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

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.

Posted By Gecko

Thailand military service conscript 

Thousands of anxious villagers  in the Udon Thani subdistrict of Prachak Sinlaphakhom (where Gecko Villa is located) slept fitfully, if at all, last Sunday night. It was not the heat that kept slumber away, nor  distant thundestorms. It was the thought of how tomorrow would inexorably change their lives. Parents, relatives and friends were only too aware that early on Monday, the young men of the region faced the dark algebra of the Thai army conscripts'  lottery.

One of our eldest sons was amongst those who attended the selection. Registering early in the morning, he was processed together with the crowds of other young men, none of whom wished to spend two years performing military service. After all, they had each had the opportunity to elect to sign up to the army beforehand - and had each declined it.

A number was written on the forearm of each young man of eligible age, this number being linked to their village, name and ID. Under the relentless April sun, once the throngs had been processed, they were told to report back at 1p.m. to draw lots. At the grounds of the local sub district, they then filed into the restricted area and were made to sit in rows, aligned by number, facing the ominous green box at the front of the hall - the box that would decide their fate.

The army officials explained the process, which they videotaped and photographed. In our son's "lot" from our village, 146 nervous youngsters had calculated the chances of drawing a "red card" were around 1 in 3. They were all hoping for a black card which would exempt them from the 24 month military service - be this in the army, navy or air force.

In turn, they were called up to the army green box at the front of the hall, where they were guided to reach into a sealed box to withdraw one tightly packed straw. This they then gave to the army official who removed the paper from inside the straw and then, as the young man waited nervosuly - sometimes with false bravado, sometimes trembling - read out over loudpseakers whether he had drawn a black or red card. A black card would grant him immediate freedom, whilst a red card would mean imminent service, and the details of  the branch and location of the armed forces to which he would be attached would be announced.

As the process played out throughout the afternoon, groups of young men, often with friends or families, could be seen in bunches around the grounds - some with broad smiles and cans of cold beer, others with dropped heads and disbelief, attended by tearful mothers.

A seasoned village policeman viewed the scene and commented quietly: "Today it's freestyle. How can we intervene? We just have to prevent complete chaos - but other than that, one eye must be blind in compassion."

Our son, much to his disbelief, drew a black card. A wide grin exploded across his face and his eyes widened as he feted by friends and family. "Mount Fuji has just been lifted from my chest!" he declared.

Posted By Gecko

Thai basil varieties - holy krapao, sweet basil and lemon basil

Deploying the correct type of basil in Thai cooking often confuses those learning to cook Thai food. Specific dishes call for specific varieties to ensure authentic flavours and fragrance, so the following brief summar of choosing the right basil may be of interest - and will help in picking the right herb from the gardens at Gecko Villa.

Of the three types of basil used in Thai cooking, two are the most prevalent. The first is Thai holy basil (Bai Krapow, or Ocimum Tenuiflorum), the most widely used form of basil in Thailand. This has somewhat hairy leaves and is essential in preparing spicy stir fried meats with basil (pat krapow) or Drunkard's Noodles (pat ki mao.)

The second is the purple-stemmed Thai sweet basil (Bai Horapha, or Ocimum Basilicum), used in making the famous Thai green and red curries,and the basil that is most redolent of the herb in Italy or Europe.

The third type is the narrow-leaved Thai Lemon Basil (Bai Maenglak or Ocimum Citriodorum), a fundamental herb in preparing Khanom Cheen noodles and certain Thai curries and Isan dishes.

Two dishes that may be prepared to highlight the differences between Thai holy basil and Thai sweet basil are Pat Krapao Neua and Neu Joom respectively. This first, spicy chopped beef stir-fried with holy basil, garlic and fresh chillies, is a well-loved dish at lunchtime, whilst the second is an Isan beef hotpot with slices of meat cooked in a broth infused with sweet basil and pickled garlic.

