Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand & Laos – Part 5: Khao San Road & Patpong, Bangkok

This is part of my travelogue on my solo overland backpacking trip to Thailand & Laos in 2013.

Previously: Part 4 – Bangkok Arrival

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Still Day 3: Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I did not book any accommodation for this trip but suffice to say, I knew where to stay at. Although there were a lot of other options including the cheaper ones, I decided to stay at Saphaipae Hostel because that was the hostel I stayed in during my 2011 trip and it was so comfortable, though a bit more in terms of price.

Aku memang tak ada book mana-mana tempat tinggal masa kat Bangkok ni. Tapi, aku tau dah mana nak tinggal. Walaupun banyak lagi tempat tinggal yang wujud dan murah kat Bangkok ni, aku tetap rasa nak tinggal kat Saphaipae Hostel. Hostel ni tempat aku tinggal dengan Muiz tahun 2011 dulu. Walaupun harga dia lebih sikit [sikittttt jeee. hehe], tapi selesa dia, banyaaaakkkkk.

Waiting for the MRT train to arrive.

[My first time at Saphaipae hostel – read here: in Bahasa]

I took the MRT from Hua Lamphong station to Silom station, which is an interchange station with Sala Daeng BTS Skytrain station. From Sala Daeng BTS Skytrain station, I proceeded to Surasak station, where the hostel is situated nearby. I was lost the first time I was here and was determined not to get lost this time around. It felt strange though, because everything looked and felt the same as it was in 2011, except that I was in Muiz back then. This time, I was all alone.

Dari stesen keretapi Hua Lamphong, aku naik MRT ke stesen Silom. Dari stesen Silom pulak, aku interchange naik BTS Skytrain ke stesen Surasak. Stesen Surasak ni stesen paling hampir kalau nak ke Saphaipae Hostel. Aku ingat lagi, mula-mula sampai sini dulu, aku dan Muiz sesat! Kali ni, aku janji aku tak nak sesat lagi. Sampai-sampai je stesen Surasak, aku tengok keliling. Pelik. Bau, pemandangan, perasaan, sama macam tahun 2011. Bezanya, dulu aku dengan Muiz. Sekarang, aku keseorangan.

Sala Daeng BTS station – waiting for another train.

I checked in at the hostel and chose the 4-beds dorm. I thought there would be more privacy if I chose a lesser people dorm plus I just wanted to rest. But I was wrong-in a good way. I saw the door to my dorm was wide open. Inside, there were 3 white people on their respective bed. I felt awkward since I was all alone. After introducing myself, they introduced themselves as Daniel, Stefan and Florian; all from Germany.

Aku daftar-masuk hostel dan pilih dorm 4 bilik. Kononnya kalau pilih bilik katil sikit, lebih privacy dan senang nak rehat. Konon jelah. Sebab memang tak pun. Haha. Sampai-sampai je kawasan dorm, aku tengok pintu dorm terbuka luas. Masuk je, tengok ada 3 orang putih kat katil masing-masing. Rasa janggal pulak sebab aku sorang kan. Beranikan diri, aku perkenalkan diri aku. Diorang pun perkenalkan diri diorang: Daniel, Stefan dan Florian – semua dari Jerman.

If I were alone, I would take the bus. Since there were 4 of us, we took a taxi from here. It was a long wait!

After I have put my backpacks, I rested on my bed. I had conversations with all three of them and they were all eager to know more about Malaysia. “We are going to Langkawi after this, and I hope you can teach us some local language“, Daniel told me referring to his plan to go to Langkawi together with Stefan. Turned out, both of them were former colleagues [engineers] who had just resigned from work. And the same goes to Florian. As well as me, who had just resigned a few days earlier. A room full with unemployed guys.

Dah letak backpack aku, aku lepak-lepak atas katil. Ingat nak lelap, tapi mamat-mamat tu ajak sembang pulak. Layankan jelah sebab diorang pun nampak semangat nak tahu pasal Malaysia. Kan bak kata aku tak ingat sapa, traveller ni macam duta kecil Malaysia (yang tak bergaji. Lol). “We are going to Langkawi after this, and I hope you can teach us some local language”, Daniel beritahu aku yang dia dan Stefan akan ke Langkawi lepas Bangkok. Diorang berdua ni dulu rakan sekerja satu pejabat, kerja jurutera. Baru je berhenti kerja. Si Florian pun baru berhenti. Aku pun. Amekau satu bilik penuh penganggur.

Backpacker’s heaven – Khao San Road.

I had a good rest for several hours, before the three of them asked me whether I wanted to follow them to go to Khao San Road. I refused, having been there 2 years ago. “It’s okay, it’s okay. We promise, no drinking”, Daniel told me, having known I am a Muslim and maybe he thought that was why I was reluctant. I gave up and I followed them.

Beberapa jam aku rehat, mandi, solat semua, petang tu diorang ajak aku pergi Khao San Road. Aku malas sebenarnya ingat nak rehat je. Lagipun aku dah pernah pergi Khao San Road dulu kan. Aku cakap lah tak nak [mesti dorang ingat aku anti-sosial. Lol]. Sekali Daniel kata, “It’s okay, it’s okay. We promise, no drinking”. Mungkin sebab dia tahu aku Muslim, jadi dia takut itu jadi punca aku tak nak ikut. Lepas kena pujuk, aku pun ikut diorang.

The three dormmates – Daniel, Florian and Stefan.

If I was alone, I would go to Khao San Road by bus since that is the cheaper option. But since I was with these 3 guys and they decided to use the taxi, I agreed. After all, the bill will be split to four. We walked across the street, waiting for the taxi. All taxi that we flagged refused to use the meter. I even pretended to be a local and use the magic phrase: “meter, kap?”, but to no avail. Finally, we gave in to a taxi which quoted the cheapest price to Khao San Road.

