Saturday, October 13, 2007

The last post on Phukhet.

Poor Molly has come back from the eye doctor with LOTS of antibiotics, ointments and drops to put in her eyes. Her right eye has an ulcer on the cornea (how does that happen?) and she's got dry eye, so if we're lucky we'll avoid a 1K operation on her eye if we can get medication to fix it up instead of surgery. The poor love is so sick of things being squirted in her eye. Every time I go near the bureau where I keep her medicines her ears droop, (in fact everything seems to droop) and she looks miserable.

My essays are all marked. I went through them like a threshing machine yesterday. I had no classes, so I sat and read read read, stopping only for lunch, yard duty at the canteen (what a joy that was) and two cups of coffee. Good on me. That leaves the weekend free for a big Aldi shop, as we're out of food, and I'm going to weed the veggie patches and start a new knitting project.

I want to go back to Marta's yarns in Caulfield, but my frugality kick is still going strong, and I've got wool for a jumper that I haven't made yet, and there's wool left over from an afghan that I made Jack for Christmas. So, frugality tells me that I must use up what I've got before I go and indulge in beautiful, but sinfully expensive wool. So I'd better get started.

Back to Phukhet. This is the last post, because I'm pretty sure I've nearly finished putting down what I wrote in my notebook. There's sure to be pictures coming for MONTHS though.... poor Delmar from work spent ages getting them to transfer to my computer, so they're not going to waste! I'm not sure if that's my frugality kick speaking again, or just plain old bloody-mindedness.

Fantasea was a place worth going to. It's not cheap, but it's the gaudiest place you're ever likely to see. I was a bit worried that it would be a cultural theme park and show that would be a little TOO Thai, and end up being boring for the kids, but they loved it. It's an odd mix of Las Vegas and traditional Thai... especially the show. It has to be seen to be believed.

As soon as we stepped off the bus we were surrounded by tourists, neon lights, people in costumes and muzak. It's full on... the kids loved it! There were tigers, deer, the biggest goldfish I've ever seen, market stalls, shops, carnival games, fire jugglers and elephants. Lots of elephants.

Jordan bought a necklace that has his name written on a piece of rice. Just in case he forgets who he is. He's obviously not very bright.

We went to the restaurant for dinner. Bec from work said that it was the most amazing place she's ever been to, and we had to see for ourselves. There were literally hundreds of diners, yet the place ran like clockwork. There were multiple buffet stations, so you just chose the one nearest you and joined the queue. Chandeliers hung from everything, huge statues of chicken-footed gods were looming over us, piles of food , drink, people, lights, camera action! Again... full on glitz, with hundreds of people all over everywhere. As the man sitting on the table with us said, "If this place was in Australia, we'd be waiting to get fed for a week!" Yet everything moved with electric efficiency.

After dinner we went out to find our friends amongst the crowd. While we were looking for them, we wandered into the 'Luxury Goods Shop' to have a gander. Again, lots of glitz and sparkle (why wasn't that a surprise by now??) but there were some lovely bags, shawls and pearls. As I came through the door I noticed the most delicious pearl necklace - just 3 small pearls in different colours. Simple, and beautiful. I assumed they were too expensive and left. However, once we caught up with our friends, I dared Pitsa to go in there and buy something. She's laughing and saying "No. I'm not buying!!" but we all went in and yes... when I found out the pearls were only 1000 baht (about $40) I laid down the cash. I was so rapt. I've already got a silver chain from Bali, so I'm set. That was going to be my major present to myself. (Little did I know that the emerald and diamond ring was lurking in my future. )

