Off the beaten path, but right near the "backpacker zone" of Bangkok, Phiman Riverview is a convenient and interesting place. It's down a winding alley on a street called Samsen Soi 5, where plenty of dogs, cats, and chickens roam. As someone who has booked an entire month there, I am by far, the guesthouse's most permanent resident! Most people only stick around for a night or two; sometimes they stay an entire week. However, it seems that I'm the only backpacker taking my sweet time at Phiman; I get to meet a LOT of people.
For starters, the location is great. I'm within walking distance of hundreds of street vendors and restaurants, dozens of temples, and the backpacker-friendly Khao San Road. It is in the Banglamphu section of Bangkok, an area which is far less "modern" than some other parts of the city. As a result, it's poorer, cheaper, and dirtier, yet also feels more like "authentic" Thailand.
As you have probably guessed by the name "Phiman RIVERview," the guesthouse is located alongside a river. It's beautiful at night, when you can't see the garbage floating in it. Cambodian workers have been building a wall alongside it since I arrived; the construction can get pretty loud during the day. To get to other parts of Bangkok, I often catch ferries from a dock alongside the river, perhaps a fifteen minute walk from the guesthouse. Price to ride a boat as far as you want? 40 cents.
Jane, the guesthouse owner, is really friendly and helpful. On my second day here, she moved me to a room with a private bathroom/shower stall, even though I had booked one with a shared bathroom. This was done because of the length of my reservation. It has made my stay SO much easier, as walking outside at 1:00 in the morning to use the bathroom or shower is never fun. Jane also throws barbecues every few days, where the guests all get to chip in money and have a communal dinner. For example, about a week ago, each of us ate an entire fish. It was wonderful!
The prolific number of residents is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I get to meet dozens of people, from different countries and walks of life. On the other hand, nobody stays around for very long. It's nice to meet people, but sad when they have to leave so soon. I have truly made some great friends already, learned about other countries and cultures, and had some fantastic musical jam sessions.
My accommodations are meager, especially compared to what I'm used to back in the States. However, Phiman Riverview Guesthoues has a ton of charm and personality, and plenty of friendly people. The only real complaint I have is the insane number of mosquitoes. I've been bitten probably dozens of times, even though I (occasionally) use the provided mosquito netting.
The pros outweigh the cons by a landslide. I'll remember the Banglamphu area and the Phiman Riverview Guesthouse long after I depart!