The true essence and excitement of backpacking is in the not knowing where to go next and, well, border crossings! In the original plan, Thailand was not part of the itinerary because (1) it is too big to see in less than a week, and (2) it is too beautiful to see in a rush. But since pictures of Pinky and I cruising Halong Bay was already fading, we succumbed to our fate and made the detour to Thailand. We booked the night bus to Khao San Road in Bangkok (750 Baht or 25 USD). We were debating whether or not to go to Phuket but our wallets made the painful decision for us. So no Phuket this time.
The journey from Vientiane to Bangkok was surprisingly uneventful—save for a handful of backpacking couples who couldn’t wait to get into their hotel rooms, you know what I mean. We were picked in our hotel at the time promised and, with a load of other travellers, transported to the border, Nong Khai, over the Friendship Bridge. I must say, it’s the most hassle-free border we’ve ever crossed. After finishing with immigration formalities, we were ushered to a double-decker VIP bus, and were on our way, stopping once for free Thai fried rice dinner at a roadside resto. Pinky and I couldn’t be more grateful because finally, after days and days of travelling, we felt like we were home.
Thailand’s well-developed roads made the journey more comfortable and faster. In 10 hours we arrived at Khao San Road and checked in at the Green Guest House at Rambutrri Street. Not necessarily a bang for the buck though. For 13 USD, we got a basic twin fan room with shared bathroom. In Cambodia, you would already get an AC room with fridge and TV for that price. But well, Bangkok is Bangkok.
Khao San Road is the equivalent of Saigon’s Pham Ngu Lao. Backpackers from all over the world converge in the area like a swarm of bees looking for honey. It’s a bustling street that never sleeps and never runs out of exciting things to offer. The area is lined with backpacking hostels with live music at night. Just around the corner is the market where you can find everything that your heart desires: street food, beer, clothing, jewelry, and you can have fake IDs and certificates made! Bored in Bangkok? I don’t think that happens.
|Bangkok’s backpackers’ district.|
|Khao San Road during the day.|
|Khao San Road at night.|
|Be certified and licensed in 5 minutes.|
After exploring the area in and around Khao San Road, Pinky and I decided to book a half-day tour to the floating villages/markets for our second day. If you’ve never seen river traffic, then it’s the place to go. It’s a different experience but well worth the 250 Baht or 8 USD we paid for.
So that was the end of our brief Bangkok jaunt—after all, it was just a detour. Next, off to Siem Reap (again) via Poipet.
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