Thailand Trip report (after HK)

Oct 15th, 2004, 05:08 PM
  #1  
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Thailand Trip report (after HK)

Day 1. After a week in Hong Kong (see my HK trip report), on Sunday we took 8am flight from HK on Thai Airways. First 2 nights we spent in Chiang Mai. We flew to BKK and connected to CM. On arrival guide and driver met us at airport. We booked 4 Seasons (former Regent hotel). It was about 11am and we went directly to Do Suthep temple. It was magnificent, perfect intro to our first trip in Thailand. It has funicular going up, otw 300 steps or though. We had to take shoes off when going inside temple. The monk was sitting and chanting, quite a few people so we had to sit on the floor. There was shrine to white elephant on Do Suthep territory which has some connection with this important temple. But I forgot now..
After temple, we went to lunch at Grand Lanna. Wonderful place to eat, our guide ate with us and she explained to us dishes. We shared Lanna appetizers and Pad Thai. Some sauces were spicy and the waiters warned us. They watched how we ate. After Hong Kong, Thailand seems to be another country where people are nice, smiling and friendly to western people incl Americans. Service was superb. Grand Lanna will be place of new Oriental spa resort which is opening in Dec 2004. We were given a tour of future resort as well.
After lunch, we went shopping to Sankampaeng (sp?) rd. We already knew where we wanted to go. But guide did not push any shopping, as I asked in advance. We went to Siam Celadon and bought beautiful Tea service for 6, it was porcelain. Handcrafter, Thai design. We also bought some celadon dishes, unfortunately we could not carry that much. Shipping is available as well however, with shipping is it 100% more. Good service and wonderful store. It might be not the cheapest store but it has all we wanted and I knew the quality is the best. If I will want more, I can order online at www.siamceladon.com.

After that, we were driven to 4 Seasons and checked into hotel. If you can call it a hotel, it is very exotic resort. You can just spend time there without going to CM. It is just unreal. Natural landscaping utilizing rice paddies (working), water and natural stone. A warning. These stones are slippery when moist from humidity. My husband slipped and twisted ankle. But it happens with him often. So one just has to be careful. They have buffalos at resort, you can go to see them any time but if you lazy like us, few times per day they buffalo is walking around for a tour so you can take a picture. Staff was very helpful which was expected from this kind of high-end resort. The room is actually Lanna style pavillions with high ceilings, teak inside, all of them have "sala" - a balcony which has a couch, table and fan. Very nice. However in October it was still humid, and one cannot sit long time there. We did have breakfast every morning there.
Dinner was at Sala Mae Rim, Thai and Pacific cuisine. Since we had some Thai food for lunch, we opted for western (Pacfic Rim) dishes and it was very good. They had some well prices Chilean wine. Very nice dinner. Early to bed.

Day 2. Our guide and driver were coming at 8:30am so we ordered breakfast in sala. After long interview - what kind of bread we wanted with brekfast, what meats and what fruits, how long we want eggs to be cooked, they took our order and the waiters arrived exactly at 7:30am. We had relaxing breakfast and at 8:30am went for Dai Tao elephant camp. I was explained that this camp and another government run camp have controlled supervision of elephants so the animals will not get abused. There are only few hours they work and take people for a ride, the rest they are located in shade.
Other camps keep elephants on the sun and make them work long hours. So please keep this in mind when you are choosing elephant camps. We watched elephants bathing, fed them, short presentation how they work and what they are trained to do. There was a flag so one baby elephant raised a flag. Also mohut was giving elephants a paintbrush and they "painted a picture" which was selling also to contribute this camp. We took one hour ride.

After elephant camp, we came back to 4 Seasons, had quick lunch there and had 2 hour Thai Massage with oils and warm stones. We had it together, my husband and I with two therapists. It was very good.

Next time we will get less expensive massage in Thailand but i wanted experience it in 4S spa and we were not dissapointed.

After that we rested since we booked dinner at The Gallery in CM. Unfortunately, few hours later I started not feeling well - stomach problems. We did go to Gallery however I only had tea there!! Our guide and my husband had food, which they reported to be very good. I can only report for tea and bathrooms
After that we walked at night bazzar and bought some cheap staff there (sunglasses were cheap but broke next day), some shirts, nothing serious. We went back to hotel and went to bed. I was OK but could not eat anything.

I do not think it was something to do with Thai food since we ate in good establishments. It does concided with us started taking malarone and instructions for malarone described symptoms which I had . So both of us stopped taking malarone just in case since everydoy we've met told us there is no mosquito threat in 4 Seasons, only in remote tribe mountain areas. We did use mosquito repellent in elephant camp.

to be cont.
emtravel is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 05:25 PM
  #2  
CFW
 
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Enjoying your report and looking forward to next installment. Who did you use as driver and guide in CM?
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Oct 15th, 2004, 08:06 PM
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nice report ...hope to hear more...
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 06:36 AM
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CFW - we did not use guides separately. All trip was booked with our wholesaler in Thailand. We are travel agents and I worked with them before, putting trips together for our clients. They did a good job and looks like understanding what US clients want. Some people are younger and want party scene, some people want to concentrate on shopping. Since it is my professional hazard to research to death and worry about everything (rhkkmk knows! ), I think I drove them nuts but they were very gracious with us. I just wanted cultural sightseeing and some shopping but I was concerned that regular guides will push shopping for commissions. The guides were very good but we prefer not to work with them direct. It is easier to have one local agency coordinating everything. If guides does not show up or late, you know whom to call and the problem will be fixed. The agency also negotiated our hotel's prices.

