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Thai wine and cat with shoes – Peter Needham in Thailand

July 25, 2014 Destination Thailand, Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Sometimes, when visiting a country, it’s the little things that stay in the mind – like my experience with new shoes and a Siamese cat.

I’m here at the moment travelling with Thailand’s ‘Best Friends Forever’ mega-famil.

The event will see up to 800 travel agents, members of the media and bloggers from all over the world convene in Bangkok this evening. For the last few days, all have been travelling around Thailand’s countryside – an Australian contingent of agents and media among them.

Aussie contingent gives Thailand full approval

On Tuesday in the Thai city of Korat (full name Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand’s second largest city by population, after Bangkok), agents went out to shop at the night market. I was looking to buy a new pair of sneaker-type shoes and a watch. Market goods can be cheap in Thailand, but sometimes you forget quite how cheap.

I bought a fine pair of black and red shoes (pictured) and a watch with a handsome black leather strap. All the numerals on the watch are in Thai, which adds a certain souvenir value. I didn’t bother to haggle because the prices represent such excellent value to start with, bargaining seems pointless.

New shoes and watch

Now for the cost. The shoes cost me 250 baht (AUD 8.32) and the watch cost me 100 baht (AUD 3.33). Forget the ten-dollar watch – this is the age of the three-dollar watch. A little money goes a long way in Thailand.

OK, so the watch is not exactly a Rolex or a TAG Heuer, and the shoes are neither Gucci nor Salvatore Ferragamo. But the watch keeps perfect time and the shoes received the ultimate seal of approval the following day, when we visited a silk manufacturing village.

While I took some photos of silk-making, an elegant Siamese cat with a collar and bell sauntered up to me, lay across my shoes – and stayed there. The cat was particularly fond of the left shoe, caressing it with a paw in a feline way for a few minutes before departing. The shoes immediately took on a magic quality.

Cat approves new shoes

Apart from little touches like that, Thailand offers bargains in all sorts of other things. Where else can you buy a third of a litre of ‘Hong Thong’ best rice whiskey in a convenience store for 140 baht (AUD 4.65)?

More seriously, hotels are exceptional value too and Thailand is offering excellent holiday deals in all sections of the market. The Aussie contingent spent last night in a fabulously upscale five-star resort, the Botanica in Khao Yai National Park (about 185km from Bangkok) complete with outdoor baths and plunge pools. To check that one out, see: www.botanicakhaoyai.com.

The day before, we visited the Khmer ruins of Phimai Historical Park, one of the largest and most important Khmer historical sites in Thailand. Yesterday, we learned that Thailand produces good wine – both red and white, including Chenin Blanc and Tempranillo – with a visit to PB vineyards.

Describing the concept of the ‘Best Friends Forever’ mega-famil, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says: “This event will encourage people to pass over the message that Thailand, The Land of Smiles, awaits to welcome all visitors with an abundance of destinations and cordially invites all tourists to enjoy a vacation here as always.”

Agents are delighted by Thailand, the legendary friendliness of the people, and the excellent value at every turn.

Samantha Bartels from MTA Travel, Sydney, Mitchell Andrews from The Travel Corporation and Passawan  Promsawat from TAT in a Thai winery

Aussie agents on the trip include Samantha Bartels from MTA Travel, Sydney; Mitchell Andrews from The Travel Corporation, NSW; Stephanie Ellen Jones from Hoot Holidays, NSW; Rani-Jade Thompson from Flight Centre, NSW; Sophie Anderson from Destination HQ, Melbourne, and Damien Currie from Intrepid Travel, Vic.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Nicky Ross says:

    Seriously rocking those shoes, Peter.
    And the cat is such a highlight. Obviously has good taste in fashion.

  2. Peter Watson says:

    The cat has exactly the same taste in shoes as you do Pete!

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