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Bangkok 24 h

Chapter II from the book DESTINATION DESIRABLE

Twenty-four hours later, including an almost twelve-hour flight, Paula and Walt already spent the first impressive hours in Bangkok. They had kicked off the afternoon in the infinity pool surrounded by floating candles, champagne, and a sweeping view over Bangkok.

In the evening, they followed the invitation by the cruise organiser at the Bangkok welcome dinner, which would take place at the glasshouse with Cantonese culinary specialities. They would also meet some more guests who would join the cruise.

Ready for the welcome dinner, Paula and Walt walk down the hall. The hotel lounge with an international flair was busy. Like Bangkok itself, the city contrasts with action at every turn. From glamorous couples, tourists to global and local business people, others arrive to spend unforgettable days in extravagant luxury. While treating themselves in luxury malls, strolling through a sea of boutiques and markets, some prefer exploring local areas. From the marvel of gleaming temples, bustling Chinatown to visiting floating markets by boat and, of course, its’s famous nightlife with bars, nightclubs, lounges and exotic red-light shows, Bangkok never fails to amaze.

Also, Thailand offers excellent business opportunities for solid export and import companies and a rising start-up seen such as for rice, sugar, maise, rubber to electrical machinery, mineral fuels the city was also a great place for discussing business.

The glass house was decorated in a modern, clean chic style with huge glass fronts, an indoor garden and a water lane in the middle that split the restaurant into two main seating areas, one including a bar, and which were connected by a bridge. The waiter crossed the bridge and Paula and Walt followed towards the welcome group’s meeting point at the bar. A tall, woman with a brunette Brigitte Bardot inspired shag, dressed in a navy blue, floral, satin wrap dress turned around and welcomed the couple and introduced herself as Héloïse Lilou, a French actress better known as Lulu.

“Life is beautiful, isn’t it?” She asked with a charming smile pointing towards the indoor garden and the scenery that was behind the huge glass front, the flickering city lights fusing fairy-tale romance and cosmopolitan chic.

“Wow, indeed, it is!” Walt was astonished by the outlook, not just the beautiful brunette woman but also by the scenery she was pointing. He’s never seen such a skyline before.

“So impressive, spectacular!” Paula was standing there with her mobile in her hand, trying to capture the breath-taking moment with her camera.

The three were having their welcome cocktail while watching the astonishing scenery when another person, a mid-thirty something handsome guy with an outdated, medium-long hairstyle from the late 80s and probably a problematic past, joined the group. He introduced himself as Danny, a previous celebrity from London who had reached fame through a national casting show and made the headlines ever since. No matter what he managed to do, if it was a car accident into a sausage van, a new business in solar energy that had managed to make him millions, the media always knew how to tear him to pieces. Finally, he explained that he wanted to join the cruise to get away from it all and that he planned to spend a few months in a retreat after the cruise.

Paula and Walt agreed about how cruel the media sometimes could be, and they remembered some of the headlines about Danny.

A member of the crew, Sue, who would be the tour guide, joined the group, and they moved over to their table. The second round of aperitifs was served. Each member gave a short introduction and their motivation to participate the cruise. Almost everyone was at a cross-road. Lulu had just left her family, she had lived with her partner and their kids, who by now grown-up adults were going their own way. At the same time, her partner had found new adventures with some younger women. She needed a change of scenery. She explained she also had been offered a new role and wanted to take the time to prepare for the role.

Walt was impressed and he remembered some movies decades ago in which Lulu had played. “This sounds almost like one of the stories you played in the early eighties, didn’t you?” he asked. “What was the name of the movie “Celebration”, wasn’t it, the guy cheating on his wife, where you played the daughter who fell in love with this musician guy.”

“Oh, yes, this is ages ago. You remember that movie?” Lulu smiled. “This was the beginning of it all, one of the first movies that hit the box offices. In the movie, I played the loving couple with Jules and my film father was cheating and left the family.”

“I loved this movie!” Paula laughed. “This was the love story of the year. I remember at school. Every girl was in love with this guy, your film partner, Jules.”

Everyone laughed. “Oh, yeah, this was a time.”

“Guess I missed it.” Danny joined in. “But I have seen the movie, too. The story was incredible. You guys were so funny. I loved the movie, too.”

“This wasn’t just a love story in the movies, wasn’t it? So, you guys were together in real life, too?” Danny asked.

“Yeah, that’s true. I remember when we were at the Cannes Film Festival, together with where we got an award for the movie.” Lulu was reminiscing, but she did not want to go down memory lane right now.