Also not to put down hardworking guides recommended on this forum, we do not work with guides/drivers who are not licensed since we cannot send clients to them (liability). The objective of this trip besides sightseing and pleasure was as usual to connect with suppliers and inspect some other properties. I will ask for these guides again since I liked them. They are westernised, speak good English and lived/ were educated either in UK or USA.

Re: hotels. We visited Oriental (Grand Lanna) which will open in two months, it is going to be outstanding surroundings. Knowing Oriental, they will do a good job on service for high end clients. Sophia
emtravel is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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Day 3.

I also forgot to mention that on day 2 before we went to elephant camp, we were given a tour of market and also stopped at the place which is (do not know how to call it in Thailand) it is an equivalent to funeral parlor. All buddhist thai people are given funeral which last from 1 to 3-5 days. The king funeral lasted to 1 year. They have platforms for the coffins which are decorated with gold and other bright colors paper. Some decorations are expensive, so people who are not well to do get simple decorations , but even with help of government, people have elaborate funerals. After cereomony the body is cremated and people do with ashes whatever they prefer. Some, we were told, even shoot ashes in the air with cannot to shoot them in the air.

After that we visited market and were explained different food.
In previous discussuions on this forum somebeody said that Thai eat insects. This is true. I am telling you, I can eat almost anything and enjoy different type of food, but some food on that market really turned me off like dried bugs. Vendors through the guide explained that this is delicacy, fried and eaten like french fries. We were offered to try but passed. Took pictures, though. I will email interested members on this forum link to our pictures if you are interested. I am still finishing putting titles on pictures.
I know tourists are not fed this food in Western restaurants so I really recommend to stick to Western restaurants beacuse of content of the food and also concerning cleanliness. Food is available everywhere for thais and we were told it is very inexepensive so even poor people do not starve. But, tourist would probably get sick from this food. I think Orgy7 told us that he tried local food. I would not. I also seen vendors washing food containers in the river and also there are flies crawling in this heat over sausage.
So tourist beware.
Re: fruit, you can see all kind of tropical fruit. Again, wash it and peel it yourself. There was one interesting fruit we smelled which smells terrible but were told it tastes like haven. To me, smell and taste are inseparable so we passed on that. This tour of the market, sorry to report, did not get me interested in new experiences with Thai food however we love Thai food in USA and in good restaurants the food was explained to us and you were able
to ask to use level of spiciness.
Again, this is just our impression. Later on, when we smelled market food on the street, I lost appetite. But again, it might be that I am biased since I had some nausea from a day before and it took few days to get back to normal food regime.

Anyway, back to day 3. We were leaving at 11am for Bangkok. Since I was not up to shopping and my husband George was happy that I did not want to shop anymore, we relaxed in the morning to take advantage of resort. I could just stay at 4 Seasons and do not go anywhere. There is by the way a small shopping center with crafts outside of resorts. In the morning the buffalo was led through resort so I fulfilled my program without going to another side of resort to see buffalo.
Service was top-notch and unobtrusive. Resort is large and you they also have working rice paddies - donated to the charity. We chatted with resort's manager and complimented them on the way the resort is run. If you are tired to walk far, they drive you on a golf cart. Spa was superb. The pool is infinity and gorgeous.
The service I liked that you do not need ask about almost anything, most wishes are pre-empted. For example, you come to the pool and the towels are already on the beds. However, somewhere the pool attendant shows up and spreads towels for you. In a minute he comes back with cold water. When people left, the beds cleaned up immediately and all garbage people usually pick up after themselves, no need to do it here. All is taken care of. In restaurant, they watch when you eat and when it is time to refill glasses with water or wine, they do it. The worst case is just to look for the waiter, and they show up immediately. By the way, I also saw this kind of service in Marriott's Bangkok resort and spa and I also told by agency owner in Bankgok that is it Usually the culture of Thai people. Service is superb in most places where westerners are.

Anyway, we went to airport, our guide checked us into the line on Thai counter and got up to the point where passengers only allowed. Again, comparing with private guides we used in Europe, no guide before went that far with what they call "airport assistance". We of course could manage ourselves, but she insisted and we accepted it.
Airport in Bangkok is old but the new airport we were told will be opening next year.
We arrived to Bankgok around 1pm. We flew now economy class but we survived it. On arrival our Bangkok guide was waiting for us. Another thing with guides we had, we never needed to look for them, once we claimed luggage and got out, they were right there. She found her driver and they drove us to Marriott. We actually scheduled afternoon trip to JT house however she said: " I heard you are not feeling well". The news flying over Thailand!! I told her I am better but beacuse of afternoon traffic, she suggested to rest today and tomorrow we will have a full day instead of half-day and lunch as agreed before. We went to Marriott.
To Bob: rhkkmk - thank you for recommendation, we definetely enjoyed resort. It was of course a bit lower cat than 4 seasons but very exotic feel and and very comfortable. The check in was in our room. The guide was with us again and took us with Mariiott employee to our room. We had room 766 in a wing across spa and pool, the building where Benihana and Traders Vick restaurants are. It was very hot and humid and we did not feel anywhere to go. I still could not eat
We went to bakery Numero Uno and had some pastries and croissants and tea. Very delicious. I told my husband that the bakery was highly recommended by Bob. We had reservations in Jester for dinner and we had driver/guide available for that however, we could not go. I cancelled both restaurant and driver. The owner of the agency we booked with wanted to talked to us personally after we worked with him for few years (for clients and ourselves). He is swiss and mostly of his clientele is European. He was happy that we sent him Americans and said that all tourism industry in Thailand is hoping for increase of travel from USA. However, many tourists cancelled he said beacuse of Avian flu. However, the flu was only in few areas on the farms which is now being taken care off. Most poultry is raised in Thailand in closed environemt ( I assume this is what farangs eat). I remember how that other kind of flew with dead crows was found in USA in CT where we live but this did not deter tourists.

