Friday, 6 September 2013


Between Christmas and NY we load up Wit’s ute and all head out camping for 3 nights at Phu Foi Lom National Park, an awesome national park where all the locals head to celebrate.  Although it’s not exactly what I would call ‘camping’ or roughing it, it’s a great way to get my fix as I normally go maybe once a week back home and just love being outdoors. There are small shops, toilets, shelters, accommodation and even showers!  But I do get to light my first fire since leaving home in July, something I miss as there isn’t many places I’d rather be than around a campfire with mates and a cold beer. 

The place gets packed being the holidays and everyone is having a good time, I am the only falang (white foreigner) in the entire park and am greeted with mixed responses.  Nearly everybody is friendly though and we try to engage in conversation as I have learnt a lot of the Thai language by now. 

Make it a point when you travel to at least learn a few basics and if you stay longer, then expand on that.  I am currently getting a pretty good grasp on Indonesian and have only been here 5 weeks, when you interact with locals, ask them what different words are.   If you buy a pineapple, ask how to say it etc.  Learn how to ask ‘what is this in Thai’,’ Indonesian…’  etc.  The first things I learn are the basic greetings, thank you, numbers, directions and things I will need to know, like ‘where is the toilet’. 

Numbers are great when shopping and if you can master them the seller will assume you know what you are doing and you will generally get a better price.  Plus they are usually very easy to learn.  As I ride scooters a lot and often have a local friend on the back I learn ‘left, right, straight and stop’, making it very handy to get around, even if it’s just with a local taxi or other transport. 

The other day I had Google maps on the phone and guided my non-English speaking taxi right to where I needed to be very easily with just those 3 words, left, right, straight.  Once you have the basics, don’t stop, learn as much you can especially if you like to get away from the tourist areas as it will open up more opportunities, make things much easier and the locals will appreciate the effort.

Back to the story…

We have 3 nights here amongst the beautiful surroundings and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much food cooked on just a tiny clay bucket coal bbq.  Between Mon’s mum and Wit it seems there is a wok full of veges, rice, noodles or a griddle of bbq pork being cooked 24/7, man these Thai’s can eat!  The days are spent chatting, relaxing, hiking, or out cruising the surrounding area and the scenery and views from the mountain top in particular are stunning.  

There are some great walking trails and for some reason they have a bunch of dinosaur and other assorted animal statues along the way?  The kids loved it.  At night we get a small fire going, pour up a few whiskeys and enjoy the cool night air, the kids love being out here also and Mon has never camped in her life!  She is a bit of a city girl and is slowly adjusting to my country, outdoor, adventurous ways and simply can’t fathom the stories I tell her about my home town, how isolated it is and the sheer lack of trees in particular!

  When Mon sees pictures of our pristine beaches with not a soul on them and the contrasting landscape of the near desert not far away she is stunned.  When we left for Udon Thani, she told me we were going to ‘the country’, I laughed when we arrived and said ‘uh uh,  this is a big city for me, there is less than 5000 people in my town’!  It is soon time to head back to Udon though and the car is loaded again to make the journey home and celebrate New Year’s Eve.
the tent is set
time for a fire... 

hmmm,   obviously a few too many whiskey's ...

pics from around the park

how did that dinsosaur get here?!

see the resemblance?