... after 2 days in Savannakhet, I finally got my Thai visa and made my way back across the border.  Next stop, Khon Kaen, deep in the heart of Issan country.  A large lizard greets me when I check into my cheap hotel in downtown KK.

... after 2 days in Savannakhet, I finally got my Thai visa and made my way back across the border. Next stop, Khon Kaen, deep in the heart of Issan country. A large lizard greets me when I check into my cheap hotel in downtown KK.

My KK hotel, this one a bit cheaper than the one i'd gotten in Laos.  Good times!

My KK hotel, this one a bit cheaper than the one i'd gotten in Laos. Good times!

I arrived at night time, so I only had one full day to tour around this lovely city, which i've also visited in 2002 and 2008.

I arrived at night time, so I only had one full day to tour around this lovely city, which i've also visited in 2002 and 2008.

Schoolgirls wait the next songthaew outside the Wittayayon University in Khon Kaen.

Schoolgirls wait the next songthaew outside the Wittayayon University in Khon Kaen.

Along Klang Mueang Road, which runs through the center of town, there is a line of interesting markets, both indoor and outdoor....

Along Klang Mueang Road, which runs through the center of town, there is a line of interesting markets, both indoor and outdoor....

wandering through an interesting indoor market

wandering through an interesting indoor market

The outdoor food market is next in line, which had the typical delicious Thai dishes from surrounding street stalls.  Time for lunch!

The outdoor food market is next in line, which had the typical delicious Thai dishes from surrounding street stalls. Time for lunch!

market scenes in KK

market scenes in KK

A masked lottery ticket lady hard at work.

A masked lottery ticket lady hard at work.

A startled market lady

A startled market lady "poses" for my photo.

This indoor one was awesome, great view of the stalls below.

This indoor one was awesome, great view of the stalls below.

Somewhere in these markets I managed to find some much-needed new sandals.

Somewhere in these markets I managed to find some much-needed new sandals.

.... the search for the World's Creepiest SuperBaby continues....

.... the search for the World's Creepiest SuperBaby continues....

Next to the huge pagoda at Thaat Temple...

Next to the huge pagoda at Thaat Temple...

... you can go inside the pagoda here...

... you can go inside the pagoda here...

most awesome spirit house i've ever seen, in the park next to Lake Bueng Kaen.

most awesome spirit house i've ever seen, in the park next to Lake Bueng Kaen.

view of the Wat Thaat, near the lovely Bueng Kaen Nakhon, which is surrounded by parks...

view of the Wat Thaat, near the lovely Bueng Kaen Nakhon, which is surrounded by parks...

paddle boats for rent on the lake

paddle boats for rent on the lake

walking around the entire lake, which has several noteworthy temples near its' shores....

walking around the entire lake, which has several noteworthy temples near its' shores....

water foliage surrounds the elevated trails going around the lake.... awesome park!

water foliage surrounds the elevated trails going around the lake.... awesome park!

monks performing some kind of ceremony with a group of old ladies at Klang Temple...

monks performing some kind of ceremony with a group of old ladies at Klang Temple...

nearby is some kind of huge, wild Muslim party....

nearby is some kind of huge, wild Muslim party....

Another nearby temple was not that interesting, but I did find a litter of puppies with an underground 'nest'...

Another nearby temple was not that interesting, but I did find a litter of puppies with an underground 'nest'...

Back in the lakeside park, there is a mini hilltop temple in there as well...

Back in the lakeside park, there is a mini hilltop temple in there as well...

The Khon Kaen skyline looms beyond the lake...

The Khon Kaen skyline looms beyond the lake...

walking through the lovely park...

walking through the lovely park...

paddle boats out on the lake

paddle boats out on the lake

a boy crossing guard hard at work

a boy crossing guard hard at work

delightful KK street poles

delightful KK street poles

Next day, on my way to the train station....

Next day, on my way to the train station....

And after my first Thai train ride of 2016, I arrive in Nakhon Ratchasima (also known as Khorat).  After a short hotel search, I find this awesome room for only 180 baht, the cheapest of my trip so far....

