Tag Archives: Thailand

Exploring the Grand Palace in Bangkok

Some years ago I visited Thailand a few times and one of my favourite places was the Grand Palace. Here are some highlights.

Indus Experiences Blog

It’s the gold that gets to you. There’s so much of it and on a sunny day it’s almost blinding.

Tale of Hanuman - gold reliefEntering the gates of the Grand Palace complex in crazy, colourful, feisty, noisy, smoggy, intriguing, hot-wired Bangkok, should be to enter an oasis of calm. But as the number one tourist destination in Thailand, of course it’s nothing of the sort. And yet, and yet, if you choose your time (ie first thing in the morning, last thing in the afternoon, on a non-public day and off season, it is possible.  I visited some years ago in hot, humid late March, at the end of the high season.  There were lots of tourists milling about, being herded from place to place, but it was still posible to find a few quieter nooks away from the main sites.

 Pimanchaisri door gate within Grand Palace Bangkok Thailand - by ScorpianPK Pimanchaisri door gate within Grand Palace Bangkok Thailand – by ScorpianPK

The architecture…

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Quirky Christmas Past …

I recently wrote this article for a Twitter friend, Stephanie @TravelDesigned. You can see the original here   If you have a quirky Christmas memory please do share it … Leave a Comment below.

Aswan, Egypt

In the early 80s a group of us spent one Christmas and New Year in Egypt.  On Christmas Day so we left our VERY basic hostel to find a cheap restaurant open which served festive fare and a drink. As you can imagine, in a predominantly Muslim country on a Saturday, that was not so easy … Eventually we found a little place by the Camel Market (not on that day), with a big table outside.  We were offered Roast chicken and chips with local beer… Perfect.

Whilst we waited (for hours) for the chicken, we drank warm beer and relished the hot sun, safe in the knowledge that back home in the UK it was probably raining and definitely cold.  The chicken was the toughest, ropiest old bird you could imagine – but we enjoyed it anyway as we reminisced about our favourite Christmas holidays, exchanged REALLY cheap and fun gifts, toasted absent friends and congratulated ourselves on having a very unChristmassy Christmas Day.

 Pattaya, Thailand

In 1990, a friend and I escaped from Hong Kong to stay at a luxury hotel in Pattaya, which looked absolutely dreamy. What we didn’t know was that during the Vietnam War, Pattaya had been a favourite place for soldiers to chill out and ‘relax’ – and their legacy lived on …

 Having arrived on Christmas Eve we decided to eat out in Pattaya the next day, so after a relaxing day by the pool we wandered into the town.  What a shock that was.  It was late afternoon and still daylight but all the bars were busy and it was obvious what delights were on offer for Christmas here… We wandered up and down Soi 6 barely able to contain our amazement. Some of the bars and clubs had festive decorations amidst the neon – I’ll never forget one sign which read ‘A Merry Christmas to all our Customers’ above a lap-dancing club offering some very exotic acts …

 Eventually we found a vaguely respectable bar where we had Pad Thai noodles and fended off the attentions of some very drunk Australian guys who’d clearly partaken of a fair bit of Christmas cheer.  As their propositions got more extreme we decided return to our hotel and leave Pattaya red light district to its own unique Christmas festivities!

 Queenstown, South Africa

“We’re having a Braai on Christmas Day – just family and a few mates …” thus was I introduced to Christmas Dinner, South African style. I was staying with my boyfriend’s family on their farm just outside Queenstown. The weather was fantastic; warm, sunny and fresh. On Christmas morning we exchanged presents, drank sparkling wine and opened cards showing Santas and snow-covered carol singers outside typical English churches; all very incongruous with the African veldt outside the back door.

 A Braai is a BBQ, SA style. On the biggest grill I’ve ever seen, was every kind of meat imaginable, including ostrich and Boerewors, a spicy sausage.  Huge buckets were filled with ice and beer, boxes of red wine stood outside the kitchen door next to a tall fridge full of white wine, soft drinks & mixers.  Two trestle tables were loaded up with all manner of salads, dips, breads and fruit, with a smaller table for the kids – and not a turkey or Brussel sprout in sight.

 By 4pm the party was in full swing and it was time for carols and the Christmas pudding. The farm workers joined us and as ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ rang out into the African sky from over 50 voices, it seemed the best way ever to celebrate this wonderful season.

Whatever you do, wherever you are and whoever you are with, may your Christmas be quirky and bright 🙂