SIR STAMFORD RAFFLES LODGE SOJOURNS TO PHUKET

“Make every effort to visit and carry the torch of Brotherly Love to the farthest shores!”


28th to 31st July 2022

By: W Bro Andy Wong

Sir Stamford Raffles Lodge No. 7444 E.C.


Left to Right: W Bro Saptak Santra, W Bro John Matheson, W Bro Niran Rajaratnam, W Bro Marcus Krishnan, VW Bro Dr Yeoh Sin Hock, W Bro Andy Wong, W Bro Tristan Tabori, W Bro Paul Yong, W Bro Rajash Singh


It was in the first week of June, when our Deputy District Grand Master (DDGM) Very Worshipful Brother Dr Yeoh Sin Hock announced to the brethren of Sir Stamford Raffles Lodge that the Light of Siam Lodge No. 9791 EC Installation Meeting on Saturday, 30th July would not only be a great opportunity to visit our Brothers in Phuket but at the same time, we could take our Ladies for a short holiday.


Shortly, a chat group rightly named “Phuket Sojourn” was created by our DDGM; we discussed the schedule, flight details, programme, accommodation and transport. We knew we were well cared for from the detailed manner which our VW Bro Dr Yeoh planned the trip.


It is well known in our Lodge that our VW Brother Dr Yeoh always couples educational learning during such getaways. In the past these have often proved inspirational and lasting.


Day One


Before we knew it!


An advance party of five made up of VW Bro Dr Yeoh Sin Hock, W Bro Paul Yong, W Bro Andy Wong and two ladies scooted off on a fabulous Thursday morning. Going over the Straits of Malacca and gliding across the Andaman Sea and after 30 minutes – having gained an hour due to time difference – we landed in Phuket. We cleared the Immigration in a breeze without needing to complete any arrival forms or declare our Covid-19 vaccination status.


After checking into our hotel , The Boathouse Phuket at Kata Beach and following lunch at the hotel’s café we retired to our rooms. However two of us were a bit more restless and commenced to explore the nearby areas on foot. Before long it was time for the highlight of the evening! Seafood dinner at KanEang@Pier!


Our party was welcomed by friendly servers and not to mention the briny smell of the sea. We dined alfresco in a most relaxed ambience. Appetite satiated!


Our Worshipful Master , W Bro Marcus Krishnan and his Lady arrived on the evening flight, we caught up with the happenings of the day at the Reggae themed Ska Bar next to the hotel beach over a couple of beers and ginger ales.


We had a long day and called off well after midnight Singapore time. We were now a party of seven.


Day Two


Breakfast for the early risers!


Then it was free and easy until lunch. Based on a local recommendation, we headed slightly north of Patong to Baan Rim Pa Thai Restaurant which commanded a spectacular view of the Andaman Sea. The three Ladies who chose the dishes were thrilled when the brethren applauded them for their astuteness.


We experienced harmony at its highest!


The afternoon was free for our exploration of Patong Beach or to get back to the hotel.


That evening we set off for a fellowship gathering at the Master Elect W Bro Hans Guelich’s residence. V W Brother Yushea Hatim Degani and W Bro Saptak Santra, who arrived early, were already mingling with the Light of Siam Lodge brethren.


As more visitors arrived, we recollected the familiar faces whom we had met often, virtually. During those virtual meetings, the most we could do was to wave at each other and exchange brief greetings.


Looking back, we realised how the pandemic that stood between us had mercilessly robbed us of the opportunity of meeting each other “facially.” There would be much catching up now that the borders have opened up.


The smorgasbord of hors d’oeuvres, relishes, desserts, with hints of German and Thai flavourings, were overflowing with love. Impressive and remarkable are inadequate words to describe what Uli Guelich, W Bro Han’s wife presented to the guests! We found out that Uli personally cooked all these over two days. There must have been at least sixty (60) of us at the gathering, and the endless flow of food servings were like the continuous waves that bathed the shores of Phuket.


We were later joined in the evening by Bro Pierre Faddoul holidaying in Phuket and W Bro Tristan Tabori, who was on a business trip, and flew over from Bangkok. Our party of seven now grew to nine.


