It’s easy to notice a stilt house in the 15 hectares of Avana Retreat. Located lonely but beautifully on a low hill, this house tells stories through its collections to those who want to learn about the culture and history of the land.
But first, let me tell you a bit more about traditional Thai stilt houses.
Reasons Why Thai People Live In Stilt Houses
The stilt house is one of the symbols that indicate Thai people’s adaptation to the natural environment, the rugged topography of the Vietnamese northwest mountain, the hot and humid tropical climate, and the culture and history of the region. The stilt house is built approximately 5 feet above the ground to avoid wild animals. The shady space under the house is usually left empty to entertain guests and weave or utilized for storage or house livestock. The front of the house faces a paddy field or stream while its rear-facing towards mountains and forests. While sleeping, the Thai often lay their heads towards the mountain because they believe that the mountain gives them strength, energy, and a close connection to Mother Nature.
Thai people often build their stilt houses with the front facing a rice field.
Its Shape Has A Rustic And Aesthetically Pleasing Appearance
The house has no ceiling, but rather, a high thatched roof, supported by wooden pillars and beams that give the houses a rustic and aesthetically pleasing appearance. The roof is highly distinctive in that they are composed of four panels. Two flat panels are linked by curved gables over the porches that give the roof a turtle shell shape. This is how Thai people in the northwest mountainous area express their gratitude to Turtle God “Pua Tấu” for teaching them to build stilt houses. The floors are made from split bamboo that feels springy and even a little unsteady to walk on. Through the gaps between the strips of bamboo, you can observe what is happening below.
Windows are installed in all four walls, set close to the floor inviting natural light. There are two ladders on the side of the house. The left ladder called Tang Chang is for women and the right one called Tang Quan is for men and often has more steps than Tang Chang. Both of them are always in odd numbers.
There are two ladders on the two sides of the house. The steps are always in an odd number
Avana Stilt House Museum’s Story And Its Collections
This beautiful stilt house was built in 1970 and moved to its current location when the project started. It was Avana Retreat’s first accommodation. Not for guests of course, but for people who contributed to building the retreat from the very beginning. All of its beams and windows are painted with beautiful colors or traditional decorative motifs. Looking at the stilt house of the present, no one can imagine that the low hill that is filled with wild grass and luxuriant, green trees was used to be an empty, boring piece of land.
Avana stilt house was transformed into a museum when the project was completed.
When the project was completed, the house was transformed into a museum. Hoa Binh Province has 30 ethnic groups, but this museum focuses on three minority groups living surrounding Avana Retreat: Thai, Muong, and H’Mong people. Open from 9:00 to 17:00 daily, this museum displays collections of jewelry, traditional costume, agricultural tools, books, musical instruments, and many other interesting items. Some are old, some are new. Some items that local people didn’t use anymore in their daily life but some are still useful.
Small but nice collections are displayed in the stilt house museum.
These collections aren’t big. They are just small enough to keep you stay for about 30 to 45 minutes but they have stories of history, culture, tradition, and worship beliefs of indigenous peoples. For those who are always curious about Thai traditional weaving techniques, a Thai old lady is weaving at the loom in the space underneath the museum. If you want to try, she would love to instruct you on how to do it.
Come to see an old Thai lady weaving on her ancient loom at the stilt house museum.
This museum does not only add beauty to Avana Retreat but is also a great place to know the land you visit.