Subject: Re: Bangkok Questions
Hi Dan,

Yes, Lisa's right - hot and steamy but.... still - don't miss the opportunity!!!

For Bangkok itself - the palace complex is definitely a must - including the reclining buddha temple, Wat Pho (don't forget to wear long pants or you'll have to 'rent' a sarong). I also suggest Vimanmek Mansion (on Rajavithi Rd), a teak palace built by Chulalongkorn in the 19thC and, of course, Jim Thompson's house (Soi Kaseman 2). If you are out on Ploenchit Road - the Erawan Shrine is an interesting place to 'people/culture watch'. Wander around the Oriental and take yourself back in time to when Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad stayed there. And... have to say... that you cannot miss a walk around Patpong in the evening. Expect to be hasseled - it's all part of the ambience!!

The only downside of Bangkok is that it is not an easy city to walk around in - there is no real core and areas are split up by gigantic highways but ... the subway line has made it easier to explore than it used to be. Enjoy a tuk-tuk ride (there's nothing like it!) but bargain the rate up front...make sure that the taxis have the meters on when you start out. And do take the river taxis - they are great fun (and cheap)!

You've got time to take a day trip or two out of the city. I'd go to Ayutthaya - the old capital (around 1300-1700) - the ruins of the temples and palaces are fascinating (style is similar to Cambodia). It's just 70km north of Bangkok and there are lots of buses to take (a day is all you need there).

Another relatively close place is Kanchanaburi (130 km west) whcih you might want to overnight in. It's a beautiful area and also sobering - the location of the Bridge over the River Kwai. You can wander through the Allied war cemetery, the excellent museum and over the bridge - considering what happened there 50+ yrs ago. We stayed in a small resort on a island (away from the disco barges which provide a huge contrast to what you see during the day) - it was something like Kazem Island Resort - but that was 5 years ago now.

Shout if you need any specifics and I'll get my Thailand boxes out! I'll also send a note if something else pops into my mind.

Cheers! Judy in Hong Kong

ps. Just did a search and there's a World Ice Skating Centre just around the Erawan Shrine - so take your skates with you :)