Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The ghosts of Udorn

Living in the hotels at Udorn is a real unique experience. You start out well equipped – soap, towels, ice bucket, ice and ice tongs, and water glasses. The longer you stay, however, the more the stuff disappears. The housegirls take all the dirty stuff but don’t leave any clean. Last time I outfoxed them and brought a towel of my own. They took that one too.

I was not surprised to find Udorn full of ghosts. After all, it was a ghost who brought us here. My late father, who wrote the paragraph above, stayed here intermittently while flying C-130s during the Vietnam War. He died a few years ago, leaving behind a year's worth of letters he'd sent to my mom and us kids.

One of the places he stayed in Udorn (now more commonly known as Udon Thani) was the King Hotel.

Remember the picture I took of the building being constructed next to the Victory Hotel? It ended up being the King's Hotel which is where we are staying now. I have a small single room with air conditioning which is nice.

Luckily for us, the hotel is still standing, and appears to have changed little over the last 43 years. Take the groovy chair/endtable combo, for example.

I love the little rack of glasses nailed up next to the bathroom door.

The battered bottle-opener dangling on a chain looks about ready for the Museum of Pop Culture History too.

Even the renovations only seemed to shine a spotlight on the past, rather than cover it up. This light switch must have been next to the bed at one time. Now it's stranded just above the floor, with only a metal stool for company.

The bathrooms vent into the corridor so you can hear, in our case, the guy next door shower for hours on end while making terrible chest-clearing sounds as if trying to launch a lung into orbit.

It was all deeply evocative and a satisfying way to begin time-traveling. We plan to check out a few other places Dad talked about in his letters. More later.

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