January 09, 2011

280707 SIN > UTH

First time in Changi's Budget Terminal:

Photo by K-san

Let's just say the cat thinks it a wise move by AirAsia to stick to Terminal 1. & the cat shall stick to AirAsia.

First time to Udon Thani by Tiger Airway's short-lived SIN-UTH route:

Photos by K-san

UTH became an international airport while this route lasted:

Photo by K-san

Fellow passengers were overwhelmingly male - many Isaan guys working in Singapore (mainly in the construction sector) + a few Singaporean uncles with pockets deeper than those who can only afford to venture as far as Tanjung Pinang to be potential 'weekend husbands'. So much so that the immigration officer asked the cat what on earth had brought it to Udon - apparently he doesn't get to stamp many passports belonging to female foreigners... Months later Tiger would scrap this route, & UTH would revert to domestic airport status until Lao Airlines started UTH-LPQ flights.

Within the UTH arrival hall, coupons are sold for shared van rides into Udon Thani city, & also to the Friendship bridge at Nong Khai. Transpired that a few of the Isaan guys on board our van had left for Singapore via Bangkok years ago & had never been to Udon Thani before... We ended up stopping at all 3 of Udon Thani's bus stations (one for buses to Nong Bua Lamphu, Loei & Chiangmai, another for buses to Nong Khai, & the central one for buses to everywhere else) for the guys to ask at each if there were buses to their home villages in tambon (subdistrict) somewhere of amphoe (district) anywhere...their joy & excitement on finally returning home was palpable, all that was missing was ลูกทุ่ง luuk thung music playing on the van's radio to complete the scene :)

Thai-Lao international bus ticket counter at Udon Thani central bus station:


Staff wanted to see the red singkapor passports before selling us bus tickets to Vientiane (5 baht extra for weekends).

Met 2 Singaporean guys of the non-uncle variety who'd been on the same flight & were going to take the same bus (& would return on the same flight too!). One of them was returning to visit his YEP project site in Vientiane, with a big fat poster board of project participant photos as a gift for his Lao hosts :)

Always good to trust fellow Singaporeans' makan recommendations - Mr YEP knew of a place with decent บะหมี่เกี๊ยวน้ำหมูแดง baa mii giao nam moo daeng (char siew wanton mee soup...somehow Thais like theirs in soup, whereas everyone in Singapore eats wanton mee & anything else containing char siew dry) & ข้าวหมูแดง khao moo daeng (char siew bpeung aka. char siew rice). It's just opposite the bus station, a few doors left of Silver Reef B&B. The cat was happy to be back in Thailand where it can indulge in the endless supply of crushed roasted peanuts on every noodle soup stall table:


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