The time in Thailand has already etched a place in my heart. My first plan was to join some good friends on the crew of Curious for the famed King’s Cup Yacht Race. This is a very prestigious event held in honor of the King’s Birthday—a very special day here. After a few days of practice I remembered why I do not like racing. Racing seems to bring out a bit of the ol Capt Bligh in the kindest of souls. I decided to leave the crew while all were still friends, friendships I value heavily.
I left Chris and Maggie at the race sight and headed back to Chalong Bay. I needed to sort out some dive gear and it would be nice to spend a view days alone. I went for my first real Thai massage and after invited the masseuse to dinner. We spent the next few days exploring Phuket by motorcycle and joining her friends for some great fun. You can rent a scooter for about four bucks a day but I yearned for a real motorcycle and saw the “Chopper Rent” sign. Ok not really chopper but the closest I have seen, a beat up black Honda 650 twin with loud pipes and drag bars but it felt like home to me.
The BIG BUDDHA sits atop the hill overlooking Phuket and protecting all he surveys. We hopped on the motorcycle and headed up the long windy road to take a look. Half way up we saw the elephant ride stand and I simply could not resist. Checking another thing off my Bucket List, we hopped on the seat atop the giant beast and the driver headed us up the road. It appears that you sort of ride and sort of ride along an elephant. The driver had a pointed stick and gently kicked the ears but the beast stopped to graze when he liked. The rhythm of an elephant is slow and steady as the seat rose and fell in a forward motion.
We saw a monkey in the trees and actual rubber trees exuding rubber sap into small bowls. The road opened to give a great view of the Big Buddha.
After the ride we continued up the mountain to the top. Here is a real marvel, the Big Buddha was constructed in honor of the King’s 80th Birthday in 2007. It is at least a hundred feet high and truly spectacular. The area is a Buddhist Monastery and Monks walk about in the typical orange robes. Ladies must cover and skirts and cloth are provided at the gate for those unprepared. My guide, Nok, is a dedicated Buddhist and showed a genuine reverence at this holy site. She took me to the Monks where we received a blessing. I was again moved by a spiritual experience I did not understand but felt in my heart.
The King is well represented at the site and I gave the comment “long live the King” on the guest book. Nok was genuinely moved that I would honor her King and thanked me for doing so. Again I found a true love of the King in all his people.
Exhilarated by the experience and hot from the ride we decided to go for a swim and headed for a public beach and to join our friends. Not being prepared we needed swimmers and stopped by a shop. I bought her a nice bikini and me some trunks for just over ten bucks. I love Thailand!