We did not have dinner except pastries and went to bed early. Spent some time at the pool. I was filling better.

Marriott's room was very comfortable and I loved teak floors.

Day 4 to follow.
sophia

emtravel is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 10:32 AM
  #6  
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Day 5. Today we had one busy day of touring. We had breakfast buffet at Marriott (included in our room rate). which was very extensive, included western, Japanese and Chinese food. I could only eat croissant and tea and took some pastries with me when I will get hungry few hours later.

Our guide Suree arrived by herself and she asked driver to pick us up at Taksin (sp?) skytrain station. We took a boat to the train station. From there, using the car (a/c break and cold icy cloth), we moved around. Wde toured first reclining buddhah wat pho and then Grand palace and temple of Emerald Buddha. She also told us the history of their country, and about their kings. I will not go into details of temples since these are standard sights and all tourists see it. We also drove through Chinatown and were pointed to the gates and some shops. Chinese lived in Bangkok even before King Rama I founded Bangkok.

When walking on the streets on Bangkok, we saw many vendors taking most of the sidewalk. Not much place for pedestrians! We even saw the vendors who were selling dentures!!

We had lunch in Supatra River House, Thai food, was very good. The transfer guests on a boat. Good traditional Thai decor. I had pork fried rice with pineapple in pineapple shell. I think my husband had pad thai again and coconut soup with shrimp. What I liked in local thai food and I did not see in USA restaurants the small dried shrimp. The Pork in Pineapple had also dried pork, very tasty. I started getting appetite. Suree our guide had some seafood with rice and vegatable and fried egg. I noticed that many thai dishes include eggs unilike in USA. I will ask next time the owner of local Thai restaurant we often go to. Lunch was very good.

After lunch we went to Jim Thompson house and took a tour. Guides are not allowed for a tour since JT has their own guides. So our guide and driver were waiting for us while we toured. Interesting house with antiquies. The JT guide was a young girl, very eager but very shy to speak, she was smiling all the time. Before coming to JT house, I started to read a book on him but did not finish. I had some question and another person in the group also asking for facts. Together, we made her blush and I was sorry. She could not answer some questions. We actually discussed with Suree JT an hour ago what might have happened to him, and we agreed that it might be CIA identity change. .Anyway, looks like more tourists mostly interested in silk and antique then his personality however I think he is a fascinating character. Do not expect from guides in JT house to tell you more than their standard description of antiques. Or maybe I am mistaken but at least I got this impression.
We also shopped in JT store afterwards. I bought lovely cotton t-shirts for myself and my husband few shirts. I did not like thai silk - it was too heavy and birght colors. It looked good on Thais but I thought once I come home, it will look out of place for me. So I did not buy any silk.
After long day, we were driven back to Marriott. Out guide talked in hotel and arranged again for us check out last day at 5:30am. We would not see Suree for next 3 days since we were leaving for Manohra cruise. She will only come last day on departure to take us to airport.
We said good bye to her.

We did not feel like venturing again to Oriental hotel where I booked dinner at China House so we cancelled it, and had dinner at Benihana in Marriott instead. Not my idea of good dinner but food was decent and we knew what we were eating. I slowly recovered. We also spent some time in pool. Most people in Mariott were Japanese tourists(looks like they love Benihana - is it their cuisine??). Western people did not look like Americans - we always are able to chat with Americans, but these people were not that friendly. Everybody kept to themselves. Either South African or Germans or some other European people.
We also walked the mall near Mariott and bought few things in drugstore and some cheap shirts for my husband, some t-shirts and casual capris for myself since we were running out of clean clothes
We packed 2 night bag for Manohra cruise and went to bed.







emtravel is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 10:48 AM
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thanks for to this report..I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Too bad you couldn't get past the smell of the durian...the taste is heavenly!
lcuy is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 11:15 AM
  #8  
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so that fruit was called durian?
emtravel is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 03:45 PM
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If it really, really smelled bad, yes! they are illegal on Singapore subways.
My favorite is durian ice cream...kind of dulls the smell. Otherwise, holding your nose while eating looks funny, but works!
lcuy is offline  
Oct 16th, 2004, 04:04 PM
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durian is the smelly stuff....we have seen signs in hotels that say: "no durian fruit is allowed into the hotel, thank you"...

great report...i am anxious to read your impressions of the manora cruise... by any chance did you meet the new manager at the marriott? he is excellent...

in case you did not know all of the following hotels are either owned or managed by the same group that is based out of the marriott resort and spa and is called the royal garden resort hotels, ltd...or something similar:

marriott resort and spa
4 seasons bangkok
4 seasons chiang mai
anantara golden triangle
ananrara hua hin
hotel in hyphong, vietnam
jw marriott phuket
new marriott in koh samui
marriott pattaya
and perhaps some others...

sorry you were sick...you missed some good thai meals...next time...

marriott guests/european...the finn air people stay there and often come with their families...they are not particularily friendly and spend almost all the day at the pool...we have met others who are very friendly from all over however...

the jim thompson guides at jt house...i may hav had the same guide...they seem to have made some changes in the last year or so and maybe the guides are in fact interns...they have the basic info but can't deviate from it...too bad as the place has really been upgraded in every other way in the last 3 years...glad you enjoyed it...

