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Published: March 12th 2011
Thursday March 10th, 2011
Today we opted for the total tourist bus experience. Our ship was docked in Laem Chabang, a very busy port city in Thailand. Lots of container ships and freighters attest to the strong economy here. It was a two and a half hour drive into Bangkok from the coast, thru lots of heavy traffic and crazy drivers. The city is crowded, exotic and obviously very alive. We went to the Royal Palace and the opulence was over the top. You could see why the former King just about bankrupted the country building the place. Several Temples were filled with people making offerings to Buddha with flowers and incense. Then, we enjoyed a scenic river boat cruise weaving between a multitude of barges, motorboats and ferries. The river was dirty and the banks were filled with a combination of squalid shacks and luxury hotels. The people living along the river use it to do their laundry, but our guide “Momma Toy” said it was too polluted to use as the water supply. However, the river pulsed with life and you could tell it was still the center of commerce for this vibrant city. We
were treated to a very upscale buffet lunch in a high-end hotel along the river to compliment the glitzy tourist experience. Then, it was back on the bus for the obligatory stop at the local jewelry and silk factory. This place was a marvel of parking lot logistics with 50 buses, vans and taxis dropping off and then loading back up the multitude of tourists in full bargain hunting frenzy. The net worth of the inventory of precious gems in the place was staggering and it was no wonder that they had an armed guard with a machine gun at the entrance. We would have liked to have been able to stop in Chinatown. Its warren of shops and stalls looked very intriguing. But, we were behind schedule and the ship called Momma Toy to put the pressure on. The bus ride back to the boat was thrilling with the driver weaving from lane to lane and hitting speeds in excess of 120kph while trying to make up for lost time. It reminded me of driving home in high school at dangerous speeds to make it in before curfew. In the end, we made it back under the wire and
had a wonderful day in Bangkok. Jane really likes Thailand and that has been a real surprise.
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