April 22, 2019
We flew from Paro, Bhutan to Bangkok yesterday. First of all, it is amazing that neither of us has any soreness at all from our Tiger’s Nest hike! It must have been the hot stone baths.
Our guide and driver took us to the airport at about 7 AM as they said it is the new rule for international flights that we arrive 3 hours early. Fine with us. We had booked business class so the check in line was non existent and we got to wait in their lovely lounge. They had almost anything you might want to eat there, but we had a good breakfast so didn’t have anything. Well, except diet Coke which I missed while on this trip. A few hotels had it but not all.
When we checked in, we were given two “fast track” tickets for immigration in Thailand. We didn’t know the value of these till later.
Here I am heading out to our plane.
Toward the end of the flight the two passengers in the seat opposite of us went into the cockpit for the landing. We thought that was unusual, and when we got onto the bus to the terminal in Bangkok, we chatted with them. They are father and daughter and are related by marriage to the king. They have many US connections including a sibling who attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
The fast track ticket allowed us to go through a special line for immigration and we were the only people there, so we got through in no time. Unlike on our trip to Buenos Aires when we waited almost 3 hours.
We did have a wait for the baggage as the planes park pretty far from the terminal and there are lots of flights coming in here.
Our US travel agent, Pam, arranged and paid for our transportation to the ship (Thank you, Pam) and our driver was waiting when we arrived. Pam also arranged this whole trip through an Indian travel agency and both of them coordinated such a spectacular experience.
We returned to the ship in time to shower and dress for the Around the World special event at the Sampran Riverside. This is a family run cultural destination since 1962. It took about an hour and a half to get to the site, and we were glad it was Sunday since the traffic wasn’t too bad.
We were greeted on arrival by musicians, cocktails and were given a welcome garland of fresh flowers.
As we strolled around the grounds which were decorated with luminarias, we got to see and interact with the local people at the village stalls. There were people walking around with baskets containing locally made potato chips, rice chips, cashews and peanuts. We loved the elephants.
We were led to dinner by a drum procession by the traditional Angkaloong band and food stalls were set up – many barbecued items, fruits, vegetables and local desserts were served. The foods were typical Thai dishes featuring organic ingredients from the family farm.
After dinner, there was a Thai cultural show featuring dancing, kick boxing, sword fighting and music. At the end of the show, there were fireworks and a lighting of this special tribute to the Around the World guests.
Before we left, we got to see the re-enactment of the Loy Krathong Festival which means “to float a basket”. This is a very Thai tradition, celebrated on the full moon of the twelfth month of the lunar calendar (in November). These special banana trunk leaf and flower arrangements with candles and incense sticks are carried and floated in the river. The Thais see it as a time to wave goodbye to misfortune, wash away sins of the past year, and make wishes for the coming year.
Some of us got close enough to the river to float theirs, but we took them back to the hotel with us.
On both the bus ride to the venue as well as on the way back to the ship, the guides on the buses pointed out places of interest. There were some beautiful lotus ponds and these light poles are outside of many restaurants and hotels.
After a very restful night back in our bed, we both decided to have an equally restful day aboard the ship today. Norm got our 4 bags of laundry ready, we watched the movie VICE, and spent time in the steam room. The ship has been and still is under GI precautions due to some people with GI symptoms. We have encountered this on a previous cruise and Oceania does a good job of handling it. We heard that there is only 1 person still in quarantine but it takes only 1% (about 6 people) to trigger the precautions. All the outer doors to the rest rooms are left open, the launderette and library are closed, there is plastic over the buttons in the elevator (which we only take when we have luggage with us), the tables in the Terrace cafe are empty until you sit down, then the place mats and cutlery and any condiments you need are brought to you, hand sanitizers are always everywhere but they brought extra to the rooms. Probably this will be cleared up soon, our room attendant, Elena, told us no one in her rooms was affected.
We have been to Bangkok several times before so staying in was good to allow us to catch our breaths after the trip. Here are some of the sights in this city of contrasts.
Many high rise buildings and also traditional Thai houses can be seen throughout the city. This is the Chao Phraya River. Our guide told us that the population here is about 12 million people but the immigration numbers are not properly listed so it might be up to 20 million. It is the 22nd most populated city in the world. There are some amazing sights here, which we have visited before. The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha are two that are must see destinations. Last time we also visited the Royal Barge museum which was very interesting. The Presart Museum and the Jim Thompson house are also interesting places we have visited on previous trips. Previous blog posts would highlight those.
We missed Easter and Passover here but the display in the terrace was still there.
We have two more cities in Thailand to visit, Ko Samui tomorrow and Phuket on Sunday.