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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Amazing Thailand


Bangkok by night
In the lounge a saffron clad swami with a ring on every finger and holding a Blackberry handset was enjoying the adulation of some disciples. The remaining time slipped past as we witnessed the Swami explaining actions needed by the disciple to get his daughter married. A pleasant surprise awaited us as we were upgraded on the flight.

At 6.45 AM the flight descended at Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The new airport was modern and efficient and within half an hour we were issued the visas! The drive to hotel was pleasant and soon we were in the familiar settings of Pratunam Centre with all kinds of shoppers already thronging the busy street. The aroma of the local food greeted us with familiar sights of poached eggs and meat of different kinds. The hotel room had a magnificent view overlooking Amari Watergate and Baiyoke Sky Hotel zooming skywards!
In the evening we were woken from our slumber with thunder, lightning and rain which was a welcome relief after escaping the searing heat of Delhi.

Next morning we headed to  the weekend market Chatuchak , but not without a visit to the Gems and Jewellery store enroute, which has one of the most beautiful and fascinating collection of  works of jewelry , gems and stones. One can actually see these being crafted by the locals. The tuk tuk(autorickshaw) drivers in Bangkok insist on this addition to itinerary as they earn gasoline vouchers. The Chatuchak market is a must visit with all kinds of shops selling ware one can think of from assortment of food, clothes, curios, jewelry, pottery, decoration stuff etc ! I opened my purse and found to my horror, all the money was missing!!

How could  this happen? After some guesswork I realized that may be I had left the money at the hotel. I handed over the little money left with me to my wife so that she and daughter could shop around, while I rushed back to the hotel.

After reaching the hotel, was greatly relieved to see the money wrapped in handkerchief still lying on the table. Despite the room having been cleaned, by the staff the money was there, untouched!
Later in the evening we visited the Siam Centre which is a shopper's paradise. Siam Centre is fascinating and alluring with glittering shops, elevated sky train in neighborhood, finger touch guides to shopping plazas, and huge departmental stores. Black Canyon Coffee tasted  good with a deal to get one free on one ordered!

At the China town -Bangkok

Chinatown our destination for the next day,  is well worth a visit but the only problem is one has to shop in bulk! If you need to buy shoes, you have to buy at least six pairs!  The narrow alleyways are congested with people and hawkers but are truly enchanting! The local handicrafts, clothes, and bags literally everything under the sun is available.


A visit to the Patpong Night Bazaar was very interesting! The place is notorious for all the sleaze and skin shows! However, the brightly lit market is worth a visit .All the surrounding market of hawkers sells fake watches, leather and other branded goods. One can buy a replica of Rado watch to Gucci and Armani apparels on the streets. The rain came down in torrents sending us scampering for shelter! Despite rains, the market continued to function though with lesser clientele. The rain water was very effectively being cleared by a contraption of plastic pipes which we noticed at these hawkers’ outdoor shops.

Can you believe a morning bazaar starts at 3 AM and winds up at 9 AM in the streets between Baiyoke Tower I and Baiyoke Tower II at Pratunam. I got up early at 5 AM to visit this market and was taken aback to see it in full swing with shopaholics on the prowl early in the morning looking for bargains.

Later in the evening I was impressed with the efficiency of a local supermarket Big C where we went to exchange an oversize pant and the entire amount was refunded to make a purchase all over again.

After spending a hectic day going around Bangkok's Chatuchak Market yet again and enjoying all the local color and festive spirit it was time to pack the bags and head for Krabi.. The flight by Air Asia was a pleasant one.We hopped into the waiting bus outside the terminal which was very reasonably priced . The drive to Aonang beach was a long one and took about 40 min as we passed through the palm lined narrow road. Often the pounding of waves of the sea made us aware of presence of beaches around.
By the time we reached the hotel we were tired and retired for the day. The hotel  allocated a room overlooking the sea on the top floor( 4th floor).
Sunrise at Krabi


I woke up early and could not resist the temptation of going out for a walk on the beach. The sky was jaded and flaming orange streaks indicated the break of another dawn. The sand was pristine and a walk on the beach was very refreshing. Back in the hotel, after a breakfast of the lovely tropical fruits, freshly baked bread and juice, we headed for the beach to admire the nature in all its glory. The market at Aonang Beach is a typical beachside market strewn with all kinds of restaurants, shops selling clothes, curios and foreign exchange vendors, massage parlors etc. Later in the evening we took a Songthew (a local bus open at the rear and can take up to 15 passengers) to the Krabi town. The ride to Krabi town through the lush green jungles, along small hillocks and occasional brush with seacoast was thoroughly enjoyable. The small fruit and vegetable market was very interesting and haggling with the vendors was a nice experience!

