A CRUISE TO ANCIENT SIAM


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Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Ayutthaya
September 13th 2010
Published: September 14th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

THE MANOHRA CRUISE

September 9, 2010.

DAY 1

Let me start by saying this is something we have never done before and I did splurge on this portion of our trip. A splurge that was worth every baht. Two nights and three days and a food orgy (all inclusive except alcohol). The only thing close to this experience was when we took the overnight ferry to flee Palermo, but it does not compare to the Manohra

In the morning we had our final breakfast at Lebua and then checked out. Even the check out process was easier than the states. I had a small question on a charge on the bill, and they without hesitation removed it. Jerry went to the outside of the hotel so he could smoke and tip James are very helpful bellman during our stay. I opted to stay in the air conditioning and wait for our driver. Promptly at 9 am, and I am not sure how they can always be on time given the Bangkok traffic, but on time they are. The car was a Mercedes of some type, not being a car person I could not tell you what style. Our bags were loaded, didn’t see them again until we got to our state room. In the car was chilled bottle water and lemon grass infused wet towels. This was just a small and I mean small precursor of what was to come.

The cruise was operated by the Marriot Hotel, which is located on the other side of the river south of Lebua. When we arrived we were greeted by a very pleasant woman and escorted to the pier in the back of the hotel. The cruise did not depart until 10 and we were 30 minutes ahead of time. We sat and watched the river. The boat is a recondition rice barged which as been updated. There are 4 state rooms, dinning area, sundeck, kitchen and staff quarters. There is a staff of four; captain, chief butler, assistant butler and the chef. The cruise has a maximum capacity of 8 people. We were looking around while we waited and did not see any other passengers. When we were escorted to the boat, precisely at 10 am, we discovered that there were no other passengers; we were the only ones on the cruise. In essence we had our own private luxury barge with a staff of 4 for three days. Did we feel like royalty or what?

When we were boarded we were greeted by out butler Army and our assistant butler Milky. We had cold water, and refreshing lemon grass infused moist towels. Very refreshing as the humidity was already building. Next we were offered coconuts with coconut juice (not milk as we learned from Nonsi). Before we left the general manager of the hotel came to wish us a good trip. The general manager was not Thai, but German. Do we are in Thailand going on a cruise operated by a Large American corporation, run by a German. At least our crew was Thai.

There were two stops planned in Bangkok, Wat Arun and the Royal Barge Museum. About 15 minutes after departing from the pier we arrived at Wat Arun and were met by our private tour guide. Wat Arun was constructed by King Taskin, the first king after the fall of Ayutthaya. King Taskin moved the capital to what is not Bangkok, but at that time, the first capital was on the other side of the river from present day Bangkok. Out guide did a very good job of explaining the symbolism and history of the Wat. If I tell you, then you have no reason to come and see it for your self. The guide books list it as the top must see Wat in the City, I would place it second after the Golden Mount.

While at the Wat we climbed some very steep and narrow steps, my thighs are still paying for it two days later. The guide did not climb, and I can see why. Going up was not so bad, but down, well the steps were about 1/3 the size of my foot and very steep, I held on for my life and walked down sideways. We then returned to the boat and continued on to the Royal Barge Museum.

We had a quick tour of the Royal Barges, there are 60 in all, we saw about 10, including the Kings. They are only used for very special occasions, the last being the celebration of the Kings 60th year on the throne. (or was it is 90th birthday).

After the tour our guide left us for the day. No more sights until tomorrow. We began our cruise up river. Jerry and I still having a hard time believing we had the entire barge to ourselves. As we are cruising along the river, they begin setting up for lunch. We are enjoying constant attention, Army; our butler explains things on the river banks as we go. At 12:45 lunch is served. We sit down to our private table on our private barge. Milky pours water, still for Jerry, sparkling for me. Then they bring the food, prawns wrapped in egg noodles then deep fried, and a spicy beef salad. (yes there was a bite). When we finished we thought we were done, but not so. They cleared our plates and brought the next course, phad Thai wrapped in a very thin egg crepe. It was huge, but tasty. After that came dessert, fruit and themes on coconut. We were already stuffed and there were two more meals to come that day.

After dinner we continue to cruise up river no more sights were scheduled for the day. Jerry was casually chatting with Army asking about things along the river, somewhere in the conversation Army suggested we could stop at a pottery village on Koh Kret. This Island is known for the pottery and the people are of Mong decent. The Mong people originally came from Northern Thailand and Mymar (Formerly Burma). We stop and toured the village for about 30 minutes. The kiln was very large, you could walk in it. It was also heated entirely by wood. It had not been used since yesterday and you could still feel the heat being generated.

After the pottery village we just continued to cruise. I took the opportunity to get caught up on blogging about the trip. At 4:30 it was tea time, yes tea time as in High English Tea. It seems to be a tradition the Thai adopted from the British even though the British never had a very big presence here. Again more food than two people needed. At about 5:30 pm we made a brief stop at a Wat to make merit with the fish. At Wat Arun we saw people doing this and there were more catfish than I had ever seen. But here, you could walk on the water in places there were so many catfish. We fed the fish, a daily ritual and family entertainment in Thailand. We then continued on to Wat Samakee, where we would spend the night.

We both took showers to remove the day’s salt accumulation from out bodies. We then relaxed on the couch and enjoyed the view and evening breeze. At 7:15 (they asked us when we wanted to start) canapés were served. Spring Rolls and many other things that I cannot remember the names. We had a cocktail (a rarity here for us) and enjoyed the food. At 8 dinner was served. We had three courses, all of which I can’t remember but here are the pictures. I do know that the main course included lobster with a red curry sauce.

After dinner Jerry had a couple of cigarettes and I retired to our state room. We were both asleep by 9:30.



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