NFMC TRI-NATION TOUR , DAY # 7&8:: 31AUG & 01SEP 2018
PATAYA & BANGKOK
Day#6 had been dedicated to snorkelling by the 15 enthusiasts of our group and a beach Picnic at Phi-Phi Island for all. The 45 mins Speed Boat ride was particularly challenging on the spines of those sitting right in front, even as the boat sped at over 30 knots with pronounced pitching. Snorkelling was a treat for all those enthusiasts, particularly the four girls Binti, Preeti, Amitha and Shruti. Meena shot some excellent videos underwater with her GoPro camera. The view of the school of fish in clean and clear waters underneath shall remain in our memory for a very long time. The evening celebration for Mrs Kanaga Chermakani’s Birthday was a grand affair with entertainment galore.
Day#7 Early morning Cdr Joseph and Regina went for a stroll on the Beachfront of Patong, Phuket. They have been a highly spirited pair and infused Josh in rest of the members. We finished with our breakfast by 0915 at ‘Sleep with Me’ Hotel and went for a group Photo session at the Swimming Pool on the A Building terrace. Having checked out soon thereafter, we were on Bus to the Airport to fly down to Bangkok at 1215 hr by PG-276. The Airport transfer took us an hour starting with the Soul soothing Gayatri Mantra and Gurbani by Mrs Batra and Mrs Sethi. There is so much power in the group chants that it infuses positivity in everyone for a successful energetic day. At the Airport we bid farewell to our wonderful host Guide Mac, having seen off Neena last night itself. The flight was uneventful and we were received at Bangkok by a Lady Guide named Naughty. She explained to us the events of the Day. A visit to Nong Nooch Botanical Gardens, enroute to Pattaya for the cultural and Elephants show. Thereafter Dinner was organized at a Punjabi tadka Restaurant, followed by the Famous Alcazar Show.
The road leading to the Nong Nooch Botanical Gardens was narrow and winding, but once reached, the Halls, the Malls and the Theatres were huge and awesome. The Cultural show was traditional but since we reached late, could only witness the last few mins. The next show was dedicated to the well-trained elephants, who were paraded in groups in an oval Arena. They were made to lift spectators on their trunks for 100 TBHs. Regina Sukumar dared to be lifted by the Elephants trunks, even as Joseph snapped her pics. This was followed by the expert elephants taking a shy at the balloons by shooting arrows with their trunks from a distance. They then shot basketballs into a ring and also knocked Bowling pins by kicking footballs with remarkable accuracy.
We were wonder-struck walking down the museum of ‘State of the art’ cars and wagons. By 1930 hrs we headed for Punjabi Tadka Restaurant that offered Indian food in a cosy Indian setting that humorously housed ‘Theka Desi Sharab Da’. We reached the Alcazar theatre well in time for the 2130 hrs show. Although the show is performed by transvestites, there was no vulgarity exhibited. In fact the Artists line up outside the theatre before the show, for spectators to click a snap alongside them for a price. The show was performed on a grand stage, that seemed to be an extension of ‘Rhythm Divine’ show on Dream Genting. The performance was drama based, back to back and the transition of the theme based musical items was as smooth as a simile. The stage was set afire when the beautiful Artists performed on the famous song ‘Shakira’. The 45 mins show was exceptionally well choreographed and performed and was an exceptional treat to watch. The musical beats were Soul-stirring.
After the Alcazar Cabaret show, we headed for the Signature Hotel to retire for the night, to return to Bangkok the next day via the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo.
Day#8 was to be the most challenging day as the events unfolded. We checked out as planned at 0930 hrs after a sumptuous Breakfast and Boarded the Bus to head for the Sri Racha Zoo to witness the Crocodile and Tiger shows at 1030 and 1100 hrs as per itinerary. Mrs Batra and Mrs Nina Sethi sang the Gayatri Mantra and the Gurubani as all of us joined them spiritually, which in hindsight probably saved the Day for us when things did go wrong.
