A November 2001 trip
to Bangkok by lcampbell
Quote: I spent four weeks in Thailand with a company called Intrepid Small Group Adventures. I spent time in Bangkok at the beginning, middle, and at the end of the four weeks. For the bulk of the trip, see my journals about Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok National Park, and Krabi.
While in Bangkok, we visited the typical tourist destinations of Wat Po and the Royal Palace. We also took a longtail boat tour of the canals, went to the weekend market, and went to Lumpini Park. I recommend all of these activities, as well as discovering your own adventures. We had some of our best times while wandering around, half lost. We were able to get a better feel of the city that way.
Our hotel was one block from the famous Khao San Road, and I after seeing it, I would say that Khao San is overrated. Prices are inflated on goods, and while the guesthouses are cheap, I doubt you could get any sleep with the 24 hour noise and partying. I think better quality and value is to be found elsewhere. About two blocks away (on the back side of the large temple near Khao San Road) are some cheap guesthouse on much more quiet streets. It is still only a short walk to Khao San, but you can get away from it if you want.
Tuk-tuks and non-metered taxis are not the greatest ways to get around either. You need to negotiate a rate, so unless you know how much it should cost to go somewhere, you will likely end up paying too much. Also, drivers get commissions from some shops for bringing customers. Two different couples in our group were taken to jewelry shops that they didn’t want to go to, and when they refused to go in, the drivers made them get out and they were stranded. I always took metered taxis and never had any problems.
Hotel | "Viengtai Hotel"
The Viengtai Hotel has an elegant lobby with all of the employees dressed in matching uniforms. They immediately serve you quickly and professionally. Your bags will be carried to your room. The rooms are not as fancy as the lobby. This is where you can see the age of the hotel, but all said, the rooms are clean and comfortable. The air conditioning is great after the heat and humidity of the streets. You can catch watch BBC on the television and catch up with world news. There are refreshments in the refrigerator (honor system, pay when you check out). The one area I found lacking is the hot water system. Since this was the only place we stayed in Thailand that had hot water, I had somewhat gotten my hopes up for a warm shower rather than the eye-opening cold ones that we had for the rest of the trip. Unfortunately, I was dissappointed to find only sporadic warm water. Only once during the three nights that we stayed at the Viengtai Hotal did I get a warm shower for the entire length of the shower.
There is a swimming pool at the Viengtai Hotel. While we were so busy that we didn’t get a chance to use it, another couple in our group did use it and said it was nice. A swimming pool is great for beating the smoldering heat.
Connected to the lobby of the hotel you will find a number of travel companies where you can arrange day trips and they can take care of your other travel needs. One confirmed our airplane tickets for us the morning we were leaving and also arranged a ride to the airport for us. A cab to the airport costs about 350 baht (about $8.50), and the airport bus costs 100 baht per person ($2.50) but you have to carry your bags 3 blocks to catch the bus. The travel agent arranged for a man to take us in his minivan (along with about 12 other people – yes, there were enough seats with the baggage strapped to the top of the minivan) for 60 baht per person ($1.50). The ride to the airport is about 1 hour. Also connected to the lobby of the hotel are a number of shops and a massage shop. I went to the massage place a couple times. The cost is 140 baht ($3.50) for a one hour Thai massage.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 9, 2002
Viengtai Hotel Near Khao Sarn R
42 Rambuttri Road
Banglampu, Bangkok, Thailand 10200
66 2 280 5343-45
One area of the temple was surrounded by 300 gold Buddhas, all in a pose to dispell evil. So when you looked around, the identical images were in long rows. There were three rows facing inward. How powerful to have them all facing you. Another interesting part of the temple was the 95 pagodas all decorated with colored glass. They each contain ashes of the deceased. Traditionally only ashes of very important people were put in pagodas, but at this temple, someone can pay to have their ashes put in one of the pagodas. The money helps in the upkeep of the temple.
Guides can be hired at the entrances to Wat Po (and the same goes for the Royal Palace). It is always a risk when you hire a guide. Our Intrepid trip leader hired ours for us, but I’m not sure she had a better system then anyone else. You can first talk to a potential guide for a while to make sure that you can understand their English. Then you hope that they actually know what they are talking about. Ours was pretty good, but of course I don’t have anyone to compare him to. Our Intrepid leader Paula said that she once hired a guide for the group, only to find out later that he was quite drunk. If you find a good one, I imagine you can ask the same guide to accompany you to the Royal Palace as well. I believe that the guides need to be wearing an identification card around their neck to show that they are licensed to guide (but, of course, the drunk guy was wearing one, so don’t rely on this).
