Let me introduce myself. My name is Tong, I.D #08 B9, and I’m a resident water buffalo at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand. If you and your family visit, we’ll get the chance to get acquainted.
I’m the youngest around here (birthday: Aug., 2006) and I’m an albino water buffalo teenager. I’ve already got strong leadership skills, though, so don’t be surprised if you see me walking in front of my valet and stepbrother. I live here with Tone—he’s a Taurus who likes lazing around in the shade and munching grass.
You might think it’s easygoing being a water buffalo at a cushy resort tucked among lush rice fields. But it’s a lot of work.
That said, there are definitely pluses, too. I’ve jotted down a list.
Rice is an essential part of the resort, and we help harvest it. The rice grown here is the Sanpatong variety. It takes 120 days to grow from seed to harvest, and it’s planted in a staggered harvest so guests can observe each stage of growth. So that means a harvest takes place approximately every 40 days.
The yield is about 600 kg per rai, or 1,500 kg per acre. The rice is also planted a little farther apart than in a commercial field, to enable appreciation of the stunning sunsets reflected in the fields.
Traditionally, rice is grown for the farmers and kept in the family storehouse. Rice barns are holy places where Mae Phosop, the Thai rice spirit, lives until it is time for the next sowing or harvest.
The Lanna-style rice barn is raised off the ground in order to keep the rice dry and free of pests. Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai has three typical Thai rice barns located at the lower corners of the rice terraces. In the southern barn we have a collection of Thai farmer’s hats and clothing, as well as a small collection of cooking equipment and accessories. This is also where our guests can try their hand at rice planting—it’s a fun activity that gives them an insight into a day in the life of a rice farmer, and an insight into the importance of rice in the Northern Thai culture.
In the eastern rice barn, next to the pond’s edge, we house a traditional Thai boat carved from one piece of teak wood. In the rice barn itself is a collection of Thai musical instruments. (Each piece is labeled in both Thai and English.)
In the northern rice barn is a collection of 25 Thai farming tools, all labeled with information about how each tool is used. We donate the rice harvested at the resort to the local village and temple.
Guests should be sure to listen for the “gardener’s orchestra” before they go home daily every evening at five, and the “cocktail drum” which sounds at 6 pm daily.
We look forward to meeting you in Chiang Mai and teaching you more about our culture!
Read more on Chiang Mai, Thailand in Four Seasons Magazine.
Read our “Concierge Recommendations” for Chiang Mai, Thailand in Four Seasons Magazine.
Tong is a handsome albino water buffalo. He has been a resident at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand since 2008. Originally from Mae Rim, this is his first Four Seasons assignment. Tong has completed several training programs with the resort Gardening Department. Thanks to his enthusiastic nature and willingness to learn, he has become an expert rice field plougher and is one of the resort’s best-known staff members. “I love meeting guests, especially when they pose for photos with me,” he says. “I sometimes wonder how many family albums around the world I’ve appeared in.”
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