Miss tight purple pants is standing at the reception, and I'm not sure whether she's checking in or out, or if it even matters at this point in time. They could be fisherman's pants, except for the way they hug her figure, very unlike anything manufactured in Thailand for the tourist market. Perhaps they were purchased at home - wherever that may be - brought along for the ride, the one piece of clothing that will stand out in the crowd.
These tight purple pants would certainly stand out amongst the Khaosan Road t-shirts - the Beer Chang brigade, vs the Singha devotees. Then there are those who own a t-shirt from each camp, but both are hopelessly powerless against one wearing a Beer Lao shirt. All counterfeit, no royalties paid for any of it, yet there is a certain degree of status amongst these forged t-shirts and pants, this clothing produced with the label of whomever is the latest trend on foreign shores - or, shores very close by. It's the way a pair of fake Levi's are cheaper than a pair of fake Diesel jeans. The way the beer of choice in Laos is more credible than the national brew in Thailand - you know, Laos is more dangerous than Thailand, more landmines, more bandits. More risk. So don't dare wear this t-shirt unless you've been there yourself, sampled the brew with your own lips, inside the danger zone.
It all washes straight over most of the people walking outside right now, more interested in the cocktails they can get for 60 baht, the cd's they can get for 100 baht (depending on how you can bargain). The road's full of people, the sewers are producing their unique Bangkok fragrance, and the motley crew walking up and down Khaosan Road don't look like they're going to change any time soon.
When the most difficult decision you're faced with is whether you want to buy a 20 baht Pad Thai, or a 15 baht corn cob - when your hardest moment in a day is the difficult task of bargaining over a pair of shorts in some back alley, or turning down the offer of having your fortune told (you will choose number seven, and your colour will most likely be blue - after this, you will believe, and wonder whether you should pay the huge price to hear the rest...) it's difficult to get moving, to rip yourself away from this place that provides everything you need within one block.
Right at this moment, I'm sitting in an internet cafe on Khaosan Road, and I'm so incredibly relieved to know that in a couple of days, I'll be hopping on a plane to Vietnam.
You could get trapped here so easily. I see it in the faces of the girls having their hair braided, or the guys getting dreadlocks. Everything you could ever want - and I mean everything - is within a 5 minute walk from your front door. If you need to go any further, then it's not likely something you really need. As you move further away from this safehaven, the number of tourists you will see will decrease, until you're in a section of Bangkok you would swear is seeing a tourist for the very first time.
It's not hard to find those places though. All you need to do is take a backstreet, not really knowing where it leads. Trust your sense of direction, and head towards where you think you should be going, yet without knowing the street names, without following the most direct path. Lose yourself in a part of a city that you're not familiar with, that isn't mentioned in your Lonely Planet guide, and try to figure out how to get out of it, how to find your way back home.
All the while, feel alive.