My original plan in Trat was to pass through spending a single night, but my fondness of it and a slightly upset stomach persuaded me to spend a second night here. I found places to swap my books, get a haircut, etc and kicked back. The next day I booked a minibus to take me to the Khao San area of Bangkok. Normally I prefer to get on the main public buses but I knew the bus stations were out on the other side of town and getting from there to where I wanted would be a pain. In addition the minibus was advertised to take 4 hours instead of 5 for the main one.
I was clear we would be a little late when we stopped for a 2nd break after 4 hours. When I asked how much longer the reply was an hour. Around an hour and a half and we are on Bangkok’s highway system, so getting close. We come off the toll roads and descend into the start of rush hour. I am having trouble recognising where we are until I realise we are on the main hotel road to the east of the city centre. It seems crazy, I know its at least an hour from here through packed streets to where we are meant to be heading. It soon becomes clear; two couples have bribed the driver to drop them off at their overpriced hotels in the east of town to the inconvenience of those of us staying in the west at the buses destination. 7 hours after we set off we are finally set down and are able to look for a place to stay. Luckily there is a room in my first choice so I can set about enjoying one of my favourite places.
The Banglamphu or Khao San area is probably the busiest traveller’s hangout in the world. That would normally make it really naff except that it’s also the hangout for young Thais. In many of the bars the locals will seriously outnumber you and in none of them are there any bored looking hostesses. The Khao San road is lined with a variety of bars, guesthouses, shops, restaurants, market stalls, everything. Those passing through the street are from all corners of the globe and sitting on the pavement with a beer allows for some great people watching. I can’t recommend this place highly enough.
When it all gets a little much, head to its west end and get onto Soi Rambuti, with the cocktail beetle bus at it entrance. Along here are a quieter strip of restaurants, bars and guesthouses doing great grilled seafood. I’ve got an excuse to spend some time here as I’ve ordered a couple of suits to be made by a local tailor. Not trusting the make them cheap merchants I decided to use one in one of the bigger hotels. It’s a bit of a commute to get there but the journey by riverboat and then skytrain is pleasant.