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the_trip.gif (2900 bytes)THE TRIP:
On Wednesday of our week in Asia, the morning began with an 8:30 flight to Bangkok. We were at our hotel by noon, and what a great hotel it turned out to be (we selected it on the Internet).  It was a Marriott, but it was much nicer than any Marriott we have ever stayed at.  The bathroom was exquisite, with a large whirlpool tub, glass enclosed shower, dual vanities, and a separate water closet. I could have soaked in the tub the entire time, and never left the room!!  But of course, we did leave the room and started touring right after lunch.

the_info.gif (3011 bytes)GENERAL INFO:
Some miscellaneous information on Bangkok/Thailand: Thailand is a democracy, but still has a king.  The title has been passed down in the same family for over 200 years - the Thai people absolutely adore their royal family.  The Thai are very proud people, and although Bangkok had the worst traffic we have ever seen and the resulting smog problems that go along with it, it was one of the cleanest cities we have ever been to.  About 95% of the population is Buddhist, so temples are everywhere mixed  with tall skyscrapers.  The U.S. dollar is very strong, so food, taxis, etc. were really cheap.   Our most expensive cab ride was $2.

the_sites.gif (3876 bytes)THE SITES:
Wat Pho Temple - Pronounced watt po, and also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.  The main Buddha is almost 150 feet long, and 50 feet high, and as his name implies, he is lying on his side - a pretty amazing sight!
Royal Palace - On Thursday, our day started with an organized tour of the Royal Palace.  We took the river shuttle to get to our meeting point. As we were waiting for the shuttle, we saw a crocodile in the river - he was probably about 5-6 feet long. After that, we weren't sure if we wanted to get on the river shuttle! Our tour of the Royal Palace was great. We had about 15 people in our group, and our tour guide was really good. The grounds of the Grand Palace contain the Wat Phra Kaeo, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This Buddha is the most revered in all of Thailand. He is only 30 inches tall, but sits upon a 35 foot high golden altar. The palace grounds were really magnificent, and the buildings were lavishly decorated with gold leaf and bright, glittering stones.
Jim Thompson Silk - Although Mark questions whether this shop qualifies as a "site", in my opinion it certainly does!   Thai silk is really beautiful, and this store had some of the most vivid and rich fabrics that I have ever seen.  I bought a few little trinkets in a gorgeous oriental silk pattern.  I would definitely be inclined to have a suit made, if we ever return to Thailand again.    (The story of Jim Thompson is really interesting and can be found on the Internet under any of the Thailand tourism sites, if anyone has the inclination).

the_food.gif (3469 bytes)THE FOOD:
In the evening, we strolled around the hotel grounds and stopped for a drink in the Elephant Bar at the hotel. As you may have guessed, the entire decorative motif was elephants, and as elephants are my favorite animal, I loved it! After that, we had an awesome dinner at Trader Vic's, one of the six restaurants in the hotel. The presentation of the food was probably the best I have ever seen, and the service (throughout the hotel) was at a standard we have never experienced before. We sat at a small cocktail table in the Elephant Bar, and the waitress actually kneeled down to serve us, so that she would be at our same level and wouldn't be looking down at us.  On our last day in Bangkok, we had a lunch of traditional Thai food, with Pad Thai (noodles), prawns and who knew what else, but it was really delicious.

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