sorry you didn't like silk...it is not all bright colors, but you are right much of it is...if you went to the main jt store you would have seen much more...also the outlet...a big part of their business is also in drapery and upholstery fabrics...fabulous stuff...

looking forward to the rest of your report...

where in CT do you live?? craig is from CT if you didn't know that...

thanks for mentioning my name...glad you could use my suggestions...

bob

comments from above:
sorry you were in that wing of the marriott...it is my least favorite...i actually prefer the main wing with the lobby...i stayed once in your wing and did not like it...no reason really, just didn't like it...in june they had us scheduled for that wing and i objected so they put us in the opposite one which is my second favorite

sorry my report got mixed up in the typing...this last part was to be first...rk
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 07:02 AM
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emtravel: any recommendations on how to get a great tour guide like yours? Were you able to get a contact number for her? We are also staying at the 4 seasons, leaving here is less than 2 weeks so I'm scramblng at the last minute. Thanks, have enjoyed your reports
FromDC is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 08:37 AM
  #12  
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FromDC,
re: guides, see my reply above to CFW.
Email me [email protected]

Since it is not appropriate to promote suppliers on this board.
sophia
emtravel is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 12:46 PM
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Day 6.

After breakfast we checked out of the Mariott . Our bags were picked up and were to be stored for 2 nights while we were going on Manohra Cruise. We packed overnight bag for 2 nights and also took one bag for other shopping which will come our way.

We walked to Marriott pier.

Bob: you forgot to mention in your note yesterday that Mariott also runs Manohra cruises ? both overnight and dinner.

We were told that it is going to be very relaxing cruise and a great way to see Ayutthaya.
The barge is a 20-meter-long river rice barge. Capacity is 4 couples plus 4 people crew. When we came onboard, we were told that we are the only ones for a cruise. At this point the attention of thais we encountered before although we enjoyed it but the thought that we will have 4 people taking care of us and no other travelers to talk to was kind of getting us down. But we did not have any choice. The staff was introduced to us ? steward Bovey, his assistant Milkkey who was taking care of housekeeping and helping captain, chef Echo and captain (forgot captain?s name). All of them were young, captain was a bit older. They were enthusiastic and eager to please. We were given drink and cold towels, they took our bags to the cabin and we were soon underway.

Manhora is a gorgeous barge which you can only see in Thailand. We enjoyed barge cruises in Europe before and as barge junkies, we were eager to experience this adventure. The barge has 4 a/c cabins. It features warm Teak ? we were told it is called Royal teak ? the best available, woods throughout, custom-designed furniture covered with colorful Thai silks and cottons, oriental rugs, Thai and Southeast Asian art, sculpture and artifacts. Nice books about river, Bangkok and Ayutthaya. I?ve read about Ayutthaya before and were very interested in this site. You really need to know what you see since it is like an archeological site in Europe. In addition to my books which I brought, there was a wonderful illustrated book onboard re: Ayutthaya which I enjoyed to study before our tomorrow?s visit.

We were given the largest cabin but of course it is not that large like hotel room. Cabins are a/c, with good water pressure bathrooms. My husband had to go through agony to choosing his own toiletries (we had the same at 4 Seasons) ? what kind of soap ? lemongrass or coconut? I had to choose for him. He has no clue anyway what he is washing with 

We had some cold drinks and refereshed with towels. The chef Echo asked us what we do not want to eat. We only asked for food not to be spicy. We unpacked and rested . In about 1 hour we arrived to Wat Arun. Our new guide which is provided by Manohra Cruises, came onboard and introduced himself. His name is Billy, good English, very outgoing, lived some time in USA and turned out also an interesting conversationalist.
The crew spoke English, but mostly was Bovey, our steward, he command of English allowed him to converse freely, so we spent with him some time talking about everything. The rest spoke English, but did not converse that much. They were shy to talk I think.
We went to Wat Arun and spent about 1 hour there, admiring pavilions containing statues of the Buddha at the most important stages of life. The beautiful architecture and fine decorations mark Wat Arun.
After that, we went back on boat and continued to Royal Barge museum, it has interesting collection of gilded and ornately decorated boats with magnificently carved prows. King?s own barge is also there. Bovey went also to Barge with us and a guide.

After that, we returned to the boat and Billy said good bye and told us he will drive to Ayutthaya tomorrow and will take us for a tour.

We continued to float on the river, it was very relaxing and while barge moves, there is a nice breeze. It was interesting to see river life, traffic and people.

Bovey told us that this is his first cruise and before he worked in restaurant in Marriott, we assured him that he is going fine. I guess he was happy that he had only 2 passengers to take care of! He is nice young man, 26 years old, taking study in hospitality and food service school. He needs to decide if he is going to specialize in Food or hotels.

Lunch was underway, we had an appetizer : a collection of nuts ? roasted coconut shreads, peanuts, small pieces of lime, small dried shrimp and plum sauce and kafir leaves. Echo explained to us how to eat it. You put all ingredients in a leaf, top with sauce and eat. At home, he said, it can be replaced with lettuce leaf.
Then it was salad with shrimps ? shrimps were very popular in Thai food we ate, then came in green curry with beef and rice noodles, there were also hard boiled eggs with curry. Curry was a little spicy, but we could handle it. Very good. I noticed that Thai?s eat a lot?s of eggs with their main courses. Mango with sticky rice and fruit. All pastries, bread and cookies on the cruise by the way, Bob ? were from Numero Uno ? Marriott?s bakery. They do not not bake on board. While barging in Europe, we enjoyed that every morning fresh French pastries were delivered, however, in Thailand I understand and prefer to eat pastries from Mariiotts ? you never know what local bakeries are along the way. We did not see much stores ? only street vendors which, if you read my other notes from previous days, I do not trust in cleanliness. Especially passing by and seeing from the boat that they wash dishes in the river would make me concerned.

