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Open Daily Dinner: 6.00pm - 10.30pm Private rooms are also available

21/100 South Sathon Road, Sathon, Bangkok 10120, Thailand Tel: +66 2 679 1200 Email: hostesess-bangkok@banyantree.com


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Publisher’s Letter

new year means a new start, and in this issue of Bangkok 101 regular readers will notice a few changes. The most major revamp is that we’ve altered out Thailand travel section to focus on a different destination each issue, and this month we start out with Phuket—the Kingdom’s playground for lovers of sand, sea, and sun. Phuket is developing almost as fast as Bangkok when it comes to new luxury properties—a few of which we profile in our feature—but it also has a lot to offer history buffs, foodies, scuba divers, and plain old sunbathers. Closer to home, our cover story focuses on Thailand’s capital city itself as we offer up our list of “101 Things to Love About Bangkok”. However, it’s not a “best of” list in any way. Instead it’s a series of random snapshots that showcase some of the unique things—be they weird or wonderful—that make this town a one-of-a-kind experience. Of course, we could have easily listed 1001 things to love, but we thought 101 was more appropriate (and a lot more manageable!). In our arts feature we take a look at the upcoming World Film Festival of Bangkok, while our photo feature brings you the stunning work of renown photojournalist Steve McCurry. We also get a sneak peek at Jamie’s Italian, the new restaurant from superstar chef Jamie Oliver, and in our nightlife section we recap the Great Wines of Italy in Bangkok event which brought wine expert James Suckling to town for a one-night extravaganza. 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 info@talisman.asia. 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

bangkok101.com

JA N UA RY 2017 | 5


CONTENTS 13

CITY PULSE 10

Metro Beat Find out what’s going on this month in and around Bangkok

12

Best of BKK 101 things to love about Bangkok

30

SNAPSHOTS 26

Tom’s Two Satangs (More) on HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej

28

Bizarre Thailand Excerpt from Jim Algie’s new book, On the Night Joey Ramone Died – Part II

30 32

Joe’s Bangkok High-rise farming at the Anantara Riverside Bangkok helps the environment while providing tasty produce

50

Very Thai Psychic consultants peddle ancient remedies to modern society

34 Heritage The modernist Grand Central Post Office

TRAVEL 36

Phuket 101 In this special 20-page travel destination feature we head south and take a closer look at the island of Phuket

38

Focus On Phuket Sun, sea, and sand—the holiday paradise offers calm and clamour in equal portions

40 41

The Tin Trade Before becoming a beach destination, Phuket’s abundant deposits of tin supported the island’s economy Old World Charm Although away from the beach, Phuket Town offers a true “taste” of history

On the cover

Cover illustration by Thanakrit Skulchartchai

things to a

bou

t Bang k o

k

42

Kata Rocks The 2016 Superyacht Rendezvous takes over Phuket’s shores

44 46

Hidden Beaches Seeking out some of Phuket’s less crowded attractions

48

Where to Stay Trisara Resort; Le Meridien Phuket

51

Wine and Dine Full Moon Brewwork is Phuket’s only craft beer microbrewery

52

From Phuket to Phang Nga Iniala Shores; Esenzi

54

Phuket Map A guide to all the places of note mentioned in our travel feature

56

Weekend Getaway New attractions in Hua Hin make this beachfront hotspot well worth revisiting

58

Upcountry Now This month’s events and festivals throughout Thailand

When to Go Cultural festivals and special events in Phuket to plan your trip around

Bangkok 101 is available at: 6 | JA N UA RY 2017

bangkok101.com


CONTENTS 66

ART & CULTURE 60

Art Exhibitions The latest museum gallery openings across the city

64

Museum Spotlight The Bangkokian Museum takes you back to a life from days gone by

65

Cinema Scope The 14th edition of the World Film Festival of Bangkok

66 72

Photo Feature Renowed photographer Steve McCurry unveils his ‘Lifetime of Work’ Art Interview Christopher G. Moore, author of the new crime novel Jumpers

FOOD & DRINK 74

Food & Drink Updates

76

Meal Deals Restaurants offer amazing deals for diners

77

Hot Plates Jamie’s Italian

78

Restaurant Reviews Ruen Urai; Soul Food; Kai; Volti Ristorante & Bar; Sra Bua; Eurasian Grill

84

Eat Like Nym Flavourful Siang Ki Khao Tom Pla on a quiet alley in Chinatown

86

Food & Drink Listings Capsule reviews of select restaurants in Bangkok

NIGHTLIFE 92

Nightlife Updates

94

Bar Reviews Vogue Lounge; Sky on 20

96

Connoisseur’s Corner James Suckling’s Great Wines of Italy in Bangkok

98

Nightlife Listings Capsule reviews of select nightspots in Bangkok

LIFE+STYLE 102

Lifestyle Updates

104

Spa Deals Bangkok spas offer amazing deals and discounts

105

Spa Reviews Spa Cenvaree

SIGNING OFF 106

Did You Know?... Phuket’s Nai Harn resort has an extra special wine list

Phen Parkpien Naritha Yonyubon

Lekha Shankar, Tom Vitayakul, Annaliese Watkins, Nadia Willan

EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS

ART DIRECTOR

CONTRIBUTING

PUBLISHER

Narong Srisaiya

PHOTOGRAPHERS

Mason Florence

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Steve McCurry

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Thanakrit Skulchartchai

Dr Jesda M. Tivayanond STRATEGISTS

Jhone El’Mamuwaldi

Parinya Krit-Hat

Sebastien Berger Nathinee Chen

SALES MANAGER

MANAGING EDITOR

Orawan Ratanapratum SALES AND MARKETING

Bruce Scott

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Itsareeya Chatkitwaroon

EDITOR-AT-LARGE

Jim Algie, Robin Banks, Luc Citrinot, Philip Cornwell-Smith, Kevin Cummings, Ron Gluckman, John Krich, Korakot (Nym) Punlopruksa, Craig Sauers,

SALES EXECUTIVE

WRITER & DIGITAL EDITOR

Julia Offenberger

PUBLISHED BY

Talisman Media Group Co., Ltd. 54 Naradhivas Rajanagarinda Soi 4, Sathorn Tai Rd,Yannawa, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120 Tel: 02 286 7821 Fax: 02 286 7829 info@talisman.asia

GENERAL MANAGER

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

Joe Cummings

94

Kiattisak Chanchay DISTRIBUTION & MARKETING COORDINATOR

Pimpimol Leetrakul

© Copyright Talisman Media Group Co., Ltd 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written, prior permission of the publisher.Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher, which accepts no responsibility for them.


CITY PULSE | metro beat

JANUARY’S HOTTEST TICKETS January 4

GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL Every Tuesday

Every year the Goethe Institute Thailand (18/1 Soi Goethe) presents their Open Air Kino event, with a different German film being screened every Tuesday at 7:30pm (running until February 28). This open-air cinema series gives viewers an insight into German cinema and the work of contemporary German film directors, and many of the selected films have won cinematic awards. In cooperation with both the Swiss and Austrian Embassies in Thailand, the diverse programme also showcases film productions for those respective countries. The screenings this month include the drama The People vs. Fritz Bauer (Jan 10th), the children’s classic Heidi (Jan 17th), Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (Jan 24th), and 4 Kings (Jan 31st). All films will be shown in German with English and Thai subtitles, and admission is free. www.goethe.de/ins/th/en/

Get ready for the first Bangkok show of Ryan Hemsworth, at Live RCA Bangkok (Royal City Avenue, Rama 9 Rd). This Canadian artist and producer has released popular remixes of songs by some of the biggest names in music, including Kanye West, Beyonce, and Lorde, blending hip hop production with an indie pop sound. The show, featuring the 26-year-old along with local bands, will kick off at 7pm. Tickets are B750 in advance, and B850 at the door. www.ticketmelon.com

January 6

This month, Live RCA Bangkok shines again as the venue also plays host to Kartell, the iconic figure and spearhead of the trendy French label Roche Musique. The Paris-based artist revolutionised the local electronic music scene with his distinguished style made of House tones, and coloured by Nu-Disco and R’n’B accents. In addition, the young producer has collaborated with international artists, including Karma Kid and Lianne la Havas, whose remixes exceed one million views on YouTube. Supported by local DJs Dark White, the show gets underway at 9pm. Tickets are priced at B350. www.ticketmelon.com

PUNK PERFORMANCE January 27

Punk’s not dead, at least not this month in Bangkok as legendary old-school punk rockers Millions of Dead Cops (MDC)—who first formed as a group in Austin, Texas, back in 1981—storm the stage at the Soy Sauce Bar (11/1, Charoenkrung 24). Tickets are just B200, and the body-slamming evening also features back up by opening acts The Elected Officials, License To Kill, Cold Black Vines, and Lord Liar Boots. Start time is 7pm. If your eardrums can handle the punishment... don’t miss it! www.facebook.com/soysaucebar 10 | JA N UA RY 2017

January 17

The Japanese post-rock band Mono will be making a stop in Bangkok as part of their world tour—supporting their new album, Requiem for Hell—at Live RCA Bangkok. This is the band’s 9th album, and unlike the last album this new 5-track recording reintroduces strings, resulting in greater dynamics and wider range and colours in sound. Amidst echoes of beautiful, gentle, soft strings, and the sudden surges of explosive noise, one discovers the essence of the group’s decidedly original orchestrated sound. Doors open at 7pm with local bands Inspirative, and Hope the Flowers, providing support. Early-bird tickets, priced at B1,200, are available until January 10th, after that, it’s B1,500 to get in. www.ticketmelon.com bangkok101.com


metro beat | CITY PULSE

SPORTING EVENTS January 21

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is get more fit, this month offers plenty of runs and marathons taking place throughout the city. Run for a good cause at the 19th Charity Midnight Run with all proceeds going to two major charities—Chalerm Prakiat HRH Princess Sirindhorn School, which supports the education of children whose parents died of AIDS, and Baht for a Better Life, a project dedicated to offering educational opportunities for underprivileged children. The run starts on Saturday at midnight and the start and finish point are at the Amari Watergate Bangkok hotel (847 Petchburi Rd). The cost to register is B800, and runners can choose between the 6 km and 12 km courses. www.gotorace.com Aarti Saikia

COMEDY CAVALCADE

SPOKEN WORD

January 13

Acclaimed stand-up comedian Tom Rhodes—now celebrating his 30th year in comedy—is coming to Bangkok for one night only, performing at the Comedy Club Bangkok (Sukhumvit Soi 33/1, above The Royal Oak pub). Rhodes, who has built a career on his stand-up specials, a sitcom, a travel show, and even a late-night talk show, has been described by The New York Times as a “natural intellect with a knack for reporting the harsh realities of life with a dark and absurdly optimistic cynicism”. Tickets for the Bangkok show are just B600 in advance, or B800 at the door. And if you can’t catch his local appearance, Rhodes will also be performing on Tom Rhodes January 8th in Hua Hin at the Red Piano Restaurant (Soi Kanjanomai), and on January 14th at the Royal Phuket Marina (68 Moo 2, Thepkasattri Rd). Don’t miss your chance to see this comedy legend. www.comedyclubbangkok.com

January 27-28

The preliminary rounds of the Magners International Stand-Up Comedy Competition get underway at the Comedy Club Bangkok, starting at 8pm each evening. Once again the search is on for Bangkok’s best local English language stand-up comedian and audience Aidan Killian votes (and laughs) count! A total of 10 comics a night will battle it out for a prize purse of B20,000 in a show hosted by Brian Aylward (Canadian Comedy Awards Winner), and headlined by Ireland’s hottest comic, Aidan Killian. Tickets are B250 in advance, B350 at the door, with drinks specials all night. www.comedyclubbangkok.com bangkok101.com

January 21

When was the last time you fed your poetic soul? This month, the Bangkok Lyrical Lunacy Collective presents SoulVilla, a theatre performance featuring some of Bangkok’s most prolific poets and spoken word artists. Collaborating with some of the city’s rising musical talents, the event brings a fusion of poetry and music with artists from all over the globe. The event is produced and directed by Aarti Saikia, and will take place at the auditorium of the Alliance Française de Bangkok (179 Wireless Rd). The evening gets underway with a cocktail reception at 7pm, followed by the show at 8pm. Tickets are B750 (B600 pre-sale) and include one cocktail at the reception. www.ticketmelon.com

MARKETS January 14-15

Now in its 8th edition, Made by Legacy is back with their American-style flea market—bringing together lovers of all things vintage and retro. Expect over 150 booths, offering large collections of vinyl, fashion, lifestyle products, furniture, and arts and crafts. There will also be plenty of food vendors on hand for in-between bargain snacking. This time, the retro fest will be held on the 10th floor rooftop of the Fortune Town shopping mall (1 Ratchadaphisek Rd), close to the Rama 9 MRT station. The market is open from 3pm to midnight on both days, and the entry fee is B120 per person. www.madebylegacy.com JA N UA RY 2017 | 11


CITY PULSE | best of bkk

1 1 Things to Love About Bangkok

We could have easily written a piece entitled “1001 things to Love About Bangkok” but 101 things seemed more fitting (and more manageable)

A

fter speaking with staff, friends, friends of friends, and a few complete strangers, we compiled a list of some unique things that make this manic metropolis both liveable and loveable. The submissions run the gamut from favourite bars and restaurants, to the one-of-a-kind oddities that you’ll find nowhere else but in Thailand’s capital and its environs. We’ve skipped over a few of

the more obvious attractions—such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, floating markets, etc.—as they can be found in every what-to-do list. Instead we give shout-outs to the places and things that newcomers love to hear about and long term residents still like experiencing. Essentially this is a list of things that people immediately thought of when asked “name something you love about Bangkok”. It’s also not a “best of” list in

any way, but rather a series of random snapshots showing the diversity of this town. In addition, we’ve included 10 hand-picked choices from award-winning journalist and regular contributor Joe Cummings (called “Joe’s Picks”), as well as some cocktail favourites from drink specialist Craig Sauers. These highlighted items are interspersed throughout the list, which itself is loosely divided into 10 basic categories.

MUST-SEE CITY SITES

#1

WAT ARUN: This magnificent Buddhist temple on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River is listed a must-see attraction in every Bangkok guide book, but viewing it lit up at night, especially from the Deck by the River restaurant at the Arun Residence Hotel (36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong), is an unforgettable sight.

#2

LUMPHINI PARK: This 360 rai downtown park, which was originally the private land of King Rama VI, became open to the public in 1952. It’s often called Bangkok’s “green lung”, and during the cooler months (December to February), there are free live orchestra concerts on Sundays. However, almost any day of the year you can find visitors here—riding paddle boats on the artificial lake, checking out the few remaining giant water monitor lizards in the canals, or gathering at dusk to jog along the park’s many winding paths. Open daily: 5am-9pm

#2, the lovely lizards of Lumphini Park

#3

#4

THE GOLDEN MOUNT: Phu Khao Thong (the golden mountain) is a steep artificial hill inside the Wat Saket compound—a historic temple built during the reign of King Rama I. The man-made hill, completed during the reign of King Rama V, has a golden chedi at its summit, where sacred Buddha relics are enshrined. Before the city’s love affair with skyscrapers this was the tallest structure in Bangkok, and it remains a great place to enjoy 360-degree panoramic city views. In mid-November, Wat Saket hosts a massive temple fair, which features food, games, entertainment, and some very strange carnival sideshow attractions. Open daily: 7:30am-5:30pm, Admission: B10 12 | JA N UA RY 2017

ERAWAN SHRINE: Located right in front of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok hotel, the Erawan Shrine—which is Brahman, not strictly Buddhist—has been hugely popular since it was erected back in the mid 1950s. Day and night worshippers come to pray to the four-faced, gold-covered statue of Brahma, while many devotees hire the shrine’s dancers to perform and sing a prayer for them while two xylophone players and one drummer provide the exotic soundtrack. And since the infamous Erawan bombing incident of August 2015, in which 16 people were killed, the site has become more revered than ever. 494 Rajdamri Rd, BTS Chit Lom Station bangkok101.com


best of bkk | CITY PULSE

#8

COSMOPOLITAN CUISINE: When it comes to dining in Bangkok you can always opt for Thai, but the amount of other national cuisines represented here is astonishing—from Spanish, to Indian, to Korean, to Peruvian. You even sample the cuisine of Nepal with a visit to the highly recommended Himalaya Restaurant (the only Nepalese restaurant in town… so far). 235/5 Soi Sawatdi, Sukhumvit Soi 31, Tel: 02 258 4489 www.thehimalayarestaurant.com

#9

#5

JOE’S PICK

SRI MARIAMMAN TEMPLE: Built in the 1860s by Tamil immigrants, the Sri Mariamman Temple features a six-meter tower wrapped in intertwined, full-colour Hindu deities, and topped by a gold-plated copper dome. Inside the main shrine are altars to three main deities: Maha Uma Devi (also known as Shakti, Shiva’s consort) at the center; her son Khanthakumara on the right; and her elephant-headed son Ganesha on the left. Unlike at most Hindu temples found in India or elsewhere in Asia, people of any race or religion are welcome here. Thai devotees come to pray along with Indians as the Hindu gods figure just as prominently in their individualistic approach to religion. Interior walls are lined with rows of Shivas, Vishnus and other Hindu deities, as well as a few Buddhas. The Maha Uma Devi image is attended by white-robed Brahmins who accept offerings from the faithful in return for a dollop of red paste applied to worshipers’ foreheads during puja times. My favorite time to visit is during the annual Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, when both the temple and Pan Road explode with the colour of the religious parades. Pan Rd (at Silom), Tel: 02 238 4007

WHERE TO EAT / WHAT TO EAT

#6

BAKED GOODS: Bangkok is home to hundreds of superb bakeries and pastry shops. If you don’t know where to start, try the highly recommended French pastries at Paris Mikki—a must-visit for anyone with an unstoppable sweet tooth. 27, Sukhumvit Soi 19, Tel: 088 870 0020 www.facebook.com/parismikki

#7

SUSHI-MANIA: It may come as a surprise that Thailand’s biggest expat community is the Japanese, however when you count all the sushi restaurants in town it becomes less of a surprise. There are hundreds to choose from but if you’re near the Asok junction drop in on at Sonie Sushi & Bar, a cool and casual spot with a very talented chef. 118/21-24, Sukhumvit Soi 23, Tel: 02 662 2779 www.soniesushibar.com bangkok101.com

RESTAURANT OVERLOAD: The dining scene in Bangkok could warrant a top 101 list of its own, and it is, without a doubt, one of the main things to LOVE about this city. Restaurants run the gamut from traditional Thai, to haute French cuisine, to authentic Italian pizzerias. So whether you’re willing to be put on the months-long waiting list to get a table at Gaggan, or you just want some down and dirty street food served up fast on a Silom side street, this town is a foodie mecca. Obviously we can’t namecheck every great restaurant in town, so instead just regard the few personal recommendations we’ve included as the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”.

