For some reason the Thais have a love affair with North American cowboys and the occasional Indian. When we lived in Chiang Mai our local area had a cowboy nightclub – well tin shed on the edge of fields truth be told – set up with straw bales and lots of people wearing cowboy hats. Mind you it was still loud Thai music and food so the theme was pretty limited in the extent of its application..

Here in our bit of Isaan in the North East of Thailand we don’t miss out as there is a place called the Cowboy Ranch, fifteen minutes drive from Nong Bua Lamphu, our local larger town.

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This is the signpost you are looking for on the right hand side heading from Udon to Nong Bua Lamphu about 40 km from the Udon airport turnoff.

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The Cowboy Ranch shown in the top right.

Now for those of you expecting a Disneyland wow experience you might be a little disappointed but this place makes for a passable couple of hours break from visiting wats (temples) especially if you have young kids. Like many places in Thailand I do wonder about the business plan that places a significant investment so far from a major centre. We went on a Saturday and as is often the case the staff vastly outnumbered the visitors.

The turn off the 210 takes you 3 km through pleasant farm country currently being planted up with rice as we have had a little bit of rain recently. The road to the Ranch is narrow but sealed. Entry is 100 THB per adult and 50 THB for children up to and including 15 years old. The same price for Thai and farang, which is nice.

Turn left as you drive into the main area and this will bring you to reception. Here they will try and sell you a package of activities for 300 THB pp, which range from paddle boats to horse riding and a mini car race (I think). The restaurant is located here with an all farang menu. You can get imported steaks for 1,200 THB or A$48.00, which is pretty wild for rural Isaan, although they also offer burgers for a lot less.

The restaurant was set up for a reception and looks a few steps up from the normal effort.

The restaurant was set up for a reception and the presentation is a few steps up from the normal effort. We didn’t eat so I can’t report back on the quality of the food.

Just outside reception you can catch a free shuttle bus, which takes you around the whole complex. This is worth doing because the place does spread out over a large area. You can also get a photo with the star of that classic cowboy movie Batman!

My stepdaughter Peng and Batman. Yeeha.

My stepdaughter Peng and Batman. Yeeha. Superman and Antman also represented in this cowboy hall of fame.

The shuttle bus driver - very Thai.

The shuttle bus driver. The smile is all Thai anyway.

First stop is at this enclosure where you are provided with milk bottles to feed the goats and sheep.

A slight mix of theme here. I think the Indians killed off all the buffalo before we turned up.

A slight mix of theme here. I think the Indians killed off all the rhinos before the other lot turned up.

My prefered size of cow.

My prefered size of cow.

Next stop is a “main street”, which has been set up for photo opportunities. There is a large undercover area where you can buy cold drinks and popcorn and also rent these peddle type animals for young children:

Not sure how that zebra slipped into the choice. Must have come over with the rhino.

Pick the odd ones out. Not sure how that zebra slipped into the choice. Must have come over with the rhino. Spot the panda!

On the move.

Young child on the move. Built for bus loads it was just the three of us plus staff and their children (Saturday).

A good effort of these USA number plates. Some of my readers will recognise their home state I am sure.

A good effort for these USA number plates. Some of my readers will recognise their home state I am sure.

This is going to be really confusing for Thai kids. Maybe more a South African ranch style.

This is going to be really confusing for Thai kids. Maybe more a South African ranch style.

Ye old barber shopee.

Ye old barber shopee.

This part of the ranch leads into larger fenced areas housing a small range of animals. On a good day you can walk or the alternative is to wait for the shuttle to arrive and get a lift to wherever you want to get off. Immediately behind the shed are a few enclosures. Once again good for youngsters especially Thais who have limited experience with a broader range of animals.

Lots of puppy pigs as Gaun, my wife, would calls them and you can see why HERE .

Lots of puppy pigs as Gaun, my wife, calls them and you can see why HERE under the heading “Smaller Things”.

