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 Tapestry of Adventures - Thailand
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Thailand

Our Thai adventure began in Phuket, a beautiful coastal beach haven on the Andaman Sea to unwind after the vibrant chaos of India.  Our hotel was located right on a beautiful sandy beach with lovely warm clear water. Our goal was to relax before our next stage of adventures around southeast Asia and that’s exactly what we did.  Mark scuba dove one day, delighted by beautiful corals and the variety of marine life including moray eels, clown fish and more.  Fully intact wrecks provided the opportunity for a few “swim throughs”.


A day cruise to “James Bond Island” in Phang Nga Bay, made famous by the movie classic “The Man with the Golden Gun” unveiled a spectacular waterscape — rock formations with dramatic overhangs, some stalactites and other eroded limestone formations. We had several opportunities to cool off by hopping into crystal-clear 85° waters.  One of the coolest experiences was hopping off the boat into an inflatable kayak for a guided excursion through small hidden caves dodging stalactites overhead – definitely added an extra level of thrill.

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Bangkok

In Bangkok, life revolves around the river and canals.  From our hotel, located on the Chao Phraya, the major river in Thailand, we saw barges coming and going, laden with rice, coal and possibly teak.  There was also a plethora of water taxis, tour boats and long boats moving in a slow dance along the water.  It was beautiful to watch and even more fun to be in the middle of it as we took a water taxi or ferry wherever we went.

Thailand is a very religious country with over 90% of the population being Buddhist.  There are over 40,000 temples across the country and more than 400 temples or “Wats” in Bangkok.   We visited some of the more spectacular ones.  In particular, Wat Arun is covered in intricate decorations from the ground up to the spire and is a spectacular and iconic sight of Bangkok at night.  Wat Pho has a beautiful reclining Buddha that is 150 ft long by 49 ft high, all covered in gold leaf.  Wat Phra Kaew contains a meditating emerald buddha statue that is 26 inches tall.  It is jasper but still precious – emerald refers to the color.  Made in the 15th century, it has been relocated a few times as kings and conquerors took possession until it moved to Bangkok in 1785. Wat Tramit or the Golden Buddha Temple contains the largest solid gold buddha statue at 5.5 tons!

A canal tour in a shallow draft longtail boat took us out into the extensive network of narrow canals where life exists beyond the city.  We spent a couple of hours cruising these small waterways seeing a variety of homes ranging from modest to mansions, small businesses, schools and apartment buildings all along the waterfront.  It was very interesting to try and imagine daily life here.  Your canoe-like boat took you to and fro. I’m sure there were roads and maybe cars, definitely bikes but we couldn’t see much of that from our perch at water level. We also cruised through a floating market that was lined with stalls full of clothes and souvenirs as well as boats selling drinks.   When Mark was here 35 years ago, he took an amazing photograph of the floating markets selling local produce.  Unfortunately, that market has given way to the tourist trade.  Too bad!