Anyway, lunch was good. About at 2pm we stopped at small inland island of Koh Kret in Nonthaburi Province, an island which was ?man-made? in the last 100 years when a canal was built to shorten the journey around a circuitous bend in the river. The island is populated by the Mon people, one of Thailand?s many ethnic minority groups, who use the river?s fine clay to produce earthenware pots.

We watched demonstration how pottery is being made. We bough some porcelain figurines and ceramics and some pottery. Bovey and Milkkey went with us and translated and also insisted on carrying our purchases. The shopping was very cheap here and we were sorry for these poor people . I do not know how they make their living since there were no tourists. They gave us few extra items for free.
There were many dogs on the islands, they scratched and looked very skinny. I asked Bovey if dogs in Thailand eat dog food. He said it is very expensive and dogs eat leftover from people?s food. We concluded that our precious bichon fries at home has better life. Although I?ve seen in Chiang Mai and Bangkok some dog?s stores and saw ont dog in Chiang Mai on the leash which was wearing vest. The guide explained that this is the latest trend ? dog?s clothes. Beats me ? why in such heat dress up the dog. But here was nother extreme ? hungry dogs. Sometimes people do not want or cannot take care of dog so they give them to monks. There is always food for dogs but still they live I think not happy life if they want companionship of people.

Anyway, we also fed fish from the boat since we were told it brings luck. All fish in Thailand is big and fat. They feed fish more than dogs?

After the island, we refreshed and had afternoon tea with scones, sandwiches and pastries from Numero Uno. We docked at about 4pm at next site - Wat Bang Na, where we can watch the sun set and then moor for the night. Wat Bang Na was constructed in 1777 by a Mon family who moved from Ayutthaya. One of the more curious sights within the compound of this temple is the body of the 4th chief monk of this temple who died in 1988 but whose mummified body remains in excellent condition and is today housed in a glass enclosure.

The Manohra tied up to the dock and fed electricity from the temple. We were told that tomorrow we will have an audience with chief monk. In the afternoon it was very quiet except at 6 or was it 8pm? There started chanted prayers which were synchronized with a temple across the river.

We took a nap and came out before dinner. The weather was the same since we came to Thailand - about 85F and humid. When barge docked, it was muggy. The crew constantly followed our movement on the deck with two electric fans (antique fans made by GE btw), and were turning them on in our direction. First we protested but then gave up.

Bovey said we missed cocktails before dinner. What is the point of cocktails since we had nobody to socialize with? 
In any case, he served hor?s doevres (sp?) with dinner, adding another course to 6 course dinner. Food was Thai of course, well prepared. There were small rice cakes, dried beef in cherry tomatoes, and spring rolls with sauce. The dinner consisted of Pomelo Salad with shrimp and pork, soup with coconut milk and shrimp served in coconut, we loved this soup everywhere in Thailand, I will try to recreate it at home except coconut. Then came red curry with duck, stir fried mixed vegetables, rice and fried fish without bones with chili and garlic. Desert was banana cooked in coconut milk. All was delicious but too much food.
Wine, beer and water was available, but we choose only water today.

We talked with Bovey for an hour on the deck under stars.
There were dogs barking in the dark so we did not venture outside. Plus we did not want disturb the crew who would definitely tag along with us. So we rested and went to sleep.

Day 7.
We woke up at 7am. We had an audience with a chief monk at temple before breakfast.
The crew prepared a bucket with donation for monks which had food and some personal items. We added money to it, Bovey put it in the envelope and added a flower on it.
I must say how Thais are very artistic with food and flowers. There always were carved vegetables and fruits, and they often added flowers to the table or just made garlands or flower arrangements. Few days ago in Bangkok we visited a flower market and a guide showed us how the flowers arrangements from fresh flowers are made. The weave different flowers together, very pretty.

We went to monk and were instructed what to do ? take off shoes, when sitting, wai 3 times low, when standing, one time. Do not be higher than monk which is taken care of patform. The monk appeared . He spoke Balinese and Bovey and milkey translated.
He asked about us, our life, where we came from, etc. He asked if we eat spicy food and said it is good for your health. The monk told us he is 53 years old. After that, he blessed us with prayer. We gave to him merit bucket together. Then we took a picture with him. Very interesting experience with Buddhist culture. We also walked around temple and took picture and saw a place where ashes of important chief monk are stored.

After that we came on boat and had breakfast. Beakfast was regular American breakfast, eggs if you wish to have them, cooked with order. Fruit, yogurt, toast, pastries. Same as in Marriott.

I forgot to tell that the boat had good collection of books on Bangkok, river and Aythhuya. For some reason, I became obsessed with Ayutthaya when I was preparing for a trip and read few books. On a boat, I found illustrated nice book and I read it before we went there. Very interesting and I think one must to read on that otherwise the ruins do not tell you much. Guide explained to us about Ayutthaya however, there are some details and if you want to see certain temples, you need to tell. Like with any archeological site, imagination and knowledge is important. I do not recommend to see it without guide.

