Before I arrived in Bangkok I had been backpacking for almost a year, however backpacking around countries like New Zealand and Australia is a very different experience to backpacking around Asia and I did not know quite what to expect.
I arrived in Bangkok at around 3am, and hopped into a taxi to the Kho San Road. I had given my toothless driver the address of the hostel I had pre booked, however he couldn’t find it and instead dropped me about a 10 minute walk from the road I wanted, for me to find my own way. This was a massive culture shock, I had no idea where I was, or where I was going, I was worried about the fact that I was carrying a backpack and probably attracting unwanted attention to myself; I had never been anywhere quite like Bangkok. It was 3am and it was all hustle and bustle, with people sleeping in alleyways and the smell of sewage was overpowering, as I walked drops from peoples drainage was landing on my head and feet, I felt at a complete loss and was wondering what the hell I was doing here and why on earth I put myself in this situation (I’m sure at one point or another all backpackers have had this thought).
After around half an hour I finally found The Kho San Road, the bars where still in full swing and the market stalls quietly closing down for the night, I went up to a group of local women holding out a piece of paper with the name and address of my hostel and they pointed me towards a different hotel, probably owned by a relative, this happened five or six more times before finally someone had actually heard of my hostel and pointed me down some dark alley/bar/travel agent/home to two small children and some rats. That alley is the strangest place I have ever seen, but to be fair I used the travel agent in it later and they are fantastic. As I walked through the ally I was horrified to see the two small children sleeping on a deckchair, who did not seem remotely put out by me walking through their home.
Sure enough at the end of the ally was my hostel, all locked up and with the lights off. I knocked on the door and it was answered by a twelve year old girl in her pyjamas. I showed her my booking and she said “no, no I gave that away” then shut the door. Great, f***ing fantastic! After an hour of searching they had given away my room that I had already paid for. I couldn’t be bothered to argue the point so I just found somewhere else, for the night.
On my first night I absolutely hated Bangkok and wanted to get the hell off this continent, However it grows on you, after a few days I came to love it, and returned repeatedly as I travelled around South East Asia.
- 24 Hours in Bangkok – A 24 hour travel guide to Bangkok (essentialtravel.co.uk)