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Nothing to do in the Bangkok zoo.

THAILAND | Monday, 19 January 2015 | Views [623]

Could not have taken a more boring photo if I tried!

Could not have taken a more boring photo if I tried!

Khao San Road is hedonisms alternative to a float tank. Instead of sensory deprivation, this place is sensory saturation. There are so many distractions here that any well-conceived plans I may have had for this journal are well and truly drowned in decandence now. I could just film the passers-by for 30 minutes, narrate it with witty and increasingly intoxicated remarks, call it a day and go get some more phad thai, for the third time today.

I expect more from myself, but less from my colon, and there is more to my adventure than just watching the freaks wandering the streets looking for all manner of vices. I came here ostensibly to get another tattoo, believing that having unused space for more tattoos is like hanging an unfinished painting in the Louvre. I wanted to get Canova's sculpture of Psyche being revived by Cupids kiss' inked into the gap between my bicep and forearm tattoos, but I foolishly had faith that not hearing back from the tattooist didn't mean that he'd forgotten all about me. He had of course, so now I have 5 days to just hang out, and what better place to do that than Khao San Road.

This street really has to be seen to be believed. It's almost like they have border control at either end of the street and send you away if you look too normal. I don't consider myself to look exceptionally weird, and even my age is close to the median here. Old black leg Pete the limping pirate gets quite a few stares though, as much for my reverse Michael Jacksonism as the blatant home job scribblings I have done above it.

The ears are assaulted by the sounds of mingling multilingualism to a backdrop of every venue blasting different beats to compete for different tastes. All manner of discreet and in-your-face touts shout legal services, whispering more illicit ones, “Suit sir?” even though I'm dressed like my wardrobe doubles as a charity bin. “One more tattoo?” they venture cunningly perceiving I am a big fan of the art. “Come, have a beer” as they point to a sign stating that they don't check ID. It's such a mute point to me that I take them up on the offer flattered that they think not having my ID checked is a novel concept. And they're selling beer, so yeah, easy pitch.

The smells of Bangkok are like jasmine to me. Not in a 'shit that smells like roses' sort of way, but the smell of Jasmine, a natural mood enhancer, makes me feel happy and brings back so many wonderful memories every time I smell it. The smell of Bangkok nauseates a lot of people but actually makes me feel fantastic, and not just because I can fart anywhere and blame Bangkoks many stagnant and reaking waterways. Being here smelling Bangkok, reminds me of all the amazing adventures that have started here in the past.

On the curbside opposite, a lady does a blistering trade in cart cooked Phad Thai cause all backpackers love cheap shit. And for $1, food doesn't get any better than fresh Phad Thai tossed in a prehistoric wok right before your eyes. Unless you go the shrimp option cause they have spent the day sitting in an unsealed container, thankful they're dead as they become a salmonala fun park in the Bangkok heat.

A hawker walks passed with a plate full of deep fried scorpians, tobacco smoke is ever present in a place yet to ban it and incest wafts out of a hippie shop selling the sort of tye-died and elephant patterned clothes that people wear because they can, without thinking if they should. Throw in some funky backpacker B.O., some Thai princesses soaked in imitation Beyonce perfume and 2-stroke fumes from the tuk-tuks and you have a heady cocktail delightful to me, sufferable to most and palpable to everyone.

Apart from being able to taste the pollution, and the beer flavoured by it next to me, Thailand has an incredible variety of things to eat. The scorpians, and everything else that once moved under its own will, is off the menu for me, but if I wanted a fast track to diabetes, there is every kind of sweet treat to abuse a misbehaving pancreas with. Pumpkin stuffed with custard is a firm favourite, as is mango and black sticky rice. Sticky rice is an undiscovered construction material for high rise buildings and luckily enough is countered only by the bazooka like effect of using an Asian squat toilet. It's absolutely delicious but.

At $1 a serve, street Phad Thai cannot be beaten, as long as you go for the bean sprout, carrot and cabbage option instead of the zombie prawns. Eat from the popular carts, and not the ones cleaning plates with river water and reusing them; something you think someone wouldn't have to experience to know. Welcome to my life! May Kaidees Vegetarian restaurant serves up the most delicious curry fried rice and between the two, a days dining is always taken care of with no variation.

Normally the heat feels like wearing a wetsuit in the Sahara, but coming from a Broome wet season, the weather is actually extremely clement. Clement is my favourite word at the moment and I have just dubbed the huge rat running in and out of the guest house next to me 'Clement, the poodle sized scourge of restaurant scraps'. The atmosphere is still a wearable dirt suit that glistens with sweat, especially in the heat of the day. Walking up and down the street at night is like wearing other people as hood ornaments given how packed Khao San Road gets. Thanks to the changes written about in the previous journal, I won't be sampling the night life here this time, carefully extracting myself before this 3 month holiday becomes one month of extravagence and 2 months of European 2 minute noodles.

The eyes are the one faculty most in party mode/utter disbelief here. Aside from the aforementioned freaks, the street is constantly patrolled by semi-naked, exotic and ready to party backpackers. I try to stick to my guns, and not just because I'm grey enough to be perceived giving creepy stares more than sexy bedroom eyes. The holiday mindset is usually everything that isn't so back home, but believe it or not, I did a work out in the hotel room this morning and my ocular wanderings are extremely restrained, alcohol consumption notwithstanding.

The Thais are beautiful people as well, yet they are easier to categorise into attractive or not, rather than male or female. I have seen some extremely sexy people whose gender I hoped was XX chromosome but would not be slightly surprised to find out the opposite. There are also people who's body shape is so androgynous that only that addition of makeup/sunscreen/moisturiser/toothpaste/who the fuck knows to their face alludes to the fact that they are most likely women. There is obviously more exceptions to this rule than not but stereotyping is not as fun when you utilise the truth.

So why am I here when Bangkok when it is not a part of Europe, not even in flat earth theory? I have often come up with the most dubious reasons for traveling, from tattoos to just another opportunity to miss more flights, and this trip has morphed into something similar. Originally planned as a 6 months odyssey beginning with my 40th birthday party in Edinburgh, no wait, the Greek Islands, hang on, I meant in Barcelona. Ah fuck it, I'll have my party in Hobart and get myself a puppy for my 40th.

An Asian ending to this Europe trip had been conceived as an opportunity to blow whatever cash I had left over, on whatever random crap presented itself at the time. Once I figured out that I would be going to Europe in winter rather than summer, (A fact discovered long after booking tickets there) I moved Asia to the start of the trip. Blowing more money than I could afford on tattoos and trinkets seems extra stupid at the start of a holiday but I treat my finances like pants and get rid of them at the first opportunity.

Making a cosmic leap from that reference to pants, I have learnt something significant on this trip already. On my eighth trip overseas (Eighth is a guesstimate with extremely little application; see aforementioned pollution flavoured beer consumption) I am using my belt pouch to store money, as I always have. After reading an article on traveling essentials more geared towards comedy than practicallity, I came across how these things are preceived. I never gave it any thought before, but the idea of reaching into your pants to pull out money gets more and more disturbing the more I do it. I never thought twice about a hand heading south for currency, and I always thought that look of disdain given by merchants was a testament to my bargaining prowess. I now realise everyone else would see it as me handing over a note marinated in a days worth of Bangkok heat crotch sweat. And now you, the poor reader, are assaulted with that visual. Great, I just lost half my readership before the trip has even started in earnest.

Tags: bangkok, food, money, people

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