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 9, 2002
Located across from the Grand Palace
Attraction | "Longtail boat tour of klongs"
The tour that we took was a large circle around the old capital city of Thonburi, which was the third capitol of Thailand. The area grew and grew and eventually became the Bangkok of today. We saw a fascinating combination of more expensive homes and corrugated metal or wood shacks all mixed together on the banks of the canal. Some of the homes were raised on stilts in or partially in the water. The one thing all the homes had in common was the large number of plants and flowers the homeowners grew on their porches and windowsills. I saw this all over Thailand – where we would put out one plant in a clay pot, the Thai people put out 30. There are these beautiful clay pot gardens on sidewalks, balconies, porches, everywhere. Sometimes there were very large clay pots filled with water and lilies or other water plant - sort of mini ponds. Fabulous.
The majority of boats in the canals held tourists. There were also Thai people in their own small boats. Some were fishing and some were selling things. On the main part of the river there is a system of river taxis. There are a number of piers along the river and you can catch a taxi at any pier. It is cheaper to travel this way than to take the bus, and you avoid the traffic problems that are inevitable on the street.
Bangkok Canal Tour
Pier at Grand Palace
Attraction | "Chatuchak Market (weekend market)"
When you first come in from the street, there are three or four rows of more established shops. This means that the prices are a bit higher, and bargaining is more difficult, but the quality of the merchandise is higher than other places in the market.
Past these rows of shops are the stalls that make up the bulk of the market. These shops are more competitive and CRAZY. This area was so packed with people that often at intersections we were stopped in our tracks until all the bodies could shove their way through to where they wanted to go. And with all those people, you know it was HOT. I could feel myself dehydrate by the minute. But even with all the craziness, I can definitely say that I enjoyed the market.
This market is visited by both tourists and Thai people. We actually saw more Thai people than foreigners. It is only on Saturdays and Sundays, and I think it starts around 9am. We took a metered taxi from the Viengtai Hotel which cost us 80 baht (about $2).
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Attraction | "Royal Palace"
The Royal Palace is 60 acres in size and was built after King Rama I took the throne in 1782. It served as a royal residence and administrative offices. While it is no longer a residence, some government business is still conducted at the Royal Palace. During our visit, it seemed like we were touring a temple rather than a palace, as a huge portion of the Royal Palace consists of the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha. The Emerald Buddha is actually carved from one large piece of jade. It was discovered by a monk in the 15th century. It was covered with plaster and was believed to be an ordinary Buddha image. While cleaning the Buddha, the monk noticed that a piece of plaster on the nose had flaked off revealing green stone underneath, which he thought was emerald, hence the name. The Emerald Buddha wears an "outfit" of gold. He has three different outfits which are changed only by the King at the start of each new season – summer, rainy, and winter.
The temple is an interesting variety of architectural styles and amazing statues. There are architectural elements from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, and China. There are statues in the different styles as well. We saw giant gargoyle-like creatures, monkey/man creatures, lion/man creatures, elephants, dragons, and garudas (kind of a woman-bird-dragon creature). All of the buildings and embellishments are intricately decorated with gold, colored glass, jewel, pearl, and any sort of beautiful decoration you can think of. The same goes for pretty much all Buddhist temples throughout Thailand – often times quite a contrast to the surrounding houses which are often gray or brown with no decoration.
My favorite part was the mural around the perimeter of the temple area which contained 178 pictures depicting a story of an evil creature that kidnaps the King’s wife and the battle to get her back (which, of course, the King wins).
We also saw the Royal Palace buidling that was at one time the King’s residence. The guide mentioned that Anna (as in The King and I) lived in this building for five years. The guide said that The King and I and the new movie Anna and the King are false and are banned from Thailand because because they paint the King in an unflattering light. It is illegal to say anything negative about the King – which the Thai people would not do anyway, as they love and respect the King and the royal family (with good reason).
