Originally Posted by AuroythmiX
What are some reallly awesome beaches to swim and snorkel and all that jazz at? Scuba diving somewhere reputable sounds cool too.
Any suggestions about a cooking school? Love cooking, and here in Aus, Thai is like the most common cuisine anywhere.
I've posted about diving and snorkeling in this thread (or the other Thai thread) as have others; worth searching.
Koh Tao, the Similans and up into Burma are some amazing dives. Go on a liveaboard, even if you think you can't afford it. You can't afford to miss it.
Snorkeling can be good to excellent, depending on where you go. I know of some great places around Phuket, but Koh Adang and Lipe are also AMAZING for just putting on a mask and going out (but can be harder to get to). Don't waste your time on snorkel trips to Phi Phi. Go if you're there, but the boat trips specifically for it (you'll see ads for them all over, the 10 in 1 daytrips; you know, snorkel, lunch, ride elephant, see monkey show etc etc, rush rush rush) are horrible and terrible, as you probably already expect.
If you have time, I'd really recommend the Perhentians in NE Malaysia. The snorkeling was top notch there. Sharks, turtles, eels, etc etc, all right off the beach. Easy to get there from south Thailand, if you don't mind bomby railway stations...
As far as cooking schools, all the hotels and some restaurants offer them. However, Chotechitr (also spelled Chote Chitr) which is in the Banglamphu area and is Bangkok's new culinary superstar thanks to a review in the NYTimes, does cooking classes. The woman who runs it brings small groups of people on market excursions and then teaches some of her dishes once a week.
Sadly, the website is down (possibly due to so much traffic) so I can't provide any more info. However, there is a PHENOMENAL food blog run by a Bangkok expat: RealThai. He lists info on how to get there here http://austinbushphotography.com/200...non-tanao.html
I also think the owner speaks English, so it may be worth calling to ask. That would be my recommendation instead of spending a **** load on how to make fried rice and spring rolls at the Oriental or something. I think that cooking classes in Chiang Mai are pretty good, if you look around and happen to be up there.
Also, the Blue Elephant, it may be worth mentioning that it is a chain of restaurants, cooking schools and supermarket ready sauces etc that started out of London, not Bangkok. In case you're into authenticity. Not sure how the food is, I never ate there. But their business model seems to be working.