One week in and we’re starting to get a solid grasp on the city and particularly our neighborhood. We’ve switched guesthouses to a much cheaper place (B240/night, or about $8, compared to B778/night at our first place) right in the Kao San Road district. Our new room is a bit more cell like than our last which had bright purple walls. We gave up the friendly desk agent, puny breakfast, free toilet paper (really!), a TV, and A/C, but we have a balcony almost to ourselves, a very effective ceiling fan, and transoms that allow the air to move through the whole building.
The best part of our new digs is the location. We’re in a cluster of alleys (Rambuttri Village) squeezed between the main riverbank road and a small Wat/monastery and lined with various street stalls and semi-permanent food stands selling everything from jewelry and t-shirts to electronics and pad thai. While just a few blocks removed from Kao San Road, the long established backpacking hub, our little village is much quieter and more pleasant. It’s difficult to walk more than ten feet down Kao San without being hassled by someone selling custom suits, sightseeing tours, fried scorpions on a stick, friendship bracelets, or drink specials. With just as vibrant a shopping and eating scene, Rambuttri Village notably lacks the touts and peddlers.
The alleys, or ‘soi,’ really seem to house much of the life around the city. We’ve wandered about several different neighborhoods around Bangkok and the alleys offer distinct comparisons between each. Downtown, where the sidewalks bustle with young professionals dipping in and out of office buildings, the alleys are filled with stands selling breezy silk blouses, sweaters and skirts.
Kao San and its neighboring alleys offer distinctively hippie and tourist wear, ballooning pants, flowing sundresses, lewd t-shirts, and the like.
(Khao San Road)
Chinatown’s alleys are full of tea sets, lanterns, and cheap toys.
The alleys around the Grand Palace (home of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho are lined with stalls hawking leis, engraved coins, and other trinkets for the religious to leave as offerings at the nearby holy sites.
The one staple of these various alleys is the food. Every neighborhood seems to have a combination of the same types of food stands including freshly sliced fruit, barbecued or fried chicken (sometimes whole), noodle soup, pad thai, and sausages that vaguely look like hotdogs. I guess no matter the different tastes of shoppers, everybody’s got to eat.
Well, that’s all for now.