Why are these called pigmy goats? Beaten up by a chicken.

Why are these called pigmy goats? Why did the chicken cross the road? To beat up a pigmy goat.

All the enclosures were a decent size like this one and the animals seemed in pretty good condition.

All the enclosures were a decent size like this one and the animals seemed in pretty good condition.

Where's my lunch?

Where’s my lunch?

Gaun just after getting a "kiss" from the goat, who was looking for food.

Gaun just after getting a “kiss” from the goat, who was looking for food. Have you ever tried to sit like that? It comes naturally to Thais but my best efforts often end with a graceful roll backwards.

My dad would have loved this. He used to breed donkeys in Australia and loved them to bits.

My dad would have enjoyed this view. He used to breed donkeys in Australia and loved them to bits.

Deer coming up to see if there's any variation to the diet on offer.

Deer coming up to see if there’s any variation to the diet on offer. There’s that Thai sit thing happening again. No need for chairs.

Big bird.

Big bird.

At the back of “main street” are a couple of outdoor horse arenas. A horse riding exhibition was due to start at 2.00 pm but was too early for us. You will also find the stables here as well as this Indian village complete with VW combie.

To balance up the cowboy theme.

To balance up the cowboy theme.

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Like some parts of the ranch this has seen better days.

A selection of buggies.

A selection of buggies.

Isaan cowboys. You thought Freddie Mercury died in 1991 didn't you - not so.

Isaan cowboys and you thought Freddie Mercury died in 1991 didn’t you – not so.

A good range of horse type represented here. They all looked well looked after and each stable has an overhead fan, which was a nice touch.

A good range of horse type represented here.

A long way from home like some of us.

Money has been spent here and these sort of touches are surprising.

Money has been spent here and these sort of touches are surprising.

A small lake with geese and swans where you can hire a swan paddle boat.

A small lake with geese and swans where you can hire a swan paddle boat. Other than being on the water nothing too interesting.

After a brief heavy rain burst, which luckily happened just as we returned to the main shed, we picked up the shuttle to return to the reception area. Here there are a small number of enclosures with some more exotic animals in residence:

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Prairie dogs. Yay – right animal for the right country.

Note the fan in operation.

Note the fan in operation. A Raccoon Dog is a bit lost in a North American context.

In jail.

In jail.

I am lost for the English translation for these fruit/vegetables.

I am lost for the English translation for these fruit/vegetables. Maybe someone can help out.

I wish my koi were this size.

I wish my koi were this size.

Boys' toys.

Boys’ toys.

And to finish off…………………………………The ultimate cowboy transport.

The ultimate cowboy transport.

You didn’t know Ferrari did a range of pick-ups did you.

For me the highlight of the visit were these exotic species of cars rather than animals, which for whatever reason had just made an appearance as we arrived. I wondered whether they were connected to the lunch set up in the restaurant. I presume they aren’t permanently on exhibition. My apologies for heading into boys only territory with the following photos but it has to be done.

Nice.

Nice.

Peng has upgraded her future transport requirements.

Peng has upgraded her future transport requirements.

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A bit of a mystery as to where the bales of hay go. Strapped to the back do you think?

This Ferrari isn't one of their better designs in my eyes anyway. I would still be pleased to park it in the garage though.

This Ferrari isn’t one of their better designs in my eyes anyway. I would still be pleased to park it in the garage though.

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Alright just one more.

I struggle to find a caption to add to this photo but it had to be included.

I struggle to find a caption to add to this photo but it had to be included.

This is a slightly weird mix of styles in true Thai fashion, which makes it pretty unique and quirky. Although the place had a almost deserted feel to it and some of the areas could do with more effort on the detailing (Thais are great at building things but maintenance is often woeful) there are new buildings going up and some attractions (the merry-go-round) are being rebuilt.

I doubt that we will return but it will be included in my post the “Hidden Treasures of Nong Bua”, which you can find HERE so its place in history is assured.

Thanks for reading.