About MJ Klein
Former field engineer MJ Klein now lives in Taiwan, and writes articles that primarily feature photographs of travels of MJ and wife Hui-chen, plus daily goings on in the bustling island nation of Taiwan, and other places in Asia. Articles feature people, culture, food, situations and sometimes the trials and tribulations of traveling in places such as China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos and of course Taiwan.
Latest Posts by MJ Klein
This was my last full day in Thailand on this trip. I did not want to ride the motorcycle down there, rent a car or take the bus. So I decided to ride the train so I headed to Muang Phon. Before I headed out however, I rode the motorcycle down to the lake area because it had been so long since I had been there. I used to visit Khonkaen several times a year, but now it’s more like once every 2 or 3 years. This is a Chinese temple.
But inside the gate there is a heavy Thai influence of course.
We blogged on this place before. As always, it looks immaculate.
I went looking for the PP Hotel, which is where Hui-chen and I have enjoyed many an evening eating delicious food and singing karaoke. But it appears to be gone now, with this Honda dealership in it’s place. Khonkaen sure has changed a lot since 2004 when I first visited.
I wanted to eat at the Roma Hotel, another place we’ve enjoyed over the years. Lunch sounded like a good thing to me. But when I got there, the place was deserted except for me.
This is my lunch:
A delicious oyster dish
and some deep fried pork. I had an enjoyable time with the place all to myself. Years ago it would have been packed….
Since I was going to take the train and not driving, I thought it might be a good opportunity to check out the local run, Sang Som because we’ve been drinking the export version in Taiwan. I was surprised to find that the domestic version tastes a great deal better.
The outside of the liquor store. I returned my motorcycle and took a tuk-tuk to the train station, where I arrived just as the train was in the station – perfect timing.
The train was full of friendly students on their way home!
Many of these students come from far away and ride the train for more than an hour just to attend school in Khonkaen city.
This student had on the train conductor’s hat.
You can see the conductor standing in the background. This student went around checking tickets and the other students had fun with it.
I noticed at several stations that new track was being laid.
Kids just being kids.
I happened to look out the window and saw something interesting….
A solar panel farm was under construction. I cannot tell you anything about it though.
The train stopped at every little station along the way. Ban Phai is about 1/2 way between Khonkaen and my destination, Muang Phon. The train was running late but it didn’t seem to matter to anyone.
More construction along the track.
A brief shower cooled everyone down. If you view this photo large, you can see the rain.
No air conditioning in this train! The cars were quite old.
Pulling into another station.
Just as it was really getting boring….
We arrived at Muang Phon – more than 30 minutes late!
I waved goodbye to all the students.
There were only too happy to wave back. Thai people are very nice.
Muang Phon station.
I hired a tuk-tuk to take me to the Sabua Resort.
To be honest, I did not recognize much of the scenery, because it had changed so much….
Never saw this place before….
But this corner, I knew well at one time. Here we take a right and cross the train tracks.
The ride down the highway toward the resort.
Local village roads….
My driver poses for a photo after dropping me off.
Wow, I cannot believe how much this place has grown up even more than ever!
I don’t even recognize this building anymore!
No one was around so I went into the road and over to Dr. Su’s house.
The neighbors hadn’t seen me in years!
The gate was locked so I walked around through the resort.
My old wood smoker is still there, but it’s rapidly deteriorating. I really wish I had time to use it on this trip. The truth is, I will probably never get to use it again, unfortunately.
This patio is new.
And so is this building.
I don’t know what the building is, but it sure does look cool!
The old kitchen where I used to hang out and cook some late-night snack, or daytime meals. Hui-chen used to cook here too.
Finally this guy showed up. His name is “M” and he now runs the resort. After a few minutes he recognized me, commenting that I used to have a beard. I asked him to locate Aunty for me and he made some calls. He also called Dr. Su who told me that her husband Ben (Mr. Banchob) was now in Australia where Ben’s daughter was attending university, and that the Sabua Resort was now for salem since Dr. Su was building a new resort in Chiangmai. I told her that I would come visit in Chiangmai the next time we came to Thailand. Chiangmai has been on my list for a long time but I’ve never gone there (yet).
Aunty’s son Michael appeared (sorry about the focus problem).
And then Aunty arrived! Aunty used to really take care of me at the resort over the years. She’s been a part of my life for quite some time, and I must have really missed her because my eyes welled up with tears when she appeared before me. I gave her a great big hug. We took a walk around the resort.
