I avoided Thanon Khao San the whole time I had been in Bangkok. I had the preconceived notion of it being a place for wild partying, day in and day out – where backpackers congregrated in debauchery and wild orgies – where the spirit of Bangkok did not truly live – where I did not truly belong.
This is the tale of my first Khao San Road experience.
My kindred spirit and her two friends guided me gently into the willful arms of the road known as Khao San. In its initially gentle embrace, I felt at home in a familiar place. It was a small bar, a blues bar. Seats enough for 25 people, space enough for 10.
Here, I was in my element. Here, we spoke of the nuances of the Thai language and its culture. Each of them residing in different regions as part of the US Peace Corps program. (So much love for these guys!)
Then, we ventured outside and walked 150 metres up the road to the actual Khao San! My bubble had been burst. Everything I imagined Khao San to be was realised. I was prepared, I was in the zone, I was going to own it. Khao San gave everything it had! Pussy shows, free drinks to lure you into those dingy bars, fried insects and bugs, fake branded goods, liquor free pouring, half-naked men stumbling around drunk, tiny Thai women hanging off the arms of large, muscly farangs – I mean, anything was possible that night.
Think of the texture of prawn shell, triple its thickness and whack some salty paste inside. That’s the taste of a deep-fried scorpion.
I had an objective, walking through the street, I was scouring the stalls for one item. SCORPION! I found a lovely vendor selling the big ones for 50 Baht each, so Andrew and I each had one. At first, I was scared, hesitant to even bring the (dead, fried) creepy crawly to my mouth. With a little encouragement, I bit off the tail!
Think of the texture of prawn shell, triple its thickness and whack some salty paste inside. That’s the taste of a deep-fried scorpion. It was unpleasant at first, as neither the flavour or the texture was appetising. However, I made it all the way and finished the whole snack.
With my eyes closed, I said “I see gnomes in my mind”.
Next thing I remember, we were drinking upstairs somewhere. Ana told us she was a direct descendant of a witch and said she could ‘feel’ things in her mind. I was being silly saying that I would put my hand on her head and she’d send a message to me. With my eyes closed, I said “I see gnomes in my mind”. Lo and behold, her favourite thing was gnomes – she had been given one for her birthday this year and had been randomly thinking about it! Freaky!
We met this really funny Irish guy, whose name I remember clearly as if he told me only this morning – Peter Byrne – specifically spelt with a Y and not a U. God that was some great dancing!
I just have to tell you about that lady dancing without a care in the world, an enormous cockroach the size of a child’s closed fist crawling up and down her back. When we all saw it, we started screaming!
Then there was the enormous rat, the size of a child’s skull running across the seil lining the alleyway wall. Oh dear, if that wasn’t terrifying on its own, it sure frightened the urine out of me!
That club/bar place closed at 1AM for some unknown reason! Its Khao San Road for crying out loud! We were ushered over the road to the bar – Ana and I met this lovely Khatoei, she was like my best friend that night. She had all her boys around her and we were all having a great laugh.
This was enough to lead them to believe that I was Indian
There were two indian guys, quite good looking, who were talking to me. I would definitely say they were hitting on me. So I let them. I spoke a little Hindi to them, simple things like Aap kese ho, bhaiya?. However, this was enough to lead them to believe that I was Indian myself. I politely informed them that I was not and that my ancestry could be traced through Filipino blood-lines. They refused to accept my explanation and told me that perhaps I just didn’t know that my grandmother or great-grandmother was Indian. So I left them pretty quickly!
Ana and I decided to call it in and make a dash for it. Though no night would be complete without post-drinking fast food. Street food would be the ticket and it just so happens that we stumbled upon a fine Pad Thai eatery.
She was super-convinced that I was in fact, Thai!
Here we met a wonderful Thai woman (whose name escapes me, sorry!). She was also saying that I was Indian, then I spoke some of my basic Thai to her and then she was super-convinced that I was in fact, Thai! Being able to speak and understand Thai, Ana had a conversation with her. I felt like I could follow and somehow found the correct words/phrases to say in response! Just goes to show how crazy the human brain can be at absorbing information passively – imagine what would have become of me if I actively pursued Thai language acquisition?