October 29, 1961 – Thailand

Royal Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand – Clear but rain at noon

     We had some of the morning to ourselves so it felt good to be able to sleep late for a change.  I slept hard all night despite the nap I’d taken yesterday afternoon but Edith didn’t because of her cast.  I liked taking my time to get ready today.  We dressed slowly, had breakfast in our room and then organized ourselves for our move to the Rama Hotel after lunch this afternoon.  We’d been put up at the Royal Hotel overnight since we had arrived a day early and our intended hotel wasn’t ready for us. 

     Our first stop was the Buddhist temple called Wat Pho (for short) and the reclining Buddha located near the Grand Palace.  It was one of the largest and oldest wats in Bangkok and originally it was center of education for learning traditional Thai medicine.  The wat or temple was impressive.

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok

Another View of Reclining Buddha

      The reclining Buddha was the first of many temples we went to see that afternoon.  We saw the Golden Mount Temple and then finally the five ton solid gold Buddha at Wat Traimit.  That Buddha was the most impressive of all the ones we visited that day.  The statue was almost 10ft tall and was made of 5 tons of solid gold.  At one spot on the temple grounds we had a chance to see some monks in their orange robes.  I found it very interesting.

5 Ton Goldn Buddha

Gold Leaf Buddha in Bangkok

Bangkok Temples

More Bangkok Temples

Another View of Bangkok Temples

Still One More View of Bangkok Temples

Temple Monks in Bangkok

Bangkok Temple Stupas

Second View of Bangkok Temple Stupas

Third View of Bangkok Temple Stupas

Bangkok Temple Wats

Another View of Bangkok Temple Wats

      While touring the city we passed a Chinese Buddhist funeral procession.  The hearse was quite ornate.  It was preceded by some large floral pieces and a huge roasted pig.  The hearse was followed by decorated light trucks filled with cases of soft drinks, and I presume, other food for the mourners to eat after the interment.  Most of the mourners were on foot.  

      Our touring done we returned to our Royal Hotel for a light lunch.  Afterwards as it started to rain hard we were transferred to the Rama Hotel for the remainder of our stay in Bangkok.  The Rama Hotel turned out to be a wonderful improvement over the other one because despite being beautiful it was very modern and we’d been given a terrific room.

      After check in we had free time so Edith went to our room to rest and Ethel went with me to do some window shopping since the rain had tapered off.  The shopping was fun but after awhile we just started wandering the streets people watching.  The Siamese people were small of stature, very polite and all seemed to have a smiling nature. 

      We returned to our hotel with just enough time to clean up for dinner.  Our meal was good and it was accompanied by music and dancing.  While eating Mr. Herdsman told us that since the Siamese people lived in such a hot climate their dances tended to have slow movements.  He said both sexes dance but they never dance together which I thought that was different.  Mr. Herdsman also told us that Thailand had compulsory education for children from 6 to 14 years of age.  We all agreed that their promotion of education was advanced and to be commended.

      Dinner done, Edith and I returned to our room to spend the remainder of evening relaxing and catching up on our correspondence.  I realized I hadn’t written Ramona and her family for several days so I decided to take some time before going to bed to write them a letter:

 Oct 29, 1961 – Bangkok, Thailand

Dear Ramona and Everybody;

     This is to save my strength.  This hotel is not so much on the outside but one of the nicest rooms we’ve had.  Just built and very modern.  In Saigon our hotel was very modern also.  We came to Bangkok a day early due to the closing of the Cambodian border. 

     Last night we stayed at the Royal Hotel which was very nice but old.  When we got in I was so tired I lay down and went fast asleep – slept for 2 hours – then Bob came to the door and said don’t forget dinner at 7:30pm at the Caravan Hotel.  It was Edith’s birthday and she did not know it but a party was planned.  We dressed and all took the bus over.  The Hotel Caravan is quite grand, the grounds are beautiful and fountains, etc.  We had a lovely dinner, the music was very good singers American style.  Then the floor show came on – Siamese dancers and music – the costumes were more beautiful than the Bali or Java dancers but the dancers were much the same type of thing.  Very good though.  Then the waiters brought in a huge decorated birthday cake with candles and Bob had Edith come up to the bandstand and introduced her.  She got a big hand which pleased her very much.  The whole thing was done very nice.

     If it wasn’t for all the time we spend in airports going thru customs – all the time spent in hotel lobbies waiting for our rooms to be assigned and then again in airports waiting for planes – we would not be so tired.  Then as I look back I find myself thinking all I can remember is the dining rooms.  Breakfast anywhere from 6 to 9am, lunch 12 to 2pm and dinner 6 to 8pm.  And the planes, food trays every time we get on regardless of the time. 

     Saigon is a nice clean place and the hotel beautiful.  We had a roof garden there where I was proud to say I climbed the circular stairs and took a picture.  This was very high in the air.  My stomach did flip flops but I did it anyway.  The dining room very modern done in yellow, orange, green, black with modern stained glass doors and a fountain and garden patio.  Also  stand for music which was very good.  The food good also. 

     We have an extra day here and if I buy anymore material I hope I cut my throat.  If I don’t you probably will when I get home.  Lots of gold and silver here.  I don’t know how expensive.  We visited temples this morning and Buddha’s.  I’m sick of them.  The reclining Buddha is huge.  I bought a picture and took some of the buildings.  Then the sitting Buddha which was just gold painted, then the solid gold Buddha.  I was so tired by this time I took a picture found it was set for panorama and had to take another.  This Buddha is over 5 tons of solid gold.  It rained today like a cloud burst for about an hour and half. 

     This afternoon Ethel and I walked through the market which was like the farmers market.  All kinds of food fish and foul meats – dried cooked and raw.  Very interesting and very smelly.  The streets all have canals with boats.  While it was pouring rain people were walking around the streets with their ordinary clothes, no rain clothes – every once in awhile someone would jump in the canal, of course the children never stopped swimming and playing.  Most of the money I am spending goes for stamps – so there. 

     Will write more later before mailing this letter.

      My hand got a little cramped from writing so I resolved to postpone finishing my letter till tomorrow.  I left my letter on the table and went to take a bath before I headed to bed.

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