Monday 26 December 2022

Would you eat fried grasshoppers?

 Why had I avoided it for so long?

Stupidity and stubbornness perhaps?

Despite the fact I had spent time backpacking through Thailand and having returned to its capital Bangkok many times over the years, I had declared Khao San Road a personal no-go zone.

Known as backpacker central, I was keen to avoid being labelled another ‘backpacker’. Even though quite often that’s exactly what I was (oh the irony)!

But upon hearing rave reviews from a colleague recently I decided enough was enough. It was time I built a less snobby bridge and just get over myself!

Arriving into Bangkok on a Friday night, we checked into our hotel, changed into something comfortable and directed our taxi driver to take us to Khao San Road.

It was close to midnight when we arrived and the street was abuzz.

Street stalls selling all types of wares, music blaring from bars, people performing and showing off their products. Khao San Road is an eclectic and electric playground with people of all ages, shapes and sizes from all nationalities playing. Yes there were Backpackers. It has been known as a backpackers' haven long before Leonardo DiCaprio popularised it in the movie adaptation of Alex Garland’s novel ‘The Beach’. But it wasn’t only for backpackers; there were families, elderly couples, young couples all mellowing out and enjoying the scene. We decided to join them. We found a bar ordered our Singha’s and proceeded to eat fried grasshoppers.

Yes, you read correctly, fried grasshoppers! Something else I had never done in Thailand.

I mentioned there were plenty of street stalls, there were also plenty of food stalls. Selling everything (cheaply) from the traditional Pad Thai and spring rolls to the um, well, not-so-traditional fried grasshoppers, scorpions and many other insects I squash at home. Not to eat, but because I am just plain scared of them! So when they were produced by one of the group members as a snack I almost passed out. After watching everyone else try one (and not throw-up) I thought to myself, I overcame one inane prejudice tonight why not another.

So I ate the grasshopper. I chewed and I swallowed it. And whilst I drew the line at the fried scorpions, I can be proud that I let my inhibitions down enough to enjoy this animated scene and have a night that was memorable.

But that is the great thing about travelling, isn’t it? The breaking down of misconceived notions and prejudices you have created in your own mind when there is often no basis for it to begin with.

Whether it be the actual destination itself, the people or something as exotic as eating fried grasshoppers, overcoming your fears and prejudgements when travelling allows you to actually have ‘experiences’ and often enjoyable ones at that. And I’m reminded of the quote by Henry David Thoreau used in the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’.

 “I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”.

Bianca Lewis

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