Three Days In Bangkok

Three Days In Bangkok

The Khao San Road feels like a fever dream.

A whole constellation of neon signs glow and pulse wherever there’s usable space. Techno music blares from every bar and hostel window. Backpackers from all over the world dance in the streets with local wildchilds and ladyboys. Absinthe is sold by the bucket. You can get the best massage of your life for five dollars, then walk another ten feet and eat a giant black scorpion skewered on a stick. Little clothing and jewelry stands sell trash that Johnny Depp would call treasure. Strange men approach you, smacking their lips together—making a pop-pop! pop-pop! sound—offering to take you down a dark alley to see a “ping pong show.”

This is a show in which prostitutes shoot ping pong balls out of their vaginas.

Fake IDs, passports, social security cards, degrees and legal documents are sold right out in the open, and the cops, whenever they’re around—which is almost never, apparently—just don’t give a shit.

And that is the motto by which the Khao San Road exists: Who Gives A Shit, Let’s Just Have Fun.

Bangkok is a total overload of the senses. It’s like running through a dark hallway while getting tazered at unpredictable intervals by an electric cattle-prod, getting high off the shock, and then desperately wanting more.

Bangkok’s day and night markets are one of the purest and most intense cultural cattle-prod shocks in the whole city.

South of the Khao San is an enormous field, sort of like an Olympic race track, with an odd-looking building in the center. The building is a decrepit, old stone box, maybe three times the size of a football field, and looks like something you’d see in a movie about the apocalyptic future where mankind has been wiped from the planet by robots. Sheets of plastic and metal and moss hang from all sides.

Underneath the building is an impossible labyrinth of hallways and shops divided loosely into zones like food, clothing, jewelry, art, pets, and so on.

As you make your way further into the market, you get the feeling like you’re venturing deeper and deeper into the bowels of the Earth. Compasses stop working. GPS devices display the error message: “What the f*** is going on?”

Everything is sold here. Everything. Wherever you happen to turn your head someone is selling something shockingly disgusting or weird, something you’ve never seen before. Things like rare endangered snakes and turtles, giant buckets of squirming maggots, fluffy dogs the size of a full-grown black bear, wooden penises said to bring good fortune when carried (would you lug around a dick made of wood in your pocket?), and anything else you could ever possibly want or not want.

The market is a place to find oddities of every kind, but it is also a place where beggars come to beg.

A toothless old man, missing an arm and leg and wearing ragged, torn-up clothes, crawls around on his stomach over the filthy concrete floor gesturing for people to put money in his dog food bowl.

This sort of soul-shattering sight is an everyday occurrence on the streets of Bangkok.

But Bangkok is still beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *