Khaosan Road is a busy street set up to fulfill the needs of tourists in Bangkok. It is where many Westerners start there adventure in Southeast Asia. I see it as kind of a warm up to the rest of the country, because everything is geared toward travelers. The convenient services bring in good money for the locals because they can charge much higher prices and foreigners are willing to pay that price.
You can find every souvenir you can imagine on Khaosan Road, tons of restaurants and bars, taxis and what seems like a million Thai’s looking to make a buck off of you.
Kyle and I took the ferry to Morocco from Spain about three weeks ago. We didn’t make it to the port until the four o’clock ferry, so we decided to stay in Tangier, where the ferry would drop us off.
We cycled to the first road we saw with hotels and were instantly greeted by a Moroccan man. Whether we liked it or not, this man would help us find a hotel room that suited our preferences (cheap, but clean). We told him many times we could manage on our own, but apparently that was not an option.
After finding just the right room we headed to the ATM to withdrawal Dirhams (the Moroccan currency). The man who guided us to the hotel was waiting outside to demand his tip. We REassured him we had absolutely no cash on us and had to go to the ATM. After begging again for at least a euro, he guided us up the road toward the ATM.
The streets were packed full of tourists, street vendors selling new and used items, cafes, and beggars. It was a bit overwhelming, but nothing I haven’t experienced before. Nothing (at this point in my travels), has even began to compare to the busy street that greeted my family on our first trip abroad. The feeling I had when I stepped out of the airport in India is one I will never forget. Those experiences have helped shape me into the traveler I am today.
Anyway, back to Tangier. After paying the guy 20 Dirham (2 Euros), we walked around for just a few minutes before sitting down at a ‘restaurant’. It didn’t take more than a couple moments for us to realize this area wasn’t our type of place, but we were ready to try some Moroccan food! The food in Spain is rather simple and it lacks spice, so we were looking forward to the change.
The meal of spicy chicken and rice was delicious and only cost six Euros. As we finished eating, a man sitting at the next cafe greeted us and welcomed us to Morocco. He was excited to hear Kyle is from San Diego, and let us know he himself had visited the area. He had attended a wedding near Point Lima.
After some small chat, this guy invited us to check out HIS herbal shop. He just let us know he was smoking a pipe with some friends before returning to the shop.
We walked through a maze of narrow streets and alleyways to find the herb shop did not actually belong to our new friend. We still bought some relaxing herbal tea to help keep my peaceful dreams. We weren’t sure how to make it back to our room, so our friend offered to walk back with us.
Our friend said he needed to make a quick stop to buy a little hash, and tried to get us to buy some. Before we knew it we were at a door with a line of Moroccan guys. They were handing Dirhams to a man who stepped outside just long enough to grab the money and return inside. He returened moments later to make a quick hand off with the hash.
We have heard about Westerners being set up by Moroccans and the police. I guess people buy a little hash and within twenty minutes the police find them to search them. They find the hash and fine the tourists. With those stories in mind we were quick to turn down the offer. We parted ways with our friend and headed straight back to our room.
We had experienced enough for the day cycling to the Southern point of Europe, crossing into Africa and learning about the street business of Morocco. Our first day in Morocco turned out to be much like our first day in Thailand, on Khaosan Road. I was surprised to see how similar a place on the other side of the planet can truly be.