Day 62 & 63 – March 8 & 9, 2015 – Sunday & Monday – Phuket, Thailand & sea day

We arrived in Phuket, Thailand and were alongside the dock a little after 8:00 AM. Today our excursion was scheduled through our travel company Cruise Specialists. It consists of two parts with lunch in-between. We visited the Siam Safari Elephant Camp and Chalong Temple. This was one of the best excursions we have had so far. I normally try to restrict my photos of the day to 30 to 35 in number. After my first editing with Lightroom, I found over 60 pictures had been selected. I have been able to reduce this somewhat but there are still more than I like to post in one blog. Please excuse the minimal commentary otherwise, I might not ever get this blog posted! We did and saw so much it is just not possible to share it all with you. Anyway, as the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Alas, and when the words are mine, the picture might be worth 10,000 words…

This morning’s beautiful sunrise over Thailand.

I would hate to be a lineman in Phuket. The innumerable cables were mystifying.

On our arrival at Siam Safari Elephant Camp, we really did not know what to expect except we would get to ride an elephant. The elephant ride was only one of a number of great experiences we had on this stop.

We received a demonstration of the cutting and collecting of sap from the rubber tree. Rubber is still an important export from Thailand.

Our next stop was for a demonstration of the training of young elephants. The young elephants are each assigned a mahout. He is responsible for not only training the elephant but also its wellbeing. Often this is a lifelong relationship between man and beast. The animal on the left is 3 years old and the one on the right is 7 years old. Elephants may live to the age of 70-80 years.

Kay with the two young elephants and the youthful mahout.

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Many of the mahouts live at the campground in these huts. They generally live 3 to a hut. The huts are elevated because it deters the numerous poisonous snakes from making a nighttime visit.

The next group of photos are of our actual elephant ride. It was impossible to take really good pictures, because of the elephant’s movement. If you haven’t ridden an elephant, it’s not exactly like riding in a luxury car!

The front view from atop an elephant. This is our mahout Mr. Moti. Our elephant was Aonwan who was 45 years old.

We started near the end of the line, but Aonwan an Moti were both aggressive and pushed their way forward (that might be why our ride was not as smooth as it could have been, but probably more exciting). We moved into place behind Janet and Carl and I got this photo. They look so casual, they could be riding in a golf cart..

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It was amazing how these men rode on the head of these great beast. They had no saddle, no blanket and no rope. They only used their feet and a short elephant hook to direct the animals.

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Back at the base camp after we dismounted.

I photographed the photograph made by the Safari photographer. Not great but better than not having one.

Thank you Jane for taking this photo for us.

After the elephant ride, we proceeded through a number of extremely well planned demonstrations of the processes used in production of local foods.

Here the process of making curry was demonstrated. I never realized there was so much variety available. I have never been a curry fan, but I now believe it is because most curry dishes I have had in the States have been over-flavored with the spice.

We received a demonstration of how to husk and crack a coconut. We also had the opportunity to taste the coconut water and eat the fresh fruit.

This demonstration shows how the coconut milk is extracted from the grated coconut meat, then cooked for 4 to 6 hours to extract the coconut oil. The residue remaining was called coconut chocolate. It was a dark chocolate looking substance which was very tasty. We also tried peanuts cooked in coconut oil.

There were mini-rice paddies in various stages of preparation and growth. We then saw the traditional way the grain harvested then the seed crushed and finally how the rice is separated from the husk. It was noted that although there are now machines which do much this labor, the best quality rice is still achieved by manual processing.

We then retired to a small café where we were offered the traditional Thai coffee, “Kafe Boran” or Thai tea which was served with coconut pancakes called Kanom Krok. I normally drink my coffee black, but did enjoy the Thai coffee. It was sweetened with both sugar and sweetened condensed milk. Despite this, the flavor was strong and full. The Kanom Krok is make from rice flour, sugar, salt and coconut milk and then fried in coconut oil. They were very good. After all this food, I thought maybe this was lunch!

While eating and enjoying our coffee we saw a demonstration of the traditional plowing with the water buffalo.

I think Kay would like one of these for me…. They say it is really not painful to the animal, which I am sure is true, as long as he goes where his handler wants him to go…

We had the opportunity to have a ride on a wooden wheeled water buffalo cart.

Our cart handler had a most infectious smile!

The restroom were modern and clean. The only concession we westerners might notice was the fact that the men’s urinals were shielded only by the palm growth on the side. Still, this was much more privacy than we have seen in other countries!

After leaving the elephant compound we made our way to Chalong Bay for lunch. We passed numerous homes and business which had small shrines in the yard.

Lunch turned out to be quite a surprise and a treat. We ate at the Kar Eang Restraurant on Chalong Bay near the pier. The scenery was beautiful and the food was great traditional Thai. There was a special set lunch menu prepared and printed just for our Cruise Specialist group.

