Travel Articles Khao San Road

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Daytime vs Nightlife on Khao San Road

The other day I decided to make a daytime (which turned into a daytime vs nightlife) trip down to good old Khaosan Road (Khao San, Khao Sarn, etc). It remains a go-to place for visitors to Thailand. Not at all a part of traditional Thailand, but very much an interesting place to visit with its dynamic mix of backpackers and other travelers getting together to eat, drink, share stories, and get harassed by touts of all sorts. You don't come to Khao San Road to see a part of Thailand so much as you come to spend some time with a unique group of people that have come to the area as a stopping point during their travels in and around Thailand.
Yaek Daytime
Odd giant tending bar (daytime)
During the day (daytime) Khao San is a very different place than at night (nightlife). Early in the day there is mostly a slow sleepy clean-up from the chaos and festivities of the previous night, along with preparations for the coming evening. Trash is swept up and carried away. And there is a steady stream of delivery vehicles (trucks, cars, hand trolleys, rickshaws) replenishing supplies of merchandise, food, and beer to the restaurants, hotels, and street-side entertainment spots. Throughout the afternoon more and more people start to come and walk around the place. The restaurants start to fill up for early dinner as families and older travelers come and check out Khao San Road for themselves. Unfortunately for those folks, they are missing out on the late evening and nighttime hours when Khao San gets even odder and more fun.
Daytime Rambuttri
Sleepy daytime Rambuttri
What started out as a daytime visit to Khao San is quickly turned into a late night visit as time went on. Day and night on Khao San is two very different experiences. Sleepy and slow during the day...
Nighttime
Nightlife on Rambuttri
Chaotic, fun, and crazy at night. The place fills up quickly, the music gets louder, the characters that you see walking along the streets get odder and wilder (and usually drunker), and all this without taking a single step into any of the various indoor clubs that have cropped up in the area alongside the traditional outdoor bars and restaurants.
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Songkran Approaches

The Songkran Festival celebrating the Thai New Year is nearly upon us.  The Thai New Year falls across April 13, 14 and 15th every year and will include the following Monday, April 16 in 2012.  If you're visiting Thailand during the FOUR DAY WEEKEND of festivities you'll almost certainly encounter merrymaking regardless of where you are in the country, but in the cities in particular.  Foreigners are almost universally welcome - if not actively encouraged or even coerced - to participate.

While there are quiet traditions associated with the holiday in temples and and private homes, Songkran is a boisterous, public celebration wherein the streets are filled with people intent on dumping water on one another and covering their soaked bodies with brightly colored talcum powder.  Alcohol flows freely and snacks are shared.

Dry people caught observing from the sidelines are almost always dragged into the fracas and mercilessly soaked.  I once watched a mob surround a police car, drag the police out and return them to the car covered from head to toe in wet, fuchsia talcum powder.  Resistance was futile.

Where will you be for Songkran?

Share your favorite Songkran memories in Comments.


Songkran water attack motorcycle
[Three men on a motorcycle wearing flip-flops take Songkran in the face. Photo CC licensed by Flickr user Wyndham]

Songkran Superman
[Gotham resident Clark Kent poses for a photo during Thai New Year celebrations in Pattaya. Photo CC licensed by Flickr user Pittaya]

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Airport Rail Link to Khao San Road


Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
It seemed like a project destined never to see completion, but it got there in the end. After endless setbacks and delays, the train line linking downtown now cuts the cost of the journey by about two thirds.

Construction on the project, estimated to have cost 25.9 billion Baht, began more than five years ago in July 2005. Due to be completed the following year, what followed instead was delay after delay, caused partly by the fact that old pillars from 1997’s failed Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System stood in the way of the new system. In the face of debate over their suitability for re-use and demands for compensation from the constructors of that old system, the State Railway of Thailand decided to ditch them and put up new ones. Legal wranglings with landowners who had encroached on the SRT’s land delayed things further, but the line – which now runs largely on a viaduct over the SRT’s main eastern railway – eventually began initial tests in October 2009. After a free trial service that began for passengers in April 2010, full operations finally got underway at the end of August 2011.
 
The train station isn’t the easiest thing to find in the sprawling complex that is Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. From the arrivals area on the second floor, it’s a further two-storey drop on the escalators before you’re deposited near the train. And while it’s well signposted to begin with, alongside signs for the shuttle bus, public taxi stand and so on, the closer you get, the thinner on the ground these signs become, until you just have to hope you’re going in the right direction. This isn’t helped by the fact that the area near the train station is so eerily quiet; you can really tell just how new the rail line is, and that it’s not yet being given much use – at least from this main station. As a result, it’s a bit of a funny set up down there; there’s a 7-11, a Mister Donut and a couple of other shops, but hardly anyone there to use them. When we passed through the station, our train was already ready to leave and yet was almost empty on departure – even when it arrived, full, at Phaya Thai, we spotted just five western tourists amidst the river of Thai commuters. It is inevitably going to take time for word to get out to travellers about the new service.

Two services connect Suvarnabhumi with the city – the fifteen-minute Express Line aimed at tourists, leaving the airport every half an hour and running directly to the City Air Terminal transport hub at Makkasan, and the commuter-targeted City Line, which departs every fifteen minutes and runs further than the Express, down to Phaya Thai, taking in eight stations along the way and doing the journey in half an hour. The City Line can also work well for tourists, save for the lack of space for luggage, particularly at rush hour when the train is packed to the rafters with Bangkokians on their way to and from work. And while these are new trains, the bench seats on the City Line are also rather narrow and less than comfortable – perfectly manageable for a thirty-minute journey if that’s all you’re doing, but perhaps not what you might be looking for if you’ve already endured a fifteen-hour donkey-class flight. The Express Line, meanwhile, offers just a little more comfort and has space for luggage. Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways passengers travelling to the airport on the Express Line can now check in their luggage at Makkasan before before continuing themselves, far less weighed-down, by train to the airport itself. The service is available daily between 8am and 9pm and requires check-in between 3 and 12 hours before flight departure.

As the train snakes its way out of the airport and hurtles across the city’s skyline, you get the gift of a perfect view of Bangkok and its weaving maze of ground-level roads and elevated flyovers and tollways, cars inching along them like ants. The change from the green fields distantly bordering the roads near the airport, to the gradual build-up of chaotic development and ever glitzier high-rise buildings as the train approaches the city’s commercial centre, makes for an equally buzzy lookout, worth the journey in itself.

For most, though, the real benefit of the opening of the Airport Rail Link will be just how much this new transport option simultaneously speeds up and cuts the cost of the almost thirty kilometre trek out to the airport. Since Suvarnabhumi opened, for most travellers a metered taxi has been the only reliable way to get to the city – now there’s an alternative. The travellers’ ghetto of Banglamphu, including the famous Khaosan Road, can now be reached by train for a third of the price of the equivalent taxi. The relative lack of public transport in the old city, including Banglamphu, means a journey here from the airport still isn’t as direct as it is to other parts of Bangkok – or as direct as it ought to be. Indeed, there was talk of improved transport connections from Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu, as part of the Airport Rail Link, but these don’t appear to be showing any sign of materialising any time soon. Until the proposed subway link to the area is completed, a short taxi ride will still figure as part of any Khaosan Road-bound traveller’s journey, even if the rest of it can be done by train. 

Introductory fares were on offer while the Airport Rail Link was still in its infancy – until the end of last year, a journey anywhere on the City Line cost just 15B; since the start of January 2011 it has risen and the cost, anywhere between 15 and 45B, depends on the distance travelled – if you’re going the whole hog to Khaosan, figure on 45B for this leg of the journey. The one-hop journey from Suvarnabhumi to Makkasan has also risen from 100 to 150B. Both lines run between 6am and midnight, seven days a week. Coming from the airport, tickets are purchased from the machines and booths at the entrance to the station; on our visit, the ticket machines were all out of service, presumably because of the relative lack of use of the station at the time. After you’ve bought your ticket, a guard will check it (despite the purchase having been made fully in his sight) and you can then proceed down to the train.

Our test journey took us on the 45B City Line ride from Suvarnabhumi to Phaya Thai, where for 20B we connected with the Sky Train (BTS) to National Stadium station, near the MBK shopping centre. A 63B taxi (as ever, ironically more than both far longer-distance train journeys put together) then got us from National Stadium down to Khaosan Road, backpacker hub extraordinaire. Total journey cost: 128B. Compare that to a taxi that would set you back at least 250 to 350B – more if Bangkok’s notoriously gridlocked traffic is up to its old tricks. Plus you get to avoid tollway fees, which taxi passengers are responsible for in addition to the fare and which would otherwise set you back a total of an extra 70B.

The train, or at least the City Line, is admittedly slower than a direct taxi, though this is mainly because the journey time is bumped up more by the interchanges between the Airport Rail Link, BTS and then a taxi for the final leg – we set out from the Suvarnabhumi train terminal at 8am, and the City Line had us at Phaya Thai by half past the hour. It’s then about another fifteen minutes on the Sky Train from Phaya Thai to National Stadium, and our overall journey came in at just over an hour – not helped by the bumper traffic on the roads. That of course doesn’t compare overly favourably to the usual taxi journey time of around forty-five minutes, but take the Express Line and you stand far more chance of beating it. You’ll be at Makkasan in fifteen minutes, from where your best bet for minimising your taxi journey is to connect with the MRT underground subway system to Hua Lamphong, and then continue by road to the public transport desert that’s Banglamphu.

Whether by City or Express Line, you’ll get to Khaosan Road and its surrounds for a fraction of the cost of a taxi. Of course, if you favour the comfort of a door-to-door journey, or if you’re travelling with others and splitting the cost, then a taxi may well still win hands down. But, for Bangkok, a city world-renowned for its congestion, it’s a win either way – a new transport option on the scene can surely only be a good thing. 

CHRIS WOTTON is a twenty-something crazy about Thailand. After a first visit in 2008, he fell in love with the country and has since travelled its length and breadth, searching out local life – and local food! – while writing and researching for SE Asia travel guides and magazines. When not discovering and writing about Thailand, Chris studies French and German in his native UK, and runs an online shop selling authentic Japanese and Thai cooking ingredients.

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Short Film Shot at Gazebo


Here’s something of interest to people who know Khao San Road… A trailer for "Reactions" starring and directed by Erik Markus Schuetz … He asked to film the movie at Gazebo Club Khao San Road and it will be shown at all the International Film festivals. Other than that, it’s a bit of a mystery! This is his bio page on IMDB, which oddly enough doesn't enough doesn't mention his stunts in Kill Bill - wish we could tell you more... Looks pretty good though…

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Chaudhry Ijaz Rasul – Pakistani National

Chaudhry Ijaz Rasul, a Pakistani National is serving 100 years in Bangkwang Prison in Bangkok. He go 'accidentally arrested' in 2009 and he's 35 years old. He has to spend 20 years in prison, but doesn't specify why. The address is Bangkwang Prison D#6, 117 Nonthaburi Road, Bangkok, Thailand, 1100. We certainly do not condone crime in Thailand but if you are inclined to share your time either visiting him or writing to him, go ahead. '20 years' is a long time and you might bring him some happiness. 

Chaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani NationalChaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani Nationalprisoner2small_r3_c1Chaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani NationalChaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani NationalChaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani National

Chaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani NationalChaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani NationalChaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani NationalChaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani NationalChaudhry Ijaz Rasul - Pakistani National

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Muhammad Umer Baber – Pakistan

Pakistani citizen Muhammad Umer Baber wrote to us requesting visits or penfriends. He's serving a life sentence in Bangkwang Prisoner (Building Number: 02) and he's in prison for drug-related crimes. He's in for life and he has nobody in Thailand. The address is Bangkwang Prison BLD # 02, 117 Nonthaburi Road, Bangkok, Thailand. We certainly do not condone crime in Thailand but if you are inclined to share your time either visiting him or writing to him, go ahead. 'Life' is a long time and you might bring him some happiness. 

Pakistani citizen Muhammad Umer Baber wrote to us requesting visits or pen friends.Pakistani citizen Muhammad Umer Baber wrote to us requesting visits or pen friends.Pakistani citizen Muhammad Umer Baber wrote to us requesting visits or pen friends.Pakistani citizen Muhammad Umer Baber wrote to us requesting visits or pen friends.Pakistani citizen Muhammad Umer Baber wrote to us requesting visits or pen friends.

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Khao San Road in Spanish

Khaosan Road, una pequena calle donde se juntan todos los caminos. Dicen que todos los caminos van a Roma, pero en el siglo XXI, se podrna decir que todos los caminos van a Khaosan. Este pequeno callejnn situado el la parte Oeste de Bangkok, Tailandia, se ha convertido en el cruce por excelencia de los viajeros de Asia y del mundo entero.

Hace 20 anos era solo un albergue que brindaba alojamiento barato para los primeros mochileros. Y a travns de los anos ha evolucionado hasta llegar a convertirse en una de las calles mas frecuentadas de todo el mundo. Y ha crecido hasta propagarse a las calles y barrios adyacentes. Se puede decir, sin temor a equivocarse, que es el Estado Mayor de los viajeros.

Khaosan Rd. es indudablemente el mejor lugar en Bangkok para descansar despuns de un largo viaje por Viet Nam, Laos o Cambodia. Desde aqun, uno puede prepararse para el prnximo destino. Sea cual fuere, en la misma calle se pueden encontrar todas las opciones de viaje (desde las mas baratas), no importa si Ud. quiere ir a Malasia, Filipinas, la India, Espana o Argentina. O si quiere viajar a una de las maravillosas islas de Tailandia, sea Ko Samui o Ko Chang, para bucear entre los arrecifes coralinos. Pero no olvide pasarse unos dnas en Khaosan Rd. En pocos lugares podrn encontrar tal afluencia de culturas y viajeros de todo el mundo. Durante el dna puede ir de compras por Khaosan Rd y los alrededores, y de seguro encontrara lo que esta buscando (y a buen precio).

Souvenirs tailandeses manufacturados y todo tipo de productos tradicionales, joyerna, tiendas de mnsica, ropa y calzado de cualquier tamano y para toda estacinn, tatuajes, peinados, masaje, etc., etc... Tambinn puede encontrar a minutos de distancia a pie muchas de las principales atracciones culturales de Bangkok. Como el Museo Nacional (The National Museum), el Gran Palacio (The Grand Palace), la Galerna Nacional de Arte (The National Art Gallery), la Montana de Oro (The Golden Mountain), asn como innumerables templos budistas celebres por su arquitectura. Asimismo, es muy sencillo trasladarse desde Khaosan Rd en bus hasta cualquier parte de Bangkok. Igual puede utilizar los numerosos botes que circulan a travns del rno Chao Phraya, que se encuentra a solo 10 minutos de Khaosan.

nTiene hambren Solo tiene que caminar dos pasos. En el nrea puede encontrar literalmente cientos de opciones para satisfacer su apetito y bolsillo. Desde, por supuesto,todo tipo de delicias tailandesas, pasando por la comida china, hindn, malaya, vietnamita, coreana hasta los platos nrabes, mejicanos y europeos y bueno, los consabidos McDonalds, Subway y Pizza Hut.

Pero la vida nunca se detiene en Khaosan. El lugar esta lleno de bares, restaurantes y clubes donde por la noche puede encontrar todo lo que necesite. Lo mismo puede bailar una salsa o un reggae, que tomarse una cerveza bien frna mientras conversa con nuevos amigos de todo el mundo, e intercambiar historias y experiencias de viaje. La juventud tailandesa tampoco falta en Khaosan, muchos prefieren pasar su tiempo libre acn. Podrn estar al tanto de la vida cultural moderna de Tailandia tambinn y sumergirse en la diversidad repleta de nuevas experiencias, emociones y amistades.

Y si pasa en abril por acn, le tocara mojarse si sale a las calles durante la celebracinn del Festival de Songkran. En esos dnas Khaosan Rd. se convierte en un campo de batalla con todo el mundo tirnndose agua mutuamente, celebrando el Nuevo Ano tailandns. Asn que traiga un impermeable. Y la gente regresa siempre a Khaosan Rd. Ano tras ano. Por que no hay otro lugar como este. Es unico e irrepetible. Un destino obligado para todos.

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Khao San Road in Italian

Certo, leggendo semplicemente il nome potrebbe sembrare una via o una strada come tante altre: potrebbe essere adornata da eleganti vetrine, ingiallita dallo scorrere del tempo o allietata da viali alberati. Potrebbe trovarsi ad Hong Kong, Londra o Berlino, forse in una tranquilla provincia del sud dell’Inghilterra. Ma non è così.

Khao San Road è una strada con una propria identità ed una propria storia che la rendono diversa da qualsiasi altra via. Anzi, definirla strada è certamente riduttivo, perché in fondo Khao San è un piccolo mondo con i propri attori, è la terra delle mille culture e delle molteplici nazionalità, dove tutti sono benvenuti.

Khao San Road è unica e si trova nel cuore di Bangkok.

Alex Garland la definisce come il passaggio obbligato per tutti coloro che sono appena giunti in Thailandia o che si apprestano a lasciare la terra del sorriso: per molti, in fondo, è davvero così, perché a Khao San non si vive, si transita.

Può affascinarti, puoi detestarla o esserne infastidito, ma non puoi ignorarla.

Al primo impatto Khao San Road ti stordisce: le mille luci, gli odori forti, la moltitudine di persone attraverso cui riesci a stento a muoverti, le bancarelle stracolme di ogni bene, i soldi che passano veloci di mano in mano, le guesthouse e i locali che ti invitano ad ogni passo. Si stabilisce un rapporto, non necessariamente dagli aspetti positivi od esaltanti, perché le contraddizioni sono parte di Khao San.

Poi inizi ad avere confidenza con quell’ambiente così particolare e forse inizi anche a sentirti a tuo agio, quasi fossi a casa tua o comunque in un luogo amico.

Ma come nasce questa Mecca dei viaggiatori? Nel 1982, nel bicentenario della fondazione ufficiale di Bangkok, il governo Thai lanciò una serie di iniziative per festeggiare la ricorrenza, attirando nella capitale migliaia di turisti stranieri.

Molti viaggiatori, che non potevano permettersi il lusso di una stanza d’albergo, convinsero gli abitanti di Khao San Road ad affittare le proprie stanze, tanto per avere un piccolo guadagno extra. Il business delle guesthouse generò in brevissimo tempo dei profitti impensabili fino a poco prima. Nel girò di pochi anni fiorirono centinaia di guesthouse, ristoranti e negozietti di souvenir.

