– By Maciek Klimowicz –
I found infinite silence broken only by chirping birds. I found astounding vistas of mountainous landscapes, reflected by the perfectly calm water surface. I found deep, relaxing sleep, better than I had in ages. In short, what I think I found is true luxury. But it’s not just what I found. It’s where I found it.
Luxury is relative; its form depends on time and place. Is a glass of vintage champagne luxury? For most it is, for a few it’s a daily routine. But change the scenery to that of a desert, and a simple glass of water becomes luxury, for everyone.
I found my own kind of luxury in the heart of Thai wilderness. Not in a luxury resort, not in a designer villa but in a small wooden house. The house wasn’t spacious nor was it particularly beautiful; the food served in a nearby resort wasn’t “gourmet”, though it sure tasted good. I wasn’t brought to the house in a limousine or even an air-conditioned van; in fact I got there with an old, wooden boat propelled by a rather noisy engine. That’s because the house I’m talking about was floating in the middle of a lake, on a raft. And it’s exactly for the same reason that staying there was such a unique, and in some sense, luxury experience.
The said lake lies in the Khao Sok National Park, located in Thailand’s Surat Thani Province. The rainforest that surrounds it is said to be one of the oldest on the planet, the lake itself however, is less than 35 years old and isn’t even natural. Created in 1982 by the construction of a massive dam, the reservoir is know by two names – the Cheow Lan lake or the Rajjaprabham, meaning the Light of the Kingdom.
And a bright spot on Thailand’s map it is. Trying to describe the beauty of this place feels a bit futile. After all, it’s one of the most picturesque sites in the country we’re talking about. To truly appreciate it you have to experience it yourself. I’m using the word “experience” for a reason. Spending a night in a raft house floating on the lake’s surface, waking up wrapped up in morning mists and plunging into the deep, cool, crystal-clear water directly from the comfort of your bedroom is simply unforgettable.
There are a number of “floating resorts” on the Chew Lan Lake, they come in different sizes and standards, starting with basic bamboo bungalows, through to neat and modern Phupa Waree raft houses, which is where I stayed, and going all the way up to floating mini villas. But whichever option you opt for, whatever comforts your house comes with, what you’ll get in the end is a ‘one of a kind’ experience. And that is true luxury.
To book a stay on the Cheo Lan lake, visit khaosoklake.com