Khorat is hardly a foreign tourist destination in Thailand, but I had some time in hand and decided to stopover for a night to see what the city had to offer. I first went to Sri Ratna Hotel to get a room, but its 200 baht single room with private bathroom was rather dingy and had no hot water. I could see several kinds of insects crawling/flying around, and the “shower” was just a pipe hole flushed with the wall. There was also no free wifi, and the receptionist could barely speak a word of English. Only if I could find nothing else in the price range, I guess. So I wandered around the vicinity, and managed to find a more acceptable (but still slightly dingy) single room at Chumphol Hotel for 270 baht. Located on Th Phoklang, the room had private bathroom with hot water, and when I asked if there was free wifi (yes, and it was usable), I was given a room just beside the router.
There are a few interesting sights in the city: Thao Suranari Monument turned shrine with its endless stream of devotees burning incense and making offerings; Wat Salaloi with its bòht resembling a Chinese junk; Wat Phayap with a “cave” shrine complete with stalactites and stalagmites. However, what I will remember most about Khorat are (1) the Night Bazaar along Th Manat and (2) my foot massage experience. The small Night Bazaar is definitely catered to locals. I did not see a single “souvenir” for sale, and I was probably the only foreigner on the street. I had a full portion of vegetarian Pad Mee Khorat (the local pad thai) for 20 baht, and I also bought 2 deep fried glutinous rice cakes with vegetable fillings for 5 baht each. The glutinous rice cake store owner even gave me one steamed rice cake to try for free! As for my foot massage, I was walking around looking for a cheaper alternative to the 200 baht/hour shop near my hotel, when I chanced upon this large open-air pavilion at the junction of Th Chumphon and Th Mahat Thai (just south of the Thao Suranari Monument), where there were four makeshift outdoor massage “shops” side-by-side giving Thai massage and foot massage for 120 baht/hour. Many locals were getting their massages done there, and my foot massage was excellent with just the right amount of pressure applied.
Chumphol Hotel is just a 10-min walking distance away from Bus Terminal 1, where there are buses to Bangkok. When I arrived at the terminal at noon, there was a bus just about to leave, and I immediately paid 220 baht for a seat so I didn’t have to wait further, despite the cost being slightly higher than I expected. It turned out that the bus was a First Class air-con bus, and I was given a snack and bottle of water upon departing Khorat, and a wet tissue towel just before arriving Bangkok. The bus felt newer and cleaner than the usual Second Class air-con buses I had been taking, and there was also more leg room (due to fewer seats) and a toilet in the bus. Few stops were made along the way (unlike the Second Class which makes frequent stops), and I arrived at Bangkok’s Mo Chit Bus Terminal at 3.30pm. By the way, VIP Class is even more expensive than First Class, with buses having 3 seats per row instead of the usual 4.