Each year the madness of Thailand's Songkran festival affords most of us a few days off, yet without much actual peace to look forward to. All the main streets and side roads in Bangkok - along with other towns and cities across the country - are packed full of non-stop party-goers and rowdy revelers, most of whom are throwing, squirting, and tipping water frantically at one another - relentlessly!
Those who do not actually want to get involved in this annual water war will still be subject to a good dousing whenever they step foot outdoors. Protests of, "Please, no, I don't want to get wet", will not only fall on deaf ears, but actually make the one protesting a more interesting target.
Escaping the Madness
Perhaps you're someone who cares little for Thailand's three day, nonstop water fight, or any of its other raucous street events where fireworks are often thrown around indiscriminately - day or night - by impulsive revelers? If so, then you will relish the thought of finding a safe haven from all the lunacy, a place to kick back and relax, somewhere to enjoy the public holidays in a way where you get to control the outcome of your days. So do such oases exist in the Thai capital, or is this just wishful thinking?
The short answer is yes they are out there. In fact there are numerous great escapes around this sprawling metropolis but they usually come at a price. I am not referring to sun-decks with shaded covers here, as generally they tend to be situated far too close to a pool. Plonk yourself near to water during many of Thailand's party festivals and there's a very good chance of getting drenched by hordes of highly excitable youths and a handful of tanked-up Farangs. No, you want to stay away from the poolside if it's R&R you're after.
The Hidden Gardens of Bangkok
Finding peaceful, open spaces outside of Bangkok is easy enough, but tranquility within the central areas of the city is near to impossible, unless of course, you know where to look. In recent years, condominium and housing developers have tried to address this very problem by building small, yet very well designed, totally private garden areas for residents to relax in.
Asok's Little Garden of Eden
The Address Asoke is a modern condominium situated right in the heart of Bangkok. In fact, it could not be more central with both the Phetchaburi MRT station and the Makkassan Airport link less than 100m from its entrance. The Address Asoke is a high-end residential complex with large, well designed studios, plus lavish one, two, and three bedroom units to choose from. Of course, the Address Asoke is filled with the usual luxuries, fixtures, and fittings that you'd expect to find in a high-end condominium. There are some great building facilities too, a few or which include:
• Beautiful swimming pool
• Fully equipped fitness room
• Manmade waterfalls & water features
However, the really cool feature with some of the units at the Address Asoke is their private gardens. These can be found on both the high and low floors. Imagine that, a condo with its own garden. The penthouse unit on the 21st and 22nd floors, for example, not only affords beautiful panoramic views of the city, but also includes 130 SQM of private rooftop terrace/garden to boot.
The Villa Sathorn
Moving on to the Sathorn district, just over the river close to Krungthonburi BTS station, we find The Villa Sathorn. This is another condominium where the developer has acknowledged that giving residents a private garden is an important feature for modern day city dwellers. Unlike the personal gardens found at the Address Asoke, the Villa Sathorn does not provide private spaces for individual residents, but it is exclusive in as much as the area's reserved solely for the residential community living in the condo, and any guests they might invite.
The main benefit of a communal garden area of course is that it's a lot bigger. The mini parkland at this complex has been built on top of the multi-story car-park and set at the back of the building. It's located so that bored commuters on the BTS line cannot gawp through the windows at residents relaxing outdoors. Furthermore, the garden is nowhere near the swimming pool, so that means there's zero chance if getting splashed or being disturbed by those frolicking noisily in the water.
This garden area really is landscaped to perfection and resembles something of mini-park in the sky if you like, and one which is exclusive, peaceful, and totally hidden from the world outside.
An Older, Less Hidden Gem
Even some of the older residential buildings in Bangkok have retained enough land to have large lawns and some kind of landscaped garden. Sunshine Court in middle Sukhumvit is one such a place. The building may not be the newest or the swankest in town when compared to some of the modern, high-end properties, but it has developed its own character. Sunshine Court also offers plenty of large, well-priced units, and it includes popular facilities such as a tennis court, swimming pool, and a large lawn area.
Any visitor to Sunshine Court will find likely residents relaxing on and around on the central lawn area soaking up the sun. The place is also popular with families where children get to have picnics and play safely on the grass. Residents here describe the place as a tranquil retreat in the heart of Bangkok!
Bangkok - Earth's Biggest Concrete Jungle?
The old Krungthep has fewer square meters of public greenery per capita than most other major cities around the world. So when a central condominium complex here offers a luxurious private garden area within its walls, then it really does stand out from the crowd. However, the rising price of real estate means that land has become such a premium in the capital, especially central Bangkok, and that makes these gardens both rare and in high demand. Even so, there are a few out there, usually quiet hidden, often unknown, but there nonetheless, for those who seek them out.
So if you appreciate a bit out outdoor living, complete with lawns, flower borders, trees, shrubs, and water features, yet still want all the conveniences of a condo lifestyle in central Bangkok, then properties like the above might be exactly what you're looking for, providing of course, your budget provides the option.
Neil McDonough is a Director of EasyHomes Property Services Co., Ltd. which specializes in renting and selling Bangkok residential and commercial property to expats. You can contact him directly with any questions or queries relating to Thai real estate