Bangkok

We’re now back home after a long flight. However Eva Air did us proud – a six course dinner served immaculately by an ever attentive bevy of Chinese air-hostesses. Thirteen hours in the same seat was helped a lot as it, at a touch of a button, magically transformed itself into a fully flat bed. We were even given pyjamas together with a well-stocked toiletries kit. But now we can look back on the last leg of our holiday which we spent at the Shangri-la Hotel in Bangkok, situated on the banks of the Chao Pyrrha River. And as the temperature was over 35 degrees every day during our stay we spent a large proportion of it lazing by the pool.

On our first day in Bangkok we made our way to the Grand Palace, but weren’t prepared for the, literally, hundreds of Chinese tour groups thronging the scene. The weather was so hot, and the (selfie-obsessed) crowds swarming everywhere. Nevertheless gold shone out in the fierce sunshine. I’ll post a few photographs (minus as many people that I can crop out) we took during the morning.

After a quick return to the hotel we made our way to The Royal Bangkok Sports Club where we planned to meet friends of mine for lunch. Getting there by taxi took a little time as our taxi driver spoke no English. We showed a her a map on the way but that didn’t help much. But luckily she had a sort of sat-nav upon which I typed in the RBSC name. This then translated into Thai, which she understood, but additionally gave her a moving map to guide her to our destination. Finally, after passing through a couple of layers of security we met up with Fon and Simon – our hosts.

Fon is an amazing woman – a fully qualified pilot, she spends a lot of her time flying different aircraft in many places around the world. She’s also an award winning international photographer, climbs mountains in Europe and Asia, and leads an incredibly exciting life. They both live in Bangkok where Simon, a descendant of Clive of India, works.

A buffet dinner that evening at our hotel was a truly spectacular event. I’ve never seen such an unlimited choice.

From lobster, crayfish, prawns, and every other type of seafood to beautiful arrays of sweet dishes.

Next day, after a morning by the pool, we visited Jim Thompson’s house.

Jim Thompson served in Burma during the Second World War in the office of the SSO (the forerunner of the American CIA) and having settled in Bangkok after the war revitalised the Thai silk trade. But in 1967, while on a walking holiday in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands he disappeared. I was living in a Bangkok at the time and remember the speculation as to the reason for his disappearance – from being abducted by communist spies, killed by business rivals, or eaten by a tiger. To this day no one knows what happened and still many theories exist. Jim Thompson had several other Thai houses built in his compound (one of which was rented for a year or so by one of my executives, so I dined there on many occasions). His collection of pottery, antiques and other curiosities is spread throughout the house.

Every house in Thailand has a spirit house in the corner of its garden. This is Jim Thompson’s.

Spirit Houses in Thailand are dedicated to the guardians of the land and every morning members of the family where they reside make offerings of fruit, coconuts, fried rice and flowers to the spirits who they believe live there. If you look inside a spirit house you’ll find a fantastic display of animal figurines, statues of dancing ladies and all sorts of other little items. And the heady aroma of incense fills the air.

This is the view from our hotel down to the pool and the river beyond – by day and at night.

As we sat by the pool we were accompanied by a variety of birds. My young friend made a daily social media post for her family so, as they are bird lovers, we gave them a few to identify.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city is a small Museum called Suan Pakkad Palace. We took the Sky Train there – very crowded, and as we alighted, noisy and hot during the walk along the road. But as soon as we entered the Little Palace all was peaceful.

A guide showed us around and with her limited English and my smattering of long forgotten Thai words we worked our way around the adjoining houses.

In this room there’s an animated illuminated depiction of an historical clash between armies.

Once the residence of Princess Chumbhot of Nagar Svarga, one ofThailand’s leading art collectors, this lovely complex houses five traditional Thai houses containing historic collections and works of art. Amongst the collections I noticed they have several pieces of Ban Chiang pottery. These date from before 1500 BC. Discovered in 1966 the find attracted worldwide interest. I have an example myself.

You have to take your shoes off when entering Thai houses.

On our last evening in Bangkok we arranged to dine at The Lord Jim restaurant in the Oriental Hotel (my favourite hotel in the entire world). From our hotel we organised a Chinese junk to take us the short distance by River to the Oriental.

Wandering through the gardens we had a look in The Authors Lounge. This is where I staged a large, 120 piece miniature exhibition, a number of years ago.

Then we had a couple of cocktails in the hotel lounge.

And then on to a wonderful dinner at Lord Jim’s where our table overlooked the river as many large illuminated boats passed by.

What a lovely way to end our holiday.

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