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.
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**