We leave phi phi up to Bangkok in time for Jesse to evade custom officials and do a visa run to Burma;
we depart ways for a day or two. The four of us, Steele, Karl, Myself and Kieron who we picked up along the way, are carted away from Krabi town up to Surat Thani on what we were told was to be a VIP sleeper bus. A run-of-the-mill 12 seater van, that for anyone who has been to Thailand will know all to well, was waiting for us jam packed to the roof with an equal amount of humans and luggage. After a nice and terrible stop at the drivers ‘friends’ restaurant to wait an hour for the bus. We decided that we would stick to the safe option for dinner. Old faithful, pad thai. The thoughtful man behind the counter gave Steele his change, literally in change ($4 worth). I have never seen a Thai man laugh harder, or be so bemused for that matter, about small change but hey, this.is.Thailand. After 2 and a half hours we were scrambling for the bus. Now these buses aren’t like the once-every-4-hour-buses of Nelson, the hipster-filled-22 in Perth and certainly nothing like the Lexlip-to-Dublin-puke-filled-once-a-fortnight-buses you’re used to. These are the bomb-diggity. Double decker, aircon, blankets, reading lights, full reclining chairs and more leg room than can shake Steele’s lanky leg at; we were in flashpacker heaven. Waking up crusty eyed with no idea of what real sleep was we stepped off the bus to a pride of taxi men hungry for a fare. A nice 5am start in Bangkok. We were quoted 500baht ($18) to get to the backpacker area 5km away to which our reply was, early morning permitting, ‘fuck off’. A quick 5 min walk around the corner following other backpackers, in the least creepy way that you can follow a cumbersome Swedish girl through downtown Bangkok at 5am, lead us to dirty old Koh San Road; backpacker district. Where the lyrics ‘one night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster’ had to have come from. Agoda had sold us, through false belief of pretty little pictures, accommodation in the thick of it so we were there for a couple of days. The room was average to poor. But the real fun happened at night when the downstairs club pumped cold hard bass through their speakers and, unaware to us, our walls, windows and roof. It blew the lightbulb in our room for god sake; we weren’t going to be sleeping for a while which meant only one thing, drinking. I mean I tried to read, I tried to write, I even downloaded a Pokemon emulator (thanks Kieron) on my iPhone to pass time but THATGODDAMNBASS found me, Koh San rd lured me and Leo (a beer, not a ladyboy) poisoned me. Delicious street food. Cheap shiesha. Bars setting up clubs in the street. A cart of flavoured bugs. Ladyboys prowling. Drunk British lads taking them home. Buckets all around. Eating roasted scorpions on a stick. Kids selling roses, KIDS out at 2am selling fucking roses. Women selling rude arm bands (‘I ❤️ ass salad’ was a winner) NOS by the balloon. Suits, tattoos, drugs and taxis. Mind you, this was on a Tuesday. Debauchery at its finest. Next morning it was time to get our Chinese visas. Mission time. Huge lines, lots of paper pushing and a few forged documents on my behalf but alas we had our application in in record time, 4 hours. Now we had 7 days to kill. We decided to go buy a basketball and jam some hoops at a court down beside a skatepark Jesse had been checking out. Bear in mind that Bangkok, in all it’s wonder, has a real shitty transport system. Well, for all the tourists who stay around Koh San rd (which is a hell of alot). So getting anywhere is either very expensive for us or a city wide mission. After purchasing our lovely (and cheap) woman’s sized ball for $10 from MBK we were half way to a great place. A taxi was about 15 minutes – if the city you are in isn’t rioting. 1.5 hours later, an angry taxi driver and a side of Bangkok we though we would never see we were ready to ball. He, the driver, told us we may as well sleep there the night as we wouldn’t be able to get back. Little did we care, we had boards to skate and ball to play. Passing, fouling, shooting, rejecting, dunking and dribbling; a good 5 minutes in and it was time for a sit down. God we are unfit. I blame Leo. Regardless, here we were at a giant Thai sporting centre that was alive. Everybody was chatting, taking photos and joking around. Jesse was in bliss with his Thai skater crew jamming on rails, playing horse and smashing the box. Albeit the skate park was half in shambles and a little rundown. Everyone together from all walks of life appreciating one another through a common medium. We were all at home. And it’s these small creature comforts that remind us of what we love to do and that we aren’t just here on a getaway holiday. But rather out amongst it, absorbing and experiencing the wonderful world that it is. Enjoying this short existence that we call life. I mean we were talking to a little skater kids mum (this kid could tear up the skate park, he was the next tony hawk) and she was down there everyday watching, supporting and encouraging her little boys passion. She had things to do, parents to look after but nothing beat seeing her little boy pursue that dream of his. Man, she supports him so much that she’s funding the repair and completion of the whole park just to see him shine and make him smile.
Hearing that I too just couldn’t help but wear a smile for the rest of the evening and suddenly the guilt that comes with Koh San road didn’t feel so bad.
Keep an eye out, the (Koh San) road doesn’t stop here….