3rd December 2018
Wake up in our third country of the holiday - we're here in Thailand and today's the day we are visiting Bangkok on an overnight tour we'd organised ourselves via Cruise Critic and had roped in another 6 unsuspecting participants. In Cafe Al Baccio at 7.30am (after breakfast) we meet up with Sam and Nigel from the UK, who actually got married on the cruise, Derek and Susan also from the UK and Albert and Lourdes from California.
We head outside the terminal boarding and are met by Ms. Aom and our driver from Thai Tour Guide - Mr Chob. Ms. Aom makes her introductions and gives us lots of information regarding Thailand and Bangkok on our 2 hour journey into the city. Our first stop is The Royal Palace. Unfortunately Kev has woken up feeling decidedly unwell, with stomach ache and a general feeling of nausea and dizziness - this doesn't bode well as The Royal Palace is already really hot and humid. [Kev - I woke up this morning and as I was lying in bed I thought to myself 'Hmmm... something doesn't feel quite right here'. A trip to the bathroom confirms this in a rather dramatic way. I will not go into details for fear of upsetting those of a more fragile disposition, but I'm not sure if I should be making the trip to Bangkok. A couple of hours in the bus followed by a day touring might be pushing it. Still, I don't know whether I'll ever be back to Bangkok, so I'm prepared to give it a go. Is there such a thing as adult nappies?] However, in spite of reading all the literature we were provided with regarding appropriate attire for the Palace I am now told by Ms. Aom that the shawl I have bought to cover my shoulders is not allowed and I must purchase a t-shirt from one of the road side sellers so that I will be allowed in. Well had I known I certainly would have brought my own, but now have no alternative, but to part with a few baht for a rather tasteful white t-shirt with a picture of a semi-automatic rifle on the front. Go figure how that might be more fitting for this regal place? In fairness all the t shirts are very random and in varying sizes so it really is the luck of the draw - needless to say mine was recycled as we exited.
The Royal Palace in Bangkok is truly a sight to behold - the opulence of the buildings, the size and scale of the Buddhas, the landscaping and the detail is jaw dropping. Unfortunately for Kev he is feeling worse and despite drinking lots of water to keep hydrated and being fanned by all and sundry he has to sit and try to recover quite a few times during the detailed tour that Ms. Aom gives us. [Kev - As we were walking round things started to go dark. At this point I thought it wise to sit down for a while. I'm a brave little soldier.] It is now getting hotter and more humid so we are grateful to get back in the cool minibus to receive refreshing face wipes and ice cold water as we head off to the river to eat lunch.
[Kev - it's hard to explain how ornate and intricate everything is. It also looks pristine. The photo above shows a little of how crowded it gets. Lord knows what's it's like in the middle of summer. We are visiting on a relatively cool day and it's still hot and sweaty as hell.]
The restaurant is right on the river and it is a melee of boats of all shapes and sizes going backwards and forwards - fascinating to sit and watch. I forgot to make a note of what we ate but I recall it was pretty tasty. After lunch our driver takes us the short distance to the riverside where we go for a boat ride. It's a lot of fun and lovely to zip along the water watching the scenery flying by. That is until we end up in a lock where we have to endure a long wait as the boats in the other direction are travelling through it. It is rather smelly in places and in the heat not the best place to wait that's for sure. Soon enough we are in and out the other side where we see a monitor lizard, as we moor up to take some photos I spot a little girl and her father who live in one of the little shacks along the river side - I tell Ms. Aom that I have some pencils etc., and she tells the skipper who kindly gets out of the boat and gives them to the man. In fairness the little girl is probably too young for such gifts but hey I'm happy to have been able to give them to someone.
[Kev - this is the little girl playing with the pencils Tam gave to her.]
Our next stop is the Reclining Buddha Temple - we thought we'd seen the biggest most impressive Buddhas already at the Royal Palace but this surpasses anything - it's huge and reclining as the name would suggest.
[Kev - big Buddha.]
[Kev - bigger Buddha.]
[Kev - extraordinarily massive Buddah. I wonder why they call it a reclining Buddha?]
[Kev - let's hope he doesn't have socks on his Christmas list.]
Then we go to a flower and food market where we wander through the amazing stalls.
By now though we are all flagging - after the early start and the heat and humidity of Bangkok and the intense touring schedule we all agree that we should head to The Hotel Muse where we have all booked rooms for the night. We arrive around 5.30pm and check in. Wow what a stunning hotel - we are blown away by our fantastic room. We figure it would be nice to try and make the most of the hotel's facilities and as Kev is still not feeling right think it best that we don't venture out. We had researched numerous options for rooftop bars nearby that we could visit, but the hotel has it's own fantastic bars and we have already booked a table for dinner so we're happy with our decision.
A refreshing dip in the pool is called for and what a pool it is - with stunning views across the city - it is now dark and it looks very atmospheric against the cityscape. We don't spend long there and agree it would have been good to have a more relaxed time, but with so much on the Bangkok itinerary we always knew this portion would be tough.
Head back to our sumptuous room to shower and freshen up for the evening and up to the very top bar where we'd reserved a table in advance on their website to entitle us to a 35% discount (the discount changed depending on how early your table was booked for). Again the views up here are stunning and just the sort of atmosphere we like, great lighting and soft music. Bizarrely in a rare stupid moment [Kev - rare?] Kev decides that Thai green curry would be a great choice. Bearing in mind that his tummy has been decidedly dodgy all day [Kev - the words 'eye of a needle' come to mind.] and we've another long tour tomorrow, I do question his sanity. [Kev - not the first time I've heard that.] In fairness the waiter asks if he'd like it normal or spicy - normal says Kev confident that it'll be like the Thai curry he makes at home. Needless to say if that's normal thank goodness he didn't go spicy or I don't think he'd have left the room the next day. [Kev - I was going for the 'kill or cure' option.] I go for a tamer teriyaki chicken and rice which was very tasty. We enjoy some cocktails from their interesting menu . Kev chooses a very good bacon infused old fashioned - which arrived in a smoked filled glass and apparently was very good, I went for a passion fruit mojito which was delicious. The meal is washed down with a couple of the local beers which go a little way to cool down Kev's mouth which is by now on fire. Needless to say not all the curry was eaten.
After our meal we go down the flight of steps to the lower level cocktail bar - Kev has a spicy one (see a theme here!) and I have another fruity one - very good again. Kev's flagging by now so we get back to the room and the comfortable bed that awaits us.
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