We arose early to make the 55km to Nakon Ratchasima (Korat) before it got too hot. It was the third and final day of Songkran, but the Thai people were still in bed resting when we arrived at our destination. It was too early to check into a hotel so we spent some time on the internet.
Around lunchtime we started looking at hotels, getting drenched yet again by a barrage of kids as we moved around the streets. We alternated who inspected the hotels based on who looked the cleanest, but soon we both looked like sewer rats and it didn’t matter who went it. After looking at about six hotels we chose one called M Inn – it was clean, cheap, on a quiet side road, had Wifi, English TV channels and the owners spoke English and were very nice! – perfect!
We cleaned ourselves up and headed back out to find some lunch. The streets were alive again and we soon realized we shouldn’t have worried about cleaning up. All of the restaurants were closed for the holiday, so we trusted the cheap rice and scrambled eggs being offered along the side of the road. As we hungrily gobbled them up we were smiling and waving at the utes going past. One group of young people motioned for us to jump in the back with them, and we thought, why not? So we jumped in and rode with them through the water fight.
Although they spoke little English, and we spoke even less Thai, we laughed together as we threw water over passers by, danced on the road when traffic came to a standstill, and politely refused the potent smelling spirits that were being passed around. They were wasted alright! We rode with them for a few kilometers but they turned off the road to head to someone’s house. Then they started to get roudy so we jumped out next time they stopped. We had a long way to walk back, but it had been an experience to be part of the action from the attacking vantage, not just being drenched!
As we walked back we tried to find quiet side streets – in this town they were fond of putting ice in the water they were throwing – or even putting ice straight down your shirt – so it was often painful when the water hit. Plus, after three days, we were over being chased and drenched. In one of these side streets we met up with some missionaries who were also trying to stay as clean and dry as possible. But they were drenched and covered in clay like everyone else.
We made it back to M and cleaned ourselves up once again. We would stay here for a few days – enough time for Sam to get the train back to Ayutthaya (almost an 8 hour return journey) to have his tooth checked again and for us to make friends with the Thai owner Arun and her Norwegian husband Rune. I can’t speak highly enough of how they treated us, especially looking after me when Sam caught the train back for a couple of days to tell the dentist his tooth was not fixed, and that she had to fix it. Arun and Rune made sure I didn’t get lonely and gave me lots of tips for Northern Thailand and Laos.
We became so comfortable at M that it was difficult to drag ourselves back outside to ride in the heat. But our China visa expires soon, and we’ve still got to make it to the border!
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia