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Khao San: The Gateway
By Adam Corney
25 February 2011





Location: Khao San Road, Bangkok
Soundtrack: Hardcore house trance
 
Coming back to Khao San is an appropriate end to a trip, as well as a fitting place to start.
 
It’s a place of beginnings and endings, a gateway from one world into the next. It envelops you in gaudy neon advertising, shouts at you with the latest dance tunes, spins you around with touts and tuk-tuks and street food. You’re slammed with a sensory overload that is uniquely Khao San.
 
 
 
But all of that is a gloss over the surface, a veneer rubbed on to give the impression that this is what Thailand is. But scratch at it – travel away from Khao San, Ko Samui, and Phuket – and you’ll see the real Thailand underneath. A land full of amazing people and stunning scenery, mixing ancient history and modern experiences together into an intoxicating elixir.
 
It makes sense, then, that Khao San is a fitting final counterpoint to your Thai experience. Sit at any one of the plentiful bars or cafes along the street, and just watch the wide eyed backpackers fresh off the plane stumble through the gateway and into the adventure that awaits them. You know it’s going to be an adventure – after all, you’ve just finished yours.
 
Harold Stephens, writing for Thai Airways International, summed the road up well:
 
So what is Khao San Road?  It’s a street, or a road, that is true. But it’s more than that. Khao San is about people. It’s a place where not all dreams may come true but at least those people who go there dared to dream. For the young travellers, it’s a place they will remember all their lives. For the young Thais, it’s meeting these crazy foreigners and perhaps even imitating them, for one night at least.
 
Then the time arrives to go.
 
You pay your bill. You pick up your bags. You take one last glance around at the veneer of Khao San, and behind it – your Thailand.
 
You whisper a promise into the air that you’ll be back, and know that you mean it.
 
Then you straighten up, and walk towards the gateway that the backpackers are coming through as they start their adventures.
 
And, without hesitating, you step back through the gateway and start your own journey home.
 
 
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
~ T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)

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Comments
shane lewis
Great story Adam, gets all those travel bugs and memorys going.
Heading back over in September and taking my 4yo daughter for the second time, I think my wife and I have created a traveler like us, we even named her after one of our favourite places Chiang Mai, Lanna.
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