Na Phra Lan Road Ko Rattanakosin District
Bangkok, Thailand 10500
+66 (2) 694 1222
All of the massages that I had were very similar. I think that there are just a few massage schools in Thailand, the most well known being Wat Po in Bangkok, and they seem to teach a similar method. You are typically in a small room that contains about four mattresses on the floor. Thai massages are fully clothed and often there is someone else getting a massage right next to you. The massage seems more like accupressure and focuses mostly on feet, legs, and arms. They work on your back and neck very little, which is different from what I expected. It was still absolutely heavenly. One full hour of pampering under $5. There were some aspects that some may not like – mostly involving getting your body twisted in strange directions. I liked it because I am flexible, but I didn’t think my husband would since he is as flexible as a two by four. Other types of massage available are foot only, foot reflexology, and oil massage.
Did I mention that you are supposed to wear your clothes for traditional Thai massage? While we were on our Hilltribe trek in the Chiang Mai area, our guide from the Karen tribe gave us each a short massage to show us the difference between Thai massage and Karen massage. While some of us were sitting around the fire, we heard a woman named Lisa by the cabin say "Mary, what are you doing?!"
Mary said "I’m getting a massage." And Lisa said "Mary! They don’t take their clothes off for massage here!" Of course Mary didn’t know any better, and normally it wouldn’t be that big of deal. But did I mention that our guide from the Karen tribe was a 14 year old boy? I bet he has a story for his friends when he gets back to the village. He actually handled it quite professionally, but we all teased Mary endlessly (yes, we’re terrible).
Traditional Thai Massage
All over Thailand
Attraction | "Lumpini Park"
There is a green oasis amongst the cement jungle that is Bangkok. It is called Lumpini Park, and it is sort of the Thai version of Central Park. It is a very large park that does not allow motorized vehicles. It is large enough that visitors are buffered from the noise and exhaust of the surrounding streets. Lumpini park has it all – trees, flowers, grass, lakes, creeks, quaint bridges, trails, benches…. Get the picture?
The park was filled with joggers (it is impossible to jog anywhere else in Bangkok as far as I could tell), bikers, and walkers. There were folks, like us, snoozing and reading in the sun next to the two smalls lakes. We even saw the stereotypical park icons – old men playing checkers (OK, so it wasn’t actually checkers, but it was some similar Thai game). There were birds that had also discovered the natural island. We were at Lumpini Park on a weekday, so there wasn’t a lot else going on. But I was told by someone in our group who had also visited the park, that there may be activities or programs on weekends.
Because of the long taxi ride, you may want to combine a trip to Lumpini Park with another activity in the area. The Chatuchak Market (only on weekends) is nearby, but that would definitely be combining a visit to the purest form of chaos with something that is supposed to be relaxing. I’m not sure what else is around, but if you venture that way, I recommend giving Lumpini Park a visit.
Lumphini (Lumpini) Park
Silom Road and Rama IV
Bangkok, Thailand 10330
+66 (2) 694-1222
Everywhere you go you will see small spirit houses on pedestals. It seemed like almost 50 percent of properties had one or more of these houses – and this included private property, government areas, national parks, rice fields, rural and urban areas. The houses seem vaguely like birdhouses, but they are larger and more ornate. The spirit houses are always more colorful and beautiful than the other buildings and homes on the same property. There is often a small table in front of the houses on which offerings of food, drinks, incense, candles, flowers, and others things are left (which are often eaten by stray cats and dogs, but there you go). Sometimes if a family has some bad luck, they feel that the spirits must not be happy, so additional spirit houses are put up and more offerings are given to make the spirits happy. Also, if a family improves their home, improvements are also supposed to be made to the spirit house.
The presense of spirits, and their classification of good or bad, is determined by a shaman at the time a property is developed. A shaman comes to the property before any building is done on it, and he decides if there are spirtis, if it is OK to build there or not, and where the spirit house should be located if there are spirits. Sometimes the spirits are willing to share the property, and sometimes they are not. I think this may have been the case when we saw spirit houses in the middle of nowhere, with no development around. I think a shaman nixed the development, but the spirit houses were provided for the spirits anyway. There are whole stores that only sell spirit houses and offerings for spirits. They come in all different colors and decorations.
Another thing a shaman can determine is the presense of spirits living in trees. If spirits are living in a tree, that tree cannot be cut down. We were told that entire road building projects, etc. are planned around these trees. You can tell a tree is a spirit tree by the colorful scarves wrapped around it. There are also offerings on and around the trees. Some clever environmentalist Thai people have used the presense of spirits in trees in order to conserve the trees. When they hear of a possible development project that they do not approve of, a shaman is called in to make absolutely sure that all spirits in the trees are made aware of, and even maybe embellished a bit, but you didn’t hear that from me.
