A Travellerspoint blog

Udon Thani - June 26

Wat Pa Kham Chanod and Banchiang

semi-overcast 92 °F
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This morning when we finished breakfast in the hotel, our driver that Nudi’s grandparents hired for us was ready and waiting. They had planned our entire day, and it’s so great that they hired us a driver, because, while I had a little idea from booking our hotel, I really didn’t understand how spread out Udon Thani is. Although Nudi calls it a “small town”... it is only so in population - in land area, it is huge! To get to our first destination, Wat Pa Kham Chanod, we drove for about an hour and a half, and were still in Udon Thani!


Wat Pa Kham Chanod is..... well, I don’t fully understand it, and intend to Google it later when I have more time and mental stamina, but this is my understanding from what Nudi told us: While not really a temple, it is temple-like in that you need to follow a dress code (which we didn’t know ahead of time so the girls and I had to make a free-will donation in order to borrow long wraps/skirts, and we had to remove our shoes, even though it’s all outside. It is based on legend that two large snakes guard the area (represented in cement painted snakes that are handrail-height as you cross the bridge over the water to enter the wooded area. Inside, there are people praying (for luck and money), and way in the back there is a fallen tree, where people study the tree looking for numbers. If you see numbers, those are your lucky numbers, and you should use those as your lottery numbers (conveniently for sale, along with offering flowers, just outside this area). Although there were a lot of people, it was very quiet, in respect to the people praying. Nudi also said that people will ‘negotiate’ with (?? Gods? Spirits?) that if they get their wish, they will ____ (for example, boil 100 eggs). When we arrived, there was a woman dancing in the front area - Nudi assumes she got her wish and was fulfilling her bargain. Our funniest moment was when we were leaving the ‘holy’ area, and an old Thai woman grabbed Nick by the arm and put his hand on the cement ‘snake’ and rattled on to him in Thai - Nudi said she was telling him that you have to touch the snake as you leave to ensure your wishes will be granted!


When we left there, we rode for awhile again to get to Banchiang, which is an archeological dig site and museum. It was really interesting, and we spent quite a bit of time looking around.


After Banchaing, we went to lunch at Nudi’s favorite restaurant. It wasn’t Thai, Nudi described it as ‘northeastern’. Ok. So. Remember how I said we’ve really been liking all the food and have been trusting Nudi to select everything for us so we get a good feel for all of it? Well - today she really tested how much we really meant that! :0 It was out of our comfort zone - even Nick’s! - to say the least. But we tried it all and liked most of it.. though I’m not sure we will rush to order some of it again! On the bright side, our entire meal cost the equivalent of about $17! Wow - I think the fish alone would cost at least that in the I.S.!


We then headed to Nuid’s grandparents’ home to meet them. On our way, we saw a whole bunch of these trucks in front of the school, with kids getting into the back. I had noticed them before but only one here and there. Nudi tells us that this is how people in the outlying areas get into town - it’s kind of like a city bus. For example, when she is staying with her grandparents to help them (they have had some health issues recently and live in a ‘village’ outside Udon Thani), this is how she gets into town.


Nudi’s grandparents were so nice, and we had a great visit with them, despite the language barrier. Nudi’s grandpa does speak some English. We found out that he was a monk at one time, because at that time only the very rich and the monks could get an education. He left the monk hood and met Nudi’s grandma, and they had 3 children. (However, he stays active in his temple, which is actually how he recently broke his thigh - standing on something that collapsed while he was fixing something.) He was a house builder and could make much more money working as a builder in Saudi Arabia, so for many years he lived there and grandma lived here raising the kids (they had 3), until he was forced to come back because of the war. They now have a store that they run, and they live in the back of it, and own (or Nudi’s mom owns?) the house right next door - but Nudi’s mom mainly lives in Udon Thani and just stays in that house a couple times a week to come help them.


There was one more place that Nudi’s grandpa thought we should go, but Nudi thought it would not be interesting, especially this time of year when there aren’t many flowers planted there, and Nudi’s grandma thought it would be too buggy, so we ended our day out by going for massages! They are so inexpensive here - about $6! The area of town we went to for them had a bunch (eight?) of massage places all lined up. Across the way was a pond with a walking/jogging path, a separate biking path, an aerobic/dance class going on, and bleachers.... and there were a TON of people doing all of that!


When our driver dropped us at our hotel, we got cleaned up and went to the lobby bar for a drink before dinner, then headed to the (5?6?)-story mall next to our hotel for Thai food - however, it was 8:30 and the mall was closing at 9, so the restaurants there had stopped serving. So we walked to a place a little further down from the place we ate last night. Again, the food was delicious and we ate family-style.

Tomorrow, our driver will be here at 8 am to take us to the border of Laos. We will bus across the border - he can’t take us because he does’t have an international license, but he will wait for us and bring us back.

Posted by Rowlandfamily 08:48 Archived in Thailand

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