#10

JOE’S PICK

SÜHRING: Berlin-born twin brothers Mathias and Thomas Sühring learned their craft in Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, before making their mark in Bangkok as head chefs at Mezzaluna, a high-tone Italian dining room at LeBua State Tower. Now that they have their own restaurant, in a 1970s house filled with period-correct furniture to match, the Sührings work within their own heritage, while at the same time dispelling perceptions of German cuisine as sausages and sauerkraut. Two tasting menus of nine and 12 courses change seasonally. A dish I enjoy immensely was the Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth), consisting of black pudding, crisped onions, mashed potato, and spiced apple puree. The späzle, a soft handmade egg noodle mixed with wood garlic and Allgäuer mountain cheese, is another of their mind-blowing treats. 10, Yen Akat Soi 3, Tel: 02 287 1799

JA N UA RY 2017 | 13


CITY PULSE | best of bkk

#14

COOKING CLASSES: Whether you’re here to visit, or you’ve lived here for many years, it’s never a bad idea to spend a fun morning or afternoon learning how to cook some of your favourite Thai dishes. The options are endless when it comes to who’s giving the lessons, but you can’t go far wrong at either the Blue Elephant Cooking School or Osha Café’s Cooking School. www.blueelephantcookingschool.com www.oshabangkok.com

DRINK SPOTS & NIGHTLIFE

#11, café culture is alive and well at D’Ark

#11

CAFÉ CULTURE: While half of this town run on Red Bull, the other half gets its kicks from caffeine. Bangkok is home to so many cafés, coffee houses, and roasters that the choice can be overwhelming (we devoted a whole issue to it back in September). D’Ark is as good a place as any to start—it has three Bangkok locations— as they serve up quality joe and great grub as well. www.darkoffee.com

#12

#15

BANGKOK PRIDE: Every Sunday Maggie Choo’s bar (320 Silom Rd) goes gay, as drag queen Pangina Heals—surrounded by his team—sings, dances, tells bad jokes, and teases a crowd of mostly young upper-class Thais and expats. Meanwhile, over at DJ Station (Silom Soi 2), there’s a cheap and cheerful 30-minute drag-queen show that takes place every night around 10:30pm (only B150 during the week, and B300 on Fridays and Saturdays). Overall Bangkok is a pretty gayfriendly town, so leave your inhibitions at the door.

JOE’S PICK

SUPANNIGGA EATING ROOM: Chef-owner Thanaruek Laoraowirodge focuses on family tradition with a menu of home-cooked recipes coming mostly from his late grandmother from Trat, on Thailand’s eastern seaboard. The simple dining rooms of the quaint three-story Thonglor shophouse fill each evening with devotees enjoying Pla Som Tod (sour and garlicky fish cakes), Gaeng Ki Lek Nue Yang (sliced grilled beef in coconut milk and young ki lek leaves), and a miraculous Ka Lum Tod Nam Pla (plain cabbage stir-fried in high-grade fish sauce from Trat). Cleaving to its coastal province origins, the menu includes plenty of fresh, quality seafood, whether carefully selected crabmeat in Pu Jah (crab and pork sausage steamed inside crab shells) or Yum Tua Puu Goong Sod (crunchy winged bean salad with prawns and boiled egg in a chili paste dressing). 160/11, Sukhumvit Soi 55, Tel: 02 714 7508

#13

GOURMET CHEFS GALORE: There are lots of amazing chefs here in Bangkok—Ian Kittichai (Issaya Siamese Club), David Thompson (Nahm), and Thitid Tassanakajohn (Le Du), just to name a few—but this town is also graced by scores of top-rated visiting chefs from all over the world. From annual events such as The World Gourmet Festival and the SO Amazing Chefs event, to the S.Pellegino and Acqua Panna Fine Dining Lovers Guest Chef events and the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, local foodies have plenty of opportunities to experience haute cuisine of the highest caliber. 14 | JA N UA RY 2017

#13, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards

#16

JOE’S PICK

AD HERE THE 13th: On Facebook this small, funky bar promotes itself as “Adhere,” which makes me think of glue, and once I’m in for the evening I’m usually stuck fast to my seat listening to the finest live blues and R&B anywhere in the city. Negotiate your way through the long narrow room, with a tiny stage wedged in against the left wall and rows of well-worn tables and chairs along the right, past several rows of vinyl album covers and street art to reach the bar at the back. Clientele is a mix of Thai artists and musos, international expats, and seasoned backpackers who have escaped nearby Khao San Road. The house band, Banglampoo Blues Band, has recorded a couple of CDs. They usually play Saturday night only, while on other nights local solo and group acts fill the bill. 13 Samsen Rd (at Samsen Soi 1), 089 769 4613

bangkok101.com


best of bkk | CITY PULSE

#17

JOE’S PICK

WTF BAR & GALLERY: WTF occupies a threestory shophouse, right between Zudrangma Records and Studio Lam, a heady triumvirate that could qualify narrow Sukhumvit 51 as Bangkok’s hipster headquarters. On the ground floor, decked out with vintage tiles and Thai movie posters, a small but well-stocked bar supplies both old-school cocktails such as Sazerac de Justine, Horse’s Neck, Manhattan, and Rob Roy, as well as original rum-based punches like Jungle Bird and Muay Thai Punch. I usually choose from the collection of imported bourbons and ryes—on the rocks. The eclectic house playlist could have come from a Gilles Peterson BBC Radio 1 show, ranging from R&B, funk, and jazz to Afrobeat, hip-hop, and Latin. The white-walled upper two floors are dedicated to exhibitions of local and international artists, including work by photographer Christopher Wise, who is a co-owner. At the most popular exhibitions, the crowd overflow extends into the alley, creating impromptu street parties. 7, Sukhumvit Soi 51, Tel: 02 662 6246 www.wtfbangkok.com

#20

SKY BARS: It’s hard not to love all the amazing, vertigo-inducing sky bars that Bangkok has to offer. The most iconic is unquestionably Sirocco at the Lebua State Tower (it made a brief cameo in the film The Hangover 2), but new ones are launching all the time. Just this past year saw the opening of Char (Hotel Indigo), Brewski (Radisson Blu), Sky on 20 (Novotel Sukhumvit 20), and Attitude (Avani Riverside).

#21

VIVA 8: Sunday afternoons at the Viva 8 outdoor bar (Section 8, Chatuchak Weekend Market), are great for people-watching. The cold beer and the hot music are two of the best ways to forget about work on Monday. And if you’re there on one of the days when Spanish chef Fernando is making one of his huge platters of paella, all the better. www.facebook.com/Viva8JJ

#22

JAZZ CLUBS: For more than two decades Brown Sugar—formerly on Sarasin Rd, but now on Phrasumen Rd—has been giving lovers of smooth jazz a steady line-up of regular performers as well as international and touring acts on the last Friday and Saturday of the month. Of course, there are many other jazz spots in town, and more opening all the time—including the relaunched Check Inn 99 which now has a home above Zaks restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 11 and hosts a Saturday afternoon blues cabaret and a Sunday afternoon jazz cabaret. www.brownsugarbangkok.com www.checkinn99.com

#23

#18, craft beer made affordable at JUSMAG

JACK’S BAR: Want a drink spot on the river that won’t break the bank? This ramshackle wooden bar is located between the Shangri-La Hotel and the Peninsula Pier, just a short walk from the Saphan Taksin bridge. It’s a popular—very casual—after-work spot to grab a cold beer, some great food, and watch the boats go by on the river. www.jackandxbar.blogspot.com

#18

#24

ADERHOLT’S ANNEX: Most often referred to as JUSMAG, this American-style bar—which is located inside the fortified compound of the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG), so you need to relinquish your ID in order to enter—offers exceedingly cheap craft beers and bar shots (since the booze isn’t subject to import duties). Of course, it’s only open till 10pm so it’s more of a “start the evening” hangout. 7 Sathorn Sai Tai, Tel: 02 287 1036

#19

JAM SESSIONS: The funky 6th floor open air Sky Train Jazz Bar is a cool hangout on its own, but every Monday evening, for quite a few years now, the joint has been turned over to a rag-tag group of local musicians (farangs and Thais alike) who put on an “anything goes” open-mic style jam session—to call it eclectic would be an understatement! The caliber of the players, most of whom play regularly in other bands, is topnotch, but the mood is always casual, since most people in the audience know most of the people performing. 6 Rang Nam Rd, Tel: 02 640 0303 bangkok101.com

SMALLS: Many of the city’s hardcore expats, especially hospitality pros and creative types, claim this corner shophouse-turned-three-storey-bar as their “local”. The owner is legendary celebrity photographerturned-nightlife-specialist David Jacobson, who holds court here with his many regulars six nights a week (the bar is closed on Tuesdays). Expect eclectic DJs, the occasional live jazz performance, top-shelf booze, amazing art on the walls, and some of the city’s most fascinating barflys. Suan Plu Soi 1, Tel: 095 585 1398 www.facebook.com/smallsbkk

#25

WONG’S: Where does one begin when talking about Wong’s? It’s an institution for anyone who likes their last call around dawn. Within this narrow, noisy, smoke-filled chamber you’ll find a complete cross-section of Bangkok barflys—from down-and-out English teachers, to Thai celebrities and drag queens, and the feeling you might have after an all-night bender is affectionately known as a ‘Wongover’. 23/3 Soi Si Bamphen, Rama IV Rd, Tel: 081 901 0235 JA N UA RY 2017 | 15


CITY PULSE | best of bkk

#26

IRON BALLS GIN: If you’ve spent any time trolling the city’s hippest night clubs, then you’ll no doubt know the name Ashley Sutton, one of Bangkok’s most successful designers of bars and clubs (including the soon-to-be opened Dreadnaught at the Avani Riverside). Now, after years of designing and managing venues for other people, he’s gone into the gin manufacturing business and although his excellent, locally produced Iron Balls gin is available at many Bangkok venues, a trip to his Iron Balls Distillery is really the place to get the whole experience (open from 6pm till 1am). 18 Park Lane Bldg, Sukhumvit Soi 63, Tel: 02 714 2269 www.facebook.com/ironballsdistillery

Teens of Thailand

#28

LIVE MUSIC: It may seem like there’s music blasting from every corner in Bangkok, but if you want something a little beyond Filipino cover bands doing “Hotel California” for the millionth time, check out this city’s rapidly developing live music scene. At Fatty’s Bar & Diner a steady and devoted following—mostly punk rock loving expats—come for the excellent burgers and imported beers, as well as the live bands that perform (with the band taking up almost as much space as the customers in this tiny, out-of-the-way club). An equally compact spot is Soul Bar, in Chinatown, where the vibe is all about funk and soul. Highly recommended! www.facebook.com/fattysbardiner www.facebook.com/livesoulbarbangkok

#29

WINE BARS: More and more Thais have begun to embrace wine as fervently as the expat community, which is why more and more wine bars have been opening up. And while most offer amazing selections, About Eatery serves nothing but natural, organic, or biodynamic wines. Throw in some tasty Mediterranean-style fare, a cozy interior, and a knowledgeable owner—Guilio Saverino—and we say cheers to that! GF, Ocean Tower II, Sukhumvit Soi 21, Tel: 081 920 0740 www.abouteatery.com

SPECIAL STREETS

#30

#27

COCKTAIL CRAZE: Bangkok is definitely home to some of the most creative cocktail craftsmen (and women) this side of the Nevada line. It would take too long to name them all, but our Bangkok 101 resident barhopper Craig Sauers has a particular soft spot for these three locales: Teens of Thailand, on Soi Nana in Chinatown, is for me the best gin joint in Bangkok. It feels like the kind of place that would appear in a Wong Kar-wai film. The team, headed by Niks Anuman-Rajadhon, comes up with a new specials menu before opening each night, and the cocktails always hit the mark—even for those leery of gin. Vesper, on Soi Convent, will blow you away with their cocktails. Devised by award-winning Pailin ‘Milk’ Sajjanit and inspired by Europe’s spirit-forward classics, they might be the most well-balanced in town (try one of the barrel-aged selections for a real treat). Backstage Cocktail Bar is home to six ‘Diageo World Class’ bartenders, with delightfully irreverent senses of humour, who operate a burlesque-themed drink spot where “nothing is serious behind the curtain, except for cocktails”. It’s probably the only place in Bangkok that regularly—and successfully—uses ingredients like beetroot-infused tequila, saffroninfused gin, and rhubarb (that sorely misunderstood vegetable) in drinks.

16 | JA N UA RY 2017

THONG LOR: Officially labelled as Sukhumvit Soi 55, the frentic avenue popularly known as Thong Lor is like a microcosm of all things hipster. From long-standing venues such as Iron Fairies, to the newcomer lifestyle complexes 72 Courtyard and The Commons, this street is “where it’s at” for a vast majority of the city’s young urban elite. At times the pace—and the prices—are a bit out of hand, but you won’t be starved for choices when it comes to wining and dining.

#31

SOI NANA: If you tell a taxi driver you’re going to “Nana” he might think you’re off to Nana Plaza, one of the city’s notorious red light districts. However, the Soi Nana we recommend is a tiny laneway in Chinatown that has become an artistic hub and hipster hangout. If you haven’t been to 23 Bar & Gallery, Tep Bar, El Chiringuito, or the newly opened BaNana Press art gallery, then you haven’t been hanging with the “cool kids”.

#32

KHAO SAN ROAD: While its charms may wear thin quickly for long term residents, a visit to Khao San Road—backpacker ground zero, located in the Old City—is a must on any first-time visitor’s list. Admittedly it’s garish, noisy, and chaotic, but for many that’s the whole allure. If you haven’t been lately, make a Saturday afternoon visit and join the throngs of 20-something tourists while you get a street massage or peruse some tacky souvenirs. After about half an hour you’ll get into the vacation vibe of the place and forget your troubles (for a while). And don’t forget to explore the neighbouring Rambuttri and Phra Athit Roads, which are actually much cooler. bangkok101.com


best of bkk | CITY PULSE

#88, the infamous Chang building

#20, sky bars

#63, Scala Cinema

#62, Khlong Bang Luang Artist House

#74, RSM Academy

#95, Chao Phraya Express Boat Service bangkok101.com

#36, Soi Phrom Chit

#80, Flower Market JA N UA RY 2017 | 17


CITY PULSE | best of bkk

#33

JOE’S PICK

KUDI JEEN: One of Bangkok’s oldest neighbourhoods was originally settled in 1770 by Portuguese merchants, who established a simple wooden church known in Thai as Kudi Jeen (Arun Amarin Soi 4, off Arun Amarin Rd). The name means “Chinese cloister”, apparently a reference to the fact that many Chinese converts joined the congregation in later years. The adjacent community is one of the last areas in Bangkok where almost all local architecture is of wood. Tall two-story homes house a tight-knit Chinese-Portuguese community, complete with home bakeries where the egg-y pastries hark back to Portuguese recipes. Many of the homes bear entry gates emblazoned with medallions of the Virgin Mary or other Catholic symbols. The church as it stands today dates to 1916, replacing the original wooden version, which had undergone renovation only once, in 1835. Renamed Church of Santa Cruz, it was later rebuilt as today’s considerably larger Romanesque-style church by renowned Italian architects Annibale Rigotti and Mario Tamagno. A spacious courtyard features a tidy garden, a statue of the Virgin Mary and a large crucifix. The church itself—open weekends only—harbours a magnificent wooden sculpture of Jesus dating to the Ayutthaya period, but it is displayed only on Catholic festival days.

