I went down to Khao San Road again, without my camera, without my pack. I just went there to wander the streets, gain some perspective on the night, and for an hour, not worry about anything. And it was wonderful. And I think that I discovered everything there is to discover here.
Leaving my hostel, the noise of Bangkok quickly flooded my ears. There's always noise here. Always. There's music in the morning, cars in the afternoon, and the ambiance of night once the sun has set. It's one of the things I realized that I'd been missing on my travels. Walking a street, and not being able to understand a thing that's being said. It's a beautiful moment, when you realize that you're in a different city, in a different country, half a world away.
This is the farthest away from home I've ever been. Were one to plot a straight line from Toronto to all my destinations, right here, right now, in Bangkok would be the longest string of all. And that's as it should be. I keep trying to see the world as it would have been in the 1950s. But I can't. There are no boxes, dark streets, or pockets of – well, there are some pockets of disrepute where you'll see locals fighting as you walk by. But there are not many.
And my concept of the 50s in not the most legitimate or stable. When I think of World Travel I think of a doctor named for his dog. And I think of the world there. So, yes, my concept of the 50s is based on a movie made in the 80s representing the 30s and 40s. I know, I know, there are problems here! I've already said that.
But here's where reality steps in: I will never go hungry so long as I am in Bangkok. I will never want for food, nor even have to walk far to get it. Listen to my tale of arrival at KSR. I left my hostel, quickly turning in at the 7-11 next door to grab a bottle of I don't know what for 12B (33B to 1USD remember) and started to drink it. It turned out to be coconut nectar; it turned out to be terrible. I threw it out, and stopped in at 7-11 to grab a new soda. Oh yes, for there was a new 7-11 right up the road. This soda kept me happy, until I pulled in at the McDonald's for a cheeseburger. Honestly, with Thai prices I expected a deal of all deals, like 2002 prices. But no, a cheeseburger was 40B. 40B! Are yo kidding me? Good value anywhere else, but a cheeseburger is not worth three liters of coke, no matter how you look at it! But, I ate my cheese burger and then walked to KSR, stopping at the 7-11 located at the mouth of the place for a final drink.
Once on the road, I walked to the end, grabbed a banana crepe, and then bought a final drink at the 7-11 there. The crepe was only 20B. My one McBurger ended up being a good 40% of the total cost for the evening. And beers – I don't want to talk about beer prices. It is not cheap. It is not good value. Why Bangkok has this reputaiton for being a good cheap place to party is beyond me, unless party means those terrible drugs that I have not, and will never do. Especially in a place like this. You see people getting their tattoos and think – really? Are you sure? No place back home for that, huh? And even the henna tattoos. Oh they may tell yo they don't use Black Henna (not that I saw any signs claiming that) but even if they tell you – will you really trust them? Because everything else is so safe, and legal here yeah? Just ask the guy selling burned CDs for 40B, or the dude selling photocopied (perfect bound) copies of Lonely Planet for half price.
Enjoy your life long scars from the temporary tatoo.
So there I was on KSR, and it dawned on me, every tourist in the world eventually ends up right here. Most travellers make it to this spot as well. Some will stay away, telling you they don't go for that “touristy stuff” though their language will probably be a tad more harsh. But, most will recognize the experience for what it is, and head down this way. Those that stay away are the type who think the “Great Wall of China is too hyped” and miss out on that too. So fear not. Head down, and walk the streets – see the illegal wares, and the cheap food. And most of all see:
More white people than you could find in a New York neighbourhood are here. White people as far as the eye could see. Bring sun glasses, cause that skin reflects like nothing else. Alright, it's night, so don't worry about the reflection, but walking here would be like taking a boat out on the water. You get hit from all sides.
That metaphor didn't go over well. What I'm trying to say is you will not see another colour of skin in this whole area. They're lost in the flood. And it's not like they all speak a common tongue – you can't expect English to be understood here (though there are enough people that eventually it will be.) There are tribes, and collections, and groups of people from just about every English speaking country on the planet.
And that may be your cue to leave.
It may also make you feel a tad lonesome. Like Amsterdam, there is probably a big party here if you're with the right people to experience it. But, by yourself you're from the outside looking in – like those kids from Lost Boys before they discover the terrible secret of Vampires. Or like the dudes from Disturbing Behaviours before they learn that everything in bad, wrong, wrong, bad, wrong, bad, bad, wrong, bad *smash*
But there's something to it. Something to the big party that is KSR. I just don't happen to know what it is yet. So I'll go back tomorrow, maybe buy some new head phones while I'm at it – my final pair is down to just one, and it's all held together by duct tape – so, you know, I could use some knock off iPod-ish gear.
And I'll take some pictures. And I'll try to figure out just what, exactly, it is I'm doing here.
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