I decided to see Thailand on my own
so was just booked into a hotel in Bangkok and was met by a travel guide at
around 11:00 P.M. at the airport in Bangkok. She was going to take me to the
hotel as a courtesy. I asked her if there was some place I could get a guide by
the day or week to take me around.
She said she didn't have any tour groups that week and she would take me all
over for $180.00 for the week! This included a driver and his car and her. Well
you couldn't go wrong with that price as we drove all over northern Thailand. My
guide took me around Bangkok the first few days of my trip so here I am in front
of one of the temples in the heart of Bangkok in the photo on the left. Please see the map for the topography and the
statistics for the geographical notes
touring Bangkok we took a fantastic boat trip from downtown Bangkok up the river
to the Summer Palace. Then we drove to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand that was raided and
burned to the ground by the Brumes several hundred years ago.
I believe at one
time it was one of the richest cities in the world but there always has been
animosity between Burma
and Thailand. There we saw stone ruins and large temples
stained with age. See the photo on the upper right of this
page. On one temple in the distance were about 10 monks with their
saffron robes being photographed by a film crew. I instantly went over to take a
picture of a real life monks on the steps of the temple. I started to talk to
the woman who seemed to be in charge of the film crew. She laughed at me. Guess
what, they were filming a Thai Air commercial and the monks were L.A. actors. I
told her I was from San Francisco, talk about a small world!
We then went to a village with a Farmer's Market on the river where there was produce and products sold by the locals. I took a boat ride and ate at a river side cafe! Then we drove to breath taking temples and then toured a school where Buddhist teaching were in progress!
Off to Pucket, located off of the Andaman Sea. A wonderful hotel situated on the beach all by itself. A very modern hotel, like a movie set. My room was very large, on the 15th floor with a large balcony overlooking the ocean. Took tours around the area with stops where a James Bond movie was filmed, which included the limestone rocks that rise out of the sea in fantastic forms. Also temples and the look out which is on the farthest south end of Thailand. The only draw back to this tour was the bus. It had a television, which did nothing but play the Bond movie so loudly that you couldn't talk to anyone. The Japanese just sat there and did nothing but keep their eyes glued to the screen. They ignored the countryside and never looked out the windows! None of us could ask questions about the landscape and the temples, as the sound was so loud. We were so happy when we got back to the hotel. I have heard that it is a good thing to check before taking any bus tour, especially a long one, if there is going to be a television blaring hour after hour on the trip. There is no way I would put up with this after this horrible bus tour. Also took a boat tour around the islands, Phi Phi Islands and others, the water was a strange emerald green, the palms a pea green and the sky a bright blue, such strange but wonderful colors. Check out the picture on the left to see the fantastic colors of the sky, water and trees! (Note: The tsunami of 2004 was devastating to the region. The small houses where I stayed over one night, can be seen in the lower left of the photo and were destroyed by the huge waves. I am sure they will be rebuilt as tourism is so vital to the local population.)
We did some diving but the boats would be pushed upon the coral and crush it. We
told them they were ruining the coral but they didn't seem to care. When it is
gone it's gone! There were brain coral that were about ten feet around, huge and
mysterious. There are many fish but now there are less and less of them as the
fishermen use dynamite to blow up the coral and rupture the fishes bladders
causing them to come to the surface. The ones that live are used to sell to the
tropical fish collectors. This is a huge waste of resources.
We also visited a huge cave, about three stories high, on the side of a cliff. In the ceiling were many bird nests that are used after the birds are finished with them to be used in making bird's nest soup. The saliva that the birds use to hold the nests together is drawn from the nest by putting the nests in warm water. The saliva is separated from the nests and dried and sold for consumption. Suddenly bird nest soup didn't sound too appetizing! The nests are gathered by climbing rickety ladders made out of bamboo. I knew all about the history of the cave and the guide was impressed, I had just read an article about the cave in the National Geographic. So strange to read about something one month and the next month actually seeing the same thing!
San Francisco California
Updated on: 2015.03.25