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he month of February brings with it the double-edge sword known as Valentine’s Day. For those who find themselves unhappily single, it’s yet another reminder of the moribund state of their love life. But for those in a happy relationship it offers a special day to celebrate love in grand fashion. If you’re in the latter camp, then Bangkok offers an amazing array of atmospheric venues to wine and dine… and maybe more! We asked a number of our regular contributors, and some other fabulous folk besides, to list a few of their recommended romantic dinner, drink, date, and destination spots (starting on pg. 14). Along with love comes—in many cases—marriage, and so we’ve also included a few insights into the trials and tribulations of getting married in Thailand (see pg. 26). Of course, if you don’t have someone special in your life, and you desperately want one, you can ask for some romantic “help from above” at the Trimutri Shrine, which gets extra busy on February 14th (see pg. 34). Or, you can take a more scientific approach and get a real-life matchmaker to set you up on an expertly engineered lunch date (see pg. 12). And if none of those work, well… there’s always Soi Cowboy! On a different note, but in a similarly romantic vein, our special travel feature profiles two of the Gulf of Thailand’s sexiest island getaways (starting on pg. 46). Koh Samui is a pleasure seekers paradise, and if you want to dazzle your darling with some sensual tropical splendour, this is the place to do it. Or, if really getting away from it all and finding your own little slice of unspoilt paradise is what you and your significant other have in mind, then Koh Phangan is the island for you. All this and more—including our 101 archive and extras—can be found online at www.bangkok101. Enjoy. com. A couple of clicks are all it takes to keep in touch with what’s happening in Bangkok and beyond. And if you as a reader feel there’s something we’re not covering, but should be, please drop us a line at Mason Florence firstname.lastname@example.org. Publisher
What is Bangkok 101 Independent and unbiased, Bangkok 101 caters to savvy travellers who yearn for more than what they find in guidebooks. It brings together an authoritative who’s who of city residents, writers, photographers and cultural commentators. The result is a compact and intelligent hybrid of monthly travel guide and city magazine that takes you on and off the well-worn tourist track. Bangkok 101 employs the highest editorial standards, with no fluff, and no smut. Our editorial content cannot be bought. We rigorously maintain the focus on our readers, and our ongoing mission is to ensure they enjoy this great city as much as we love living in it.
B A N G K O K 101 P A R T N E R S
F EBRUA RY 2018| 5
CITY PULSE 10
Metro Beat Find out what’s going on this month in Bangkok
My Bangkok Meet Nikki Assavathorn, founder of MeetNLunch
Best of BKK “Love is all around no need to waste it” or so the song says, and in Bangkok (and beyond) there’s no shortage of romantic hotspots to get you in the mood
Special Report Weddings in Thailand are as amazing as they are affordable, with loads of venues to choose from
Property Profile The relaunched Praya Palazzo is an exceedingly romantic stay-cation spot
Making Merit Lovelorn locals flock to Trimutri Shrine, especially on February 14th
Now New Next Printmaker extraordinaire Kitikong Tilokwattanotai
Bizarre Thailand Bangkok’s Tubtim Fertility Shrine finds a new home
Joe’s Bangkok Elegant lodgings at The Bhuthorn
Very Thai How soi life became retro heritage – Part 3
44 Heritage Rediscovering the Nang Loeng Market
On the cover Valentine’s Day is coming up this month, but every day should be a celebration of love with your special someone. In Bangkok—and beyond—there’s no end of romantic spots to set the mood, and in our cover story we list a few of our favourites (starting on pg. 14).
Koh Samui 101 In this special 12-page travel destination feature we look at Koh Samui, a postcard perfect island that lures luxury travellers and humble holidaymakers alike
See & Do Island-wide attractions and activities
Focus on Koh Samui Staying healthy while still enjoying your holiday
Out & About Discovering the Muslim fishing village of Hua Thanon
Made in Thailand The Koh Samui Rum distillery
Where to Stay Four Seasons Resort; Conrad Koh Samui
Koh Phangan 101 In this special 8-page travel destination feature we look at Koh Phangan, a party-hardy island that reveals a more spiritual side the closer you look
Upcountry Now This month’s events and festivals throughout Thailand
Focus on Koh Phangan Best beaches; Western delights; Trekking trips
Illustration by Thanakrit Skulchartchai
Bangkok 101 is available at: 6 |F EBRUA RY 2018
ART & CULTURE 68
Art Exhibitions The latest museum gallery openings across the city
Museum Spotlight Queen Sirikit Botanical Park
Required Reading Paperback re-issue of Jim Algie’s novel On The Night Joey Ramone Died
Cinema Scope Film news and screenings
Photo Feature Two Myanmar artists create an ‘Explosion of Colours’
FOOD & DRINK 82
Food & Drink Updates
Valentine’s Day Meal Deals Restaurants offer amazing deals for couples
Hot Plates 80/20
Restaurant Reviews Red Sky; Attitude; Vertigo; Don Giovanni; Sift Bakery
Breaking Bread with Chef Roberto Pinna from Scalini
Eat Like Nym Tham Sue Tham Suan
Food & Drink Listings Capsule reviews of select restaurants in Bangkok
Bar Reviews A Bar; The Fat Tap
Nightlife Listings Capsule reviews of select nightspots in Bangkok
SIGNING OFF 110
Did You Know?... Each year on Valentine’s Day adventurous couples head to Trang province to get married… underwater!
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CITY PULSE | metro beat
FEBRUARY’S HOTTEST TICKETS February 2-3
DATE NIGHT February 14
For some it’s the most romantic night of the year, while for others it’s a grim reminder of the downside of being single. Either way, Valentine’s Day is celebrated almost all over the world and Thailand is no exception. In fact, each year Bangkok’s best restaurants and night spots offer an array of amazing meal deals to help lovers across the city celebrate in style without losing the shirts off their backs—that comes later in the evening! See page 84 for a few romantic dining ideas.
YEAR OF THE DOG February 16
The Chinese New Year celebration marks the first day of the new year in the Chinese lunar calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the ‘Spring Festival’ or the ‘Lunar New Year’. Every year is represented by one of 12 zodiac animal signs, and 2018 will be the Year of the Dog. People born under this sign are said to be loyal, honest, amiable, kind, cautious and prudent. They will do anything and everything for the person who they think is most important. 10 | F EBRUA RY 2018
Following on from the success of its debut in Bangkok in 2017, the Don’t Let Daddy Know (DLDK) music festival returns to Bangkok for a party that will extend over two days. Organizers will be wowing the assembled EDM crowds at Live Park Rama 9 (Bang Kapi) with top notch new stage designs, mind-blowing special effects, and a line-up showcasing the latest big room DJs currently tearing up dancefloors worldwide— including Martin Garrix, Ummet Ozcan, and Dannic. A two-day pass is B3,330 (VIP pass B4,500) and doors open each day at 5pm. www.ticketmelon.com
For just B200 per ticket you can see highly acclaimed singer/songwriter Julie Byrne in an intimate performance at Jam (41 Soi Rong Nam Kang) starting at 8pm. Her first album—a collection of hushed front porch psych-folk songs—was released in January 2014 and by the end of the year it was voted number 7 in Mojo Magazine’s best albums list. Meanwhile, her latest release, Not Even Happiness, has garnered critical praise from the likes of NME, Pitchfork, and The Guardian. www.facebook.com/jamcafebkk
Since their formation in 1991, iconic multi-platinum selling California rock band Incubus have consciously and continually shifted their perspective with each subsequent record. This is the quintet’s second Bangkok appearance, and this time around they’ll be at the BCC Hall (Central Plaza Ladprao, 5th floor). Tickets are B1,500 and B2,200, and the concert gets underway at 8:30pm. In addition, from every ticket purchased $1 will be donated to the ‘Make Yourself Foundation’, a non-profit charity started by the band to support causes they care about. www.thaiticketmajor.com
It’s going to be an explosive evening of R&B, Hip Hop, Trap, and EDM when the TNT Music Festival 2018 takes over Hall 106 at Bitec Bangna (88 Bangna Trad Rd). The full line up so far includes such heavyweights as American rap star Lil Jon, as well as Soda, Walshy Fire (of Major Lazer), Clinton Sparks, and Willy Monfret. Also on the bill will be local performers Thaitanium and Bank Cash. Tickets are B2,200 (or B3,500 for a VIP pass) and the show runs from 6pm till 2am. www.thaiticketmajor.com bangkok101.com
metro beat | CITY PULSE
ARTS AND MUSIC FESTIVALS Until February 4
The highly anticipated Bangkok Design Week 2018 is a creative and design festival which began on January 27th. Organized by the Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC), its aim is to share fresh and insightful visions of Bangkok, allowing visitors to peer into the future of the capital via three subjective themes, including City & Living, Well Being & Gastronomy, and Creative Business. Look for installations and exhibits in the city’s creative districts, such as Charoenkrung, Khlong San, 22 Karakadakhom Circle, Rama 1, and Sukhumvit (all are within walking distance of and connecting to BTS and MRT stations). For up-to-date info, check the official Facebook page. www.facebook.com/bangkokdesignweek
Now in its 5th edition, Bangkok’s Galleries’ Night 2018—part of the ongoing La Fête French cultural festival—invites art lovers and curious onlookers to visit more than 50 galleries in Bangkok over the course of a Rebel Art Space, 2017 Galleries’ Night Friday and Saturday evening. Travel from gallery to gallery with dedicated tuk tuks and enjoy contemporary artistic creations, exhibitions, special events, and much more. In 2017 more than 8,000 visitors joined the adventure, and this year organizers are expecting more than 14,000—once again turning the ‘City of Angels’ into a large, surprising, festive, and friendly open-museum. For updates and information about participating galleries visit the official Facebook page. www.facebook.com/galleriesnight
On the last weekend of the month Singha Music presents Kolour In The Park 2018, the 4th edition of this annual celebration of creativity, art and sound. Experience two Kolour in the Park 2017 full days of music and art at the Thai Wake Park, Lamlukka (18/4 Soi Sudsawas, Lieab Klong 6 Rd), located on the outskirts of Bangkok—amidst picturesque rice fields. The event features an international line-up, over two stages, as well as large scale art installations, a gourmet food market, lake swimming, wake boarding, late night after parties, and a range of immersive activities. Join 2500+ like-minded people for a celebration of creativity, which begins each day at 2pm and continues till 2am. Prices for the 2-day festival pass start at B1,850, and be reminded that this is a 20+ event. www.kolourinthepark.com bangkok101.com
RUNNING EVENTS February 4
The Amazing Thailand Marathon Bangkok (ATMBKK) is a new race proudly organized by IronMan, together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and the Thailand Tri-League. Participating runners will enjoy a unique city-centric course that takes them past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as Victory Monument, the King Rama V Monument, and the Rama VIII Bridge. The run begins at the Rajamangala National Stadium and finishes at Democracy Monument. This year’s race features three different competitive categories: Marathon (42 km); Half-Marathon (21 km); and a 10 km run. Meanwhile, casual and leisure runners can join in on the 4 km Family Fun Run. Registration details and prices are all on the website. Full marathon runners will start off from Rajamangala National Stadium at 3am. www.amazingthailandmarathon.com
GET OUTTA TOWN February 7-11
Looking for some great travel deals? Then head over to the Thai International Travel Fair 2018 which is taking place over the course of five days at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (60 New Rachadapisek Rd). This event is expected to draw approximately 400,000 visitors, and eager travellers can directly purchase package tours— both domestic and outbound—from travel agents, and shop around for deals on accommodation packages from various hotels. The event runs from 10am till 8pm each day and the venue is directly accessible via the Queen Sirikit Centre MRT station. www.titf-ttaa.com F EBRUA RY 2018 | 11
CITY PULSE | my bangkok
Although she’s in a relationship, 36-year-old Nikki Assavathorn is very much involved in the dating world, as she owns and operates MeetNLunch; a matchmaking service that brings busy professional singles together… over lunch! How did you get into the matchmaking business? I was 25 years old when I founded MeetNLunch, back in 2006. I discovered that there were many successful and eligible Thai professionals who were singles, and I’ve always liked connecting people. Back then, there were no dating agencies in Thailand that fulfilled the need of local professionals who were often too busy to date. The company took off from there, providing secure and discreet personalized dating and matchmaking services. I am also Thailand’s first matchmaker to be certified by the New York based Matchmaking Institute. In 2015, MeetNLunch was acquired by the ‘Lunch Actually Group’ with presence in other four countries in Asia—including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. Who are the people that seek out your services? Our clientele are working professionals in their early 30s to late 40s; mainly locals but we do have a number of expats too. These people want a genuine connection, but are often extremely busy with their careers or have limited social circles due to their demanding work schedules. Because of this, they like the personalized service that we offer, as we do all the work for them. All our clients have to do is show up and enjoy the date! What advantages do you offer over using a dating app like Tinder? Online dating may be convenient, but it can be frustrating at times because you never know whether the other person you’re talking to online is really the person they claim to be. With us, clients can feel safe and secure because we meet and screen each member in person and verify their identities before we sign them 12 | F EBRUA RY 2018
up and send them out on dates. We have a stringent verification process, and because of this I’d say that we only accept about 10 percent of the 200 to 300 people who register to use MeetNLunch every day. Our service prices range from B20,000 to B300,000, which helps to screen out those who are not serious about relationships. We also help in handpicking the most suitable match for each client, so you don’t waste a lot of time and effort screening through unsuitable matches like you would in other traditional online dating services. So why is lunch better than dinner? Meeting over lunch for a date offers the perfect amount of time for both parties to get to know each other. It’s not too short or too long. If they are interested in getting to know each other better, after the initial introduction and chat, they can exchange contacts and make plans for a second date. If they don’t click, they can always call the date off gracefully by citing work, without having to worry about finding an excuse. It’s also more casual for a first-date setting and doesn’t have the awkwardness of the date being dragged on after the meal.
Do you choose the lunch venue or does the client? We ask our members for their food preferences, such as if they like Japanese, Thai, or Western food. We then select a venue that seems most convenient to both parties, and we also check with the matched members to see if the venue suits them. If both parties are agreeable to the venue, only then do we proceed to make a reservation. If one client has a strong preference for a certain restaurant, we can also suggest it to the other party to see if they’re agreeable. Personally, I think one of the best venues in Bangkok for a romantic lunch is Patom Organic Living on Sukhumvit Soi 49. What is your success rate so far? As part of the Asia-wide dating company Lunch Actually Group, in 2018 we have already arranged 100,000+ dates, and also have 3,000+ marriages under our belt. But we don’t measure our success rate by the number of marriages or relationships (as not all our clients get back to us and inform us of their successful relationship). What we measure is how satisfied our client is at the end of every date, and we are happy to know that 85 percent of our members rate their matches as satisfactory to excellent. What does the future hold? In terms of the what the future holds for dating agencies, I’d like to think that there will be even less of a stigma to using matchmaking companies to find love. For our company’s future, there’s lots to be excited about! Currently, we are building the world’s first A.I-driven marketplace for dating and relationships called ‘Viola.AI’, to transform billions of relationships worldwide. www.meetnlunch.com bangkok101.com
“World ’s Best Wedding Venue”
Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach
n a gala ceremony, held at the famed Savoy Hotel in London last December, the Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach, was named the world’s “Best International Wedding Venue” during the International Hotel Awards 2017. The resort was named as “Thailand’s Best Wedding Venue” and “Asia’s Best Wedding Venue” at the Asia Property Awards 2017, which allowed it to compete for the global title in the Grand Final event. This spectacular seafront resort, located on the pristine sands of Nai Yang Beach on Phuket’s northwest coast, ﬁrst opened its doors in the summer of 2016, so it’s rise to the top has been extraordinary. “We are absolutely delighted to have been named as the world’s Best International Wedding Venue,” noted General Manager David Ippersiel. “With our secluded sandy beach, sublime sunsets, and superb team of
professional event planners, it’s the ultimate destination for tropical weddings.” Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach has an extensive array of options for all types of nuptials, from traditional Thai ceremonies, to Western white weddings, classical Chinese occasions, and impressive Indian celebrations. Groups of wedding guests can be comfortably accommodated in the resort’s collection of contemporary rooms and suites, and delectable wedding menus can be prepared by the resort’s outstanding culinary team.
Other features of the resort include diverse dining options, extensive kid’s facilities, the exclusive Quan Spa, and a loop swimming pool meandering throughout the resort. Meanwhile, the vast outdoor space offers the perfect setting for memorable weddings, and the private Beachfront Plunge Pool villas are perfect for happy honeymooners on holiday.
PHUKET MARRIOTT RESORT AND SPA, NAI YANG BEACH 92 92/1, Moo 3, Sakoo, Talang, Phuket 83110, Thailand T: 076 625 555 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
CITY PULSE | best of bkk
In honour of Valentine’s Day, here are dozens of suggestions of where to go for your next romantic dinner, drink, date, and/or destination getaway Complied by Bruce Scott
ebruary is definitely a month where “love is in the air”, and lovestruck locals look for romantic rendezvous spots to spend their Valentine’s Day. In Bangkok there’s no shortage of sexy spots in which to cavort and canoodle in cozy corners by candlelight, ranging from dimly lit gin bars in Chinatown to elegant rooftop lounges overlooking the glittering lights of the city centre. Of course, if you’re new to the city, or perhaps you’ve been here so long you feel like there are no surprises still to be found, we’ve complied a list of romantic D-spots to make your February 14th decisions easier—namely romantics recommendations for: Dinner; Drinks; Dates; and Destinations. We polled over a dozen writers, contributors, and well-versed romance-minded residents and asked them to tell us what they think are some of the most interesting, and in some cases unusual, suggestions for wining, dining, and intertwining with your loved one. When it comes to “dinner” there is no shortage of restaurants in this town, but which ones truly offer the right atmosphere for you? Do you go all out and treat your sweetie to a night of gastronomic bliss at Blue Elephant
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(233 South Sathorn Rd), or do you eschew the crowds and grab a spot in the intimate and charming garden at Loulou Forks & Knives (459/61, Soi Suan Phlu 8)? And what about drinks? Is a nightcap high atop the 40th-floor Zoom Skybar at the Anantara Bangkok Sathorn hotel (36 Naradiwas Rd) the right choice, or would a cool, down-to-earth cocktail at The 88 (88 Surawong Rd) suit your style more? A similar concern hangs like a spectre over the entire concept of a “date” in the first place, and how to make it that much more memorable. Why not think outside the box and take your baby bowling at Blu-O Rhythm & Bowl (Siam Paragon mall), or to the Bounce trampoline gym (139 Rathchadapisek Rd)? The latter might just be the “jump”-start your relationship needs. Finally, there’s the ultimate lover’s leap, and that’s going on a trip together. For many that could be a stay-cation right here in Bangkok, choosing some sexy downtown digs— such as the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort (257/1-3 Charoennakorn Rd)—as your tryst spot. Meanwhile, for those who really want to go all out and leave town entirely, a seaside escape to The Nai Harn resort, in scenic Phuket, may be just the thing to shift your relationship into high gear. bangkok101.com
best of bkk | CITY PULSE
Craig Sauers Freelance writer—specializing in travel, culture, and nightlife—avid runner, and frequent contributor to Bangkok 101.
DINNER: When you and your significant other dine at Freebird (28, Sukhumvit Soi 47), you feel like you’re enjoying a private dinner inside the home you wish you owned. It’s roomy, there’s a lovely garden in back, and the funky artwork and vibrant interior design give it a distinguishing edge. Chef Top Russel’s food is, of course, amazing as well, and the restaurant was even awarded a ‘Michelin Plate’ in the recently published Michelin Guide Bangkok.
Foo John Build
get lost in Bangkok’s endlessly captivating Old Town, taking air-conditioned breaks in places like Museum Siam (Sanam Chai Rd), the Napasorn Floral Café (67 Chakphet Rd), or Suppaniga x Roots (392/25-26 Maha Rat Rd). For a bite to eat visit Chote Chitr or Krua Som Hom in the quaint Phraeng Phutton neighbourhood, or just discover something you’ve never seen before in the city’s endless back alleys. Then, end your day with cocktails somewhere along Phra Artit Road. DESTINATION: If you have money to burn, the Six Senses Koh Yao Noi should be on your radar, for the incredible views of Phang Nga Bay alone. If you’re on a budget though, try Baan Rim Nam on Koh Chang— two old fisherman’s houses, converted into a lovely guesthouse by the Klong Prao estuary. It’s tranquil, unique, and won’t break the bank (starting at B1400 for a room in high season). Or, if the beach isn’t the romantic angle you crave, the riverside Hotel des Artists—in Chiang Mai’s Wat Ket community—is romantic boutique elegance at its finest. www.sixsenses.com/resorts/yao-noi/destination
DRINKS: My partner and I are beer drinkers, so we’ve always been partial to Mikkeller (26, Ekkamai 10 Alley, Lane 2). Beyond having the best beer selection in Thailand, the bar is located in a quiet back soi and has a well-tended front lawn, where you can Six Senses Koh Yao Noi plop down in bean bags and enjoy the (relatively) cool night air. For cocktails, however, we usually make the trek to Chinatown. This is may be a shade Orientalist, and it may only apply to foreigners, but nothing seems to stoke romance quite like a little ‘Chinoiserie’. Ba Hao and Teens of Thailand (both on Soi Nana), and sections of the 5-storey FooJohn building (831 Charoen Krung Rd), all glow with the spirit of an exotic East that faded long before I was born. Plus, each serves great cocktails. Closer to the CBD core, Dim Dim (27/1, Sukhumvit Soi 33) offers a similarly ‘Celestial’ sensation. DATE: A great date idea, whether you’re newly entwined or have been together for ages, is to just go and bangkok101.com
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CITY PULSE | best of bkk
Ellen Boonstra Media expert specializing in content creation, event planning, and localized PR. Check out her website www.BeeLinc.com.
DINNER: With a choice of seating in an intimate corner indoors, or in the cozy garden, Quince restaurant (Sukhumvit Soi 45), oozes a Quince vintage, country home vibe— complemented by a menu offering dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. DRINKS: Brimming with true old-world charm, the lounge of The Cabuchon Hotel (14, Sukhumvit Soi 45), with its large comfortable leather armchairs and Indiana Jones-style artwork, is the perfect prelude to a romantic night out.
DINNER: The China House restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel (48 Oriental Ave) looks like a fancy set from Wong Kar-wai’s film In the Mood for Love, crossbred with a Shanghai opium den. For dinner, it is dark and dim… very sexy and seductive. I also love simple romantic restaurants along the river, or any body of water, such as Baan Klang Nam (762/7, Rama III Rd), or Khin Lom Chom Sa Phan (11/6, Samsen Soi 3)—not your usual intimate spots, but very China House authentic and downhome. DRINKS: The Rabbit Hole, on Thong Lor, is small, intimate, and dark. Forget Maggie Choo’s, Iron Fairies, Sing Sing, and all those roof-top spaces—if you want some privacy, the Rabbit Hole is perfect.
DATE: Nothing spells romance more than a stroll through a wintery, snow-filled landscape, followed by a friendly snowball fight. In Bangkok that’s possible at Snowtown, on the top floor of Gateway Ekkamai (982/22, Sukhumvit Rd). DESTINATION: If you’ve got the monetary resources then the Soneva Kiri resort on Koh Kood is a top choice. It’s barefoot luxury at its very best! www.soneva.com/soneva-kiri
Soneva Kiri Koh Kood
Dr. Tom Vitayakul Co-owner of the Rose Hotel and Ruen Urai restaurant [which is also a wonderfully romantic restaurant – Ed.]
STATUS: It’s complicated
massage, your blood will be flowing to all the right places. So afterwards… what you do is up to you! DESTINATION: I love Krabi, especially Railay Beach and Ao Nang Bay. But now they are overrun by both local and overseas vacationers. That’s why the quiet and simple island of Koh Phayam, in Ranong province, gets my vote for a romantic getaway. It’s almost like the Maldives. Also, the electric generators that supply power to almost all the island properties stop running in the middle of the night—and what else can you do when the light goes out? One resort I recommend is the Blue Sky Resort. www.theblueskyresort.com/payam
DATE: A gentle stroll in the park or along the river in the late afternoon or the evening is always romantic, but after sweating in Bangkok’s heat, getting cleaned up at Yunomori Onsen (120/5, Sukhumvit Soi 26) is ideal. Interestingly, the onsen can be a great spot for same-sex dating as men and women use separate onsen facilities. Unlike gay saunas, an onsen can be an intriguing icebreaker for a 2nd or 3rd date. After the spa and 16 | F EBRUA RY 2018
best of bkk | CITY PULSE
Dave Stamboulis Professional photographer, journalist, and travel writer, long-time Bangkok resident, and frequent contributor to Bangkok 101.
DINNER: Being a lover of everything old colonial, The House on Sathorn (106 North Sathon Rd) is pretty magical for me. The restaurant is in a 128-year-old colonial mansion built by Lord Sathorn, and is full of old paintings and photographs. Adding to the romantic atmosphere is the menu, created by Turkish chef Fatih Tutak, who makes dishes inspired by stories from his life. It’s a unique place, both in food and setting, perfect for a couple’s night out. I’m also a sucker for any place along the Chao Phraya, and being able to get away from the Bangkok chaos and watch the boats and languid river life go by. My favourite spot would have to be Supanniga X Roots (392/25-26 Maha Rat Rd), which not only sits perched right over the water, but also looks out at Wat Arun, and is classic romantic Bangkok at its best come sundown and just afterwards, when they illuminate the temple in golden lighting—which accompanies the authentic Thai cuisine rather nicely.
Embassy Diplomat Screen
nothing beats CRU Champagne Bar, up a private elevator three flights above the already elevated Red Sky Bar in the Centara Grand at CentralWorld hotel (999/99 Rama I Rd). Here you can treat your date to a bottle of GH Mumm’s #1 edition pink champagne. The bar really is the highest in town, and has a jaw dropping panorama around the city. You not only can see the Golden Mount and Grand Palace all the way across the city, but even sit at eye level with the nearby Baiyoke Tower. Needless to say, the sunsets up here are magnificent.
CRU Champagne Bar
DATE: For an unforgettable date, I’d head for a couples’ spa treatment at the Oriental Spa in the riverside Mandarin Oriental hotel (48 Oriental Ave), where you both can get pampered silly with organic rice scrubs, milk baths, and steam treatments—leaving you both too dizzy to do anything other than head over to the Embassy Diplomat Screens upstairs in the Central Embassy shopping centre (8/1031 Ploenchit Rd), where the movie most definitely plays second fiddle to your significant other. Here you’ll get a full day bed sofa with blankets, pillows, and control panels, plus a personal butler, wine and champagne, and even a stocked mini-bar. It is so amorous you won’t have to say a word and still be guaranteed you’ll be seeing each other again, regardless of what flick was showing.
DESTINATION: Thailand is full of romantic stays, but nothing beats the glamping setup the Four Seasons DRINKS: There are plenty of rooftop bars across Bangkok, Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai offers. Your but the fancy and more notable ones get crowded, and 51 sq.m tent comes with a private hot tub out on a deck the service is often focused on getting you to buy another looking out at the Ruak River expensive drink as fast as possible. and the mountains of Laos. Plus I’ve always been a fan of the there is a claw tub, complimentary hidden away River Vibe, which bottles of booze, and colonial sits on top of the River View furnishings inside. Add to this the Guesthouse (768 Songvad Rd). spa treatments out in the bamboo Located somewhat in the bowels jungle and the sunset bar set of Chinatown, it’s tough to find overlooking Myanmar, and you’ll be the place the first time round, hopelessly enraptured. Given the but the rooftop location looks price tag, it’s also one of those oncedown the same sweep of river in-a-lifetime experiences as well, that you get from a room in the making it an even more special and Mandarin Oriental—plus there romantic unforgettable splurge. are cushioned divans to curl Four Seasons Tented www.fourseasons.com/ up on and watch the river go Camp Golden Triangle goldentriangle by. If I do want to get sky high, bangkok101.com
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CITY PULSE | best of bkk
Xuan Xu Branded entertainment producer, creative consultant and costume designer. Find her online at www.xuanxu.de.
DINNER: As I prefer to be a creator rather than a consumer, my first choice for real romantic dinner will be buying ingredients from a wet market like Talad Klongtoei (Rama IV Rd), and then cooking at home and having dinner in bed. However, if I had to choose a place for dining out it would be Sühring (10, Yen Akat Soi 3). As I am from Germany, I know that we Germans are often accused of not being romantic. But Sühring is the best proof that German cuisine can be excellent (taste), playful (way of presentation) and full of emotions and romance (how much passion the Sühring brothers put in their food is evident once you go there). It’s sophisticated, yet not totally over the top.
