2011. I was living in Thonburi, Bangkok, just over the river from the well-known Khao San Road, the neon-light, bar-filled street where many a backpacker spends the first nights of their Southeast Asian adventure, likely crouched over a plate of Pad Thai with a cheap and very strong cocktail of dubious alcohol. This was my second time living in the mega-city at the beating heart of Thailand. Bangkok sits on the Chao Praya River that winds down from northern Thailand via the old capital of Ayuthaya, before it runs out into the Gulf of Siam a few miles south. Bangkok in the old days was known as the Venice of the East – the city was once criss-crossed by a large network of canals – khlongs in Thai. The boats that plied the river were the most important form of traffic at the time. Some of these khlongs are still there, and in use, but many of them have reluctantly given way to a concrete jungle that has grown up over the years, and anyone that knows Bangkok will probably agree, the nickname “world’s largest car-park” can be appropriately applied.
In 2006 I was living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. What a time to be there – Oasis, still a band, played the city. I had seen them once before, the previous year, July 2005 at the City of Manchester stadium. That was as crazy as you’d expect. Not just a homecoming gig, but at the home of Manchester City. The madness of the crowd made it one of the most memorable gigs for me.
Seeing Oasis, along with the legend that is Ian Brown, and other bands at an outdoors Bangkok festival, I always expected a different vibe. I knew the tropical climate and the buzz of Southeast Asia would give the event a unique atmosphere, but I never considered how blown away I would be by the evening.
I left the festival knowing it was something special, and now, when I look back on it, I realise how lucky I was to be there. Oasis may yet reform – Liam doesn’t stop dropping hints on Twitter – but I am not sure a night in Bangkok with Oasis and Ian Brown will ever be replicated.
The week after the festival, I wrote the following, published on the online Khao San Road travel mag. My 2006 self has made me cringe in parts, but I have kept it totally unedited.
I began at Chatuchak market where tropical rain storms had killed the electricity, so in the dark humidity, I mingled with the tourists and locals, in search of a cheap pair of closed toe shoes, required to prevent getting my feet squashed.