Sunday, December 12, 2010

Visa Run Day 3. Loei to Nong Khai

Before leaving Loei we stop to buy a new map, as ours has nearly reached it's limits. The gas station employee suggests we take another path to Nong Khai, up to Chiang Khan and south east, along the Mekong river. (video - Chiang Khan)
It wasn't long before we saw the river and it reminded me of when I was a kid going to the know, when you first set eyes on the ocean!

You can just make it out a little way into the video, behind the trees.
There was little water amongst an almost lunar landscape at first. We've seen the Mekong before, from Chiang Saen (Thailand) and the actual delta in Vietnam...this looked much different. But as we ride on, the water flows faster and more plentiful.
The Mekong - starting to run wider and more rapidly.
The road sides are covered in paw paw trees, banana trees and other crops. Vegetable plots even grow down on the dry parts of the river bed. It's a really pretty day's ride.
Somewhere along the way? For those who haven't been to Thailand, the black round pot on the left is a rubbish bin, made from recycled tyres.
We pass houses on stilts, Lana style mini mansions, some still under construction, hot pink and bright purple rendered homes...but often, just mere huts. I notice poverty more, when in the hills behind jut towering gold images of the Buddha or ornate Wat roofs.

The road is not the best in parts and every bump brings excruciating pain or a welcome shift in position.

A few foreigners pass by on bicycles from time to time...obviously even more crazy than us! We (our butts) need to stop for a while and decide to grab a bite to eat. Out here we don't have any local knowledge and there aren't any English signs, so I'm never sure if we're walking into a café or someone's living/kitchen area.
These were the freshest noodles I've ever eaten. The meal however was 'mai aroy', NOT delicious. We now refer to this dish as Mekong Water Soup. The broth, and what I can only describe as weed, tasted like mud with ginger. I can honestly say this was our first bad meal in Thailand.
A Nong Khai sign appears, but we head in the opposite direction of the township, to Friendship Bridge, just to be a little closer for the following day's border crossing. Down a lane we think we see a hotel, but it's a lock up parking lot where we end up garaging the bike while in Laos. The owner gives us directions to a hotel just around the corner...the Nalumon...or something like that. At first glance the room looks OK and we agree to take it, as we hadn't seen any others around.

This is the hotel from hell. But we're so tired and sore, we stay. *Post edit, the name of the hotel is Nalumon Apartment.
The beds, both of them are not more than board covered with sheets, the smell of damp is overwhelming with the door closed and mosquitoes are coming in, we suspect, from the bathroom floor drain. The shower walls are ALIVE. We sit on the, we hope, clean(ish) bed for a while, trying not to touch anything, watching (thankfully) the SyFy Channel. But enough is enough and we retreat to the lobby for a couple of hours to waste the time away.

When we'd first arrived at the hotel we chatted with a group of Thai men, who were half tanked...very merry! I often wonder about their attitude towards women and from what I hear from a very reliable source ;) many seem to be preoccupied by girlfriends and bar girls. This conversation was no different, except 'HHEELLLOOO, I'm sitting here...don't mind me...I'm only the WIFE!!!!'

They apologise intermittently, assuring me it's all in fun...and it was. Rather than try to convince an intoxicated group of men that a good marriage is not a mythological creature, I tell them 'Stray is free to do whatever he likes, however, I do own seriously large sharp pair of scissors'. This works.

Note - a Thai lady told me recently that the ratio of Thai Women to Thai Men is 5:1. Men = hetrosexual, not disabled, not in prison, not mentally impaired etc. However, I can't find evidence to support this. According to this website there are 102 women per 100 men. Perhaps these statistics don't take into consideration, the marriagability factor.

Visa Run Day 2. Uttaradit to Loei
Visa Run Day 1. Chiang Mai to Uttaradit

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


DanPloy said... Best Blogger Tips

I think the clause on the men not being mentally impaired probably weighs those statistics. That is a tough one in any country - especially Australia so I've heard!

Our worst hotel so far was a late night/early morning - anywhere will do - crash out in Korat. The cockroaches were capable of carrying small children on their backs and some did. The toilet backed up and overflowed the first time we used it which we left as parting gesture as we didn't think we would be back.

All part of the experience.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Dan, yes Australia definitely has its fair share of less than desirable eligible blokes ;)

Your hotel experience sounds disgusting! I can't believe that they have the gall to charge money for such dives, especially when we paid less for near perfect hotels on the previous two nights.

Next time I'll be taking more than a glance.

Paul Garrigan said... Best Blogger Tips

I think Chiang Khan is a nice little town. I spent a couple of nights there a few years back. Quite a few backpackers stay there for months at a time - it is cheap and peaceful.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Paul, Chiang Khan did look nice, it had a certain charm about it. The people were friendly and helpful, and the food was definitely better than further down the road ;)