To get the full story about the purpose of this post and read about the many other attractions of our bit of Isaan please start with Part 1 HERE and then Part 2 HERE. This post will seem a bit aimless otherwise.
A School Visit and Takraw
At the local festival I reported in Visiting Isaan – Part 1 under the the heading “Party Time” we met up with a nice South African guy called Peter teaching English in a school here. He invited us to have a look around the place and also kindly arranged for a display of the aerial football Thais play called Takraw.
Meeting some of the students.
Guess which room this is. It was lunchtime so I suspect more Facebook activity here than learning.
The computer section in the library. A few familiar titles.
The lunch hall.
One of the students made a presentation to us of these paper flower arrangements she had made.
Peter second on the left.
The Takraw demonstration got underway for us and as the temperatures were well into the 30’s I was hunting for shade. The guys out in the sun playing were hot stuff in more ways than one.
“Sepak is a Malay word for kick and takraw is a Thai word for a woven ball (now plastic of course), so sepak takraw literally means kick ball. Variations on the game have been played throughout South East Asia for hundreds of years. Some people believe it was brought into the region by the famous Venetian explorer Marco Polo, who may have seen a similar sport in China.” You can read more about this sport HERE.
Make sure you stretch well beforehand for obvious reasons!
You can only use your feet and head to handle the ball and get it over the net. This results in some pretty impressive acrobatics.
He survived that kick.
The universal end of a game handshake. All in good fun.
Peter’s classroom. Students are just arriving. People seemed to wander in at all times. Some arrived and almost immediately left again. It all seemed a bit ad hoc by our standards.
A sneak Thai smile.
Suanam Lion Park Resort.
I have written about this resort before as it was where we stayed when visiting Isaan before we moved to Si Bun Ruang in November last year. The resort is five minutes from us on highway 228 so an easy drop-in if the mood takes. The place is owned by an Englishman and his Thai wife. They have spent a lot of money on the place and yet there are almost no customers that I have ever seen and the return on investment must be in the negative.
The lion bit of the resort. That’s a water slide.
Still for a small rural town in the middle of nowhere in particular the resort does offer something a little different in its pool area as you can see. Entry to the place if you aren’t staying is 30 THB – more if swimming. A pitcher of beer will set you back 199 THB, well above normal but you are paying for the location.
Pure Thai. Those chairs are set at Thai height too. You will have your knees up around your ears!
A more recent addition is this Venetian canal system!
Friends of ours from Perth testing the heavily chlorinated waters.
The bar area isn’t too hard to take on a warm day with an icy cold beer.
And to prove the point.
The kids area. During the week this is about as crowded as it gets.
Another place we will offer to show you if dropping in to see us in Isaan. I have written about the lake before HERE so won’t repeat the story. Gaun’s brother number 5 (Gaun’s a bit hazy on her family’s names), a part time fisherman, lives close to the lake and we will most likely start the visit by dropping into his house. His village is more isolated and basic than our moo baan, which is on the edge of Si Bun Ruang, a bustling small town with many facilities. We often see Gaun’s brother in our village, an hour’s ride away, selling his dried fish and small fresh fish from an ice box strapped to his motorbike.
That’s brother number 5 and his bike on the left with the fish box plus a couple of baskets for dried fish.
Fish being laid out to dry in the sun.
Brother number 5’s house. Pretty basic Thai style. He was embarrassed on my last visit that he didn’t have a chair to offer me. Furniture isn’t a big part of many Thai houses.
The lounge room. The tops of the walls are open to the outside, which makes these places hard to keep clean and lets in every insect and crawling creature that wants to take up residence.
The lake. Brown of course. Blue waters are a tourist brochure dream in many instances.
You hire the boat for 500 THB for a couple of hours – one person or ten. Yuan, Gaun’s younger sister in the front. She came along to buy some fresh fish for the family.
Friendly waves from the locals.
Which involves getting up close and personal with the fish at some stage.
Branches are put in the water to attract the fish over time. Come harvest time a net is then put on the outside and the branches removed and the fish captured.
A lake houseboat. Sealed bamboo trucks form the floating pontoon.
The net being raised. An all bamboo construction.
Pedal power. Raising the net the hard way.
Collecting the catch.
A happy Yuan with tonight’s dinner. 50 THB (A$2.00) for nearly 2 kilos of fresh fish.
One of my favorite photos. The lady who sold us some fish.
A late lunch on the way home. These salas can be floated out into the lake once you’ve got your food. Winch yourself back when the beer runs out.
Ready to eat and drink. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.
To finish off I will add some photos that give you an insight into some other little places, everyday sights and events we might take you to. My thanks to Bronnie for a few of these photos.
Sam, my sister-in-law, getting a farewell good luck wrist band from Gaun watched by Gaun’s mum.
A local side street in Si Bun Ruang. Not pretty in a European sense but the difference to what you are used to back home is what makes it worth the photo.
Ring my bell. Three times for good luck. A temple we came across on a driving trip.
Monks pop up when you least expect them.
Eye catching chickens. A$0.20 each. Pick a colour. Just don’t tell customs!
Lunch on the farm with some of my Thai family.
Rice being husked by this machine at the back of the doctor’s house across the road from us. Very local industry.
An abandoned wat on top of a hill in the hills behind Nong Bua Lamphu, our nearest larger town.
An elderly nun the only occupant. Her son is the solitary monk at a small temple at the base of this hill.
The path to the Buddha statue and the views beyond.
Buddha on a sign. Only a trick of the photo angle. This is actual a large statue sitting behind that wall.
Phuphan Noy, shown on the sign above, is a lookout on top of cliffs with sweeping views over Nong Bua Lamphu and the surrounding countryside. It is well worth a visit on a clear day. The road is clearly signposted to the left as you come head into Nong Bua at the last of the hills.
The 210 as it come out of the hills into Nong Bua.
A smoky view of Nong Bua based around the lake you can see in the distance.
The local hospital.
Looking out towards Si Bun Ruang on a clearer day.
A pleasant place to spend an hour or bring a book and grab a hammock………
………as did Gaun and Saskia, a friend from Perth.
Travelling the easy way (for her).
The new lookout.
Phu Phrabat or Phra Bat Historical Park
This park was covered HERE in lots of detail so once again I won’t re-write what I have already covered. The drive there is worth doing in itself as it winds through rice country and small villages before climbing into low hills that form the park.
The most photographed structure in the park – Hor Nang U-sa.
A small rock temple.
Heres hoping that in the three posts I have written on Visiting Isaan I have convinced you that a holiday at the Tony/Gaun retreat won’t be too boring. There’s more to our backwaters than meets the eye and your time with us might expand your enjoyment of Thailand. You just have to go looking and be prepared to enjoy the modest surprises you find.
Other posts you may enjoy about Isaan include:
Hug a Tortoise HERE
The Road to Wat Pa Phu Kon HERE
Erawan Cave HERE
A Forest Temple Festival HERE
Bun Bang Fai – an Isaan Festival HERE
Bun Bang Fai – Fireworks HERE
Also the eight “Isaan – the Small Stories” posts give you an insiders view on lots of small happenings in the village and beyond. Use the search function to find them.
Thanks for reading.