The boat was underway since breakfast and scheduled to arrive to Ayutthaya about 2pm. We had snacks on a deck, then lunch. Lunch was Italian, Ceasar salad and pasta. Desert was rhubarb crumble.
After lunch, we arrived and docked. Billly was already there and we went Wat Pananchoeng is an old monastery housing Thailand?s largest ancient Buddha image. This image, known as Luang Po To was made in 1344. The Chinese revere this image as their God Protector since much of the sailing done then was by the Chinese.

After temple, we were driven to Ayutthaya. It is world UNESCO Heritage site. We toured Ayutthaya. Then we were offered a ride on the elephant. We tried elephant again. This time the elephant was young, 3 years old. There was nobody else around so it was just us ? 1 elephant. The mohut tried to speak to us but he did not speak English. We communicated somehow. It was a strange incident while riding. In previous camp in CM we took few days ago, there were written rules ? do not ask mohut to take a picture, he was supposed to pay attention to the elephant. This mohut stopped at some Aytthaya ruin, jumped off and asked for our camera to take picture. We gave him camera and explained how to take picture, that he has to hold button few secs. He seemed not to understand and tried few times. He gave us his stick to hold. All elephant sticks as you probably know have a hook which must be a way to control elephant. No way we would try to poke elephant with a hook so we just held a hook. Meanwhile elephant got bored without mahout and started walking away to relieve himself and then much on grass. We freaked out and called mohut. He kept saying ? no problema and tried to figure out the camera. I was afraid to poke elephant ? with my luck I would probably get him in the eye and who know what mad elephant do! Anyway, we kept screaming on mohut ? get over there. He got back and asked how was the picture. On the picture he managed only to get snapshot of my foot resting graciously on elephant?s back. We said ?It is perfect picture!? otherwise he would kept trying.
After elephant adventure, we were driven to Bang Pa In, one of the districts of Ayutthaya where we saw our boat.
We also visited Bang Pa In. Across from Bang Pa In is Wat Nivat - one of the more intriguing Buddhist temples ? and this is where we moored for the night. Wat Nivat was constructed at the command of King Rama V in 1878, in the style of an English Gothic church. The temple?s stained glass windows and unusual architecture make it one of the most distinctive Buddhist temples anywhere in Thailand
We docked at the temple. It was fairly large and we saw many monks including children moving on the territory. The temple operates gondola like a ski gondola to get people from one side of the river t oanother. It is free but there is donation box. Whoever comes in, step on gondola and the pull it on another side. I also saw one dog which was frequently on the gondola. They run gondola even for one dog!


We came back onboard and rested. Skipped afternoon tea.
Cocktail was shrimp crackers, crab cakes .
We had beer with dinner.
Appetizers where shrimps in a egg roll, lobster in mint leaves, salad with scallop. Soup was chicken soup with coconut milk. Then came Massaman curry with pork, potatoes and peanuts, fried fish with garlic, jasmine rice and red rice , desert : egg cooked in coconut milk.

After talking with Bovey for an hour, we went to bed.

Day 7. ? Our last day on the boat. We had breakfast.
After breakfast, our guide Billy came in and we went to see the Bang Pa In Summer Palace. The original Bang Pa In Palace was built by King Prasat Thong on the island and was used as a country residence for the later kings of the Ayutthaya period. However, after the capital moved to Bangkok, Bang Pa In was abandoned for 80 years, to be revived by King Rama V. He commanded the construction of additional buildings ? theatres, temples and monuments in a mixture of European, Chinese and Thai styles.
It is beautiful. It was hot and we opted for a golf cart. My husband drove it for a while but then left driving to Billy so we can take pictures. After palace, we were driven to the
Bang Sai village, which enjoys the patronage of the Queen.
It is an impressive project. The Queen was able to get people off opium trade and train them in crafts. Here you can see a variety of Thai houses in regional styles and see how Thailand?s rural people make handicrafts such as fern basketry, silk flowers, hand-woven silk and cotton, silk dyeing, wood carving, miniature hand-modeled dolls and traditional furniture. There was also shopping a/c pavilion. Some items were museum quality and you can see them in separate floor. Very nice building and comfortable shopping.
Our boat already was docked at the Bang Sai Village and we walked to it after shopping. We said good bye to Billy and driver, tipped them well. What an easy way to sightsee! Combination of boat and car and golf cart!

Anyway, that concluded our sightseeing on Manohra cruise and we were underway to Bangkok.
We had thai lunch ? pork salad and chicken curry with vegetables and crispy noodles.
Finished with fruit.

The rest of the day was relaxing, repacking, and resting on the deck. Manohra reached Bangkok and it was Saturday so the traffic was busy. It was very exciting to see the activity on the river. Many people from other boats took our picture. Bovey commented that Manohra Song is the Ferrari of the boats.

We arrived to Mariott at 5pm, said good bye to the crew, tipped them well.

We walked to reception, and re-checked back to hotel. We had the same room as before. Again, the receptionist took as to the room and we signed all papers. Next day, our departure for airport was at 5:30am, and our guide Suree instructed reception to wake us up at 4:30pm. I said, no, wake us at 5am. They asked ? are you sure, and then agreed. The receptionist left. The porter appeared with our bags, he waied and thanked us for a tip. We finally were left alone (before there was another ported who brought our overnight bag). We wanted to refresh. Yet another knock at the door! We thought receptionist forgot something ? but there was a food service with welcome back orange juice! My husband said they probably heard we tip. Finished with this guy.
We also ordered breakfast box for next morning as receptionist suggested ? it is complimentary since breakfast is included in a room rate.

We did some more shopping at Mariott center ? my husband bought some Polo-copy shirts 2 days before and liked them and wanted more. We found the same vendor and she was very happy to see us. Got good deal. I also bought Thailand t-shirt.

