‘Ugh – Khao San – Ugh!’ Is not something you will hear from me, no siree.
I for one, am a big fan of the service Khao San Road does us all. I enthusiastically applaud those clever town planners of ye olden days who came up with the master stroke of including a special designated backpacker area WAY away from the rest of the city! We NEED Khao San, people, to separate the normal inhabitants of Bangkok who are merrily going about their day-to-day working lives, from the sarong wearing, chlamydia ridden, great unwashed army of passers-through. It’s better for everyone this way.
Now, in fairness, I’ll admit, I’ve been known to cross over to the dark side and partake in a little debauched, shoeless fun once in a while – snog a couple of inexplicably be-dreadlocked white boys, why not? And so, I shouldn’t begrudge these intrepid fellows a little exploration in return. However, the unfortunate but undeniable truth is that the classic traveler of yesteryear, the harmless, drifting, ukulele-playing, hemp-wafting, bumbag toting hippy has been replaced by an altogether more sinister beast. The traveling bro-dude. And their tip-toeing through no-mans land (Patpong) and behind enemy lines (Sukhumvit) is something we need to keep a close eye on lest this city descend into real chaos.
Even their website comes with a warning:
Luckily, there are some tell-tale signs, some useful red flags to instantly warn any unsuspecting Bangkokians that they may have stumbled upon a douche-packer out of their confines. So, here is a handy guide on how to spot this alarmingly pervasive species.
Let us first consider their uniform. There will usually be a vest, almost certainly blaring the logo of a local beer – often neon and with enormous arm holes so as to display side-pec aplenty. This alluring garb is often teamed with island pants – you know the ones – low crotch, elasticated waist, printed with batik elephants. A winning combo I’m sure you’ll agree.
Desporting themselves thus, they demonstrate some rather telling proclivities:
– an unhealthy enthusiasm for Sangsom- particularly in buckets (see above)
– a fondness for tuk tuks unbefitting of a proper city dweller
– a predilection for tattoos in cursive script: it’s the Celtic bicep band of the new century and it foretells of unsavoury behaviour. Avoid.
Finally we come to the aural markers that will alert any eavesdroppers that lurking nearby are escapees of Buddy Bar. The rule is very simply this: any phrase that could be emblazoned across the back of matching polo shirts or hashtagged in caps lock is almost certainly the brash declamation of a hostel-surfer. Examples include #LADS #LADSONTOUR #WhatHappensInBangkokStaysInBangkok #IThinkSheLikesMeBruv
With all this being said, last month I was at a party, deep in Sukhumvit, as far from Khao San as it is possible to be. People were wearing jeans, there was not a flip flop in sight. And then from out of nowhere came a young lady who looked as if she were a finalist for Miss Koh Phangan. Bra-less, in a tie dyed smock, hair clumped into braids by sun and salt water and carelessly barefoot, she twirled onto the dance floor, a whirling dervish of light, flailing freely to her own inner beat. And we were swept up in her nomadic magic. So, don’t lose hope – the real backpackers are still out there. Sift ye through the orange tans and Havaianas and ye will find the proper hippies.