We visited Nong Khai in September and October last autumn, spending a peaceful month in central Thailand on the banks of the Mekong River. After spending the summer in Sofia, Bulgaria and Kochi, India we were ready for countryside and found what turned out to be the best Airbnb we've ever stayed in, nestled on the banks of the river and in a lime tree orchard, about 20 minutes outside the town.
Nong Khai itself is mostly known as a border-run town, where travellers and digital nomads can cross over to Laos, stay a week in the capital Vientiane to renew their visas, then return to Thailand. They often spend the night in Nong Khai before returning to Chiang Mai or elsewhere. It's a calm place, with a spotless promenade along the river, a covered market selling housewares, melted artwork (see what I mean in the photo!) and elephant-print trousers for all the travellers passing through.
As an aside, these trousers are one of the more curious choices we have seen across so many countries in SE Asia. The goal for visitors seems to be to dress 'like a local', given they are ubiquitous on sunburned tourist legs and omnipresent in shops....but they seem to be never worn by anyone living in the actual country! Anyway I digress...
About half an hour east of Nong Khai is a surreal Buddhist sculpture park, created in the 1970s by a prolific artist who made twin parks: one in Nong Khai, Thailand and one across the river in Deua, Thanon Tha, Laos. A fair few photos in this album are of these statues - they were huge!
South of Nong Khai is the ex-army town of Udon Thani, which was a major base for both the Thai and US armies during the Vietnam War. It also has evidence of one of the world's earliest Bronze Age civilisations just outside the city at the Ban Chiang UNESCO site. It happened to be closed on the one day we visited - so instead we oggled replica pottery and wooden carvings at the market outside the museum gates. Plus fake chickens for some reason. Udon Thani is also home to a Chinese-Thai Friendship Cultural Centre, which has an incredible teahouse in peaceful Chinese gardens. Well worth a visit to Udon just for that, and we're still getting through our lemon jupu tea from that visit (that's pu'erh fermented black tea baked into small lemons....delicious!).
The bulk of our time though was not spent visiting these sites and sights, but on days in and around our Airbnb, madly working away to get our tea shop MatchaAlternatives.com ready to launch. This was our focus time. We would take breaks from the laptops at sunset to enjoy the reflections on the river, watch the adorable golden retriever puppies try to walk, and play with the squad of friendly boys who biked up and down the riverfront, shouting, "Hello! Thank you very much! How are you!" and then racing off in peals of laughter. A collection of photographs of these boys makes this gallery one of the largest on this blog!
The Airbnb itself was part of the reason for this visit - Elizabeth found it 6 months earlier while visiting Wales and we made our way across the world just to stay there. It was beyond what we had hoped for: Richard, the host and now a firm friend, is an American originally from who has lived in Thailand for 35 years. Richard was so very friendly, warm and kind to us, and is living the idyllic life on the Mekong, with his adoptive son and family who help take care of the business and land. We enjoyed some incredible stories with him drinking tea on his deck, hearing about his years building car part factories in the south, what it was like running a Muay Thai boxing school next door, and his time in the US military where he was actually part of the blockade at the Bay of Pigs. That amazing Airbnb is linked to here as if you have the chance, you should go!
And Richard - we hope you enjoy this gallery especially. :-)
So please enjoy this collection by clicking on the image above or: https://500px.com/vientiene/galleries/nong-khai-thailand-2019
(Once on the first image, we highly recommend tapping the Full Screen icon top right)
P.S. Interested in seeing other galleries? https://www.travellingfortea.com/photography
Our IG travel photography feed is: http://instagram.com/radiant_travel
Our loose leaf tea shop is: http://MatchaAlternatives.com
Following our adventures in tea and travel on IG: https://instagram.com/travellingfortea/
For any photography enthusiasts or professionals reading: I use a Panasonic G95 (micro four-thirds), a 20mm f1.7 pancake, 42.5mm f1.7 portrait lens. In terms of zooms I have a 12-60mm f3.5-5.6 standard zoom and a 45-200mm f4-5.6 telescopic. (For all these figures double the focal length of a MFT lens to get a full frame field of view equivalent.) The best camera (and lens) is the one you have with you!