Sunday, 27 September 2020

Onwards to Roi Et

With the failure of crossing over to Laos from Mukdahan it was just a matter of random choice now on where to head to. I choose Roi Et and casually started riding. Along the way to Roi Et, I was stopped numerous time by so many police checks. This time they all wanted to see papers instead of being lazy and waving me onwards once they knew I was Malaysian. I figured it was partially due to being so close to the Laos border. 

Riding from Mukdahan to Roi Et

One of the check point had this cheeky elderly police that keep talking to me in Thai which I had no clue what so ever since he was stringing sentences non stop.

The few words I manage to catch and understand, I answered

I am from Malaysia
I am going to Roi Et
I am touring Thailand on motorbike.

When I got the signal to carry on, the guy continue on with talks which I could not understand but I decided to tell him “Thailand Aroi” - which I think translate as ( Thailand is good )

He had a big grin on his face and started saying Aroi, Aroi and made movement with his hips that suggested something with his hand cupped on his balls while he continued repeating what I said to him ... Thailand Aroi ... a big grin and a wink he gave me. I gave him a grin underneath my covered bandana and a salute before speeding off.

Sri Chai Mongkol Grand Pagoda
Pha Nam Yoi, Nong Phok District, Roi Et 45210, Thailand 

Sri Chai Mongkul Grand Pagoda - Isaan 

Only one detour stop between Mukdahan to Roi Et and that was at this huge temple which had amazing review on google map. Out of curiosity and also since I had so much time to space, I decided to check it out and ended up spending a good hour and more exploring the temple grounds 

Garden of Sri Chai Mongkul Grand Pagoda - Isaan

The temple pagoda and garden is enormously massive with a beautiful garden and its interior is laces with detailed artwork and going up all the way to the highest level (6th floor), I notice the special enclave that is used for keeping the scared relics of Buddha. Not much translation for foreig
n tourist and the visitors seams to be purely locals. 

At Roi Et it was one of those city that I immediately thought ... yea ... this place I could retire. Beautiful central garden and a bustling daily city night market. Nothing much to see but just the right balance of city and country. 

Roi-Et Night Market 

Roi-Et Night Market

Dinner at Roi Et Night Market

Traveled on : Feb 2019

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Phra That Phanom Woramahawihan Temple and a Movie at Mukdahan

As I made my way down from Nakhon Phanom to Mukdahan on Valentine day (14 Feb 2019) I had to stop by at the most famous temple along the Mekong river on the Thailand side which was Wat Phra Trat Phanom Woramahawihan Temple which was beautiful and huge with lots of pilgrims. 

Phra That Phanom Pagoda 

I don't know if it was the timing or if it was always like this all year round but around the temple for the few streets adjacent to, it was fully block up with markets selling stuff of all kinds and it felt like a big city bazaar than anything else. 

The Bazaar around Phra That Panom. Me somehow manage to enter the pedestrian bazaar with Bluey 
All the Thai locals were there visiting by large number of tourist bus, caravans, convoys that it was a sight to see where the real Thailand is instead of the usual falang infested places. My cousin did told me not to miss this place while I was touring Isaan for it was the most scared monument and temple of the region. I manage to find the reason, the pagoda contained the chest relics of Buddha. 

Excerpt from Phra That Phanom Woramahawihan Temple Signboard

Onward to Mukdahan for Valentine day and I was alone in a very nice motel for 400 baht a night. I went to see the long anticipated valentine movie of Thailand called Friend-zone. I had been seeing the advert everywhere in Thailand for a while now so it was a major film hype of the month. 

Thai Comedy Movie  Friendzone 2019
I am starting to really enjoy Thai movies .... since they have subtitles in English. It's like a new movie world theme opened up, instead of the usual western blockbusters. Thai comedy especially is a totally tragic story^^ . 

Traveled on : Feb 2019

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Life by the Mekong River in Nahkon Phanom

On the way from Sakhon Nahkhon to Nahkon Phanom, there was this signboard along the road that said, Mekong Underwater world. Curious and having plenty of time to space since this was a short ride for the day of only 2 hours, I decided to take a detour. These days the detours are all that makes the trips worthwhile anyway. 

Detour by the Signboard - To Mekong Underwater World - Nahkon Phanom 

The Mekong Giant Catfish - Underwater World Nahkon Phanom 
Mekong Underwater world was a big aquarium showcasing the marine ecology in the Mekong River. For a small place it was extremely insightful understanding how important the Mekong River is to biodiversity. I was there during a primary school visit so there was lots of screaming children running around and I guess that was the kind of place it was built for, education.

Onward to Nakhon Phanom and it was a lovely surprise to what I was expecting. My image of Nakhon Phanom from the web was that it is a sleepy town, nothing worth stopping more than one night but to be honest, I was loving the place so much. 

Temples along the Mekong River - Nahkon Phanom 
Sleepy town it was, however with a lovely boardwalk by the Mekong river filled with old wooden stilts houses which mostly turned into hipster "Mookata" watering hole at night. They also have a quint historic clock-tower that marks the center of Nakhon Phanom and a row of beautifully ornate temples lining up side by side facing the Mekong river which just shines beautifully on a sunset. 

Nahkon Phanom - Mekong River Boardwalk 

Old Stilts Houses turn Niche Eatery and Drinking Places by the Mekong River - Nahkon Phanom

Mookata by the Mekong River - Nahkon Phanom

Mookata by the Mekong River - Nahkon Phanom 
To be frank I briefly considered doing nothing for a few weeks here in Nahkhon Phanom. It had that kind of charm for a sleepy old town. I even made a Pokemon Go Friend while I was battling a gym by the Naga Statue. The guy just walked up to me with his phone pointing and spoke to me in Thai so happily (I figured there was not much Pokemon Go players around). My limited Thai was still fun conversing with a local that had nothing to do about travel. To this day he is still my silent friend in Pokemon Go sending each other gift every other time. 

