Khaosan road (or Khao San road) is a short street in Bangkok. It has grown to be known as back-packer central although it was originally a rice-milling street. If you ask me, it is tourist heaven: back-packer, glam-packer, or luxury holidayer; all have got to spend some time there.
The vibe is exhilarating. Honestly, it feels like a high. There are tonnes of travelers, clothing stalls, low cost ‘mattress-in-a-box’ accommodation (if that’s what you fancy), budget 3 star hotels, bars, restaurants, street food, souvenir shops, and it’s conveniently located close to the Chao Praya River, Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew. It really is tourist and travel heaven, or should I say tourist DUSIT.
The best part, you get to meet other travelers and locals too. Honestly, the high you get off meeting and connecting with new people from a different background than your own is just hard to explain. I talked to people from Burma, Laos, India, Nepal, and of course Thai people. I met someone from the UAE (who I still think about), Latvia, China, Nigeria, England, Australia and Norway. I also met Baki. Let me tell you about Baki, then we’ll get into the pictures. It might be a little long, so skip to the pictures if you don’t want the story.
I was having pad thai for supper on the night that I took most of these pictures. I was alone, of course. Then a middle-aged man joined the table that I was sitting on.
Food vendor: (as he takes man’s order) Where are you from?
Man: Take a guess
Food vendor: Germany
Food vendor: Russia
Food vendor: Italy
Food vendor: (proceeds to name all the European countries he can think of)
Man: No, no, no, no, no…
Food vendor: (walks away to place man’s order)
Man: (Starts making small talk with me. Something about how we have the same camera and he needs help with some setting)
Me: Where are you from?
(I’d been listening to his conversation with the food guy and I really was curious to know where he was from)
Man: Take a guess
Me: Austria? (*this guys sounds like a German speaker, but he’s a little too tan*)
Me: OK. Tell me.
Me: Ah! Cool. I would never have guessed that. And what’s your name?
Man: Baki. (spells it out) B-A-K-I.
You see, normal people, when you ask where they’re from, tell you right away. But not Baki. Baki made us play guessing games for a while! He seemed to enjoy it. He also told me I sounded like a French speaker, and he thought I was Congolese. LOL. We went on to chat for a while.We talked about the different places I’ve been to, and that he’s been to. He told me it’s good that I have an interest in traveling, especially as a young person. He’s been all over the world and visited multiple South East Asian countries multiple times. His English was very good. He started learning English when he was 32 years old when he moved to live and travel in Australia. I estimate he was about 50 years old. Maybe older. He said I was lucky to have been brought up speaking English; which made me sad. Because I really do not believe that people’s opportunities or experiences should be hinged on one’s ability to speak a certain language. Especially not the language that was forced on us by a tiny country that colonised like all the world.
I loved chatting with Baki. I think it is important for people to be able to make conversation with people of all ages and from all backgrounds. It is enriching, and I think for young people, it shows a sense of maturity if you can strike up a conversation with someone’s grandmother. I asked Baki to take a picture of me- because, travelling solo, you don’t get too many pictures of yourself- which he completely bombed. How hard is it to stay steady while taking a picture, Baki? Especially after that story about how you’ve got the same camera as me…
He also told me how he had just come from a 2 hour full body Thai massage and how he would like to take me there after we were done eating. For me, that was my cue to end our conversation. I thought that it was starting to get inappropriate. A European man my father’s age taking me (a young solo African traveler girl) for a massage on a Bangkok night? Ah, no thanks! It’s a wrap. I’d finished my food and so I excused myself. There ends the story of Baki.
Thanks for reading! Second post of the day is coming up soon…