*Sadly, this appears to be a “Here’s What You Missed” post. In 2013, after remodeling, the tea shop as described exists no more. *
Displays in nice furniture stores welcome you in and make you want to sit and have tea or coffee. Hundred Children in Bangkok may have thought of that when they took a Chinese antique store and combined it with a teahouse and coffee shop. The two floors of beautifully hand-carved wood items are enough to come see but there are also tables – many of them for sale – set in small open areas near the windows where people gather for drinks and conversation. Outside the glass, busy Sukhumvit Road pounds past right under the Asoke BTS SkyTrain but the sparsely but warmly lit tea room feels meditative.
Every time I come – which is often because they have free Wifi and I like to work here – something has changed. Perhaps a piece has been sold or moved to another wall or corner. I once watched as workers took apart what appeared to be an intricately carved framed opium bed. Completely nail-less, the teak construction was held together only by the locking wood joints which despite the apparent age fit snugly and showed no cracking or splintering. Statues, porcelain vases and tea pots, and carved wood screens are scattered throughout along shelves or leaning against the decorative brick walls. A narrow walking bridge crosses the open space above the first floor and red cloth lanterns sway in the blowing air like fruits in a secret garden. The bathroom with its red mosaic tiles, dragon head spout over a brass bowl and glass-block outer wall is protected by two large wooden doors possibly older than the building itself and barred shut by a thick beam. In the peak of afternoon heat, the air-conditioned menagerie of dark woods makes a nice sanctuary and the unknown stories of the objets d’art tickle at the imagination.
There is in fact a third floor, up a short set of narrow plank steps, and though no customers go there, it is open for a peek, hiding a collection of more antique table and chair sets standing in rows like the terra cotta soldiers. The air is close and hot, the room unlit. The smell of the hot wood gives me pangs of nostalgia for my childhood home where I often played in the unfinished attic on old planks laid over the rafters and tattered insulation, under the gaze of an old John F. Kennedy portrait, among boxes of books and other treasures, until the heat sent me sweating and panting downstairs for air.