This is the (Khao San) road to hell…
(Written by Steph)
Air Asia, I salute you. Best meal I’ve ever had on a plane. This was Thailand and everything was about to get shinier…and wierder.
We had barely arrived in Bangkok, and we had already seen several sights that Thailand is famed for – a large group of lady boys (one of them was pretty convincing, but her cover was blown by the more muscular company she kept), massages on the streets and THE most amazing street food.
I knew little else about Thailand. It had been done to death by tourists; that much I had heard, but I hadn’t quite realised what that meant in practice. I was about to find out…
“Have you heard of Khao San Road?” Nick asked me.
I must’ve been living in a bubble, probably a wedding one, because everyone on the planet had seemingly heard of Khao San road, and half of them were actually there.
We made the sensible choice to stay in a hotel nearby, but far enough away that we wouldn’t be kept awake by the madness on the actual street. We had read a whole heap of guesthouse reviews where the unsuspecting tourists had not been so informed or so lucky. Thank goodness for Nick and his googling.
Our hotel was the nicest one we had stayed in by a mile. Clean and modern, with a balcony and a swimming pool. My best friend, Claire, would approve I decided. We would use the money she and her boyfriend, Wayne, gave us as our wedding present, and would have enough left over to try and mend my broken body with one of those famous Thai massages…
“OHMYGOD!!” I blurted out before I could stop myself. The guy had sat behind me, crossed-legged, squeezed his arms around my upper body, and twisted it backwards, right to the floor. I was a wet dish cloth being rung out, and it hurt. A lot.
The next day, I had let Nick off the leash to go and take photos while I got my massage. We would both be happy. I was led upstairs to a dark, empty room, with several sponge mattresses laid on the floor, and silently giggled to myself nervously about happy endings. It felt a little strange, even though I knew perfectly well it was fine.
Not as strange as the massage, though. I mean, it was great, but I just wonder what it might be like if you *aren’t* flexible. I was pushed and pulled from top to bottom in positions I had yet to attempt even in advanced yoga classes.
By this time, there were more people getting massaged in the room, separated only by thin curtains. I let out a scream. The masseuse next door took this as her cue to giggle uncontrollably. Then I started. Oh dear…
I have to say, save that moment when I thought I might be pulled apart at the waist, this was the most renewing massage I’ve had. All my joints felt liberated and my muscles much less knotted than before. After 2 weeks rubbling I knew it was going to take more than one massage to sort them out. That was fine, though. At a fiver an hour, I could afford to get another one at a later date.
Khao San Road:
That evening, Nick convinced me we should check it out. We had mistakenly thought that we were on this road last night. “This is crazy,” I thought. Not as crazy as the real Khao San road, apparently.
We knew we were approaching the road as music from the cafés got harder and noisier, and the staff uniforms got tighter and shorter. Suddenly it was hard to move – tourists dressed in bermuda shorts and carrying beach buckets full of booze filled the street, jeering noisily. Looky-looky men jossled past, squeeking toys in your face. Were we in Tenerife? I wondered. The stalls of deep-fried insects answered that. No, this was definitely Thailand. Of course, Nick, being the kind of man that deems stranger to be better, had to partake in the national delicacy. First a grasshopper. Next a scorpion.
“Steph, can you just get a picture?”
It was a big ask. I don’t have the stomach for dairy, let alone scorpion.
Then the finale. A cockroach. Known as “The Cockroach Killer” when I lived in Tenerife, I was none too fond of these bastards, but the thought of eating one..? Eeugh!
“That’s your lot Mr.”
Taking those snaps for my darling husband was testament of my love for him.
Let’s go, I thought, before he goes for the bloody tarantula.
I was hoping that had satisfied Nick’s curiosity about Khao San road. Literally every bar blasted out Oasis, The Chilis or Nirvana, each doing their best to appeal to the tourists and competing to be the loudest. Don’t get me wrong, I like this music, but you’d be forgiven for thinking the last 20 years had never happened. Furthermore, I didn’t know how anyone could enjoy sitting in front of any of these bars, terraces marred by the incessant sound-combat.
But there weren’t just tourists there. Young Thai girls made up about 40% of the socialisers. I have to say, the stark contrast between the modesty I had noted in other parts, and the scant and tight clothing in this crazy headache of a place, wierdly, shocked me. This was a place for the young, drunk and uncouth, and I wanted out, dahhling.
Fast forward 3 hours and I was sat in a bar, Nick and I sharing our 3rd strawberry mojito bucket. Well…what’s that saying? When in Bangkok…