Living Middle Class Thai Style In The Country
It has always been interesting to me that the Thais live without many of the “modern” amenities that farangs would not consider living without. The idea of this story came to me on our recent trip to Khanom (on the mainland across the water from Koh Samui) where we stayed with a former schoolmate and good friend of my wife. The friend is married to a very hard working Thai who owns and operates his own large back hoe and who knows what other construction equipment. They also own and work many agricultural properties throughout the area and I would have to classify them as very well off.
The house they live in and are very proud of is an old Thai style teak wood house built on a modern foundation.
When you go inside the house you really get the feeling of how they live. The living room shows you the rich wood used throughout the main structure of the house including the teak wood floors, walls and ceilings. In almost all Thai houses I have been in, pictures of the family, parents and relatives are very prevalent as shown on the wall in the living room.
Closets almost don’t exist in the house and clothing racks and cubicles are placed in the hallway and kitchen for their clothes.
Only daughter's (she is off in college) room, where we stayed, has a small closet.
No need to elevate the mattress. Bedrooms all have a mattress on the floor which seems to be quite common in Thailand if indeed they do have a mattress to sleep on. Sleeping directly on the floor with minimal padding is also quite normal.
In the kitchen you can see the ONE electrical outlet on the wall for all of the appliances around it. Just plug in the appliance you want and you can use it. Just can’t keep a rice cooker and microwave or anything else plugged in at the same time.
Looking at the sink / counter top area you can see all the pots and pans stacked there. Little storage for them except on counter top. Note the additional clothing rack on the left side heading towards bathroom.
WOW! A new refrigerator. Replaced the smaller older one with a rusty front. Note the “stand” (which is the bottom of the shipping carton it came in) on the bottom of the refrigerator. Why remove it?
Water to house from the municipality is a day-time thing only. Comes on in the morning around 6:30 or 7 AM and goes off around the same time at night. If you want water through the plumbing you had better get it during those hours or you are out of luck. Amazing to me as we have water tanks in back of our house and feed it into the house via pump so never a shortage of water pressure in the house 24/7. Seems so simple and logical to me to use this process also there but they are used to living with it that way.
Using the bathroom sink can be challenging. Guess the Thais, with their not too plentiful facial hair, don’t shave very much as I don’t often see razor blades around them. Also notice that there is NO mirror. I had to shave (with cold water) blind using memory with shaving brush to coat face and also to work the razor over my face. Interesting experience. I have seen many Thai bathroom with a very small mirror located somewhere on the wall.
The picture says it all for the bathroom in the main house. SMALL already with the infamous slit toilet and any excess space taken up with plastic barrels full of water. One barrel being for toilet flushing and the larger one being for those wonderful and exciting cold bucket showers. Of course you almost always see a spigot on the wall of a Thai bathroom. This spigot is for refilling of the water barrels. I have finally figured out how to make the cold bucket showers less exciting and a bit more tolerable (unless you heat up the shower water by pouring a heated bucket of water into it—wife has done that for me a few times and its GREAT). Trick is to pour over your head first and take care of soaping that down. Rinse the soap off with a scoop of water and the body has now gotten some water on it and pouring over your body is not quite so “exciting”. My wife enjoys listening to me taking those showers. Just a few groans for each bucket pored over your warm body then soap it down. When you’re on the final rinsing you have gotten used to the water temperature and it’s now a piece of cake. Oh, forget about the bathtub as I hate them to take showers in. Can easily slip around in them and your movement is restricted. Can’t imagine anyone has ever using this tub for its intended purpose.
Back patio is where everyone seems to spend most time. It’s covered, open to the air and nice when breeze is blowing. Also just outside the kitchen (food) which Thais always like.
On the back of the property a room and larger carport has been built along with another bathroom around back. They spent a lot of time constructing the carport and room but spent little time with the final details like electric wiring, switches and connections. Note the electrical line strung from the house and the wiring and broken plug. If you want something on, you just plug it into that broken (but you may not be able to see that) cheap household junction box hanging on a nail on the pillar. No switches here.
Now in back of the room is a larger bathroom with a western toilet that you have to bucket water into to flush. Even have a modern luxury bun washer for use over the toilet (when the water pressure is on). Most of the showering is done in this bathroom as it is larger than the one in the house and room only contains the toilet and bun washer. Oh yes, almost forgot there is a small plastic mirror stuffed on the wall there.
Now the highlight of this stay was something not related to the house. The husband was telling us over dinner that night about being stung on the arm by a bee and it hurt a bit. I didn’t see significance of that until we got home and pulled out a bag with a raft of honeycombs inside. He got stung while retrieving several big chunks of honeycomb. Wife and friend proceeded to pluck from the combs the larvae and in some cases bees popped out ready to leave. When a live bee showed signs of leaving the plate, it got smashed. See the interesting sight below.
These things were fried and eaten later that night. Wife tried to feed me one but I just did not feel up to the adventure. She said they are very tasty.
So there you have it, a slice of Thai living by a very upper middle class Thai family living in the country with all the “conveniences” they feel are necessary. I once stayed in a remote village in Isaan and what I have described above would be palace there.
Nicely put together. Their house seems to be very typically Thai.