Touring during Songkran is challenging, not so much on the roads but more so at highlights and attractions. Getting at table at a restaurant is generally no problem but don’t expect quick service.
It is also a very hot time of the year. But that is what the Water Festival is all about. Covid restrictions were eased (and totally ignored by many) marking a return to more normal times of three years ago.
The new highway/bypass between Khon Kaen and Mukdahan is a great drive.
This bustling little city on the banks of the Mekog 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
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