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DATE: Going to a library with a date—like the Bangkok City Library (39 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd) for instance— would be a “novel” idea. The atmosphere and the silence there will automatically create the tension and the mystery of romance. Prepare a romantic challenge list, like finding the most romantic poem, for instance. Or create a new love story using passages from different books. Make a selection of the most romantic drawing or paintings, or just search for symbols of love and romance. The possibilities are vast. DESTINATION: My pick for dream destination would be the InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort resort on Koh Samui. I got to this resort by accident when I was following a female friend who did an internship there in 2009. At the beach there was a moment where I deeply felt despair and melancholy that I couldn’t share the beautiful view with someone I love. So I swore to come back one day with the love of my life. samui.intercontinental.com
InterContinental Samui Baan Taling
DRINKS: Even though it Nest is one of the oldest rooftop spots in BKK—and no longer novel in terms of design, or its food and drink menu—I really love Nest, the 8th floor open-air spot atop the Le Fenix Hotel (33/33, Sukhumvit Soi 11). I find it romantic, maybe because the surrounding is not screaming for attention, and there is a lot of space so you can dedicate your attention to your date. I also love the beds there. It instantly gives the place a cozy atmosphere. For new dates it helps to break the ice and get closer.
best of bkk | CITY PULSE
Sala Rim Naam
Freelance lifestyle and travel writer and blogger, working in Bangkok for the United Nations’ International Labour Organization.
DINNER: My idea of romance tends to err more on the side of the overall experience rather than trinkets, pomp, and fanfare. So, if I would have to choose a spot to enjoy a special dinner, for instance, Sala Rim Naam, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel (48 Oriental Ave) would top the list. This place has it all—the view, the venue, and the food. I just love this swanky riverside eatery which to me, just oozes romance. DRINKS: Nothing beats staring into the eyes of your lover from the 32nd floor, overlooking Bangkok by the riverside, so the ThreeSixty Jazz Lounge at the Millennium Hilton Bangkok hotel (123 Charoen Nakhon Rd) gets my vote. And, did I mention that they make fantastic cocktails?
DESTINATION: Something about the sand, the sea, and the seafood in this area keeps me coming back. If you’re a guy and want to show your lady just how much you care, take her to the JW Marriott Khao Lak and she’ll be eating out of your hand. It worked on me... www.marriott.com
DATE: Nothing says “I Love You” like trusting your partner with the most holiest of holies—your face! Forget the frou frou and delicateness of a dinner date, and head straight to the gym to see if you both can “tough it out”. I was taken on a date once to the RSM Muay Thai Academy (Seenspace, Thong Lor Soi 13). I won, but I think he let me—which only made me like him more.
DINNER: I think The Deck at Arun Residence is a cute and cozy restaurant by the river, with good food and a nice view of Wat Arun. Enjoy some private time with your lover, or even if you’re on a first date night it’s a perfect place to start to get to know each other.
JW Marriott Khao Lak
Napat Sonto Managing Director for online media news source www.lepetitjournal.com/bangkok, servicing Thailand’s French community.
STATUS: Married (one child)
DRINKS: I suggest Vertigo Too on the 60th floor of the Banyan Tree Bangkok hotel. It’s an indoor bar with a nice city view. The special lighting leaves it a little bit dark, while the cozy sofa is a perfect place for drink—especially on a Valentine’s Day date night. DATE: As someone in a long-term relationship I would ideally surprise my husband by booking a room in a nice hotel in town, like the SO Sofitel Bangkok (2 North bangkok101.com
Sathorn Rd), and start the evening with dinner and fine wine, possibly at the hotel’s own Park Society restaurant, and then spend the night together in the hotel—without any kids— like a pair of new lovers. Vertigo Too
DESTINATION: For me the best easy access place for a romantic rendezvous is the X2 Kui Buri Resort in Prachuap Khiri Khan (just past Pranburi). There are 23 villas, each with their own terrace and garden, but get one with one of the private pools and you will really spend some quality time together with your special one. www.x2resorts.com/resorts/kui-buri F EBRUA RY 2018 | 19
CITY PULSE | best of bkk
Traveller and journalist, specializing in culture and architecture, and frequent contributor to Bangkok 101 magazine.
DINNER: The bright pink façade of the 100-year-old mansion that is home to the Nahmsaah Bottling Trust restaurant (401 Silom Soi 7), located within walking distance of the near Chong Nonsi BTS station, is an instantaneous invitation to romance for straight folk, but (of course) also for gay couples as well. Both persuasions will enjoy the splashes of colour of the walls and the multitude of small antique objects and details in each and every room; from old menus and candlesticks, to memorabilia of olden days. Go for a lavish dinner and request a seat in the ‘Pink Room’ upstairs. Then, while sipping vintage wine, enjoy Ian Kittichai’s amazing cuisine—it was awarded a Michelin Plate in the recently released Michelin Guide Bangkok—under the giant chandelier made of ostrich feathers surrounded by candles. An unforgettable memory!
Namsaah Bottling Trust
you reach the summit. Once you and your mate reach the top bypass the tourists taking selfies and stand under the glitzy golden shrine shining softly in the coming twilight. See Bangkok’s Old Town become enveloped in shades of purple, orange, or pink, while buildings get lit up one by one. DESTINATION: For a sexy stay-cation, Baan 2459 (98 Phat Sai Rd) is a heritage property mansion in the heart of Chinatown. It has been lovingly restored to its former grandeur—when it opened in 1916—but be aware that only four rooms are available, with rooms ‘2’ and ‘9’ being the most romantic ones. It will feel like you’re both in a countryside house, but you’re still in the middle of Bangkok. For an out-of-town treat, head to Phrae, in Northern Thailand. It’s a rather small city (18,000 people), but it used to be the centre of the teakwood industry. As such, it contains the largest collection of century-old teakwood houses and mansions. With their intricate carvings, elaborate verandahs, and beautiful balconies, they are masterpieces of Thai Northern architecture. Some
Architecture in Phrae
DRINKS: The former royal lounge of King Rama VII, located in the magnificent Phaya Thai Palace (315 Ratchawithi Rd), has been converted to the lovely Café Norasingha, where you and your special someone can sip on soothing coffees and enjoy a delicious slice of cake under Art Nouveau frescoes, surrounded by teakwood panels and old-style pictures. It’s probably the only café in Bangkok which could be just as easily at home in Vienna! DATE: Feel like a star! Climb the giant stairs of the Scala Cinema, with its huge chandeliers, in the same way Thai and foreign actors and actresses did back in the 70s when this cinema was the main venue for film festivals. Wait for a romantic style movie to be playing, buy two tickets tucked away in a corner, and be guided to your seats by an usher dressed in a tuxedo when you arrive—this last bit is probably unique to Bangkok. By contrast, a romantic outdoor place to enjoy Bangkok from above at sunset can be found atop Wat Saket (the Golden Mount). Not only is it affordable (a mere 40 baht to access), but the 80 metre climb to the top will have your heart beating strong once 20 | F EBRUA RY 2018
of these houses have been converted into museums, and Ban Wonburi, which belongs to a Princess—who still runs the place—is a highly romantic spot, with its shades of pink and white, and its majestic gingerbread style architecture. Visitors can tour the city by bicycle, or walk in the manicured gardens of the forestry school and technical college. And although it’s not that easy to find a truly romantic resort here, the Huern Nana Boutique Hotel offers Lanna contemporary atmosphere, a spa, a restaurant, and large swimming pool. www.huernnana.com bangkok101.com
best of bkk | CITY PULSE
Amelia Stewart Freelance journalist specializing in food. You can find her writings online at the website Cook First (www.cookfirst.co.uk).
DINNER: The wonderful Karmakamet Diner is tucked away behind the Emporium shopping mall (30/1 Soi Metheenivet) and you would never know it were there apart from a small sign that boasts of it being a “secret world”. Once inside it does feel gorgeously secluded, so much so that you instantly Karmakamet Diner forget you are in the very heart of frenetic, chaotic Bangkok. I love sharing one of their famous candy floss cloud desserts. DRINKS: Feel as though you’ve travelled to Cuba, complete with live Latin jazz and delicious
DINNER: I think Scarlett restaurant, on the 37th floor of the Pullman Bangkok Hotel G (188 Silom Rd), is a superb choice. Great food, dimly lit, warm, and cozy. And if the date’s not so good, I can always drown my sorrows in wine. I also recommend El Gaucho (Sukhumvit Soi 19). It has a vibrant vibe to it—a bit of business, a bit of sophistication—and it’s made even better if the man comes in a suit… that’s romantic to me. DRINKS: For a place that’s romantic but still chill and casual, with a magnificent view at the same time, I like Sky on 20, the rooftop bar of the 26th floor of the Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 hotel (Sukhumvit Soi 20). On street level, a great drink-on-a-date spot is Cocotte Farm Roast & Winery (Sukhumvit Soi 39). It’s usually crowded, but that makes it a great place to be seen.
Sky on 20
DATE: When it comes to a “great date” idea, it’s all about the experience for me. And anything less city, more nature is highly appreciated. Even something as simple as feeding turtles at Wat Prayoon—the turtle temple located bangkok101.com
rum-based cocktails, at the secluded speakeasy bar known as Havana Social (Sukhumvit Soi 11). It’s the perfect place to impress a lady! DATE: Cycling around Bang Krachao—Bangkok’s ‘Green Lung’—and going for a light lunch or a cool drink at The Bangkok Treehouse (60 Moo1 Soi Bua Phueng Pattana) certainly makes for a memorable outdoor afternoon. You can also enjoy the beautiful outdoors with a romantic picnic lunch in Lumphini Park, followed by a paddle around the lake in a cute Bangkok swan-shaped Treehouse pedalo. DESTINATION: A gorgeous place for a couple to relax and unwind is The Slate, in Phuket. Incredible food and décor, including a restaurant you need to access via a floating candle-lit boat. The hotel is right on the beach too, so perfect for a romantic sunset walk. www.theslatephuket.com
Natt Kawinrachataprida As co-founder of YSIS Asia, and CEO of YSIS Entertainment, this entrepreneur’s philosophy is to never settle for ordinary.
at the foot of Wat Prayoon Memorial Bridge in Saphan Phut (on the Thonburi side)—or visiting Paws Bangkok (712/3, Soi Puengmee 40, Sukhumvit Soi 93) to donate cat items for their ‘Thai Street Cats’ aid program, could make a memorable date experience. DESTINATION: A wonderfully romantic beachfront getaway spot is the JW Marriott Khao Lak. The sunset here is incredible! And the rest of the experience… is what you make of it. For a cozy stay-cation, the Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 hotel (Sukhumvit Soi 20) offers a great location, and weekend oysters lunch buffets. It feels like a home away from home. www.novotelbangkoksukhumvit20.com www.marriott.com F EBRUA RY 2018 | 21
CITY PULSE | best of bkk
Just another night at Smalls
Teacher and freelancer writer—as well as online content editor at Bangkok 101.com, and regular contributor to the magazine.
Photo by David Jacobso n
put a sparkle in any couple’s eyes. Don’t be surprised if you witness a proposal or two!
J’Aime by Jean-Michel Lorain DINNER: When it comes to special occasions like Valentine’s Day, my husband and I bump up our budget and don our best attire. Recently, for our two-year anniversary, J’Aime by Jean-Michel Lorain, at the U Sathorn Bangkok hotel (Soi Pridi off Ngam Duphli Rd) was our dining spot of choice. Meaning “I love” in French, this Michelin-starred restaurant definitely lives up to its name, and is perfect for a special occasion with your special someone. Decorated in soft shades of pink, purple, and grey, the restaurant features a unique upside-down design with several glistening chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling windows, and even a crystal grand piano hanging from the ceiling. The dining room offers both large and intimate seating arrangements, but for couples the smaller-sized tables, with velvet high back sofas, allow for a bit of privacy and intimacy. Also in the general Sathorn area, the Vertigo restaurant and adjoining Moon Bar—on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Bangkok hotel (21/100 South Sathorn Rd)—offer an al fresco grill-and-bar dining experience and uninterrupted 360° views of Bangkok. The glittering lights of Bangkok’s skyline and a premium cocktail from either of these two venues, are enough to
Akira Lipe Resort 22 | F EBRUA RY 2018
DRINKS: Without a doubt, Smalls (Suan Phlu Soi 1) is one of Bangkok’s best bars. And while it’s constantly buzzing with bar goers, it also has much to offer couples. This converted three-storey shophouse was in fact where my husband and I had our first date. Moody lighting, retro decor, and large pieces of statement artwork are the recipe for a romantic atmosphere, ensured by the evercharming owner David Jacobson. The petite circular tables and bench style seating arrangements (literally) bring guests closer together, while the music is played at just the right volume to ensure conversation is uninterrupted. Meanwhile, a few rounds of Head Barman Danny Yeung’s cocktails will definitely get the pheromones flowing. DATE: Living in a 24/7-city like Bangkok can often get overwhelming and extremely stressful, often leading to unnecessary arguments and bickering between couples. Whenever possible, my husband and I love taking time out for a bit of pampering at the Yunomori Onsen (120/5, Sukhumvit Soi 26). After an hour apart in the gender specific baths themselves, rejoin your partner for a few more hours of pampering (administered in a private room), with one of the onsen and spa packages available, offering Thai massage, foot massage, aroma therapy massage, herbal compress, and/or body scrubs. DESTINATION: Often referred to as the Maldives of Southeast Asia, Koh Lipe is a small island in the Southern part of the Thai Andaman Sea. Although it does take slightly longer to reach than Thailand’s other islands, its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters are what holiday-dreams are made of and makes the long trip worth it. The island itself does not have much to offer in terms of nightlife—making it a lot quieter than many other holiday spots in Thailand, but leaving plenty time for simply enjoying time together. If you visit, I recommend getting a place on Pattaya Beach, perhaps at the beautiful Akira Lipe Resort. This south-facing beach makes for an ideal sunbathing spot—it gets sun all-day long—so you can spend less time walking, and more time frolicking in the waves together. www.akiralipe.com bangkok101.com
best of bkk | CITY PULSE
Khemwanta Tangon Better known by her nickname ‘Beau’, she’s the Director of Marketing Communications at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok hotel.
STATUS: In a relationship
DINNER: The most romantic dinner out for me is the Supanniga Dinner River Cruise (Tel: 097 238 8284). What I love is that it’s not only great food, but the feeling of doing something extra special. It’s not every day that I get to board a modern deco-style boat, sip a glass of champagne, and enjoy a meal while cruising along the river in my beautiful city. It’s a total break from the Sukhumvit Road restaurant scene. Of course, I would also add Tables Grill at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok hotel (494 Ratchadamri Rd). Start by sipping hand-crafted cocktails in the classic sofa area, then follow that with a delicious dinner in the restaurant.
from the Thai rice whiskey known as ya dong—a very “local” thing, but here it’s given a cool twist and made into nice cocktails. They also have regular snacks, but what surprised me were the deep-fried bugs (usually a street food item). Order some and tease your drinking date, daring him or her to eat one. DATE: My kind of place for a cool date is the Outer Room on Sukhumvit Soi 23. It’s actually a Japanese bar, but on the 1st floor there’s dart boards where you can play by the hour, or just pay per game. For me it’s such a fun and romantic activity to do in a bar. Because on a date, after a dinner or a drink, you may be out of conversation and so why fill the gap with some fun activities. Why not make a bet that whoever wins, or hits the bullseye, gets a kiss on Drinks & darts the cheek. Room
at the Outer
Tables Grill DRINKS: My sort of place for a romantic drink is Iron Fairies (394, Sukhumvit Soi 55). It’s small and cozy, so I feel I can get closer to the person I go with. The jazz music also enhances the atmosophere. Iron Fairies Another place I like is Thep Bar (69-71 Soi Nana) in the Chinatown area. I think this is probably the only bar in town that plays Thai classical music on authentic instruments. For us, as Thais, this is so special as we only see this type of live performance in a musical theatre setting. The cocktails are a Thai specialty as well, made bangkok101.com
DESTINATION: So far, the most romantic getaway place I’ve found is in Koh Tao. I know this island is mainly a draw for scuba divers but... I found it to be so beautiful, with crystal blue waters and peaceful beaches. I stayed at the Haadtien Beach Club. It’s a modern hotel, located on a private beach which is so peaceful. There’s an Italian restaurant in the resort that has great food and a beautiful view, or I can go out to a nearby beach bar to party a bit with my loved one. www.haadtienbeachclub.com
Haadtien Beach Club F EBRUA RY 2018 | 23
CITY PULSE | best of bkk
Joe Cummings Seasoned musician, journalist, and travel writer, as well as the Editor-at-Large here at Bangkok 101 magazine.
STATUS: No comment
DINNER: Housed in a sprawling 1970s villa, filled with period-correct furniture, Sühring (10, Yen Akat Soi 3) offers several nooks and crannies that are perfect for couples to gaze into each other’s eyes over a glass of amber wine and little plates of elevated Teutonic flavours. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the späzle, a soft, handmade egg noodle mixed with wood garlic and Allgäuer mountain cheese, has aphrodisiac properties. Take the nine-course tasting menu over the 12-course so you can maintain your legendary moves afterwards. The wine pairing is a must. If your date is more on the rowdy side, London sushi-sashimisake transplant Zuma, attached to the St. Regis hotel, offers a good balance of slick and convivial with bold yet familiar Japanese culinary explorations.
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
DATE: Hop a taxi to the Museum of Contemporary Art (3 Vibhavadi Rangsit), an out-of-the-way, hard-to-reach spot in northern Bangkok that boasts the world’s greatest treasure trove of modern Thai art. Wander the six floors of a building that almost appears to have been carved from a single piece of granite, with carved abstract floral motifs cascading down either side of the façade, projecting natural light onto the atrium inside. Don’t miss the four rooms devoted to the boldly sensual sculptures and paintings of the late Thawan Duchanee.
Sühring DRINKS: Tucked away in a nondescript community mall on Ekkamai, Iron Balls Gin Distillery (Park Lane Ekkamai, G/F, Sukhumvit Soi 63) boasts a micro-sized, steampunkthemed bar attached to a room filled with gleaming gin stills. Trundle your date up the iron spiral staircase to a mezzanine furnished with velvet sofas and hidden from views below. Order the signature G&T, which comes with a stiff 60ml of Iron Balls Gin mixed with artisan tonic, and garnished with lime, sweet Thai basil, and pineapple. Vinyl-only DJs will warm your date’s ear canals with a sensual selection of lounge, R&B, Iron Balls Gin Distillery funk, and African. 24 | F EBRUA RY 2018
X2 River Kwai DESTINATION: Kanchanaburi might not be the most obvious choice for a romantic weekend getaway, but eschewing the usual beachside cliché will demonstrate your creative approach to coupling. Rent a car in Bangkok for the two-and-a-half-hour trip. Drive straight past the depressing River Kwai Bridge and associated WWII-era cemeteries, and head for the X2 River Kwai, an ultracontemporary boutique resort set on the banks of the river a few kilometres south of the famed span. Reserve the one table that sits beneath a huge old tamarind tree, with the river flowing nearby, for a perfect chill-feed-andflirt spot. As night falls, retire to a riverview villa cleverly fashioned from a shipping container and fitted with a huge verandah cantilevered over an infinity pool. www.x2resorts.com/resorts/river-kwai bangkok101.com
valentine dining | CITY PULSE
Dinner Destinations Whether you choose the Four Seasons Resort in Koh Samui, or the Four Seasons Resort in Chiang Mai, both are offering enticing Valentine’s Day meal packages for couples
hinking of a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway this year? If so, check out these amazing offers from the Four Seasons group that will make your February 14th, 2018, one to remember.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT KOH SAMUI: If your idea of the ultimate romantic dinner includes being on the beach, toes tucked into the sand while listening to the crashing waves providing a perfect harmony for a live saxophonist, then Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui has what you’re after. This exclusive evening affair is limited to just 10 couples only—to ensure complete privacy—and will take place at the resort’s Beach House pop-up dining venue. This priceless meal is priced at just B15,000 (plus applicable taxes) per couple. For those who count on memories to cherish, this will surely fit the bill. “At our resort we’ve never had anyone say ‘no’ to the question ‘will you marry me?’. I guess there must be something in the air,” says a smiling Worawan Grongthong, Conference Services Manager, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT CHIANG MAI: For a private dining experience like no other, the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai offers guests the luxury of a romantic dinner for two at the beautiful Orchid Nursery, which on the evening of February 14th will be decorated to suit the mood. The farm-to-table menu for this occasion has been designed by Thai specialty Chef Anchalee Luadkham, who also helms the resort’s newly-launched Khao by Four Seasons restaurant. She promises a generous array of appetizing aphrodisiacs, including caviar, affineur cheeses, and champagne. Valued at B59,000 (plus applicable taxes) per person, this evening soirée will have Cupid strumming a chord or two alongside the live musicians—making the evening truly an affair to remember. “We have guests who have tied the knot here or have proposed marriage, who come back to celebrate their anniversaries and personal milestones with us,” remarks Sasinipa Duangsuwan, the Resort’s Conference Services Manager. “They often request the same experience, because we have been able to create such a lasting impression.” To book this romantic dining experience, call 05 329 8181. www.fourseasons.com/chiangmai
To find out more, about this romantic getaway package, or to make your reservations, call 07 724 3000. www.fourseasons.com/kohsamui bangkok101.com
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CITY PULSE | best of bkk
Matrimonial Minutiae The trials and tribulations of registering a marriage in Thailand By Kelly Harvey
t’s all fun and easy getting married in the land of smiles… if you are a foreign couple that is. Marrying a Thai national on the other hand, brings with it a whole lot of red tape. What should and could be one of the most romantic and most cherished times of you and your partner’s life can often be made into a nightmarish, never-ending story of miscommunication. As a farang woman dating a Thai man, my relationship with my husband has always been revered for breaking the mold of the typical farang man-Thai woman scenario. But being a farang, I still face my annual battles with the Thai legal system to renew my visa. Everyone, including Thai immigration officials, recommended us registering our marriage long before our wedding and claimed how “easy” it would be. Women, supposedly, do not need to prove their income or have a large sum of money in the bank, like all farang men do when wanting to marry a Thai woman. All I needed was to get a letter of impediment from my embassy, have it translated into Thai, and then have it certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Surprisingly, every official government website and online forum we could find dealing with the issue of marriage in Thailand only covered the farang man-Thai woman dynamic. Left empty-handed, we sought out legal advice from a lawyer to help us with the translations and all proceedings. After double checking with the lawyer that all our documents were in order, I made a trip to the Bangrak District Office to then triple check. “All you need is the certified translated letter, your passport, and your 26 | F EBRUA RY 2018
partner’s Thai ID card”, said the district officer. What both the district officer and our lawyer forgot to mention was that we would also need my partner’s tabien baan (house registration documents), and a member of his family to act as a witness, along with their tabien baan, as well as the receipt for the MOFA certification. Had it not been for a recently-married friend, we would have arrived missing several important requirements. Finally, the day came and we couldn’t be more excited. Dressed in our best, we headed to the district office at 8:30am and were ready to join in holy matrimony before 100 complete strangers. Upon arrival, we submitted our documents to our lawyer and waited patiently to be called. Half an hour later our lawyer came back to us saying our application had been denied. Yet another piece of vital information that they ‘forgot’ to mention was that the law had recently changed and all women were required to submit proof of income too. To our shock, not even our lawyer was aware of this change. After another hour in a nearby bank, and with a three-month bank statement in hand, we submitted our application again only to be denied for the second time. Thankfully, the nearby Sathorn District Office was more lenient and accepted our application with a smile—a rarity in any government building. Despite common belief, just because I married a Thai man doesn’t mean I’m in the clear. The trials and tribulations of marrying into “the land of smiles” can, on occasion, wipe the smile from anyone’s face. bangkok101.com
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CITY PULSE | special report
W Bangkok hotel 28 | F EBRUA RY 2018
special report | CITY PULSE
Destination Weddings Say “I Do” to a wedding in Thailand By Kelly Harvey
InterContinental Hua Hin Resort
urrently organizing a wedding in Thailand myself, I’ve come to realize the long list of benefits of a destination wedding can have. Breathtakingly beautiful venues that boast serene natural settings but won’t break the bank; having a holiday upon arrival rather than a stress-reddened pre-wedding experience; the possibility of a mini holiday for your guests, who will also be more eager to attend; plus being far away from your home town also means a smaller and more intimate group of friends and family (so you can forget every other Tom, Dick, and Harry who are friends of your parents as well as your second aunty twice removed from the guest list). The average cost of a wedding in the United States, for instance, comes in at a whopping US$35,000 (that’s over B1 million!). Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, a wedding in Thailand can cost couples less than B200,000—not much more than US$6,000—depending on the number of guests. Destination weddings have become ever more popular as couples seek out a wedding venue that offers unique and unforgettable experiences for both bangkok101.com
themselves and their guests, while also fulfilling their wanderlust and saving some serious cash. Thailand has long been renowned as a destination wedding hotspot. Its colourful culture, idyllic scenery, incredible cuisine, warm hospitality, and affordable prices make Thailand score top marks in many couples’ books. From low-key, private weddings to grand, glamourous galas, Thailand’s resorts offer something for everyone and every budget. Most resorts also have their own expert team of wedding planners who can see to your every desire—whether it be invitations, cocktails, dinners, fireworks, fire dances, DJs or live bands, Thai classical dances, flying lanterns, private yacht charters, you name it! Hiring an experienced wedding planner makes the planning process almost effortless. For a barefoot beach wedding the options Thailand offers are almost endless. But if you want to go with an established favourite, the Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Nai Yang Beach, which in 2017 was named the “Best International Wedding Venue” at the International Hotel Awards, offers an idyllic private beach which can host both F EBRUA RY 2018 | 29
CITY PULSE | special report
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
Centara Grand at CentralWorld
Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao
intimate ceremonies and lavish celebrations. The resort also serves as an ideal destination for a honeymoon, so no need to spend your first days as a married couple travelling. For a beachfront local closer to Bangkok, the beautiful InterContinental Hua Hin Resort is well equipped to handle marriage ceremonies large and small, with 158 rooms and suites to handle even large number of guests. If you opt to stay in Bangkok itself, you also have a vast array of properties that can cater to your impending nuptials. The Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel, for instance, takes your wedding to new heights with its 11-metre high ceilings and spectacular riverside views in its iconic Grand Ballroom. Located right on the Chao Phraya River, a little downriver from the busiest section of the downtown core, this urban resort is completely removed from the hustle and bustle of the city and also offers views that are
unmatched by any other riverside venue. If glitz and glamour is more your style, check out the ultra-chic W Bangkok Hotel, which offers the choice of three lavish venues to celebrate late into the night. Couples can also enjoy a late check-out of 3pm, so you can fully enjoy your first night as husband and wife. Or, for an intimate wedding by the river, in a restored centuryold mansion, the Praya Palazzo has excellent packages available (see story on pg. 32) Finally, for a more traditional wedding, the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao offers an opulent fairy tale ballroom setting, while the Centara Grand at CentralWorld has a serene outdoor venue facility, perfect for an unforgettable tropical garden ceremony. And, of course, the stately Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok has hadâ€”since it opened in 1876â€”a long history of hosting lavish weddings.
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special report | CITY PULSE
Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Nai Yang Beach
Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel
When planning a wedding in Thailand, there are several factors that need to be kept in mind. For starters, the seasons—or lack of them—can have a huge impact on your wedding day festivities. Thailand’s rainy season runs from May through to October, with August to September often being exceptionally wet. And while the temperature is still hot during these months, afternoon downpours and flash floods can occur without a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, Thailand’s tourism “high season” occurs during the dry season (November through to April) which pushes up the prices of the resorts nationwide. The Thai calendar can also have an impact on your wedding. The selling of alcohol on religious holidays (of which there are many) is strictly prohibited, and bars and restaurants across the country too are required to stop
sales the moment the clock strikes midnight. So if you wish to pop Prosecco and Champagne until the early hours of the morning, make sure that your wedding day doesn’t fall on or before a religious holiday. When choosing your venue, also consider your guests. Make sure there are plenty of hotels and guesthouses in the surrounding area to suit every budget. Also, consider what activities are on offer, and whether or not transport can be easily arranged. Photos online can also be deceiving so make a trip to your wedding venue before your big day to ensure there are no unfortunate surprises. Last, but most importantly, there’s the paperwork. Many resorts offer legal services at an additional cost, but to ensure a stress-free day register your marriage in your home country in advance and bring your marriage certificate with you—just in case!
