On the outback roads to Phetchabun. Goodbye Mekong

Farewell to the mighty River

It’s a cool cloudy Sunday morning and it’s our last day in Isaan. We’re leaving the Mekong river and heading for the province of Phetchabun to the south west.

Initially we’ll be taking the small country roads and lanes before joining up with the highway between Udon Thani and Loei. Then we’ll wind our way over the hills and down to our destination – Lom Kao.

Within a few minutes, were in farming country with very few people around and we’re driving along some very small roads. As we’ve found throughout Isaan, the country is mostly flat and very rural.

Sugar is an important crop

Sugar cane is a major crop around here and throughout the morning I’m carefully passing both small and large truck loaded with cane and heading for the local sugar mill.

Small trailer of cane for the mill

There’s an occasional small town but not many people are on the streets.

Its late morning and we’re in Ban Phu.

Loei is the last city we’ll see in Isaan

Here we re joining the highway west to Loei. The highway is busy and the can trucks much larger as we drive through the town of Ban Kham Hai and we stop near there for lunch.

Large trucks also carrying sugar cane

We’re eating our last Isaan meal at a table outside one of the many roadside shops

One of thousands of roadside shops selling delicious food

Lunch over, we’re back on the road and nearing the city of Loei.

Phetchabun to the left – Loei straight on

Leaving Isaan

Now we are leaving the highway and turning south west across the hills. Shortly after, the first hills appear and shortly after we are leaving the plains and snaking up the ridges to the tops. Up here the air is cool and the view magnificent.

The first hill appears

We stop for a coffee and a break and enjoy the hilly scenery stretching away to the horizon. Even this high up there are farms with crops being grown on the steep sides of the hills.

Crops are grown high up in the hills

A popular National Park

The Phu Rua National Park in this area is popular with Thai visitors who come to enjoy the secluded country, scenic hills and cool temperatures. We haven’t seen any foreigners today which we found was not unusual in rural Isaan.

The view is worth stopping to enjoy

Its time to go and we continue our drive through the hills. The road is in excellent condition and the drive isn’t difficult. By mid afternoon, we are leaving Isaan, entering Phetchabun and descending to the valley floor.

Welcome to Phetchabun

Entering the Phetchabun province

It’s been threatening to rain all day and as we enter the small town of Ban Boong Chee, fat drops of rain are hitting the windscreen and soon a shower passes through.

Unfortunately for the farmers, it doesn’t last long and the sun appears for the first time today.

Finally the rain comes

The province of Phetchabun is basically a big farm with agricultural activities dominating daily life.

Tractors of all types

Immediately we encounter an interesting array of farm vehicles and although it’s a Sunday afternoon, workers are busy in the fields planning or harvesting the local crops.

A common sight in Phetchabun

We’re planning on spending a few days here – it looks to be an interesting place but first we’re going to the local Sunday market at Lom Kao.

The end of a long day on the Land