Upon arriving at Chiang Khan, my greatest concern was how to get back to Nong Khai. Literally the plan to return was on a wing and a prayer. Somehow, the public transport system was such that we had to do a long winded rectangle loop via Loei, Udon Thani and then Nong Khai. There were no direct buses. And we had a plane to catch!
AngK and I drove to the Tuk Tuk station to make some enquiries about getting a hired van.
We were told to find the most beautiful gate on Soi 5. I thought this was becoming a bit "Lord of the Ring-ish" but off we went obediently. After a short drive, we spotted an ornately decorated wooden gate and walked in, only to be told by the owner that it is his neighbour who holds has the "key" we were looking for.
True enough, braving barking dogs, we entered the grounds of a huge, old house when a kindly mid-age lady greeted us and pointed us to a worn out Hiace van. She said for 1000B excluding petrol, her son would be happy to take us to Nong Khai and I was overcome with relief and joy! But what was more amazing was that she forced 2 bags of juicy Dragonfruits upon us as we said goodbye. Such kindness will never be forgotten!
With that out of the way, we could focus on enjoying lovely Chiang Khan. 11 of us squeezed into AngK's Toyota Wish wagon and had a superb dinner at a restaurant just by the riverside. The streets were closed to traffic and bustling with all sorts of vendors.
The night market resembled Pai and the hordes of holiday makers turned this peaceful town into Bangkok for this night. It had a very nice carnival atmosphere with buskers at every corner belting out all sorts of music, interesting foods (I ate a wrapped leaf with all sorts of goodies inside) and the cool weather made it a most enjoyable evening.
All the research I read about Chiang Khan being a sleepy hollow was thrown out of the window that night. Looks like we have to come back again another day to explore the quaint town as it should be, with old wooden houses and all. Somehow, Chiang Khan deserves that.