We had a day in and around Udon Thani, our nearest large city, to lodge my 90 day report at Immigration. Does that sound boring? Well it might be unless you dip into some of the available attractions that make an administrative chore the basis of a fun day on the road. If scenic is your thing then Isan is not as ‘in your face’ as other places in Thailand (although the urban areas are universally ugly from what I have seen) but if you want interesting and unusual then my part of the country may surprise you with its hidden charms.
We drove straight to Immigration and the reporting only took ten minutes, as the Udon office must be one of the most efficient around.
Gaun’s elder sister, Yurt, lives and works almost next door to Immigration, so we called in there to pick up supplies she had bought for mama and the family back home. Next we dropped into the Chinese Cultural Centre, as Peng was with us as she’s on holidays ATM, and hadn’t been there before. Here on Google Maps (why don’t others bother to post locations????) A busload of young school kids were exploring the centre under the watchful eye of their teachers. Very cute.
All very organised.
What a colourful sight.
We met up with a couple of tourist police who were super friendly.
Peter, the guy in blue on the right, is a Thai with excellent English. His offsider on the left is from Finland! If you do run into any general problems call 1155 and get through to the tourist police. They don’t have a lot of official authority but they do speak English so can liaise and get you an upgraded prison cell.
20 baht gets you fish food in a baby’s bottle to feed the koi. Was Peng enjoying herself? I think so!
Mum and daughter. One of my greatest pleasures in life.
This is an attractive area, small though it is, to visit in the ugly hussle of Udon in general.
Isn’t it funny how often the camera will find one person that really stands out in a crowd.
These reliefs on the walls tell a story but all in Chinese/Thai so your guess is as good as mine.
OK kids point while I take the class photo!
The Chinese have a big influence in Udon Thani and this centre is a reflection of that.
A shrine but I have to say I prefer the Thai versions.
And a clothes rental shop. Maybe you can buy as well.
There’s enough variety to keep the interest happening and the camera ‘clicking’.
The ladies pose at one of the entry/exit points. There’s a large lake outside the walls.
Villa Mart was next, a big farang supermarket based in UD Town at the Udon Thani train station. Everything you need if you have the budget. Google Maps HERE.
After shopping we took to the backstreets to get to HomePro, an upmarket DIY store. On the way I spotted this mansion behind walls and gates. Very British raj, but here I suspect more likely to be owned by Thai/Chinese, which is where a lot of the local money is.
It needs a touch of TLC but so do many homes in Thailand.
After stocking up at HomePro we went to Living Index, another farang orientated homewares place. The prices are reflected in the parking guard who arrives with an umbrella to take you from car to shop! If he knew the state of my bank balance he wouldn’t bother 🙂
Lunchtime so we went to one of my favourite places in Udon Thani, hidden away in the backstreets. Small, modern and not expensive. Baan Mai Khao HERE. Trip Advisor reviews HERE.
It was 35 degrees in Udon at this stage of the day so a chilled glass of beer went down a treat. Water frozen in the base of these beer mugs, which is a good alternative to floating ice.A phone photo, which is why it looks a bit different.
Fish and chips for me. Super hot Isaan food for the ladies. Even Peng was huffing and puffing – ‘pet lie der’ – very spicy, which in by our standards is a recipe for peeling paint from walls:-)
I like the bricks done that way. It makes for a cheap but characterful feature wall.
Peng was in model mode after lunch. This is part of the small garden at the cafe.
Don’t get caught out on their hours and opening days.
On the way home we called into see Tom and Jee, who own a small Greek cafe at Non Sawang just off highway 210 HERE.
Not much to look at but a very friendly welcome from them both and we will definately be back to try their food next time.
Across the road from Tom and Jee is Wat Bunyanusorn, a hidden gem that most people to the area will never find or visit.
It’s been maybe 18 months since we were last here so I wanted to see what they had been up to with new projects. This large Buddha in the photo above set in a moss and treed area is one of my favourites.
A huge monk ordination hall (Ubosot or Bot) next door in traditional style.
A closer view of Buddha.
A large sala with extra large woven fishing baskets.
This timber hall is new since my last visit. A local guy opened it up for me to take photos inside. Thais are so welcoming if you smile and show an interest.
New and old.
Inside – wow, I wasn’t expecting that! How beautiful. Greg Ledder too big for the pickup but would make a nice lounge room.
Chandeliers, just as Buddha had them in the forest.
Spectacular isn’t it.
As is typical for these timber Buddha halls a very simple shrine tucked into a corner.
There’s a small storage/museum area as you head further into the large grounds set on the lake. It’s worth a look.
I think a lot of these items are rolled out for festival processions.
And yet more mouth watering timber desirables for this lover of traditional Isan farming equipment.
New by the look of it but made in a traditional style.
These are mostly old buffalo yokes.
Although this isn’t called a forest wat (they have a pa/pha in their name) it could as well be.
Just after Non Sawang on the right, driving west, you will see the Nong Wua So Resort, which is a mix of accommodation and public cafes/eating places. I didn’t explore the resort but will next time because even the very poor photos of it look terrific, but instead we stopped at the cafe area.
I won’t add too many words to the following photos because this is a place set up for the Thai selfie and there are set-piece photos arrangements everywhere.
All arranged to look old. This whole area is designed for selfie opportunities, which seems to be the basis for tourism these day. This is me in front of………………..
A lot of effort has gone into this and it is pretty good of its type.
A wishing well.
One of their earlier models.
Some western meals.
That’s the accommodation side of the business in the background.
Gaun bought some small fish to feed the Amazon monsters.
Amazon fish or as I like to call them Arapaima gigas 🙂 Wikipedia HERE.
And the afternoon finished with a lovely massage for me and Peng at Sunan Massage in Nong Bua Lamphu HERE. After a day like that I can’t wait for my next 90 day report 🙂
Thanks for reading.