Aunty doesn’t speak English but we’ve always been able to communicate. She showed me how much the vegetation has grown, and how different the resort looks now.
I used to stay in this room, back in the day.
There are more chickens now….
Actually I think I’ve stayed in every room in the resort over the years.
The sad part is that I didn’t have time to stay in the resort. I would have to leave shortly.
Aunty showed me the yellow blossoms on all the trees. Quite lovely.
But then, Mr. Somkhit’s driver came to pick me up, and we headed to the factory for our meeting.
I snapped this shot out of the window as we drove to the factory. Phon is rapidly growing up and has changed since I first came here since 2005.
Oh well, I could reminisce all day. Mr. Somkhit invited me to join him and his daughter for dinner at a BBQ place in Khonkaen. I went back with them to Khonkaen and we went directly to the place.
Walking to our table I took a shot of this grill. Something cooking over charcoal always gets my attention!
Mr. Somkhit orders some dishes.
Ploy asks a few questions about the menu. I just sat and waited. Mr. Somkhit has never steered me wrong before!
I liked the place a lot. No frills, just great grilled food.
For our readers who have never dined in Thailand, the baskets of cucumbers, scallions and coriander (cilantro) are standard issue for many meals. So is the ice. Also notice the sauces. In Thai cuisine, sauces are very important.
The first dishes arrive.
The florescent lights didn’t help this dish look appetizing, but it certainly was! The fresh mint on the top was perfect.
Perfectly grilled pork,
and beef. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Another deliciously spiced dish. I never get tired of Thai food!
A nice papaya salad.
This dark soup was rich and flavorful. It’s difficult for me to describe the complex flavors. The simplicity of grilled meat paired with these side dishes was perfect.
Mr. Somkhit took us in the car to another place for a famous dessert.
All these ingredients look great!
But I had no idea what we were getting….
This is it. Or at least part of it. Fresh mango over sweet rice with some crunchy stuff on the top.
This is the rest of the desert – coconut milk with salted egg and some other stuff I couldn’t put together. It certainly was unique and although I didn’t care for the salted egg, I was glad to have tried this dessert. Now, if I can only find this place again!
After that, Mr. Somkhit dropped me off at the Number 1 Bar and later I walked back to my room.
The last time I was in Khonkaen I took Michael Turton and Michael Cannon to this place to watch some girls sing karaoke.
I was too tired to go inside, so I just took advantage of the D7000′s high ISO capability to shoot some photos.
The perfect end to the day was this ladyboy who agreed to pose for a photo.
I waited for the factory boss (Mr. Somkhit) down in Phon to be free to see me. It’s Thailand and everything is on Thailand time. And so I had time to walk around. I was using a new camera, and I had some trouble framing shots that are not tilted as much as they should be. Please overlook that problem when viewing these photos!
I noticed these guys working on the maze of overhead wires so I stopped to take a few photos.
He was picking up some cables and re-arranging them in the bundle. Don’t worry though, these are all signal wires and not powerlines. Telephone, cable TV, etc.. What a mess. I’d hate to have to work on this.
As I was walking around I couldn’t help but notice how much Khonkaen has changed over the years.
For example, this is Dave’s First Choice restaurant and travel agency.
The Silver Saloon has been gone a long time. I noticed several other places that were no longer there too. It seems that the heyday of Khonkaen is over.
More walking-around shots.
As usual, lots of spare car parts.
This young man was busy doing some flower arranging.
I pulled back for a wide shot showing the gate.
This place installs aftermarket accessories.
About this time I was getting hungry and wanted to find somewhere to sit down and eat.
Those are some nice squid in the case.
This is a dim-sum restaurant, but they have other fare too.
This is my roast duck, with pink picked ginger.
and wonton soup. Everything was pretty good.
On the way back to my room I took a few shots in the general area of the Tamarind (where I was staying).
This place is right across the street from the Tamarind.
Now I forget just where this place is located (guess I need to geotag everything!), but I think it’s on the corner of the Aircon Bus Station. I’ve never eaten here but it looks interesting.
Khonkaen Nights, Revisited
Instead of making this another separate article, I decided to include it in this article because the following photos were taken on the same day, just in the evening.
Like the first article, I started off at the Number One Bar and headed to the next corner where I took a right turn.
But before I got to the corner I saw this window display that wasn’t here the last time I was in town.
