Subject: Re: Thailand
Hi Rosemary,

Thailand is a real treat. We spent two weeks there in 1997 as part of a month long trip to Asia. We found the people to be friendly, but beware of those who want to take you for a ride (literally and figuratively). There are lots of scams on the streets of Bangkok, such as deals on gems or made-to-measure suits. Remember this is a very poor country. However, they always do so with a smile and it's part of the game to see how gullible tourists can be.

We stayed in the Royal Hotel which has a pool, is air conditioned and clean, about two blocks from Khaosan, which is the area for backpackers, North Americans and Australians with little or no money. It's not the real Bankgok. The city itself is huge with an enormous population. It's extremely polluted, traffic everywhere and was very hot when we stayed in November. Because of the vagaries of Asian travel we passed through or stayed in Bangkok three times on our way to somewhere else. We spent a lot of time walking around - no tours- and felt quite comfortable. We ate from the street food vendors. Food was cheap, plentiful and very good. We were never sick.

We spent two nights in Chiang Mai and signed up for a day tour which took us walking through Karen and Hmong villages, an elephant ride through forested areas (it was amazing and I'd highly recommend it), and finally rafting on a made on the spot bamboo raft down a river close to Bangkok. You can book a tour from any of the hundreds on offer in Chiang Mai. Don't miss the night market while you're there. As evening approaches, hundreds of vendors set up stands and sell everything. There are great deals - for example, quality blue jeans for less than $10.00, silk for a bargain, Thai crafts (if you look hard enough) and everything in between. As many of the clothes we buy in North America are made in Thailand, you'll find familiar brands for next to nothing.

We flew to Kho Samui for four nights. Airfares out of Bankgok are extremely cheap and Thai Airways is dependable and still understands customer service. I'd recommend flying to and fro over driving.

Finally, as another Ziner said, watch what you wear. Thailand, outside of the resort areas, is relatively conservative. I wore cotton jumpers with or without a t-shirt depending on the locale, and cotton skirts. No shorts.

Thailand is a great adventure. Enjoy. Lucy (it's about as hot in Toronto as Bangkok)