F EBRUA RY 2018 | 31
CITY PULSE | property profile
32 | F EBRUA RY 2018
property profile | CITY PULSE
Historic riverfront boutique hotel gets a new lease on life By Bruce Scott
f you’ve ever stood on the Phra Athit pier, most likely waiting for the orange flag Chao Phraya Express Boat, then you’ve definitely gazed upon the lemon yellow exterior of Praya Palazzo, a nearly century-old riverside mansion built in the graceful Thai-Italian architectural style that was so popular back then (during the reign of King Rama VI). The structure was built in 1923 as a private mansion, and the first owner of the property was Ammart Tho Praya Chollabhumipanich, a ThaiChinese millionaire and nobleman. He and his wife started their married life together at Ban Bang Yee Khan (the mansion’s former name), and although Praya Chollabhumipanich passed away in 1938, his family remained in the home until 1946. His son then transferred the house ownership to the Foundation for Muslim Community in Bangkok Noi, which turned the house into Rachakarun School, replacing the school’s old building that was bombed during World War II. Rachakarun School operated until 1978, but closed due to financial difficulties. Another school took over— the Indara Vocational School—but it closed soon after (in 1996). The abandoned property thus sunk into oblivion for over a decade, until it attracted the attention of Asst. Prof. Wichai Pitakvorrarat, an architect who had a strong passion for historic buildings. He teamed up with his wife to restore and renovate the building and bring it back to life. And although the renovation was a major challenge, as the building had sustained severe flood damage over time, it was reborn in 2009 under the name Praya Palazzo. Sadly, it became the last architectural masterpiece of Professor Pitakvorrarat, who passed away that same year. Since 2012 the property has operated as an elegant, 17-room bangkok101.com
boutique hotel, providing personalized services to discerning tourists seeking a unique experience that harkens back to the gentler traditions of a bygone era. However, the hoteliers running it kept such a low profile that it really wasn’t that well known as an accommodation option. That all began to change a number of months ago when management of the property fell under the aegis of the Montara Hospitality Group, owners and managers of the luxury resort Trisara in Phuket, and the new Prince Theatre Heritage Stay (also in Bangkok). The new team has already begun minor but much-needed renovations, and they’ve also launched a series of promotional packages aimed at attracting even more visitors. Guests of the Praya Palazzo can choose one of the 25 sq.m Superior Rooms, the 26 sq.m Deluxe Rooms, the 35 sq.m Junior Suites or opt for the lavish 45 sq.m Chao Phraya Suite. All units are designed in an elegant timeless style, with high ceilings, wooden furniture and flooring, and authentic antique accents (such as the period-style faucets in the bathroom, and the shuttered windows that open fully to let in the river breeze). Of course, modern amenities such as a flatscreen TV, air conditioner, minifridge, coffee maker, and Wi-Fi can also be found in all the rooms and suites. During the day guests are invited to relax poolside, watching the traffic on the river pass by, or hop on the hotel’s 24-hour shuttle boat—Praya Palazzo is accessible only by water—that takes passengers across the river to the Old City. At mealtimes the hotel’s Praya Dining provides service either indoors or outdoors by the pool overlooking the river (which is especially lovely at night under the stars). The varied lunch and dinner menu offers wonderful Royal Thai cuisine, prepared from recipes dating back to the days of King
Rama V and King Rama VI. Definitely recommended are the Traditional Green Curry with Beef or Pork (B490), served with roti bread, and the Crispy Betel Leaf with Seared Scallops and Spicy Sauce (B240). The restaurant also does a daily High Tea (B590), with a selection of savoury snacks and numerous Thai sweets. If you’re looking for a romantic vacation destination—or sexy staycation spot if you happen to live in Bangkok—this magnificent mansion will transport you to another time and place; where the pace of life is as gentle as the current of the nearby river. NOTE: The Praya Palazzo will undergo extensive renovations from June 2018 onwards, so if you’re looking for an excuse to visit before then, the hotel’s Culinary Weekend Getaway package—valid from now until the end of April—might be just the thing. With a minimum of two nights’ stay in a standard room or a suite, guests will enjoy an intimate riverside threecourse set dinner featuring authentic Thai specialties. For reservations call 081 402 8118.
757/1, Somdej Prapinklao Soi 2 Tel: 02 883 2998 www.prayapalazzo.com F EBRUA RY 2018 | 33
CITY PULSE | making merit
Lovelorn locals flock to the Trimurti Shrine, especially on Valentine’s Day By Joe Cummings/CPA Media
rung Thep, the Thai name for Bangkok, is most often translated as “City of Angels”, but a more literal translation is “City of Deities”. The sobriquet seems especially appropriate in Ratchaprasong, Bangkok’s best-known shopping area, where elaborate deity shrines stand alongside huge retail malls and luxury hotels. For international visitors, the shrines offer a fascinating glimpse into how Bangkok smoothly blends ancient and modern cityscapes.
At the Trimurti Shrine, located outside the CentralWorld shopping mall (4/4 Ratchadamri Rd), worshippers offer red roses, red candles, and red Fanta. As in many other cultures, red is associated with affairs of the heart, and it is for love that Thais pay homage to the Trimurti. At any time of day or night—but mostly at night— single young women and the occasional single male worshipper approach the shrine armed with roses, candles, and incense. They kneel for several minutes with eyes closed, clasping their hands together as they repeat the mantras inscribed on a plaque in front of the statue. 34 | F EBRUA RY 2018
Built in 1989, the Trimurti Shrine consists of not just one but three Hindu deities standing cheek by jowl on a raised platform, sheltered by a dome that is supported by four pillars and adorned with elaborately carved gables on each side. Said to be a latter-day replica of an original Trimurti sculpture that once stood in Ayutthaya, Thailand’s former royal capital, the divine triad consists of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. Cast in bronze and fully gilded, the trio of heads sit atop a slender body adorned with detailed regalia and flaring robes. In Sanskrit, Trimurti literally means “three forms”. Also known as the Great Trinity, the tripartite figure symbolizes the union of all gods. In contrast with the original intended Hindu meaning, Trimurti in Thailand has somehow come to be associated with the union of couples.
Although originally standing at the Ratchaprasong intersection at the corner of CentralWorld, the shrine was moved to its current position next to a Ganesha Shrine a number of years ago when CentralWorld underwent expansion. The shrine is most crowded on Thursday evenings around 9:30pm, thought to be the best time to ask for help finding new love or patching up a fading romance, because that’s the time of the week the deities are thought to descend from heaven to hear the prayers of supplicants. Devotees typically offer nine red roses, nine red candles, and nine incense sticks. Valentine’s Day is thought to be the most auspicious day of all, so if you’re one of the lovelorn, or if you merely want to see the Trimurti completely enveloped by devotees, pay a visit this February 14th at around 9pm. bangkok101.com
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SNAPSHOTS | insight
Kitikong Tilokwattanothai: Communicating emotions through the language of abstract art 36 | F EBRUA RY 2018
insight | SNAPSHOTS
Kitikong Tilokwattanotai B orn in a Sino-Thai family from Lampang, Kitikong Tilokwattanotai, founder and director of C.A.P. Studio (Chiang Mai Art on Paper Studio), has found beauty in abstracting words and feelings into his graphic works and paintings. Currently based in Chiang Mai, his works range from printmaking and painting, to collages, ceramics, and mixed media. “I liked art since I was young, without knowing it,” he recalls. “I drew, scribbled, and sketched all over, including the house walls and notebooks.” Kitikong studied fine arts at Chiang Mai University, eventually majoring in printmaking. “Back then I only knew drawing. I had to learn oil painting, watercolours, sculpture, printmaking, and art installation through fundamental art courses. I realized that I enjoyed and had fun making prints. We experimented—trials and error—and it was exciting to speculate how the prints would turn out. When chemical reactions and procedures yield unexpected yet interesting results, these are called ‘happy accidents’.” With his uncle’s help, Kitikong furthered his studies with a Master of Art (Printmaking) course at the College
NOW NEW NEXT Join Bangkok-born but internationally bred aesthete Dr. Tom Vitayakul as he meets with creative minds and artistic souls from both Thailand and overseas. From traditional, to contemporary and avant-garde, he finds out about the visions, inspirations, and creations of these talented individuals. bangkok101.com
of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (Australia). But there was a big learning curve ahead. “I learned a lot and became more courageous,” he notes. “I used to be introverted. I only studied, worked in the studio and library, and hung out with close friends. Suddenly I had to be more independent and mature; had to solve my own problems and learn to communicate in an unfamiliar language, English. “I frequented museums, and the galleries in Paddington. I was inspired by the environment there and that formed my style. I don’t have a ‘Thai style,’ but a combination of Chinese and Western styles.” For his finals his supervisor, Prof. Michael Kempson, challenged him to switch from realistic and figurative to the abstract genre. “I had to create something that I hadn’t done before… abstract works, and I had only two weeks,” he points out. “To people without true knowledge of art, abstraction seems like child’s play with squiggles, strokes, and lines. People often say that these works can be easily made. But I had to reflect and think hard, so I read a lot and found out— from novels and letters from friends— that written words can transpire feelings. Texts and alphabets can run a gamut of emotions which express some kinds of universal language. From the words’ and letter’s lines and curves, people can universally understand each other too. So I changed rapidly from figurative to abstract works. Already being good at various processes, I easily adapted my style. My works became exemplary for other students and earned the highest marks ever.” Since Kitikong’s return to Thailand, his work, style, and subjects have evolved, as seen in his solo and group exhibitions. They become not only graphic representations or calligraphic abstraction, but also expressions of his visions and identities. “My abstract works have changed since then because I’ve learned to understand myself more. Abstract art isn’t just about personal feelings but universal feelings. Universality can
be discussed. We don’t communicate by using languages all the time but through gestures and emotions, like tone of voice. My works try to express love, stress, relaxation, confusion, and so on within the rhythm of life and its vicissitudes. There’s more depth in the meaning of the artworks than the aesthetics, like moods and tones can give a lot of meaning without saying a word.” Kitikong also admires and is influenced by several renowned abstract artists, such as Thaiwijit Peungkasemsomboon, Gade Chawanalikikorn, Somyot Hananuntasuk, Antoni Tàpies, Jasper Johns, and Joan Miró. “Jasper Johns used symbols that became abstract. He created forms that people are familiar with, like numbers. Miró’s interpretations and influences from Chinese and Japanese calligraphy can be compared to mine, an Asian and Western combination. I love Tàpies’ works because they are very profound and strongly express his emotions and actions.” In 2003 Kitikong established C.A.P. Studio, an invitational custom printing studio and gallery which collaborates with Thai and international artists in the production of print works, and founded Jojo Kobe gallery and shop in 2014. “I love and am proud of printmaking,” he adds. “I want others to appreciate it too but I want it to grow gradually. I want to educate students, artists, audiences, and collectors about the international standards in both processes and management. I’m afraid that printing will be gone one day because it requires a lot of dedication, and patience. It isn’t as popular as painting. To make it can cost more too because of the equipment and techniques. Most people want the uniqueness of paintings and don’t understand about multiple originals and editions of prints. My vision is to see Chiang Mai as the centre of printmaking in Thailand, and even in Southeast Asia. There are many private printing studios here and with unity among the artists, we can achieve it.” F EBRUA RY 2018 | 37
SNAPSHOTS | bizarre thailand
Erecting a Tribute to a Fertility Goddess
Bangkok’s most famous phallic shrine has been moved to a new location, just down the street from its old site Words and photos by Jim Algie
hai vendors still put them at the bottom of their plastic money baskets to reap a greater cash harvest. Some men wear belts strung with them under their trousers as a kind of supernatural Viagra. Magazines devoted to amulets advertise miniature ones carved from ivory and inscribed with Khmer incantations. Buddhist monks will even bless them for you. And tucked away in a small park off Wireless Road is the remnants of Bangkok’s most notorious fertility shrine, where the phallic symbol of Hindu yore remains a potent image. Until it closed at the end of 2016 the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park was
38 | F EBRUA RY 2018
home to this shrine devoted to the fertility goddess Tubtim. The walkway leading to it was studded with wooden phalluses in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and shades—some of them stood two-metres tall, and one even had the hindquarters of a pig (which is a Chinese symbol of fertility). Many of these offerings were placed there by both men and women whose wishes were supposedly fulfilled by the goddess. Married couples came to ask the spirit-in-residence for a child. Single women prayed for a husband who would be prosperous and faithful, whereas men entreated her to help them rise above impotence.
Within walking distance of the newer and smaller shrine is Khlong Saen Saeb. Until the mid-1970s, this canal was one of the area’s commercial bloodlines where floating brothels once trawled for customers, to and fro from different piers. When the hotel was constructed in the late 1980s, they renovated the decadesold spirit house, right beside the canal, under a sacred ficus tree garlanded with sashes. One woman who prayed for a child there became pregnant, which—for fertile imaginations—gave birth to the shrine’s legacy. The ficus, or bodhi tree (held sacred by many Thais because it’s bangkok101.com
bizarre thailand | SNAPSHOTS the tree the Buddha sat under to attain enlightenment), is still there. As with many Thai ghosts—especially the female ones—Tubtim’s spirit was said to reside in the tree. That’s why there were offerings such as women’s clothes hanging from the branches. Around the trunk of the tree devotees left gifts such as make-up and dolls of classical dancers. The new location for the Tubtim Fertility Shrine is, appropriately enough, on the grounds of the Nai Lert Park Heritage Home, a miniature park and museum, with two ritzy restaurants—Ma Maison and the Lady L Garden Bistro, located in the traditional teak houses, fully renovated over three years to their original splendour. The museum is open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays with guided tours at 11am, 2pm, and 4pm. During daylight hours you can drop by to see the fertility shrine any time. The new design is more tasteful and less chaotic and obscene than the old shrine. Some Thai women still come to pray for children, though one suspects that the site now spawns more selfies than fetuses. And the original sign from the old hotel altar is still there to set the scene with the historic backstory. The renovated spirit house is buttressed by an ancient Khmer design which reveals how the shrine is rooted in the Hindu faith, as does the formal
Author Jim Algie has parlayed his experiences living in Thailand into books like the collection of short stories entitled The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand (2014), and his most recent novel, On the Night Joey Ramone Died. Check out www.jimalgie.club for more. bangkok101.com
The original Tubtim Fertility Shrine (circa 2004)
name used in Thai for these talismans: shiwa leung (literally, ‘Shiva’s penis’). Which means they’re offshoots of Shiva’s lingam. Centrepieces and objects of reverence at many Indian and Khmer temples, the lingam (Sanskrit for ‘symbol’, ‘the image of a god’, ‘phallus’ or ‘the mark of a disease’) represents the invisible omnipotence of God as well as the thrust of primal energy which started the world, and the human race, with a big almighty bang. One of the most prominent Hindu scholars of the late 20th century, the American-born Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, defined the lingam in his book Dancing with Shiva as “the most prevalent icon of Shiva, found in virtually all Shiva temples. It is a rounded, elliptical, aniconic image, usually set on a circular base, or peetham. The lingam is the simplest and most ancient symbol of Shiva, especially of Parasiva, God beyond all forms and qualities”. Smaller versions of these phallic totem poles are known as palad khik. One of my regular motorcycle taxi drivers keeps one attached to his keychain for good luck. The palad khik are the ones advertised in Thai magazines devoted to amulets; the
more elaborate talismans sell for thousands of baht. But the market beside the Tha Tien Pier in Bangkok, close to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, has a whopping selection of them, most costing only a handful of spare change. Fertility goddesses, however, demand bigger tributes, like the ones at the newly renovated shrine in Bangkok, or the poles wrapped with colourful sashes in the Princess Cave on Krabi’s tourist hotspot Railay Beach, where there’s a spirit house dedicated to the ghost of a drowned Indian princess whose ship sank off the coast. She later became something of an oceanic fertility goddess—local fishermen began to leave offerings so she would help them reel in a big catch. The phallic symbols left for these female spirits are also meant to provide them with sexual gratification. For anyone who thinks this all sounds a little too overly mystical, the original Tubtim shrine in Bangkok also inspired the strangest and most inexplicable experience I’ve ever had in Thailand, when I first went there in 2004 with my then-girlfriend. But for the rest of that sexy and twisted tale, you’ll have to read the full chapter in my book Bizarre Thailand.
This is an updated excerpt from Jim Algie's book Bizarre Thailand: Tales of Crime, Sex and Black Magic, which chronicles the strange, surreal and supernatural sides of Thailand, as well as the country’s weirdest museums and tourism attractions.
F EBRUA RY 2018 | 39
SNAPSHOTS | joe's bangkok
The Bhuthorn continues to lead the preservation of vintage Bangkok style By Joe Cummings/CPA Media
ack in 2005 the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) announced plans to turn three of the city’s original phraeng—Phraeng Sapphasat, Phraeng Nara and Phraeng Bhuthorn, lined up behind the Defence Ministry by the Ku Muang canal—into a “cultural tourism” neighbourhood. In Thai, phraeng once referred to land parcels granted to senior court officials by the King. In the case of these three phraeng (referred to collectively as Sam Phraeng), they were King Rama V’s gifts to three loyal officials named Nara, Sappasart, and Bhuthorn respectively. On the three pieces of land, the officials built two-story European style shophouse/residences, which had become very fashionable around a hundred to 150 years ago. Within each phraeng, the grantees allowed relatives and associates to add on to the property over the years, and because the land has remained in the control of the Crown Property Bureau, the neighbourhood has 4 0 | F EBRUA RY 2018
changed comparatively little over the last century. Around the same time that the BMA was looking for partners in their quest to preserve Sam Phraeng, architects Chitlada and Direk Senghluang were looking to acquire an historic property in old Bangkok. “We loved to visit historic districts in old towns in other countries, such as Luang Prabang, Laos,” says Direk. “We’ve always avoided the typical 5-star properties managed by multinational companies, typically choosing to stay at owner-managed bed-and-breakfasts or boutique hotels in such districts.” When the couple came across Phraeng Bhuthorn they were enchanted not only by the historic architecture, but by the open square in the middle of the block. Originally it had been an outdoor market but as the market became less popular and derelict, the city converted the space into a quiet green area. “One weekend we found a building fronting the apex of a triangular block.
It had been built in 1906 and occupied by Prince Bhuthorn, an official who was also a son of King Rama V. It had been registered with the Fine Arts Department since 1999, and thus couldn’t be remodelled without government approval, which we liked. But it had been used for years as a kitchen for roasting moo daeng (barbecued pork) and was in terrible condition, all smoke-stained and smelly,” says Chitlada. “Most people weren’t interested in the ruined building. It took an architect’s eye to see the potential,” she says. “The original wooden doors were gone and the wooden upper floor was in dangerous disrepair. But it was a great project for an architect.” Although the project started out as a cozy home for the couple, as the beauty and elegance of the building came to the fore, they were inspired to share the space with guests from around the world as a boutique hotel they named The Bhuthorn. The location makes it a perfect choice for anyone wanting to tour the bangkok101.com
joe's bangkok | SNAPSHOTS old city—Koh Ratanakosin—on foot. The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, National Museum, Wat Pho, Phraeng Nara Theatre, and Khao San Road are all within easy walking distance. Yet as The Bhuthorn faces the interior of the block, fronted by an open green space, it is unusually quiet for this part of the city. For three years the architect couple collected furniture, art and materials for the renovation, which then took a further two years to complete. They didn’t bother hiring a designer, choosing instead to decorate the hotel to their own tastes. “We didn’t turn it into a hotel for profit, as that’s hardly possible with only three rooms,” says Direk. “But we really wanted to share the Ratanakosin legacy. We love hearing from guests that they find it unique and charming.” The impressive renovation includes a new staircase of recycled teak, period-correct floral-pattern floor tiles, old maps and prints, crystal chandeliers and a rotating collection of antique furniture and accessories. They left the old brick walls intact, and where plaster needed to be replaced they used traditional stucco from Ayutthaya, prepared with an archaic filling of molasses and other organic ingredients, to help ventilate heat and moisture. Wherever possible, the original structures were maintained, including
Joe’s Bangkok Award-winning writer Joe Cummings was born in New Orleans but became one of Lonely Planet’s first guidebook authors, creating the seminal Lonely Planet Thailand guide, as well as several other titles and updates for the region. Each month, he picks out his favourite cultural gems throughout Bangkok. bangkok101.com
masonry wall bearings, the upper wooden floor and windows, the metal balusters, and the gingerbread roof eaves, all typical of old shophouses in this area. Where necessary they made new replicas of materials from the past, such as the kite tiles for the roof. The electrical system was completely re-wired for safety, and the all-new bathrooms feature vintage-style toilets and sinks paired with modern functionality. The three guestrooms are named for the three princes who occupied the phraeng. The Salapasart, the only guestroom on the ground floor, features high windows and is decorated in British colonial style with old teak and rattan furniture. The Bhuthorn room, the largest of the three, occupies part of the upper floor overlooking the green space in the centre of Phraeng Bhuthorn and features a blue and white colour scheme, antique four-poster bed, old teak wardrobe and a handmade
mosaic lavatory. The Nara, the most lively-looking of the three rooms, is also on the upper floor and is distinguished by a sleeping loft that overlooks the main sitting area. It also has windows overlooking The Bhuthorn’s tiny courtyard below. Sam Phraeng is well known among Thai street food gourmets, and from The Bhuthorn it’s easy to reach many famed eateries. Nattaphorn, one of the city’s best vendors of homemade coconut ice cream, is next door to the hotel. Close by are Yentafo Nai Ouan (opposite Bangkok Bank), known for rice noodle soup prepared with fermented soy, and Khrua Apsorn (alongside the BMA building), a classic all-around Thai eatery.
96-98 Phraeng Bhuthorn Rd. San Chao Pho Seua, Phra Nakhon Tel: 02 622 2270 www.thebhuthorn.com F EBRUA RY 2018 | 41
SNAPSHOTS | very thai
How soi life became retro heritage – Part 3
long-overdue institutions—such as the TCDC (Thailand he concept of “Thainess” stirs debate because it has Creative and Design Centre), MuseumSiam, and OTOP craft always been political. Its phases were responses to fairs—which promoted Thai Thai as an under-appreciated ever broader social upheavals. The aristocrats who asset. Eventually, the establishment had to appropriate were going inter embodied siwilai. Nationalism was the urban culture, which had become an unavoidable reality, tool to absorb immigrants and minorities. Bureaucracy and encountered every day by everyone in every soi. militarism reflect the officials who took power in 1932. Field Motorsai (motorcycle taxis) epitomize that embrace. Ever Marshal Sarit Thanarat’s ‘despotic paternalism’ was allied since the 2006 coup—and the role of motorsai as cavalry in to rising Thai-Chinese tycoons. The supervised ‘Thai-style demonstrations—propaganda videos, posters, and slogans democracy’ responded to the 1970s liberal protests. The idyll have featured idealized motorsai drivers, of self-sufficient rural folk arose in the virtuous vendors, dutiful guards, saintly 1980s to woo peasants from Communism. sweepers, diligent students, and patriotic The 1992 protests asserted middle-class proletarians. They’re portrayed being patriotism and consumerism. Thai Thai Thais together, whether helping to push culture’s growth, since 2000, reflects the a broken bus or joining in teary national heft of lower-class votes. Thainess may moments. Election posters had been the yet fully absorb a digital identity, but even preserve of white official uniforms and the 2006-8 junta treated cyberspace graduation gowns, but in a previously as a threat to the national narrative. unthinkable shift the coup regime put Meanwhile, the 2014 coup brought motorsai on referendum posters. the strongest crackdown on liberalism Outlaw status in the chaotic informal since 1976 and imposed a centralized, economy brought a certain freedom, but disciplinarian nationalism that evokes with acceptance into the mainstream Sarit, and restricts political, social, cultural, comes a creeping conformity. Thaksin and online space more than ever before. standardizing the seua win was one salvo One skill of Thainess has been Lanna traditional culture in trying to turn the informal sector—riven to breeze through reversals and with mafia, delighting in tax-free flexibility—into registered contradictions as if it had always been that way. Bangkok professions. Regulation now gradually extends to vendors, has granted some multiculturalism—as long as it’s branded buskers, streetfood sellers, tattoo artists, and fortune tellers. as Thai, not separate. A Northern renaissance has been With rules come duties, and the wild soi culture is becoming tolerated since the 1990s, and repackaged as ‘Lanna’. less renegade as cultural frontiers get pushed further out. Resurgent Northeastern identity has avoided the label ‘Lao’ Each time Thainess embraces new groups, all must defer in favour of ‘Isaan’. Growing Sino-Thai pride became overt to the hierarchy. By the same token, withholding deference in the 2000s. Admitting the central role of the Chinese in exposes Thainess to question. Since the 1970s, media, urban culture was a key to validating Thai Thai, as was the academia, and the politically engaged have increasingly 1997 economic crash. When imports became less affordable, debated how pivotal Thainess is to most national issues. A designers turned to indigenous folk resources as a source flood of articles by Thais probe the national ideology under of chic, from spa herbalism to recycled furniture. Village such titles as “Thai identity revisited”, “The politics of unways that had been denigrated as un-Thai, or taboo, were Thainess”, “What is it, this Thai-ness?”, and “The unbearable re-legitimized as phoom panya thai—Thai local wisdom. lightness of being Thai”. Acceptance of Thai Thai also required a push. Just as the Even some institutions admit the need to pose such professional and middle classes had earlier reshaped Thainess questions. “How real is true Thainess? What on earth after demanding a say in power, the semi-skilled masses does it mean? Were the cavemen Thai?” asks a panel at gained cultural recognition after protesting and voting for MuseumSiam, which for a decade now has showcased the their own interests. That opportunity was seized by Thaksin country’s diversity. Shinawatra, partly through populism, but also by founding
> Very Thai
River Books by Philip Cornwel-Smith with photos by John Goss and Philip Cornwel-Smith B995 42 | F EBRUA RY 2018
Now in its expanded, updated 2nd edition, “Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture” is a virtual bible on Thai pop culture, and an influential must-read among foreigners and many Thais. Its 70 chapters and 590 photographs guide you on an unconventional Technicolor tour of the quirky things that make Thailand truly Thai. This column is based on different chapter every month. Prepare yourself for the sideways logic in what seems exotic, and buy a copy of the new edition at any good bookshop. bangkok101.com
SNAPSHOTS | heritage
Nang Loeng Market Rediscovering this well-preserved, century-old structure Words and photos by Luc Citrinot
ne of the most authentic and oldest markets of Bangkok is often neglected by travellers, perhaps because it is located between two tourist areas—Ratchadamnoen and Rattanakosin Island on one side, and Yaowarat and Siam on the other side—so it gets lost in the shuffle. However, it’s high time to rediscover this well-preserved market, which is over a century old. Nakhon Sawan Road is a large artery which links Rama I Road, via Krung Kasem Road, to the Old City’s many government buildings. This is probably the reason why tourists tend to neglect this road, with its series of pale purple buildings built in European style. This is Nang Loeng Market, a structure built in 1900 which has barely changed over the last ten decades. The market was directly inspired by the ones seen by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) during 4 4 | F EBRUA RY 2018
his trips to Europe. He had been impressed by the covered markets there—modern structures of iron and glasses. Once back in Thailand the King charged the Department of Public Works to develop what could then be considered as Bangkok’s first purpose-built market in a walkable area of town, in the vicinity of the Dusit district. At that time, most of Bangkok’s traditional markets were floating ones, plying their trade along the Chao Praya River. Nang Loeng Market was part of a vast urbanization plan to turn the Dusit district into a new administration and residential area, modelled after European urban criteria. The location of the market was chosen due to the proximity of the rail station and palaces in Dusit. The 1900 architecture is still visible today with its two-storey shophouses surrounding large halls where the market’s sellers settled. Nang Loeng
Market was linked by a tramway and became an extremely popular place for shopping. Originally, a Mon ethnic population settled in the area, selling water in jars (‘E-Loeng’), which actually gave its name to the market. However, the construction of the market turned the area into an extremely cosmopolitan place, and Thais and Chinese joined the local Mon population there. The Chinese community was, as usual, involved in trading. Their influence is still very visible with numerous old signage in Chinese characters still to be seen today, while a Chinese shrine is also located inside the Market Hall. It was only installed in 1959 and testifies of the importance of the Chinese community there. In the midst of the market stands a statue of Prince Abhakorn Chumphon, surrounded by offers and flowers. A theatre was also integrated to the market by 1918. It bangkok101.com
heritage | SNAPSHOTS
Paris native Luc Citrinot has lived in Southeast Asia for the past 12 years, first in Kuala Lumpur and more recently in Bangkok. A seasoned traveller, he writes about tourism, culture, and architecture. He was instrumental on a recent EU-endorsed project to establish the European Heritage Map of Bangkok and subsequent app covering all of Thailand. Luc still travels extensively in Southeast Asia, looking particularly for new architectural gems related to colonial and European history. bangkok101.com
showed movies until 1993, but was subsequently closed. Today the place is not open to the public as it serves as a private warehouse. However, its characteristic wooden structure remains and can be seen from outside. The market is, today, mostly dedicated to food items and it still remains famous for its specialties. Among them are So Samran noodles, with duckling in a five-spice sauce, as well as Rungruang noodle and grilled duckling. Many traditional Thai desserts are also available here as well. A seating area has been built in the middle of the market where visitors can sample local food from the various stalls. The area was carefully restored in 2006 by the Royal Crown Property, which helped to highlight again the stucco and old columns of the market area. Behind the market, one of the alleys connects to an interesting historical temple, Wat Sommanat Rajavaravihara. A rather low profile
temple, this Wat was constructed around 1853 by King Rama IV, and renovated later during King Rama V's reign. There are distinctive European architectural features in the cloisters, and monksâ€™ quarters surrounding the main hall (ubosot). Inside the main hall, visitors can also admire beautiful murals. Nang Loeng represents a lasting memory of old Bangkok. Better to rush to see it before some real estate tycoons feel interested to redevelop the area. And at the same time, it is a great way for experiencing authentic gastronomy in Bangkok. VISITOR INFO: Nang Loeng Market is open every day, generally from 10am to 3pm. However, some shops open as early as 6am and some close after 4pm. The market is located along Nakhon Sawan Road and is easily accessible from Hua Lamphong MRT Station, BTS National Stadium, or Democracy Monument by taxi or bicycle. F EBRUA RY 2018 | 45
Photo by Bruce Scott
The white sand beaches of Koh Samui continue to attract hordes of holiday makers
KOH SAMUI 101 A
s the 2nd largest island in Thailand, after Phuket, KOH SAMUI is one of the jewels in the Kingdom’s tourism crown. It sits peacefully within the protected confines of the Gulf of Thailand—just below Koh Phangan and just above the provincial capital of Surit Thani—and its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, dense mountainous inland rainforest, not to mention an ever-growing selection of luxury resorts and posh spas, continue to attract tourists (in ever increasing numbers!). Glamorous getaway properties such as the VANA BELLE, the HANSAR SAMUI RESORT & SPA, and the W RETREAT KOH SAMUI are prime spots for über-luxury vacations, but there’s such a vast selection of hotels to choose from—in all price categories—that travellers are, quite literally, spoilt for choice. So whether you lean towards the Ibizia party vibe of BEACH REPUBLIC, or prefer the family friendly atmosphere at the NOVOTEL SAMUI RESORT, you’re bound to find your proverbial “place in the sun”. Getting to the island is easy enough if you travel with BANGKOK AIRWAYS (the airline which built, and thus owns, Koh Samui’s only airport), but access by sea is also an option. Ferries to Koh PhaNgan arrive and depart from the BIG BUDDHA PIER (located not far from the airport), while high-speed ferries travelling to and from Koh Tao, Koh PhaNgan, and the Surit Thani mainland depart from the MAENAM BEACH PIER (approximately 6 km northwest of the airport). One of the island’s main tourism hubs is CHEWANG BEACH, a 7 km stretch of white sand located on the island’s eastern side, not far from the main airport. There are loads of accommodation options here, as well as a colourful nightlife scene that offers everything from ladyboys letting loose at the STARZ CABARET show at the Chaweng Hotel, to fierce Muay Thai boxing bouts at PHETCH BUNCHA STADIUM. A lot of the bar and restaurant action here is centered around the main beach road (also known as Moo 2) which features plenty of Thai food joints as well as international fare. For a mix of both cuisines—as well as great specialty coffees—check out THE COFFEE CLUB, which has an outlet on Moo 2 as well as a branch in the nearby CENTRAL FESTIVAL MALL (where shoppers can get their retail fix). Of course, many seasoned travellers lament the undeniable over-development of Koh Samui, but it’s worth noting that the central part of the island is still mostly unspoiled tropical jungle. Here you’ll find KHAO POM, the island’s largest mountain, which measures 635 metres. Another vertically impressive landmark—this time man-made—is the 12-metre-high golden BIG BUDDHA statue at WAT PHRA YAI TEMPLE. Samui is also full of attractions offering exotic thrills, many involving wild animals. If you’re ethically opposed to things like riding an elephant through the jungle on a pseudotropical safari, or posing for photos with overly languid tigers, then stick to fun at the beach. But if you do want to seek out some wild wildlife, there are carnivalesque thrills and chills a-plenty at places like the SAMUI SNAKE FARM, a freaky, old-school, off-thebeaten-track roadside attraction located near TALING NGAM BEACH, on the southwest end of the island. The guys here look like they’ve had one too many snake and scorpion bites, but they still dutifully put on shows every hour, starting at 11am. For a more involved wildlife adventure, try soaring through the jungle interior with CANOPY ZIP LINE ADVENTURES—featuring six different cable rides—and see the secret waterfalls and lush rainforests from above. There’s also some more culturally significant animal attractions, including the annual BUFFALO FIGHTING FESTIVAL, held on New Year’s Day and Songkran, where bucking bovines are decorated with ribbons and gold-painted leaves. But for many, Samui is synonymous with nothing more complicated than umbrella drinks, sun drenched vistas, and pure pleasurable indulgence.
