The first stop on my 5 week trip was to Bangkok to show off the main spots to Michaela who had just arrived from the US. We hit up the Grand Palace, the weekend market, and Khao San Road (with one if our rockstar friends, nbd).
From BKK we headed to the Northeast, or Isan region, first stop: Khon Kaen. We quickly realized that there isn't actually much to see or do in this city, but we did our best to explore it by foot and tuk-tuk. We took a walk around the town's giant lake and checked out the city's main wats. We stumbled upon a group of monks in school and Michaela wanted to take pictures, suddenly we were all being led to the front of the monks and asked to make a speech. I did the honors and introduced us all and the monks had a fun time trying to say our names "Sallllah", "Neil", and "Michaaalaaaah". It was really cute and they seemed very happy to meet us.
After Khon Kaen, our next stop was the border town of Nong Khai which is located on the banks of the Mekong River. We rode a packed local bus that was a bit chaotic to get there, but we made friends with some little girls along for the ride. Nong Khai was bustling with activity because of the upcoming dragon boat races, huge longtail boats with 57 people propelling it down the river, it was fun to watch and hear them yelling out "neung, song, sam" (1,2,3) as they raced. We also saw a beautiful sunset over the Mekong, got some Thai massages, and enjoyed some local food specialties like laab and som tom- delish!
While in Nong Khai we also checked out the giant sculpture park called Salakaewkoo. It features huge sculptures and a wheel of life that is slightly confusing but also very impressive. While we were there we ran into some primary kids on a field trip so of course a photo shoot took place, and it was funny to see how well Michaela fit in: short, small and long dark hair 555.
I'm glad I got to check out this area of Thailand, a lot of what there is to see and do is really random, but it was my last major unexplored section of the country and the food was just as good and the people just as friendly as the rest of Thailand. Up next: Laos!