Occasional news and details from Gecko Villa, among the rice paddies of rural Northeast Thailand. Other Thailand travel information may also be posted here, as may photographs from the vacation villa, from visitors or from events at or near the Thai villa. If you would like to post pictures of your Thai holiday at the villa here, please feel free to contact us by email.

Posted By Gecko

Book a stay of 2 nights or more at any time in October and take advantage of our direct booking special discount at Gecko Villa.

Full Board October rates start at only THB5,900 / night

Visit our Special Offer Booking page now and don't miss out!

 
Posted By Gecko

Thai wing bean salad

Thai Wing Bean Salad Recipe – ยำถั่วพู (Yam tua plu)

Recent guests at Gecko Villa specifically requested this crunchy Thai salad dish, using Thai wing beans (or "tua pu"). If you are making this dish overseas, you may need to visit a specialty grocery that stocks Asian vegetables to source the beans, as sugar snap or green beans are not the best of substitutes.

The dish showcases the Thai skill at blending the sweet, salty, sour, creamy and spicy with crunch and texture.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups wing beans
  • 2 soft boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup toasted fresh coconut (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Thai roasted chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened tamarind paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3-4 small dried chilies
  • A handful of medium sized prawns - shell and head off, tail on.
  • 2 tablespoons shallots

Recipe Directions

If you have access to fresh coconut flesh, cut it into strips and dry roast in a pan until golden brown, turning frequently.  

Slice the shallots very finely.

Roughly crush or chop the roasted peanuts - you are aiming for crunch so do not chop too finely.

Heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat and fry the shallot slices until golden brown and slightly crispy. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

Fry the chilies in the oil until dark. Drain on kitchen paper.

Cut the peeled boiled eggs into quarters, lengthwise.

Devein the prawns.

Cut the ends off the wing beans, then blanche whole in salted boiling water for 30 seconds. Immediately plunge the beans into an ice-cold water bath. When completely cool, slice width-wise into "stars" of approximately 0.25 inches.

Heat the coconut milk in a frying pan until boiling. Add the prawns and cook until pink. Remove from the heat and add the tamarind paste, palm sugar, roasted chili paste, lime juice, fish sauce, peanuts (and roasted coconut flesh, if using.) Mix well.

Now add the wing bean slices and mix again. Then plate up and garnish with the soft-boiled egg slices, fried shallots and roasted whole chilies - and enjoy with plain steamed jasmine rice and a variety of other dishes!

Pork or Chicken Wing Bean Salad: this dish may also be made with minced pork or chicken, using the pork or chiecken either to complement the prawns or as a substitute for them.


 
Posted By Gecko

We are often asked about the salt water chlorinator system we use in the swimming pool at Gecko Villa, here in northeast Thailand. So here is a quick summary of installing and using your own salt water system in Thailand or elsewhere.

In short, a salt water pool uses a hidden salt cell near the pump and filter to pass a low current through the salt water,  producing water and chlorine though chemical reaction. The chlorine sanitizes the swimming pool before the compunds revert to salt water.

Advantages of salt water pool chlorinators

  • No need to store liquid or powder chlorine chemicals.
  • No strong chlorine smell
  • Ease of maintenance - just add a bag of pool salt into your pool when required - generally in times of heavy rainfall.
  • Salt water is generally softer on the skin and hair, and provides a more agreeable swimming experience.
  • Relative ease of installation
  • Low cost of salt vs. chlorine

Disadvantages of salt water cells

  • Relatively high replacement cost for the plates component of the cell, although generic replacements are cheaper and work well.
  • Models that do not feature automatic reverse polarity should be avoided, as these involve regular manual cleaning with an acid solution.

Just as with any other swimming pool systems, it is necessary to ensure the correct PH / water balance in the pool, in order that the relatively  low levels of chlorine produced by the unit can remain effective.

How much does a salt water chlorinator cost in Thailand?

Well, how long is a piece of string?

The system you will require will depend primarily on the size and volume of your swimming pool. Other factors, such as bather load (the number of people who normally use the pool), the immediate environment, exposure to the sun  and the ambient temperature also play a part.

That said, prices vary enormously. Pool distributors often feel they have a captive market and generally charge huge mark-ups. We have regualrly been quoted prices that are several hundred percent more than the base price. In addition, reliability is a factor, and not all brands are created equal.

Do you have a salt water chlorinator installation diagram?

