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Udon Thani

THAILAND | Wednesday, 6 June 2012 | Views [1281] | Comments [1]

Wat Phothisomphon

Wat Phothisomphon

Having recovered sufficiently from my ear infection, I'm ready to leave Chiang Mai and head to Udon Thani as the first stop of a tour of North-Eastern Thailand. My options are to do a 24 hour train trip via Bangkok or a 8 hour bus ride. The train ride is my preferred method because of my oft mentioned motion sickness. I'd been discussing this dilemma with residents and staff at the hostel and everyone seems to think going via Bangkok is crazy. When it came to the time to leave, the manager at Giant Hostel is taking me to the train station, but on the spur of the moment I ask him to take me to the bus station instead for the bus journey. I've come prepared for my motion sickness this time. Antiemetic medicine, chewing gum and if all else fails Tiger Balm. I have the say, the journey wasn't too bad as the roads are in good condition, all of which are well paved and the turns aren't so bad as the bus winds it's way round gentle curves.

My first impressions of Udon Thani, it's a dusty town and third world looking. It also has the feel of a rundown tourist town. Where I'm staying it looks like a mini Sukhumvit of Bangkok with loads of night clubs and there's also very modern Central Plaza 10 minute away. The place comes alive at night. Some "Pimp My Ride" Thai style at the plaza:

Also loads of expats here on the same street as the hotel. Mostly pensioner type who look like they've finally found what they're looking for in the "matrimonial" department.

The pace of life is noticeably slower than say Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Cars and motorcycles drive slower, I can even cross the road at a walking pace rather than running as I normally have to do. I also slow down the travelling as there's more than enough sights to justify staying a few days and going through the attractions at an easy pace.

The first night I visit the night market close by. Plenty of food, cheaply priced goods clearly aimed at the locals. Nice place to grab some street food and wander around for an hour or two. Animal lovers need to be aware that there are loads of cute looking puppies, bunnies, guinea pigs etc for sale, all kept in criminally small cages and clearly not enough food and water.

The second day, I've pencilled in a trip out to Ban Chiang village, the location of archaeological site and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is of great importance for it's contribution to the understanding of Neolithic, Bronze and Iron age societies in South East Asia which are thousands of years old. Up until the discovery, it was thought that this area was late in developing said cultures.

To get there, I have to get a bus heading towards Sakonnakhon. On the way to the us station, check out the innovative method for goods deliver:

Back to the bus, it drops me off at the Ban Chiang turn-off. Then I need to get a waiting tuk tuk for the 7km journey into the village. 1.5 hours one way. Inside the village is a museum containing the finds of the site and one of the excavation sites is open to the public and is about 500m walk from the museum in the grounds of a Temple called Wat Po Si Nai. Also a very unpleasant walk in 35c heat. The museum itself contains finds from the excavations with labels in Thai and superb English. The tone is academic, but presents a very engaging narrative as it tells of the story of the discovery, the archaeology and the anthropology of the Ban Chiang culture.

The open exhibition in temple is supposed to show one of the excavations that's been preserved in-situ:

Unfortunately, I failed to do sufficient research on the site and thought much more of the site was open to the public. But the museum and open excavation are the only things to see concerning the archaeology of Ban Chiang. If the day had been a lot cooler, I'd have explored the village as well. Overall, I didn't feel it was worth the effort to have come all this way and spent over 500 Baht just to see the two things. To really top off the day, there are no tuk-tuk at the village back to a bus stop and I'm thoroughly over-charged for this bike ride:

Day 3

Another day slow pace of sight-seeing. First I go to see Wat Phothisomphon. Built in early 20th century, the temple contains statues and murals of the life of Buddha. The temple complex also houses a museum of monks famous for meditation:

From the temple, it's a short walk to Udon Thani Museum:

It's a wonderfully put together museum. The exhibits and information very professionally presented. The museum is obviously under-funded as the building is in a state of disrepair. Had a long chat with the manager of the museum about the exhibits and the history of Udon Thano. It also turns out that the museum is entirely funded by donations (did I mentioned entry was free?). It's a tribute to the staff that they've put so much effort into the exhibits.

Finally ended the day at nearby Nong Prajak Park. On the way, I saw this:

The couple are trying to break into the car using a coat hanger.

Nong Prajak Park is a beautiful park with lakes, bridges, cycle and jogging lanes. I even hired a bicycle for 20 Baht an hour. More than enough time to circle the park twice, then beat the midday heat under the shade of a tree.

Overall I quite liked Udon Thani, tourism is slowly building up in these parts, but not so much that it's turning the town into another tourist trap. Fortunately, I'm here while there's more than enough underdevelopment to experience that authentic feel of Thailand while it lasts. 

 

Comments

1

This is the very informative content. I appreciate your effort which provides us this informative resources. Thank for sharing with us.

  Manglik Oct 11, 2012 10:32 PM

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