Yastothon April 14-April 16, 2019
Yasothon was our first major destination when we went to Thailand. We did fly into Chiang Mai, then caught a flight right away to Khon Kaen. We did stay the night in Khon Kaen and headed to Roi Et, where we played Songkran for a few hours. After Roi Et we went to Yasothon.
Chris lived in Yasothon for around six months. Yasothon is a small town in the Isaan (Eastern Thailand.) This region boarders Laos and has a lot of Laotian influences. The food and language are some of the biggest markers of the region.
Yasothon is small and its hot, but it sure is a fun place to play Songkran. There were plenty of families playing as well as older teens and young adults. There was something for everyone! We felt comfortable playing with our kids and just went in around bed time when I’m sure the real party started picking up.
One of the main reasons we went to Yasothon besides our love of the Isaan and a trip down memory lane, was to visit one of our friends. Pee Nam is a friend we’ve had since Chris lived there, and one person we try to keep in contact with. We were so excited to tell her we were coming to Thailand and hoping to visit her. She made room in her schedule to play Songkran with us and the day after Songkran she spent the morning with us showing us the sites.
Monday morning (April 15, 2019) Pee Nam met us at our hotel at 7:00 AM and took us to find some mango sticky rice. (She told us the only mango sticky rice was at the market and it was only available in the mornings from around 5:00 AM-9:00 AM. ) I’m a huge sucker for mango sticky rice so I was super excited! After we walked through the market and got our mango sticky rice she took us to get SIM cards for our phones. (Actually we went to get SIM cards first, but the workers at the phone shop had to step out for a while, and they weren’t there when we got there. So we got mango sticky rice, and mu ping (pork on a stick) for Ryan, then went to get our SIMs). In Thailand most people use SIM cards and basically pay as you go on cell phones and they definitely know how to get the most bang for your buck . It was great having Pee Nam help us get the best deal!
Chris and Pee Nam went into the phone store together and I stayed in the car with kids. While we waited we played “would you rather?” That turned out to be the game of the trip and the kids loved playing it. Anytime they would start to be grouchy we’d play that game and it would work wonders!
It was great having data again, and to be able to call if we needed it. Now we had Thai phone numbers, data, but no texting. If we needed to text we would just use Facebook messenger so it all worked out!
After errands we went to the church and Pee Nam taught us how to make Nam Tok (Waterfall) Chris’ favorite Thai dish. It was fun getting a cooking lesson from her. (Come to find out Pee Nam was on a Korean(?) cooking competition. She sent us the YouTube link to watch! She’s legit!) It was great visiting with her and watching Chris talk and reminisce with her. Shes so funny!
After lunch we went our separate ways and we went to Big C (grocery store) for the kids to play in the water park there for Songkran. After the kids were done we went back to the church to play Songkran with Pee Nam and some of her friends. It was a lot of fun! Again I’m amazed at how much fun Songkran was!
The next day we met up again with Pee Nam again. We met her at the giant Yasothon Toad, it wasn’t opened yet, so we decided to drive around and went and visited another one of Chris’ friends. Mae Daeng. She’s 80 years old and it was fun to see her. She didn’t remember Chris, but she LOVED the kids. She kept telling Lillian she was an angel straight from heaven. She doesn’t have any family and Pee Nam is one of the only visitors she gets. She kept telling my kids she was lonely and had no family and wanted them to be her family. It was fun and humbling to see and I’m really glad we made the effort to stop by and see her.
After visiting with Mae Daeng we drove back to the Yasothon Toad. This time it was open! The toad is a five story building in the shape of a toad. There is a toad museum inside of it, and the history of the Rocket Festival which Yasothon especially loves to celebrate. At the top of the toad (the mouth of the toad) there is a great overlook, with lake views. It is strange, but also really cool! I’d definitely recommend people going if they are in Yasothon.
I guess there is a legend of the toad prince who beat the rain god. I guess they light off rockets as a sign to the rain god that they are ready for the rain. (Or some stories say to remind the rain god to keep his deal with the toad prince.) Either way the toad prince beat the rain god, and the rockets mean send rain. (I would have liked to be in Yasothon for the rocket festival. If only we could stay for a whole month and do Songkran and the Rocket Festival!) I tried to find the actual legend to read, but coudl only find those little bits of the story.
After we were done with the Toad it was time to say goodbye to Pee Nam and be on our way to another destination. Its always hard saying goodbye to friends, and places we love, but we were excited for the next leg of our trip, Khon Kaen!