The Chaipat Hotel is still there.
This little store might be new. It’s on the same side as the Chaipat.
This was disappointing: Seven’s Corner Bar is closed. Noi told me that Nigel and Gigi sold the bar to someone else and it went under in a relatively short time.
Following the same path as the original article, we head to probably the most interesting area of Khonkaen – Sir Chant Road.
This building still stands, unfinished.
We come to Sir Chant Road.
Looking to the right, we see some new places. I took a walk down this part of the road and it’s totally changed. The Supaporn Car Rental is gone now.
This shot shows the other side of this food vendor.
Continuing down the shortcut, heading to the Kosa Hotel.
Way back when, I used to take my laundry to this shop.
The Kosa Hotel with signs in Chinese.
Around the corner to the right and through a very interesting area (in my opinion).
The Kosa Steakhouse is gone (not surprisingly) and a totally new place is here now.
Further down in the same direction….
I turned around and took the same shot I took almost 4 years ago. This square is really lit up.
This is a shot looking to the left past where the Kosa Steakhouse used to be.
It looks like the same places are still here.
It was at this point I decided to check out renting a scooter because I was tired of walking. Scooters rent for a few hundred baht per day and I only needed it for that night to drive around looking at stuff.
This is looking back towards that lit-up square, so you have an idea where the rental place is. I got my scooter in a few minutes and went on my way.
This gate is still here but it looks a bit different now. We’re going through this gate and taking a left turn.
The view to the left, under the gate.
The old 60 Bar used to be here. I never went inside this place.
Allow me to quote from the 2008 article:
“At one time this was a very hopping place. In 2005 I was staying around the corner at thePP Hotel (real name!) and I hung out at the club with the red neon lights at the left. It was an entirely different place back then. Directly across the street on the corner was the 60 Bar. I spent many evenings sitting outside at the 60 Bar surrounded by hundreds of people talking and drinking. Now this once busy corner is dull and boring. It makes me wonder how/why successful, busy places go under….”
The Rad is still there.
There is still some kind of restaurant here but the sign is different than last time.
Something not shown in the 2008 article, this shot was taken 180 degrees from the previous one.
This section of road is totally different. Nothing appears to be the same as before.
The perpetual Khonkaen Night Market.
I found a little place and parked my scooter. It’s very much like the ones we have in Taiwan.
This is my dinner: baked lasagna, made by a Thai chef. It was OK.
Later, a guy with a scooter sidecar came by offering grilled dried squid, which I really like.
He said he worked on Taiwan before and knew some Chinese words. Cool.
After this walking/riding tour, I went back to the Number One Bar for awhile and then back to my room. I’m sorry if this day seemed boring but this is pretty much what I did as I was waiting for Mr. Somkhit to become available the next day. Day Seven will find me going back to Phon to the factory and then to the Sabua Resort to see what that place looked like now.
A neighborhood institution is gone in Taiwan. Xiao-hui’s Thai Style Cuisine is no more! Xiao-hui sold her restaurant to some enterprising Vietnamese ladies who have transformed the place into (yet another) Vietnamese karaoke. Xiao-hui herself has moved back to Southeast Asia, in northern Thailand.
When they bought the place, the new owners were adamant about keeping the cuisine the same, and not changing the menu. At first, they kept it identical. Xiao-hui personally trained their staff in her style of Thai cuisine. They used the upstairs rooms for karaoke rooms. Now they’ve decided to remodel the downstairs to build new karaoke rooms, due to (what I understand is) complaints from owners of the floors above.
I’m going to say it: There are already two Vietnamese karaoke places in the same number of blocks. This new place makes three. There is another karaoke place in between too, making 4 total karaoke places in 2 blocks. Do we really need another karaoke place in this neighborhood? I say no. We do however, need more good food places. Naturally I’m concerned that food will be secondary at the new place because as you can see in the photos, there isn’t much room for tables with those new karaoke rooms and the giant counter in the front. It remains to be seen.
Years ago I used the pinyin “shao-hui” for tagging photos and articles on this blog. Since studying Chinese, I’m now using “xiao-hui” as tags. I just hope it will be a place we can hang out at like the old days….
Recently, I got the Phottix GPS One geotagging GPS system for my Nikon D7000. This enables automatic GPS tagging of photos, which is very convenient for photographers who like to geotag their photos.
The GPS One normally sits on the hot shoe, although it does not connect to the camera via the hot shoe. That’s what the cable is for.