We hung around together for about an hour before the show began. My family were up near the back, which was good because we got to see everything without craning our necks every which way. The show opened with a row of elephants parading through the theatre. Have to say that I've never seen this before. And they held the tail of the one in front of them with their trunks, just like in Dumbo. I was enchanted.
The show itself was interesting. A mix of traditional Thai dance and culture with trapeze, fireworks, magic and clowns thrown in. The colours were gorgeous, and there were huge amounts of performers on stage at any one time. Simple economics in Australia means that we never get to see theatre on this scale back home. However, it was the animals that made the show really amazing. Trained chickens (I know!!!! Real chickens!!!), doves and goats, and of course the elephants.
They were doing tricks like we've seen in old fashioned movies: rearing up and balancing on each other, standing on tiny little platforms, sitting down... and two baby ones actually stood on their hind legs waving their front legs in the air. All very spectacular and SO not what we'll ever see back home. After the show, Connor told me that the elephants made him feel sad, and I knew what he meant. While I was watching it I was torn between feeling amazement at the skill and dedication it would have taken to train these huge animals to do things like this, and a tinge of sadness that they were doing things that were obviously so totally alien to their natural inclinations. I still enjoyed it though, I think because even though it's so foreign to us, working with elephants is an integral part of the Thai culture, so it seemed natural.

On our last full day we went shopping in O-Top market. The boys had pretty much run out of money, so I gave them 1500 baht each and told them that they were doing Christmas shopping. That's around $60 to buy presents for me, their Dad and Vivienne, Gran and Grandpa, and the other three brothers. They could club together to buy things, or go it alone... it was up to them.
O-Top was practically deserted so they made some excellent buys. It was slightly nerve-racking though. They'd split up to buy for a particular brother, I'd lose sight of them and start calling, market stall owners would join in, minutes would tick by before the errant kid/s would appear with a puzzled look, "What's the problem? I was just over there..." It was all good. I finished my Christmas shopping too, so the plan is to wrap all the presents as soon as we get back, and then we'll have the most trouble-free, painless Christmas ever! (It worked, too. All presents are wrapped, and waiting for the tree to be put up in December. It's a good feeling.)

We went home via a 7-11 where we bought noodle cups for the boys' dinner. I was happy just to eat steamed rice after the big lunch we had at the market. Actually, it was funny watching the guys eat the noodles. Obviously the Asian people like a touch of chili in their flavourings, which was a tad unexpected for my namby-pamby skips. A few mouthfuls downed, and then they were scoffing steamed rice and gulping water as if it was an Olympic sport. We then watched the last Harry Potter movie all curled up in the lounge room together, and then it was off to bed.
The last day was spent at the resort, where I had my 'free' massage paid for by listening to two hours of buy-into-the-Marriott-holiday-club, (it was worth it when I was having the massage...pure bliss), we ate at the deli for lunch and dinner because I didn't have access to the kitchen anymore, and we lounged by the pools, bought a couple of emerald and garnet rings, sipped a cocktail by the infinity pool and read. Well, one of us did. It was a lovely way to finish the holiday, relaxing and simply enjoying each others company. Then it was off to the airport, and home.

All in all, I think it's been a good holiday. Obviously, the hotel's location spoiled it in a few different ways, (and when I wrote this, I had no idea that my credit card had been skimmed), but once we got away from that then everything came together.We all loved the shopping and the tours were fantastic. Especially the elephants. Those big feet! Those flappy ears and twinkly little eyes! I want one.
And we've only had two bouts of vomiting, which if you take into account that I'm travelling with 4 kids in Asia isn't bad. Brennan lost his dinner in the gutter of the main drag in Patong the second night we were there, and Connor chucked his cookies in the taxi on the way to do Christmas shopping. Too much Gameboy playing in the car and not enough looking out of the window. No mess though, much to the relief of the driver. I learned from poor Brennan and I had a plastic bag in my handbag.

It's been the time with the kids that has been the best thing, though. I'm so lucky to have such fun, mature and loving kids who are such good company. At least most of the time...They've been so agreeable, enthusiastic, co-operative and appreciative of the whole experience. The younger three haven't put a foot wrong, and Jack comes into his own when haggling is involved. He has a mind like a calculator, so he's our resource when it comes to converting how much things cost. He loves doing it for anyone, not just himself, so that's come in very handy.

Getting away from the day to day routine has been wonderful for reconnecting to them as people. It's also been wonderful watching them interact amongst themselves. They'd disappear off to the pool for ages and play together and just hang out. They like each other, and that makes me feel hopeful for the future. I'd love them to have a tight bond with their brothers that lasts.

1 comment:

joanne said...

Sounds like a fab holiday - the show sounds great.Anything remotely Vegasesque gets the thumbs up from me!