A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: alangcampbell

Home again, home again...

sunny 10 °C

A final post to confirm that late yesterday afternoon we arrived safely back in Victoria and are becoming reacquainted with home and garden chores!
This picture of our house was taken last summer when the light was just right, but it seems appropriate for our return to beautiful Victoria!


Posted by alangcampbell 11:22 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

Homeward Bound...we're in Tokyo - sort of...

semi-overcast 10 °C

Our Valentine's Day this year will be the longest either of us have ever experienced! We will fly back across the international date line before "our" Feb 14th ends, and join the Feb 14th people in North America began a little while ago!

We were up early to finish packing and have breakfast before checking out of the Nakhorn Feung Balcony and enjoying a quick taxi ride to Suvarnabhumi International (BKK) - some serious tropical rain fell as we arrived at the airport, the first downpour like that since we arrived! It soon stopped and Bangkok resumed its normal (for "winter") heat and humidity...BKK had a nice display that reminded us of last night's Khon dance, and we noticed a SUPPORT shop, another of Queen Sirikit's efforts to help Thai women market their handicrafts - we've decided that the Royal couple deserve the overwhelming popular support they enjoy from Thais.

We arrived at Tokyo Haneda after a pleasant 6 hour flight with All Nippon Airways, during which we were again impressed by the wonderful service the asian airlines provide: hot damp cloths, excellent snacks, drinks and meals all dispensed with quiet efficiency and beautiful smiles! North American airlines take note!


Posted by alangcampbell 03:09 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

National Discovery Museum, Siam/Paragon/MBK, Royal Theatre

sunny 32 °C

Since Jeannie and Ross had to head for the airport just after noon, we decided to walk through Saranrom Park and visit the National Museum Discovery Centre not far beyond that a cross from Wat Pho. This Centre was developed about 10 years ago as a public institution for "playing-learning" about Thailand's history and place in the world. It is designed for young people, has free admission for seniors and we found lots of interesting information presented in a very engaging way! A school group "stormed" through while we were there so we can confirm that kids love this place too!

After lunch at the lovely Museum Cafe, we came back to the hotel in time for the Whites to freshen up and catch a taxi to Suvarnabhumi International Airport to begin their journey home. Since Bangkok is 15 hours ahead of Vancouver time, leaving here for a total trip of 15-20 hours means you arrive in Vancouver not long after you left!! We now realize that, since our flight leaves just before noon tomorrow, if all goes well we will get to Victoria late tomorrow afternoon!

After seeing Jeannie and Ross off in their taxi, we took another back to the major shopping mall area we had partly visited after touring Jim Thompson House a couple of days ago. The Siam Tower and Paragon are high-end shopping malls with all the international brand stores well-represented (Jim Thompson House has a retail outlet that we checked out), so we soon returned to the more mainstream MBK Centre for another walkabout before taking a taxi back downtown. With Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day both taking place this weekend the extravagant displays of red and heart motifs were something to behold!

As a final Thailand cultural experience this evening we attended the Thai Masked Dance performance of "Hanuman" at the Chalermkrung Royal Theatre. The Khon Thai dance is highly stylized with beautiful costumes and many performers acting out ancient stories like this one in which the great monkey warrior Hanuman helps Lord Rama conquer the evil giants and rescue his wife Sita who had been abducted (I'm really simplifying things here!). Narration was spoken/sung in Thai with projected English surtitles, so the actors focus on their dance and choreography. The result is a very exotic dramatic pageant, and though no photos could be taken during the show, the main actors/actresses were all there in the foyer afterward so pictures could be taken!

The theatre is just a 10-minute walk from our hotel so we headed back to finish this post and start packing - we leave for the airport right after an early breakfast tomorrow!