There are 3 connectors on the GPS unit. The left connection is to the camera. The right connection is to the cable release (included with the GPS One, but not shown here) and the rear connection is USB mini. There is an LED right above the rear connector that blinks red while acquiring a signal, and glows green when GPS lock is acquired.
The upper LCD display on the D7000 has a blinking GPS icon when the signal is not locked. The icon is steady when the GPS signal is locked.
The cable plugs into a port on the D7000 that resides behind this dust-resistant door.
A closeup shows this connection. In my opinion, this should be a right-angle plug on the end of this cable. When using the GPS One, I have great concerns about the connector breaking off, or worse, damaging the camera connector. When I get into a car, I always unplug this connector and let it dangle so it won’t get bumped and broken off. Certainly, this connection could be optimized for a safer experience. I’m not sure why the hot shoe couldn’t actually be used in this application, but it would be worth investigating.
Another cool included item is this handy strap mounting clip. If you don’t want the GPS One on your hot shoe, you can clip it to your strap.
The strap mounting holds the GPS One sideways, so you might not always get a signal lock in that orientation. But it does allow you to keep the cable neater and less apt to catch on something. The GPS One comes with 2 sets of connecting cables for various model Nikon cameras.
The GPS One is an 18 channel GPS unit and you can use it on your computer via USB:
This is the u-blox U-Center software. The GPS One is a NMEA 2.3 WGS84 unit, which is pretty standard. But, how well does it work?
Well, I got my first GPS until in 1994 – a Garmin GPS45. I used the GPS45 (and others) in the field doing studies on AM radio stations in the USA. My next GPS unit was a Garmin GPS12MAP. I had that one until I accidently left it in a taxi in Thailand. The next model Garmin that I purchased was the eTrex Vista C (Taiwan) I now own a Garmin Colorado, which I frequently use for automotive navigation. I also have a very cool Leadtek CF card GPS unit. I’ve used GPS professionally in the field for many years and have a ton of experience with these and other receivers.
The GPS One is among the best I’ve seen. With 18 channels, it gets a position lock quickly and is able to maintain the lock where I might expect it to fail, such as the concrete canyon. I was walking down the street on the sidewalk, under cover and the GPS One kept a position lock. Turning off the camera’s exposure meters and the power to the GPS, I found that the GPS One re-acquired position lock within 15 seconds after power-up. Impressive.
What information does the GPS One add to your photo files?
This photo was geotagged with the GPS One. If you view the photo on the Flickr photo page (by clicking on the image) you will see the location keywords that were added by Lightroom based on the GPS coordinates. One very cool thing that I like about the D7000/GPS One combination is that the camera’s clock can be set by the GPS signal. I recommend the Phottix GPS One for Nikon shooters with compatible cameras.
As my trip in Thailand progressed, I had some time to kill waiting for a meeting, yet I was sick of buses by this time, so I opted to walk around Khonkaen.
First thing in the morning, Oath and his girlfriend took me to a noodle shop in Udon Thani before taking me to the bus station for my trip back to Khonkaen.
This shot is so very Thai. Metal cups with ice, and straws. I’ve often said that much of the world’s plastic could be saved if only we could get Asians out of the habit of drinking everything with a straw! Notice the vegetable basket with herbs and vegetables for adding to your soup.
This image is also very Thai. Not only are there 2 types of dried chili in the foreground, on the right background is a spicy liquid additive, as well as a vinegar-based sauce in the remaining jar. Notice also the bottle of fish sauce, just in case your dish needs some extra stinkiness to it.
This is what we all had (Oath’s bowl): a beef noodle soup with fish balls, not totally unlike the famous Vietnamese version.
This bowl was an extra order from which to take a refill.
And this was my bowl. I can still taste it. Thai food in Thailand is so much better than it is elsewhere!
Oath and his girlfriend took me to the Udon Thani bus station (mentioned before) for my trip back to Khonkaen.
As I was walking around, I took this shot, noteworthy for the old style spelling of “Udontanee.”
The place is pretty much your typical Thailand bus station.
I just want to mention that on this trip, people seemed to be a lot nicer than on any trip before. This gentleman came up to me and introduced himself and wished that I have a good time in Thailand, along with a very polite “wai.” He seemed genuinely interested in me as a person and not just as a foreign visitor.
Walking around, killing time waiting for a bus in Thailand would be a lot worse without a camera to use.
