From Ubon to Udon
From the far Northeast corner of Thailand, sitting atop Cambodia and under the knee of Laos’s long leg, I am venturing North to Udon Thani, still hugging the Laos border. From here I am situated to travel further up her center with ease as I begin to hit Thailand’s North cities next week. Like Ubon Ratchathani, the place I’ve called home for the past two nights (along with one large spider whose intricate deluxe condominium of webbing sat on the Park Avenue of the bathroom’s ceiling, the even larger cockroach I battled with the heel of my shoe in a very rare and barbaric estrangement of my vegan beliefs which swiftly returned with profuse apologies at his burial and Dog the Bountyhunter who lulled me asleep through the 13″ screen from 13′ away), my next destination, Udon Thani, is a city that developed as a result of American G.I.s being based there during the Vietnam War. Once home to the largest U.S. Air Force base in Thailand, it apparently now has the largest expat American population in all of Northeast Thailand. Given this, it is said to have kept a good deal of Western flare, mostly in its pubs and restaurants. I’m curious how I will respond to this. This morning, having my final meal at the vegetarian heaven, I heard a familiar noise in the distance, as if humming from the trees was a bird with a melody from home. It was English being spoken by an American. The song was fluid but brash and exaggerated, dominated by an effeminate male voice exclaiming about whether to give the 100% cotton-knit boho top to Tatiana (a name in which it is impossible to speak without a mark of pretension) or Zack. I ignored the voice as I had grown accustom to doing being amidst Thai speakers, as if it were another language. Will Udon Thani cause a similar reaction? Was I just a little bit cranky this morning? Whatever the case, I am ready to accept a little Western culture here in the East. As evidenced by circumstances of my first alcoholic drink consumed here in Thailand. Here is to 3 weeks on the wagon… Before arriving in Udon Thani, I knew I couldn’t resist a beer or two at pub in the far west corner of town. At Western Pub the staff are all donned in cowboy hats, the amazing band plays covers of songs from the West and the decor is straight-up saloon. I had a blast among its few locals, enthusiastic bar maids and bandmates who took my requests and thanked the bar in Thai and English.