Dal lento brulicare delle prime ore del mattino fino al rapido e vorticoso crescendo che porta in strada migliaia di viaggiatori, Khao San rimane immobile eppure sempre in movimento. Tutti se andranno, l’abbandoneranno carichi di sacchetti di plastica ricolmi di magliette e costumi, uno zaino sulle spalle e pochi soldi, ma altri giungeranno e molti torneranno, perché Khao San, come la Thailandia, non si dimentica, rimane con noi come una sensazione o un ricordo vago che ogni tanto riaffora e, solo per un istante, ci fa viaggiare nel tempo.

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Cafe Democ – Back to the Source

Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road is renowned as one of the best places for nightlife both in the Bangkok capital and elsewhere in the Kingdom of Thailand. Sitting alongside excellent restaurants and pubs, KSR's clubs now rank parallel with Sukhumvit 11 haunts as some of THE places to visit when in town. Given the importance of the strip's role in catering to global club officiados, the fact that Cafe Democ is seldom included in any foreign clubber's itinerary remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

For those in the know, a trip to Cafe Democ is very much a trip to the source - to where it all began. Despite its unimposing architecture and presence (by Bangkok club standards anyway), Cafe Democ is the spiritual home of Bangkok's club scene. Opened in 1999 and located on a corner of Democracy Monument (hence its name), Cafe Democ is no more than a 10-minute walk from Khao San Road and is where the seed of local DJ talent was nurtured into the vibrant scene that exists today.

As I sit outside the club with owner Mr. Apichart - or Tui to his friends - we talk against a backdrop of some killer homegrown Drums and Bass. "This is not really a club to me," suggests Tui wistfully. "I also own club Culture, a big club in the center of town. That to me is a club - this (Cafe Democ) is my home! This is where I was brought up," he enthuses.

Now in his 40s, Tui started life as a DJ at Diana's in 1984, one of Bangkok's leading clubs back in the day. There he pumped out Madonna, Michael Jackson, and any other commercial sound his undiscerning audience fancied. At the time the local talent for even this was limited, and UK companies would send DJs out to Thai venues to entertain the masses.

The DJs brought a smattering of club sounds that although established in the west, represented something of a revolution in Thailand. Rubbing shoulders with these DJs, Tui's tastes changed, as did that of his audience. Slowly, seamlessly, pockets of resistance to commercial music emerged and along with it local DJs experimented. Thailand's first real underground music scene was born.

"15 years ago Bangkok was the leading place for club music in Southeast Asia," adds Tui. "DJs from places like Singapore and Hong Kong came over here to sample the scene. Unfortunately, as with other places in the world, in 90s the club scene became synonymous with drug culture. Drugs pretty much killed the underground. The police closed venues, and Bangkok became a bit of a wilderness. Hip Hop changed that."

"Local artists like Joey Boy made Hip Hop respectable and brought it into the mainstream," he continued. "Once there, the scene emerged again - it was a safe environment where people could experiment with sounds. Clubs and DJs started to flourish again, and Cafe Democ was there to help things along. Local DJs came here to play exactly what they wanted, with no commercial pressure. We brought over the occasional international act, but primarily, Cafe Democ was for local DJs".

The scene grew to the extent that Cafe Democ DJs turned professional and a number of venues emerged to cater for the increased demand for club music. RCA flourished and places like Astra (now Club 808) went from strength to strength. Many of those venues though stuck to a more traditional format, catering for Bangkok's party scene.

"Cafe Democ is no Route 66,"suggested Tui, talking about a famous RCA club where patrons dance around small tables to top 30 US tunes alongside more commercial local sounds. "There's a genuine sub-culture around these days. This sub-culture has had to be resilient. It's faced 'Social Order' issues that placed curfews on clubbers, political uncertainty, and of course bouts of economic downturn. Despite all of this, the scene remains healthy and you can experience it at Cafe Democ."

These days Cafe De Moc serves up an eclectic assortment of sounds - Electro, Mash Up, Drums and Bass, and despite its proximity to KSR, caters to a predominantly Thai crowd (often based out of Thammasat University) and a few expats who speak a smattering of Thai. Things warm up around 23:30, but before that people sit around and enjoy the great local food Cafe De Moc offers its punters.

"We don't have the marketing budget," suggested Tui when asked why Cafe De Moc doesn't compete with some of the brasher places on KSR. "Nowadays foreigners only stay on Khao San for a couple of days and then they are off. It's not like before when they used to stay up to a couple of months and really get to know the area, including this place (Cafe De Moc)."

Cafe De Moc does though have a small but loyal foreign clientele. DJ Curmi (?) from Brighton, UK was there the night we visited. He wasn't playing; he was just hanging out. "I love this place," he confided. "This is where it all started and it's still going strong. I come here every time I am in Thailand. It's not like one of the big Sukhimvit clubs - it's very intimate".

Cafe De Moc opens nightly until about 1:30 in the morning. If you are looking for a slice of the local scene, it's well worthy of a visit. It's usually free to get in and there's a solid line up of acts.

Check out the much less than pretentious Cafe De Moc website to see what's on offer.

Check out the toilets for excellent graffiti!

cafe-democ_map

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Look Daddy – a Shopping Mall!

Although Buddy Lodge is certainly not a shopping mall, with local building restrictions, it's as close as you will get on Khao San. Venturing into the building, there's a general sense of this being a world within a world. Everything you can find on Khao San is there - the silver shops, accommodation, the bar - but it's all a notch up market and there's a very distinct feel of smooth professionalism about the place. There seems to be a problem with parking though - there's a number of classic motorcycles abandoned throughout the building. (more…)
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British Prisoners in Thailand

British Prisoners in ThailandWe contacted the British Embassy in Bangkok to find out more for people looking for relatives and loved ones who they think might be in prison in Thailand and asked them for information for people who are interested in visiting British prisoners while they are visiting Thailand.

Here is our email: 





Mr. James

I am the founder of www.khaosanroad.com - a website dedicated to budget travel in Thailand and the Khao San Road area of Bangkok. We regularly receive emails from people with queries regarding foreign prisoners in Bangkok and Thailand, especially British prisoners. The queries are varied but often follow one of a couple of themes:

1)  People looking for information on how they can visit foreign prisoners when they are in Thailand, and
2)  People looking for relatives who they believe might actually be in prison in Thailand.

For the former point, we have some information gathered from visitors who have been through the process of visiting prisoners, but the information always leads to the same point - people must get a list of current prisoners from the relevant embassy. In addition, the information we provide is far from comprehensive.

For the latter point, very little seems to be available on the Internet about how people can go about finding out if one of their relatives is in prison in Thailand, and again, the trial leads to the British and other embassies.

I was therefore wondering to what extent the British Embassy in Thailand might be able to officially comment in these two issues in a fashion that might be published on www.khaosanroad.com.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Very best regards

John Hughes

Here is the British Embassy's reply:

Dear John,

Many thanks for your e-mail. There are a number of the British nationals who are in prison in Thailand, who have indicated that they are willing to receive visitors. The major difficulty is that the visiting times in the prisons vary according to which room number the prisoner is in. It is best for anyone who wishes to go on a visit, and is serious about their visit, to contact us for more detailed information. When can they tell them who they can visit and exactly what the visiting days and times are. But what I am keen to avoid are frivolous enquiries from people who do not follow through with the visit.

The Royal Thai Police are required to notify the Embassy of the arrest of any British national in Thailand. Anyone who believes that a relative has been arrested or is in prison should contact us, unless they are in the UK. In the UK they contact the Thailand Desk of the Consular Directorate in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Telephone 0207 008 0105. But, for data protection reasons, we can only confirm the details of anyone who has been arrested or is in prison if they consent.

I hope that this information helps.

Yours sincerely,

Neill James
Vice-Consul British Embassy, Bangkok 1031
Wireless Road
Lumpini
Pathumwan
Bangkok
10330

So, there you have it - contact the British Embassy in Bangkok if you are looking for someone who might be in prison AND if you want to visit British prisoners. However, in the latter case, make sure you are serious about the visit.

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Khao San Road in Russian

Khao San Road in RussiamВ общем о Као Сане

Расположена в Бангкоке, в районе Банглампу, Као Сан одна из самых известных улиц Бангкока. Раньше эта дорога была главным образом пристанищем для хиппи и путшественников, но за последние несколько лет, люди всех социальных слоев стали посещать Као Сан, что привело к превращению Као Сана в самое интересное место Бангкока, насыщеное разнообразием культур.

В то время как Као Сану удалось сохранить значительную чась своей приятной атмосферы с бюджетными гест-хаусами усеяными вдоль дороги, Као Сан также стал местом встречи тайландских студентов, художников и даже хорошо зарабатывающих туристов и бизнесменов.

Большое количество путешественников пользуются Као Саном как отправной точкой, чтобы исследовать Бангкок. Огромное количество гостиниц Као Сана позволяет выбрать комнату на любой вкус начиная от самой дешевой комнаты с общим душем, заканчивая топ-класс отелями с абсолютно всеми возможными удобствами. Као Сан это стартовая точка для многих посетителей Таиланда с невероятным количеством турфирм, которые оказывают огромную помощь туристам.

Туристические агентства на Као Сане предлагают широкий диапазон различных поездок и путевок, туристы могут заказать что-угодно, начиная от тура по Бангкоку заканчивая поездкам на скуба-дайвинг на живописные южные острова Таиланда.

В торговых палатках вдоль Као Сана возможно купить практически все, от футболок до художественных работ и сэконд-хэнд книг. Магазины по сторонам дороги и по вьющимся дорожкам, отклоняющихся от Као Сана также продают оптом и в розницу предметы, типа ювелирных изделий из серебра, ламп и прочих рукодельных изделий.

Когда время подходит к ужину выбор ресторанов и кафe на Као Сане просто ошеломительный. Большинство ресторанов обычно предлагают как тайскую так и западную кухню, хотя количество ресторанов специализирующихся на японской, итальянской, индийской и корейской кухне также огромное.
Вегетарианцы смогут полакомится знаменитым тайским блюдом Пад Тай а также большим выбором других снэков буквально на каждом углу.

За последние несколько лет Као Сан заслужил репутацию хорошей клубной жизни. Как только заходит солнце люди со всего Бангкока приезжают на Као Сан насладится ночной жизнью так как это отличное место чтобыпослушать живые выступления тайских групп которые играют популярную рок и поп музыку со всего мира практически в каждом баре. Мест, чтобы посидеть с пивом и поболтать, смотря на прохожих со всех континентов, хоть отбавляй. Многим понравится поробовать дешевые но на удивление крепкие коктели.

Клубы разбросаны на каждом углу, диджеи играют практически любые жанры музыки.

Все о чем бы вы не подумали, вы с уверенностью сможете отыскать на Као Сане. Единственной проблемой может оказаться ваша любовь к Као Сану когда придет время уезжать для исследования окресностей Бангкока, к счастью обширный выбор транспорта: лодки, такси, тук-туки, автобусы позволят вам вернутся когда душе угодно.

Отели Као Сана

Одной из причин по которой большинство туристов выбирают расположиться на Као Сане это сногсшибательное количество мест чтобы комфортно расположится на ночь или на недельку. Хотя Као Сан известен очень низкими ценами для туристов с небольшим бюджетом он так же полон отелей высокого уровня обслуживания.

Выбор отелей и гест-хаусов для туристов очень разнообразен. Као Сан можно с уверенностью назвать одним из наилучших мест Багнкока для поиска дешевых отелей, где простенькие комнаты, которые стоят меньше 200 бат за ночь, можно отыскать без труда.

Выбор типа проживания зависит от ваших нужд, вашего бюджета и от того хотите ли вы проводить большую часть времени в комнате отеля или использовать ее, просто, как место хранения ваших вещей, в то время пока вы на вечеринке или осматриваете достопримечательности города.

Гест-хаусы обычно предоставляют маленькую 1-2х местную комнату с вентилятором. Тем, кто желает самые дешевые комнаты, придется пользоваться общим душем, обычно с холодной водой и общим туалетом. Обычно в такого типа местах хороший сон не гарантируется из-за тонких стен но это великолепное место для встречи других туристов с которыми вам может оказаться по пути.

Туристы с бюджетом получше встретят отличный выбор гостиниц среднего класса. Этого типа отели предоставят неплохой сервис с такими удобствами как, ванна с горячей водой, кондиционер, и в некоторых отелях этого класса вы сможете охладиться в бассейне после исследования багнкока в жаркий день.

Когда дело касается топ класс проживания, на Као Сане имеется несколько великолепных отелей которые сделают ваш отдых незабываемым. Рестораны с кухней со всего мира, фитнесс центр, бассейн, спа и обслуживание номеров - все это будет у вас под рукой.

Большинство гостиниц на Као Сане предоставляет широкий диапазон дополнительных услуг для их гостей, типа прачечной и Интернет сервиса. Большинство гест-хаусов и гостиниц также в состоянии помочь гостям с планами путешествия и заказать транспорт.

Стоит принять во внимание что многие из гостиниц в Тайланде, которые сдают комнаты иностранным туристам, не позволяют гостям приводить тайцев в свои номера. В некоторых случаях тайским гостям разрешают посетить иностранцев, для чего с начала они должны подписать регистрационную карточку и оставить их удостоверение личности.

Новые гостиницы открываются на Као Сане все время, в то время как старые внезапно исчезают. Хотя как правило туристы получают качество сервиса за которое они платят в Бангкокских гостиницах. В то время как есть большое количество доступных гест-хаусов, всегда рекомендуется посмотреть комнату перед сдачей багажа.

Рестораны Као Сана

Район вокруг Као Сана предлагает один из самых широких выборов ресторанов во всем городе. Обедающие могут выбрать между большим разнообразием традиционной тайской и международной кухни. В большинстве ресторанов в этом районе имеются меню на английском, тайском и нескольких других языках. У официантов в этом районе имеется опыт работы с клиентами с разных стран по этому вам не придется волноватся о недопониманиях.

Когда вы решили попробовать тайскую еду, выбор буквально бесконечен так как практический каждый ресторан на Као Сане предлагает самые популярные тайские блюда. Тайцы известны своей любовью к острому, по этому возможно закакать блюда по вкусу, сказав официанту как бы вам хотелось свою еду, не острую или очень острую. Если вы не уверены насколько острую еду вы сможете осилить, попросите не острую так как чили можно добавить в любой момент чтобы почувствовать чем довольствуются тайцы.

Као Сан и улицы рядом возможно лучшие места в Бангкоке, чтобы насладиться индийской кухней, поскольку в этом районе больше дюжины различных индийских ресторанов. Большинство ресторанов нанимает индийских поваров и официантов, и пища подается исключительно свежая. Индийские рестораны здесь всех классов и размеров, начиная от дешевых и веселых уличных забегалок, заканчивая роскошно украшенными ресторанами.

Имеется также широкий выбор других кухонь, доступных здесь, включая несколько израильских, японских, итальянских ресторанов а так же рестораны специализирующихся на подлинной британской кухне, типа рыбы с жареным картофелем.

Вегетарианцы найдут большое количество мест на выбор на Као Сане. Мало того, что многие из ресторанов предлагают большой выбор вегетарианских блюд, есть также приблизительно полдюжина ресторанов, которые готовят блюда для самых строгих вегетарианцев. Эти рестораны часто служат местами для собраний для аналогично мыслящих путешественников, и атмосфера в этих местах очень дружественная. Вегетарианские путешественники могут выбрать между тайской, индийской и международной кухней, и некоторые из мест предлагают дополнительные услуги, типа комнаты на ночь, поваренных курсов и массажа.

Одна из огромных приимуществ этого района - то, что там имеется большое количество уличных кафе где можно пообедать для туристов с небольшим бюджетом. Многие из этих уличных кафе предоставляют стулья и столики. Можно даже пить пиво прямо в этих уличных кафе, особенно тем кто хочет расслабиться некоторое время и попялится на людей.

Ну и конечно всем будет приятно разок побаловать себя в фаст-фуд кафе которых тоже большое количество.

Когда наступает голод, Као Сан это точно хорошее местечко.

Бары и клубы Као Сана

После того, как Као Сан преобразовывается в неоновую страну чудес, после захода солнца, люди тянутся на Као Сан со всего города, чтобы потягивать коктели на улице, слушать живую музыку или подвигаться в одном из модных клубов.

Хотите ли вы просто наслаждаться холодным пивом, или ищите провести хорошее время, Као Сан имеет хороший выбор ночной жизни, которая привлекает туристов, путешественников и тайцев всех слоев общества.

Као Сан - большое место для того, чтобы выпить и познакомиться, поскольку цены намного ниже чем в других частях города, и те на слабом бюджете, будут в состоянии насладиться напитком в конце тяжелого дня после осмотра достопримечательностей. Многие из баров также бесплатно показывают кино и прямую траснляцию спортивных событий клиентам.

Большинство баров на Као Сане и окресностях открываются с утра до поздной ночи. Некоторые места также имеют лицензии, на работу 24 часа в день. То есть вы всегда найдете место посидеть с пивом и встретить новых друзей.

Огромное количество уличных баров, которые продают дешевое пиво и крепкие коктейли, разбросано по этому району. Сидя в одном из этих многочисленных баров можно за одну ночь познакомиться с десятками других туристов и понаблюдать как события разворачиваются на улице.

Те, кто наслаждается живой музыкой, найдут большое количество мест, где можно порадоваться разнообразию стилей. Группы на Као Сане играют большинство популярных Западных и тайских мелодий а так же собственные песни. Эти бары привлекают хорошую смесь тайских и Западных клиентов, и атмосфера всегда очень живая, с большим количеством места для танцев.

Те, кто любит буги-вуги, смогут выбрать из множества различных мест клуб себе по душе. Большинство этих мест встречи насыщены движением с 11 вечера до 2-х или 3-х утра. Диджеи приезжают со всех континентов, клубы вокруг играют все виды музыки, от хип хопа до транса и предлагают приятную, живую атмосферу, достойную внимания.

Одна из самых главных вещей о посещении вечеринок на Као Сане - то, что здесь всегда что-то происходит. Большинство мест организуют пати каждую ночь недели и организуют специальные ночные скидки, чтобы привлечь клиентов.

Туристы должны принять во внимание, что некоторые из женщин, которые болтаются на Као Сане, не являются столь женственными, как они кажутся на первый взгляд. Трансвеститы обычны во всем Таиланде, и иногда может быть весьма трудно отличить их от женщин, особенно после нескольких бутылок пива.

Однако, стоит упоминуть о тайцах - то, что они редко являются назойливыми так что и мужчины, и женщины могут чувствовать себя комфортно во время посещения вечеринок на Као Сане.

