After a real three-wheel rally trip through the streets of Bangkok, the accelerated driver stops his vehicle at the entrance to Khao San Road. "No, no! I said 140 per person.
Pay 280! screams the owner of tuk tuk trying to disguise their smallness”.
Khao San Road: There's a lot to Backpackers Bangkok
It takes advantage of the presence of colleagues waiting for tourists to leave for other corners of Bangkok. Raise your voice. Bet on a smartness that, of course, works with most inexperienced visitors.
We hand you 150 baht, thank you for the service and join the frantic crowd of thais e farangs (foreigners) that occupy this cosmopolitan artery of the city. Farangs as the exiles in "The beach" – the film starring Leonardo di Caprio – thousands pass by the famous Khao San.
We arrived from a long flight from Europe and the tiredness tightens. We use the ultimate energies to carry the backpacks and look for a guesthouse worthy enough on a modest budget that we've only recently started to run out of.
We are aware that Bangkok is home to some of the best hotels on the face of the Earth, but two inspections later, we lack patience and we give in to the discomfort of a cramped, spartan room that trembles with the drum & bass from the nearest bars.
Contrasting Jet Lag Victims
Thus installed, we are immediately separated by opposite relations with the Jet lag. Hours pass. The rumbling slows down little by little. Not for that reason sleep comes to me.
When the first rays of sunlight enter through the barely closed curtains, I give up waiting. I go out to eat something and explore the early morning hours of Khao San Rd, which, due to the absence of noise, I thought was already deserted.
I make myself on the asphalt semi-wet from a short tropical rain. I don't go twenty meters. I am immediately approached by a few figures that had been sheltered until then.
a squad of ladyboys determined between me and the neon 7Eleven that glows in the background. "I want to meet you","come here precious!” and "you should try my tricks” are just some of the catch-up phrases that make me even more disoriented.
I pick up the pace. I shy away from proposals. Until the convenience store saves me. I remember that I am in old Krung Thep, the city of the angels of the east. I wonder if these specimens too will count for the epithet.
I resist two hours sitting in the store reading a magazine. Return to the room in time to set out to discover Bangkok, during the day delivered to its palaces, Buddhist temples and markets.
When flowing muddy river Chao Pray. À humidity and heat fed by the Southeast Asian monsoons that so often fall apart for endless showers.
Frantic Capital of Great Thai Nation
Vast, with little shade, the Thai capital can prove to be an exhausting metropolis for those who arrive with a mission to explore it in a few days. Are the countless rewards nocturnal that end up making you forget about fatigue.
As the sun sets, the local Chinatown takes on a new lease of life. Its stalls and small restaurants fry seafood and shellfish. prepare Thai pad e fried rice.
They serve the Chinese specialties preferred by the population of the surrounding Samphanthawong district.
pass more and more tuk-tuks with bright paintings and fluorescent lights that signal them to passersby. New, each one costs around 1000 euros.
Authorities have tried to ban them in the past, but year after year Bangkok finds itself flooded with a few thousand more of these noisy and polluting vehicles.
The reason is simple. Almost all of its drivers are Thai from the North and Northeast of the country.
They arrive in the capital without money to rent the Japanese-branded taxis – now mostly pink – with which they compete in the streets.
Massage parlors and other businesses for all tastes
The day is drawing to a close. Several businesses insist on billing and taking advantage of the greater availability of people freed from their work.
This is the case of some tents with exotic fruit, others full of clothes and accessories. From jewelry stores filled with strings, rings and bracelets and with an apparently excessive number of employees.
In other more central areas, the small massage parlors become more active than ever.
Due to the difference in difficulty of each of the missions, go to Thailand and not experiencing a Thai massage is much more serious than going to Rome and not seeing the Pope.
Many foreigners enter Bangkok scalded by excessive sun in the southern beaches, sore from hiking in the northern mountains or simply from endless walks and Tuk tuk in the capital.
Some arrive convinced that the massage will pamper and pamper them. But the tai style has little to do with other eastern and western ones, much softer.
When it's our turn, the masseuses make a point of teaching us to say “deep"and "more diep” the words of your dialect for hurts and doesn't hurt. The treatment quickly justifies it.
Fingers, wrists, elbows, wrists, knees and feet stimulate unprepared bodies which, from time to time, are also pulled, twisted, stepped on and manipulated in a kind of passive yoga.
In theory, the aim is to achieve a homogeneous redistribution of energy throughout the nervous system in order to generate a more harmonious and healthy flow.
In practice, the mixed and alternating sensations of pain and pleasure form an experience that clients agree to term brutally pleasant. Depending on who discovers them, others can turn out to be pleasantly crude.
From Muai Thai to Bangkok from Murray Head
Muai Thai has been practiced for centuries throughout the Thailand but it gained a logical prominence in Bangkok, where there are numerous training gyms and the main rings that host national and world tournaments.
However, the sport has won supporters and several champions in other countries in such a way that only in the rankings of the lighter categories come Thais.
At the time we passed through the capital, no major event is planned. We ended up spying on a smaller exhibition tournament held in a pavilion that was too dark and devoid of audiences.
As expected, the violence of the punches and kicks ends up impressing much more than the surrounding environment.
"One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble. Not much between despair and ecstasy” summed up Murray Head's chorus, at the heart of his 1984 pop-rock mega-hit.
The feeling is confirmed over and over again as visitors gain a sense of what is behind many of the city's shows.
Winning Muai Thai fighters and millionaires come from the country's remote provinces where they are introduced and kept in the sport as children as a means of extra income for poor families.
Something of the sort is happening in another famous district of the capital where several bars disguise just what is necessary a sexual activity that sustains thousands of indigent families.
End of Day at Patpong's Sexual Den
Originally belonging to a Chinese immigrant family, the Patponganit, Patpong has been occupied by businesses and bars.
By 1968, it was known as one of the favorite R&R (Rest and Recovery) zones for US soldiers on duty in the War of the Vietnam. By the 70s, it had already become the capital's main nightlife area. Today, it is disputed by more refined ones.
We visited it, like so many farangs curious, with the aim of discovering the decadent exoticism of their go-go bars.
While we are distracted by stalls piled high with a little of everything, agents approach us who show us menus full of pseudo-sexual skills without any qualms – almost all dubbed as pussy anything. "Come in, come in! We have pussy ping pong about to start! "
We end up peeking into a noisy den, lit by neon, where dozens of girls in bikinis or topless dance high on a counter and clinging to a pole. We watched one of the popular shows cooled by two Singha domestic beers.
Forty minutes later, we return to the less stuffy atmosphere of the street. we caught a tuk-tuk. We move to Soi 38 night bazaar.
There, we recovered our strength to devour fish meatballs skewers and other gastronomic street specialties.
That night in the great Bangkok, we lost it too. It wouldn't be the last.