Flashback Friday to February: In the rush of our last few days in Bangkok, I still had the goal of getting to the Artist’s House, which I’d first read about nearly 9 months prior. Housed on a khlong it offers a daily puppet show, artist in residence, and history with its centuries old stupa. I knew I had to go.
I’d delayed going for it was somewhere in the “old capital area” of Thonburi and navigation in Bangkok can be “challenging” (to put it mildly). And so, with a bit of confusion, we found the house in time to catch the end of the puppet show. I’d feared we missed it but instead, walked in to find a large puppet swimming right to my face. I was torn by the need to enjoy the moment and DOCUMENT! I went for both and ended up with crappy photos but a happy memory.
As the puppeteers moved onto another guest, I took a seat and marveled at how the beautifully detailed puppets were brought to life by the synchronized effort of three puppeteers. While the puppets faces are set, they were very expressive with their range of motion, joking, flirting and encouraging donations from the guests. In total, six puppeteers moved the two puppets through a lovely dance. I was disappointed to not see more but delighted by what I did see. The troupe worked as a wonderfully cohesive unit.
As the show was winding down, they called a guest from the audience and started signing a version of Happy Birthday, the puppets celebrating with them. It was very cute. Afterwards pictures could be taken with the troupe, so of course I was up there.
With the show over, we purchased coffees and sat on their deck, watching as tourists passed in long tail boats, remembering when we were those tourists. I started to sketch the large statue who sat to my left and James entertained himself by purchasing a large bucket of fish food. It was so large it came with a scoop to pour our the pellets rather than toss in a few by hand. Being the generous soul that he is, pigeons were also fed and soon there was a horde around us. With my many evil looks and shooing when they got to close, James scattered a little less food around me. Soon another bucket was purchased and I finished my sketch, as it ran low, so all of our taxi money didn’t go to the fishes.
By then, the House was mostly quiet and we explored the downstairs. The home is over 200 years old and feels cool and welcoming. The stage was shaded by large trees and plants decorate the stupa that dates back to the Ayutthaya period, 300 years ago. The House was large but felt cozy and even intimate. We worked through the downstairs, me taking note of their printing press and the various items for sale, settling on a few ‘must haves’ like a watercolor journal.
We headed upstairs to find a few puppets, paintings and some students making a video. We stood out of their way, curious to their project before rejoining the main area.The Artist’s House is exceedingly photogenic, with its puppet show, position on the khlong, wonderful statues, lovely nature and interesting architecture. We found beauty around every corner. I could have spent much longer there but there was still packing (ugh) to do and I reluctantly left.
We walked through the quiet street, in high contrast to our Huai Khwang neighborhood and debated a future where we lived there. I would certainly love to visit the Artist’s House daily!
To get to Klong Bang Luang Artist’s House –
BTS Pho Nimit, exit 2, gets you close. From there, take a taxi to Charoen Sanitwong Soi 3. Take that road to the end, it basically dead-ends at the khlong. The 7-11 at the end is a good place to get out and walk through the narrow pathway to find the bridge over the khlong.
The steep bridge gives a nice view of the khlong and looking left, you should see the red man statue. Head over the bridge and take an immediate left to walk down the wooden pathway to their door. Remove your shoes and enjoy the cool Artist’s Home! Entrance is free, donations welcome.
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