|Reader Alert: Since the uploading of pictures from the ship is excruciatingly slow, there will be disconnect between journal postings and photo uploads. So please check back as photos are added to previous entries.
Today is our first excursion ashore on the island of Ko Sumui in Thailand. We took in a lengthy tour that brought us to the Big Buddha, which was BIG. A respectful presentation at a temple includes covering ankles and shoulders and adopting a quiet presence. Almost creating an international incident where I intervened when a young Asian couple in tank tops and short shorts started arguing loudly, what I think involved picture taking with a selfie stick, all forbidden in the temple. I walked over and schussed them and pointed to the exit. Fortunately they got the message and promptly left. The Thai people are extremely polite and I fear that without more vigilant enforcement, they will end up closing access to all these amazing sights to tourists altogether.
A stop at an Elephant camp where we took in baby elephant bathing, and a Thai cooking lesson. A stop for lunch with wonderful dishes of fresh fish, seafood salad, coconut soup chicken with cashews and a veggie stir-fry, and a beer. With full tummies, we then visited a rubber plantation and observed the making of rubber mats, an altogether stinky affair. A photo stop at a lovely waterfall, but according to the locals less impressive in the dry season and a final stop at a coconut factory. The term factory is slightly misleading where all the processing is manual from picking, to husking to cracking the coconuts and rendering the oil and drying the meat. The only automation was how they bundled the coconut shells into massive bundles resembling hay bundles and then loading them onto trucks to send to a processing plant. A worker can earn the equivalent of $240 US dollars a month for backbreaking work in the heat and humidity of outside.
A short bas ride back and we joined our ship for evening cocktails and another grand meal at the private steak-house restaurant on board.