Monday 25th continued…
After hugging the tiger cub – did I mention that? LOL – we went upstairs and availed ourselves of the bathrooms that Edine had told us to wait for because they were so much nicer, cleaner and better smelling than the ones downstairs. And in the next instant we were being seated in a *very* large auditorium, which I believe seated 3,000 people. This was wider than its front-to-back measurement by a great deal and we were very happy to see that the seats were raised well above the height of the one in front so there was no risk to anyone of having their view blocked by a tall person. In fact though, I think any tall person would avoid the auditorium completely if they knew what we found out the moment we sat down. The seat rows were *incredibly* close together! I only just fitted, spine to knees, in the spot allocated to me, and I’m only 5’ 4”. The seats would not have been suited to anyone width-challenged, but they were not even really suited to anyone of normal (Western) height. There was a man in front of David jammed into his space with a shoe horn and we could imagine him needing a block and tackle to unwedge him at the end of the show. As he sat down, the chair back in front of him moved slightly forward and remained rigid for the duration and his own chair back shot backwards to the extremes of its capabilities and groaned audibly to a halt. It was like something from a Tom and Jerry cartoon!
Then someone arrived for the row in front of the tall man (thank goodness it wasn’t his row!) and all those seated had to stand to let the person through – as you do. David, ever ready with comments that state the obvious but that nobody else would even think of, much less say aloud, said “Oh look, a Mexican wave!!!” The first lady that had had to stand up seemed to take a second or two and then turned and absolutely cracked up laughing, nudging her companions and telling them what he’d said also. Well, it made for a cheery start to the evening for us all anyway.
I don’t quite know what to say about the show or how to describe it. There were elephants, dancers, pyrotechnics, a magic act, a flock (is that the right collective name? or maybe it’s a cluck?) of chickens, a herd of goats and who knows what amongst the acts and the whole show was apparently telling the story of how Thailand was founded. And it seems that Thailand was founded by people floating about the place on wires from the heavens! That’s very naughty of me!!!
The main character was a prince who could summon a magic elephant in times of dire need and the elephant would arrive with flashing LED lights on her saddle cloth. Edine had told us that all of the performing elephants were female and I suspect (to be polite about it) that this was so that there were no ‘spare parts’ that may do undisciplined things that would be hard to explain to the children at the wrong moment.
David’s and my favourite act by far was about 10 artists who appeared as if by magic above the heads of the ‘ball pit seats’ on trapezes. These people were lit by ultra violet light which also made it fun to look around the audience, but the act was captivating enough that we didn’t do that for long. The artists hadn’t been on the trapezes for long when they all let go and did wonderfully controlled boinging down on short bungee cords, turned a few somersaults and then slowly bounced back up to hold onto their trapezes again. It’s impossible to describe properly in words but it was a beautiful and elegant display to watch and most enjoyable. I can’t remember if they did a second act as well or if they just did a decent amount of work in the finale, but anyway we saw them twice.
The show was 90 minutes long and the organisation to get all 3,000 of us out of the theatre was as incredible as it had been to get us all in there. We just all flowed out like butter on a hot BBQ plate. Those who needed to collect their confiscated cameras filtered to the left and were dealt with at an honestly jaw dropping speed. For us, we had to collect our tiger cub pictures – and perhaps I should mention that we’d had to pay for them before the show without seeing the results – but we went to the clearly marked sign saying Photo Pickup and were assisted instantly by one of about 8 staff behind the counter. David gave her our receipt and she was gone about 6 seconds flat before returning with an envelope; she opened it, and there we were in glorious shining colour. We’d never doubted it would be the correct photos. And then we were outside, gasping for air amongst all those who’d been gasping for nicotine for the whole 90 minutes and could obviously not live a second longer to move away from the doors. I’d say it took about 10 minutes absolute maximum from the end of the show to being out of the doors with our photos in hand.
