Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Red Lotus lake in Udon Thani province

Red Lotus lake in Udon Thani province
ทะเลบัวแดง จ.อุดรธานี อ.กุมภวาปี ต.เชียงแหว

From November to January, the entire lake Nong Han Kumphawapi หนองหานกุมภวาปี is covered in red lotuses in the morning. For origin of the name and folk tales read here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nong_Han_Kumphawapi_Lake.

The lake is advertised widely by Tourism Authority of Thailand (I saw advert in Airport Rail Link trains) and is world's second strangest lake by CNN http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/09/travel/worlds-strangest-lakes/. It is widely covered on the internet, however information how to go by public transport and where to stay is scarce, I had to to the fine planning on the bus (asking fare collector where exactly to get off).

Here it is: The lake is in Udon Thani province, but about 35 km by air from town, it's in Kumphawapi district, but Kumphawapi town isn't on the shore of the lake (maybe it is in the rainy season, but there is no pier), the place to go to is sub-district Baan Diam ต.บ้านเดียม on the north-western shore of the lake, best accessed from hwy 2 via Baan Na Di บ้านนาดี. There are signs (only Thai, but with picture of red lotus) all along the road.

Location of pier at Baan Diam
17°12'44.4"N 103°02'02.8"E 17.212325, 103.034114 
another smaller pier at Baan Chiang (see coordiantes for chedi below), there might be more small piers.

Going by public transport is possible but impracticable (you need mocy or car for rent for more than 15 km). I recommend going by own car or organized tour from TAT Udon Thani (material distributed in my hotel, departure is 7 am and arrives at the lake 8 am):




 

Sunday 25.01.2015
Bus 4381 aircon 35 Baht from Sri That 14:50 to hwy 2 branch to Baan Na Di 15:43. Picture taken from hwy 2, camera pointing south-east:



From there mocy 120 Baht 15:45-16:18 to Baan Diam (including asking for accommodation). Homestay 200 Baht per night including breakfast. I didn't have a booking, didn't even know where exactly to go, but after talking with locals everything fell into place (in a pinch, I have read that you can stay for free at any wat).





There are more luxurious places around, but not in walking distance to the pier as far as I know.

Quick reconnaissance trip (wat, pier), there are about 100 of these boats:



It's a village with a wat and pier, nothing else to do. So I use the time for a run 17:06-18:55 (return in darkness) to the chedi in construction (visible from Baan Diam, 17°11'09.6"N 103°01'00.1"E 17.185990, 103.016696 arrive there 18:00). There are some boats at the pier near the chedi. Upon return, no restaurants open any more, but my hosts cook me a free dinner. Go to bed early 21:15.

Monday 26.01.2015

Get up early 6:00, breakfast and book tour 90 minutes (500 Baht for boat than can take up to 10 passengers, or short tour 45 minutes for 300 Baht). Few boats are on the lake already when arrive.



Boat tour takes 9:32-7:44. The red lotus are barely visible from shore, you have to get onto the lake to get a clear picture. It's still cold in the morning (luckily I had long pants, should have taken shirt with long arms as well) and a bit misty. I recommend starting tour after 7 am, 6:30 was too early. Island in the lake:



Sun is rising:



But still misty:



I could not see if the flowers have an orientation, but looking westwards (sun in your back) looked always much better than eastwards. Flowers have low density, only in the distance they seem to form a uniform layer (cf. Olbers' paradox).

Chedi in the background and drone in the sky:





Return to pier. Some cars with more tourists.



Return to Bangkok. My hosts offer me a ride by car to Kumphawapi bus station (which is not in Kumphawapi town, but next to hwy 2 allowing quick access by bus) for 300 Baht (fair offer, 8:37-9:06). Then bus line 22 Nakhonchair 500 Baht 9:38-16:55 to Mor Chit bus station without stops on the way, meal included, quite cold in bus (had to use blanket).

My visit was slightly marred by going too early, not dressing according to season (long pants and long shirt) and most notably noise of the boat's engine. 

Language note: there are two ways to pronounce แหว (ต.เชียงแหว). wăe and hăew; hăew is the correct pronunciation in this case.

Update 2016:
There is advertising by Air Asia for discount for shuttle van and boat (499 -> 249 THB) when flying with them. Shuttle vans start 8 am daily in front of McDonald's UD Town.

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC

3 comments:

  1. Very well done-all on your own. Saw those adverts too in ARL on arrival 3 weeks ago, but your pictures are a bit less impressive. Isan can get very cold in the nights this time of year.

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  2. Very useful information. I was searching hard on the homestay there, thanks for sharing. By the way, does the homestay owner speaks English and what is the distance from the house to the lake?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I remember, no English was spoken. It's about 500 m to walk from homestay (or anywhere in the village) to pier.

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