Thailand is somewhere I have always wanted to visit and couldn’t wait until we arrived here on our second cruise performing on board the Crystal Symphony.
The first port was Ko Samui, somewhere I’d spent time pouring over pictures on the Internet and wishing I were there! We stepped off the tender boat onto the peer and set out as we usually do, just walk until the adventure begins! Soon we had to choose from one of the many extremely vocal taxi men to get to where we wanted to be, as we realised it was too far to walk. Everyone in Ko Samui seemed to
be on scooters they looked really fun. If we had more time I would definitely go for one next time, a great way to get about.
First up on our list of things to see was Wat Phra Yai; a huge golden Buddha statue situated at the top of a hill. Apparently it was erected initially on the ground that was to honour the souls of little children and babies who had died young. You had to leave your shoes at the bottom of the hill and all shoulders and legs had to be covered up, for which they provided robes. It was so hot that day, I couldn’t bear the thought of putting a cotton dressing gown on but I got shouted at almost instantly when I started walking up the steps in my shorts! Oops!
The statue was huge and absolutely epic. People everywhere were taking pictures and praying and also taking lots of selfies! We met another young couple at the top who were travelling Thailand and we had a good chat with them for a while. We both agreed these statues are even more immense in reality and almost all made so many years ago by hand, it really is incredible to be in their presence. I left a whisper of gratitude and respect with the Buddha before we headed back to the taxi man who was sleeping in the sun waiting for us.
Next stop was the Buddhist temple; Wat Plai Laem which also had a famous big golden Buddha amongst many other statues, all surrounded by a big lake. One statue was Guanyin, Goddess of mercy and compassion and known for giving unconditional love to all as well as being a protector. She has 18 arms, which represent her ability to reach to many people. She’s also known to protect sailors at sea so I made sure I gave her a nod.
There were many other beautiful tributes dotted around, all with such amazing detail. It’s pure art and it makes it so much more special because it is sacred. In one of the temples, a Mother and Father were praying with there two children, it was a real special sight but was slightly ruined when a tour guide lady marched in talking really loudly to her tour group. People forget that these places they are visiting hold a very different meaning to others.
We wondered around all the statues, taking our shoes off and paying respects to each one, they all have different meanings and intentions for what they represent. I made sure I got a picture with the big laughing Buddha. My Dad always bangs on about the one on the opening advert for Coronation Street so I sent him a picture!
There were also some locals feeding the fish in the lake near the big laughing Buddha and what a site that was! They were HUGE carp like fish (I’m not really a fish expert but they looked like carps) and they all rose to the surface with these enormous gaping mouths and I swear one of them had a moustache! I would not have liked to go for a swim with them even if they are vegetarian!
We felt like we’d had our fill our temples for the day so we made our way next to Nikki beach, which apparently wasn’t the most beautiful beach but was the closest to our location. If this wasn’t the most beautiful beach, I can’t even imagine what the other one was like. Nikki Beach was bliss. Soft white sand and the ocean felt amazing. We had Pad Tai (again I’m a bit of a fan!) in a little restaurant on the sand and then went swimming and sunbathed before heading back to the ship.
Thailand was amazing and I definitely want to come back and explore more.
Whilst we slept tonight the Symphony carried us onwards to our next port Laem Chabang. The ship provided us a shuttle bus into the centre of Laem Chabang and dropped us off outside a shopping mall. The first thing I noticed about this place was the heat and the second was the smell! It was very hot and very smelly (and not in a good way!) We walked around for hours but it was busy, people everywhere walking, working. There were shopping centres, little trinket shops, bars and restaurants and so many markets! The markets were an experience, items for sale in absolute bucket loads and so cheap. I bought a few new day dresses, as I had to throw most of my clothes out at the airport on the flight out due to being so far over the weight limit! The most bizarre thing we noticed was, alike the Philippines, the telephone wires were just crazy! Hundreds of bare wires just shoved together and hanging out everywhere, trailing on the floor, it just looked so unsafe! I could imagine this place being absolutely crazy at night time, with all the bars and parties on the beach.
We found a bookstore in one of the shopping centre’s where we bought some books and checked out some of the local cooking books with very funny titles! See for yourself in the photos below! ;-)
We travelled to Vietnam next and stopped at Ho Chi Minh City and Chan May. We couldn’t get off at the first stop as we were both on IPM (Import Manning Duty) and on the second day we didn’t have much time so we just visited a resort in Chan May. We really didn’t see much of Vietnam so I definitely would like to return and explore. That’s the good thing about working on a cruise ship- it just gives you little taste of each place letting you know where you would like to come back to in the future, possibly for a longer period of time.
The end of this cruise brought us to Hong Kong!!! If I had to use a quote to some up Hong Kong it would be….. “Would you like to buy a watch or suit?”
If I could count the amount of times men on the street said this to Harry the figure would be unreal- EVERYWHERE we walked we heard this! Honestly you couldn’t go 5 minutes without being asked it and they aimed it all at Harry because he’s a man and also because he is white, the people here just assume he is rich!
Hong Kong was big and city like and very very busy. The shops are all high-end designer with lots of very regal hotels too.
We almost immediately headed out of the centre to explore and find some culture so we took an underground and then a bus to Ngong Ping Lantau Island, where we travelled up into the mountains to get to the Tian Tan Buddha.
This little village was self contained and situated near the Po Lin Monastery. There were cows roaming free as we wondered through a huge archway and made our way to the enormous Bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. We walked up 268 steps to get to the top, which although is not a great deal, the heat made it really difficult! The statue itself was made in 1993 and took 13 years to build. It symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith.
The views up there were incredible! We walked around and like everyone else, took lots of photos. It was quite busy and there were lots of people around, but we quickly realised something really strange was happening. People were actually sneakily taking photos of us! And standing next to us or behind us whilst someone else took a picture! It was really weird but they seemed to find us fascinating!
We made our way back down and took a walk along the wisdom path. We didn’t find much wisdom but we did singg at least half of the Mulan soundtrack, which was fun. Then we wondered into Ngong Ping Lantau Village itself which was so quaint. We took Chinese tea at Lingong China and it was a very special process to watch it being made and poured, and we drank it out of tiny little cups!
On the evening once we had finished all our sets, we went back into the centre and went to a bar called Ozone Bar, which is at the top of one of the tallest buildings in the world. It’s in the top 3 tallest bars in the world and bloody hell was it high! Your ears are popping in the lift on the way up! I think the view would’ve been better during the day but it was still incredible. We ordered two Margarita cocktails setting us back a staggering £45, only to take one sip and realised that we actually meant to order Mojitos which we absolutely love! I guess the height just confused us momentarily!
At night in Honk Kong they have the Symphony of lights, which is a huge light display across the water and projected on to buildings and into the sky. It was a beautiful touch on this smoggy city. We had a wonderful time in Hong Kong but we did leave without a new suit, or a new watch. We wouldn’t need either of those for where we were going next!!!!
Next blog post will be up soon!
Bye for now,