To escape the Bangkok chaos, pollution, and heat, I moved out into the countryside for the weekend, more specifically to The Thai House in Nonthaburi, which is some 22 km northwest of Bangkok. It takes about one hour to drive here if the traffic is not too heavy, but it took almost two hours because of the continuous traffic jams.
The Thai House is a beautiful teak wood building made in the traditional Thai style on stilts. There are eight rooms for visitors on the upper level, and a large eating room, kitchen and garden on the ground floor. The rooms have teak wood floors and walls and are furnished with old-style teak furniture. The windows have only mosquito nets and no glass so that the air can freely circulate. A terracotta-tiled terrace with large plants joins the rooms together. It is a very nice and cozy place and it is surprising that not more people have found there way to the Thai House!
Pip and her big family really make one welcome here. She explains everything in excellent English, knows a lot about all kinds of plants and how to use them for different purposes, and is easy to talk to. She has seen the area changing from only rice fields and a few houses to what is now a busy village. There were no roads when she grew up and the only way of transport was by boat on the maze of small canals. It is actually possible to get by boat from here into Bangkok in about two hours! People still use the canals for transport, and to get to the market, but most of them now go by car.
During the big flood a few years ago, the whole area was flooded and the water reached about 1-1.5 m above the present level. People had to resort to their boats again for being able to move around. The flooding was really bad and destroyed many buildings, gardens and orchards. Some people are still repairing the damages, and even in Pip’s garden one can still see how the flooding destroyed the trees, although the vegetation is recovering.
To bless the new restored garden and to commemorate the death of Pip’s parents, the family organized a big blessing today with monks chanting and loads of good food. Relatives, staff and neighbors had prepared a lot of food for the monks and for all the people joining the celebration. It was really nice that they asked me to come along and experience this important family day. I just wished I could speak Thai so that I could more easily talk to the children and to the people who don’t speak English!