Day42 Ubon Ratchathani to Nang Rong, Thailand

Motorbike/Motorcycle, SDA Church, Thailand, Travel No Comments
Departure Time 12:32pm
Departure Location Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Arrival Time 6:01pm
Arrival Location Nang Rong, Thailand
Distance Travelled 289km

Day42

We slept in, recovering from the 1000km travelled over the past two days. Here is a photo of our hotel room.

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After a late breakfast, we checked out and were on our way by 12:32pm – but our first stop was just around the corner. We wanted to visit the Adventist Language School, but when we arrived, we found that it was closed due to the public holiday. It was the King’s Birthday, which is also father’s day in Thailand.

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Then it was time to pick up our laundry.

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The road was very good, with very little traffic. We averaged 121km/h for about the first 50kms. It is easy to how!

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A quick stop for lunch at one of the many 7-Eleven stores.

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The whole day was just flat terrain, much like the previous days, but as we weren’t following the Mekong any more, the roads were also fairly straight.

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We checked into a small room in a large motel complex – it was cheap, but run down. We walked down the road for a nice dinner to finish of the day.

Day41 Nakhon Phanom to Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

Motorbike/Motorcycle, Thailand, Travel No Comments
Departure Time 8:17am
Departure Location Nakhon Phanom, Thailand
Arrival Time 6:28pm
Arrival Location Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Distance Travelled 463km

Day41

We started the day pretty early, heading into town for breakfast at 8:17am, but then we took it easy. We finally left at 10:30am, by which time the city was well and truly alive. Here you see the trucks lined up for the ferry to Laos. A Friendship bridge has been approved for this location, and is expected to go into service in 2011.

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The scaffolding from which lights are hung at night to make the scene look beautiful.

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This is a photo another ancient temple in Nakhon Phanom.

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A police motorbike – here every police officer is able to choose their own style!

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In the small border town of Mukdahan, across the Mekong River from Savannakhet, Laos. This town has a Friendship Bridge already.

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Time to have lunch, and a little rest! What a beautiful spot from which to watch some of the small rapids of the Mekong River.

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And then some photos of the various things along the way.

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Rebecca was starting to get tired, so we took some side roads to see if there was any nice accommodation near the river. We ended up seeing lots of interesting village life, but no easily identifiably accommodation.

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These kids are on their way home from school – wouldn’t life be different in the developed world if children were allowed to sit on the roof of the school bus.

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We spotted the building of a new Bhudda in the distance, so we decided to check it out.

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These interesting rock formations were by the side of one of the main roads.

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As we pulled into Ban Dan, the sun was just starting to set – and as there was no accommodation, we decided to ride to the next major town – Ubon Ratchathani and stay in a proper hotel for the night. A treat for covering 1000km in two days.

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As were came into town, it was already fairly dark – and I was riding pretty fast. We nearly had an accident on a four lane road, as a car coming out of a side street underestimated my speed. I had to break hard to avoid an accident. As we entered town, we saw a laundry service, so we dropped off our dirty clothes, marked our GPS for the location (you can see the word ‘sak’ on the map above, because that is the Thai word for Laundry – I forgot to remove it from the map). We then continued to find a hotel. We found a nice place very close to the where the Adventist Language School is located. After we checked in, we rode down to the river (not the Mekong, as we left that near Ban Dan), to find some food.

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Day40 Chiang Khan to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand

Motorbike/Motorcycle, Thailand, Travel No Comments
Departure Time 9:31am
Departure Location Chiang Mai, Thailand
Arrival Time 6:40pm
Arrival Location Nakhon Phanom, Thailand
Distance Travelled 533km

Day40

We woke up relatively early, enjoyed our view over the Mekong river (the following two photos were taken from our room), had a nice breakfast, and then made our way towards Nong Khai, following the Mekong River all the way. We didn’t realise this at the time, but this was going to be one of the days we cover the most distance!

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The Mekong River – all that stands between us and Laos. The riverbed makes a great garden during the dry season.

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This is Vientiane from across the Mekong – we stood on the other side of the river less than a year before, when we did our trip through Cambodia and Laos.

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This area is the home of many small farms.

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The road we followed is famous for the way shrubs are shaped into the form of animals. There were lots and lots of these, but we couldn’t afford the time to take a picture of them all. So here is a small selection.

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As we were coming into Nong Khai, the border town to Vientian in Laos, we made good time. The road was so good for the last 15 minutes, that we averaged 118km/h.

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We had lunch in Nong Khai, and then continued on to Nakhon Phanom. The procession of vehicles you see here is typical of electioneering. Loudspeakers broadcast the messages, and music is played too. There were about 12 vehicles in procession, all with loudspeakers and posters.

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At 3:15pm, we were tired, so we had a rest at Buddhist monastery overlooking the Mekong. On the other side was another monastery – I wonder how much they have interacted with each other over the past few hundred years?

