21 February 2010

Homestay; the real deal in Thailand

I set my travel plan to the countryside near Bangkok. Wanting to stay off the beaten tracks, I was thinking of Thaka district, which is about 3 hours Southwest of Bangkok.

I decided to travel by public means. I traveled by train, starting from Bangkok going to Mahachai, then took a ferry, walked over to the next train station and took another train, this time from Ban Laem to Mae Klong.

Thaka is a village in Samut Songkram province, which has an abundance of coconut groves, that flourish in the rich deep soil of this area. One reason why this place is lush and green, I noticed, are the canals.

The locals use the canals not just for watering crops but also transportation. Canals are the waterways that people use to deliver agricultural products from their own grove directly to the market.

Now, Is there a chance to have an overnight stay in the midst of all of this: palm groves, temples, traditional houses and the fresh clean country smell?

Honestly, I did not have much of an imagination of how it would be to stay in a homestay, but when I got there, I realized this place looks truly rural, charming, is quiet and there is a Floating Market, which I could easily get to by walking through the coconut groves. The Floating Market is being held on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 - 12 am. It is a truly remarkable experience, however, make sure you don't go to the markets that are being promoted for tourists.

I stayed 2 nights in the homestay, just to make sure I was able to get the whole depth of this experience.

As with everything, I found some good and some not so pleasant aspect of my choice of accommodation.

I loved the way I was able to participate in local people's life. I also enjoyed my rural surroundings, being so different from Bangkok: palm groves everywhere, the sounds of frogs and birds, lights from fireflies at night, fresh air and delicious food for breakfast and dinner provided by my landlord.

So everything was perfect? Not quite, perhaps this homestay has only been opened for a relatively short time, because I noticed a lack of service skills. Soap, shampoo and other convenient stuff that is usually part of a hotel room was missing. What bothered me more, however, was the fact that the landlord had obviously decided to do the cleaning himself. Unfortunately, his busy schedule left him little time to do so.

Overall, I believe to choose a homestay in the Thai countryside is an option not to be missed. You are simply closer to an authentic experience and isn't this one important reason why we travel? ...GeoVenture


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