Tony is up for the dawn to take photos, but it is not as spectacular as he had hoped. The moon is setting too, and that looks really cool. Tony goes for a wander, and sees the neighbours have a visitor already, a street hawker with his scooter loaded up. It looks like he is selling herbs and veges, dozens of plastic bags are hanging off the bike.
Breakfast is not a patch on yesterday, coffee, bananas and toast – the cook is still away. We head away mid morning, taking the long way home around the Ubolratana Dam. On the way we see a herd of water buffalo, and at one town see a tyre shop with some cool sculptures made from old tyres. We stop here for a feed and a coffee.
We reach Ubolratana Dam around 2.30, it certainly is an impressive sight. Icecreams all round, then we hit the road again, our next stop is some sort of a resort. Monanza Thung Pong has bit of a zoo, well, there are enclosures, but the only sign of life is animal poo. It is pretty hot, so they are probably sheltering. There is a bit of building work going on, but strangely the obviously dilapidated sections are left untouched. Apparently when something comes to the end of its’ useful life here, it is just abandoned, and something built to replace it.
Wat Pa Kham Hua Chang Temple (Chang is Thai for elephant) is not far from Khon Kaen. It is a strange place, absolutely chocka with models of elephants of all sizes. There are hundreds of thousands of them, joined by toy camels, horses, cows, dogs, etc, but not to the same extent as the elephants. We can see a massive Budda statue being built, the head is on the ground under a shade cloth, and people are placing gold foil on it. It doesn’t appear to be sticking very well to the statue, and we wonder how well it will last. There are a few market stalls, and the monks are doing a roaring trade in flowers to leave at the site. We spend a bit of time here looking around, quite blown away by the sheer numbers of toy elephants, in various states of repair. It seems that once placed they are left to decay. Most are concrete molded, and the paint work fades quickly in this weather.
Back in Khon Kaen we drive through the huge university campus. Jeff takes us to the horticultural section, where plants are sold to boost university funds. We buy some orchids for Jeff and Karen, and would dearly love to be taking a few of these home with us. Close by are aquariums, and we see the ugliest butt ugly fish ever. We don’t know the name of it, but it is not pretty.
Near dusk we call in at the lake where a family are exercising their birds. They are here most days to let the birds fly free. There are a few different varieties, Macaw, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, and Lovebirds, among others. The two big ones are on a stand with food and water, but only the cocky is chained up. All the others are allowed to fly free, and return (usually) when they hear the whistle. One or two play up, and don’t come when called. The wee birds are all over us, landing on our arms, climbing up on to our shoulders, then on to the top of our heads where they look like they are going to make a nest. So funny. They have lots of fun in Cynthea’s long hair.
We get some stunning sunset photos, and head over to the markets across the road for a feed (and a beer) before heading home. It has been a busy couple of days, especially for Jeff as he did all the driving, and we have been lucky to see all that we did.