We had dinner at night at traders vicks. Nothing special but well prepared food and good service, nice décor, very comfortable dinner. I had filegh mignon and my husband had prawns. We like these thai tiger prawns ? it seldom we can find them in US. They are bigger than shrimp and smaller than lobster but tastes almost like lobster.


Day 8. Time to leave Thailand. What is good about travel that eventually you come home. This trip to Hong Kong and Thailand was the longest we ever took, 2 weeks. We were looking forward to crisp New England weather.

Our flight schedule was tight. We had booked first, package to Hong Kong Sept 27-Oct 10 for at very good rate which included business class airfare on China Airlines from JFK via Taipei. I did not have flexibility to change this for Thailand so we bought an extension on Thai Airline Oct 3-10 from HKG ? to Chiang Mai, then Bangkok and back to Hong Kong.

Therefore, on Oct 10, we had flight on Thai airways 8am BKK-HKG, which gave us 1.20 hour for connection with China Airlines HKG-TPE-JFK.
By checking with agency in Hong Kong which did our tickets, she said it is probably not possible to check luggage through but enough time for connection. I know that min time was 60 mins so considering there is no delays or security problems, we will make it. Security check in Asia is not like we have in USA, it is just like we had before Sept 11.

Our Bangkok guide Suree arrived with a driver, we took our breakfast boxes, checked out and went to the car, again 4 people at 5am at hotel came to see us away. At this point I was looking forward to surly faces at JFK. Bye to sawadee !

At airport, Suree again helped us a lot. She is not only found smaller line for us, but took our money , went somewhere and paid departure taxes for us. When we checked luggage in, I asked at the counter if we can check bags through ? as we discussed with Suree before. The clerk had blank stare. Suree started to talk to him in Thai and after about few mins if explanation, and checking with supervisor, he checked us through through Hong Kong, and with China Airlines to JFK!! This saved us money, although HKG airport is very efficient. Being experienced travelers, we usually do not make big deal. If we would miss flight, we would take next day flight. We also always buy travel insurance. But everything turned out well. Flight from Bangkok was delayed for about 30 mins since it was traffic to take off. Good thing our bags checked in to JFK so China airlines knew what flight we arrive to Hong Kong. On Arrival, there were China Airlines employees directing people to transfer to their flight, they showed us the way and again, in Hong Kong? s efficient airport, they also let us know without line in security when I showed them tickets. Nobody from the line minded. I guess again, Americans in Asia get preferential treatment!

We checked into China Airline and had another connection on Taipan, and stop in Anchorage (snow and 5C). 24 hours later, we arrived to JFK. The flight in business class was comfortable as 24 hour flight can be comfortable. The chairs almost reclined horizontally. In JFK ? culture shock! No good signs, confusing where to go (especially if you are jet lagged)! Luggage Cart is $3! Everywhere in the world it is free! No currency exchange in arrival lounge. I felt sorry for Chinese people.

Our bags did arrive from Bangkok! It probably would not work in USA. Another point to Asian airlines, this is the way to travel!

This concludes our first trip (but not the last) to Asia. I will post later general observations but at this point I described everything we?ve done chronologically.

Thank you again people on this forum which helped us to plan such a successful trip.
sophia












emtravel is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 02:39 PM
  #14  
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 450
Bob - re: your message.
No, I did not meet a manager of Marriott.
We are from Westport, CT, on Long Island Sound.
Re: food - we did enjoy thai food for the rest of the trip - Supatra River House in BKK, and also with our personal chef on Manohra - see my last post.
Re: Marriott - I did not realized that other rooms are better. We were pretty much satisified with this room, it has wonderful view of the river from 7th floor and a balcony. However, to hot to be on the balcony. How are other rooms more convenient.
I thought there were scandinavian people based by appearance and languange but did not know they were finns. Some English speaking people also, British and other accents, probably Australia/NZ and South africa.
sophia
emtravel is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 05:06 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,925
sophia....i loved your report, especially the last segment about the boat....your trip on the monora was significantly more than what we did...we cruised up the river in the afternoon with one other couple...they did not talk much so you did not miss anything...we stopped for dinner at the wat, but did not have the wat arun and ing's boat stops....we made merit like you did ....se were then taken further and moored next to the summer palace...we went over to the wat and then walked around the palace....we had no guides on shore except for out time at the merit making wat....we were at some point put into a long tail boat and taken further up river to a floating restaurant for lunch....from there we were taken to AY.....we toured there on our own....i did not like it honestly and found the heat unbearable....we were to be driven back to bkk by limo that day....so our whole time was about 24 hours and cost about $700 for the two of us....
your time was considerably more and enhanced....did you feel like it was the trip of a life-time??

overall i am glad to see that you loved asia like many of us do...when are you returning to thailand??? we have never gone for less than 15 days and usually go for about a month...i know most people cannot do this, but it makes all the difference in the world....we also fly coach which is terrible honestly...

i'm sure you received lots of special treatment as tour industry people...for instance we have never checked into our rooms at the marriott in the room...

glad you are home and look forward to your further comments

bob

i think your story will spur others to try this boat....T&L magazine has ranked it (the monora) as one of asia's most fantastic treasurers...

the sister in law of the owner of the marriott decorated the boat by the way...did you cabin have the bath down a few stairs to a lower section of the boat??
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 05:14 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,925
i just like the other buildings better...easier to get around...don't know why....did you have a standard room?? the regular rooms, non-suite, all seem to be about the same....i guess the other are closer to the bakery>???? so says a fat boy....

did your room overlook the pool or directly out to the river?? the only time we stayed in that building (2002) our room looked directly out on the river...if we looked to the right we looked at the bridges...so it was at the very end of the building and you could have dove directly from the balcony into the river...ugh!!!!

how do you rate that marriott?? was it everything i said?? not the 4 seasons, but many people do not want that type of place... it remains our favorite over all in bkk....we can't wait to return....we keep waiting for some bad experience but so far in more than 12 visits, we have had not a single problem...
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 05:55 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Sophia, I'm so glad you had a good trip. It sounds like you'll be back. As you know, many of us are positively addicted to SE Asia!

