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Bueng Kan

"Along the twisting Mekong River, 140 km east of Nong Khai, is the tiny town of Bueng Kan.  Once you've been to Bueng Kan, you'll never be the same.  You'll be a person who's already been to Bueng Kan."  Doug Knell, Doug's Republic

Approach my comment philosophically.   Heraclitus said you could never step into the same river twice, for the river is always composed of new waters.  Think of yourself as that river and Bueng Kan as some of that new water flowing into it.

Unless you meet your future wife or stumble upon a buried treasure in Bueng Kan, how can I kid you that a trip here is a must do experience in your life?   99.99999999% of humanity will never ever set foot here or ever hear of it and will be none the worse off. 

Tranquil life in the tiny, tiny, tiny town of Bueng Kan

Bueng KanSo why did I go?  I was motorbiking alongside the Thai side of the Mekong River, and Bueng Kan is one of the towns located there.   You have to pass through it.   It's a small town, and it has its charms if you're here for a night or two.  Other Thais seem to enjoy it.  As I stood along the waterfront shooting a movie, I noticed quite a few Thais from other places in the country enjoying a brew and reveling in the Mekong breezes breezed up especially for Bueng Kan. 

Standing along the river, you can see the Lao province of Bolikhamsai and its capital Pakxan on the other side.  Thais and Laotians are permitted to skip across this river as if there were no border, but you can't.  You'll need a visa for Laos, and as of this writing, Laos offers no multiple entry visas.   Every time you enter Laos, you'll need to flash a fresh USD 35.   When you return, you'll need a fresh visa for Thailand.   This arrangement makes a mockery of the idea of freedom of travel.  There might be an opportunity here for Apple to sell a Thai and Laos visa combo on iTunes along with specially selected musical tracks.

Sumran Hotel
Bueng Kan attractions:  on left, the Sumran Hotel delivered the goods for less than USD 12 a night.  On right, the town may be tiny, but there's still a sushi bar.

There is nothing of must-see tourist attraction in Bueng Kan, which doesn't mean it's not a pleasant town to relax for a day or two. If the town were filled with world class sights, it wouldn't the same sleepy place that it is. Surprisingly, for a town of this size, it boasts a vegetarian restaurant for those on special diets and a sushi bar alongside the waterfront, run by a Thai man who spent 4 years working at sushi restaurants in Florida. Accommodation is affordable, and good times are there to be grasped. 

A highlight of the region only 45 km away is Wat Phuthok, a temple constructed into the side of a mountain, place for Buddhists to contemplate in Isaan since 1974.  Buddhists who make the walk up regularly are in great shape, as Doug will attest in this outstanding movie.   Signs to Si Wilai are clearly signposted leaving Bueng Kan.   Good luck reading the Thai to get the rest of the way.

Wat Phu Thok Phu Thok
Wat Phu Thok:  (left) Phu Thok carved into rock in the far distance and (right), walkways around Phu Thok.


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The Busy Person's Guide To Insanely Interesting Beer Bullshit

  Bueng Kan near Wat Phu Thok on the Mekong. Go and visit Pakxan in Laos