The most difficult part of speaking Thai is that it is a tonal language. One word can be said in five different tones to say five different words. The tones are low, middle, high, rising, and falling. So if you say something with the wrong tones, instead of saying "Where is the bank?", you could be saying "Can you paint my dog red?" But, that said, the Thai people are very sweet and friendly and will not pick on you too bad for saying words wrong. They can understand from context most of the time even if you are saying it wrong. Some will even help you out or teach you something new. I definitely felt that my efforts were appreciated, especially when I got away from the tourist areas (in tourist areas, they didn’t really seem to care or notice if I was trying to speak Thai or not – I imagine they can get burnt out on dealing with tourists all the time – I know I would).
So, beyond my 999 numbers, these are some of the phrases I used often. I am trying to spell phonetically, but don’t know how to indicate tone. I highly recommend a phrasebook to learn the words and phrases properly. NOTE: the word "kha" after a phrase doesn’t really mean anything but makes what you are saying more polite. "Kha" is used when the speaker is a woman, and "Krap" is used when the speaker is a man. Also, roll "r" like when speaking Spanish.
Hello-Sawat dii ka (Sawat dii krap if a man is speaking)
Good luck-Chawk dii ka
Thank you-Kawp kuhn ka
Very delicious-Aroi ma
Beautiful-Suay (make sure to use a rising tone, or else you are saying bad luck, which is extremely rude)
Very Beautiful-Suay ma
Crazy-Ba Ba Bow Bow
How are you?- Sabaay dii mai
I’m fine-Sabaay dii
You’re welcome-Yin dii ka
I don’t speak Thai-Puud paasaa Thai mai dai
I don’t know-Mai kaow jai -or- Mai ruu
How much?- Taow rai
What?- Arai na
Very good-Dii ma
I want to go to…-Yaak bai…..
Don’t want-May aow
Already have-Mii lau
What’s your name?- Kun chew arai
The most disturbing may be seeing young babies, toddlers, and children on motorbikes. Motorbikes are one of the main form of transportation due to their affordability, so it is the transportation for the whole family. Helmets are not worn, and it is common to see dads driving, with moms holding newborns wrapped in a blanket on the back of the motorbike, weaving in and out of heavy traffic at fast speeds. In the rural areas, motorbikes are often the only way kids can get to school (often there is only one school for multiple villages). So you will see maybe a ten year old boy driving a motorbike, with five children of all ages sitting on the seat or hanging off the bike. Along this same line, children are often left in the care of other children. This is common and you should not let it bother you. It works extremely well. Thai twelve year olds are more mature than college students in the US. We visited a school in an small village during lunchtime. The teachers were nowhere to be seen. But the older children (eleven or twelve, school is only mandatory until age twelve) had prepared a full hot lunch for all of the younger children. When it was time to clean up, every single child helped wash dishes. Older kids helped the very little ones to clean up themselves and brush their teeth. There was no hesitation, no distraction, and no whining. It was amazing to see. Nothing like that would ever happen here.
Stray dogs and cats fill every square inch of everywhere. While the Thai people are very compassionate and do their best to feed the animals, and the majority of the strays seem well fed, there is a limit to what they can do. And when an animal becomes sick or it is obvious that it will die soon, the Thai people cannot kill it due to their Buddhist beliefs. I was told that someone will occassionally sneak out in the dark of night, and the sick animal suddenly dissappears, but it is never talked about. If you cannot handle seeing suffering animals, do not go to Thailand. You cannot avoid seeing stray animals.
Regarding the service you will receive in Thailand, some people do not enjoy the concept of Thai time. To visit Thailand, you need to be flexible. Buses and trains do not always leave on time. Sometimes they leave early, so hopefully you are at the station with extra time. Events start when they start, and traffic always makes arriving and departing "on time" a precarious notion. And often you will not be told how truly late a train, for example, may be. The Thai people are very anti-confrontational and do not want to make you unhappy, so they will tell you "ten minutes" rather than two hours. This may be frustrating, but just realize that in their mind they are being polite and you should not take offense.