I took this shot because it’s an ad for a type of bus that Hui-chen have taken before. It’s so cheap that I can’t believe it can be run for a profit at those rates.
I have to admit, I was off my game a little bit. I didn’t search out a VIP (i.e. express) bus to Khonkaen. I went to the sign that said “Khonkaen” and just bought a ticket without asking if it was a VIP bus. Turns out, it wasn’t. But, I didn’t have anything pressing anyway so instead of searching for the VIP bus and buying another ticket, I just resolved to ride this local bus.
The overview shot above shows all the entertainment equipment on the bus. Below are closeups of the various components:
Foremost is the flat-screen LED TV. Most buses I’ve taken in Thailand have older CRT based TVs. Anyone who has visited Thailand will testify to the fact that if you’re not Thai, you will find Thai entertainment totally annoying. Thai people laugh at things I just don’t get. Personally, I didn’t laugh one single time watching this show for more than 2 hours. Yes, I did understand what was going on enough to figure it out. It was just juvenile and stupid. But I also say that about most TV shows around the world, so I’m not just picking on Thai entertainment.
The small monitor is not so the driver can watch the show while driving, although I cannot figure out why the show displays when it’s not performing it’s primary function: which is the backup camera monitor. To the right of the monitor are 2 round gauges. I know that one of them is a speedometer, because like every other bus in Thailand, the dashboard speedo is broken. There is a 2 channel stereo mixer in the front left, which is a bit of overkill I would say. Notice how the blue colored inputs are ganged together into a mono adapter, so they really didn’t need a stereo mixer at all.
I count 3 radios, 1 VHS VCR (I think!) and a karoake-enabled DVD-disc player, which is apparently running the show currently playing. The strange thing is, with all these audio sources, there are only those 2 inputs being used at the mixer (the blue inputs) so it looks like nothing else is hooked up. Notice the aftermarket AC unit underneath the panel.
Finally, I arrived in Khonkaen and I went to a hotel next to my favorite place, The Number 1 Bar. I’ve always wanted to try out that hotel and I was determined to check it out this time. The price was 400 baht per night – quite cheap for Khonkaen.
This is what my room looked like. The word “depressing” comes to mind.
The restroom wasn’t anything to write about. Well, nothing positive that is.
I don’t know what was wrong with me on that day, but I failed to notice that the shower did not have a hot water machine. It had been removed, leaving the bare 220 volt wiring hanging out of the wall, just above the top edge of this photo. I’m so stupid that I failed to photograph that.
I was so anxious to get over to the Number 1 Bar that I did not notice the AC was broken too. The room was cool but the windows were open (3rd floor).
I had heard online that the Number 1 Bar was being renovated and that it has possibly been sold to new owners. So I was a bit apprehensive as I approached the totally new layout.
It turns out that David and Noi are still the owners and it was a nice “welcome home” moment for me.
I really like the new, warm color scheme of the bar. The bar itself is much nicer to sit at, than the old one.
There is a small area for a musician to perform.
I had a drink and then decided to go back to my room and rest for awhile. Mr. Somkhit was coming into Khonkaen in the evening and he was going take me out for dinner.
Mr. Somkhit asked me if I liked Japanese food. ”Is that a trick question?” was my reply, hehe.
Just look at these maki rolls!
Interestingly, Japanese places in Thailand always have a bowl of sauce with a distinctly Thai flavor. That’s how they integrate Japanese food into Thai culture. I found the sauce quite interesting, but totally unnecessary from a strictly Japanese food point of view.
The presentation was nice on many of the dishes.
I have to say that these dishes tasted every bit as good at they look in these photos.
The sashimi was great!
One of my all-time favorites: tempura.
This was a very nice and interesting salad. Loads of garlic.
After dinner I went back to the Number 1 Bar, where things had picked up quite a bit compared to the afternoon. The 2 guys are musicians who later on invited me to play a few Thai songs with them.
These 2 have been with the Number 1 Bar for years.
I sure like the look of the new bar. The table s and chairs are a lot more comfortable than the old ones.
And the pool table was re-covered with red felt!
I stayed at the Number 1 Bar pretty late and went back to my room to take a shower and go to sleep. It was then that I noticed there was not hot water! Come one! No hot water and no AC? That was a total deal breaker for me. It was so bad that I left the hotel in the wee hours of the morning and I went to:
My favorite place to stay in Khonkaen is The Tamarind Residences.
