For our last week in Thailand we booked this traditional wooden house on a canal in north Bangkok, a neighborhood called Bang Yai. This house and the people in it have made me fall in love with Thailand in a way that I hadn't thought to experience. There are things on this trip that I don't need to do ever again. For example I never need to go to a Thai beach again. I found them overpriced and dirty and far too full of tourists. We have much nicer and cheaper beaches in my own hemisphere that don't require 32 hours of flight time to get to. The plastic garbage really is a problem that the country is going to have to recon with. But this house, built of teak and rosewood, in the traditional style, is an aesthetic paradise! Surrounded by fruit orchards and plant nurseries, the air is cooler and cleaner, and the noise of the city is left far behind. The family here has lived on this property for 5 generations, and the house is infused with love and history. It was the perfect place for me to relax, consolidate my design ideas for the coming 2019 season, and learn to cook tasty Thai dishes from an amazing woman who absolutely loves to cook and teach. Both mornings since I've been home I've woken with thoughts of this house in my mind. The green canopy, the frogs chirping in the night, the call of the Koel bird, and the wonderful family who lives here. Pip's grandfather built the original house on this property 100 years ago (and it's still standing right next to the canal) and she grew up going to school in a little hand carved teak boat, and coming home to work the rice fields with her very own water buffalo. The canal was everything; food, transportation, marketplace, water source, and bath house. Today the canals are not as clean as they once were, and the family no longer uses them as a water source. But we did have the privilege of visiting a market in a boat that left from the original steps down into the canal! And monks still collect morning alms from those who've maintained their connection to the canals. I took 3 full days of cooking classes with Pip. Her instruction is excellent and I intend to practice, and cook the recipes with the techniques she taught me at home for friends and family. The stories she has to share about life in Thailand from the days of the canal to the days of the sky train will live in my memory for life. I'll hear her voice when I cook, and hope that I can infuse my food with as much love and flavor as she does. And you can be sure that if I ever return to Thailand, her house will be my first stop!
Alison B. Sweeney
Why We Travel?