While we were eating, a monster thunderstorm came along, but by the time we finished it had let up. The tour company gave us plastic parkas to wear while we walked from the bus to the Phra Thi Nang Wimanmek, the world's largest teak house, but we didn't need them as the rain had stopped. This was also a king's palace built in 1868 with no nails. King Rama V used it as his residence for 5 years in the early 1900's. It was quite interesting, with high ceilings and beautiful teak floors and paneling. The palace was closed in 1935, but re-opened by the current royal family as a museum in 1982.
We left the teak palace after about an hour - we had to put our purses, cameras, phones, etc. in lockers, so no photos -- and rode to a large jewelry store (the largest one I've ever seen) and an indoor souvenir market, where we spent about another hour, leaving at 5:30 to return to the ship.
The jewelry store was almost too big and with too many choices, but we enjoyed shopping in the silk and souvenir market. They had a very nice seating area to rest in for those who didn't like to shop, along with free drinks. We got back to the ship in record time -- an hour and 45 minutes (usually takes 2-3 hours), arriving at 7:15. Mom and I were hot, tired, and felt dirty, so we ordered room service and got to bed early.
Many passengers on the ship did overnights in Bangkok, so there weren't too many walkers when I got out on the deck at 6 am.
Mom and I ate a hearty breakfast the next morning and rode the 10 am shuttle to the Central Festival Pattaya Beach shopping mall in the beach town of Pattaya. It was a 40 minute ride, so the free shuttle was a nice gesture.
We walked along the sidewalk on the beach. We thought the beach area was nice, but some on our ship thought it tacky. It just looked touristy to us, and the water was murky close to shore. I did notice that almost all those swimming had ridden boats out to floating docks into the middle of the harbor, so I suspect the water near the shore might be polluted.
We only spent about an hour and a half before we were tired of shopping and returned to the ship. We ate a nice lunch and then I returned to the cruise terminal for a foot massage -- the best deal seen ashore on this cruise (and maybe on any cruise). It was all the talk at dinner, breakfast and lunch, and many passengers and crew went multiple times.
There was an area set up in the Laem Chabang cruise terminal (along with the usual souvenir shopping stuff). They were giving one hour foot massages and full body massages for $15 each! They had several other treatments (manicures, etc.), but those two were the most popular. They had wonderfully comfortable lounge chairs set up, and the woman next to me was on her second foot massage of the day. They had a separate room for the body massages, but you didn't undress and had to lie on the floor on mats rather than a table. One elderly man getting his second foot massage said he would love a body massage, but he'd never be able to get back up off the floor.
I felt very pampered and can't remember the last time my feet and legs felt so good. You got 50 minutes on your feet/legs, followed by a 10 minute shoulder massage. I gave the young girl a very generous tip (200 baht or about $5) and she tried to give me 100 baht back, saying it was too much. I made her keep it - the $2.50 was worth more to her than to me. They were taking American dollars, baht, and even Hong Kong dollars.
Our fellow passengers who spent the night in Bangkok returned to the ship filled with great stories of all they had seen. They stayed in one of the most luxurious hotels in Bangkok and saw all that we did, plus did a ride on the canals.
We all agreed over dinner that Bangkok was worth a visit, but it's a little far for a cruise ship day trip, much like going to Berlin from the northern coast of Germany or to Paris from Le Havre. It can be done, but you spend more time on the bus than seeing the sights. I was happy we had such an excellent bus and the rides passed quickly.
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