Saturday, January 05, 2013

Getting to Chiang Khan

Loei, An unexpected Journey Part I

Morning in Chiang Khan

Dec 21, 2012, 2000 hrs. About forty old folks, majority women gathered in mass front of an obscure village in what appears to be dooms day mass suicide. Meeting together next to very busy Wongsawang road, they will fling themselves into the path of oncoming trucks and buses. That would be what fanatics of Dec 21 2012 driving by would perceive. No, no bloody ordeal followed. That was just a congregation of village folks for yet another budget tour, organized by themselves, a 1,500 Baht I paid. To northern Thailand, Chiang Khan we headed on an aging ten wheeler coach. I was summoned to be on this journey by my girlfriend’s mum. We must do good, we were going tamboon.

Getting There
Leaving a trial of diesel fumes with every rev of the engine, we roared away into darkness. We exchanged the normal long-time-no-see greetings and many other sat-wa-dee-krups. The coach headed in the direction of Saraburi on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road before branching off into Highway 21. In the northern journey onwards we passed Phetchabun, and on Lom Sak, we headed on route 203 towards Loei. Then in this country of Loei which Thais called Switzerland of Thailand, left onto route 201 towards Chiang Khan. The dark night masked the very scenic drive on route 21 and 203 from Bueng Sam Phan to Loei passing Phetchabun along the way. This route is centered in between the national parks of Nam Nao and Khao Kho. In daylight, when one is not busy navigating tactfully between slow moving heavy vehicles, looking left and right you would see the majestic ranges in green cast out at a distance across the large flats of farmlands. Many blue tourist attraction signs can be spotted along the way and you could detour to visit temples, waterfalls and the countless scenic spots with their guaranteed sea of fog views if in the early winter mornings.

Although there are several attractions in Loei such as Phu Ruea, staying put in a resort in one of these provinces would result in doing nothing except binge drinking which is inherently part of the Thai culture. Attractions are sprinkled here and getting to them requires driving and most essentially, time. Some of these spots which I speak of are only most impressive in winter mornings. When the air is heavy the fog will be aplenty blanketing lowlands, peaks of mountains hovering in misty white. Timing is crucial so the normal itinerary should to be at heights in the early morning for sunrise and fog, to be frolicking in pastures of yellow flowers towards noon when the sky cast her deepest blue and whitest clouds. And after lunch the temples, the others picture posing spots to endorse I-had-been-there and then the waterfalls could follow towards evening so that shots of white flows contrasting on dark rocks and deep green flora could be achieved. Timed right, one should reach Chiang Khan in the night and enjoy the cool walk along the night market enjoying hot after dinner coffee and maybe the beer along Mekong river. We, however did none of that, organizers screwed up the itinerary, totally, really depressing, oh I so disappointed this time round.


Bestof2Worlds said...

Well at least you got into your gf's mom's good books. Definitely not the usual travel experience for you.

Jewie said...

Well yeah… I score points going on trip with her… heheheh . . . can get discount on sin-sot…

Martyn said...

We stopped at Chiang Khan on the way to Loei on New Years Day. What a charming place and one I must see more of one day.

Timing is everything. Better luck next time.

Jewie said...

Read your blog too Martyn.... i would love to try the route along Mekong from Udon to Chiang Khan if chance permits. Never been on that one before.