This happens twice a day. There is an early show as well as the one we’d attended and I thoroughly applaud their organisational skills.
Now we had some time to look around and take some photos but really the park was winding up for the night. Only half of the shop stalls were still open for business and the daylight was long gone to be able to take nice shots of the impressive buildings. This is the outside of the Elephant Palace (the posh name for the theatre). As I couldn’t take my big camera because I was not willing to part with it and have it locked away by strangers you’ll have to settle for what the little camera could produce.
There are apparently 4 hectares of grounds in this park as well as a buffet restaurant that can seat 4,000 people. I’ve heard that you even get looked after well as you eat – imagine the logistics of that feat! We could see that there were many, many shops and things of interest, but we had hardly any time to explore them.
There was one shop still open that was selling ‘diamond’ studded models of animals – tigers, peacocks, penguins and anything your heart could desire if your pocket was full enough, and willing to be emptied. We were also not allowed to take photos in here but I did sneak one of their calculator!
The shops were all closing around our ears and we had to get back to the front gate for the Club Med bus anyway. Everyone that I spoke to that took this trip – not just with us, but others that had gone on other days from Club Med too – were really disappointed to be getting to the park so late. The park opens at 5pm, which even then seems crazily late if people want to explore the grounds and all the things they have to offer, but we didn’t even get there until well gone 8pm and more probably 8:20ish. Literally all we had time for was to watch the show, yet we’d paid the entry fee entitling us to see the grounds as well. I’d rather have paid for a meal out (despite having paid for the buffet at Club Med) and actually been able to see all of Fantasea.
Anyway, Edine was at the gate with his smiling face to check that we were all there and get us safely onto the returning bus. He asked if anyone wanted to get out at Pa Tong, the ‘Night Life Place’ on the way back but none of us did. We saw all the thriving market-style shops, the crowds of people, and heard the music as we passed through – that was enough.
We had a drink at the bar when we got back and then got to bed at 1am. It had been a pleasant day in paradise.
Today was a little cooler than it had been so far. The locals had been saying it was hot but there was a definite change today. Trust me, it was still swimming weather!
After breakfast we went for a walk ‘over the road’ just to amble around for a while. Life’s good when you have no purpose – at times anyway.
Well, it was quiet pool time by now so we went back to our room to get changed and then lazed/read/swam our time away until lunch. It’s a hard life 😉
Our little table was in use, so we sat in the centre of our favoured dining room instead of around the edge as usual. Those who know me, or have read many of my stories will know how badly I suffer with motion sickness, well this really was ridiculous. We were in the centre of a floor made of wooden planks and they moved as people walked past. I found myself feeling sea sick in the middle of a dining room!!! David scuttled away and asked if it would be alright if we moved tables – one had just become vacant at the edge. You’d think that someone had made me feel sick on purpose – the wait-staff just could not have been more apologetic, yet it was nowhere near their fault. They were all so beautiful. And they helped us carry our plates and drinks to the new table as it was cleared of the old things like magic.
After lunch we went to the quiet pool again, ignoring the noisy people who were once more in there, and did more of the same… laze/read/swim. A bit later, like a couple of hours or so, we went back to our room and I had a granny nap while David looked at our growing number of photos and backed them all up to the hard-drive that I didn’t go anywhere without.
When it was time for dinner we were disappointed to see the napkins on top of the cutlery at our favourite little table. When nobody is in attendance (AKA getting food from the buffet) this was code for ‘this table is taken’ so we looked towards the waitress to see where she wanted us to sit. Lo and behold she beckoned us toward the table. They’d saved it for us!!! We were so touched – what a beautiful thing to do!
Oh, David wants me to mention something that amused him no end. At the end of each course during a meal you barely had to *think* about placing your knife and fork down on the plate and a wait-person appeared out of nowhere to whisk the plates away. He thought they either had hidden ‘Plate Cams’ around the place or bionic hearing that could pick up the tinkle of cutlery handle to plate at a thousand paces!
