Building our Glamping Domes:
Day 9 – Deciding on Bamboo

Inspirational Architecture Using Bamboo for a Resort in Bali

A Steady Calm As Our Glamping Site Rises From the Ground

This is now day 9 (day 5 of actual construction) of our Glamping Geodesic Dome Site and I would describe the building site as having a good thick layer of calm covering well managed progress.

All the heavy vehicles, including the diggers and tractors, have done their job and left. This has reduced the noise level to virtually nil as well as reducing the dust level back to very breathable.

At the moment, the focus is on getting the foundations finished including the column posts that will support the Dome Tent decks as well the column posts into the ground for the walkways. We have a little race against time as we really want to finish this before the rains come. We have been lucky as the construction start date coincided with a period of drought. The forecast is for this to continue till Wednesday next week or four days away.

So we should be okay…..just.

Falling in Love With Bamboo

As with any project, you cant have everything you want on the budget you want (unless you are uber rich obviously which we are not).

We really had our hearts set on having a bamboo walking across our rice-fields to connect to the domes. Recently we have fallen in love with bamboo as a construction material. This inspiration started with seeing beautiful pictures of rice-fields bamboo walkways in other countries such a Vietnam, China and Cambodia. Also though it was seeing the stunning architecture using bamboo especially in Bali but here in Thailand.

To Bamboo or not To Bamboo

As Bamboo is both cheap and readily available, we believed this would be both a low cost and aesthetically pleasing solution.

However, Bamboo can last a year before crumbling into dust or last hundreds of years. The difference between the two is how the bamboo is treated before use as well as the constructions method used:

  1. Age: Bamboo for construction should be at least 5-7 years in age
  2. Pesticides: Bamboo is high in starch and hence a favourite food for pests like termites
  3. Drying: Bamboo has a high water content and will bend and splinter if not dried properly before use
  4. Rain and Sun: When Bamboo lasts hundreds of years it is because it is kept out of the sun and rain typically by using large over-arching roofs. Treating with a waterproof & UV seal can extend the life of bamboo when used in exposed conditions (such as walkways) but only to 10-12 years.
  5. Craftsmanship: Using fish mouth technique and bamboo dowels instead of nails and screws.

Sadly what we discovered is that there is no one in Thailand that is properly treating bamboo for construction. Typically bamboo is sold ‘green’ or untreated and then just replaced as it breaks. Being a small resort, we simply don’t have the time or funds for this. Also we don’t want to put anyone at risk by walking over damaged bamboo.

We did look at importing Bamboo. Hanoi, which is just 12 hours drive away, has many bamboo factories producing well treated bamboo fit for purpose. And cheap too! 1,500m of 2 inch Bamboo would have cost just 30,000 baht. However, when we added on transportation and tax this also became prohibitive.

A Golden Business Opportunity

So we have in the end we wiped away our tears and decided to reclaimed wood planks for the walkway. We will use some locally bought bamboo as decoration. We have also bought black, purple and green bamboo seeds and will experiment with growing our bamboo to enhance the garden garden.

However, we do believe that there is a golden opportunity to grow and properly treat bamboo for construction here in Thailand. Once we are through our Dome Project, and covid, we may look to see if we can start doing this here in Thailand.

Nakara Glamping – You Can Watch It All Here

You can watch the project unfold on our youtube channel: Nakara Villas & Glamping though you can watch today’s episode below. We have tried to both tell our own story but also share tips, tricks and learnings so you can save the money and avoid the disasters that we didn’t.

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