Monday, May 17, 2010

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand
April 8, 2010

The ship offered a bus transfer into the downtown area of Phuket, and I took it, thinking fi would explore and then perhaps take a taxi around to see some of the sights. On the bus, I met other couples who had the same idea, and when the bus arrived downtown, I was able to get a minivan taxi with two other couples -- Fred and Phyllis from North Carolina, and Gilles and Denise, from Montreal.

The taxi stopped first at a cashew processing store. I was interested to learn how cashews grow, as the seed at the bottom of a large green pod that resembles a green pepper. When the pod falls off the tree, the seeds are picked up and opened, like any nut, for the cashews inside. The processing store had a woman sitting at a machine opening the nuts. It was an interesting stop.

The taxi then went to a very large temple complex, Wat Chalong, which is one of the most venerated monasteries in Thailand. The complex consists of numerous buildings, all of which are beautiful, with gold plating. We stayed for an hour observing and taking photos.

We then went to the Big Buddha on the mountain. The Big Buddha is a very large white Buddha being constructed on the top of the highest hill on Phuket island. It can be seen from a great distance, and it is very impressive. The taxi then drove us along the coast through the coastal resort towns, and it is easy to see why so many tourists visit there. The beach is long and beautiful, and the towns are like beach towns everywhere, filled with shops, restaurants, souvenir shops, and traffic. The taxi driver said that this was the low season, and the traffic was light compared with the high season. The taxi driver asked us for permission to stop at a jewelry store; taxi drivers were given coupons for gas for taking passengers to the store. We agreed, and it was harmless. The taxi driver then took us to the ship. I mentioned to him that he must be familiar with the port, but he said it was his first time there. He said it was a Muslim area, and non-Muslims were not permitted to go there. He seemed quite anxious about going there, but he did.

It was a good day.

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