Expat life in Ubon Ratchathani


It’s very hard to believe I have now lived in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand for 10 years. While I have lived here since October 2000 for others 10/10 marks first trip to Ubon.

I can still vividly remember arriving at the then Ubon Ratchathani International Airport. At that time there was a daily flight to Da Nang, Viet Nam but has long since been scraped.

The hotel I stayed at my first few nights here was Nevada Grand Hotel. Now it is Ubon International Hotel.  Another thing that has changed since I was first introduced to this first lady of Isaan.


Ubon International Hotel

Ubon International Hotel


I am not sure who has changed the most in the past decade, me or The Lotus City. I know I am a different man from the one who arrived here in a transition period not knowing if this chapter in my life would be short or long.

As it turned out it has been a very long chapter that is not yet completed. In my life I have lived in many places and for the duration of stay Ubon Ratchathani now ranks number 2.

  • The place I have lived the longest is my hometown of Redding, California, USA
  • Taking second place at 10 years is Ubon Ratchathani
  • A close third is Berlin, Germany. At the time I was living there it was known as West Berlin, West Germany. I was there that cold and foggy night of November 9, 1989 when Humpdee Dumpdee sat on the wall but this time it was the Wall that came tumbling down.

When Ubon was still new to me there was no Tesco Lotus or Big-C. There was a Tops Market on the ground floor of Robinsons. There was only a single bridge going across the Mun River between the city and Warin. Sunee Grand Hotel was a deserted hospital.

I remember driving the streets and there was seldom any traffic congestion. Ubon Ratchathani University was still an infant and I felt like I was entering a ghost town when I visited. Rajabhat was not yet a university and across the street from the main entrance you could get a good lunch at Fern Hut long before SK was around.


Ubon Ratchathani University

Ubon Ratchathani University


Nevada Complex actually offered English soundtrack movies about every 2 months. It was a challenge to find a place to check email and most of them were so slow an hourglass was used to time connections.

There were 3 flights a day between Bangkok and Ubon Ratchathani with the fares costing only 800TB.  Only Thai Airways International was servicing the heart and soul of Isaan. There was no Nok Air and nobody here had ever heard of Air Asia.

During my first 7 months here I was teaching English at Northeastern Polytechnic and only made one other farang. I am sure there were others here but I just never ran into them. If I was an Ugly Duckling I didn’t notice.

At the time I first came to live here 911 to me, was the number to call in case of emergency while in the US. times have changed.  A tsunami was something that happened in Japan, Hawaii or a movie not a Boxing Day tragedy.

Over that past decade I have made so many deposits to my experience vault and fortunately most of them are on a positive note.

I have a lot of memories of this Isaan Lady known and Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand and on or about the 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year it has been a nearly perfect 10 for  me.


Source ~ Darwin Dennis

Darwin is an American expat living in Ubon, now calling it his home since 2000

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Updated: September 8, 2011 by admin

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