Leaving from Boston, Massachusetts on January 1st of the new century I started my journey to Thailand. Twenty-four hours later I arrived at Suksitnives, the international dormitory of Chulalongkorn University (more BMW's per square kilometer than any other university on Earth).
Andy, Chuck, Justin, and Greg in their Chulalongkorn shirts.
Many of my fellow travelers were already there; the rest arrived in the next forty-eight hours. During the next several days we had the opportunity to see some of the sites in Bangkok before our project schedules limited our free time. Items of interest included the Grand Palace, various Buddhist Temples, and indoor/outdoor markets.
The Royal Palace
The language spoken in Thailand is Thai, with English set as the international language. That meant that most signs were also in English. Thai is a tonal language, and like most Asian languages, highly dependent on pronunciation. We had fifteen weeks of language lessons before arriving. It gave us a good place to start from.
Getting around is very easy. Since the city is so large you often need to pay for a taxi or mass-transit. Taxi cabs, motorcycles, and tuk-tuks are available to take you anywhere you want to go. An electric sky train runs through part of the city and conveniently ran near our dorm. However, after talking with the lead civil engineer who worked on the original project, the sky train is severely limited. It is too expensive for most people to be able to use, does not run in the most convenient of places, and is meeting opposition from car and motorcycle manufacturers - they say the train traps the noises from below, thus causing noise pollution.
The Sky Train at the National Stadium.
Nothing can be considered expensive unless you relate it to other things in Thailand. Ever since the economic collapse in 1997 the Baht has been steadily regaining ground. During our trip the exchange rate was about 43 Baht to the US dollar. We were able to eat meals for 25 Baht (58¢) across the street.