Khao San Road Rites of Passage by Andy Lee Graham
Good point that Bangkok is a great place to fly out of. It is a relatively cheap place to stay. I found a one bedroom apt-efficiency for $200 a month and the transportation is good in the city with a great light rail/subway system. Flights are cheap from LAX to BKK. this time I paid $410 round trip. Bangkok would be a great base for traveling the eastern hemisphere.