Транспорт на Као Сане

Добираться до Као Сана легко, поскольку эта область хорошо связана с остальной частью Бангкока автобусами и лодками. Большинство такси и тук-тук водителей знают этот район хорошо, таким образом посетители вряд ли столкнутся с трудностями, пытаясь добраться от сюда до любой части Бангкока или ближайшего района.

Есть прямой автобус к Као Сану от аэропорта, и поездка занимает приблизительно час. Автобус AE2 c кондиционером привозит пассажиров к Као Сану за 150 батов, есть также маленькие местные микро-автобусы, которые предоставляют проезд за 35 батов. Те, кто путешествует в группе, могут поймать такси прямо возле главного входа, что будет более экономичным и удобным. Плата за проезд до Као Сана должна стоить приблизительно 350 батов, включая оплату за въезд на хай вэй.

Рядом с Као Саном нет ни какого типа метро, но так как Као Сан расположен рядом с рекой Чао Прая пешком дойти до пирса отнимает 10 минут. С пирса на лодке можно добраться практически в любой район, в Китайский квартал или даже до станции метро, которая расположена на центральном пирсе. Метро доставит вас в центр города за считаные минуты.

Автобусы которые проезжают рядом с Као Саном, едут практически во все части багнкока так-что те, кто знают маршруты, смогут добратся на автобусах куда угодно. Тур-фирмы на Као Сане являются огромным источником информации и они всегда рады помочь советом.

Все такси c кондиционерами в Бангкоке должны использовать счетчик, который стартует с 35 бат. Однако, большинство такси и тук-тук водителей, которые заполонили Као Сан с обоих концов дороги, платят специальный налог, чтобы стоять на Као Сане, эти водители не любят ездить по счетчику. Плата, которую они просят за проезд, часто весьма высока, и лучше отойти несколько метров от Као Сана и поймать одно из проезжающих такси, настаивая, что они используют счетчик.

Трехколесные транспортные средства, известные как тук-тук способны проехать через Бангкокское движение быстрее такси, что может сэкономить время в часы пик. Важно предварительно договориться о цене за проезд, поскольку цены на плату за проезд не установлены. Первоначальная цена за проезд обычно будет высока, но после недолгого переговора возможно договориться приблизительно за половину стартовой цены.

Есть целый ряд тук-тук водителей на Као Сане, которые предлагают принять туристов на экскурсию по городу всего за 20 бат. Хотя это может выглядеть как дешевый способ познакомиться с достопримечательностями, посетители должны знать, что эти водители делают свои деньги, провозя туристов по различными ювелирными магазинами по дороге, они получают комиссию за ваши покупки.

Покупки на Као Сане

Као Сан - хорошее место для того, чтобы пойти за покупками, поскольку есть из чего выбрать. Кажется, что все что здесь покупается, так же здесь и продается, этим объяснятся огромное количество сэконд-хэнд товаров. Рынок тянется по обоим сторонам улицы. Так же есть множество маленьких магазинов, которые специализируются на конкретных товарах включая помощь специалистов.

Наилучшее время, чтобы пойти по магазинам - это утром, как раз в то самое время, когда палатки только начинают устанавливаться. Большинство торговцев полагает, что первая продажа дня это - предвестник удачи, и вы можете надеяться на неплохую скидку.

Хорошей причиной пойти за покупками на Као Сан - то, что большинство цен договорные, и возможно получить большую скидку, особенно если Вы говорите немного по тайски. Чтобы спрашивать цену, просто скажите "Тау рай кап". Продавец будет часто набирать цену в калькулятор и показывать вам, чтобы избежать недопонимания. Если цена слишком высока, просто наберите приемлимую цену на калькуляторе и продолжайте так, пока вы не придете к обоюдному согласию.

Имеется большое количество ювелирных магазинов на Као Сане и в окрестностях, которые специализируются на качественных ювелирных изделиях оптом. Эти магазины предлагают одни из самых лучших сделок в области ювелирных изделий по невероятно низким ценам, а так же не уступают по ценам другим частям Бангкока.

Те, кто ищет уникальный подарок, чтобы отвести домой, должны обязательно посетить один из магазинов портного. Талантливые портные здесь в состоянии сделать клиентам одежду на выбор из последних каталогов моды. Клиенты могут также найти практически любую ткань из демонстрируемых в магазине, которая будет использоваться для пошива. Лучшая сделка здесь - наборы пиджаков, рубашек и галстуков, и возможно получить специальный раскрой стиля Savile с всей отделкой, за очень незначительную плату.

Рынок на Као Сане в последние годы заработал репутацию рынка подделок. Что угодно, что может быть скопировано, продается здесь, от шорт Биллабонг и джинсов Леви, заканчивая компакт-дискам, DVD. Вам может показаться смешным продажа международных водительских прав прямо на улице, но на Као Сане возможно все.

Во то время как Вы блуждаете по Као Сан, к Вам может подойти один из людей, которые продают товары, типа сумок, браслетов и гамаков, большинство которых было сделано Племенами на севере Таиланда. В то время как они в основном дружелюбны, эти торговцы могут быть чрезвычайно назойливыми и лучше только спрашивать цену, если Вы серьезно интересуетесь.

Те, у кого проблема с наличными деньгами, могут продать их вещи в одной из палаток объявляющих, что "Мы покупаем все”, на соседней улице Рамбутри. Это удобное место, чтобы продать вещи, типа книг, палаток, рюкзаков и ботинок за несколько батов.

Стилисты и пирсинг на Као Сане

Когда Вы видите, туриста в Таиланде, с новой татуировкой, нарощеными волосами или с дрэдами, скорее всего, что они сделали это на Као Сане. Множество талантливых художников и татуировщиков открыли магазины в этом районе Бангкока и выбрать салон себе по душе очень легко.

Много современных туристов решают сделать татуировку в Таиланде, поскольку это служит им постоянным напоминанием о посещении Страны Улыбок. Клиенты могут выбрать или из традиционной техники татуировки бамбуком, известной как Сак Янт, или из более современного метода. Все татуировочные салоны предоставляют большой каталог татуировок для клиентов, и некоторые даже предлагают создавать специальные уникальные изображения за небольшую дополнительную плату.

Као Сан - безопасное место, чтобы сделать татуировку, поскольку тату-артисты здесь должны иметь свидетельства на их работу, которые регулярно проверяются соответствующими органами. Большое количество известных людей сделали татуировки в этом районе, включая актрису Анжелину Джоли.

Многие из салонов татуировки, расположенных на Као Сане также предлагают боди-пирсинг. Качественные драгоценности намного дешевле в Таиланде чем во многих частях мира, и это - хорошее время, чтобы потерпеть боль и сделать пирсинг в любой части тела где вы только не мечтали. Опять же, когда дело доходит до квалификации и чистоты, клиенты найдут что студии пирсинга в этой части Бангкока гордятся их высоким стандартами. Многие из татуировщиков здесь проектируют и создают их собственные пирсинг-драгоценности, в то время как другие пользуются тем, что клиенты приносят с собой.

Некоторые люди находят, что заботиться об их волосах, во время путешествий - слишком большое испытание. Однако, Као Сан имеет прекрасное решение для этих людей, так как палатки, предлагающие плетение косичек, вдоль всей улицы. Возможно расслабиться с пивом и наблюдать, как летит время в суматохе этого интересного района, в то время как парикмахеры здесь добавляют красочные наращивания волос или фиксируют и щипают ваши волосы в стили, о существовании которых вы только догадывались. Если Вы когда-либо представляли себе причёску из дрэдов, но не хотите ждать пока это случится естественно, парикмахеры здесь могут превратить их волшебство в классическую прическу в течении считаных минут.

Если все же вам не по душе уличные стилисты, есть также профессиональные салоны волос, расположенные в этом районе, которые предлагают большой спектр услуг, включая, мытье, бигуди и даже бритье головы. Для заключительного шага, посетите одну из комнат массажа и выберите между традиционными тайским, шведским или масляным массажами. Эти салоны также предлагают услуги, типа маникюров, педикюров и депиляции, чтобы оставить Вас с чувством восторга.

Места времяпровождения на Као Сане

Когда дело касается осмотра достопримечательностей, посетителям Као Сана никогда не нужно идти далеко, чтобы повеселиться. Фактически, большее количество интересных мест расположены в пределах короткой прогулки от Као Сана, что очень удобно для туристов и путешественников. После осмотра достопримечательностей можно так же вернуться на вечерний коктейль в центре Као Сана.

Одна из самых особых достопримечательностей здесь - Памятник Демократии, который находится на дороге ведущей от Бургер Кинг на Као Сане. Расположенный на маленьком бетонном постаменте в центре улицы, Памятник Демократии был построен, чтобы отметить военный переворот июня 1932, который привел к первой демократической конституции Таиланда. Памятник Демократии окружен сформированными структурами четырех 24-метровых крыльев, которые символизируют четыре ветви вооруженных сил Таиланда, которые охраняют королевство, в центре - копия оригинальной конституции с 1932.

В 5-ти минутах пешком от Памятника Демократии - колоколообразный купол Вад Сакета, который также известен как Золотая Гора. Этот большой храм, с блестящим золотым Чеди, расположен наверху холма. Это очень мирное место, и посетители, поднимающиеся по вьющейся лестнице на вершину Вад Сакета будут вознаграждены захватывающим видом Бангкока.

Также за углом от Као Сана - Пра Сумен Парк, который расположен на берегу Реки Чао Прая. Этот симпатичный парк - хорошее место, чтобы сбежать от суматохи Бангкока и почитать на траве, в тени, под одним из больших деревьев парка, понаблюдать за людьми, которые так же приходят в парк. Этот приятный парк служит отличным местом играть на различных музыкальных инструментах, жанглировать и заниматься спортом, типа традиционной командной игры Такрау.

Рядом с Пра Сумен Парком находится Пра Сумен Форт, который был одним из 14 фортов, построенных, чтобы защитить Бангкок против потенциальных военно-морских вторжений. Форт окружен орудиями и имеет 38 комнат для боеприпасов и вооружения в его центре.

В конце Као Сана, напротив таверны Галливерс - великолепный храм, известный как Вад Чана Сонгкрам. Название означает “Храм победы войны” и был построен людьми народа Мон, которым первоначально давали землю в этой области как награду чтобы помочь тайским людям бороться против бирманцев много столетий назад. В храме множество симпатичных фресок, и место вокруг - мирное и симпатичное, где можно блуждать в окружениях виноградных лоз Бугенвиллеи и живописных деревьев.

Любители художественного исскуства обнаружат множество различных художественных галерей в этой области. Прямо за углом от Као Сана - Национальная Галерея, которая содержит работу знаменитых тайских художников, которая относится ко времени 17-ого столетия. Другая интересная галерея - Галерея Королевы Сирикит, в которой демонстрируются современные произведения искусства и приезжающих молодых тайских художников. Есть также некоторые маленькие художественные галереи, которые разбросаны здесь повсюду, показывают огромное разнообразие коллекций произведений искусства.

Услуги на Као Сане

Као Сан хорош не только для посещения вечеринок. Посещая Као Сан и окресности туристы также обнаружат широкий диапазон недорогих услуг. Это  прекрасное время, чтобы сходить к зубному, которое Вы отложили, можно также сходить за советом к оптометристу или отослать домой поcылку. С помощью англо-говорящих работников можно гладко решить практически любую проблему.

Имеется множество различных ларьков, предлагающих услуги обмена денег, практически в любой части района Као Сана. Работники в этих ларьках обычно предоставляют хороший выбор различных валют и так же могут  поменять туристические чеки. Посетители должны предъявить их паспорт прежде, чем они смогут пользоваться услугами в этих ларьках.
 
Прямо напротив входа на Као Сан на углу улицы Рамбутри - находится ларек Вестерн Юнион, который может пригодиться, если у Вас заканчиваются деньги. Через Вестерн Юнион возможно переслать деньги с практически любой страны в мире. Однако, некоторые люди находят, что процент, который компания cнимает за перевод, довольно высок.

Если Вы баловались серьезным хождением за покупками, и понимаете что все не может вместиться в ваш рюкзак, Вы можете воспользоваться услугами почты. Главное почтовое отделение находится в маленьком переулке около Памятника Победы. Напротив одного конца Као Сана, если Вы будете следовать по маленкой улочке за Бургер Кингом то Вы придете к почтовому отделению (приблизительно 100 метров). Есть также множество других фирм, расположенных на Као Сане и в ближайшем районе, которые предлагают посылать посылки, открытки и письма международного назначения за маленькую плату.

Когда Вы находитесь постоянно в пути, очень легко запустить стирку и прежде чем Вы заметите, содержание вашего рюкзака может неприятно попахивать. К счастью, есть также люди специализирующиеся в этой области, которые предоставляют услуги прачечной за маленькую плату. Норма на улице и в дешевых пансионах - обычно 30 батов за килограмм. Ваша сумка будет взвешена прежде, чем платить. Однако, в большинстве прачечныхй гостиниц стирка может быть значительно дороже. В обоих случаях ваше белье будет вымыто в машине, поглажено и возвратится к Вам в течение 24 часов.

Хотя большинство людей боится исследовать их зубы, профессиональные дантисты, которые открыли клиники на этом районе, делают процесс почти приятным. Зубные процедуры намного более дешвле в Таиланде чем в большинстве Западных стран, и эти дантисты предлагают широкий объем услуг, типа проверок, очистки зубов и беления зубов.

Магазины нескольких различных оптиков расположены в этой области, и
это - хорошее время покупки контактных линз или замене изношенных дорогих очков.

Также широкий диапазон других услуг, доступен здесь, типа установки обуви, дубликат ключей и швей, которые могут починить предметы одежды всего за несколько батов.

В ообщем Као Сан может о вас позаботится.

Као Сан тур-фирмы и дайвинг магазины

Когда пришло время наконец покидать Као Сан, решить, куда поехать и как добраться,ё можно с туристическими агентствами и скуба-дайвинг офисами. Работники в этих магазинах в состоянии говорить на хорошем английском и обсуждать с туристами полные детали их поездки. Много людей просто рады дать совет туристам, который помогает Вам делать следующий шаг в вашей поездке с уверенностью.
 
Всем, кому необходимо возобновить их визу, но неуверены в том, куда пойти или как работает процесс, смогут узнать здесь и даже заказать поездку на одну из границ и назад.

Поскольку здесь очень много различных агентств, предлагающих билеты на самолет, автобус и на лодку, цены очень конкурентоспособные и те, кто не торопится, сможет найти лучшие цены. Туристические агентства также обеспечивают широкий диапазон других услуг, типа подтверждения полетов, резервации отелей и даже предложения туров путешественникам, которые желают посмотреть на достопримечательности с профессиональным гидом.

Если Вы не уверены, куда поехать, просто зайдите в любое тур агенство, чтобы получить небольшое вдохновение. Есть сотни различных поездок и доступных туров, от роскошных круизов по реке Чао Прае до интересных туров по джунглям на севере Таиланда, откуда путешественники получают шанс увидеть людей племен холмов, которые живут там.

Эти туристические агентства могут также устроить поездки, которые включают проживание, пищу и специальные туры, типа скалолазания, походов, предлагая даже уроки пилота.

Для многих посетителей Као Сана, следующий шагом может быть поездка в один из солнечных южных островов. Где можно попробовать скуба-дайвинг или простое ныряние с маской. Таиланд признают, как одно из лучших мест в мире где скуба-дайвинг доступен всем, поскольку вода кристально прозрачна, тепла и просто изобилует красочной морской жизнью.

Поскольку есть очень много приятных мест в Таиланде, чтобы поплавать, много людей любят посещать дайвинг агенства на Као Сане, чтобы получить профессиональный совет. Работники в них - чрезвычайно знающие и в состоянии сделать ваше путешествие вместе со скуба-дайвингом незабывамым. Любой, кто плохо знаком со скуба-дайвингом, будет в состоянии обсудить это с профессионалами и получить полезную информацию относительно того, что ожидать прежде, чем они сделают решающий шаг.

Куда-бы Вы не ехали, удостоверьтесь, что Вы иногда навещаете Као Сан. Теплый прием гарантируется всякий раз, когда Вы здесь.

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A Prison Visit

bangk_175Bang Kwang is famous as the Bangkok Hilton, however, the Thai nickname for it is "Big Tiger" because it eats people.
I remember a few years ago walking down the famous Khao San Road and seeing a sign pasted to a wall that said "Visit Prisoners in Thailand" and it sparked my curiosity as something different a change, but never got round to it, then a few years ago Michael Connell's case made the news when he disembarked from a plane at Bangkok Airport with 3400 disco biscuits in his suitcase. For a long time I was in two minds about going to visit, I'd read the book "Damage Done" by Warren Fellows and wanted to try and see if I could help one of the prisoners but at the same didn't want to be involved in ghoulish tourism. I was speaking to a mate of mine called Spike, who's from Bury in Lancashire and the topic cropped and his eyes lit up.

"I've been visiting Mike every week since he got caught. I send him fags and stuff. He really appreciates visitors, he'd be happy to see you."

With a few more pressing matters out of the way I headed down to Bang Kwang Prison in Nonthaburi on the northern edge of Bangkok yesterday, carefully dressed despite the heat in long trousers and a long sleeved shirt I got out of my taxi at the main gate. Outside there were groups of women praying, some looked like nuns, I don't honestly know if this is a regular sight or if there was a specific reason for them to intercede but anyway I headed over the road to the visitors centre where I handed in a photocopy of my passport and explained that I was there to see Michael Connell.

"Building 2 cannot. Closed. Come back tomorrow. Today building 4, 5, 6." "Are there any other foreigners I can visit from those buildings then." "Not today! Sorry!"

The visitors centre didn't look like much, it was like a lot of Thai places bus terminals, council offices, utility companies, it was a partially open sided building with a thin roof, concrete floor, rows of plastic seating occupied by the odd official behind a grille or desk handing out bits of paper and stamping them when they returned. I was taking in the sights and considering buying some food in the shop/restaurant attached when a foreign lady walked in.

"Hello."

She smiled back and when I politely asked her her business she explained she was visiting her boyfriend and that despite Mike not being eligible for visitors that day another Brit Anthony Flanaghan was so I filled in the necessary forms and was told that I could see him at 9:30 so went and sat with Ellsie, the German lady who helpfully played tour guide for me. I bought some fruit from the counter and put it in a carrier bag then wrote "Anthony Flanaghan Building 4" on it. When the time arrived we were given back our forms and a security card to attach to our shirt, we crossed the road and took a door round the side of the main entrance.

