2 April 2012, Gail’s trip log

Oh my goodness, what an adventure. We watched the ship dock at the pier, then went to join the vast numbers waiting for buses into Bangkok. There were nine buses taking the same tour we were. It is a 2 to 2 ½ hour drive from the ship in Laem Chabang – the buses were very nice and guide was good, but her accent was so thick it was difficult to understand her some times. Bangkok is basically a huge crowded, busy city – many skyscrapers and apartment buildings all crowded together. Traffic is very bad, although I guess it could have been worse – it was some sort of local holiday. First stop was the temple of the Golden Buddah – we had to climb a lot of stairs [four long flights], take our shoes off, and the statue was pretty awesome – about 20 feet tall and solid gold – that was only discovered in past 100 years – it had been covered with plaster and painted gold [to keep invaders from stealing it centuries earlier and only discovered when it was moved and plaster cracked]. We bought some postcards and a couple of shirts. Back on the bus to next stop. The royal palace and the Emerald Buddah (which is actually jade). The statue itself was much smaller than I had expected and you couldn’t really get close enough to see it very well. Much more interesting was the tour of the palace grounds. The complex is so many buildings, all of them ornate and interesting. They are covered in gold mosaic, Chinese porcelain, and other gems and sparkly things. The whole thing was quite amazing. We were there over an hour – the big problem was the heat, sun, crowds, and a tour guide not assertive enough to keep things on track. Next thing we did was walk as a group through a very crowded market selling everything you could imagine to the pier on the river. After some more confusion, we got on a boat and took a ride around to see lots of temples, the palace grounds, high end hotels, office and apartment buildings, ending up at the Ramada – for a very nice buffet lunch on the riverside. Posher than any Ramada I’d ever seen. Bangkok has lots of canals and a big river – it has been called the Venice of the East. Back on the bus for our last stop – shopping (of course). I was going to stay on the bus, but glad I decided to go for a look – most incredible jewelry store I have ever seen – very interesting. Finally back on bus and headed back to the ship. We made it in less than two hours – totally exhausted. We grabbed a little supper in the buffet and came back to the cabin to crash. Glad I did Bangkok – don’t ever plan to again.

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