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Nong Bua Lamphu

"Nong Bua Lamphu is the kind of smallish Isaan town you'll drive right through and never know you were there unless it's late afternoon, you need to find a hotel, and the business card you're handed tells you you're in Nong Bua Lamphu."  Doug Knell, Doug's Republic

Like much of Isaan, Nong Bua Lamphu is not a town you mark off in a guidebook and remark, "I MUST go there." I would not have gone myself.  Nong Bua Lamphu was my first stop on my extended motorbike trip through Isaan.  It's a short drive from Nong Khai, less than 100 km, and I could have easily driven further that day, though not all the way to Loei, my next desired destination.  On my first day, I was being pragmatic.  The three days prior, when I'd been in Laos and Nong Khai, it had rained throughout the day.  This was the heart of rainy season, and the day before I rented my motorbike in Nong Khai, I had considered the idea of axing the bike trip altogether. 

Things can get downright prehistoric in Nong Bua Lamphu

When I set out, the weather was sunny, and it remained that way into early afternoon.   Ten or fifteen kilometers out of Nong Bua Lamphu, I passed a sign to a dinosaur museum.  The one-room museum explained that Isaan had been home to several types of dinosaurs heretofore undiscovered.  The siamosaurus (Siamese lizard), the psittacosaurus (parrot dinosaur -- might work as a pet), and isanosaurus were but three of the 'new' varieties that have since hit the world's dinosaur stages. I kissed a dinosaur goodbye and continued towards Nong Bua Lamphu.

By the time I got to Nong Bua Lamphu near 3 PM, I didn't wish to push my luck.  Coming into town on the route 210 from the Udonthani direction, I saw a sign for a hotel and checked into a comfortable air con room for USD 12.  

Exploration consisted of motorbiking along the roads stretching to the left and the right of route 210.   In a tiny town this size, it was unbelievable there'd be one vegetarian restaurant, let alone two.    A soccer match was afoot in the center of town by the lake, and kids gawked at the lone foreigner who'd bothered to stop and spend a night of his life among them.  If I'd bothered to seek out the mayor, maybe I'd have gotten a key to the town.

The Erawan Cave is maybe an hour's bike ride out of town.  A multi-headed elephant guards the entrance.  A large Buddha statue sits in the entrance.  The caves of Southeast Asia are generally very impressive, some snaking deep into the ground.  Ladders and ropes are sometimes employed to help visitors explore the multiple levels.  A headlamp is recommended. 

Nong Bua Lamphu Nong Bua Lamphu Erawan Cave
Nong Bua Lamphu in an afternoon (l to r):  traditional Nong Bua Lamphu house with enough space to rent out to a tenant, if there were any; kids observing other kids playing in a field near the center of town; Doug posing outside Nong Bua Lamphu at the Erawan Cave



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