Posted by alangcampbell 06:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Golden Mount, Queen's Gallery, Longtail Riverboat, Chinatown

sunny 32 °C

We started the day with a taxi ride to the Golden Mount, the elevated site of the Wat Saket Temple whose main Stupa begins high above the city, providing great views for those who make the climb to its base. Ascending the stairs we were pleasantly distracted by a number of beautiful statues, gardens, water features, bells and of course the amazing views!

Crossing the road after leaving the temple we passed by a whole series of woodworking shops where teak lumber was being turned into a variety of pieces used in temples and some homes. The Queen's Gallery, a high rise art gallery established and supported by Queen Sirikit, was our next treat with many beautiful works by new and established Thai artists, all displayed in air conditioned comfort!

Back out in the 32C humid air, we walked down to the Chao Phraya River again near the old fort, visited a fair trade handcraft store and found a cool spot for lunch on a side alley off the main thoroughfare. Then we boarded an express "longtail" riverboat for 15 baht and headed downriver several stops to explore an area south of Chinatown. Ross had decided to get off at the Wat Pho stop earlier so he could go to that Temple and get a massage at their traditional medicine and massage centre. The remaining 3 of us inched our way forward on the crowded boat and then back to get off at the right stop (on/off happens at the stern) - it was an exercise in managing with reduced personal space!

After walking further south first to look through a Thai home handicrafts store which wasn't terrific, we made our way back north on a series of busy roads that eventually took us through the alleys of Bangkok's Chinatown and then Little India before we recognized landmarks close to our hotel and headed there to cool down before dinner.

Our last Thai supper with Jeannie and Ross was at The Deck on the River across from Wat Arun (the stupas looked even lovelier lit up as the night descended) and then we detoured on the way home to walk through Bangkok's massive and amazing flower market area. There are loads of warehoused production shops, street vendors, trucks loading, etc all covering several city blocks - beautiful pandemonium, but all running 24/7 to get flowers, garlands and all sorts of other flowered products where they need to be each day!

Tomorrow we'll see the Whites off for the airport about midday, and then plan our own last evening and morning in Thailand before heading for the long flight home ourselves...


Posted by alangcampbell 06:02 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Jim Thompson House, MBK Center

sunny 33 °C

Today we headed straight for the Grand Palace as soon as we finished breakfast and managed to beat the crowds into the complex that includes the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha. The scale and complexity of the work involved in these statues, halls and temples is just mind-boggling to average westerners like ourselves, but the Thai people certainly seem to have the skills, will and devotion to create and maintain these amazing places everywhere! Queen Sirikit's Textile Museum was a repeat for Catriona and I today, but we knew Jeannie would love it and it is a really great terrific story very well told!

Next we took the short ferry ride across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun, another impressive Royal Temple complex of Stupas, Buddhas and Pagodas, some of which were being painstakingly restored in the 33C midday heat! We managed to find a restaurant with AC behind Wat Arun and restored ourselves with some Thai food and lots of icy drinks so we could make our way back across the river and take a taxi to Jim Thompson House.

Jim Thompson was an American architect who spied for the OSS and then settled in Bangkok after WW2, and was instrumental in reviving and marketing Thai silk to the West. He disappeared in mysterious circumstances while on a tip to Malaysia and his body was never found, so an air of espionage and mystery as well as Thai culture surrounds the museum created from his residential complex! We managed to find a silk merchant across the canal and Jeannie, a weaver herself, was delighted to buy some silk yarns to take home and use to create something special!

We then explored the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre, featuring contemporary art by young artists, in a nearby modern highrise, before taking the pedestrian overpass to the MBK Center, a huge indoor shopping mall with 2000 stores on 8 levels. We checked out some of it and then saw part of a Thai kick-boxing match (the national sport) on the plaza outside as we headed for a taxi and our hotel back downtown.

There are just endless things to see and do in Bangkok! Tomorrow we plan to visit the Golden Mount and the Queen's Gallery before taking a river boat along the Chao Phraya and doing some more exploring in the central city area....


Posted by alangcampbell 06:14 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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