There’s a kitschy movie playing in the lobby of Lub-d Silom Hostel, George of the Jungle. The antics of the apes and toucan are making me laugh, but also reminding me that a week ago I was happily perched in my own private jungle tree house. Unlike George, I wasn’t in the deepest, darkest heart of Africa; I was on the little-known island of Phra Pradaeng in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. Across the Chao Phraya River loomed skyscrapers and industrial facilities, but the view from my “nest” – the delightful name for the elevated glass cubicles that serve as rooms at Bangkok Tree House – was of dense mangrove forest where turtles sunned on the banks of canals. Bangkok may have been right across the river, but the hustle and bustle of the city felt a world away.
Bangkok Tree House is the inspiration of Joey Tulyanond, Owner & CGO (Chief Greening Officer) of the unique six-month old guest house. His quest began in 2006 when he read Best Urban Oasis, an article in Time Magazine authored by Andrew Marshall, who thrust a little-known jungle oasis located smack dab in the middle of Bangkok into the limelight. Remarkably, few residents of Bangkok were even aware of the existence of this pristine bit of land. Located in a giant loop of the Chao Phraya River, the only way to visit the island is to make a roundabout drive to one inconveniently located bridge or take a no-frills ferry that makes the crossing every 20 minutes. The inconvenient access had one giant benefit; the land never caught the eye of developers. Today it is criss-crossed by miles of elevated paths that run along mangrove-studded canals shaded by banana trees, where turtles bask in the sun and lizards scurry softly through the underbrush. Continue reading