Whether you're interested in visiting beautiful beaches and ornate temples, exploring vast street markets, or just trying to reminisce your favorite scenes from "Brokedown Palace," Thailand has a tourist attraction for you. Jeff and I spent about a week in Thailand.
Traveling by ground transportation is the way to go in SE Asia. It may be slow and painfully uncomfortable at times, but it provides a great view of the countryside. In Thailand, we spent much time on trains. We were initiated to Thai trains with a 22 hour ride from northern Malaysia up to Bangkok. Fortunately, we were riding in comfort this time, with foldout beds and functional AC. Our time in Bangkok was short ... but long enough to realize that the whole city is in kahootz. The "tourist information officer" at the train station leads you to a cab driver, who recommends a cheap guest house, where they guide you to a friendly restaurant, where some shady character slips a little something into your backpack, and you end up in the Brokedown Palace. Well, you get the idea.
The trains of Thailand.
The streets of Bangkok.
Most of our time in Thailand was spent in the northern city of Chiang Mai. Here, our good friend Carter joined us and we visited another friend, Karn, who grew up in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is a pleasant contrast to Bangkok ... cleaner, quieter, and less crowded. Outside of the city, there are many places to enjoy the natural beauty of Thailand, including "wild" animals of all sorts. Just take a trip to the elephant camp, or maybe the butterfly park, or perhaps the snake farm, or how about monkey school or the insect museum. Yes, opportunities abound to enjoy natural creatures in unnatural circumstances. We decided on the snakes and elephants.
The snakeman in action.
Dave on the snake farm.
Carter, hard at work at elephant camp.
Jeff and the baby elephant.
Welcome to the meat markets of Chiang Mai.
Jeff, Dave, and Carter.
Lunch with Karn and his father.
In Thailand, the majority of the population is Buddhist. Monks are commonly seen on the streets and at the temples in their orange and gold robes. Jeff and I had the opportunity to meet a friendly pair of monks on our train ride to Chiang Mai. We were excited to talk with these new friends about culture and religion, and soon the older monk was generously bestowing on us gifts of exotic fruits. But then he brought it out ... the mother of all organic foods, the most "natural" mixture of leaves and nuts perhaps I have ever witnessed. I was sceptical, but in a fit of sincere gratefulness, I downed the concoction. I'm not saying there is any correlation with the monk food, but after five days of "stomach sickness" I was begging the nurses at a Bangkok hospital for antibiotics and other substances of medicinal value. But regardless, we enjoyed our time with the monks and were quite honored when we were invited by the younger monk to visit him at his temple in Bangkok.
Visiting Boonsong at his temple.