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Published: August 3rd 2006
Pam and I are sitting in a slowwww internet cafe here in Bangkok, waiting to take a bus & ferry to Koh Tao tonight & tomorrow morning. It's Pam's birthday, and she's a bit impatient by all the traveling we're doing today - we just flew back from Chiang Mai. I don't blame her - I'm feeling the same way.
A summary of the last few days: I arrived in Bangkok from Shanghai, and met Pam at the airport. Though my flight arrived a few minutes early, there were a number of others getting in at the same time so that it took a while to get through immigration. We were accompanied by her uncle and his Thai girlfriend back to our hotel - the JW Marriott on Sukhumvit (quite a classy establishment). We stayed there while in Bangkok. Thank you Mary Dryfoos.
While in Bangkok we saw Wat Prah Kaew, where the "Emerald Buddha" is, and the Grand Palace. We also went over to the Chatuchak weekend market and walked through the Chatuchak park. The Wat was impressive - much more elegant looking than the Chinese palaces. We took some pictures, but I can't upload them from my camera here. The market was similarly impressive - it was huge, and there were all sorts of things there. All in all, however, Bangkok is not that wonderful in my opinion. Too many pushy people, too much of a city that depends on tourism.
Chiangmai had nicer weather, despite the rain. We took a cooking class, and were supposed to do a whitewater rafting/mountain biking/elephant riding trek, but the river had flooded and the tri pgot cancelled. We used the money to book our trip to Koh Tao instead. The first night when we arrived we went to the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, which had a lot of cool art and knickknacks, plus the usual ripoff watches, bags, clothes, etc. Also, after the cooking class (which by the way, was really fun - we went to the market and learned to pick out good Thai vegetables/fish/seafood before cooking with the ingredients) we rented a motorbike and rode out to Doi Suthep, a national park near Chiang Mai, and hiked around. We couldn't find our way out of the park and it was getting dark, but finally we figured out where the hidden path was. And of course, yesterday, since we couldn't do the trek we had originally found, we rode the motorbike up Doi Inthanon, the highest point in Thailand, where it was only 52 degrees (Fahrenheit) at the top. Brrrrr! That park was pretty far away, and we got a later start than planned since we had some issues getting our trip booked to Koh Tao (the train was full, so now we're taking a bus instead), so we basically rode to the top and then back down, stopping once to eat on the way down and once to see one of the waterfalls on the way in.
Today we flew back to Bangkok to meet our train, and got some Pad Thai and mango shakes from a few street vendors here on Khao San Road. Which brings us up to this very moment. I'm probably leaving a bunch out, but it's been an *experience* thus far. I think so far I like Shanghai better, even though nobody in China speaks English and everybody here does, because Thailand seems very dependent on tourism for its economy, which makes us obvious targets for people trying to scam the farang (foriegners) for an extra few Baht.
Happy Birthday to Pam!
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