I spent 3 weeks in thailand. I lucked upon a hat tournament in Bangkok my first weekend in town. I played ultimate frisbee with people from all over the world, other travelers like myself and others living/working in SE Asia.
My team (WHITE ELEPHANTS!) alone consisted of reps from US (me!), Belgium, Hong Kong (orig. Venuzuala, France) Bejing, Manila, Malaysia, Germany.....it was a great tourney and my oh my the party. These folks know how to throw one! Circus theme - I will let the pictures speak fro themselves.
As I arrived in Thailand without an itinerary I found it was easy to do last minute travel - which suits me perfectly being so indecisive and all. It is nice to be able (if you have the flexibility) meet other travelers and if you connect spend time traveling and getting to know them. Luckily I met Melissa, Joost, and Yuani via ultimate and off I went to Koh Phangan - a week in a beachfront bungalow in the Gulf of Thailand.
We took an overnight bus to Surat thani then a 4 hour ferry to the island. Snorkeling, full-moon parties, scooter rides (and falls), Chang, buckets of SangSom, lots of reading in the hammock, singing and guitar playing on the porch, Sinhai, and meeting people from all over (sweden, france, Argentina, Wales, canada, spain, germany, US, thais). Watching canadians being attacked by lady boys on the beach, Thai Kickboxing, and dangerous excursions on motorbikes were some of the highlights of the island visit.
I finally pulled myself away from the beach, it was difficult. Returned to Bangkok, the old Koa Sahn road for more intermingling of the world. Shopping I ran into a couple who had been at the beach and then the Welsh girls from our bungalow community in the lobby/restaruant of the guesthouse. It is true all roads lead back to bangkok.
I played more ultimate while I was in town - met more of the fun & fabulous frisbee players. I was introduced to Wong's, Nana Plaza (thx dave), and every form of public transportation imaginable. What super people I met: Dave, Zrs, Dan, Kim, Nut, Ahn, Sam, Patrick, Beau.......on and on.
Chang Mai was too short - I took the overnight train and the dining car was a riot. Disco ball, christmas lights, and of course 80s music. I met Mary from Ireland and she introduced me to Chris (portland) and his father. We stayed at Chang Mai Garden Guesthouse - great if you want something affordable, and Pissamorn the owner is very knowledgeable about any and everything in town. (GAPS is recommended if you are not on a budget, it is still cheap by US/Euro standards I think most room have A/C)
I did a one-day trek. Not, enough time for the multiple -day overnight trips - but I heard they were fun! I hiked to a hill tribe village, rode-elephants, swam in a waterfall, had a great lunch, and did some bamboo rafting. The Sunday night market was full of local crafts, clothes and food. I was surprised, the items they were selling were different than in Bangkok and I thought better quality. There were kids demonstrating Muay Thai, musicians (again met someone who had lived in Portland), and lots of locals. I liked it better than the Night Bazar (everynight except sunday).
Chang Mai saloon can not be missed, Ron from Texas owns it, you can get your fix of 'comfort' food. Fon and Soe (his brother and sister in law) are a sweet couple - watch out for Fon's practical jokes.