TRAVEL | see & do koh samui
What to See, What to Do After hitting the beach, check out these local attractions By Nadia Willan
ANG THONG MARINE PARK: If you can ignore the en masse tourist vibe of speedboats setting out to the beautiful Ang Thong National Marine Park, then this really is a bit of a must-do trip for any visitor to the region. The islands of this archipelago dot the clear waters northwest of Koh Samui, and a snorkel stop at Koh Wao reveals coral reefs and colourful marine life. Once inside the park itself, a hot and sweaty trek upwards takes you to the ultimate reveal, the famed Emerald Lake at Koh Mae Koh (Mother Island). Surrounded by cliffs, and with a white sand sea bed, the saltwater lagoon shines a brilliant green, sparkling like the ‘Emerald City of Oz’, far, far from home. In all there are 42 islands in this protected paradise, and heading past Monkey Island, and onwards to Wua Talap (Sleeping Cow Island), kayaking, swimming, or trekking along a jungle trail are classic tourist pursuits. However, lying under the shade of a tree on the green grass and watching the spider monkeys at play is perhaps as active as some visitors want to get. Park entrance fee is B300 for adults and B150 for children, but is often built in to the price of most boat tours. NA MUANG WATERFALLS: These waterfalls—there are two of them and both are referred to as Na Muang—are pleasant enough for a mini photo-shoot and a cool dip. It’s about a two-minute stroll to the first waterfall, which measures 18 metres high, and just a little further to the second, is much more impressive as the water gushes from a height of 80 metres. Translated as “purple water”, the falls are actually so named because of the colour of the rocks. Locals love to come here for swimming and picnicking. In addition, between Na Muang 1 and 2 is the Na Muang Safari Park, which features elephant rides as well as monkey shows and other entertainment that kids especially will enjoy. 48 | FEBRUARY 2018
FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE: Located at Bophut Beach, Fisherman’s Village is one of Samui’s most-talked about visitor hotspots, yet it is surprisingly cool and touristy—in the best way possible. The shops, bars, and restaurants are open each night, whilst the night market adds to the vibrant atmosphere on Fridays. The drinking holes are trendy yet chilled out joints, and there is a surprisingly mellow vibe with a slight boho edge.
see & do koh samui | TRAVEL SAMUI REGATTA: From flyboarding to kite surfing, jet-skiing to scuba diving, Samui is intrinsically all about the fun to be had on the water. Trips to the island in late May also offer visitors the chance to catch sight of some simply stunning yachts at the annual five-day Samui Regatta; showcasing the crème-de-la-crème of Asian sailing beauties, from single hull day cruisers to immense multi-hulls. The next one is scheduled to take place from May 26th to June 2nd. At the 2017 event—which ran from May 19th to 28th— around 500 sailors descended on Samui, complete with a spectator catamaran reached a few nautical miles from shore, beach parties, and a gala dinner finale for yachties and those with a passion for sailing. 2018 will mark the regatta’s 17th year, and the event has become a competition of international repute, adding to the appeal of the island as a luxe destination for sports tourism. The climate and winds in this part of Thailand make sailing a pleasure and an exhilarating challenge for yachting aficionados and novice sailors alike. To find out more about this year’s upcoming regatta, visit: www.samuiregatta.com. ROCK STARS: Samui’s famous Hin Ta and Hin Yai, commonly referred to as “grandfather and grandmother rocks”, are visually interesting and warrant a peek if you happen to be nearby. The two separate formations resemble—in an artistic sense—the private regions of a man and woman, and have been turned into a folklore tale involving a shipwreck, a marriage proposal, and a symbol of everlasting love.
WAT KHUNARAM: Located in the Lamai Beach area, Wat Khunaram is famed for its resident ‘Mummified Monk’. Locally born Luong Pho Daeng, who passed away in his late 70s in the early ‘70s, is on show in a glass case at the temple’s Buddhist shrine. In a meditative pose, the monk is so wellpreserved that he still has some hair nearly 45 years after his passing. There is something fascinatingly eerie yet spiritually uplifting about this enduring symbol of Buddhist culture, and his retro sunglasses add a Thai quirky touch. SECRET BUDDHA GARDEN: A real highlight to any Koh Samui sightseeing tour is the Secret Buddha Garden which is, in reality, more of a small beauty spot than a garden to stroll around. In this private sculpture park set atop, Khao Pom—at 635 metres it’s one of the highest peaks on the island—sculptures of humans and deities in and around a stream and waterfall depict classic Thai stories. The effect is magical, combining a fairytale feel in a jungle setting, found up an off-road drive with amazing views over the whole island along the way. The timeless tranquillity of the garden (which is owned by a fruit-farming family) and the animal stone carvings therein seems to resonate with visitors on some deeper inner level. bangkok101.com
FEBRUARY 2018 | 49
TRAVEL | focus on koh samui
Whether you’re looking to stick to new year’s resolutions while on holiday, or you’re ready for a full-on lifestyle overhaul, Samui has plenty of options for the healthy traveller By Cici Meis
lthough Koh Samui is primarily known for a plethora of tourist attractions and luxury resorts, travellers seeking nourishing meals, calming atmospheres, and spiritual transformations needn’t venture far. From traditional Muay Thai gyms, vegan restaurants with locally sourced ingredients, and all-inclusive natural detox centres—most of which are set against a stunning tropical backdrop—this island begs to be considered as the perfect place to rejuvenate both mind and body.
WHERE TO EAT For hungry guests in search of healthier options, Sweet Sisters Café is prime. Don’t be dissuaded by the distance— about 20 km from Chaweng—or their underwhelming website, because the charming piglet decor and handcrafted food is more than worth the motorbike or songthaew trip. Natural elements interwoven with comfortable seating, and strong Wi-Fi signal, means productivity is as important as enjoyment. Upon entering, guests are greeted with the salivating scents of freshly
full of raw vegan, Thai, and European specialties that are almost too beautiful to eat—such as chia pudding jars layered with a rainbow of grains, fruits, and spices. When doing sunrise yoga works up an appetite, opt for the impressive brunch buffet here: buckwheat pancakes, quinoa salads, yogurt with a selection of nut, fruit and grain toppings, scrambled eggs, avocados, and freshly pressed juices spread across several large tables. The cliffside restaurant setting, with uninterrupted ocean views, invites guests to mingle and relax before an open-air meditation session in the afternoon. For the adventurous travellers, night markets and sidewalk food carts can be found sprinkled throughout the island. Vendors offer a selection of local fruits and vegetables, vegan treats, and juices. Many of the night market stalls sell homemade goods, such as carved incense holders and Jenga sets—because who needs another refrigerator magnet souvenir?
WHERE TO GET MOVING Samui’s first health and fitness camp, Fitkoh—located in Maenam—offers a variety of all-inclusive programmes aimed at weight loss, Muay Thai training, or total body transformation. Onsite kitchens offer organic meals packed with protein to aid the recovery process (if you choose the VIP package, the meals come included). For the savvy chef, small but fully equipped kitchen areas come in each bungalow. Of course, if you’re just looking for a few fitness classes, Fitkoh welcomes drop-ins for a quick sweat sesh.
Sweet Sisters Café
baked organ ic cookies, roasted espresso beans, and a cheery smile from the owner Noy and her staff. Fish cakes come highly recommended, but don’t forget to pick up some Thai chocolate or premade baking mixes at Noy’s organic shop next door. Indulge in one of the best organic brunches on the island at Life Cafe. Spearheaded by award-winning chefs Boris Lauser and Cyril Shivo, their fusion menu is chock 50 | FEBRUARY 2018
Ultra Bodies Samui bangkok101.com
focus on koh samui | TRAVEL
Muay Thai training
Vikasa Yoga Retreat
Conveniently located in the centre of Lamai Beach road, Ultra Bodies Samui is a two-storey fitness centre offering versatile packages starting with a B170 day pass. Open daily from 8am to 9pm, the centre is equipped with the typical offerings: treadmills, free weights, and resistance machines. With complimentary towel service, as well as organic wheat grass, electrolyte, and protein shakes available for purchase at the front desk, Ultra Bodies is an easy way to stick to your fitness goals. The Lamai Muay Thai Camp, supported by the World Muay Thai Council, is lauded as the oldest and most established training facility on the island. With Lamai Beach as a backdrop, guests can expect an intense workout while learning a mixture of ancient and modern fighting techniques from world-class trainers, Customizable packages are available based on the guest’s experience and fitness backgrounds. And yes, the signature Muay Thai shorts are available for purchase in the onsite store. Of course, with more than 10 waterfalls on the island, trekking through the jungle is a great way to exercise while taking in the sights. Maenam 1 and 2 are popular waterfall destinations, but for more secluded getaways, take a drive through the Maenam cut-through where the roads are steep but the views are breathtaking. Some of the hikes can be strenuous, so pack solid trekking shoes and plenty of water and snacks.
Health Oasis Resort
beachfront suites where daily massages, aromatherapy treatments, and steam room treatments are the norm. Vegetarian meals are served using local ingredients, and cooking classes are offered for those looking to take some culinary tips home after the programme.
WHERE TO TRANSFORM Indulge in a signature yoga vacation at Vikasa Yoga Retreat. Located cliff-side in between Chaweng and Lamai, this retreat offers all-inclusive packages with unlimited yoga and meditation classes (all equipment and props included), meals made by award-winning chefs, and private rooms with jaw-dropping views of the ocean. Unlike many yoga retreats with set dates, Vikasa runs on a rolling schedule 365 days per year, and welcomes other yoga instructors to host classes during their visit. Of course, guests with accommodations elsewhere can still eat at the resort’s Life Cafe, and/or pop in for a beachside yoga class. Open since 1997, Health Oasis Resort is an all-inclusive detox centre specializing in weight loss, stress-relief, and “total transformation” programmes. Guests can opt for bangkok101.com
Big Buddha statue
Like the rest of Thailand, Samui has a multitude of temples, which satisfy both cultural and spiritual interests. Travellers looking to quiet the soul might head to Big Buddha, located at the northeastern tip of the island, a popular attraction. But other temples such as Wat Ratchathammaran in its sparkling gold splendor, and Wat Plai Laem are equally as stunning and offer quiet meditation areas. Remember that guests are advised to cover their shoulders and knees before entering the temple. FEBRUARY 2018 | 51
TRAVEL | out & about: hua thanon
Slow Life Samui
Exploring the predominantly Muslim fishing village of Hua Thanon By Cici Meis
ast the bustling streets of tourist haven Chaweng, and past the increasingly popular beaches of Lamai— near the southeastern corner of Koh Samui—sits Hua Thanon, a predominantly Muslim village and home to the island’s only mosque and last remaining fisherman fleet. Green and gold turrets, a crescent moon symbol, and colourful longboats give glimpses of long-held traditions on an island teeming with modern tourist attractions.
A welcome respite from the more commercialized parts of the island, Hua Thanon draws travellers in search of a quiet excursion or holiday. Overnight visitors book in at the Tiki Tiki Beach Hostel resort, where Holland-born owner Bart and his wife Rose can often be found chatting with guests around the infinity pool or prepping for a live DJ on Mondays and Thursdays. Meanwhile, for expats arriving in search of a quiet place to work, The Content Castle is a house purpose-built for writers with uniquely affordable residencies. Or, pull up a seat at one of the English coffee shops, where espresso and Wi-Fi are in endless supply.
In one corner, partially hidden behind a pharmacy and 7/11, is a local fish market, where travellers can buy fresh produce and the “catch of the day”. A short distance from the market is the great Guan Yu Shrine, a famous Chinese military general erected to celebrate a life of bravery in the 200s CCE. The Samui version is smaller than similar shrines found throughout China, but no less imposing when illuminated at night. Inside, a Chinese Buddhist shrine to both him and many other heroes draws considerable crowds. The area is mostly quiet, save for the Wednesday night street market where more than 40 vendors line up under the illuminated eye of Guan Yu to offer delicacies such as: crispy pancakes with raisins, honey, and coconut shavings; grilled chicken and pork skewers (hot and just the right amount of spicy); and a variety of soups, stews, fresh fruit, and trinkets. Live music draws the crowd to waters’ edge, where shored longboats wait for a new day asea. 52 | FEBRUARY 2018
Despite some modern businesses, Hua Thanon remains largely undisturbed. It’s a place where family businesses are passed down through generations—places like Ancient Noodle, an indoor-outdoor Thai restaurant where regulars often stop for a quick Tom Yum in a bag, or a large B20 Thai iced coffee on their way to work. Or there’s the unnamed beauty salon—discernible only from the aqua blue awning—where three or four women sit chatting while waiting for 80 baht blowouts. Here, time moves a little slower, and wide smiles await locals and travellers alike. bangkok101.com
out & about: hua thanon | TRAVEL
When worlds collide: Hua Thanon’s French-Thai fusion restaurant By Savannah Liu
he sleepy village known as Hua Thanon provides a glimpse—if only for a brief moment—into what life once was like for local Thai people before the influx of mass tourism. However, even this off-the-beaten-track enclave has been receiving some modern, Western-style flourishes as of late. If hunger strikes while visiting this predominantly Muslim out-of-the-way outpost, go past the Chinese hanging lanterns, further than the fisherman’s kor lae boats, but before the tiger zoo—that’s another story—and you’ll stumble upon a French Thai fusion restaurant, aptly named Vitamin Sea. Dark polished wood contrasts against the turquoise wall paint, and a kitsch water feature oozes instant charm. Lulling hungry guests along a small winding path, it leads to an intimate setting awash with a refreshing sea breeze—a welcome accompaniment after a long day in the Samui sun. The restaurant overlooks the beach where guests are invited to take a post-dinner walk along the sand. Long wooden benches sit conveniently close to the bar, ideal for group dinners and sophisticated drinks towards the end of a trip, and the upper floor boasts resplendent views out to sea. Owned and managed by Belgian native Luc Vervaeke, the restaurant carves out authentic dishes courtesy of Chef Walh Wa. Raw shrimp carpaccio, French Bourgogne snails, and red tuna tartare comprised of home-grown fresh herbs and vegetables provide just a miniscule bangkok101.com
glimpse of the culinary experience to be had here. Fiercely passionate about his food, Luc can often be found mingling with guests. A true culinary connoisseur, he welcomes and educates all those who walk into his restaurant and provides an excellent service. His wife also works on-site to ensure authentic Thai food is ate by those that dine here. In short, it’s a true fusion establishment. Regarded by locals as one of the most audacious French restaurants on the island—and there are many—the food truly is as good as it looks. Vibrant hues of orange and purple dressings, fresh pink shrimp, and luminous green leaves decorate the plates in clever constructions. Above the average price point of other restaurants in the area, the food is almost, but not quite, too good to eat. The Croquettes Maison aux Trois Fromages (B240 for two, B360 for three), homemade croquettes with a trio of French cheeses, also available in seafood and serrano ham, are new to the menu. Another recent addition is the Cold Smoked Duck Breast Salad (B240) with exotic tartar sauce. A fine dining experience in the heart of a humble village, Vitamin Sea does nothing short of impress tourists and locals alike. Playing on every one of the senses, the restaurant displays a fervor that runs through the heart of Luc and his family, and onto the plates of his guests. And who doesn’t need a dose of ‘Vitamin Sea’ once in a while? www.facebook.com/vitaminsearesort FEBRUARY 2018 | 53
TRAVEL | made in thailand
Koh Samui’s only craft distillery is set in a laid-back tropical paradise By Craig Sauers
raft spirits only went from fringe to cool in the past couple of years, bringing small-batch labels to prominence across Thailand. For 15 years, though, Koh Samui has been ahead of the curve. Long before the trend took off, a distillery now known as Koh Samui Rum started producing small-batch spirits from local sugarcane in the island’s south-eastern nook. The original operation, Magic Alambic was founded in 2003 by Elisa and Michel Gabrel, two retired fruit growers from Gers (Southern France), who had relocated to Thailand to produce spirits from the island’s native fruit. Unsuccessful, the couple started making rhum agricole, a kind of French Caribbean rum produced from fresh-squeezed sugarcane juice rather than molasses, and named their brand after the copper alembic still they had shipped over from Armagnac, France. In 2014, a French expat named Ludovic Trantoul took over the distillery, rebranded it Koh Samui Rum, and otherwise kept on producing the same great spirits. Available in four flavours—orange, coconut, pineapple, and natural—the spirits come in at 40 proof and pack a wallop. The two most popular are the all-natural flavour, which showcases the quality of the Nakhon Sri Thammarat sugarcane it’s made from, and the coconut flavour. The latter derives a tropical aroma and extra layer of taste from the coconut meat it’s steeped with for months at a time. Guests are invited to take a self-guided tour of the distillery. To be fair, the tour doesn’t really offer much in terms of experience: it’s pretty much gazing at a fire54 | FEBRUARY 2018
engine red still (above right), and a few photographs of the folks in charge. Don’t expect any explanations, either— you’re on your own during the tour. You should visit Koh Samui Rum for other reasons, though. The distillery occupies a parcel of land so far off the island’s main strip that “blink and you’ll miss it” doesn’t even apply. If you want to visit, you’ll have to rent a vehicle. As you pull up to a restaurant covered in coconut thatch, surrounded by a grove of towering coconut palms, you might start to feel the aura that attracted the Gabrels and Trantoul to Koh Samui. On Sundays, stop by for the weekly BBQ. The feast is popular among the island’s expat community, especially its French population, all perhaps wistful for other islands as they devour fresh-cooked French and Caribbean dishes. While there, you can sample all four flavours of Koh Samui Rum (B60 per shot). Try them with the distillery’s excellent syrup, a proprietary blend of brown sugar, lime, and spices—a simple but perfect cocktail. Bottles go for a mere B280-380. It’s worth it to buy a couple of bottles of the natural flavour, as well as some of the syrup, so you can make your own sundowners on the beach each afternoon.
Koh Samui Rum
44/5 Mu 3, Baan Bang Kao Open: Mon-Sun, 9am-6pm | Tel: 09 1816 7416 www.rum-distillery.com | www.facebook.com/rumdistillery bangkok101.com
where to stay koh samui | TRAVEL
Four Seasons Koh Samui Dine in style, unwind in the spa, then relax in your private pool villa
lthough the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is perfect for a relaxing, chilled-out, carefree holiday, it’s also a place where you can keep very busy if you want to. Just reading the resort’s daily activities list makes it clear that there’s no end of things to do here—rain or shine. From spa treatments to an array of sports activities and one-of–kind dining experiences, this beachfront paradise delivers plenty of choice. The resort’s design scheme displays a playful use of aquamarine colours in the décor of all 60 pool villa units—from the family-friendly Beachfront Pool Villas and the lavish multi-bedroom Residence Villas with Pool. Couples, meanwhile, will especially enjoy the romantic, and very private One Bedroom Pool Villas (of which there are 22), which offer 60 sq.m of high-ceilinged indoor space, a spacious 43 sq.m outdoor hardwood deck, and a 15 sq.m private infinity pool with decorative fountain. All units also include all the luxury amenities you’d expect in a 5-star property, such as flatscreen TV, Wi-Fi, premium toiletries, bathrobes, etc. The overall property is quite bangkok101.com
large, and much of it is built on the hillside, but a squadron of on-call electric buggies is always available to take you up and down the steep slopes. The trip down to the beach is quick, and here the gently curved stretch of white sand with shallow water is perfect for swimming, kayaking, or upright paddling. Dining options abound at this resort, and a variety of new and interesting promotions is guaranteed to entice visitors. The exclusive Sunday Brunch, for instance, at Koh Thai Kitchen—perched atop a palm-clad hill and cooled by pure sea breezes— offers a gourmet gamut of gastronomic delicacies, while live jazz provides the perfect Sunday soundtrack. Brunch packages are: B2,700 (food only); B3,300 (includes glass of sparkling wine); and B4,200 (includes free-flow beverages, including house wines, cocktails beer, and more). For meals closer to the beach, Pla Pla (meaning “many fish” in Thai), is an 80-seat lunch and dinner restaurant with a fan-cooled deck and open-air terrace. Another venue overlooking the beach, as well as the beachfront swimming pool, is CoCoRum Bar &
Restaurant. The seating at this fun and funky covered cocktail bar consists mainly of colourful daybeds and cushioned rattan wingback chairs built for two. Come on Wednesdays for ‘Ladies Night’ where gals can enjoy 2 for 1 drinks all evening. And if you like sugarcane spirits, you have to visit new pirate-inspired Rum Vault—where a prison door opens into a cozy tasting room with a stellar collection of “imprisoned” rums from across the world. Finally, take time to relax and unwind with a body beautiful treatment at The Secret Garden Spa. The newly-launched ‘Intuitive Massage’ is aimed at curing ailments with a combination of acupressure, trigger point therapy, hands-on healing, and soft and deep massage. It works miracles on lifestyle problems such as frozen shoulder, back ache, and neck pain and more. by Bruce Scott
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
219, Moo 5 Angthong Tel: 07 724 3000 www.fourseasons.com/kohsamui FEBRUARY 2018 | 55
TRAVEL | where to stay koh samui
Conrad Koh Samui Sophistication and seclusion in equal parts at this glamorous getaway
hen you arrive the reception lobby of the Conrad Koh Samui resort, perched high atop a sloping oceanfront hillside, the panoramic vista that presents itself—looking out over an endless expanse of clear, blue-green waters—is jaw-dropping. It’s also just a small taste of the pleasures that await at this glamorous getaway. In the hotel world, Conrad is a name synonymous with luxury, elegance, and style, so it’s no surprise that even at the beachfront, an air of sophistication prevails—although sandals and bare feet are more than fine when it comes to apparel. The resort has 81 free-standing villas, all with private balconies, swimming pools, and commanding ocean views, yet it stills feels immensely private and secluded— welcome news for couples planning a lover’s getaway. The property itself is situated on the Southwestern tip of the
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island, which makes for amazing sunset views, as the villas are all built on the ocean-facing slope of this dramatic hillside. This vertical positioning also means more steeply inclined paved paths for guests to travel up and down, when going to or from the beach, restaurant, or spa, but thankfully the resort’s 24-hour on-call electric golf cart service can do all the transport work for you. The guest accommodations here consist mainly of One Bedroom Pool Villas (65 in all), but there are also 14 Oceanview Two-Bedroom Pool Villas, and one Oceanview Three-Bedroom Pool Villa for larger groups. However, your significant other will be eating out of your hand if you manage to snag the one-and-only Conrad Royal Oceanview Pool Villa, which is slightly larger than the other one-bedroom units, and comes with many unique features. Like all the units it features drop-dead gorgeous contemporary Thai-inspired décor, original artwork, a bathroom with a rainshower and an oversized circular bathtub, and state-of-the-art technology (including satellite television, Apple-based TV, iPod dock, and high-speed internet access). However, it also delivers a whopping 434 sq.m of indoor and outdoor space (over two levels), a full kitchenette, a dining table that can seat six, and 24-hour butler service. Another unique feature is the extra-long 22.5 metre infinity edge pool that extends from one end of the villa to the other, with three access points—living room, bedroom, and bathroom—and a groovy sunken lounge seating area with cushioned benches and a table in the middle. There’s also a super sexy king-sized circular mattress in the bangkok101.com
where to stay koh samui | TRAVEL bedroom, something found only in the master bedrooms of the larger units. In short, it’s a majestic suite, suitable for a royally romantic rendezvous. And although it’s tempting to never leave a suite as beautiful as this one, a trip down to the beach is a must. Here guests can take advantage of the main swimming pool, numerous sala-style curtained day beds, beachfront hammocks, sun loungers, and two small wooden floating rafts that are docked in the shallow beach waters. From the main pool it’s also easy access to the fitness center, and two of the resort’s restaurants—the Azure Bar & Grill, and The Cellar, an eight seat private dining area offering unique culinary experiences and interactive wine sessions.
