One of my favourite cities in the Northeast of Thailand is Mukdahan.
It was one of
the first stops I had when first visiting the so-called Isan region of
the kingdom. And it was here that our car broke down and we could not
continue driving until it was "repaired" by locals in a makeshift garage
over night. Of course the car was in worse shape after the repair and
continued to have major problems. We were also totally ripped-off by the
mechanics in the moment they saw western guys paying the bill. So, we
had to stay a full three days and re-use the ATM machine which only gave
a certain amount per day.
The good thing
about the extended stay was though that we had plenty of time to explore
the city, which is located on the banks of the Mekong River, just
opposite of the Lao province of Sawannakhet. Since 2007 the 2nd Thai-Lao
Friendship Bridge connects Laos and Thailand here.
is lined with beautiful and important temples, like Wat Sri Bun Ruang,
Wat Sri Mongkhon Thai, Wat Sri Mongkhon Nuea and historic temples like
Wat Manophirom and others which sit right at the edge of the mighty
river and risk to get flooded on an annual basis.
The river here is
one of the most picturesque locations of the country with fishermen and
their boats visible as little dots in the middle of the river. It is
also the sight of the yearly boat race when thousands of local people
line the banks of the river while the teams try to beat each other. We
had seen the preparation works and the race once here and once further
south. It is an amazing spectacle to observe.
During the rest
of the year I experienced Mukdahan and the small villages north and
south of the city in a very quiet way. Sitting in one of the many
restaurants which are located along the river and eating fresh fish
during our breaks from visiting numerous quiet temples, paying respect
to the Buddha statues and engaging in talks with the local monks.