Now despite its reputation the place didn't seem that harsh; the walls were high as you'd expect of a prison but the uniformed staff who searched me and x-rayed the bag of fruit were all smiles the way a lot of Thai people are, more so in some ways, the few corridors and doors we walked through didn't seem that dungeonesque or horrific more like being in the belly of an old ferry - you know, big wooden doors with bolts and 15 coats of paint.

The final big door opened out into a courtyard with two long out buildings running down either side. Ellsie hurried along, she was keen to see her boyfriend. Inside the long houses look more like a big post office terminal rather than a prison where there are glass and aluminum partitioned booths with a chair and a phone on the desk. Through the glass there's a gap and some metal bars and a corridor.

Ellsie told me the phones worked in two particular booths at one end and that the guards had to go and get the prisoners and could be anything from 10 minutes to half an hour. Tony who was born in 1970 was arrested in Bangkok in 2004 carrying drugs. The full story is a bit vague but an accomplice of his was arrested shortly after on Ko Samui and a search of his house retrieved smaller amounts of drugs. Shortly after arrest Tony who grew up in Coventry in the West Midlands was sentenced to death, the death sentence was reduced on appeal in December 2006 to life imprisonment and in January 2007 to 33 years.

As I waited for Tony the place started to fill up, mainly with women come to visit husbands, fathers or sons, but there was a small group of English women who seemed up beat and high spirited who congregated near the corner that Ellsie and I were in. Judging from overheard conversation one was a mother come to visit a son, the others were regular visitors who visited once or twice a week and helped keep the spirits of the English inmates high.

When Tony arrived he seemed genuinely pleased to receive a visitor and also well liked by the English entourage he made a few coarse jokes with them and asked if they'd had news from his sister. He appeared healthy, upbeat and in good spirits. When I asked him how he was he said, "Walking on air man. They've just let me off death row a few weeks ago and took my leg irons off. They weigh 3 and a half kilos it's not easy getting around in them and when they come off it's like learning to walk again."

He talked about his predicament and accepted his fate which he seems to have come to terms with (as did Mike when I spoke to him later) and struck me as being a likeable and intelligent character. When I asked him how he occupied himself he told me that he wakes at 6:30, when he is allowed out of the cell into the open area where him and two or three mates have their own little shelter or "house" as they like to call it, where they can cook, chat, exercise, read until 3pm when they have to go back to the cell. Tony then likes to be asleep by 9 so tries to exercise as much as he can in the free part of the day but will often read until he sleeps.

When asked what he likes to read he told me, "Philosophy mainly, I've been reading Plato, Socrates, Marx things like that, there's quite a big library here we all put our books in there when we're finished. I've read loads of novels and fiction I can't be bothered with them."

I was expecting having read "The Damage Done" in which an Australian serving time for a similar offence to Tony tells of the horrors of the jail to be regaled with stories of eating lice and mixing the puss out of open sores in to add flavour and although there were some unsavory details passed on I was surprised at how little Tony complained.

He told me the cell is crowded, his has 20 men in a space around 7 meters by 5, others can hold as many as 30 although some hold less as well. Now he's off death row things are a lot easier and although he has a long sentence he intends to stay in the Thai prison system for the duration and relatively speaking he has a short sentence.

But Tony to his credit when mentioning a negative will always counter it with a positive, he told me of his two sons Kyle and James aged 19 and 16 and how James is joining the army, after telling me that he has to shower and wash using river water he tells me he's got top marks in his Thai language lessons.

The subject of Michael Connell crops up as it was him I initially wanted to visit and he explains that Mike is hoping to get transferred to British jail although Tony would prefer to stay in Thailand because of the violence within the British prison system. He elaborates that stuff does go on in Thai jail, but it is confined and manageable.

As we talk (despite being told by officials to the contrary) Michael Connell walks past behind Tony and I point him out, Tony explains I can speak to him later once our visit is nearly up. When Mike comes over to talk he appears again like Tony upbeat and complicit of his fate. He appears underweight and explains he's lost a lot because he's playing football in free time and sweating it out in the heat and not really eating properly, he looks forward to being in the UK, although Tony feels life is a bit more easy going in a Thai jail despite the uncertainty. They both remain optimistic of further reductions in their sentence however readily admit that the uncertainty of any reduction is part and parcel of the Thai system.

There seems a genuine camaraderie amongst the inmates receiving visitors and despite the lengths of their sentences a genuine optimism for the future. When the visit was over I passed the bag of fruit through a hatch to be passed on to him and wondered if Tony would eat it or turn it into the hooch he told me the inmates use to get pissed on at the weekend.

Copyright Dominic Lavin. Not to be reproduced in part or whole. Anyone wishing to use this piece should contact the author for permission. Visit Dominic's MySpace Page.

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Prison Visits

Visiting Prisoners in Bangkok Don't go to Bang Kwang prison with any illusions…

'Brokedown Palace' is a movie, and although there may be the occasional exception, the foreign inmates in Bang Kwang have broken Thai law. Given that, Bang Kwang's foreign prisoners are a long way from home and often short of a few of the necessities in life. A visit from someone with a bit of time on their hands can therefore be something the foreign prisoners in Bang Kwang genuinely cherish - and if you are up to it, it's a worthwhile thing to do.

What follows is the definitive guide to how to become a prison visitor.

Provided by "Princess" from the UK, apparently an old hand at visits, the information given should be read carefully before even considering going up to Bang Kwang - if you don't you could make things worse for the people you are trying to help.

Getting there:
From Banglampoo Pier (Khao San) take the big whistling boat going upstream (to the right). It costs 6 Baht to Nonthaburi and takes 40 minutes. Nonthaburi is the last stop and you will recognize it by the white clock tower by the pier and the AMPM convenience store. Jump off the boat and walk straight on - ignore the touts! Take the 1st left and walk about 250 meters. You will see Bang Kwang prison on the right. You will need to go to the registration area on the left…

Dress:
Guys must wear long trousers. Dress respectfully, whatever your sex. It really pisses the guards off girls wearing tiny shorts and vest-tops. Please dress properly because there are rumors the prisoners' visits will stop because of backpackers. Make sure you know exactly who you will call out as well - it annoys the guards when people ask for names they don't know. If you want names you can call the relevant embassies: UK Embassy - 02 305 8333 - ask for Maureen, Kate or Anita. They will not give prisoners' names over the phone though so you will have to go down to the embassy in person to meet them. American Embassy and others may give names over the telephone - I'm not really sure.

Food:
If you bring food from outside put it in a large clear bag. You can buy bags at the registration area cafe for 2 Baht. Write the name of the prisoner you are visiting on the bag. After you have visited the prisoner, you have to hand the food in at the counter (where 100 people or so hang around!). You hand in the original form and your passport. Wait for your passport to come back (usually takes 10 minutes) and off you go.

Books, etc.:
If you want to bring mags, books or papers hand, them into the Foreign Affairs office on the right as you go into the prison area. Leave the prisoner's name and building number on the cover and they'll get them… Don't bring magazines with too many naked pictures in them though - they won't get through. Other info: Please be aware that the prisoners sometimes have family or friends visiting. Look in the registration book to see if someone has already called out the prisoner you are visiting. It's very frustrating for prisoners when they have people they know over and someone randomly chooses to visit them! Beware that in August and December this may occur more often because that's when contact visits take place and families come over… Be very careful at these times. Very few women get visitors and have to rely on missionaries.

To write to a prisoner:
Address an envelope as follows -

Name of prisoner
Bldg. No.
Bang Kwang Prison
Nonthaburi Road
Nonthaburi
11000

Final thoughts:
If you are not really up to this, don't go… time wasters won't help anyone. Be sensitive to the prisoners' situation - if you say you will do something for them, such as send an email for them or something, then please do it - imagine their frustration if you don't. It's also handy to take a pen and paper in. Just chat normally. If they want to tell you their story, they will. But they've probably told their story 1,000 times so they may want to talk about other stuff!

Footnote from KSR.com
For more information about this you can take a look at the Internet and find a number of sites. It's not our intention to link to any of these sites because some of them are critical and make what we regard as slanderous remarks about Thailand. We can't support those sorts of sites, but visit them if you want to. However, be aware of what you are reading - there are far fewer victims around than you might think! Most people know what they are getting into...

Here's one site we can link to http://www.correct.go.th/brief.htm

Apology:

In our 'Banged up' section giving information about visiting prisoners in Bangkok, we wrote: "Some countries offer support to nationals who find themselves in prison abroad, others do not. The United Kingdom, for instance, offers British prisoners on Thai soil no support whatsoever." We received the email below from Angela Tokalau at the British Embassy who gave us a more informed picture:

Dear Sirs,

I happened on your site by accident and read, with much disappointment, the comment made in your seciton on visiting prisoners in Bang Kwang.

I am the Second Secretary (Vice Consul) at the British Embassy and feel that you need to have some more information about what we actually do for our prisoners while they are on Thai soil.

Prisoners in Bangkok receive a visit from an Embassy official every month, more often if there is a problem (health etc). For those in prison in the provinces, we visit every three months. We provide vitamins and prescription medicine free of charge and also pay for medical, dental and optical treatment for each prisoner, regardless of their circumstances.

We do shopping on their behalf, run bank accounts for them at the Embassy, arrange their transfers to British prisons if they are eligible, advise on preparing Royal Pardon Petitions and keep in regular contact with their families. For some of our priosners, we are the only visitors they get.

Can you honestly call this no support?!

Also, please note the Embassy telephone number was changed over a year ago to 02 305 8333.

I would therefore be grateful if you would arrange for the comments about the Embassy's lack of support to be removed from your website.

Yours faithfully

Angela Tokalau (Mrs)
Second Secretary (Vice Consul)
British Embassy Bangkok

Our sincere apologies for this misinformation.

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Sripoom Espresso Bar

Sripoom Espresso Bar
Sripoom Espresso Bar
Sripoom Espresso Bar
Sripoom Espresso Bar
Sripoom Espresso Bar
Banglamphu is full of tiny treasures; little places that aren't on the usual backpacker trail. One Friday evening, walking around the vicinity of Khao San Road, I found myself outside just such a place: Sripoom Espresso Bar. I'd passed by there many a time, but on this particular night I decided to give it a go, and in I went.
 
Once inside Sripoom, I got the feeling that this place was something special. The DJ was spinning some chilled soul tracks, the mirror ball was casting little lights on the walls, and I sat down on one of the cube-shaped seats to soak up the unique atmosphere of this tiny bar, feeling glad to have taken a chance and come here.
 
One of the first things that struck me about this place was the funky, artsy decor. Vintage furniture, gorgeous lamps, mirrors, and a huge monochrome photo mural all add to the relaxed mood.
 
After a couple of minutes, a bartender brought me a menu. Coffee-lovers are more than well catered for at Sripoom, with an array of different ways to get your caffeine fix, and there are also numerous alcoholic drinks on offer, including various cocktails. I ordered an iced mocha (65 baht), and sat back to watch the hustle and bustle of the street outside.
 
The Nintendo "Wii Sports" screen, mounted on the wall just to the side of the door, looked like a lot of fun. Two friends were playing ten-pin bowling on the in-house games console, which features a number of different games (20 baht per person per game).
 
My iced mocha arrived, and I had a chat with Jean, one of the friendly staff. She was really welcoming, and told me about the weekly Monday-night specials at Sripoom. Customers can play Wii Sports free of charge, and it's also "iPod night", when you can hook your iPod up to the sound system - and grab your 15 minutes of superstar DJ fame and a free drink. Sounds good to me! There's also a room upstairs that's available for private parties.
 
After my deliciously icy coffee, I opted for a Long Island Iced Tea (90 baht), which was really good and came in a pleasingly tall glass. It was fun to watch the young Thais arriving to meet their friends for a night out; Sripoom attracts quite a mix of people, from university students to young professionals, and some travellers too.
 
Sripoom is the kind of place where you could go for a couple of quiet drinks or for a more lively evening. Tasty Thai food is also available. The music, the friendly Thai vibe, the great bar menu - this place has it all. I'll definitely be going to Sripoom again.
 
Open:

Monday - Sunday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Getting there:

Turn right at the police station end of Khao San Road. With the temple on your left, go past the left turn into Soi Rambuttri, and Sripoom is just a little further on. 
 
About the author: Liz Clayton
Liz Clayton has been living in Thailand for 2 and a half years. Her first year was spent in Bangkok, last year she worked in Prachinburi province near Isaan, and now she is back in Bangkok for a few more years.

She enjoys looking for new places - finding the little hideaways which aren't on the usual backpacker trail. Fortunately, she is passing what she finds onto KhaoSanRoad.com visitors.

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Khao San Road in Swedish

Khao San Road in SwedishKara KhaoSanRoad.com surfare som ar inbegripna i det Svenska spraket  
 
Hej, Har foljer en liten berattelse om hur man kan bli lurad i Bangkok, eller kanske snarare hur man undviker detta! Forst och framst vill jag papeka ett viktigt faktum. Thailandare ar i regel mycket vanliga och arliga sa det ar bara ett mycket litet fatal som forsorjer sig pa denna typ av "verksamhet" jag beskriver nedan. Denna typ av bondfangeri existerar i alla kulturer och varldsdelar och ar forstas nagot som Thailandare i allmanhet ogillar lika mycket som oss faranger. En av mina basta vanner besokte for ett litet tag sedan Thailand for forsta gangen.

Han ar en intelligent kille och som jag uppfattar det inte mer "blaogd" an genomsnittet av Svenska befolkningen. Han fragade mig om rad da han gjorde sin resplan och jag var ocksa noga med att papeka att man som ny i Thailand ar en sarkilt intressant maltavla for lurendrejeri. Nagot som han skulle tanka pa sade han. Jag har for ovrigt min vans tillstand att skriva detta, men valjer att utelamna hans namn. Jag valjer att kalla honom "han" eller "min van". Han tog taget utanfor Bangkoks internationella flygplats och akte de ca 30 minuterna till andhallplatsen. Darefter bar det av till Khao San Road pa en "motorcykeltaxi", da ingen tuk tuk fanns tillganglig. Val dar foljde han mitt rad och gick genom Buddist-templet mot Chao Praya floden och bokade in pa ett spartanskt men billigt guesthouse.

Efter att ha stallt ifran sig packning, begav sig han tillbaka till Khao San Road for att boka en buss och farjebiljett till Koh Pha Ngan. Bussen skulle avga nasta kvall sa det var antligen dags att ata lite mat och prova pa den inhemska olen. Kvallen kom och eftersom varlden kan te sig liten ibland, rakade han han ocksa stota pa nagra Svenska vanner som ocksa rakade befinna sig pa samma gata vid samma tidpunkt. De tog sig en Chang och pratade lite resplaner. Han kom i sang ganska sent, sjalvklart full av intryck fran det nya landet. Han vaknade tidigt nasta morgon. Smasliten av olen, men vid gott mod begav han sig till Khao San road for att ata frukost. Men pa vagen stotte han pa en man som verkade mycket artig och ville veta var han kom ifran. -Sverige, svarade min van och mannen lyste upp. Min syster skall aka till Sverige snart sade mannen. Hon maste fa traffa dig.

Min van tyckte det visserligen var lite konstigt att nagon var sa entusiastisk, men mannen var mycket overtygande och ringde upp sin "syster" med sin mobiltelefon. Min van pratade med henne och hon forklarade att hon ville ha hjalp med lite Svenska eftersom hon behovde skicka ett brev. Han kande sig lite osaker, men tankte att det nog bara var att dra sig ur, om det visade sig vara nagot skumt, sa tillslut accepterade han att folja med mannen. De tog en taxi och efter nastan en timme(!) kom de fram till ett litet hus. De gick in och min van blev vanligt mottagen av "systern" som genast dukade fram god mat och dryck. Han slappnade av. Hans farhagor om att det var nagot skumt pa gang, mattades och han at sig matt. Sallskapet pratade om Thailand och Sverige och inget verkade konstgt alls till en borjan. Plotsligt sa borjade mannen verka aningen orolig. Han sade sig ha en "van" som var en riktig storskurk.

Denna man som sades heta Mr. Abdullah, skulle komma pa besok om nagon timme. Mannen fragade min van om han kunde hjalpa honom att kanske lura denne Mr. Abdullah nar han kom. Min van tyckte det hela borjade bli obehagligt och ville dra sig ur, men nagot gjorde det hela fullkommligt absurdt och en "Tintin i Thailand upplevelse" infann sig. Han undrade vad denna Mr. Abdullah kunde vara for en person sa han beslot sig att stanna, trots obehagskanslan. Mannen sade att Mr. Abdullah var en riktig gambler och nu skulle dom blasa honom en gang for alla i Black Jack. Mannen visade min van hur man fuskade i detta spel och visade sig vara en skicklig illusionist. Ratt var det var knackade det pa dorren och in kom "Mr. Abdullah". Nu slog det min van att det hela var allvar och han ville bara komma darifran. Stammningen i rummet gjorde dock att han inte ens vagade ifragasatta situationen sa anda stannade han kvar.

Det drojde inte lange innan spelandet var i full gang och min van blev aningen lattad nar han sjalv inte behovde satsa nagra pengar. Bade "Mr. Abdullah" och mannen hade dock varsin ansenlig dollarsedelbunt. Ni forstar kanske redan ungefar hur det hela slutar. "Mr. Abdullah" vill helt plotsligt spela om en stor summa pengar. Mannen pastod sig inte ha sa mycket i kontanter, utan ber att min van skall lana honom pengar, medan han aker och hamtar mer nagon annan stans. Min van skall lana 20.000 Bath till denne och sedan vanta pa Khao San Road och fa tillbaka detta inklusive en spelvinst. Det ar nu min van gor sitt livs misstag och ni staller er sakert fragan; Hur dum far man bli egentligen??? Jag och aven min van ar nog benagna att halla med, det ar korkat, men glom inte att dessa herrar livnar sig pa denna typen av verksamhet och att de ar oerhort manipulativa. Det finns tusentals liknande berattelser som denna. Jag behover knappast namna att mannen aldig dok upp pa Khao sarn Road som han utlovat. Min van forstod detta direkt som han blivit lamnad dar. Han blev 20.000 Bath fattigare men larde sig i varje fall en laxa. Att polisanmala det hela ar menlost. Spel om pengar, utan tillstand, ar forbjudet i Thailand.

