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Thailand Travel Diary

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The décor at the Author's Lounge at the Mandarin Bangkok Oriental takes you back to the days when W. Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad took tea here.
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo complex from the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok.
The Reclining Buddha at the Wat Pho temple in Bangkok is 150 feet long and 50 feet high.
The customary wai greeting is so central to Thai culture that even Ronald McDonald offers a big clown-hands wai to Bangkok customers.
Making way for the twice a day train pass through the Maeklong market south of Bangkok.
The most famous sight at the Wat Phra Mahathat in Ayutthaya is a Buddha head peeking out from the roots of a tree.
Visitors to this Ayutthaya temple get good karma for buying saffron wraps for these Buddhas.
The view from a suite at the luxurious Trisara resort on the island of Phuket.
Koh Tao's main Sairee Beach is still relatively undeveloped and laid back compared to other islands in the Gulf of Thailand.
A beach massage will set you back about $15 an hour for one of the best rubdowns you've ever experienced.
Massage pavilion at the Zazen boutique hotel in Bophut on Koh Samui, a must stop for a massage and a gourmet meal.
The most bizarre temple in Thailand, the White Palace near Chiang Rai, is full of cartoon and movie characters, like this alien from the Predator movie franchise.
Inside one of the tents at the Four Seasons Tented Camp in the Golden Triangle. The 9-foot-long bathtub is made of hammered copper.
Riding elephants at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.
Padaung hilltribe women start to wear neck rings when they're 5 or 6 years old. The rings gradually increase in number to about 20.
A member of the welcoming committee at the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep atop a sacred peak near Chiang Mai.
The newly restored gold dome at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Elephant swim time at the Patara Elephant Farm waterfall near Chiang Mai.
One of Patara Elephant Farm's newest residents, two weeks old and 250 pounds.

Thailand had been on my travel wish list for years and when I finally arrived, it exceeded all expectations. My husband and I spent more than a month traveling through the country and barely touched the surface. Here is just a sampling of our travels through Bangkok, Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle) and the fabulous beaches in the south. How do you plan a trip like that? We read every book we could get our hands on before we left. The Tourism Authority of Thailand was a great source of information as well. Our trip was perfected by the unflappable Pong at Trikaya tours who knew everyone everywhere and made all of our travel desires materialize effortlessly.—Deborah Caulfield Rybak

Photos by Michael Rybak

Spill It: Tell Us What You Think!

Jack Taylor
Love all the pix!!
9/9/2011 7:13:21 AM

Chad Johnson
Loved the article!! Cannot Wait to go!! Thanks for all the useful info
9/29/2011 8:53:42 AM

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