We arrived in Sakon Nakhon in mid-afternoon and after checking into our hotel, the decision was whether to take a nap or seek out a massage. My wife chose the nap and I was off to the front desk looking for a massage.
There aren’t many options for hotels in Sakon Nakhon and the city doesn’t see many foreign tourists. There are no buses or taxis and there may be a few but we didn’t see any tuk-tuks while we were there.
The front desk suggested a massage parlor and said they would provide me with transportation there. A few minutes later a young man approached and told me to follow him to the parking lot. Once outside, I headed for the hotel van but the kid walked over to a scooter and motioned for me to climb onto the back. A few years (and pounds) ago, this might not have been such a grand production but at my current age and physique, this was not as simple a task as it sounds like. Anyway, after a few wobbles and tense minutes, we did eventually make it to the massage parlor. No one there spoke English but we managed to work things out. It wasn’t a great massage but it only costs $5 USD for an hour.
Shortly after I left the massage parlor I was trying to figure out how I was going to get back to the hotel. I looked up and to my good fortune; there was Nook Tourguide and Ed in a parking lot.
Later that evening we all headed to the center of town and as we got close we fell in behind some of the Wax Castle Floats being moved into position for the parade the next day. In the center of town there was a large Food Festival that was being held in conjunction to the Wax Castle Float Festival. With Nook’s help, we sampled a wide range of Isaan dishes including grilled sour sausage, grilled duck, whole grilled salted fish on lemon grass sticks, green papaya salad and steamed dumplings; some filled with sweets like pumpkin and others savory with barbequed pork.
The next morning we headed back over to the center of town to get a closer look at some of the floats. The materials for the floats come from melting down giant candles from local temples and using forms and carvings to create the displays. The amount of detail on the displays is just amazing.
While the actual parade was to be held in the evening, the floats are parked under trees and canopies during the day to shade them from the sun as exposure to the sun will result in the melting of the soft wax. Once the festival ends, the floats are returned to the sponsoring temple where they are displayed for a month or so and then the wax is again melted and formed back into giant candles for the temple.
After walking among the floats, we headed south out of town towards Khong Jiam City.
Click here for a video that begins in Renu Nakhon Weaving Village and then goes to the Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival.
Click here for a short video of some contemporary Isaan music from our night at the Food Festival