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Thailand - What Can Be Said That Hasn't Been Said Before? (Part 1)

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Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor
Khao San Road

Bangkok - Mysterious, exotic and swamped with odours. Tourism is a large part of the economy which is obvious in western areas such as Khao San Road (KSR), a filth pool of western culture from drunken early AM fights to the tsunami of ego the westerners bring, which is more pronounced as the locals seem to have little to no ego. 

KSR's notoriety comes from being a brutal bargaining ground for goods from bags, t-shirts, pants to pirated DVDs to ninja stars and daggers and every art and craft stall imaginable in between. Prices are twice to triple for all objects on KSR than any other street in Bangkok, even those one block away - a two minute walk.

Oddities include, but far from limited to, are giant "zippo" lighters that require two hands to operate and have no discernable hope of fitting in anyone's pocket - expect for maybe the giant residing atop Jack's bean stalk. This lighter is large enough to guzzle a litre of lighter fluid with one activation. Another oddity is a sound activated t-shirt. Huh? This shirt has a piece of technology sewn into it and doubles as the shirt's design. Upon request, the vendor will gleefully demonstrate the garment's truly awesome power by clapping with fervor in front of said shirt while it illuminates to the sound. Get a bunch of mates applauding together in those shirts and an epileptic fit will surely follow.

The third oddity is the fake-tattoo-arm-stocking. Stockings for your arms bearing the pattern of tribal sleeve tats. After weeks of deliberating, no logical or practical use can be found for such a garment, but upon return to a freezing winter, the concept of extra warmth will surely seem like a good idea. Arm stocking salesmen aren't as common as other vendors because only a few are stupid enough to try to sell them.
Food vendors, on the other hand, have cheap food for dirt cheap prices, but many will advise to steer clear of the meat, which is hard for an ardent borderline carnivore such as I to accept, so it's all engines go and get it out of your system (and a free dose of gastro) should you need to. Then there are the kids who come out at night who can't be more than 11 or 12 who are extremely smart-arsed. Their sole goal is to beat drunken westerners at rock-paper-scissors.

These kids know it all from the old high 5- up high - down low- too slow to making a capital L with their thumb and forefinger and pressing it against their foreheads in a mocking manner as if to say your some kind of loser. The also enjoy a good duel of thumb-warring. Some of the kids sell single roses to drunken western guys who might be enjoying a beer with a female friend. If you don't buy a rose for her, the L comes out.

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