We cried leaving Thung Dong Farm Stay this morning. By we, I mean also Alex and myself. By Thung Dong Farm Stay, I mean Ae.
Ae is Thung Dong Farm Stay. He is the man who 15 years ago left Bangkok, bought a house and a piece of land in the jungles near Chiang Mai, and built this farm.
He soon realised, though, that the farm business was not for him, he knew he wanted to find a creative way to make a living without having to kill and sell animals: and so he started digging (literally, he made most of it with his own hands, including the lake!), he learnt English by watching America's Got Talent (and also the British version of it, "to understand the accent" <3), and turned his farm into a farm experience business.
The move was brave (we’re talking Thailand 15 years ago!), but his bravery paid off, and the result is stunning! Thungdong Farm Stay is a fascinating hotel-like farm with chickens, geese, ducks, cows, dogs, fish, cats, a civet, hedgehogs, bunnies, and surrounded by breathtaking nature. Oh, did I mention the deer?
We stayed in the Farm House, a beautiful traditional Thai house with walls only in the bedrooms and bathroom (yup!), which overlooks the evergreen garden and the lake. Not only did we feel like kings, we also ate like kings: all the traditional Thai meals are authentic, delicious and home cooked at the farm (and all included, by the way).
The kids helped Ae on the farm, fed animals (all the time!), made friends with Sam the dog and Ruby the civet, rode with Ae on the motorbike the Thai way (three on a motorbike with no helmets), did art and craft with Ae, went fruit shopping with Ae: during our four-day stay at the farm “where’s Ae?” became the new “I’m hungry!” (which my kids say non-stop ;-).
Alex and I relaxed, worked, had massages in the verandah—our thoughts interrupted only the laughters of the children and the sounds of nature.
Every day Ae took us to gorgeous excursions (the stunning tree cafe The Giant and the Mae Kampong waterfalls were highlights!), he made a huge hot-air lantern with the kids that we all released together at night, and on the last morning the kids helped him make two farewell Krathongs that we then released into the lake, after making a wish.
Ae welcomed us like family, and loved Oliver and Emily like his own children—and we all loved him back. Thung Dong farm created the experience, but Ae created all the special memories.
If you ever find yourself in northern Thailand, please go stay with Ae, and give him a hug from us. Till next time, Ae, you have a special place in our hearts.
Ps. And take your mosquito repellant with you because you’ll need it (although, if you forget it, Ae will have you covered! ;-)