Nong Khai

I stayed the night and worked out where next I would be heading. From That Panom I have two choices. Head towards Nakon Panom and then onto Nong Khai or head west towards Udonthani. Going to Udonthani is really taking me off my course. I remembered a friend living up this area and then thought about giving him a call. As he lives half way between Udonthani and That Panom and from my map, I could see a road from his village Bang Dung to Nong Khai. I called and he answered. I was given directions on where to turn off and head for Bang Dung. One thing I must say. All the road signs in Thailand are in english aswell as Thai. Ive no idea why just that its alot easier finding your way around than having them in Thai only.

I turned down the turning heading for Bang Dung. Riding along expecting a sign to read turn left or right into Bang Dung as I was on a B road. I did see a sign stating Bang Dung but nowhere to turn off. I rode for a further few klicks and decided to turn back thinking Id missed the turning. Strange I had no idea where it was. I phoned again only to find out the village is on the B road. Therfore the sign stating Bang Dung was actually Bang Dung there and then.I found a small guest house and got slackened off there. I used to work with Tony in Yemen on a large scale LNG plant we both worked in the same Engineeering dept.

You will find most of the european people living permanent in the land of smiles are married to a thai lady. Thai ladys are the best business women you will ever find especially it its not they money. However some of them just have the knack to make more money. Tony's wife was involved in mushrooms.(Het) Growing them to sell.

As we know mushrooms come in many types and some or favourites for thai people. Thai people would eat mushrooms every meal if they had them .Therefore selling mushrooms in thailand is a very good business to have. I do not know much about them and I dont like to eat them. However we met up and I was taken around the mushroom farm and I was astonished to see the amount of mushrooms they were growing. I do not know what the overheads would be for such a business as this. Apparently they sell kilo's of mushrooms on a daily basis.

After the tour we went for a few beers in a local beer bar. I was suprised to see so many europeans in the bar. The bar owner was from the UK, Manchester. As the afternoon went on alot more people joined the group and it soon became a big party. I found out then that at least 40 people from europe lived in this area. Bang Dung. Such a small town and so many british/european people living there made me wonder what was so special about Bang Dung. Nothing really just everyone had a wife who was born in the area. As us westerners who originally come over to live in Thailand get fed up living in the holiday resorts, its great news when a lady suggests to go stay where she was born. And this is the very reason these people were there and all had some form of business.

As the evening wore on, it was apparent no one was going home until every bottle of beer was drunk in the bar. Most of the thai wifes were there also. This continued into the early hours of the morning until you either ran out of beer or just couldn't drink anymore. Which was my case. Lucky for me my guest house was right across the road from the bar. Getting back was a bit wobbley but got there eventually.

Number 2 rule. Never drive my motorbike with the influence of beer in me. I always give two days of no beer before I ride a motorbike as its really just to dangerous to do so. You have to have eyes in the back of your head on some roads here as you can be met by heavy traffic at anytime especially if its market day in some of these villages. This meant 2 more days of no beer. When in fact it turned out to be two more weeks as living in a small town their is very little to do apart from go for a beer. As I had not seen my friend for some years appeared to be the right thing to do at the time. It was good to talk to people similar to myself who also had motorbikes. For two weeks everday someone had a story to tell about travelling in Thailand.

Thai people call europeans a Ferang because of a tropical fruit which grows here. The fruit is white inside. Our skin colour is the same as the white fruit.

I had noticed a guy sitting in the bar with crutches and his legs all plastered up. I eventually got round to asking what happened to you. He told his story.

At the time of telling his story everyone found it so funny however he took this in good spirit. He explained in his younger days his job was a brick layer. Someone who builds walls. As he lives in Pattaya. He comes up to Bang Dung every month for his wife to see her family. When he is in Bang Dung, just for something to do he would build a wall or do some brick work for her family. He explained sometimes he would go back to Pattaya alone then come back up to Bang Dung to collect his wife. He drove a 4x4 Toyota pickup. The last time when he was going back to Pattaya he always drives through Burriram. He has done this route many times and knew the roads well. He always wondered about a road which he seen and never any traffic. Signs were up for road works but he didnt take much notice of them.

He decided this time he would go down the road and see where he would come out. As he was driving down the road, he spotted a large lake in the corner of his eye to the right hand side of the road. With the sun shining down on the lake it looked so lovely. He kept glancing over at the lake as he was driving. He said, all of a sudden as he was driving, the pickup was in mid air and he felt the pickup starting to roll over in the air.

The road had suddenly stopped at the top of a hill. As the next part of the road was a bridge to cross a ravine, which they were building at the time. The pickup was flying through the air. His pickup hit the bank on the other side of the ravine and rolled over upside down on its roof. The construction workers building the bridge quiclky came over and pulled him out and called an ambulance and sent him to hospital. This is why he had two broken legs.

Eventually I got myself pulled together and had no more beer for a few days as I wanted to go to Nong Khai which was only about 60 klms away. The following day I arrived in Nong Khai. I was very suprised to see how white the people were. Really different from the Thai people yet still part of thailand. Well in fact right next door to Laos. The only thing separating Laos from Thailand was the Mekong river.You could stand on the banks of the Mekong river and see the Laos people on the other side of the river. It was then I realised it was Christmas eve and wondered what would be going on if anything here in Nong Khai for Christmas day. My hotel was situated right next to the border crossing to Laos and many western people were waiting to go over to Laos on one of the boats. After a few discussions I was told where to go tomorrow the 25th December and where I would find more westerners who lived in Nong Khai.

The next day the temperature dropped to - 6 degrees C. I was freezing even thou I had my motorbike jacket on. It was a cold wind all day. Walking around the town everyone was covered up in winter jackets. Hot drinks were impossible to find or even hot food. I did find a coffee stand however the temperature of the water wasn't anywhere near what I was needing. Who would of thought this would happen. I did find other westerners who were covered up sitting freezing and miserable, its then I decided it is time to move on and travel south again. Udonthani was 80 klms away so I promptly headed off there.

Bhudda For Tuesday