Because meals are cooked fresh when they are ordered, each person is served when their meal is done. You should eat right away without waiting for others to get their food. This is the way it is done, and seriously, it could be a very long time before the last person receives their meal. Or you may be the one waiting while everyone else eats. Another phenomenon that we saw, mostly with food, but could be with other things as well, is the concept of "close enough." This means that if you order something to eat, and lets say they don’t have that item (maybe they ran out), they will not tell you. The Thai people are so polite, they do not want to make you unhappy by telling you "no" so they will just say OK. Then they will serve you something other than what you ordered. The replacement is always very delicious, but it is not what you ordered. It would be extremely rude for you to question this, and you should definitely just be happy and eat it. Similar situation call for you to be flexible in this way, and really, you are on vacation and having a great time, so why worry about little things like that. The Thai people are eager to please, so their intentions are always good. They want you to enjoy your visit. A common saying in Thailand is "mai pen rai" which I interpret as a combination of "It’s all good" and "No worries." It is a perfect motto for Thailand and anywhere else for that matter.
You will see a ton of litter and pollution in Thailand. Our guide has explained that this situation is improving through government programs and education, but it is still an issue at this time. If you let seeing litter cloud your appreciation for the scenery, then you will miss the natural beauty of Thailand. Air pollution, particularly in Bangkok is so bad that you will see people wearing surgical-type masks, tuk-tuk and motorbike drivers in particular.
Finally, squat toilets and cold showers may not be for everyone.
EATING: Our leader told us that Thai people eat with spoons and not forks, and that watching us eat with forks is like us watching someone eat their food off of a knife. It is polite to leave a little bit of food in your dish at the end of a meal, so that the host or server will know that you had enough to eat (if you finish it all it seems that you were still hungry so you had to every little bit). Also involving food and drink, and this mostly applied to our backpacking trip to visit the hilltribes, was that it is rude to refuse to try any food or drink that is served to you. The hilltribes, in particular, are quite poor, and don’t have a lot by our standards. So when they offer you a sample of their rice whiskey moonshine, you should go ahead an have a shot. We also sampled deep fried bamboo worms when they were served to us… they are a delicacy in Thailand and to refuse would be have been rude. See my entry on "Things you may not like about Thailand" for a little more information on some of the differences in food service in Thailand.
ENTERING BUILDINGS: Whenever you are in a temple, you must remove your shoes before entering any building with a Buddha image in it. In addition, we found that we had to also remove our shoes when entering most homes, some businesses, museums, and visitor centers. Always step over (rather than on) a raised threshhold, whether it is in a temple, restaurant, wherever – it is bad luck to step on it rather than over it. Some places put a pieces of fiberglass over the threshold to stop folks from stepping on them.
MONKS: Monks are the most highly respected people in Thailand apart from the king. When you meet a monk, you should try to keep you head lower than their head to show respect. All Thai people will wai (sort of a bow of the head with hands palms together in front of the face) monks. Monks will not expect this of westerners, but you can give it a try if you want to show respect. Monks are not allowed to touch women, or even to take anything from their hands. Women who want to hand or show something to a monk, give it to a man to do it for them. Women should try not to even brush against or accidentally touch a monk, as it will cause them to do many extra meditations and sort of penance for it.
HEADS AND FEET: Heads are sacred in Thailand, so you should never touch anyone’s head. Feet are considered dirty and the complete opposite from sacred. So you shouldn’t point your feet at anyone, especially at their head. Pointing your feet is considered to be disrespecting or insulting them. As our trip leader put it: "Westerners have a hard time controlling their legs." When your bed is made up for you, for instance in a homestay or sleeper train, make sure to sleep with your head where the pillow was placed. Often sleeping arrangements are made so that nobody’s feet are facing toward anyone else’s head. In one homestay, we all had to make sure to sleep with our feet facing away from a small shrine hanging on the wall.
THE KING: Never ever ever say anything bad or controversial about the King or Royal family. The Thai people love the King and family dearly, and you would really insult them by badmouthing the King. They take this so seriously that it is actually illegal to say anything bad (which is a step up from the death penalty they used to have).
SHOPPING: Do not start bartering over the price of an item if you do not intend to buy it. Or if you do, stop bartering very early if you don’t think it is going the way you want. For sure, if you name a price that you are willing to pay, and the vendor agrees to it, then you should buy it. You will insult them if they come down to your price and then you walk away.