#34

SOI COWBOY: While we’re not condoning all the behaviour that takes place along this naughty thoroughfare, Soi Cowboy is undeniably a Bangkok landmark. The street itself—named after a US Vietnam War vet who always wore a cowboy hat—is just a few blocks long, but it’s home to a dazzling array of neon lights, making it look like a “Vegas of vice”. It’s almost a rite-of-passage to walk down it at least once and be flabbergasted at the zany madness of it all.

#36

SOI PHROM CHIT : According to Google maps, the road that’s home to a who’s who of some of the city’s top names in fine dining—think Peppina, Cocotte, Whale’s Belly, and Seed—is known as Soi Phrom Chit, even though some businesses along this stretch of pavement list their addresses as Sukhumvit Soi 27, 33, 39, etc. Despite the confusion, this crooked thoroughfare is something of a foodie mecca, listing Beruit, Bao and Buns, and Baagadin as some of its other tantalizing tenants.

#37

W DISTRICT: Years ago the neigbourhood around Phra Khanong BTS station was pretty sleepy, but it has sprung to life since the opening of the W District community mall (Sukhumvit Soi 69-71). Here you’ll find the Hof Art Gallery, the stylish Beat Hotel, and the popular W Market outdoor beer garden, surrounded by plenty of food stalls and shops, as well as colourful murals and sculptures. Meanwhile, on the streets surrounding this complex are some cool drink spots including Casa Teo, Wishbeer Home Bar, and Ma-Rum-Ba.

#38

SOI SUAN PHLU: You could call Soi Suan Phlu the “home of a hundred haircuts”, as it boasts an inordinate number of barbershops, but it’s also home to an inordinate number of great food and drink spots. From the high-end Japanese fare at Kom Ba Wa, to the boat noodle soup at Shebeen Dive Bar, there are plenty of dining options—and excellent late night street food as well. For chilling there’s Café Neighbour during the day, and at night Junker and Bar and Smalls are the two of the street’s liveliest drink spots.

#39

SUKHUMVIT SOI 11: Although by the time you read this there will only be a few months left to enjoy some of Sukhumvit Soi 11’s most iconic restaurants and drink spots—Cheap Charlie’s, The Alchemist, Charley Brown’s and Tapas Café—there’s still an array of bars and restaurants on this strip worth noting. Above Eleven, Havana Social, Wolff’s Jazz Bar, Oskar, and Brew Beers & Ciders are some of the newer and more stylish joints, but for old-school retro charm you can’t beat the pig’s knuckle feast you can get at the Old German Beer House.

DIVERSIONS & EXPLORATIONS

#40

#40, Chinnapatt Chongtong’s Chili Paste tours

#35

SOI ARI: From a frothy cappuccino at Casa Lapin, to an endless array of dining options, including Fat Bird, Salt, Lay Lao, and Casa Azul, Soi Ari (technically known as Phahon Yothin Soi 7) lies at the heart of one of Bangkok’s quaintest neighbourhoods. This laid-back locale, easily accessible from the Ari BTS station, is also home to many tasty street food vendors, mom and pop shops, and chilled out residents. 18 | JA N UA RY 2017

WALKING FOOD TOUR: For an intersting walking tour with a lot of eating thrown in, try Chili Paste Tours. Your guide is the extremely knowledgeable Chinnapatt Chongtong, and during her lively culinary trips through Bangkok’s Old Town she introduces visitors to the intricacies of Thai cuisine, as well as the local communities she knows so well. chilipastetour@gmail.com

#41

CITY CYCLING: Make your own tour using the Pun Pun city bike-sharing service. After paying the initial B300 fee you can ride around free, from early morning to late evening. The registration office is at Chulalongkorn University—behind Chamchuri Square. www.punpunbikeshare.com bangkok101.com


best of bkk | CITY PULSE

#42

TRANSPORT TOUR: From cutting your way through the city by water taxi, to a private canal trip on a longtail boat, to a zippy tuk-tuk ride, the Bangkok Multi Transport tour offered by Smiling Albino reveals the fascinating inter-connectivity of the capital from the inside out. It’s just one of this tour operator’s many customizable Bangkok day/night trips. www.smilingalbino.com

#43

CHARLIE’S CANAL TOURS: Many hire blaring long-tail boats to cruise along the Chao Phraya River and through its maze of captivating khlongs (canals), but there’s an affable Virginia gentleman named Charlie who operates Buakao (White Lotus), a simple, unpretentious river cruiser that can comfortably seat up to 10 persons. Buakao makes for a perfect private river expedition to truly discover why Bangkok was once called the “Venice of the East”. Charlie’s been navigating the backwaters here for years, and can lead you to secret places—from lush orchid farms to secluded temples where feeding the resident fish earns you merit. The charter rate is B1,500 an hour. Tel: 081 837-5501, bangkokriverboat@gmail.com

#44

CHINATOWN BIKE TOURS: In Bangkok’s Chinatown, forgotten temples and exotic markets spill onto the streets, but bike tours like the ones offered by Spice Roads—a specialized niche bicycle tour operator, established in 2000—can help novices navigate. Their gentle 22 km ride, which begins in Chinatown, also takes in lesser-known temple sites, including the Princess Mother Memorial Park (one of the city’s “hidden gems”). www.spiceroads.com

#45

HIVESTERS: The ‘Appear Project’, organized by the travel group HiveSters, offers excellent daytrips to local, traditional communities in Bangkok that are in danger of disappearing forever as the city develops around them. There are six tours in all, including the communities of Nang Loeng, Koh Sarn Chao, and Hua Takhe. At each of the six locales you can partake in different interesting activities and learn about the community’s individual heritage. www.hivesters.com

#46

WACHIRABENCHATHAT PARK: Try a self-guided bike tour of Wachirabenchathat Park, which is better known by its nickname Suan Rodfai. It opened in July of 2002 and has been a haven for nature lovers ever since, with multiple cycling and jogging paths. Bike rentals start at B20 per hour, and the rental shops are located near the front entrance and parking lot. The park is located just north of Chatuchak Park (Mo Chit BTS station, or Chatuchak Park MRT station).

#47

BANG KRACHAO: There are lots of tours taking cyclists to the leafy jungle terrain known as Bang Krachao, in Samut Prakan (commonly referred to as the “green lungs of Bangkok”), but only PAWA Greentech Ltd. offers Bamboo Bicycle Tours. These eco-friendly bikes are not only strong, but also offer a smooth ride, which is great for a 4.5 hour cycling tour. www.bamboobikethailand.com bangkok101.com

#48, relaxing weekends at Chit Beer

#48

KOH KRET: The man-made island of Koh Kret is not within Bangkok proper, but it’s worth the journey outside the city limits to visit this artisan isle which is known for its skilled pottery craftsmen. Exploring the many shops, restaurants, and landmarks is engaging, but for beer lovers making a weekend pilgrimage to Chit Beer—the city’s only Thai craft beer microbrewery—is the ultimate reward for making such a long trip up river. www.facebook.com/chitbeer

THINGS TO BUY

#49

OR TOR KOR MARKET: Hop on the MRT (subway) to Kamphaeng Phet station, take exit #3 and you’ll find yourself in a spectacular showcase of all the colours and flavours of Thailand. This spotlessly clean, government-run farmers’ fresh market is just across one boulevard from the ever-crowded Chatuchak Weekend Market, yet is often overlooked. Ogle the array of tropical flowers, sample superb satays, or choose from dozens of pots full of authentic crab and coconut curries. Kamphaeng Phet Rd, Tel: 02 279 2028

#50

JOE’S PICK

BODHI TREE DÉCOR: This one-of-a-kind boutique, located on the 3rd floor of the Golden Pearl Building, creates all manner of interior accents for commercial and residential interiors, from traditional wallpaper to printed roller blinds and upholstery. You can choose from ready-made designs, such as the Arabian Living wallpaper collection, which blends earthy reds and yellows with Arabic geometric patterns, and Mural Mountain, featuring views of actual mountains. Sumptuous Thai mural art wallpaper, suitable for Thai restaurants, spas, and Buddha altar rooms, boasts art motifs from vintage books and temples. My favourite among these is the Chedi collection, which borrows pastel-hued stupa murals from an Ayutthaya-era temple. Custom wallpaper design is also available. 69, Sukhumvit Soi 101/1, Tel: 02 747 9493 www.bodhitree.co.th

JA N UA RY 2017 | 19


CITY PULSE | best of bkk

#51

ROT FAI (TRAIN) MARKET RATCHADA: While Bangkok has its fair share of night markets (including the new Talad Neon on Petchaburi Rd) the hugely popular Rot Fai Market Ratchada—located behind the Esplanade shopping mall—is much more than just that. Yes there are hundreds of stalls and dozens of shops to peek into, but there’s also an ever-growing number eating spots, drinking holes, and live music venues such as Seapkerbox to check out. It’s open from 5pm till 1am every night except Monday, and if you think it’s crowded on a Thursday, wait till you visit on a Saturday. Thailand Cultural Center MRT station, Exit 3

#52

JOE’S PICK

SRETSIS: Katy Perry, Leighton Meester, Rachel Bilson, Zooey Deschanel, Paris Hilton and Beyonce are a few notables who have had their fancies tickled by Sretsis, a label that embodies the collective spirit of its three founding sisters, Pim, Kly and Matina Sukhahuta. Inspired by classic romanticism, the tight-knit sisters at Sretsis (“sisters” spelt backwards) work with silk, chiffon, satin, and large prints to create passion and femininity that works just as well at a private dinner as on the red carpet. I’ve noticed that Sretsis’ flagship Gaysorn Plaza store has become so popular that opening hours are often kept short to prevent stock from selling out. The sisters also maintain distributors in the USA, France, Russia, the UAE, Kuwait, Australia, and most countries in East Asia. Gaysorn Plaza, 999 Ploenchit Rd (2nd floor), Tel: 02 656 1125

#55

THAI CRAFT FAIR: In an effort to preserve a slice of Thailand’s cultural heritage, this monthly fair—always held on a Saturday—gathers over 50 artisan groups from all around the kingdom, showcasing their handcrafted products which range from jewellery and clothing, to household items and even musical instruments. The next one is January 28th. LF, Jasmine City Building, Sukhumvit Soi 23

#56

FASHION DESIGNERS: Want to know where to hunt for the latest creations from Thailand’s deep pool of hot young designers? Siam Centre, residing in the shadow of the glitzy Siam Paragon mega-mall, is a great place to try on the latest in fashion from Thai talents (the food court on the 5th floor is well worth seeking out as well). And directly across the road fashionistas can peruse the more affordable designer boutiques of Siam Square. 979 Rama 1 Rd, Tel: 02-658-1000 www.siamcenter.co.th

#57

DASA BOOK CAFÉ: With around 20,000 used titles in English, as well as many in French and German, this is Bangkok’s best secondhand bookshop. Ramble over the creaky wood floors, and up and down the narrow stairways of this three-story house to browse stack upon stack of mostly fiction paperbacks. Bargain hunters will also find plenty of books on history, art, design, Asian culture and cuisine, and travel (there’s an extensive guidebook section). 714/4 Sukhumvit Rd, Tel: 02 661 2993 www.dasabookcafe.com

ART & ARTISTS

#53

POP UP MARKETS: A welcome trend in town are the many, well-organized popup markets taking over some of the city’s empty plots of land. Whether the theme is food, vintage clothing, designer pieces, home décor, music, handmade crafts, or beauty products, the choices are abundant. And while some are only present for a weekend, others tend to stay for a few months, including the popular Artbox Thailand, with its current location near the Kamphaeng Phet MRT station (somewhat close to Chatuchak Market). This creative fair offers over 200 stalls—all set up in container boxes—and is open from Friday to Sunday until the end of April.

#54

UNION MALL: Located in the north of Bangkok (Phahon Yothin MRT station), this eight-storey, no-frills shopping mall is like a huge market brought indoors—and best of all it’s air-conditioned! With over 1,200 booths, it offers everything from young designer pieces, to exceedingly cheap clothing—especially shoes—plus beauty salons, entertainment venues, and an international food court. It’s a bargain hunter haven, and you really see where local Thai kids are getting all their wacky outfits. 20 | JA N UA RY 2017

#58, The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band

#58

LOCAL BANDS: Bangkok’s music scene is constantly evolving, and there are many great local bands worth noting, but it’s hard to find more of a crowd-pleaser than The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, who made their live debut in the Thai capital in 2012. Their exciting take on traditional Isaan music, and their use of Thai instruments—including the phin (Thai lute), and the khaen (bamboo harmonica)—have earned them great acclaim, eventually landing them a spot at the 2016 Glastonbury Festival in the UK. But you can almost always see them live in Bangkok as they perform regularly, especially at Studio Lam (Sukhumvit Soi 51). www.paradisebangkok.officialstore.co.uk bangkok101.com


best of bkk | CITY PULSE

#59

BACC: Since its opening in July of 2008, the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC) has presented a steady stream of fascinating exhibits from Thai and international artists alike. But no matter what show is on display, just roaming through the Guggenheiminspired interior of this nine-storey marvel is an exhilarating experience for any art lover. The building’s cafés, commercial art galleries, bookshops, and craft shops are also worth checking out and, the best part is, entrance is always free. 939 Rama 1 Rd, en.bacc.or.th

#60

BANGKOK NATIONAL MUSEUM: Located in the former grounds of the 18th century Wang Na Palace, the Bangkok National Museum houses the largest collection of Thai art and artifacts in the country. The museum was established in 1874 by King Rama V to exhibit relics from the rule of King Rama IV, but today it’s home to exhibits covering Thai history back to Neolithic times. 4 Chao Fa Rd, Tel: 02 215 8173

#61

YENAKART VILLA: Founded in June of 2015 by Frederic Meyer and Jeremy Opritesco, the YenakArt Villa has certainly contributed greatly to Bangkok’s ever-growing art scene when it comes to introducing the public to new and dynamic Thai and international artists. However, the gallery itself is also a thing of beauty—a high-ceilinged, open-concept, modernist villa, with a glass façade and a huge front garden, unassumingly located on a quiet side street. 69 Soi Prasat Suk, Tel: 02 235 9800 www.yenakartvilla.com

#62

KLONG BANG LUANG ARTIST HOUSE: This charming, canal-side art community and atmospheric enclave features crafts, good Thai food, fishfeeding, an old wooden house transformed into a gallery, a do-it-yourself art classroom and a courtyard for staging extraordinary performances with traditional Thai puppets. You may need to join a guided tour to get here, or ask if Charlie can take you (see #43). Tel: 02 868 5279, www.facebook.com/baansilapin

#63

SCALA CINEMA: Built in 1967, the historic Scala Cinema is an exquisitely maintained movie theatre—worth a visit not only for the bargain priced seats and popcorn, but also for the whole retro atmosphere. Walking up the grand stone steps and into the marble-floored entrance, complete with a beautiful vaulted ceiling and a fivetiered chandelier, transports moviegoers to another age. The property itself is constantly under threat by developers who want to tear it down, so make a visit while you still can. Siam Square Soi 2, Tel: 02 251 2861

#64

SATHORN 11 ART SPACE: An American father and son duo have transformed a funky old shophouse into an underground gallery with an upstairs artist-in-residence studio. The pair also installed a pizza oven on the premises and launched Gallery Pizza, one of the city’s favourite pizza delivery services (open till 4am). 404, Sathorn Soi 11, Tel: 02 004 1199 www.sathorn11.com bangkok101.com

#59, the Guggenheim-inspired BACC interior

#65

BANGKOK SCREENING ROOM: Although the 50-seat Bangkok Screening Room has only been around for a few months, they’ve already impressed local film fanatics with their impressive, and eclectic, movie roster that supports independent films and resurrects vintage classics. The high-end 4K digital projector, professional surround sound, and gourmet candy bar are also kinda nice. Note: The venue is currently under renovation but will reopen on January 17th. 8-9, Sala Deang Soi 1, Tel: 090 906 3888 www.bkksr.com

