In case you can't read it, it says, "Dear Heroes,
I sincerely hope I am soldiering with the same courage & bravery you all did."
I'm not sure of the signature, but I think it is SFC E. Orque. Thank you to SFC Orque and all the other military personnel who are out there serving our country, to all those who have served in the past, and especially to those who gave their life doing so.
On a lighter note, WG also asked, among other things, about our travel guide preferences and vacation habits. I haven't really read enough travel guides to say that I have a favorite author or publisher, but I think what I like is books that are written by people who live in the area. I'm not necessarily a touristy kind of gal. Sure, if I go to Paris, I'm going to want to see the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. In London I visited Westminster Abbey (What? Westminster Abbey is on Twitter??) and Kew Gardens (What? Kew has a Treetop Walkway? Kewl! Sorry, couldn't help it. Ah, the things you learn building links!), and in Sydney, I at least saw the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, even if I didn't spend any quality time with either of them; but I generally just want to know what sights are actually worth seeing, what's a rip-off, and where the really good restaurants are, not just the ones that are paying to be in a guide book. That said, I realize that this is a bit of a double-edged sword. For those of us visiting, this is great info to have. Tell us all about the local gems that the tourists don't normally visit. For the locals, this can bring in additional tourist dollars, or it can just despoil all the local places that the tourists normally don't visit. What do you think about "insider" books that give away local secrets?
I recently purchased Adventure Guide to Thailand by Christopher & Lindsey Evans who, according to the About the Authors section, currently split their time between southern Spain and Thailand. Huh. According to Amazon.com, this book has no ratings at all. I wonder if I should be concerned about this.
I also bought the National Geographic Traveler: Thailand, 3rd Edition because it's National Geographic, and they seem like they wouldn't lie to me, and I liked the pictures. What can I say? A travel book has to have at least some pictures. I want to see the places you're recommending to me. And maps. I need good maps. Not because I'm a good navigator, but because I like to have a sense of where I am and where I need to go. Even if I can't get myself to where I want to be, I CAN point at a spot on a map and look confused and helpless long enough for someone to take pity on me. I call this the slow loris method of getting what I want.
Both of these books seem to have a fair measure of all the things that I like-local knowledge, good pictures, maps, and attractive covers-so I have high hopes. Oh, did I mention I'm going to Thailand this summer? I didn't just buy the books at random. We have a 10-day trip planned, with the main focus being a wedding in Pattaya, but otherwise, we are free to roam. I know I want to visit the painting elephants, but other than that, I have no real plans. I've never been before, and I don't really know much about Thailand at all.
So, has anyone been to Thailand? Can you recommend any good travel books? Have you read the ones I have, and are they any good? Travel books aside, what are some things that I should definitely see? What are some things that I should definitely NOT see? Any other recommendations?