We were dropped off at the central bus station in Udon Thani and because we were in a rush to get out to Ban Chiang (60 kilometers outside of Udon Thani) where the UNESCO site is located, we decided to just bring our backpacks with us and check in to our hotel at the end of the day.
Lucky for us, or so we thought, there was a bus leaving in the direction of Ban Chiang (there are no buses that go directly to Ban Chiang) within 10 minutes. We really thought our timing was awesome BUT the bus broke down 15 minutes after leaving Udon Thani. We were the only foreigners on the bus and no one spoke english other than the odd word or two. The local people on our bus quickly surrounded us trying to assure us that we would be looked after. They kept telling us ‘no money’ ‘no money’ which after some going back and forth with their broken english and our broken Thai, we finally understood that they had arranged for another bus to stop and pick us up and we were not to pay any extra money for the ride. Unfortunately that bus was full and we had to ride standing in the aisle but a local man made sure we had a spot to put our backpacks while another local man that could speak english made sure we got off at the right stop (it wasn’t really a stop, just a road intersecting with the highway). There was a tuk-tuk waiting at the intersection so we hopped on and he took us right to the UNESCO site in Ban Chiang which was about 6 kilometers away.
Ban Chiang is one of the most important prehistoric settlements discovered in SE Asia. It shows that around 5,000 years ago a settlement farmed the land and started to make bronze castings for their tools and they also made beautiful pottery. Archaeologists found a number of burial sites with broken pottery covering the graves.
These were some of my favourite pottery pieces in the museum.
This was an infant burial jar from 2000 BC.
Some of the many bangles found around the site.
We really weren’t sure nor did we worry too much about how we would get back to Udon Thani. We knew as long as we could get to the main road then we could just flag down a bus or mini-van. The problem was we did not see one tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi while we were in Ban Chiang so we weren’t sure how we would get to the main road aside from walking, which was out of the question because it was a scorcher that day. We noticed a little market in a park and headed over to check it out. There was a small police post there and a police officer was trying to point us in the direction of the museum, we told him we had already visited but we needed to get back to Udon Thani. No sooner did I finish the sentence and a man jumps out of his chair and quickly walks away (at this point I say to Gordon that I think he is trying to find us a ride). A few minutes later the policeman calls out to us and points to the man who jumped out of his chair, who is now waiting in his truck and will drive us to the next town to catch the bus. This is not something we normally do but it all seemed okay and in reality we didn’t have other options.
While we were waiting at the bus stop, I confirmed with a girl sitting next to me if this is where we can catch the bus for Udon Thani. A young guy over hears this and says that he is going to Udon Thani with his truck but he’s waiting for his girlfriend to arrive on the bus, he says “you come with me”? We knew the bus was going to be really slow and we were hoping not to repeat what happened earlier in the day with the bus breaking down. We chatted with him for awhile and we asked him if he’s sure that he wants extra passengers and he assures us that it’s no problem, he’s going there anyways. Again, this is not how we typically travel and would never recommend doing this somewhere like South America but this is Isaan country in Thailand and the locals like to help. Gordon was joking earlier on in the day about how we might have to hitchhike and then it turns out we end up catching a ride…it’s not really hitching if you don’t have your thumb out right? Today was another one of those days when people are just so friendly and helpful, there are some really great people out there and we seem to be reminded of this often
In the evening we visited the City Pillar Shrine and had dinner overlooking the lake.
Our last day in Udon Thani was kind of a lazy day. We browsed the morning fresh market and then went for coffee.
Later in the afternoon we walked around the lake that was near our guesthouse. There was a walking path and a separate bike path and they are very well used, we saw lots of people out exercising.
There’s not a lot to do in the city itself but the surrounding areas have some interesting things to see. One thing is for sure, Udon Thani has the coolest tuk-tuks we have seen in Thailand.
Udon Thani made a good base for our visit to the UNESCO site and we discovered some nice markets and parks, also the local people are super friendly and helpful.
Where we stayed: Jamjuree Home
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel