An Isan Attraction on the Huai Krathing Reservoir Lake in Loei, Thailand
On June 3, 2018, my Thai son-in-law helped us discover a fun attraction in the Loei Province of northeastern—or Isan—Thailand. Little did I know that we would be entering a mountain reservoir lake after ascending 5 kilometers of road 15 kilometers west of the city of Loei.
After parking our SUV and descending a small hill, I was pleasantly surprised to see a small lake surrounded by teak and bamboo forest. At the edge of the lake were numerous bamboo rafts made into floating pavilions. Some of these rafts were already on the lake.
In this article, I first give a brief introduction to the Huai Krathing Reservoir. Then, I describe our renting of a bamboo raft and activities on the lake. They included having an Isan-style lunch, swimming, and feeding ducks.
Where is the Huai Krathing Reservoir?
The Huai Krathing Reservoir, also known as Huai Nam Man, is situated near the small provincial town of Loei in northeastern Thailand (a.k.a. Isan). In getting to the reservoir, you drive to the west from Loei along the Loei-Phu Ruea Road (a.k.a. Highway 21) for 15 kilometers. After you see a blue sign in English saying "Long Phae," turn right and ascend a mountain road for 5 kilometers. At this point, you will see a dirt road leading to a parking area.
According to the Bangkok Post, the Huai Krathing Reservoir is located on 1,500 hectares of land and has a capacity of 26 million cubic meters of water. When I visited on June 3, 2018, the depth of the reservoir was one to two meters. This lake, which has fish, is surrounded by teak, a bamboo forest, and green mountains.
Arriving at Huai Krathing Reservoir
On Sunday morning June 3, 2018, at around 10:00 after a short 15-kilometer ride from the town of Loei, our family arrived at the Huai Krathing Reservoir in the mountains. Members of the family included my mother-in-law, daughters Pu and Aey, granddaughter Yuri, wife Suai, son-in-law Kaeo, and myself.
After finding a dirt parking area, we got out of our SUV and started to explore. The first thing that struck me from the top of a small hill was the picturesque beauty of a small lake surrounded by bamboo forest and mountains. I couldn't also help but notice numerous bamboo rafts made into floating pavilions docked along the shore.
Since the sky was only partly cloudy, we all decided to rent a floating pavilion and be towed to the middle of the lake for a few hours of pleasure. Five hundred baht (a little more than $15) would cover us for two or three hours. We also learned that restaurant dishes could be delivered to us on the lake in floating market style.
Boarding Our Floating Pavilion and Being Towed to the Middle of the Lake
After paying for our rental of a bamboo raft, we quickly boarded our floating pavilion. The raft was about 15' by 8' and had room for up to 10 persons. There were mats and cushions spread out on the deck and I noticed five or six life jackets. Water, coke, and ice had previously been ordered and was awaiting us on the raft.
Within a few minutes of boarding, a long-tailed motorboat attached itself to our bamboo raft and pushed us very slowly out to the middle of the lake. In the distance, we could see a few other floating pavilions already on the lake and also beautiful green mountains behind a bamboo forest on the far side of the lake.
Eating Lunch on a Floating Pavilion
The time was approaching 11:00 am, and most of us were hungry, having skipped breakfast after checking out of our motel in Chiang Khan 60 kilometers away. My oldest daughter wasted no time in phoning in our lunch order. Within 15-20 minutes, it was delivered to us on a long-tailed motorboat. The cuisine was Isan-style and included khao niao (sticky rice,) yaam talei (spicy seafood salad,) somtam (spicy papaya salad,) tomyaamgong (spicy shrimp soup,) grilled and fried fish, barbecued shrimp, grilled chicken, assorted stir-fried vegetables, steamed rice, water, beer, and coke.
There were no tables or chairs on the raft so we all ate in the Isan manner by sitting on the mats. Pu called in for seconds of rice and all of the dishes. The total cost of the lunch was about 1,000 Thai baht (approximately $30) for seven people.
Feeding Ducks and Ducklings
Toward the end of our lunch, a mother duck and her four to eight ducklings came swimming up to our bamboo raft. They obviously had been attracted by our food. After the duck and ducklings were next to the raft, my wife and granddaughter went out on the bamboo poles to feed them cabbage. Some of the ducklings were so hungry that they climbed up on the bamboo poles.
A few minutes later, my granddaughter and son-in-law decided that they would take a dip in the lake. Wearing life jackets, they both jumped in and had a great time swimming. The other members of the family, including myself, were not inclined to join Yuri and Kaeo.
Encountering a Thunderstorm
Fun in the water ended suddenly when a thunderstorm blew across the lake. Before the rain hit, our floating pavilion was blown ashore up against another bamboo raft. Onshore, we noticed a herd of water buffalo that were grazing. At this point, Pu called the pilot of a long-tailed motorboat who came and towed us back to our starting point. Actually, two motorboats pulled us through the wind and a driving rainstorm.
Upon alighting from the raft, we quickly made our way through a light rain to our parked vehicle. It was an enjoyable two or three hours which I will always remember.
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© 2018 Paul Richard Kuehn