We woke up at 7am and got ready in half an hour. We left the hotel at 7.40am and walked to the bus station which was only a five-minute walk away. Just enough time for the coffee I made in the hotel to cool down. We soon found the queue for tickets to Khon Kaen, which was half the length of the bus station. Once we got closer to the box office I was nominated to buy the tickets. This was probably a good thing as it meant I could do something while I was buzzing from the coffee I’d drunk. I edged my way to the front of the queue and managed to ask for four tickets in Khon Kaen in a mixture of basic Thai and English. But the attendant understood enough to give me the tickets, even if I had to wait for three people to be served before me. Once we were given our tickets, I made sure the attendant pointed us to the bus (there were a few pink buses). We got on and managed to find seats, although they were separate, and settled down for the hour and a half long bus journey. Kate’s chair in front of me couldn’t do anything but recline, and stay leaned back, a few inches from my knees. Suddenly I was very glad that I had short legs!
We got to the hotel just before midday, checked in and found the wifi was reasonable everywhere apart from our rooms. Unless you happened to stand in a certain place and no one else around you was trying to do anything like Facebook or Snapchat. We then went looking for food and settled on the food place opposite Tamarind Residences, our hotel. As we sat down I asked the cook and owner of the place what they had and we were offered fried rice and fizzy drinks. I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see a plate of rice. Kate also fell in love with the cafe’s resident cat. It was the fluffiest and biggest cat I had ever seen. After making friends with the cat, Kate christened it Ms. Claws. At that point we realised that Kate was slightly delirious and needed a nap. After saying goodbye to Ms. Claws we went and slept until 2pm when we met in the reception to decide what we wanted to do. We came to the decision that we would go to Wat Nong Waeng and then make our way to Ton Tann market. The hotel ordered us a taxi and we made our way to the temple.
The temple was beautiful. It was nine stories tall, and the stony, white steps leading up to it made the white, red and gold stand out brilliantly. Once we had put long trousers over our skirts and shorts, and taken our shoes off, we quickly walked into the temple to avoid burning the soles of our feet off. The inside of the temple was amazing, I’ve got a few photos of the ceiling and some of what was occurring on the first floor. An English-speaking woman came up to me after apologizing for getting in my photo. It turns out that she lives in Ubon Ratchathani as well and retired from teaching at Khon Kaen University recently. We let her take a selfie with us before she pointed us towards the stairs.
If you were wondering, nine sets of stairs is a lot. We did stop at most of the floors, but the views from the top of the temple were the best.
We then managed to get a tuk tuk over to Ton Tann market. It was meant to be a day and night market, but we could see they were just setting up at 3.30pm. So we sat in a small café and had an afternoon snack/lunch. I got a strawberry smoothie with ice cream on top (I have dreamed about fresh fruit and smoothies a lot recently), whilst the others got sodas, chips and onion rings. The smoothie did fill me up, but it didn’t stop the chips from smelling amazing. We then asked the waiter if he could order a taxi for us. We made it easier by providing the number and the phone, so he only had to do the talking for us. The taxi came after twenty minutes, and after I had made friends with a pregnant cat hiding in one of the benches outside the café.
When we got back to the hotel, the others went to nap. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep so I went to the reception, where the wifi actually worked, and watched an episode of ‘Ugly Duckling’, a Thai TV programme that I had recently got into (with the aid of subtitles of course). It also meant I could do some colouring in the pad I bought. Planning and teaching meant that I usually just wanted to watch Netflix in the evening and had not been reading or colouring very much. It’s why I like spending time away from my laptop at the weekend.
We were showered and ready to go to Ton Tann Market at 8pm. It was definitely a lot busier than it was at 4pm! In the middle of the market there was an amphitheatre with a stage where they were hosting a talent show. The first act we saw was a girl of about thirteen or so playing guitar, whilst skateboarding around the stage and hula hooping to a Shakira song. There was so much going on in that act but she didn’t get through. A young dancer and a group of four dancers got through instead.
We walked round the market for a bit after that. It was really pretty.
After walking for a bit we found the food court and I watched my dinner being made. I’m not entirely sure what was in it, but it was a vegetable omelette with rice. And to tell the truth, I think I’ll be fine eating that, fried rice and pad thai whenever I’m out for now.
After dinner (the others had some chips) we walked around the market again and I managed to find a few things to buy. I also found an ice cream shop and enjoyed some green lemon-flavoured ice cream. The colour was slightly off-putting but it was really nice.
Once we had watched more of the talent show, and successfully dragged ourselves away from it, we walked around the market to find a place to get or a person to call a taxi for us. Beforehand we found a few places in the market for photos.
The others found a taxi, just as I went to the toilet and managed to hold the taxi. This ended up in me running across a car park to get to the taxi. Apparently all the Cardio Club we had down in the previous week was paying off! We got the taxi to drop us off at the Roman Hotel, which was near some of the bars in Khon Kaen. But after walking around a bit we found that none of them were open. One of the women we took a photo with in the market was passing in a car and explained to us that there was a vote on the next day. It was a vote on whether the country wanted to stay under the military rule or not. This did, however, mean that the only place we had visited where we knew there were foreign friendly bars was not selling alcohol for the only night we were there.
But we walked back to Tamarind Residences via Seven Eleven and bought fizzy drinks and snacks and sat in the hotel reception and chatted while making the most of the wifi.