#66

JOE’S PICK

KATHMANDU PHOTO GALLERY: Bangkok’s pre-eminent photo exhibition space occupies a restored two-story shophouse modeled on mid-20th-century photographer’s studios, the sort where one could walk in and sift through portfolios of signed prints for sale. The second floor hosts temporary exhibitions of work by outstanding local and international photographers. Downstairs, the vintage green-painted walls display framed prints of images by owner Manit Sriwanichpoom, best known for his provocative Pink Man series, in which a man dressed in a pink suit pushes a pink shopping cart in politically and spiritually incongruous tableaus to expose the consumerist drift of Thai society. I enjoy browsing the wood-and-glass cabinets in a downstairs corner offering books on art and photography, along with titles on Hinduism, Buddhism, and other spiritual literature. 87 Pan Rd, Tel: 02 234 6700 www.kathmanduphotobkk.com

#67

STREET ART: This town’s less-than-pretty urban landscapes have, over the years, been “enhanced” by many spray-paint Picassos, but one of the city’s most recognizable local graffiti artists is Alex Face (aka: Patcharapol Tangruen), whose comical central character—a disillusioned looking, three-eyed child wearing furry animal costumes—graces many a grey cement wall here in Bangkok. And this month he’s having his very own gallery show (see pg. 60) www.facebook.com/alexfacebkk JA N UA RY 2017 | 21


CITY PULSE | best of bkk

#68

ARTS FESTIVALS: Bangkok has no shortage of street level music and art festivals, but for 18 years now the annual Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music has brought to the city world-class orchestras, opera companies, ballet troupes, and more to this fair city. Beginning in mid-September and finishing in mid-October, this cultural feast is also a great excuse to check out the Thailand Cultural Centre, a beautiful building in and of itself. www.bangkokfestivals.com

#69

SF CINEMA: Although the usual movie fare at the SF Cinema outlet at CentralWorld (999/9 Rama 1 Rd) is of the Hollywood blockbuster ilk, almost every other month a week or two is given over to some sort of independent film festival, showcasing international releases that are definitely NOT mainstream fodder. This month they will be playing host to the 14th annual World Film Festival of Bangkok, which runs from January 23rd to February 1st (see story pg. 65). www.sfcinemacity.com

#70

MOVIE MAKERS: Local cinephiles certainly know about The Friese-Greene Club, a private member’s club dedicated to filmmakers and film enthusiasts with a cozy 9-seat upstairs screening room as well as a downstairs lounge. But some may not know that owner Paul Spurrier (a longtime resident in Thailand) is also an accomplished filmmaker. His most recent release is The Forest, a spooky feature length film (in Thai with English subtitles) that has received major acclaim. 259/6, Sukhumvit Soi 22, Tel: 087 000 0795 www.fgc.in.th

#71

WRITERS IN RESIDENCE: Bangkok seems to attract a lot of great writers, many of whom feature the city in their work. Bangkok 101 contributor Jim Algie set many of the tales in his book The Phantom Lover here, while crime writer Christopher G. Moore (see story on pg. 72) has a whole series of detective novels set in Bangkok. Other acclaimed authors residing in BKK include Jerry Hopkins (Bangkok Babylon), Lawrence Osborne (Bangkok Days), and John Burdett (Bangkok 8).

#72

STAND-UP COMEDY: Every Friday night the top floor of the Royal Oak Pub (Sukhumvit Soi 33/1) is given over to The Comedy Club Bangkok, the brainchild of local comedian Chris Wegoda. Sometimes it’s open mic night, sometimes it’s improv comedy, and sometimes a visiting international comic graces the stage— but any given Friday there’s always plenty of laughs. www.comedyclubbangkok.com

#73

BLACK PIG TATTOO: Getting “inked” is a way of life here in Thailand, and Bangkok has no shortage of mind-blowingly talented tattoo artists. Black Pig Tattoo BKK, a private studio located in the Chinatown area, is one of many that come highly recommended (available by appointment only). 672/65, Charoen Krung Soi 28, Tel: 080-595-2999 www.facebook.com/blackpigtattoobkk 22 | JA N UA RY 2017

VERY THAI

#74

RAJADAMNERN SINGHA MUAY THAI ACADEMY: Thai boxing, with its fast movements, exotic music, and rituals, has gone from spectator to participatory sport with men and women—Thai and foreign—embracing it as a fitness regime. At this gym, located in the Jasmine City Building (Sukhumvit Soi 23), local champions act as instructors in a non-threatening, upscale setting. It’s a safe and fun place to try your hand (as well as elbow, knees and feet) at this ancient Thai art. There’s also a 2nd location at Seenspace (Thong Lor13). www.rsm-academy.com

#75

JOE’S PICK

M.R. KUKRIT PRAMOJ HERITAGE HOME: Born of royal descent and educated at Oxford University, M.R. Kukrit Pramoj (1911-1995), was a remarkable Renaissance man who penned more than 40 novels, stage plays, short stories, and poems, started a political party in 1945, and served as the nation’s 13th prime minister from 1974 to 1975. Opened to the public following his 1995 passing, the impressive compound where he once resided consists of five century-old teak homes collected in central Thailand over a period of 20 years. I especially enjoy visiting the Kukrit house because few international visitors seem to find their way here. In addition to antiques and personal effects on display, there is a library which includes rare books Kukrit collected during his life. Kukrit was also an accomplished amateur performer of khon, and a raised platform in the center of the compound is designed for performances of this traditional masked Thai classical dance-drama. 19 Soi Prapinit, Tel: 02 286 8185

#76

FORTUNE TELLERS: Head to Tha-Pra Chan (near Phra Athit) during the daytime to watch the fortune tellers at work. Some use cards, some read palms, but all seem to have a ready line-up of clients. In the evening, a similar sight can be found at the Huay Kwang junction (just outside the Huay Kwang MRT station), which also has an amazing Ganesha shrine.

#77

OLD SCHOOL THAI: The district known as Ekkamai (aka: Sukhumvit Soi 63) is a swank and trendy locale, but there are still some old school gems sandwiched between all the hipster hangouts. Open daily, from 10am till midnight, Sabai Jai Gai Yang is a large corner restaurant with an air-con dining section, but the open air seating is where all the fun is. Enjoy heaping plates of typical Isaan fare—som tam, larb meat salads, and plenty of grilled pork and chicken—as well as spicy southern Thai dishes. Warning: lots of cold beer may be needed to temper the spice levels. 65, Sukhumvit Soi 63, Tel: 02 714 2622 bangkok101.com


best of bkk | CITY PULSE

#78

FOOD FORAYS: Want some suggestions for slightly out-of-the-way, but worth-the-trip Thai food? Suan Karn Vella is a Thai food restaurant which never fails to provide a delicious authentic meal in its fabulous garden by the canal near Chatuchak (just down the road from Or Tor Kor market). For real southern Thai food visit Dao Tai (in Thonburi), which serves a huge array of prepared curries, soups, dips, and stir-fries. 508/26 Th Phran Nok (Thonburi), Tel: 02 412 2385

#83

WET MARKETS: Despite the myriad of stateof-the-art shopping centres and community malls in the city, traditional fresh or wet markets are still going strong, and frequented daily. The biggest one among them is the Khlong Toei Market on Rama IV Road (close to the Khlong Toei MRT station), which offers incredibly fresh meat, seafood, fruit, and vegetables, as well as other items, including kitchenware. It’s open every day from 6am to 2am, and the authentic atmosphere definitely makes it a photographer’s dream.

WEIRD & WONDERFUL

#84

#79, without motorcycle taxis we’d never get anywhere

#79

MOTORCYCLE TAXIS: Motorcycles are a popular means of transport anywhere in the world, but Bangkok just wouldn’t be the same without its army of fluorescent-vested motosai drivers—in fact, it couldn’t operate without them. They provide the only way to make it through our brutal traffic jams, and for that we love them. And whenever you see a girl riding side-saddle while finishing her make-up, or an entire family squeezed onto one two-wheeler—keep in mind that the art of riding a bike has been mastered, in every aspect, by both driver and passenger.

#80

FLOWER MARKET: While the Pak Khlong Talat flower market (116 Chakphet Rd) isn’t quite as sprawling as it used to be, due to the disappearance of most of the street vendors, it’s still the biggest wholesale and retail fresh flower market in the city, and a beautiful place to walk around and soak up the beautiful colours and scents—especially late at night. In addition to decorative roses, orchids, and lilies in all the shades of the rainbow, you’ll also find colourful garlands and arrangements which are used to honour spirits in Thai tradition.

#81

YAA DONG: This cheap concoction of lao khao (white liquor) fermented with herbs has been believed to have medicinal benefits, and is widely available in and outside of Bangkok. However, the traditional spirit has recently been taken from the streets and added onto the drink menus and cocktail lists at several city restaurants and bars—including Tep Bar, Studio Lam, Bad Motel and Bo.lan— where high-quality ingredients and a more methodical brewing process has turned it into a high-end spirit.

#82

SUAN PAKKARD PALACE MUSEUM: A charming collection of eight Thai salas and raised wooden houses, as well as an Ayutthaya period lacquer pavilion, all set in a dainty Thai garden. Open daily from 9am till 4pm. 352-354 Sri Ayutthaya Rd, Tel: 02 246 1775 bangkok101.com

7-ELEVEN: With over 3,500 outlets in Bangkok alone, the ubiquitous chain of convenience stores is literally found on every street corner (sometimes even two facing each other from opposite sides of the road). While their offer is generally limited, they do store everything you need in a pinch—from drinks and beer, to pens, candy, and phone cards. And what would a long night out be without the odd Cabornara toastie on the way home?

#85

SIRIRAJ MEDICAL MUSEUM: Also dubbed as the Museum of Death, it consists of five smaller museums—Forensic, Pathological, Anatomical, Prehistoric, and Parasitology—all within the grounds of the Siriraj Hospital. It’s definitely not a place for the squeamish as the morbid exhibitions showcase all kinds of preserved body parts and corpses—from bones, fetuses, and organs, to a man suffering from elephantiasis and the mummified corpse of a serial killer. Open from 10am till 5pm. 2 Wanglung Rd, Khwaeng Siriraj, Tel: 02 419 2600

#86

DUAL-PURPOSE SHOPS: Just because it’s a restaurant, doesn’t mean it can’t also be a shop or a pharmacy, right? And a hair salon might double as a laundromat, while a travel agency might change your money while getting you inked. Truth is, everything seems possible in this city, which for us, makes it not only fun but also pretty convenient.

#87

WAT MAHABUT: Accessible by long-tail boat, up the big khlong near Prakhanong, Thailand’s most famous ghost, Mae Nak, is enshrined here and thousands of Thais come to pray to her. The temple’s setting on the khlong is quite atmospheric, especially at night. 747, On Nut 7/1 Alley, Tel: 094 098 7789

#88

ABSURD ARCHITECTURE: The recently completed 77-storey MahaNakohn Tower is currently the tallest skyscraper in Bangkok, but its unique pixelated façade makes it part of the bizarre building trend in this town. The nearby Robot Building (191 South Sathorn Rd), is the United Overseas Bank’s Bangkok headquarters and is shaped like a robot, while the Chang Building on Phahon Yothin Road near Soi 26 is made to look like an elephant. But the winner might be the Wat Phra Dhammakaya Buddhist temple, in the Khlong Luang district, which looks like a giant UFO on a landing pad. JA N UA RY 2017 | 23


CITY PULSE | best of bkk

#89

WEIRD CAFÉS: When it comes to “cute”, nobody does it better than Thais. So don’t settle for a drab old coffee shop if you’d rather dive into a rainbowcoloured dream world full of unicorns at the Unicorn Café (44/1, Sathorn Soi 8). Or, if relaxing with a latte while petting a friendly cat is more to your liking visit the Cat Up Café (54 Soi Phayakkhaphon). And at the Little Zoo Café (Sukhothai Ave 99, Nonthaburi) you can have coffee with a live fox.

BANGKOK EXPERIENCES

#90

OLD SCHOOL MARKETING: “I still enjoy the gritty old fresh markets like my local enclave in Sri Yan with their gilt shrines, mouldering posters, litters of kitties, and super-affordable selection of fruit and veg. They are also incredibly photogenic. My local vendor has burgundy hair, often gives me a free bag of chili or some other treat, and always gives me a ‘wai’ after I pay, while her husband slumbers through the day in a recliner beside her.” —Jim Algie (author of Bizarre Thailand)

#91

APOTEKA: “For me, the weekend culminates with smoking a fine cigar and listening to the band that plays Sunday afternoons at Apoteka, on Sukhumvit Soi 11.” —Davinder Paddem (teacher)

#92

BAAN DEE 123: “Just behind Wat Ratchabophit, in back of Asadang Road, Baan Dee 123 sells traditional-style ice cream in a small Chinese-Thai shophouse filled with old pictures, antiques, and curios. While the speakers play Elton John songs relentlessly, the owner of the shop is talkative, witty, loves to speak English, and her ice creams are delicious— particularly the one flavoured with pineapple and chili. She’s open every day except Sunday.” —Luc Citrinot (writer)

#93

SAMUT PRAKHAN CROCODILE FARM: “I love it for its old-fashioned, tawdry tourist appeal. The thousands of crocodiles, mostly raised for their skins, lurk in large slimy green ponds and the last time I was there you could feed them dead chickens that you dangle at them from creaking, raised walkways.” —Ralph Kiggell (visual artist)

#94

PHRA NAKORN BAR & GALLERY: “Phra Nakorn rooftop bar and gallery (58/2 Ratchadamnoen Rd) was there before anyone else thought to put a bar on top of a hotel. I love its relaxed atmosphere, cheap Thai style drinking, and it has the best crispy tofu and mini wontons I’ve ever had.” —Gili Black (owner of Chomp restaurant)

#95

GETTING AROUND: “I love using the Chao Phraya Express Boat Service as a means of public transport each morning. It still fascinates me that I, and thousands of others, take a boat to work each day.” —Julia Offenberger (writer & digital editor, Bangkok 101) 24 | JA N UA RY 2017

#96

RIVER VIBE RESTAURANT & BAR: “From up here on the 8th floor the view of BKK is incredible! Many professional and amateur photographers come here with their expensive cameras, just before sunset, hoping to take the perfect shot.” —Osama Rajkhan (Social Affairs Officer, UNESCAP)

#97

HI-SO LADIES: “I love the sense of danger that arises as a Thai hi-so lady of mature years enters the room at a posh function and everyone is aware that the slightest stumble will send that intricate construction of corsetry, surgery and weapons-grade hairspray crashing to the carpet.” —Tim Footman (writer)

#98

SECRET PATH: “I love walking along the secret path between Lumphini Park and Benjakitti Park after brunch at Café Tartine (65 Wireless Rd). The entrance to the path is at the end of the Soi Ruamrudee and it’s almost like a sky walk as it’s on a higher level than the ground. This walking bridge can also be entered from Lumphini Park as, on one side, it goes above Wireless road. The bridge runs along the canal, passing the tobacco factory, over Ploenchit highway, and it ends at Benjakitti Park.” —Dalina P (development worker)

#99

JIM THOMPSON HOUSE: “Well, besides hanging at Smalls on a nightly basis, I’ve always enjoyed visiting Jim Thompson’s house. Most days are too hot to comfortably enjoy many of the tourist sites in Bangkok, but Jim Thompson’s has a reasonable 45-minute tour of his wonderful house. And you can have lunch at their very nice restaurant, often catch an art exhibition, and peruse their gift shops.” —David Jacobsen (owner of Smalls)

#100

WANG LANG MARKET: “I love the whole experience of shopping for vintage at Wang Lang Market—taking the Chao Phraya ferry to get there, pawing through the racks of 20 baht skirts and blouses, and imagining who wore the old-world outfits before me. And when I’m done, mulling over my new (old) items while relaxing at my favorite frozen yogurt stall.” —Laurel Tuohy (editor, Bangkok Coconuts)

#101

SOM TAM SUNDAYS: “On Sunday afternoons I go with my family to have lunch at Tum-mour (Sukhapiban 2 area, Minburi). The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating, is crowded during the weekends, and they play old American country music songs.” —Parinya ‘Noi’ Krit-Hat (Associate Publisher, Bangkok 101)

DID WE FORGET ANYTHING? Yes of course we did. There’s no way to cover everything this city offers. So if you think we’ve missed anything truly amazing let us know. Visit our Facebook page and give your suggestion(s) and you could win a fabulous prize in our lucky draw. www.facebook.com/bangkok101magazine bangkok101.com