The high spirited atmosphere was overflowing with hugs, lovely and interesting conversations, spontaneous laughter and endless clinking of glasses. A truly memorable evening that was!


Day Three


Mid morning, we stopped by The Green Man Pub for an early lunch. We thought we had travelled back in time the very moment we stepped inside the mock Tudor style house. The decorations and furniture looked like they had been there for a century or more. Lunch, accompanied by our favourite beverages, was truly home styled. The scenery beyond the window completed the picture of an enjoyable afternoon in an English countryside (in Phuket of course)!


At 2:15 pm, all dressed up and ready to be called to labour at the Intercontinental Phuket Resort for the most important event of the visit; The Light of Siam Lodge Installation Meeting! It is encouraging to note that nine Worshipful Brethren from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur attended. Distinguished brethren from the Provincial Grand Lodge of South East Asia and the District Grand Lodge of the Middle East also graced the occasion. The Lodge tyled at 4:00 pm precisely. The ceremony was well attended by the brethren from the Light of Siam Lodge and we witnessed W Bro Hans Guelich being installed into the Chair of King Solomon.


The labours of the day ended at 6:30 pm and the brethren proceeded to the adjoining wing for refreshments before returning to the ballroom for the Installation Banquet. The evening ended after many rounds of handshakes, hugs and well wishes and affirmations that we will meet again very soon.


At our hotel, our Ladies told us about their fabulous evening over a seafood dinner at The Boathouse. No one was surprised when the next question of “When is our next sojourn?” came up.


Day Four


All packed and ready to go home!


This must have been the most relaxing trip for us and our Ladies! The programme flowed with the precision of a well-orchestrated ceremony. This came as no surprise as our DDGM had planned everything for us from refreshment to labour and from labour to refreshment.


We brought back with us fond memories of our sojourn in Phuket.


In no uncertain terms we will be back!


Our Learning ‘Takeaway’


Remember the takeaway mentioned at the beginning of this essay? On a more serious note, perhaps, DDGM was trying to remind us about the importance of visitations.


We have heard many times that visitation is an important and essential part of Freemasonry. We grow and gain knowledge with every visit, develop closer bonds with our Lodge brethren and their families; enjoy brotherly love across boundaries and different Constitutions; meet brothers and their families from distant lands; watch cultural differences melt instantly; experience spontaneous assistance in stressful situations; establish new bonds and rekindle old ones; enjoy hospitality with a view to reciprocate the same when we become hosts; observe the ceremonies of our Sister Lodges and Sister Constitutions to understand the differences and appreciate the similarities. The validations for visitations are endless.


The Covid-19 Pandemic had thrown a spanner in our time tested and well-oiled Freemasonry mechanism. Lodge meetings were cancelled, our Half Annual and Annual Communications were conducted virtually. This effectively put immediate brakes on visitation; so much so that it was not even possible to visit another Lodge within our own state.


The privilege of visitations and the goodness associated can never be measured by a ruler nor quantified by a vessel. But these privileges can be cruelly snatched away from us and must not be taken for granted. No one would have thought that a microscopic organism capable of multiple mutations could be so deadly as to take lives, inflict irreversible damages to health, wreck families and cripple economies. The sense of calmness we now have may not be here to stay; for the best and the wisest know not when the next catastrophe will come. Before that happens, let us make every effort to visit and carry the torch of Brotherly Love to the farthest shores!


May TGAOTU continue to look over us, keep us and our loved ones safe and accompany us in all our visitations!


First meal at The Boathouse Café


The advance party


Good food, spectacular scenery and good company. What more can life offer?


The Bingley Boys (a new rock band)


Lovely ladies with the beautiful sunset in the background. Didn't the ladies brighten up the surroundings!


Installation Banquet


W Bro Hans Guelich with our Present and Past DDGM


A light hearted moment before the Installation Meeting


Distinguished Brethren from the DGLME and PGLSEA


That's just a small portion! Such a treat!


The best hosts in Phuket or could even be the whole of Thailand! Hans and Uli Guelich!


Toast to the Worshipful Master!