we only got to spend one evening and one full day in bangkok.
we were supposed to have two full days in bangkok but after flying out of pakse we missed our connecting flight in vientiane, so we ended up spending one night in vientiane instead of bangkok. ah the joys of international travel.
but bangkok itself seems like a pretty cool town and i wish we had spent some more time here.
it's a really huge city and since it was the end of our trip ronda decided we should live it up a bit and we rented a "nice" hotel (for just under $100 USD a night.) well, as it turned out our hotel was really more of a corporate apartment. we had a mini-kitchen, living room, and office. the bedroom was really small and had a large walk in closet. needless to say we were disapointed, but what made up for it all was the giant jacuzzi bath. ronda even had to find a drug store to but some bath bubbles/oils/whatever to put the thing to good use.
for eating in the city, we tried two interesting places for dinner. the second night we went to anna's cafe (a moderatly expensive resturant, despite the cafe name) and it was a huge dissapointment. the food was all pretty greasy and the curries (we ordered two) weren't even that tasty.
dinner the first night we were there was much better. we went to a place called Le Lys and the food was great. we had two curries, both of which were super tasty. the green curry was actually a little sweet and had what looked like large green peas in it that tasted sour (but not too strong.) they contrasted really nicely with the sweetness in the curry. also, since we were the only ones there when we arrived (we got there early) we got to talk with the owners a bit (a thai woman and a french man.) we told them we were a little surprised by the sweet green curry. they informed us that classic thai green curry is supposed to be sweet. we had no idea. (we also asked them what the little green peas were but the best english explanation they could come up with was "little eggplant", which really didn't seem to fit.)
after our dinner at Le Lys, we took an excursion on the sky train to a bar called the Londoner Brew Pub. the attraction here was that they brew their own "Londoner's Pride Cream Bitter", and let me tell you... it was mighty fine.
as for the actual touristy stuff, we did some of that as well. we spent a day at the royal palace, Wat Phra Kaeo, and Wat Pho. (oh yeah. all the guidebooks say you need to wear shoes that cover your toes and heels. this is wrong. sandals are now ok. i made the mistake of believing the guide books and roasting my feet for the day.) Most these sights are golden, sparkly, and somwhat impressive stuff. one of the hilights for me was the reclinig 47 meter long budda at Wat Pho... that's a whole lot of budda.
one funny bit was all the signs around this area that said: "don't trust strangers. the palace is open every day of the week." etc. apparently strangers around here may lie and try to scam you. (our guide books also repeated this warning a lot as well.)
there is also a thai massage school in Wat Pho and we decided to try half an hour of massage. we wanted the foot massage, but they were all busy so we went for the regular massage, and well... the students got some practice. it was definatly amature. they masseuses/masseurs don't really pay that much attention to you. they don't realize when their hurting you, or even take much care to check that your body is in a safe position for certain streches. most of the things they did felt ok, but some of the moves left me a bit achy. luckily i don't think there was any permanent damage.
two more interesting things we checked out in town were the night market and the red light district.
the night market was like the biggest swap meet i've ever seen. they had an unbelievable amout of stuff. millions of small booths with tons of crap. you could buy furniture, lamps, vases, clothes... anything really. you could compleatly decorate a house from this place, or clothe a family. and since most the stuff is made near by it's all pretty cheap. (a lot of the stuff reminded me of things you might see at urban outfitters.) i of course bought nothing there.
as for the red light district, it wasn't as crazy as i was expecting. i dragged ronda here because i wanted to see it. it was closer to north beach (in sf) than amsterdam. well, ok, it was a _little_ more explicit than north beach. there were lots of buildings with dressed up girls all standing in _front_ waiting for buisness. i even had someone ask me if i wanted to see a "ping pong show." but the stranges thing i noticed was that there were an amazing number of japanese resturants.