Nong Khai April 18-April 19, 2019
We made it to Nong Khai late evening on Thursday. When we were first planning our trip to Thailand we had no plans of going to Nong Khai. We were just going to go to Yasothon and Roi Et, then take a more direct route to Chiang Rai. The smoke in Chiang Rai was still pretty bad, so we needed something to do to stall until the smoke cleared. We talked about going to Bangkok/Hua Hin, or going to some Islands on the Eastern Side of Thailand (Koh Chang). We decided against those things because they were just too far to get back to Chiang Rai if and when the smoke cleared, plus we were flying out of Chiang Mai which is near Chiang Rai.
Since we weren’t going South at all we decided to go more north! Nong Khai looked like a cool place and I had a read few blogs from expats that vacationed there. There seemed to be enough stuff to do there that it would be worth it to work our way to Chiang Rai, but stop in Nong Khai!
Nong Khai is a pretty cool city that is right on the Mekong River. The Mekong River is one of the largest rivers in the world and is a natural boarder to Laos. We pulled up Google Maps and saw a few hotels on there. In Thailand you basically pay per person staying/beds. Since there are four of us and we needed at least two beds (one big and one little at the mininum) it was easier for Chris to go talk to the hotels in person than trying to book online and hope our needs would/could be met. We only booked three hotels online before hand ( Two in China, and our first night in Thailand). The rest of the time Chris talked to them in person. (Most places only spoke Thai, but the more touristy places also had staff that spoke English.) We drove to where google said were hotels and Chris would park, go in and talk to someone to see if they could accommodate us. The first hotel he tried didn’t have enough beds in a room for us and he told us to try the hotel next door. We went to the hotel next door and the same thing happened and he told us to go next door. Finally we found a room with two beds!
Chris at first just told the hotel we had four people so we needed at least two beds and they told us a certain price. Later he told them our other two people were kids, and they took money off for us! We didn’t always get discounts because of the kids, but it was nice when we did!
The hotel was really nice and we really liked this place. The hotel was right on the river and we had river views from our balcony. We got there at night so it was hard to see the actual river, but we could see the lights of Laos across the river. It was beautiful! There was also a restaurant behind the hotel that was right on the river and we were able to go eat dinner there. It was delicious and it was fun sitting outside on the back porch right on the river!
The next morning we woke up and went to Tesco Lotus (grocery store) for some stuff we needed. When we were there we noticed there was a Pizza Company Pizza Company was Chris’ favorite pizza when he lived in Thailand. Ryan got so excited and he had it in his head that the only food he would eat that day was Pizza Company. It was closed then, so we told him we could come back for lunch.
We went to Sala Keoku a sculpture park. I was really impressed with it but the kids weren’t thrilled with it. They were hot and bored. We made a quick walk around the park and then we left. (This was one of the few places we had to pay to get in.)
After the sculpture park we drove out to the aquarium. I had no idea what to expect from this aquarium in Thailand, in the Isaan, so my expectations weren’t too high. It cost our family just under $10 for all of us to get in, and I’d say it was worth about that. I think they were getting ready to replace the AC so it was a little warm. The exhibits were mostly of fish from the Mekong River which was pretty cool. It was nice to be out of the sun. As we were leaving the power went out for a couple of minutes so that was funny. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves here.
Ryan was excited to finally be eating at Pizza Company! Lillian doesn’t like pizza, but luckily they had chicken fingers and she loved them! The food was good and the kids were happy eating familiar food.
After Pizza Company it was time to move on out of Nong Khai. I mentioned how the air quality wasn’t great in Chiang Rai at this point, but there was also burning in the Isaan as well. The air quality of the town we were going to stay in wasn’t great. We checked the air quality in Loei, our next stop, and it looked good so we decided that we would have a longer driving day and make it all the way to Loei that night!
Near Nong Khai and on the way to Loei I had read about a skywalk that went over the Mekong River. That sounded really neat to me so we decided to try that out. When we got there everyone was so tired. We parked the car and we all just sat there not really wanting to get out and walk around in the heat. We finally got the courage to go out and walk around the skywalk. It was hot outside, but we made the small trek to the skywalk. We had to take off our shoes out of respect and they had slip on sandals for people to wear so we wouldn’t burn our feet. We put them on and walked onto the skywalk. It was done really well and it was really neat, but we were all so tired and so hot that we didn’t really spend much time to appreciate it. We took a few pictures and we hurried back to the car!
Chris had found a wat (temple) that was on google maps that had a lot of reviews, Wat Pa Phu Kon, It was on the way to Loei so we decided that we should check it out. Like the Buddha we had just been to, this one was on the top of a mountain too. On our way up the mountain we saw some monkeys wrestling in the streets and even more in the bamboo. It was so fun to stumble upon monkeys like this! We made it up the mountain and made it to the wat right before it was closed for the day. This one was beautiful! The mountain it was on had amazing views, we had a cool breeze. It was so neat to just walk around and take in the views and the beauty of the wat. Inside there was a giant reclining Buddha and a lot of worshiper. Again it was amazing to see the reference and respect my kids had.
After we left the wat we kept driving on to Loei. We still had a few more hours to go and it was almost Dark. We loved watching the sunset through the mountains and valleys. All of a sudden it started pouring rain. The kids loved seeing the lightning flashes and seeing it downpour! We took a wrong turn and stumbled onto a tiny wat. It made for a great adventure and we all loved the drive to Loei!