Street side dining at a night market on the first and only night we spent in Korat.
Great Thailand Adventure: Isaan
When we first decided to go to Isaan, I had no idea what to expect. The initial plan was to spend a leisurely time on the beaches of Southern Thailand. But it was tourist season, beer was running low and I hate crowds, so we decided to meander off the well-trodden path - just a little.
Three hours, to be exact. A bus took us from Bangkok’s Mo Chit terminal to Nakhon Ratchasima, a place I had never heard of before I picked up Lonely Planet’s guide to Thailand. Isaan was Thailand’s rural northeastern backcountry, and just about as far away as one could get from the cityscape of Bangkok.
From there, we would visit the Khmer ruins of Prasat Hin Phimai and the rambling plains of Khao Yai Nature Park. I had made reservations at a small guesthouse in the middle of Korat city - the best Lonely Planet had on offer - and we thought we were all set.
Imagine, then, my despair when we discovered, only after we checked into our Korat hotel, that tours to Khao Yai Nature Park could only be booked in the next town of Pak Chong. The aged owner of the hotel told us, in thai-accented mandarin through teeth blackened with tobacco and other dubious substances, that he best he could do was charter us a cab to Khao Yai nature park. The rest, we woud have to figure out ourselves.
We had meant to spend that afternoon poking around dusty Korat; instead we found ourselves holed up in the hotel lobby desperately trawling through the internet looking for other options. When the nature park in question is four times the size of one’s home country, one does not simply attempt to go it alone.
Eventually we rang up a resort that specialised in tours to Khao Yai. The website promised sprawling villas, private pools, and altogether far more luxurious (and pricey) accommodation than the usual guesthouses and motels we were used to. Still, I was starving and ready to tear my hair out in frustration, so we threw caution to the proverbial wind, booked ourselves two nights in the resort and a tour the following day, and hightailed it out of Korat the very next morning.
Away we went to Pak Chong: The best decision we would make on our Great Thailand Adventure.