The number one “must see” in Bangkok is the Grand Palace, and it holds that position for good reason. It is above and beyond opulent. I had not toured it the first time I was in Bangkok as it was prime tourist season, and I knew it would be crazy busy. I would be coming back to Bangkok so I postponed seeing it. Within the walls of the Grand Palace is also Wat Prakeaw, the home of the Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha in Thailand. The King changes the robes on this Buddha three times a year to note the change in seasons. The whole complex is vast and there is a lot to see. It opens at 8:30 am every day of the year, and my best advise is to be there before it opens. Touts in the area a will try to convince you it is not open, and they can offer another tour until it opens. My friend was approached 3 times over a couple of months with the same story. The admission is 500 Baht ($15 U.S.) and there is a strict dress code. No shorts, no tank tops, no mini skirts, no bare shoulders. If you are not dressed appropriately, they have attire for rent just inside the gate. I had read flip flops were not allowed, but I did not have a problem wearing mine. The sheer grandeur is overwhelming. Glitz and glitter in more shapes and forms than I ever thought possible. By noon I was also overwhelmed by the crowds. There are literally thousands of visitors each day. It was a perfect way to end my tour of Thailand!
I had planned to spend some time at a beach in Cambodia before heading home. Unfortunately, every person I met who had gone there, ended up with food poisoning. That just did not appeal to me. I was disappointed as it was the location of the current Survivor series. Plan B. If you arrive in Thailand overland you only get a 15 day visa. If you fly in it is an automatic 30 days. Since I needed 18 days I opted for a quick flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok. Flights are inexpensive and I ended up paying only slightly more than a long bus trip would have cost. I did not want to spend a bunch of time traveling from Bangkok, and a bit of research showed me Cha Am was close and well rated. A three hour mini bus trip was all it took. Cha Am is a small city on the sea. My guesthouse was two blocks from the beach. The beach was long, with fine soft sand. It was almost completely lined with umbrellas and lounge chairs. For $2 you could rent a lounge chair, and umbrella for the day. Walking on a beach is a joy to me, and I was able to walk an hour in one direction. The water was warm and quite clear. This city is very popular with Scandinavians, and it was quickly clear many came here for the entire winter.Older men in Speedos were everywhere. Young fellows brought their horses to the beach for children to pay to ride. The horses were so healthy looking, and obviously well cared for. The other beach business was pulling rides on inflatables with jet skis. Most of the jet skis were very old, and appeared very well used. It was a perfect spot for some R & R after my travels before I head home.