Det finns mangder av liknande historier och har kommer mina sma rad: 1. ak aldrig tuk tuk eller taxi om det uppenbart kostar for lite. "One hour around Bangkok... 20 bath" innebar att chaufforen har ett avtal med en juvelerare eller en skraddare. Ni hamnar formodligen hos nagon av dessa och de forsoker salja sa mycket de bara kan. (safirer och andra adelstenar kan EJ saljas till hogre priser i Sverige, om man nu inte ar mycket kunnig och koper stora kvantiteteter pa RaTT stalle) adelstenarna som saljs hos oseriosa handlare till godtrogna turister ar ofta fororenade och inte varda ens halften av priset. 2. Gor inte som min van, folj inte med manniskor ni inte kanner om det inte ar uppenbart att det hela ar ok. Var speciellt vaksam mot manniskor som pastar ha en slakting i Sverige eller liknande. Sager du dig vara Tysk, kan du ge dig tusan pa att killen har en syrra i Berlin med. 3. Har du fallenhet for "syndfullt leverne" sa ar Patpong och motsvarande omraden i Bangkok kanda, inte bara for sina lattkladda flickor, utan ocksa for ordentligt saltade notor, dolda entr?avgifter och liknande. Tank ocksa pa att det finns varre saker som kan handa dar an en kraschad resbudget. Konssjukdomar ar mer regel an undantag och det ar aldrig roligt att ofrivilligt bli drogad med starka somnmedel. (jo det hander) Thailand ar ett mycket vackert land och har en underbar kultur och befolkning. Med storsta sannorlikhet hander det dig ingenting om du bara nyttjar lite sunt fornuft! Ha det sa bra! Jens

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Khao San Road in Thai

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???????????????????????????????????????????????? ???? ?????????????????? ????? ????????? ??????? ???? ???????????? ?????????????????????????? (?????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????) ??????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????? ?????????? ?????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????   

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????????????????????????????????????????????????? “Side Walk” ???????????????????????????????????????? “Sun Set Street” ???????????????????????????????????????? Sun Set Street ???????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????

????????????????????????????????????????????? Susie Pub ???????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????? ????????? ????????????????????????????? ??? ??? ??????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Molly ?????????????? Thai retro ???????????????????????

?????????????????????????????????????? “The Club” ???????????? Space ?????????????? Psy Trance ???? 100 ??????????? ??????????????????????????? “Brick Bar” ?????????????????????? Reggae ??? Ska ????????????????

??????????????????????????????????  ?????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????? ??????????? ????????????????????? ????????????????? ????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????? ????????????? ?????????? ?????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????-?????????????????????????????????????

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????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??? ???? ????????????? (???????) ????????????? (?????????) ??????????? (??????) ?????????(???????) ?????????? (???????) ?????????? (????????? ??????????????) ???

??????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????? 2542-2543 ?????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????

????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????? ???????????????????? ????????????? ???????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????? ???? ???????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????? ????????????????? ??????????? ????????????????????????? ???? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????? ?????????????????????????????? ???????????????? ?????????????

???????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????? ????????????? ????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????

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Khao San Road in French

khao_san_road_in_french_250Khao San Road, passage obligatoire...
C'est votre premier voyage en Thaïlande ou alors vous êtes un inconditionnel de l'Asie? Que vous soyez un voyageur sac à dos ou bcbg avec valise, un petit tour dans cette rue ou plutôt ce quartier, ne pourra que vous enchanter.

Khao San Road, c'est LE "carrefour" des aventuriers au départ d'un périple asiatique, ou l'on y fait pleins de rencontres, on s'échange des bonnes infos entre baroudeurs venant de tous les pays, on y achète ses billets et l'on s'équipe pour la suite, et dire que cette fameuse rue prît sont essor dans les années 70, avec seulement 2 hôtels de style chinois...

Khao San est devenue maintenant un véritable quartier populaire et touristique, rempli de "guesthouse", magasins, bars, marchands ambulants, agences de voyages, banques etc. ... et qui génère certainement plus d'argent au mètre carré que n'importe quelle autre rue de Thaïlande.

Idéalement située, dans ce Bangkok qui ne possèdent pas vraiment un "centre", la proximité de ses nombreuses stations de bus, son va-et-vient de "tuk tuk" à la recherche d'un éventuel "farang" (un étranger) et sans oublier les plus classiques taxis jaunes et noirs climatisés, pourront vous emmener aux 4 coins de la capitale qui ne manque pas d'attractions !

Dans ce pays au multiples facettes, une mégapole étouffante balancée entre modernisme et tradition, un building ultra-moderne à côté d'un temple plusieurs fois centenaires, des montagnes verdoyantes au nord et le sud avec ses plages à n'en plus finir, cliché carte postale, la Thaïlande vous laissera certainement un souvenir inoubliable.

De Bangkok vous pourrez vous rendre aux quatre coins du pays très facilement, soit en bus, train ou avion, tout est extrêmement bien organisé en Thaïlande, vous poussez la porte d'une agence, vous achetez un billet et vous n'avez plus qu'à vous laisser guider jusqu'à votre destination.

Envie de retrouver les plages au plus vite, alors rendez-vous à Saïthai, gare routière de départ pour tous les bus en direction du sud, pour les plus connues, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui et sa petite s'œur Koh Phan-Ngan, et un peu plus loin le paradis de la plongée : Koh Tao.

Si vous préférez le train, alors c'est en direction de la gare de Hualampong qu'il faudra vous diriger ou alors si votre budget le permet, prenez l'avion… mais on est routard ou on ne l'est pas...

Tiens au fait, ce routard, qui a un moment fut regardé d'un mauvais œil par la société thai, très conservatrice, car avec ses cheveux longs et son allure de hippie mal rasé (ou pas du tout), à visiter les temples en short et sandales, à tout le temps discuter les prix, à dépenser un minimum, attention ce cliché à tendance à disparaître, le routard des temps moderne a bien évolué et s'est adapté, il est bien vu, sympa, a coupé ses cheveux (pas tous...), beaucoup ont maintenant une carte de crédit, et surtout, l'on remarqua que cette catégorie de touristes faisait travailler l'économie locale, ce qui n'est pas négligeable, car il mange dans la rue, et pas dans les restos 5 étoiles, il s'habille dans les stands ambulants et pas chez les gros tailleurs commissionnés, il achète et boit sa bière dans l'échoppe familiale chinoise du coin et non dans un bar douteux, et préfère les frissons d'une ballade en tuk-tuk à celle d'un car qui vous fait faire le tour de la ville en quelques heures, tout chronométré, et bien c'était le moment d'y songer...

Et pour conclure, si vous avez envie d'échanger la moiteur de Bangkok contre une partie de bronzette et farniente sur la plage, pourquoi pas choisir Koh Samui, Koh Phan-Ngan ou Koh Tao, mais avant n'oubliez pas de faire une visite sur notre site, www.samui-info.com, c'est le portail francophone régional.

Bonnes vacances et à bientôt.

Christophe

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Indian Food in the Khao San Road Area

Indian Food on Khao San Road
Indian Food on Khao San Road
Indian Food on Khao San Road
Indian Food on Khao San Road
There are a wide variety of Indian restaurants around Khaosan Road, all offering a different atmosphere and dining experience. Here is a selection of those available.

The Indian Spice is located at 30 Soi Rambutri, next to King's Fashion Tailors. The service is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed with authentic Hindi music played in the background.

The specials include sheesha pipes, where two people can puff for an hour for 200 baht, including a free drink. There are a lot of vegetarian and meat dishes to choose from and the banana lassi is sweet and creamy.

Situated in the center of Khaosan Road, you can't miss the tasteful neon palm trees outside Taste of India. Inside, the restaurant is very stylishly decorated and this is a good place for couples and families. The window seats are a must as they allow you to look out on the activity of Khaosan Road.

Another great feature of this restaurant is that they offer a delivery service, for when you just can't make it out of the guesthouse. The owner - Vikas - is very friendly and happy to explain the menu over the phone. Call 081 8101744

Solo diners will feel particularly at home at Rainbow Restaurant, opposite Khaosan Road. Not only is the service friendly and quick, but ther is a large TV mounted on the wall showing Western movies to keep you company. Portionsd are large and the curries are rich and thick. There are even tables outside on the street so that you can stare out lovingly at Khaosan Road.

Red is the colour is Spicy Affair, situated at 235 Soi Rambutri, parallel to Khaosan Road. This sleek hole in the wall feels like something out of Arabian Nights, complete with wizened men smoking sheesha pipes at the back. The hostess is pretty hot too. Call 081 3149307 or 081 173383

Opposite Spicy Affair, Masala India Restaurant provides an entirely Indian experience. Whilst not as stylishly decorated, the family feel and delicious food make this an enjoyable eatery.

'Taan cow hi arroy na' - enjoy your food.

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Traveling along the Chao Phraya River

Traveling along the Chao Phraya River
Traveling along the Chao Phraya River
Traveling along the Chao Phraya River
Traveling along the Chao Phraya River
Traveling along the Chao Phraya River
Many visitors to Bangkok find the city hard to navigate, often overwhelmed by the pollution, hustle and bustle and traffic volume. However, there is an easy and relaxing way to take in many of the city's highlights just a short stroll from Khaosan Road.
To get to the mighty Chao Phraya River, simply walk to the Gulliver's end of Khaosan Road and cross the road. Take the short cut through Wat Chana Songkram and you will be in Soi Rambhutri. Follow the narrow lane ahead, cross the road and turn left. After about 50 meters you will come to a narrow alley leading to the pier. Should you get lost, simply ask any Thai 'meanam unai' (may-nam u-nigh) where is the river?

You are now on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, which is the preferred form of transport for many people. The river runs 372 kms from North to South and runs next to some of the city's most interesting attractions. The closest pier to Khaosan Road is Tha (pier) Phra Athit - pier 13. From here, you can take a ferry down the river to the central pier. The journey takes about 30 minutes and is worth it just for the unexpected and intriguing sights on both sides, even if you don't feel like exploring.

Finding the correct ferry is easy if you know what you're looking for. The ferry will come from your right and have Nonthamburi written on the side. I prefer to catch the orange flag Express boats as they stop at all piers and come every 20 minutes. Yellow flag ferries stop at 10 piers, whilst those with a blue flag stop at just 3. The white Local Line Boat runs from 6-8:40 and 15:00-18:00. This ferry is mainly for commuters and very crowded. A trip along the river in an orange flag boat costs around 13 baht and tickets can be bought on board. I prefer to stand near the back, but be careful to avoid the area reserved for monks.

Alternatively, you may choose the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, which is much larger and comfortable, if a little more expensive. The tourist boats often come with a guide, who will tell you the facts about each site as you chug past.

Once everyone is aboard, the conductor indicates to the driver through a system of high-pitched whistles and the journey is away. First, the ferry crosses the river to pier 12, Phra Pinklao Bridge. This is the closest stop to the Royal Barge Museum, which is worth a look.

Carrying on down the river, pier 11 is next to the Bangkok Noi (Thonburi) Railway Station, convenient if you're catching a train out of Bangkok, whilst pier 10 is near Siriraj hospital and the Patravadi Theatre, home to Bangkok's independent modern theatre company. After pier 10 the ferry crosses the river once more and arrives at Tha Chang, from where you can explore the Grand Palace.

Next, the ferry rounds a bend in the river and you are faced with one of the route's most arresting sites. The bell-shaped pagoda of Wat Arun - temple of dawn - sits on the right-hand river bank. To visit the temple, get off at pier 8 and take a small ferry across the river. Wat Po - home of the Reclining Buddha - is also just a short walk from pier 8. Further down the river, we come to Memorial Bridge - also known as Saphan Phut - at pier 6. Across the bridge you will find Wat Prayoon (the turtle temple) and the Princess Mother Memorial Park. Next to the pier is Pak Klong Market, Bangkok's largest wet market and flower distribution center. Pier 5 is named Tha Rachawongs. This is the best place to stop if you want to explore China Town in all its colourful chaos.

The Chao Phraya Express Boat Co., Ltd (CPEX) was established by Khunying Supatra Singhulaka in September 1971. The company reports that around 35,000 to 40,000 passengers use its ferries each day, totaling around 14.6 million passengers every year!

Further down the river we come to pier 3, Tha Si Phraya. Here you will find an interesting antiques market and the Portuguese Embassy. Pier 1 is largely dedicated to the Oriental Hotel, which is a great place for a cup of tea. You can also visit the Assumption Cathedral and the recently renovated French Embassy.

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Italian Food on Khao San Road

Italian Food on Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Italian Food on Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Italian Food on Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Mama Mia! It's true that Thai food is delicious and there are many great places around Khaosan Road to eat tasty authentic Thai food. However, there are times when you need a change and your stomach cries out for a pizza or rich pasta dish. Luckily, there are some great places to eat Italian food around Khaosan Road.

If you want to savour the atmosphere of Khaosan Road while you eat, look no further than La Casa, located towards the Buddy Lodge end of Khaosan Road. This friendly, mock-traditional style restaurant is open at the front so that you can look out on the madness and mayhem of Khaosan Road. The menu is reasonably priced, with pasta and pizza dishes at around 200 baht. The calzone is recommended, as are the fish dishes, which come in a wide range of sauces and styles. Tel: 02-629-1627. Open daily 12:00- 24:00.

If you are looking for a stylish atmosphere to relax with a cup of excellent coffee and some good food, look no further than Cafe Primavera, located at 56 Phra Sumen Road, just a short walking distance from Khoasan Road. Open since 1998, this restaurant offers a wide variety of pizza and pasta dishes, Viennese Applestrudel and relaxing jazz music in the background. The set lunch menus are a particularly good deal as diners can choose from three set-menus served between 11:30am and 2pm everyday. Each consists of soup, salad, a main course, soft drink and ice cream for just 175 to 225 baht. Tel: 02 - 281- 4718.

And of course, for those who want and quick pizza fix, there are also branches of Pizza Company and Pizza Hut to temp weary travellers. The nearest branch of Pizza Hut is on Phra Sumen Road and is just a small take away outlet. The nearest branch of Pizza Company is parallel to Khaosan Road on Soi Rhambutri. This is a much larger restaurant with tables on two floors and a large salad bar.


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Nima Chandler of Nancy Chandler Maps

Nima Chandler of Nancy Chandler Maps: Khao San Road Map
Nima Chandler of Nancy Chandler Maps: Khao San Road Map
One thing there is no shortage of in Thailand is maps… Big ones, small ones, pocket sized ones. You know the sort of thing… They are often a pointless exercise that contribute nothing to the quality of your visit… The immediately disposable giveaways probably most functional in the rainy season as an alternative to the umbrella you didn't think you'd need to bring. Usually found at your guesthouse reception, these maps feature places you already know about or wouldn't really want to visit. Invariably, they carry countless adverts for "Rahiv's and Sanjay's Bespoke Tailoring Shop", restaurants offering the best Pork Knuckle this side of Baden-Werttemberg (or even Lower Saxony), and diving lessons from the local Swedish diving school (why are there so many in Thailand?). They contribute nothing to the quality of your visit… unless of course you are talking about Nancy Chandler Maps.

Created by Nancy Chandler Graphics, and turning the genre on its head, Nancy Chandler Maps are no throw away irrelevancies, but items visitors to Thailand cherish and actively seek out to purchase. Advert free and uninfluenced by 'tea money', they act as a surrogate guidebook, which they often rival for pertinent information. Nancy Chandler Maps are not only useful, but they are the sort of thing people take home as souvenirs. This month saw the organization cross into KhaoSanRoad.com territory with a detailed map of "Khao San Road & Old Bangkok". Before the Bloods and Crips kicked off a turf war, we sat down for a powwow with Nima Chandler, who researched the map.

Here's the result:

KSR: Nima - thanks for meeting us like this. First of all, why don't you give us an overview of Nancy Chandler Graphics and its history?

Nima Chandler: My mother Nancy Chandler founded the company in 1974 when she produced the first detailed map of Bangkok, initially meant to be for expatriates. Handrawn and handletttered, it included special little craft outlets, the only western supermarket, English langauge bookshops and the like about town, while also trying to make some sense of the chaos that were the Sunday Market (then at Sanam Luang near Khao San) and Chinatown. All much the same as was what we do today, although Bangkok has grown immensely since then.
 
KSR: So, you've lived in Thailand all your life?
 
Nima Chandler: It has been home since I was one, the chaos of the city something I thrive on. Visiting the US, I am always amazed at the lack of street food vendors, loud music, mega malls around every corner... It's much too quiet and sane for me there.
 
KSR: And you have maps for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Suan Lum Night Bazaar… how do you research your maps?
 
Nima Chandler: We clip and file anything we read or see of interest year round. Come update time, we collate all notes before setting out to research specific areas, then either walking or driving up and down streets, keeping one eye open for things on the list, another eye open for things not on the list. One thing you'd never want to do is walk behind me in the Night Bazaar or Chatuchak Weekend Market as every stall gets a once-over before I head home with my notes to pick and choose what might be of interest to the visitor or expatriate.
 
KSR: It must be an ongoing task updating them?
 
Nima Chandler: In a city like Bangkok, it's exciting. There's always new places to visit, old places to toast for surviving, and closed places to keep an eye on to see what comes next. Each city map does take about 6 months to properly update, which is why we only do so every year and a half normally. Luckily I have help now, with my assistant Manapiti Ramasoot, who calls around to confirm hours and the like, while also taking on some of the on foot and road research as well.
 
KSR: …and now Khao San Road... what drew you to Khao San?
 
Nima Chandler: We added an inset map of Khao San to our Map of Bangkok back in 2003. I personally loved the color of the area, its vibrancy and energy, not to mention all the great bars, shopping and attractions of the area. (As my mother jokes, there weren't many bars on her map at all until I joined her in the business. When I did, Khao San was not an area to be overlooked for all it had to offer nightlife lovers.) Since then, we've held several fun scavenger hunts in the area and I've co-hosted several wild hen's nights and Khao San pub crawls for expatriates that rarely tour this part of town. Pictures would be provided, but my friends would not speak to me if I shared, sorry.
 
KSR: We have to say it's a totally detailed little map - everything you need is there and it's going to be really useful for people visiting the area. How long did it take to research?
 
Nima Chandler: Approximately 6 weeks. We had just updated our Map of Bangkok so our notes were pretty up to date before we focused on the area in more detail. We then spent 2 weeks of researching on foot in the area - I actually moved to a hotel on Phra Athit for the week - hunting down places we'd heard about but had yet to pinpoint for the map, after which it took another 2-3 weeks to map, index and double-check. Nancy meanwhile was working on all sorts of sketches to go with the map - of backpackers looking for hotels, shopping, drinking, etc - which sadly never made it onto the map for lack of space! Hopefully, we'll be able to use them in another format in the future.
 
