Calling home ... future out of focus

Oh my gosh, I have a blog. It seems I forgot that little fact for a while. As is probably obvious, the novelty of writing about my experiences here has worn off some. I'm always happy when I do sit down and record some aspect of my existence in Bangkok, but because everything is so familiar to me now, I'm just not that often inspired. I do, however, plan to be very inspired over the next couple of months because starting today ... please don't hate me ... I will be a lady of leisure, a nomad, a world (well, Southeast Asia) traveler for nine weeks. The best part is that I will pick up my dear friend and traveling buddy, the dazzling and debonair Ms. Stephanie, at the airport tonight. She will be here for the first three weeks of my sabbatical. Her trip is really what inspired me to take an entire term off. I want to travel with her for her entire stay here. I want to do a lot of traveling before I return home. I will probably be returning home shortly.* It's only getting hotter here so this is a great time to do it. (We're at the tail-end of the prime tourist season so the weather's not unbearable but the crowds should have thinned some.) Together, Stephanie and I will visit northern Thailand; Siem Reap, Cambodia (home of the revered Angkor Wat); and Luang Prabang, Laos. Then I will continue on in Laos, head to Vietnam, and that's where the planning ends. I have many ideas but no definite agenda, leaving myself open to any opportunity that presents itself.

*Yes, so as for that little bit that requires elaboration, my return date is as up in the air as my travel plans. I seem to be having trouble with commitment lately. It's like this. I love it here, making it hard to bite the bullet and leave. However, I really miss home and family and friends. However, the economy stinks back there so finding a job may prove to be as challenging as uncovering the mystery of the Plain of Jars. However, however, however... You see my predicament. Perhaps a little traveling will give me a fresh perspective and the fog will lift, unveiling the best path forward as clear as day. Perhaps.


Nong Khai highlights

People often ask if one's a beach person or a mountain person. I've always had a hard time choosing between the two, but since spending time in Nong Khai, my answer would be: I'm a river person. Those five days in this small town on the Mekong taught me that it's absolutely impossible to feel any tenseness while watching water lazily pass on by. Ange and I had plans to visit other places in the Isaan area, but went here first and couldn't bear to leave until absolutely necessary.

We stayed in the Mut Mee Guest House and you wouldn't want to stay anywhere else in Nong Khai. Tables and hammocks overlook the river, there's a masseusse, yoga studio and used bookstore on the premises, and the food is the best in town. Walk down some stairs to a houseboat on the river for another fantastic restaurant and live music lounge. A minute's walk spits you out on this promenade that runs along the river and is great for early morning and late afternoon walks:

We hung out some with a French family and the kid was entirely way too precious. I almost truly mean that because he'd grab one of our fairly expensive cameras and start spinning around snapping photos, and we wouldn't have the heart to take it away.

Here's a taste of the future artist's work. I think he's quite good:

When I could pull myself away from reading in a hammock or staring at the river over homemade dessert and green tea, I enjoyed just walking up and down the streets of this little town. Not much going on, yet so much to see. Monks were everywhere. I had to take this one of the boys eating ice cream. Monks of all ages are just so photogenic with their brightly hued robes and shaved heads.

Speaking of monks, my favorite Nong Khai attraction was Wat Noen Phra Nao, a temple nestled in a forest, a perfect pairing for a peaceful setting.

Our one excursion out of town was an hour-long bus ride to Tha Bo, known for its large open-air market:
Ange on the market street:

And some kids all decked out for Children's Day, an important holiday in Thailand:

I've posted a few more pics of Nong Khai here.