Blogs from Ubon Ratchathani , North-East Thailand, Thailand, Asia


Arriving in Mukdahan after our uncomfortable bus trip from Nakhon Phanom we climbed onboard yet another tuktuk which took us down to our prebooked hotel on the banks of the Mekong River. The river was a surprisingly long way from the bus station so the city was obviously quite large. Our hotel (once again it was named the Riverside) was very comfortable and at only $20 a night a bargain. We couldn't see the river however as the bank was lined with dozens of stalls selling food and general tourist tat. It really wasn't very attractive and we promptly decided to only spend one night there - not the two as originally planned. After settling in we wandered along trying to find somewhere to eat. The food on display at the long row of food stalls ... read more
A tree hung with religious offerings outside a Wat on the banks of the Mekong River in Mukdahan
Temple entrance in Mukdahan
Monks enjoying the view of the Mekong River in Mukdahan

Gathered around a cornucopia of delectable Vietnamese dishes on what appears to be “the last supper”, a retrospective feeling of satisfaction fills the air. I’m not sure if I’m more cognizant of this collective appreciation or rather of my anticipation for yet another memorable culinary experience… I have a weakness for Vietnamese food… My love for this complex cuisine knows no bounds! Today, however, the meal is even more special. It marks the close of our first field visit – a week long journey in and around Ubon Ratchathani and Sisaket to investigate issues of the Khao Phra Viharn (Phrea Vihear) temple on the Thai/Cambodia border, the Pak Moon Dam, land use, development, urban poor development, and community based initiatives and action... As I look around the table, I detect a combined sentiment of weariness and ... read more
Seems fitting
Not really blending in, but trying!
Active listening

Asia » Thailand » North-East Thailand » Ubon Ratchathani February 5th 2013

Two weeks ago we received a visit from our desk officer Kate and her friend Heloise. Ben and I were up late evicting wildlife from our living room and removing peeled paint from the floor. Everything except the rotting contents of our broken fridge was spotless and ready for inspection. Tomorrow afternoon they arrived and each observed one lesson. Unfortunately my M5 class were 20minutes late and only half turned up. Afterwards we all discussed our project and talked about getting an increase in our wages. Kate agreed that 4,500baht a month was barely enough to live on and was shocked that Pra Yang had been buying us shopping almost every week. Although later in Tesco Lotus she understood how impossible it is to stop Pra Yang paying for everything. Our host really is the kindest ... read more

Asia » Thailand » North-East Thailand » Ubon Ratchathani December 23rd 2012

It is now four months since I first touched down in Thailand. So much has happened yet it feels like only yesterday when I was stepping into the hot humidity of Bangkok. It has been an incredible few months. Starting up with a cockroach infested house, eating strange foods/animals and teaching classes bigger than those I learnt in. Then, just after settling in, we journeyed with everyone to Chaing Mai for some of the best weeks of my life. We struggled through Thai classes till weekends of jungle trekking, white-water rafting, and bungy jumping to name but a few. Nights out were a hazy, Hong Thong blur of winding and grinding before making the 5am pilgrimage to McDonalds. Evenings of walking through wandering markets, swimming in a monsoon and getting face to face with tigers is ... read more

Asia » Thailand » North-East Thailand » Ubon Ratchathani December 3rd 2012

Monday night. Ben is otherwise incapacitated with a killer migraine, so I stepped out the front door to spend an evening catching up with the world at the café. So absorbed was my gaze by the immensely bright and near full moon, I almost stood on a tortoise. I picked up the snooping shelled little reptile and brought him inside, thinking he’ll make an easy pet for volunteers to come. I left him helplessly sliding about the sink whilst I dashed round the house looking for a suitable box shaped home. He did not appreciate being taken indoors. In protest, he started firing turds at an alarming rate over his new house and mine. I took the hint and placed him outside to finish his evening stroll, undisturbed. Feeling a lot better, Ben joined me once ... read more
'Oh look, a Tortoise'
Children searching for merit amongst the Krathong's

Asia » Thailand » North-East Thailand » Ubon Ratchathani November 29th 2012

After lasts weeks mission down South, we’ve been finding goings-on closer to home. As you know, we were off because our students were busy helping gather in the rice harvest. So I reckoned it would be handy karma if we got a taste of what almost every rural Isaan does for a living. Kitted up in a long-sleeve top, woolly gloves and a Vietnamese-style hat for protection, we hopped in the back of Bra Yung’s pickup truck and went to labour under the evening sun. We worked back-bent and drenched with sweat alongside Bra Yung’s uncle who, with a smouldering cigarette clenched in his mouth, calmly and skilfully went through his crop like a combine harvester. We worked at half his speed and sweated twice as much. As the orange light grew too faint to know ... read more

Asia » Thailand » North-East Thailand » Ubon Ratchathani November 11th 2012

Sitting in the Cafe once again, trying to recall last week’s events on one hours sleep. 'Remember remember, the 5th of November..' Bonfire night and we made sure it was celebrated over 8,000 miles from home. Ben worked hard at producing sumptuous toffee/treacle apples and I worked hard scrubbing off the burnt sugar. Alongside the volunteers from Kutchum, Lu nokta and Phana, we sat by our roaring blaze, eating an array of BBQ foods cooked by Bra Yung and the other teachers. Under a starry sky we shot off fireworks, deafened each other with crackers and ‘mistakenly’ hit trees and neighbours roofs with flare sticks. Nothing like the mass gathering of Hexham bonfire night but a good crowd of people, happily messing around with explosives and gluing mouths around sugar coated apples. On Wednesday night myself, ... read more
Suiting up

Asia » Thailand » North-East Thailand » Ubon Ratchathani September 25th 2012

One of the best day's of my life quickly followed by the worst! Had an early rise on saturday and Bra yung rented a mini-bus to take us, her classroom helps and Yoke and Ploy to Pha Taem National Park. The pot-holes on the journey were horrendous and we bounced all the way there! First off, we came to Soei Sawan waterfall. It is spectacularly beautiful, caught between a valley that open's up to luscious green woodland and white water cascades down from differing heights. We cooled off in naturally occurring sink holes and I jumped off at one point lower down. It was not deep. Yet the sandy bottom meant I didn't break anything and we all dipped in and dived around this little drop of heaven. Out of the water, we headed through a ... read more

Asia » Thailand » North-East Thailand » Ubon Ratchathani August 18th 2012

Although I was suppose to go with my friend Apple the year before to her hometown in Ubon, I flaked out to spend time with friends. This year around I decided to join her in on a trip to her families house as well as for the Candle Parade. I didn’t know much about the Candle Parade, ok to be honest I didn’t even know I was going to the Candle Parade, all I knew was that I was going to her families house. So bright and early (ok not that early because Apple hates waking up early) she came to pick me up and we headed into town. Here we hopped on a song taew that took us to Yasaton and then hopped on a bus to take us to Ubon. Once in Ubon we ... read more

My Balat (boss) asked me if I would like to take a trip with her and her family and not one to say no to my Balat I gave a resounding yes to this adventure. I didn’t know what it was going to be like to travel with her and her family but her being one of my favorite people in the village I was sure it was going to be interesting. Now when she said we were going with her family I didn’t realize it meant her ENTIRE family. Bright and early she picked me up and brought me to her house (she doesn’t live in KuKaSing) and we loaded up her truck. Her mother and brother were driving seperately so it was just me, her sister, her sister’s daughter and Balat for the start ... read more

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