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Thursday, May 03, 2007

The KIngdom of Thailand

I have been away for six days for a tour of Thailand. Here is a summary of the places I went to and my impressions:

April 27 - We were first billeted at Bangkok Palace Hotel, about a mile walk from the famous Bayioke Hotel, the tallest in the coutry. We sampled the food in street stalls and while I could not call it a true "orgasmic" treat for the palate, it was good and clean (I hope) for dinner. Then we took a walk towards Bayioke just to have a feel walking the streets feeling the pulse of the city.

April 28 - Temples!!! I am impressed with the temples. Who would not be? The huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho is awesome. The altar where the monks pray is laden with gold. No, make that the whole temple! Suffice it to say that the architecture with all the stupas (bell-like edifices to glorify a king or probably a god) is so uniquely Thailand. We crossed a river by boat and while the water was not immaculately clean, it was not filthy. About twenty or so boats ply it to cross tourists to and fro.

Next stop was the Sriracha Tiger Zoo. Here, I found Bengal tigers bred and cared for by pigs! What else? I do not know why but you will find a cage with odd mixtures of dogs, tigers and pigs. The sign says "happy family". I guess that sums it up. We also saw a pig who can do arithmetic (that is just my best guess as they do not translate what was happening) and a race of pigs. No betting taking place though. We also saw a crocodile show. Some tourists even took crocodile barbecue to the show. (That was a little insensitive, don't you think?)

Then, we proceded to the Pattaya Century Hotel. Curious, we went out after checking in to see a freak show. Anybody who has been to Thailand would know what I am talking about. What a waste of time and money!

April 29 - We were headed to the beach to go to Coral Island, a twenty or so minutes ride by speedboat from the city. But before going there, we were taken for a stopover on a huge barge where one can go parasailing. While some of my friends went, I, short for cash, as always, had to stay and cheer them on.

The island was very nice. The crystal clear turquoise water was inviting that I had to go and sample it. I swam for a few minutes by my lonesome until two or three of them joined me. Oh well, I am a sucker for beaches.

After lunch, we were taken to the Gems Gallery. We were led by receptionists to a train ride (I prayed it would not be some sort of a roller coaster or I would not have taken it) which was actually a historical tour of how gems are created by volcanoes until how they are cut into what we know as jewelry. Needless to say that after the ride, I did not even dare look at the prices of the jewelry in the store.

After dinner, our tour guide took us to the Alcaraz, a Las Vegas type of show showcasing transvestite. Unlike the ones you see in clubs, this was a theater which is dedicated to this kind of show. Since there were only four of us, the tour company sent a coaster to ferry us to and from the hotel. The transvestites were adorable in the sense that they were picture perfect. The well-sculpted body and boobs tell you the plastic surgeon made a killing out these people. After the show, the main cast would line-up outside for photo-ops for 40 baht. Again, I did not bite.

April 30 - We checked out to the hotel and were on our way after breakfast. We were taken to the Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens. We also watched a cultural show that had an array of cast with wonderful costumes and an amazing stage design. It also had elephants, a lampooned thai boxing, a historical overview (non of which I understood as I do not speak the language). After that, we went to the adjacent arena for an elephant show. The elephants did a lot of tricks one of which was a set of three elephants who painted a floral arrangement on a tshirt which they sold for 300 baht. Again... you know the deal.

Thereafter, we went to Safari World. While we missed the orang utan and seal show, we managed to see the stunt show, which was a western type of show at Universal Studios; the dolphin show which also had three beluga whales; spy show, which I surmise is the same as the Waterworld; and the bird show, something similar to what the wife and I saw in Hong Kong's Ocean Park.

We checked in again at the Bangkok Palace Hotel and my roommate, Chito Ortega and I, decided to experience the Thai massage. No, we did not go to those barbershop-like massages lined-up in the streets, but went to a spa where you are massaged in a cubicle (o hanky panky, of course) with aromatic flavors just like here in Manila. It was 600 baht for two hours. Not bad as I was already snoring during the right foot.

May 1 - Shopping - shopping - shopping!!! We went to Prattunam beside the Bayioke Hotel. Amazingly, practicallly all stores carried one size only. For slim women! I did not go with the women when they went to MBK as I did not plan to buy that much.

We were back in Manila on May 2. INcidentally, I just realized that this was the same day I came home from Canada last year.

