Erratum: The Marina Bay Sands consists of three 57 STOREY towers. 57 feet don’t make much of a tower, as Steve Harrold pointed out.
Sunday, February 18, There’s always a lot of work for me on the day we board, and I was none too happy to find out that this is an older Celebrity ship, and the broadcast feature isn’t on it. So, after I met my Event Coordinator, Itemara, and nailed down our times and dates, I printed my letters, stuffed them into their folders, delivered them and called 25 staterooms. Most of them weren’t there, but I left messages, and reported three malfunctioning phones.
Pat and Mike are in this fancy suite, so they had dinner in their fancy dining room. Luckily, Adam and Judy, being Montrealers, eat late, so we were fine on the later end of open seating. Dinner was good, too.
Monday, February 19, was a sea day, so I had office hours. A number of people stopped by, to hand in their tour contracts, and I got their pictures, so I could learn their names. The Future Cruise people stopped by, and I invited them to our cocktail and showed them our DV brochure. They volunteered to photocopy the Celebrity pages and make a handout for the group. What a good idea.
When I closed up shop, I worked the phone in my cabin for an hour, until it was time for our cocktail party, at 4:30 pm, which was exceptionally well attended. The Future Cruise handout was a success. The people liked seeing when they could hit another DV. Too bad the hors d’oeuvres didn’t come.
The all-singing, all-dancing production show, Boogie Wonderland, was wonderful, and so was dinner.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 Our first stop was Koh Samui, a resort island in Thailand. We got off, found ourselves a taxi, and went to the beach, where we swam, I had a massage, and we ate Thai beach food. The pad Thai was excellent, and so was the Thai beer.
Wednesday, February 21: As the city of Bangkok, is a couple of hours form its port, Laem Chabang) our group pf five had decided to overnight there. Once you are doing that, you might as well do it in style, because a full Abercrombie and Kent tour isn’t much more than two ship’s shuttles. I booked the hotel on the Internet. That’s the trick. If A & K book the hotel, it doubles the price.
After Pat and Mike and I waited about 15 minutes on the dock, while Adam and Judy searched their room frantically for their Thai baht, we joined our A & K guide, Teresa, who was lovely. She has been with A & K for 23 years. Tour Guide is a very good job in these parts. On the way to the city, on a brand new highway that puts ours to shame, she dispensed all kinds of factoids, about Thailand’s exports, rice, rubber, automobiles, etc. and pointed out their national flower, Laburnum, which is all over the place. She shyly told us they called it the “Golden Shower” and Westerners always laughed.
They had a big flood about 8 years ago, and the streets of Bangkok turned into canals. They are losing manufacturing plants to Vietnam, as the Thai economy strengthens and labor becomes more expensive. They also have a lot of migrant workers from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, seeking those nice Thai wages. There are many religions in Thailand, Buddhism being the strongest. It is rooted in Hinduism, which explains the architecture, but Buddha rejected the caste system, because no one can choose where, when and to whom to be born.
Our hotel was The Peninsula, Bangkok, which I booked at a tremendous bargain, because it is on the wrong side of the river. But just you wait. There are financial towers going up all around it. Soon it will look like Central Hong Kong, and the rate will triple. For now, I can do nothing but recommend it. Our rooms were spectacular, and very peaceful. It felt like Raffles, only as a tower. We checked in and went off to Cream for lunch, as recommended by Teresa.
Cream was a little Thai restaurant, just outside the front gate and a block to the right. It had just been renovated, so it was very clean, and the Thai food was very good. After lunch, we took our van to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra, home of the Emerald Buddha. I was worried about this attraction, as it had been overrun with very rude Chinese tourists, the last time I was here, in 2013. The Chinese tourists are still out in force, but they have learned manners in the intervening five years, and it was OK to visit, after all. It was very hot, though.
We were happy to board a long barge, and continue our tour on the river. Part of Elvon is now resting peacefully on the Chao Phraya river bed. We saw Wat Arun, and the Royal Barges, and enjoyed our boat ride.
We ate at the hotel, at Thiptara, its Thai restaurant on the river bank, watching the traffic go by on the river. We took the tasting menu, with wine pairings and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of Thai wine. These people planted their vineyards less that twenty years ago, and started selling it ten years ago. Most of our selections were from “PB” and they were all very nice to drink. Who would have thunk it?
After dinner, Pat and Mike went off to enjoy their balcony, while Adam, Judy and I boarded the Peninsula’s boat to meet up with the Night Market’s boat. The night market was fun, but it took us so long to find the part we wanted, that it was closing by the time we got there. I made an extremely dumb purchase, which I will be happy to show you, if it ever survives the journey home.
The next morning, Pat and Mike, who get up earlier, took The Peninsula’s boat to the other side and walked around, just experiencing Bangkok. Then they met us for breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast Adam and Judy went swimming and I spent some quiet time with my computer. Teresa and the van picked us up around 1:30 pm, and we were back on board in plenty of time for sail-away.
I realized in the van that I had left my Tilley hat at the Pen. No problem, Teresa phoned them, and after a few emails and $47, I’ll have it back at the Conrad in Hong Kong.