During our travel to the Zoo, the rear right tyre burst and the Bus wobbled, the alert driver, however, pulled to the left. On inspection, the fwd of the rear tyres was found in shreds. No panic yet. It was decided to proceed cautiously slow to a tyre repair shop, replace it and move further. The tyre replacement took time and eventually we reached the Zoo at noon time and modified the plan to have quick lunch followed by a visit to the crocodile and the Tiger show in the afternoon, instructing the tour operator for a change of Bus, as it had developed clutch engagement problem too. We posed behind a beautiful floral Love sign along with our Butter halves at the entrance of the Restaurant. When Mrs Nina Sethi tenderly kissed Capt Sethi on his cheeks, all of us cheered as others too became uninhibited and posed lovingly behind the Pink floral design. After the Indian Buffet lunch, we headed for the crocodile show that was awesome, with two trainer displaying daring talents with the fearsome large reptiles, shoving their faces into their open jaws. In the adjoining Arena, we saw with awe the show of 7 tamed Tigers performing disciplined gymnastic stunts on the Ringmaster's instructions. It was heartening to see how the King of the Jungle behaved like a mouse on human command. While coming out of the zoo, a few of us got snapped alongside a ferocious looking tamed tiger in a glassed cage. That’s some memory for posterity. By the time we exited the zoo, it was 1430 hrs and the replacement bus had not yet arrived, neither was its driver in communication with the Tour operator. None of us wished to miss the evening River Cruise, so a calculated decision was taken to move slowly in the same bus to Bangkok Hotel which took about 2 hrs. As we entered Bangkok, the tired bus huffed and puffed and came to a halt. We all came out of the cosy environment onto the pavement, while on Cdr Vadhera’s directive the tour operator arranged for 6 mini Vans (cap- 10 passengers) that took about half an hour to arrive. Our morning prayers saved the Day for us as we reached the Montein Bangkok Hotel, just in time to drop our luggage, freshen up in 10 mins to head for the ‘Royal Chao Phraya Princess’ for the River Cruise. The traditional Welcome by the beautifully dressed girls, photographing us made us feel Royal, true to the title of the Cruise. Even the Rain-gods seem to be happy, observing unfolding of the hectic events during the day, evident by the slight drizzle when we stepped onto the Luxury double-decker boat. It was a blissful well deserved evening then on. Even as we had started the first course, Meena’s Flash developed some snag. A sympathetic bystander offered to help to look into the DSLR. In no time he had gone into the settings mode, did some corrections and handed it back. I personally thanked him and we introduced ourselves. I was thrilled to meet Air Cmde Vedajna who was part of the NDC group holidaying on completion of their Myanmar Foreign tour. He introduced me to Brig Dayal, Brig Sanjay Sethi and AVM Joseph, SDS(Air). When I mentioned the presence of NDC team to Capt SS Sethi and Cdr Vadhera, they were delighted too. AVM Joseph was glad to meet RAdm SVS Chary who had undergone 39th NDC course in 1999. It was then bonhomie between the two groups and coming together of AWWA and NAWWA ladies on foreign soil, initiated by Mrs Gunjan Singh. The dance floor was continuously live to the melodious crooning of the beautiful young Thai girl, who sang Hindi songs too with elan. We explored the top deck and Foxle for some Titanic poses. Mrs Vadhera and Meena performed a Nagin dance. Cdrs Rai, Satwinder, BP Singh, Mrs Gunjan Singh and the four young girls Binti, Preeti, Amitha & Shruti kept the mood of the Dancefloor upbeat until the last song. A Funtastic Day very well spent, shall remain in our memories forever.
We gathered together outside the terminal for yet another group snap, before retiring to the cosiness of Montein Bangkok. Looking fwd to the Bankok City tour next day, while the ladies are eagerly awaiting the shopping trip…..Jai Hind.