A taste of local life
Sena district, Ayutthaya province T: (081) 251 8058
Set along the banks of a lazy river and located just 25 kilometres to the west of Ayutthaya, the small rural community of Ban Lan Khe provides a wonderful opportunity to experience Thai family life in a tranquil setting. Whether looking for somewhere to enhance your travel experience, enjoy nature or simply unwind, this could be just the place for you.
As the songthaew pulled away, we were left at a quiet junction overlooking a sea of green paddies. Having spoken earlier that morning, Mrs Tim suggested that we meet by Wat Ranjolakeh, near the school where she works. Walking along the road and over an old wooden bridge, we saw Mrs Tim waiting to welcome us in front of the temple. After a cool drink and friendly chat with the ladies at the local shop, we popped into the ordination hall to see a 260-year-old Buddha image.
Later, we strolled to a jetty where Mrs Tim's husband was waiting; here an old woman paddled her boat among the stilted houses lining the riverbank. Gliding over water lilies, Mr Tan rowed the boat a short distance upstream to his place, a bright-yellow building with a homely atmosphere. Feeling at ease, we chatted for a while before taking a dip in the river.
In the late afternoon Mrs Tim appeared on the horizon, arriving home in a boat full of her grandchildren and other members of the family -- time to pound some spicy som tam with a mortar and pestle. After several introductions, giggles and shy smiles, we were given a crash course in Thai cooking in the open-air kitchen.
As the heat died down we took a boat ride along the river, stopping to collect water mimosa, morning glory and lotus flowers to be used later for cooking. Conical bird’s nests swayed in the tree branches, as fishermen tested their luck along with kingfishers and herons. The sun sunk below the horizon as we drifted through the village, an assortment of houses with some leaning at impossible angles. A lone monk sat at the end of a pier accompanied by a few dogs, the end of another day in this timeless place.
Back at the house we feasted on soup, fresh fish, spicy pork, Thai omelette, local vegetables and a variety of homemade sauces. Talk was easy over dinner in the company of such gracious hosts and soon it was time for bed. Accommodation was in a simple loft that sleeps up to five, with mattresses on the floor and air-con if required. Larger groups can be placed in other houses around the village. The shared bathroom, basic with cold-water shower, was also spotless.
As the sunrose at 06:00 it was worth getting up to see local monks paddle boats from house to house, collecting alms in a tradition that dates back to the time of the Buddha. Feeling like a member of the family, we were invited to take part in this important daily ceremony and given an opportunity to give food and flowers to a monk, who reciprocated with a blessing.
After a hearty Thai-style breakfast, we walked with Mrs Tim along the riverbank, passing mango and banana trees, to the local school where we said a quick hello to the kids before heading back to Ayutthaya, feeling well-rewarded from a night in this special place.
To get here from Ayutthaya, take a minibus from Naresuan Soi 2 to Sena, which depart every 10 minutes during daylight hours. To reach Ban Lan Khe from Sena, either take a songtheaw (departs every half hour and takes 15 minutes) or arrive in style on a Harley Davidson trishaw that might be available at the bus station. You could also take a motorbike taxi. A taxi direct from Ayutthaya to Ban Lan Khe will cost around 500 baht. The best time to arrive is between 15:00 and 16:00. The Homestay will help you to get back to Sena, from where you just catch a minibus back to Ayutthaya.
By James Barr
Last updated on 28th February, 2016.