Tropical paradise - Peaceful people living in Harmony with the land.
12.05.2011 - 13.05.2011 33 °C
Another hot and steamy day in the beautiful island of Phuket on the Western side of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. We woke later than the last 3 days as our tour was not to start antil 10am. After breakfast we gathered in the Princess Theatre and were lead off the ship to our Coach and our garrulous but very enthusiastic driver who attempted to teach as about the beliefs and lives of the people of this lovely place. We were then taken through the narrow streets of Phuket town to our major destination the Phuket Island Safari centre.
We spent several hours here in the heat being entertained by trained Macaque or Pig-tailed monkeys who spend the first 2 years of their lives learning how to climb coconut palms to gather up to 1000 coconuts in a days work. Then to the highlight of this part of the tour When Celina and I one elephant and Melinda and Josh on another spent at least 3/4 hour walking along a trail through the Park. Mala, a 27 year old female, was particulalry stubborn and at lone stage accompanied by “My God.....My God from our Mahout decided to wander off the path into a muddy stream with us bouncing from side to side and shrieking with enjoyment. During this process the Elephant’s trunk would come back over its head looking for the bananas which we had purchased for its delight.
We all had a thouroughly entertaining time and then were treated to an Elephant Show in which a well-trained Female did tricks not seen by westerners for years since elephant acts were banned in Australian Circuses. Exploitative maybe but understandable since the tourists pay for the care given to these Asian Elephants.
Celina, Melinda and Josh were treated to an Elephant foot massage where they lay on a rubber mat face down and had a juvenile elephant first put its foot down on their backs and then give them a kiss with its bristly trunk on the neck or face. All who participated loved the experience.
We then had a brief ride on a Water Buffalo cart and were treated to a lecture on rice growing. We were then taken to the major buddhist temple in Phuket while enjoying the less than perfect air-conditioning of the tour coach. This temple is like so many resplendent in Gilt decorations and many images of the Buddha in his various manifestations and postures occupy all three levels of the main temple. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to see the many subsidiary temples of the complex. A brief and somewhat unsatisfactory lunch then we were off to a “shopping” trip to a Pearl Factory. Fortunately we were only allocated a half hour to do any shopping so little damage was done. We were then told we had the option of going to a scenic lookout or returning to the Ship. Most chose the latter and the opportunity to do some last minute shopping at the market stalls alongside the dock at which Sun Princess was moored. After getting out of the heat we had a leisurely evening meal and relatively early to bed. It says about the ships population’s average age and physical capacity when you are told that only 12 people were in the Disco after 10pm!
Today was an easy day - the first of three at sea prior to our own Passage to India - with no pressure to do anything but relax and eat. The highlights of today were the drill to prepare the ships company for any possible act of piracy and to reassure us all that the vessel has all necessary abilities to resist all such possibilites. Tonight we enjoyed the latest full production show in the Princess theatre and I am writing this entry up in the full knowledge that the ships clocks are to be moved back another hour tonight leaving us 4 hours behind Melbourne time.