Road Trip Part 2, Na Haeo, Chiang Khan, Nong Khai …

The road from Na Haeo to Chiang Khan moved prominently to the top of my list of the worst roads I have ever encountered.  Dirt, mud, broken asphalt, major roadwork, and a moonscape of potholes left me rattled and the car looking like a chocolate covered ice-cream sundae. 

Sorry I didn’t get any pictures after the initial construction area but I just couldn’t see getting all muddy to get an ugly picture, of an ugly road.  We did stop at a dilapidated roadside park.  It was terribly overgrown but you could just catch glimpses of some interesting rock formations in the river which must have been the motivation for developing this little park in the first place.  I tried to get down to the waters edge for a better shot but the closer I got the less I could see.

As we limped into Chiang Khan my wife was in dire need of food, nothing unusual about that I guess.  Asking around we were advised to drive a few kilometers further down the road to Kaeng Khut Khu, a riverside market and dining area that looks out over the mighty Mekong River.  This was a great find and after a quick bite, I went for a walk down by the water’s edge to stretch my legs after a day and a half of driving, collecting a few images along the way. 

From there we went back into town to see what all the fuss was about in this modern must see riverside destination.  Though midday, and nearly deserted, it was not hard to imagine the area as a bustling hotbed of nightlife reminiscent of Pai, with a walking street that seemed endlessly lined with quaint wooden shuttered shops, bars and guesthouses.

With our main goal of this trip being to visit our young nephew we hadn’t seen for two years, it was decided we were too far behind schedule to spend the night as we had planned.  Soon we were back in the car and heading to Nong Khai, again snaking our way along the river road but at a much fast pace.  Every once in a while there would be an opening in the roadside foliage and I would think to myself, that would have made for an interesting photo, but I had fallen in behind a couple of Bangkok drivers who were making good time and I was enjoying driving on a much better road, at a much better pace.

My wife had drifted off to sleep again and I didn’t want to wake her by stopping, so I never did get a record of that section of the river.  When we did finally pull over it was not at the most scenic of stops.  Continuing along the river we arrived in Nong Khai late in the afternoon.  A carwash was the first order of business in this expansive Isaan outpost on the Mekong River. 

From there we looked for and found a hotel for the night.  The White Inn Nongkhai didn’t look like much from the outside but we opted for one of their more expensive rooms at 800 baht and found the room quite spacious with a huge wonderful bed and a large glass enclosed shower with a large rain-shower style shower-head similar to what I use at home. 

Daeng Namnuang Vietnamese Restaurant, prominently situated on the riverside promenade was a must for my wife as it came highly recommended by friends.  Stepping out of the hotel on our way to the restaurant, we traversed a gauntlet of those stereotypic roadside bars, with their equally stereotypic punters, gracing barstools and eyeing us as we walked by.  The restaurant was only a few blocks away and we needed a walk, so there was nothing for it but to soak up some local color as we offered ourselves up as fodder for their evening gossip.

My wife was very happy with the restaurant, so I was too, if you get my drift.  She made plans to return the next morning to checkout the promenade in the light of day and get some takeout to share with others at her nephew’s home in Nong Wua So.  It was divided highway all the way from Nong Khai to Nong Wua So and it took us past Udon along the way.  We arrived much quicker than we had expected having become accustomed to slow mountain roads over the last couple of days.

Road out of Na Haeo.

Beginning of the road work.
Neglected Park

A glimpse of the river.
Walking street area of Chiang Khan midday.
View from Kaeng Khut Khu
Looking back up at the market from down by the river.
Market at Kaeng Khut Khu.
A little lunch, a little Facebook.
Temporary dinning area during the dry season at Kaeng Khut Khu.
White Inn Nong Khai
Daeng Namnuang Vietnamese Restaurant
Another view of Daeng Namnuang and the riverside promenade.