Day 5 â€“ October 28, 2007
I am beginning to see that it will be difficult to ever describe one particular day here as the most interesting or the most memorable. We started our moped adventure with me trying to remember how to ride a moped. After several almost collisions and/or wipe-outs, I finally started to get the hang of it and we headed out on the freeway South towards Udon Thani
The freeways in Thailand are interesting. There are lanes â€“ sort of â€“ but people just pass in and out, mopeds and motor bikes stay on the far left â€“ not quite on the freeway (as much as possible unless passing) and rather than slowing down when coming up on slower vehicles of any kind, cars just honk and expect people to get out of their way.
Dried shrimp, maggots, crickets
Learning to drive on the left wasnâ€™t as difficult as Iâ€™d expected and the most challenging thing for me was remembering there was a hand brake (at least until we discovered the foot break).
From Udon Thani we headed East to Ban Chiang. Ban Chiang is an archaeological site and UNESCO World Heritage site. It is remarkably well preserved and dates from around 5,000 years ago. There is a small museum showing several artifacts and then you can drive about Â½ a mile down the road to Wat Pho Si which is both a temple and the site of the dig itself.
We decided to take the backroads through the countryside back to Nong Khai
. This was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Eating the dried cricket
We drove through rice fields with workers in traditional clothing, past beautiful trees with blue/green leaves, through towns that Iâ€™m sure never see tourists based on the way people looked at us and stopped at a market in the middle of nowhere that was for lack of a better description the Safeway for the local area. There was a produce section which included everything from pineapples and bananas to things I could not even begin to describe. The bulk foods section sold plates of dried shrimp, dried crickets, dried grasshoppers, dried scorpions (stinger intact) and small maggots. Take your pick â€“ one plate for 10 baht (slightly less than 30 cents). The guy selling them was nice enough to offer samplesâ€¦ Jared tried a dried shrimp and much to my chagrin I was offered the cricket.
After several deep breaths, multiple photos and under the careful scrutiny of every local within 10 km, I did eat it and quite honestly, it wasnâ€™t that bad, just a little salty. That said, Iâ€™m not sure I could have eaten an entire plate and I think they got more enjoyment out of watching my face eat it than they would have out of the 10 baht. The meat section was primarily seafood and offered everything from eel to prawns to shrimp. The vendors all carried small fans made out of some type of animal hair that they flicked constantly to keep the never ending horde of flies off of the raw meat. As disappointed as they were that we didnâ€™t buy any of the seafood, I hope that they were convinced the reasoning we couldnâ€™t buy it was due to the fact that we were riding mopeds and had no place to put it, although that may be desperate thinking on my part.
We made our way back to Nong Khai, successfully finishing somewhere between a 120 and 150 mile roundtrip moped ride before dark. After a shower, a quick one hour Thai massage and some delicious Thai food, we hit the hay.