A view of the island lagoons at Krabi from long tailed boat

Another lovely morning greeted us! I quietly slid into the sports gear and stepped out. Suddenly, a motor bike stopped and a young Thai girl climbed down. One was still seated on the bike and other walked up to me. They appeared to be in mood for some fun as the girl came closer and said if she could walk with me. She started a small conversation and said her name was Jane and she was from Bangkok. She wanted me to go to a nearby hotel room across the road but I politely thanked her. She was hugely disappointed and asked me if I was carrying some money. I told her that I did not. I came back and narrated the incident to my wife who laughed at this early morning encounter .Later in the day we visited, Noppharathara Beach that was about 2 km away. This is a long expanse of sand, strewn with shells along the coast. There are a number of islands which are just at a wading distance from the shore. It was fun exploring the beach. In the evening we went out for dinner in a Pizzeria! A walk along the lively neon lit market where the crowds were slowly building up was interesting.  People throng here to enjoy the local cuisine and the sea food

Excited,  we got ready and waited for the van to take us to the Hong Islands, the next morning. A short ride to Nophrathara beach was the boarding point for the Long Tailed boat. In the long tail boat we were soon joined by a silent German, a Thai couple, two young and stocky girls from Canada and two ladies ( a mother and daughter from Taiwan). I soon picked up a conversation with the Taiwanese girl, Zheng (her name) who had travelled a lot around the world, including India where she learnt, Yoga, Meditation etc .The boat headed through small troughs of water. It was a clear sunny day and the view was studded with many small islands exploding with greenry and soul elevating landscapes. The first stop was Paradise Island and as the name suggested, the land locked lagoon was a perfect paradise!. We snorkelled in the water and saw scores of colorful fish. While feeding them is fun it could sometimes be close as they try to snap at fingers feeding them! After about an hour the boat took us to Pkhia, Raily and Lading islands with a 20 min stopover for photo sessions. After this the boat veered towards Hong island and one could see literally hundreds of starfish at the crystal clear bottom. We got down and had a nice picnic and lunch on the island of rice, Thai curry, fish and fruits. After the lunch we honed our snorkeling skills in the lagoon. The aquatic life is amazing and the company of these marine creatures is a blissful experience. The return journey was uneventful and we retired in our room.
Getting ready for Snorkeling at Paradise Island
Next morning I got up earlier than usual at 3.45 AM ! Later after breakfast, we waited for the pickup and watched a group of 30 odd Chinese tourists who descended into the restaurant for breakfast ,noisily .A forty minute drive through thick foliage of rubber, cocoanut, palm and banana plantations brought us to Ao Thalene , a place with lots of vegetation,swamps and aquatic life. We had a company of a German with Polish wife At Ao Thalene  after a cup of steaming coffee we were given a lesson on basics of kayaking. What followed next was an unending saga in hilarity for next few hours. No sooner we started paddling, the boat started going in circles. Anyhow, we soon realized the mistake and made some progress. Finally we were off by 25 m from the coast when the old German came to our rescue and brought us close to the shore. On alighting from the kayak we saw hundreds of crabs, starfish, shell fish , snails and other creatures to greet us! There is a huge settlement of these creatures swarming all over the place. We were in the kayak again and after a while were grounded in mud! It was an effort to pull out the kayak and get moving again. The feeding of monkeys lead to a bloody fight ending in sniping off four fingers of one monkey and thumb of another in bitter struggle for bananas. We also saw, a school of barracudas and fed them pineapple bits. We also came across’ mud creatures’ which survive only in mud. The disaster struck when on return, I tried to get into the kayak and fell on the back seat. In the process my wife was airborne and ejected out of the kayak and my daughter desperately clinging on the edge :) The other tourists went into peals of laughter ! Slowly, and steadily we kayaked back to the start point but not before we kicked one kayak out of the way to avoid collision and in the process pushing them behind :) It was finally curtains down as we were exhausted for the day. A great experience indeed!
A starfish at Ao Thalene swamps



My Kayaking team - daughter and wife

It was time to bid adieu to lovely Thailand!  We left by afternoon flight to Bangkok and further to New Delhi with all the happy memories!!


70 comments:

  1. Enjoyed your narrative Rahul, your Krabi pics are lovely! You brought me memories of my own trip, I remember buying a miniature Ganesh at the gem store and it is now a member of my ganesh collection!

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    1. Many of us have been to this great destination and it is a pleasure to relive those moments again, Padmaja!

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  2. It is very easy to just go somewhere and enjoy it, but the way you observed things there, like morning market and walking on the beach was very good.

