The top photograph is Udon Thani’s new Central Plaza shopping mall. It’s an impressive sight during daylight but when darkness falls the plaza looks even more grandiose. I took the picture last night when myself and the girls went on a day and overnight trip to Udon Thani. The girls being Wonderful Wi and two of her younger cousins Goon and Mae.
The Steak Baan Tung is a couple of kilometres outside Amphoe Phen and is on the country road which eventually winds its way to the Udon Thani highway. Its appearance from the outside was impressive and added to the expectation and appetite one feels when visiting a new eating house.
The interior furnishing of the Steak Baan Tung were almost as striking as the food it served. A medley of thick wood dining tables, contemporary fittings and cool aircon blew away my memory of the mosquitoes and flies I tag to Isaan’s country restaurants.
A succulent pork steak with sweetcorn (79 baht), two Thai style omelettes and a big hotpot bowl of Thai suki made the halfway house a very rewarding stop. The bill with two coffees was under 230 baht (US$7.50).
The girls enjoyed themselves at the Steak Baan Tung but I did wonder if their hushed chat and loud giggles were about a young handsome farmer or youthful enthusiasm about the day’s events we had planned. Horse racing, an evening meal with Wi’s brother’s family and a browse around Udon Thani’s night markets were on our menu, and its variety matched that of the Steak Baan Tung’s.
We checked into our hotel shortly before midday and immediately rode out for an afternoon’s horse racing at Udon Thani’s Intergames Park. Wilai and myself had experienced a day at the races in Udon Thani once before but Wi’s two cousins had not. They were both very excited about the afternoon ahead.
The girls studied the racecard and watched the horses parade close-up from the grandstand whilst I scrutinised a few Beer Leo cans and concluded its 5% alcohol volume held the winning number to each race. The fillies finished with a small profit and I lost 1,200 baht….. I should have tried a stronger beer.
The evening was a strange one, at least for me and many other western expats and tourists I saw wandering around Udon Thani’s nightlife area looking out-on-a-limb. Due to Udon Thani’s district elections (today), all bars and restaurants were alcohol free for 24 hours from six o’clock Saturday evening.
Our meal at a Thai all you can eat suki restaurant with Wilai’s brother Joy, his wife Maeow and their two boys Fook and Tee, was washed down with soft drinks and water which was no problem for all but one. After getting canned by the horses I was in dire need of a stronger drink. The bill for eight of us was 1,400 baht (US$46)…. I’d have loved to have drank it a lot higher.
After Thai style goodbyes (do they actually say goodbye or just slink off), me and the girls took a short walk to Udon Thani’s UD Town and Centre Point night markets.
Together Udon Thani’s two night markets stretch for over one kilometre and contain snack stalls, food courts, clothing and just about anything you could wish for. There are copies of copies and originals too. A Big Mac is a Big Mac but that sweet Thai smile might be hiding a whopper about those Levis. Udon Thani’s night markets absolutely buzz and are for me the best feature of Udon’s effervescent nightlife.
It had been a long day, but armed with bags full of Thai snacks, 50 baht Hollywood blockbuster CD’s and clothes that would make a Customs Officer wince, me and the girls headed back to our rooms to signal the end of a wonderful day and night in Udon Thani.
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© 2012, Martyn. All rights reserved.