Despite having a look around Ubon (short for Ubon Ratchathani) for familiar places I can find none, not even a hint, it's like I was never here before but I definitely was. Even looking for the hospital, although I found it on the map, when I cycled out it wasn't 'this' hospital I stayed in so I must have even remembered the wrong name, interesting.
I stay in Ubon a couple of days to see some of the many temples and sights which are stunning; it's a nice place despite not finding my bearings! I end up staying on my route out of town towards Sisaket to make things easier however I still cycle around during the day as I've a lot of catching up although I'm still in quite a lot of pain. Near the hotel is a fab market, I love these places which are so interesting but because my camera has the constant flash I don't take any close up photos but it's all committed to memory. The flower stalls with the strings of marigolds, the smells of the constant cooking of soups, noodles, sticky rice, meats, BBQ's, carnation milk coffees and drinks etc. bamboo stalls with
the wee containers for the sticky rice which I love, the short shorts and dresses for the girls and the trendy dude stuff for the boys with their designer sunnies, the nylon two piece almost pajama like outfits for the ladies and hats galore, everyone here wears hats!
The nearby main road is full of shops and traffic and is very clean, in fact the whole area is very clean with proper roads and pavements. I tried to walk down to one of the temples but it proved too far, even after jumping a ‘songthaew' it turned off too early and I ended up in the middle of nowhere so instead I decided to tackle it the next day by bike. The ‘songthaews' are similar to the jumbo tuk tuk's in Laos, they're basically a jeep or minivan with seating in the back and are normally filled to full capacity, even sitting on the roof when schools out, you see some sights and I love the looks I get from them when I'm cycling along the road!
Thankfully I found the temple the following day by bike, it's an impressive sight, Wat Nong Pa Phong is in the middle of a
forest surrounded by monk's accommodation and has a massive golden stupa which glistens in the sun. Apparently there have been a number of foreign students here and although I thought I might be able to stay I opted for the hotel instead (wimp that I am), maybe further down the road when I'm feeling back on form. As turns out I was greeted at the gate by a young monk who spoke English and told me which parts to visit, he knew Scotland (which most people here do, although I think that's more down to the whiskey consumption which is very popular) and he informed me of the large international community who live here with over 50 monks and an estimated 20 odd nationalities, it is known as an International Forest Monastery. I spend quite a bit of time in the complex which is well maintained and I enjoy seeing the main Wat Nong Pa Phong and the surrounding gardens before visiting the museum which is very informative and is home to a number of ancient ceramic pieces as well as remains of some of the leading monks.
I managed to find my way from here into the city which is
much bigger than I remembered and viewed more temples and a central park area before I was completely wiped out, starting to get a bit stronger thankfully. I enjoyed hanging out in the park in the early evening watching a young family feeding the pigeons and enjoying the cooler air of the day. I'm not such a tourist attraction here which is nice, Ubon seems to get a number of tourists although personally I haven't seen any this time round, there was a few last time.
So time to leave, I'm glad I came back through even though I didn't find where I had been before it's a friendly city and Wat Nong Pa Phong was worth it, it's also given me ideas for a more temple based route to Bangkok which I've sussed out with the help of a lovely lady from the hotel.
A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy....more history