Thailand is home to many Swedish nationals and one thai-swedish family in Udon Thani who follow our blog invited us to come and stay at their house. After having left the checkpoint at the border we decided to hurry to Udon some 55 km further south. Chawee and Sven welcomed all three of us and brought us to a restaurant to meet some more people in the Swedish community in Udon. We have met less Swedish people along the way than we expected so it was great to meet some Swedes again.
Loy Krathong is a traditional festival that is celebrated during full moon in November in Thailand and Laos and probably some more neighbouring countries. In thai the word for river is literally translated as ”mother of water” and the festival is celebrated to thank the mother of the water for the water that she lets us use. Small and beutifully decorated floats carrying flowers, candles and joss sticks are released on the river. It is a very beutiful sight to see a river that is lit up of thousands of such floats.
This year Loy Krathong was celebrated while we were staying in Udon. Our initial plan was to take part in the festivities in a public park in Udon, but in the afternoon ut turned out that all of us were too tired to go out so we decided to stay home. We have celebrated Loy Krathong many times before and don’t feel we missed anything more than a good opportunity to get some nice photos to post on this blog…. 😉 The internet is full of Loy Kratong photos so if you are interested, then google it…. 😉
We stayed with Chawee and Sven for two nights and when we left the first thing to do was to cycle into to downtown to try to buy a road map and reactivate my thai SIM-card for my iphone so that we can navigate by using google online maps.
It wasn’t hard to find our way out of Udon – what was hardest was to get three people to agree on which way to take… Once outside Udon our plan was to stay away from the big roads and try to spend as much time as possible cycling on the small back roads in Isan (Thailand’s northeastern region).
We cruised across the Isan landscape and passed numerous small villages. The small road got smaller and smaller and soon we found ourselves on a narrow dirt road which surface was covered of a very soft mix of dust and sand. It was a bit tough but when we wanted to complain we reminded each other that 30 minutes in sand is nothing compared to the endless days we spent fighting the loose sand in central asia…..
Soon we realized that we wouldn’t be able to get as far as we had planned to and when we cycled into a village we decided to stay there. There was a temple and a school that would provide good camping opportunities, but we decied to ask around anyway. A shopkeeper told us to go to the ”phuyai baan” – village headman (head woman in this case) who had a big field behind her house.
The village chief welcomed us and when she found out that we came from Sweden the welcome became even warmer since her daughter is married to a Swede and lives there most of the year. We were offered to pitch our tents in their ”sala” (pavillion) by a pond behind the house. The pavillion had electricity. lights and water boilers and next to it there was an outdoor kitchen where we could wash ourselves. We couldn’t have asked for more…
Even if it is winter in Thailand now the afternoon sun is still strong and we try to start as early as possible in the mornings. The family told us which way to go but warned us that the road was bad. It was indeed a dirt road, but the dirt was packed and we had no problems to cycle. After 2-3 hours a steady northeastern wind picked up and since we were mainly going south or southwest it was going to be our day….
P’Ben has a tiny little MP3 player mounted on his handlebar and it contains lots of classic thai hits. A flat beautiful landscape surrounded by hills, golden fields, no traffic, tailwind and thai hits from the time I was first in the country – could it be any better…?
We talk too much and cycle too little and didn’t make it to where we had planned to the second day either. When we approached the small town of Baan Taen we decided it was time to stop for the day. People in villages we had passed on the way told us there would be plenty of accomodation in this town. We found one simple hotel that was full and when we continued through the center we cycled past the local police station. Wej and P’Ben have stayed at police stations before so we went in to ask if we could pitch our tents on their lawn.
The officers said it was OK to stay on the lawn but thought that we would get a better sleep if we stay inside the station instead. We accepted that kind offer, and no – we aren’t staying in the arrest – we are staying on the floor in the police chief’s office using his internet connection to update this blog post….