I’ve been to Bangkok twice before, once in the mid eighties and once in 2000. It doesnt seem to have changed that much but then, I didnt spend that much time in Bangkok either of those times.
Khao San at least is pretty much the same from seven years ago even if it has grown bigger. It remains an entire suburb of backpackers and travellers from all over the world with all the pros and cons that entails. After Ko Tao, I was wondering if I would feel as uncomfortable in the Khao San area but I dont.
Bangkok is so large and there is so much in it that it is obvious that Khao San is nothing more than a ghetto with the rest of Bangkok doing pretty much what is has always done. What’s more, outside of the Khao San area, the effect of the tourists seems to be very small.
For example, on our second night in Bangkok, we took a tuk-tuk in search of a nightmarket in Chinatown but found a flower market instead just a kilometre from Khao San. We were the only falang there. The night flower market is huge. It takes up an entire street and lanes, covering the area with stalls selling nothing but flowers, flower garlands, flower sculptures and flower arrangements. I’ve taken a number of photos some of which are on my flickr website.
It’s not in the guide book or even in the shopping map of Bangkok so maybe that’s why there were so few tourists there but it’s certainly these little discoveries that makes travel so rewarding.