THAILAND (5)

TUESDAY 6th OCTOBER 2020 ~ BLOG POST

THAILAND (5)

by John Yeo

  This will certainly be the final part of this series of blog posts. I decided to focus on an incredibly memorable section of our holiday in Thailand. Earlier we had visited a cultural show in Phuket where we photographed a couple of captive elephants in a procession. We were unaware of the controversy surrounding the use of elephants for entertainment at the time.

  We had the opportunity to visit the Green Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket. This is an ethically run sanctuary that operates as a retirement home for elephants. Mainly elephants rescued from cruelty and for retired working elephants. The sanctuary doesn’t promote elephant riding or performances and is famous for it’s treatment of these beautiful creatures.

  We booked a half day visit and we were incredibly impressed with the spacious layout of the sanctuary which is situated in a large jungle area with large spaces that enable these impressive creatures to freely roam around.

 First we were welcomed by one of the keepers who gathered everyone together and delivered an interesting, informative talk on the sanctuary and some safety tips for when we got close up to the elephants.

    Firstly we were provided with baskets of bananas. We then met and hand-fed some of the residents. This was done from a distance as we were taught to hold the banana towards the elephant who grasped it with his trunk. There were always keepers hovering as the visitors slowly became more confident of interacting with the elephants. 

  There was a cute baby calf elephant who captured the hearts of everyone on the site. The mother was pregnant when she was rescued and actually gave birth to her calf in the sanctuary. 

    An onsite photographer was taking photographs of the visitors interacting with the elephants and these were later to be downloaded onto Facebook and freely available.

   We were led to an area where the elephants and an onsite night keeper spend their nights. This was accompanied by an interesting lecture by a keeper with the opportunity to question her on the treatment and some of the stories of where these beautiful creatures had arrived from.

    Next came a highlight of our visit, when we had a mud bath with the elephants. After we had thoroughly coated them with a thick coating of mud; which they enjoyed immensely; we then shared a large elephant shower where we proceeded to clean off the mud. Wonderful fun for everyone concerned, both the pachyderms and the humans. Good thing we remembered to bring our swimsuits!

    Finally we showered in some conventional showers and we enjoyed a tasty meal of Thai curry and rice accompanied by fresh fruit.

     A wonderfully informative fun day.

©️ Written by John Yeo

THAILAND (4)

MONDAY 5th OCTOBER 2020 ~ BLOG POST

Prompt ~ Explore what your travels in Asia have been like.

THAILAND (4)

by John Yeo

  We were absolutely delighted with our visit to Tiger World and we thought this would be an unmatchable memory of our visit to Phuket. However, our visit to Thailand was not over yet.

 The above photograph is of a trio that entertained the resort guests in two of the dining areas most nights of the week during our stay. They were incredibly good and we enjoyed their music, which was mostly hits made famous by British and USA pop stars. I made enquiries trying to ascertain what name they were known by. Apparently they didn’t have a name, they were just happy to play together in the resort, entertaining the guests for a living. I guess they were paid a wage by the management.

  Both Margaret and I are gardeners and grow-your-own enthusiasts and we decided to hire a taxi for the day,with a view to exploring the agricultural areas on the island. This proved to be a disappointment as far as the agricultural areas were concerned but the driver did provide an interesting tour of the island’s tourist areas and a couple of blatant tourist traps.

  We passed many small roadside, beachside thriving businesses along the route and I opened the taxi window and began snapping off photographs along our way. 

I would have loved to have stopped along the way to photograph some of these entrepreneurs and their shacks. 

  We were taken on a hair-raising ride along a narrow road through a large, select, private beach, fronted with busy small businesses.

   I think the driver was taking a shortcut to our first stop, an impressive viewpoint high on some cliffs overlooking a bay containing an island with many small craft on the blue sea. 

This was known as the windmill viewpoint in respect of a huge wind turbine that was nearby. We took many photographs here as the scenery was particularly beautiful. 

  I asked the driver to take us to an agricultural area and he asked if we would like to visit a museum first. We agreed to this thinking it would be a museum of Thai life. This was the first tourist trap, the museum was a large warehouse containing thousands of seashells of various shapes and sizes. We were charged an entrance fee and we declined to purchase any of the shell souvenirs in the gift shop.

  Again I requested a trip to the agricultural areas, but he responded with a blank reply and asked if we would visit another museum area first. We agreed to this and we were taken to a huge oriental diamond and precious stones business, where we wandered around accompanied by an oriental salesperson.      

The displays of precious gems were amazing and we were somewhat puzzled and entranced. This was obviously another tourist trap and we declined to purchase anything during our visit. Photographs were strictly prohibited here.