Higher up the slope sits the awardwinning Conrad Spa, which features 10 spa treatment suites, a private spa plunge pool, and more. There’s even a compact sauna room with a view—as one wall is a full-length window looking out over the Gulf of Thailand. Finally, the resort’s all-day dining venue is the 86-seat Zest, which offers casual indoor and outdoor dining options, as well as an outdoor deck with stunning panoramic views. But for the penultimate romantic dinner reserve a seat at Jahn, the resort’s exclusive 28-seat candle-lit dining room. This beautifully decorated, high-ceilinged Thai food restaurant sits an incredible 130 meters above sea level, and the wraparound windows offer unforgettable bird’s-eye views of the setting sun and the moonlit waters (depending on when you begin your meal). by Bruce Scott
Conrad Koh Samui
49/8-9 Moo 4, Hillcrest Rd., Taling-Ngam Tel: 077 915 888 www.conradkohsamui.com bangkok101.com
WONDERFUL WEDDING PACKAGES Hold your dream wedding at the Conrad Koh Samui, where your ceremony can be as intimate or as grand as you wish—with capacity for up to 200 guests. There’s a wide choice unforgettable locations for your nuptial ceremony and with the support of the resort’s experienced wedding planner and dedicated staff, you can create the tropical wedding of your dreams during your stay here. One of the most popular wedding locales is, not surprisingly, the beach, where up to 120 guests can watch as you exchange your vows barefoot on the soft, white sand, surrounded by tropical palms overlooking the azure waters against the backdrop of a majestic sunset. Another popular location is at the Conrad’s Infinityedge Pool, where a transparent walkway and main stage set in the middle of the pool. Meanwhile, the Poolside Terrace—located at the base of the resort near the main infinity pool—is an outdoor deck overlooking the beach surrounded by lush tropical gardens and palm trees. The resort also offers an array of indoor venues, including the Aow Thai Hall. Featuring full length glass windows and a grass lawn area overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, this venue seats up 100 guests. In addition, the Conrad’s creative wedding planners can also design innovative themed parties—intimate or grand. The Sunset Lounge is another spot ideal for ceremonies, as it offers a panoramic view of the ocean (ideal for a sunset wedding). Another interesting option is renting the lavish Three-Bedroom Oceanview Pool Villa, which is a secluded twostorey residence that can provide a premium experience in homey and cozy style for a boutique wedding. This villa can accommodate up to 80 guests for a cocktail reception themed wedding party. Finally, for your post-wedding affairs, the resort’s signature restaurant Jahn can be transformed into an exclusive wedding venue accommodating 28 guests for a sit-down dinner, and up to 80 guests for a late night party with music and dance floor. The Conrad Koh Samui’s Luxury Wedding Package 2018 starts at B108,888 net, and includes tropical flower decoration (including a flowered arch or gazebo), bridal bouquet, groom corsage, hairstylist and makeup artist for bride, photographer for two hours, personalized welcome message on the hotel TV, choice of a couples’ spa treatment for 90 minutes or one bottle of Lombard champagne, a wedding celebrant to conduct ‘Vow Exchange Ceremony’ and ‘Ring exchange Ceremony’, and much, much more. Additional necessities—such as wedding cake, dinner, beverage package, videographer, DJ, musicians, etc.—can be added onto the package as required. Even paying the required marriage fee can be handled by the resort’s wedding planning team. Accommodation can be booked directly from the reservation team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
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Photo by Bruce Scott
A gorgeous palette of tropical colours at Bottle Beach
KOH PHANGAN 101 T
he island of KOH PHANGAN has always been a pristine paradise that has beckoned the intrepid explorer. With an overall area of 167 sq.km it’s Thailand’s 5th biggest island, and although it’s located a mere 12 km from its nearest neighbour, Koh Samui, it’s light years away from Samui in terms of its style and character (as the pace of development has been much slower here). It’s still a place of relatively unspoilt beauty, divided between a hilly and lush tropical jungle interior, and the many idyllic, white sand beaches that can be found lining the island’s outer edges. For the uninitiated, Phangan’s main claim to fame is the infamous FULL MOON PARTIES which attract thousands of hardcore hedonists on a regular basis. However, this night of monthly mayhem is largely confined to a single beach— Haad Rin Nok—and as any visitor will attest to, the rest of the island is pretty serene. In harmony with this overall serenity is the abundance of yoga and wellness centres on the island, which attract healthand spiritually-minded travellers. THE SANCTUARY, the ORION HEALING CENTRE, and the ANANDA WELLNESS RESORT are three of the best known health and detox retreats, while AGAMA YOGA, the PYRAMID YOGA CENTER, and the aptly named THE YOGA RETREAT are great places to brush up on your downward dogs and sun salutations. There’s also a surprising number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants to choose from, which will come as a pleasant surprise for many eco-conscious visitors. Another surprise for visitors is the amount of things to do inland on the island. The THAN SADET NATIONAL PARK, located near the centre of the island, is a natural preserve famous for the PHAENG WATERFALL, although in the dry season the falls sometimes aren’t much more than a trickle. But in any season hiking the 400-metre forest trail, which leads to the DOM SILA viewpoint, is a great way to commune with nature. There’s even a hostel and campsites on the premises. Other inland adventure options can be found by visiting the headquarters of the ECO SAFARI PARK tour company (located near the entrance to Than Sadet), who offer a dizzying array of full day hiking, snorkelling, zip line, and elephant trekking trips. Their full day overland sightseeing adventure—which visits the park’s jungle interior, waterfall, and viewpoints, as well as snorkelling at Koh Ma beach, elephant riding (optional), and a visit to the island’s magnificent Chinese temple—is priced at just B1,400. Or, if you just want elephant trekking on its own, KOH PHANGAN ELEPHANT TREKKING offers tours every day, from 10am to 3pm, starting at B500 per trek. www.kohphanganelephanttrekking.com As for getting here, unless you have a helicopter you can only get to Koh Phangan by boat. Most people travel via Koh Samui, and there are at least three ferries a day from Samui’s Big Buddha pier to Phangan’s THONGSALA PIER, as well as the Haad Rin Queen Ferry which goes directly to HAAD RIN PIER. PLAN YOUR TRIP: Aspiring writer’s take note… from February 20th to 25th, authors Brian Gruber and Kaila Krayewski will host the five-day intensive TROPICAL WRITER’S TOOLKIT transformational writing workshop. Each day will begin with a yoga class aimed at opening up any writing blockages, followed by a full day of writing classes. A sunset visualization class and daily Thai massage will round out the day. Three nutritious and delicious Thai meals are provided daily, and the special welcome and closing receptions will include a scrumptious Thai BBQ, plus plenty of wine and beer. Accommodation is at the luxurious MERMAID VILLA, but space is limited so book now! www.digitalnomadasia.com
TRAVEL | focus on koh phangan
Koh Phangan has dozens of beautiful beaches, but here are six spectacular stretches of sand definitely worth seeking out
HAAD MAE HAAD: The beach known as Haad Mae Haad is quite popular but it’s also quite sizeable, meaning that it never really looks overcrowded. On the land there’s a smattering of beach bungalows, restaurants, and Thai massage shops with ocean views, and if you swim out a few meters you can even do a bit of snorkelling. But the truly unique thing about this beach is that it is adjacent to the island of Koh Ma, which you can reach via a sandbank. And if you want to make a night of it, the Koh Ma Beach Resort offers stylish beachfront accommodations with views of the sea, as well as an open-air restaurant.
BOTTLE BEACH: Located up in the northwest end of the island, Haad Khuat (more commonly referred to as Bottle Beach) is a very well-known swath of sand, despite the fact that it’s difficult to get to by land. In fact, almost every visitor uses a longtail boat in order to reach this beach. In spite of the fame there’s only a handful of bungalows and small resorts here—including Bottle Beach 1 Resort—and so the beach is never too crowded. The sand is fine and smooth, and the water is ideally suited for swimming since it’s gets deeper a short distance from the shore.
THONG NAI PAN: The village of Thong Nai Pan, located in the northeast, has two beaches worth seeking out, which flank a large outcropping of rock. North of the outcropping is Thong Nai Pan Noi, which is the smaller of the two beaches. However, it has several luxury properties—including the beautiful Panviman Resort and the exquisite Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas—and so it gets more crowded. The bigger beach is Thong Nai Pan Yai, to the south, which is much less crowded, as it is home to just a handful of bars and restaurants and more casual accommodation spots such as the Pingchan Koh Phangan Beachfront Resort. At both the sand is fine and smooth while the waters are shallow.
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focus on koh phangan | TRAVEL
Photo by Dhimant Patel/Flickr.com
LEELA BEACH: Haad Rin is synonymous with Koh Phangan’s infamous ‘Full Moon’ parties, but all that action takes place on Haad Rin Nok. Meanwhile, Haad Seekantang—better known as Leela Beach, thanks to the samenamed resort there—is located on the far southeast tip the island, in the village of Haad Rin. The water is clear at this shallow beach, the sand is very fine and amazingly white, and visitors get a superb view of Koh Samui from here. And although the Leela Beach Resort popularized this spot, there are now other more upscale accommodations available including the Coco Hut Beach Resort & Spa and The Cabin Beach Resort.
SECRET BEACH: Haad Son is the Thai name for what most people (and signs) call Secret Beach—one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. It’s a small beach, located on a small bay on the Western coast, with crystal clear water and fine white sand. The Secret Beach Bungalows offer beachfront accommodation, and the nearby Koh Raham bar and restaurant, which is part of the Haad Son Resort, makes for a great oceanview drink and dine spot. Of course, with all this going for it it’s not much of a “secret” anymore!
ZEN BEACH: The island of Koh Phangan is full of yoga resorts and holistic wellness centres, and at the end of each day one of the most popular spots for laid back souls to watch the sun go down is Zen Beach. It’s got a beautiful, relaxed atmosphere, and the clouds and colours in the sky are often quite magical. It’s located on the Western coast, near the inland Sweet Water Lake, and apart from the Golden Rock Bungalows it’s mercifully underdeveloped.
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TRAVEL | focus on koh phangan
The number of Western delights on these southern shores is rapidly growing By Kaila Krayewski
he fact that Koh Phangan is home to the worldfamous (or “infamous”) monthly Full Moon Parties, that draw revellers in hordes that ebb and flow with the tides, has, in turn, created a local community of hardcore partiers and DJs who live—and die—by Phangan’s lunar cycle. What many don’t know, however, is that there is much, much more to Koh Phangan than its party-hardy reputation. Thought by many to actually be made out of crystal or gemstone at its very core, the island draws spiritual healers—and those seeking to be healed— from all corners of the world. These are all relatively recent developments, of course. The once sleepy island was originally colonized by Thai-Chinese fishermen and farmers who found great bounty in and around the island’s fertile soils. Nowadays, somewhere in-between the local founders, the healers, and the partiers, there is a burgeoning expat community on the island who are working to expand its offerings to appeal to general Western palates, while still maintaining its authenticity and natural beauty. And they’re succeeding. What was once Koh Phangan’s only supermarket, Tesco Lotus, must now compete with the likes of Big C and Makro, supplying the island’s ever-increasing number of hotels and restaurants, while also providing options galore for island dwellers. Where there were once only Thai coffee stands for one’s morning caffeine hit, there are now a slew of cafes—including Bubba’s, a newly-opened slow-drip coffee and breakfast joint in Baan Kai, with all the workings and vibe of a true New York coffee house. While beaches and shanty roadside set-ups were once the go-to spots for massages (and in many ways,
some of these spots still offer some of the best—and most authentic—Thai-style pampering on the island), there is now Pure Relax, a Western-run spa in the southern part of Thong Sala that feels like it should be far more expensive than it actually is. For those who aren’t fans of Thai massage, options here include Swedish massage, Indian head massage, Balinese massage, and sports massage, along with many more. Other activities, put together with Western tastes in mind, have been popping up to give locals and tourists alike things to do outside of partying and lazing on the beach or by the pool. Kiteboarding is quickly becoming one of the most popular activities on the island, and Koh Phangan’s most well-known kiteboarding school, Breeze Kiteboarding, is even grooming a young local Belgian to compete in the Youth Olympics. Just head to the long stretch of Baan Tai Beach when the wind picks up to catch the aquatic athletes at play—it’s entertainment in itself. Indeed, adrenaline junkies are spoiled for choice on Koh Phangan. One of the island’s most popular attractions, Slip N Fly, is equipped with 40-metre slides that send people flying into the air to do whatever tricks they can pull off—even if it’s just landing straight—before diving down into the island’s biggest pool. The venue is inland, in an area called Madeawan, and potential participants should note that this is an adult-orientated playground, with plenty of booze and loud music. As such, those looking for a more family-orientated type of activity can opt for The Challenge—an inflatable obstacle course bobbing atop Laem Son Lake in Sri Thanu. Think of the game show Wipeout and you’ll get a glimpse of what you’re in for.
Gourmet dining at Valentino’s 62 | FEBRUARY 2018
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Photo by Dani Viriyanont
Pure Relax Spa
Splash landings at Slip N Fly
As for the growing number of restaurants, here’s where things gets really juicy (literally and figuratively). The island offers everything from the more obvious high-end seafood restaurants, to the totally unexpected, including Greek tavernas, Parisian-style French bakeries with fine cheeses and wines, and even a traditional British pub that the original owner built based on the designs of his local back home. Up until now, the island hasn’t really attracted the kind of clientele to draw five-star cuisine restaurants, but even that has now changed. The recently opened Valentino’s, nestled in the island’s posh cove known as Thong Nai Pan, serves up authentic, five-star Italian cuisine in an elegant setting. Though it may not be beachfront, patrons can practically hear the bangkok101.com
waves crash from the upstairs balcony as they look into the starry sky, taking a break from their succulent dishes. The menu includes the likes of Linguine all’Aragosta—a pasta dish literally hugged by an entire Canadian lobster (pre-shelled for diners’ convenience)—and a medallion of Australian grain-fed beef tenderloin served with fine dining-sized portions of lemon-roasted potatoes and asparagus, all coated in homemade pink pepper gravy. The delectable food menu is, in true Italian form, accompanied by an extensive wine list, and the friendly owner Andy is nearly always onsite and happy to help with dish-pairing recommendations. Of course, it’s important to discuss the finer details of “Western delights” on Koh Phangan—including some that may be less “delightful” than they are a “luxury” necessitated by Western demands. This includes a well-equipped and Western-run hospital, First Western, ideally located in the island’s busiest area between Thong Sala and Baan Tai. Meanwhile, the Learning Tree and Sri Panwa, along with many new schools cropping up on the island, provide a Western education to children up to 12 years of age (they are hoping to increase the age range as the island continues to attract growing numbers of families). This has all been done while maintaining Koh Phangan’s true roots—whether or not they are entrenched in gemstone—leaving the island with all the allure of a wistful deserted island, while endowing it with all the appeal of a well-furnished resort haven. FEBRUARY 2018 | 63
TRAVEL | focus on koh phangan
Elevated Experiences Koh Phangan’s rugged terrain offers excellent hiking and stunning viewpoints
Summit at Khao Ra
By Kaila Krayewski
hile it’s undeniably tropical and postcard perfect, even the coasts of hilly Koh Phangan are riddled with uneven terrain. And while some may think of this as a downside—since yes, it certainly makes swimming in the ocean a challenge, and bicycling practically a confrontation—it makes this island a hiker’s dream. Here now are two treks well worth checking out. KHAO RA TREK: There are many popular treks on the island, the most hyped of which is Khao Ra, more than likely because it leads hikers to the island’s highest vantage point—at 627 metres in altitude. Its viewpoint affords Koh Phangan’s most panoramic views, making it well worth the effort to reach the summit. Leave early in the morning, around 4 or 5 am, or in the afternoon around 3 or 4 pm, to ascend to the peak by sunrise or with enough time before sunset to make it back down before dark. The entire hike takes between one to two hours, depending on your fitness level. Bring along a backpack with plenty of water—at least a 1.5-litre bottle per person should do the trick—as well as hiking sandals or, better yet, shoes. You never know what slippery or snippety creature lurks beneath that tuft of grass you’re about to step on. Mosquito or bug spray is nearly as essential as water, particularly if you’re going during the recommended times, when the bats—little flying vampires—come out in droves to play. A phone is always a good idea, even if it’s just to take photos once you reach the peak, as well as a towel or sarong to wipe away the sweat. To get to the base of Khao Ra, head north from Thong Sala on the main highway (you’ll go straight at the broken traffic lights). Continue
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along the road about 10 minutes until you pass Slip N Fly waterpark. There is a right-hand turn just after—look for signs reading ‘Khao Ra’. If you see the Chinese temple on your left, you’ve gone too far. Head to the foot of the mountain, park your bike or car, and get ready for a hefty climb. You’ll walk about five minutes uphill before you come upon a reservoir, which specifies “no swimming”, and you’ll continue past. Next, you’ll see a few wooden bungalows on the right, followed by a basic Thai restaurant with a superb view of the island’s northwest— and this is just the beginning. The dirt trail is pretty easy to find and follow, with the odd red arrow spray painted on trees (and very occasionally a proper sign) to guide you in the right direction in areas where the path could be open to interpretation. As with most semi-challenging treks, this climb is not without its steep steps, jagged rocks, and twigs and branches poking out onto it. So do be careful! You’re unlikely to encounter many other hikers—if you see any at all—on your trek, since this isn’t a particularly touristy thing to do on this resort-y, party-centric island. And that is precisely what makes it that much more rewarding when you reach the top. Up here, the magnificent view looks out onto Koh Tae Nai and birds’ nest island (which, rumour has it, is manned by armed guards stationed to protect their lucrative swiftlet spit nests from intruders). COASTAL TREK: If climbing mountains isn’t your thing, there are a few coastal treks that might tickle your fancy. Bottle Beach, sitting in a cove at the very north of the island, is practically inaccessible by car. The allure of its isolation draws many to its white-sand shores, which are most easily reached by boat. However, there bangkok101.com
Photo by Phangan Drone
focus on koh phangan | TRAVEL
Romantic interlude atop Khao Ra
Drone photo of the lookout point
is another way to get there: on foot. To get to what’s called Bottle Trail, likely because it’s lined by bottles stuck into the ground which guide the way, head to Chaloklum’s main intersection. You may want to stop at the 7/11 here for water and mosquito spray. Take the road with the sign that reads ‘Haad Khom’. Follow this road—a pleasant ride along the coast—until you come upon a trail on your right side denoted by bottles at the start of the path. As with Khao Ra, this is a relatively challenging trek, and unlike the Khao Ra trek, there are no panoramic vista rewards (though there are some lovely coastal views on the routes up and down the hill), but rather a beautiful beach at the end. Not only that, but you may get a chance to meet the locals, as monkeys and other wildlife are commonly spotted along the path. The entire trek takes around an hour, once again dependent on fitness levels,
and it’s not recommended to do it in the dark. There is accommodation on Bottle Beach where you can spend the night, and it’s best to book ahead as the few rooms fill up fast. This hypnotically quiet beach is the dividend payment for your troubles, and should you wish to catch a boat back to civilization in the morning rather than hiking back, we wouldn’t blame you. A day spent off the beach makes days on the beach that much more rewarding, so next time you hit Phangan’s shores, bring along your hiking shoes should you come here. You’re guaranteed an experience that exceeds the expectations of a typical beachside holiday, with the glory of being able to tell your friends that you did something on Phangan other than attend the Full Moon Party and nurse the hangover afterwards.
Long-tail boat on Bottle Beach bangkok101.com
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TRAVEL | upcountry now
THAILAND INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL February 2-3
Enjoy exhilarating entertainment and a cool ambience, surrounded by glorious nature, in Singha Park, Chiang Rai during the two-day Thailand International Jazz Festival 2018. The weekend event will feature performances by award-winning artists and emerging jazz stars from around the world, along with a lineup of exceptionally talented local performers. Some of the jazz legends set to perform include Brian McKnight (pictured), Alemay Fernandes, and Aya Takazawa. A two-day pass is priced at B2,500, and performances begin each evening at 6pm. www.thaiticketmajor.com
THE GREAT ESCAPE RUN February 4
The Great Escape Run takes runners through some of the most beautiful, pristine, and enjoyable courses in Thailand, and this year it’s being held in Rayong. The courses include: a 10k run (70 percent road 30 percent trail, with an elevation gain of 95 metres); a 25k run (50 percent road 50 percent trail, with an elevation gain of 424 metres); and a tough 32k run (30 percent road 70 percent trail, with an elevation gain of 690 metres). There’s also a 3.5k Fun-Run for kids and newbies which is relatively flatter. www.race-hunter.com
INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA February 14-18
The romantic sensation of watching hot air balloons rising serenely into the morning skies is the magical spirit that will draw many visitors to the Valentine’s Day opening of the International Balloon Fiesta 2018, held in Singha Park, Chiang Rai. But the spectacular hot air balloon event lasts four full days, so visitors are welcome anytime. This festival brings together participants from 14 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Brazil, China, and Japan, and activities include balloon competitions and a ‘Balloon Magic Night Glow’ show. www.chiangraiballoon.com
THAILAND YACHT SHOW February 22-25
Organized in partnership with the Government of Thailand and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Thailand Yacht Show 2018 is a unique event focusing on superyacht tourism and charters in Thailand and the region. Now in its 3rd edition, the four-day show—being held at the Ao Po Grand Marina, in beautiful Phuket—offers visitors the opportunity to discover luxury yachting lifestyle at its finest. The programme includes: opening ceremony; sea trails and yacht hops; supercar parades; stunning soirées; fashion shows; and more. For ticket info visit the website. www.thailandyachtshow.com 66 | FEBRUARY 2018
| ART & CULTURE
Mysterious Japanese artist expresses the beauty and fascination between two cultures
hen considering the various cultures in this world, it’s immediately recognizable that each nation undeniably possesses an identity completely unique and distinguishable from any another. But for some countries, however, a mutual root exists that binds and relates both cultures while still allowing them to express their own individuality. Such is the case with Thailand and Japan, which have—for many decades in recent history—been continuously integrating into one another. This fusion has been presented in many forms; from cinema, comics, music, fashion, cuisine, products, advertisements, literature, and economy, down to certain ways of life themselves. All this interchange has slowly precipitated into the knowledge and understanding of an entwining heritage. The context of Japanese culture in Thailand has been so closely involved in the daily lives of the people—perhaps comparable to a close companion growing up alongside one another—and in this aging relationship, the memories many feel the most sense of nostalgia for are inevitably the halcyon “high-school years”, which act not only as a transition from our adolescence into adulthood, but also reflects a period of immense power and vulnerability constantly at conflict within—experiences, dreams, disappointments, and journeys of self-discovery. This exhibition, entitled KANZERO, showcases the unique work of a Japanese artist known only as WATABOKU, who is renown both on social media and exhibitions worldwide, depicts the characteristics and attitudes of a nostalgic girl in the image of a high-school student in her uniform. This show illustrates the seemingly similar subcultures existing between the Thai and Japanese society, and expresses it in the form of contemporary artworks created from digital equipment. KANZERO runs from FEBRUARY 22 until MARCH 25 at THE JAM FACTORY (41/1-5 Charoen Nakorn Rd). Viewing hours are daily from 11am to 8pm. For more information, call 02 861 0950. www.facebook.com/thejamfactorybangkok
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ART & CULTURE | exhibitions
FEBRUARY 2-MARCH 31 Beautiful Futures H Gallery Bangkok
201 Soi 12 Sathorn Rd. Viewing hours: Daily, 10am-6pm, Tue by appointment Tel: 085 021 5508 | www.hgallerybkk.com
This large-scale exhibit takes over both the main gallery and project room, with an ambitious installation that continues to evolve the interests of artist Mit Jai Inn in the spatial possibilities of paintingâ€”from bulbous surfaces to canvases that hang, or scroll down free of any support. An experimental use of lighting also allows for the exploration of newer physical and perceptual relationships to the artworks. Mit often plays with his audience, as he allows his audience to play, but in this show he most immediately introduces a darker, somber tone to his oeuvre (the title should be read as deeply ironic).
FEBRUARY 8-18 Algorithm Adjustment
Cho Why (and at Ba:Nana:Press) Soi Nana 17, Pom Prap Sattru Phai Viewing hours: Daily, noon-6pm Tel: 081 902 9196 | www.facebook.com/chowhybkk
Bangkok-based visual artist Justin Mills aims to create images we have never seen before; paintings with enduring visual intensity. His ambiguous artworks often baffle the viewer, compelling us to look at them again and again. In this latest exhibition his paintings incorporate lyrics and poetry, using a manipulated alphabet that makes ambiguous references to the socio-political situation in Thailand. In order to investigate a pictorial discourse, he has also felt compelled to engage with the technological changes happening in our time. Thus his paintings serve as visual metaphors for an unseen reality.
FEBRUARY 9-APRIL 8 Instance
1Projects Gallery 672/63, Charoen Krung Soi 28 Viewing hours: Fri-Sun, 1pm-7pm Tel: 081 699 5298 | www.facebook.com/1projects
Photographs are a depiction of an instance. In this exhibition, the images of Kamthorn Paowattanasuk and Montre Kumsiri are captured without preconception, a mere reaction to visual and emotional expression unique to a particular moment. Paowattanasukâ€™s perfect moments seems minimal, as if his ideal beauty is in simplicity and the peace that lies within it. Meanwhile, the works by Kumsiri are vibrant, reflecting contemporary society. In photography, as in life, there are times when we need to follow natural rhythms, to free our minds and perceptions from limitation. 70 | F EBRUA RY 2018
exhibitions | ART & CULTURE
FEBRUARY 10-28 Pearl Earring
House of Lucie Centre for Photography Ekkamai Soi 8, Sukhumvit Soi 63 Viewing hours: Tue-Fri, 11am-6pm, Sat, 12pm-5pm Tel: 095 478 9987 | www.facebook.com/houseoflucie
The title of this show refers to the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, the title of Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting which art history buffs have long felt seems to be hiding within it a secret code. It showcases quite clearly the most significant element of the image, but at the same time leaves us lost in thoughts, wondering about the girl. Photographer Dasha Matrosova here says: “Let’s imagine the girl without a pearl earring. Do the pearl and the turban emphasize the status of the girl? Or was she a simple servant? I can only be sure about one thing—pearls are extracted at depth, and her eyes reflect this depth.”
FEBRUARY 15-MARCH 18 Legendary Land of the King Ardel Gallery of Modern Art
99/45 Belle Ville, Boromratchonnanee Rd. Viewing hours: Tue-Sat, 10:30am-7pm, Sun, 10:30am-5:30pm Tel: 02 422 2092 | www.ardelgallery.com
This art exhibition is inspired by artist Pishnu Supanimit’s love, respect, and grievance for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The show’s full title is ‘Legendary Land of the King: Journey through the Prints of Thailand’s Cultural and Natural Landscape’, and herein Pishnu makes use of various symbols in his artworks—through his meticulous technique of woodcut and silkscreen printmaking—to transmit ideas that are related to the philosophy of the deceased monarch. Rama IX played an important role in uniting and keeping Thailand in peaceful state, allowing the nation’s art and culture to be properly nurtured.
