This day started uncomfortable early, already 4.30 o’clock in the morning, I had my wake up, checkout from A One Inn at 5.00 for a transport out of Bangkok to, this time to the new airport, Souvarnabhumi. Once again I was surprised, the prize was only a two thirds of what I am used to pay. Because of the early hour, the traffic was very thin, the trip took only 25 minutes, it can take a hour in rushing hours. I checked in my luggage in good time and had time for a breakfast before my flight to Ubon Ratchathani took off. The flight took about 50 minutes. About 8.30 o’clock I arrived to Ubon Ratchathani in North-eastern Thailand. Ubon Ratchathani, which means “Royal City of the Lotus”, was during the Vietnam War, one of seven American Air Force airbases in Thailand. Today the airport is far too much big. The civilian airlines only use a small fraction of the airport capacity. For example, the Airbus of a smaller version, which I arrived with, only used the half runway for landing. This airport was once built and expanded for housing a division of B-52 bombers. Today’s Ubon Ratchathani is a regional centre for education and agriculture.
After a short taxi trip to the Sri Isan Hotel, there I checked in. I guess that this hotel is a little bit old, despite three floors, there is no elevator and look a little bit old fashioned. But I must say that the Sri Isan Hotel has a lot of charm and it is carefully restored. It also gave a clean and fresh impression. After that I have checked in, I went out for sightseeing by my own. First priority was to get a city map. After some searching and asking, I found one at the Tourist Police Office. Here I also got the, for me disappointing message, that I could not visit Wat Phra Wihaan or in Cambodian, Preah Wihear. It was closed by the Thai military. This is the temple ruin, which Thai’s and Cambodian’s arguing about. It is a very controversial question and also a lot of prestige between the countries. So in a way, I am not so surprised that it is closed now, but it was the main reason why I choose to go to Ubon. With help of the map I managed to get around in Ubon. But even with a map it was not easy to navigate, I discovered very soon that there were very few signs with street names. I must say that Ubon is not special tourist friendly, at least not for an individual tourist like me.
On this day I continued my city tour, now with completion from my book over which attractions in Ubon I ought to see. After a couple of hours I discovered my self to be rather far away from the city centre and rather close to the bus station. I took a quick decision to try to go by bus to a place called Khong Chiam. This is a place there the Mun River ends into the Mekong River and a phenomenon, called Bi-colour river occur. But I was strongly advised to not to go. Personal at the bus station told me that, if I go, I could not come back, because it was so late. Instead they tried to convince me to go to Chong Mek, the Thai-Lao border market. It ended with that I took a taxi back to Ubon and the hotel.
In the evening, I had a good dinner at floating restaurant.
Once again, I tried to do a visit at Khong Chiam. This time I arrived to the bus station at 10 o’clock in the morning. And once again, this time with completions from my book and the Internet. Now I had a hope to visit both Khong Chiam and Chong Mek. For some reason that I do not understand, was I told to go by bus to a smaller town, Phibun Mangsahan and from there take a new bus to Khoeng Chiam. When I arrived to Phibun Mangsahan, I discovered that there were not any bus connections to Khong Chiam. The only remaining option I had was to go to the Thai-Lao border in Chong Mek and have a look at the border market. The market was nothing special and absolutely not for tourists. I did not found anything of interest.