We said our goodbyes to the beach and headed to the ferry port in Koh Chang. We ended up going to a different ferry port this time and the journey to the main land was a lot quicker. We had to wait for an hour in the sweltering heat for our bus, we were so looking forward to getting onto it and having some air con! The bus arrived and it was not at all what we were use to, it was called a VIP bus, it was a double decker coach that on the outside looked like a kiddies bus as it was Finding Nemo themed. We got on and found our seats, it was pretty luxurious inside. Leather interior, proper sound system and tv's! It took us about 6 hours to get back to Bangkok, it was nice to see the sunset over the city.
We got off and needed to head to the north bus station. Unfortunately we were no where near the sky train or metro so we jumped in a taxi. Some areas are so beautiful at night, lights were draped in the trees along the main roads. We eventually got to the bus station, 10 times the size of the east bus station. None of the signs were in English but we managed to find someone who could point us to the right floor. We where heading to Nong Khai in north east Thailand, which was about a 10 hour bus journey. Again none of the signs where English so we just tried our luck at the first one we found. Luckily the women understood where we wanted to go and said the next bus leaves in 10 minutes (7.20pm). We tried to ask for a later one to avoid arriving in Nong Khai at the crack of dawn but she didn't understand us. We found our bus (another double decker coach) and took our seats that were right at the front. We tried to ask the bus driver what time we would arrive at our destination, but again he didn't understand, we just hoped that we woke up at our stop.
We managed to get quite a bit of sleep on the bus, it had reclining chairs so it wasn't too uncomfortable. The bus stopped in a bus station and Luckily Kate woke up and shouted down to the driver to see if was Nong Khai and it was. By this time it was 5am, we didn't think our chances of finding somewhere to stay at this time were very high. So we jumped into a tuk tuk and asked our driver to drop us by the river. Unfortunately he had something else in mind and tried to take us to expensive hotels (where he would clearly get commission). They said it would be 600 baht a night which was way to pricey, we said no and asked him to drop us at the river and we would sort ourselves out. The hotel owner and the driver then went on to say that Nong Khai was expensive and that we wouldn't find anywhere cheaper. He was refusing to budge so we got our guide book out found the name of a cheap hotel and told him to drop us there. Knowing he had been busted he laughed and then took us. We were dropped outside and happened to bump into a guy from California who was staying at the guesthouse, we have no idea what we was doing walking around at 5 in the morning but he showed us to the guesthouse which had a beautiful garden over looking the Mekong river. So we took a seat an thought we would wait it out. The guy (John) stayed with us and we chatted for a bit. A women who worked at the guesthouse shortly came down and made us coffee. She said that they were full but checkout time was 11, and we were more than welcome to stay.
The sun finally came up, although you couldn't see it as it was cloudy and raining but you could see Laos on the other side of the river. The restaurant opened at around 7am so we ordered breakfast and spoke to the guy at reception and said it was pretty likely we would be able to get a room once people had checked out. We heard that this was the nicest budget accommodation to stay at and we really liked the setting. The garden was lovely and relaxing and the staff were so nice so we really wanted to stay here. Low and behold a room became available and it was only 230 baht (£5). The room was basic but really clean, and again it had a shared bathroom. The afternoon we spent catching up on sleep and took a walk around the town. We decided to indulge in some street food which was a bit of a gamble as none of the stands were in English. We chose one and just said two of whatever they do. It ended up being Pad Thai and a weird side salad thing. It was nice although it had very tiny shrimps in which were unbelievably fishy tasting.
We bumped into John again who gave us his contact details and drew a map of where his house was in Loas and said to drop by (but only in the evenings). He shared with us that his wife was schizophrenic and that she was better in the evenings. He said we should drop by and have diner with them, apparently she makes the best lop... Whatever that is! She is from Loas and cooks amazing food, so we may brave it and pop round for diner when we're near by.
The next day we decided to hire some bikes and go on a bike ride. We had read about Sala Kaew Ku (a sculpture park) which we decided to head to. We got slightly lost and were about to give up until Kate saw some sky scrapper sculptures in the distance. We had a look around and it was pretty impressive. Huge sculptures of Budha and various others. There was a lake in the park and we decided to make a donation so the we could feed the fish. We weren't expecting what we saw, the size of these fish was unreal, some of them were 2 feet long, maybe bigger! In the park there was a building which we thought was maybe a place of worship as there were hundreds of flowers and Budha statues. The woman in there pointed up the stairs, so we made our way up. At the back of the top floor was a glass wall, the guy there said we could go up to the window and have a look. We could see lots of light an flowers, Kate then went on to say "look at the snow dome in the middle", which Pete them replied "what the one with the mummy inside". So there was a dead body laying in what only can be described as one of the glass balls you shake to make it snow (obviously it was a lot bigger). Fortunately we got use to seeing dead bodies in India so it didn't faze us.
We decided to head back and cycle along the river to watch the sunset whilst sipping a Chang.
We really liked it in Nong Khai, it was nice and relaxing.