Sunday, December 12, 2010

My First Time with Goosebumps in Thailand: Our trip to Khon Kaen

The first weekend in December was not only my birthday, but also the King's Birthday. When traveling and living in Thailand you learn pretty quickly how important the King is to this country. Most buildings have pictures of the King and Queen inside and during this month you see GIANT pictures of the King just about anywhere you go. So, with such an important holiday Greg and I both got a 3 day weekend. We were invited up to Khon Kaen (Cone-Kin) with one of Aor, one of Greg's engineers, to visit her home and meet her family.

We (us, Aor, and our friends Eric and Melanie) took an early morning flight from Bangkok to arrive in Khon Kaen. On the way we took a closer look at the itinerary and background information Aor supplied us with to see what we would be doing and gain some background information. Ok, Greg read the info and I took a nap. Nonetheless, Aor was planned out and we knew we were going to be taken care off.

We were greeted at the airport by Aor's sister, Oh, and her parents.  It was "chilly" 70 degrees and for the first time in Thailand I had goose bumps outside. The first place we headed to was the town/province's spirit house. Aor's parents felt like visiting the spirit house was a best way to start a trip to a new place. Aor and her family made offerings of flowers and incense and prayed. It was a nice start to the trip.

Day one highlights consisted of visiting a Dinosaur Museum (they have found dinosaur bones near Khon Kaen), checking into our first ever 5 Star Hotel (reservations made by Oh who works for the University, so we got a discounted rate), and eating dinner at Aor's parent's home with her entire family.

At a dino park.
Inside the museum
Their working lab.

A fossil from Iowa!
Greg in our hotel's lobby.

Of course during our few hours of free time, we walked over to the Khon Kaen Train Station.

Before heading to dinner, Aor took us to their local street market which was right by this lake. We stopped because the sunset was beautiful!

This was the food on the table for the four of us! We didn't get a good shot of all the food here, but in reality this picture could be a before or after shot. The food just kept coming!
Aor's niece practicing a traditional dance, the following day she'd perform it at a celebration for the King.

A visit to the King Cobra Village was the first thing on our itinerary for Day 2. Traveling into this jungle village, we saw a huge black snake (Viper? Cobra? Python?) cross the road and we knew were in the right place. The Village itself is filled with families to raise King Cobras and work to make anti-venom for the surrounding areas. When we arrived the show was already started, but I think I saw enough. Greg choose to hold an anaconda (we think) at the end and I opted not. The day also included a hike up 200 stairs to a beautiful temple with a large white Buddha, a walk along a dam with large reservoir, a trip to the Thai Silk fair, and the town gathering for the King's Birthday.

At King Cobra Village

This cobra was HUGE!
If I ever have a son, he will not learn to play with cobras.

Greg being brave.

At the bottom of 200 stairs.
Are we at the top yet?

We made it!
Unlike the US, this big lake has no boats or people out on it. Aor said it used to have a tourist boat, but it sunk.

At the silk fair there was an exhibition: Silk worms and their cocoons.

Getting silk from the cocoons.

Weaving with Thai Silk

Fireworks! Happy Birthday King! Happy Father's Day Dads!

Lighting a candle for the King.
 Our last day we toured around Khon Kean. Before heading home we visited a sculpture park, saw many views of a big lake and visited the famous 9 story temple. Eric and Melanie brought along the information  Aor printed out for us, so we were able to read what each level was about as climbing up to the top for great view of the city. We ended our trip with a delicious meal at a local Vietnamese Restaurant where you put together your own fresh spring rolls, yummy!

Inside a giant rice basket sculpture used to make and hold sticky rice!

9 Story Temple

Oh took the picture, but here is a nice group shot.

The weekend was fabulous. We were very grateful to have Aor and her family treat us so kindly.

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