Khon Kaen – A Wedding And An Empty Fruit Bowl

Khon Kaen is never going to make the world’s big fruit bowl. The Big Apple it isn’t, and the Big Mango it ain’t. Isn’t, and ain’t, kind of sum up Khon Kaen to me. What New York and Bangkok serves up in big chunks, Khon Kaen offers in smaller slices, but it isn’t ever, and ain’t never, going to make Thailand’s big party fruit bowl.

Khon Kaen has two bus stations, non air and air con. My plan was simple. Wonderful Wi would check in to one of the city’s hotels mid afternoon, and my VIP coach from Suvarnabhumi airport would arrive at Khon Kaen’s air con bus terminal in the early hours the next morning. Wilai would meet me there. Wilai waited at the non air bus station from 2-30 am, my bus arrived at the air con one 45 minutes later, eventually we met.

The Bussarakam Hotel was a typical provincial city hotel. It was neat and tidy, with a breakfast buffet more suited to evening time. The hotel had a decent bar/restaurant, and our was room was 900 baht a night.

I’d phoned Wi from Suvarnabhumi and she’d told me the name of the hotel we’d be staying, she’d also explained the Bussarakam Hotel was near full. Khon Kaen University was having its graduation day and apparently the hotel was booked full with Thais.

The thought of young, fit, nubile female graduates lounging around the hotel had made my six hour journey to Khon Kaen  pass a lot quicker. Wilai had insisted on chaperoning me from the bus station to the hotel… what mischief could I get up to at half three in the morning… then again, perhaps she was just looking forward to seeing me. I was glad to see her too, but the thought seeing young, sexy university girls, had me pretty excited too.

Unfortunately, the hotel’s guests had more wrinkles than high cheekbones, their youth had sagged with Old Father Time. The university students parents and close family were staying at the hotel, but their fresh faced student daughters were nowhere to be seen. Never mind, I wasn’t in Khon Kaen to ogle young women, I had a wedding to attend.

It’s difficult to judge a city in two and a half days, but what little I did see, didn’t really convince me it was my kind of place. Khon Kaen’s Central Plaza shopping mall was huge, and would even make a large dot on Bangkok’s map, but it seemed just too big for the city. Khon Kaen was ideal for shopping, but I’m more of a nightlife animal.

Those seeking nightlife might be a little disappointed too, or at least I was, there seemed very little of it about, and what there was, was too spread out. Maybe we just ventured into the quieter parts of the city.

Food in Thailand is quality no matter where you travel. Khon Kaen was no different. On both nights we visited a different restaurant. On the first night we enjoyed great food and a live band who played Sek Loso songs to perfection. On the second evening we ate at a restaurant on a giant lake, and the lemon chicken breast they served was absolutely delicious.

We were in Khon Kaen because my mate Dean was marrying Nuan, a rural girl from Roi- Et, which is a far bit east of Khon Kaen. Wilai and myself were the only guests, and Dean wisely chose to put a fair distance between the wedding ceremony and his future in-laws. A dowry is more easy to negotiate long distance, and over a phone.

We all turned up at the local district office in one tuk tuk, not many wedding parties can say that. Inside it looked more like a place to cash travellers cheques than get hitched. The ceremony was more wham bam than confetti. A couple of clerks banged their rubber stamps and the show was over. It was the quickest wedding I’d ever seen.

The four of us celebrated the matrimony at the lemon chicken restaurant that night. The bride and groom seemed very happy together. Dean is one loyal guy and I know Nuan has herself a very good husband. From the two days I spent with Nuan, I reckon Dean has grabbed himself one beautiful, loyal partner as well. I wish them the very best in what I hope is a long and happy partnership.

Our partnership with Khon Kaen ended very much as it had started. We took a mid morning tuk tuk to the air con bus station, but the next bus to Udon Thani was a long time away. Wilai then told the tuk tuk driver to take us to the non air terminal, and within minutes we were on our way to Udon Thani.

My overall impression of Khon Kaen, and it was formed over a very short stay, was that it really didn’t have enough active nightlife for me, and our visit was during the busy Christmas season. Despite that, Wilai and myself had an enjoyable time in the city and must explore it further one day.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

18 Responses

  1. Talen says:

    Martyn, Khon Kaen sounds very similar to Mukdahan…perhaps a bit bigger. The small towns can be nice to kick back take it all in and rejuvenate some but much like you I need a bit more going on.

