Khao San Road in Bangkok - the trip goes to Thailand is written by Line Hansen.
Khao San Road in Bangkok is a hit for backpackers
The trip goes to Thailand and all backpackers who have traveled around the country know the street. This is where you are definitely in-it if you wear a Chang beer tank top or know how to throw the phrase “same same, but different” into appropriate places in your speech flow.
It's Christmas Eve. We are sitting on Khao San Road in Bangkok with each our Santa hat on, which Grandma has sent with my parents to add a little Christmas mood under the warm skies. Along the restaurants in the area around Khao San Road, "Last Christmas" applies from the speakers, and in many places it has been decorated with kitschy cellophane Christmas carols.
We replace the traditional pork roast with delicious Thai food. The risalamandan is substituted by pancakes and ice cream. We rinse down the delights with mojitos and cold beers. Today is a day like any other, except that we are wearing a Santa hat, and secretly sit and hum along to Wham's Christmas classic. It's shamefully cozy, but also pretty silly. There is a long way home to something similar a traditional Christmas Eve, but it does not matter. Many experiences await, and I wonder if it will be Christmas again next year?
Khao San Road in Bangkok: A Jumble
Although Khao San is only a few hundred meters long. But it kind of takes an hour or two to stroll down through the beautiful jumble. Travel Agents, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and clothing stalls dictating the latest backpacker fashion fill the street scene. Hostels, hotels and guesthouses found in all shades and price ranges. Ranging from the windowless creeps of sorts with bed bug-infested bunk beds and booze-covered walls to the more upscale lodging options for the flashpacks.
A spontaneous invention about decorating the overly skin-colored body is welcomed in one of the countless tattoo pants - carpe diem! Rastafarians are busy crocheting dreadlocks firmly on the heads of the newly arrived backpackers. In the middle of the crowd, a Thai boxing match or a breakdance match takes place. In the same way that you invest in your batik-colored sarong here, this is also the place where you shop for false identity. Danish press card, diplomas, driver's license, you name it, and it is made.
A lively street
Everywhere you hear: “Misterrr! Madaaame! Footmasaaaage !? ” A seat is taken in one of the specially designed sun loungers on the street, after which the hard-skinned full-moon party-dancing flip-flop-fussers can be lovingly treated by one of the seasoned Thai masseurs. The DKK 25 a treatment costs is absolutely habit-forming. I may not be able to think of anything more satisfying than a game of footmasaaaage.
Along the street there are heaps of food panties. Freshly prepared pad thai (noodle dish), freshly baked spring rolls, fried rice, fruitshakes, pancakes, ice cream made from coconut and deep-fried crepes, which for cheap money can soothe the travelers' cravings in a snap.
For ridiculously little money, you can grab a sex-on-the-beach or whiskey-cola bucket from one of the small mobile bars. Funny enough always to the tunes of Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier" and a joint that goes on and on. Here, travelers meet, share experiences and experiences, talk cross-sectionally and most often in the following series of questions. “Where are you from? How long have you been here? Are you on a long trip? Where have you been? Where are you going next? What's your name? Where are you staying? ” All the while toasting across nationalities. The atmosphere is great in Khao San Road in Bangkok.
Khao San Road in Bangkok: A first meeting
The vast majority of backpackers lands in Southeast Asia with Bangkok as the first destination on the must-do journey after high school. Semi-confused, jet-lagged and a little scared, they arrive at Khao San Road - because that's what you do.
Still relatively clean in clothing, wrists not yet patched with random cords and bracelets, and there are (yet) no bandages covering the wounds from crashes on rental scooters. Often equipped with an overly heavy and overcrowded backpack, of which the first aid kit fills more than half of the bag. The equally crowded top of the backpack limits the view and thank God - it can be really overwhelming and scary to dump into this foreign world when the trip goes to Thailand.
A first time for everything
For yes, Khao San Road in Bangkok is its own little world in a foreign country. I myself have been the tumbler with the oversized backpack and it still is when I stand in a new country and have to try to find myself comfortable. And Oh my God, I have made - and am making - many mistakes. My first trip to India in 2006 (with an overcrowded backpack and a first aid kit that filled more than half of the bag), despite several warnings, also made my debut as a backpacker. If you do not want to listen, you have to feel.
My travel companion and I were decidedly scared and certainly looked at least as scared as the newcomers in Bangkok! For what cave was this place we had landed? In good faith, we answered the taxi driver's question that it was our "first time in India" and that we would definitely "like to go to the government-owned tourist information." And how lucky that the driver's brother happens to be working there! What a nice and friendly driver! Well, well, okay - three times the normal price for the taxi. Yes, yes, if you say so, then we better pay. Ha, ha - go ahead, take advantage of us, scam us, take our money and tell us all the untruths you know, because we swallow it raw!
"First time in India" was fortunately not the last. A few years later, we returned with a significantly lighter backpack, a smaller first aid kit, and better equipped to handle India and the accompanying fixes of worst drawer.
Tourist Mecca and Khao San Road in Bangkok
I have been to the Khao San area quite a few times and thought it is hugely touristy and superficial. Felt unfaithful to the "real" backpacker life. But now I love it! YES, full of tourists. Superficial… maybe? All of us Westerners who have traveled the world to "realize ourselves", "find out who we are", meet foreign cultures and experience new countries and peoples up close, crowd here on this very street. If you want to experience Thailand, you have to stay far away. Khao San has nothing to do with Thailand. Except for the fresh pad thai sold from the street.
It's not the locals who hang out here, and it's most likely not here you'll figure out what to do with the rest of your life. Everything within a radius of 500 meters is obviously adapted to the needs and desires of backpackers. Everything is possible here - it's just a matter of price. You can even sell your half-used shampoo bottles and dingy sleeping bag on to the next backpacker. And counterfeit copies of Lonely Planet's guidebooks work on an almost equal footing with Thai baht as a valid currency.
It is a wild thought that over the past 30-40 years, a single street has evolved from being a rice market to today being a phenomenon that forms the center of backpacker culture in Southeast Asia. If you just take Khao San for what it is and just try to sniff out this super intense vibe, then it's an experience in itself. These 500 meters - packed with expectations and excitement - so many experiences that await, moods to be felt, food to be tasted, night trains to be tried, dreams to be lived out and experiences to be made when the trip goes to Thailand.
Hooray for the backer life, hooray for Khao San Road in Bangkok!
When is the best time to travel to Thailand?
- Bangkok is best to travel to between November and March
- Chiang Mai is best to travel to between November and March
- Koh Samui is best to travel to between January and April as well as between June and September
- Phuket is best to travel to between November and March
- Hua Hin is best to travel to between November and March
- Koh Phi Phi is best to travel to between November and February
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