Leaving Khon Kaen to the south-east is a tour through country Thailand. Rice, sugar cane and corn are staples. The occasional field of pineapple was also seen.
Fortunately the nation has many unusual attractions to give relief from the never-ending list of wats that somehow get on the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s list as highlights, and one of the quirkiest of them all is a Toad Museum at Yasathon.
It is accompanied by a quality display of the snakes of Thailand and diaromas of the mythical tale of the Naga presented inside an impressively large building built in the shape of a Naga.
The Toad Museum presents the story of Praya Kankak, the toad prince who saved mankind from flooding by beating the god of rain. After winning the battle, Praya Kankak reached an agreement with the god – humans would tell him when they are ready to receive rain by launching a rocket into the sky. This is how the famous Yasothon Rocket Festival started.
The Toad Museum is way more impressive and entertaining than one would expect. Who knew there are 13 different species of toad distributed right around the world. And although they have same life cycle as frogs (eggs, tadpole, adult) the toad is generally an unwelcome sight whereas frogs are usually an indicator of a healthy ecosystem.
TOD THON WATERFALL
After Rural Road 2370 meets Highway 12 it is only a short diversion to the Tod Thon Waterfall, a local highlight and place of recreation.
We drove under the new bypass – an interesting short drive through an oversized culvert rather than under a bridge. Not every driver is a good judge of the width of their vehicle, as evidenced by the scrapes visible on the concrete sides of the culvert.
This bustling little city on the banks of the Mekong River is home to the Second Friendship Bridge that connects Thailand with Laos.
KAENG KRABAO RAPIDS
The Mekong River narrows to a width about 160 metres (average width in this area is about a kilometre) 30 kilometres north of Mukdahan forming the Kaeng Krabao Rapids (sometimes spelt Kaeng Kabao).
Kaeng Krabao attracts many visitors to the Park and Naga statue – officially known as Phaya Si Phuchong Mukda Nakkharat Naga.
Nakhon is a small town of about 30,000 on the Mekong, opposite the Laotian town of Thakhek. The towns are joined by the Third Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge. The first Friendship Bridge is at Nong Khai and the second at Mukdahan.
Although no obvious signs remain, Nakhon Phanom’s recent past was very militaristic. During the Vietnam War, Nakhon Phanom saw fighting between North Vietnamese insurgents and US forces. During the War it was a front-line facility of the Royal Thai Air Force used by the United States in its efforts to defend South Vietnam against insurgency by North Vietnam and the Pathet Lao guerrillas in Laos from 1961 to 1975.
RURAL SAKON NAKHON
Leaving the Mekong the way south was through Sakon Nakhon Province and then Kalasin.
SILK WEAVING AT BAN PHON PRAE WA
This interesting town is a silk weaving cooperative where individual households weave various garments that are sold in retail outlets in the commercial area of the village.
One has to drive down the individual sois to find the craftspeople at work in their homes.
At the second house visited the item being crafted was much more intricate.
Items range from simple scarfs priced around 800 baht to extremely complex offerings around 30,000 baht.
Traditional Thai wooden houses are seen more more often in the country although there is a definite ‘blend’ of old and new styles.
DINOSAUR MUSEUM AT PHU KUM KHAO
This fantastic, world-class interpretive center and museum is a bit out of the way being off the main highway at Phu Kum Khao in Kalasin Province.
It has appeal for children as well as adults. The entry fee is very reasonable and there is no unfair, huge differential between the locals’ price and that for Farangs.
It is a truly magnificent blend of science, education and entertainment – a feast for the eyes and food for the brain.
The 2.5 day, 860 kilometre road trip ended back in Khon Kaen, capital of Isaan.
© Kim Epton 2022
605 words, 49 photographs, one image.
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