Love seafood? Scuba diving? Temples? Adventure? Hospitable crowd? An escape from your monotonous life?
Well, this is the place you ought to visit.
Summer of 2015
An invitation for me to explore Thailand!
Our first stop was Wat Trimitr Vityaram Voravihahn (Temple of the Golden Buddha)
This 700 years old Buddha is a complete marvel. It is made with pure gold and weighs 5.5 tons. It’s value is approx. 28.5 million pounds. The Thai hold this so close to their hearts that they have gone to lengths to ensure its safety. A tourist is given only 30 minutes to park his vehicle and tour the temple. The vehicle is seized by the authority if the time limit is exceeded!
Entering the temple, you are flabbergasted at the sight of gold everywhere. Looking up, one could marvel at the intricate detailing on the gilded roof forever.
Moving onto the next part of the temple, you’ll encounter another golden Buddha, this one is just gilded but it is as mesmerizing as the previous one.
Sitting on one side of the interior of the temple you’ll find a Buddhist monk who is ever so lost in his own reverie that the perpetual chatter of the tourists entering-clicking-leaving the temple doesn’t distract him one bit.
Outside the temple, there are rows of light-weighted small bells, hanging in succession. As a gentle breeze blows, the air is filled with the soothing gentle chimes of these mystical bells. As you feel the breeze on your face, the gentle chiming of the bells brings about a peaceful sensation and a calm to your mind.
As the 30 minutes come to an end, our Thai driver brings about the car and we are off to our next stop.
Wat pho (The temple of the reclining Buddha)
This temple has the gilded statue of the reclining Buddha. Measuring up to 46 m long, it depicts the entry of Buddha into nirvana and the end of all reincarnations.
Exploring the other parts of the temple gives you an intriguing experience. You’ll find all kinds of people, children on school trip, tourists, Thai temple workers taking a nap and passionate artists sitting around the corners, busy with their sketches and paintings, oblivious to the passing time.
The auto-rickshaws in Thailand a.k.a “TUK-TUK”, are lined outside the temple as you exit. To beat the heat, ice-cream vendors are always trying to grab your attention by shouting in their own dialect in quite a comical way.
Day 2 started with the visit to the Safari World.
The first show is a hilariously staged, boxing match between two chimpanzees and, quite an impressive band performance by another group of them. This show was successful in securing all the cheers from the crowd, which included the adults as well as the children. As you explore the safari world, you’ll come across this miniature lake filled with beautiful variety of colorful fishes. One could stay here all day at the edge of this lake admiring it’s beauty.
The sea-lion show is splendid. You could see the sea-lion pulling all kinds of stunts, from balancing a chair on his nose to leaping 7 ft from the water to hit a ball.
School trips are an integral part of the 12 years of schooling. One could see young Thai kids on their school trip to the safari park, moving in a single file, with their hands on the the shoulders of the mate in-front of them. Trying to interact with them wouldn’t get you anywhere, as they are not familiar with any other dialect other than their mother-tongue. But that doesn’t stop them from their single letter questions like, “Camera !?”, “India !?”.
The Dolphin show keeps you at the edge of your seat. With the Dolphins launching themselves from the water to more than 10 ft in the air, it’s marvelous! The synchronization of their jump and the perfect execution of their stunts are breathtaking.
Moving on to the other parts of the park, exotic birds are a common view. You’ll find crocodiles and other animals also, in their respective enclosures.
Some birds are friendly enough to land on your head or your hand, if you have the bird food. Feeding the birds is quite an experience as one can place food on his hands and head and wait for the whole flock to come, cover your body with feathers.
Moving onto the car Safari, one can easily spot these majestic creatures basking in the sunlight or taking a nap in the shade. They roam around freely, without any fear. These Royal Bengal Tigers are one of the endangered species, but thanks to initiatives being taken around the world, their numbers are increasing.
There are bars everywhere in Thailand. But some are quite exotic with their special cuisines be it an Italian bar with its pizzas and pastas or an Irish bar with its signature beer. A perfect place to relax at the end of the day recounting the day’s experience.
The next day we leave for Pattaya, a 150 km road-trip.
A lush green stretch of beautiful landscape welcomes you as you enter the city of Pattaya. As you enter the main city, tall buildings come into view, projecting a mesmerizing view, with the coastline visible just a few kilometers ahead. We leave for Koh-Larn, a beautiful coral island, on a speed boat.
On the way to Koh-larn, you can get off the boat onto a, 30 sq. meters, floating platform for parasailing. Tied to the end of the boat and sailing with the wind, 100 meters over the water, one of the most exhilarating experience ever. It gives you the top-of-the-world feeling, with the view of exquisite Pattaya. It’s a must have experience on one’s bucket-list.
As you get off the boat, you are welcomed by the sight of clear waters and an amazing view of the, 500 meters long, stretch of beach. With all kinds of water sports happening on the island, there is no chance of boredom creeping into your schedule.
A perfect place to sit under the sun with a beer in your hand and tingle your taste-buds with Thai street food or more like Thai beach food. With every passing second that you spend in this country, you fall in love with it all over again.
Coming back to the mainland, one can roam endlessly, traversing the through the streets of the city. The city itself is full of life. You can see people and tourists bustling from one place to another going about their work. You can see small shops and stalls almost every 20 meters selling mouth watering Thai food or really tempting clothes.
And the Journey ends right where it began, the Suvarnabhumi Airport.
-Shashank Kumar Pawar
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