"somebody is actually planning to make Udon the next "boom" town"
We've been here 13 years and there's no denying that Udon has grown by leaps and bounds. But take a walk into Index, Homepro, the half-dozen or so resorts that have opened near Udon, most of the hotels, and many of the surrounding stores (Tesco, Big C, Makro excepted) and you'll wonder how these place make any money. I know the wage scale is very low, but no matter......you've got to have customers to make money. It's rare to see more than a dozen cars in many of these parking lots, even on weekends.
Yesterday we ate at the Na Ka Bu Ri Resort, located 15km outside of Udon on the way to Nongkai. Upscale (for Udon) place, lots of nice landscaping, pool, conference center, big restaurant, 44 superior rooms, 4 delux rooms, 12 executive villas, and 1 family suite. There wasn't a single occupant in the place when we were there, and we were the only customers in the restaurant. A business like this would never survive in the US. The food was fine but was at the high end of the price range and that'll keep most local Thais away. Another resort closer to our home opened 2 years ago...did a booming business for the first month or two, then their service/quality of food went down and prices went up. End result was no customers. Yet, the owner is building two large dormitory-like additions to the resort.
Same same with all the subdivisions going up in town. The wage scale is so low for folks in Udon, one can only wonder how they afford such places.
The two daughters of a noodle stand that we frequent are both recent college grads. Both have been unable to find decent jobs. One helps mom and dad at the noodle stand, another helps an aunt at her dry cleaning business.
There's a multi-storied car park near the fountain circle....went up a few years ago. The entrance ramp is outrageously steep and I've never seen a car enter/exit. I haven't paid much attention, but my guess is, it's unusable.
Personally, I'm happy with all the additional shopping opportunities, eating establishments, hospitals, etc. that have come along in the past 10+ years. But the way some folks do business here makes me wonder if they have a plan or just have money.