After our short trip to the Mor E-Dang Cliff (ผามออีแดง) we decided to plan a full day trip somewhere different. With my visa set to expire I had to make a trip to Phibun Mangsahan to extend it so that was a good excuse to go and visit Khong Chiam (โขงเจียม), Pha Taem National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติผาแต้ม) and Sirindhorn Dam (เขื่อนสิรินธร).
We left at 6am and went via Det Udon to purchase a new tyre as a few days previously I had a blow out and did not want to do such a long trip without a spare. Once that was organised we pushed on to Phibun Mangsahan to organise my visa. I dropped my friends off at the market for breakfast while I went to the immigration department. It was a disaster. Although I had done the same thing a year previous plus I had called up the day before to confirm that I could do it again I was told very quickly that I could not extend my visa without bringing all my family with me. This meant an extra five hour return journey and with Jacob at home with a raging temperature I said this was not an option. Eventually they allowed me to come back the following day with just my two girls. A complete and utter joke it was with some (not all) rude staff just to top things off. I could go on but I wont as this is a trip report not a whinge about Thailand immigration!
A little despondent I headed back to the market to find my friends and my brother in law who had come along for a day out. As we were now running behind schedule I picked up a quick takeaway breakfast for myself and we pushed on to the town of Khong Chiam. Khong Chiam is the eastern most district of Ubon Ratchathani Province of Thailand and is also the most eastern part of the entire country. It is here where the Moon and Mekong rivers meet and given the right conditions it can be quite spectacular watching the two different coloured rivers joining each other. Our first port of call was to have a look at the Mekong from a temple complex just off the main road. It has a small tower that you can climb up to get a better view.
From there we travelled to Pha Taem National Park. It should have only taken 20 minutes but I somehow managed to miss the turn off and ended up taking twice as long! This was my first time visiting the Pha Taem National Park and I was looking forward to it. I had read somewhere that there was a nice walk along the cliff face overlooking the Mekong river so that is what we went looking for. On the way we picked up two elderly foreign travellers who had been dropped off by a local bus about 5 kms short of the entrance to the park and were attempting to walk it in quite hot conditions. They were very grateful for the lift.
We found the walk very easily and set out of for what was a beautiful stroll of about 5kms through some magnificent scenery. I will let the photos with captions tell the rest of this part of the story.
After a drink from the shop in the car park we made quick tracks as by now it was 2.30pm. I had originally planned to have lunch back in the township of Khong Chiam but because we also wanted to have a look at Sirindhorn Dam we decided to combine the two. A little after 3pm and we were sitting down to a slap up meal at the restaurant there that I have blogged about before. It really is becoming a favourite stop of mine.
With bellies at bursting point we forced ourselves to go for a walk through their wonderful gardens and then out to the hydro power station.
We left on dark for the two hour journey back to the village. It was a long but very enjoyable day with good friends. It also made me once again promise myself to bring my family to Sirindhorn Dam to stay a night or two on our next trip to Thailand as although I have been there a dozen or more times they have never seen it!