Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lao Trip 8.1b - Nong Khai

So, in the center of the city, at the “inside” Udon Thani bus station (there is an “outside” bus station out on the “ring road,” also, that services primarily east/west connections), I took a second class bus to Nong Khai and Nong Khai province. From there, I could have gotten on a “Friendship Bus” to Vientiane, but decided that since the day was already half over, anyway, I might as well hang out in Nong Khai for a little bit and go to Lao the next day.

This is one reason I like to travel Southeast Asia alone. I can make changes to my itinerary “on the fly.” I don’t have to check with anyone or worry about whether my changes to The Plan are going to upset anyone.

Nong Khai is actually a pretty neat city. Each time I visit it, I like it more and more – and I don’t like cities!

This was only my third visit to Nong Khai, but it threw me some curves, all of which I made without sliding out of my turns.

I checked into the same guesthouse I used last time, close to Wat Hai Sok. Not sure if the owner/operator recognized me from before or not. It’s a nice place; clean and right by the Mekong, near the main waterfront road Th Rim Khong.

After washing my clothes, a shower and change of clothes, I headed out to the Nam Khong. I was glad to see the Mut Mee expansion complete and looking good. Thip and I had stayed there one night, back in 2010, but the construction noises had been too much. That’s how we found the guesthouse I now use. It was our alternative to the Mut Mee, not on the travel guides, but a better option in our opinion.

However, the Mut Mee is its own thing, being a kind of crossroads for international travelers; mostly of the backpacking kind.

I had a Beer Chang with ice at the floating Nagarina restaurant (owned by Mut Mee), Khong side. I was served by a very pretty and very young teenage girl who I had to wonder where her school was and why she wasn’t in it.

Gangway from the Nagarina to the river bank.

The Nagarina, looking from the west, down river.

 After watching the commerce bustling at Nong Khai’s small commercial port, I made my way eastwards along Th Rim Khong to the main shopping area; the Tha Sadet market. I bought a pair of cheap sunglasses, binoculars and dried mango and peanuts.

On the otherside of the market, I hit another floating restaurant and had some squid – pah merk – in crab sauce, with a Beer Chang and nam khaeng (ice). I was just about the only one in the whole place that probably did its best business in the evening and at night. From my vantage point, I could see some of the girls and younger women doing aerobic exercises to Thai pop music on land and watch the sun go down over Lao and the Mekong.

Have I told you how much I love floating restaurants? There’s just something about them that I can’t adequately describe. Wanna find me on the road in Southeast Asia? Look for the closest floating restaurant!

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