Saturday, 28 February 2015

BANGKOK Feb 24-Mar 1, 2015

This is Blog # 3. If you have not seen the earlier ones of Laos and Cambodia, do have a look at these also. There is a U tube of a Loas village where I was teaching. If you want to get a sense of the children, this is some silly fun to look at.

Let me know if you cannot access this link. You may need to copy and paste it. 

BANGKOK: A group of 9 of us arrived in Bangkok on Feb 24 to explore the city for a few days. We had planned lots of activities to keep us busy.

COOKING SCHOOL: Our first day was spent at the Blue Elephant Cooking School, a world famous school and restaurant. We cooked 5 different Asian dishes after first watching the chef create the masterpieces. We learned lots of secrets and were introduced to interesting new herbs and spices. Before this, we were taken by the chef to the market so we would first see these items in their purest form.

Here is our excellent chef. We had lunch afterwards, eating our own creations. It was so much fun!

That evening we went to Siam Niramit, a superb Thai stage show on the largest stage in the world (in Guinness Book of World Records). The stage had boats sailing in water at times and then would become land again, where elephants would roam. It was spectacular. Before the show, we fed elephants and visited a simulated Thai village. 

The next day, we went to the Floating Market 100 km out of Bangkok. On the way, we stopped at the Train Market. In the Train Market, all the stalls are set up all over the train tracks for quite a long distance. The train comes by 4 times a day at which time a warning is issued..."Stand back 1 metre from the tracks" and everyone clears away all their produce and takes down all the awnings that are up. It all happens in a 5 minute period, the entire market moves away several feet. It is all quite amazing. 
You can see the tracks here but even more astonishing is how quickly they take down all the awnings that cover the entire market all along the tracks. 

That afternoon, off we went to the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok. This was an American who worked for OSS...Office of Strategic Services, during the second World War. This was the predecessor of the CIA. He loved Thailand. The hand-weaving of silk, a long-neglected cottage industry, captured his attention and he devoted himself to reviving the craft. He was highly gifted as a designer and textile colorist and contributed substantially to the growth of this industry. His home (six teak buildings, representing the best in Thai architecture...most of the houses were at least two centuries old and brought to this site) is a spectacular museum which he left to his nephew (having no children of his own) and his nephew donated it all to Thailand. 

On March 26, 1967, Jim disappeared while on a visit to Malaysia. Not a single valid clue has turned up in the ensuing years as to what on earth ever happened to him. What a legacy he left for Thailand. 

The next day, we went to the local bridge club located at the lovely Polo Club. This was an interesting experience. They do not use bidding boxes as they write down their bids instead. A bit tough to get used to. They do have bridge mates (scoring pads). 

Alex and I play bridge all over the world at assorted local bridge clubs. We find that, for the most part, no-one goes out of their way to be particularly welcoming. This is disappointing. I want you to do something for me....when you play at your local club and see a strange face, please go up to that person and ask them if it is their first time there. Welcome them and make them feel at home. When you arrive at a table, always be sure to introduce yourself and chat for a moment to anyone who looks unfamiliar. A smile and goodwill go a very long way. The Thai people are extremely gracious so maybe it is the competitive nature of bridge that  made them not appear to be as welcoming. The club is beautiful. 

We visited the Royal Palace on Friday. This is a breathtaking masterpiece. This used to be the home of the Royal family but now is a museum. There are dozens of buildings and spectacular statues. Note the Bonsai in the photo. There is gold everywhere and temples forever but it really is worth seeing, in spite of the temperature. 

We travelled there by long boat and saw wonderful sights along the way. 

Bangkok is a most interesting city. Most of all, we loved having massages daily. Approximately $12.00 Can for a hour. We have been spoiled. This is the way I was born to live.

Tomorrow, we fly off to Myanmar for a 2 week visit and a cruise on the Irawaddy River. 

Stay tuned! Please forward to a friend as I am only sending this to a very few. 

All the very best,

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