Saturday 6th April 2019
Today is the fourth and final day of tours organised by the ship. We used the boats from the Port to transport us to the shore. From the landing dock we walked across a beautiful beach, which looked miles long in each direction. We walked into a crush of people on the pavement (sidewalk); being tall I could see a NUMBER 1 about 30 yards away, our tour number. I guided Florie pushing her through the crush of people in front of me.
The heat was oven like, at 30°C plus with over 60% humidity like yesterday (a bit warm for a Brit like me). We walked over a mile along the promenade and up a road, through a restaurant into a car park. We heaved our bodies bathed in sweat up into the coach and dropped into the first available seat under the cold air from the vents. I was feeling bad because the walk was so difficult with people pushing past; and you needed to keep looking down to make sure of your footing. So we did not take in the surrounding scenery.
On the way we heard the crackle of jet skis starting up on the beach; only a few feet to our left. Then there were noisy motor scooters driving past only a few feet to the right. As we turned onto another road leading away from the beach we got the high pitched staccato sounds of Thai women enticing us into their particular shops or restaurants. The time was 9am and the whole town was beginning to wake up for business.
Our ship’s escort was an attractive blonde young woman with “Get lost again in paradise” on her T shirt across her bosom.
The local guide was a tiny Thai woman in her 50’s looking about 30. She knew English, but had to slowly retrieve each word from deep within her memory. Then when she put the sentence together; she repeated it over three or four times.
Our first stop was a Buddhist temple where there was an enormous amount of activity. This was due to the fact there was a collection of holy water being taken to the Capital Bangkok ready for the king’s coronation on the 5th May. The place was frenetic with official vehicles; the temple itself was awash with officers, men and women in white official uniforms. And hundreds of people all in yellow T-shirts with pale blue baseball caps. All lined up to be part of the ceremony, which unfortunately, we did not see. The temple itself was resplendent in reds blues greens but mainly shimmering gold, and spectacularly beautiful in the morning sun.
We only went a couple of miles to this viewpoint which was quite beautiful, there was another temple to visit here but we had seen enough temples, so for now we just enjoyed the view.
Our coach went a short distance to a Cashew Nut Factory; here there was a tree outside with cashews growing on it. They grow underneath what looks like a small apple in a shell; the nuts are broken off the fruit and then boiled gently and crushed in order to get the outer shell off the nut. This factory then processes them further; coating the nuts in flavours which we were offered to taste. Of course, we walked out with a carrier bag full of goodies for our snack cupboard back on the ship.
Our next stop was to a very big well organised jewellery shop; calling it a shop did not do it justice. It was an enormous complex, coping with fifteen coaches easily; lots of well dressed staff welcomed you directly. The outside of the building was black and futuristic looking; very expensive. After going through hallways with fabulous large jewels headdresses and orbs behind thick glass, we went through a display of priceless rocks. Finally we got into the long inner sanctum where about fifty glass counters were manned by attractive Thai women in tight grey worsted suits with short skirts. These lovely ladies were all beautifully made up, and their counters would specialise in rings of so many carats or bangles of another quality or green or white jade. We walked through this quite quickly as nothing was under 25,000 baht. This included a small room full of handbags and shoes made from crocodile skin. The only people buying anything in there were the Chinese and Koreans. We had to walk through the souvenir shop, with almost affordable things in it. I believe it has taken me longer to write this than it did to walk through that shop.
Finally we were taken to a beauty spot on the island where the locals go to see the sunset. Here we were left for half an hour to bake in the heat. Just standing in a little bit of shade, I just poured with sweat while Florie checked out the inevitable stalls.
The nice coach driver, God bless him, gave each of us a small sealed cloth out of an ice box, as we got back on the coach, and I have to tell you that was the most refreshing part of the day, as that cold cloth moved slowly across my brow and reaching my neck, oh what bliss that was!
On the walk back to our tender boat Florie took a tumble and has hurt her hand, but nothing seems to be broken, she does worry me sometimes! This is a view of the beach from the boat back to the ship.
Back aboard the ship I showered and drank cold beer. Florie took paracetamol and rested up.
Nib in the cool.