I am confident because I’m freed (physically, philosophically) from Khao San, but also because I’ve walked these streets in ten different cities. I’ve seen in them New York. Graffiti-clad corrugated storefronts closed for the night, if not forever. I witnessed a rare Hong Kong slice of isolation, replete with hard-to-cross spans of concrete and surprisingly open air. I’ve taken in bits of London, Hanoi, even St. Louis. I’ve seen every homeless soul, every filthy river, and I saw music. Jarring, disjointed at times, but other times finding sweet groove.
It’s just a ten minute walk from the drunken granola of Khao San Road to the genuine (if changing) soi one. Shaking off the granola but not necessarily the drink, I stumble/stroll the challenging Bangkok curbs and walks as if they’re mine—not arrogantly, but confidently.
Perhaps most surprising, I saw a desolate main street of Moorhead, Marshall, or Bemidji Minnesota. The weather, of course, was starkly different, and for the better or worse, depending on your attitudes toward extreme cold and oppressive humidity. But there was this one particular feeling, the one of being alone on a desolate street yet not wholly by yourself, where you know a few scraggly others are scraggily straggling home, emptying cheap beers, pausing to take in a view they “see” everyday but have never legitimately “seen,” saying good night to friend, or just now finally laying down for a rest. These kind (or less than) folk are all unseen as I pass through the Philadelphia block of Thewet, hardly strangers as I am not at all alone.