“Croak, croak.” There it was again, that damn croaking noise. What the hell is it? “Croak, croak.” Louder and louder. Somehow, amongst the raucous sounds surrounding me, through the din of drunken travellers, the hiss of a scorpion as it is slapped on a grill, the calls of vendors and touts, I can hear a frog.
Through the sea of sun-kissed faces emerge a group of Thai women. Choc-a-bloc with merchandise, they make their way through the buzzing crowd, making a beeline straight for our group. It’s not a frog I’ve been hearing – not a real one anyway – but a small wooden toy with ridges on its back, the woman stroking a stick along the crests, making that incessant noise. Strapped to each of their chests are large trays filled with knickknacks, from plastic finger locks to tall, sequined hats. And there they are, smack bang in the middle of the rubble – the little wooden frogs. The culprits.
Thailand’s Khao San Road is an assault on each and every one of my senses. With each footstep there is a new sound or smell, something unusual to look at. Having stepped off the plane from Manchester a mere two hours ago, the smells of frying fish and overflowing sewers form a putrid smell that causes my nose to crinkle. The clamour of chanting drunks makes my head ring, while the constant shoving from passers-by puts me further on edge. I can’t help but love it.
The kaleidoscope of colour is chaos to my eyes. Every time I focus on one spot, a flash of colour distracts, stealing my attention yet again. It’s not a feast for the eyes, but a super-sized banquet and I can’t quite take it all in.
Haggling seems second nature; an art that has become perfected in very little time, whilst bar-hopping and bucket-drinking occupy the evenings, the neon lights that tower overhead illuminating the high-spirited crowds. Street vendors dish out local delicacies of chargrilled cockroach and soda in plastic bags. Singapore noodles and Pad Thai cost little more than £1.50 and are served in a retired petrol station, the decrepit pumps lending themselves as charmingly skew-whiff tables.
A backpacker’s paradise, Khao San Road hurls you into an over embellished version of Bangkok. Tourism is a huge source of income for Thailand, a fact that is apparent across the nation. An endless supply of souvenirs line
the streets – a few harem pants here, a Singha beer t-shirt there – with peddlers selling everything from ping pong shows (not for the weak hearted!) to elephant tours in Chiang Mai. Meandering through the maze of stalls and 7/11s, ideas of a budget stay are abandoned as authentic jewellery, knock-off Havaianas’ and mini Buddhas are just too tempting to resist.
Wherever you go, you cannot escape it, nor can you fight it. To come out the other side, your only chance is to embrace it. So make way for the mayhem and just enjoy the ride.
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Category: Food & Drink