A FEW MORE TEMPLES ON THE BIG TRIP

We were still reeling from the sheer size of the Gold Buddha, these are a few pictures of the exterior of the building it’s housed in. Pure gold, can you imagine? You might expect it to be surrounded by armed guards, trip wires, mine fields and so on, but although it was out of reach on a huge platform, no one could lift it or remove it easily – even if it wasn’t a sacred monument.

A picture of the exterior of the building and the ceiling inside.

The Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) is a Khmer style Buddhist temple on the west banmk of the Chao Phraya River and we went to Wat Po, the largest and oldest temple in Bankok also known as the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage.

The afternoon was spent at the Royal Grand Palace, the official residence of the kings of Siam (now Thailand) which is in the historic centre of the city since 1782.  The king and his court lived there until 1925. It was quite sparse inside, but interesting.

More pics of this next time.

HISTORICAL RUBBISH

Now I forgot to mention that Victoria, deprived of her favourite Lord M, was ripe for the picking and sneaky Albert had been well coached in her likes and dislikes and was ready to ingratiate himself.

albert

To begin with he pretended to like dancing (he didn’t), he lied and told her he liked staying up late (he preferred early nights) and he was full of fun (he was a boring, lack lustre old fart).  But of course the stupid queen fell for him and the rest, as they say is history.

Stay safe till next week.

PLOUGHING ON THROUGH THE FAR EAST

We landed in Bangkok on 2nd February. Honestly their idea of a 3 star rating hotel would equal about 15 star in Europe, it was amazing. Once again we were upgraded to a deluxe suite, not sure why, but we were not going to complain.

Our guide took us to the following places and I’m not sure now which is which. Yes I’m ashamed to admit it but I didn’t want to spend all my time writing stuff down as I had in the past, but use my eyes to wonder, gape, drool and take it all in. There was so much to see, so many details, and we moved at such a fast pace to get it all in that it would be either the pictures or the script, and the photos won. We visited Wat Traimit, Wat Arun (Dawn Temple) and Wat Po.

Wat Traimit is the temple of the golden Buddha, famous for its 900 year old five and a half ton solid gold image of the Buddha. This week I am just going to post ONLY pictures of this as it just takes your breath away.

It was impossible to get it all in in one shot. I just love the one where they are working on the feet, using Mother of Pearl, as the man was showing us.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now I could write a book about Queen Victoria, but I don’t like her enough and I would probably be very rude. Before Christmas I left her slobbering over Lord Melbourne, but her Uncle Leopold (the Belgium king who annexed the Belgian Congo as an extension to his back garden) and various other members of the family had other ideas. this is his photo.leopold-of-belgium

Of course they wanted to bring in a German suitor on the excuse that he would be Protestant and not a Catholic. (Frankly by now I’m sure Henry VIII wouldn’t have minded too much). Enter Albert (yeuk), the one with no sense of humour and every intention of being king.

This time he did the slobbering to get the young queen’s attention and it wasn’t too long before they were an item, frequently seen at the local bowling alley on a Friday night.

Till next week, stay safe.

THE BIG TRIP FURTHER ON

Sadly I waved goodbye to the ellies, counting my fingers and toes in the car on the way down the hill to make sure I wasn’t a missing a bit. (Yes, I know elephants are vegetarian). We’d heard some horrific stories about the bad treatment some of them had suffered at the hands of their owners and one poor beast was hobbling around on three legs after stepping on a landmine. I was, however, only suffering from a sore toe. I’d watched the handlers smashing those large watermelons on the ground before feeding them to the elephants. That looks easy I thought what fun, and tried it as well – result, a bruised foot. I guess it takes practice and some spare feet.

We returned to our very posh hotel in Chiang Mai through the rush hour traffic which was quite horrendous

and the largest suite we’d stayed in for a long time. We could have hired a courier to pass messages from one end to the other. Don’t you just love the condoms on offer?

Just across the road we investigated this market with all kinds of interesting food on sale.

But wimpishly, we saw an Irish tavern and treated ourselves to some very European steak and potatoes, which was a change from the rice and vegetable diet more typical of the Far East.

Some beautiful, tall women came and greeted us, gorgeously dressed. I could have kicked myself later when DGH explained (in rather pompous tones I thought) they were examples of the transvestites who are common in the city. I didn’t take pictures! They hovered for a while and perhaps they were hoping to earn a few dollars by posing for the diners. I think we were the only diners there who weren’t local residents.

