9th June 2006 – Victoriana
Afternoon tea may not be the first thing that springs to mind on a trip in Thailand. But that was to be the highlight of the afternoon.
The first stop was at the Mrigadayavan Palace just outside Hua Hin. The Palace was built for King Rama VI as it was a cooler, seaside locatio n and more pleasant in summer than Bangkok. Built of teak and completed in 1924, it is, apparently, typical Thai-Victorian. It had recently been restored and contains furniture and other items belonging to King Rama VI and his family. The king died in 1925 but his only child, a daughter, Princess Bejaratana was still alive when I made my visit. (She died in 2011).
Then we drove into the town for a quick tour including the railway station of which the people are very proud. After spending a short while in town and looking at some of the stores I ventured into yet another Starbucks for a frappuccino and to cool down in the air conditioning.
Our final visit was to the Sofitel hotel for afternoon tea of cakes and earl grey. The hotel has a beautiful garden filled with topiary animals.
Despite a heavy downpour, I managed to have my daily swim. Later I made my way to the main lobby, where we were to join in the celebrations for the King’s 60th anniversary. All guests were asked to attend and the lobby was crammed full of both guests and staff. As requested I was wearing something yellow – my pashmina. There was a huge portrait of him in the lobby and a big screen on which we began to watch the proceedings from Bangkok. We were all given a yellow candle to hold and these were lit as the ceremony proceeded. Crowds of thousands in Bangkok were also holding lit candles. It was quite a spectacle. However at the end of the ceremony none of us were sure as to whether we had actually seen the king and queen. No-one seemed certain that they were actually present! It shall remain a mystery. Afterwards there was a great rush to the dining room and I met up with another couple of Saga guests and spent a lovely evening in the ar shampoo restaurant until 10.
10th June 2006
Today I mostly spent relaxing including having a pedicure from which I emerged with bright red toenails and feeling very relaxed. The highlight of the evening was settling down to watch the World Cup in the bar. It had barely got started when the channel disappeared and there was total uproar! Eventually it came back on and I watched the game with a couple of other Saga guests.
11th June 2006
I was up at 6 a.m. and we were on the coach by 7:30. We first visited a coconut farm where they make sugar from coconut flour, coconut milk and coconut oil. They also have a substantial souvenir shop! Then it was on board a long tail boat to ride to the floating market. The ride was at great speed, until we had to slow down to turn the corners. As we got near the market the waterways got busier and there was something of a traffic jam just before we got off the boat. There was both an indoor and outdoor market selling everything from beautiful silk and silk clothes to fruit vegetables being sold from boats sailing up and down the waterways at the edge of the market. It was fascinating and I bought some spices. Then we set off to a craft centre where they made beautiful furniture and where we could watch the craftsman at work. Finally we were off to the Rose Garden Hotel for an excellent buffet lunch followed by a show of cultural activities, dancing, stick fighting, Thai boxing accompanied by different types of music.
I decided to have a change of scenery at dinner time and ate at the Rim Talay restaurant which was just by the beach. There was no inside seating so it was a bit warm but the food, which happened to be Italian, was very good.