Khon Kaen

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October 29th 2014
Published: July 16th 2017
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Geo: 16.42, 102.83

Wake up with the alarm just before 05:00 and finish packing the last few things we will need for just the one night away. With breakfast over we leave Khamnadie about 06:00 and bike into Phon Thong in the half light. I make the mistake of looking directly at the golden orb that is appearing over the trees and then have to ride blind for a few moments until my eyes clear again. We drop the bike off at the house of Jai's sister's Begat late husband's family and take a tuk-tuk across town to the bus station. Luckily there is a Khon Kaen bound bus waiting to leave as we arrive so we are soon on our way.
Leave Phon Thong at 6:45 and head west for 129km, according to the road sign. Surprisingly quite a few people by the roadside seem to have cut some of their rice already. I guess that it must have been an early variety as none of the rice by us is anywhere near ready.
We arrive in Khon Kaen about 2hrs later and take a taxi to the north west of the town to the immigration office. We pass Srinikirin Hospital just before we get there where John & Co are probably sat waiting to see someone. I complete my paperwork and approach a desk with the name tag telling me that a Police Sergeant Major will be dealing with me. Quite a young girl arrives however soI am surprised to see that her name tag matches that on the desk and she is the Sgt Maj !! Turns out she is the same age as Jai's daughter so she has done well for herself. She does her job in a friendly and efficient manner, which is unusual in itself, and 15mins later I now have permission to remain in Thailand until 1 December. As part of the Govt ideas I have to sign a piece of paper acknowledging that I am aware of the penalties for overstaying that visa. From George's point of view anyone with more than 3yrs overstay will now be deported and prevented from re-entering Thailand for 10yrs. We take the same taxi back, having thought to ask him to wait for us, and go to the Roma Hotel where we normally stay when in town.
I remember writing this time last year that the hotel had increased its prices from 10-12GBP and that we would probably find somewhere else next time we came here but ... Fortunately other people must have decided the same thing as their prices are back down to what they used to be. We drop our bag off in the room and then pop out to buy some somtam to go with food that we brought with us for an early lunch.
Food out of the way we leave the hotel and take the small local bus No 8 to the south of the town to go and visit the Khon Kaen City Museum. Jai likes museums and we always try to get a visit in whenever we go somewhere. We have been to a couple in town here before but not this one. Typically Thai, Jai has to pay 40p and I have to pay 1.80GBP to get in - equality hasnt reached Thailand. The museum isnt very big but is nicely laid out with good exhibits and clear signing in Thai and English. It is supposed to represent the history of the town but most of the exhibits fit with Isaan in generall and Jai is saying that she can remember using this tool, our house used to be like this, that looks like my gran - giving her age away. Shame is, we were the only people to pass through the doors in the hour that we were there.
Walk back towards the main road passing through the grounds of Wat Thad wit a large chedi and an absolutely enormous hall. Bus NO 8 drops us off outside the 7/11 next door to the hotel and we stop off for snacks and coffees before returning to the welcome aircon of the room for a while.
I leave Jai watching a Thai soap on TV and take a bag of a few books that I brought with me to go and check out my usual bar here. It was still closed when I got there so went for a walk about. Passed one bar with at least a dozen 'farang' sat outside but last time I had a beer here everyone was eating sausage, mash, chips etc and moaning about what a horrible place Thailand was - this time I passed ... Returning to No 1 Bar I find that it is now open and sit with a beer with the new owner. There is a pile of books at the back of the bar which he tells me he keeps as a library for his regulars to borrow and return. I explain that I am a once a year regular and he is happy for me to exchange the books that I have brought to refresh his stock. I leave 5 books, take 9, and will bring another 5 that I have in the room tonight.
Back to room briefly then we head out to go to the market. This is a great place and we both wish we could pick up the whole market and move it to Phon Thong. Great variety and not bad prices. We get Jai's mum some bits of tree for her to chew with her betel nut but with having to carry stuff on the bus tomorrow we dont buy anything else.
On the way back to the room we stop off for some noodles as a change from the daily rice ration.
Jai phones Kong Court in Chiangmai to book our room for next week and is told that they are very busy and if we want them to keep a room for us we will have to pay in advance. They dont have an internet site and can only accept advance payment through a bank transfer. I am not overly happy with this arrangement but as we have known the girl, Noi, at Kong Court for 10yrs or more I am sure it will be fine. Will sort this out when we pass through Phon Thong tomorrow as the banks here are now closed.
I phone John to arrange to meet up for a beer as we had planned but find that he is back home in Pak Chong already as he was the only one of the four who wanted to stay the night here. We shower and change and go for a beer at No 1 Bar again taking my other books. Play a couple of games of pool as we both feel the need for a warm up prior to Chiangmai next week.
Not being used to late nights at all we find that we are back in the hotel room by 19:30. Perhaps that is something else we need to warm up on before next week.

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