Now William probably didn’t notice the industrial revolution. He was too busy in his palace siring 10 illegitimate children. He attempted to sire at least 1 legitimate heir, but that didn’t work out too well. Mind, by the time he became king at the age of 64, he was probably getting a bit past it. Two of his children born on the wrong side of the blanket had died. He had them all with his mistress an actress (still a rather scandalous occupation in those days) Dorothea Jordan (born Dora Bland) with whom he lived with for twenty years.

220px-jordan_by_hoppner

I get a hint here that he wasn’t terribly fond of his wife. To begin with it was an arranged marriage to begat an heir, and even before the union William had written to his eldest son, “She is doomed, poor dear innocent young creature, to be my wife.”

220px-adelaide_of_saxe-meiningen

I think she must have been quite easy going to accept the marriage – it came with a hefty sum of money from parliament but since William was 27 years older than her, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen spent many happy hours in Marks and Spencers spending most of it. On good days she popped into Harrods, especially at sale time.

Have a great week, a safe Halloween and don’t forget my new book comes out on Thursday the 3rd in the Amie series – Stolen Future, which is on pre-order right now.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4  But another blog about that nearer the time.

amie-3-3d

THE BIG TRIP SOME NUMBER OR OTHER

Yes, I’ve got a bit confused with the numbering system and if I didn’t have the itinerary here, I wouldn’t remember where we went next.

After breakfast it was off to another airport and another flight. As I’ve mentioned before I love flying and I could quite easily get used to hopping on and off planes. Besides being a writer, my next choice would have been a career as a stewardess, but then, the family were not in favour of that either.  We flew from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai. I’m not sure if news had got back to China where our tour operator was domiciled – about those two old codgers who were looking totally knackered –  but they allowed us several hours of leisure time in Chiang Mai at this smart hotel

and a delightful evening wandering around a very nice night market.

Next day it we were off to see the elephants. No, not to ride on them, or watch them perform but to care for them. Despite the fact they were Indian elephants and much smaller than their African cousins, to me were still very large.

We were given melons to feed to them, initially we were behind a metal barrier then they took us out in the open and encouraged us to pat them and make friends.

I remembered the ranger I met in Chobe who took visitors out to meet this one friendly elephant. He’d shake hands with it to the delight and wonder of the admiring tourists. Until, the day he chose the wrong elephant. It crushed his hand to pulp.

These are different elephants I told myself, not daring to think of the time we’d been charged by one. These have been rescued from the streets where they were mis-used by their owners to beg for money, or made to give rides for hours or work in the logging camps. This was an elephant refuge where they were well fed and well treated.

After lunch we all trekked down to the river to give them a nice bath. Personally, I thought DH was very rude, remarking that my bucket throwing was not up to par, and if I stood at that distance from the leviathans, the water would never reach them.

dee-and-elephants-2

I got as close as I dared. I’ve not lived this long to take unnecessary chances.

So, we are up to William IV gracing the throne of England. (I guess there were 3 other Williams before him at some time, you would have to check back). He reigned at what came to be known as the start of the industrial revolution. This came about from the instruction of the steam kettle, useful for making cups of tea. Sir Robert Louise Stevenson put wheels on them and turned them into trains and other useful things.

WARNING 1 – THE BIG TRIP XV

WARNING:  for those of a nervous disposition, do not read this post, as it has a gruesome picture in it for lovers of little furry friends.

We bade a fond farewell to our guides with pleas from them to recommend holidays in Cambodia – and I do recommend it. The people were so friendly, the hotel was gorgeous and the ruins amazing.

It was time to move on, away from the wide majestic waterways and the inhabitants who eek out a living there, and take an afternoon flight across yet another border to Laos. Still a communist country and not as prosperous as Vietnam from what I could see. Luang Prabang is a lot further north and very much colder – though I must admit it was January.

I wrote in my diary it was a bit creepy, the bed was lumpy and the wedding party drums kept us awake for hours – yes, this is me who always reckons she could sleep through the 1812 played at the foot of the bed. But we were both so cold even cuddling didn’t keep the chills away. It was a nice hotel though but a little out of town.

Our first visit was to a market.

The little things with tails? Please don’t ask.

