Khao San Road

This street/area is ridiculous. It’s wall-to-wall Westerners, and it’s crazy.  Loud, brash, commercial, crowded… but really, really fun. But I’m so glad I didn’t start out my time in Thailand here, because it really is its own unique neighborhood, heavily dominated by and catering to Western backpackers. It has little in common with the rest of Thailand. The food isn’t even authentic, but the shopping and people-watching is great. It came to be only about 20 years ago, but has grown beyond its couple of blocks into several streets around it. And of course it has all those lovely lights and lamps that attract me like a moth to a… well… lamp.

The Thai food in this area isn’t very good-it’s been changed and Westernized to a level that falls short – Thai food in Chicago is much better. But they have some unique things that are tasty (besides the insects, which I avoided). You can actually get cheese wontons- like crab rangoon, but without crab, and with real cheese instead of cream cheese. But the best are the crepes/pancakes/roti.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can accept one of the many frequent invitations to take part in the most bizarre stuff on this road.. Ping pong shows, insects as snack food, (see photo above) it’s crazy.  And seems to border on the questionably legal side of things, as well. But that may be half the fun of it.

Oh, and don’t worry if you’re away from home and think you’re going to miss the big game. You can always catch it in the middle of the street- on the back of a van. And you can order beer 5 litres at a time while you’re watching it. Just in case your team is doing poorly, 5 litres should be a sufficient quantity of beer to quite literally drown your sorrows. Enjoy!

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Ho Chi Minh City markets

Markets seem to be an integral part of any major town here, or maybe I just make them a priority on my walks around. 🙂  I think it makes sense, though. In the absence of big box superstores and massive grocery stores, you need markets.

(Photo: Shopping at the night markets can be so tiring!)

If you come by Ben Thanh Market at lunchtime, you will be knocked out by the heavy smell of fish sauce. And where Ubud had its batik, HCMC has its embroidered silk. Why didn’t I get a bigger suitcase???  And, to be honest, I walked around for about an hour before I realized how much else there was- there are so many shops selling designer knock-offs that I know of a couple of people who would be in heaven here amongst the purses and shoes and bags. I, of course, am more like a magpie and continue to be drawn to the colorful native-looking crafts. Want! And if you miss the markets during the day, you can come back at night when they all open up outside of the marketplace, lining the streets with alluring goodies and spilling light into the night.

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