Showing posts with label Chao Phraya river. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chao Phraya river. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Off on a Magic Carpet Ride ~ Setting Sail for Singapore

The sun had yet to rise when the ship’s engines began to rumble just before 5 a.m. and we pulled away from Bangkok, Thailand’s Klong Toey Wharf on the Chao Phraya River. We’d spent the first of our 34 cruise nights here.

Klong Toey Terminal - Bangkok, Thailand
Our Oceania Nautica was docked at one of two cruise ship terminals that serves this area. Klong Toey, closer to downtown Bangkok  - thus a cheaper taxi ride - than the other port, turned out to be a rather stark industrial area. (But then we’ve found most of our ports of call are usually in such commercial shipping areas.)

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Views of Klong Toey terminal area - Bangkok, Thailand
It took a couple hours for the Nautica to wind its way down the narrow river, passing under majestic bridge spans and near the shore and then enter the Bay of Bangkok. Sitting on our deck in that early morning hour, the air already felt thick with humidity. It was quiet.  So quiet that we heard voices of dock workers, the rat-a-tat-tat of small long-tail boats engines as they passed, the call of tropical birds and buzzing cicadas on the shore.

Chao Phraya - Bangkok, Thailand from Oceania Nautica
Our ship was small enough that it could navigate up rivers such as the Chao Phraya here and later the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, so we had a taste of what river cruising might be like as we got up close enough to see people and shrines on shore.

Honoring Thailand's royalty - along the Chao Phraya in Bangkok
It was to be a full ‘sea day’; a travel day, in other words.  We would have 14 such sea days during this Magic Carpet ride of a cruise through the Far- and Middle-East.

Our ship was a novelty as we made our way down the Chao Phraya - Bangkok, Thailand
With temperatures in the 90’s and humidity at the same level, we spent that first sea day lazing around – but not at the pool because it was too hot (notice the empty chairs). Our hard-working crew didn’t have such options and braved the heat and gave the ship a bath:

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Heat and humidity didn't slow down maintenance work on the Nautica

We would be in Singapore at 8 a.m. the next day as it really is quite a distance from the Chao Phraya River and then crossing the Gulf of Bangkok (formerly the Gulf of Siam) and a slice of the South China Sea. Although we couldn’t see land after entering the bay, it was amazing to think we were sailing past Phnom Pehn and the coast of Viet Nam.

Our route was shown on the ship's television channel
Singapore, its official name the Republic of Singapore, is an island country, a sovereign city state that is 85 miles or 137 kilometers north of the equator – that translates into: HOT, very, very hot.
In our next post we’ll take you on a “Hop On, Hop Off” bus tour of Singapore, with a look at the city’s old and new, exotic and sterile.Thanks for stopping by and spending some time with us today.  We appreciate it!

Linking this week with:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Room with a View. . .Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River

Bangkok – that sprawling capital city of Thailand – is bisected by the Chao Phraya river – a major waterway teeming with river boat buses, cross river ferries, tour boats, dinner cruise boats, long tail boats and river barges. While the city itself didn’t wrap us under its spell as it did a few decades ago, the river didn’t disappoint.

Bangkok's Chao Phraya River bisects the city

After our stay in the timeshare (Marriott’s Empire Place. . .Buyer Be Aware) we treated ourselves to three nights of over-the-top luxury at The Peninsula Hotel on the river. Once again, The Scout, had found us a great rate using even though our stay was during the city’s popular April celebration, Songkran, the Water Festival; a time the city swells with tourists.

The Peninsula on the right from the terrace of the Mandarin Oriental
The Peninsula is located on the river’s Luxury Triangle as I’ve labeled it. The triangle’s other two points are anchored across the river by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and The Shangri-La Hotel.

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Lobby of the modern Mandarin Oriental, left and historic Oriental lobby - now tea room - on right

“The room isn’t quite ready, sir,” we were told at the reception desk when we showed up in the late morning, “Please come have a seat.” We were lead to a couch and served complimentary coffee while we waited the 30 minutes it took to finish preparing the room.

The Room

It has been a long while since we’ve stayed anywhere nearly this luxurious, the kind of place you could gush over, so, let the gushing begin. . .

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Our room - Peninsula Hotel Bangkok

A small entry hall led past a closet/dressing area, directly across from a bathroom, a place large enough for a tub, walk-in shower, private toilet room, and two sinks with marble countertops. And then you entered ‘the room’ which seemed far more like a ‘suite’ to our way of thinking.

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Our room with a view

All rooms in the hotel face the river, so our favorite spot – despite the inviting bed and couch -- were the two chairs we lined up at our window; our viewing platform, from where we watched the morning sunrise and the nighttime parade of lighted boats.

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Peninsula pampering - Bangkok, Thailand

And then there were the small touches:  an orchid in the ice bucket each time it was refreshed and the all-time first: we’d left the books we were reading on the bed and when we returned the bed had been made, the books returned to exactly where we’d left them but a Peninsula bookmark had been placed to the side of each! (Sorry Kindle users, you probably can’t relate.)

The Setting

Imagine a lush tropical garden – swaying trees, a profusion of blooms, winding pathways to pools and patios. Then imagine heat and humidity so intense it seems to suck your breath away, melting makeup and exploding hairdos. . .combine those and you’ve pretty much got the setting for the hotel.

Melted makeup and exploding hair - in a stunning setting

The three-tiered pool was stunning, but again, it was difficult to spend much time lazing around it because of the April heat.

Three-level pool overlooks the Chao Phraya - Bangkok Peninsula
On the River

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Free shuttles boats

One of the real treats was being on the Chao Phraya and that was easily accomplished by hopping on one of the hotel’s four shuttle boats – restored rice barges – that make daily round trips between three nearby piers. The other hotels ran similar free shuttles so you could bounce back and forth or from the nearby taxi pier catch a long tail passenger taxi and travel the river in either direction.

The Chao Phraya flows for 231 miles (372 kilometers) from Thailand’s central plains through Bangkok and into the Gulf of Thailand. As it turned out we had one more night, literally on the river, even after we left the hotel. Our ship was docked at a port on the Chao Phraya. After boarding we spent our first night on the river in the Nautica, we began our Magic Carpet ride through the Middle East.

And so the 34-day cruise began

We set sail at 5 a.m. the next day, long before sunrise, en route to our first port of call, Singapore. And that’s when and where our next post begins. Thanks for being with us today and hope you’ll come back soon and bring some travel enthusiast friends with you!  Hello to our July subscribers!  See you soon and until then, Happy Travels!

We are linking up this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening


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