First excursion

Trip Start Jan 28, 2013
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16
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Trip End Mar 02, 2013


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Samui Island (Ko) is in the Gulf of Thailand, at the southern tip of Thailand (I think), at the opposite site of Phuket. This is the first stop of our cruise. The ship docked around 10am, the "old" time – today we changed our clock and set it one hour back, so 10am the “old” time was “new” time 9am.

The shore excursions were limited. The two involved Thai cooking class were fully booked, which I would have liked to take (comparing to the others). I did not really look at these excursions earlier and now it's a bit too late. We signed up for the excursion called “Lo Samui Discovery”, which took us to a couple of temples, the elephant camp, coconut plantation with monkeys, etc. I really did not have much interest to watch the elephant “show” again and was hoping to switch to the other excursion which involved ancient temple and monkeys, but it was fully booked. We spoke with the local guide who came on board to provide further information. We could have hired a private taxi and go through the few places of interest in 2 hours, spending about $100.  But we decided to just go with the excursion we signed up, which took 4.5 hours.

The ship anchored quite a ways from the dock. Three big tenders took all the people to shore. The round trip for each tender is about 40 minutes. Our excursion was supposed to meet at 11:10am. Our group was supposed to have more than 100 people, wow! It was the first time since we boarded the ship that I felt there were actually so many people on the ship!!

We finally got on shore around noon time. There were 5 big buses going on the same excursion, so the ride was spacious and comfortable. Our local guide was Sally, a very nice Thai lady. One thing she showed us on the way was about cashew nuts – she told the bus to stop at a big cashew tree and fetched a couple of cashew fruits to show us. It was quite amazing!! Cashew would grow nuts first, then the fruit! I took a couple of photos.

The first stop of the excursion was at the elephant camp, which turned out to be more interesting than I expected! 2 female elephants showed their tricks – sitting, standing, hand-stand, etc. No painting though. Their unique thing was to give a couple of people from the audience a massage. The one giving the male guy a massage was funny – she used her nose to suck at different places on his body …. You can imagine the rest J. Oh by the way, all the elephants here actually came from Chiang Mai, north of Thailand.

After the elephant camp (by the way, no elephant ride!), we went to see the big Buddha which was the landmark of Ko Samui. Then we went to the temple, which was gaudy beyond description. What I enjoyed most was the market place by the big Buddha – I would have loved to shop more, but we did not have the time. Sally told us that things here are more expensive than Bangkok, because of the transportation cost. So I did not try to buy the things I’d like to get.

The bus stopped at a view point for us to get a look at the famous east side Chaweng beach. It was pretty. The luxurious resort we saw was also very nice, reminding me of the Le Meridien at Phuket. This place was not affected by the Tsunami a few years ago, because it is at the east side of Thailand. Sally told us that many backpackers come to this island. There are inexpensive places by the ocean for them to stay, costing about $20/day, of course with public bathroom and shower. Meals here can be very cheap. The area around the dock reminded me of Papeete, Tahiti – there were food stands selling delicious local food costing very little.

Our last stop was at a coconut plantation with monkey working there. Sally told us that the monkeys were sent to “schools” to be trained on how to harvest coconuts. Each trained monkey can harvest 500-600 coconuts a day, earning about $20, which was twice as much as a local worker working in the field!

Back on the ship around 5:15, after waiting in the long line to get on the tender.  A hot shower felt SO GOOD! It was very hot on the island!

Shortly after 6pm, ship announced that we should all step out of our cabins and meet our neighbors. The ship officials would come to each floor, meet and greet us, champaign and snacks would be served. It was interesting to meet our neighbors! A few people around us had sailed with Regent for many times. One of the ladies, Lori, had done the world cruise with Regent – it was a sail that lasted 5+ months!! Amazing!! Lori is going to Shanghai this time, to meet her tailor. She showed me the clothes she had made in Shanghai. Wow!! I will get the name and address of her tailor and will see if I’ll have any good luck. Lori is already in her 80s – I would NEVER have been able to tell that!! She looked as if she’s in her 60’s or 70’s! She’s my role model! J

We had dinner with Lucy and Chris at the Italian restaurant in the 11th floor. It was good. Again I forgot to bring my camera to take photos! After dinner, I went to Katia’s office to make a call to my sister in China (Katia is the tour manager whom we met in Chiang Mai. She offered for me to make the call to China in her office. It was very very nice of her and I truly appreciate it!!). I finally reached my sister and spoke with her,  gave her my condolensces, and found out more details about my brother-in-law’s death ….

Tonight’s show was sing and dance – very good quality! Bob went to play more blackjack after the show, and I’ll go to bed. Tomorrow we’ll be in Bangkok – port is 2 hours away from Bangkok. We signed up for the excursion to Thailand’s ancient capital Ayutthaya. We will leave at 8:20am!
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