You just know it – we had drinks from the bar while we awaited tonight’s show. We said it every night to one another, but the Club Med shows really are world class, and tonight was no exception. This one was largely trapeze or silks aerial work but this time held above the main swimming pool, as we’d seen done in the Bali Club Med. I did a really bad job of photographing this one. The camera needed longer to focus because of the dull light and then the shutter speed was too slow and captured blurred action. And yes, in hindsight I know what I should have done to fix this tee hee!
The specks in the air (above) were bubbles – some of thousands that were blown across the stage and tortured me, trying to take a great photo of one. They looked so beautiful with the stage lighting reflecting in them! But I didn’t have a happy camera night, never mind – it happens.
You won’t often find a female performer supporting a male but this incredible girl did it regularly through the shows that we saw her in.
And after another drink from the bar it was time for bed once more.
Our last full day. Don’t they always come around too fast? Today felt hotter than we had experienced to date, but I mean, I’m only talking about low 30s temperatures. Celsius/Centigrade that is, not Fahrenheit! David surprised me by suggesting that we go for another run before breakfast and again we ran the full distance from the gate to the left side of the beach without stopping; such a wonderful feeling; such a buzz of achievement! On the way back to the north of the beach though it really was getting hotter and the sun was in our faces so we walked more than ran – but that’s OK. We weren’t sitting around being lazy and we *are* grandparents!
Breakfast was yummy and we always did eat plenty at breakfast but lightened it up a lot at lunch. And do you know what? The quiet pool and our books were calling us – and why not? David asked me if I would be the one to ask for a drink at the little counter today – he always did it before – and I said yes. He grinned and said “I’ve got you memorised!” ROFL He meant mesmerised! I love his English.
As we were walking back from one dip, David suddenly spotted a dear little Tree Lizard on the footpath and I rushed off to get my camera, never dreaming it would wait for me. But it did…
We read a little, swam a little, and then decided to take some more photos. I’ve mentioned already that one wall of the pool was glass but David had looked up and suddenly seen the effect of the refraction of the water on some guy up there whose head was not appearing to be quite in the right place. Always being ready for the limelight off he went to pose for the camera. I took about 20 photos, laughing my head off between shots, and causing many of the photos to be out of level to boot. But anyway, here are 2, the second of which David has titled ‘Racing Ahead’ LOL
Incredible isn’t it? I solemnly swear, these are straight from the camera unedited.
I took quite a lot of photos seeing as this was probably our last time in the quiet pool, so I’ll just put them here with no further, unnecessary, chatter.
The pair of us, kindly taken by a fellow Nikon photographer, after I’d done the same for him and his partner.
And my sweet little plastic bird toy that I’d taken along to ‘shoot’ somewhere nice. The lounger in the background was our favourite and we were successful in getting that one every time but once. That one time there was a bit of an incident. 2 Asian girls had got ‘our’ bed and a third in their party was on a single bed closer to the pool and directly at the foot of ours. We suddenly heard a squeal from the single girl and peals of laughter from the other 2. The poor girl had lain on her stomach to sun bathe, undoing her bikini top but had forgotten! She’d gone walking off towards the pool topless and without realising her error until her friends laughed. She was fine, and facing nobody but her friends, until the point that she turned around to race back to the bed and came eyeball to, well, let’s say eyeball, with David. Poor thing! Her friends were laughing for ages but she was mortified!
And then we made a pool lounger for Birdie LOL
At one point, as I lay on the lounger I noticed a bird come out from under a bush and then lurch to the side. It lay there on its side, gasping for air…
I was just starting to panic and wonder who I should summon to help the poor thing when it jumped up, as right as rain and gave me this evil look!!!
Well if that doesn’t say ‘ha ha I tricked ya!’ I don’t know what does! He then strutted around proudly for quite some time, but always with his beak open. I’ve never seen birds do that before.
