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Spectre Spotlight 2005
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By Larry Hickey

Our trip to Ubon was from 26 November 2005 to 22 December 2005. While significant change has occurred since 1971 & 72, some things remain the same. People are as friendly now as then, but the whole pace of the town has slowed down and become very laidback.

We flew into Ubon. The new passenger terminal is on the same side of the runway, but about 3/8 of a mile north of the terminal we were familiar with. For those whose memory is foggy, this is not where the Klong used to arrive and depart, but north almost exactly where camp Australia was located.

This was a family trip, so soon after arriving, we caught a taxi to my wife's (Jett's) home at Phibun, about 19 miles to the east. Upon departing the taxi we had to stop at the market before proceeding any further. (See some things never change).

Map of Ubon and area to the east Back to Ubon, things east of the hospital have seen significant change. First, there is a good two lane road now that was not available in 1971. This road now goes all the way to Phibun and beyond on the north side of the moon river. The road on the south side of the river is now a four lane highway from Ubon, through Warin, and all the way to Phibun. There is now a bridge crossing the river at Phibun that wasn't there in 1972 (Unlike Fort Walton Beach where they've been talking about another bridge since 1972).

The City of Ubon has changed for the better since we departed in the 70s. There are now traffic lights where before traffic was ruled by nose position, ramming power, and decibels of your horn. They now have bridges east and west of the main bridge, so very little heavy truck traffic goes through the center of Ubon. The town is more cosmopolitan than in the 70s with many new hotels. The better hotels are located near the Coca Cola plant, while there are still some nice ones in the middle of town.

We stayed at two of the hotels in town. The first was the Ratchatanni, located between the Ubon Hotel and the Okay Hat shop, which cost about $11 a night. I would give it 2 stars. We also stayed at the Montana which is about a block north of the first one; I would only give it about 2 stars also.

Tunsemong Park Tunsemong Park, located on the main road with the moat around it, was fairly busy with different events while we were there. For those who never passed the park sober and don't know where it is located, you passed it about right when the petticab driver woke you up before getting to the Ubon Hotel, or right after you fell asleep on your way back to base.

I really can't report on the night life (other than the park) as this was a family trip (like I stated before) and I value my life and probably wouldn't have slept very well if I had checked it out! I did notice the signs that indicated there were a few bars around town and did see what looked like some of the employees with the various things that they brought into the bars back in the 70s.

There were signs for bath and massage parlors. I did go to a traditional Thai massage parlor that was located south of where the Fairlane and Corsair Clubs were located, and got my muscles worked over. No bath but a great massage. I now have to pass along some distressing news for WORM Warner; Number 23 at the SABITONG was medically retired for severe arthritis of the left and right hands!

Big Buddha We did make the trip to the Big Buddha, about 50 miles north of Ubon. There really wasn't much change there. However there was a lot of change at the water rapids at Phibun. There they had put in paved walkways and grass. It looked like an American place until I saw the vendors approach. Once they arrived you knew you were still in Thailand. Across the river from Phibun is a new hotel. Can't remember the name, but we looked it over and thought it was real nice.

There are still tailor shops around and I used one and got fairly good results. It was located on the east-west road past the hospital and also across the street from the open-air/cook-your-own restaurant, can't you just smell it! For you camera buffs, there are several digital camera shops throughout the country. In town we had some prints printed from my camera at the price of about 12-15 cents/per print.

Ubon has slowed significantly and is extremely quiet, when compared to Bangkok. WE HAD A GREAT TIME!
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