SNAPSHOTS | insight

King Bhumibol, 2016, by Kitikong Tilokwattanotai, acrylic on canvas 26 | JA N UA RY 2017

bangkok101.com


insight | SNAPSHOTS

(More) On King Bhumibol T he life works of King Bhumibol Adulyadej mainly involve agricultural and irrigational projects that aim to develop and improve Thai people’s lives. These missions succeeded through His Majesty’s scientific prowess, but his true passions lay in the arts. Although he worked hard to ensure a better livelihood for his people, he also spent time nurturing his many hobbies. These reveal his ingenuity, and classify him as a ‘Renaissance Man’. His keen interest in sports, photography, visual arts, music, and writing have also become his long-lasting legacies that we, as Thais, love and cherish. Through his camera lenses he photographed the landscapes and terrains of Thailand for his projects. He captured Queen Sirikit’s beauty and the royal family members’ private moments. He also painted. Most of his oil paintings are portraits of the Queen, his family members, and some people around him. His artistic styles range from realism to Expressionist, Cubist, and Abstract. His colour schemes are akin to the Fauvists’ with vivid shades and striking compositions. Since his childhood, His Majesty had a natural aptitude for music. He

Tom’s Two Satang Join Bangkok-born but internationally bred aesthete Dr. Tom Vitayakul as he gives his own unique take on Thailand and its capital. Each month he tackles a different aspect of the local culture–from art and festivals to 21st-century trends– in a lighthearted yet learned manner. bangkok101.com

began with the alto saxophone, but he learned to play other woodwind and brasswind instruments as well as the piano. He composed 48 songs altogether—their styles varying from old standards or New Orleans jazz, to blues and even some marching songs. After working all week, he rehearsed and played with a band of musicians on Fridays and Sundays. Sometimes they played into the wee hours of the night. That’s why he composed one song called “H.M. Blues,” in which H.M. stands for “Hungry Men.” His musical virtuosity is wellknown as he played and improvised with renowned jazz musicians such as Benny Goodman and Stan Getz. His classical style is exposed in his majestic piece, the Kinaree Suite, created for the Manohra ballet performance. This suite was performed at a concert hall in Vienna, with a rapturous reception, and the King was the first Asian to receive an honorary membership by the Academy for Music and Performing Arts, Austria’s leading conservatoire. For most of these songs, he composed their melodies and only penned a few lyrics. Their words and interpretations are poetic and poignant, reflecting Buddhist philosophies, the beauty of Thai landscapes, and life’s vicissitudes. Within their melodies and meanings, these songs also portray his life. In his first song, “Candlelight Blues”—written in 1946 when he was still King Rama XIII’s younger brother— the bittersweet lyrics compare the ephemeral candlelight to human life. The late King Bhumibol wrote songs for various purposes. During every New Year celebration you will hear a song called “New Year Blessing”, composed in 1951, while “Smiles” was written for the blind students and the society for the blind, of which he was the patron. “The Impossible Dream” was written to boost morale among the military and border patrols who protected the country in 1969, while “Maha Chulalongkorn”, “Yoong Thong”, and “Kasetsart” were written for the students of Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, and Kasetsart Universities respectively.

His Majesty had ingenious ways of teaching—via his actions (as in sufficiency economy), or in words (through the royal speeches and his books). He wrote and translated eight books altogether, the first of which was When I Left Siam for Switzerland, a journal on his time studying in Europe. One of his well-known quotes is when one person yelled to him “Don’t leave your people behind”, and from the moving car, he responded, “If my people don’t leave me, how can I leave all of you?” He translated the best-selling book entitled A Man Called Intrepid, about Sir William Stevenson, a British Intelligence agent who bravely conducted his duties and upheld justice, peace, liberty, and morality without hoping for praises and accolades. The late king was also inspired by his pet dog, named Thong Daeng, and wrote a book about her loyalty, kindness, and good manners. Among all his output, the most popular is Mahajanaka, translated from Thosajataka, one of the Lord Buddha’s 10 previous lives. This mythical story tells about Prince Mahajanaka who travelled by sea and was shipwrecked. He has to swim for days and nights across the ocean to get back to land. This book was illustrated by several major visual artists, has a cartoon and a Braille version. For the 70 years of King Bhumibol’s reign, Thais have lived under his glorious magnanimity. He has been our constancy while we went through numerous political fluctuations. We have been in a status quo for a long time, and don’t like going through changes. Thais refer to a reign as “land” or “country” because in the old days each King would gain or lose territories from wars and battles. Changing the “land” is like living in a new country. However, King Bhumibol has entrusted his beloved son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, to succeed as King Rama X. As the new king, he will not only have to continue his father’s legacies but also create his own. Long may he reign. JA N UA RY 2017 | 27


SNAPSHOTS | highlight

On the Night Joey Ramone Died

In Part II of our exclusive excerpt from Jim Algie’s new book, a fallen rock star comes to grips with the death of his musical mentor. By Jim Algie

H

e put on the first Ramones album, remembering the thrill of hearing it for the first time. This was the antithesis of the airbrushed music he had heard on AM radio as a boy and which he produced now. This was raw and it was real. It was something he’d never heard before, though there were enough echoes of the Beach Boys and Eddie Cochrane to make it seem both radical and traditional. All the critics and fans either applauded or criticized the band for their minimalism and the lack of guitar solos, drum fills, or bass lines. But Lek heard something different in their sound that made it a part of his drab neighbourhood in Bangkok of concrete tenements and Chinese-style shophouses, of fresh markets and street stalls hawking the cheapest clothes, sandals and piles of plastic housewares next to women threading jasmine garlands together for Buddhist shrines and street dogs afflicted with mange—something that was located in a different galaxy from the stadium rock concerts he’d seen on TV and in music magazines, starring bands who sang songs about stairways to heaven and highways to hell, of dragons and wizards and journeys to other planets, on stages decorated with elaborate sets strafed by laser lights and misted with dry ice. The shows looked more like movie sets or theatrical productions than rock concerts. By then his father had died of heart failure and the family had been bankrupted because his mistress had run off with all their savings. So they had to move from the military base to Bangkok. Lek and his older sister

28 | JA N UA RY 2017

had to help their mother run a noodle stall beside a busy street that was open from six in the evening until two in the morning. His first and most enduring impressions of the capital were all the overpowering sounds and overwhelming smells: motorcycles revving, buses whooshing past in updrafts of black diesel smoke, jackhammers tearing up streets, pile drivers clanking in construction sites above the whirr of drills and the buzz of welders’ torches. Just when he had a minute or two to relax in-between serving customers, or kneeling down on the dirty sidewalk to wash the dishes in a plastic tub of water, sirens began screaming that somebody was hurt, or dying or committing a crime, or their house was burning down in a firestorm of crackling sparks. He heard that sense of emergency in the early punk bands, the furious rhythms set to the relentless pace of city life, beneath the corrosive guitars echoing the machinery that powered it. The constant clamour in the city drowned out everyone. It reminded him that he had no say in what went on, and no power to change anything. The millions of strangers appeared to him like so many apparitions and zombies, trudging down streets, waiting in lines, standing on buses, dead to everything and everyone around them. The only thing that animated them were their desires for food or companionship, to make money or go shopping, to get drunk and laid, to find a job or buy a car, to relax or take a vacation. And it was that yearning, so often

unexpressed or unfulfilled, that he heard in Joey’s voice and the songs the band wrote, where all the wants and needs were right up front: “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement,” “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,” “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around with You.” As fast and raw as the music was, the vocal melodies were strong enough so he could still sing them in the shower. Later, when he got his first taste of chart success, the music writers, radio DJs and TV hosts would ask him the same question over and over again, “Who are your influences?” And he found himself repeating variations on the same musical theme. “Punk rock is another stupid, meaningless label made up to sell newspapers and albums and airtime for TV commercials,” he said. “To me it always sounded like the soundtrack of the city. When I saw that first Ramones’ album cover—the black and white shot of four guys standing in front of a decaying wall—I thought to myself, ‘Hey, these guys come from the same sort of big, ugly, noisy city that I do, and that’s what they’re singing about.’ I could relate to them and the Dead Boys and the Damned, the Clash and Buzzcocks in a way I could never quite relate to Led Zep and Pink Floyd, because the punk bands were singing about street-level realities and ordinary kinds of sexual or romantic frustration. There I was in the middle of this city, a teenager working a shit job, making shit money, living in a shit apartment with no hope of a better future. So what did I have bangkok101.com


highlight | SNAPSHOTS to sing or croon about? All I wanted to do was scream about the unfairness and the ugliness of it all.” Around then he would pause dramatically to make sure the journalist was paying attention so he or she wouldn’t miss the most quotable line that they could blow up in big letters in the magazine or newspaper. “If it wasn’t for punk allowing me to vent all my rage and frustration and boredom then I probably would have ended up killing a few people and spent the rest of my life in jail” Lek stood in front of a framed poster of a blown-up cover for Rocket to Russia, the 1977 album that he thought was their magnum opus. He looked around at the band, all dressed in their leather jackets, T-shirts, sneakers and torn jeans—the look a million groups had copied—and then at the gangly singer who stood a head taller than the rest of his band-mates and wore tinted glasses. He raised his cup of green tea in Joey’s direction and said in English, “To you, my man. You never sold out like I did, and you guys stayed on the road for 22 years.”

Bizarre

Thailand

Smiling, Lek recalled the fan letter he’d sent to the Ramones when he was thirteen or fourteen. In the American English he’d learned from the GIs on the base, he told them that he was their biggest fan in Asia, and that he was practicing really hard and learning all of their songs, so if they needed a second guitarist he was ready to move to New York and join the band (now he laughed at his youthful naivety). Four or five months later an envelope arrived with American stamps on it. Inside was an autographed photo of the group, a couple of stickers, and a hand-written letter he’d read over so many times he could still remember every single word and comma: Dear Lek, Thanks for the cool letter. Great to hear we have some fans over there in Asia. Didn’t even know where Thailand was, actually, I had to look it up on a map. Guess we shouldn’t have sniffed all that glue and paid more attention in geology class. Ha ha. Hey we appreciate the offer of a second guitarist. But Johnny’s already so loud it would blow my

Jim Algie has parlayed his experiences living in Thailand into books like the non-fiction collection, Bizarre Thailand: Tales of Crime, Sex and Black Magic (2010) and On the Night Joey Ramone Died: Twin Tales of Rock ‘n’ Punk from Bangkok, New York, Cambodia and Norway (2016). The photo above is from Jim’s last tour of musical duty in Europe with his band the Asexuals, and was used on the 2001 album “Greater Than Later.” bangkok101.com

eardrums if we had another guy onstage. You can play guitar. You know how to write. Start your own band. That’s what we did. Just remember to stick to your guns and don’t take any bullshit either. When we started playing at CBGB’s we could barely draw a dozen people. Because we played so fast and didn’t have many originals, the gigs were over in twenty minutes. The local joke in the music scene was, “I would have walked out on them but the show was finished before I had the chance.” Don’t worry about all the negative assholes. You said “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” is your favorite song of all time. Last week at a gig in Baltimore I dedicated the song to you. Then I changed the last chorus to “Lek is a punk rocker.” Anything for our biggest fan in Asia!!!!! Really hope we can make it out to Bangkok for a show some time. Gotta say I’m not real interested in being your hero or idol. That isn’t what our band is about. That ain’t what punk rock is about. No stars, no limos, no bullshit. So I hope that makes me… Your friend, Joey Ramone

Jim Algie’s new book, On the Night Joey Ramone Died, is now available from www.amazon.com in print or as an e-book. It combines rock ‘n’ punk history and debauchery, with doses of autobiography from his own musical career, in a pair of interlinked novellas that chart the highs and lows of a Thai rock star’s career as he approaches middle age, faces his own mortality and tries to balance his work and family life. The settings range from recording studios in Bangkok to gigs in New York and drug parties on tour, with scenes that details the difficulties of songwriting, keeping a band together and staying on top in a cutthroat business that causes many stars to come crashing down to earth and hitting rock bottom. See www.jimalgie.club for a full rundown. JA N UA RY 2017 | 29


SNAPSHOTS | highlight

High-Rise Farming

Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort’s ambitious green roof serves the environment while providing tasty produce By Joe Cummings/CPA Media

M

odern city hotel roofs are generally flat slabs that no one sees unless they live in a neighbouring building. But if that neighbour happens to be an affiliated hotel, then the expanse of exposed concrete becomes a design issue. This was the case when the management of the Avani Riverside Bangkok looked down from the relatively new hotel’s 17th floor onto the bare thirdstory roof of their sister property, the Anantara Riverside Bangkok. Deciding the roof needed refurbishment or at least some sort of masking, the owners considered different approaches. “Several ideas, from a Japanese garden to an adventure mini-golf

30 | JA N UA RY 2017

course, came to mind,” says Anantara general manager Nicolaus Priesnitz. “But the idea of an urban rooftop garden made a lot of sense.” Once Anantara was committed to a roof project that would not only offer a more aesthetically pleasing landscape, but also provide fresh local ingredients for dining outlets at the two hotels, the hotel sought technological consultants. The resort found the perfect partner in Chanuphan ‘Tong’ Horsuwan, a farm manager and international consultant at the Bangsai Agricultural Centre, located northeast of the capital. Tong trained in urban farming under his father, Makavan Horsuwan,

a well-known innovator in the development of hydroponic growth tables and trays, a technology which allows for simple modular expansion per space available. “After university, I joined him on the farm and was amazed at how he could grow vegetables and crops anywhere—even in urban locations or on a roof,” explains Tong. “As populations grow in cities like Bangkok, there is increasingly less space to farm. Hydroponic city farming is an effective way of addressing this issue sustainably.” Reliable, predictable and repeatable, hydroponic farming grows plants without soil, using nutrients and water only. At the Anantara Riverside bangkok101.com


highlight | SNAPSHOTS Bangkok, these are delivered directly to the plants’ root systems inside three climate-controlled greenhouses, 29 plant beds, and a green canopy tunnel atop a 3,000 sq.m rooftop overlooking the Chao Phraya River. Specific technologies employed by Tong and his team include a dynamic root floating system in which a nutrient solution is pumped into growth trays containing the plants, fully submerging the roots. For smaller, faster-growing plants, a thin film of nutrient solution is consistently applied to the roots without full submersion. A sophisticated drip irrigation system recycles water used in the garden and assures a regulated flow of just the right amount of water necessary for the growth of each plant, thereby maximizing harvest and eliminating water wastage. No pesticides are employed. Meanwhile, a fogging system sprays water over the greenhouses, sprout rooms, and green tunnel to minimize potential damage by Thailand’s strong sun and extreme temperatures. The elaborate system allows Tong and his team of young farmers at Anantara to grow organically certified melons, tomatoes, chilies, zucchini, cucumbers, mixed greens, and micro greens at an incredible harvest rate of up to 50 kilos per day. The produce goes a long way in Anantara’s kitchens,

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

and enables the chefs to work with the freshest and highest-quality local ingredients possible. Compared to a more traditional dirt-based farm, the roof garden’s hydroponic system uses 90 percent less water, 70 percent less land, and 50 percent less fertilizer. Environmental benefits of the massive roof farm include lowering urban air temperatures by mitigating the ‘heat island effect’ typical of highly urban Bangkok. I’ve no doubt that the interior spaces below the green roof now require much less air-conditioning than before the farm was established, and I’m willing to bet that it also helps insulate the building for sound. The highly successful roof garden bolsters Anantara’s green rep after having earned the Asean Green Hotel

Award in 2015 as well as recent gold status from Green Growth 2050, the global sustainability certification standard for travel and tourism. “Looking to the future, I want to take this initiative even further by designing and growing more hotel farms,” says Tong. “The project also teaches owners and guests about the long-term value of urban hydroponic farming. I hope to discover more ways to combine engineering and agriculture and to develop growth systems that are even more efficient and technologically advanced.” Anantara’s rooftop farm serves as an impressive example of how unused urban concrete spaces can be transformed into something of sustainable benefit to any neighbourhood in the city. One only has to look to the sky. JA N UA RY 2017 | 31


