Mae Pun Din, Po Tum San (Mae Pundin for short) has to be one of the most unique places to stay in Chiang Mai. In English, it means ‘Mom enjoys clay works while Dad prefers working in the garden’. Located just off the highway in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district, Mae Pundin is an easy 20-minute drive to the famous night bazaar. Owned by a Thai couple in their early 70’s - Chaleo & her husband Anong - this rather eclectic homestay/guesthouse and art gallery offers both terracotta pottery workshops and Thai cooking classes.
Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the centerpiece of Mae Pundin is a very lovely teak house built in the traditional Lanna style of Northern Thailand. Scattered throughout the
gardens are clay figurines of many types of animals - elephants, birds, pigs, frogs, dogs and monkeys as well as some clay representations of the Buddha. It seems that the pig is the owner’s favorite animal as they are more figurines and representations of pigs than any other animal in her garden and art studio. My favorite is a female monkey swinging from the branch of a tree carrying her baby. Looks so real!
A very bubbly and cheerful lady, Chaleo is an accomplished artist and has developed quite a reputation over the years. Mae Pundin has been featured in several very prominent Thai house and garden magazines and has been host to a number of rather famous people including the Princess Mother, one of most revered persons in Thai history and mother of Thailand’s King. While the Princess Mother stayed at Mae Pundin, she modeled for Chaleo - situated on a small wooden table on the 2nd floor of the teak house is a very lifelike clay bust of her. According to Chaleo, the King’s niece is also a regular visitor to Mae Pundin. Inviting me into her colorful open-air studio, the first thing I happened to notice were the many unusual brightly painted caricatures carved into the wall. Besides the many smiling piglike figures (her favorite, of course), there is an outstanding representation of Chaleo and her husband. (See picture at top) Scattered throughout the small studio are some examples of her fine work.
Mae Pundin offers a special package, which features a pottery workshop and cooking classes at a very affordable 1200 Baht per day per person including all meals. As far as accommodations go, there is a choice of six rooms - four rooms at the lower garden level and two rooms upstairs in the teak house, all of which are available at 600 baht per day including breakfast. My preference would be one of the two large very comfortable rooms located upstairs in the teak house. Looking out onto a large living area complete with a library, TV and DVD player, these rooms share one large bathroom but are very cool and mosquito free (compared to the rooms at the garden level) – the large beds have their own mosquito net just in case. The living room is decorated tastefully with watercolor prints, artifacts and relics of the Lanna culture. I give Mae Pundin a big thumbs up!