I was blown away by this little girl playing with a cell phone wearing Disneyland leggings. On one hand it shrinks the world, on the other emphasises the enormous gap.

Then it was off to another temple. I’ve been puzzled in the past about Buddhism, and was determined to sort out the principles on this trip. Instead of a greater understanding I became more confused. There appear to be dozens of slightly different sects with varying rules. I mention this as we were off to another temple complex called Wat Xieng Thong. Plus a trip around the Royal Palace museum.

Next time, dining on tree stumps.

Can I find anything more interesting to say about George IV? Well I scratched around a little and can share with you the following.

When he was born, an attending courtier announced he was a girl.  He didn’t like living in the small houses (huge mansions to you and I) preferred by his father, as I’ve mentioned they did not get on.

So he went mad building enormous residences for himself once he got to sit on the throne.

buckingham-palace

Buckingham Palace from the back for a change.

He was mad about clothes and spending money and he was very selfish and self-centred. When he was old he slipped into a fantasy world assisted by laudanum and cherry brandy. He believed he had personally defeated Napoleon. He had his first serious love affair at 17 and tried to divorce his wife, except Parliament wouldn’t let him. He only married in the first place, a good, acceptable, Protestant princess so the government would pay all his debts. He was blind drunk at his wedding. Wow, don’t you wish he was your neighbour?

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THE BIG TRIP XIII – MORE SIEM REAP AND THE NEXT KING

Ankor Wat stretches for miles and miles and miles.

I know some people spend days there and it was possible to get passes for a day, three days and a week.

Much as I am in awe of the magnificent buildings, there is still a lot of debate as to what / when / and how the exact history evolved. Our guide, a delightful man named Solly, was super attentive, holding my arm every step along the way. DH was getting quite huffy about it, watching like a hawk to see what part of my anatomy the man was going to grab as we approached yet another step. I couldn’t decide if the friendly Cambodian, a perfect gentleman, thought I was just too delightful and wanted to help, or if he thought I looked so decrepit I needed help.

Within the complex we saw the Bayon Temple, the Elephant’s Terrace and the Bakheng Temple. I’m ashamed to admit I can’t remember now one from another, but then if I have problems remembering what I did yesterday, maybe that’s not surprising.

But the whole experience was a delight and one I would not have missed for the world.

Well poor old George III ruled for a lot of years, I’m sure it’s not important how long but several decades. Every now and again his son stood in for him which did not please Daddy at all. They had continued with the family tradition of not getting on with each other and George IV didn’t like his wife either.

GEORGE IV
George IV

He got into a big sulk and went off to build himself a discreet little hideaway in Brighton where no one would bother him.

brighton pavilion 2

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THE BIG TRIP XI – CAN THO AND BIT MORE GEORGE III

Can Tho is on the banks of the Hau River in the Mekong delta area, but it felt as if we were by the sea – it is one big delta.

We spent the night in Can Tho and went walking along the promenade and came to this!

That must have cost a bit and slap bang in the south which was not in favour of the man on the platform.

Now from pictures on the internet it looks as if there are hundreds of tiny boats floating by the banks, but the following morning we were whisked up river to see the permanent floating villages. We were told they did relocate every six months due to the flooding, but I wasn’t sure how they managed this. How do you move a petrol station twice a year?

Then it was time for more eco village pursuits. Making rice noodles and a couple of extra pictures to prove I was there.

 

You can see how brave I was!

Back to Ho Chi Min city (Saigon) to fly to Seim Reap and I’m sure you can guess why they took us there.

 

Not only was George III interesting because he was mad, other exciting and interesting people lived at the same time – such as:

The peasants in France who revolted under Napoleon, who wanted France to become Top Dog. This could NOT be allowed of course, so Nelson with his very close friend  Hardy [of “Kiss Me Fame.”] and an Irishman called John Wellesley, who became the Duke of Wellington, and thus English, defeated Napoleon once at Waterloo and then again on the playing fields of Eton, which only proves that geography is not taught in French schools.

I’ve used up all my pictures for this post, so can you please imagine them?

Would Do you want  How about joining my mailing list? As soon as I’ve sent Amie 3 off to my editor, I will be writing some back stories only available to this special set of people. Also you can find out when you can get my books free or cheap and there’s the occasional competition to win free books just for signing up.

Either private message me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

Or email me on Lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com