We’ve been on what started out as a home-hunting trip in Isaan, but it has ended and we’ll be heading out in a couple of days.
It has been about 5 years since I’ve been back to places like Khon Kaen, Nong Khai, Ubon, Sisaket, Korat… and I noticed some things that I wanted to jot down. Your experience may be different, but these are just my impressions.
DUST – it’s the dry season, and few have planted rice yet – so there are thousands of square kilometers of dirt at the farms… there is dirt everywhere. Some days it’s windy – and it’s like a dust storm.
DRY AIR – the air is extraordinarily dry. I wake up once/twice a night with cotton mouth. My breathing – asthma is affecting me sometimes – because of the cold, dry, and dust-filled air.
ALLERGIES – I have allergies here in the northeast that are nonexistent in Thailand’s other areas.
DRIVING – is a helluva lot more dangerous. There are 2 stoplights in Sisaket where people don’t stop for the lights – just blow through them at 80+ kph. If you don’t know where these two lights are – you could be killed going through your green light and thinking traffic coming from your left will stop. They won’t. Likewise, if you DO stop at the stoplight – some jackass behind you might plow right through you – thinking you KNOW – this light we don’t stop at.
Roads are very narrow – in general – in the northeast.
FOOD POISONING – happens more often. We’ve all been sick (6 of us), and baby has been on a 5 night hospital stay because of it. We’ve heard many stories from friends here of it.
SEAFOOD – is horrible in the northeast. It’s old. It’s small (shrimp), and I wouldn’t recommend it.
PEOPLE – are lovely… just like always. I love the level of respect people have for each other here. I love the simple way of life. I love the helpful attitude. Â I love the smiles. People are focused more on PEOPLE here – not business, not world events.
POLITICS – they want Thaksin back REAL bad. Thaksin was their saviour, and they want him back regardless what he was said to have done negative in the country.
WAR – SISAKET and CAMBODIA – you’d never know there was artillery fire just 60km away from here with Cambodia… nobody changed the way they live… nobody is talking about it much, knowing it will blow over.
KHON KAEN is fricking HUGE. I don’t remember it like that 5 years ago. I must not have been in the main city area much.
BUDDHIST TEMPLES – are so much better here. There are many Khmer ruins.
SNAKES – there are few. I’ve found just one juvenile python here, and I’ve looked hard a few nights.
FOREIGNERS – there are MANY. Did everyone move out of Bangkok and hit the suburbs? I saw many (<50) in Ubon, about 10 in Sisaket, 100 in Nong Khai, and about 100 in Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima).
FOREIGN RESTAURANTS – there are more.
FOREST WATS – Wat Nong Pah Phong, Wat Pah Nanachat are as cool as ever. Beautiful places… both with foreign monks.
HIS MAJESTY THE KING and ROYAL FAMILY – they love them to death. They make regular visits to Bangkok to pay respects to HM.
Overall – a really nice visit to the northeast. I’d not live here. I was sure I would, having loved it the first time I came. I think I’ve been spoiled by living in the south – there are so many amazing natural wonders and opportunities for exercise and adventure that I think I see the northeast as barren and having too little to keep me happy anymore.
We thought for sure we’d move to Khon Kaen – but, after seeing it – it’s like a little Chiang Mai – it’s huge. Way too big. Too much traffic, pollution, big buildings, bad streets.
How about you – you enjoy the northeast – Isaan region – or no?