Starting as we mean to continue…
The view from our breakfast table this morning. Not the most picturesque but surprisingly captivating to watch those huge containers being moved about like building blocks.
We’re had a great day here in Bangkok. We’ve been templed and marketed out on previous visits, so booked ourselves on the “Historic Homes” excursion. At 7.45am, we found ourselves in a group of just seven boarding a minibus with our guide Kenny and set off down the same motorway as we’d arrived yesterday. Two hours later, we arrived at the first home – that of former Prime Minister M R Kukrit.
Set in lush gardens in the centre of this lively city, the traditionally built wooden house was a haven of peace. We were lucky to meet the present custodian who generously waived entrance fees and photography restrictions for us and we spent a happy time wandering about, all the time listening to traditional Thai music performed by a group of youngsters, shyly playing to an appreciative audience.
These stately teak buildings are now dwarfed by the towering skyscrapers which surround them on all sides. But the cool darkness of these small rooms was inviting and stepping inside barefoot, we enjoyed the privilege of a closer look at the family photos, the books and other personal belongings which were there.
The contrast between this haven of peace and the busy world outside was drawn again as we left.
Having bid farewell to the spirits in their teak house in the garden, we looked up to see another aspect of life in modern Thailand as we hopped aboard and on to the next stop.
The Suan Pakkard Palace had been the home of minor royalty who had bequeathed their palace to the nation to be used as a museum. Another little tranquil spot, this was an altogether less personal place and the commercial characteristics were there in the form of facilities for events and meetings.
We were guided by a local docent, who led us through a series of buildings, some of which contained collections of shells, of geodes, of pottery or whatever. We took our shoes off to enter some of them, others we simply peered through the open windows at the dusty things inside. No photos inside, so we’ll have to rely on those we stored in our heads!
Returning across a series of bridges, we took photographs of the gardens, the lovely tropical foliage and brightly coloured flowers.
There were lotus flowers on chinese-inspired stools
and the real thing, floating in large blue pots of water, teeming with small fish.
Nearly lunchtime by now, we were headed to the Jim Thompson House, an altogether more commercial and bustling place, full of tourists led by local guides. We were lucky to be met by Noppasri whose charming smile and friendly good humour made our visit all the more special. Again, no photographs inside, but we could peer in through windows and try to capture the vibrant colours of the silk cushions and other furnishings with some limited success.
Hungry and ready for a chilled beer at the very least, we followed our noses to the restaurant, where lunch was promised. Filled with the appetising aromas of a Thai kitchen, we found our places at the table and enjoyed the welcome glass of lemongrass cordial. Deliciously cooling, it sat there with a bottle of water and a bottle of beer…we were lining up our drinks!
Lunch was included, so we sat back as one tasty dish after another was brought.
The Pomelo salad was divine – crunchy, sweet, sharp and with just the right amount of chilli “bite” to it, the peanut flavoured dressing would be the most challenging hurdle to overcome were we to try making it at home. There followed a bowl of coconut and chicken soup, a dish of prawns with jasmine rice and some beef in a red curry sauce. These dishes were hot hot hot but truly tasty and the perfect choice for us. We’d return in a shot.
Just time for a little shopping in the silk shop there and we were on our way back. We made a stop at a “Gems Store” which was all part of the fun, returning to the ship by the same old motorway…by now becoming rather familiar. At 5pm we had the obligatory lifeboat drill and as I sit here looking out over an altogether different arrangement of containers from this morning, the rain is falling heavily. In five minutes we sail for Singapore and we have the champagne ready for our sailaway.
Bye Bangkok! We’ve had a terrific day!