SNAPSHOTS | very thai

Mediums & Shamans A

Psychic consultants peddle ancient remedies to modern society

n old woman dressed as King Taksin stands upon her throne, hoists shield and sword aloft, then engages in a martial dance with the elephant-headed god Ganesha. Suddenly, Ganesha—an ex-policeman—crumples before the altar. On removing his gilded mask, he vomits into a bag. King Taksin, puffing on three cigarettes at the same time, retires to her throne. Apparitions like this occur each Asahna Bucha festival in Wat Tum Phrathat, Lopburi. On that full moon night, she channels the two-centurydead king of Thonburi at an annual convention of khon song (mediums) with some hundred others. Each spirit, worshipped in turn, infuses any medium able to channel it, hence multiple manifestations. From the seated throng, pop a flock of mythical Garuda birdmen, then several embodiments of Shiva clad in leopard pelt, dagger clenched in teeth, then incarnations of kumarn thong, the ‘golden boy’ spirit of a stillborn foetus sacrificed for magical rites. A mediums convention might seem an unusual event, but is in fact quite common. An estimated 100,000 khon song practise nationwide, parting anxious Thais with money in exchange for wise words from beyond this dimension. Countless wai khru (homages to masters) happen each year, though usually on a smaller scale and varying by region. On hot season weekends, hundreds of shamans trance-dance at Pratu Pah cave shrine in Lampang, dressed in vivid wraps, wielding swords to a hypnotic Mon band. Publicised mainly by word of mouth and invitation, these occult wai khru spectacles remain the country’s biggest cultural secret. Thai shamanism hasn’t been marketed as a tourist sight like animistic rites in some countries. It remains vital, private and personal, evoking the doctor-patient relationship. Just as well; with entranced mediums lurching, leaping and thrashing, the visitor feels an ominous sense of preternatural forces barely tamed. Today’s mediums multi-task. They combine attributes from rival spiritual consultants: mor duu (clairvoyants),

> Very Thai

River Books by Philip Cornwel-Smith with photos by John Goss and Philip Cornwel-Smith B995 32 | JA N UA RY 2017

unorthodox monks, and mor phii (spirit doctors). Khon song claim to foretell the future and offer psychological insight, but by voicing an all-knowing spirit, often Hindu, rather than divining from stars, palms or cards as do mor duu. Like some charismatic monks, khon song may perform exorcisms and activate charms. Choodet, a typical medium from Thonburi, donates the small entrancement fee (always ending in a lucky 9) to make merit. He earns his living by charging extra money for services like holy water bathing, an auspicious name change, or spells cast for blessing, love or protection. In an industry worth 20 billion baht a year, fees escalate the more demanding the service, reputed the medium, or richer the customer. This trade siphons off ‘white witch’ business from the mor phii, who’s left hawking mainly sayasaat (black magic) with a capacity for force or harm that they naturally deny. Evolved from the shaman-cum-undertaker, the macho mor phii boasts a soul too ‘strong’ for possession. Not medium but middle man, he simply states what his spirit ‘allies’ confide. They purportedly are able to summon spirits into the service of clients, who commission his potions, love philtres and voodooesque mummery. The Faustian customers of mor phii allegedly include ‘influential figures’ such as politicians or provincial godfathers. Media and academia now take more seriously the role of the occult in Thai politics, following blood ceremonies conducted by both Yellow Shirt and Red Shirt protestors, and the ritual smashing of imagery at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine and the ancient Khmer Hindu Phanom Rung sanctuary at Buriram in Isaan. Mainstream Thais regard mor phii as amoral and un-Buddhist. Newspapers generally report their antics in terms of scandal. Notorious mor phii like Naen Ae, who was convicted for various transgressions, conjure kumarn thong boy ghosts by making luuk krok—a dry-roasted stillborn foetus, as recounted in the ancient literary epic Khun Chang Khun Phaen, but persisting today.

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

The Grand Central Post Office Modernist structure is now a historic relic By Luc Citrinot

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he imposing Central Post Office political movement, the People’s Party along Charoen Krung Road is (‘Khana Ratsadon’). Their ideology was one of the last remains of the to create a new society away from Pibunsongkhram architectural legacy feudal Siam. As Prime Minister, he in Bangkok. Plaek Pibunsongkhram changed the name of Siam to Thailand is probably the most controversial (the ‘Country of Free Men’) in 1939. figure in Thailand’s history. One In architecture, the move was also of the principle participants of the radical. Phibunsongkhram turned 1932 Constitutional Revolution, this his back to both vernacular Thai and powerful military figure served twice European styles previously favoured as Prime Minister—from 1938 to 1944, by the monarchy and the court. and from 1948 to 1957—before dying The Central Post Office on Charoen in exile in Japan. Krung is Bangkok’s best surviving His legacy is still fiercely example of this Khana Ratsadon style, discussed amongst historians, with as the building was saved the sad fate his policy based on ultra-nationalism. of the Supreme Court at Sanam Luang But his most visible legacy these (which was demolished two years days are the modernist buildings ago). The imposing structure was built constructed during this new era in in 1940 by Thai architects Jittasen Thai politics—buildings such as the Apphaiwong and Sarot Sukkayang Supreme Court, the Triam Udom on the former grounds of the British Suksa School or the Rajamangala delegation. This large street, which University of Technology’s Poh runs parallel to the Chao Phraya River, Chang Campus. They all exemplify has been at the forefront of modernity the values of Phibunsongkhram’s in Bangkok. Named also “New Road”,

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it was the first to get paved in order to provide the European community then with a first-class infrastructure. In fact, Charoen Krung served for many decades as a settlement for European traders, with goods being transported by boats on the river. It was a logical step therefore to have Bangkok’s main post office in the area. Built in a typical feature of Art Deco mixed with fascist style architecture, very much in vogue in nationalist states at that time, the imposing grand structure impresses viewers with its perfect proportion. A large central bay dominates, with two wings flanking, each of them are punctuated by six columns. Why six columns? They actually are the signature of the Khana Ratsadon ideology which is based on six principles (known in Thai as Lak Hok Prakan)—symbolizing the supreme power of the Thai people, national security, economic welfare, the bangkok101.com


heritage | SNAPSHOTS equality of Thai people, the protection of people’s rights and liberties, and public education for all citizens. Over the central façade, two huge Garuda sculptures dominate the structure. They are a more imposing reinterpretation of the rooster, the astrological sign of Phibunsongkhram. There is a legend running about both mythical animals, dating back to World War II, when allies started to bomb Bangkok (as the Thai government was a staunch supporter of Japan). It is said that both Garudas took flight, in order to protect the building. And these statues continue to protect the building against possible demolition. In 2013, the building was beautifully renovated and turned into a venue for special events, managed by IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Management. Special lighting was also created to turn the building into a permanent night time attraction on Charoen Krung Road. The post office itself was, at that time, relocated to a small corner of the building, while the grand main hall was exclusively dedicated to private functions. A restaurant was also open for a while, serving Thai contemporary food.

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Soon however, visitors will be able to gain access to the entire building. In 2014, the government made the decision to relocate the Thailand Creative and Design Centre (TCDC). Originally planned to open in 2016, the new TCDC will finally open its doors early 2017. This planned move is due to dramatically affect the entire area. In an interview in early 2016, Apisit Laistrooglai, Director of the TCDC, explained that the creative centre will be at the forefront of a new developing design district around Charoen Krung. “We have seen a transformation of the area with a redevelopment to attract new galleries, designers as well as contemporary restaurants and fashion outlets around the newly established TCDC”, explained Stephanie Grusenmeyer, one of the two designers running the exclusive furniture shop P.Tendercool, just next to the Central Post Office and the

Portuguese Embassy. “A committee shared by architect Duangrit Bunnag has been working over the past months on a design community concept for the entire area”, she added. The Grand Central Post Office might then be at the forefront of the creative community of Bangkok with the ambition of attracting not only the public and designers, but also SMEs, start-ups, filmmakers, and art lovers. With the aim also to make Bangkok a ‘World Design Capital’ in 2021, the Central Post Office will be a source of contemporary inspiration, a function matching its radical architectural value.

The Grand Postal Building 1160 Charoen Krung Rd. Tel: 02 105 7400 Open: Mon-Fri, 9:30am-5:30pm www.tcdc.or.th

THE “FIRST” CENTRAL POST OFFICE

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

A few meters away from Memorial Bridge, on Saphan Phut Road, a classical structure stands hidden by tall trees and the arches of the bridge. Best visible from boats plying the waters of the Chao Phraya, the classical structure with its arcade and clock tower is, in fact, Bangkok’s first Postal Headquarters. Built in Italian renaissance style with balconies and loggias, the Post Office was one of the finest European buildings along the Chao Phraya River (until it was torn down in the 1890s to enlarge the road). Now, 20 years later, it has finally been reconstructed. Unfortunately, the mock-up structure is only two-thirds as large as the original building, as funds were insufficient for a full-scale reconstruction. A room on the top floor tells about the history of postal services in Thailand and displays collections of historical stamps.

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Ocean Front Pool Villa at the Trisara Phuket Resort (see story on pg.48) 36 | JA N UA RY 2017

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PHUKET 101 T

he island of PHUKET is the kind of picture postcard tropical paradise that many people imagine when they dream of a vacation in Thailand. Its popularity with travelers the world over—especially Russians, as of late—has created a fair bit of congestion, both on the beaches and on the roads, and the pace doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Phuket’s overwhelming success is due to the fact that it offers visitors those three magic words that every holiday-maker loves to hear—sun, sea, and sand—and it offers them in abundance. It’s sheer size (it measures 576 sq.km), qualifies it as the largest island in Thailand, and the western “sunset” coast is blessed with endless stretches of gleaming white sand. The island is home to almost 400,000 inhabitants and those that have claimed the island as their own for multiple generations boast a unique culture and heritage— evident in everything from the fiery southern cuisine to the (relatively) peaceful co-existence of native Buddhist and Muslim populations. For tourists, every whim is catered to. Whether you want to book a room at a high-end luxury resort, or plunk yourself down in a modest guesthouse, there are accommodations of every type dotting the island (according to www.booking.com the island has over 2,300 hotels). Foodies will appreciate the abundance of culinary choices here—including the fiery southern curries this part of Thailand is known for—and the number of swank restaurants opening month after month is quickly establishing Phuket as a food lover’s paradise. Restaurants such as ACQUA in Kalim Bay, THE 9th FLOOR in Patong, and KA JOK SEE and OSHA THAI in Phuket Town, are all renowned for their amazing fare. Meanwhile, the nightlife scene will be heating up with the upcoming opening of the CAFÉ DEL MAR beach club in Kamala. There’s also plenty going on in Phuket year-round for those who like to plan their trips around special events. The KING’S CUP REGATTA (first week of December) is a major annual event—it just celebrated its 30th anniversary—and this year the very first PHUKET FOOD & WINE expo (March 17-19) gets underway. But the island’s most distinctive celebration is the annual VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL, featuring processions of holy men performing shocking acts of self-mortification (mainly facial piercing) as a test of their faith. This bizarre ritual occurs over 9 days in the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually September/October). Finally, getting to Phuket has been made even easier as the recently expanded PHUKET INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT now has two separate terminals, handling a huge amount of international and domestic flights daily—including direct daily flights from Bangkok, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai. For getting around on land taxis are plentiful, but the prices are steep compared to Bangkok (the hour-long trip to Patong from the airport pretty much starts at B800). Motorcycles are available for rent, but be sure to wear your helmet and carry your driver’s license at all times, as police perform random road inspections. There are also local buses and SONG TAEWS (pick-up trucks with bench seating in the back) available, running from Patong and Karon Beach to Phuket Town.

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Riding the big waves at Karon Beach

Southern Star

With its abundance of sun, sea, and sand, the island of Phuket has always been a holiday paradise, offering calm and clamour in equal portions Words and photos by Bruce Scott

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he uninhibited growth and development of Phuket shows no signs of slowing down, as top-notch luxury resorts, restaurants, and bars are opening all the time. Throw in the island’s growing reputation as a stop-off for increasing numbers of superyachts and cruise liners (see story on page 42) and it’s easy to understand why Phuket will remain the flagship destination of Thailand’s tourism industry for decades to come. The nexus of Phuket’s tourism trade is the evergrowing and ever-changing city of Patong. And with all the development and other distractions here, it’s sometimes easy to forget there’s actually a sizeable beach anchoring the city. And despite the huge crowds of sun-reddened tourists from across the globe, the scallop-shaped bay that is Patong Beach still presents visitors with fine sand, gentle waves, and warm waters. Unfortunately, it’s usually less than savoury for swimmers due to the amount of garbage that makes its way into the bay, but efforts are being made to clean things up. And the formerly out-of-control beach chair mafia has been tamed, as all businesses operating

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on the beaches of Phuket now have to conform to stricter licensing stipulations. Patong is also home to the island’s most raucous nightlife scene. First time tourists are inevitably drawn to Bangla Road, and its carnival-like atmosphere makes it the most eye-popping walking street this side of Pattaya. It’s pretty seedy overall, and the carnal delights include Russian go-go bars operating alongside the Thai ones—an obvious nod to the overwhelming number of Russian tourists who flock to Phuket—but as a “tick off your list” attraction it’s worth at least one wander down this garish gauntlet. Due south from Patong, along the western coast of Phuket, lie a pair of spectacular sprawling white sand beaches with less crowds and much bigger waves. Known as Karon and Kata (the latter is the more southern beach of the two), these gently curving bays are blessed with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of playful waves, which provide hours of amusement for young and old alike. In fact, the waves are so substantial at certain times of the year in Kata that a surfer community has developed here. bangkok101.com


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Serenity at Surin Beach

Sunset at the Kata Beach

Surfs up in Kata Beach

Bangla Road, Patong

Colourful umbrellas at Karon Beach

Surfboards and boogie boards—also known as ‘body’ boards—can be rented for a half/full day, and surf lessons can be had, starting at around B1,500 (90 minutes). Travelling in the opposite direction, due north of Patong, visitors will make their way past a series of scenic cliffsides overlooking the city. As the journey continues, another pair of peaceful, sandy sanctuaries await. Kamala Beach is a quiet stretch of sand with a very relaxed feel. This well-enclosed bay and fishing village is surrounded by forested hills and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. It’s a favoured spot for retirees and long-term visitors staying in nearby small hotels, villas and apartment rentals. The smaller, but equally blissful Surin Beach is just a short drive north of Kamala, and boasts a lovely expanse of fine sand and crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming and sunning, with plenty of big waves near the south end of the beach. However, the beach was recently overhauled—and all unlicensed restaurants and vendors cleared away—as plans are underway to develop the area into a memorial park.

Finally, a visit to Bang Tao Beach should appease any traveller looking to “get away from it all”. Despite its size—it’s almost 6 km long—this beach is often relatively deserted, apart from the odd luxury resort, making it a peaceful, idyllic, retreat. Look forward to modest waves, an expansive horizon, towering pines, and sun-soaked serenity.

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INLAND EXCURSION In contrast with rampant development along coastal areas of the island, Phuket’s interior still offers many hectares of land devoted to the cultivation of rice, rubber, cashew, cacao, pineapple and coconut, as well as Phuket’s last bit of island rainforest. The Khao Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife and Forest Reserve covers a mountain range towards the northern end of the island and protects 2,333 hectares of evergreen monsoon forest. Jungle hikes to Ton Sai and Bang Pae waterfalls are a popular activity in the reserve. JA N UA RY 2017 | 39


TRAVEL | focus on phuket

The Tin Trade

Long before Phuket’s beaches brought tourist dollars to the island, an entirely different resource supported the economy By Joe Cummings/CPA Media

Photo by Harry and Rowena Kennedy

1970s when a budget guesthouse attached to a laundry on Patong Beach began renting rooms for the princely sum of 10 baht a night. Phuket began courting a more upscale market with the 1980s arrival of Club Med on Kata Beach, followed by the more lavish Phuket Yacht Club on Nai Han Beach and Le Meridien on Karon Noi (see story on pg.50). By the early 2000s, inexpensive beach bungalows had been replaced by a wide variety of resorts around the island. The increased volume of road traffic also forced authorities to build the larger Thepkasattri Bridge alongside the original Sarasin Bridge (which has been kept as a pedestrian-only bridge much favoured for evening strolls and recreational fishing).

Photo by Vasin Singhaseni

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n the days before Phuket’s attractive beaches had earned the island its “Pearl of the Andaman” sobriquet, and spawned a multi-million-dollar tourist industry, an entirely different resource supported the economy here. It was the island’s abundant deposits of tin, widely sought after in both Asia and Europe for smelting with copper to produce bronze, that originally drew traders from all over the world. As the extraction and export of the utilitarian mineral expanded in the 18th century, European and Chinese traders developed a port city among the verdant hills near Tongkah Bay. Although tin mining attracted a few Siamese from the north, the main influx for both labour and commerce consisted of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Europeans from the British Straits Settlements to the south. The new settlement was called Tongkah, after the bay, but this was eventually superseded by Bukit, the Malay name for ‘hill.’ Years of exposure to Thai speech transformed this to ‘Bhuket,’ which was only officially changed to ‘Phuket’ in 1966. Another commodity was added to the cargo holds of visiting trading ships after rubber trees were first planted on Phuket in 1903, and the island developed a culture all its own, combining Chinese and Portuguese influences with that of the indigenous ocean-going chao naam and the southern Thais.

