Then Jellybean came up with the idea of visiting the Bangkok Tree House. Technically, it was still part of the city, but located in the periphery. One had to take a boat ride crossing the Chao Phraya river to get to it; and it was said that most locals were actually unaware of the place.
My interest was piqued. It seemed a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Hence, plans were made to spend Sunday afternoon checking out the Tree House.
What exactly is the Bangkok Tree House (hereby shortened to "BTH")?
A cursory check of the website showed it was some sort of high-end tourist lodge with serious ecological cred -- we're talking organic food in their cafe, chlorine-free pool, solar- and wind-powered lights, etc. Overnight stays are possible in their "cozy nests". BTH cheerily admits to "not being for everyone", and goes further by saying "you will love the Bangkok Treehouse if you love trees, plants, exotic lizards, birds, fireflies, cicadas, butterflies and mother nature."
Hmmm, i love trees. . . i definitely don't love lizards, exotic or otherwise. Mother nature? Yeah. But i love airconditioning too, hehe.
Jellybean downloaded the step-by-step instructions, and we duly scanned it:
a) Bangkok Sky Train (BTS) to Bang Na Station, Exit 2 --- okay, check!
b) Taxi to Bang Na pier (around 1.5 KM / approx. BHT 55.00)
Unfortunately, this is where things went a bit potty. Our taxi driver did not quite understand Jellybean's Thai. She was saying the word "Tha Num" (meaning "pier"), but he misheard it as "Tha Non" (meaning "road"). So he just nodded and went on the expressway, and it wasn't until the taxi fare reached BHT 80.00 that we figured out we were on the wrong track!
Fortunately, we were able to call BTH; and they were able to set our poor cabbie straight.
c) Finally, Bang Na pier. Here there were two ways to cross the river - via fast craft ("rocket boats") or ferry (cheap at BHT 4.00/person but slower).
Here (above) is a photo of the "rocket boat", with two locals quizzically eyeing us. They were probably wondering where these two foreigners were going. Jellybean inquired as to the rate, and we somewhat grudgingly agreed to the BHT 30.00/person rate.
It turned out to be a very quick ride, barely 5 minutes. Our boatman signalled that our stop was already here, and motioned for us to get down his boat. We looked around, puzzled.
No signage whatsoever that this was the BTH. All we saw was a series of rickety-looking wooden floorboards amidst murky waters. Not quite inspiring.
"This is it?!?" i ask Jellybean plaintively. So it seemed. We made like McGyver and stepped on the creaky wooden boards as fast and as lightly as we could, and i tried not to imagine what would happen if we tipped over to the brackish water. Surely there wasn't a crocodile or mutant sea monster awaiting to make us. . .into lunch?
We made it without mishap, and came upon the BTH's restaurant area (see pic below). Turned out our boat man (that sick sonofabitch) had dropped us off at the back entrance; and Jellybean figured out he had overcharged us! Our fare should probably have been around half only, i.e. BHT15.00/person!
So we decided to take a look around, and see what exactly was this place all about. Funnily enough, the staff paid us no mind, so we were free to roam around as we wished.
Here's one of the cozy nests. I really liked the simple, almost minimalist design of the walls, made from bamboo. This one is dubbed as the "Bee Hive".
Whoa, look at the lounge area on the roof top! Pretty cool.
Here's a closer view of the roof top lounge of the biggest nest, "Family Nest". Looks pretty inviting, huh? Especially on a hot, muggy summer's day. One could sunbathe while drinking a bottle (make that bottles) of the famous local Singha beer.
Ah, there are actual guests, look! :D
I must mention, though, that a major drawback of these nests is that the toilets and bedrooms are on separate floors, and the stairs seem rather steep and might be difficult to navigate at night. Definitely not for people with vertigo.
Here's the one called "View with a Room"; and yes, this is the bedroom - you sleep under the stars.
There are touches of whimsy, which are actually endearing. Take this one, in one of the bedrooms:
BTH shows off its green cred in various ways. Here's some recycled wood accents on the wall of the Family Nest:
And plants grown on containers made of recycled soda bottles abound:
And i guess this is the grand daddy of 'em all, their solar panel which powers most of the lights and water heater.
Some of the signs around the property proved to be enlightening and/or amusing. Amongst them:
This mirror quote (below) brought chuckles to me and Jellybean. Could this be the reason why i'm grumpy everyday, instead of happy? (gasp) ;-D
Ah, here's me hiding behind the mirror. lest my innermost thoughts get revealed. Hehe.
And here's my lovely friend hiding behind this profound saying. I'm sure she thinks all men are wrong all the time! Hahahahahaha!
"Earth, without Art, is just eh". I'd have to agree!
You might wonder what else there is to do in the area of the Bangkok Tree House. Apparently, plenty of other things. One can rent a bike and explore the lush vegetation, or visit the nearby Bang Nam Peung Floating Market, or have a picnic at Si Nakhon Kheaun Khan Botanical Park. They have a hand-drawn wall-sized map (below) showing where these places are:
For people like us who preferred more sedate pursuits, the mid afternoon called for a snack. So we retreated to BTH's in-house cafe.
Check out the "bamboo chandeliers" (bamboo poles affixed to the ceiling), which made for such a visually-arresting display that i was so enamored with it (and briefly thought of installing such in my bedroom). Both of us agreed it added a nice, native touch to the cafe.
Here's another look near their bar counter area.
While Jellybean was away, whispering on her mobile to confirm our dinner reservations (see previous post on the 'Little Beast' resto), i ordered from the menu the Mango Tomato Tango, described as "mango, shrimp, tomatoes in fat-free mayonnaise, lime and mint sauce."
It turned out to be an attractive dish, and the flavors worked really well together. Perfect as a light snack.
The Grandma's recipe iced tea was a visual feast for the eyes, but the taste was pretty average. Still refreshing on this humid afternoon, though.
And it turned out the bamboo poles were functional as well!
Back to Civilization
Eventually, it was time to leave and make our way back to central Bangkok.
Despite getting directions from the friendly (and pretty) female staffer on how to get to the ferry dock, we managed to lose our way a little bit and got into a bizarre worthy-of-Bill-Gates discussion on what exactly was an "intersection".
Fortunately, Jellybean's training with the Navy Seals/Medicins sans Frontiers/UNICEF kicked in, and she figured out that we had to go towards the direction of the water. Which saved the day, as it was past 6 PM; and the pathway we were on was narrow, and a slip and fall into the murky water was gonna make us late for dinner.
Eventually we saw the dock and sprinted a little bit in order not to be left behind (and wait 20 minutes for the next ferry). The ferry was rather full, with a whole bunch of motorcycle-riding passengers.
Again, we were conscious of some stares from fellow passengers. I'm pretty sure they have never heard of the Bangkok Tree House!
After saying goodbye (or is it good riddance?) to the BTH, i contemplated a little bit about this place. It surely had good intentions regarding being eco-friendly, and there was probably a sizeable enough tourist market for its offerings.
This seemed the type of off-the-beaten-path destination that can be a staple of architectural/design magazines, and even glossy high-end travel magazines (possible "retreat in utter calm from the bustle of Bangkok" tagline comes to mind). But for me, once you're there, it can be quite underwhelming.
So, would i stay overnight here? Hmmm, i'd have to say NO.
Facebook : www.facebook.com/bangkoktreehouse