In the pursuit of designPhra Ram Long Song pork in curried peanut sauce, watermelon topped with dried fish, fried mackerel with morning glory, and roasted fish in hot and sour soup : these are just a few from my extensive list of dishes I wanted to try at the wooden house tucked away in the hills of Chiang Mai. This sanctuary speaks of love, the past and the peaceful life of the late Rong Wongsawan, a pivotal and prolific writer in the history of Thai literature.
I was welcomed with a glass of refreshing passion fruit juice followed by Ma Hor, pineapple topped with minced garnished meat, a traditional Thai appetizer and a house standard, difficult to find anywhere else these days. Then came the main dishes, each served with utmost care as if I was the only guest to Tune In Writer’s Secret Garden.
These were the instructions given by the proprietor while he was alive. 30 years ago Rong Wongsawan visited these hills as a young writer. He fell so instantly in love with the luscious greenery and serenity of the place that he decided to move his family here.
“His shadow and his scent are always present. I keep all of his belongings the way they were on his last day. Here’s the jar of marmalade he ate at his last meal,”
said Khun Sumalee Wongsawan, the wife of the late writer. She is known as the wind beneath Wongsawan’s wings, the one who cared for all of his needs.
His typewriter, pens, notebook, drinking glass and even the first draft of Wongsawan’s final piece of writing were kept in their original positions. What most captivated me were the little notes on the fridge written with the most elaborate of handwriting. At the age of 41, Rong Wongsawan wrote, “I swear I don’t know what love is, but if I were to describe it, it would feel like air.” I will never forget the words of Khun Sumalee telling me that not only was her husband, her partner in thought, her lover and her best life companion, he was also the air that nurtured her heart from the first day they met and will continue to be forever.