    The detail with which you mentioned the whole trip made me think like it was some travel.stackexchange post :-)

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    1. Thanks a lot KK for having liked the post:)

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  3. Really enjoyed your Thailand trip. It brought back pleasant memories of our trip there. I really loved its super cleanliness,the markets where I shopped like crazy, everything was so cheap there, did Scuba diving, para sailing, bought jewellery, oh it was a crazy trip.

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    1. I forgot to mention, the sunrise picture is stunning.

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    2. Yeah Rama, Thailand is an awesome place for so many things to do:) My sincere thanks that you liked the pic and the post:)

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  4. looks like u had a wonderful Thailand time. It does have some amazing beaches

    www.styledestino.com

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  5. You packed in quite a lot on a short holiday. Was this part of a package tour or did you find all those interesting things to do yourself?

    We lived in BKK for two years and enjoyed it thoroughly.

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    1. KayEM , I plan my trip on my own and never bank on tour operators! Have been fairly rewarded in more than one ways for sticking to this decision so far:) Am sure you must have enjoyed your stay in the lovely crowded city of Bangkok:)

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  6. I have been to Krabi but skipped Bangkok. Krabi is awesome and i loved the island. Shopping at five in the morning sounds fun. Will read this again to soak in the experience.

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    1. Wow Alka, so I have company to exchange views on Krabi as you too have been there:) Am sure you must have enjoyed the unspoilt natural beauty of the place....

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  7. Sometimes we can't imagine that sports are so funny but we really enjoyed when we look at funny sports pictures, moments and videos. I can also would suggest taking a few minutes to successfully snicker not to mention grin available at funny pictures ( imagenes de humor ) and then funny videos ( videos divertidos ) to assist you in the quest with cheer in addition to stress reliever. Make your Myspace profile look cool and leave your friends Funny Myspace Comments and Glitter Graphics.

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  8. Ah - what lovely descriptions of Thailand. Such a beautiful place.

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    1. Thanks Lady Fi for having liked the post!

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  9. Awesome !! Such a vivid description took me to Thailand and its beautiful beaches.Shopping in the morning Market must have been an exciting experience.The Photographs give shape to imagination. The sunrise picture is fantastic.Enjoyed reading this beautiful narrative.

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    1. Thanks a lot Ushaji for that hugely supportive comment! Am happy you enjoyed reading it:)

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  10. Bangkok has been on my list of Must Visit places for a long time now. The Island pics are just awesome.And it was really nice of those people to not have snatched your money. Something that we cannot take it for granted in India.

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    1. Do not postpone any further Ashwini as you will not regret traveling anywhere in Thailand :) I was lucky indeed to find my money lying in open even after a few hours in the hotel room:)

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  11. I have been quite eager to see Thailand. You sure have an uncanny knack of picking places that are on my must visit list :(

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    1. Thanks a lot Rachna! Yeah Thailand is definitely well worth a visit and not too far from Bangalore:)

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  12. WOWWWWWWWWWWWW you reminded me of my trip :)though I havent been to Krabi :D BKK and Phuket, omg truly these places are such a bliss.
    And :) Pics are super cute awesome snaps :D

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    1. I have not forgotten the lovely post and the videos of of Scuba dive and adventures in Phuket and Bangkok in your posts! A big thanks and am sure you relived some of the memories of your trip through this post:)

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  13. That was a fantastic narration, the entire trip came live for us! Awesome pics. Shopping from 3 am to 9 am... wow... this would a shopaholic's dream come true! :)

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    1. Thanks a lot Shilpa, that I could give you a virtual tour:)The place is a shoppers delight for sure:)

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  14. I've been in Thailand when I was a kid, now it's time for me to go back! i enjoy readiing your stories!
    Don't Call Me Fashion Blogger
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    1. It will be well worth a visit, Francesca:)

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  15. I enjoyed this trip sitting at home ,thanks.This kayaking appears to be very dicey!And the sunrise was truly divine!

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    1. Thank you Indu for enjoying the post! Kayaking is a bit strenuous though a lot of fun:)

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  16. Post relieved my Thailand trip :) I agree, at first I was shocked. Fakes as real as original ones - LV, Rado...you name it, its there for dirt cheap. Thats how I later realized how every other women is carrying a LV, wearing a Rayban, and how they are having branded luxury products :)

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    1. Thanks a lot Bindu! Yes there is a galore of fake stuff and a lot of real beauty of nature in Thailand:)

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  17. Hi Rahul, you have perfectly described the streets of Thailand, so full of vigor and life. I recall the bustling Patpong market place you mentioned, I'd never seen anything like it, quite an experience. That image of Paradise island is so picturesque!

