So yells Churee Indaniyom as her guests leave the Barn Thai Guest House and wander off into the environs of Khao San Road and Banglampoo.
When prospective guests visit
Grandma's place, she reads them the Riot Act or "Grandma's Rules" (see
below) and if they agree to abide by these regulations, she then proceeds to
mother them to death until they leave.
You see Churee, or
"Grandma", is an anomaly in these parts: she cares about her guests.
In an area know for its rip-offs, its nice to know you can trust Grandma and
that she won't steer you wrong.
First she warns her guests that
a karaoke bar has recently opened next door, so on some nights they will hear
music late into the night. Then she warns her guests against touts who may try
to take advantage of them. "There are a lot of good Thai people," she
says, "but the good ones don't bother you, they leave you alone."
Khun Churee has only been in the
guest house business for about a year-and-a-half but the teak house that is Barn
Thai is eighty years old and been in her family's possession for fifty-five
|The guest house is located
in-between J & Joe's Guest House and Ban Ranee down a small alley off of
Trok Mayom Chakkrapong (the soi running parallel to Khao San and just before
Ratchadamnern Avenue). This is commonly called the "roll-up soi"
because its vendors sell their wares from small alcoves, which they guard with
an aluminum rolling door at night.
Grandma's English is impeccable.
A big reason for this is the teaching of her father, Luang Pisan Makkawitoon
(Mr. Charoon Phiankhian). You see her dad graduated from MIT, where he studied
Civil Engineering on a King's Scholarship, which he obtained from the Thai State
Railway. At that time, only children of high ranking officers, or those from the
royal family, received such scholarships - it was very difficult for a commoner
to obtain one.
Khun Charoon was so highly
regarded that when he returned from the USA, he was granted the title "Luang"
by King Rama VI, with his family using the surname "Indaniyom."
When Field Marshal Pibulsongkram
came to power he did away with the Luang "title" with the result that
Lunag Pisan Makkawitoon became one of the last "Luang's" in Thailand.
Luang Pisan Makkawitoon was in
Boston at the same time the current King's father and mother were also studying
there, and they were all part of the same clique. Grandma recalls her father
saying that Prince Mahidol was very kind to everyone, very down to earth and
always eager to greet new Thai students to the Boston area.
Getting back to Grandma. Her
main vocation throughout her life has been teaching. She has even taught Thai to
a number of diplomats including former American ambassadors such as John Gunther
Dean, William Brown and Daniel O'Donohue.
She likes her job because she
enjoys meeting people, but she does admit she gets tired and cranky if she
doesn't get enough sleep. She feels like she must entertain her guests and be
nice to all of them, all the time, but sometimes that's just not possible. She's
even trying to learn some Japanese to make her Japanese guests feel more at
What's really amazing though is
how her guests take to her. Big, tough, burly farang dudes act with the utmost
decorum and respect around her, sweetly calling her Grandma and asking her to
soothe their travel aches and pains. And the majority of her guests pay her a
return visit on their way back through Bangkok.
But how does Grandma handle
tourists who give her a hard time, or the occasional one that gets out of line?
While, over the years, Grandma has stored up quite an inventory of cuss words
herself and if anyone gets cheeky with her, she just lets them have it. So be
warned, don't mess with Grandma. One backpacker used the "f" word on
Grandma and he was still in a state of shock last anyone had seen or heard from
Barn Thai has a noon check-out
time, it has sixteen rooms and though there isn't any air-conditioning, its nice
and safe as there is a security guard posted at night. Room prices vary
depending on size and the more expensive rooms have a bathroom inside, while the
cheaper rooms see guests sharing a common bath.
Grandma's aforementioned rules:
1.) When you go out, you can
drink and scream and dance all you want, but when you return to Barn Thai, you
must be quiet and considerate of other guests. As she says, "When you go
out you can get drunk, but you must return sober."
2.) Unless you are legally
married, or check-in with a partner, you cannot bring anyone into your room
(Grandma doesn't run a house of ill-repute, you know)
4.) You must double lock your
doors and take your valuables with you (Grandma doesn't want to be responsible
for her guest's passports, money and plane tickets.).
Barn Thai Guest House
27 Trok Mayom Chakkraphong Rd
Banglampoo, Bangkok, 10200
Tel: (662) 281-9041