OK, here's the deal with the devil - flying with Emirates you book early then scoot online and snag a bulkhead seat with supersized legroom. With me so far? Well, the diablo factor is that the two little holes in said bulkhead on the distant horizon in front of your toes are for attaching cots, so throw the dice - DVT and peace in a normal row, or legroom and childcare chaos... No Probs BHX to DXB, but DXB to BKK I was in loco parentis for the lovely 14 month-old Nicholas from Antibes, en route with mummy to Christchurch for a family visit. And you know what, it was perfectly OK. No films and no beer, but did my little bit for the well of human kindness.
Bangkok Airport arrivals was a very smooth deal - through immigration before the baggage reclaim roulette wheel started; so pick up bag, spin out of arrivals - entrance number 8, 150 baht and you're on the Airport Express, flying downtown on the toll road. Well I would be, if half of the gap year types around me weren't on the wrong bus, thus having to be re-attached to their travel packs and gently pushed in the right direction by the endlessly patient Thai crew. I really, really shouldn't judge - when I was their age shoelace tying was about my limit.
40 minutes later we were all kicked out at the Northwest end of Khaosan Road (where the first thing you see is a Boots pharmacy - so exotic) and the adventure begins...
Yes I know there are better places to stay in Bangkok than Khaosan, but Thai trip number one, so thought I'd live the cliche and pay my respects. Which doesn't mean I'm completely stupid - my hotel for the first 2 nights was a good 3 blocks away from the 24 hour party people.
Sansem San House on Soi Samsen 3 is a century-old King Rama VI Thai house with very original teak floors and very cool non-original AC - you know you're going to be OK when the first thing the check-in staff do is give you a drink of iced water rather than check your passport.
Showered and not shaved - holiday time is beard time - I went to solve the not-entirely insurmountable problem of getting something to eat on the Khaosan at 9pm on a Sunday night. Actually to be honest, when the Gates of Hades open to swallow the world, the penultimate person consumed will be a Khaosan local hawking 30 baht Pad Thai and the last will be his backpacker customer. Whatever you want - real Thai, fake western Thai, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Burger King etc etc - you can have it.
And again, living the cliche, I had an acceptably authentic set of tom yum prawns with a veg pad thai as a side (nice tofu), plus the first of many Changs one block over on Soi Rambuttri.
You've probably guessed by now that I'm not really down with the Khaosan knockers. I only wandered up and down it twice and all I could see was a bunch of very happy travellers being gently parted from their baht by some equally happy Thais. Quelle problem??
Coming off the back of a few weeks in Malaysia this summer, one thing I wasn't quite ready for was the ubiquity of alcohol though - where I come from, if people are walking down the streets necking large ones, then cross to the other side, sharpish. Here, it was pos de rigeur to have a Singha on the go as you wandered down a Soi.
And, stone me sideways if you want to, it actually seemed quite sweet - these weren't the drunken idiots of Middle England - just perfectly normal 20/30 something professional types on holiday. If anything, it seemed like it was just the novelty of it being socially acceptable to do so that was the atttaction - hedonism lite - all the fun but you don't wake up with an STD and an asymmetric set of arse antlers (bet you google it).
The only buzz kill was immediately regretting not packing the DSLR - the point and shoot just wasn't Bush-ing it up to the plate in the low light situations, so no cool night market shots this trip. All in all, Khaoson did OK in my book. If you've not been, come see...