Our first venture through Thailand’s north-eastern province of Isaan took us along the train route from Bangkok to Nong Khai on the Laos border. As we were treating this as more of a holiday than usual, we stuck to 3 of the towns and cities and generally explored the urban areas.
First up was Nakhon Ratchasima, the capital and largest city of the region. The city was somewhat split into the old town in the centre, surrounded by a moat/canal and green spaces, and the newer suburbs surrounding it.
The city also lacked one thing that other places in Thailand seemed to have in abundance: tourists. Which was perfect for us. In fact, we suddenly noticed that English was not widely known, and menus did not have English translations, leading to us having to use body language more and more. This simple fact made the place seem even more authentic, and we enjoyed wandering around the city for the 2 and a half days that we were there whilst drinking lots of coffee, smoothies, and eating way too much food!!
Oddly enough, the lack of any obvious tourist attractions was in of itself an attraction. There was nowhere really to go. Nothing specific to do. Just laze around and live normally along with the local people. However, the only exception was the Terminal 21 mall. Yes, a mall. But this mall is a destination in its own right! It’s designed like an airport, complete with a control tower and terminal gates. Then, each floor has a specific theme from Tokyo street, adorned with everything Japanese, Istanbul Street, London Street, Paris Street, Caribbean Street, and San Francisco Street. It was extremely well done. Even the toilets on each level were decorated according to the country they were “in.”
Next up, Udon Thani.