HOT INFO On The Road

Margaret and Keel's Asian Adventure
Riding Tigers: REPORT #7
October 22, 1999, Bangkok, Thailand

39 Bahts = 1 U.S.$

Currently in Bangkok for the long holiday weekend. Actually got an invitation to an art opening at the Jim Thompson Museum. This was extremely cool and following this event we partied up the city of Bangkok until the wee hours of the morning. This place is so safe and it rocks. Tonight I am off to see Thai Kick Boxing with local Thais, should be a good time. Well I am going to try and detail some of our wanderings over the past few weeks and hope to provide a little bit of insight into Thailand for you budgeters who may be headed this way.

We basically have spent the past couple of weeks exploring the northeast of Thailand where virtually no one goes. We went for days without seeing another farang and no English at all...having a little bit of Thai language has been our salvation. For those who may be coming to Thailand, I highly recommend learning a little bit Thai. It is amazing how many doors it opens when you just say a few words of Thai. The locals so appreciate it and are so shocked by it that they go out of their way make things happen for you. I am thinking of putting together an essential Thai phrase sheet with the 25 most useful words and phrases...look for that sometime..., I personally find the lonely planet phrasebook too cumbersome and hard to find the words when you need them...you really need a fast reference sheet...

the ancient Khmer ruins
So we explored the ancient Khmer ruins that are located in Thailand but are connected to the world famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia. There are numerous Khmer ruins but I would suggest the big three, the ruins in Phimai, Phnom Reung near Buriram and the masterpiece Khao Prah Wihan which is technically in Cambodia. but accessed from Sisaket or Ubonratchisma. The lonely planet does a good job detailing the particulars of getting there so we just followed the guidebook. I would suggest the city of Korat as a very cool place an would suggest the hotel Anachak as the hotel of choice. We got a very clean double with air and private bath for 350 bahts...very nice. We were in Korat for two nights before taking the 3rd class train to Sisaket where we access the masterpiece ruin of Khao Prah Wihan... the third class train is not a problem but a few harmless drunk Thai old men can make it a little bit of a pain...great food on the train as vendors steadily hawk beer, chicken satay, deserts etc. It is absolutely true that no where in Thailand are more than 50 meters from something good to eat. From Sisaket we landed in Ubon for a couple of nights before heading back to Buriram and then on to Korat...this is really an abbreviated version of a couple of week trip exploring the northeast...

Khao Yai National Park.
I have spent the last week at the world famous Khao Yai National Park. This park represents the largest intact monsoon rainforest in all of southeast Asia. We birded heavily for two days with a guide and two days on our on. My god what a place and what birds..here is a small partial list of my favorite birds, we bagged about 75 species... my favorite and you bird geeks would love these...Great Hornbill, Indian Pied Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Banded Kingfisher, Whitecollared Kingfisher, Greater Flameback woodpecker, little spider hunter and Indian roller...there are obviously many more and the colors of these birds will literally blow your mind. In addition some mammals included the Malaysian Sun Bear, several species of Gibbons, monitor lizard that was big enough to eat you. I learned a new meaning for the predator prey relationship, while birding deep in the jungle my guide and I came across fresh tiger tracks!! He seemed not worried but i did notice that we left the area immediately...i realized we were not in Kansas anymore... Khao Yai is a must for any naturalist coming to Thailand. The lonely planet guide book recommends the Garden Lodge so we gave that a try...I would not recommend this lodge to anyone...While the accommodation is adequate the price for food is outrageous and basically the food sucks...The German owner was basically not concerned about service and only about extracting as much money out of people as possible...Live and learn...I would recommend one bird guide who is without a doubt the best bird guide i have ever employed on several continents. If you call him I am sure that he will take you and you will not be disappointed.
Mr. Nine: 52m.b. Tanarat Road KM 7, Pakchong, Nakhonratjasima, Thailand 30130 Tel: 044-365024
His wife speaks English as well and is a great cook. we took meals with her as often as possible to avoid the Garden Lodge rip-off...Leaches are a problem at Kaho Yai National park but we managed with out much of a problem...got some big Christmas stocking like socks to go over our socks and in our shoes so we just had to pick the little bastards off. I would estimate that we picked off hundreds of them...my favorite was coming across a Thai local who was using a big lighter as a flame thrower to burn the leeches off his legs...he was having only moderate success as the blood flow freely down his legs. Spent five nights as Kaho Yai which is a good amount of time. Highly recommended. Caught a first class bus back to Bangkok for the holiday weekend where we are now...

A few thoughts and suggestions for those coming to Thailand...

Buy your medicines over hear. I bought larium for malaria prevention for about 1$ per tablet. This same medicine cost 6$ per tablet in U.S. Same is true for antibiotics as well as shots. Don't be fooled Thailand has outstanding medical facilities that rival our own.

Had a great laugh when I saw two crazy locals speeding through traffic on a motorcycle each carrying his helmet in his hand rather than on his head. I mean what gives, put the helmet on your head so your hand will be free to steer!

Also saw four adult males on once motorcycle and a family of four with the child standing on the gas tank weaving through traffic. This place has no concept of safety...The amazing thing is that the traffic is unbelievable but there is absolutely no sign of "road rage", it is unknown here. Maybe we uptight westerners could learn a few things.

Don't be a tightwad when it comes to tipping guides...I was amazed at how many people I saw who utilized the services of a guide for 12 hours and then walk away without give some form of tip. Realize that most of these guides are working for about $3 per day...a little tip not only will get you some good karma but can really make the day for the guide...doesn't have to be much but it is the thought...

Were headed to the north of Thailand to do some trekking in the hill tribes near the golden triangle. We head for Chang Mai on Monday. I have undertaken a grand experiment so as to report back to potential budget travelers...I am taking a private bus to Chang Mai as opposed to a government bus. I normally only take government bus but wanted to see what the story is on the private bus controversy. I will report back on my next update. its a 12 hour ride and the price is 450 bahts for first class VIP bus...we will see but I wanted to try it out so other could learn from my experience...I will keep you posted so stay tuned and thanks again for dropping by our Web site and for logging on to itisnet.com

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