Phu Rua in Loei Province is a botanist’s dream in December. For any lover of flowers the small town and mountainous surround of Phu Rua has a parallel to a Buddhist cocaine addict being reborn as a Columbian nightclub toilet cleaner. In Phu Rua a horticulturist can snort the fragrance of flowers in the morning, inject coloured-spangled fields into their memory in the afternoon, and sleep spaced-out in a bed of roses come nightfall.
For a chain-smoking asthmatic like myself, Phu Rua and its pollen, is akin to being smacked on the head with an ashtray and being mugged of my inhaler. Should flower vases carry health warnings? I sometimes think so.
Our annual pilgrimage to Loei and Phu Rua started mid morning from Udon Thani and passed through the charming Thai tourist town Chiang Khan. We arrived in Loei mid afternoon and checked in to the Muanmanee Boutique Hotel where we had stayed the previous year. The hotel is a mid budget stylish type of place and excellent value-for-money. It also hugs the heart of the city centre.
Chiang Khan’s main street, pictured above, sits on the side of the Mekong River overlooking Laos and is a long line of quaint guesthouses, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. During Thai holidays the street is full of shiny black hair and white teeth with a few western tourists too, but we arrived a few days before the start of Thailand’s New Year holiday season and the rustle of Thai baht was much more quiet in the ‘hood.
Loei Province is usually cold in December but this year the weather was even chillier than normal and it’s strange watching your Thai partner eat breakfast with a jacket and gloves on. Fear not, there are enough thick wooly hats, scarves, gloves and socks on sale in Loei to give a sheep shearer tendonitis, and trust me, your boat floats in warmer waters come early afternoon.
Phu Rua, Loei Province
The small town of Phu Rua is 49 kilometres from Loei city and the route is via a good standard highway road which winds up through mountains which dominate the landscape. Phu Rua’s cooler climate is ideal for growing flowers, plants and vegetables, and all three hang out all around on your journey to the floral town.
I’m not sure if Phu Rua’s coffee shops sell flowers or their flower shops hawk caffeine, either way, these small wooden cabins are eye-catching and very colourful.The plant pots also make ideal ashtrays.
Another coffee shack and this one had me wondering if they’d stolen the bicycle from a postman on Valentine’s Day. Food and drink prices at these type of coffee shops are as a rule of thumb as soothing as the black beans they serve.
This photograph was taken at one of the larger garden centres in Phu Rua and I have to admit when I saw the orange football I was tempted to ‘bend it like Beckham’ and whack it over the bushes behind. It was the pain of having to design my own brand of underwear that put me off.
Thai girls love to pose for pictures and here Wonderful Wi upholds that tradition. How can Thai girls eat so much and yet stay so slim?
A rare photograph of Wilai and myself together, isn’t it strange how pollen can make your stomach bulge.
Have a great New Year celebration and best wishes from myself, Wilai and Beyond The Mango Juice.
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