Naga Monument at Nahkon Phanom 
There was one thing to do in Nahkon Phanom that is quite interesting for the history buff. Nearby lies the actual house of residence of President Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam). Very humbling and also a stark contrast of how he is portrayed in Vietnam. To get there, its about a short ride 15 minutes from downtown to Ban Nachok with barely much sign markers. Mark on GPS and slowly follow. Direction and guide are hard to come by and one may go to the wrong Ho Chi Minh museum nearby. 

Ho Chi Minh Residence in Nahkon Phanom Thailand 

Ho Chi Minh Residence in Nahkon Phanom Thailand 

Ho Chi Minh Working Table 

Traveled on : Feb 2019

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Ban Chiang & Sakhon Nakhon

From Udon Thani it was a long ride of nearly 200km to Sakhon Nakhon and in between I had one sightseeing stop which was the archaeological museum and site of Ban Chiang town. It was interesting to see that it was once of the important archaeological find for advance civilization during the early history period in South East Asia.

Mostly the remains of bronze and pottery works were on display and some human bones with many interesting information along the way. Without knowing I spend nearly an hour inside the museum. 

Ban Chaing - World Heritage Site 

Pottery from the Lost World - Ban Chiang 

I reached Sakhon Nahkon easily after the stop in Ban Chiang Town riding slow and just going into a daze observing the simple bland countryside of Isaan. Once at Sakhon Nakhon I had to ask around from one hotel to another the price for there was no information on the net but finally found a nice cosy family hotel and checked in for 300 baht a night. 

Riding though the countryside of Isaan 

The Simple life of Isaan 

Nothing much to do really at this small town by the lake, though i did managed to spend two night chilling and spending most of the time walking around town catching Pokemon. By accident wondered to the square small lake beside the big lake during one evening and saw a small part of authentic Thailand. 

The locals were all there doing a jog or walk round and round the park. Communities of all age from the elderly taking a slow walk to the middle age aunt with their brisk walks to young joggers and athlete sprinting away and kids doing runs with their grandparents. It was peaceful and in some part without thinking i went for a round as well observing the local simple life. It took me 30 minutes to complete the circuit walking

A Walk in the Park - Sakhon Nakhon 
Traveled on: Feb 2019

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Ride from Loei to Udon Thani

The ride from Loei to Udon Thani had two stops that I made to have a look around.

Erawan Cave

The thing about travelling around on a motorcycle is that you can do day-trips along the way to the next destination instead of wasting a day to go out to have a look and head back again. On the edge of the Loei province was this Eravan cave largely marked on google map and seemed like a very short detour off the direction I was heading. 

The Foot / Base of Erawan Cave - Loei - Isaan - Thailand 

The Climb Up to Erawan Cave Entrance 

As I approached Erawan caves I could see the Buddha statue high up in the limestone hill looking out from what appear to be a cave high up in a rock mountain. I groaned in my mind knowing that this will be a hike up on foot just to see the cave. 

Just a few more kilometres to the cave and in my mind was already a war started debating and contemplating if I would attempt the climb up which most likely involved stairs just to see a view and a few statue of Buddha and be on my way.

Reached the starting base, I saw the steps with no end in sight but somehow with an empty mind I started the climb. Rested a few times along the way and to my surprise barely 30 minutes into the climb, I was already at the entrance to the cave greeted by a sitting Buddha looking out into the sun.

The view out of the cave was beautiful with rocks formation jutting out from the ground and corn plantation filling the rest of the landscape with shades of yellow and green. 

Erawan Caves - Sitting Buddha Watching out of the caves over the countryside 

The Countryside of Isaan - Cornfields
Inside there was not a soul other than myself visiting the caves. It was a fairly deep cave but lighted up well with no guides or entry fees. At times it was a bit eerie since I was alone and every foot steps echos through the caves as I explored deeper and deeper. 

Inside Erawan Caves 

The most famous monument of Erawan Caves .... what does it look like ^^

Dinosaurs in Isaan – Thailand

Did you know there are dinosaurs in Isaan, Thailand?

Heck I was amazed as well as I ride pass road-signs after road-signs that says dinosaur museum up ahead and decided I have to see this. 

Me noticing the small road Signs on the Left saying Dinasours Ahead. 
The museum building was small and the exhibit was more like a one room exhibit instead of the grandeur of multiple level museum but there was actual fossils of dinosaurs which was amazing in a sense since this was the nearest place to see a genuine dinosaur bone in south east Asia.

So I learn many new things today, that Thailand had discovered 10 species of dinosaurs and all of them was in Isaan.

Entrance was 50 baht for foreigners, outdoors were decorated with dinosaur sculpture replica scattered among the landscape which I only assume was the archaeological site previously when they dug up the bones.

Most of the bones seam to be stored elsewhere but there was a very impressive skull and vertebra of a Velociraptor. I feel that this museum could have done better but it is being used for school trips mostly base on the feel and vibe of the area including the kiddish videos explanations of dinosaurs in Isaan. 

Fossils of a Velociraptor in the Museum 
Oh well ... things to do in Isaan .... go see a dinosaur fossil. Later in my journey I realized that there was not just one museum for dinosaur in Isaan but actually a few of them scattered around where dinosaur fossils were found. The best and largest was the one in Kalasin province.

Dinosaur Museum of Nong Bua Lam Phra - Thailand 
Traveled on : Feb 2019