Busy, Busy Day

Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
Trip End Nov 25, 2011

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Flag of Thailand  , Phuket Province,
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our originally planned trip to Phi Phi Island went pear shaped and has been rebooked for Saturday, now to decide what to do to fill our day.  Started by meeting some dive buddies at 'Pier 42' to sample the strangest sounding coffee I've seen yet ... I'll let the picture explain it :-D
Up on top of the highest peak in Chalong, sits the 'Big Buddha'.  The official name is " Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha". When completed, the Buddha will have required 135 tons of Burmese white marble, will stand 45 meters high and be 25 meters across at the base. There is a second Buddha image (much smaller at 12 meters high) that is made our of 22 tons of solid brass.
The road leading up to the Big Buddha is very steep.  It winds around and up the side of the hill.  At some points the road is very narrow and car jumps from 3rd to 1st gear to inch it's way up.  Around a corner you come upon the curve where a tour bus full of Chinese tourists went over the barrier and tumbled several hundred feet, rolling over and over, until it hit the bottom.  Only 2 casualties from this accident ... considering the distance they dropped I can only assume that the Buddha was looking out for them.  There are several small cafes located at different lookouts on your way up ... everyone of them has a beautiful view.  
We head into the building where many items are sold in order to fund the building of the Buddha.  We purchase a marble square for 100 baht ($3.00) and write our names and message on it.  It will join many, many others in completing the Lotus portion of the Buddha statue. There are always monks present at the site and offer blessings to all (free !).  We climb the steps up to the base of the Buddha and take in the spectacular view (you can see 360 degrees).  After a few photo ops, we walk through the centre of the statue where it's cool and out of the sun.
On the backside of the Buddha statue, there are two statues embedded into the openings.  They look finished but their heads are still covered ... kinda creepy, but makes great photo art :-) .  Also at the back is another large Buddha statue made entirely of brass (much, much smaller than the Big B) and beside that is a large pile of gold paint that is used to paint the stone statues that are around the front of the main statue.
In order to try and keep with the 'natural' theme, they have hidden the washrooms in a fake giant tree trunk.  As if that weren't natural enough, Marcus discovered that the men's urinals are located on a balcony completely unenclosed.  This didn't bother him, until, much to his surprise (and bad timing) a Gibbons monkey jumps onto the balcony with him.  Marcus comes hurrying out and asks me for my camera !  My face must have been a picture ... many, many things crossed my mind at this point :-O.  Reluctantly, I give it to him ... just as he disappeared around the corner I see one of the monkeys jump into the trees. 
We see, to the right of the washroom area, a large balcony close to the trees where all of the monkeys seem to be, so we stroll on over.  After staying there for an hour we head back home to get ready for the big festival in the evening.  We have been fortunate enough (quite by accident) to plan our trip in order to be present for Loi Krathong. 
During the festival, lotus shaped floating vessels are decorated with incense and flowers and are meant to hold your bad karma and send it out into the sea.   The festivals take place all around Thailand and each area sets up there own.  We traveled to Nai Harn beach taking our own Krathongs and paper lanterns.  The floating lanterns are are released by the hundreds into the night sky ... some catch fire and plummet back to the ground and some get caught in trees ('cause it's always wise to release a bit of paper with a candle inside of it under a canopy of trees ... DUH !)  Ours was a great success and rose up until it was only a small spot in the sky.  Reminded me of 'Close Encounter' when the small spacecraft become part of the Big Dipper ... watch the video and see what I mean :) 
The festival was fun, hot, sticky and smelled like BBQ's fish ... everything I thought it would be :-)  
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