We woke on Sunday 14 August in the train from Bangkok. It was just light by the time we pulled into Nong Khai. Nong Khai is at the north east end of Thailand at the Mekong River. Across the river is Laos. Many people just plough right on over the border and the 22kms further to Vientiane in Laos. But we decided to stay a while before meeting another city. We’d stayed longer in Bangkok than we’d meant to and Bangkok requires a rest after it anyway. It was short and relatively expensive tuktuk ride from the station to Mut Mee Guest House. Mut Mee is beside the Mekong – like you could spit a prune stone from the patio. It is run by a wonderful Julian who is a great host. We were soon ensconced in a very nice new room on the first floor with a view across the Mekong to the mysteries of Laos. The guest house has a lovely relaxed ambience with lots of shade and plants and a restaurant that was good for most things.
It was hot in the middle of the day and we made a mistake in heading off to explore the town. There was a busy market where we looked for a few things and tried to avoid the sun. We meant to go somewhere for tea but the guesthouse menu looked good so stayed in.
Nong Khai has a very strange sculpture park called Salakaewkoo. Rather than try to describe it, check the link. It is one of those things that defies description in just words. It sounded like a magnificent obsession and worth a trip to see. Julian provided us with a map and hires bicycles so we decided on an adventure across country on Monday. It was fun being on bikes for a change, and we discovered that there was an advantage in a bit of breeze to cool slightly. The trip was a bit like bike orienteering. The bit that said go through the wat and the school was the most interesting. A teacher thought we should be going some other way but the kids agreed we could get there through the school. They also thought I had a big nose and made some other impertinent suggestions. It wasn’t hard to find the sculpture park – some stood a long way above the trees.
It was a fascinating place. Weird and wonderful. The artist/builder himself is still there, albeit in a plastic dome case sort of thing on the third floor. Which seems appropriate enough. We also had a go at feeding the fishes – big fat fish that jumped over each other to get at the food. It was very hot and eventually we retreated back to the shade of the guesthouse and the aircon in our room. We had tea that night on a boat moored beside the guesthouse. We could see the lights of Laos across the river and watch the lightening zooming across the sky southwards. Nong Khai had been a good stopping off place between Bangkok and Laos.