And after my first Thai train ride of 2016, I arrive in Nakhon Ratchasima (also known as Khorat). After a short hotel search, I find this awesome room for only 180 baht, the cheapest of my trip so far....

Nearby are the remains of the old city walls, surrounded by a rectangular moat that engulfs the old town area.... around the city walls on this night is a lively festival.  Here a childrens' orchestra is going at it...

Nearby are the remains of the old city walls, surrounded by a rectangular moat that engulfs the old town area.... around the city walls on this night is a lively festival. Here a childrens' orchestra is going at it...

The memorial of Thao Suranari, a famous local woman who led a resistance against invading Lao forces in the early 1800's... now her statue is treated like a religious monument, and hoards of people were here worshiping her....

The memorial of Thao Suranari, a famous local woman who led a resistance against invading Lao forces in the early 1800's... now her statue is treated like a religious monument, and hoards of people were here worshiping her....

worshipers at the statue... the whole area on this night was very lively and the mood was celebratory... there was even a Valentines' day flower market...

worshipers at the statue... the whole area on this night was very lively and the mood was celebratory... there was even a Valentines' day flower market...

near the Chumphon Gate, I encounter this strange old man.... look at his jacket!!

near the Chumphon Gate, I encounter this strange old man.... look at his jacket!!

Walking around the moat towards the northwest gate....

Walking around the moat towards the northwest gate....

The NW Gate was entirely deserted, but no doors were locked, so you could just walk into this building and wander around!  Although it looks nice from the outside, it was decrepit inside, though I saw no signs of bum settlements.

The NW Gate was entirely deserted, but no doors were locked, so you could just walk into this building and wander around! Although it looks nice from the outside, it was decrepit inside, though I saw no signs of bum settlements.

A Dog Gang at this Buddhist temple, they scurry away as I approach....

A Dog Gang at this Buddhist temple, they scurry away as I approach....

The Wat Phra Narai Maharat is a small island, surrounded by a moat... a few monks are hanging out on the bridge as I approach...

The Wat Phra Narai Maharat is a small island, surrounded by a moat... a few monks are hanging out on the bridge as I approach...

headed over the bridge to the temple-island

headed over the bridge to the temple-island

Beautiful flowers at Wat Boon

Beautiful flowers at Wat Boon

a tire flower pot at the Wat

a tire flower pot at the Wat

Buddhist graves, adorned with the traditional flowers...

Buddhist graves, adorned with the traditional flowers...

At the eastern gate, another one which is totally deserted yet fully open... I climb to the top and explore.

At the eastern gate, another one which is totally deserted yet fully open... I climb to the top and explore.

atop the eastern gate of the old city walls!

atop the eastern gate of the old city walls!

remnants of the old walls, which used to surround the city in a rectangular fashion... not much of them remains to this day, but the moat is still going strong.

remnants of the old walls, which used to surround the city in a rectangular fashion... not much of them remains to this day, but the moat is still going strong.

the Northeast gate, another deserted area inside the walls, but could go in... there were a few dusty informative signs in here, leading me to believe it was once a museum.  But now the floor was decaying and drooping down to the excavated pits below.

the Northeast gate, another deserted area inside the walls, but could go in... there were a few dusty informative signs in here, leading me to believe it was once a museum. But now the floor was decaying and drooping down to the excavated pits below.

Along Yommarat Street is a string of really nice-looking bars, clubs, and cafes... this cafe was amazing and delifghtful, with an upstairs balcony looking down over the lively street.  They even had Mexican food here!

Along Yommarat Street is a string of really nice-looking bars, clubs, and cafes... this cafe was amazing and delifghtful, with an upstairs balcony looking down over the lively street. They even had Mexican food here!

Afternoon traffic passing through the North Gate of the old city.

Afternoon traffic passing through the North Gate of the old city.

This dude urged me to take his photo, then posed... reminded me of the Philippines!

This dude urged me to take his photo, then posed... reminded me of the Philippines!

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