Installation will vary, but generally the cell and automatic control box will be positioned together with the pool filter and pump in a manner similar to that indicated in the diagram below:

Thailand saltwater chlorinator
 

If you are looking to install - or to swap to - a salt water cell pool system in Thailand, do your homework, or drop us a line and, with over 15 years experience of using these systems,  we will do our best to point you in the right direction.


 
Posted By Gecko

Ban Chiang UNESCO world heritage pottery
 

Ban Chiang was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1992, following its accidental discovery 26 years earlier. It is located in Nong Han district of Udon Thani province, and is only a twenty minute drive from Gecko Villa.

Excavations have shown that the site was formerly a place of habitation with an adjoining burial ground, and artefacts discovered there and subsequently dated reveal that the area was continually inhabited between 1495BC to 600AD. This in turn means that the site is the oldest prehistoric dwelling and farming site in Southeast Asia.

On display with signs in both English and Thai are objects uncovered there, from axe heads to human skeletons, examples of the village's renowned red clay pottery, ornaments for personal embellishment and more.

Learn more about visiting on Gecko Villa's Ban Chiang Museum page, or visit the archaeological site's official listing with UNESCO.

Just in front of the museum at this sleepy rural village are small shops selling reproductions of the area's famous swirled motif pottery and other handicrafts, as well as simple food and drink stalls.

Ban Chiang Museum Opening Times and Directions

The museum is open from 8.30 to 16.30 daily, with the exception of Mondays, when it is closed. If you plan to drive there, simply use the following longitude and latitude GPS coordinates: 17.406796; 103.240586.


 
Posted By Gecko

Thai raw prawn salad

For lovers of spicier Thai dishes, our Kung Chae Nam Pla - or  raw prawns with chili, lime and bitter gourd - should hit the spot. Accompanying it with an extra juicy plate of freshly barbecued pork collar keeps up the contrasts. When carefully marinated and barbecued, the meat is soft, glisteningly juicy, and has that hint of smoke from the BBQ: the perfect offset to the searing chili bite of the prawns...


 
Posted By Gecko

From our Youtube playlist, here is some excellent video footage of a boat trip on the nearby Red Lotus Lake, known locally as the Talay Buadaeng, shot from a high resolution drone. Fancy a dramatic ride at the end of the year?


 
Posted By Gecko

A constant supply of fresh mushrooms seemed like a good idea, so we have started to grow our own at Gecko Villa. We chose to launch our mushroom hut with the Het Khone - or "Termite Mushroom" - variety.

We constructed a simple hut using a black polyethelyne material to make heat-absorbing walls, and a straw roof. The floor of the hut is simply earth, kept wet to ensure a high level of humidity.

After boiling large quantities of straw in water in an old oil can over an open fire, we bundled the straw into blocks, layered with the mushhroom spores.

thailand mushroom farm

Within only a few days, our first crop is ready. Today we will make a mushroom broth with chili and fermented fish - an Isan speciality - and also a gratin with garlic and cheese, in the French style. 

het khone mushroom termite
 


 
Posted By Gecko

Stuck in the city with children?

Why not get away from it all and take advantage of Gecko Villa's "Thailand with Children" offer?  Enjoy a 10% discount on a full board basis at this 3 bedroom, private pool villa, and give your children an experience of a side of Thailand they will rarely get to encounter.

 

Rural Thailand with Kids

Nestling among its own lime plantations and rice paddies, in the countryside of Udon Thani province, our villa is operated by a Thai farming family. We have two sets of twins, so are used to keeping children occupied - and to being kept occupied by them!

We will be happy to involve you and your children in the local ways of life in the fields and rural villages, or to respect your privacy when you simply wish to relax and play in the private swimming pool.

The pool can become a major focus for children at the villa, but do drag them away and have your hosts drive you to the local wet market with its wild roaming monkeys, take you to experience a village school, teach you how to drive a samlor, or put you to work either with the locals on the farm or in the Isan kitchen to concoct local dishes. You can always relax with a traditional Thai massage at the villa when you return. 

The food at the villa is delicious. But an added extra is that it is cooked for you, and you do not even have to bother with the washing up...

Enjoy a tranquil and experiential holiday far from the crowds this summer. Book your stay now at Gecko Villa and get ready to unwind to the full!

 

Thailand for Children Offer

Simply quote Blog Offer when booking a stay of 4 nights for 3 guests or more, to enjoy a special discount of 10%. Villa bookings are on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

Getting Here

Fly with Nok, Air Asia, Thai Lion or TG to Udon Thani airport. You will be met off your flight and driven to the property at no charge. It couldn't be simpler!

