when our bus pulled in, & the snaps were quickly taken. By the time we had completed our tour & attended a performance of singing & dancing, we were offered these rather ghastly plates, for purchase with our images on them. I remember at the time, being a little horrified at the idea, but now I am glad we decided to buy one. I think we only have one other photo taken on a Chinese Junk dinner cruise one evening in Singapore.
When we planned our holiday, we had never been to a country other than New Zealand & Australia. We were advised language would not be a problem, as everyone spoke English. I would agree, most did, but I dont know that they always understood it. Occasionally we would request something, & would get the polite bow, & the wide beautiful smiles, & a "Yes Madam". And then we would all stand & smile & wait.. & wait.. & wait.
We wondered if we had made the right decision on destination when our plane was delayed leaving then we were told we would have to spend our first night in Singapore, which had not been the plan at all. So all our travel connections were disrupted, & after a hot night in a Singapore Hotel, we arrived late next day, in Bangkok.
Which was somewhat of a culture shock. We were typical lost tourists, not knowing our way about, & the heat & the hustle & bustle of Bangkok Airport was quite terrifying in a way. As had been Singapore. It was the guns that I think we found most terrifying. And the soldiers patrolling. We were eventually directed to a man in a thin shiny blue suit who smoked furiously the whole time we tried to converse with him. This was our first inkling that not everyone was going to understand English they way we spoke it!
Finally, after many showers of ash, & lungfulls of secondhand smoke, from many cigarettes, we were given a phone to call the Hotel to ask how to proceed. We were told to get a taxi to take us to the hotel, & we would be reimbursed. We began to suspect we were never going to make it alive to the Hotel! The long ride was so terrifying, we both thought it would be the end of our lives! The traffic seemed manic, & at any given time, any lane seemed to flow in all directions, with little sane movement! And the tuk tuks seemed to be so reckless, & dangerous, it was a while before we got the courage to ride in one of those.
But the people of Thailand we found to be wonderful warm people, who were mostly very welcoming, & very eager to please. The staff at our Hotel were lovely & the various Restaurants we visited in the Hotel were all lovely. I knew I like Chinese & Japanese food & was thrilled to discover that Thai food was even nicer, if that were possible. I loved the tangy sweet & slightly sour flavours, & learnt I also enjoyed chilli, for the first time, I think.
The busy colourful markets were an experience & we bought all sorts of things for ourselves & those at home. Our Granddaughter was only a toddler then, & we had a wonderful time buying her clothes & toys & shoes that squeaked when she walked. And the fake watches, & the rip off clothes. And GOM had clothes tailor made by fast Indian stitchers, who made wonderful suits & shirts.
We did our own thing for some days, & other times we took some tours with a guide, & we did the Bridge on the River Kwai tour. We had a lovely guide who spoke beautifully, & we had a lot of fun on that trip. The train was rather terrifying & it was so hot & really uncomfortable on the hard wooden seats. The hot cemetary was a sad place, & I was glad when we left it. Changi prison was sad too, & I felt the ghosts of sad men, & wasted lives were present.
We stayed on an Island, in huts that were moored to the banks of the river, & they swayed when the fast motorised long boats went zinging along the water. There were ceiling fans, & no hot water, but the food provided was magnificent & in the evenings it was lovely to sit & watch the water.
We had 4 nights in Phuket, which was truly beautiful. We loved the Hotel we stayed at, & had a beautiful room overlooking the Andaman Sea, & watched the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. It was beautiful, & I could have stayed there longer. The Hotel had a nice pool, & you could sit in the water at a counter & have your lunch or dinnner.
Though we had been warned about touters, & to be careful of strangers, we grew friendly with a nice young man who asked if we would like to go to a Restaurant for dinner one evening. We agreed to go, & arranged a meeting place, where he said he would collect us in his car. We wondered if we were being big fools, but set off anyway.
The young man had cleaned his car, inskde & out, & it was immaculate, with leather seats. He drove us over some rough roads to a small place with wonderful fresh seafood. We were greeted by the smiling owners, & the whole family seemed to come out to meet us, from small children to elderly people! But, oh, the food was fantastic!! We felt like royalty, & felt we were given the best of everything. I dont know if we were charged more than usual, but it seemed to be cheaper than Hotel meals, & somehow it all seemed just that much nicer. We have never regretted taking that chance, & felt we got fair exchange for our money. And the nice young man took us home to the hotel afterwards too.
We had 4 nights in Singapore, which I found to be a big disappointment after Thailand. I am not sure why. GOM got very sick & so it was rather a sad end to the holiday.
We also discovered he was afraid of heights, when we took a trip out to Sentosa Island, & travelled in the huge Gondola, high above the sea. GOM spent the night before terrified of that trip, & yet, I, who am openly afraid of heights, didnt seem to mind it! I did not enjoy Sentosa Island though, the thought of the prison was horrible, & I suffered so much from the heat, it was not my favourite day out.


Thimbleanna said...

Wow Meggie -- so interesting. Isn't it funny when we travel to different cultures we're so afraid to take a risk because of all the stories we hear -- yet, often that is the best way to get the local flavor. Never really thought about travel to that part of the world, but you certainly make it sound appealing. Thanks for sharing!

caramaena said...

I have friends that visited Thailand and Singapore a few years back. They adored Thailand and weren't too impressed with Singapore.

My float said...

My mum and I got one of those plates too! The poor thing was terrified of people badgering her to buy something, so she'd hide behind me. They told us to be forceful to the point of being rude, but I found it quite difficult as I'm sure I'd have been as aggressive as they were if my family's livelihood depended on it!

As for taking the chance with that young man, what a lovely way to spend an evening. Do you plan to return to thailand?

Jeanette said...

Hi Meggie,.
We were in Thailand about that time for a few days, Oh I can relate to the Traffic and our first ride in a Tuk Tuk oh i didnt think we would get back to hotel in one piece,but I still laugh today at trying to book a tour at the hotel and she kept saying we had to get aTuk Tuk to were the bus was picking up everyone, I thought she was saying I had to take a chook chook and I said why do we need a chook, till a passer bye said it was a taxi. to her amazement i burst out laughing, and booked the tour.

smilnsigh said...

Today is my day! With almost every blog I read, I get to go on a trip to somewhere. Vicariously of course. But it's still great fun.


joyce said...

It sounds like Thailand is a wonderful place to visit. My daughter went there and loved it too.

Sheila said...

I loved your account of this visit to Thailand. I could picture everything as you described it. I've never been to the Far East and don't expect to ever go.
It's interesting to see other cultures, how people live etc.
You have a lot of will power, I always buy a ton of stuff I don't need and worry about how I'll get it home..LOL

Lucy said...

I'm so glad it all worked out with the meal out with the young man!
We were meant to have a night and a day in Singapore last year, but the flight was cancelled and we spent the night on the floor in Sydney airport. All we saw of Singapore was the Rainforest Lounge at the airport, where we had quite a good shower!

h&b said...

It's quite funny how they just snapped your pics coming off the bus !!!

At first I thought 'what a weird pic' as the GOM is looking at the ground and you're off somewhere else .. and yet there you are, on a plate.

Funny ;)

I'm glad you bought it too ;)