I believe that every bad side also has a good side. So when Mai and I were confined to our Bang Saray home because of the COVID-19 lockdown and curfew, we decided to make the best of the situation.
Looking out into our garden we were struck by the sight of our old, small, leaking and I must say, ugly fish pond.
We looked at each other and in unison decided, “Let us build a new fish pond.”
We wanted to build it ourselves, not wanting to hire any help, as we knew they wouldn’t understand our concept and would do it all wrong.
Having never built a pond nor worked with concrete before, we watched YouTube to get many tips and instructions.
We started out by digging a hole in the ground at the spot of the old pond. This two-day job took two weeks. We laid the frame for how we wanted the shape and also a layer of meshing as a foundation.
We wanted to have a serene environment around the pond, so we decided to put the pump in the back of the house.
Now it was time to lay the floor with concrete and build a frame for a glass front to be able to see our fish swimming around from an underwater perspective.
We bought two pieces of glass for 300 baht each and glued them together for strength. We spent the next 3 days building the wall and installing the frame for the ‘window’.
It was by then 4 weeks since we started and at the pace we were going, we thought it would take us another 3 months to finish the job.
Twenty years ago when I was living in France, I tried to do some cement plastering which turned out to be a disaster. I dreaded doing it here, even if it was just in a small pond. But we worked hard at it and lo and behold the cement stuck.
At the same time we also laid tiles on the floor of the pond and on the inside walls. After waiting a day for the cement to set, we decided to put the structure to the test by filling the pond with water. Much to our disappointment, water leaked through the glass and the walls.
After a sleepless night we decided to reinstall the glass, but this time using only one pane. This worked. No more leakage through the glass frame and the walls also held.
To keep within our budget, Mai picked up pieces of tiles from a dump and painstakingly attached them to the outside wall, creating a mosaic masterpiece in the process. I worked on the top which was also a work of art.
Having finished the main structure we started on the internal decoration. We went around the countryside looking for stones and vegetation that we could use. At one point we almost lost our car when we got stuck on a large boulder and couldn’t get free.
Mai placed and planted all the pretty plants and was very proud of her gardening skills.
We noticed that the water was turning green. A friend said that the UVC light bulb was not strong enough. So I built a system using a 60 watt bulb that was strong enough to do the job.
All said and done we put 6 Koi fish into the pond. They loved it. They swam around all day long. We too were very excited. Every morning we rush down to the pond to see how they’re doing.
Neighbours came by to admire our fish pond and ask me how much I would charge to build one in their home. “One and a half million baht,” I would say and smile.
Mai asks me, “What shall we build next?” I put my hand under my chin in deep thought and say, “How about a tower in the garden so we can climb up to the top and look at the sea?”