Drive yourself from Nakhon Ratchasima to Mukdahan

 

Heavy traffic as we clear Korat

Today we’re driving across Isaan from Nakhon Ratchasima to the border town of Mukdahan on the banks of the Mekong River.

After driving up from Bangkok Airport, we’ve spent two days in Nakhon Ratchasima and now we’re ready to start our Isaan adventure.

Trucks keep to the left on multi lane roads

It’s going to be a long drive so we’re on the road before 9 am and after clearing the city, we’re soon travelling on the main highway 2 to the north.

We have a few detours planned and very soon we are turning on to a country road and heading deep into farming country.

The rice harvest is complete

Rice is the main crop here. Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice and of course rice is a staple food for Thai people.

It’s the dry season, the  harvest has been completed and fields have dried out a golden colour.

The rice has been harvested and the fields are dry

Some farmers are harvesting the remaining rice stubble for stock food whilst others are burning it.

The countryside is flat, brown and dusty. It is becoming a hot day with the temperature climbing to 36c. It must be hot working out in the fields.

It’s a hot, dry and dusty place today

It’s a hot and dusty day

The monotony of the terrain is broken occasionally by small towns and villages with only two small cities ahead of us on our route.

Fortunately, we have a GPS to guide us as we swap from road to road throughout the day and they vary from major highways through to rural lanes.

Live chickens. Tonight’s dinner?

We’ve passed through Buriram and Roiet provinces. It’s time for a lunch break and we pull into a petrol station complex, one of many we see throughout our travels.

Petrol stations are not just fuel stops

Petrol stations on the major roads are quite similar throughout the country with central pumps (and excellent customer service) surrounded on three sides by shops.

Fuel, food, shopping, bathrooms and of course a 7Eleven

They consist of a 7Eleven (with a bank of ATMs nearby), an Amazon coffee shop (the Caffe Yen is OK), a food court style restaurant and small shops selling local clothing and souvenirs. And a large and busy toilet block.

They’re very social places and Thai travellers will typically spend a long time enjoying the break from the road.

There are some interesting vehicles on the road

We’re back on the road again.

“I’m sorry for going slow” says the sign

The city of Yasothon comes and goes and shortly after, we take a “quicker route” (I’m not sure why – it took longer than planned) that bypassed the city of Amnat Chaoren.

By mid-afternoon we’re arriving in Mukdahan – our destination and navigating to our hotel – De Ladda which is on the riverbank.

The views from every room are impressive

A most astonishing hotel

After parking the car, we walk into the foyer of this new hotel and marvel at the architecture and the view.

This has to be the most interesting hotel I’ve ever seen in rural Thailand.

A pool, then a river, then another country.

A small pathway separates the hotel from the Mekong and the view across the outdoor pool to the river, with the Laos city of Savannakhet on the opposite side is breathtaking.

Paintings like these adorn the walls throughout the hotel

The foyer itself is fascinating. It has been recreated in a European style. This is a new hotel, bright, clean and modern. The decorations throughout the hotel are a pleasant surprise.

Not your average rural Thailand hotel foyer

Where else in rural Thailand will you find a statue of Elvis, a portrait of Napoleon, Spanish dolls and brand-new replica Louis XVI furniture. And a motorbike.

Of course there are chandeliers.

The second impressive feature of De Ladda is the stunning view of the Mekong river from every room. On the opposite side of the hotel directly across the road is the owner’s residence. It’s a magnificent example of fine rural living.

The owner’s residence across the road

The front office staff were friendly and efficient and after settling into our room and marvelling at the facilities and the view from our balcony, we set out towards the Indochine Market in the centre of the town about 500 metres away.

Keep singing Elvis. We’ll be back!

We’re looking forward to exploring what appears to be an interesting city.