Recently, our friends at the Wild West Chophouse in Taiwan asked me to shoot some photos for their new menu. When I shoot important stuff (i.e. for someone else and not for the blog) I shoot in raw file mode. Even though they didn’t use ‘them’, here are my results. Be prepared to have your mouth water….
The new menu features a roast beef platter, cooked rare in this shot.
If you prefer your meat a little more done, then this is just what you need.
We hope you get a chance to enjoy these items at the Wild West Chophouse.
Wild West, #256 Guang Ming 1st Road, Zhubei, Taiwan. 大西部, 新竹縣竹北市光明一路256號
This installment of TWIF is a combination of camera-rendered jpegs, and Lightroom manipulated Nikon raw files, as I am experimenting with shooting raw. It’s somewhat overkill for doing web work like our blog, but I’m having fun getting into the development aspect as I started out when I was 17 shooting Kodak tri-ex B&W film and making prints in my own darkroom. At any rate, enough of that and onto the photos…food photos to be precise!
Shots below were taken in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Market, a foodie’s paradise and given the vibrant colors of the dishes, an artist’s paradise as well.
Our regular readers will probably recognize this shot from downtown Hukou, where I went one day for lunch (before departing for Kaohsiung for the birth of our baby).
This is a bowl of rice noodles (mi-fen) and garnished with pork meat. A pretty typical Taiwanese lunch, and it was quite good.
Without any ceremony whatsoever, we go straight to the Hukou night market where we’ll take a look at several things such as these grilled squid.
Now I have to say, I’m not happy. The regular quick-fry place that Hui-chen and I have been going to for years, is no longer at the night market. I was wandering around looking for it when the boss of the place across from where it used to be spied me looking. He told me that the quick-fry boss opened up his own restaurant, but he wasn’t sure exactly where it was. He heard it was in Yangmei. Now I have to go investigate this new place, but when will I have time?
I ordered some food from this other boss and was disappointed. The omelet looking thing with the red sauce is an oyster pancake. I hadn’t had one in many years and the instant I bit into it, I remembered why. It’s made from a sticky flour that remains totally gooey when cooked, and with the oysters (which I normally love) it was just a gross mess. Plus the sauce was really bad. The one good thing was the San Miguel draft beer. At least that never changes.
So, I went down to the other quick-fry boss, where I had not gone to in years. This place has no menu you can look at. You look at the food and tell them how you’d like it prepared. Of course you can ask for suggestions but it does not always work out exactly how you think it will (see below).
This is the boss hard at work.
This is what I got – mountain pig. Normally the dish looks more like this, and I have eaten it many times at the now defunct quick-fry restaurant. But it never looked like this. It was just OK.
The boss posed for a photo.
The sign says “black pig sausage” and therefore I had to try it! This couple was very nice, and they put up with my poor Chinese. I ordered a garlic flavor sausage.
In this shot the boss lady is filling the sausage with wasabi! The resulting flavor was fantastic! Remember they had already added garlic to the sausage. Wow!
Next, a Japanese import:
Squid balls (not the Andrew Zimern kind!). I got 3 packs and took them home. They were great while watching a movie!
This is a shot of the Hsinchu Foodies (a Facebook group) dining at the Golden Triangle in Hukou. Shawn (far left) from Titty Tea put together a food tour of Hukou and everyone had a great time.
Now, we’re down in Kaohsiung, where our daughter was born. Hui-chen being confined to the convalescent center, I went out to eat with her mother, sister and sister’s husband.
Below, they’re making baozi dumplings.
Most of the time I just let HC’s mother do the ordering. She nails like 99% of what I like so the most I have to do is maybe add one dish.
I just love Taiwan greens, such as this dragon mustache in the foreground.
Always, one of the best wonton soups, ever.
Like many restaurants in Taiwan, and Asia in general, this place uses blood as an ingredient. I do not eat blood or else I could report on this Hot & Sour soup, which contains duck blood.
As always, these meat and pastry products are outstanding!
Now for the steamed baozi!
These are “tang bao” or soup dumplings.
Now, we change scenery to a place that I visited 2 times in one week – in the Guang Hua tourist night market area. This was my table right off the street.
No menu, just told the waitress what I wanted, I began with salt shrimp. I always eat the shell too.
Our regular readers know that I’m crazy about deep fried oysters. This dish didn’t disappoint!
