Dec 07, 2004
All told, we spent 4 days in oven-like heat, spending far too much of our budget on western comforts. We did however manage to get to some of the more famous Bangkok sites such as the not to be missed Royal Palace and its beautiful surrounding wats. Other highlights included the many canals that snake through the urban center and their impressive river taxi system, excellent Thai food and the lively nightlife of the red light districts, not to mention the infamous ping pong shows (if you haven't heard of these, you're better off not asking!). After 4 days, we were eager to escape Bangkok's heat and high prices, and make it to the Andaman Sea before the diving season ended, so we abandoned our "no-fly policy" and caught a cheap flight to Phuket. We'll be sure to have more Bangkok stories, as our trip loops back here many times.
Crossing the border from Laos to Thailand was quite a shock. We spent a few days in the northern cities of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, overwhelmed by the relative wealth of the country, along with its westernization. Although Northern Thailand is known for its hill tribes and trekking, we knew we had seen the most authentic and beautiful villages & scenery in Laos, so we bee-lined for Bangkok instead. We travelled by train, having decided that a 1st class sleeper train would be better than a 13 hr journey by bus. To no surprise, I didn't have to convince Suzanne to splurge on this luxury travel option, and we arrived in style in our own sleeping berth with room service. On arrival, Bangkok was waking and things seemed much quieter than we had anticipated. Our first stop was Khao San Rd, the famous backpacker district, overrun with fast food stalls and dredlocked shirtless backpackers, dark from extended stays in the southern beaches: truly overwhelming, having come from sleepy Laos.