PHUKET MINING MUSEUM

Sarasin Bridge

By the late 1960s the tin industry in southern Thailand declined as resources dwindled and many dredging companies closed shop. Rubber cultivation, meanwhile, spread to neighbouring provinces in southern Thailand. As tin and rubber traders faded into the background, they were replaced by intrepid backpackers attracted by the Andaman island’s long, broad, sandy beaches, limestone cliffs, forested hills and tropical vegetation. The 1967 construction of Sarasin Bridge replaced the ferry service from the mainland and made the island readily accessible by road. The first beach lodging came along in the early 4 0 | JA N UA RY 2017

If you want to “dig deeper” into the history of the tin trade in Phuket, the Phuket Mining Museum, which opened in August 2009, is the place to go. Although it’s a bit out of the way—located in Kathu (once a major area for this industry), on the road between Loch Palm Golf Club and British International School— it’s an interesting diversion and features elaborate displays ranging from scale models of tin mines, to a recreated scene in an opium den (just be aware that most of the signs and descriptions are only in Thai). Looking at these very realistic, and often life-sized dioramas makes one aware of many of the hardships the local citizenry once endured. Moo 5, Khatu-Nakoh Rd. Open: Mon-Sat, 8am-4pm, Tel: 088 766 0962 Non-Thais: B100 (B50 child), Thais: B50 (B20 child)

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Elephants were once a vital part of the island’s workforce bangkok101.com

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Rockin’ Rendezvous Fleet of superyachts flock to Kata Rocks By Ron Gluckman

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huket’s Kata Rocks welcomed some of the world’s most luxurious sailing vessels at its inaugural Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous, which took place from December 10th to the 12th, 2016, at the opulent resort overlooking Kata Beach. Coming on the heels of the annual Phuket King’s Cup Regatta (December 3-10) it represented a bumper month for boating enthusiasts. The invitation-only gala event was promoted as a social networking weekend for the high-end super-yacht circuit, and certainly delivered with three days of posh parties, nightly performances, and the participation of 15 of the world’s most luxurious super-yachts. Most of the enormous boats are mainstays on the Mediterranean-Caribbean cruise circuit, and rarely have the opportunity to reach out to potential customers in Asia, said Olivier Badri, who handles sales and charter for Titan Fleet. Badri was on board Lauren L, an ultra-luxurious 90-meter vessel featuring 20 stunning staterooms. The super-yacht rents for US$700,000 per week, and Badri praised Kata Rocks for providing the opportunity to

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network with other boaters and boat lovers, not only in Thailand but the entire region of Asia that is now etched upon all yachting maps. “Everybody is looking to Asia, and China,” he said. Besides the modern super-yachts, the event also featured several charming old-school craft, like Dunia Baru, a picturesque 51-metre wooden sailing ship that was custom-built in Indonesia, where it is based and offers exclusive excursions around the many islands. Another traditional sailing craft at the event was Dallinghoo Schooner, which operates throughout Southeast Asia, but increasingly provides charter service into Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago, a largely unexplored region that is hot on boating maps nowadays. Besides marveling at the boats and mingling with crew, guests also received some on-board experience, during outings in the lovely cove facing Kata Beach, and around the island to shindigs at supporting resorts, like the stylish Surin Beach Resort, commanding a serene cove on Phuket’s northwestern shore. bangkok101.com


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There were also exhibitions of various aquatic activities popular with guests on the boats throughout the weekend, and special events supported or hosted by participating partners which included Getting Feadship Royal Dutch Shipyards, Burgess, Seal Superyachts, Benetti Yachts, Northrop & Johnson, Edmiston, Princess Yachts Southeast Asia, Simpson Marine, Yacht Solutions, Hemisphere Crew Solutions Monaco, 77 Design, Zeelander Yachts, PMYA Asia Yachting, Bristol Charter, Phuket Xperience, Burma Sport Fishing, and The Surin Phuket. Kata Rocks is no newcomer in the super-yacht scene, as the plush resort has participated in previous Phuket events, and parent company, Infinite Luxury, claims executives with extensive experience in management and crew services for the top cruising vessels. The Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous was conceived not only as a means of aligning the resort with the elite super-yacht market, but to also host a gathering at the highest level of quality and service, said Richard Pope, CEO for Kata Rocks, and Infinite Luxury. “The boats and operators want to come here, to have exposure to clientele in Thailand, and Asia, and everyone is looking at the China market,” he said. “These boats typically operate from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. This is the natural next place.” The linkage with the super-yacht scene seems natural, considering the high-end clientele and very look of the chic all-white resort, which is perched upon rocky terrain on the southern end of Phuket, with Mediterraneanaccented views over idyllic offshore islands. The design of the 34-villa resort suggests an aquatic connect with clean white lines, and sail-like canopies shading private pools and expansive outdoor terraces. Pope, a developer in the United Kingdom, bought the property in 2007, but it took six years to build the resort due to challenges of access and terrain. Villas seem bangkok101.com

carved into the cliffs, and buggies navigate steep paths and utilize tunnels to reach facilities. Most of the spacious villas have multiple bedrooms and large, private pools with sea views. Kata Rocks was recently chosen as one of the 25 best hotels in South East Asia by the prestigious Conde Nast Travelers 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. Pope promised that Infinite Luxury will be rolling out other properties and services in the future, including spas and branded products, like the Kata Rocks Gin distilled in Chiang Mai that was showcased to great reception at the Kata Rocks Superyacht Rendezvous. JA N UA RY 2017 | 43


TRAVEL | focus on phuket

Banana Beach is very appealing for solace seekers

Hidden in Plain Sight Seeking out some of Phuket’s less crowded natural attractions By Craig Sauers

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ll culture and chutzpa aside, Phuket is a beach destination. Always has been, always will be. When left pure and unadulterated, the island’s undulant seas and white-hot sands have near timeless appeal. Yet the dream of a tropical vacations doesn’t always translate into isolated sandy expanses and fruity cocktails with umbrella straws. But there are alternatives if you crave peace and quiet in paradise. To escape the madding crowds of places like Patong and Kata, make the effort to go in search of Phuket’s less trodden beaches. The quiet Banana Beach lies just south of the more popular, yet almost as quiet, Naithon Beach. Famous among snorkelers for its motley underwater life, this jungle-veiled gem has plenty to offer beach bums, as well. The trouble is finding it. Only a modest wooden sign nailed to a tree (a sign which disappears altogether from time to time) marks the way to the beach. From there, a narrow red-earth path leads to a patch of white sand that cleaves coconut palms and sapphire waters.

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On the northwestern corner of the island is Mai Khao Beach. Although not much of a secret, this 11 km tract of shoreline has little going on outside of family picnics on weekends. That could be a result of its border with Sirinath National Park, or perhaps its distance from the electric nightlife of Patong. Whatever the case, this beach stays more or less empty until April, when baby turtles hatch and embark on their long journey to the sea. Located approximately 50 km from the airport, Ao Sane, the island’s southernmost beach, suggests that Phuket has a few secrets left tucked up its sleeves. It’s managed to remain a hideaway because getting there, though easy, isn’t obvious. It requires driving through a private yacht club, under a tunnel, and along a rolling, potholed road until it meets a gravel parking lot. But what awaits is an intimate beach with three bays speckled by large, smooth rocks, a setting tailor-made for reading under a palm tree. Snorkelling is good here, too, since the rocks form an ideal habitat for marine life. But Ao bangkok101.com


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Laem Singh Beach

Sane hasn’t totally escaped the clutches of development: there’s a group of bungalows on shore, ranging in quality from basic to mid-range, and a restaurant that caters to hungry day-trippers. The crescent-shaped Laem Singh Beach, nestled between Surin and Kamala beaches, blurs the line between untrodden and buzzing. The aquamarine sea is an obvious draw, and so too is the wild, remote vibe. There’s plenty of room for sunbathers here, although these amber sands do play host to the occasional evening party, a trademark of a vacation on a Thai island. On Phuket’s less frequented eastern side of the island, the standout beaches stay low-key, and Ao Yon is a prime example. Just 6 km from Phuket Town, Ao Yon feels a world removed from the pageantry of the bigger beaches. Although not a true swimming beach (it has a rocky seabed just offshore), it does offer idle days with postcard-quality views and tranquil evening walks along an empty shoreline. It is the definition of a hideaway, as well, located at the base of a hill and kept hidden from

plain sight by overgrown trees and shrubs. On weekends, kayaks, dragon boats, and yachts in port decorate the bay. It’s an image of perfection, the still shot of the holiday that many tourists dream about before they reach Phuket.

Boats in the bay off Ao Yon

UNDERWATER EXCURSIONS

Photo by Direk Keats

Although there are many places to scuba dive around Thailand, the waters in and around Phuket are home to some of the world’s top dive destinations. The island is ringed by a number of established dive sites, including several small islands to the south and east: Koh Hae, Koh Raya (Noi and Yai), Koh Yao (Noi and Yai), Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (also known as ‘Shark Point’ as it is a habitat for harmless leopard sharks). Excursions further afield to Phang-Nga Bay islands to the east, and to the world-famous Surin and Similan Islands to the northwest, are also for the most part operated from Phuket. A few outfits also provide liveaboard trips to islands in the Mergui Archipelago off the southern coast of Myanmar.

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Old World Charm Visiting Phuket Town for a true “taste” of history

Phra Phitak Chinpracha Mansion

Sino-Portuguese shophouses

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lthough it can’t lure tourists with white sand beaches, loads of culturally curious travellers have been drawn to Phuket Town’s wellpreserved historic district, making it a major tourism attraction. Thankfully, the preservation and restoration projects launched in the mid-2000s have kept many of the century-old tiam choo (Hokkien for “shop house”) intact. Designed in the typical Sino-Portuguese architectural style also seen in Penang, Melaka and Singapore, these colorful shophouses line several downtown roads (Thalang Road is home to many of them, as is Soi Romanee). And as this historic neighbourhood continues to grow in popularity, an array of art galleries, cafes, guesthouses and restaurants are flourishing in the wake of the town’s unavoidable, but not entirely unwelcome gentrification. However, despite the influx of trendy cafés, Old Phuket Town is still a great place to go to find authentic local cuisine, including delicacies such as ba-mee moo (chewy egg noodles served with fragrant smoked pork), khanom jeen topped with a choice of naam yaa (spicy fish curry) or kaeng khiaw-waan (sweet green curry), moo hong (braised pork, served with rice) and mee hokkien (a seafood and noodle dish). For something a bit more contemporary, like some hearty Western fare, try The Gallery Café by Pinky (19 Yaowarat Rd), or sample some unique Asian-Western fusion dishes in the beautiful ambience of Eleven Two & Co. (112 Thalang Rd), a hip café that doubles as a souvenir shop.

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Sweet green curry at Blue Elephant

Visitors can discover links to the past at historic sites such as Raya House, a Colonial-era mansion that has been preserved as authentically as possible—and is also home to a fabulous restaurant—and the Phra Phitak Chinpracha Mansion, built in 1903, which reopened a few years ago as the Blue Elephant cooking school and restaurant. Meanwhile the Thai Hua Museum—a recently renovated Sino-Portuguese building, dating back to 1911—is a great place to learn about Phuket’s history and the Phuket-China connection. Admission is B200. Also of note are the many intriguing temples in town, including the Shrine of the Serene Light, a beautiful old Chinese Taoist shrine, founded in 1891 by Hokkien Chinese. Or, for a touch of modern history, check in to the newly refurbished On On Hotel (19 Phang-Nga Rd). This longtime bare-bones, dingy backpacker dive was prominently featured in the film The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but a recent revamp has transformed it into a classy, contemporary midrange guesthouse, where stylish private rooms now offer rain showers, flat screen TVs, and Wi-Fi. But to really get an “overview” of Phuket Town, make the trek up Khao Rang Hill, located 3km northwest of the town center. Its summit offers views out over the town, while the adjacent landscaped park offers a children’s playground, three restaurants and bars, a fitness park, and a panoramic terrace (built in 2014). bangkok101.com


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Plan Your Trip

Upcoming cultural festivals and unique special events APRIL 27-30

MARCH 17-19 PHUKET FOOD & WINE 2017 The inaugural Phuket Food & Wine event will take place at the Royal Phuket Marina’s International Exhibition Centre (RPMIEC). The three-day event will bring together manufacturers and suppliers of gourmet cuisine, fine wines and luxury kitchen equipment. In addition to the exhibition, visitors can also look forward to engaging food and lifestyle events, including a beach BBQ at The Village, Coconut Island (a small island off the marina, accessible by a 10-minute boat ride), a charity dinner, a chef’s competition regatta, whisky, as well as wine and cigar tastings, cooking demonstrations, dining events, conferences and seminars, and a gourmet farmers’ market. www.phuketfoodandwine.com

PHUKET PRIDE First held in 1999, the annual Phuket Pride event is the only gay pride parade in Thailand. The 2017 event is themed “Come Together”, and takes place in Patong. Organized by the charity organisation Phuket Loves You (PLU), with support from local businesses, the event raises money to support LGBT and HIV charities, giving Phuket’s LGBT community access to quality sexual health care. Last year the festival was marked by a parade as well as art shows, charity auctions, street parties, open-air concerts, cabaret shows, and firework displays. www.phuket-pride.org

FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER

OCTOBER 20-28 PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL Held during the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event that ends up being much gorier than the name would suggest. During this time, local people of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a nine day vegetarian or vegan diet for the purpose of spiritual cleansing and merit making. People also tend to wear white clothing during the ceremonies, but what might shock visitors is the practice of body piercing and self-mortification, as participants puncture their cheeks with knives, skewers, and other sharp items. Not recommended for the faint of heart. www.phuketvegetarian.com bangkok101.com

KING’S CUP REGATTA Established in 1987, and today considered by many to be Asia’s biggest and most popular sailboat competition, the annual King’s Cup Regatta in Phuket attracts international yachtsmen from all over the globe. In the water off Kata Beach, competitive sailors will race in dinghies, keelboats, and multi-hull vessels. Last year marked the 30th anniversary of this acclaimed sporting event, and those making the trip this year will once again see world-class race teams competing and then celebrating in style at various parties around the island. www.kingscup.com

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TRAVEL | where to stay phuket

Trisara

Phuket’s luxurious hillside getaway enclave continues to evolve

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he drive to Trisara—free airport pick-up is provided for all guests—meanders along winding village roads and past the lively tourist throngs at Nai Thon Beach before dropping guests off at the resort’s open-air lobby. For many clients that brief road trip is all they’ll see of life outside this beachfront pleasure retreat, since the property is so beautiful, and the accommodations are so lavish, there’s really no reason to leave. The resort’s name, derived from Sanskrit, means “garden in the third heaven” and this property is indeed a heavenly garden. The lushness of the vegetation—carefully manicured by a team of expert gardeners— gives the resort the necessary tropical jungle feel, but it also helps maintain the privacy of the 39 villa accommodations. The resort’s original design team planned it so that each unit would be absolutely private, and once you check into your “little slice

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of heaven” it really does feel like it’s your world alone. No wonder A-list celebrities such as Kevin Bacon, Kate Moss, and Roger Federer have sought their vacation solace here. The villas are all beautifully designed, ocean-facing, and come with their own private pool. The tasteful 135 sq.m Ocean View Pool Junior Suite is perfect for couples, but the accommodation sizes go all the way up to the two-bedroom 538 sq.m Trisara Signature Villa, which boasts an 18 meter private infinity pool. Inside, each villa has its own unique character and style but all employ soothing earth tones in their colour palette and are adorned with beautiful art objects and elegant furnishings. Some of the little things that really make a difference include: oversize king beds (with matching custom-made oversize pillows and silky smooth linens); virtually silent air-conditioning systems (the noisy motors are enclosed in soundproofed cabinets underneath

the villas); and the inclusion of screen doors so you can actually listen to those crashing ocean waves at night without worrying about mosquitoes (of which there are surprisingly few). The in-room amenities are abundant, including sexy outdoor showers (alongside the indoor ones), beautiful deep bathtubs, plenty of closet space, flatscreen TVs, free WiFi, comfy day beds and sofas, and a minibar that is stocked with everything from champagne to Swiss chocolate. With all this at one’s fingertips it’s hard to want to leave the room at all. However, a trip to the private beach— blocked from outside foot traffic by a rocky outcropping at either end of the bay—or the salt-water beachfront pool makes for a nice excursion, as does a visit to the soothing on-site Jara Spa. Right beside the main pool sits the hotel’s three dining areas, which include The Deck, serving tasty Thai food and international fare, and bangkok101.com


where to stay phuket | TRAVEL Seafood, which specializes in mainly locally caught oceanic edibles served up using time-honoured family recipes (their Lan Poo—crab dip with pork and coconut cream, served with crunchy vegetables—is stupendous). The resort also recently added a new dining experience with the launch in November 2016 of Pru, their farm-totable restaurant (see below). The addition of this restaurant is

not the only thing new at Trisara. In an extensive renovation plan a great deal of the property has been given a new look, starting with the resort’s central outdoor deck, and extending to the concierge lobby, spa, and other areas. Finally, the rooms themselves are being given a new look, replacing the dark wood of the interiors with beautiful lime-washed teakwood. This lighter wood gives a very different

