These days Thailand is seeing many more repeat visitors. People who originally fell in love with Thailand in their younger days when they were backpackers are returning as married couples. There are also more retired couples exploring Thailand. For these people they want a bit more than beaches, temples and elephant rides. What they are looking for is more of an immersion into Thai culture. A great way to do this is to spend a few days at one of the many homestays around Thailand.
The place where I visited today is called The Thai House which is in Bang Yai in Nonthaburi Province [MAP]. The location is only a short 45 minute journey West of Central Bangkok. They have a charming teak wood house built in the traditional style. On our arrival we were met by the matriarch, Khun Prasan Fargrajang and one of her daughters Ms. Prapaipat. They told us that the house was purpose built as a homestay about 20 years ago on a plot of land owned by their family for generations. The original intention was to earn extra money to supplement the income from their orchards.
There are three Thai style houses linked together by a raised platform. This is the typical way of living in the countryside in Thailand. When the children have grown up and get married, another house is built in the same compound. All of them are linked making one big house. Each house has two rooms on the second floor with another on the ground floor. The house can take a maximum of 16 guests. To keep with tradition, none of the rooms have air-conditioning but are kept cool with the many open windows and also the fans. Prices range from 1,500 baht to 2,400 baht for a triple room. Prices include breakfast. A modern Western bathroom can be found in a separate section.
People can come to The Thai House to experience the warm hospitality of a genuine Thai family. They can also come here to learn how to cook Thai food using traditional family recipes. A one day course includes five recipes and costs 3,800 baht per person. But, to fully learn about the Thai way of life it is worth staying overnight and doing a two day one night course or even a three day three night course. The prices for these courses include accommodation and food and cost 8,950 baht and 16,650 baht per person. These courses have a minimum of two persons and a maximum of ten.
As we were visiting for only a short time, and we were also a large group, Khun Prasan gave us a cooking demonstration. She explained that the first thing that she did was to explain to her guests the different ingredients. The first recipe she demonstrated was Tom Yum Kung. I liked it how she showed us the difference between similar ingredients such as galangal and ginger, Chinese chives and spring onion, and kaffir lime and lime. With the lemon grass she showed us how to cut it depending on what we were making. For tom yum she sliced it thinly diagonally. For salads where it is eaten raw, she first peeled the outer skin and then sliced it thinly to make rounded shapes.
The second dish that she demonstrated for us was Pad Thai. This is probably the most favourite Thai food for a lot of tourists in Thailand. I know that I like it a lot. However, I haven’t yet mastered the art of cooking it. There are quite a few ingredients and preparation will take quite a while. As much as I like cooking, it is quicker to pop outside and buy from the roadside vendor around the corner from my house for less than a $1. But, I would like to give it a try. It was interesting how she demonstrated how the various ingredients are brought together to create a sweet, sour and salty taste. She also showed us how to make tamarind sauce.
We were only visiting The Thai House for three hours but I could see how relaxing a longer stay would be here in a traditional Thai style house surrounded by trees and plants. Around the back there is a small canal. You can hire boats here to go off exploring. A local temple is only a short ten minute walk away. If you are looking for an experience of the traditional Thai way of life then you wouldn’t find an easier introduction than at The Thai House. The owners speak perfect English and they are very friendly and helpful to their guests. For more information, click here to visit their website.
I wish to thank the Fargrajang family for being such kind hosts during our trip. Lunch was very delicious. I would like to also thank the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for arranging this trip for the media.
The following is a map showing the location of the homestay and other attractions nearby.
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