“Well, this was a time, and shortly after, we broke up.”

Luckily, they were interrupted by a new member who would join the cruise, Nia. She was a blogger and would report about the cruise. She was also working on an environmental project collaborating with the cruise and other travel companies. The ” ClickATree ” project designed for tourists would allow each tourist to make an ecological impact. When booking the tour, they also provide a share to plant a tree. Participants could decide that a percentage of the travel price was added on top, covering costs to plant trees to create nature reservoirs within the region they travelled. Nia was also looking for further co-operations, and she would meet a new famous influencer from Bangkok who would help promote the campaign.

Impressed by the project, Walt supported the idea, making an environmental impact while travelling, and so was the rest of the group attracted to that idea. Finally, the dessert was served, a bomb of sweet creations from juicy mango, rice hearts, coconut crepe, just anything one could imagine, to indulge in, and satisfy one’s sweet tooth. The group decided to end the day in the hotel’s night club, known for its charming, diverse nightlife scene, awesome laser shows, and one of the world’s best clubs.

For the next day, Paula and Walt had booked a sightseeing tour through Bangkok while the three other cruise members, Danny, Lulu and Nia, had decided to take a local tour guide and explore the city by a TukTuk. Nia originally was supposed to meet the influencer to discuss their campaign, but the influencer cancelled the meeting at shorthand. The influencer was on a trip, and they rescheduled an appointment for a date after the cruise. Nia had planned two more days after the cruise before returning to London.

*

The views were impressive breath-taking on the 78th floor along the Mahanakhon Skywalk, standing on the glass tray at the height of 310 meters. Paula and Walt took some photographs and enjoyed the birds-eye view of the beautiful skyline below them. They then went on for a snack at the King Power Mahanakhon Sky Lounge, which offered a true escape from the busy city below before moving on back to the hustle of city life to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

Sitting in a long crowded boat, they passed by the ships where people sold food, fresh vegetables, fruits, one of the oldest traditional ways of selling goods to customers. Paula felt like in a dream where she was living in a different century when sitting in such a boat would have been luxury. Floating through such dreamy scenery, through a maze of canals, the so-called “Khlongs”, and a sea of colourful fruits and vegetables, the contrasts of the city between ultimate modern skyscrapers, latest technologies and old traditions were hard to grasp. As major tourism attractions, such markets, of course, contributed well to Thailand’s tourism industry, one of the country’s dominant income sources.

*

Danny, Lulu, and Nia had followed the hotel’s recommendation and took their sightseeing trip via the traditional three-wheel vehicle; well, their vehicle was a more modern version of a motorised Tuk-tuk. A private tour with stops that also shows some hidden gems and the everyday life of Bangkok apart from typical tourist attractions.

Their first stop provided a stunning view of Wat Traimit; the temple is known for housing the 5.5 tonnes seating Buddha statue, a gold sculpture dating back to the 13th century before they headed to the temple itself.

Their ride continued to the market in Chinatown, a food hub packed with stalls, eateries, shops, and Chinese temples. They then crossed the Memorial Bridge over the Chao Phraya River, taking a lunch break. Next, they aimed for Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple complex famous for its reclining Buddha. A temple, also known as the birthplace of Thai massage.

Back on the Tuk-tuk, they followed along busy streets to reach the Golden Mount (Wat Saket), a man-made hill topped with a gold stupa. Again, a place with phenomenal outlook where they enjoyed a 360-degree view of Bangkok.

Eventually, they had taken a boat ride from Phan Pa Klong, enjoying scenes of local life along the canals. Their tour ended with a drink near the hotel. The group enjoyed a late afternoon in a small outdoor bar, and their tour guide told some anecdotes and what spots to avoid in Bangkok. He also strongly recommended taking the hotel shuttle to the port instead of a regular taxi. Bangkok’s taxi drivers were well known for inflated prices, overcharging their guests by not turning on the taximeter or taking unique routes that ended the double duration and, with this, the doubled price. The guide also mentioned the Entertainment shows, go-go bars and ping-pong shows in some infamous districts in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. People would be scammed into the upper floor of the bar and not be allowed to leave until they paid a massive amount of a bill.

On the Star Clipper

With the tour guide’s excellent advice, the three finally arrived safely at the port in Laem Chabang after a four-hour ride with a private coach. They stood in front of the Star Clipper. A vast white sailing yacht with a decoration in the spirit of maritime tradition.

“Wow, this is a sailing ship!” Danny stood there with an open mouth staring at the boat.

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