Sunday evening we arrived back in Khrungthep after a busy two days and two nights in Phuket, the glitzy, touristy resort Island an hour’s flight south of the capital. There is a lot to share and many stories to tell and I’ll get to those in the next day or so, since I have a lot of work to do this morning.
For the moment, though, I hope you’ll consider these pictures and brief captions as an acceptable amuse bouche for your attention, whetting your appetite for more:
Patong beach along Phuket Island’s western shore, early in the morning before the crowds of tourists arrive to soak up their Vitamin D.
Saturday morning we were invited to the religious ceremony, which about thirty people attended. Five monks changed, Dan and Kathy made offerings, and all of us were splashed with holy water.
Afterwards, the traditional water-pouring ceremony was held. Each guest, in descending order of importance starting with the parents of the bride and groom (or their grandparents, if present), pour a small amount of water on the bride and groom’s hands while wishing them good fortune, health and happiness in their marriage. Here, the bride’s mother does the rod nam offering.
Afterwards, guests relaxed in the library, visiting and enjoying refreshing ginger tea and lychee water. There was some intrigue as one of the guests, a friend of the bride’s who is the ex-boyfriend of one of Tawn’s close friends, arrived for the ceremony with his boyfriend, who it turns out that another one of Tawn’s friends who was at the wedding had had an affair with two years ago. Confused? I’ll try to explain it all later.
After the rod nam ceremony all eight of us piled into the rental car (including Tawn’s friend EE and her husband Chris, who now live in Melbourne, OZ) and drove 60 km across the island to a small local seafood restaurant that is right next to the pier where the fishing boats offload their catch. We had a huge feast of incredibly fresh seafood including some of the best grilled calamari I’ve ever had: if you thought that squid is rubbery, this would change your mind. We ate too much. By the time we returned to the hotel, we had only thirty minutes to freshen up and change, heading back to the Chedi Resort for the second part of the wedding celebrations.
The bride, Kathy, and her father arrive on the back of an elephant complete with dancers and musicians. The attracted the attention of many of the resort’s guests who, in addition to the wedding guests, had quite a few memories of this spectacular entrance. Kathy is Tawn’s friend from Chulalongkorn University. Kathy and Dan live in Hong Kong.
Sorry for the poor picture quality. The service was held just before sunset with the ocean as the backdrop. The temperatures were surprisingly cool and the clouds kept the sun from being too strong. Then, just as they started to exchange vows, the sun dropped below the clouds, flooding Dan and Kathy with a radient light.
After the service the guests enjoyed appetisers and drinks on the beach and the nearby lawn. Traditional Thai music was being played and dancers performed. As the sun set, the sky was ablaze in a glorious combination of pinks and purples – which my camera hardly does justice to – and everyone was lining up for photos with the bride and groom.
After the service, the mahout gave rides to anyone who wanted them – this was as close as Tawn wanted to get to the beautiful elephant. After about a half-hour, the elephant was tuckered out and half-way down the beach with two of Tawn’s friends on its back, kneeled down on the sand for a rest. We subsequently gave Eddy and Jack a hard time about being too heavy for the elephant to continue!
The reception was intimate – only about 80 guests – and was in a tent on a lawn next to the beach. The music changed to a live jazz combo doing all of the favourite songs from the 40s and 50s from Gershwin to Porter to Arlen. Dinner was all Thai food, with great curries, veggies, and as a highlight heaping platters of grilled seafood: rock lobsters, prawns, whole fish… it was really spectacular. The glass tea light hurricane lamps were the thank-you gifts for the guests, sourced by our friend Ble, a local designer. It was a lovely setting and the weather was perfect for it.
Sunday we had some free time. Tawn and I walked to the nearest temple in the morning, since it was his birthday, to make a donation and receive a blessing. This temple is right on the beach at Patong and was completely destroyed by the tsunami. It has since been reconstructed, although some work in continuing.
In the afternoon we spent more time with with Eddy, Ble, Jack and his boyfriend David. As our flight was delayed, we had time to hang out at a resort community that has boat rides on their lagoon, then do some shopping for local Thai food products before heading to the airport. We were spread across three different flights, ours departing the latest. As Jack, Ble, and Eddy’s flight pushed back, there was a lovely view of the sun setting behind it into the Andaman Sea.