Liver flavor Chinese sausage. Fantastic flavor!
There is a name for this dish of grilled pork with the vinegar dip, but I forgot it, lol. It was good nevertheless.
The Guang Hua area is several blocks long and bustling with activity even on a weekday night.
Now I told you that I went back to this same place another night. This time I took more photos of the food they have on offer. The speckled snake looking thing in the upper right hand corner is moray eel. If you’ve never had moray eel, you don’t know what you’re missing – they are fantastic!
The dark colored sausage is the liver flavor that I like.
At first I thought this was snake, but it’s eel of some kind.
As I was waiting for the dishes, I took this shot of the signs that show where this night market is. The little brown sign on the left says “Guang Hua Tourist Night Market” but the English omits the word “tourist” for some reason.
Plain boiled shrimp with garlic. Nice dish.
Deep fried pork large intestine. Great Taiwanese style dish.
These are wok-fried mini cabbages, almost like Brussels sprouts.
I just had to get another order of this liver sausage because it was so good!
Of course, I try not to go back to the same places over and over, so I went out to explore a place I haven’t been back to in a few years – the Wu Jia road night market.
Every Saturday night there is a street night market, in addition to the regular everyday night market. I took a walk down the street and shot a few photos for our readers. Then I went to eat at the regular night market vendor area.
But onto the food. I haven’t been here in probably 4 years, maybe more.
You’re not seeing things: that is a cobra on the sign.
They serve snake, and I got a bowl of snake soup. At first the boss lady kinda ignored me. I guess she figured I was in the wrong place but when I spoke to her in Chinese and told her I wanted some snake soup she brought it over right away.
This is the aftermath of the soup. You can see the snake bones on my plate so you know I wasn’t joking. This was the real thing. The soup has ginger and rice wine flavoring.
This is the boss posing in front of a jar of snake liquor that he made.
I decided to walk around and check out another place where I used to eat.
And here it is. I found out later that they’ve been here for 30 years so I shouldn’t have been concerned. They serve….
…. really excellent duck meat! I love duck and I seldom had it in the US where duck is ridiculously expensive. It’s cheap and plentiful in Taiwan though.
Those are duck intestines on the left. They make a nice dish too.
Sliced duck meat with a rich brown sauce for NT. Hard to beat.
So good, I had to get another order!
After that delicious duck, I walked around to find one more thing to top off the evening.
And that was this grill place.
Here you see the boss lady brushing on some sauce as she charcoal grills the various fare.
I had a morning flight to Khonkaen. I did not take out my D7000 for the duration of the flight. So my first shot of the day was taken with my mobile phone as I exited the plane and walked toward the terminal building. It had been well over 2 years since I was last in Khonkaen. I had some questions about places that I used to frequent, as things change pretty quickly in Thailand. But I didn’t have time to go check things out. The first order of business was to get down to Phon to the factory that I had come go visit.
I got on the bus and took a seat in what looked like the biggest row. It turns out that things have changed since I was last in Khonkaen. There are 2 bus terminals, and I went to the one where I used to get buses to Phon in years past. They are no longer there. So I had to walk about 1.5 KM to the old bus station. I found a bus that was leaving in 15 minutes according to the schedule, anyway. It ended up leaving about 30 minutes later.
This is the old, non-airconditioned bus terminal. In times past, only the local non-VIP buses stop here, which is why I wanted to avoid taking a bus from this station. I wanted a VIP bus with air conditioning and one that only stops at the major stations.
This vendor got on the bus, and let me tell you, he had a real rap going! He held up various items for sale and even though I cannot understand Thai, I could tell that he had a very good presentation prepared. You can see toothbrushes in his left hand, while he holds up lighters. He had fingernail clippers, and you name it!
Rather bored waiting for the bus to take off, I looked out the window and took a few shots of the old station.
Finally we backed out of our slot and started to move!
The line of tuk-tuks are still there of course, but….
these are new – metered taxis. The last time I was in Khonkaen, I heard a rumor about metered taxis coming to the city. It turns out that the rumor was true. These metered taxis were very vigorously opposed by the tuk-tuk drivers, who are accustomed to charging customers whatever they think they can get away with.
The main problem with using a tuk-tuk is that most of the time I cannot tell the driver where I want to go in Thai beforehand. The reason this is important is because you have to get the price up front before you begin. Once, in Bangkok, I neglected to get the price up front for a short trip to the BTS and the driver had the nerve to charge me 300 baht.
