The quiet joys and foibles of solo living.
The novice Thai traveller, arriving for the first time at Khao San Road, is hit by over-stimulation. There is much to take in, and soon you find your humble but cheerfully cheap roach-infested abode and set out, ready to take on Bangkok.
But first, you traverse the colourful strip of tourist stalls, bars and internet cafes, and you are mildly aghast at what you see in the cavernous interiors. Glassy-eyed backpackers, motionless beneath ceiling fans, staring blankly at blockbuster movies with Thai subtitles, broadcast on huge screens. You feel contempt, wondering how they can so waste their time in this amazing city, how boring and unadventurous they are. You will never succumb to such tedium.
Yet three weeks into the future you too are there, clutching a beer, sweat beading on your forehead, stomach turning like the fan overhead in this, your waiting room. You are waiting, however reluctantly, to depart; exhausted by the inhalation of fumes while traversing the city on tuk-tuks , the wearisome wait for cancelled trains in monsoon rains, a gut-wrenching sensitivity to green curries and pawpaw shakes, the fatigue from the full moon party on Koh Phangan, the twenty hour return bus trip on which you got no sleep because you sat behind the driver who leaned on the horn all night long.
As you gaze stony-faced at Tom Cruise, occasionally muttering to your table companions, at last you understand the travelers’ syndrome. Glancing at the street, you catch the bright eyes of a newcomer, pack still on back, who stares at you with disdain.