Feb 112011

Although Herb and I were more than satisfied with the location, size, amenities, and comfort of the rooms at Swan Inn, there was just one feature that we did not find to our liking.

Tiny cockroaches.

I’d seen one or two in my room, but apparently Herb had woken up several times over the course of the night to find that a few of the little critters had nestled themselves up about three inches from his face. Not cool. So we decided to pack up and relocate to another spot Peder had recommended directly across the street: Happy Inn.

While the rooms at Happy Inn were nontrivially smaller than those at Swan, they were clearly of a much higher caliber: modern, absolutely spotless, and well-ventilated by huge bright windows. The building even had an elevator, as well as a front desk with 24/7 security – probably a good thing considering all the seedy activity going on just outside the doors. The price was identical.

After getting settled and resting up a bit, we took a quick stroll through the Japanese part of town before meeting up with Stefan and some of his friends on Khao San Road.

Khao San is without a doubt the most famous part of Bangkok among backpackers. It’s a district where you’ll easily find five times as many falang (foreigners) as Thais, and where any Thai who is there almost certainly works in some tourist-oriented business. It’s a district where every six steps you’ll pass another cheapo guesthouse, and where buckets of alcohol and streetside beers are both cheap and plentiful.

Finally, it’s a district where from sundown to sunup the streets absolutely overflow with people: countless clubs and pubs and cafes and hookah bars blast their tunes at ear-piercing volumes, as first-time arrivals to SouthEast Asia drink themselves to oblivion and marvel at the heaven that is $1 street Pad Thai.

Some call Khao San a “backpacker ghetto.” It’s a realistic description, but personally, I think “epicenter of backpacker nightlife” is a bit more accurate.

Our night out on Khao San consisted of smoking hookah with Stefan and his friends, sampling my first ever Thai bucket, and hitting up two different late-night venues, “The Club” and “Swing.”

(Note: I’ll talk a bit more about Thai Buckets when I come to the Full Moon Party a week or so down the road, but just to give you a quick idea: “Buckets of alcohol” really does mean exactly that: a cocktail mixed in a bucket. These gargantuan liver-killers consist of an entire bottle of mixer (i.e. Coke), an entire bottle of hard liquor, and usually a little something for flavor (i.e. Redbull). Each one is probably about the size of five regular mixed drinks…at only half the cost you might expect to pay for one.)

I love Thailand already**

  9 Responses to “Khao San Rd”

  1. Hmm, the building next to Happy Inn is new. I’m gone for a few months and the whole city is turned upside down. Last time I was gone they had removed an enitre soi!

    The cockroach problem was not as bad when I was there. There were occasional bugs in the bathroom, but that’s just what you have to live with in these countries. I’ve seen them in Happy Inn too, although I did tell you to go there first. Happy Inn is definitely a level up.

    On the other hand, my rooms at Happy Inn have been just as big as the ones at Swan. You were probably just unlucky all the big rooms were taken. I’ve stayed there several times and have never had two rooms that looked the same 😀

  2. Re: the roaches, believe it or not, Swan Inn was the only place I’ve seen even a single roach on this *entire* trip (islands and Malaysia included)! So maybe I’ve just been lucky 😉

    Re: the rooms, that’s good to know. We were on the top floor and both of our rooms were pretty tiny – whereas both of the rooms at Swan were pretty huge.

  3. >> Roaches

    Maybe your alcoholic breath has scared them away. When you first arrived, you just weren’t marinaded in Sang Som enough.

    >> Rooms

    Just ask for the big rooms. Or ask to see the rooms first. They’ve always given me big rooms. I once even had a tripple room to myself at no extra cost.

  4. >>I once even had a tripple room to myself at no extra cost.

    That’s awesome!

    I could seriously see myself staying at Happy Inn long-term, if not for its ONE only shortcoming – no free WiFi. 3G tethering was fine for a week (it really is as fast as normal broadband), but if I were to hang out in BKK for i.e. a month or two I’d definitely want to be able to leave my laptop connected independently of my phone.

    I always think it’s silly when a hotel doesn’t provide this; a month of internet would probably cost them the equivalent of one room for one night, or at *most* two – and could easily be the difference of someone taking a room twice as long as they planned (i.e. me :P)

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  6. agreed on the wifi…..I also won’t stay anywhere w/o it

  7. CVH: Emailed.

    Andy: Yeah – I just don’t get how everywhere hasn’t gotten with the program, especially in the big cities 😛

  8. hah, America hasn’t gotten with the program either. Haven you ever stayed at a hotel that will offer internet for free?

    When the Happy Inn lady told me they charge for internet, even if I use my own laptop, I told them I’d go across the street. And I did, for the rest of our time there.

  9. Well yeah, but Americans are just greedy 😛 Hotels *have* internet, they just insist on charging as much for it as they possibly can – including their guests. Like how virtually every fastfood restaurant I’ve been to *outside* the US (+ many foodcourts, + many airports, + even some entire cities) provide free WiFi to everyone. I think I’ve seen this in the states…um…never 😛

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