Since my last post many things have happened, including trips to the beach and a jewelry store in town. The workshop Friday went well, with very active participation by the participants, with lots of questions and interest.
On Saturday, we were off with our hostess and her niece for the beach town of Pataya, on the Siam Sea. We began our morning away from Bangkok with a stroll through an exotic botanical garden called Noognooch Gardens. The arrangement of the plants, embedded with sculptures and pottery was like none I had ever seen. There are many pictures on the facebook page that do this trip much more justice than the words I can express here. Not only the topiary of rows of elephants, exquisite orchids surrounded by wildly painted frogs, but the way the park was arranged with elevated walkways, which gave the viewer a panoramic perspective that was unparalleled. Needless to say, I was in floral heaven.
In addition to the beauty of the garden, the primary animal of Thailand, the elephant, was put on display in a marvelous show of antics, fun, and silliness, as the trainers had the elephants play many sports, give audience members massages, and dance. The audience could also feed the elephants bananas during the show after each sporting event. There was also a stylized cultural show of drumming, dancing, and exotic costumes. It was equally nice. After the two shows, we could sit on an elephant trunk, or pet a tiger. I chose the latter, so if you go to facebook, you'll find pictures of this.
We drove to the seaside first for a lovely seafood lunch on the beach, and enjoyed the breeze from the ocean as we talked about nothing and everything. We arrived at the Royal Cliff Hotel, on Pataya Beach in the afternoon, and were treated to an extraordinary weekend of dining, swimming, lazing around, and a trip into the town of Pataya. This was an experience indeed. The town is a mixture of bourbon street, las vegas, and the souk at Marakesh. There were more things to buy and sell in one strip of land along a coast than I have ever seen in my life. The trafficking of flesh, who knows what, and tourist trinkets was without parallel. The traffic of open-air trucks, motorcycles, vans, cabs, walking folks, flowed like the mississippi river at flood stage. It was hot, sticky, and vibrant, and felt like a great place for young folks to come, drink, and lose your soul. We left at 11:30, and it felt good to return to the quiet of the 6 star hotel.
On Sunday we swam, rested, ate brunch, and drove back to Bangkok by early evening. Colleen and I spent the early evening at the mall we have discovered across the six lane street from us, and had Thai food, Thai shaved ice, and visited about everything and nothing.
Today (3.7.11) was my non-teaching day, so I spent the morning with a young lady who is preparing to help kindergarten teachers align science and mathematics curriculum, using music. We talked acoustics, etc, and had a grand time. Our hostess gathered me up and took me to a jewelry shop across town where a wizzened older woman sat across a jewelry case, bejeweled herself with 5K diamond ring, a strand of 40K diamond necklace, and diamond/saffire earrings, attempting to sell us jewelry, offering a good price, of course. She fed us lunch, gave us cups of tea, and in the end, I left with several objects, and my hostess did the same.
Afterward we toured the teak palace, which was built in Victorian style, and is a museum now, showing the large collection of European curios. It is huge, beautiful, and exceptional. Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed, so I will try to post the website when I find it.
This evening our hostess took us and two directors out to dinner at a lovely Thai place somewhat near the Institute. We laughed, talked, and enjoyed an amazing dinner together. They continue to talk about bringing us back, so hopefully this will happen.
I am back to teaching tomorrow, and finish the workshops on Wednesday. I fly out on Saturday, arriving in Guatemala on Sunday morning. My friends have plans for me on my off days, so stay tuned as I send out new messages of the adventure abroad. Love to all. jt