|"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."
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.
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
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
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.
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 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