Khao San Road: a sight to behold. A haze of neon lights flicker overhead. A sea of swarming crowds and bustling backpackers nudge you into the throng. The chorus of dealers selling tat at the road’s edge rings in your ears.
“You, you want massage? I give you massage!”
Trundling past, backpack in tow, I don’t really know what’s hit me. It’s not until I’ve dropped my bags at the D&D Inn hostel that my senses adapt to the chaos surrounding me.
The further I walk, the more I see, and the further my grin spreads. To my left are the familiar t-shirts reading ‘Singha Beer’ or ‘ Beer Chang’, the elephant emblem rippling in the evening’s warm breeze.
To my right, a short, stout woman is flipping noodles and tending to popping, hissing crickets roasting on a stick. With every step the scent changes; sizzling prawns to soy sauce, sweet smells of shisha to the drains that gargle with rain water.
All around me, hundreds of merry travellers sip on buckets filled with Sangsom, their laughs echoing, their lips puffing smoke from budget cigarettes and shisha pipes. Some barter for jewellery, while their friends stand by, fanning themselves lazily. The restaurants are teeming, the market stalls enveloped.
Unashamedly tourist-driven, Khao San Road is a madness waiting to erupt. For some, it’s too much to handle; a sad reminder of the effects that the tourism industry can have. I, however, loved it. The cacophony of sounds, smells and sights is like a punch in the face. Your only choice, the only way to survive it, is to embrace it, and boy did I!