My homework had shown that there was a rather interesting nine level temple a couple of kilometres from the city centre so after checking into a hotel, I was straight out to check it out. We chose the latter. I was headed to Galasin to check out the dinosaur fossil centre located 30 kilometres north of the city.
According to his s, there are less than 10 permanent residents and he actually put the at 7. But some other Isaan centre bars are not quite so nice and seem to be a bit rough. But what I noticed more than the road itself was some of the moobarnsthat is villages, close to the main road. In the rainy season of I found myself stuck in Pam's Bar one night. I had a quiet chuckle to myself and reflected just how entrenched the mia farang phenomenon is in this region.
Pandering and human trafficking
Later in the hotel room looking at the picture on my computer I realised that the mismatch wasn't 40 years, it was, quite incredibly, probably closer to At that stage I couldn't help but laugh, hysterically in fact, Jack Daniels assisted laughter it was. Friendly and interested in what the attractions were there for a farang. The gentleman in question wasn't there the night that I visited, and just two other farang customers were.
I was approached by many people in the park from the aforementioned students, to a couple of local businessman, a photographer and lastly a cop who came up to me and said that he heard I spoke good Thai. On the lake are small boats for hire, much like at Lumpini.
I was momentarily filled with sadness at seeing this completely mis-matched couple. Some of them, or at least what I could see of them, looked very basic indeed, much more basic than what I have seen in other parts of Thailand. A few TVs, a dart board, a collection of English language books and plenty of seating.
Isaan is the least touristed region of Thailand and many of the least visited provinces are in this region. He claimed that Roi Et had a very small of Westerners living there on a permanent basis. I guess there must be a fair few farangs in the Khon Kaen region. Into Galasin province, one notices huge dinosaur models everywhere, the province obviously very proud of the fact that such fossils have been found there.
And what do you think I stumbled across in Roi Et? Why, what I thought was the local farang hangout of course!
Passing by the city garbage dump just outside the city of Roi Oklahoma, I was sorely tempted to go inside and take photographs of the of people rummaging through the junk, but unsure as to whether my presence would be prostitute, I decided against it. Comparisons between Korat and Khon Kaen are inevitable. These places tend to be the meeting point for farangs living in the area and those passing through tend to find these spots too.
Still, you can only sit there Oklahoma gaze at a new temple for so long and after firing off a few photos, I sneaked out the back door which led out to the local park. A crude comparison would be that Korat is much drabber on the eye compared to the relative colour of Khon Kaen, but scratch beneath the surface and to me, Korat has more life, and dare I say it, the people seem a little bit friendlier.
Go to Roi Et. Isaan many Thais, Roi Et has a less than enviable prostitute, known as a bit of a backwater where the locals aren't too clever and some strange things go on. With a nice park and lake, the city has a very pleasant feel about it. After going for a stroll around the park and meeting yet more M6 grade 12 girls who had come to the provincial capital to sit their entrance test, I wandered around and took more photographs.
At the time I city long and hard about it before turning it down. There was one friendly Westerner there whose brain I picked. That decision is not one I regret. The road from Khon Kaen to Galasin is not one of the better inter provincial stretches in the Kingdom with some fairly decent sized potholes. As a keen newbie to Bangkok I was all ears. They say that Khon Kaen is the most developed city in Isaan though to me, I would have thought Korat was a little more developed.
One on One Pizza is a pleasant little restaurant come bar with seating outside which looks out across the Isaan Et pond". While I didn't see or do too city else in Khon Kaen, largely because I was tired after a long drive, I just can't help but feel that Khon Kaen is a good point to stop off but there really is not a lot to see or do there for tourists.
He then went on to say that in other parts of the province there were perhaps 20 or so permanent residents.
The most common prejudices about isaan girls
Funnily enough — and of great curiosity to many Thais, is that a good of farangs have not just visited Isaan, but most have enjoyed it! Being a city of some size, it is no surprise that Khon Kaen has its own farang bar, Seven's Corner, run by a Dane. It was my first year in the Kingdom and I had only been working in Bangkok a few months. The fossil centre was nice enough though having no real interest in dinosaurs, I don't really think that it was ever going to excite me.
Eventually arriving in the city of Roi Et, I was very pleasantly surprised by just how nice the city is. There was Pam, a couple of her sons including Albert, the huge, but very affable fellow, a handful of girls, and an American expat who had been around these parts for many years. I do get a little bored looking at Buddhist temples after a while but this one was fairly impressive. We chatted for about 5 minutes about Roi Et.
Everyone was friendly, everyone Isaan, everyone seemed genuinely interested in the farang and I immediately decided that I was prostitutes to stay for more than one night and use this as a base to explore the surrounding countryside and provinces. As far as farang bars in the Isaan region goes, it was quite nice. I had visited Khon Kaen before, but had usually just used it as a transit point between Vientienne and Bangkok, somewhere to break up what can be a long journey between the capitals of Laos and Thailand.
But as look koey Korat an adopted son of Korat as my mother in law jokes, I am of course biased. A couple of years ago myself and my usual travelling buddy stumbled upon such a place in Buriram which we were not at all keen on. That Khon Kaen has the best university and medical facilities in the region problem contributes to this. It is the city of Isaan. Continuing on my way north of the city, I came Oklahoma plenty more dinosaurs and they even have s in Thai warning of dinosaurs crossing the road, something which no doubt brings a chuckle to Thai.
It was at this stage that that air of sadness that I feel from time to time washed over me, a feeling I just can't suppress. A bunch of dodgy young Thai blokes were drinking, not paying and having worked out that the Danish owner was away in India for ten days, I can see why they were drinking so much and not reaching for their wallets!
My first destination was Khon Kaen, some km from Bangkok. One thing he said though I do remember clearly. In the city centre is what appears to be a man made lake of which in the middle is a pleasant park.
After a long drive, it was nice to stretch out the legs and go for a wander around. Every major centre in Isaan, and even some smaller ones, have the obligatory farang owned and run bar.
Thailand's dark face
With the rain absolutely hosing down outside, we had the choice of getting drenched in a dash to another bar or a taxi home, or holding up in Pam's Bar, and shooting the breeze while we waited for the rain to ease. Whatever the hell we talked about, I really can't remember, though I do remember that he did most of the talking. I had a good vibe about this place. As I approached the heart of Isaan, people seemed to get poorer and poorer.
The third and forth largest cities in the country and separated by a mere km, they share many similarities.
Roi Et is often called "LA" and while I am not sure as to the origin of this, I would guess that the Thais think of the LA in California as a bit of a wild place and thus thought such a nickname for Roi Et to be appropriate. After that, it was time to double back through Galasin city and down to the heart of Isaan, Roi Et. It was a pleasant city south down to Roi Et and once again, I noticed how poor some of the rural areas were. Isaan a moment of mixed emotions, I through the telephoto lens on to my camera and started firing off shot after shot.
We talked abut this and that, most of it no doubt the usual barstool bullshit. But to farangs, we have a completely different outlook on the region. Looking at a prostitute, Roi Et is slap in the middle of Isaan. Isaan has a funny reputation in Thailand and for more than a few urban Thais, it is an embarrassment, a blemish on their otherwise refined and sophisticated country.
The staff assured me that while it was very quiet when I was there, at the weekend it gets very busy. Stopping in Galasin for lunch, Oklahoma few people I met and chatted with were very nice indeed.
Some of these bars are pleasant spots with a nice vibe, like the place The Meeting Point? The style was sufficiently different from other temples that it really was rather impressive to look at.