KSR: Most people who come to KSR leave and come back again after a couple of weeks and say "I hardly recognized the place"! Isn't keeping your map of Khao San and the area relevant going to be a particular challenge given how quickly things change here?
 
Nima Chandler: Our website offers free updates online, something we started years ago with our other titles. Updated at least once a month, we highlight great new additions, mention places that have closed and things to keep an eye out for, as well as list upcoming events people might be interested in. In short, if we've heard about or seen any changes, they'll be noted online at www.nancychandler.net.
 
KSR: Give yourself a plug - where can people buy your maps on KSR? What's the current price?
 
Nima Chandler: Nancy Chandler's Map of Khao San & Old Bangkok is available online at www.nancychandler.net and at bookshops in the Khao San Rd area (including Shaman, Sara Ban, Bookazine, Aporia, Moonlight and others). Our suggested retail price is B 125* in Thailand. For those overseas, our website offers the map at US$ 7.95* including delivery by airmail (we don't believe in quoting one price then adding on huge delivery charges without notice when people go to check out).
 
KSR: Most of the maps you find around Thailand are merely excuses for advertising. But of course, you don't accept advertising. So this means you recommend everywhere you mention?
 
Nima Chandler: No, we don't recommend everything on the map - there's too much on the map to do that. On our Bangkok and Chiang Mai maps, recommended places are highlighted in the directories that accompany the maps if not on the maps themselves. On the map of Khao San & Old Bangkok, our favorites are generally given a special mention on the map itself and within the directory. For our nightlife listings, however, we provide short descriptions, leaving the user to decide what kind of scene they are into. For example, we're not particularly keen on hip hop ourselves, but if you are, you'll find a place you'll like on the map. You can read between the lines too, as in the case of one pub where we note "mind the drunken yobos" and another we describe as with "loud live band 9pm on, chill earlier".
 
KSR: And you don't take 'tea money'?
 
Nima Chandler: No 'tea money', no free rooms, no free meals, no discounted drinks. We usually don't mention who we are or what we're doing either, unless contacting people by email.
 
KSR: So what are the 'must do' places on KSR right now?
 
Nima Chandler: Hmmm. What's 'in' changes regularly and really depends on what kind of crowd you're into - I love the streetside cocktail bars which are located in front of what will be a big new mall and hotel, in other words, a remnant of the past likely to disappear soon. Thais meanwhile are currently flocking to the streetside cafes and clubs on Rambuttri just north of Khao San which has a flavor all its own after dark. If I had to list five places that would 'surprise' the visitor to Khao San, they would include a visit to the restored mansion that houses Starbucks for a coffee, a browse for the most unusual title you can find at Shaman Books (there are some truly bizarre ones), a pre-party drink anytime from 6-8 pm at the rooftop Gazebo, dinner anywhere on the street, and then a few more drinks at the Roof Pub on Khao San (great oldies music and a buzzing crowd), the Old Phra Athit Pier on Phra Athit (a much quieter, almost refined ambience for the area) and/or the Ad Here blues bar on Samsen (for the non-claustrophobic).
 
KSR: And if you were writing a back of an envelope itinerary for someone staying on KSR, where are the key places they should visit in the area? I am sure Wat Phra Kaew must be on the list?
 
Nima Chandler: The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Po and Wat Arun are on everyone's itineraries. Special suggestions we would make would include: Sunset drinks and/or dinner at The Deck of the Arun Residence, a wander down the back alleyways to the simple shack-like riverside cafes near Tha Phra Chan, maybe a wander through the crowds at the market in front of Siriraj Hospital on the other side of the river, for sure dinner in the Phraeng Phuton area at Chotechitr. If you're vegetarian, we'd recommend May Kaidee's and Rub Ar Roon. If you're a student, we'd recommend a visit to Thammasat University's bookshop and uni market. I could go on and on. In short, we recommend personalizing your visit, something we believe our detailed map enables people to do.
 
KSR: What about little novelties - markets, oddities… places people might not necessarily read about in a guide book but should visit while they are on KSR… got any suggestions?
 
Nima Chandler: Besides the many mentioned above, wander by the Sor Vorapin boxing gym when classes are in session - who knows, you might find yourself signing up for a few hours of training. The Lofty Bamboo crafts shop is our favorite relatively new outlet, with great little hill tribe textile baby shoes that jump off the shelves among other items. Sticking your head in Nittaya Curry's shops for Thai kanom (sweets) and snacks can also be a unique experience...
 
KSR: So, what projects are coming up… what new maps can we look forward to?
 
Nima Chandler: Let's see. I am supposed to be on holiday, resting up after updating the Bangkok map and releasing the Khao San & Old Bangkok map, but someone who shall not be named has us now toiling away on a map for this very website... As for other projects on the table, we'll let you know when we're ready to announce!
 
KSR: OK - well… good luck with all of that and let us know how things work out.
 
Nima Chandler: Will do.
 
*Prices June 2008
 
See the map of Khao San Road provided by Nancy Chandler Maps.

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Chris Rodgers, Oh My Cod

Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
What do you get if you add a drunken night out with your mates and a complete absence of a decent fish and chips in the immediate vicinity? The answer: Food for thought. We talk to Chris Rodgers about the journey that started as a two week trip to Thailand and ended up with him bringing a real English fish and chip shop to Khao San Road.

KSR.com: OK... Perhaps you can start by telling us your full name.

OMC: Chris Rodgers... with a 'D'.

KSR.com: So... How long have you been in Thailand?

OMC: I've been here 12 years...

KSR.com: And what have you been doing for most of those 12 years?

OMC: I came here for 2 weeks 12 years ago... I was on my way to Indonesia and Australia from India, but I never managed to get down there. For the first 6 months I did the backpacker stuff; backpacking around Thailand. And then I got involved in the Thailand Times... I am a photographer and I was helping them out for a while. It was never enough to live on though, and then one day the company I used to work for in the UK called me because had a new contract at the airport here. They were working with a Thai company and asked if I could show them the ropes for 3 months. That lasted 10 years and I finished with them in November last year. We were dealing with all the major airlines. I finished that to start up this place.

KSR.com: Time to go out on your own?

OMC: Well, yeah.

KSR.com: You weren't going to open your own airline, so you opened a chippy (fish and chip shop) instead?

OMC: That's right - instead of "we're flying tonight", "we're" frying tonight".

KSR.com: That can be the interview headline..."From frying to flying!"

OMC: I wasn't actually flying though; I was on the ground.

KSR.com: Still a great headline...

(Tense silence)

KSR.com: So... erm... The big question is, "is it a northern chippy, or a southern chippy?"

OMC: Middle... we are bridging the gap between north and south.

KSR.com: You can't. It's either north or south.

(A few more seconds of tense silence)

OMC: We're south of Leeds and north of London.

KSR.com: So it's a southern chippy?

(A few more seconds of tense silence)

KSR.Com: Where are you from in the UK?

OMC: Loughborough.

KSR.com: That's London.

(More tense silence)

KSR.com: Do you sell 'Savaloies'?

OMC: No, we don't. But we do sell 'Mushy Peas'...

KSR.com: OK... Northern chippy.

OMC: ... and Deep Fried Mars Bars...

KSR.com: What?

OMC: Deep Fried Mars Bars.

KSR.com: Deep Fried Mars Bars?

OMC: It's a Scottish delicacy.

KSR.com: I've never even seen one of them, let alone had one.

OMC: Every chippy in Scotland sells them so I thought "why don't I put them on as a bit of a talking point". I made some up for a group who came in here the other night. One of them said he liked it... he was from Denmark. The others said they were glad they'd had one, but they wouldn't have one again.

KSR.com: Denmark?

OMC: Yeah...

(More tense silence)

KSR.com: OK... So you were working at the airport... what was the inspiration behind this place? What made you want to start a fish and chip shop on Khao San Road? Have you got chippies in your family or something like that?

OMC: No, not at all. I had to take a course in the UK to become a certified fryer...the British Federation of Fryers... There might be one more place on Phuket but I am definitely the only certified fryer in Bangkok. The inspiration? It was a drunken night on Khao San Road with some mates. We couldn't be bothered to go down Sukhumvit to the chippy there; it's a long way for a bag of chips. Two years later I was trying to find a suitable place for a chippy here, and eventually found this place... and it was going to be just a fish and chip shop originally, but it went more from that to a cafe where you can get a breakfast, pies, baked potatoes... that sort of thing. I used to live in this area and I did a bit more research - I knew it wasn't a place to get a great British breakfast... You can get them on Sukhumvit and I thought "why not do them down here". Sausages, fried bread, Black Pudding if you want it... The works.

KSR.com: So how long have you been open now?

OMC: We opened in 2006. We opened around Songkran so that was a hectic week...

KSR.com: Really? So you got straight in there selling straight off?

OMC: Yeah, it was the best way to do it, we managed to solve a lot of our problems straight away - if we hadn't have got straight in there it might have taken longer.

KSR.com: Why do you think it was all so immediate?

OMC: A lot of our regulars are from this area, we've got a lot of people from Manager Magazine around the back... they come in at lunchtime... UNICEF as well - we have a few of those people...

KSR.com: So let's get this straight - UNICEF spend my donation money of chips and mushy peas?

OMC: That's right... I wanted to make a different sort of place for this area. You've got the nice surroundings... It's...

KSR.com: (Interrupts) I guess its one of those things that, in this area, could be a hit or a miss, and obviously it's been a hit. A lot of the people I talk to already know about you.

OMC: We did a lot of marketing in places like Ajarn.com, BK magazine, Untamed Travel...

KSR.com: ...and the words got out pretty quickly about this great new place on Khao San Road.

OMC: I was amazed - I did a search on the internet and there were lots of posts about me... the Lonely Planet website... ThaiVisa... Stickman... the word's getting around. What I am finding is that people staying here for 3 or 4 days aren't just coming in once, we are seeing them a few times. We had one girl who came in here breakfast lunch and diner for three days in a row!

KSR.com: You have certainly got everybody's interest... There's a fascination with the idea of an English chippy on KSR. There's a lot of American influence on the strip with bars, etc. but there are a lot of English people down here, and they stay here longer, so this place redresses the balance a bit.

OMC: That's right...

KSR.com: So what is absolutely special about this place... apart from Fried Mars Bars?

OMC: We do a 'Hangover Special' which is quite popular. It works if you are still drunk as well, one girl told me last week. It's a fried breakfast with a Bloody Mary... a decent sized Bloody Mary... You know.., the stuff that works when you are not feeling well.

KSR.com: That sounds illegal - lots of carbohydrates and a Bloody Mary?

OMC: Well, we're off the main drag a bit so nobody can see... but really - it works. I am told anyway. I haven't had time to get drunk to find out for myself.

KSR.com: That sound's encouraging...

OMC: But we also do meals that you probably won't find in other places, things like "Boiled Eggs with Soldiers", which are selling like hot cakes. We are doing about 10 or 15 plates every day.

KSR.com: Who too?

OMC: The Indian tailors... They love them.

KSR.com: "Boiled Eggs with Soldiers?"

OMC: Yeah.

KSR.com: I thought that was strictly for the under 5s?

OMC: Yeah, it is, but everyone likes to go back.

KSR.com: Right...

OMC: Cheese on Toast... You see people who have been traveling for 6 months and they come here and have Cheese on Toast... you'd think they were in some sort of fancy French restaurant or something.

KSR.com: Well, it's very exotic food in these parts; thousands of miles away from the United Kingdom... don't look down your nose at Cheese on Toast.

OMC: We use proper cheese... imported... not those processed cheese slices.

KSR.com: Aren't you a bit daunted at the prospect of moving into something like this with the rents so high around Khao San?

OMC: I think having been here so long I had a good idea of what I was getting into, and I didn't start the place to become a millionaire... that's not want I wanted... As long I can pay my rent I am happy.

KSR.com: And we certainly think you are going to do that. You've done really well at conveying an 'English Experience' - it does make you feel like you are back in the UK. Have you had any fights in here yet?

OMC: (Laughs) We had 5 soldiers who were on leave from Kosovo. They had come out here for some R&R. They asked me what was on the drinks menu and I only have beer - no shorts at present - but I do sell Bloody Mary. They asked me what was in a Bloody Mary and they just had 5 straight Vodkas. In the end they had 2 bottles of Vodka. 10 bottles of Singha, 4 Changs... one of them kicked a table over. But it was all done in the best possible taste. They were alright...

KSR.com: Sounds like any small English town on a Saturday night... excellent. And you need that sort of thing for the authentic English experience.

OMC: Exactly. (Laughs) No... to be honest we keep that element out. But we do show 'Eastenders' every Sunday, so if you really are missing the authentic English experience you should come down.

KSR.com: 'Eastenders'?

OMC: Yeah.

KSR.com: The omnibus edition?

OMC: Yeah.

KSR.Com: OK Chris... That sort of raps things up for us. Thanks for your time and best of luck with everything you are doing.

OMC: Thanks - it's been a pleasure.

Khao San Road Directory Listing

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May Kaidee – Veggie Power

May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
May Kaidee - Veggie Power
It's early in the morning and May of May Kaidee looks fabulous, as always. I've had two cups of coffee and am still sluggish from the weight of the bags under my eyes, but May sweeps into the room with skin glowing and eyes shining. Looking at May, you would hardly guess that she is one of the hardest working women in Bangkok. She greets me warmly and then we are off.

First, we're off to meet and greet the students signed up for today's cookery class. Each day, six lucky travelers learn how to create delicious Thai dishes under the supervision of May and her sister. Today's students come from Israel, the USA, England and Korea. This is their first Thai cookery lesson and all are excited about the experience. The first stop is the local supermarket, where May introduces the ingredients and explains how they are used. May tells me that she chooses the supermarket rather than the outdoor market because; "that way I can show the students how to find the ingredients in their own country." When the shopping is complete, May leads the students to the kitchen, which is located at the back of her restaurant on Samsen Road. The students cook in pairs using a special instruction sheet prepared by May.


May demonstrates how to use the equipment and blend the ingredients, then gives the students space to get creative in the kitchen. When they have finished, May tastes each dish and offers comments and tips.

The cookery class lasts four hours - from 9 am-1 pm - during which time the students cook 10 specially selected dishes which they then can devour. The chefs look happy as they sample their creations. "This is great," a beaming English woman tells me. "The perfect souvenir."

May came from Bangkok from her Isaan village of Si Sa Saket in 1988 to help her Aunt and Uncle in their vegetarian restaurant. May, who was just 16, was working on the farm when the fateful letter arrived. "They had to write a letter to ask for my help; there was no phone in the village."

Like the other villagers, May was not originally vegetarian. "I used to eat everything," she confesses. "Rats, dogs, crickets, worms; we ate whatever we found."

But in Bangkok May soon found her waistband expanding and decided to change her diet. May converted to vegan and lot a lot of weight. Her diet, combined with teetotalism, is obviously the reason for May's clear complexion and abundant energy. "In 16 years I haven't needed to go to the hospital about my health," she beams.

May decided she wanted to share her healthy philosophy and opened her own restaurant. It was difficult at first as there were problems with the police and Thai traditions. "Many Thai people don't want to change their habits," May sighs. "They think brown rice is animal food, they won't try it."

Luckily, May's warmth and open spirit drew her friends to her, and they would often bring her extra plates, spoons and provisions. It wasn't long before westerners had caught onto the wonders of May's cuisine and she had a healthy 'farang' (western) following.

In the last 20 years, May's vision has expended conciderably. She now has three restaurants, a website, a cookery book, classes, rooms for rent and soon her own TV show. May Kaidee TV, starting in about a month, will take the form of daily 1-2 minute episodes on the internet. "I have four new things coming soon," May tells me with a grin. "New cookery book, new restaurant, New Year and new government."

But May's vision doesn't stop there. Having already traveled all over the world to spread her message, May is jetting off to India next month to learn about Indian health techniques such as Ayurvedic medicine.

May's idea is to create a complete detox centre where people can eat food organically grown at May's farm, meditate, sing and dance. "I want to create week long home stay facilities so people can fix their body before they go home."

Song and dance are very close to May's heart. When the students have finished cooking, she teaches them traditional Thai dancing, which they perform before singing the sontam song.

May Kaidee provides the perfect eating experience, combined with her flare and love of Thai culture.

May Kaidee is located at 33 Samsen Road (next to Soi 1) and 1117/1 Tanao Road, behind Burger King at the end of Khaosan Road.


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An Interview with Steve Burgess of Bangkok Natural Healing


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Healing and Alternative Medicine in Thailand
Healing and Alternative Medicine in Thailand
Healing and Alternative Medicine in Thailand
Healing and Alternative Medicine in Thailand
Reiki, energy healing, Chi Gong, Tai Chi, healing crystals - yeah, yeah, yeah‚… If you've been on the road for a while, you've heard it all before, usually from some dreadlocked neo-hippy clutching a Carlos Castaneda book he picked up in New Delhi. It's part of the package, and for many, their understanding of the energy healing and alternative medicine is as substantive as their knowledge of why Che Guevara is printed on the front of their t-shirts. The result - the whole issue is often trivialized and marginalized…

Enter Steve Burgess. Steve landed in Thailand 3 years ago and immediately set up on Khao San Road working out a small, one-room shop. His passion for healing is only surpassed by his passion for standards. He is dedicated to the cause of proving scientifically that energy healing is beneficial, and he has worked with doctors and professors who are now beginning to champion his cause. Beyond this, Steve is committed to developing training courses in a range of healing arts that meet international standards and can stand the test of third-party scrutiny. Syllabus, curriculum, learning outcomes - these are not terms usually regarded part of 'alternative' vocabulary. From 'esoteric' to 'pragmatic' - meet Steve Burgess and it will go a long way towards demystifying the mysterious.

We talk to Steve about his time in Thailand, on Khao San Road, and what is in store for the future.

KSR.COM: Steve - great of you to meet us like this. Perhaps you can just introduce yourself for our visitors' benefit and give them an overview of what it is exactly you do.

SB: Firstly, I have been here now 6 years. I came to Thailand to study Pranic healing, and as with most training, once you learn something you need to go and practice. I wanted to start doing treatments as I had studied many different healing arts. I started with a little shop on Khao San. As soon as I made the decision to open there, I was contacted by people in hospital who wanted treatments, and then people in other countries contacted me. I was also invited to teach and do treatments in Japan, which surprised me as that is where Reiki originated. Reiki is the main healing art I use and teach.