  I display a couple of beach side seashore photos I took through the car window along the way back to our resort.

  I then began to get quite annoyed as our day was coming to an end and we were unlikely to have time to drive out to a rural area.

Our driver stopped in the car park of a large hotel that contained a large hothouse full of salad plants growing with aquaculture. 

Not quite what we had in mind at the beginning of the trip.  We paid 1500 baht for the day. Our lesson for future reference would be to be absolutely sure of where you want to go before you engage a taxi for a day of sightseeing in Thailand.

©️ Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

THAILAND (2)

SATURDAY 3rd OCTOBER 2020 ~ FLASH FICTION

Prompt ~ Explore what your travels in Asia have been like.

THAILAND (2)

by John Yeo

 At the end of our first week in Thailand during our visit to Phuket botanical gardens, we wandered around the hot houses. We enjoyed the orchid house and the impressive cactus house. At the end of our visit we viewed a large ornamental lake packed with huge Koi Carp where we enjoyed feeding these impressive creatures with fish food.

   There were some fantastic sandy beaches adjoining the hotel and we hired a couple of sun loungers for the princely sum of 100 baht each and spent some quality time on the beach. The seawater was warm and shallow for a long way out and we enjoyed a few beautiful relaxing days on the beach. We became friendly with the owner of the beach concession who arranged for us to have our clothes laundered at extremely reasonable rates.

  We were treated to another colourful show in the resort restaurant in the evening.

  Another interesting experience was our trip on a traditional Thailand long-tailed boat. We hired a boat complete with a young sailor who took us on a trip around the bay. The sea was as gentle and calm as a millpond and there was a nice gentle breeze.

 We visited a huge Thailand night market, this was an extremely memorable experience. 

There were many food stalls selling a huge variety of street food, at the beginning of the market. This led to the main section of the market where a huge display of clothing, electrical goods, jewellery and much besides, was on display. Several different varieties of live music was performed by street musicians all along the length of the market.

 Our next attraction was a small museum that recorded the huge influence of the Chinese settlers  on the development of Thailand.

Margaret attended a Thai food cookery course and was presented with an impressive certificate on completion of the course.

© Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

THAILAND (1)

FRIDAY 2nd OCTOBER 2020 ~ FLASH FICTION

Prompt ~ Explore what your travels in Asia have been like.

THAILAND

by John Yeo

Margaret and I have travelled to Thailand three times and we have been more intrigued and interested in the culture and the cuisine each time we’ve visited. Our most recent visit was in January 2020 in a wonderful comfortable resort on the island of Phuket.

Our first treat on our latest return visit to Thailand was to visit the resort restaurant by the sea where we indulged in a magnificent lunch of the excellent Thai cuisine.

The restaurant table overlooked the beach and the bay, with a sparkling blue sea, and palm trees along the walkway past the beach.

We familiarized ourselves with the location of the local shopping centre and the layout of the hotel.

The sunsets here are magnificent and we snapped some beautiful photographs of the sunset on our first night in Thailand.

We booked a table to see a colourful show in the restaurant in the evening featuring the amazing Thai ladyboys, young men who dress spectacularly as young women and mime to popular songs. The show was excellent and we marvelled at the lengths the young men went to; to dress and act as females. There were some lighthearted moments when one of the boy girls waggled a pair of huge balloons in time to the music.

We visited an open air market that consisted of canvas tent-like stalls selling a great variety of goods. There seemed to be an incredible amount of designer labels on the clothes and we came to the conclusion, these were obvious fakes. There were also a few stalls selling electronic goods at amazingly cheap prices. To our eyes the most eye opening sight were the unhygienic stalls selling fresh meat and fish in the open air that attracted millions of Thai flies. This would never have been allowed in the U.K., the USA or the European Union.

A visit to a Thai cultural show was the next memorable highlight. The pre-show featured a parade of Thai dancers, complete with a few elephants, that raised some criticism among members of our family when we displayed our photographs later. The show opened with the Thai national anthem; the audience were required to stand as a mark of respect for the King. The performance itself was an interesting amalgam of aspects of Thai life. It was colourful, entertaining and interesting.

We also visited the famous Big Buddha, a huge unfinished temple that is being constructed inside a massive statue of the Buddha. There were displays of various religious statuary and displays of both Buddhism and some Hindu religions along the route to the Buddah. We climbed some steep steps to the top of the outside, where we enjoyed a magnificent view of the local area.

We then went on to visit Phuket botanical gardens. This was a beautiful experience, although it was January when we visited and we had missed the peak of the floral splendour.

©️ Written by John Yeo