Eventually we went to our room to shower and then went up to lunch and decided not to waste away our last afternoon but to go up to Pa Tong (the night life centre, but in the safety of day LOL). We walked out of the gate and said no to the offers of a taxi from the rank directly across the road but instead headed about 50 metres to the left where there was a tuk tuk rank. Disturbing, and then breaking up, a game of cards, David asked how much to Pa Tong and one of the drivers quoted us 400 baht so we agreed. He took us across the road and put us into… a taxi! But we’d wanted a tuk tuk!!! LOL Oh well. He asked us which part of Pa Tong we wanted and we said ‘shopping’.
About 15 minutes later we were delivered to the western styled shopping centre. I’m not sure if that’s what we’d really wanted but we hate being accosted as you pass the market stall style shops so perhaps it was for the best, and we enjoyed a look around the 3 floors and what it had to offer. And we *finally* found a pair of thongs (flip flops/jandals) for David that did not have rubber uppers. He can only cope with the cloth straps between his toes. I also tried to buy some gifts for the grandchildren but was fighting uphill until the very end when he finally agreed that we could get the first things I’d asked him to get aarrggghhhhh!!!!! Anyway it was not difficult to find the shop again thank goodness or he’d have been for the high jump!
Oh I nearly forgot! While we were in the shops we decided to find a loo, and did manage that eventually. I *love* Thailand because they have proper toilets and they’re all clean and fit for use. But anyway – this one didn’t have any toilet paper. Oh well, I always have tissues. But as I went out to wash my hands, next to the basins there was a large dispenser on the wall, so I checked to see if there were hand towels in there – never dreaming the truth! It was one massive, industrial-sized roll of toilet paper. Are you supposed to tear off your favoured number of sheets before you go into a stall? There were no hand towels though, so I wasn’t quite certain of my facts. I came out of there laughing and told David about it and he pointed towards 2 boxes attached to the wall you’re facing as you come *out* of the bathrooms. One was for ladies – obviously *not* to buy necessary supplies in the privacy of the place only ladies can go. The other was labelled ‘tissue paper’. I’m presuming this was not the kind you wrap gifts with, but the ‘toilet tissue’ kind, and there was a slot to put a 2 baht coin into. Again, you’d have to buy this in the hallway on your way into the bathrooms – but neither of us had seen the boxes, and I didn’t even see it on the way out! But then I was blinded by looking at the Love of My Life who was out there already.
We crossed the road outside the shopping centre (now that sounds easy doesn’t it?). The road was very, very wide and it was quite the task to get across! And on the far side was a market, but it turned out to only be food – dry food one end and wet food the other. We did manage to find some red dragon fruit, already cut, so grabbed that for David because it’s his favourite fruit, but soon scuttled out of there because we were fully fed at the Club and were leaving the next day so food was no use to us. There was nothing else thrilling on this side of the road so we crossed back again. We’d only been in Pa Tong about an hour and it seemed ridiculous to go back home so soon so we went into the Starbucks there and had another iced coffee while we watched the world go by. David managed to get a nice photo of a tuk tuk and it just so happened there was a matching coach coming up behind it.
The highlight of this time to me was seeing a lady drive up on a scooter with a dog sitting on the pillion seat behind her. It was just sitting there. No basket, no lead, nothing. Incredible! If only I’d been faster with the camera!
After the coffee we once more crossed the road because there were some clothing and gift stalls that were being set up ready for the evening as we watched. We wandered around and I have to say that we were not accosted much at all – such a relief. And we even found 2 gifts that we liked for our sons and almost enjoyed the ‘calculator bartering’ that was so sensibly popular here. The stall holder keyed in a figure and then handed us the calculator to type in our bid, and back and forth it went in very good humour until we agreed on a figure. Wow! David let me buy some gifts with very little objection!!! He is absolutely *not* miserly, he just can’t see the point in buying gifts ‘for no reason’.
