Photos by MJ Klein – with FOOD PHOTOS!
UPDATE: I forgot that I had a video to add to this article! It’s in the article at the appropriate place below.
This was my last full day in Thailand on this trip. I did not want to ride the motorcycle down to Phon, rent a car or take the bus. So I decided to ride the train.
This is my ticket to Muang Phon for later that afternoon, but first there was something else that I wanted to do before the train ride down south.
I rode the motorcycle down to the lake area because it had been so long since I had been there. Remember, I used to visit Khonkaen several times a year, but now it’s more like once every 2 or 3 years. This is a Chinese temple.
But inside the gate there is a heavy Thai influence of course.
We blogged on this place before. As always, it looks immaculate.
I went looking for the PP Hotel, which is where Hui-chen and I have enjoyed many an evening eating delicious food and singing karaoke. But it appears to be gone now, with this Honda dealership in it’s place. Khonkaen sure has changed a lot since 2004 when I first visited.
I wanted to eat at the Roma Hotel, another place we’ve enjoyed over the years. Lunch sounded like a good thing to me. But when I got there, the place was deserted except for me.
This is my lunch:
A delicious oyster dish
and some deep fried pork. I had an enjoyable time with the place all to myself. Years ago it would have been packed….
Since I was going to take the train and not driving, I thought it might be a good opportunity to check out the local run, Sang Som because we’ve been drinking the export version in Taiwan. I was surprised to find that the domestic version tastes a great deal better.
The outside of the liquor store. I returned my motorcycle and took a tuk-tuk to the train station, where I arrived just as the train was in the station – perfect timing.
The train was full of friendly students on their way home!
Many of these students come from far away and ride the train for more than an hour just to attend school in Khonkaen city.
This student had on the train conductor’s hat.
You can see the conductor standing in the background. This student went around checking tickets and the other students had fun with it.
I noticed at several stations that new track was being laid.
Kids just being kids.
I happened to look out the window and saw something interesting….
A solar panel farm was under construction. I cannot tell you anything about it though.
The train stopped at every little station along the way. Ban Phai is about 1/2 way between Khonkaen and my destination, Muang Phon. The train was running late but it didn’t seem to matter to anyone.
More construction along the track.
A brief shower cooled everyone down. If you view this photo large, you can see the rain.
No air conditioning in this train! The cars were quite old.
Pulling into another station.
Just as it was really getting boring….
We arrived at Muang Phon – more than 30 minutes late!
I waved goodbye to all the students.
They were only too happy to wave back. Thai people are very nice.
Muang Phon station.
I hired a tuk-tuk to take me to the Sabua Resort.
To be honest, I did not recognize much of the scenery, because it had changed so much….
Never saw this place before….
But this corner, I knew well at one time. Here we take a right and cross the train tracks.
The ride down the highway toward the resort.
Local village roads….
My driver poses for a photo after dropping me off.
Wow, I cannot believe how much this place has grown up even more than ever!
I don’t even recognize this building anymore!
No one was around so I went into the road and over to Dr. Su’s house.
The neighbors hadn’t seen me in years!
The gate was locked so I walked around through the resort.
My old wood smoker is still there, but it’s rapidly deteriorating. I really wish I had time to use it on this trip. The truth is, I will probably never get to use it again, unfortunately.
This patio is new.
And so is this building.
I don’t know what the building is, but it sure does look cool!
Finally this guy showed up. His name is “M” and he now runs the resort. After a few minutes he recognized me, commenting that I used to have a beard. I asked him to locate Aunty for me and he made some calls. He also called Dr. Su who told me that her husband Ben (Mr. Banchob) was now in Australia where Ben’s daughter was attending university, and that the Sabua Resort was now for salem since Dr. Su was building a new resort in Chiangmai. I told her that I would come visit in Chiangmai the next time we came to Thailand. Chiangmai has been on my list for a long time but I’ve never gone there (yet).
Aunty’s son Michael appeared (sorry about the focus problem).
And then Aunty arrived! Aunty used to really take care of me at the resort over the years. She’s been a part of my life for quite some time, and I must have really missed her because my eyes welled up with tears when she appeared before me. I gave her a great big hug. We took a walk around the resort.
Aunty doesn’t speak English but we’ve always been able to communicate. She showed me how much the vegetation has grown, and how different the resort looks now.
I used to stay in this room, back in the day.
There are more chickens now….
Actually I think I’ve stayed in every room in the resort over the years.
The sad part is that I didn’t have time to stay in the resort. I would have to leave shortly.
Aunty showed me the yellow blossoms on all the trees. Quite lovely.
But then, Mr. Somkhit’s driver came to pick me up, and we headed to the factory for our meeting.
I snapped this shot out of the window as we drove to the factory. Phon is rapidly growing up and has changed since I first came here since 2005.
Oh well, I could reminisce all day. Mr. Somkhit invited me to join him and his daughter for dinner at a BBQ place in Khonkaen. I went back with them to Khonkaen and we went directly to the place.
Walking to our table I took a shot of this grill. Something cooking over charcoal always gets my attention!
Mr. Somkhit orders some dishes.
Ploy asks a few questions about the menu. I just sat and waited. Mr. Somkhit has never steered me wrong before!
I liked the place a lot. No frills, just great grilled food.
For our readers who have never dined in Thailand, the baskets of cucumbers, scallions and coriander (cilantro) are standard issue for many meals. So is the ice. Also notice the sauces. In Thai cuisine, sauces are very important.
The first dishes arrive.
The florescent lights didn’t help this dish look appetizing, but it certainly was! The fresh mint on the top was perfect.
Perfectly grilled pork,
and beef. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Another deliciously spiced dish. I never get tired of Thai food!
A nice papaya salad.
This dark soup was rich and flavorful. It’s difficult for me to describe the complex flavors. The simplicity of grilled meat paired with these side dishes was perfect.
Mr. Somkhit took us in the car to another place for a famous dessert.
All these ingredients look great!
But I had no idea what we were getting….
This is it. Or at least part of it. Fresh mango over sweet rice with some crunchy stuff on the top.
This is the rest of the desert – coconut milk with salted egg and some other stuff I couldn’t put together. It certainly was unique and although I didn’t care for the salted egg, I was glad to have tried this dessert. Now, if I can only find this place again!
After that, Mr. Somkhit dropped me off at the Number 1 Bar and later I walked back to my room.
The last time I was in Khonkaen I took Michael Turton and Michael Cannon to this place to watch some girls sing karaoke.
I was too tired to go inside, so I just took advantage of the D7000’s high ISO capability to shoot some photos.
The perfect end to the day was this ladyboy who agreed to pose for a photo.
Whew! We just reviewed over 90 photos! There is one more day in this series, and even though it’s not so eventful, I do have a few things to show you before this one comes to a close. Thanks for reading. Be sure to leave us your comments below!