Our first stay in Thailand was in Ubon Ratchathani, the closest city to the Lao border. After reading about the city in our guidebook, we planned on spending two nights here to take in the sights and avoid spending a night on Khaosan Road. As soon as we arrived though, we quickly changed our mind. Aside from a few temples, there isn’t much to the city and it wasn’t really a welcoming one. Rides around town were expensive, and even our hotel sign was in Thai. Clearly this isn’t a city on the tourist radar! While that can be a good thing at times, it wasn’t really for this town.
After checking-in to our hotel (in a pretty crummy room), we headed straight to the train station to book our tickets out of town. Because we were going to be taking a day train, finding a ticket was no problem at all.
With time left to spare, we decided to check off the city sights. We first visited Wat Sri Ubon Rattanaram, the city’s holiest temple. This temple holds a 7 cm high topaz Buddha, which was brought into the city from Vientiane. It is now the city’s most valuable possession. To respect Buddhist custom, and to ensure that the holiest is placed the highest, the topaz Buddha was placed very high up on the temple wall, much above the other Buddhas. It was difficult to see from so far away, but lights shining onto it helped and so did the reproduction at eye-level.
Next to the main building of the temple is a lesser building which houses numerous Buddha’s and is mostly frequented by children on their way in or out of school. For a small donation you can shake sticks to get a fortune, lift a heavy rock to see if you’ll be enlightened or simply pray.
I shook sticks and got the following fortune:
What this number forcasts is great, you’ll always be powerful, lucky, happy and healthy. The fortune you wish is likely to come true. The spouse you’re expecting will add to your prosperity. If you’re ill, you’ll completely get well. Nothing is bad, all is fine like a bright shining moon.
Not too bad!
Travis grabbed his first Chai An (Thai tea) since being back, and in a great mood we crossed the street to check out the City Pillar temple and the Candle monument. The Candle monument was quite ornate, and on a boat. It had some weird carvings of humans being eaten by fish, but overall it was mostly the usual Asian sights of Garuda and the likes.
On our way back to our room we discovered a great little restaurant / bar / book exchange spot, nearly right in front of our hotel! Called The Wrong Way Cafe, it was a great place to hang out at. The food was great, and so was the WiFi! I overheard them saying that they had rooms on offer as well, so if you’re heading there, I’d recommend asking them about room before booking at the place across the street.
Tip: The information counter at the train station has an English map of the city, with sights, hotels, and bus stops.