Thailand should have been no better than the Philippines. It has the same narrow streets, the ubiquitous traffic jams, the markets, etc. What is amazing is that it has managed to preserve its culture while adapting those at the west. Street food is safe and clean unlike what you find in the streets of Manila. The fruits being pedelled are always sweet. The public toilets are by far always clean. The tourist buses are magnificent, spacious and very relaxing.

The food may be exotic but if you have been eating it for a number of days, you also grow tired of it. Imagine having Tom Yam every meal, for example.

The people are interesting. Several times, I had been cut-off in the buffet table. Whiule I was lined up, say for rice, someone will cut in and just get food ahead of you. But then again, these are asian tourists I figure. Several times I would have wanted to say "Excuse me but the end of the line is always there!" But I thought about it and figured I am here to have a holiday and a good time. Why waste my breath?

Okay, I hope I did not bore you to death. Well, if you're reading this...

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20 Comments:

Blogger gilbert yap tan said...

wb rolly! pasalubong ko? hehehe
what's tom yam?
if you fell asleep while your right foot was massaged, how did you know the massage was finished?
thailand's the asia destination for me if ever i get the chance. inggit naman ako sa iyo. :-)

1:27 PM  
Blogger auee said...

Thailand is a big British destination, so that's weird that there's no english translation to whatever it is they're presenting.

You know those pretty ladyboys are quite popular here in England. When I went to a popular seaside town (Brighton), there was a popular show running for months featuring ladyboys even prettier than Kylie Minogue. They even had a documentary on telly about these transvestites.

Nag-enjoy ka ba? Parang from the sum of your post, it wasn't as brilliant as you hoped, save for the temples. You're observation is correct regarding Pinas not far from Thai's offerings. I always think that when I see brits flying to Singa, Thai or Malaysia. I wanted to say why not Philippines? We can offer so much more but then we're in dire need of updating/cleaning up our image, our streets & our facilities.

11:28 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

gilbert Kung malapit ka lang me pasalubong ka sakin. 2 bag ng tamarind. hehe yun lang naman binili ko e. Kuripot talaga ako no?

auee I don't think Thailand was ever colonized by the Brits or any other country for that matter. It did, however, recognized Western power as it signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the UK.
"It is a widely held view in Thailand that the diplomatic skills of these monarchs, combined with the modernising reforms of the Thai Government, made Siam the only country in South and Southeast Asia to avoid European colonisation. This is reflected in the country's modern name, Prathet Thai or Thai-land, used unofficially between 1939 and 1945 and officially declared on May 11, 1949, in which prathet means "nation" and thai means "free"."

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the trip tremendously. It was the over publicized sex show that I got disappointed in. Besides, no matter how bad or good a place is, it will always boil down to who you are with. And I enjoyed everybody's company which made the whole trip a success for me. :-)

Sayang ang Pinas. If only we know how to play our cards right.

12:03 AM  
Blogger andres said...

again, welcome back Ka Rolly!!

(paki tago na lang ang pasalubong ha, i'll be home by August, siguro hindi pa bulok tamarind by then hehehehe)

im so happy that you had a great time (minus the sex show? whola why did you not enjoy it huh? hehehe) in Thailand, you deserve that trip, and hopefully very soon, you'll be on the air/road again for another deserving vacation/tour (with the whole family na)

take care Sir!

1:06 AM  
Blogger Svelte Rogue said...

"No emotions. Just two robot -like creatures going through the motions. What a waste of time and money!"

ibig mong sabihin, tito rols, kung may emotion, ok yung live show? bakit naman? siguro OA lang ako ngayon kasi the thought lang na a very private and holy act is made public for entertainment jars... with or without emotions involved...

600 baht thai massage mo? mahal! hehehe si waswit ko was able to get it for 550 pero konting difference lang naman, and that was not in bangkok :) sana makapunta rin ako dyan some day. :)

ingat tito rols.

5:53 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

auee Sorry, I think I misread your comment. British destination pala. Antok na ako kagabi. My apologies.

andres sige, hindi pa naman siguro yun mabubulok. Eat at your own risk :-)

I'm sure hindi ka rin mag-eenjoy. Take my word for it.

Thanks for the well-wishes.

