Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Searching for Merry V

If you are new to Bangkok, young, on a budget, traveling for an extended period or just wanting a taste of adventure, you will either stay in the Khao San Road area or hang out there quite a bit.  It has a bit of everything.  And since 2000, when I first stayed there, it has maintained its allure, and even gotten more interesting  You enjoy people-watching?  Walk up and down Khao San Road in the evening.  You want good music and a wide range of easy dining options?  Khao San is it. You're desiring to meet up with other travelers (truly from all over the world) and plot out your plans for your next destination, with some of these new friends you've made?  It's simple on Khao San.  You want easy access to some of biggest landmarks and interesting temples Bangkok has to offer?  Right there.  

The place you see marked in red and green on the map is Banglamphu, which is the official name of the district where Khao San lies.  You can tell a taxi or tuk-tuk driver you want to go there, or you could just say Khao San Road.  The latter is easier, and if anybody pretends not to know how to get there or acts confused, get another taxi or tuk tuk, because there's something fishy going on. Everybody knows this area.  Kade and I really like Rambuttri Road, which basically runs parallel to Khao San Road.  At the start of it, in red, there's a great pick-and-choose spot for dinner, and there's a fabulous fruit shake and dessert stand just near it. After all these years, whenever I go to Bangkok, I put Rambuttri and those eating spots on my agenda, and it gets done.  This visit I had something extra-special in mind:  I wanted to walk more of Rambutri Road on the river side (in green), and I wanted to find the guesthouse where I stayed on my first visit to Bangkok in 2000.  Back then I had followed a German traveler I met at the airport. She had Khao San Road in mind, and knew about the guesthouse.  I was fresh in from Hong Kong, had a guidebook, but was kind of winging it.  That day when I met her, I said, "Yeah, I'll go with you."  I have blogged about that before, and I have blogged about Khao San a few times.  So this trip I went to the temple (Wat Chana Songkhram) that you see inside the green-marked territory. And when I got done, I walked over and got on Rambuttri, where the red and green join, I walked the whole river side section.  Sure enough, way back in there was Merry V Guesthouse. The room rates have stayed about the same.  Take those figures and divide by 34 to get US $.

The book stand, laundry facility and bus destination schedule stood out.  When you're traveling for an extended period, there's always time to kill.  You end up buying books (especially back then). After finishing them, you'd sell them to a used bookstore and then another traveler would grab them up.  If you are truly backpacking in a tropical climate like Thailand, you go through a lot of clothes, and they get wet and smelly pretty fast.  Often these budget places would not have facilities to wash clothes, but right around the corner there was a laundry, where you'd drop them off.  I was always amazed at how cheap it was!  And then there's the bus schedule.  Bangkok is a giant hub for travel throughout Thailand, naturally, and the rest of Asia, certainly Southeast Asia. But the schedule in the image below reveals all the destinations at your fingertips.  These big buses take travelers wherever they want to go.  And it's such an easy process.  

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