Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The 250 Baht Difference

First of all, 250 baht is less than $8.00. And that's the difference (financially speaking) between my hotel room at Thai Inter in Korat (under $23) and my room at Submukda Grand in Mukdahan (just above $15). But the gulf between the two can't be measured in dollars or baht.

Thai Inter and Submukda Grand have the same appurtenances--hot water, air con, fridge, TV, and glass bottles of water waiting in the room. The rooms in both places are immaculate and each has a tiny private view of the world outside (veranda in Korat, balcony here.)

Thai Inter also had room service, a breakfast room, and a small bar that was almost a sidewalk cafe. Submukda has none of those things. Thai Inter had comfortable pillows and soft sheets. Submukda has scratchy polyester bedding that feels as though it's been starched and pillows that may have been chiseled from laterite. The room at Thai Inter was bright and pretty; Submukda is dark and serviceable.

But it is in the middle of a bustling commercial district, down the street from a Chinese noodle shop that has good coffee and outside seating, and steps away from the Mekong that keeps the city from being part of Laos. And that's why I always stay in this institutional hostelry for business travelers.

This morning I had breakfast at the Chinese place on the corner and watched Mukdahan wake up--children going to school, monks on their morning rounds, people filing off to work, some wearing wool hats and wrapped in towels to ward off the distinct chill. As I watched, I realized everything I've ever learned about this area, I've observed from this corner. And that just might be worth  a bad night's sleep that is pervaded with vague hints of sewer gas.

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