INTREPID TRAVEL STYLE
Intrepid describes their style of travel as "grass roots travel." Their goal is to help you meet people, explore, and understand local cultures without "having a megaphone weilding tour guide at the front of a bus." They stress respect for the Thai culture, and an understanding of customs and etiquette. They practice sustainable tourism and low impact travel. Intrepid is involved in many programs to enhance the well being of the communties they visit, and their guides are actively involved in volunteering and coming up with their own projects. Above all, Intrepid want you to have fun and adventure on the road less travelled.
Intredpid uses public transportation whenever possible, minimizing demand for vehicles, fuel, and reducing pollution. Apart from their homebase at Viengtai Hotel in Bangkok, all of the accommodations that we stayed in were small local or family owned guesthouses or homestays. We even camped on an island for a couple nights. Don’t expect to be pampered with Intrepid – instead you will discover a more authentic Thailand. You won’t be hiding behind air conditioning and hot showers – you’ll be out having a great time seeing the country. You will swim in rivers, not swimming pools. And you will eat in family cafes or street stalls, not fancy restaurants. All of this enriches your experience while at the same time keeping the cost of the trips down. Intrepid trips are often quite active – we spent four days backpacking, two days bicycling, and two days kayaking. While you can always opt out if you don’t feel up to these activities, why would you want to? Intrepid tries to take their passengers to see a combination of the more well known sights, along with villages and activities that most travellers do not get to see.
In addition to the "responsible" accommodations and transportation that I mentioned above, Intredpid also tries to put money in the pockets of small communities by using local guides. We had maybe 20 different local guides for various day and overnight trips. Our Intrepid trip leader is not really considered a guide, just more of a coordinator. I was impressed with all the guides that we had. Intrepid trip leaders go to great lengths to know and understand the communities they visit, and they become friends with the people that they work with in these areas.
Intrepid also supports (with money and volunteers) various non-profit groups that help the Thai people. I personally saw in action ETAC (Eco Tourism Activities Coordination) and PCDA (Population and Community Development Association). Our trip leader, Paula, had also single handedly raised money to rescue an orphaned gibbon that was being cared for by monks, but had to live in a small cage. Since I was interested in future volunteer work in Thailand, Paula was able to give me information and contacts for volunteering in a school in a village that we stayed in. She also gave me information about volunteering at the Tibetan School for the Blind in India. I don’t know all of the places that Intrepid gives money to, but on their web site they promote a long list of environmental and human rights organizations.
Intrepid stopped operating tours in Burma because they did not want to support a corrupt government that abuses the environment and human rights. Even if a company tries to use local resources in Burma to provide income direct to the people, it doesn’t end up working out that way. All tourism is so controlled by the government, that the people do not end up benefitting by tourism.
THE TRIP LEADERS
We had two different trip leaders while in Thailand, because we actually did two separate trips (Secrets of Siam and Southern Thailand) back to back. Our first trip leader was Paula. I cannot say enough good things about Paula. She always gave 110% of herself. She was knowledgable and compassionate, and had the upmost respect for the Thai people. She was always happy to talk to us and answer questions, even when she had to answer the same questions over and over because some passengers didn’t pay attention the first, second, and third times she explained something. Paula almost always joined us in our activities even though she didn’t have to. She always gave us detailed information about what we would be doing the next day, and she was fun to be around. I learned so much from her. She encouraged anyone who wanted to try to learn to speak Thai, and she helped out with words and phrases whenever possible. I would definitely go on any Intrepid trip offered if I know that Paula would be my trip leader.
On the other hand there was Grant, our trip leader for the Southern Thailand portion of our trip. Grant had apparently been working for Intrepid for many years, mostly in China, Vietnam, and Laos. He was to be leaving the company soon, so I will blame some of his lack of enthusiasm on end-of-career burnout. While Paula had a great meeting at the start of our trip to explain things, including culture and etiquette, we did not get any of that from Grant. He was knowledgable, but you had to specifically ask about things, and then endure the sarcastic answer first before getting to the real answer. He didn’t often join us on our outings, but he did always get us to our starting point, make sure our guide was there, and take care of the bookings ahead of time, etc. All in all, he did all of the requirement of his job, but somehow it seemed lacking after Paula. We never had any arrangements go bad, and we always got to where we wanted to go, so I guess in that respect, everything was great. Also, the atmosphere is Southern Thailand is more of a beach and relaxation mode rather than such a high culture mode, so that may explain some of the difference in guide styles as well.
Port Angeles, Washington