A smooth ~12 hour flight later where we both slept like babies for probably about 10 hours (longest sleep of the year?), we arrived in Bangkok. The instant heat and smell (which I/we like) made it feel like we were far away from the dark, wet, cold of London (and the limp Arsenal season - which will hopefully be easier to ignore from further away).
We started our trip by staying at probably the nicest hotel on this trip, the JW Marriott in Bangkok, courtesy of many hard earned hotel points from my Deloitte days. So after this, it is all downhill I guess... Oscar took full advantage of the gym/steam room/sauna facilities, pumping some iron to "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and countless other x-mas tunes (the x-mas spirit is being pushed hard over here... in all sorts of places) coupled with the seemingly mandatory play of "Gangnam Style" on a regular basis. There seemed to be more towel boys/girls than actual people in gym, and my favourite abuse of the towel boy was by the Thai (assuming) lady who had been walking very slowly on the treadmill for less than 5 minutes demanding quite aggressively that her machine be wiped downed while she was working out. Same lady also did some showing off by walking backwards on the treadmill... Asian work out routines are quite funny in general. If you don't know what I am talking, have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8prah9HMJuM (you need to copy-paste this link, as I'm not sure this blog site does hyperlinks like it should)
Enough about that. What did we do in Bangkok? We saw all the things that you are supposed to see including the Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha, Reclining Buddha (same as Obama a couple of weeks earlier). Went to a fancy roof top bar on the +60th floor at a fancy hotel, but the winner in terms of food in Bangkok was Soul Food. Delicious. Thoughts on Bangkok? Big Asian city with good eating and drinking establishments, but after a few days of temples and the typical sites/sights, there are more exciting things to explore in the region. And everybody seems to have a fancy phones here or an iPad. My 3 year old blackberry doesn't really compete, but at least I have a fancy iPod nano...
After Bangkok, we made our way north to Chiang Rai for a quick stop over before making our way to Huay Xai in Laos for the start of our Mekong River cruise. In Chiang Rai we probably stayed at the cheapest accommodation on our whole trip, which was a fun contrast to the JW Marriott. We were treated to some blues (which they were good at) and love songs (which they were less good at) by two Thai dudes that were jamming in the local restaurant. Pretty much only us there, but we made sure to applaud loudly after every song.
So we are now leaving Thailand after this little appetizer, and heading down the Mekong River into Laos. We will be back in Thailand in 3 weeks time after Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia for more of the things we love in Thailand, beaches, people, food, drink and Thai island life.