 

Thailand villa offer for children
 

 
Posted By Gecko

Check the live status of any flight arrival or departure at Udon Thani airport (UTH) using the chart below.

The chart below allows you to select arrivals or departures on Thai Airways  International, Thai Smile, Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Lion Air, and more. Recorded flights include those to and from Bangkok's two main airports, as well as Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai airports.

Feel free to click on the flight number for more complete  information on your selected flight.

(UTH) Udon Thani Airport

Flight information is provided by FlightStats, and is subject to the FlightStats Terms of Use.
 
Posted By Gecko

Luxury Travel Guide Thailand

Congratulations to our sister property, Green Gecko, for winning the Luxury Service Excellence of the Year Award from the UK based Luxury Travel Guide, 2016. 

Check out the details on our Facebook page. A warm thank you to all those who voted for us!

 
Posted By Gecko

WiFi at Gecko Villa is now how it should be: fast and free.

We have taken advantage of the Thai government's policy to bring broadband to over 40,000 villages across the kingdom. When it became possible for us to receive a signal from a new tower, we jumped at the opportunity to install a dish and router, bringing a strong Wifi connection that is available throughout  the villa.

WiFi is a must for many, and we believe that free access is also an obligation. Other travellers will want to check in and log off - reconnecting personally rather than via online networks. The choice is now entirely yours.

 

 
Posted By Gecko

The newly published guidebook to Thailand, Tao Guide's "Thailand - the Original & Sustainable", has featured Gecko Villa as one of its most recommended places, with specific commendations for our environmental, social and cultural efforts.

Published in Paris, this French language guidebook to Thailand does offer a genuinely different list of places to stay across the kingdom, with additional offbeat suggestions of places to eat and unusual activities. If you are a French speaker, pick up a copy and discover some hidden choices!

 
Posted By Gecko

Gecko Villa in Fah Thai magazine

Bangkok Air's inflight magazine, Fah Thai, featured Gecko Villa as its top eco lodging choice in Udon Thani in its current May - June edition.

Having recently launched flights between Bangkok's international airport, Suvarnabhumi, and Udon Thani, they had scouted for unusual properties in the province that met both their eco credentials and their own "boutique" style.

The article was titled "The Green and the Gold" to reflect gold star green lodgings - and in our own case is especially apt as these are the two colours that dominate the countryside in the rice harvesting and planting seasons.

 
Posted By Gecko

Thailand monks

The ordination ceremony for our eldest sons at the local village temple was a colourful affair that blended Isan traditions with Buddhist rites.

Above, the ordination ceremony has just been completed and our sons are about to then start their seven days of life as Thai monks in the village temple gounds. The white, cloth-coloured items on their backs are their new alms bowls, which they will put to first use on their alms gathering rounds the following morning.

Festivals, ceremonies and traditions in Thailand offer rich material to keen photographers aiming to catch some of the numerous indigenous ways of life around Gecko Villa.

 
Posted By Gecko

Thai monk ordination isan

A Buddhist Monkhood Initiation ("Buat Phra")in a Rural Thai Village

Last night, a freak electric storm with tree-rending winds - and rain reminiscent of waterfalls - hit our village. The winds downed a major high voltage power line, and the entire region, for kilometers around, sank into darkness.

For Note and Joy, our two eldest twins, it will be a night to remember - as it was the eve of their Buddhist merit-making ceremony. 

This morning started early as we prepared food for the hundreds of guests - villagers, friends, relatives and local officials - who started to arrive in the morning. Whisky and beer started to flow. At midday, under a cerulean sky and a relentless sun, Note and Joy each sat on a chair, holding a lotus leaf in front of them. Friends and respected elders then took it in turn to briefly wai them before cutting a small bunch of hair from the head of each and placing it in the lotus leaf.

Gradually, their carefully-crafted carefree coiffure dissipated, until a cutthroat razor was used to finish the complete shave of the head and eyebrows... They then dressed in white, were positioned atop a pickup truck, and paraded slowly through the village, surrounded by well-wishers who danced around the vehicle to the tempo of morlam songs.

This evening, for those still sober, suckling pig will be served and more alcohol consumed, and at dawn  tomorrow morning a procession will be arranged for our sons  to the village temple. Here they will dress in Buddhists' traditional saffron robes, observe the hours, tenets and restrictions of temple life, and call the temple home for the next seven days.

In Thailand, nearly all young men will at at some stage go through such an ordination ceremony, to make merit for their parents, and particularly for their mother. Karma remains a reality in the Isan spirit, where we believe that both good and bad deeds follow a man as surely as does his shadow.

 


 
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