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short trip to Buriram, Isaan

I'm not necessarily saying it's a good idea to do a weekend outing to Buriram (out of Bangkok), but I just did that myself so I'll pass on a few thoughts on it.  We've also visited Pattaya, Rayong, Korat, and Khon Kaen for weekend outings, and I won't get far with comparing what is around in all those places, but might mention an idea or two.

As a start, there isn't that much to do and see in Buriram, and not one or two compelling reasons to go out there.  Or to the rest of Issan.  That said, those areas are different, and there are lots of minor things to see out there, so for a quiet weekend outing seeing this or that it's nice to get out to different places.  We would visit Korat and Rayong to go to a zoo and water park, mostly, or really that was a premise just to get out.  Khon Kaen has dinosaur fossils and a museum, and a zoo with a water park. 

We just saw a large Buddha statue on a hill with an extinct volcano crater in Buriram and that was about it.  There is an ancient temple a good bit outside the town (60 km), and a local Bangkok friend mentioned there is a notable local temple to see there in the town, but we missed it.  Our hotel there (the Best Western) had a pool, and the idea was to get out for a short visit and relax, so that's what we did.  I started the trip sick and that toned down the scope or else we would've headed out to that ancient temple that's not so close.  Buriram United is there, of course, a football (soccer) team, and apparently go-cart racing is also a significant draw.

When we drive out to see Isaan (the usual process) we can drive around the countryside and see small parks and such, or temples, but we took the train this time.  We hadn't taken one of the new trains, which are probably over a year old now, so still relatively new but not compared to a year ago.  It's about a 6 or 7 hour trip to Buriram, which really works out to be too short for an overnight sleeper-car trip since it cuts off the night's sleep you might get.  Visiting Nong Kai to go to Laos (further up that way) or to the North to Chiang Mai works better.  Second class sleeper car berths are the best value since sitting upright in a chair isn't practical but it's almost the same experience of a private cabin.  We went first class this time, not that much more expensive, on the order of 1500 baht versus down around 1000.  I guess if someone really values privacy or if saving 1000 baht isn't a consideration it's a better way to go.

It's interesting, to me, how much difference there is in tourists visiting Thailand for two weeks trying to pack it all in and local travel, where spending quieter time or seeing things a bit off the beaten path can be priorities instead.  There's a nice aquarium not that far outside of Pattaya, and a small park there where you can see a mangrove forest you walk above on a raised deck loop.  For tourists in from Europe or wherever else neither would make any sense at all, or even trekking all the way out to Khon Kaen to see dinosaur fossils, which are a bit more novel.  The feel of being in a smaller town can be nice, of course with different restaurant options, standard activities like movie theaters, and so on.  My wife gets a massage on trips, definitely something available in Bangkok (everything is, more or less), but the relaxed pace allows time for things you normally don't get to.

I didn't have much luck adding a few images here but an external link to a shared photo folder might work (and if it doesn't you didn't miss much; it all looks just like it sounds like it would):

Google photos archive folder

I am afraid my tales of Isaan would be no more exciting than yours.  Driving the remote backroads, through mountains and along rivers, from Nan to Chiang Khan or stopping at Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park on the way home were interesting for me but Isaan in general is my least favorite area of Thailand.  We went to visit a nephew a few year ago and haven’t been back.

(You do realize there are several other photo albums viewable by backtracking from this one.)

About that last part, I didn't give it a lot of thought, but in general if I've put something up as public in Google + or Facebook I'm not too worried about someone seeing it.  I have posted pictures of family for all to see, which I wouldn't do in the US, but somehow it seems like less of an issue here, as if Thailand is shorter on related risks.  As blogger I had to decide to either set up a consistent firewall between my identity and life and that writing or not do that and I chose the latter.

I kind of like Isaan.  The North is more beautiful, and beaches have a different kind of appeal, but I feel a strange connection to what seem to be ordinary small towns there.  Or medium sized towns, depending on where we visit.  When I was walking around there this time I was considering how strange that is, that it reminds me a little of completely different experiences in a different country, but there is still perhaps more cultural separation between me and what's going on than there is continuity.  I think after a decade here and years of moving around the US prior I'd feel a lesser version of that distance no matter where I was.  Or as another expat once put it, a South African living in the States, at some point you are just not completely at home anywhere.

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