Subject: Thailand Tips?
Gerry Crouse expressed a doting and nervous parent's concerns about his son's future trip to Thailand.

Gerry, as others have already pointed out, I'm sure he'll be fine. He's an experienced traveller and backpacker, and he's already done the research.

As for the language: outside Bangkok, the only English he will find is in the specific tourist industries. However, unlike many other parts of Asia, that's little problem. The people are so incredibly friendly and helpful, as long as he's willing to work with gestures and pantomime, many people there will do the same for him. That willingness to leap into communication with a smile and huge sense of humour is one of the many reasons I love Thailand.

As for getting from Don Muang (the airport) into the backpacker area of Bangkok: depends on what time of day his flight arrives. If it's daytime, he can actually catch a local bus; near the airport, unless it's specifically rush hour, it won't be *too* crowded, and will actually drop him inside one of the backpacker accommodation areas. He can ask at the travellers' information centre in the airport. However, if he arrives late at night, as I always seem to, he'll need to take a taxi. For that, it is *essential* to check with the taxi desk *inside* the airport; arrange the complete ride at the desk. Some of the taxis outside are more than willing to charge like wounded bulls for wide-eyed arrivals, and sometimes they'll even try to change the fare with explanations about taking the expressway, not taking the expressway, going another route, while en route! Just stay calm, smile a lot, and repeat the agreed fare. :-)

And he'll likely meet other travellers arriving at the same time he does, some of them with experience. I know I have, and sharing a taxi with them makes a simple job even easier.

Oh, btw, if he does arrive very late at night, let him know that he should be prepared to pay premium hotel prices, or wander about the budget streets looking for a room, or even grin and look for a park/temple bench until after the dawn.

Lonely Planet is an excellent source of information, as is the Moon Publication about Thailand. Most of the time the prices are outdated, but because of the economic crisis, they're not as badly out of date as usual in the guidebooks.

Les in Edmonton