Travelogue: Nong Khai

From Vientiane, I crossed over the First Laos-Thai friendship bridge into Nong Khai, where I spent a day wandering around enjoying the sights before taking the sleeper train back to Bangkok. Which ended up being an unfortunate choice – if I had known that this would be so interesting, I would have stayed for another couple days, relaxing and enjoying the ambiance. But instead, I had to catch a night train to Bangkok.  But Nong Khai was very nice while it lasted!
Nong Khai - friendship bridge view

Like Vientiane, Nong Khai is a pretty relaxed city, with not much to do and see (with one exception, Sala Keoku).  So while waiting for the train, I got myself a bicycle, and just pedaled around exploring this city.  Compared to Vientiane in Laos, it’s a lot more developed, a lot more lively here.
Nong Khai - riverside market view 2 Nong Khai - street view 1

If you look across the river, you can see the quite barren Laotian side of the river:
Nong Khai - river view 1 Nong Khai - river view 2

Whereas the Thai side of the border has a very pleasant riverside trail and bike ride:

Right along the riverside was the Taa Sadej market, selling all sorts of goods:
Taa Sadej market 1 Taa Sadej market 2

There were a lot of cool-looking temples right alongside the riverfront biking path:

Sala Keoku: it’s a surreal sculpture park, within biking distance from town.  No other way to describe it, it’s a large park, filled with enormous sculptures.  Each of the sculptures had a title (in Thai, which I couldn’t read), so I just gave them my own names!  Kind of like MST3K – Mystery Sculpture Theater 3000!

An elephant in a world of dogs:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 2 elephant and dogs

This looks painful:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 3 painful

More faces and arms than a Hindu god:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 4 too many faces and arms

A real bird would not sit on a real snake tongue:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 5 birds on snake tongue

Smashing four baht:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 7 smashing 4 baht

Sniffing a vase:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 9 sniffing vase

Buddha and the snakes:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 11 buddha and the snakes

Beating a pet rock:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 14 beating pet rock

Many races worshiping the Buddha:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 16 races worshipping buddha

Together forever in death:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 22 together in death

The circle of life:

Tall statues, like of like Maoi statues:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 27 tall statues

Entirely too many hands:
Sala Keoku 28 too many hands male Sala Keoku 29 too many hands female

Archer with great balance standing on duck:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 31 archer on bird

The scales of justice:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 32 scales of justice

Totally giving you the finger:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 34 giving the finger

Buddha and the snakes:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 35 buddha and snakes again

Clearly a snake lover:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 36 snake lover

Man on elephant slaying Buddha:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 37 man on elephant slaying buddha

Half human, half fish – mermaid or naga?
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 38 naga

Meditating by the lake:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 39 meditating by lake

Archer fighting a dog and a snake:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 18 archer vs dog and snake

The fattest Buddha in the world:
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku 33 fattest buddha

But there were also a whole bunch of other statues, that I couldn’t name:

There was also a small temple of sorts attached to Sala Keoku, which was pretty unimpressive, except that they had these huge gongs you could ring!  It’s amazingly satisfying, to take a large mallet, and just thump away at the gong.  GONNNNGGGG.
Nong Khai - Sala Keoku temple gong 1 Nong Khai - Sala Keoku temple gong 2

Wat Phochai: apparently a pretty big temple in Nong Khai.  The outside is somewhat unremarkable for a temple.
Nong Khai - Wat Phochai 1 Nong Khai - Wat Phochai 2

However, what’s really cool are the murals all over the entirety of the building’s inside.  At the bottom of the murals are the depiction of everyday life in Thailand – villages, markets, everyday people, and even visiting tourists.  As you move up the wall, you see more spiritual landscapes, with lots of temples, etc.  And finally, at the top, you have the gods!

Finally, before boarding my train back to Bangkok, I visited Nong Khai’s Sunday Walking Market – basically, a huge impromptu market that pops up every Sunday on a large field near the train tracks.  And I was quite impressed, especially when comparing this market to the one in Chiang Mai.  Whereas the one in Chiang Mai was flooded with tourists, and sold mostly useless trinkets, this one seemed more my style – almost all locals in attendance, selling more useful items (and delicious food for my train ride) instead of souvenirs.

Bits and bobs:
– Excellent chair transportation
chairs on truck

– An old man sweeping the train tracks.  I can’t say why this caught my eye, but it did.
sweeping train tracks

– Nong Khai also has a couple of parks you can visit and bike around, but they seemed somewhat run down and mostly deserted:

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