Flotel Flavor

Ever hear of a flotel? I hadn’t – so I went to check it out for a couple of days. A flotel is a raft hotel that floats on the river. Thailand’s famous River Kwai in this case.

Mom and I went for only 3 days, 2 nights knowing that the flotel didn’t have electricity and wanting to ease into the idea. Each raft shared two rooms and a front porch and open deck facing the river. The back of the flotel room, with a hammock and a smaller deck, faced the shore.

Fear of Fire

Each night our abode was lit by gas lanterns (very 18th century). We had one lantern inside and one outside. The inside lantern sat on the floor in the middle of the hall, far away from the roof made of palm leaves (read: highly flammable) and the mosquito nets on the bed (read: highly flammable).

I did have a nagging fear all night that the flotel would catch on fire. Luckily, there were instructions posted on the door in case the room went up in flames. The sign said: “In case of fire, put on the life jacket and jump in the river.” Too funny! (sort of.)

Eaten Alive

We were also concerned we might be eaten alive since the mosquitoes on the river were rampant. We kept ourselves well oiled with an all-natural repellant I bought in Honduras. It’s an oil based spray with lavender and lemongrass added. On the upside, we smelled good. On the downside, I think the mozzies liked the smell too.

Water Logged

Another concern was falling through the bathroom floor. With no electricity, we had a self-flush toilet (which means you fill a water bucket and splash it town the toilet bowl when you’re finished.) All good and fine, but there must have been a lot of extra water being splashed about because the wood surrounding the toilet was starting to rot away, making your time on the throne a bit precarious.

Also, one of the advertised highlights of the flotel was the fun of jumping in the river and floating down with the current. This we passed on. We weren’t convinced that the sewage didn’t drain directly into the river (even though we were repeatedly told there was a modern sewage system for each raft.)

There definitely wasn’t a sewage system for the elephants though. It was charming that the elephants and their mahouts (trainers) came down each morning to bathe in the river. It wasn’t so charming when you watch the 10-ton elephants take a dump in the river about 50 yards from your raft.

Fans of the Flotel

So are we fans of the flotel? Yes!

It was very relaxing on the river, the long-tail speedboat rides to the flotel were a blast, and the historical significance of the surrounding region was so interesting (if you like WWII history, which I do).

That said, you can probably get the full flavor of the flotel in just one night.

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 27th, 2012 and is filed under Home.

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