KSR.COM: You are from Australia. Many of the people I have met involved in these areas you are have been from safe middle-class backgrounds. Not really the case for you though, is it?

SB: Yes, I am an Ozzy ‚– a country boy. I have had quite a few changes in my life. The last big change was before I came to Thailand. I spent 5 years on 4,500 acres of cattle county. It was a bare block of ground, no house, no running water, no electric. I built sheds to live in and caught water to drink and for showers. I built an old style hot water system and then upgraded to an electric generator - using fire all the time was quite time consuming. Then we hit a massive drought - I had to move the cattle for them to survive. I never wanted to be in that situation again, to fight against the seasons is impossible. Earlier I had worked full time teaching Kung Fu and also worked in the Security Industry, mostly at night clubs and pubs. Oh, also spent 2 years in Brisbane at the National Actors Conservatory studying fight choreography and script writing. So, it is only my experience now that allows me to earn an income, and wow, sometimes that has been a challenge!

KSR.COM: So, from that type of background, what brought you to the healing arts?

SB: At the age of 16 I studied Kung Fu and at 21 I was teaching Kung-Fu full time. I was taught that if I was going to hurt someone, I should be able to fix them. I was taught about Acupressure, manipulation, herbs, moxibustion and massage. So, the Kung Fu training got me into the healing arts, in the beginning I never knew it was a part of it. As the years went by I had studied other areas of interest such as the Bowen Technique. With more interest in the Chinese meridian system, I went to Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong and went to Shaolin in China to study Chi-Gong.

KSR.COM: Let's talk about Reiki for a moment - you are a Reiki Master and a Reiki channel. What exactly does that mean?

SB: Well, it really requires deep understanding and experience with the science of energy and how energy is related to our bodies. The word Reiki means ‚“Spirit Energy‚”, not ‚“Universal Energy‚”. This I discovered when the translator working with me in Taiwan said Reiki was ‚“Lyn Chi‚”. I understood ‚“Chi‚”, but asked her about ‚“Lyn‚”. She replied ‚“Lyn‚” means spirit. From that, I understood Reiki a little differently from my experiences of doing Reiki treatments and the development of the students I had taught.

A Reiki therapist has healing energy around them; Level 1 would normally have 2 to 4 of these Spirit, or healing energies with them all the time. When the therapist is doing a treatment the Spirits send energy through the therapists body, in through the Aura and Major Chakras, and the energy comes out of the therapist‚’s hands, or Minor Chakras, and into the client‚’s body. This spirit energy is what facilitates the treatment - and the outcomes are quite amazing.

Being a therapist the training consists of understanding the different energy bodies of our clients, such as the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. What makes Reiki different to other energy healing arts is how energy is drawn into the therapist‚’s body. Other methods require meditation practices, and then the therapist becomes depleted of energy, this is not the case with Reiki.

KSR.COM: How exactly does Reiki help people get over their ailments and diseases?

SB: OK - I will bring some facts into the picture here. Russians have used bio-reasoning equipment for the last 40 years, initially to monitor the health of their astronauts. In the USA (Rife) equipment has been developed that works on frequencies for healing. Every part of the body - organs, cells, etc. - can be measured by frequency. The 3DMRA in Taiwan, Rife in the USA, and other bio-reasoning programs are now being recognized by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

When performing a Reiki treatment, Spirit energy goes through the therapist's body to change the polarity of congested molecules and, where necessary, remove the negative Ions from the physical body - this also cleans the energy around the body (Elixir) or Aura, Etheric Aura and Major chakras. With scientific equipment, the outcome of treatments can be verified. In simple terms, Reiki energy balances the Chakras and the client's body detoxifies.

Energy sciences are found in many cultures - the foundations of Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, Chi Gong, and also Ayurvedic healing from India which dates back even further. Shamanic practices have been in most cultures around the world.

KSR.COM: I went to the opening of a restaurant on Khao San Road recently and there was a gentleman their promoting his resort in southern Thailand. His philosophy was that there is no such thing as medicine and that all medicines are in fact just poisons of different intensity. He was a firm advocate of anything but the western medical approach. Do you subscribe to this point of view? Does western medicine have any value as far as you are concerned?

SB: Everybody has choice in life; I only supply a service like others in the medical industry. Conventional medicine certainly has its place. Where do you go if your arm has been ripped off? You will not come to me. Although Reiki will help quicken the healing process when the arm is put back on, that type of injury requires surgery and western medicine.

I believe in what has been established by WHO (World Health Organization) and in most countries - Complimentary Alternative Medicine is beneficial. My view is to get the greatest benefit for my clients - that is what I am looking for. Everything has its place. We have to establish what caused a problem. If the cause of a problem is identified, healing is very quick.

KSR.COM: So - and forgive me for being so blunt - I have in the past heard Reiki described as 'snake oil'. In a world of facts and figures and checks and balances, what evidence is there to prove that it's not?

SB: When I was in Taiwan I was introduced to a director of a hospital dedicated to the use of natural healing on patients with stage 3 or 4 cancer. I suggested incorporating Reiki treatments into their program, and I was introduced to a professor at the Taiwan Community Development Association. I was asked to do a presentation on Reiki while the 3DMRA equipment was presented to doctors. The 3DMRA showed clearly Reiki treatments are powerful and detoxify the body to equivalent extents as acupuncture, and sometimes even greater extents. This evidence has been documented and is now undeniable. The 3DMRA is now being used in five hospitals and diagnoses illnesses up to 2-3 months before blood tests or X-rays are able to.

KSR.COM: And what are your personal experiences of the benefits of energy healing? What results have you seen?

SB: Starting with tension and hypertension, Reiki is very effective with both of these. Many students have emailed me to say thank you as they are now sleeping well. A stranger experience would be when a client arrived with an X-ray of a disease with a long, complicated name, which is considered incurable by conventional medicine. I did 2 Reiki treatments and taught the patient Reiki level 1. Later, I got an email from the patient saying he no longer had any pain. About 6 months later I received another email stating another X-ray had been done and the disease had gone. Another client lived in Bali and asked me to go there to do a treatment on the King of a village who had been sick for 3 weeks. No doctor or Shaman could deliver results. I was in Bali for 4 days, on the 4th day the village King was fine. I have now done over 4,000 Reiki treatments in 6 Countries - I don‚’t know why, it is just my life.

KSR.COM: So, when you first came to Thailand, you set up Bangkok Natural Healing on Khao San Road‚… Was it a good experience?

SB: Khao San was the best experience as the clients were from all parts of the world - some very interesting people with various healing methods they had trained in. Some had a very good understanding of Reiki. I met many people who believed Yoga was Reiki or meditation was Reiki - it was an experience to observe these differences of opinion. Some would stay on KSR for only 2-3 days and some would stay 2-3 weeks learning the courses I was teaching. It was a great place to be.

KSR.COM: I can imagine alternative treatments being popular on Khao San Road, but, of course, you have moved now, so the question comes to mind - are these treatments popular amongst Thais, or are you still dealing mainly with visitors?

SB: Thais know more about Palung Chukawan (Universal Energy) and Yo-Ray - both techniques draw in energy by using meditation, neither are Reiki. I am dealing mostly with expats and people who fly into Thailand just to learn, or to have a treatment. I guess word gets around. I have now submitted a 3 month training curriculum and a 1 year curriculum to the Ministry of Education to enable people to come to the school on a student study visa. This will also enable Thais to get a student loan to study.

KSR.COM: Alternative medicine, energy healing - in the past they have often been marginalized. And as you have said, you are now working with doctors and professors who are more in tune with western medical approaches. Why have these areas suddenly become more mainstream, do you think?

SB: I feel there is certainly a world trend and statistics show that 80% of people are inclined to seek Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments rather than conventional medicine. I feel many people are becoming aware of the side effects of the chemicals used in modern medicines. Australia is taking the approach that people working in the CAM industry are likely to identify illnesses and therapists likely to make health reports and recommendations to their clients. More people's lives may be saved as illnesses are found earlier in their development. Therapists are to be given training meeting national qualification standards set by the government. There are 45 to 50 insurance companies that allow members to go to spas for treatments and claim it on their health insurance. As more research is being completed, we are becoming aware many CAM methods work more quickly on some serious illnesses than conventional medicine or treatments.

KSR.COM: You are heavily involved in preparing a range of training courses. Typically, who are your trainees and what do they do with what you have taught them?

SB: Trainees are generally locals and the courses boost their qualifications. They meet international standards in areas such as anatomy and physiology, client consultation and other subjects. With the courses under their belts, people can get jobs working in Spas in other counties. Other students seem to want to establish Spas in their home countries. I try to support them with a Spa concept and give as much guidance as I can.

KSR.COM: And you are running these courses at a resort south of Hua Hin. Tell us more about this. What are the objectives of the resort?

SB: Lumra Resort is quiet and it's got a great beach. There are a limited number of rooms down there so it's an excellent place to deliver programs such as Stress Management, Full Moon activities and Elite Energy Training programs. These programs have been tailored for specific outcomes and there are activities every month. Our objective is to make this resort a special place in the world, where people can have individual growth and soul touching experiences. All these programs leave a lasting impression on your life.

KSR.COM: You are also starting a Reiki Research Center and attempting to set up clinical trials. Why choose Thailand for this? Surely, it must be easier in the west?

SB: The Reiki Research Association was submitted a year ago and the registered certificate will be completed soon. I am lucky to have some good support from like minded people, some being doctors. The objective is to scientifically prove the outcomes of Reiki treatments. The research protocols will be to western standards such as CBC, and Viral Overload tests will be taken as part of the clinical observations - though not limited to only this. Bio-reasoning and the 3DMRA are planned to be implemented to monitor changes before blood tests.

In the west pharmaceutical companies get funding through governments and they have their patents on production lines. With alternative treatments and medicine, the funding is limited. The pharmaceutical companies want to own the rights - big business in a big industry. When the registration is completed we will be looking for financial support and assistance to run clinical trials starting with HIV; there's a planned 3-month "live in" program on a mountain planned. What we are planning would be very difficult to do in another country. Interestingly associations and doctors in other countries are very interested in what we are trying to establish. I feel the results will help all health practitioners, from doctors to therapists. We will though need donations - some of the outgoings to run a 30 people live in program for 3 months will be close to one million baht.

KSR.COM: So you have your individual treatments, and your training, and your resort work and the Reiki Research Center - what's the big picture here? Where do you want all this to be in, say, 5 years?

SB: Well, I am only here for one life and the best I feel I can do is establish a school where people can come and learn competent healing practices through training that meets Australian educational standards. I want to share my experience in Reiki with others, so others may grow. I want to develop a Spa concept for students wanting to do the same in their own countries. And I want to do research to prove what I and so many others are doing around the world with Reiki is genuinely beneficial, and I want to share the outcomes and information with the rest of the world.

KSR.COM: That's great - thanks. Good luck with everything you are doing in the future.

SB: Thanks, John

Click here to contact Steve Burgess.

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A Visit to the Ladies’ Prison

“A story of a day in which I would experience a complement of emotion.”

This is an account of a friendship I have made with a girl that is serving a 40 year prison sentence in Thailand.

How this all Began

Around ten months ago in the U.K. I was randomly trawling the internet for anything of interest on our favourite tropical destination.  Just by chance, I stumbled on an international prisoners abroad website.

Fascinating reading, news, views, stories and there is even a facility where you can email an inmate. Long lists of many nationalities are displayed and I accessed the Lard Yao section in Bangkok.  Upon scanning through the list of prisoners my attention was drawn in particular to a girl from South Africa who was arrested whilst pregnant ten years ago. Her baby daughter was born inside the prison and returned to South Africa at the age of three. At the trial, the child’s mother was sentenced to 50 years, then commuted to 40 years on appeal. She has now served 10 years, so unless His Majesty the King of Thailand in his mercy grants a Royal Pardon, then a further 30 years she must serve.

I guessed as much that this girl would appreciate an English pen-friend so I sent over an introductory email. I have never written to an inmate before and this was to be the start of ten months of correspondence between us.  All incoming and outgoing mail must go through a censor causing a delay, but I have found that our letters rarely go missing. Over the coming months my friend was open and honest about her life and the reasons leading to her current situation. Our friendship developed and I became increasingly concerned for her welfare. I saved up the cash and booked my ticket for Thailand whilst organising a two hour prison visit with the assistance of the South African embassy.

Crime and Punishment

Until recently I didn’t know what crime my friend had committed - [well, that’s the one question you can’t ask can you?]. I was sure it wouldn’t be bank robbery, or murder or treason. I didn’t want to focus on the girl’s past mistakes. That was history. I know she desperately wants another chance to re-build her life.

About a month ago I discovered that she tried to board a plane with a suitcase with a false compartment containing illegal drugs.  Whilst travelling around I have sought the opinion of fellow farangs and Thais on this matter. Many are sympathetic but others take the view that people that commit serious crimes deserve everything they get. A sort of “no more to discuss/show no mercy” attitude.  However, as I see it, the problem is that a verdict is never quite as black and white as pure guilt or pure innocence. Any grey areas should also be considered. For clarification, please read Sandra Gregory’s* excellent book “Forget you had a Daughter”. Sandra was arrested and sentenced to 25 years.  One statement she made in her book was that “All the foreign girls in Lard Yao on drug offences have one thing in common, which is they were duped by a male”.

It’s my belief that when a woman gives her heart to a man she will trust him without question. Under such circumstances, she will not doubt anything he tells her. When you read Sandra’s incredible sequence of misfortunate events that lead to her arrest, then maybe her story will mellow your viewpoint. Does the punishment fit the crime? We could debate that issue for years and in the grand scheme of things, I guess the decision should remain within each Country’s own judicial system. But here is my take on this sensitive issue - let’s just say that I have the view that when anybody makes a big mistake in their lives, any punishment should never last forever.  Shoot me down about this if you want to, but please remember that sadly, some of the poor souls serving long sentences have been completely forgotten about on the outside.

The resulting despair of being forgotten was never prescribed by any court of law.

Return to Bangkok

Any regular visitor to Thailand will recollect the warm feeling of excited anticipation as their taxi heads down the expressway to the metropolis. An expectation of what’s to follow if you like.  February 6th 2004 arrives and on this particular occasion the feeling of excitement was heightened like never before. Just a premonition, but I knew this holiday was going to be exceptional.

Before I could make my prison visit there were a few things left to do. As one would expect there are restrictions to the type of gifts allowed.

Toiletries, cosmetics and underwear seem to be highly desirable items. Non controversial books and magazines are also prized. So the Robinsons branch on Sukhumvit did quite well out of me.  Wandering around the ladies underwear department looking for bra and knickers was surprisingly, not an embarrassing task. It would have been in the U.K., but in Thailand nobody seems to bother about such trivial matters. So with my passport and bag of gifts I’m all set for the journey up to Lard Yao.

Day of the Visit

Lard Yao Mens and Ladies Prison is located in north Bangkok, about a 15 minute taxi journey from the Mo Chit skytrain station.  It’s cheaper to take the boat up the Chao Phaya to Nonthaburi. On such a beautiful day, I would have preferred that nice boat ride but I didn’t want to risk being late and I had to collect a letter of authorisation from the South African embassy beforehand.  It is quite possible to visit without contact with the embassy, but then it is restricted to only a 20 minute duration.

The visit would last for two hours and I worried about exhausting our conversation prematurely. I thought about the embarrassment of sitting there in silence.

As a precaution, I wrote a list of topics I wanted to discuss. A sort of cue card of items which I subsequently trash canned in my hotel room. I guessed it would keep it "natural" by remaining spontaneous.

It’s nice when these little decisions to go the right way.

My taxi pulled into the main drive way area that divides both the men and ladies prison. Over to the left side the cab stopped outside a security gate.

With a friendly wave through by the security guard I was inside the compound. There is an admin building where visitors must report to register. Everything was very relaxed and straightforward and I must say that all the staff within the building were helpful and friendly. Not at all formal like I had imagined. There is even a small outdoor restaurant for visitors and a shop where some basic gift items can be bought. The surrounding area is quite well landscaped, trees, plants, etc, it could almost resemble the entrance to a park, except of course for the high walls with barbed wire.

After a few minutes I was invited to the embassy room to wait out of the hot sun. My passport was borrowed and I was asked if I had a camera or telephone. I possessed neither, so was politely taken to a very comfortable waiting room where there was about an hour left until my appointment.

This gave me time to mentally run through all the questions I wanted to ask. What would be my first sentence? How inquisitive can I be without causing offence? What if I made a stupid mistake? How would I cope with any requests I could not comply with? What if we sat in silence? - I needn’t have worried.

Across from the waiting room was a long clean corridor about one metre wide. There were five upholstered small stools spaced out by about two metres. Above the stools a beige formica covered counter stretched the length of the corridor. From the counter to the ceiling a clear perspex screen was sealed on all sides, but a few small circular holes are positioned at head level to enable speech. The place was empty and very quiet and I sat patiently and waited.

Ten minutes early and my friend appeared behind the screen. She was wearing regular blue uniform, but had obviously gone to much trouble to make herself look very good with make up. We both sat down and smiled. The feeling of apprehension disappeared in an instant.

It was one of those personal moments that last in the memory.

I guess the conversation was split maybe 70% to my friend and 30% to myself. I was happy about that because she told me everything about her life. In particular she explained that she was always adventurous and very determined.  She would pursue with energy anything that she wanted. I thought back to my younger days when there were times I always thought I knew what was for the best and wouldn’t take advice. Lucky for me that I made my mistakes in England where leniency is very much the norm.

It was extremely interesting to listen to her life story. She was very articulate and polite, and in particular, I was saddened to learn of the despair of being separated from her nine year old daughter. Due to high travel expenses, her daughter cannot visit regularly. Maybe once every year or two. The mother/daughter bond is very strong and so this must be extremely hard to endure. Whilst speaking about her daughter I could see the hurt in her eyes. Very sad indeed, but there is a glimmer of hope insofar that an application has been made to the King of Thailand for a Royal Pardon. This process can take a lot of time but sometimes it is granted. It would be a special day indeed if she could be re-united with her daughter back in South Africa.  What a great photograph that would make. I’m hoping that day of reconciliation is not too far away.

Our topics of conversation were diverse to say the least. We discussed modern day living, technology advances, mobile phones with video, the skytrain, the internet, ice cream at Swensens, the meaning of happiness, finance, Singapore, Malaysia, religion, Aids, sorrow, alcohol, family life in South Africa, prison life in Thailand, family life in England, plus of course the dreadful weather in England (Brits never leave that out) and a few anecdotes here and there to lighten up the proceedings. All things considered, a thoroughly enjoyable conversation where neither of us were ever lost for words. After two hours and twenty minutes (I resisted to glance at my watch and it only ‘seemed like about one hour) my friend said that she should be getting back to her dormitory.