Posted By Gecko

Thailand Villas Pink Lotus lake free boat trip
Book a three night stay or more for any dates in January 2012 at either Gecko Villa or our traditional Thai villa Green Gecko  - and enjoy a free boat trip on the stunning pink lotus lake.
January is the perfect month to experience the beautiful wetlands, carpetted in blossoming pink lotus flowers. This secret and magical wonderworld hides behind the giant snails and thick elephant grasses by the banks of the "Talay Bua Daeng" or Pink Lotus Lake near the villas.  Our traditional wooden longboat will take you out through this curtain of long reeds and grasses, to the vast pink expanse of clear waters and lotus flowers beyond, as inqusitive swallows dart by, and fishermen cast their circular nets in a serenely peaceful setting. Simply relax and soak up the calm and beauty of this hidden tropical paradise, or gather some lotus stems to make a spicy, fresh salad for lunch!

Homer's Odysseus related how those tasting the lotus fruit saw any thought of returning home simply evaporate: ‘On the tenth day we set foot on the land of the lotus-eaters, who eat a flowery food.... Then straightway we went and mixed with the men of the lotus-eaters, and so it was that the lotus-eaters devised not death for our fellows, but gave them of the lotus to taste. Now whosoever of them did eat the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus, had no more wish to bring tidings nor to come back, but there he chose to abide with the lotus-eating men, ever feeding on the lotus and forgetful of his homeward way. Therefore I led them back to the ships weeping, and sore against their will, and dragged them beneath the benches, and bound them in the hollow barques. But I commanded the rest of my well-loved company to make speed and go on board the swift ships, lest haply any should eat of the lotus and be forgetful of returning." 

Perhaps the "swift ships" are today's airliners, and once you have visited the lotus lake you will indeed be "forgetful of returning!"

Posted By Gecko

Thai Holy Basil Krapao

2 tbs chopped garlic
2 tbs chopped shallots
2 tbs chopped mixed red & green bird eye chillies
1 teaspoon green peppercorns, whole.
¼ cup fish sauce
2 tbss palm sugar
1 cup roughly chopped holy basil leaves (bai krapao)

Half a cup of sliced, small hot peppers
1 cup sliced spring onion
1 pound finely chopped beef

This tasty beef and basil dish is a staple of Thai lunches - a dish often prepared a la minute at both roadside stalls and expensive retaurants. It is generally served over rice with an optional Thai fried egg. It is important to use the correct type of basil - Thai Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum.)

Chop the beef finely (we do this with two cleavers used simultaneously, but you could use very fine beef slices or even mince.)

Pound the garlic, shallots, peppers & peppercorns in a mortar. Put this paste into a very hot oiled wok, and stir briefly.Now add the other ingredients with the exception of the spring onions, and continue to stir until the beef is cooked through. Add the spring onions, mix and and serve.

Posted By Gecko

Gecko Villa's zingy Thai seafood dipping sauce


This simply prepared seafood dipping sauce makes an excellent, fresh and spicy accompaniment to Thai food dishes such as fried fish, grilled prawns, grilled squid or scallops, or steamed crab. At Gecko Villa, we omit the garlic that is traditionally incorporated into the dipping sauce, as we find doing so evokes a fresher, more purely zingy aroma. When preparing this Thai dipping sauce, your fingers will come into contact with the ingredients, so avoid rubbing your eyes until you have washed your hands!


4 to 6 fresh bird eye chilies, pounded and finely chopped
5 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp palm sugar (optional and to taste; you could substitute brown or white sugar)

1 tsp of finely chopped red onion/ shallots

A good handful of fresh, roughly chopped coriander leaves and finely chopped stems


Roughly chop the chilies, place in a mortar and pound briefly (the idea here is to release the flavours, so you are looking for a bruised/crushed effect, rather than a smooth paste!) Add the remaining ingredients and mix. The fish sauce, lime juice and amount of chilies can be altered to taste. Serve in a small communal bowl or in individual condiment dishes. A variation of the above Thai seafood dipping sauce may be made by adding 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic with the chilies.



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