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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stopping To Smell The Flowers in Thailand

Last week I got another adventure email from my little Sailor girl. They had recently been to Thailand where she described a magical experience. The ship pulled into Thailand in the early afternoon. Several charter buses were waiting for the sailors on the pier. The buses were provided to shuttle the sailors back and forth from the ship to the city. The bus ride took about 45 minutes. They arrived at the Hard Rock Hotel and loaded off the bus. Immediately as they walked to the Hard Rock Cafe' there were people selling souvenir type stuff. They would obnoxiously get in their face and ask if they wanted to buy. As she and her friend walked someone tried to put sunglasses on them but they shooed them away. Then a lady put something else in front of her but my sailor refused to make eye contact and shooed her away. She kept walking trying to avoid eye contact with the vendors hoping they would leave her alone. Suddenly she heard her friend call her name "Come look!". There stood a lady holding a Lemur. She wanted them to hold it and take pictures. My Sailor is a real sucker for any type of animal so she was hooked. She said it was so cute and of course she got pictures. Finally they made it through the crowd to the Hard Rock Cafe'. They ate out on the balcony and my Sailor was sitting with her arm on the ledge. She felt something prick her and when she reached to scratch her arm she felt something. She looked down only to see a GIANT cockroach the size of her hand. When she let out a yelp it scurried across the ledge, it was so large that you could actually hear it's footsteps. Not a very appetizing sight right before dinner. After dinner they headed back to the ship because they both had duty the next day. On the 3rd day they checked into their hotel. They got there in the morning hoping to get an early start. Their rooms at the hotel weren't available so the hotel upgraded them for free so they could check in early. Her room had a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, living room, bedroom, bathroom, 3 TVs, and 2 balconies all for $90.00 a night!!! The hotel provided golf carts with drivers that would take them around for free. They went to a mall to shop for clothes but found that the clothes fit funny because typically Asians are very small. After the mall they went back to the hotel to the pool which was located on the roof. From the pool they got ready for dinner at a restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. It was Thai food which is a mixture between Chinese and Japanese. It was the hottest food my sailor had ever had, but very good. After dinner they went back to the hotel that had two bars. One was called the -5 bar and one was called the Bed. The Icebar was very cool... literally! Everything was made out of ice, even the glasses they served your drinks in. They had to put on fur trimmed parkas and gloves to stay inside. It was literally freezing. They had ice sculptures and benches and bar stools made out of ice. They could only stay in for 20-30 minutes before they started freezing. After the Ice Bar they went to the bar called the Bed. The bed was full of beds with pillow. They took their shoes off and climbed on top of the bed where they were brought a tray with drinks. There were go go dancers there and it was very entertaining. When they left the Bed bar they decided it was time for bed. My Sailor asked the front desk if they had a spa because she wanted a massage. The front desk told her they did not have a spa but they would send someone to her room anytime of day or night for a massage. At 1 am she called down to the front desk and asked for a massage and 20 minutes later a lady came up to her room. Thai massages are REALLY rough. Not only do they rub you with oil but they also twist and pull you and stand on you. Every time my Sailor yelped in pain the lady laughed. My Sailor stuck it out thinking it would eventually get better but it didn't. Needless to say she felt like she had been beat up by the time the massage was over. She said she needed a massage after the massage. The next day they went to the Hard Rock Cafe' for lunch and waited for their tour. They had scheduled an elephant tour which was about 20 minutes away. When they got off the bus they headed towards the elephants. They had a stand where they could purchase huge bunches of bananas to feed to your elephant. When they got to the elephants they were ready to go. They had little chairs strapped to their backs (2 seater). The guides sat on their necks without any straps or anything. My Sailors tour guide was a little old Thai man who spoke very little English. When they started moving he turned around and grabbed my Sailors feet. It startled her because she didn't know what he was doing. He was actually removing her sandals so she could feel the elephants back. As she felt the elephants prickly hair she decided barefoot was they only way to go so that's how she stayed for the rest of the day. They came to a river where there was a photographer waiting to take their pictures. The photographer picked two pink hibiscus flowers and their elephant walked over to him took them from him and gave them to the girls. Once out of the river they started their journey. They walked through the rest of the village which was a farm. There were roosters, ox and tons of dogs. They went by several houses, but they didn't look like houses, they looked more like little shacks or sheds. The girls just couldn't imagine someone living in those conditions. Past the houses they crossed the street and headed to more jungle. There was a path cleared off for the elephants, but on either side all you could see was thick jungle. The jungle was very thick, overgrown with vines, bamboo, trees and grass, you would never be able to walk through the jungle by foot. The elephants were funny, each with their own personality. Most of them were very well behaved, but some had a mind of their own and their own agenda. Those were the ones that would take off on their own path, stop and eat tress or grass. One of them carried a huge branch in it's trunk for a couple of miles like a dog with a chew toy. My Sailor's elephant was a good girl, a real sweetie. She was 40 years old and her name was Cuimcal (pronounced Coom Cale). Along the way there were big trough filled with water. They elephants the trough and filled up their trucks then sprayed it on their bellies. Guess that's the was they cool down. On the way back to the village my sailor gave her camera to the guide and asked to him to take several shots of them on the elephant. She said it was crazy how balanced he was just sitting there on the elephants neck. There were flowers and bushes everywhere. They came upon a bush that was probably 20 feet tall and covered with purple flowers. Their elephant headed to the bush. When she got there she stopped and began to smell the flowers with her truck. My sailor was totally in love. As they headed back the elephant got tired, just not as motivated as she once was. The guide gave her one of the bunches of bananas they bought. She just stick her trunk up to him and would grab them then she would carry on with her journey, but a few miles later, she needed a little more motivation provided by another bunch of bananas. My sailor asked if she could feed her but because she couldn't reach her she had to toss the bananas to her. Unfortunately she missed the trunk and the bananas fell on the ground. Cuimcale felt around on the ground until she found them and from then on she was a happy little camper. When they got off of the elephant my Sailor wanted to bet her and tell her goodbye. She got down and petted her on the truck. The elephant looked her straight in the eyes as if to say thank you. After that it was hard to say goodbye. One thing that we all can learn from Cuimcale is no matter who you are, or where you are it's always a good idea to stop a minute to smell the flowers cause you may not get the chance to do it again.

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