Last month the guests and crew of the ms Volendam had the pleasure of an overnight in Thailand. After hearing so much about the country, I was confused about what to expect, but I have to say that what I found was truly enchanting.
Day 1: I woke up early and went on an all-day tour to Bangkok. Our first stop was the flower market. The colors and smells were beautiful. I just wanted to fill my cabin with flowers.
All of the colors and shapes available in different tents mixed with the smell of the street food made the visit a unique experience.
After a delicious lunch served in a luxurious hotel (great food and huge variety), we went to the “main attraction,” the Royal Palace. I have to tell you that, even being a jewelry addict, I’ve never seen so much gold together. To see so many monuments and even walls covered in gold was truly beautiful. “Ladies, you know, it might be yellow, but if it is gold, it shines a lot brighter.”
The Royal Palace is also the home of the Jade Buddha. People come from all over the country (and from abroad) to pay their respect and make wishes in the hope that he will grant them. They make offerings of food, flowers and incense. There’s a pot of holy water at the entrance of the temple and the tradition says that you should make a wish, wet a lotus flower in the holy water and sprinkle it over your head in order to have your wish granted. I don’t know if it works, but I surely had my holy water to sprinkle just in case.
After exploring the many beautiful areas of the palace — where I could have spent all day — and a quick shopping stop, we headed back to the ship for a well-deserved sleep.
Day 2: Since I had such a cultural day yesterday, on our second day in Thailand I decided to take it easy and go to the famous “Tiger Zoo.” When my friends suggested the zoo visit, I have to confess that after seeing so many zoos around the world, I wasn’t really excited with the idea … until I got there.
This was what I would call a “hands-on zoo.” Besides watching amazing presentations with crocodiles, tigers, elephants and even a pig race, I had the opportunity to hold a baby tiger and a snake, hug monkeys and even be lifted by an elephant. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
As the ship was leaving in the afternoon, after making friends with so many cute animals I went for a walk in Pattaya, just a 20-minute drive from the ship. Just walking around town and meeting the extremely friendly people was an amazing experience.
Thailand has a bit for everybody, from the sacred to the mundane, and all its sides are fascinating. I’ll be back for sure!
Karin is the future cruise consultant aboard Volendam.