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Published: July 16th 2017
Geo: 16.42, 102.83
Awake with the alarm at 05:00 and have a liesurely cup of tea in bed whilst we come to.
Eat breakfast whilst it gets light outside then bike into Phon Thong. Drop Jai off at the bus station then go and take the bike to a relatives house on the other side of town and walk back to bus station just before 07:00 as we planned.
There was always a bus just after 07:00 and we are told that one will be in 'soon'. 'oon' a word that can mean so much here. A small minibus for Khon Kaen comes and goes but Jai doesnt like these so we wait for the imminent bus. When it hasnt come by 07:30 I ask about it again to be told it will come 'later'. 07:45 it finally arrives. We then discover that they are fazing out the buses and replacing them with more frequent minibuses so Jai wont have a choice in the matter soon. The bus chugs off at walking pace and I feel that this is going to be a long morning.
Notice that some people en-route have already cut their rice but I am sure that they have cut too early
as the rice still in the fields looks nowhere near ready.
Bus must have made up some time somewhere as we arrive in Khon Kaen just after 10:00 which isnt too bad at all. Jai phones the taxi driver as we approach town but his phone is turned off so I guess he doesnt want our business. Take a tuk-tuk to the passport office which turns out to be just a few hundred yards away. This may explain the taxi driver absenting himself although he could have just told us.
I had read some terror stories about the passport office, closing early due to too many people, very long queues, innefficient ... but none of these proved the case today. The office was clean, air-con comfy, and although busy there were 10 desks open and after about 20mins we had completed Jai's application and were leaving the office. Shock !!
Tuk-tuk to the Roma Hotel where we always stay when in town and check-in. The reception area is just about closed off due to a merit making ceremony being in process and there are quite a few monks sat along the one wall chanting. At least the prices are still the same.
is nice and the bed comfy so I nip out for a couple of coffees before we have a stretch out. Brought lunch with us so eat in the room before going out for the afternoon.
Take the No m8 songthaew from just outside the hotel and ride to the southern extremes of the town where there is a lovely temple Wat Nongwang alongside the large Bueng Kaen Nakhon lake. We often come here to pass an hour or two. There are 9 floors that can be ascended by stairs and even in the hot season by the time you reach the top there is usually a nice cooling breeze to greet you. Each floor has museum type displays of old Isaan items, many of which we are still using in the village !!
Back at ground level Jai makes an offering to the resident Buddha before we make our way to the lakeside. Slowly walk back towards the hotel through a shady park full of model dinosaurs. Khon Kaen is famous for its dinosaur finds and they are now everywhere. The petanque courts in the park are in use today with folk taking a couple of hours off from a busy
day ... or more likely just not bothering to work today at all.
Reaching what looks like a small Khmer shrine we cut through to the main road and catch a songthaew back towards the hotel. I want to change some money whilst we are in town and had noticed an exchange place on the way out so we get off outside Super Rich Exchange. Best rate I have had in years at 54.25Bht = 1GBP.
Walk around the block to make sure the bar I use is still here ... doesnt open for another hour or so ... then back to the hotel for a long cold drink, some aircon and a rest. Havent done any walking in the 5 weeks since I left home.
Phone mum for my weekly check-in from the room and we have a great phone signal in town.
Both walk to the bar where I am able to leave my books and get 6 new ones. There doesnt seem to be much of a turnover in books here and many of those from last year are still here. There are not many in decent condition either but I am happy enough with a couple more to add to
Walk on through the food market but it was just closing up for the day and nothing too exciting there. Stop to eat noodles near the hotel then back to the room to watch a bit of English language TV.
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