That trip should have been 40 or 50 baht. So, it’s important to negotiate that price before you get in the tuk-tuk. But if you can’t tell the driver the name of the place (and you’re just doing to point and tell him where to turn) then you can’t haggle the price. But the metered taxis solve that problem by the use of the meter. It doesn’t matter where you are going – you can just point and grunt, but the meter will read the same as if you spoke perfect Thai to the driver. The tuk-tuk drivers do not like the competition.
One last look at the old bus station and we’re on our way down to Phon.
Central Plaza is relatively new to Khonkaen. It’s a nice upscale mall not unlike what you would find in Taiwan.
This bus was what Brunty calls “a cattle car” and it takes back streets and stops anywhere. We passed this oil refinery complex that I had never seen before, and it’s in Khonkaen.
I love stuff like this. Real Thai.
Now, at first glance, this might seem like a shot of 2 people on a motorcycle taking lots of stuff with them. But it’s not. The subject of this photo is the window. There is no metal column between the panes of glass. The black strip is duct tape. The entire time I was riding, the window was rattling and I could see daylight along the bottom seam. It occurred to me that if I sat with pressure on the window, it could break and I would be tossed out of the bus at highway speed. Naturally, I readjusted things so I wasn’t touching the glass!
These gas station/rest area complexes are so typical of highway travel in Thailand. Some of these complexes are huge!
There are still places with high water. It’s been years and the water still hasn’t receded.
The bus took a turn toward Ban Phai station.
This next series of photos was taken with my camera in my lap, pointing out the window beside a seat. I’ve reported on police checks in Thailand before, and this one is a perpetual police check on Highway 2, south of Ban Phai. If you ask me, it’s nothing but an opportunity for the Thai police to line their pockets with cash.
Here you see a police officer writing a ticket. Notice that they are all wearing masks. You cannot identify them with the sun glasses and masks.
This poor sucker is going to have to pay. I have no idea what the criteria for stopping a vehicle is, but I’ve yet to be stopped at this particular checkpoint when driving either a motorcycle or car.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering why I would post a photo of a urinal. It’s because Dear Reader, I have a duty to show you everything that I see. This is the first time that I’ve seen fruit used to manage the smell of a urinal, so naturally I had to share this with you. Please note that this technique was not successful, however.
I arrived in Phon and decided to walk to the factory because I wanted to get some exercise. As I headed out to the main road, I turned around and snapped this photo of the Phon Bus Station.
As I was walking down the highway, I saw the above block building, and….
These Isaan ladies selling their wonderful dried sausage.
In this story, I mention going to a factory where we met Mr. Somhkit. I won’t go into it here, but I went to ask Mr. Somkhit to pack up my tools and send them to Taiwan. Mr. Somkhit took me to lunch, and his lovely wife and daughter joined us.
Right off, I had a Thai tea! It was delicious!
First up, mu krapau – a very very good version of this famous dish!
Sour Thai seafood soup.
This was so good, it deserves a second shot!
Deep fried morning glory. The sauce was perfect with the aromatic vegetables.
Believe it or not, this is a German style pork leg. So you can see of course, there was too much food on the table, again!
As we were talking about food and tea, I was made aware of a very cool offering: Thai style bubble tea! This is the same excellent Thai style mixed tea from the first photo, with the tapioca balls from Taiwan! This tea was fantastic! I hope to see this tea available in Taiwan soon!
I wanted to get a shot of the place where we ate, but, because of the air conditioning, my lens fogged up as soon as I went back outdoors. Oh well.
Since my business with Mr. Somkhit was concluded for that day, I went back to the bus station to catch a bus for Udon Thani to meet Oath, who had flown there this morning. Mr. Somkhit took me to the bus station where he introduced me to his friend, once of the managers. I got my ticket and said goodbye to Mr. Somkhit, but only after we made arrangements to meet later on in the week.
The uneventful mulit-hour trip to Udon Thani.
Once I got to Udon Thani, I met Oath who picked me up and took me to a hotel where he was staying with his girlfriend. I was so beat from the early morning flight that I took a shower and went to sleep right away. Later on when I met up with Oath and his girlfriend to go out to eat, I forgot to take my camera with me – that’s just how tired I was. So, like a dummy, I wasn’t able to take any shots of where we went, except for this mobile phone shot below:
They had a huge stage, with 5 bands going on, one after the other, throughout the night.