Part Five: Reflections
By Gyn Gerhardt
Back in Bangkok, it just wasn't the same without our comfy bus and
of course James and Kop. Our new driver and bus seemed to be lost
as we waited at the airport. We thought about Kop and James making
that long drive back to Bangkok. Finally Nu called for a replacement
bus and after a quick lunch we were back to our sumptuous hotel
and a last fitting of my silk suit (which was elegant). Repacking
all my treasures was in order and a second look at the water buffalo
hide lacy sculpture of the mother elephant with her baby
took first place in my heart (a $10 find that cost $180 to frame).
With just 2 more days
before we headed home, Nu still had places on his list for us to
see. The morning came and we headed out the door for our adventure
of the day to the Grand Palace and the floating market. There before
us stood Kop, James Bond and our bus for the past two weeks, all
shiny and clean! While they were scheduled for a couple days rest,
they wanted to be with us once more just as much as we appreciated
them. Smiles and hugs all around and once more we were on our way,
I might say, with bigger smiles for
our good fortune.
I sat in the waiting
area for my plane to arrive that would take me home to Las Vegas.
I felt so rich in spirit to have had this experience. While having
been on many tours, I couldn't help but think that this one ended
much too soon. I wondered if it was the Thai smiles and the air
of respect that transformed us tourists into such a compatible group
or if we would have been the same in any country.
Our ages ranged from
the mid-fifties to the early eighties. We traveled from as far away
as the east coast and from the west. Two of our group were avid
photographers and must have shot well over 40 rolls of film. I manage
to do 9 rolls. Only one member of our group was not too fond of
but as in most countries, there is always MacDonalds, Burger King
and Pizza Hut.
I like to think it was
Nu, James, Kop, the Thai people with their smiling faces and the
beauty of the country that made me a bit sad to be going home. I
wasn't tired and exhausted like I have been on other tours, yet
our schedule had been very full of adventures.
A few last items I would
like to share with you. We traveled in a nice new air conditioned
bus through out the country. We also traveled many times by rice
barges, long tailed boats, rafts, canoes and the beloved trishaws
(bicycle version of the old rickshaw). While all our first class
hotels offered the western commode, the countryside retains the
typical hole in
the ground (always clean) accommodations, requiring a bit of agility.
A tub of water and a scoop next to the facility are used for flushing.
Westerners must drink bottled water (which was always provided to
us in abundance).
For those of you who
have been visiting Thailand through my eyes, I hope you have had
a good trip. If you would like to do this tour, it is available
through Overseas Adventure Travels (1-800-955-1925) for under $2,000
from the West Coast including 16 days of all hotels, meals, touring
and airfare. OAT's parent company, Grand Circle (1-800-221-2610)
offers a 15 day extended-stay vacation in Bangkok and Chaing Mai
from most cities in the US for under $1,200 including airfare, hotels
and some tours and meals.
One may think that our
guide Nu was an exceptional young guide. I have traveled with OAT
and Grand Circle before and while Nu, James and Kop were responsible
for much of our joy, I have found all their guides are exceptionally
well trained and personable. I have never been disappointed. On
that note I thank you all for letting me share my adventure and
I look forward to traveling with you again.
Part One: Bangkok
Part Two: The River Kwai
Part Three: The Golden Triangle
Part Four: Saffron Robes
Part Five: Reflections