The World Cruise Events are coming thick and fast on this cruise. Today it all started with a lovely boat trip along the Chao Phraya River as the sun went down on this crazy city. It's interesting to see that many of the old stilt homes that used to line the river, are now being cleared to be replaced by swish apartment blocks, upmarket hotels and trendy restaurants. However, in spite of the many changes seizing this fast developing city, those timeless views of the iconic Wat Arun temple, and the Royal Palace look as good as they ever did.
In a city that's feeling increasingly claustrophobic these days, as concrete and flyovers dominate the congested urban landscape, out on the river you finally start to get a sense of space and a few cooling breezes to take the edge off the heat and humidity.
We ended up at an open-air riverside venue, where we treated to a "Thai Street Food" extravaganza. Just because it was a sanitised (in a good way) street food experience, it didn't mean that the menus or the flavours had been toned down. One stall rather worryingly had all sorts of deep-fried insects, so I couldn't resist showing off and giving it a go. I can report that deep fried locusts are fairly tasteless, but the legs get stuck in your teeth; while silk worm pupae are (predictably) fairly disgusting, and have a slightly fishy taste.
Fortunately, the rest of the food was much more appetising (spicy salads, pad thais, stir fried rice, grilled fish, etc), and the free-flowing cold beer Chiang washed it all down nicely. To round off the evening, there was a Thai boxing demonstration – it was carefully choreographed but some of the fist-on-face thuds seemed pretty real to me. Emboldened by a couple of beers, I had declared that I could have easily defeated any of those boxers in a fight of Queensbury Rules, but having seen the demo, I piped down and recognised that these were fairly tough fellows.
The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks display over the river – the lights reflecting in the waters, and the deafening explosions echoing off the buildings. A really wonderful sign-off to another excellent evening.