Exploring Isan

Two days ago we left Chiang Mai for some new destinations. We started off with heading to the Chiang Mai Airport on a soeng thaow to catch a plane to Bangkok. It was a particularly small airport and security was very efficient, so unlike many other airports, we ended up at the gate really quickly.

IMG_0545-6.JPGWhen we arrived in Bangkok, we took the train into the city center and then caught a taxi over to the main train station. I was working on my ‘How to Make a Flat Stampy’ video at the station and on the train. You can check it out here and post your very own Flat Stampy photos if you want!

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IMG_0601.JPG We got some take away supper – I got fried rice for a changeπŸ˜„ – and then we caught the overnight train to Nong Khai which is located up in the northeast of Thailand on the Mekong River across from Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The northeast area of Thailand is known as Isan and not many western tourists come to this area. We read prior to coming that the earnings of Thais in this part of Thailand are 1\3 of the average earnings of all Thais across the country. Anyhow, the beds on the train were very small – it wasn’t my best night of sleep.

IMG_0684.JPGWhen we arrived in Nong Khai, we grabbed a tuk-tuk and paid the driver 100ΰΈΏ ($3.00) to take us to our hotel.

IMG_0679.JPGThe problem with that was that the hotel we booked seemed to not exist. We couldn’t find it anywhere and the driver got a bit fed up and drove us to the base of the Friendship Bridge which goes over into Laos. When we told him we wanted to go to another hotel in the city center that we found in our Lonely Planet guide, he told us it was too far and only took us about another 100 meters before he tried to pass us off onto another tuk tuk who wanted another 100 baht to take us into the downtown area. We were getting frustrated so we grabbed our bags and started walking but it was very sunny and also wicked hot πŸ”₯πŸ˜₯.

We saw a coffee place and made a beeline for it! I got a cha sai nom yen and my parents got two cafè lons and we regrouped. We called a new hotel, made a booking and grabbed another tuk tuk who took us there. It was nice and it was located right on the Mekong River so we got to look over to Laos, and I was a bit dumbfounded because I got to see a new country.

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There is a bridge between to two countries called the Friendship Bridge. My parents remember from back in the early 1990s when the construction of the bridge started but they had never been to see it.

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IMG_2419-0.JPGThat night we went out in search for supper and we found an area of town that had a bunch of food stalls making soup and all kinds of yummy dishes. We stopped at one and ordered some pad thai noodles though while we were sitting there two mahouts with a baby elephant came walking along the street and they were begging. The mahouts had food that they were trying to get people to buy which they could then feed to the elephant. The baby elephant looked very stressed and sad and the mahout would poke it in the sensitive part of its ear with a hook-like hoe. With each poke, the elephant would scream and then put out its trunk looking for food. It was simply terrible to watch and I almost cried. I thought of Lek from the Elephant Nature Park and all that we learned there about how bad life was for some elephants. This was a baby elephant and to see it suffering made me lose my appetite. When we went to the next restaurant I ordered some delicious fried rice which I luckily finished before the next baby elephant came along with her mahouts. Yes, that was TWO babies walking the streets. 😒 I continued to ignore them until they moved on to the next table, then I looked back at the baby elephant for half a second. So sad. But Mr. Dong, our guide at the Elephant Nature Park, told us the best thing we can do is not support people who exploit the elephants.

The next day we woke up, got dressed, and headed out for breakfast. I had a bowl of soup with chewy noodles. The noodles were so strange and good!

As we were walking back we saw a bunch of workers carrying boxes down to a small cargo boat on the Mekong which was either taking its load across to Laos or further down the river to another port. They were all so happy to see a little boy like me and for fun they had me carry a box down a bunch of stairs to the boat. When I came back up they all started doing this to me: πŸ’ͺ!

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Later that day we caught a mini-bus to Udon Thani where I am now! I love the pool here! IπŸ’™πŸŒ

Check out my flip off the diving board:
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sohIE0bRFV0

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6 Responses to Exploring Isan

  1. Oh Elliot, it sounds like you have been having a busy time. It made me sad to read about that baby elephant. I bet those men loved seeing you so strong and taking those big boxes down to the boat. Have fun on that diving board and can’t wait to read more. We just returned from a trip to Pai.

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  2. all7in7 says:

    I hope you had fun in Pai! The pictures looked nice.

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  3. Susan Germann says:

    Oh Elliot – I wish I could see the baby elephants, but I know I would cry. Isn’t that child exploitation making you carry those boxes up and down stairs? I have a new eye (or rather lens) and it is just amazing what I can see – a ceiling for the first time in my life without glasses or contacts. Love you!!! Nonna

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  4. all7in7 says:

    I’m happy for your eyes! I can’t wait to see you, I mean, for you to see me!β€οΈπŸ’›πŸ’šπŸ’™πŸ’œ

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  5. Hi Elliot –
    How exciting it is to follow you on your travels. Imagine looking over to Laos! With every post you cause my mouth to water when you describe all the wonderful food you are trying! I feel sad though about the baby elephants and their poor mothers. They are such intuitive and soulful creatures. Nice job on the back flip! You make it look so easy!

    Ginger

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    • all7in7 says:

      Thanks Ginger! I was hoping to practice my flips some more today but it’s raining so I can’t go in the pool. Plus we are leaving in a few hours for Khon Kaen … I’ll send another post soon!

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