Wandering In Bangkok

khaosan header

“Be Careful” They All Said

Upon hearing about my plans to travel, friends and family all had the same response: Be Careful.

I get it. They care. Be safe. Come back alive. etc. etc., but the general idea I got from these responses was “don’t wander off into the wrong place”. Well what am I to do? Just stay in the heavily populated tourist areas? That doesn’t feel like real traveling to me. I don’t just want to visit a country to only see a certain sight, stay in a comfortable hotel, eat at ‘tourist approved’ restaurants that may stray far from the true flavour of the local people.

I want to wander. I want to discover. I feel I have my wits about  me enough to keep me alive and that’s fine with me. So when I met with my friend Dan Ho from Isnowhere.com, who’s a local traveler (from Canada but for the past 3 years he’s been living in Southeast Asia), I decided to join him for a walk around wherever-it-was-that-I-ended-up.

Where Are You Going?

Bangkok Thailand alley ways

Walking through random alley ways and shops–far away from the main hustle and bustle of the city. So dangerous. We were lead by a sense of curiosity. At one point, maybe 15 minutes into it, we heard singing. Karaoke-like singing. We sought after it.

Bangkok Thailand karaoke girlsBam! There it was! As we got closer and closer to the melody we were suddenly treated to two local girls atop a table, singing a song in Thai. Not only that but they were surrounded by a bunch of locals and a small shack making fresh food for the viewers. Everyone was clapping and singing along. The kids were dancing around. The adults were being served local beer. I took it all in with a growing smile that reached from ear to ear.

 

To some, this may be a non-event. This may be responded with a resounding, “So What?”. This is the stuff that most tourists and travellers wouldn’t venture out to find, but for me, this is what traveling is all about: seeing how the locals live their lives. Seeing how they create happiness. If you were to look up just a couple feet from where this picture was taken, you’d see a cement roof. I don’t know if it is a road on top or just a roof of a giant complex with a network of alleyways.

The old me would have been completely against walking into random alleys and dark corners of the city but take a look at the gold that was found just beyond it. I’m glad that I did.

Khao San Road

Bangkok Thailand khao san

We decided to leave and venture forth to Khao San road. Ah, Khao san road…there is just so much to say about this place. If you ever find yourself in Bangkok this is a must see. Think of the strip on Las Vegas, just as flashy, but a lot less posh. It’s very down to earth. Filled with both backpackers and locals. You can get beer towers here, great food, foot massages, play bar games with ladyboys at the bar, and do many other things. Such as…

Eating A Scorpion

Table of Fried Insects

I walked by the stall where all sorts of weird (by my white-washed Canadian standards) delicacies were found. Fried maggots, cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, BIG spiders and scorpions all laid out for the (almost exclusively) adventurous tourist.

“Are you gonna do it?”, Dan asked with such evil curiosity. I felt he just wanted to see someone eat something weird, but wouldn’t do it himself.

“If I see it again later tonight, I’ll do it”, I replied. I meant it too. For some reason the idea was so wrong, but I felt calm about it. Well…as luck would have it, we came upon another table and he looked at me with eager eyes. I knew exactly what that meant.

It wasn’t bad. I expected a lot worse. I had started off eating the tail, then the claw, slowly getting around to the actual body of it. I imagined a big gloop of white to come out as soon as I bit into it. I imagined a big crunchy, gloop filled mess in my mouth and that image alone sent a shudder down my spine. For a brief moment I considered ending it there and patting myself on the back, but then I remembered a line from Breaking Bad that stuck with me: “No half measures”. I was already half way through, why stop now? So I took a big bite and to my surprise–and relief–it was just crunchy. No gloop. No ooze.

I felt good about myself–just one more way to push that comfort zone–until a Canadian girl, living in Bangkok, that I  had met a couple days prior decided to remind me how much of a non-event it really was:

Local Makes Fun For Eating Scorpion

 

I am unusual! Pfft.

There’s honestly so much more to do in Khao San but it was already late at that time so I decided to head back to my hostel. Dan set me up with a taxi that charged me a very fair price go get home (60 THB to Rachathewi, about $2.40 CAD).

Bangkok Thailand cat shrine

This cat observed me the whole time as I walked to my hostel. As it perched upon the Shrine I thought to myself that maybe it was a spirit looking after me, making sure I got home safe and sound. Or maybe it was just a cat.

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