With two children under the age of three years old, our Smith slip-away to Kirimaya has been guiltily highlighted on the calendar for four long months. But now, parting demonstrations by the Red Shirts to escape Bangkok is looking tricky. Luckily, we’re rescued by the Thai New Year water festival. Songkran’s splashes have temporarily cooled any drawn-out political rallying as we set off north to what some have nicknamed ‘Thailand’s Tuscany’, a few hours beyond the capital.
Denying our inner alcoholics a tour of the various local vineyards en route proves extraordinarily tough, but in our guise as semi-responsible grown-ups, Mrs Smith and I opt instead for tender, organically grown, superbly sweet corn being steamed by leathery ladies in battered straw hats at makeshift roadside stalls. At just THB20 for three ears, we guzzle down the golden grain before grabbing a bag to go.
We would have sped right past Kirimaya but for the scrub’s sudden metamorphosis into manicured lawn. There’s something about sweeping, tree-lined driveways that makes me realise I’ve been scrunching my shoulders ear-wards, and Kirimaya’s verdant valley descent swiftly unknots any city-induced hunch. Rolling down the blacked-out windows of our Land Rover, Mrs Smith lets in a whoosh of sunny-grass scent and out a bluster of brunette bob.
We’ve barely managed to get a be-sandalled foot out of our SUV and through the antique teakwood portico before our bags are being neatly stacked on a golf cart that is all ours to potter about in for the weekend. Ushered by a squad of smiling, silk-suited staff, we hasten with an electric hush past minimalist wood-and-concrete buildings that house the genteel riffraff and onward to one of only four Tented Villas. As we clatter across a creaky wooden bridge over a river of reeds and into a cacophony of cicadas and frogs, Mrs Smith gestures at the Jack Nicklaus–designed greens. With a cheeky grin, I whisper that the only teeing off I have in mind for this weekend will take place between the sheets. Mrs Smith swats me like a mosquito, of which there seems to be a welcome lack for such an aquatic setting.
We pull up at the most distant and obviously jammiest tent on the property – the enormous deck boasts a private view of the largest pond. Mrs Smith flits about gushing over the accoutrements of our cavernous canvas cocoon: ‘Ooh, look darling, a Nespresso machine! Loving the living-room sofa-bed – that’s just what we need in our home theatre so the four of us can curl up together. OMG, the bathroom’s bigger than our apartment, and – wow! – just how big can a tub be? The kids would go splash-happy swimming in it!’ I gently remind her that this weekend is all about the two of us and celebrating the fact that we don’t have to worry about little people drowning. On cue, our private butler deftly offers lemongrass-infused chilled towels and watermelon juice, before beating a hasty retreat.
A tropical downpour and a steamy siesta later, Mrs Smith and I saunter out in shades and sarongs to cool off in the infinity pool. Now wherever there’s a pool, there’s a childhood comfort-food craving for French fries, right? Alas, my little mermaid pouts when she is told the restaurant only serves Thai food, since the resort is promoting a truly ‘authentic experience’ (as opposed to the ubiquitous wannabe Italian or cowboy outlets in this region). But Khun Su, the super waitress, suggests crispy crab spring rolls instead and disappoint they do not. Skinny sticks the circumference of my pinkie and length of my forearm arrive filled with juicy crabmeat and a delicate whisper of chopped chives and coriander. They don’t last long and are perfectly paired with icy glasses of local red grape juice.
Post-dip, Mrs Smith slopes off for an in-room massage while at Mist bar I enjoy a vodka tonic and endless vistas of the golf course and mountains. After an hour, I head back to indulge in a pre-arranged, complimentary milk and rose petal bath drawn by our butler. Lights dimmed and candles flickering, Mrs Smith shyly slips in and I follow suit.
Our appetites now reaching a ravenous crescendo, we decide to order in. Mrs Smith, now craving red meat, almost pulls a diva when she’s told that the Western room-service menu, which the staff has neglected to remove, is no longer available. Once again super Su comes to the rescue and offers to golf-buggy over a steak from the grill at sister property Muthi Maya. It takes a while, but we snack on more crispylicious spring rolls and pop open some champagne in the interim while watching neon-green fireflies on the terrace. When the steak arrives, it is sublime.
The next morning, we awaken to the sound of angels’ trumpets falling on our canvas roof. We peek outside and giggle like coy newlyweds when we see that Mother Nature has strewn our path with white blossoms. The ensuing day is a blur of bliss.
Before we know it, our Smith stay is drawing to an end. We never did go on that highly recommended night safari in the Khao Yai National Park, nor did we trek the hills. And forget about the local markets, we couldn’t get enough of our tent! If you’re looking for a clandestine escape, Kirimaya scores a hole in one. We’ll certainly be back, both with and without the kids. Actually, after our 48 hours here, I’ve a growing concern that we might be returning with two plus one next year.