Updated Sept 25th, 2003
The picture is below: it's the view from our room at the Imperial Queen's Park Hotel. That's the 9th-floor pool below, what we decided were probably the oddest-looking air-conditioning towers behind it, and Bangkok beyond that. Bangkok is like 100 Calgary's put in a blender. Downtown is everywhere. Residentials are everywhere. Really yummy, palette-scorching curries are, of course, everywhere (and cheap!).
While I was presenting, Linda took a tour of the city. Note the Light Sabers carried by all of the elite Bangkok White-Vader Task Force.
We also took a tour together - this is one of the temples we hit. You can just about make out how excited the statues are to see us....
Our journey after the conference took us to Phuket Province (don't get excited, it's pronounced poo-get). First-stop: Coral Island for some R&R. It was spectacular. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone. It was low season, and with the SARS scare, it was really low season, so we pretty much had the island to ourselves. Alright, we had to share with 2-3 other couples at a time, and the 30 or so employees whose jobs seemed to comprise mostly of relaxing in the shade and toying ineffectively with fishing nets. It was about as close to a deserted island as you can get, while still having the luxury of having a giant seafood platter prepared for you by the restaurant. Can you spot me in the first picture?
Just about every chance we got, we were snorkling off Coral Island - it got its name for a reason! Armed with a disposable underwater camera and some nasty dried fish bits that the locals eat, we took these shots. The last one is a Parrot Fish (about 2 feet long) who seemed to have figured out that doing barrel rolls attracted attention, and therefore food. Either that, or Parrot Fish do barrel rolls as a matter of course.
A sunset on the beach. We fell asleep amidst the Hermit Crabs - the biggest we've seen. Much bigger than my pet, Herman.
It was monsoon season, which is supposed to mean rain almost every day of the month. It doesn't really. It only rained on us 2-3 times during the 2 weeks we were in Thailand, and even then they were quick, warm showers. We didn't get to see any flooding - I've heard those bar stools are tall for a reason!
We took a tour to a nearby floating Muslim fishing village.
And of course to James Bond Island (featured in `The Man with the Golden Gun'). BTW, that's Linda, my girlfriend, taking and appearing in some of the pictures. The second picture is some of the surrounding geography.
Finally, you can't go to Thailand without playing with the monkeys!
On a serious note for a moment: I had the chance to play with an adorable young Gibbon at the floating fishing village, though I chose not to support the owners by paying for a photo - Gibbons are generally abused, neglected, or killed when they become older and uncooperative. Part of our vaccation, for which the pictures didn't turn out, was to the wonderful Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, dedicated to re-integrating abused Gibbons into the wild. It was truly inspirational to see this project in action. All the volunteers are paying - that's right they pay money as well as time into the project. It's a beautiful thing.
Seriousness aside, the much less-rare long-tailed monkey is pretty widespread in the region, and the locals will sell you bananas and nuts to feed to them. This was at Monkey Cave, a cave with a spooky old monk who sits really still and freaks you out just as you conclude he's a statue.
That's it for Thailand. I took a lot more pics, of course, but these seemed representative. If I had to make a scratch-and-sniff, I'd include "Really Smegging Hot Curry", "Fresh Salty Breeze" and "Bangkok", the latter of which you have to experience to understand.