Kalau aku sorang je, memang aku naik bas je pergi Khao San Road ni sebab bas lagi murah. Tapi, sebab aku berempat dan diorang nak naik teksi, aku setuju. Lagipun, bil boleh bahagi empat kan. Kami jalan seberang jalan besar nak tunggu teksi. Semua teksi kami tahan tak nak guna meter. Aku siap menyamar jadi orang Thai dan cakap, “meter, kap?”, pun tak jalan! Akhirnya, kami naik jugak teksi yang lepas dikira-kira, harga seorang tak mahal sangat.

Out of cash. Don’t worry. They have mobile ATM here. Malaysian bank some more!

Khao San Road is a backpackers heaven. Here, there are dozens of hostels and all the entertainment plus food outlets. Last time I was here, it was during night time. Going here during day time, things were almost the same, except the loud music and some outlets which were yet to be opened.

Khao San Road ni macam syurga backpackers. Penuh hostel, tempat makan, tempat hiburan, tempat urut, kedai kain. Semua ada! Last aku ke sini 2 tahun lepas waktu malam. Kali ni pergi waktu siang, nampak lebih kurang je. Cuma ada sesetengah tempat terutama yang memainkan muzik-muzik kuat, tak bukak lagi.

Still, it was interesting to see all the weird and illegal stuff being sold. All the weird fried insects food, the fake diplomas, the fake IDs. Once in a while, we were stopped by Indian guys, asking us if we wanted to do a suit with them, in which we answered, “We are unemployed and we don’t need a suit”. The atmosphere was unique. There was even an open air massage centre which provide its customers with reflexology massage, outdoor.

Tapi, tetap menarik untuk tengok keadaan sekeliling Khao San Road ni. Dengan barang-barang pelik dan terlarang yang dijual. Ada serangga goreng, sijil palsu, kad ID palsu. Ada beberapa kali, kami ditegur peniaga India kat sini, tanya kami nak buat suit tak. Senang je jawapan kami: “We are unemployed and we don’t need a suit”. Telus dan tulus. Macam Sinar Harian.

Fake ID? Fake degree?

After Khao San Road, we boarded another taxi to Patpong. Patpong is another bazaar here in Bangkok. However, as compared to Khao San Road which is famously known as backpackers place, Patpong is often regarded as a seedy place, despite the availability of markets selling all kind of souvenirs and stuff. Just like Bangla Road in Phuket, when one said Patpong, they won’t imagine the market, they will imagine a ‘ping pong’ show place.

Lepas dah pusing-pusing kat Khao San Road, kami naik satu lagi teksi ke Patpong. Patpong ni satu lagi bazaar atau pasar macam Khao San kat Bangkok. Tapi, Patpong ni lebih terkenal sebagai tempat yang kurang elok. Bahasa mudahnya, tempat maksiat. Walaupun banyak kedai jual cenderamata, t-shirt, kraftangan, tapi kiri kanan penuh jugak kedai pamerkan perempuan(?) menari di tiang, atas pentas. Sebijik macam kat Bangla Road masa aku ke Phuket dengan Akmal dulu.

Welcome to Patpong.

I have read about Patpong before while reading my fellow blogger entry on Bangkok [Kaki Berangan’s] and was not brave enough to go there in 2011 since there were only 2 of us i.e. Muiz and me. I have heard a lot of negative things about how the place is a tourist trap and so on and so forth. But since this time there were 4 of us, we decided to have a look.

Aku tahu pasal Patpong pun lepas baca blog kawan blogger aku Kaki Berangan sebelum ke Bangkok tahun 2011 dulu. Tapi dulu berdua, tak berani sangat. Ni berempat, ok sikitlah kot.

Looks decent, but this market is sandwiched by…. well, you know it.

Indeed, the place was one of its kind. There was a bazaar in the middle, selling souvenirs, handicrafts, t-shirts. But at the shoplots on the right and left of the market, there were sexy dancers on stages and on poles. Straightaway, I remembered Bangla Road. Some of the places had bouncers at the entrance and some even showed catalogues whilst making remarks like “Ping pong show? Happy ending? Bang bang boom!”. Looking around, Daniel told me “This is surely a tourist trap“.

Kami masuk je dalam tengok memang pelik tempat ni. Haha. Yelah, kedai jual barang-barang diapit kedai ‘jual orang’. Gilerlah! Ada yang approach kami tunjuk katalog, siap ada yang cakap “Ping Pong show? Happy ending? Bang bang boom!”. Kami pusing-pusing di sekirar dan Daniel bagitahu aku, “This is surely a tourist trap”. Hah, tahu takpe.

We wandered around, went from one lane to another before decided to wrap the day. We flagged a taxi and went back to our hostel.

Kami pusing di sekitar kawasan Patpong sebelum ambil keputusan, cukuplah untuk hari ni. Kami tahan satu teksi dan bergerak balik ke hostel.

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To be continued – Part 6

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To go to Saphaipae Hostel from Hua Lomphong station, take the MRT to Silom. Exit at Silom and proceed to Sala Daeng BTS station. From there, take the skytrain to Surasak station. The hostel is within walking distance. Look for a police bit, turn right when the police bit is on your left and go straight. The hostel is less than a km away.

There is no rail connection to Khao San Road, despite it being the most favourable place for backpackers. I personally don’t like it there as it is too noisy. To go there, either take a bus, taxi or tuk tuk. Most convenient and no-total-rip off is taxi. Haggling is encouraged. Flag only taxi with red light on the windscreen switched on.

Patpong is just like Khao San but seedier. Unless you are curious, better stick to Khao San.

For more info on Saphaipae Hostel, click here.

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6 thoughts on “Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand & Laos – Part 5: Khao San Road & Patpong, Bangkok

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