Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Road trip - Pattaya to not quite Nakhon Ratchasima

Initially this was going to be a motorcycle ride, with five of us on four largish bikes...I don't ride. However, circumstances dwindled us down to three and the fact that Australian travel insurance companies are unwilling to cover motorcyclists in Thailand, left us hiring a car.

Personally I was OK with this, I don't mind a comfortable seat, aircon and shelter from the elements. And, besides, I've done my time on the back of a scooter for a year in Chiang Mai and even more painful memorable, to Laos and back.

We asked around and researched on the internet about hiring a car and decided on Hertz. The prices were reasonable and I couldn't find any negative reviews about the company, and collecting it (Honda Civic) in Pattaya meant we wouldn't have to drive in Bangkok traffic.

We also rented a Sat Nav which we dubbed 'Ning Nong'. No it's not a Thai name, it's because most of the time she wanted us to drive on the service roads, even though we nominated NOT to avoid highways. My android tablet and phone were armed with three Thailand Map apps, as back up. More about them another day.

So, about midday we load our destination 'Nakhon Ratchasima something or other' into Ning Nong and off we go. Me, the self nominated back seat driver, Stray in the driver's seat and his nong sao, younger sister, as copilot.

As time passes we get the feeling that we're not heading in quite the right direction...we're getting way too close to the big mango for comfort. My Thailand GPS Map by Kaart Data  concurs and we reset our destination, ensuring that it is in fact in Muang (city) Nakhon Ratchasima, like the airport, not a government building in Bangkok.

Success, we're on the right track, driving along highway 9 waiting to meet up with highway 1, when Ning Nong decides to take us on a scenic detour. It was nice to get off the highway and we did make a comfort stop and enjoyed a bite to eat at a market full of recently released inquisitive school children, but yet another delay in our plan to reach Nakhon Ratchasima.

As we drove into Pak Chong we voted unanimously that that was enough adventuring for one day and asked Ning Nong to find us a hotel.

"You've reached your destination" she says, as we pull up outside of what looks like could have been a small hotel once upon a time. Stray gets out and talks to a man sitting out the front and a passer by who is more than willing to give him some friendly directions to what turned out to be a 5 star hotel not far on the same road.

A bit out of our price range, reception gives us the name of an establishment more within our means. However, before we find it we see a sign saying 'Happiness Guesthouse'.

Sounds ideal!

Larger 400 Baht room with private balcony.
The guesthouse is nearly at the end of a quiet, except for an occasional train hurtling by, suburban no through road. The building itself is lovely, a tiny touch of possibly French architecture. The rooms are tired and basic, although clean and substantial, ranging from 300 - 400 baht. All of the rooms have a communal balcony with tables and chairs overlooking the car park.

Famished after a long afternoon of getting to know Ning Nong and becoming reacquainted with Thai road rules, we moseyed along down to the 'Texas Saloon'. We'd noticed this nice establishment during our hunt for a hotel.
We didn't opt for a steak, but can certainly vouch for their Thai food. My fried noodle dish with chicken, vegies and green pepper corns was delish!

Next stop Khon Kaen.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


biervoormij said... Best Blogger Tips

Were you able to make it to Khao Yai national park while in Pak Chong?

Looking forward to hearing about Khon Kaen to see if it is somewhere I need to visit.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@biervoormij No, unfortunately we didn't spend any time sight seeing in the Pak Chong area. We felt we'd already lost too much time.

Stray and I aren't really national park type of tourists. Apart from being lazy ;) we live amidst a jungle of trees every day. Sure, we don't have any caves or waterfalls, but we certainly have a lot of greenery and peace and quite...maybe that's why.

MJ Klein said... Best Blogger Tips

hi Snap. i'm thinking that Ning Nong took you on the scenic route because she wasn't told not to. most GPS nav systems have preferences that you select as you're entering your destination data. on our Taiwanese system, it asks if we want shorter distance, faster time, avoid highway, prefer highway, or just "best way." i wonder if there was such an option on your system when you entered the destination waypoint. if the system was in Thai, it would be a nightmare for me! looking forward to the next installment. take care.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

MJ, I'm sure there was more than one Ning Nong in the car, lol. Ning Nong spoke and displayed in English, so there was no misunderstanding there. From memory we had 'avoid highway' (which we never chose unless heading for a local attraction) and 'shortest route'. We don't totally blame NN, and it became quite amusing once we knew where we were going and could put her to sleep in the glove box ;)

MJ Klein said... Best Blogger Tips

hi Snap. no pressure but - waiting for your blog on Khonkaen! take care.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@MJ Klein Still coming...just call me slack! ;)