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...
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
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
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