|Subject: Re: Thailand|
I was in Bangkok and Chiang Mai two years ago and one of the highlights was a day trip out of Chiang Mai to the Doi Inthanon National Park. In the park are two large shrines to the King and Queen, the largest waterfall in Thailand, really great views, and living either inside the park or nearby are some of the hill tribes that welcome visitors. We visited one of the Karen villages which has been a goal of mine ever since I heard in elementary school that there was a tribe called the Karens. I think I also stayed at the Sheraton and it's a little outside of town, so you can take a tuk-tuk into town. The Sheraton had so-so Thai food when I was there and I would recommend eating lunch and dinner in town.
In Bangkok, there's so much to see and do. I recommend the cooking school at the Oriental Hotel. You don't have to be a guest to take the classes. They have a week long course with a different emphasis every day, and some people just popped in for one day. It's mostly a demostration class, but the class is small (it varied from 6 to 10), so there is a little hands-on. The class is from about 9:30 in the morning until after lunch (you eat what you cook) which leaves plenty of time for sightseeing. Down the street from the Oriental is a wok shop where you can get really beautiful copper woks in many different sizes for very little money.
Two other things that stick in my mind among all the temples in Bangkok are the Snake Farm on the Rama IV Rd and Lumphini Park. The Snake Farm has some association to the Red Cross and they make snakebite antiserum. The milking of the snakes is open to the public every afternoon and you are really close up to the big cobras and such, there's no glass or anything between you and snakes. If you get to Lumphini Park early in the morning you'll see all the Thai and I guess Chinese doing their tai chi and exercises in large groups all over the park before they go to work. It was very untouristy and I recommend an early visit. The only time I ran across monks with their alms bowls was when going to the park in the early morning.
Bangkok is a beautiful city but the air is very polluted. I did a lot of walking and wound up with a bad throat and ear infection. The hotel doctor sent me around the corner to have my ears vacuumed and I have to say that the combination of antibiotics and vacuuming cleared everything up.
Karen in Colorado