The Fabulous Five review of Thailand Painting Holidays
Review by Susan
***** “Thailand Painting Holidays at Mekong House is a totally amazing experience and true value for money.”
Five of us booked out Mekong House in its opening week! We were greeted with welcoming smiles from Waree, Jeremy and their lovely family at Udon Thani airport. On our way to Mekong House we enjoyed traditional Thai food for lunch on a floating restaurant in Nong Khai.
Jeremy and Waree Holton’s guest house is on the banks of the Mekong River. Unspoilt views greeted us every morning! Across the river we could see a temple (Wat) in Laos from our bedroom window and from the terrace where we enjoyed our meals.
On our trip we chose to go on tours as most of us had already enjoyed several art lessons with Jeremy at his Peach Tree Gallery in Australia. In the evenings we reviewed our photos and learnt how to set up profiles on Google, for those who didn’t have them, and how to use photo editing software. We shared our photos as a group, and can access them online, as well as do our own thing with the originals back home. This photographic component was our choice, along with the tours, in lieu of painting classes and it certainly ticked the boxes for us as Jeremy has extensive knowledge in computing and software programs.
Waree arranged all our transport needs direct from Mekong House and came with us so we had an interpreter wherever we went. Fluent in Thai and English, she was the perfect assistant, always smiling, warm and friendly. We loved the opportunity to see Ban Pho, her home village, and to meet her family. This is ‘unspoilt’ Thailand at its best. Just across from her family’s shop my husband got his hair cut and had his first shave for all of a few Thai Baht!
Jeremy and Waree accompanied us to the local markets in Nong Khai, the Laos Market day on the river bank, and took us to the magnificent Sculpture Gardens, Sala Kaew Ku (Wat Khaek) in Phon Phisai. There I had my palm read which was a delightfully positive experience. We also visited the markets nearby, where we saw insects on sale for eating…pass(!), though our hosts enjoyed some!
We all loved our day trip to the Wat Phu Tok further north. It was well worth the long climb up the mountain stairway. Walking around the mountain on the wooden platform is a must-do experience - one I will never forget! Sweeping views and the setting sun were well worth the effort.
Thai food is to die for! We ate authentic Thai every day! Waree and her sister, Jit, cooked delicious evening meals with ‘falangs’ (foreigner’s) taste buds in mind. Some foods could have been really hot, but they were always tailored down to suit us! For breakfast though we had traditional English cooked breakfast always followed by a platter of fresh fruit. One day we asked what the Thai people ate for breakfast and volunteered to try Thai style porridge. All of us tucked into more than one bowl full and Nung chose to refill the serving bowl…so we had even more! Yum!
At Mekong House a beautiful vase of red roses added a special touch in our guest room. At first I thought this odd, until I learned that orchids are not as special as they are so common! The rooms are well appointed and each room comes with its own en-suite, plenty of cupboard space and drawers, a small table and chairs and tv. They are spacious and clean and are serviced daily - clean towels daily, clean bed linen every other day, personal washing done (for a small fee if lots, and an appropriate tip for Jit as this was an additional service). Tea and coffee making facilities, a complimentary bottle of water daily, an international power board for recharging cameras, phones and tablets, free wireless connection and fantastic views! On request we even had a choice of mugs or a cup and saucer for hot drinks!
The guest dining / lounge room is very comfortable, and perfect to relax in. We chose to eat our meals on the terrace though, as the weather was perfect. The guests’ fridge was well stocked with a good range of drinks which were available for a small fee. There’s a good range of movies to choose from or karaoke for those who are keen! We tried both and movies won greater rounds of applause, though Jeremy carries a tune really well! And Adam, one Jeremy and Waree’s, young sons, even entertained us at times with very capable performances on the electronic piano.
On the last night of our stay, Nung, one of the family helpers at the house, lit hot air balloons and a very long fire cracker which we took turns holding. We released the balloons over the Mekong. It was a beautiful farewell gesture.
It is the best cultural experience I have ever had! There is such wide range of options to mix and match what we would like to do. We will be going back next year!
Review by Donna Jefferson
Exciting, Fantastic and a wonderful Cultural experience. Enjoyed the instantaneous friendly rapport with local people and their willingness they showed to allow us to participate in their activities such as mat-weaving, rice cutting and inviting us to eat with them in a picnic situation in a Rubber Plantation. Enjoyed the markets and exotic aroma's of the Orient which I am sure will never be forgotten.
Review by Peter North
A great opportunity to mix and enjoy local customs and to experience some exotic adventures. Accommodation at the Guest House is very enjoyable and of a Western standard.
A review by Darryl
***** “Fantastic Location with a Warm Welcome and Fabulous Hosts.”
We were all (5 of us) transferred to and from Udon Thani airport by Jeremy and Waree, so there was no worry of additional transport costs. This type of service makes for an important worry free start and finish to your holiday. On our arrival at Mekong House we were all greeted by Waree's family and settled into our sparkling new rooms. Everything was brand new from the paint to the furniture and fixtures and bedding. The location was excellent in that there was little passing traffic (some locals), so noise was very minimal.Looking out of our room, we were about 30 metres from the banks of the Might Mekong River with views across to Laos.(yes, a truly fabulous location).Local shopping in Phon Phisai was only a short trip away by vehicle or walking to take in the local culture. We found that the local people are friendly and when shopping, the prices are lower than you would expect. (we even came home with quite a bit of our spending money!) Not having been to Thailand previously, I would certainly plan a return trip to this secret hideaway, where lots of "other" tourists are missing out I'm sure!.Best parts were the accommodation, hosts, airport transfers, shopping, location, relaxed atmosphere, views (did I miss anything?). A great relaxing holiday where you get to shop-til-you-drop, see the sights and experience everything this area has to offer.