Things are getting busy here in Ubon as we prepare to leave town. In the last few days there has been a lot of packing and organising of power/phones/internet etc. Unfortunately things are not as quick and easy as back in Aust/NZ where you just pick up the phone and they organise everything for you. Here you need to visit the phone company, visit the internet company, visit the – well you get the idea. Take a number, line up, show them more half a trees worth of paper and then fingers crossed that they are in a good mood.
I have completed one fully loaded 4wd trip to the village and will do another three more between now and Saturday. I also squeezed in a visa run which of course included 18 holes at the Sirindhorn Dam Golf course with a friend.
We plan to start our road trip very early next week and we are all really looking forward to it!
In the mean time, I thought I would continue the popular Ubon history theme from last week. This was the first bit and this was the most recent.
In this instalment I am very happy to show you some more old footage taken by Bob. This one for me at least is very exciting as it goes right past the current location of Peppers and follows the road that I have driven on average twice a day for the last 18 months.
I will hand over to Bob who explains his video in more detail.
I’m sending another video clip. The quality is not good. As I said before, I used an 8mm camera and had the old film transferred to VHS tape and that tape transferred to digital tape so I could upload it to my computer. I trimmed the clip and saved it at a reduced quality so I could get the file size below 10Mbytes. You can make the judgement call as to whether you think it is worth posting on your blog.
The road that runs in front of the camp (Uppalisan I believe) was a dirt road in the 60s and many times was impassable after a rain storm. At its best, the road was rough to travel by car or truck. I was driving my Honda truck west on Uppalisan road towards checkpoint Charley (the entrance to the camp) so the camp is to the right in the video clip. I gave my camera to my friend and told him to do the best he could to film the road and immediate surroundings. If you look closely, you will see many taxis waiting across the road from checkpoint Charley to take the GIs to town. I stopped at the intersection with Chayangkun Road and turned right or north. The video shows the narrow asphalt road that was Chayangkun in the late 60s. The video clip stops when I was probably just north of where Robinson’s Department Store now stands.
Bob also replied to something he read that was posted by Rob who was also stationed here at the same time.
I was reading your blog about a guy named Rob who was stationed at Ubon about the same time I was there. He mentioned several things that brought back memories. He spoke of the open-air barber shops downtown and I do remember those. A guy would get a pair of shears and a stool and set up shop under a tree. I have a picture I took in the on-base barber shop. You can see the prices in the reflection in the mirror. I believe it shows haircuts for 30 cents and a massage for 25 cents. You can see the barbers had to wear masks because of tuberculosis.
Rob also mentioned tailored clothes and Playboy magazines. I went to a tailor named Kiat Poosa. She would hand me a Playboy and ask me to pick out a style for a shirt or a suit then I would select the material and she’d make the shirt or suit. I would get tailor-made shirts for 50 baht ($2.50) and I got tailored suits made from Thai silk, Italian silk, sharkskin, etc. with two pairs of pants to each suit for 700 baht ($35).
Rob also mentioned a shoe maker near the Ubon Hotel. It may be the same one I went to. He would have me step on two pieces of cardboard and draw an outline of my feet. He would take a couple heel and toe measurements and have me pick out a sole and top made from elephant hide or other leather. I went back in a couple days for a fitting. He had the basic shoes completed and I would try them on and walk around. I would point out where they were a little snug or a little loose. He’d remove the insert, scrape out some leather or add some leather and then put the insert back in the shoe for me to try again. Once the shoes were comfortable, I’d come back the next day and he’d have them completed. A pair of tailored shoes cost 140 baht ($7).