Khaosan Road Craziness
Palm reading fortune tellers pull you into graffiti splattered alleys to spill shocking truths about your life. Mischevious tuk tuk drivers chirp at you from every angle. Occasionally, mysterious figures engulfed by shadows whisper, “ping pong show, sir?” at the passing tourists. This was Khaosan Road.
I meet Khasan on a sweaty Bangkok afternoon.
I’m sipping on a Chang, a Thailand brew, with a long lost Saskatchewan friend, Nicole Schnell, who has been trotting the globe for the better part of two years.
It’s refreshing to see her face. Especially after bizarre nights in Phi Phi and Phuket. Bangkok is right up my alley. I meet her for a copiously healthy portion of Chang and Slippery Nipples in the hours before her flight back to Canada. Like much of my trip, our meeting is a blur.
In a salute to Khaosan Road and the memory of our brief Bangkok get-together, we buy Chang t-shirts with the intention of wearing them in matching fashion during our next Paris of the Prairies rendezvous, likely during during a Five Alarm Funk show at Saskatoon’s Jazz Festival in June.
We concoct a plan to smuggle Chang back to Canada to further match our get-up that night. We’re dorks. For our pact’s finishing touch, we decide we’ll pay bartenders only in baht on this future night. Or at least throw it at them, laugh, and run away.
It seemed like an excellent idea at the time. I am obsessed with baht — and Chang.
After I stuffed Nicole into a suitcase and threw her onto the back of a tuk tuk destined for the airport, I got down to some exploring of Khaosan.
One of Thailand’s most famous markets, Bangkok’s Westernized Khaosan Road has everything for the common backpacker. Khaosan translates to “milled rice,” and 20 years ago, the area was the city’s premier rice market. The area has since been transformed into a backpacker’s ghetto, with many hostels and moderately priced guesthouses for those afflicted by wanderlust.
Watches that double as cigarette lighters, Fake-bans (knockoff Raybans) of every colour, pirated DVDs, art, used books and bright clothes and jewellery can all be found here. And everything is dirt cheap.
Eateries and food carts line the streets dusty pathways. You can sample authentic pad Thai, fresh squeezed mandarin juice, slices of mango, or if you’re brave enough, a crunchy, black scorpion.
The place is crawling with life, culture and the strange. Go. Now.
My Khao San Purchases:
-3 watches that light cigarettes
-5 pairs of knockoff Raybans
-2 pairs of shorts (green and yellow)
-1 piece of Buddha artwork
-1 vintage purple cassette tape iPhone case
-1 Chang Beer muscle shirt
-1 beaded necklace
All for maybe $20 CDN.
As I hopped into a tuk tuk, I wondered, “Why can’t it be this cheap in Canada?”
Connect with Dorian Geiger, editor of Sleepless in Singapore.