My favorite was the Bua Tod. It was a tempura like preparation. With shrimp and some type of water plant. I enjoyed every dish, the Hor Mok, curry fish mousse wrapped in banana leaves was quite unlike anything I have ever tasted. Most of the group liked the flavor, but it was a little too spicy for some.

This was our table, we were literally about 6 feet from the bay.

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I did get to add a Thai beer to my collection, Singha. In fact I had two which were included with the meal (actually almost 3, because Kay didn’t drink both of hers…)

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Our decimated table as we left.

Our next stop was the Chalong Temple, The most famous Buddhist temple on Phuket.

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As I was about to go into the temple, I saw this Buddhist Monk snapping a photo of me. I returned the favor and both of us enjoyed the moment. In Thailand all males MUST become a monk at age 20. The minimum requirement used to be for several months, but like most other things in the modern world it has been “hurried up”. Now the minimum is only 7 days. I figure this fellow must be in for the 7..

In all Buddhist Temples shoes must be removed before entering. This makes for an interesting display.

Inside the temple was beautiful.

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I am not sure you will recognize these three from this angle. They are not saying their prayers, but tying their shoes after leaving the temple… The advantage of being fast is you can be the one to take the photo and not be in it.

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A wax replica!

One of the more interesting aspects of this temple is the tradition of a firecracker offering after praying in the temple. The man with the black shirt with white and orange stripes is giving his offering to the attendant who will place them in the chimney and set the alight. Every few minutes you could hear the firecrackers exploding. Some offerings were larger than others …

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Our guide for the day Narumon Kwanmuni, known by her friends as Than, a much easier name to pronounce. She did an excellent job not only explaining where we were going and what we were doing but she gave is wonderful insights into Thailand’s history, culture and religion. Thank you, Than.

After arrival back at the ship with about 45 minutes remaining before “all aboard”, we visited the venders set up on dockside. There were bargains to be had. The only problem is that we are far past the point of needing anything….

We had a wonderful and far too brief visit to Thailand. The people are friendly and the country is beautiful. I wish we could have stayed longer.

Another dreaded letter from the captain awaited us upon our return. Over the past several days apparently a number of people have been suffering from gastrointestinal illness. Personally, I haven’t seen or talked with anyone who has had the problem. I guess that’s a good thing. Unfortunately the illness has caused the crew to go into strict containment mode. For the past two days there has been no self-service on the Lido, which we seldom frequent anyway or bread and condiments placed on the table in the dining room. It has been only a very slight inconvenience for us, but a great deal more work for the dinning stewards.

Starting today though, the Jacuzzis, the thermal suite, the library and the self-service laundry have been closed. In addition the cabin stewards are having to work continuously. They wipe down all hand rails and cabin doors at least once an hour in addition to the additional sanitation measures being taken. Again, for us, the only inconvenience is the closing of the thermal suite. Hopefully everyone will be well soon and things can continue as normal.

I can only assume the bug was brought on by the 90 or so new passengers who boarded in Singapore and of course all the visitors to the ship we saw over the past two weeks. In addition it would be easy to pick something up on land if you are not careful about the selection and location of food consumed.

We also got a good letter from the captain though. Kay and I are invited to join the captain for cocktails and then dinner at his table this coming Friday. We look forward to that. Monday is a sea day which we desperately need to recover from five straight days in port. We then reach Rangoon on Tuesday and have two days, two nights and another half day in Myanmar. We have three days of excursions, but this will be the most exotic country we will get to visit, so we must make the most of it.

MONDAY – March 9 – At sea

Today is a rest day. There was very little in the program that interest us today and we can use the downtime after 5 days in port. I went to the gym before breakfast and then we attended the “Good Morning Amsterdam” talk with last night’s entertainer, Nick Lewin. We then joined a lecture by a new guest speaker, Milt Keiles. The topic was “The Dawn of Navigation”. I did enjoy his lecture. After that, lunch, working on the blog and reading. It is about time now to get ready for dinner. A tough day!

It’s a little early, but Happy Birthday to my sister, Carolyn. Her birthday is Tuesday the 10th, and I might not get to make another post before then.

Until next time…

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2 Responses to Day 62 & 63 – March 8 & 9, 2015 – Sunday & Monday – Phuket, Thailand & sea day

  1. Sharon says:

    LOL! I love that picture at the temple!! Fantastic shot. Thoroughly enjoyed your pictures of your excursion. Definitely one to add to my growing list of things to see when I finally get to Asia.

    Like

  2. mshaver702@aol.com says:

    Fantastic photos. They make you feel like we are on the tours with you. Keep up the good reports and stay healthy.
    Mike & Rose

    Like

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