Nong Khai Travel Blog› entry 3 of 21 › view all entries
October 26th, 2007 – by: MistyJB
After the 3 am conference call, I have several more phone calls and am scheduled to cover iCopyrightâ€™s live response at 6 am. By 5:30 I give up and get up and go work until 8. Followed by a quick shower, Jared and I headed out to check out Nong Khai.
We have absolutely perfect timing for a festival. Different groups of men carve elaborate designs into freshly cut bamboo to build new shrines. There are street vendors everywhere selling handicrafts and every imaginable kind of food â€“ good food. We walked all along the waterfront and were about to turn back when a local started calling us over â€“ we mistakenly thought he wanted us to go drink with him. Wishful thinking I supposeâ€¦ What he really wanted to show us were the long boat races taking place further down the river.
As we walked toward the boat races, enjoying the cheering from the locals, we passed a group of Buddhist monks who wanted to take their picture with us and then ran into another group of men carving a shrine. They were carving, eating, drinking and singing. One of the men stopped us and handed Jared a glass of dyed red whiskey over ice. Jared obliging partook and thanked them. Just as we were about to move on, my glass arrived. Terrified that I was going to be drinking horrendous whiskey, yet hopeful it was something else due to the lack of red dye, I slowly lifted it to my lips. With all of them watching in anticipation I smiled as I realized it was nothing more than bad beer poured over ice. Thus began the next two hours of eating, drinking and singing with the locals.
By 11:30 (a.m. â€“ I knowâ€¦I have no idea how we started drinking that early) we had to get going to catch the truck down to P.P. to hopefully see the Maekong fireballs â€“ bubbles of methane gas that come out of the river at the end of Buddhist Lent. They were sad to see us go but told us to come back another day and they would teach us how to do the shrine carving, and assured us that they loved me as a sister. Uh huhâ€¦..
The ride to P.P. was full of other travelers, everyone from Peace Corp volunteers to people who would be traveling from 4 months â€“ 2 years. P.P was an interesting town and definitely ready for the festival. We found out later that there were over 400,000 Thaiâ€™s there. Not including the small number of farang. The riverbanks were packed with people eagerly waiting to see the fireballs. All around us, people were lighting floating lanterns that would fill like a hot air balloon and then take off into the air. Around 9 pm, candles started floating down the river, by the thousands. We unfortunately didnâ€™t get to see the fireballs, but the experience of being there in and of itself was worth the trek.
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