Katai Kamminga sat opposite to me while sipping her bluish iced tea, which tasted delicious. When I asked her what the tea was made from, she mischievously retorted with a wink.
“From my flower. Now you know what it tastes like”.
It was one of the many witty puns that I would hear from the brilliantly sharp mind of Katai Kamminga over the next hour. Turns out the tea was made from a non-orchid pea flower quite common in Thailand, named the Butterfly pea.
And it’s scientific name was ‘Clitoria Ternatae’.
The erotic garden and teahouse of Mae Rim
“The nation once called me a penis lady. I like that name”
‘The nation’ here referred to Thailand’s most read newspaper. The slim and elegantly dressed Katai Kamminga had already proved to me that she was no ordinary lady. She has been the subject of quite intense scrutiny ever since she opened out her backyard garden in Mae Rim, just a 30 minute scooter ride from Chiang Mai.
It was quite a task to get here from my hostel in Chiang Mai on my worn-down 125 CC Honda scooter that I had rented for 200 baht per day. But the scooter held up for the 20 KM ride, along the highway between Chiang Mai and Mae Rim. I simply had to followed the google maps direction, as the location was perfect.
Chiang Mai Tip: You can mix this trip with a visit to the Huay Tung Tao Reservoir, which is along the way. It makes for a nice scenic pitstop for lunch or watching the sunset.
I knew I was on the right path, thanks mostly to the signboards along the way giving directions. From the outside, the Erotic garden and teahouse was a normal house built by a talented artist and gardener, with her archaeologist husband. (Johan Kamminga is a prominent Australian archaeologist). But once inside the compound, the first sight that greeted me was the innocent-looking fish pond.
Wait, were those..??
And then there was the sight of Ms. Katai herself, clad in a hat, embracing the Thai sun.
“Welcome to the Erotic garden!”
Katai Kamminga’s vision
“There is no word in Thai for ‘erotic’. So, the mention of ‘erotic garden’ brought a lot of different ideas to the heads of different people. To the point that I was raided just a couple of months after opening this place. People thought I was doing something immoral here. So, the Thai police came over – with media along with them – and scanned the whole place. And what did they find?”, Katai Kamminga looked at me quizzingly with her well-threaded eyebrows.
“Just nature and statues. We have so much eroticism happening in nature, but we do not notice it. I did, and I designed a garden around it. The Thai police and media went back, all happy yet pleasantly surprised”
“Come. You should see my flowers now. And I will show you my dream”, she had the mischievous smile again. I simply followed.
“How do you like my little boy?”, she asked, giving me a little flower to hold in my hand.
I was in Katai Kamminga’s garden now, surrounded by phallic shapes of all kinds and sizes. They were erected in wood (pun unintended) and I had already passed through a bunch of them. Even a sundial made from phalluses.
But the flower bud that I held in my hand was different. I had seen it before, but did not know it’s name. But now when I held it, in this little garden in Mae Rim, it resembled a penis.
“Nature is erotic. But people often don’t see it that way. You need to have an open mind to see a regular natural flower and see the symbolism”, she said. Well, I now knew that I did have a very open mind as almost every other flower I saw in the garden started reminding me of human genitalia.
Even the small mounds in the garden were suggestive. One was shaped like a human butt, another like the breasts with 2 prominent nipples on top of them. Of course, being surrounded by penises helped to identify the relation with human anatomy.
There was a sprinkling of artistic nude sculptures around the garden. But more interesting were the sculptures of the vegetables. There were onions, and even plums. “Plums are sexy. I don’t think you looked at them that way until now”, Katai said.
I hadn’t. And when she said that, I started seeing onions and plums in a completely new light. Their curves were so reminiscent of a female butt. Was I weird for imagining it that way? Maybe I was. Or maybe nature itself is weird.
“When the police came to raid me, they asked me about that statue. What was it called.”, Katai pointed to a human-sized statue of a girl embracing a 5 foot penis. “I told them it is called the dream. It is the dream of every woman. What is your dream, Abhi?”
I looked at the genitalia-shaped flowers around me. I didn’t reply.
The Erotic Garden and teahouse is located at the below address: (it is easily findable on google maps by just searching ‘erotic garden chiang mai’)
Soi 5, Huay Sai, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 4:00pm. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Entry Fee: 300 baht per person. Includes a free drink the teahouse, and a personalized tour with Katai Kamminga, if she is available.
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