Photos by MJ Klein, including FOOD PHOTOS
Day five of my Thailand visit was rather uneventful. I had some time to kill waiting for Mr. Somkhit to become available the next day. I wanted to do something but I also wanted to not spend a lot of time traveling and I was sick of buses by this time. So, I walked around Khonkaen.
First thing in the morning, Oath and his girlfriend took me to a noodle shop in Udon Thani before taking me to the bus station for my trip back to Khonkaen.
This shot is so very Thai. Metal cups with ice, and straws. I’ve often said that much of the world’s plastic could be saved if only we could get Asians out of the habit of drinking everything with a straw! Notice the vegetable basket with herbs and vegetables for adding to your soup.
This image is also very Thai. Not only are there 2 types of dried chili in the foreground, on the right background is a spicy liquid additive, as well as a vinegar-based sauce in the remaining jar. Notice also the bottle of fish sauce, just in case your dish needs some extra stinkiness to it.
This is what we all had (Oath’s bowl): a beef noodle soup with fish balls, not totally unlike the famous Vietnamese version.
This bowl was an extra order from which to take a refill.
And this was my bowl. I can still taste it. Thai food in Thailand is so much better than it is elsewhere!
Oath and his girlfriend took me to the Udon Thani bus station (mentioned before) for my trip back to Khonkaen.
As I was walking around, I took this shot, noteworthy for the old style spelling of “Udontanee.”
The place is pretty much your typical Thailand bus station.
I just want to mention that on this trip, people seemed to be a lot nicer than on any trip before. This gentleman came up to me and introduced himself and wished that I have a good time in Thailand, along with a very polite “wai.” He seemed genuinely interested in me as a person and not just as a foreign visitor.
Walking around, killing time waiting for a bus in Thailand would be a lot worse without a camera to use.
I took this shot because it’s an ad for a type of bus that Hui-chen have taken before on several occasions. It’s so cheap that I can’t believe it can be run for a profit at those rates.
I have to admit, I was off my game a little bit. I didn’t search out a VIP (i.e. express) bus to Khonkaen. I went to the sign that said “Khonkaen” and just bought a ticket without asking if it was a VIP bus. Turns out, it wasn’t. But, I didn’t have anything pressing anyway so instead of searching for the VIP bus and buying another ticket, I just resolved to ride this local bus.
The overview shot above shows all the entertainment equipment on the bus. Below are closeups of the various components:
Foremost is the flat-screen LED TV. Most buses I’ve taken in Thailand have older CRT based TVs. Anyone who has visited Thailand will testify to the fact that if you’re not Thai, you will find Thai entertainment totally annoying. Thai people laugh at things I just don’t get. Personally, I didn’t laugh one single time watching this show for more than 2 hours. Yes, I did understand what was going on enough to figure it out. It was just juvenile and stupid. But I also say that about most TV shows around the world, so I’m not just picking on Thai entertainment.
The small monitor is not so the driver can watch the show while driving, although I cannot figure out why the show displays when it’s not performing it’s primary function: which is the backup camera monitor. To the right of the monitor are 2 round gauges. I know that one of them is a speedometer, because like every other bus in Thailand, the dashboard speedo is broken. There is a 2 channel stereo mixer in the front left, which is a bit of overkill I would say. Notice how the blue colored inputs are ganged together into a mono adapter, so they really didn’t need a stereo mixer at all.
I count 3 radios, 1 VHS VCR (I think!) and a karoake-enabled DVD-disc player, which is apparently running the show currently playing. The strange thing is, with all these audio sources, there are only those 2 inputs being used at the mixer (the blue inputs) so it looks like nothing else is hooked up. Notice the aftermarket AC unit underneath the panel.
Finally, I arrived in Khonkaen and I went to a hotel next to my favorite place, The Number 1 Bar. I’ve always wanted to try out that hotel and I was determined to check it out this time. The price was 400 baht per night – quite cheap for Khonkaen.
This is what my room looked like. The word “depressing” comes to mind.
The restroom wasn’t anything to write about. Well, nothing positive that is.
I don’t know what was wrong with me on that day, but I failed to notice that the shower did not have a hot water machine. It had been removed, leaving the bare 220 volt wiring hanging out of the wall, just above the top edge of this photo. I’m so stupid that I failed to photograph that.
I was so anxious to get over to the Number 1 Bar that I did not notice the AC was broken too. The room was cool but the windows were open (3rd floor).
I had heard online that the Number 1 Bar was being renovated and that it has possibly been sold to new owners. So I was a bit apprehensive as I approached the totally new layout.
It turns out that David and Noi are still the owners and it was a nice “welcome home” moment for me.
I really like the new, warm color scheme of the bar. The bar itself is much nicer to sit at, than the old one.
There is a small area for a musician to perform.
I had a drink and then decided to go back to my room and rest for awhile. Mr. Somkhit was coming into Khonkaen in the evening and he was going take me out for dinner.
Mr. Somkhit asked me if I liked Japanese food. “Is that a trick question?” was my reply, hehe.
Just look at these maki rolls!
Interestingly, Japanese places in Thailand always have a bowl of sauce with a distinctly Thai flavor. That’s how they integrate Japanese food into Thai culture. I found the sauce quite interesting, but totally unnecessary from a strictly Japanese food point of view.
The presentation was nice on many of the dishes.
I have to say that these dishes tasted every bit as good at they look in these photos.
The sashimi was great!
One of my all-time favorites: tempura.
This was a very nice and interesting salad. Loads of garlic.
After dinner I went back to the Number 1 Bar, where things had picked up quite a bit compared to the afternoon. The 2 guys are musicians who later on invited me to play a few Thai songs with them.
These 2 have been with the Number 1 Bar for years.
I sure like the look of the new bar. The table s and chairs are a lot more comfortable than the old ones.
And the pool table was re-covered with red felt!
I stayed at the Number 1 Bar pretty late and went back to my room to take a shower and go to sleep. It was then that I noticed there was not hot water! Come one! No hot water and no AC? That was a total deal breaker for me. It was so bad that I left the hotel in the wee hours of the morning and I went to:
My favorite place to stay in Khonkaen – the Tamarind Residences.
Now, Day Six turned out to be a lot more interesting, as you shall see! We hope you’ll join us for the next installment!