TheLoneRider
a nomad in search of Easter Eggs
Nong Khai, Thailand

Giant Mekong Catfish at the Nong Khai Aquarium Mar 19, 2020

Giant Mekong Catfish at the Nong Khai Aquarium

Admission: B100/foreigner
Hours: 9am-5pm daily, except Monday (closed)
Website: nongkhaiaquarium.org
Location Google Map: Nong Khai Aquarium, Nong Khai, Thailand

An Aquarium in Nong Khai?
When I visited Chiang Khong in May 2016, I came upon its Catfish Museum. But the only Giant Mekong Cat Fish I saw was a stuffed animal. But it was huge, as long as my outreached arms. Here in Nong Khai, I heard they have an aquarium where you actually see a live one! I thought it was odd that a small city would undertake a huge aquarium project.

The 10Km Bike Ride
The aquarium wasn't near the city center. It was 10 kms away. Either I take the bus going to Udon Thani and just get off, or ride a regular bicycle in the heat of the midday sun. I went for the latter. It has been too long since I was on a saddle anyway. But for comfort and protection, I donned a long sleeve rash guard, head buff, visor and shades. Surprisingly, from the city center, there is a marked bike path that almost takes you all the way to the aquarium.

breakfast upon arrival
breakfast at a nearby eatery upon arrival

Aquarium
The aquarium was an entire 2-storie building. Initially, you see a series of compartmentalized aquariums about 250 gallons each and a center aquarium, maybe 10x20ft. Then you come upon a giant glass wall, spanning 2-stories high with an interior space about half the size of a basketball court. Here, you see the biggest fish of them all. Another impressive item on the aquarium are the 3 tunnels. You actually go through a glass tunnel where you see fish left, top and right of you.

Giant Mekong Catfish at the Nong Khai Aquarium
dwarfed by the 2-storie high aquarium

Fish
The fish were both freshwater, presumably most of them endemic to the Mekong River, and also saltwater fish, like the Grouper. A lot of them are the same ones you see in the pet shops, the big difference here is that they are much bigger.

Ending Thoughts
If you've ever watched the tv series, River Monsters, then this is the stuff that this series is made of. They are just in captivity. Which brings me back to my wondering thought as I was watching these magnificent creatures. I feel bad for them that they are in captivity and not free to roam the great expanse of the rivers and seas. But, given the overfishing and poaching out there, is captivity the only way to ensure the survival of these monster fish?

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
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Nong Khai Travel Information / Tips

Vientiane to Nong Khai by bus

At the Khua Din Bus Terminal, you can board the #14 bus bound for Buddha Park. It will make a stop on the Friendship Bridge border - 15 mins, B8000. Go to Laos Immigration to exit. Board the special bus to cross the Friendship Bridge, Kip 4,000 or Baht 20. It will stop at Thai Immigration. Get processed. From there, board a tuk-tuk for Nong Khai, 5kms.

Nong Khai Attractions
  1. Nong Khai Aquarium -
  2. Salakaewkoo (Wat Khaek) -
  3. Issan Rum Distillery -
  4. Wat Pho Chai -
  5. Lan Phaya Nak -
  6. Tha Sadet Market -
  7. Nong Khai Muay Thai Gym -
  8. Phrathat Bang Phuan -

Nong Khai Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. Nong Khai - Chiang Khan Roadtrip June 18, 2020
  2. Life in Nong Khai Mar 13 - June 18, 2020
  3. Peoplescape of Nong Khai Jun 17, 2020
  4. Exploring Nong Khai's Cafe Culture Jun 10, 2020
  5. Nong Khai Street Art June 4, 2020
  6. Sirsasana A & B May 20, 2020
  7. Structured Water, Water Therapy and Nauli May 1, 2020
  8. Visiting the Salakaewkoo (Buddha Park) in Nong Khai, Thailand Apr 23, 2020
  9. Fitness in Quarantine Times Apr 20, 2020
  10. Covid 19: Lion - Buffalo Analogy Apr 13, 2020
  11. Covid 19 and the Conspiracies Mar - Apr, 2020
  12. Nong Khai with Cheng Mar 18 - Apr ???, 2020
  13. Covid 19 and Pranayama Mar 20, 2020
  14. Giant Mekong Catfish at the Nong Khai Aquarium Mar 19, 2020
  15. Drawn to Nong Khai, Thailand Mar 12, 2020

Travel Tips for Thailand

How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days

    60-Day Thai Tourist Visa

    NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.

  1. Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
    a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
    b) flight booking to Thailand
    c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
    d) filled-in tourist visa form
    e) 2 passport pictures
    f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
    g) passport with at least 6 months validity
  2. After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
  3. NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.

    30-Day Extension

    NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.

  1. bring the following to the Immigration Office:
    a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
    b) Baht 1900
    c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
    d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
    e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
  2. submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
  3. when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
  4. when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
  5. when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!

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