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  • Writer's picturePeter Antonucci

Bangkok, Thailand (3)

Tuesday | December 16, 2014


Today was a confounding one.

After only three hours of sleep, I had an 8:00 am workout session in the gym – and, as always, it was a good one.


I rushed back to the room for a quick shower and change (4 minutes), and then it was off to explore Pattaya with friends. I had mapped out a plan of attack, which I shared with our guide, Tony. Our first stop was the Sanctuary of Truth.

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This splendid edifice was begun in 1981, and is expected to be completed no sooner then 2050. Each day, 250 people work on this massive project, which is constructed entirely of teak and employs the tongue and groove method, with no nails present in the entire facility.

Covering 32 acres, the building’s indoor space incorporates 2115 m². A very wealthy Thai businessman who owns most of the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Thailand is constructing the building independently. It is not only a replica of an ancient art, but also the power of contemporary creation.

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We witnessed dozens of artisans hard at work attacking teak pillars with a hammer and chisel.

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We saw the workshop where they are making the additional pieces that will eventually adorn the outside and inside of the temple.

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And inside the part of the building that is constructed today, we saw countless pictures in this putative shrine to the king of Thailand. Simultaneously, we were treated to the sounds of young girls chanting very melodic Hindu meditation-like music.

Although it was schmaltzy, it was also breath taking.

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David.Bartholomew@mivan.com

And for some, it made for a very pious experience.

We also saw wild animals roaming around.

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Next, our esteemed tour guide, Tony, convinced us to see the Botanical Gardens, which had just won the London flower show in 2012. The grounds were superb.

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The first thing we saw was the pottery garden. Out of pottery, they fashioned most everything. We saw pottery cars, arches and entire gardens made of pottery.

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There was an exquisite topiary garden that stretched for acres.

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But by that time, a mutiny had occurred and my friends were keen to leave (even though we hadn’t seen very much). As a result, I had to sprint up the seven-floor staircase and wind my way over elevated walks to view, and photograph the gardens from above.

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When I returned to the group, they were charging to the car, anxious for food. In fact, they were so starved that we had to eat at a birth control snack bar, Cabbage & Condoms.

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Yes, there were condoms at every table!

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But they had the nicest outdoor bathroom I have ever seen.

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The food was wonderful; I enjoyed a big, fat fried cotton fish.

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After lunch, the ladies wanted to shop. So I went to another Jim Thompson shop (where I bought another silk shirt).  


Back at the ship, we cleaned up and had dinner with friends in the Marina restaurant. When we arrived at the table, my friend's personal bottle of Gaya ($654) had been decanted and was awaiting us. He also informed us that he had ordered a “Tomahawk” steak in advance (you have to give 24 hours notice). This 52-ounce beast was truly mesmerizing, although I didn’t care for the taste of it that much. I much preferred my bone-in rib eye.


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