Uncle's Ho House

Trip Start Feb 20, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  , Nakhon Phanom,
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A five and a half hour bus journey through deep jungle forests took me to the 'city of mountains' where undulating peaks lie across the river in Laos, a remarkably beautiful town with nothing to attract the tourists but the temples surrounding it.

I made the journey further North East to visit the spire of Wat Phra That Phanom which is one of the region's most emblematic symbols and the greatest flagpoles of Isan identity. Many Thai's believe that the Lord Buddha travelled to Thailand and directed that one of his breastbone relics be enshrined to a chedi to be built on this particular site. Hence; eight years after his death this chedi was constructed and built to fifty three metres high with a five tiered golden umbrella laden with precious gems which adds a further four metres to the top.

I took an hours bus journey to get here but upon arrival it was raining so hard and the tuk-tuk drivers were telling me that the temple was miles away. I'm not quite sure why I believed them but they wanted 100 baht to take me there. When I agreed I knew I had been taken for a ride (literally!) because it was just around the corner from the station! Doh! And I should know by now that the only people you should never trust in Thailand are the tuk-tuk drivers!

The guy who ran the guesthouse was a ladyboy (they get absolutely everywhere and even appear in the soaps out here!) but he was the friendliest person I've come across, trying to help me get to places the cheapest way possible and giving me lots of information about the surrounding area. I was interested to see Uncle Ho Chi Minh's house which lay in a Vietnamese community town about three kilometres away so he helped me to get a tuk-tuk for the 'local' price and the driver who I ended up with was very enthusiastic about the simple wooden structure, even though he couldn't speak a lot of English.

I discovered that the communist leader lived here between 1928-1929 when he was planning his resistance movement. As soon as we arrived at the house the driver turned around to me and said very encouragingly 'Uncle's Ho House!' to which I couldn't help but smirk at his wrongly worded phrase. In fact I was so childish to find it all amusing that I couldn't help but comment and say to him 'no wonder the house is in the countryside in the middle of no-where if he was doing things such as that!' to which the driver replied 'exactly!' I laughed so hard but I wondered whether anybody could be imprisoned for blasphemy even though he clearly had no idea what he'd just said!

Wandering around the town of Nakhon Phanom itself I noticed that many Thai people have those smelling sticks which you put up your nose to help you breathe better when you have a cold. It may be because of the pollution of the fumes (even though the petrol isn't lead based out here) but it appeared to me that they were actually addicted to the stuff as they constantly seemed to be sniffing on it every few minutes! Mmm attractive!

After spending a few days in the North East of Thailand by myself, I was looking forward to going to a backpacker travel place and meeting some new friends; which I have been assured by the lonely planet is not that far away from where I am so that is my new mission for tomorrow!
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