Ubon Ratchasima and Buriram

The last 2 stops on our trip (aside from the obligatory night in Bangkok before our flight) were Upon Ratchasima and Buriram. Ubon was up first and, like Mukdahan, was a western tourist-free zone. It was lovely! And although we didn’t “do” much aside from wandering around the city and taking it all in, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. In particular the night market was pretty cool, even for Will who generally hates markets. It was huge, and took us over 2 nights to see all of it. Fortunately there was a food market next to it with some obligatory and delicious Thai street food.

Probably the most memorable thing about Ubon however was our night out for Sam’s birthday. We chose an indoor/outdoor pub near our hotel which had piqued our interest the previous night. We went in to some quite shocked expressions (seems like tourists really were rare), ordered some beers, and chilled. Then a band set up on the stage, and the whole place packed out within 10 minutes. It was the strangest scene we’d ever seen (or maybe it’s how pubs go now…We haven’t frequented one outside of Korea for several years so maybe we’re just blissfully out of touch). Each table of between 3 and 10 people bought a bottle of whiskey. And didn’t drink it. Perhaps it was a requirement of the pub which they couldn’t convey to us. Then everybody, and I mean everybody, played on their phones as the band started. We were in front of the band and surrounded by 50-60 people, not drinking, and all playing on their phones…Some playing games, some messaging, and some watching movies. And everyone ignoring the band completely. I mean, what the fuck?!?!

After Ubon, we headed to Buriram with a long list of to do’s. But we were exhausted by then, and ended up doing very little. It was a really nice small town, and we just enjoyed spending time at local eateries, having evening beers, exploring the streets, and watching the world go by. Except for the day we decided to walk to a mall down what turned out to be a motorway in 36 degree heat. Not smart.

A 5 hour train ride and short hop back to Nanchang concluded our trip. A trip which was, if we’re honest, relatively uneventful, and the closest thing we have had to a “proper holiday” in a very long time – lots of relaxing, lazy mornings, and not a hell of a lot of activities. It was almost perfect, although next time a slightly higher budget will probably be needed…NZ$3,800 for 6 weeks all in was pretty bare bones for us now, especially as we like nicer hotels! But as we now travel for 3.5-4 months every year, sacrifices have to be made somewhere.

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