Before I write about anything Bangkocky, let me just apologise. When I was in Bangkok, my camera was never on. But not because I didn’t want it to, but because, well, it ran out of battery. Turns out, I forgot to charge it the night before homestay, and I stupidly left the charger in my cabin. Yes, I am a bad bad girl, please spank me.
To make matters worse, Bangkok, was the. Best. Homestay. Ever. There are pictures in my homestay mate, Ve’s, camera. However, until she uploads those pictures, the homestay will remain photo-less. 😦 Bad blogger!
Disclaimer aside, what I do have photos of was our arrival in Bangkok, minus the stench of the river, our welcoming, and our institutional visit to the Wat Pho and the homestay matching. I also have detailed accounts of our goodbyes and farewell ceremony.
So I guess I will start the story, from the beginning…
As a tradition, everytime we enter a country’s waters, the contingent of the country, is required to host a flag hoisting ceremony. It is an extremely formal affair, so each contingent takes it very seriously.
For the Brunei contingent, we usually gather at the 6th Floor Lounge at 7.15am sharp and arrange ourselves in the contingent line. There we will make the neccesary attire check. Since we are wearing the most formal and the most anal of all attires (called the A1*), everything must be uniform, and neat, down to the angle of our collar pins.
When everything is made sure to be properly done, we march our way out into the Sports Deck, where the host contingent will already be waiting, and our line is escorted to stand in front where our flag is currently positioned.
We stand in a straight line, and eventhough the BPYs are usually very jovial and silly, during the flag hoisting ceremony, we stand silent, proud and tall, out of respect to the flag of our country, and in solidarity with the other nations from Japan and ASEAN.
At exactly 7.30am, the MC will announce the commencement of the ceremony, and the flag of the host country will be hoisted with the national anthem. Then followed by the flags from the other nations.
Then the MC will invite the national leader (NL) from the host country, to deliver a welcoming address. In this case the NL of Thailand.
Then, after some quick announcements from the administrative staff, we exit the Sports Deck, in a manner explicitly specified by the MC.
Cheer Leader at Work. BPY weak and hungry. Hehe.
After the flag hoisting ceremony, the Cheer Leader, Wan, as usual, requested some contact time to practice our Flag Cheer. So we go straight down to the Fourth Floor Deck to practice. Flag Cheers are done upon our official entrance or exit from Nippon Maru during the Welcoming (or Farewell) Ceremony, and each contingent will have a signature cheer. During the Pre-Departure Training, we make our own, and practice it untill the wee hours in the morning until it was ingrained into our brains, and until our moves are just perfectly in sync with one another.
After that we change into some casual attires and have breakfast. I usually skip breakfast and do my laundry. Hehehe. I’ve never been much of a breakfast person. Mornings are just too early for food. While the COC have their meetings, PYs have free time, and the Second Floor people usually would just hang out together and speculate about our homestay. (This was the time when I forgot to charge my camera battery)
As we enter civilisation, oooohhhh! The stench of the river! It entered our ventilation system and the whole ship smells like the river. Hahaha. The Japanese can be seen spraying air-freshener in their cabins. It’s a very funny sight.
Many interesting buildings can be seen from the ship as we moved slowly to the port, which was still not visible at this point.
We could see the city of Bangkok as we start to berth. It’s always very exciting to see land after a few days of only seeing the great open blue sea, especially when the land mass happens to be Bangkok. We certainly have heard many things about this country.
As time flies, it quickly became 2pm. We were to assemble at the Dolphin Hall for a short Orientation, after which we disembark from the ship, contingent by contingent, according to the ports of call.
Here are the Indonesian Contingent, with Safii clearly seen. He’s the one bringing a big sized sovenir, meant for the Thailand hosting committee.
As we exit our beloved Nippon Maru, an orchestra will play a song from our country. However, it is a source of amusement that none of the Bruneians could figure out what song they were playing as we descend the stairs towards dry land.
