Having checked onto our hotel and checked out the surroundings, its time to explore Mukdahan and the Indochine market. It’s not a large place but we only have one night here and we’re keen to look around.
There’s an excellent path along the river bank
We walk along the riverside path past several open-air restaurants that look inviting, old wooden houses with magnificent views across the river and on to the modern immigration office at the ferry terminal.
Here passenger ferries travel between Mukdahan and Savannakhet in neighbouring Laos across the river which is quite wide at this point.
The border is open and seems busy. This allows for quick efficient travel between the two cities but apparently travel is permitted only for Thai and Lao people at this border crossing point.
One of Laos largest cities is just across the river
Savannakhet in Laos has casinos (they don’t exist in Thailand) which attracts the Thai locals to venture across the river to play the tables. There seem to be Laos workers coming over in the other direction presumably to work in Thailand each day.
Travellers with foreign passports go through immigration formalities and travel to Laos across the Friendship Bridge which spans the Mekong a few kilometres upstream.
Mukdahan has a large Lao-Isaan and Vietnamese population and the restaurants offer delicious dishes from Indochina.
The Indochina influence
The town is on the trade route between Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and home to the Indochine Market. Products from Vietnam, China, Laos & Cambodia make their way here and are sold to local people.
The market is quite fascinating and geared to Thai locals and Lao visitors.
There’s all manner of cheap imports for the house including hardware, toys, clothes, kitchen utensils, trinkets and baubles, phone accessories, rice cookers, giant pots and pans, electrical gadgets and lots of dried foods.
There are also some jewellery stores selling silver and gold but nothing is aimed at foreign visitors, presumably because there are so few.
I’m finding it pleasant to stroll through the market without the shopkeepers trying to sell me something every few steps.
In fact, all through our travels in Isaan people were overwhelmingly friendly and courteous. Lovely people.
There are lots of school students wandering around the markets after school, all looking and comparing but not many buying.
Temples grounds are great places to relax
There are temples on either side of the market and an opportunity to relax for a few minutes in a quiet atmosphere. It’s time to head back to our hotel.
Ride a country tuk-tuk
We ride in one of the many tuk-tuk’s that are the public transport of choice in Mukdahan. Although they’re noisy and the ride is uncomfortably rough, they’re quick and in the heat of the late afternoon, breezy and cool.
Back at the hotel we relax on our balcony and take in the beautiful late afternoon view of the Mekong.
Later we walk along the riverbank to one of the restaurants and enjoy fresh river fish before returning for an early night.
The early morning is enchanting
Next day we’re up at first light and in the cool morning air we’re watching the sky lighten in the quiet of the early morning.
It’s a stunning sight as eventually the sun rises over Laos and lights the surface of the Mekong, with a gentle breeze ruffling the surface. There is only one small fishing boat on the water.
It’s an unforgettable sight.
Time for breakfast and in keeping with the rest of the hotel experience it’s excellent.
A speedy check out and we say goodbye to Mukdahan, heading north for a temple that has special significance for Thai people – Wat Phra That Phanom. It’s on our way to the next place on our itinerary, Nakhon Phanom, about 150kms up the river.