Svelte Well, if they showed emotions, at least I would have thought they liked what they were doing and that it would not have just been a simulation. Medyo me pagka voyeur ako eh. hehehe

550 baht? Kelan sya pumunta dun? Hmmm, mukhang naloko ko ah. Di bale, orig naman na thai massage yun. haha

6:58 AM  
Anonymous siu said...

just dropping by... My wife and I went to Thailand for our honeymoon the other year. Indeed the place is amazing, as you've pictured it out to be. That sex show... hmmn... amazing is not the apt word to describe, perhaps "confounding" would be more like it. Did you see that string of razor blades coming out from her organ?

10:37 AM  
Blogger ipanema said...

Ah it was a respite nonetheless. Masarap mag liwaliw. I seldom go shopping if it's my first visit in a country. I go for those interesting places. Huli na shopping. Mostly souvenirs or what the country is famous for. Nag bitbit ka ng reclining buddha? :)

Anyway, hope you enjoyed. Yes, the temples are great. Plying the chao praya is fun. :)

10:56 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

siu Oh yes. Eeew! There was even one who looked like a transvestite who's had a sex change causing my friend to quip, "HAve a sex change so that you can pull out flowers on a string down there?"

ipanema O rarely go shopping in places I go to, too. I would rather visit museums and temples and mingle with the people. I'm a people person and besides, wala akong pera talaga no!

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Zha: you were right to say that the Philippines should be enjoying as much tourists, if not more, than Thailand... We have better service (always with a smile and above-average English skills), we have more impressive hotels (and buffet options!), our performers (clothed or naked hehehe) are more talented, and the most important one: as for fashion, we have more sophisticated designs and we actually carry ALL SIZES... what is sad is that we don't have the capital for those enviable stage designs, drive through zoo and safari shows and a viable tourist-friendly program...If only the state officials knew where to put those pork barrels... But i couldn't complain...I, too, enjoyed Thailand despite... I enjoyed it because I learned more about another culture while appreciating ours as well...Plus, of course, i was with you and the rest of the gang :)

9:10 PM  
Blogger Bugsybee said...

Tito Rolly, nakakainggit! Ever since I watched The King and I when I was a kid, I have always dreamt of Thailand. But until now, panaginip lang. A friend went last year and marvelled at how clean the street food is in Thailand.

9:13 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Zha As I have said in my response in one of the comments here, no matter how good or bad a place is, it will always boil down to who the company is. I am so glad we took this trip together. And the rest of the gang was super!

Bing Kayang-kaya mong pumunta ng Thailand if you really want to. It's very near and hindi naman ganon kamahal.

As for the street food, malinis nga. Hindi ako nagkasakit eh.

9:36 PM  
Blogger amateur misanthrope said...

About the sex show and razor blades and bottle popping: why oh why would anyone do that?

3:52 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

AM Exactly what I was thinking. However, come to think about it, maybe during the first few years when these shows were invented, they were such a novelty that people did get interested!

10:48 PM  
Blogger BatJay said...

bossing,

next time sasama ako sa iyo sa thialand. dadalhin kita sa patpong para makanood tayo ng mga taga putok ng lobo.

12:04 AM  
Blogger BongK said...

Sir, "Andres" = "BongK"

(sorry, i ddnt mean to confuse you)

12:26 AM  
Anonymous toni said...

I love Thailand. It is pretty much the same as Manila in terms of traffic and infrastructure but how well they've preserved their culture really is admirable.

11:20 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

batjay sige. Sana me pera ako nun.

Bong K Ikaw pala si andres! So, august pa dating mo? Hindi naman sa bulok na ang tamarind by that time. UBOS NA!

toni Exactly!

11:17 PM  
Anonymous bayi said...

1. You don't have to have tomyam everyday. There are also different types of tomyam. Did you try the clear soup tomyam?

2. There are many other Thai dishes and many of them are not hot and spicy.

I would recommend you to eat curry everyday when you visit Malaysia! :) The Thais have excellent pork dishes and they also have roasted pork! Did you try their excellent and succulent pineapple? What about their sticky rice with santan and mango/durian? Once you start, you don't want to stop!

1:16 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

bayi Yes, I've eaten the different kinds of Tomyam. The thing is our meals have been provided for by the tour agency and this is mostly either in restaurants buffet style or ala carte.

Pineapple, yes. Every meal. :-)

6:49 AM  

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MGA TURO NI TITO:
Twenty years of teaching must sure amount to something. A new friend in cyberspace suggested I ought to have a journal by now. I agree.


Taken by my friend Arlene Lawson in her room at Century Park Sheraton in May, 2000.
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