After a very stressful day in Singapore, where we would have a “turn around” day regularly for the next 4 months, with change of pax (and some crew), spare parts received, provisions received, and services, it was time to start a new cruise.
It is normally a bit tired crew after such a turn around port since these days are normally very long, and especially after we just finished the repositioning from Europe as well.
So after departure we headed east into the Singapore strait, and then northwards along the coast of Malaysia, and in to the Gulf of Thailand.
Yepp, I was heading for Thailand for the first time in my life. This is back in 1995, and for a fresh Second Officer with only a few months experience, it was a dream come through.
The sea-days are normally very hectic days for the Hotel department, as they have a non-stop program with providing service for the passengers who never can leave the ship. For us belonging to Deck department and Engine department, we love sea-days because we can get done a lot regular maintenance and minor repairs, as well as getting done all the administrative stuff we need to do (reports, checks, planning, etc).
Our first port of call was an anchorage, just off the world famous island of Kho Samui, located in the south western part of the Gulf of Thailand. This group of islands were already famous, but became even more famous as the years passed, with the beaches, resorts with all kinds of accommodations and price classes, bars & restaurants, rainforests, etc. Paradise on earth, until maybe the they over commercialised it some years later.
Oh yess, the time was come for me to visit Bangkok. The city with both the good and bad reputation. The city which never sleeps. The city in the famous song “One night in Bangkok”. And we were to stay for 2 nights (3 days). Little did I know what this city would mean to me 6-7 years down the road.
So we sailed up the river for a few hours actually, due to the relatively small size of our vessel (only 134 meters long). The bigger cruise ships normally would be alongside in the cargo port of Laem Chabang, which is midway between Bangkok and Pattaya.
The Chao Phraya river is a so called tidal river, which means we also experience high and low tides in the river as well. This will sometimes (especially during rainy season) result in the water breaching the banks and flood the land masses.
Bangkok was, and still is (maybe for not too long) an extremely exotic city, where you really feel that you are far far away from your home. You get this feeling you have been transported to another world, almost. The city is large, lots of traffic, and quite chaotic in some strange organized way (and still is). Takes a long time to really understand it. A mix of old and new building next to each other everywhere.
Small and bigger bars, pubs, hole in the wall waterholes, restaurants and smaller food vendors basically everywhere. Although the smaller food vendors have started to be pushed away from the pavements the last few years. But you still find them all over the city. I read in a book that half of the population in the kingdom is busy serving the other half with food and beverages. 😀😁
Lucky for me, I had several colleagues onboard who had been to these places before, and I just tagged along when we went ashore to taste the local cuisine.
One thing we all learn while there is to be careful when eating local food in Thailand. Doesn’t matter if you are used to spicy food (as a westerner), because what you will experience in Thailand is special. I know, many like to brag about the spicy food they can eat. But eat the right (or wrong) food in Thailand, and you are in for a real treat. The food served by many of the street vendors is normally made for the locals, so it can be extremely spicy, and not always made with the Public Health system in mind. The poultry has sometimes been sweating in the heat the entire day, before being served.
So the reaction can be instant….or maybe not. For me it was the opposite. I could no “go” for days, and went to the ship’s Doctor, whom just giggled and told me to wait a few more days. It was obvious that he had already been visited in the ship’s Hospital by several of my colleagues.
After the third day (and 2 nights), it was time to leave bangkok, and head down the river again, towards the Gulf Of Thailand. Then we would head towards the island of Kho Kood (ko kut), where we would anchor again, and use our Tender boats for transportation of passengers and crew.
The company would rent a private beach for a day and arrange a beach BBQ and watersports (equipment we carried with the ship) from the beach.
After Kho Kood, Vietnam.
Next part, Vietnam and Hong Kong.