I'm reading Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett now. It's a fun read and provides some interesting insight into Thai culture, even though it's written by a Westerner. Bangkok 8 by the same author is supposed to be just as intriguing.
Update: I finished reading this book and didn't have the best aftertaste. It was entertaining and I'd still recommend to anyone interested in Bangkok. But the more I read, the more bothered I became that a Western man was writing as though he had Bangkok totally figured out. Seemed a little smug. But let me know what you think if you end up reading it.
Backtrack: My transition. It wasn't exactly a walk in the park. The relentless pace of Bangkok was an abrupt slap of reality after the lackadaisical vibe in Chiang Mai. Sarah and I crossed paths in the air as she went to vacation in Northern Thailand, so I was left to my own devices, which was a good thing in retrospect (character building and all that). I negotiated the city looking the wide-eyed awkward tourist part I'm sure. A Thai native from my school took me apartment hunting, which was heaven-sent because I have no idea how I would have done it without speaking Thai. Luckily she was also available a few days later when I needed to move out because of an adverse reaction (understatement) to the mold-ridden walls. But all's well that ends well because I love my new mold-free apartment on the corner with lots of light. And I'm starting to feel quite at home in my neighborhood and excited about all the adventures this city can offer.
Aerobics in the park: The old man in the yellow tank top is there all the time and could probably outfight any 20-something
I'm staying in Chiang Mai for a few days to unwind before moving to Bangkok. In that spirit, some friends and I took a sawngthaew to the hot springs about 30 minutes outside of town. Groups of people spread their blankets and picnics along the stream, the proximity to the springs dependent on their tolerance of heat. The pool for swimming is the perfect bath-water temp and a forceful waterfall provides a make-shift back massage. Some people boil eggs over the side of the springs for a snack. A relaxing afternoon followed by a breezy ride back at sunset was just what I needed.
Allan, Vee, Ahn
The group stepping very cautiously on slippery rocks