Saturday, April 2, 2011


Bangkok, found on the Internet

Back to Bangkok. Now that I've made the full circle from Thailand-->Cambodia-->Vietnam-->Laos and back to Thailand, I guess a post about Bangkok is due. I can tell you a few things about Bangkok that I've learned, things such as it has a population of 910,000, and an elevation of only 6 feet, and has a cool floating market. I also learned that Bangkok's real official name is, get ready, Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke gave it the name, but don't ask me what it means. Other than these useless facts, I really don't have much to offer, because like many other backpackers, Khaosan rd sucks me in, and keeps me there.

Khaosan in the early morning

I can however tell you anything you want to know about Khoasan road, since this is my second time here, and luckily it is arguably the best thing about Bangkok, at least to a backpacker. Khaosan is a short street in central Bangkok. It is located in the Banglamphu about 1 km north of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Khaosan translates as "milled rice", a reminder that in former times the street was a major Bangkok rice market. In the last 20 years, however, Khaosan Road has developed into a world famous backpacker ghetto, it offers cheap accommodation, ranging from 'mattress in a box' style hotels to reasonably priced 3-star hotels. I pay $5 a night (150 baht) for my jail cell, and I love it. Down stairs is the lounge area offering food from the menu, and movies running 24/7. It is literally steps from the street and all it's action.

All day and all night, the street is crowded with vendors and backpackers alike. It is so lively, it reminds me of downtown New Orleans during Marti Gras. After dark, locals selling either fireworks, flying saucers with lights, or high powered laser pointers or other bright lit toys get to light up the street with their product demonstrations, just adding to the liveliness. Every bar has television sets blaring Thai boxing or other fights, and there is always a tailer waiting in the street to try and sell you a custom made suit, always carrying around pictures of different styles. (Any of you that have ever been here, know exactly what I'm talking about with the tailors). It is so lively 24/7, that on numerous occasions I had backpackers ask me what the hell was going on? I would just laugh and tell then nothing, this is normal. This time around however, there WAS something going on, as if they needed an excuse to go crazy.

The Bangkok Songkran Festival is the traditional Thai New Year, an occasion for merriment all over the city, but most notably at Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace, where the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees and on Khaosan rd. In the Wisutkasat area, a Miss Songkran beauty contest is held and accompanied by merit-making and entertainment. This year, the girl, whose name I can't pronounce, that works at my hostel, that I hang out with all the time, won the contest and was awarded Miss Songkran. Needless to say, the hubbub around the place was even more crazy. The streets became even more packed with vendors, banners and stilt walkers. Every night it is hard to sleep, as fellow backpacker/musicians work their trade somewhere near my place, playing their guitars and singing for other westerners all hours of the night in the street. This might seem like a complaint, and might usually be, but seeing how I'm traveling alone and can get a might lonely and restless, this scene is really growing on me. I can walk into a big crowd of backpackers, a beer in each hand, one for me and one for the first friendly looking person I see, and I can make 15 instant best friends. This place should be on any real backpackers lists of to do's.

Khaosan during the festival. Huge water fights constantly


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