Saturday, April 23, 2011

Loving Korat

An elderly samlor driver shuffled in my direction, holding out a chopstick-load of thin, yellow noodles. I had learned long ago that Korat people were hospitable but this seemed over the top--besides, I'd already had my breakfast. He stopped inches away from me and bent toward the sidewalk, firmly gripping his chopsticks. There at his feet was a millipede and that was the recipient of the noodles.

"He likes them," the old man and I agreed, as the miilipede began to eat and the driver eased back into his vehicle to finish the rest of his own morning meal.

It had been late the night before when I tottered off the bus after a 12-hour journey. My split-second decision to avoid Cambodia in favor of Laos had taken me across a large portion of the north-east to a city I'd been to once a year or more ago. Exhaustion and incipient senility had blasted the name of the hotel I wanted to find there right out of my memory cells; it was an English name was all I could dredge up and I wearily and dubiously decided that it was called the President. Unfortunately none of Korat's taxi drivers agreed with me.

A desk inside the bus station was helmed by a young woman who looked as tired as I was, but she had a map of her city with a list of hotels and one of them was mine. Without my asking, she called the Thai Inter Hotel to nail down their address and made sure they had a room available for me; once again and almost immediately I fell back in love with Nakhon Ratchisima (nicknamed Korat.)

The Thai Inter Hotel has obviously been inspired by Thai International Airways; the staff wear uniforms that bear the cut and color of the Kingdom's flagship airlines and photos of planes adorn the hallways. Victor is the owner and a genial host. He cares about his hotel and that shows in the details. The Thai Inter is impeccable, with bright and pretty rooms, breakfast with butter that is of a spreadable consistency for the toast, bathrooms that include not only hot water but--are you ready for this? A shower curtain that is crisp and clean.

Korat, like Chiang Mai, was once a moated city and the old part of town is still surrounded by water that is clear. There are trees and a manageable amount of traffic and a stunning number of temples and people who are dazzlingly kind and the most imaginative and colorful graffiti in the Kingdom. When I'm there, I know I'm in Thailand and when I leave, I'm always looking forward to the next time I go back.


Ebriel said...

Korat sounds like a fantastic little spot, have heard good things about it. Hope to visit sometime. Thanks for the reminder of a little corner of SE Asia I've missed.

janet brown said...

It is so much an oasis for me--but I love the northeast with an unreasoning passion. Sometimes I think about beaches but always go for the Korat Plateau and beyond instead.