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Khon Kaen Pics

After showing off Terry's photos of Khon Kaen for a few days, I finally have mine ready. You can find them in the Pictures of Thailand: Northeast: Khon Kaen Photo Album.

Terry's Isaan Pictures

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I haven't had a chance to upload my pictures from the weekend in Khon Kaen yet, but I'll direct you to some of Terry's photos. He had some great shots, including:

The truck with the band

The Isaan folk music concert

The silk weaver at her loom

And the prize winning: Isaan boy in the rice fields

Unfortunately we had to leave Isaan and all the parties behind us and head back to Bangkok today. Before we left, though, we added to the list of cultural experiences by visiting the home of Long's friend Chu. His great aunt is a weaver and was working the huge loom when we stopped by.

Her technique was very different from what we saw in Laos. Instead of weaving several threads of different colors, she wove two threads: one was the background/border color and one was colored in stripes. She would run the thread through the loom and then line up the colors to make the pattern. It still turned out a beautiful pattern, but definitely wasn't as intricate as the Lao patterns.

Then, we went to meet Long's grandmother who was working in the rice fields. She was a friendly woman with a beechnut-blackened smile and a big floppy straw hat. We watched her and her three friends plant the rice seedlings in the mud for a few minutes before hitting the highway home.

On the way home, we stopped at the Khmer temple of Phi Mai, just north of Nakorn Ratchasima city. I have been there two times already, but it's a great sight so I was happy to take Jeremy and Terry there. Again, I didn't take many pictures, but if you want to see what it looked like on my last trip, you can take a look at the Khorat (Nakorn Ratchasima) Photo Album.

Seven hours later we were home. As usual, I was not too happy to be returning to Bangkok. When ever I leave the crazy, chaotic city, life becomes more relaxed than I ever thought possible. This trip was especially cutural as well. We saw a funeral at the temple, a history museum, a celebration for young guys becoming monk novices, an Isaan folk concert, silk weavers and rice planters, and vistited a 1000 year old Khmer temple. It was one of the best weekends yet.

Having a car did turn out to be a wonderful addition to the trip. Today we drove through Khon Kaen city and visited the beautiful 9-story temple called Wat Nong Wang Muang and stopped at the Khon Kaen branch of the National Museum. I had been to both places before so I didn't take many pictures this time. But if you are curious to see what the temple looks like (it's quite striking actually), you can look here.

The good thing about visiting the temple again (besides being there with friends this time instead of being alone like last time) was that I actually climbed all the way to the 9th Floor. Each floor had some type of museum, with everything from statang bills with Rama 8 on them (100 statang = 1 baht = 1/40 of US$1, making them virtually worthless, but still interesting to see) to ancient Buddhist carvings to huge conch shells to Buddhist scriptures written in Pali language on thin wooden slats to pottery to human skeletons. The top floor held the sacred bone of Buddha and had a great view of the lake and downtown Khon Kaen.

After the temple we went to the museum and then to the Ubolratana Dam (pronounced "Ubonrat", for reasons unknown) where we had a delicious Isaan lunch. On the way back to the main road we pulled up behind a big truck with a full band and a female singer belting out Isaan folk songs. The truck eventually stopped at a small village where there was a huge party going on. Of course the three farang couldn't resist this photo opportunity so we stopped to take a look.

Turns out that it was a party to celebrate two young boy's entry into the monkhood. Every Thai boy spends at least a little time as a monk novice to show respect towards Buddhism and towards their family. For the two boys, it was a serious occasion. For everyone else in the village, it was time to sing and dance and eat and drink lots of beer and homeade rice whisky. We didn't eat any food, but plenty of drinks were offered to us.

After having fun with the locals, we headed to our Thai friend's village, about an hour south of Khon Kaen city. We unpacked the car and showered, then headed out to another party. This time it was an Isaan music concert at a school. The stage was set up in a field behind the school and about 200 local people were in attendance, sitting on straw mats in front of the stage. Jeremy, Terry and I were the only white people there, so needless to say when we walked into the crowd, every single person turned to look at us. They all stared at us for about 5 minutes, smiling and laughing and talking about us the whole time. It was quite an odd experience.

Driving to Khon Kaen

The 450-Km, seven-hour drive northeast from Bangkok to Khon Kaen last night wasn't too bad. The three of us talked and laughed and snacked the whole way. Plus, we stopped at a random but very delicious Thai restaurant on the side of the road outside of Nakorn Ratchasima.

You might be saying to yourself, "But I thought the last post said that he was flying to Khon Kaen." And you would be right. Our Thai Airways tickets went unused last night as we missed the flight by just a few minutes. This was due mostly to the fact that we sat in our taxi for a full 10 minutes at the Mo Chit / Lad Prao intersection. Very annoying.

So after we got to the airport and after our begging and pleading to let us on the airplane fell on deaf ears, we rented a car from Avis for about 1600 baht (US$40) a day. We figured that was not too bad, split between three people. Of course losing out on the 2400 baht ($US60) air ticket wasn't good news, but by that point, we didn't have much choice.

Now that I think about it, however, I think that having a car will actually come in handy. It will give us a lot more freedom and we won't have to worry about flagging down taxis or trying to figure out where the songthaw (red truck taxis) go.

Flying to Khon Kaen

After not taking very many road trips lately, I am ready to fly to Isaan tonight with two other work collegues: Jeremy and Terry. We will be visiting a friend of Jeremy's in Khon Kaen. The plan is to stay tonight in the thriving metropolis that is "Downtown Khon Kaen" and then stay tomorrow night out in Long's village outside of the city. Should be fun!

Bai Nong Khai

The "Khon Kaen Break" has continued. Yesterday I toured the university campus, visted the city museum, and walked around town. Around sunset I had a nice lesurely stroll around the huge lake in the middle of town called Bung Kaen Nakhon. Thousands of Khon Kaen'ers were enjoying the evening as well: jogging, playing soccer and sapak trakaw, doing aerobics, eating dinner, etc. It reminded me of the scene at the Hua Mak sports complex in Bangkok.

Today I get on a bus for the northernmost part of Isaan: Nong Khai -- a province separated from Laos by the Mekong River. In a few minutes I will be at the bus station to say bai nong khai ("I go to Nong Khai!")

Khon Kaen Break

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Khon Kaen has been a nice break on this trip of Isaan, mostly because I have been visiting with a friend I met through the guy who helped me get a job at the University. He lives on the campus of Khon Kaen University where he is a professor. I wish my University had housing for its teachers! In any case, we had a very nice time eating Isaan food at a outdoor lakeside restaurant last night.

I spent most of this morning trying to find the Khon Kaen Museum. I must say that my Lonely Planet Thailand book has done me very well through Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the beaches. But the section on Isaan has so far been miserable. The maps and descriptions (when there is one) are annoyingly inaccurate. I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon looking for the Lao Consulate because the address and map in the Lonley Planet was incorrect.

In any case, the Khon Kaen museum was nice. Not as good as the one in Phi Mai, however. I really liked that one. On a personal note, I finally found out what a "lingua" is. In Cambodia Mark and I visted the "River of One Thousand Linguas" and at the time, I thought that a lingua was just a stone carving. But linguas are actually a cylindrical carved stone that represents the Hindu diety Shiva.

I will stay in Khon Kaen one more night, then continue north toward Laos.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Khon Kaen category.

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