Believe it or not we crossed the wide and busy road for a 4th time to go to the little taxi rank. ‘Believe it or not’ because the rank was on the side of the road heading away from Kata Beach where we needed to go. But anyway David insisted that we wanted a tuk tuk, and that nothing else would do. And, once the driver had somehow miraculously managed to chuck a U-turn on that road, here are the happy pictures to prove that we did take one at last.
David says that there were moments when the yellow tuk tuk behind almost became a trailer for the one we were in but thankfully I was always facing front and didn’t see this ha ha! There was also one time when our driver, clearly visible to us in his rear view mirror, beeped at and abused another driver, but the delightfully cheeky grin never did leave his face!
It fascinated us that when we arrived back at Club Med the tuk tuk dropped us outside the security gate. Taxis and mini buses had always gone inside. Hhmmm – some elitism going on? Anyway, as we walked through the gate it gave me a chance to photograph the little shrine – I do hope this is the correct word for Buddhism?
There were many businesses and homes with these, in various shapes and sizes and we loved the intricacy of the design as well as the assortment of gifts presented. There were flower strings, bottles of water and cool drink, candles and incense sticks. This one was also decorated with a small string of lights.
Near the Club Med guarded entrance was also one of the crested singing birds and finally I got a ‘not too bad’ photo to share.
Our feet took us, unbidden, to the bar and we enjoyed a nice drink before heading back to our room to do some reading – I was so close to the end of my book – and to eat the red dragon fruit. And then it was time to shower and get into our best clothes for the a la carte restaurant, ‘Chu Da’. We’d asked what the dress code was when we booked and I swear she’d said ‘evening wear’ and David swore she’d said ‘smart casual’.
Well, this time it was David’s turn to be right. We were well over-dressed – I’d even made him wear a tie, which he ripped straight off as soon as he saw the other men in their collared-style t.shirts LOL And the odd thing was, as we walked in, the table that we’d pointed out that we wanted when we’d booked had people sitting at it! Had we got the wrong night? Well, had we somehow *booked* the wrong night because this was certainly the night we wanted! I don’t know if there was some mistake or not because we were then offered another table but it only had 2 seats and we were expecting (and had booked for) a special guest! No trouble, there was a 3-seater free next to that thank goodness and we sat down, immediately being served with wine. The appetiser was already on the table but we nibbled our bread rolls and waited for our guest.
After only a very few minutes our dear Zelie arrived. We were so happy to be spending our last evening meal with such a beautiful person and I named her ‘My Beautiful French Daughter’. We chatted very easily throughout the meal and she was such a delight to be with and so interesting.
The meal was beautiful. After the appetiser we had a lovely cream of mushroom soup and we’d all chosen the fish for our main course. For dessert we were actually given both options. The restaurant tables were emptying so I guess they had plenty to spare so we had the additional sweet Thai rice as well. The food was all so good! And towards the end the lovely manager came and chatted to us as well. Such a genuine and happy lady!
By the time we finished our meal and walked back to the main theatre area we had missed the evening show, but it was so worth it. We went to the bar – and then changed seats to beyond the bar so we could hear ourselves think – and had a great chat with Zelie and her room-mate, Eloise, who had come to join us. And all too soon it was around midnight and we thought we’d better call it a day. We quickly checked our email, decided on a cuppa in the room and then fell into bed.
Believe it or not we woke up and decided, at David’s suggestion once more, to do the beach run. Yippeee! Neither of us were actually bouncing with energy as it happens and we stopped to walk briefly twice before we got to the end of the beach. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all. But we enjoyed it, and that is what matters.
Breakfast, showers pack everything into our suitcases and then check out. We always feel homeless and as if there’s no point doing anything on check-out day but never mind. We still had a couple of hours before the mini bus would come for us so we went to the bar. I know, you’re shocked aren’t you? LOL
There’s not a lot left to tell you really so I’ll just mention what needs telling rather than waffling on about nothing.
