Khaosan Road, the street that is world-renowned for being a backpacker’s pit stop. They say that there are three K’s known to be very famous to backpackers around the world; Kathmandu (India), Kuta (Bali, Indonesia), and Khaosan (Thailand). From Brick Bar and Mulligans to Club Lava and 999 West, establishments offering alcoholic beverages here are nearly endless. Whether it’s eating, drinking, smoking shisha, clubbing, or shopping, Khaosan Road can supply the goods. The same variety of alcoholic beverages sold in 7/11 or any other place are available here. Chang, Leo, Singha, Cheers, San Miguel, Heineken, and Tiger. A variety of imported Belgian beers as well as German selections can be found as well.
My first experience of this street was during the uniform selection portion of my Thammasat University exchange student orientation. A fellow exchange student from Chicago had suggested that we enjoy the rest of our afternoon on Khaosan since we had already completed our itinerary for the day. I only knew what I had previously read online about the street, and I wanted to check it out for myself. Upon wading through the various clothing hawkers, handicraft vendors, and “very nice” suit salesmen, we sat down at a bar/restaurant called Shamrock (Pictured below to the right). Apple, grape, and strawberry flavored shisha was available on the menu, as well as food, beer, and liquor. Here’s the best part, it’s not just ordinary liquor. It’s liquor in a bucket. The majority of bars in Thailand sell sand castle-style buckets with ice and any type of liquor concoction. Whoever dreamed up this brilliant plot and unleashed it on my kidneys is a mastermind. Whiskey and Coke, vodka and Sprite, Mai Tai, mojito, or whatever your particular drink fancy could be, in a colorful bucket with ice. They even come with several straws for encouragement to be social with travelers around you! Needless to say, a bucket or two later and daunting tasks were to be tackled.
Khaosan has hawkers that will come up to your table and try to sell you various insects, scorpions, jewelry, and other other handicrafts. This will definitely happen to you on this street. To say that I had eaten the first scorpion without alcohol influencing my decision, I would be lying. Despite being a repulsive critter, the scorpion was actually quite tasty. The majority of these critters sold are purely exoskeletons and are an easy sell, but if you can nab a legitimate cart you can get all the protein you need. I consumed 4 scorpions while living in Thailand, as far as I can remember. Intoxication plays a role in this variability. The price of these delectable insects depends on how under the influence you are or how good your bartering skills are. I once witnessed an inebriated tourist sitting at a table near me get smooth talked into coughing up over five dollars for just one scorpion. Talk about a true Thai entrepreneur. Silly farang.
Now there is some variant discourse on appreciation for Khaosan Road, as there should be. Alcohol literally flows through cracks in the stones you walk upon, but this street holds much more worth than just that of margaritaville. There’s plenty of interesting faces, plethoras of shops and street vendors to give money to, and more than an average variety of dining options. As I will expound on in future posts in this series, Khaosan Road is a gem that has something to offer most anyone, even if its not alcohol.