    It’s nice to visit Mukdahan but Nakhon Phanom is much nicer and much bigger.

    Sounds Liek Dean and his bride are off to a good start…dowry not withstanding. Hopefully he has a very long and loving marriage

  2. John says:

    well i hope you all enjoy 2010 merry exmas and new year hope the newly-weds have great married life
    regards john
    .-= John´s last blog ..bus/ train/car to udon thani to nong khai =-.

  3. Lawrence says:

    Hi Martyn

    That’s the first hassle-free Thai wedding I’ve ever heard of. I guess you were, if not the best man, at least the best they could find. Hope you made a speech.

    I agree with what you say about Khon Khaen. It’s also a bit of a nightmare to drive through but I usually miss the ring road signs and end up doing so,

    Have a Happy New Year and lots of luck, health & prosperity in 2010.
    .-= Lawrence´s last blog ..Introducing my new blog =-.

  4. Camille says:

    Guess you summed up Khon Kaen in this post nicely, except if you originate from KK you may have a slightly pov!

    Happy New Yaer to you and Wi!
    .-= Camille´s last blog ..1st January, 2010 =-.

  5. Hoo Don says:

    Talen – Nakhon Phanom sounds like Udon in that it’s a lot livelier. Udon’s nothing mind blowing bur there is action there if you want it. Happy New Year to you and everyone.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    John the newly weds seemed happy enough. I made it to Ban Dung but only had time to sink a couple of beers for you. Best wishes.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Lawrence the only speech I made was in ordering a couple of beers. The weather in Khon Kaen was really hot and I did enjoy my stay but a few more days there may have seen boredom set in. Have a great New Year.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Camille happy New Year to you and I hope business continues to pick up on Koh Samui and in the rest of Thailand as well. I have probably pissed off a few KK locals but they are welcome to comment on the best places to visit in and around the city.

  9. Catherine says:

    The experience reads similar to weddings in Nevada. Get your license, get in line, a few words are said and you are done. If life were so easy…
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Happy New Ears to You too Prudential =-.

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I think the 400 baht fee might be a tad higher in Nevada but I get your sand drift.

  11. Catherine says:

    Agreed. And it’s a toss-up on who’s fees are higher coming out the other end. No sand included 😉
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thai Typing Tutor Game =-.

  12. John says:

    nice one shame you only made it for 2 beers but did you have a good trip hope so issan in winter is the best
    where looking forward to are next visit
    keep up the bloging
    ps nick from laos friendship bridge as just put up another video on ban dung so i posted it to my ban dung blog its eddies bar check it out
    .-= John´s last blog and new year expat udon thani issan =-.

  13. Jon says:

    Wow they even have an arch way when we registered our marriage (before the ceremony) it was literally a case of signing the papers, paying the money (400 baht) and getting out. The glamour, drama and drinking came much later.

    Glad all went well, all the best.

  14. Siam.Rick says:

    Martyn, welcome back to LOS. Hope your stay is filled with beer, er, domestic bliss. (Yes, I know your friend got married 😉

    Anyway, this is not a guarantee, but I’m expecting to light down in Udon end of this week. On way to Lao PDR for some moto riding. In Ubon right now. Nice town, very nice town, rather it’s quite big and definitely a city.

    Will email you my mobile.
    chrs, rick
    .-= Siam.Rick´s last blog ..Eat your livers out Bangkok drinkers =-.

  15. Hoo Don says:

    John I really am starting to like Bang Dung and it’s only half an hour from our house. One day i can see myself spending a lot of time there.

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Jon the archway photo was taken at the evening restaurant, the district office was very much a pay your money and get out of here affair, next please.

  17. Hoo Don says:

    Rick I will give you a ring before I’m due home. I’m heading out of Udon on the 8th. We just might make a beer.

  18. Rich says:

    Thailand is a beautiful venue for wedding. One time I attended a wedding ceremony for my cousin’s wedding and it was wonderful seeing the traditional Thai Wedding.It was a great experience. 🙂
    .-= Rich´s last blog ..Where to Find Cheap Wedding Rings =-.

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