As our cases were scanned into Phuket Airport we were rather surprised to have mine pulled to one side. The security lady made aerosol spraying motions with her hands so we opened up my case and rummaged through and pulled out the can of fly spray that we’d purchased in Perth and which had successfully taken 2 flights in order to get to Phuket in the first place. But no, aerosols were not allowed. How odd!
We bought ourselves a piece of cake each from one of the filthy cafes in the terminal. Well to be fair, the café looked OK, in a marginal kind of a way, it was their seating and tables that were filthy. And David accidentally bought himself 2 cups of coffee by saying yes to what he thought was an offer of double strength coffee, and we sat reading our books (I was onto my ebook about macro photography by now) and were stunned by the incredible human noise in this airport. We’d never come across anything like it before! There were some TVs playing and people were speaking really loudly over them. I even heard whistles blowing! By the time we had finished our refreshments and decided to go closer to our gate we were stunned to discover that not only was it beautifully peaceful at the far end of the small terminal, but our flight was already boarding!
We raced into the beautifully decorated bathrooms, for use thereof, and giggled at the stalls and basins all having numbers, but the painting on the doors was gorgeous!
As we were about to land in Singapore there was a priority flight that had to be pushed through first so we had to divert 50 kms south before we could land. We didn’t *really* need this as we only had an hour before our flight to Perth but we then landed without further incident.
Going into the terminal we started looking at the monitors to see which gate we needed to board at but our flight was not displayed and on closer inspection of our boarding passes we had to get ourselves to Terminal 3. We were currently in Terminal 2. Oh no!!! We hadn’t given this a thought because we’d landed and left again from T2 on the way out.
Just as well we know our way around Singapore Airport so we walked at a good pace and found the train and got off at T3. But still our flight was not displayed on the monitors. There were other ‘brands’ of flight leaving at our time and going to Perth but it most definitely did not say Singapore Airlines so we went hastily to an enquiry counter to ask about it. Two very helpful ladies told us that the assorted brands flight was also ours and we would need to hurry to Gate 8. This was the first we knew of which gate we needed and David asked if we needed to run but they said no, however we were not to stop and go shopping or anything on the way, and off we paced once more.
It was a loooong way! But we made it with about 5 minutes before they even started loading. All those runs on the beach had paid off ROFL If only there had been a gate number on our boarding passes we’d have known to stay on the train until its third stop instead of its second. But it didn’t matter – a brisk walk between flights is a healthy thing!
We took off on time and I’m so happy about that because this is what we saw towards the top of the steep climb.
I had to virtually turn myself around backwards in my seat to photograph it but it was soooo worth the small effort.
The flight was beautiful and the staff once more incredibly kind and professional. David watched the films ‘Father of Invention’ ‘That Means War’ and ‘Lorix’ – yes all 3!!! I had something playing on my screen but never really did get into it.
The landing in Perth was as gentle as you could wish for and for the first time ever we recognised which suburb we were flying over as we were coming in for landing – it was Ellenbrook and The Vines. I found that very exciting, but then I’m easily pleased.
Everyone’s cases took for ever to arrive on the turntable. Really forever! But everyone was patient about it and we had breezed through the automated passport gate and were then waved through the shortcut avoiding quarantine and customs altogether.
We easily found a taxi and did enjoy the orderliness of Perth roads as we made our way back to David’s parents’ to find them awake and waiting for us. I’d messaged Dad from Singapore Airport (as we walked) to say that we would be leaving on time, and we had landed in Perth exactly on the dot of 23:40 as scheduled. So we enjoyed a cuppa and a bit of a chat with them before getting into my very cold, unheated car for the final leg of the journey home. Oh how I’d love a car with a decent – or any! – heater LOL
And as we got home there was one very happy doggy that took up residence on my lap and I thought she would never get off it again!
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