It was a long bus ride to Nong Khai not because of the distance but because of the crappy old bus and the route on the final leg but we finally arrived at Mut Mee guest house.Julian ,the english owner from Cheltenham had been there for 20 years and it was a beautiful little set up on the Mekong , in beautiful gardens and our room was fab.The food was also very good and most of the staff had been there for over 15 years and it was very clean and tidy.It just lacked a bit of atmosphere..You occasionally find these little places of heaven but for some reason the atmosphere isnt quite right.This was a place that we might be able to volunteer,do some yoga and do a Reiki course........The yoga teacher was on a retreat.....as was the Reiki teacher and the two places for volunteering....one I had to email and sadly they havent yet replied...and the other was over suscribed but they did let us sit in on a couple of classes.This project started as a helmet giving out initiative(its now compulsory to wear a helmet on a moto in Thailand but....the police stop work in this particular city at 5pm and the Thais dont want to mess up there hair !!).But they have now become a drop in language school and they send teachers out to help the english classes in the mainstream schools. Oh well lets take a bike out....?
Nong Khai is famous for its sculpture park and I will try and upload some photos in a bit......There is a lovely promenade for the likes of me who get on a bike once every 20 years.Any way we managed the 40 minute ride there without incident and enjoyed the park a lot.I think I may have jammed my brakes on a little to viciously once or twice and I think this is the cause of the back but who knows...
Nong Khai has a big expat population (aged western men who spend most of there time in girly bars being swooned over by beautiful young Thai girls) I must just add at this point that Nong Khai is not alone here.Blob and I spent most of our nights here in one of these bars with the lovely Noi and her staff.There is nowhere better to people watch !
One night we raced back to our guest house to see a live band on the boat moored on the river .It was a bar at night owned by Julian and his wife and the posters had been up for days......no one there????? Oh sorry forgot to tell you its cancelled....ok back to Noi and the girls.
The next morning we left at 5.30 to catch the6 o'clock train..Blob carrying all the bags to the taxi driver who didnt bother to show.Luckily we found another who raced us to the station and tried to double his price.Cheeky b****** got nowhere.....sadly the train was delayed an hour.But eventually off we headed to Surin on the local train.The seats were pretty hard but the locals were very smiley and friendly.At every stop food sellers would jump on "phip baht phip baht" Everything is 10 baht and we were offered some pretty weird looking food.Blob got tempted by some ball type things which were apparently very sweet.Well done Robbie.
We stayed at the Surin Majestic Hotel which is in fact in the middle of the bus station but they gave us there best room on the 5th floor which looked out all over town..stunning !
Again very friendly and it had a fab pool .We liked Surin a lot except for the constant parade of elephants of varying ages that they traipsed around town.Its very hard because now the elephants are no longer used to work,logging etc...what do they do with them????? And as much as we hate to see them in shows doing tricks,or giving tourists rides ,they have to be exercised somehow.They cant roam free because they are not original families and they would just try and kill each other.??Surin is the elephant capital of Thailand and every November they have a huge festival involving 300 plus elephants.They are dressed up and parade through the streets in all their regalia and they have a football match which is quite something to see.
We went to an elephant show one day and Rob had been told on his Mahout day that an elephant is happy if its tail is wagging and its ears are flapping...most of the elephants in the park were happy.
Rob got the best massage of his trip here and I have it on video for those who wish to see it.
We also went to a fab silk village while we were here.The girls doing the weaving were incredible and one spoke quite good english.The piece she was weaving was 2 metres long and it would take her 2 months and be sold for 70,000 baht.She worked an 8 hour day and wove about 5 cm a day.Incredibly complicated and used the finest quality silk thread and gold thread.
Ok and on to Phanom Rong,after a lie down in a darkened room.....PHEW !! x