Following his purchase of a conventional 2 bedroom home outside of Chicago my brother and his Thai wife decided to build a home in Bangkok. He gave me a tour of it as we discussed his new Thai lifestyle.
The home is about a 40 minute drive from Krung Thep, the capital city of Thailand that is referred to as Bangkok by most westerners. The drive to his home takes one through urban areas to the edge of the district of Bangkok. Directly behind his house is the beginning of country settings and farmland.
The family lives in a two-story, four bedroom house located in a gated village. What is referred to as a village is much like any gated, planned community in the States with a handful of streets that all dead-end and a set number of houses that look relatively the same. The village is located in a soi, which is the larger community. A soi is defined as a community in which there is only one main road in and out and all of the streets dead-end.
As it is illegal in Thailand for foreigners to own land the home is in his wife’s name. Foreigners can purchase condominiums, since there is no land attached with the ownership. The home was purchased through a developer who has an office in the soi. They live in the same village as my brother’s brother-in-law, so they did not search for a home anywhere else. They simply walked into the developers office asked to buy a home and purchased the lot which included the construction price of the house plan. My brother hoped to buy two lots so they could use one as a yard, but since the construction price is included with the price of the land it would have been too expensive to buy a lot and not build on it. As a result they have enough land for some fruit trees, including banana, papaya, mango, and pepper on a bush, but not much more.
The home is two-stories tall with four bedrooms. Some rooms have air conditioning units built into the walls. Central air would be very expensive and not very practical, due to the cost to run it and the hassle should something break. The ceilings are 9ft tall. Stone covers the entire first floor and solid wood floor covers the second. This is a common manner of designing the flooring. Thai people like wood floors, but due to the possibility of flooding stone is much more practical for the first floor.
Amenities include a two-car carport and a washing machine. There are two kitchens, but no dishwasher. Clothing is hung to dry, so there is no need for a dryer. This is all very typical. The indoor kitchen is used for storing food and simple cooking such as preparing rice or using the microwave. The outdoor kitchen is used for heavy cooking. There is a lot of grease used in Thai cooking, so the kitchen can get messy and smokey. Having the kitchen outside keeps the smoke from coming inside and makes clean-up easier because the floor can be sprayed down without affecting any other room. Food is very cheap, so they eat out a lot and don’t store much in the home. My brother’s brother-in-law doesn’t even own a refrigerator.
Outside of all Thai homes is a spirit house. This is an Animist tradition, which is the indigenous religion of Thailand. It is believed that when we build we displace the home of the spirit of the land, so a spirit house is build for the spirit to live in.
Approximately a year after a home is built monks will come to bless the home. String is wrapped around the structure to keep evil spirits out during the blessing. The monks spend many hours in the prayer room as they bless the home. Blessings are then marked above the front door and the string remains until it naturally falls away.
For more images of the house and the soi view the full album on our Fan Page.