UNTIL APRIL 15 Common Exercises: Isan Contemporary Report Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) 939 Rama I Rd. Viewing hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-9pm Tel: 02 214 6630-8 | www.bacc.or.th
This group show presents exciting findings on different phenomenon found in the contemporary scene in Isan (Northeastern Thailand). It explores it through photographs, videos, installations, sound and video installations, and interactive artworks. The artists showing are: Chokchai Tukpoe; Thaworn Kwamsawat; Songwit Pimpakun; Boonnam Sasood; and Paisarn Am-pim (in collaboration with Thitiya Lao-an, Pattarapong Sripanya, Maitree Siriboon, Roengrit Kongmuang, Worawit Kaewsrinoum, Sompop Budtarad, Adisak Phupa and Realframe). bangkok101.com
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ART & CULTURE | museum spotlight
Greenery Museum The Queen Sirikit Botanical Park is an urban oasis By Luc Citrinot
isiting Bangkok’s famed Chatuchak weekend market is an amusing diversion, but it is also an exhausting one. After a few hours strolling the myriad of stalls looking to find the perfect present, while roasting under the hot sun and battling the consumer crowds, it’s high time to stop for a rest. So why not to take a relaxing break at the nearby Queen Sirikit Botanical Park? Here visitors can mix together the pleasure of seeing flowers and plants in a manicured environment while learning about the flora of Thailand. The park is one of the largest in Bangkok and stretches over 22 hectares. It is located in the back of Chatuchak market, and next to the Children Discovery Museum. It was given the shape of a map of Thailand, creating corners, ponds, islands, and narrow areas which all replicate the boundaries of the Kingdom. The Park was created in 1992 to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthday, and was inaugurated by the Queen in 1996. It not only offers visitors a welcoming rest under the shades of its many trees, but also it has the ambition of being a centre of learning with over 2,000 plants on display. Signage and
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informative plaques provide detailed explanations about Thailand’s vast array of flora. The garden is well known for its extensive collection of lotus flowers, orchids, hibiscus, and plumeria (members of the frangipani family). The park also boasts a bauhinia tree, famous for the colour of its leaves, which look like
museum spotlight | ART & CULTURE
gold. This unique species is found in Narathiwat Province, in Thailand’s deep south, and here in the park. The Queen Sirikit Botanical Park also includes a special trail dedicated to swamp and mangrove flora, and another dedicated trail for certain tree species. Meanwhile, sculptures of animals in the park show the relation between fauna and flora and their environment. The park also has a dedicated area for blind visitors, wherein a recorded voice explains to the visually impaired everything about the plant itself, its location in Thailand, and its special characteristics. One particularly peculiar exhibit is the ‘Cord Sculpture’, which produces high and bangkok101.com
low sounds reproducing the noise of a bamboo, as well as coconut shells, when it is touched. Also of note is an exhibition which shows all the achievements of HM Queen Sirikit, especially her efforts to bring income and education to local communities across the Kingdom. And, last but not least, the park is free for all visitors—locals as well as foreigners. IF YOU VISIT: The Queen Sirikit Botanical Park is open every day from 5am till 8pm. From the Chatuchak Park MRT, or Mo Chit BTS stations, visitors can access the park from behind the JJ Mall. F EBRUA RY 2018 | 73
ART & CULTURE | required reading
Jim Algie’s latest novel is neither pretty nor vacant By Gary Anthony Rutland
angkok-based author Jim Algie is a well-known wordsmith in Thailand’s expat literary community. His eclectic range of titles includes: Bizarre Thailand, Tales of Crime, Sex and Black Magic (Marshall Cavendish 2010); Travel Pack Thailand (Tuttle 2012); and the short fiction collection The Phantom Lover and Other Thrilling Tales of Thailand (Tuttle 2013). Jim is also, of course, a regular contributor to Bangkok 101. In one of his previous incarnations, as bass-playing ‘Blake Cheetah’ during the 80’s and 90’s, Jim was a member of two of Canada’s most influential punk/ alt.rock bands and his inside knowledge of the music biz works to his advantage in his latest novel, On the Night Joey Ramone Died; Tales of Rock and Punk from Bangkok, New York, Cambodia and Norway. The main story is full of acerbic observations and wonderfully descriptive meanderings. As the main character Lek Sukanyal, a former rock star turned producer, hears the news that his favourite singer has died, he is in the studio producing a boy band album, which makes him reflect on aging, mortality and his own career in music. After hearing the bad news Lek looks forlornly out on the Bangkok skyline— seeing desolation spread everywhere. “The offices looked like rows and rows of crypts in a towering mausoleum for white collar workers. Everywhere he looked he saw devastation and death.” Originally released last year to a gaggle of glowing reviews, it’s now being re-issued with a 30,000-word non-fiction bonus section of Jim’s music musings and memoirs. These include: Nine Snippets of Rock History from Thailand; Rapping with Ice-T in Bangkok; the heart-felt and heart-warming Requiem for a Thai Indie Rock Stalwart Wasit ‘Ooh’ Mukdavijitr; and an enchanting recounting of his chance meeting on a Montreal park bench with one of his all-time heroes Leonard Cohen. 74 | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8
you mention is Scandinavian. Within the same thread I thought the older Thai guy with the younger farang female a fun reversal of the usual stereotypes often found in books set in Thailand.
This bonus section also contains two previously unpublished pieces that wittily detail the author’s close encounters with rock stars and onstage disasters, as well as When Punk Turned Forty, and Black Metal Murder and Satanism in Rock—all of which add to the two stellar novellas that “Joey” consists of. Why such a quick re-issue? Initially I only released it is as an e-book, but I’ve had so many enquiries about when it was going to be available as a paperback that I decided to do a printon-demand paperback version and as a bonus add the non-fiction pieces which I think give the novellas extra frames of reference. The second novella introduces a female protagonist allowing for some fascinating and diverse threads. The aging musical hero tapped into my own mid-life crisis, just as that second novella looks at how punk evolved into these different strains of black and death metal. And, without giving too much away, death metal is huge in Scandinavia and the female character
Where were you the night Joey Ramone died? I was sitting at home when I got the news. Naturally enough I played some Ramones, and the story was actually started there and then. As a musician, most of the first songs I learnt to play were Ramones tunes, and listening to them that night they became a catalyst of sorts for the book. The film Apocalypse Now was also a major touching point. Francis Ford Coppola called it the first rock’n’roll war, and the music of that era had a huge influence on Thai rock and pop music. This was the way Western music broke in Thailand, and the main character was born and brought up on an American Air Force base so his musical influences are a direct result of his heritage. That also allowed me to get some Thai history in there too. So what’s the future for Thai punk and/or rock’n’roll? Well, who can really say? Bangkok has a cool indie music scene but it's buried deep underground in tiny clubs and small YouTube channels. With the spread of global mall culture the mainstream acts and boy bands coming out of Thailand are the same as anywhere else. It's the McDonald'sization of music which is denoted in the first novella. NOTE: The new expanded paperback edition of the book is available from www.amazon.com for US$12.99. And plans are underway for a book re-launch party this month at WTF Gallery, with an old-school punk DJ spinning classic tunes featured in the novellas. Check out www.jimalgie.club for details. bangkok101.com
cinema scope | ART & CULTURE
Film News & Screenings By Bruce Scott
The Best of All Worlds
Blue My Mind
ach year Bangkok cinephiles look forward to the ‘German Cinema Under the Stars’ free film series, which takes place every Tuesday at 7:30pm in the spacious courtyard of the Goethe-Institut Thailand (Soi Sathon 1). Although the series began this year on January 9th, the films continue until February 27th, so several screenings remain. On February 2nd catch The Best of All Worlds, director Adrian Goiginger’s semi-autobiographical 2017 film which follows a young boy growing up with a heroin-addicted mother. This is followed on February 13th with Blue My Mind, a 2017 coming-of-age drama written and directed by Lisa Brühlmann from Switzerland. Then, on February 20th, don’t miss Magical Mystery, a 2017 film set against the backdrop of a drug-fuelled EDM festival. Finally, the series concludes with Toni Erdmann, Marin Ade’s award-winning 2016 comedy about a woman who must spend time with her estranged father when he comes for a surprise visit. Meanwhile, over at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand (518/5 Ploenchit Rd, Maneeya Center, Penthouse), there are four special film screenings this month which are part of the ongoing Monday night FCCT documentary series. All films are shown with Thai subtitles, and a discussion follows each screening. The films begin at 7pm, and admission is free for members (B150 for non-members). There’s also an optional buffet for just B250. bangkok101.com
The series begins on February 5th with Life Animated (2016), the story of an autistic child who was unable to speak until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. On February 12th the doc is entitled (T)ERROR, a 2015 film which follows undercover FBI informant Saeed ‘Shariff’ Torres as he engages in a sting operation targeting a white Muslim man named Khalifah Ali Al-Akili. On February 19th it’s The Graduation (2016), which is being screened in French with English and Thai subtitles. It documents the rigorous admissions process at one of France’s most prestigious filmmaking institutions. Finally, on February 26th, the memorable 2005 doc Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room—a study of one of the largest business scandals in American history—will be shown. www.fcctthai.com Finally, the TK Park movie series returns on Saturday February 10th at 4pm with the deeply moving Iranian film Leila (1996). Having discovered their love, Leila and Reza get married only to discover the infertility of Leila. Agitated by her mother-in-law she starts pushing her husband to marry a second wife (which is allowed in Iran). This screening is supported by the Cultural Centre of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Bangkok, who will serve Iranian snacks and tea after the screening. The Thailand Knowledge (TK) Park is located on the 8th floor of CentralWorld (999/9 Rama 1 Rd), and tickets are only B20 each. www.tkpark.or.th F EBRUA RY 2018 | 75
Art & Culture
Explosion of Colours Paintings by Kyaw Soe & Aung Kyaw Htet Bold, vibrant colours have long been a muse for Myanmar-based artist Kyaw Soe in his depiction of nature, particularly trees. Inspired by his childhood’s love of nature, he invented his own unique artistic vocabulary to create a riot of fiery, flaming, and dynamically expressive paintings that attest to his distinctive style, individuality and creativity. By contrast, the hyper-realistic paintings of Aung Kyaw Htet, though bold and vibrant in colours as well, create a calming and soothing effect upon the viewer. His artistic confidence is evident in his ease of alternating his choice of palettes— juxtaposing bright and rich colours against subdued and restrained tones. The focus of his famed hyper-realistic paintings of novice monks have always been on the humanity of his subjects, rather than perceiving them purely as religious symbols.
Aung Kyaw Htet: The Five Novices (oil on canvas)
Kyaw Soe was born in 1955 in Thakala (Bago Division), Myanmar. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Zoology, but his life-long interest lay in the arts. Aung Kyaw Htet was born in 1965 in Myaungmya, and studied at the State School of Fine Arts in Yangon. He is a devout Buddhist and grew up in a small Burmese village (two factors which both have had strong influences on his art). Both of these Myanmar-based painters have exhibited extensively in their home country as well as internationally. Kyaw Soe’s works are in the permanent collection of the Staatliches Museum in Munich, Germany and the National Musuem of Yangon. Meanwhile, Aung Kyaw Htet’s works are in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Malaysia and the National Museum of Myanmar.
Until February 24th
Thavibu Art Gallery Suite 435, 919/1 Silom Rd. (BTS Surasak) | Viewing Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-7pm | Tel: 02 266 5454 www.thavibuart.com
Aung Kyaw Htet: A Friendly Novice (oil on canvas)
Aung Kyaw Htet: Novices in Red (oil on canvas)
Aung Kyaw Htet: Novice in Blue (oil on canvas)
Aung Kyaw Htet: Friendships (oil on canvas)
Kyaw Soe: Lone Horse Cart (acrylic on canvas)
Kyaw Soe: Fiery Trees (acrylic on canvas)
Kyaw Soe: Spirit of Summer (acrylic on canvas)
Kyaw Soe: Temple Amidst Trees (acrylic on canvas)
Kyaw Soe: Stupas at Night (acrylic on canvas)
A bed of oysters awaits at Cagette Canteen & Deli
| FOOD & DRINK
AROY If you have a yen to visit yen akart…
The street known as YEN AKART, which more or less connects Rama IV to Naradiwas Road, is buzzing with new openings lately. In December the charming CAGETTE CANTEEN & DELI (15 Yen Akart Rd) opened its doors, billing itself as a French fine food restaurant, charcuterie delicatessen, and delivery service. Oysters, salad niçoise, free range chicken, and an amazing pot au feu are just a few of the mouthwatering morsels on the menu here. The deli is open from 9am to 8pm, while the canteen is for open for lunch and dinner (closed Mondays). Meanwhile, located almost immediately next door to Cagette is INFUSION EATERY & BAR, which launched in November (open daily from 5pm till midnight). The innovative food and drinks menus and comfortable atmosphere make it just one more reason to visit this thriving downtown hub. www.facebook.com/cagettebkk • www.infusionbangkok.com
the “art” of fine dining Art and food make a wonderful pairing and this combo is being taken to its logical extreme at two Bangkok eateries. EKAMIAN (297/2 Sukhumvit Soi 49) is a brand new art space that doubles as a 12-seat chef’s table restaurant. PARKORN ‘TAN’ KOSIYABONG, the chef behind One Ounce ChangChui, has teamed up with fellow artists in this venture, and promises dinners showcasing local ingredient-based dishes. Available from Thursday to Saturday, these meals start at around B1,500 for six courses and advanced booking is required. And speaking of CHANGCHUI (the creative art community complex on Sirindhorn Road), that gigantic airplane which acts as a centrepiece at the property is being turned into a 30+ seat restaurant which will be open in time for Valentine’s Day. The cuisine at NA-OH—which doubles as an exotic museum of taxidermy (entry fee is B100 for adults and B50 for students)—will be modern Western in style but with a focus on celebrating the beautiful, wild, and diverse flora of Thailand, with each dish showcasing a different and lesser known edible herb or plant species. Call 02 035 7000 for reservations. www.facebook.com/ekamianhustler • en.changchuibangkok.com
a taste of asia If you’re in the mood for some fine Asian cuisine—other than Thai—there are two new spots in town worth noting. HANOI HOUSE, located in the MAHATUN PLAZA (888/26 Phloen Chit Rd), is an upscale Vietnamese restaurant with a menu inspired by the owner’s travels around Hanoi and Hoi An. Meanwhile, over in the Sathorn area, the 3rd Thailand branch of KOI RESTAURANT & LOUNGE has opened on the 39th floor of SATHORN SQUARE (98 North Sathorn Rd). Enjoy Californian-style Japanese fusion cuisine in an elegantly luxurious setting, with breathtaking views of Bangkok’s skyline. www.koirestaurantbkk.com/sathorn
rustic italian at groove Singapore-based IO ITALIAN OSTERIA brings the aroma, flavours, and atmosphere of a traditional Italian tavern to Bangkok, with a brand new outlet located on the ground level of GROOVE@CENTRALWORLD (Rama I Rd). Within the restaurant’s open kitchen concept the culinary team prepares delicious dishes from scratch, with a menu that showcases 20 regions of Italy and utilizes simple but fresh ingredients. Think of it as a pizzeria, deli, bakery, and bar—all rolled into one. www.facebook.com/ioosteriabkk
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FOOD & DRINK | valentine‘s day meal deals
Valentine’s Day at J’Aime by Jean-Michel Lorain
U Sathorn Bangkok | 105/1 Soi Ngam Duphli Tel: 02 119 4899 | www.jaime-bangkok.com Don’t miss the opportunity to surprise and impress your loved one and spend a romantic moment this Valentine’s Day at a Michelin starred restaurant, namely J’Aime by JeanMichel Lorain. Bringing an eclectic fine dining experience to the city of angels, Head Chef Amerigo Tito Sesti and his team have created a tantalizing 8-course French degustation menu for February 14th, culminating with a tempting and sensuous dessert. This very exclusive Valentine’s Day Dinner is priced at just B9,999 per couple, including one glass of champagne per person. The restaurant is open for dinner from 6pm till 10pm.
Starlit Romance at Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel
Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel | 518/8 Ploenchit Rd. Tel: 02 125 5000 | www.marriott.com Make your Valentine’s Day memorable! On February 14th, indulge in a superb dining menu in an ambiance that will be exceptionally romantic—an intimate candle-lit garden under the stars. Whisper sweet nothings into your loved one’s ear while savouring an exclusive 5-course gourmet dinner lovingly crafted by Italian Executive Sous Chef Salvatore Catania and his team. Adding to the requisite romance is an indulgent dessert, perfect for sharing, and soft melodious music in the background. This Valentine’s Day exclusive dinner is available from 6pm till 10:30pm, and is priced at B4,200 for two persons.
Heat Up Valentine’s Day with an Aphrodisiac Set Menu
The Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok | 259 Sukhumvit Rd. Tel: 02 207 8000 | www.westingrandesukhumvit.com What are you getting up to this Valentine’s day? How does a romantic evening of sky-high wining and dining in the heart of Bangkok sound? Altitude Rooftop is the space to be this February 14th. You’ll be 24 stories in the sky in an upscale American diner-like setting, while the view from the terrace will put a sparkle in your loved one’s eye. For dinner, four courses of “aphrodisiacal” dishes are included in the Aphrodisiac Valentine’s Set Menu, available at B4,900 net per couple, including paired wine tasting for each course. This dinner is limited to 20 couples only.
Unique Valentine’s Dining Journeys and Romantic Treats at Biscotti
Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel | 155 Rajadamri Rd. Tel: 02 126 8866 | siam-bangkok.anantara.com This Valentine’s Day, love is a journey of seductive menus, effervescent bubbly, amorous concoctions, and decadent gifts. Diners can choose their ideal scenario to write a new love story. At Biscotti, ‘Italian Romance’ is the theme, with a decadent four course menu including: Acquerello Risotto with red beetroot Burrata d’Andria and liquorice foam; and seared Red Mullet topped with Passito wine on Mandarin confit and ardent asparagus. The February 14th set dinner is B3,990 per couple, and B6,990 per couple with a bottle of Taittinger Brut Champagne. Dinner is from 6pm to 10:30pm.
Two Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day
W Bangkok | 106 North Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 344 4000 | www.whotels.com/bangkok W Bangkok hotel invites lovers, singles and groups of friends to sip, dine, mingle, and have fun on Valentine’s Day. For couples, The Kitchen Table presents ‘I Heart You’, a four-course set dinner on February 14th where the restaurant’s chefs become chefs d’amour, serving a mood-setting meal from 6pm to 10:30pm for only B4,400 per couple. No partner? No problem! Unattached urbanites can join in on the ‘I’m Single, So What?’ party, from 7pm till 2am, at Woobar. Here singles will be sipping playful V-Day cocktails with a surprise twist, all priced at just B300 a glass.
Valentine’s Dinner at the Penthouse Bar + Grill
Park Hyatt Bangkok Hotel | 88 Wireless Rd. Tel: 02 012 1234 | bangkok.park.hyatt.com Express your feelings of love with an elevating Valentine’s Day dinner date at the 34th floor Penthouse Bar + Grill. On February 14th, immerse yourselves together in a romantic atmosphere as Chef de Cuisine Andrew Dickie and his passionate team create four courses of foods of love. Each couple gets a special keepsake of the occasion to take away and every lady is greeted with a rose. Priced at B3,000 per person the evening’s main event comes with optional tailor-made wine pairing at B1,500 per person. Seating is limited and there are two separate sittings—at 6pm and 9pm.
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hot plates | FOOD & DRINK
A constantly changing menu offers modern takes on Thai ingredients
he changing face of Charoen Krung has been startling the past two years, and one could point to 80/20 restaurant as the vanguard of the transformation. Amid the influx of art galleries, coffee shops, and converted Chinese shophouses, the restaurant has consistently attracted hip, young professionals as more of them move to the neighbourhood. The interior—a flurry of gray and black ironwork—has less than a dozen tables and a tiny, open kitchen space in which to whip out modern takes on Thai ingredients. The menu changes every three months or so, and the options are written on a chalkboard. The formula seems to have worked as the eatery was recently awarded a ‘Michelin Plate’ in the 2017 Michelin Guide Bangkok. The house does its own pickling, which is displayed on Tuna and Beach Flavours (B380), offering seared tuna, lemon basil granita, marinated papaya, and pickled lemon basil seeds. As with classic Thai dishes, the chefs are often going for a robust mix of three or four of the main taste profiles in their reinterpretation of Thai cuisine. This bangkok101.com
one combines a spicy and sharp taste with the chill of the granita. 80/20 also works with local producers to unearth outstanding produce. One example is the curried crayfish salad (B520), featuring coconut and ocean custard, lemongrass tomatoes and sweet and sour herbs with crayfish that have been pickled in red curry for two days. The crayfish was delicate and had an addictive tang to it, garnished with flowers (as are several of the dishes). Every culture has their version of meat on a stick, and Tsukune Yaowarat (B220) is an excellent medley of Thai and Japanese with grilled duck sausage, a sweet soy glaze, red tofu and black vinegar dipping sauce, with an egg yolk plopped in the middle. This is a hearty crowd-pleaser. The visually stunning and aptly named Textures and Flavours and Milky Mushrooms (B360) combines slow-cooked, charcoal-grilled, and dehydrated milky mushrooms with braised lentils and prik larb, all topped with what looked like a nest of enoki mushrooms. Poured upon presentation, a delicious onion broth ties this dish together beautifully.
The kitchen also shines with items like the Duck Breast (B640), which has been aged and tea-smoked to provide a tender, pleasing chew, while grilled green onions and tangy jackfruit helps balance out the savoury flavour of the meat. Do save room for a sweet from 80/20’s resident pastry chef, with her take on Thai Citrus (B280), a mélange of roast Mandarin orange sorbet, coconut chili meringue, lemongrass yogurt mousse, Kaffir lime, and roselle. It is a wondrous mishmash of sour, sweet and a tad bitter. The restaurant prides itself on its cocktails, with 3 Gingers (B380) served as a hot tea of fresh ginger, turmeric, and galangal along with stevia and cognac. Or try the ThaiGrow-Ni (B340) a mix of Mekhong, Thai herbs, infused vermouth, Campari, and orange bitter. by Robin Banks
1052-1054, Charoen Krung Rd. Tel: 087 593 1936 Open: Wed-Mon, 6pm-midnight www.facebook.com/8020bkk F EBRUA RY 2018 | 85
FOOD & DRINK | valentine dining
Valentine’s @ Red Sky Breathtaking, decadent, and sublime… and that’s just the food
t is said, that the true purity and depth of love is only ever wholly understood when it is put to the test. And this February 14th, for B14,555++, the ‘Valentine’s Day Degustation Menu’ at Red Sky might just be that token of unencumbered fealty your lover requires. From the 55th floor of the Centara Grand at CentralWorld hotel, the panoramic views of the city below are breathtaking. You’ll definitely want to come just before the sun has begun to set, and start the dance of seduction by the magic of the fading light. As the DJ slows down the tempo and the music takes on a jazzier depth, cling closer to your love as you sip a glass of Mumm no1 champagne, and watch as the daytime frenzy gives way to the nighttime afterglow. Separate the wheat from the chaff as you open up your palates to the queen of caviars, Oscietra. Served with the silkiest and smokiest of salmon slithers, it is lighter than air—nutty but wonderfully adorned with surprising nuggets of piquant horseradish. 86 | F EBRUA RY 2018
If you’ve never tried them before—which you should have—then come just for the Gillardeau oysters alone. The knockout dish of the night, they come served in their ubiquitous branded shells, alongside shredded pieces of Alaskan king crab, tomato jelly, and fennel cream. Plump, smooth, but with only hints of brininess, there’s magic in each bite. Love belongs to the seas and the oceans, it would seem, as the half Brittany lobster and black winter truffle are up next on the menu. The avocado coulis adds a wicked unctuousness that marries well with the fleshiness of the lobster meat. While the fresh crunchiness of the snow peas provides a masterful balance to the earthiness of the black winter truffle. It’s all very decadent but every bite is clearly a labour of love and a show of mastery from the renown French Chef Christian Ham, a master chef with a CV that includes a number of three Michelinstarred restaurants. With starters done, gorge yourself next on the first main, foie gras, quince, and beetroot. Buttery,
creamy, but seared to perfection, the ingredients are metaphoric testaments to the fact that love can bring together all kinds of odd couples. The snow fish, meanwhile, is lighter than air and speaks of a simplicity in flavour that clearly would be impossible to emulate. As the meal draws to an end, staring into the eyes of your paramour, it’d be impossible to not have a craving for something sweet to seal two lover’s lips. The red velvet cake is light, tender, but with a titillating almond crisp base, amoretto and hints of alcohol in the centre, all of which leaves you wanting more. Call this February feast the ultimate act of devotion if you will, but it’s definitely an experience to remember. By Zipporah Gene
Red Sky Rooftop Bar
55F Centara Grand at CentralWorld 999/99 Rama 1 Rd. Open daily: 5pm-1am Tel: 02 100 1234 www.centarahotelsresorts.com/redsky bangkok101.com
valentine dining | FOOD & DRINK
Valentine’s @ Attitude Romantic dinner with a stunning river view
tylish, sultry, and sensual, Attitude Rooftop Bar & Restaurant will have you hungry for love come February 14th. Specializing in modern cuisine, this romantic restaurant is taking Valentine’s Day dinner to new heights, with sparkling city views, champagne, and delicious seafood specialties. Located atop the Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel—just a 15-minute shuttle boat ride down the Chao Phraya River from the Saphan Taksin pier—and situated 26 floors above the city, Attitude offers unparalleled views of the river and the city skyline in the distance. Being located downriver also gives it the added benefit of being somewhat removed from the city, transporting you away from bustling Bangkok for the night. Spread across the hotel’s rooftop area, with differing moods and styles all along its length, Attitude is comprised of: the Infinity Pool Deck; The Green; the Outdoor Bar; the Champagne Bar; and the Dining Room. Playful white wicker tables and chairs grace the Outdoor Bar area, where cool breezes keep things comfortable. Inside, low-hanging glass bangkok101.com
ball chandeliers in the Champagne Bar, and ornate chandeliers made of wicker baskets in the Dining Room, elegantly bring the East and West together. Meanwhile, gold trimmings, warm woods, and plush velvet and leather chairs add a modern-day minimalist sophistication. Helming the kitchen is Australiannative Chef de Cuisine Andrew Cole, who has specially crafted a Valentine’s seafood platter filled with the foods of love and paired with a bottle of critically acclaimed Billecart Salmon— described by wine expert James Suckling as one of his “favourite champagnes across the board”. A starter of fresh oysters served on a bed of sea salt and topped with Beluga caviar whets the appetite nicely. The sweetness from the oysters hits the palette first, soon followed by the salty taste of the sea from the sea salt. For mains, a feast from the sea is presented in the form of two platters, one hot and one cold. The cold platter presents a fusion of Thai and Western cooking, and highlights include a layered beef, seared eel, and avocado tartare topped with Salmon roe and a raw egg hidden inside the beef layer—