I'm sorry you had stomach problems and couldn't enjoy all the wonderful food. For some people, they get upset stomach from the food being different or differently spiced.

I feel compelled to make a comment about the malarone you were prescribed: I couldn't believe it when you told us that your doctor had prescribed malarone for you. In no way were you going anyplace that is considered malarial risk. I always recommend that people read the cdc website thoroughly before going to a doctor so you can ask appropriate questions and point out recommendation that does not make sense.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 03:46 AM
  #18  
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Bob,
yes, we loved Manohra cruise. It did took almost 3 days of our valuable time but it was very nice and relaxing. They have 1 night and 2 nights cruises. The agency in Bangkok we worked with recommended 2 nights since this itinerary included also Wat Arun and Barge museum, and we wanted to see it anyway. One night is also OK but the sightse are different as you described. First night when we moored at Wat at 4pm, it was kind of boring after a while. For more active people they would probably get bored. Unless you have a company of 2-6 people.
It was OK for us. As you know in this heat, you cannot sightsee much. This is strange that you did not have guides beacuse guides are included in their package, see http://www.manohracruises.com
I do not remember cost, since all eventually was packaged together and negotiated later on, but I think 2 nights cruise is about $950 incl private guides and the agency in BKK got us discount. It was very good, and definetely memorable trip, maybe not a trip of lifetime, but whole this asian trip is definetely and eye-opener.

I understand now that nobody can call themselves a world traveler until they've been in Asia!

We are lucky that Asian suppliers want to Americans to come and they really got out of the way for us as travel agents to enhance our experience.
But re; checking into Mariott, I've seen also other people were going to the rooms with receptionist. I thought it is a rule.

The decor is of course very authentic, asian. Really cool. Yes, the cabin had steps down to the bath and steps up to bed. We kept some lights on for the night in order not to fall down. But my husband managed to trip and slid down to the bathroom , fortunately did not hurt himself.

The Marriott is indeed as good as you said. We personally hate large chain hotels and prefer locally owned property however this Marriott proved to be an exception. I would rate it between 4 and 5*, maybe 4.5 star, with 4 Season being 5*. Service and rooms, and decor are excellent and it looks like resort, not like hotel. Very tropical feel. Our room faced river direct and on the right we saw boats.

Next time, however, I will probably try Peninisula or Oriental so to be closer to shoppping. Shangri La looked also nice. Sheraton was also good but we hooked up on Penninsula. In HK we will also will try Pen. We also liked Oriental. This time we were very happy with Marriott, we liked it a lot. But I need to experience different hotels in order to recommend it to clients! It is tough job but somebody got to do it.
The staff in Marriott is excellent. For example, in both cities, Hong Kong and Bkk we had to check out early for 8am flight. In Langham HK, I went downstairs at 4:30am to check out, the clerk sohwed up few min later and said: it is 4:30! You are checking out? I said, yes, I am checking out! Does he thinks I am crazy and decided to check out at 4:30am at no reason?

In Marriott BKK, we came downstairs (true, we had a wake up call so they knew we were checking out). At reception there were 1 receptionist, 1 porter, another guy, do not know what he did, probably opening doors, 1 concierge with our complimentary breakfast to go. Plus our driver and guide. After all commotion, getting into car and driving, we were laughing, never we felt so important. I think this is what makes people t ocome back to this hotel - service, smiles. They did not have to tell us that we can take breakfast with us. I am sure you can arrange it on any other hotels, but Marriott preempted our wishes, and made the trip the most enjoyable. Or maybe I will stay there one more time. Will see. I also recommend this resort for people taking Manohra cruise beacuse it is so convenient and you do not need transfer. Marriott stores bags for you.
However, other hotels store bags as well. For example, I booked a family in Oriental and we got them 2 nights trip from BKK to Cambodia Seam reap, so their bags stored at Oriental. I beleive this is a norm in Asia. Such superior service!
emtravel is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 03:49 AM
  #19  
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Kathy,
thank you! The stomach problems cleared later on and I was able to enjoy thai food.
Re: malarone, you are right, but the dr looks at geographic area. He said Chiang Mai is at North, so he prescribed it. When we mentioned malarone to our guides, they laughed - you did not go to jungle! The only jungle we went was 4 Season jungle!
By the way, they have everywhere at resorts coils which keep mosquitoes away. Also, on Manhora, they had coil under our table when we dined and also they had body spray. So it is not even neccessary to bring mosquitto repellent.
Thank you for all your advices, I am enjoying now my Jasmine pearl tea!
Sophia
emtravel is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 05:08 AM
  #20  
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Posts: 450
Bob,
just re-read my post, sorry - did not make it clear.

This is about Manohra, not Marriott.

The decor is of course very authentic, asian. Really cool. Yes, the cabin had steps down to the bath and steps up to bed. We kept some lights on for the night in order not to fall down. But my husband managed to trip and slid down to the bathroom , fortunately did not hurt himself.
emtravel is offline  

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