Thursday, June 25, 2015

Strolling down the lanes of Khao San Road and beyond

A quintessential backpackers' paradise in midst of bustling Bangkok, Khaosan Road does offer much to everybody. I saw people from all walks of life, roaming around freely, eating, shopping or just like me, aimless, confused, lazily strolling the lanes. A road, which never sleeps, even at 2:00 am, I found people were selling foods and a few were drinking at road. When I observed minutely the vendors, shops, massage parlors and other local shops, I wondered how much hard work they really did, almost every day.

First day, I stayed at Samsen Soi 2, a nearby alley, a lot calmer place. So, I walked around Khaosan Road and just surprised to see the crowd and cacophony. The place is remarkably popular among backpackers because of cheap hostels, but it is not the only place in Bangkok for sure. Even if you just walk 5 minutes from Khaosan, you can find lots cheaper hostels in Samsen Soi. I was also not much sure about 100 or 150 baht hostels because I didn’t want to lose my belongings just to save 100 baht.

I love traveling, not principally because I want to see new places or just an aimless strolling, but there is something addictive to sit calmly at one place, reading or writing, or even just observing. I like to observe people, not just new places, but any place. It gives me a certain kind of peculiar pleasure. In Khaosan Road, I tried to do that but unfortunately everyone skipped from my vision very fast.

I remember one day, I was sitting outside of my hotel, just gently smoking and observing people. The music and people all around suddenly created a strange nauseated feeling inside me. At that moment a queer home sick feeling enveloped me. I desperately wanted to rush back to home. The feeling stayed with me for 2-3 hours or so and gradually subsided.

Khaosan Road is definitely not for me, but I like the sensation, a new experience that will remain in my memory. Undoubtedly there is a magnetic appeal that holds everyone in that small road, but it wasn’t holding me much for a long time. I wish I could have spent some more time to understand the true nature of this famous road in Bangkok.

Good, bad, ugly at Khaosan Road

1. What I like that you meet lots of people if you just sit at a bar or footpath. Even in hostels, you meet people, get new experiences and start a random conversation. There are many people who stay in the place as a stopover and travel to northern Thailand or Cambodia or Vietnam, so you can find a good travel buddy if you are a solo traveler.

In the early morning nearby alley
2. It’s cheap place that is the major drawcard for backpackers. You can find lots hostels less than 200 baht. However, I advise you to stay at a good hostel for better room, security and good people.

3. Shopping is such a delight in the streets of Khaosan and other nearby areas. Only thing you need to remember to bargain hard.

4. Khaosan is too noisy, many people like it but there are so many like I who do not. So, stay at Samsen Soi 2 or nearby places, which are calm and cool places and you can easily reach Khaosan by walking 5 minutes from your hostel.

5. I can’t recommend foot massage because I haven’t experienced it. But seeing the massage parlors and lots of people with their closed eyes, I guess it is an enjoyable experience.

6. If you are really hard on money, then buy beer from Seven Eleven and take it to a road food joint and enjoy it. I don't recommend too cheap hostels because those seemed to me very shady.

7. Experience crunchy cockroach, grasshopper, caramelized spider and even friend scorpion. You can take a picture but you have to pay 10 baht.

8. Khaosan Road is also famous for hookers, but it is not a prostitute area so nobody really approaches you.

9. You can party till morning at Khaosan because that road never sleeps.

10. There are many tuk tuk and taxis who press you for ping pong show or taking you to night life in Thailand. It’s safe but they charge you almost double, so bargain hard.

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