Surprisingly nobody came over to call time, but we knew the time was upon us to say our farewells. A sad moment until next visit - probably again later this year. As we have now become good friends, I will definitely go back again.

It was a memorable experience. A pleasure and a privilege I wouldn’t have traded for anything else.

Conclusion

A prison visit may not appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy the art of conversation and forming a new friendship with someone less fortunate, then it’s an experience I thoroughly recommend.

If you can’t spare the time to make a visit in person, you can definitely lift the spirit of an inmate by writing a letter.  For the negligible cost of a stamp your mail will make a positive difference. Try to include a couple of post office reply coupons, because if your new friend is broke they can be used to buy stamps. I’m already convinced that all mail received from the outside is welcomed with opened arms, so please try to make the effort to write.

Moreover, if you are of a generous disposition, there is a prison shop where small items such as toothpaste, soap, biscuits etc are on sale. These sort of things we take for granted are very gratefully received. For those of you with exceptional generosity there is a counter where funds can be deposited in the prisoner’s own account. A receipt is given and the money will reach the inmate in a coupon format that can be spent in the shop. On that note, I'll leave everything to your good nature.

Thanks very much for reading this story. I’m interested to hear your views on this matter, favourable or otherwise. Please email me. I will make every effort to reply.

Finally, a big plea to everybody ..... Enjoy yourself in Thailand but please don’t break the law.

Footnote

*Sandra Gregory was granted a King’s Pardon and has since taken a University course in the United Kingdom.

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Movers and Shakers

Movers and Shakers
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Movers and Shakers
Movers and Shakers
movers_and_shakers_4
Khao San Road’s (KSR) very own urban legend goes that in the early years it was a travel weary observer of the world, sat alongside our favourite ever changing urban catwalk with cold Singha in hand that raised the intriguing and formerly long unanswered spiritual question…..”Where the hell is everyone going?”

I am glad to say that with the now well established pit stops of pleasure seen along and around KSR, enlightenment can be attained by all visitors as the question has been well and truly answered in no uncertain terms, Thai style...

”Who cares where they’re going, they’re going to need a drink on the way…  

I am of course referring to the much welcomed cocktail van’s and mini bars (or “shot stops” as christened by Khun Dan, regular of KSR) conveniently located and usually lit with permanent festive lighting so that connoisseurs of these mind bending mixtures may easily home-in through the crowds for a quick “sex on the beach” or “screaming orgasm” whenever they feel the need………. bar staff comment that apparently ladies don’t finish as quick as the male customers, stay longer and come back again and again and again…..! 

Gentlemen, you are kindly requested to bring balance back to the force!  

Your common KSR cocktail (Mai Tai, Margarita, Long Island Iced Tea) is a must for any of my fellow bar hopping brethren who find it all too hard to move from one end of KSR to the other without the regular infusion of vodka every 50 metres along the way to brighten up the journey.

However, for some samplers of these generous, magical measures there’s a distinct possibility that you’re going to have a second heartbeat in your head or feel the need for an immediate disco nap, while many, many more of you the following day won’t remember who you were with, where you were, what you drank and why there is a stranger still sleeping in your bed... 

All in all it would be fair comment to say that these little pick-me-ups rather kind of launch you up instead.

Without a doubt these funky little watering holes offer wicked potions at great prices. So whether you’re ready to take off, need a boost or just want to lose the power of speech, give them a go and after a few you’ll happily end up with a grin as big as the Thai smile serving you.

So the question to is, just how high do you want to fly? Enjoy.

And remember...

Keepitreal

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Muay Thai on Khao San Road!

Muay Thai on Khao San Road
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Muay Thai on Khao San Road
Muay Thai on Khao San Road
Muay Thai on Khao San Road
Muay Thai on Khao San Road
Muay Thai on Khao San Road
Thai boxing on Khao San Road
Want to learn how to kick arse and show your respect for thai culture at the same time? Not far from Khao San Road, down a small alley, is hidden the Sor. Vorapin boxer training center. You have likely walked past and been mystified at the shouts of "ess!" followed by the rather painful sounds of passionate pummeling. Yes, this is Muay Thai, Thailand's national sport, and you too can get in on the action!

Sor. Vorapin started around 30 years ago with only three people, and was initially a thai-only training center. This was back in the days when there were no banana pancakes on Khao San Road- no dreadlocked hippies, no VW bus bars - in fact, there wasn't much there at all at the time! The location was chosen simply because of its proximity to Sanam Luang, where the trainees would be able to run around the park if they so desired, as part of their training. Eventually the area started to become the foreigner circus it is today, and farangs started traipsing past the gym and being distracted by the grunting and sweating. Simultaneously, the trainees had grown into champion fighters, and started thinking about training others. In around 1984, a french lad named Frederic became the first foreign student of Sor. Vorapin. He was also the first foreign champion.

Nowadays, people (both men and women) come from all over the world to study muay thai at Sor. Vorapin. There are an average of five trainers on hand daily, who can give personal attention to anyone from a wide-eyed beginner to a (hood-eyed) experienced fighter. Each trainer has many years of fighting and many champion titles under their belt

We stopped by during an evening class to get the scoop. Dodging high kicks and flying sweat, we found a safe corner in which to gawk. The gym has a boxing ring, several hanging punch bags, lots of weights, space in which one can practice making evil faces in the mirror along with perfecting that move with their knee. The many students were each paired with a trainer of similar size, who prompted them to hit as hard as they could on the rubber pads they had slipped onto their hands. A tiny thai girl screeched loudly as she wailed on her startled victim in merciless succession. A well sculpted irish girl casually jumped rope. Several Japanese boys practiced combos on mats.

We cornered a group of trainers once they got a break and fired up the old pencil. A young man named 'Us' was most happy to oblige our interrogation. He, like many professional boxers, came from the area of Buriram, and has been with the gym for about 15 years. When asked why in the world he would ever choose fighting as his profession, he interrupted defensively- "it's not so much fighting as it is an art". Sure, he gets a lot of aggression out in the ring, but the reasons for his chosen life are more complex. Muay Thai teaches discipline, he says, and helps you realize your strength, both inner and outer. It also keeps you healthy, in shape, and away from vices like alcohol and drugs. It helps you defend yourself, and in the case of thais, is a way of showing patriotism to their country. The other trainers nodded in agreement, and a garrulous 'Singh' piped in that the money and international travel opportunities were good motivators as well. How much money do you make as a fighter? "It depends," says Singh, "in my village when I was a little kid I made 50 baht for winning my first fight. Nowadays I make an average of 6000 baht per win, and much more in international championship fights". Us nods, adding that he is headed to Indonesia in a couple of weeks for a fight and is excited to add that to the list of countries he has been to. "It's good to give exposure to Muay Thai to other countries. It's not like any other martial art- it requires you to be much harder and there's a lot of different technique involved". When asked how he will prepare for this upcoming fight he sighs- "It's a lot of relaxing. Meditating, cleaning out your body, staying away from alcohol, getting sleep". My Thai companion leans over and whispers in his ear and he blushes and says sheepishly "it's true, you can not ejaculate for 2 weeks prior to a fight. It builds up tension which you can use to your advantage against your opponent". I muse that it's rather like joining the monkhood and they nod. "It's a spiritual practice in much the same way. It's been around for hundreds of years [in fact, it is first on record in the year 1767] and every thai child grows up with a certain reverence for it. It's very ceremonial- before each fight we perform the wai-kru, which is a sort of traditional dance. It's a way for us to please our families, please the king, and please ourselves with our bravery and stamina. This takes a lot of self discipline."

A very large thai man emerges from the gym with his arm slung around the neck of a lily white dutch student, and I recognize the man from the many pictures pasted up on the walls as being Mr. Tanomsak. He is one of the most well respected trainers in Thailand, and now spends part of his time teaching in Switzerland. I am lucky to catch him. I ask him why he thinks people should come to his gym and he smiles. "We have so much experience, we're all champions here. We've worked with foreigners for years, and we have a good understanding of just how far we can or can't push someone. Each trainer has their own special techniques for bringing out the best in people, and we welcome anyone who is interested in observing or joining up". I ask him if one should be worried about pain or injury and he laughs. "It happens occasionally, and certainly the first couple of times might be a bit painful. But you learn to feed off the pain and it eventually becomes welcome". He adds that they take every precaution as to the safety of bones and muscles. I ask him how long it takes to become a champion and he muses, "It's probably easier for a thai, as we grow up with muay thai and many boys start learning at a very young age. But if a person is careful, has a good trainer, and learns step by step- starting with building up strength in the body and progressing to having the strength in the mind, they can be ready to fight after just a couple of weeks of training". Do they turn out farang champions? He nods vigorously, saying many backpackers come for just an introductory class and end up changing their tickets home so that they can stay longer and do more intensive study. "We have champions in Holland, France, Switzerland, Japan.... you name it. We have girl champions too!"- he scrambles for a photo of a very large swiss girl with arms like tree trunks and I shudder in awe.

Mr. Tanomsak urges anyone who is interested in having a look to stop by around 3pm. To get to the center you cross the main street (Jakapong) at the Khao San police station and walk left until you see the sign at an alley on the right. Training occurs from 8:00am-10:00am and again from 3:00pm -6:00pm. An introductory class sets you back a mere 400 baht, and they have special deals for packages of classes. Everything you need is on hand, just dress comfortably and bring an open mind. They guarantee you won't leave without learning a thing or two, and you might even have some fun!

Nicole Furi lives in New York. She is a gradutate of the University of Colorado, Boulder (Psychology major) and a Human Factors expert working in the web industry where she designs and tests Graphical User Interfaces. She is also a writer. Currently in Thailand, Nicole is spening a bit of time writing for KhaoSanRoad.com. Are you interested in booking a Thai Boxing course? Use the form below to make an enquiry...

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Veggie Delight

Vegetarian Restaurants around Khao San Road and Bangkok, Thailand
Vegetarian Restaurants around Khao San Road and Bangkok, Thailand
Vegetarian Restaurants around Khao San Road and Bangkok, Thailand
Travelling in Thailand can be tough if you're a vegetarian. Your senses are constantly assaulted by the myriad of meats on sticks barbecued on every street corner and the scent of fried chicken fills the air as you wait patiently for a bus to whisk you away.

Vegetarianism is definitely a lesson in tolerance, and I have learnt to turn a blind eye to the invasions of the meat loving society. Well, almost. Even more difficult, however, is finding decent veggie food, especially if you are on a budget. I spent my first six months in the Land of Smiles surviving mainly on pad Thai and boiled corn, not exactly a rich and varied diet.

But the truth is there are some excellent places for vegetarians to eat in Bangkok, if you know where to go. Here are some of my favourites:

May Kaidee, located 33 Samsen Road (Soi 1) and tucked away on 1117/1 Tanao Road, behind Burger King at the end of Khaosan Road is probably the most popular vegetarian restaurant in the area. Offering an incredibly diverse range of vegetarian Thai, Chinese and Japanese dishes, this is a great place to meet friends. All the dishes are freshly prepared and cooked, with flavours combined to perfection.

The pumpkin soup is simply fantastic, especially with ground ginger on top, and the organic brown rice is healthy and delicious. Dishes are affordable at around 50 Baht each and cooking courses are also available. Open 9 a.m - 11 p.m. daily.

Situated at the end of Soi 2, just off Samsen Road, Cafe Corner is also a great place to unwind. Converted from a traditional Thai shop, the cafe opens right onto the street and has a unique Bohemian feel.

Unusual, uplifting music is played in the background whilst you tuck into baguettes, pancakes or vegetarian Thai food. The range of cocktails makes this the perfect place to gather in the evening as well.

All the vegetables used are organic and come from farms in Suphanburi, Ratchaburi and the cafe's own garden.

Just a ten minute walk from Khaosan Road, the recently opened Tham-na Home Restaurant can be found at 169 Samsen Road. The restaurant offers deliciously healthy vegetarian and vegan food served in a light and stylishly decorated restaurant. The restaurant's motto is; "Vegetarian food for meat lovers," and is a real treat for anyone who appreciates good food. The menu is filled with international favourites such as Japanese dishes, Thai food, hearty breakfasts and fresh, organic salads. There are western staples such as roast potatoes, or you can try the fried lotus root for an exotic alternative. Highly recommended is the baguette with mozzarella cheese and tangy sesame mushrooms.

Tanao Road is becoming a haven for vegetarians and Ethos restaurant brings a slightly Bohemian and cozy feel to the area. The menu is full of vegan and vegetarian dishes featuring flavours from around the world. Customers get to choose between the western style dining tables or sitting on the floor on pretty patterned cushions. Gorgeous red lamps made from red paper hang over the tables and complete the scene.

The Thai vegetarian dishes are a vibrant blend of colours and textures, fresh, crisp vegetables and tasty tofu chunks. The restaurant also serves large portions of western food such as lasagna, falafel and comfort food such as apple crumble and custard. Ethos offers free wifi, making this a great place to spend an afternoon trying the incredible selection of teas and the rich and creamy fruit lassis.

The vegetarian section of Chatuchak Market is one of Bangkok's best-kept secrets. Also known as Chamlong's Restaurant after Bangkok's former governor K. Chamlong, this area features a collection of over thirty stalls selling delicious Thai, Chinese and Western dishes. Each stall offers its own speciality and fake meats are used to create dishes such as "fish" curry in banana leaf and "chicken" skewers.

Best of all, these delicious dishes are incredibly cheap, ranging from 10-20 Baht each, so you can afford to try a whole range. Run by the Santi Asoke monks, food is served daily from 8 a.m. - 2p.m.

Finding Chamlong's Restaurant can be tricky at first. Take the subway to Kamphaeng Phet (exit 1) and turn right. Walk for five minutes and follow an alleyway between bars to a large warehouse. You can also take bus no 3 from Banglampoo.

If it is authentic Indian food you crave, look no further than Soi Rambutree, opposite Khoasan Road. Here you will find quite a few eateries offering eastern promise, all with an extensive vegetarian selection.

As you can see, there is vegetarian food to suit every taste in Bangkok. Don't forget to try the Thai speciality Pad see-u Pak (rice noodles with egg and broccoli). Whatever you choose, remember to say arroy maak (tastes very good) at the end of your meal.

About the author:


Kirsty Turner (Kay) is a freelance writer currently living in Bangkok. She has kindly agreed to write for KhaoSanRoad.com and share her love of all things Thai and, especially, all things Khao San Road!

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Pad Thai (Fried Noodles): The Stuff of Life

Pad Thai (Fried Noodles): The Stuff of Life
Pad Thai (Fried Noodles): The Stuff of Life
Pad Thai (Fried Noodles): The Stuff of Life
Pad Thai (Fried Noodles): The Stuff of Life
Pad Thai (Fried Noodles): The Stuff of Life
I first tried Pad Thai several years ago in a restaurant in London. It was my first experience of Thai food and I had no idea what to expect. Shortly after ordering, I was presented with a plate of thin noodles, vegetables and tofu, topped with group peanuts and lime. The dish was beautifully presented and it seemed a shame to demolish it, but I was glad that I did. The food was delicious; full of rich flavours, interesting textures and just a little bit spicy. For me it was love at first bite.

When I first arrived in Thailand I was delighted to discover that the Pad Thai I had enjoyed in London for 5 pounds UK could be bought for as little as 20 Baht - 35 pence! Not only that, but the delicious dish can be sampled right on Khaosan Road, allowing you to soak up the atmosphere while you eat. Of course, the price varies according to the quality of ingredients and where you eat it, but a large serving of Pad Thai made with quality ingredients can be bought for 40 or 50 Baht, which is about 1 pound.

I quickly discovered that the ingredients, flavours and presentation of Pad Thai dishes vary significantly between restaurants and areas. Before long I had sampled the dish at most of the restaurants in my area of Bangkok and found my favourite places to eat.

I have found that the tastiest Pad Thai is located not in fancy restaurants but in small, traditional Thai restaurants or from carts on the street. Eating on the street also provides the opportunity for people watching, always a welcome diversion.

One of my favourite places to eat and watch the world go by is on Soi Rambhutri in the heart of Bangkok's Banglampu. Here, the blend of Thai people, seasoned travelers and hapless tourists makes interesting and often comical entertainment.

One of the very first people I met in Bangkok was Tip as I was wandering down Khao San Road looking for refreshment. The vibrant Thai woman drew me to her with her bright smile and the mouth-watering aroma coming from wok and told me to sit at one of her folding tables next to the curb. I watched as she tossed noodles, sauce, vegetables, tofu and dried shrimp into her wok, talking animatedly with a friend as she cooked.

Within minutes, Tip had produced a large plate of Pad Thai. It smelt great and was very tasty - slightly spicy with the deliciously contrasting textures of chewy noodles and crisp vegetables. Tip stood watching me eat, smiling broadly when I showed my appreciation.

When I finished eating, Tip told me that she had been cooking Pad Thai at her stall for over 15 years. The stall was given to her by her husband's parents as a marriage present. Tip gradually bought the tables and chairs from her profits and has gradually been adding little touches to personalise the stall.

"I don't make much money," Tip told me. "But I am very happy. I can talk to many foreign people and practice speaking English every day." Tip told me that the best part of her job is watching people enjoy her food. "Everybody likes to enjoy," she said with a broad smile.

Noodles were first brought to Thailand by Chinese immigrants. They also brought chopsticks and woks, essential equipment for enjoying Pad Thai. However, Thai people traditionally eat rice three times a day and noodles were overlooked for a long time.

The Prime Minister of Thailand, Luang Phibunsongkhram; introduced Pad Thai and made it a national dish during World War II. Thailand was faced with a rice shortage and budget crises at this time and the Prime Minister promoted the eating of Pad Thai to combat the problem.

Today, Pad Thai is enjoyed all over Thailand and indeed all over the world. It is loved by Westerners because it is not spicy like many other Thai dishes and can be eaten at any time of the day or night.

In Bangkok, many Westerners consume Pad Thai after a few beers. As veteran backpacker Dan states; "You can't beat Pad Thai. It's cheap, tasty, and the women who cook it are easy on the eye, too!"


About the author:


Kirsty Turner (Kay) is a freelance writer currently living in Bangkok. She has kindly agreed to write for KhaoSanRoad.com and share her love of all things Thai and, especially, all things Khao San Road!
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