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The monastery was built in a very beautiful spot, with lots of interestingly shaped rocks.

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The rocks actually feature in layout of the monastery, including the landscaping and buildings.

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Our bike.

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Monks working on the grounds.

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Along the way, we saw some interesting places where people live. I wonder how these people cope with Mosquitoes?

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This is how the fishermen bring their motors back home at night. That drive was very, very steep.

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Drinks are sold in plastic bags all over Thailand – cheaper than cups!

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And there was a camera here too, just overlooking the comings and goings – remember, the river is a border.

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An interesting Tuk Tuk.

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More gardens by the Mekong.

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We made good progress this day, because the roads were phenomenal. On one occasion we averaged 119km/h over a 32km stretch, and on another occasion we averaged 129km/h over a 49km stretch (yes, I know that is a lot of 9s, but the GPS doesn’t lie, right)?

As we entered Nakhon Phanom, I wanted to see a temple that was highlighted in our travel book.

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We found a nice, clean, and cheap place to stay … though the wiring was interesting.

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Many people park their cars in their house.

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We walked into town to find some dinner. It was a very pleasant evening, and well worth the 20 minute walk. It was very pretty, with the lights of Laos on the other side of the Mekong.

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Day39 Nam Pat to Chiang Khan, Thailand

Motorbike/Motorcycle, Thailand, Travel No Comments
Departure Time 11:06am
Departure Location Nam Pat, Thailand
Arrival Time 6:56pm
Arrival Location Chiang Khan, Thailand
Distance Travelled 263km

Day39

The first 48km (about one hour’s ride due to the windy road) found us heading into the direction of the Laos border (Laos is grey in the map above). After that, we followed the border (at a distance of about 2-4 kms), until we hit the Mekong River near Na Haeo. As you can see by the picture below, this area is not frequented by foreigners, as most of the street signs are in Thai only. Fortunately we learnt to read the Thai script, so it was generally easy to follow. Notice the spelling for Border Patrol Police below.

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As it was Sunday, a worship service was being held at this church – a very rare sight in rural Thailand.

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Planting Rice.

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Some sections of the road were nice and straight.

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The following pictures were taken at a National Park which stretches to the Mekong river (Laos border). Lots of Thai youth were starting a hike into the National Park.

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Inside the headquarters of the National Park, with some pictures of the protected wildlife that can be found there.

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This map shows that the Thai people have a love for National Parks. They are all over the country (see blue/green areas).

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After we left the National Park, we proceeded further south. here are some pictures of the area we rode through.

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In the rural areas, few people wear helmets, and kids are riding bikes at a young age.

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We then entered the town of Na Haeo, which was unusual, because this tiny country town had a security camera at its main intersection.

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We stopped at a small place for lunch. I asked for a two Pad Thai, without shrimp, chicken, meat or fish, but with egg – all in my little knowledge of Thai, as no-one spoke any English. I wasn’t sure that the lady understood what completely, so I hovered around the kitchen. But she appeared to be bit annoyed at my hanging around and not trusting her, so I sat down. As she finished cooking, she held up a plastic bowl with red stuff in it, which I presumed to be chilly flakes. So I said that was ok, only to realise when our meals were served, that they were tiny little shrimp! We asked her to cook another one, after which she showed us how to eat little shrimp: you take one and place it in your mouth, chew it, and then swallow it. She was making the point:: this going to kill you – in fact, it is tasty! Well, she did cook another one, and we paid for four meals. But our first meals didn’t get wasted, the family soon tucked in. This baby was hanging next to our table and was being rocked by a rope from the next room.

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Beautiful roads to ride on.

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The border to Laos.

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We arrived at Chiang Khan at 6:00pm at night, but took another 55 minutes to find a suitable place to stay. There were lots of places, but some were too expensive, while others were too run down.  We really enjoyed the place where we stayed, as we had a windows overlooking the Mekong River.

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Day38 Nam Pat (with trip to Sirikit Reservoir), Thailand

Motorbike/Motorcycle, Thailand, Travel No Comments
Distance Travelled 66km

Day38

The next morning I was not feeling well – my eczema was playing up again.So I slept in and then updated some of our blogs.

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We finally made our way to Sirikit Reservoir at 12:37pm, and arrived at 1:05pm, just in time to have slow, relaxing lunch in the sun.

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At 2:42pm we headed towards the main reservoir and walked around admiring the beauty of the place.

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These leaves are huge! They are like wood carvings, and when you ride over them, you can easily hear them crumple under your wheels despite the noise of the motor and wearing a helmet.

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These picture are from the upper side of the reservoir.

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By 3:37pm we were back at our accommodation again. We headed out to dinner at 7:27pm, and ate in one several small street stalls. We met one person who spoke reasonable English, a Finnish Citizen who has lived there for six months doing some computer related work. However, foreign tourists do not frequent Nam Pat, and this was obvious – we were treated even more special than is normally the case in Thailand.