The first of July. After all the planning and waiting we are finally on the way. We had to fly from Townsville to Brisbane. Brisbane to Bangkok where we arrived 8 o clock at night. The formalities take a long time and after storing one suitcase and the taxi organized we arrived in the hotel at 10 o clock. First impressions are congested traffic, a lot of bitumen and concrete. It took over an hour to get to the hotel. The tour did not start till late the next day so we just walked around the next day soaking up all the new sights and smells. There was to be an election in a few days and there were big signs on every free pole. On a street corner there was a popular Buddha with lots of people praying and dancing. There is no shortage of Buddha's here 32 000.




              One day asleep in Brisbane                                                   the next day talking to someone in Bangkok


                                                   Dancing at a street temple.                                                          There is food for every taste.
Walking is very tiring so we took a tuktuk to see the sights. He persuaded us to stop for five minutes in a clothing shop. Susan fell in love with a silk jacket and bought it for about one third of the original asking price which is about normal here. After that to make a boat trip. The long boats are very interesting. They have a four or six cylinder car motor in them with the normal car gearbox and a long shaft with a propeller. Toured in it for about an hour. A lot of people live above the water which saves a lot on plumbing.


                                                                           A lot of transport is over water
On Saturday night we met our traveling companions for the first time. It is only a small group, 6 people. Us, 3 from the states and a single lady from Oz. The guide's English is good but a strong accent which makes her difficult to follow sometimes. It is nice to have a small group. Went out for dinner with the guide. When she mentioned the name of the restaurant we thought that she made a mistake with her pronunciation, cabbages and condoms restaurant.
            As you can see no mistake.                                                           There are photos of the king everywhere.
Sunday is the first full day of the tour. We are going everywhere by public transport. Which is sky train, canal boat, bus, ferry and underground. The public transport is very efficient. The ferry is a very fast boat flying through a small canal. The grant Palace was very interesting and of course plenty of Buddha's. Had lunch at a riverside restaurant.


                     A ferry. No gangplank. You had to step over the canvas side.                                                                                                          The biggest lying Buddha in Thailand
Monday depart for Kanchanaburi in a Toyota Hiace. Plenty of space for everyone. Not officially on the program but first we visited the floating markets. This ended up to be one of the highlights of the trip. I also bought a "Rolex" watch for $32. Next a few hours drive to the death railway. Here is the famous bridge over the river Kwai. Visited the museum, war cemetery and Hellfire Pass. In the museum are plenty Dutch newspapers with stories of former prisoners of war. Lunch on a floating restaurant and late in the afternoon we take a longboat trip to the resort we are staying for the night. Comfortable cabins and traditional dancing after dinner. Very pleasant surroundings.


                           Floating market.                                                                                    It's all good tucker.










Bridge over the  river Kwai 

Tuesday and first in the boat back to town and a long drive in the bus to Ayuthaya. Here we had a two hour cruise taking in all the sights. Over the centuries the surroundings  have been plundered by the Burmese. Still plenty of Buddha's survived. The overnight accommodation was a home stay with a meal and traditional dancing supplied by the local progress association. The sleeping arrangements were as the brochure explained basic. This ment all of us slept in the same room with mattresses on the floor. At least it was air-conditioned.


  Traditional dancing at the home stay.                                                                      One of the TOO many Buddha's we have seen
Wednesday we had to wake up at 6AM to greet the monks and offer them food. A long day in the bus again with occasional comfort stops. Here we pass through very rural villages. Rice fields beside the road and mountains on the horizon. Had dinner from a roadside stall. Everything is well cooked and is eaten with rice.


             Main transport channel                                                                                 Luckily the menu had pictures
Thursday and off to Sukhothai. Thailands first capital. They had a few capital cities and as the Burmese got more aggressive they shifted the capital further south. We hired bicycles to get around as the site with all the buildings is stretched out. In the afternoon we travel to Lampang.  Again more temples and Buddha's. The night was spent at the elephant conservation centre. A comfortable cabin.


                                      Yes this is what you think it is.                                 Who is the elephant in the roo now ?
Friday and explanations about the elephant conservation centre. There are 50 elephants here. A fully grown elephant eats 300 KG a day. From what comes out the other end they make paper. This is the place where you can buy paintings produced by elephants. In the afternoon we drove to Chiang Mai. The 1670 meter high mountain which has a temple on top provided a good view of the city. This has been the only time we had a lot of rain while sightseeing. More markets at night. I don't buy a lot of stuff at the market but love the atmosphere. We had a very nice hotel here.


                 Paper making from elephant dung                                                                                         Schoolchildren at the elephant show.










              Everyone taking cover from the rain                                                                     Even the fish are fed
Saturday. The last full day of the tour. A long drive to the north of Chiang Mia to the end of the sealed road and a hill tribe. We have an elephant ride through the forest. The downhill part is fairly steep and we have to hold on tight. I took plenty of photo's of the others but do not have any of us on the elephant. There must be more tourists coming here because we were inundated by souvenir sellers.  For dinner we went to a nice restaurant.



   No buffalo in site to do the ploughing                                                            Susan and a lady picking chilly peppers


                                                                                 The wife of the village chief
Sunday. The last breakfast with the group. Susan went with the Americans to a Thai cooking class and I had a look around town. We booked to go back to Bangkok by train to leave 4.30PM. We got there early. Four to a cabin with a curtain to have some privacy. We arrived in Bangkok at 7 in the morning and the plane would leave at 11.30PM This means we had to keep ourselves occupied all that time. Walked around town for a while till we found a travel agent where we booked a cultural tour. Dancing, wedding ceremony, Thai boxing etc. Also an elephant show. Back in town by 4.40PM   Still plenty of time to get to the airport. Because of our experience with the local transport we took the train and underground. We got to the airport in plenty of time. KLM took us to Holland.


                                                    At the rose garden Bangkok