giving the meat a creamy, rich texture. There’s also sweet Thai lobster and avocado salad, a seared black cod and avocado salad topped with crunch pork crackling, and crab croquettes served on a bed of sweetcorn salad. The hot platter, by contrast, comprises both seared and grilled seafood dishes including Maine lobster, Thai tiger prawns, Hokkaido scallops topped with edible gold leaf, Scottish salmon, black cod, and tuna. A glistening sugar heart, filled with raspberry mousse and accompanied with raspberry sorbet and fresh berries, makes for a beautiful and light after-dinner treat for you and your special someone. The full meal is priced at B9,999++ per couple, inclusive of one bottle of Billecart Salmon champagne. For reservations, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. by Kelly Harvey
Attitude Rooftop Restaurant 26F, Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel 257 Charoennakorn Rd. Open daily: 5:30pm-1am Tel: 02 431 9100 www.attitudebangkok.com
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FOOD & DRINK | valentine dining
Valentine’s @ Vertigo High-altitude fine dining taken to exhilarating new heights
or those who considered for even a moment taking your V Day date to a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller Vertigo, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak—shame on you! Yes, it’s a great film but no, classic noir cinema is no way to celebrate such a beloved and romantic occasion. Fortunately for those romance challenged movie buffs whose good intentions might not go over well with their significant other, Banyan Tree Bangkok’s high-in-thesky rooftop restaurant Vertigo has come to the rescue, with a ‘Valentine’s Day Set Menu’ that takes high-altitude fine dining to exhilarating new heights. Set at a vertiginous 61 floors above Sathorn Road, this awardwinning restaurant is about as al fresco as it gets. The under-the-stars venue features unobstructed 360° views of the city’s architectural wonders to one side, and a scenic bend in the mighty Chao Phraya River to the other. It is amid this stunning, sky nestled setting that Vertigo celebrates everyone’s favourite cherubic matchmaking archer, with a Valentine’s Day set menu for two, priced at B12,900++ per couple. This February 14th feast embraces the romantic holiday spirit with an 88 | F EBRUA RY 2018
uncommonly dreamlike ambience and meticulously prepared European style fine cuisine. The dinner starts off with smoked Pacific halibut with grapefruit and avocado—a light and refreshing (in a California cuisine kind of way) dish which features blinis and vodka crème fraîche to slather onto the savoury mini-pancakes. Meanwhile, the pan seared foie gras is brown crusted and seductively butter-textured within; its earthy finish harmonizing masterfully with the spiced citrus purée, dried figs, and balsamic glaze. Next up, the croquettes of slowcooked Iberico ham and pea shoots is a tantalizing comfort-food dish which delectably showcases the legendary regional Spanish cured pork made exclusively from pedigree Iberian black pigs. For the main course it’s a matter of surf OR turf this time round, as diners are offered a choice of either the Black Angus beef tenderloin with red wine and mushroom sauce—the succulent, respectably rare prime cut just melting under the knife—served with a creamysmooth basil parmesan mashed potato, snap-crisp sautéed French beans… OR a baked red snapper fillet in lemon and chive butter sauce—the firm yet tender
deep water fish accompanied by wilted baby spinach and a tomato-Kalamata olive couscous that gives the dish a zesty, ethnic cuisine-influenced flavour profile. A climactic Afters Course arrives as a classic panna cotta served in a slick martini glass. The creamy custard is delicately crowned in lavender chocolate and blueberry gelée, with a sculpted white and dark chocolate garnish that provides a sweetly dramatic aesthetic flair. Service is exceptional, with discrete, helpful, and utterly professional wait staff, whose precision food delivery timing and graceful flourishes—such as the dramatic, simultaneous removal of the classic domed plate covers—that add a tangibly refined element to the overall dining experience. To make your reservations for an unforgettable February 14th, email: bangkok@ banyantree.com. by Chris Micheal
Vertigo Restaurant & Bar 61F, Banyan Tree Bangkok Hotel 21/100 South Sathon Rd. Open daily: XXX Phone: 02 679 1200 www.banyantree.com
“Rose La Reine” “Rose La Reine” is one of Ruen Urai’s new signature cocktails. This ﬂowery one is inspired by a famous Thai novelist’s nom de plume, Rose La Reine. Her better-known pen name is Tamayanti. In Rose La Reine’s “Crown of Thorns”, Khun Urai, the restaurant’s owner, is also a character in it. Experience ﬁne culinary arts in the oasis that is Ruen Urai, “The House of Gold”. Open from noon to 11 p.m. Ruen Urai at the Rose Hotel 118 Soi Na Wat Hualumphong, Surawongse Road Tel. (66) 2 266 8268-72 www.ruen-urai.com
FOOD & DRINK | review
Transporting patrons to a different place and time
hile hotels are usually not the first choice for diners looking for an authentic meal in a quiet setting, Don Giovanni, located on the ground floor of the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok, hits all the right notes. The restaurant offers Italian classics and a piano player tickles the ivory as one sups. From big wooden pillars to the villa scenery painted on walls, busts on pedestals, and a large tray of liqueurs, the first impression upon entering Don Giovanni is the attempt to transport the patron to a different place and time. There is even a stained glass window above the door to a private room. The seared Wagyu Beef Carpaccio (B720), with summer truffle lemon dressing, had some celery leaves that provided balance to the sumptuous, salty meat. The other antipasti was Seared Scallop Wrapped in Parma Ham (B980), topped with sautéed foie gras, asparagus and rocket salad. The giant scallops were so fatty and rich they paired well with the foie gras while the asparagus added some crunch. Helping to wash it down was a glass of
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2015 Vesovo Beneventano Falanghina (B340) that had a lovely acidity to cut the heavy dishes. Usually the complimentary bread is not worth mentioning at restaurants, but Don Giovanni offers roasted garlic cloves and a tangy pesto sauce as toppings that make it irresistible. Chef Stefano Zaninelli hails from a small town outside Milan, known for growing the Carnaroli and Arborio rices used for risotto, so naturally he takes pride in presenting his Prosecco Risotto with Smoked Scamorza Cheese and Roasted Scallops (B750). This starchy favourite was savoury and hearty, but never too salty. Next up was homemade Braised Beef Tortellini with Speck (B690), served in a sage butter sauce. The beef was braised for four hours to be tender, while the pasta was al dente—a pleasant contrast in textures, though the saltiness of the speck almost overwhelmed the dish. The pan-fried Mediterranean Sea Bream (B1,300), crusted with potatoes and served with braised spinach and truffle anchovy sauce, offered a panoply of flavours in one dish. The fish was light
and toothsome, the potatoes heavy, and the spinach creamy and buttery. At this point the piano player actually started playing Billy Joel’s Piano Man. The hits kept coming as the Grilled Australian Lamb Rack (B1,500), served with vegetables in a red wine reduction, helped close out the show. The succulent lamb was peppered and smoky with a beautiful red hue when cooked medium. The meat called for a full-bodied red wine, and the 2015 Marchesi di Barolo Rure Barbera d’Asti (B340) had a suitably robust, long finish. If you can handle more, I highly recommend the Marsala Sabayon with Amarena Cherries and Vanilla Ice Cream (B370) dessert. This concoction of eggs, cherries marinated in orange sauce and wine, and ice cream is both zesty and decadent. by Robin Banks
Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao 1693 Phahonyothin Rd. Open: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm Tel: 02 541 1234, ext. 4169 www.centarahotelsresorts.com bangkok101.com
café review | FOOD & DRINK
Photos by Julia Offenberger
Satiate your sugary cravings in the north end of town
he city’s Huai Khwang area is not particularly known for its variety of cafés and dessert places, though this might change with the recent opening of Sift Bakery. Accessible via the Amaranta Hotel, as well as through a separate entrance, the café is located only a short walk from Huai Khwang MRT station. Furnished with large floor-to-ceiling windows and a counter displaying an assortment of desserts and pastries, guests can enjoy their orders in a spacious upstairs and downstairs seating area, accommodating up to 50 people. While at first glance the café seems a little simple, the famous saying—don’t judge a book by its cover—certainly proves to be true here. In addition to a standard selection of coffee and teas, their signature drink, the Capuchon Chocolate (B95), is a delicious and comforting concoction of hot chocolate and coffee. Made from real French dark chocolate, it’s topped off with a dollop of coffee espuma. For those who prefer their brews on the less sweeter side of the spectrum, the Nitro Cold Brew (B95)—a strong, yet bangkok101.com
smooth and easy-to-drink brew made with beans from Northern Thailand—is a good alternative. In terms of food, the café specializes in French and American desserts. Lovers of sweet and tangy flavours should opt for the Citrus Dome (B115). Infused with a mix of citrus fruit, including Calamansi oranges, this refreshing tart is comprised of several layers, starting with a base of dacquoise, a soft French almond and hazelnut cake, a thin layer of passion fruit jelly, and homemade marshmallow, all covered in a coat of zesty sour cream cheese mousse. Alternatively, one will be hard pressed to resist digging (literally) into the bakery’s incredibly moist Carrot Cake Pot (B115). Presented in a tiny garden pot, the base is covered with cream cheese as well as walnuts and flour crumbles, mimicking soil whilst adding crunch at the same time. Sift also offers wedding and birthday cakes (order three days to one week in advance), however, their bestselling product is their Caramel Almond Popcorn. Using non-GMO
corn, these little pieces of delight are smothered in butter, brown sugar, and almond chips. In addition, the hard pieces of corn kernel that often get stuck between teeth have been removed—proving once again that quality lies in the details. Both the café’s name and philosophy are inspired by the eponymous technique that is part of the baking process; a simple, yet effective step that goes a long way. By only using seasonal and organic ingredients, Sift ensures the high quality of their sweet indulgences. While the cakes and pastries are definitely worth a trip on their own to this Huai Khwang bakery, the menu will be extended in the near future with different breakfast and brunch items, including pancakes, soups, and sandwiches. By Julia Offenberger
Pracharatbumpen Soi 7 Tel: 02 691 1688 Open: Wed-Mon, 11am-10pm www.amarantahotel.com F EBRUA RY 2018 | 91
FOOD & DRINK | breaking bread presented by sanpellegrino
FINE DINING WATER TO ENHANCE GREAT FOOD ACQUA PANNA AND S.PELLEGRINO. THE FINE DINING WATERS. w w w.finedininglovers.com Distributed by Global Food Products Co., Ltd. Tel. +66 26831751
with Chef Roberto Pinna
Italy’s regional cuisine explored with Sardinian-inspired culinary flair
midst Bangkok’s sophisticated diet of fabulous five-star fare, it is sometimes tempting for the city’s gourmands to become complacent; to expect the best and nothing less as one gourmet dish after another is savoured… one silver-plated spoonful at a time. Dining at the Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok hotel’s casual fine-dining Italian restaurant Scalini, all foodie wonder, excitement, and passion is restored with the impressive culinary skills of Chef Roberto Pinna. New to Bangkok, the talented cook—who was a semi-finalist in the
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S. Pellegrino Young Chef competition in Southeast Asia in 2016—brings with him the fresh taste of his Italian island home, Sardinia; exploring the regional and seasonal tastes of Italy with creative panache. Chef Roberto blends a heartfelt love of the power of ingredients with expertly executed and innovative culinary techniques and bold flavour combinations. The result is a unique menu that sparkles with true Italian charisma. Specials from Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, and Piedmont are being introduced throughout the year and it this regional approach that really sets
Scalini apart and takes diners on an authentic culinary voyage. “Because Sicily is an island there are a lot of seafood dishes from this region of Italy,” the Chef de Cuisine enthuses, “and it is totally different than the mainland classics. Arab, Spanish, Greek and Turkish influences from the past are reflected in the food, so you get more citrusy flavours and some spice with cous cous and cinnamon too.” The à la carte menu reflects the chef’s Sardinian heritage, where his love of cooking began as a teen helping out at his uncle’s restaurant. bangkok101.com
breaking bread presented by sanpellegrino | FOOD & DRINK
Since then he has worked in some of the finest kitchens and some of the best hotels and resorts in the world, from Malaysia to the Middle East and the Caribbean, Ireland, and Switzerland. His global career and background has inspired a quest to create dishes using local sources rather than simply relying solely on the import run, as well as an appreciation of seasonal produce. “My philosophy is to try and use fresh local ingredients, and to look for quality produce such as organic vegetables,” he explains. “I come from a farming background and we ate our own organic produce and seasonal foods. I like to support businesses and producers where I am based. For example, where I’m from we cook a lot of dishes using sea urchin, which I love, and I now source this from Japan rather than Italy because it’s great too. We even buy some cheeses from Thailand.” All this leads to a menu that is totally unique and extra special. Marinated Hokkaido scallops with Mediterranean red prawns, local pineapple, and a unique onion ice cream is an outstanding dish that takes diners way beyond the borders of Sardinia and out into another dining dimension altogether—simply divine! bangkok101.com
Equally inventive is his French Fine de Claire oysters with a mozzarella foam, Thai watermelon served as a granita and as sous vide bites, plus slithers of locally sourced raw asparagus. A sprinkling of bottarga grey mullet salted and cured sea roe is the perfect Italian topping. A monkfish tortellini dish again keeps the flavours distinctly Italian whilst adding a layer of slow-cooked fish underneath and presenting a thoroughly modern classic. “I think a menu should change at least two or three times a year, with at least 40 percent of the dishes being replaced,” Roberto says, and it is this approach that gives dining at Scalini a feeling of being onboard a beautiful culinary voyage. “We follow the seasons, promote regional food, and introduce a new special each week.” Fashioned after a 1920s ItalianAmerican eatery, Scalini’s roots are without doubt Italian, although a rebranding last year to create a more fine-dining restaurant includes a spectacular steak menu. With Phrom Phong’s myriad of Japanese restaurants, the menu does not feature Wagyu, but instead some pretty amazing Australian cuts, grilled on the open kitchen’s lava stone. A huge 20 oz chargrilled Porterhouse steak marinated with olive oil, garlic, fresh
herbs and black pepper is a Tuscan style dish served with baby spinach that is a must-share for steak lovers; robust, succulent and delicately rustic. Scottish Caorunn gin with red apples is a perfectly original aperitif for a menu that is definitely deliciously different, whilst the wine menu and recommendations are equally as impressive. Even the heavenlysounding brownie with chocolate mousse and Sambuca ice cream is a dessert that promises an interesting and surprising difference. Chef Roberto is adding his own stamp to the Bangkok restaurant scene at the Hilton and it is certainly his Sardinian stock that is adding all the flavour. “Food should be made to eat, and at the end of the day taste is more important,” he points out. “It’s about creating balance in the body of the dish. Presentation is important, but this can be changed and adjusted. The essence of good Italian food is the ingredients, and using these in a way that finds the inherent flavour of a dish. You can still update the concepts and be innovative, but you have to stay true to the taste.” interview by Nadia Willan
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FOOD & DRINK | street eats
Tham Sue Tham Suan
mong the skyscrapers of Silom and Sathorn there are also clusters of old Thai wooden houses. And some of them hold wonderful surprises—such as on site bakeries, restaurants… or both! In 2016, when I first visited Tham Sue Tham Suan—then a bakery with an upstairs restaurant—it was located on Soi Silom 9. Back then you had to enter the soi, keep walking towards the
Our roving roadside gourmand Nym knows her local grub inside-out and thrives on the stories behind the dishes. Each month, she takes an offbeat tour in search of the city’s next delectable morsel. 94 | F EBRUA RY 2018
end, and where the road splits you’d keep left and go straight as the alley narrows to a wooden two-story house on the right side. Now, the restaurant has a new location, on Soi Decho, but the dedication to making amazing dishes remains. The name Tham Sue Tham Suan means “make blouse, make garden” but there is no garden or, for that matter, a blouse-making shop. Instead, it’s all about food. Owner-chef Juruwan, or Jub, used to have a dressmaking shop in the Ratchawat area, but quite a few years ago she moved to the Silom/Sathorn area and focuses on what she loves best: cooking. I recall vividly when I first arrived at her original Soi 9 location. I was confused. Did I accidentally wander into someone’s home? Could this be the right address? The space known as Khun Jub’s ‘food studio’ had me mesmerized with its blend of kitchen, dining area, and what looked like a bric-a-brac showroom to one side.
“When I grew up, the only activity we did as a family was cooking and eating,” Jub explained. As a girl, she knew all the herbs in her family’s garden and could grab anything and craft it into the food. “My cooking style has always been based on intuition and feeling.” Her daily menu often begins with a phone call from the prospective diner. “What don’t you like to eat?” she asks. Or she will simply tell you what she has on as a special. Normally she offers four to five dishes: a soup, a salad, a pasta dish, and a main course, all predicated by seasonal ingredients and what she finds daily in the local markets. Trust me, whatever she cooks will be good! Call Jub to make a reservation and check on the opening hours. Her price is roughly B750 per person but this varies depending on what she is serving on the day. The restaurant seats around 25 people and is available for private lunches and dinners.
Getting there: Tham Sue Tham Suan is located at 10/1 Soi Decho (walking distance from the Pullman G hotel). If you get lost, just call Jub on 08 1843 9628 for directions. bangkok101.com
FOOD & DRINK | listings
CHINESE Bai Yun
The Chinese outlet with the best view in town, and one of the highest representatives of Pearl Delta cuisine on the planet, offers high-quality ingredients you can really savour. 59F, Banyan Tree Bangkok 21/100 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 679 1200 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm
reminder of how Chinese food should be executed and presented. The dim sum is the obvious place to start, and the signature dishes are serious standouts. 3F, Shangri-La Hotel 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road Tel: 02 236 7777 Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm, Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2:30pm, Sun, 11am-3pm www.shangri-la.com
The interior is elegant, but more importantly, the food is a glowing
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FRENCH Brasserie Cordonnier
Serving exquisite Gallic favourites— from French onion soup to beef bourguignon—this high ceilinged eatery brings hearty and savoury French fare to Bangkok’s hungry hordes. 33/30, Sukhumvit Soi 11 Tel: 094 970 8599 Open daily: 6pm-midnight www.cordonnierbkk.com
Pagoda Chinese Restaurant
This upscale venue serves traditional Cantonese cuisine in a spacious, contemporary setting. The menu focuses on healthy dishes, while ensuring that the flavours and authenticity are retained. 4F, Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel 199, Sukhumvit Soi 22 Tel: 02 059 5999 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10pm www.marriott.com
22F, Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park Tel: 02 632 9000 Open daily: 6pm-10pm, Mon-Sat, 11:30am2:30pm, Sun, 11am-2:30pm www.crowneplazabkk.com
Xin Tian Di
Xin Tian Di
The restaurant is renowned not only for its stylish atmosphere and views, but for its dim sum, set lunches, and à la carte dinners, including what many regard as the best Peking duck in Bangkok.
J’Aime by JeanMichel Lorain
This Michelin-starred restaurant’s classic French haute cuisine definitely lives up to its lofty expectations, even rising above, thanks to the vibrancy in taste and colour of the dishes. You’ll no doubt find yourself thinking about certain menu items well into the next day.
listings | FOOD & DRINK U Sathorn Bangkok 105, 105/1 Soi Ngam Duphli Tel: 02 119 4899 Open daily: 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm www.jaime-bangkok.com
The concept at Le Boeuf is simple: high-quality steak liberally doused with a unique pea-green sauce, paired with an unlimited supply of crispy pommes frites and fresh salad. French to the core. GF, Marriott Executive Apartments Mayfair 60 Soi Langsuan Tel: 02 672 12 30 Open daily: 11:30am-11pm www.leboeufgroup.com
Outlaw Creative Cuisine
This restaurant definitely lives up to its name, serving daring fare with an artistic flair, and letting the high quality ingredients speak for themselves. 415, Charoen Krung Soi 45 Tel: 090 021 2111 Open: Tue-Fri, 10am-2pm, 5pm-10pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, 5pm-10:30pm, Sun 5pm-10:30pm www.facebook.com/outlawcreativecuisine
GREEK Avra Greek Restaurant
Rising from the mid-Sukhumvit culinary clutter like a Parthenon of Hellenic delights, this charming eatery offers an impressively expansive menu that includes all the perennial favourites prepared with thoughtful touches. GF, Bangkok Hotel Lotus Sukhumvit 1 Soi Daengudom, Sukhumvit Soi 33 Open: Tue-Fri, noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm, Sat-Sun, noon-11pm, Mon, 6pm-11pm Tel: 02 258 2877 www.avrabkk.com
German gastronomy comes alive using modern techniques and high-quality ingredients, while still following traditional flavour profiles. The kitchen of this Michelin-starred restaurant is helmed by a pair of identical twin chefs, and the results are like nothing you’ll see anywhere else. 10, Yen Akat Soi 3 Tel: 02 287 1799 Open daily: 6pm-12am www.facebook.com/suhringshome
An ambitious venture in modern Indian cuisine, featuring a lighter menu that still delivers the punch people expect while
dialling down the stodge and oiliness, a riff on Indian-Chinese—or Himalayan— combinations. 71, Sukhumvit Soi 26 Tel: 02 258 4900 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-midnight www.indusbangkok.com
A must-visit for foodies, this progressive, molecular Indian cuisine resto has been voted number one for three consecutive years—2015 to 2017—on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and now it has 2 Michelin stars to its name. Try one of the recommended tasting menus. 68/1 Soi Langsuan Tel: 02 652 1700 Open daily: 6pm-11pm www.eatatgaggan.com
A high-flying joint that contains more than a few surprises, from cocktails with Indian twists to food that marries ingredients unusual in Indian cuisine with classic manifestations from the Subcontinent.
Vivace Sustainable Malossol Caviar
LOCATION Conveniently located just 20 metres off Convent Rd (on Soi Pipat 2), in Bangkok’s Silom District OPENING HOURS 3pm–1am Every Day Full Kitchen & Bar until 1am CONTACT T: 02 238 0931 E: email@example.com @eatmerestaurant @eatmerestaurant @eatmerestaurant
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FOOD & DRINK | listings 29F, Holiday Inn Bangkok Sukhumvit Sukhumvit Soi 22 Tel: 02 683 4888 Open daily: 5pm-1am www.mayathailand.com
Punjab Grill Bangkok
This popular restaurant franchise—there are over 26 outlets in India—brings to Bangkok diners an element of refinement to Indian cuisine, through ornate presentation, amazing flavours, inventive tasting menus, and creative cocktailpairings. Radisson Suites Bangkok Sukhumvit 23/2-3, Sukhumvit Soi 13 Open daily: 6pm-11:30pm Tel: 02 645 4952 www.punjabgrillbangkok.com
The Coffee Club
Since 1989 this Australian company has been expanding internationally and now has several branches in Thailand. It offers a friendly and flavourful oasis of calm— whether you just want a latte, an all-day breakfast, or a full and fortifying meal. 1239 Sukhumvit Rd, Tel: 02 381 2736 45 Soi Convent, Tel: 098 250 9047 The Hive at Sukhumvit Soi 49, Tel: 098 250 9042 The Maze at Sukhumvit Soi 55, Tel: 098 250 9051 facebook.com/thecoffeeclubthailand
Crepes & Co
The flavours and ingredients take in the entire sweep of the Mediterranean, borrowing heavily from Morocco and Greece, in particular. Sweet and savoury crepes are just as good for brunch as they are for a late night treat. 59/4, Langsuan Soi 1, Tel: 02 652 0208 GF, EmQuartier, Tel: 095 251 5233 Thonglor Soi 8, Tel: 02 726 9398 7F, CentralWorld, Tel: 092 663 1386 www.facebook.com/crepesnco
From the outside this three-storey concrete building may look rustic and unfinished; inside however you’ll find contemporary American cuisine with a heavy New York influence being served up. The top-notch ingredients and excellence in execution are really what mark the dishes here. 118/2, Soi Suksa (Sathorn Soi 12) Tel: 02 234 7749 Open daily: 6pm-midnight www.bunkerbkk.com
Serving up artistic masterpieces on a plate, the visionary kitchen team here use mainly local produce and ingredients, conjuring up unique concoctions that give traditional Thai dishes a definite twist. Try one of the chef’s incredible tasting menus. 113/9-10, Sukhumvit Soi 55 Tel: 099 614 1158 Open: Tue-Thu, Sun, 6pm-midnight, Fri-Sat, 6pm-12:30am www.canvasbangkok.com 98 | F EBRUA RY 2018
Cuisine de Garden
Cuisine de Garden
The Bangkok branch of this popular Chiang Mai eatery offers fine dining in a woodland decorated setting, with artfully prepared multi-course set menu dinners available. 12/6 Ekkamai Soi 2 Tel: 02 053 2059 Open: Tue-Sun, 6pm-11pm www.cuisinedegarden.com
Run by the always innovative Tim Butler, this cosy Silom restaurant is consistently ranked among the top restaurants in and serves quite possibly the best steak in town. Trust us! Soi Pipat 2, Silom Rd. Tel: 02 238 0931 Open daily: 3pm-1am www.eatmerestaurant.com
This Michelin-starred restaurant expertly fuses Japanese and French culinary aesthetics, flavours, and precision, in a retro-futuristic space that feels like a home study but has the theatricality of a playhouse. Meanwhile, views of Bangkok’s downtown cityscape can be enjoyed from the restaurant’s open-air deck. 25F, The Okura Prestige Bangkok 57 Wireless Rd. Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm Tel: 02 687 9000 www.okurabangkok.com
The tagline here is ‘Modern Australian Cuisine’ which makes more sense once you sample a few of the astoundingly inventive morsels on the menu. Try the chef’s special multi-course tasting menu, and prepare to plunge yourself into gastronomic bliss. 28, Sukhumvit Soi 47 Open daily: 5:30pm-midnight Weekend brunch: 11am-3pm Tel: 02 662 4936 www.facebook.com/freebirdbkk
By fusing Eastern flavours with Western techniques, this high-altitude restaurant has become a haven for fine dining. Ask about the chef’s amazing signature tasting menus. 29F, SO Sofitel Bangkok, 2 North Sathorn Rd. Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm Tel: 02 624 0000 www.so-sofitel-bangkok.com
The Penthouse Bar & Grill
With a design concept that conjures up the fictional penthouse abode of a jetsetting adventurer, the open grill kitchen at this stunning restaurant space and cocktail bar dishes up succulent steaks and other meaty morsels. It’s also home to what has to be the coolest looking whisky room in the city. bangkok101.com
listings | FOOD & DRINK 34-36F, Park Hyatt Bangkok, 88 Wireless Rd. Open daily: 5:30pm-midnight Tel: 02 012 1234 bangkok.park.hyatt.com
Styled as a ‘World Food Market’, this all-day dining venue puts a contemporary twist on buffet spreads. And on weekends, the restaurant offers an irresistable scrumptious, free-flow wine brunch buffet. 7F, SO Sofitel Bangkok, 2 North Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 624 0000 Open daily: 6:30pm-10:30pm, Sat-Sun Wine Brunch, noon-3pm www.so-sofitel-bangkok.com
Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel 155 Rajadamri Rd. Tel: 02 126 8866 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm www.siam-bangkok.anantara.com
Enoteca Italiana Bangkok
Rustic from the barn-like roof to the homemade breads, this place is traditional Italian to the bone. There’s a long list of vino to enjoy, and impeccable à la carte and degustation menus to explore. As authentic as it is delicious. 39, Sukhumvit Soi 27 Tel: 02 258 4386 Open daily: 6pm-midnight www.enotecabangkok.com
La Dotta Pasta Bar
Bangkok’s ‘pastaphiles’ are converging in droves at this cozy, two level shophouse that specializes in delicious handmade pasta, but also uses organic imports as well. 161/6, Thong Lor Soi 9 Tel: 02 392 8688 Open daily: 11am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm www.ladotta.co
Up & Above
An Italian eatery in the hands of Italians—where the pride is tasted in every bite—serves as the inspiration for a restaurant aiming to conquer the city. 1F, Mille Malle, Sukhumvit Soi 20 Tel: 02 663 4988 Open daily: 3pm-11pm www.millemalle.com
Up & Above
This 24th floor restaurant in the five star Okura Prestige Bangkok hotel boasts a brunch to rival all others—delivering a buffet of luxurious proportions. 24F, Okura Prestige Bangkok, 57 Witthayu Rd. Tel: 02 687 9000 Open daily: noon-10:30pm Sunday Brunch: noon-3pm www.okurabangkok.com
Wild & Co.
