Looking back at our trip to Ubon Ratchathani
Traveling to Thailand in the month of October is usually pretty good. The weather is better because the rainy season is drawing to an end. The temperatures are also much lower and it marks the start of the high season. This last October we traveled to Bangkok to check out the Vegetarian festival or Tesagan Gin Je. It did not disappoint! Bangkok was a river of yellow flags waving the joys of delicious vegetarian foods. The entire country gets into the spirit and for vegetarians like us it was heaven! The main festival is held on Yaowarat Road in Chinatown. But really everywhere you go you will see a sea of yellow flags. The yellow flags are there to let you know that the food served there is Vegetarian.
Our friend Aud had moved from Bangkok to a village in northern Thailand and it had been ages since we had seen him. We had never traveled to Issan (north-eastern Thailand) before and going there was so much easier than we had thought. It is pretty amazing how affordable air travel is in Thailand. Two round trip tickets from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani cost us a total of $138.00 USD and that included the optional insurance and preferred seating. I think next time I will save myself a few dollars and not go with the preferred seating or insurance. Hotels in the North East are also a deal. A beautifully appointed room with a breakfast buffet was $22.50 a night. So will I ever consider going back to Issan for more exploration…YES indeed!
The Rachabut Night Market in Ubon Ratchathani is a fun place to go eat, shop and hang out on the weekend. Come hungry because the selection of food is pretty good, everything from some extra good Som Tom, Sausages and other northern specialties to some pretty exotic offerings. Ant eggs are just one of the more interesting offerings . Ubon Ratchathani is not a big tourist town so you will get a genuine feel of everyday life in Thailand.
Saturday morning found us driving to Pha Taem National Park. The road from Ubon to The park is surrounded by rivers and rice fields. Its was a lovely lush green paradise. Along the road we came across the Giant temple bell makers. They hand craft some pretty spectacular and large temple gongs and bells. Some of beaten metal and some of carved wood. I understand that they are sold to people who in turn donate them to buddhist temples. A way of making merit. But the size of these bells and Gong was amazing. So perhaps it is safe to say… Big gong = big merit.
Wat Tham Sawan Khongjiam sits above the banks of the Mekong river. Near the confluence of the Mun river and the Mekong. This lovely temple has a beautiful cave below that was once the meditation hall for the founding monk Luang Puu Khamkhanig Chullami who’s body is kept there in a glass coffin. The large buddhas at the entrance of the meditation cave are very impressive. The grounds outside are quite stunning. You get great vistas across the Mekong river into Laos from the grounds here.
Pha Taem or “cliff Painting” is an overhang cliff that is accessible by a nice trail that offers you a nice hike and some great views. The cliff paintings are thought to date back to 1000B.C. Everything from fish, fishing nets, elephants and people can be seen in the reddish drawings. It is about a 2K hike around. The nicest break for me was an area where water droplets were cascading down onto us as we hiked through the trail. It was a cool and refreshing change to the hot sticky walk. Beware of centipedes and millipedes. But the real meanies here are the tiny little ants that pack one heck of a bite. Around the park you will also see some impressive rock formations in the shape of giant mushrooms and if you make the trek which we did not… you will come to Saeng Chan a spectacular waterfall that I will definitely make time for next trip.
Traveling into northeastern Thailand is not only fun, its beautiful, affordable and you get to immerse yourself in Thai culture without spending time in tourist hell. I spent one day there and found that the area is enchanting. I now have wonderful memories of beautiful temples, peaceful valleys, colorful butterflies as big as your hand and the friendliest people in Thailand. We were amazed by the natural beauty and history of the land. I visited one city and now can’t wait to spend more time in the Northeast.
Thanks Curtis for the great photos.