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 (3)

SUNDAY 4th OCTOBER 2020 ~ BLOG POST

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

THAILAND (3)

by John Yeo

    During our visit to the Thai Hua museum, which is housed in an old school building, built in the Portuguese style, we were impressed at the huge influence the Chinese community had on Phuket. We were able to examine many photographs and artefacts relating to the early Chinese immigrants here. This was a great informative cultural episode in our visit to Thailand.

   We were enormously impressed with the sunsets and the wild life in Thailand and I couldn’t resist snapping a few photographs during our visit.

  Then came one of the huge highlights of our visit to Phuket island in Thailand when we visited a facility called the Tiger Kingdom. 

    This tourist attraction is laid out in three areas where the visitors can interact with their choice of Tiger by size, ranging from cub to full grown.The most popular area was the cage containing the tiger cubs. The areas were individually priced or there is a ticket available for all three areas. 

     We chose to visit a cage containing fully grown adult tigers. We waited quite a while for our turn in a long queue and we had to sign a form that effectively stated we knew the dangers and would follow the printed rules.

   We entered a cage containing two full grown tigers accompanied by a keeper, armed with a bamboo pole and a professional photographer. Apparently the bamboo pole is used as a form of control by the keeper. If the tiger shows any sign of aggression, the keeper administers a sharp rap on the tiger’s nose. This is a form of control that apparently works.

   We were then able to experience some extremely close contact with the tigers which involved stroking and petting them while the photographer took photographs. We had been advised to always sit and stand behind the tiger when we were stroking them and not to make any sudden moves.

 This was an incredible feeling of our vulnerability in the scheme of things and we were both overwhelmed with the experience. We were able to take many photographs on our mobile phone cameras.

   I was somewhat wary before we made this visit as I had read and heard many horror stories of cruelty to caged animals in the guise of conservation. I enquired on the net and I questioned the keeper who was in the cage with us during our visit. I had heard these magnificent cats were drugged to make them docile. I was assured they weren’t drugged and the reason they were compliant was because this was normally their sleeping period and they were ready for sleep. These tigers are bred and raised in captivity and their way of life in captivity, with food and shelter provided, makes them totally dependent on their keepers. So much so that if it was necessary; these tigers would never survive in the wild, making it highly questionable if there was any conservation going on here at all.

    We did enjoy this memorable experience of getting up close to one of these huge, magnificent big cats. At least we can assume that our entrance fee goes some way to keeping them alive, even if it’s a captive life.

©️ 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

HOTEL TEMPLE

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers ~ Writing challenge week 5. The goal is to write a story between 100-150 words (give or take 25 words) based on the provided photo.

image

Thank you to pixabay.com for their “free to use” photograph, for this week’s prompt

HOTEL TEMPLE

by John Yeo

On Koh Samui, an island soaked in tropical sunshine, stood the imposing Hotel Temple. The hotel in an ornate converted temple, has a five star rating, attracting many visitors.
Aran and his twin sister Isra were thirteen years old. Sold to the hotel owner by their parents, they were trapped, working twelve hours a day for a pittance, waiting on rich tourists.
A very famous European singer and his entourage of roadies and musicians checked-in, after performing in Bangkok. The singer ordered tea to be brought to his room and requested Isra to bring it personally. Aran was suspicious and waited outside, listening intently. When he heard his sisters piercing screams, thirteen year old Aran rushed into the room to find her struggling with the singer. Aran had a very sharp kitchen knife and went for the rapist who pushed Isra away. Aran grabbed her and they ran from the room. No charges were pressed, the singer was very famous. The hotel proprietor just shrugged, Aran and Isra were just replaceable slave labour after all.

(175 words)

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

This is in response to a challenge hosted by Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. If you would like to participate in this challenge or need more information, please click the following link:

https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com