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Photos by MJ Klein
Our October 2008 trip to Thailand was business motivated. We hired a car for the day and went to see our friend Mr. Somhkit at his factory in Muang Phon. I’ll show you what it’s like to go south on highway 2 from Khonkaen down to Muang Phon, and some of the interesting sights of daily Thai life you can expect to see along the way.
This is the car we hired for the day. You can see Hui-chen peeking through the rear window. Typically, cars with drivers can be hired for around 1,500 Thai baht per day, plus fuel expenses. That’s around US less fuel expenses. If you’re doing business in Thailand, this is the way to go. Our hotel setup the rental for us. It couldn’t have been easier.
The first order of business was to gas up. But you’ll notice that the hose isn’t going to the gas tank.
This is because the car we hired is a dual fuel vehicle. We were at the LPG station, not the gasoline station.
It’s really quite simple. The attendant hooks up the filler hose to the fitting on your LPG tank and from there it’s pretty much the same as filling up with liquid gasoline. Many vehicles in Thailand use liquid propane fuel.
Soon, we were on our way, leaving Khonkaen behind.
Local people told us that recently they have been experiencing serious flooding. We saw many places where mud has been washed across the roads by high water.
I’ve been in severe rainfall in this area before, and I’ve even seen some flash flooding on occasion, but nothing like this. I’m not sure what this was, but it’s gone now.
A fact of Thai life is police presence. It’s more prevalent in some places than others. When driving you can expect to encounter a police check point virtually anywhere, at any time. This check point is on highway 2, several kilometers south of Khonkaen, and it’s been there for as long as I can remember.
One of my famous Photos From The Car shows flooding on the roadside. We saw many areas that we are familiar with and know to be dry, but now have standing water.
One of my favorite things about going to Phon is that you can get that wonderful Isaan style sausage at any number of roadside stands nearby. Isaan sauage is a dry, somewhat sour sausage that tastes a lot better than I can describe it. You just have to try it for yourself. Whenever I go to Thailand, I eat too much of it during the first few days of my visit.
This is the main drag of Muang Phon.
It’s definitely Asian, but considerably different than Taiwan or China. There are typical block houses with business space on the bottom that we see in many parts of the world. The Thais call these “Chinese houses” and compared to Taiwan, these are very affordable. The price of real estate has been going up though, and places that we saw only two years ago have virtually doubled in price now.
The center square of Muang Phon features a large portrait of the King.
We approach the edge of the downtown area, turn a corner and….
…. we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere. This is a small highway that leads out to where we need to the Sabua Resort. While we were in the area of the factory we went back to the resort for a few minutes to take care of some business there.
Normally, Hui-chen and I ride in a tuktuk like this one. Today we were glad we had the hired car as the tuktuks are very difficult for me to get in and out of (as you can imagine). Plus, I can’t even see out of a tuktuk because the roofline is so low.
When driving in Thailand you must exercise patience and caution, especially in the rural areas because farmers use the road to transport their animals too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to apply the brakes because I thought a cow would step out into the road in front of me. You wouldn’t want to accidently hit one of these animals, so take your time on these country roads.
More evidence of flooding. I can tell you from personal experience that this area is normally very dry. Our friends told us that this water has been standing here for several weeks. This means the water table has risen due to the heavy rainfall.
This is the road that leads to the resort. A quick stop and we’re back with the water buffaloes on the road.
We found that they hadn’t moved very far since we passed them going the other way. Life is rather slow here.
On the way back, we had to change lanes due to road construction. One side of the highway was severely damaged by floodwaters that undercut the bridge and caused it’s collapse.
So now we’re driving on the wrong side of the highway. Remember, in Thailand people drive on the left like in the UK or Japan.
A rather hasitly snapped photo of the bridge being repaired.
At the next intersection, we crossed back over to the correct side of the highway – the left side.
After another 45 minutes we found ourselves at one of the gates to the city of Khonkaen. This particular gate has been under construction for a long time, so I was glad to see it nearly completed after more than two years. This article is geotagged at this location.
We hope you enjoyed taking a trip with us, and we thank you for reading!
Articles in series Thailand, Fall 2008:
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