September 3: Bangkok – Khao-san Rd
Megumi has been trying to finish up a translation project before we depart to the islands, so we are chained / leashed to a stable wi-fi connection for the first few days of our adventures. Forced off my computer (we are trying to share), I get to spend several days roaming the streets, shopping for essentials, sorting out travel details and just generally kicking back around Khao-san Rd.
For those that haven’t been to Thailand before, the area around Khao San Rd in Bangkok is to backpacking, what I assume the Vatican might be to catholics. It really does feel like a multinational mecca for young and independent travel. Packed with cheap accommodation (Sub US$15), travel outlets, internet cafes, cheap clothes & endless other trinkets. The place teems with thousands of backpackers and travellers from all around the world – shopping, meeting, partying, relaxing and just generally preparing to embark on travels to anywhere in South East Asia or decompressing for the return home.
Back from the main street, past the Buddhist temple, there is an area around Rambuttri Rd that heads down towards the pier where things are a little more settled. Here the guest houses all have downstairs restaurants with Internet access and are quite comfortable, it attracts a little more mature traveler seeking to relax a little more, (vs the drunken chaos of Khao san) before foraging out into the Bangkok or SE Asian ether.
Appropriately I guess this is where I now find myself – comfortably seated, book and beer in hand, trying to re-aquaint myself with the concept of idle time and no fixed agenda. Slowly watching the backpackers in all their curious shapes, stereotypes, ethnicities and varieties stroll past me. And I find myself trying it all on like a new skin I guess – testing each for its different taste and feel. I am a traveller too now I realize, but what kind of traveller do I want to be?
To old for the thrillseekers and party animals, too wise hopefully for the standard gap year, tourist trappings and quite probably a little too cynical & twisted to settle for anything short of the new and challenging. All too quickly, I realize I am seeking experiences and new perspectives, not sights.
While the destinations are important, this journey to me seems as much about a reconnection with the self, as anything else. I am looking at travel as the chance to get out of my shell & break the deskchair evolutionary spiral; push some personal limits physically, emotionally and spiritually. I guess travel is the medium for doing this – new situations, cultures & perspectives of life to stimulate introspection. New environments that allow us to ask the big questions and test new limits or horizons more easily than those that we know.
Perhaps I need to adjust the itinerary to better reflect this I ponder and quickly realize again that I am still very much at the start. All this lies ahead unknown at this point I guess, the magic and unwritten p0tential of a new destination & horizon… Stay tuned!