We went to Nong Ta Kai today to visit friends, about 19km S of the city. On the way, we had noodle soup at our favorite noodle store on Sri Chom Cheun. New price list is posted....the first in quite a few years. New prices: regular 40 Baht, special 50 Baht, jumbo 60 Baht. Drink prices are the same. Competition being what it is, I'd expect the surrounding hole-in-the-wall soup shops near Dose and the jail to do likewise.....maybe not overnight, but soon enough. No complaints from me......just an observation. The Economist tracks the price of a hamburger at McDonald's.......but in Udon, the price of noodle soup is a better gauge of where things are going.
Then off to Nong Ta Kai, immediately across from the railway station (the scene of a recent multi-car derailment). First thing I noticed is that there are probably thousands of pieces of rail still piled up from several years ago. Whatever WAS planned is probably on hold or the plans have changed.....no wonder the SRT is going the way of the Panamanian Railroad (circa 1980's).
At the station were 30 or so blue containers (photo) all lined up. They are used to transport processed sugar (brown) to the Laem Chabang port in Bangkok which is then shipped to Japan. Our friend's wife just took a job with the company to transport the empty containers to Kumphawaphi and then full (27 tons) containers back to the Nong Ta Kai station for loading onto a train. Once every 3 days, 40 containers full of sugar are sent by rail to Bangkok and then to Japan. That's a lot of sugar! Our friend's husband makes the drive to the sugar plant about 4 times a day.....only transporting one container each trip (despite the truck easily able to take two)....18 wheeler......250 Baht per day. That's 5 bowls of noodle soup (special) a day.
As they live in potash country, I asked about the status of the mine.......he says all the meetings to air community concerns have been held....and it's expected the mine will begin operation next year. (I realize this is just one man's opinion........but there hasn't been a lot of press about the potash operation recently....so.....)
Sean Spicer won't be regurgitating this info at his (or her) next press conference, so I thought I'd do it here.
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