Nov. 28, 2015
We left the hotel in Mandalay at 11 am for the 1 hour drive to
the airport and our flight to Bangkok. We had to wait a long time
in the airport check-in line as there were people ahead of us checking
in 19 big cardboard boxes of goods! I Wonder what their luggage
overcharge fee was. It was only a 1 hour flight to Bangkok but by
the time we got our luggage, went through customs and drove to the
hotel it was 7 pm. We
stayed at the At Ease Saladaeng Hotel. This is like a Residence
Inn as the rooms are suites, complete with kitchen and living room.
Very nice. The only problem is it did not have a restaurant (except
for breakfast) so we had to go down the street to the 7/11 to pick
up something to eat!
We were met at the airport by our guide for the rest of our trip.
Joe has been a guide for 35 years and spoke very good English.
Our first impressions of Bangkok while driving in: very tall, modern
skyscrapers everywhere, lots of traffic. They drive on the left
side of the road with right side drive cars (unlike Myanmar which
is right side driving but right side drive cars!). We were told
that the city has 9 million cars per day on the highways and 12
million scooters, on a system designed to hold only 1.8 million
vehicles. So traffic is often at a gridlock.
is about the size of Wyoming but with 67 million people. Bangkok
has 11 million and has been the capital of Thailand for the last
233 years. 97% of the people are Buddhist. But all religions are
tolerated and supported. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy.
It has a king, Rama IX, who is very beloved by the people. His picture
is displayed everywhere, but he is only a figurehead. The power
normally rests with an elected prime minister. But currently Thailand
is under rule by the military as they try to keep the two majority
political parties from fighting and killing each other.
Nov. 29, 2015
morning we visited the Grand Palace of the old Kingdom of Siam.
This is a sprawling compound of ceremonial halls, gilded spires
and ornate buildings dating from 1782. It was King Rama IV who ruled
from this palace, expanded trade with the West, and was romanticized
in the musical "The King and I".
the temple of Wat Phra Kaew is the 26 inch Emerald Buddha. Carved
out of a solid piece of jade, the figurine is so beloved that the
king himself changes its robes each season - hot, rainy, and cool.
BTW, we were in the cool season but it was in the 90's!
the evening we boarded a traditional wooden rice barge for dinner
and cruise on the Chao Phraya River. We cruised past the high rise
luxury hotels in downtown Bangkok and viewed the Grand Palace and
temples lit at night.
Nov. 30, 2015
morning we visited the ancient city of Ayutthaya. This is a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. It was home to 33 kings from many different
dynasties and the capital of Siam from 1353 to 1767.
The city was once a place of such wealth that it was described as
2,000 spires clad in gold. We first stopped at Wat (which means
temple) Yai Chai Mongkol.The temple is flanked by a row of saffron-draped
also explored the ruins at Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, a temple complex
situated within the former Royal Palace grounds. This was burned
down by the Burmese when they invaded Siam in 1767. All that was
left were the brick foundations. After
that, the palace and Siam kingdom was moved to Bangkok. Some of
the temples are being restored as they contain remains of former
kings. A new temple has been built on the site and houses a large
sitting Golden Buddha.
lunch we boarded a motorized long-tail boat for an afternoon cruise
down the canal and river. We stopped at a Muslim village and went
into the mosque to learn about their lives. There are about 600
families in the village. 60% work in factories, 10% in government,
and 30% own their own businesses. The people originally came from
the southern part of Vietnam. An Imam is elected by the community
and is responsible for the mosque and people. They said their biggest
problem is the young boys getting into drugs. We asked if they felt
any discrimination because of their faith and they said not at all.
The children go to school with everyone else. In fact there is a
Catholic Church and a Buddist temple just down the road. Women do
not wear traditional clothing while in the village - only when they
leave the village.
Dec. 1, 2015
was a free day to explore on our own or to take an optional tour
to a Floating Market and a Mangrove Forest. We opted for the tour
but Barbara came down with a cold and decided to stay in the suite
and rest. Fred joined the group on the tour which started west of
Bangkok in the riverside town of Ratchaburi. The group boarded a
paddle boat to explore the colorful Damnoen Saduak floating market
where all types of goods are sold from boats and shore side stalls.
Next stop was a palm sugar workshop and coconut farm to learn the
process of making products from these trees.
lunch he traveled by bus to Khlong Khon district of Samutsongkram
province where they boarded a fisherman's boat to explore the mangrove
forest area, feed the wild monkeys and visit a local fisherman's
group was given the opportunity to help plant some mangrove seedlings
but only one person (Jerry) volunteered. Looks like a very muddy
To view more photos from our trip to Thailand, please go to Thailand
Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to
Locations Visited Photos Map