Lining up according to contingent. We were all smiles, unlike in the morning. Hehe. The affair will drag on for most of the afternoon, filled with speeches by everyone, sovenir exchange, and so on. We stand straight, in our contingent line.
We were transported later to the Sofitel Hotel smack in the middle of Bangkok, for the welcoming dinner, and the coutesy call on His Excellency the Prime Minister of Thailand (who could not come due to other obligations).
For every port of call, there is a 5 minute performance required from all contingents. In the case of Bangkok, it was the Samalindang dance. After the photo session, our Samalindang dancers, hurried to get into their costumes. Makeup was done entirely by yours truly. (Thank you Silkygirl!)
Our dancers did very well that day. I really want to kick myself for not charging my camera. The Samalindang dance is actually quite difficult to do, because it requires a lot of grace, poise and elegance. The song and dance is about a beautiful lady by the name of Samalindang, who had all those qualities yet has the power to command a whole room with her strength, personality and charisma. Our dancers executed the dance perfectly. They were graceful yet strong, and the whole room was mesmerised.
After dinner we went back to the ship, and we get ready for our homestay matching the next day.
First, as part of the institutional visit, we went to:
Went to visit Pakkred Babies Home;
All PYs ready for homestay matching with their respective luggages for 2 nights stay in the marvellous city of Bangkok.
I stayed with a family of 5, where the father was a senior banking officer, the mother was a housewife, and their 3 daughters were all still studying. We had loads of fun and I thought that this was the best homestay ever!
During my homestay, we:
- Went to watch Siam Niramit, I totally recommend this to everyone who wishes to explore Bangkok;
- Siam Paragon, Siam Square, JJ Mall & Chatuchak Market and bought 10kgs (yes I weighed) worth of clothes;
- Ate delicious durian while walking in the open street;
- Bought a lot of dried mangoes;
- Had many, many, many DELICIOUS seafood Thai meals;
- Went to Khao San Road;
- Had authentic Thai Massage;
- Went by tuk tuk to the most famous Pad Thai Goong restaurant in Bangkok which I thought was the BEST pad thai I have ever had in my whole life.
After 2 nights homestay, we come back to the warm embrace of our dearest Nippon Maru. We bring our host families for the Open Ship and they get a tour of the ship we call home.
After that we assemble in the Dolphin Hall, before we exit the ship to do some flag cheers. Here we are looking all cheery. We are always very happy to see each other after our homestay. I don’t really know why. We hug like we haven’t seen each other in years. I guess it’s because ever since July, we have never spent one day apart. Maybe.
Flag Cheers! Da-Rus-Sa-Lam! Flag cheers are done as we exit and form the line for the farewell ceremony. After the farewell, we embark the ship, and get ready for ribbon throwing.
The ribbon throwing is a Japanese tradition. PYs look forward to it everytime. The ribbons are thrown to the PYs respective families and both will hold on the their respective ends until it breaks. It is very heartbreaking when the ribbon finally breaks and this is usually an extremely WET affair. The ribbons are made of paper and throwing it symbolises a final goodbye and gives a sense of closure.
Here is a video of the Ribbon throwing in Bangkok Port.
With that, goodbye Bangkok. I will most definitely be back.
*A1: The A1, is the most formal of all our attires, and is commisionned by the Government of Negara Brunei Darussalam especially for the Brunei Contingent. While wearing the attire, one is considered on official duty and carrying the country’s name on our shoulders. Therefore, while wearing the A1, we are subjected to many rules and regulations in order to protect and preserve the integrity of the country’s name. Everything is scrutinised from the way we do our make-up, to the way we stand, so everything must be perfect. Rules and regulations vary with each contingent, some A1s are so respected that no sitting on the floor is even allowed. For Brunei, we were not allowed to smoke, or for non-Muslims, drink (or even sit at the bar) while wearing the A1. Also, while it is not explicitly prohibited, we were strongly discouraged to have our meals while in the A1.