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    1. Am very happy that you could relate this post to your own experiences. Thailand is truly a paradise for holiday makers with lovely images of nature doting all over!!

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    2. Thank you for your kind compliments on the last post, we were thrilled to read it :)

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  18. Amazing

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  19. Welcome to my blog Jessica and am happy you liked it!

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  21. Such a detailed account of the trip, but tell me Rahul sir, you seemed to up pretty early each morning!

    Impressed by so many things, the honesty of the hotel staff for not stealing the money, the pipes which drain out the rain water so fast, the morning shoppers who come at 3!

    The pics of the post are great, and the water looks amazingly inviting. Snorkelling and kayaking.. perfect adventurs for the trip.

    And that encounter with the young Thai woman. That's pretty direct that girl, and spooky. Your wife is cool though, all smiles :-)

    and yes almost forgot, the baba with the blackberry.. not sure what am I doing in IT :-)

    The detailed post, actually makes us live all that through your experience!

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    1. Wow Jenny, this is a real pleasant surprize to see you back with a bang :) This space has missed your presence and to read such appreciation is like earning a reward! Yeah I am an eary bird and so the early bird catches the worm:)
      A big thanks for the visit and such a lovely comment!!

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  22. The travelogue was really a treat.आपका आंखों देखा हाल हमारे दिल में उतर गया.

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    1. आप को पसंद आने का धन्यवाद!

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  23. Suvarnabhumi airport...I am reading this name only now, though I have read a lot about Bangkok!

    I just wanted to ask if you bought anything at the jewellery market and lo... the reply was there! I thought you shopped a lot and the money was gone! These incidents give a good impression about the locals over there. We will never forget these.

    3 to 9 am market is interesting! Then other shopkeepers might take over!

    I have heard that the fruits over there are very tasty!

    The Krabi picture is beautiful!

    Jane...!

    I am still smiling imagining your Kayak experience! You and your family will never forget it!

    I had a nice trip of Bangkok, thank you, Rahulji!

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    1. A big thanks for that kind comment Sandhya!! Thailand is certainly a beautiful destinations for more than one reason and one post can do little justice! There is a galore of Janes, tropical fruits, greenry , blue skies and crystal clear waters:)

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  24. Your post brought back memories of Thailand. I do plan to visit again, only this time I will take a few pointers from your itinerary.

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    1. Agree with you Purba that there is so much to see besides BKK, Krabi, Phuket, Chaing Mai, Kho Lanta... that even half a dozen trips cannot do enough justice to this beautiful destination:)

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  25. I've only seen Thailand in thai movies..
    and after reading this it has been added in my to visit list.. damn it keeps growing :P

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  26. Ha ha.... nice one Jyoti!Thanks once more that I could lure you to one more destination:)

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  27. What a beautiful place to visit! Hope someday I can visit this place. Nice post, Rahul. I enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Thank you Eden! Hope you visit sometime soon!

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  28. It's an example set by Thai govt of having converted the country into a tourist centre.
    It is heavenly.

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    1. Totally agree with you Mr Chowla that the country thrives on the tourists and friendliness is visible everywhere:)

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  29. WOW, the staff must be really honest. Just wanted to know, you planned this trip on our own or through a travel agency?

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    1. Yeah Saru, the basic honesty exists everywhere:) I planned all thetrip on my own and not through a travel agency as they cannot show you the hidden treasures:)BTW am available for free travel consultancy, if you ever need:)

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    2. I need it Sir and thanks for the offer, I'll be bugging you whenever I plan a trip :)

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    3. Saru, will be more than happy to share thoughts with you whenever you feel like:)

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  30. Hi Rahul, forgot to tell you that you should write travel pieces for newspapers. You have visited many places, have a wonderful way with words and photographs to accompany the pieces.

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    1. Oh! how nice of you Rachna, to have so much faith in my writing and this hugely encouraging remark... :)
      Will surely give a try...and thanks again!!

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  31. It looks as if you had fun on your trip! Great post.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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    1. Great fun indeed! Welcome back, Gina:)

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  32. Thanks for your daily dose of kindness over at my blog, its much appreciated!

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    1. Thanks, it is the true appreciation:)

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  33. Every time you post about travel destinations, I wish like going and experiencing all these places. Nice pictures. Must write travel blog :)

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    1. Thanks Shreya! Look forward to read your travel tales:)

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  35. WOW! I have been dying to go to Thailand..looks like you had awesome fun! Keep it up!

    love
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    1. Thanks a lot Megah! Nice to see you after a while! Must visit Thailand asap:)

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  36. It was nice reading your post about the trip to Amazing Thailand, while reading it felt like i myself experienced those moments you had in Thailand.

    Lovely post really enjoyed it.

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