This one-of-a-kind restaurant takes the Thai taste for “forest food” and fuses it with the Western yen for grilled meats. In this case the meat happens to be wild or farmed game, for the most part. 33/1 Soi Farm Wattana, Phra Khanong Tel: 061 515 6989 Open daily: 5:30pm-1am www.wildnco.com
Serving up authentic Italian fare since the late ‘90s, this staple on the lunchtime roster for suits and their business partners has grown casual enough to warrant a visit by anyone on any day of the week. bangkok101.com
La Bottega di Luca
La Bottega di Luca
This elegant Italian eatery, overseen by the ever charming Luca Appino, serves over 15 different kinds of pasta and an array of Italian specialties you won’t find on many other menus. 2F, Terrace 49 Building, Sukhumvit Soi 49 Tel: 02 204 1731 Open: Tue-Sun, 11am-3pm, 5pm-11pm, Mon, 5pm-11pm www.labottega.name/restaurant
This fine dining Italian gourmet restaurant specializes in classic artistic, chef-style cooking, serving up dishes with finesse and finely balanced flavour. The Sukhothai Bangkok,13/3 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 344 8888 Open daily: Lunch, 12pm-2:30pm, Dinner, 6:30pm-11pm www.sukhothai.com
Theo Mio – Italian Kitchen
This charming, light-filled indoor restaurant—with a small outdoor seating area streetside—serves up classic Italian fare, as seen through the eyes of British celebrity restaurateur Theo Randall (his homemade pastas are especially tempting). GF, InterContinental Bangkok Hotel 973 Ploen Chit Rd. Open daily: 11:30am-11:30pm Tel: 02 656 0444 bangkok.intercontinental.com
At the centre of every table is a hot grill, where a chef cooks for you, stimulating appetites with a deft and close-range slicing of onions, zucchini, shrimp, pork, steak—even the fried rice. Avani Atrium Bangkok, 1880 Petchaburi Rd. Tel: 02 718 2023 Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm www.avanihotels.com
Combining a modern mastery of time-honoured customs in a stylish and convivial setting, this is one of the top places for outstanding Japanese cuisine in Bangkok. 8F, The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Bangkok 259, Sukhumvit Soi 19 Tel: 02 207 8000 Open daily: 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm www.kissojapaneserestaurant.com F EBRUA RY 2018 | 99
FOOD & DRINK | listings
High-end Japanese restaurants abound in Bangkok, but it’s hard to imagine a more authentic experience than you’ll find at this elegant eatery. 33, Sukhumvit Soi 16 Tel: 088 540 1001 Open daily: 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-10pm www.tensui.co
Sushi and sashimi purists take note, a staggering 90 percent of the seafood is selected from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. 5F, Central Embassy, 1031 Phloenchit Rd. Tel: 02 160 5880-1 Open daily: 11am-10.30pm www.yuutaro.com
the chef’s more daring molecular gastronomy creations—delicious and inventive takes on classic Spanish cuisine. 63 Athenee Tower, Wireless Rd. Tel: 02 168 8100 Open: Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm, Mon-Sun, 5pm-12am www.islerobangkok.com
STEAK & BURGER Babette’s The Steakhouse
An intimate 1920s Chicago style eatery at award-winning Hotel Muse Bangkok, serving up the best steak in Bangkok, set against a glittering city backdrop. Hotel Muse, 55/555 Langsuan Rd. Tel: 02 630 4000 Open: Lunch 12pm-3pm, Dinner 6pm-12am www.babettesbangkok.com
Meat lovers will enjoy the authentic taste of Argentinian steak in all its flame-kissed goodness goodness at either outlet of this popular eatery. The meals are best rounded out with a hearty South American red wine. 8/1-7, Sukhumvit Soi 19, Tel: 02 255 2864 88/36, Sukhumvit Soi 55, Tel: 087 213 088 Open daily: 11am-late www.elgaucho.asia
This three-storey restaurant, which specializes in tapas-style offerings, offers authentic Spanish tastes at very affordable prices. 159/10, Sukhumvit Soi 55 Tel: 02 052 0656 Open: Sun, Tue-Thu, 11:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat, 11:30am-1am www.eltapeobkk.com
The warm and inviting interior, divided between a tapas bar and a regular sit down restaurant area, welcomes adventurous diners to try some of 10 0 | F EBRUA RY 2018
tablecloths to the wooden plateholders adorned with silver handles shaped like longhorn steers, this is a classic red meat restaurant (utilizing delicious US bone-in beef too). 2F, JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok 4, Sukhumvit Soi 2 Open daily: 6pm-11pm Tel: 02-656-7700 www.jwmarriottbangkok.com
Authentic, but daring, this is one of the top Thai restaurants in all of Asia. With a modus operandi of “essential Thai, delivered with panache,” it’s easy to see why this Michelin-starred restaurant remains so popular year after year. 24, Sukhumvit Soi 53 Tel: 02 260 2962 Open: Tue-Sun, 11:30am-10:30pm www.bolan.co.th
Here you’ll find some of the most consistently good hamburgers in the city, and they come with a healthy range of haute toppings. Wash your choice down with a vanilla milkshake and seal the deal with some yummy curly fries. 3, Soi Ekkamai 10 Tel: 02 714 4249 Open: Sun-Thu, 11:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat ,11.30am-midnight www.facebook.com/theburgerfactory
A wildly successful brand since it was first established in 1980, this restaurant (and cooking school) sits in a gorgeous historic mansion. On the menu, Chef Nooror takes a riff on the Thai food of tomorrow, but also shares her heritage with every dish. 233 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 673 9353 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:30pm-10:30pm www.blueelephant.com
Meat & Bones
Nothing represents the very soul of stateside cooking than a smokehouse BBQ, and here the slow-smoked ribs are as traditional as it gets. The name says it all. The Commons, Thong Lor 17 Tel: 081 933 7143 Open: Mon-Thu, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sun, 11:30am-10:30pm facebook.com/meatandbonesbangkok
New York Steakhouse
Looking for a traditional style steakhouse? From the spotless white
This cool and casual hole-in-the-wall bistro-style eatery serves up amazing Northern style Thai dishes, and boasts the “best khao soi in town”. 95/3 Nang Linchi Rd. Tel: 094-303-5833 Open daily: 11:30am-11pm www.facebook.com/eatspayao bangkok101.com
Rock Restaurant and Bar
Taking an inspirational cue from China’s “stone forest” in Shilin (Yunan), this spectacularly designed restaurant offers a blend of tradition Thai recipes enhanced by Western elements. 48/8-9, Soi Ruamrudee Open daily: 5:30pm-midnight Tel: 082 688 8200 facebook.com/rockrestaurantandbar
Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin
With a menu created by superstar Danish chef Henrik Yde-Andersen, diners at this elegant, innovate one Michelin star eatery can expect—on any given day or evening visit—an incredible culinary adventure. Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok 991/9 Rama 1 Rd. Open daily: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-midnight Tel: 02 162 9000 www.kempinski.com/bangkok
Set in the former residence of the herbal medical doctor to King Rama V, Ruen Urai uses herbs and spices with medicinal qualities, while delivering refined Thai fare using the finest fresh ingredients. The Rose Hotel, 118 Surawongse Rd. Tel: 02 266 8268-72 Open daily: noon-11pm www.ruen-urai.com
Saffron Sky Garden
This “garden in the sky” offers stunning vistas overlooking almost all angles of Bangkok. Large bed-like grey lounge chairs adorned with bright coloured pillows provide the perfect spot to lay back and unwind while sampling Thai tapas menu items from the hotel’s award-winning Saffron restaurant. 52F, Banyan Tree Bangkok 21/100 South Sathorn Rd. Open daily: 5pm-1am Tel: 02 679 1200 www.banyantree.com/bangkok
Sala Rim Naam
Exquisite and authentic Thai cuisine served in a beautiful colonial pavilion, built in the traditional Northern Thai style. There’s enough seating to comfortably accommodate up to 170 guests in this spacious riverside setting. The Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok 48 Oriental Ave. Tel: 02 659 9000 Open daily: 5pm-midnight www.mandarinoriental.com
Dean & Deluca
This New York based brand cleaves to its highbred beginnings with an approachable composite of American comfort food, spiced to local levels with the aid of local ingredients. GF, MahaNakhon Cube, Tel: 02 023 1616 2F, Central Embassy, Tel: 02 160 5956 GF, EmQuartier, Tel: 0 2261 0464 1F, Park Ventures Ecoplex, 57 Wireless Rd, Tel: 02 108 2200 www.deandeluca.com/thailand
Not Just Another Cup
Saffron Sky Garden
This beautifully remodeled house turned restaurant offers a taste of Eastern Thailand, a cuisine noted for its abundance of seafood, and the use of fresh fruits and rare herbs. 90, Sukhumvit Soi 33 Tel: 02 088 0968 Open: Wed-Mon, noon-11pm www.facebook.com/sritrat
This cozy cafe, suitable for early birds, serves a variety of brunch menus, while the drink menu covers everything from coffee to cold-pressed juices and infused water. 75/1, Sathorn Soi 10 Tel: 02 635 3464 Open daily: 7am-7pm facebook.com/notjustanothercup
VEGETARIAN Broccoli Revolution
Steve Café and Cuisine
This veg-friendly restaurant features a menu full of bright veggie bites that could pull in even the most stubborn carnivore. Now with two locations. 899 Sukhumvit Rd (at Soi 49) Tel: 02 662 5001 6F, Central Embassy, Tel: 02 160 5788 Facebook: Broccoli Revolution
Given the number of mass-produced seafood gardens and tourist coffee shops exploiting the romance of the Chao Phraya river, what’s remarkable about this restaurant is that they come pretty close to authentic homemade. 68 Sri Ayuthaya Rd. Tel: 02 281 0915, 02 280 2989 Open daily: 11am-11pm www.stevecafeandcuisine.com
Located in the busy north end of Bangkok, this Thai restaurant offers a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere with a focus on natural and organic ingredients. It encompasses traditional dishes from all over Thailand. LLF, Centara Grand, Ladprao 1695 Phahonyothin Rd. Tel: 02 541 1234 ext. 4068 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm; 6pm-10:30pm www.centarahotelsresorts.com
The modern-rustic interior is flooded with natural light, and the fare—from tantalizing dairy-free bakery desserts to vegan appetizers and main courses—is pretty “natural” as well. 35/2 Soi Methiniwet (Sukhumvit Soi 24) Tel: 02 258 8489 Open: Fri-Wed, 10am-10pm www.facebook.com/veganbakerybangkok
Colourful drinks at Luna Lounge
NIGHTLIFE over the “moon” for this new nightlife spot Sukhumvit Soi 22 is undergoing lots of development these days, so it’s no surprise that a trail of new dining and drink spots is following in that wake. One of the newest faces on the scene here is the LUNA LOUNGE, which took over—and completely remodeled—the 2nd storey space formerly occupied by The Overground bar. This new space, somewhat tucked away on a side street off the main road, has technically been open for a couple of months but on January 10th it held a grand opening party to show off its glamorous makeover. Take a seat in one of the luxuriant velvet couches, order a hand-crafted cocktail, settle in to the DJ sounds, and check out the elaborate fabric tapestry that covers the ceiling in an undulating sea of swirls. www.facebook.com/lunaloungebkk
right here for beer Beer lovers will want to head over to the HOLIDAY INN BANGKOK hotel (just off the Chit Lom BTS station) to check out the property’s newest beer-centric drink and dine spot, aptly entitled BEER REPUBLIC. Decorated in 1920’s industrial chic, and boasting an impressive selection of over 70 beer labels alone—as well as a generous array of other beverages, and Thai and European classics on the menu—this cool but casual venue is sure to impress. If you know your pale ales from your pilsners, and you marzens from your saisons, then come on down and have a chat with UK-born DANIEL THOM, the resident ‘Beer Master’. He makes it a point to stock a comprehensive variety of imports, including kegs, bottles, and even cans, but his beer selection also includes many superb Thai craft brews, such as the excellent Bootleg Brothers Island Hopper Lager (which is currently on the 'Guest Draught Beer' list). Open daily from 11:30am till midnight. www.beerrepublicbangkok.com
a bounty of bubbly Fans of “bubbly” will definitely want to check out the all-champagne-paired, six-course gourmet dinner being presented at RIEDEL WINE BAR & CELLAR (in Gaysorn Village, 999 Phloen Chit Rd) on Friday, February 23rd. The menu, specially created only for this event, includes caviar, vitello et boquerónes (veal and anchovy), Hokkaido scallops, truffle ravioli, Iberico pork cheeks, and a dessert of pineapple and chocolate blanche Each course is perfectly paired with finely selected labels of premium champagne from labels such as Moet & Chandon, Louis Roederer, Marguet Ambonay, and more. Guests will also be treated to live music by JOE TANARAT. The dinner runs from 7pm till 9pm, and is priced at B7,900 per person, including Riedel’s Veritas Champagne glass set (valued B3,800). www.riedelwinebarbkk.com
the wait is over This past New Year’s Eve the PARK HYATT BANGKOK hotel (Central Embassy, 88 Thanon Witthayu) unveiled its new 37th floor, garden-styled ROOFTOP TERRACE, which is the icing on the cake for the hotel’s three tiered collection of restaurants and drink spots—all of which offer spectacular views overlooking the glittering Ploen Chit area. As long as the weather cooperates this exclusive venue, which can accommodate about 80 persons, is sure to become the go-to spot for sipping under the stars. bangkok.park.hyatt.com
F EBRUA RY 2018| 103
NIGHTLIFE | review
Interconnected bars aspire to great heights, focusing on high-quality spirits
he Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park hotel opened gradually over the past year, introducing new restaurants and rooms when the time was right. Just before Christmas, the hotel finally revealed its finishing touches: ABar and ABar Rooftop. It seems they saved the best for last. The bars don’t seek to capitalize on a 37th-floor setting above Benjasiri Park. They certainly won’t be known for their Mojitos, either: ABar Rooftop focuses on high-quality gin drinks, while ABar specializes in premium dark spirits—whiskies, dark rums, cognacs. The F&B team believes both can join the ranks of the city’s top cocktail bars. They may be right. On a recent Monday night, three quarters of the loungers and tables at ABar Rooftop were occupied. Bar staff flitted across vinyl wood flooring, serving Be Gins (B375)—a tangy mix of Beefeater 24, maraschino liqueur, house-made lavender syrup, lemon juice, and egg white, that galvanizes the palate for a night of progressive drinking—and signature G&Ts, like the No. 3: Martin Miller (B425), 10 4 |F EBRUA RY 2018
with edible flowers and Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic. The young, uber-talented Saimai Nantarat, previously of Bunker and Highball, leads the bar team here, making signature cocktails from gins that start at Beefeater 24 (served straight, on the rocks, or tall). To that end, ABar Rooftop currently shelves 57 gins—many of them boutique—and should stock north of 100 soon, as more labels legally enter the market. The gins are separated on the menu by characteristics—fruity, floral, light and crisp, London dry, barrelaged. Pick one and customize your G&T with any of a dozen different tonics from East Imperial, Fever Tree, 1724, and more. Looking for a local taste? Consider Grandma Jinn No. 1 (B315), a floral and aromatic Thai gin, paired with elderflower tonic (B85). A level below, ABar takes different design cues. Inspired by Victorian England—specifically, Sherlock Holmes—the bar features dark wood interiors, high ceilings, and library lights set on reading tables. Head Mixologist Rojanat ‘Ping’ Chareonsri and team tend a bar rising tall in the middle of the
room, aiding interaction between you and the person preparing your cocktails. And those cocktails are nothing short of excellent. The opening menu highlights vintage recipes enhanced with Ping’s flair. If you like your drinks stiff and spirit-forward, try the Bobby Burns (B395). In this blend of Glenlivet Founders Reserve, Carpano Classico vermouth, Bénédictine, and crème de cacao, the booze ebbs and flows, broken up by a rush of sweetness in the middle. If you want something brighter, go for the Scofflaw (B425). Chivas Regal 12YO is the base for a refreshing, earthy drink featuring fresh lemon, Carpano Dry, and house-made ginger shrub, a concentrated syrup made from fresh ginger, sugar, and champagne vinegar. Whatever you choose, you’ll be satisfied. ABar has big rewards for the bold drinker. by Craig Sauers
ABar & ABar Rooftop
Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park 37-38F, 199, Sukhumvit Soi 22 Open daily: 7pm-1:30am Tel: 02 059 9999 bangkokmarriottmarquisqueenspark.com bangkok101.com
review | NIGHTLIFE
The Fat Tap
A favourite Bangkok dive brings BBQ and craft beer to Ekkamai
rom the founders of one of Bangkok’s most beloved dive bars comes The Fat Tap. Taking over a space in upper Ekkamai so large it could be an auto body shop, The Fat Tap doubles as a destination for craft beer and BBQ. This builds on the combined elements that made the original bar, Fatty’s, so popular—beer, burgers, and Wisconsin cheese curds. However, this new bar, from husbandand-wife team Matthew Fischer and Kae Maeboonruan—deviates from Fatty’s formula in several ways. For one, the Fat Tap has a tidier, more spacious arrangement. The ground floor the bar occupies is the width of three shophouses and has a sizable apron of pavement out front, where a couple of tables and a BBQ grill currently reside. At first glance, The Fat Tap seems to be a suitable host for events—beer launches, office dinners… you name it—and Kae confirms as much, explaining that the bar has already accommodated a few staff parties. What’s more, the design gives the bar broader appeal. The duo left a lot of fixtures intact when they bangkok101.com
leased the space (it used to be a Taiwanese restaurant), and rather than concert posters and a flag of Fischer’s home state of Wisconsin, this new space features Edison bulbs, wooden interiors, and an attractive, tawny wall mosaic. The dive-like touches that have been carried over? Colourful string lights outlining the beer fridge and a quality classic rock soundtrack. It’s a warm setting, totally lacking in affectation. In other words, it’s a great spot to grab a few beers and a burger. Concerning the former, there are 12 frequently rotated taps as well as the fridge, which is stocked with bottles and cans from Stone, Ballast Point, Happy New Beer, Crew Republic, and whatever else is fresh. From the fridge, Stone’s Xocoveza (B300), an imperial stout brewed with Mexican hot chocolate spices (pasilla peppers, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon), and Deschutes’ Obsidian Stout (B280) are highly recommended. Some staples you can expect on draft include Deschutes’ Fresh Squeezed IPA (B285 pint/B160 half pint), Tuatara’s Tomahawk Pale Ale
(B285/B160), and Anderson Valley’s excellent Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout (B300/B170). Fischer adds the bar will regularly have tap takeovers—for example, the Brouwerij de Molen takeover they hosted in January—and maybe the occasional “beer buffet”, which offers 90 minutes of all-you-candrink brew from the taps. Come hungry. The Fat Tap serves the same great diner food Fatty’s is known for plus the aforementioned BBQ. If the incredible Cream Cheese Burger (B290), with house-pickled jalapeños and smoked bacon doesn’t stop your heart, order the BBQ Ribs (B450). You get a half-slab of delicious pork ribs glazed in the Fat Tap’s own sauce, alongside two sides. Throw in some Poutine (B260), with onion gravy and Wisconsin curds, and you have yourself a perfect night. by Craig Sauers
The Fat Tap
192/7 Ekamai Soi 16 Open: Tue-Sun, 5pm-midnight Tel: 02 391 8221 www.facebook.com/thefattap F EBRUA RY 2018| 105
NIGHTLIFE | listings
BAR Backstage Bar
Acclaimed as Bangkok’s best new cocktail bar, this drink spot offers a variety of cocktail menus created by talented bartenders. While a soundtrack featuring big band covers of pop songs plays on, the fun-loving staff jokes around with everyone, even the first-timers, but they also make sure all customers get the right drink for their tastes. Playhaus Thong Lor 205/22-23, Sukhumvit Soi 55 Tel: 02 712 5747 Open daily: 6pm-1am facebook.com/backstagecocktailbarbkk
to Thursday (and 8.30pm Friday and Saturday), a talented band entertains with jazz and R&B sounds. 1F, Conrad Bangkok Hotel, 87 Wireless Rd. Open: Sun-Thu, 7am-1am, Fri-Sat, 7am-2am Tel: 02 690 9244 facebook.com/diplomatbarconradbangkok
specials and a mad scientist barman bent on experimentation, and home brewing his own spirits. 47/1 Phra Arthit Rd. Tel: 081 406 3773 Open: Tue-Sun, 5pm-midnight instagram.com/rarbbyescapade
Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar
Located on the hotel’s lobby level, this stylish drink spot offers an extensive selection of beers, whiskies, cocktails, and wines, plus tasty nibbles and great live music seven days a week. Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit 30, Sukhumvit Soi 21 Tel: 02 204 4000 Open daily: 5pm-1am www.pullmanbankokgrandesukhumvit.com
A world-class wine bar that isn’t just all about wine. There's dozens of vinos to choose from, as well as some exciting options for the non-wine-inclined, while refined, rustic European cuisine is served up tapas-style for social dining. 2F, Gaysorn Plaza, 999 Ploenchit Rd. Tel: 02 656 1133 Open daily: 11am-midnight www.riedelwinebarbkk.com
J. Boroski Mixology
A secret bar, built by masterful mixologist Joseph Boroski, who creates drinks to reflect a customer’s specifications or, if you’re lucky, according to his own whims. Ask someone “in-the-know” to reveal the exact location. Sukhumvit Soi 55 (secret location) Tel: 02 712 6025 Open daily: 7pm-2am www.josephboroski.com
Featuring a black and gold colour theme, and both indoor and outdoor seating, this 10th floor lounge is warm, sophisticated, quiet, and inviting—the archetype of a bar you would belly up to after a long day at work or a long flight into town. 10F, Park Hyatt Bangkok, 88 Wireless Rd. Open daily: 7am-midnight Tel: 02 012 1234 www.bangkok.park.hyatt.com
See and be seen at any one of the city’s three Brew locations. All have a healthy list of foreign brews and cider on tap. It's a beerlover’s dream. 1F, Seen Space, Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thong Lor), Tel: 02 185 2366 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Tel: 02 185 2366 Asiatique, 2194 Charoenkrung Rd. Tel: 02 108 8744 www.brewbkk.com
The Diplomat Bar
Drop by any night and you’re likely to find suited and booted business types chatting over martinis. Dark wood touches, soft yellow lighting, and a den-like feel partly account for the bar’s popularity, and from 8pm Monday 106 |F EBRUA RY 2018
This hugely popular Mexican bar and restaurant offers curious customers a chance to sample the finest mezcals and top-end tequilas, as well as superb Mexican-inspired dishes. 2F, 72 Courtyard, Sukhumvit Soi 55 Tel: 02 392 7760 Open daily: 6pm-1am (Fri-Sat till 2am) www.touchehombre.com Pink Flamingo Bar
Pink Flamingo Bar
This spacious, 80s theme bar—tucked in behind Prelude restaurant—serves up decidedly 21st century cocktails. Be daring and opt for the ‘Mystery Box’, where the bartender decides your drink… no questions asked! 225/15, Arena 10, Soi Thong Lor 10 Open: Tue-Sun, 6pm-midnight Tel: 061 384 1067 facebook.com/pinkflamingobyprelude
Ensconced in a hipster-chic, glassencased nook, this Old Town craft cocktails mecca features a rotating menu of daily drink
The Bangkok branch of the world’s favourite Tiki Bar has been serving up potent tropical concoctions—with amazing riverside views—for over two decades. It’s a place that just begs you to let your hair down and have fun. 257/1-3 Charoennakorn Rd. Open: Mon-Sat, 6pm-midnight; closed for dinner on Sundays Tel: 02 476 0022 bangkok-riverside.anantara.com
This restaurant is established under the umbrella of Vogue magazine, and the menu and kitchen are under the direction of Vincent Thierry, a master of his trade and former chef at the threebangkok101.com
listings | NIGHTLIFE Michelin-starred Caprice restaurant in Hong Kong. The menu is small and most dishes are designed as nibbles to be enjoyed over a few drinks. MahaNakhon Cube Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Rd. Tel: 02 001 0697 Open daily: 10am-late www.voguelounge.com
Wishbeer Home Bar
It’s back and bigger than ever with new digs on the corner of Sukhumvit 67, where, though it remains a work in progress, it already welcomes satisfied beer drinkers by the dozens each night. Sukhumvit Soi 67 Tel: 02 392 1403 Open daily: 7:30am-1am www.wishbeerhomebar.com
Visitors here can enjoy a beautiful view of Bangkok’s lively downtown core. The breezes are gentle, the chairs and couches are comfortable, and the cocktails are delicious. 26F, Hotel Indigo Bangkok, 81 Wireless Rd. Tel: 02 207 4999 Open daily: 6pm-11:30pm www.hotelindigo.com/bangkok
Wine Connection The Grill There are currently 18 Wine Connection outlets in Bangkok, however this branch also focusses on grilled meat—especially beef—to be enjoyed with the large selection of reasonably priced wines (available mainly by the bottle, but with some “by the glass” options as well). 1F, The Groove @ CentralWorld Open daily: 11am-midnight Tel: 02 613 1037 www.wineconnection.co.th
ROOFTOP SKY BAR Attitude
This sky-high drinking and dining spot boasts an inventive cocktail menu, delicious tapas-sized nibbles, and Instagram-worthy desserts, but the view overlooking the river is what really commands the attention here. 26F, Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel 257 Charoen Nakorn Rd. Tel: 02 431 9100 Open daily: 5:30pm-1am www.minorhotels.com/en/avani/riversidebangkok bangkok101.com
At this stylish rooftop venue, the food and drink prices don’t rise higher as the floors ascend. Instead, they stay within the realm of the reasonable, making it a great spot to watch the sun go down over downtown Bangkok. Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 26F, 19/9, Sukhumvit Soi 20 Open: Mon-Sat, 5pm-2am, Sun, 4pm-2am Tel: 02 009 4999 www.facebook.com/skyon20bangkok
Cielo Sky Bar
Cielo Sky Bar
Wine Connection The Grill
Sky On 20
A rooftop bar, with a business-casual ambiance and unbeatable views of Bangkok, serving a wide-ranging and impressive list of cocktails at fair prices. 46F, Sky Walk Condominium Sukhumvit Soi 69 Tel: 02 348 9100 Open daily: 5pm-1am www.cieloskybar.com
CRU Champagne Bar
This high altitude hot spot is own by G.H. Mumm Champagne brand and offers tipplers dozens of tables, as well as a circle-shaped showpiece bar. If you’re craving bottles of bubbly with a panoramic view, it doesn’t get any better than this. 59F, Centara Grand at CentralWorld 999/99 Rama 1 Rd. Tel: 02 100 1234 Open daily: 5pm-1am www.champagnecru.com
Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar
Whether you choose the outdoor lounge on the 45th floor or the alfresco bar on the 49th floor, you have breathtaking views in every direction. And those in search of a sundowner should heed the 5pm-7pm happy hours, when signature cocktails are half-price. 45-49F, Bangkok Hotel Marriott Sukhumvit 2, Sukhumvit Soi 57 Open daily: 5pm-2am Tel: 02 797 0000 www.facebook.com/octavemarriott
One of the snazzier al fresco rooftop bars, evoking the glamour of Prohibition Era America. Spirits include luxury cognacs and malts, wines at solid prices, and cocktails (some crafted from homemade vodka infusions). 24/25F, Hotel Muse, 55/555 Lang Suan Rd. Tel: 02 630 4000 Open daily: 6pm-1am www.hotelmusebangkok.com
Zoom Sky Bar & Restaurant
Zoom Sky Bar & Restaurant
Meet, sip, and dine overlooking the city at this well-designed venue, offering innovative culinary experiences and 360° cityscape views. 40F, Anantara Sathorn Hotel Bangkok 36 Narathiwat-Ratchanakarin Rd. Tel: 02 210 9000 Open daily: 6pm-1am bangkok-sathorn.anantara.com
An honest club with a communal vibe, plus great music and one of the best sound systems. You can be yourself here—dance like you mean it, soak up the vibe, then spread the love. 1F, 72 Courtyard, Sukhumvit Soi 55 Tel: 02 392 7750 Open: Wed-Sat, 8pm-2am www.beamclub.com F EBRUA RY 2018| 107
NIGHTLIFE | listings
Cé La Vi
One of Bangkok’s top nightlife venues, this is a vast and glittering club with skyscraper ceilings and a long window that affords an exceptional view. 39-40F, Sathorn Square Complex 98 North Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 108 2000 Open daily: 12pm-late www.celavi.com
The Drunken Leprechaun
This heavily Irish-themed establishment offers delicious pub grub and drinks from the Emerald Isle and beyond. The nightly entertainment includes weekly pub quizzes, generous happy hours, and complimentary snacks. Four Points by Sheraton 4, Sukhumvit 15 Tel: 02 309 3255 Open daily: 10am-1am www.thedrunkenleprechaun.com
The Royal Oak
Within this upscale five-storey lounge, nightclub, and all-round watering hole, the 1st and 2nd floors are home to a restaurant and bar, offering continental pan-Pacific fare, while the 3rd floor—and the VIP access 4th and 5th floors—are all about the beat, with hip hop DJs performing regularly and mixologists performing their magic behind the bar. 10/4, Sukhumvit 33 Alley Open daily: 9pm-2am Tel: 065 880 0333 www.thefirmbangkok.com
Also known as Narcissus, this multi-level club has been keeping Bangkok’s dance crowd moving for over two decades with their wild party atmosphere. Perfect for groups who want to make it their playground for the night. 112, Sukhumvit Soi 23 Tel: 02 258 4805 Open daily: 9pm-3am www.narzclubbangkok.net
PUBS The Australian
A wide and bright Australian import, complete with beer schooners as well as bottles from Coopers and VB, live rugby matches on TV, and rock bands on stage. 37, Sukhumvit Soi 11 Tel: 02 651 0800 Open daily: 9am-late www.theaustralianbkk.com 108 |F EBRUA RY 2018
An old British enclave serving up delicious food in substantial portions, draft beer, and weekly pub quizzes. There’s even a comedy club upstairs which is open every Friday. 595/10, Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 Tel: 02 662 1652 Open daily: 10am-1am www.royaloakthailand.com
LIVE MUSIC Bamboo Bar
A small and busy landmark of the East’s past glories that is, nevertheless, romantic and intimate, thanks to the legendary jazz band that plays each night. Ideal for a boozy night out or a romantic special occasion. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok 48 Oriental Ave (riverfront) Tel: 02 659 9000 Open daily: Sun-Thu, 11am-1am, Fri-Sat, 11am-2am www.mandarinoriental.com
Wild & Co, 33/1 Soi Farm Wattana Tel: 061 515 6989 Open daily: 5:30pm-1am www.facebook.com/blackcabinbar
Bangkok’s oldest, cosiest jazz venue. A restaurant and coffee house by day that morphs into a world-class jazz haunt where renditions of bebop and ragtime draw crowds by night. 469 Phra Sumen Rd. Tel: 089 499 1378 Open daily: 6pm-1am www.brownsugarbangkok.com
The bar’s attraction is the live jazz music, some of the best the city has to offer. The welcoming atmosphere is amplified with sultry mysticism and redolent of Shanghai’s dandyish early 20th-century gambling dens. GF, Hotel Novotel Fenix, 320 Silom Rd. Tel: 02 635 6055 Open: Tue-Sun, 6pm-2am www.facebook.com/maggiechoos
A must-visit live music joint, dishing out stiff drinks and killer blues, ska, and jazz every single night of the week. 3/8 Victory Monument, Phayathai Rd. Tel: 02 246 5472 Open daily: 6pm-2am www.saxophonepub.com
The Zuk Bar Black Cabin
Half the space at Wild & Co. restaurant is given over to this brick-walled pub which eschews the mainstream Billboard 100, focusing instead on live bands. Before and after the bands play, resident DJ’s spin vinyl, relying on personal collections rather than playlists.
The ideal place for aperitifs or after dinner drinks, which can be savoured alongside a selection of tapas items. Chill out while admiring the fabulous garden view, and enjoy live jazz by Coco Rouzier, Wednesday to Saturday nights and during the weekly Sunday brunch. The Sukhothai Bangkok 13/3 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 344 8888 Open daily: 5pm-1am www.sukhothai.com bangkok101.com
SIGNING OFF | did you know?
id you know that each Valentine’s Day in Thailand a mass Underwater Wedding Ceremony is held in Trang province? The event even has an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s “largest underwater wedding ceremony”. For over two decades this remarkable event, which combines traditional Buddhist wedding rituals with an extraordinary setting, brings together 30 couples (from Thailand and around the world) to the beautiful island of Koh Kradan. To join the underwater ceremony, couples need to have a scuba diving license, or they can opt to take a short two-day diving course provided by the organizers and receive a limited time scuba diving certificate (it expires after 15 days). This course obviously takes place a few days before the ceremony.
The dive takes place in the open ocean, near one of Trang’s massive limestone karsts, with a sunken platform providing an altar and the brides and grooms dressed in their underwater wedding gear. Couples descend via guide ropes to a depth of 12-15 metres where they meet with the district officer who will witness and approve their marriage certificate. Meanwhile a squad of camera-equipped divers hover over the scene capturing all the action. Apart from the main event below the surface, there are street parades, parties, lavish dinners, fireworks, civic receptions, and media events to commemorate this annual tradition. For two full days the lucky couples chosen to take part are run through this barrage of attention—waving, smiling, and posing for many a photo. 110 | F EBRUA RY 2018
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