Bangkok is sultry, steamy, and sedating. And that’s just the weather! It’s like I remember, but hotter, more humid, and with a lot more air pollution. However, that’s not all that’s changed. We are staying not too far from Khaosan Road, that (in)famous backpacker ghetto that probably has no equal the world over. It seemed incredibly built up 20 years ago, with the street lined on both sides with a plethora of guest houses, flop houses, dormitories and low-end hotels; cafes and restaurants that competed based on the pirated movie they were showing (“Today 3PM: Raiders of the Lost Ark”); souvenir shops; tattoo parlors; and clothing stores selling t-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, and friendship bracelets.
Well, all that is still there, but has multiplied: Khao San Road has spilled over into the neighboring streets, while staying agreeably down-market. Every night the place turns into a giant outdoor backpacker party covering a couple square blocks. Food options of all types seem to be represented, with a focus on the inexpensive. It’s just bustling with people and energy, the overwhelming majority 20-somethings from some developed nation. I still can’t imagine anywhere else quite like it, and I love it for its constant energy provided by generations of wanderers and vagabonds.