Another port day and another repeat for us. Last year’s stop here was just superb but we didn’t feel the need to go to Bangkok city for two reasons. Firstly, we stayed in the city way back in 1993 for three days and secondly, it is quite a long day.
After another light breakfast, we headed for the Wheelhouse bar at 8am as instructed, to pick up our tour stickers, only to find the place packed and the staff simply saying they hadn’t yet started issuing the tickets! We didn’t have to wait long and once led out to our coach, we just happened to be at the front of the queue, but an old couple were already smugly sitting in the front seats. Our tour was simply to the “Sanctuary of Truth”, just beyond Pattaya.
Nice coach and with, wait for it, massage seats! Pity the aircraft don’t all have this feature. Once our tour guide “Cute Eddy” (his words, not mine) had finished his fag, we set off for about on a 45 minute drive, through the slow port traffic to our destination. I had totally left this tour to Paula so I hadn’t read up about it.
Eddy wasn’t a bad guide but his mannerism (do all tour guides have them?) was concluding most statements with “Aha!”. We stopped at the small car park/restaurant at the entrance and Eddy had already told us that this was the best place to use the toilets, which were clean western style, not “squatty potties”.
We had a ten minute photo/comfort stop and the seat grabbers were near the last on the coach when Paula just happen to mention that the toilets were very clean. At this point, granny seat grabber decided she needed to go, so we all had to wait another 5 minutes whilst she waddled back to the rest area.
We then drove down the hill to the sanctuary proper. This is a stunning, carved wooden building. I’ll quote from the brochure as I wasn’t really able to state its purpose otherwise.
“It is not only a replica of an ancient art, but also the power of contemporary creation. It has searched for proper things from different cultures and mixed with traditions of past, giving rise to the new fine arts.”
The structure is 100% wooden, though it stands on concrete pads and just about all visible aspects of it are carvings. Even the stairs and many of the ceilings. Before entering, we were taken through the workshops where there are a fair number of male and female carvers, using tools as diverse as a chain saw to hammer and chisels. The majority is of course hammer and chisel work.
The photographs do not do this structure justice.
We had to don hard hats as this is work in progress and has been for 15 years, (though the brochure states that the ground breaking was in 1981). It stands over 100 metres tall and is quite exposed and that means the weather takes its toll. Joints are various tongue and groove, dovetail and butterfly and the wood just seems to weather. This means that not only is it still being constructed, but that restoration is also ongoing.
We had about an hour or hour and a half here before returning to the coach, where we were dropped off at 11:20am at a Pattaya Beach shopping centre with pick up of 12:30. Nowhere enough time to explore, but this is one very commercialised beach resort, with 1,000’s of deckchairs and when we were there, there must have been 40 paragliders in the air at once!
I got into trouble here as I took a photograph through the shop window of some very fetching silver boots. I can understand shop keepers not allowing photographs inside a store, but as I could have taken the same picture from across the mall with a long lens, I ignored the request to delete it whereupon the shop-girl was jumping up and down and threatening to call security. Had security caught up, it would have been easy enough to flick through the pics on Paula’s camera to show it had been deleted! So having published this, if there are no more blogs, please contact my solicitor or the British Consulate.
Back at the dock, there are shops that are quite reasonable but Paula only spent $30, so as we hadn’t spent anything other than a tip for Eddy, another cheap day. Cheaper still when someone forgot to clip the coffee card.
After a nice beef curry and rice we eventually headed for the quiz, but none of our regular team turned up so we adopted four others. We did quite well with 18 out of a possible 22, but no win.
A cooling swim (and spa for me) then a Thai dinner. Another superb meal. After, we decide to watch the movie under the stars - “The Three Stooges” at 10:15. Slapstick of course, but by the time it had finished, it was too late for a hot chocolate. The atrium was deserted.
There have been one or two changes since last year.
We no longer get chocolate doughnuts. If that was a policy change to counter obesity, it has failed big time judging by the current passenger size average..
Secondly, on sea days, the grill no longer does doner kebabs.
Thirdly, it is no longer a 24 hour buffet in the Horizon Court.
Coffee cards can still be carried over to the next cruise, but you no longer get a free hot chocolate on an old card, even when there are several unused, not just the one. As mentioned earlier, the current discount book doesn’t include the coffee takeaway container offer either.
Bed 12:10am but internet access is still erratic.
A sea day tomorrow. No complaints from us.