PRU: Trisara’s farm-to-table

Tell us about the idea and concept. We wanted to create a new dining experience. We have a brilliant, talented young chef— Jimmy Orphost, from The Netherlands—and we thought the wave of popularity of this farm-to-table concept, where you’re buying locally but creating foods that can pass the international palette, was the way to go. It’s modern European content, but literally “from here”, which is something special because it’s not easy here unless you have your own farm. With some local suppliers an ingredient might be available on the Monday, but not on the Tuesday. So we bit the bullet and did it ourselves, developing our own bangkok101.com

Trisara Phuket

60/1, Moo 6, Srisoonthorn Rd. Tel: 07 631 0100 www.trisara.com

came back to us raising our own things. The food concept was driven by those local suppliers and what we could physically grow here, as there are certain vegetables you just can’t grow in Phuket. The idea was to be creative and let Jimmy run away with his own imagination. He used to work with Gaggan in Bangkok, and he brought that experimental ethos here.

dining experience

When I sat down for an interview with Anthony Lark, the Managing Director & General Manager of Trisara, his resort’s new gourmand restaurant Pru had barely been open for a month. The farm-to-table concept behind this intimate eatery is, admittedly, more Bangkok than Phuket, but the initial success shows that there is a market on this island for foodie-centric fare. The tasting menus—four, six, or eight courses, available with expert wine pairing—are a great way to try such intriguing items as the organic carrots that are slow-roasted (in the soil they came from) and served with fermented carrot juice and cured egg yolk, or the Pak Chong baby lamb, served with deep-fried sun choke, lamb jus, and local goat cheese. A la carte menu items are also available, including desserts such as the divine roasted Phuket pineapple in jasmine caramel (B350), with foraged pine needle cake and a sorbet of Thai basil.

feel to the resort—a bit more casual but still wonderfully elegant—and so far a third of the units have been remodelled (and they look gorgeous!). by Bruce Scott

Anthony Lark

PRU interior

small farm and market garden. The village it sits in is called Pru Jampa, and the restaurant is named after the village. But we also found that the word Pru could be broken down to “Plant-Raise-Understand”.

How long has he been with Trisara? Jimmy has been here for two years. He was in charge of our Seafood restaurant previously. I would say he’s definitely “pushing some envelopes”. He is, and that’s why I can only do about 30 seating. This concept couldn’t survive 50 or 60 diners. He just doesn’t have the ability to pass over every dish if the numbers go past that. If they did, we’d have to get an expensive sous chef to work with him and then the whole thing changes.

Are you able to produce everything on the farm? No, but we decided to limit the amount of suppliers Jimmy would work with—when it comes to the meat and fish—and then we grow everything else ourselves. We also raise our own chickens, but that’s for the organic free range eggs only, which we use at breakfast as well as Trisara.

Are you hoping to attract clientele from outside the resort? Absolutely. We are specifically marketing Pru towards people who are not staying at Trisara. I’d say 50 percent of the people that have eaten here since we opened are not resort guests. But after you’ve had your fill of Thai food under the palm trees it’s a nice place for people on a honeymoon, or anniversary, who want a bit more romance. We wanted Pru to be more prestigious, whereas our other restaurants, with seats out on the deck overlooking the ocean, are more “popular”.

How did you decide on the menu? First of all, we wanted the food to have a story, and to tell a story that

Pru is open daily (dinner only). Tel: 07 668 3320-6 JA N UA RY 2017 | 49


TRAVEL | where to stay phuket

Le Meridien Phuket

This tropical oasis has been getting it right for the past three decades

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his year the Le Meridien Phuket will be turning 30, but the resort still looks brand spanking new. The bright green roof tiles on the main buildings still gleam in the sun, the two oversized swimming pools—the larger of the two measuring 60 x 90 metres—are kept immaculately clean, and the grand, elevated open-air lobby shows no signs of wear and tear. In short, this grande dame of Phuket’s luxury resorts is ageing quite gracefully. The property, which has always been a Le Meridien, chose for itself one of the most beautiful beachfront locations on the island—a very private stretch of white sand known as Karon Noi (but more commonly referred to as “Relax Beach”). And for hotel guests the great thing about this very relaxing, crescent shaped bay is that the rocky outcroppings at either end prevent anyone not staying at the hotel from accessing the beach. In other words, you don’t have to deal with touts, hawkers, jet-ski jerks, or nimble-fingered petty thieves. And just like the grounds of the resort, the

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soft white sand here is kept spic and span, which is something of a rarity for Thailand’s beaches these days. The resort itself occupies a huge area of land, and in total there are 470 rooms and suites to choose from. For a luxurious vantage point looking straight out to the beach, choose one of the 38 sq.m Deluxe Ocean View Rooms, which offer guests amenities that include a plush king sized bed, rainfall showerhead, LCD flatscreen TV, fridge, mini-bar, room safe, iron and ironing board, complimentary WiFi, and (most importantly) a spacious balcony with a spectacular view. The resort is like a self-contained world, a feeling that’s enhanced by a strip of shops that occupy much of the ground floor of the main building. It’s like you never have to leave the resort because everything is here—state-of-the-art gym, luxury spa, tailor, jeweller, souvenir shops, and even a small medical clinic. Meanwhile, daily organized activities range from archery and beach volleyball to tennis, golf and squash, and there are 10 F&B outlets on-site,

so guests can try out a new place at almost every meal. One of the most intriguing of the dining spots here is Ariake Japanese Restaurant, one of the few authentic Japanese fine dining restaurants on the whole island. The compact interior is home to a sit-down sushi bar, an 8-seat Teppanyaki grill station, and Tatami rooms for private dining. Grabbing a seat at the Teppanyaki grill ensures an entertaining evening as the skilled chef frantically slices and dices, expertly wielding his knives and tongs like a top-flight Ninja. But taste doesn’t take a back seat to showmanship, and the grilled to perfection menu offerings are as delicious as they are inventive. Ask for the elaborately prepared rice oak, flame-roasted sesame tuna, or the melt-in-your-mouth Waygu beef with special mustard sauce (just to name a few). by Bruce Scott

Le Meridien Phuket

29 Soi Karon Nui Tel: 07 637 0100 www.lemeridienphuketbeachresort.com bangkok101.com


focus on phuket | TRAVEL

Full Moon Brewwork Good things are brewing in the heart of Patong

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t’s been almost seven years since the Full Moon Brewwork— Phuket’s one and only microbrewery and restaurant—first opened the doors of their flagship brew pub, but it’s been only recently that their fantastic craft beers have been available widely in Bangkok. And anyone who has already sampled any of their delicious brews will agree that making the pilgrimage to the mothership would be a worthwhile diversion while in Phuket. Brewmaster Sukij Thipatima, a Bangkok native originally, is the man behind these interesting blends. His Chalawan Pale Ale, which features a jaunty crocodile on the label (inspired by a tale from Thai folklore), blends Pilsner malt with roasted Munich malt, and delivers a malty caramel note offset by tropical fruit and floral aromas. It’s light and refreshing, but carries a long finish. I was immediately impressed. Equally impressive is his Chatri IPA which, inexplicably, has a Muay Thai koala bear on the label. This award-winning brew blends pilsner hops, rye, and Australian hops— together with some specialty hops— bangkok101.com

to create a smooth, mellow, but still complex ale with hints of floral and grapefruit aromas. It delivers a bold IPA character, but it’s not one of those super IPAs that overwhelms the average palate. Another refreshing, easy drinking brew is their Phuket Lager (not to be confused with the widely available Phuket Lager with the cartoon hornbill on the label). This classic pale gold lager features a blend of German pilsner malt and Thai GABA rice from the King’s Royal Project. Another brew which utilizes rice is the lovely Andaman Dark Ale, which combines German caramel malt, chocolate malt, pilsner malt, and Thai black sticky rice from the Sao-Hai paddy fields. Inspired by classic British bitters, this smooth and slightly sweet amber-coloured ale carries with it a distinct dark chocolate and coffee flavour on the finish. At 5.5 percent alcohol it’s also one of the stronger of Full Moon’s original concoctions, but don’t let that stop you from ordering a second. All the beers under the Full Moon label are brewed on the premises (without filtering or pasteurization) and thanks to his eight stainless

steel fermenters Sukij is capable of producing approximately 500 liters of beer per month. The home-brewed beers available on tap tend to vary—both the Wild Honey Coffee Stout and the Bussaba Wit Ale were sold out during my recent visit—but that’s just testament to the freshness of the product being served. And it’s affordable too, with prices for a goblet glass (576 ml) ranging from B181 to B246. Of course, beer isn’t the only thing on offer here. The restaurant itself, which comfortably seats about 70 persons—indoor and outdoor seating available—also serves up some novel nibbles, including the Ramen burger with cheese (B199) in which pressed, cylindrical patties of crisp ramen noodles are substituted for the bun. It’s weirdly delicious! by Bruce Scott

Full Moon Brewwork

GF, Jungceylon Shopping Center 181 Rat-U-Thit, 200 Pee Rd, Patong Tel: 07 636 6753 Open daily: 11am-11:30pm www.fullmoonbrewwork.com JA N UA RY 2017 | 51


TRAVEL | from phuket to phang nga

Iniala Shores Located just 400m south of the original Iniala Beach House, the five-bedroom 1000 sq.m villas here feature spacious high-ceiling living and sleeping areas as well as private infinity edge swimming pools that offer uninterrupted panoramic views of Natai Beach. www.iniala.com

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from phuket to phang nga | TRAVEL

Esenzi Restaurant Located on the same beach as Iniala, this new seafood restaurant is headed by renowned Bangkok chef Tim Butler, the same creative force behind Eat Me and Bunker. This restaurant opening is just one of the amazing new additions to the Phuket dining scene. www.facebook.com/esenzi

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PHUKET BUTTERFLY GARDEN and AQUARIUM

TRAVEL | phuket visitor guide

TOE

PHUKET TOWN

To Iniala and Esenzi

4

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Karon Noi Beach

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1

Nai Harn Beach 5

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Rawai Beach

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4

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6

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7

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8

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9

Maphrao Bay Mai Khao Beach

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HOTELS 1 Kata Rocks Resort & Residences 2 Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort 3 Trisara Resort 4 On On Hotel 5 Nai Harn Resort

SAPAN HIN MINING MONUMENT

ATTRACTIONS 1 Khao Phra Taew Royal Wildlife and Forest Reserve 2 Phuket Mining Museum 3 Royal Phuket Marina International Exhibition Centre 4 Sarasin Bridge 5 Sirinath National Park 6 Ton Sai and Bang Pae Waterfalls 7 Shrine of the Serene Light 8 Khao Rang Hill 9 Thai Hua Museum RESTAURANTS & BARS Acqua 1 2 Full Moon Brewwork 3 The 9th Floor 4 Ka Jok See 5 The Gallery Café by Pinky 6 Eleven Two & Co. 7 Phra Phitak Chinpracha Mansion (Blue Elephant) 8 Raya House 9 Osha Thai

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The Surin Phuket is the contemporary Thai experience set in a truly remarkable location — the ultimate in Southeast Asian seaside serenity

Pansea Beach, 118 Moo 3 Choengtalay, Talang, Phuket 83110 t 076-316-400 hotel@thesurinphuket.com | www.thesurinphuket.com


TRAVEL | weekend wanderer

Hua Hin Getaway

New attractions make this beachfront hotspot well worth revisiting STAY: One of the newest additions to the amazing line up of accommodation spots in Hua Hin is the Radisson Blue Resort Hua Hin, which opened in fine style back in late November of 2016 with a grand media event. This design hotel, located a short drive north of downtown Hua Hin, has a boutique feel but still offers 118 tastefully designed rooms and suites. There are nine room types in total, ranging from the 45 sq.m Superior Rooms, to the ultra-lavish 230 sq.m Presidential Suite which features a fully equipped kitchenette, a private sundeck and infinity pool, two en-suite bathrooms, and room for up to six adults. One room option that certainly feels presidential, but is more suited to just two persons, is the 45 sq.m Deluxe Pool Access Room, which connects directly with the centrally positioned, shared sea-view infinity pool—just step off your spacious private terrace and into the calming blue water. Inside, the rooms feature a very comfortable king size bed, an in-room day bed, desk, 43” flatscreen TV, minibar and fridge, separate shower and tub in the bathroom, and much more. From the comfort of your room it’s just a short walk down to the white sand beach, where a few deck chairs and umbrellas await. But perhaps more enticing is the resort’s main pool, which overlooks this breezy expanse of the Gulf of Thailand. The expansive, blue-tiled infinity pool and adjacent dining area—The Ivy beachfront grill and lounge—are perched well above the level of the sand and surf, providing nice backdrop vistas for all those enviable Instagram pics. For lounging there are over a dozen adjustable lounge chairs situated around the pool, eight of which are on their own private salas, surrounded on all sides by water. Finally, several bright gold fat pigeon statuettes decorate the pool area, one of which doubles as a gushing fountain. These comical, but beautifully designed 56 | JA N UA RY 2017

bird statues are a running visual theme throughout the hotel, and underscore both the fun and playful attitude of the property as well as the attention to eye-catching visuals. In addition to all this there are three main drinking and dining spots located throughout the resort, including The Exchange, the all-day brasserie restaurant where guests enjoy their sumptuous breakfasts, the Lobby Lounge, and the aforementioned Ivy. Guests also have access to the fully-equipped fitness

room, and for some extra relaxation the tranquil ESC Spa offers luxurious treatments in one of six private treatment rooms. This recent expansion of the Radisson Blu brand is the first Radisson property to be located outside of Bangkok, but it surely won’t be the last.

Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin 1392 Petchkasem Rd, Cha-Am Tel: 03 242 1777 www.radissonblu.com/resort-hua-hin

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weekend wanderer | TRAVEL DINE: When the weekend starts to wind down, but you still crave one more bit of indulgence before the trip back to Bangkok, making a stop at the Oceanside Beach Club & Restaurant for their superb Bubbly Seaside Brunch (every Sunday from noon till 3pm) is highly recommended. For the price of B1,699 net per person, diners can enjoy a lavish buffet, featuring a mix of Thai and international favourites. The seafood selection includes endless oysters on ice, plus Alaskan king crab claws, jumbo prawns, Phuket lobsters, squid, and mussels—all of which you can elect to have BBQ’d to your liking at one of the live cooking stations. The cooking stations also feature meatier fare, such as steaks, chicken wings, pork cutlets and German sausages, or make a visit to the foie gras station where black truffle risotto is also on offer. In addition to all this fresh-cooked fare there’s a plentiful sushi selection, Thai classics such as Khao Soi Gai (curry chicken with noodles) and Gai Phad Medmamung (fried chicken with cashew), or go for the creative international treats which include everything from beetroot gazpacho shots, to miniature lox and bagels, and Bavarian style potato salad. Meanwhile the colourful dessert trays feature cheesecake, fruit tarts, traditional apple strudel, and more. The price tag also includes a free-flow of red, white and sparkling wine, as well as classic cocktails, and the restaurant even offers an upgraded brunch package for B2,999 net per person which includes free flow of Lombard Champagne. Of course, the spectacular setting of this stylish open air beachfront bistro is an equally inviting aspect for

diners, as it provides commanding views overlooking the lapping ocean waves as well as the nearby Hua Hin pier. Diners can also relax poolside after their meal on one of the inviting lounge chairs—the perfect place to chill out, lie back, and savour one more cocktail while enjoying the live band that provides some

SHOP: The recently opened Bluport Hua Hin Resort Mall is a unique shopping complex and department store, built with a mix of inspirations and ideas from the world’s best-loved resort towns—from the legendary Mediterranean charm of the Cannes boardwalk, to the undying appeal of Lake Como, in Italy. The shops themselves deliver over 1,000 names in fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and IT, but be sure to also take in the many fine dining options available, including Peppina, Wine Connection, Coca Restaurant and the You Hunt We Cook bangkok101.com

atmospheric musical accompaniment during the brunch.

Oceanside Beach Club & Restaurant 22/65 Nahb Kaehat Rd, Hua Hin Tel: 03 253 1470 www.oceansidebeachclub.com

counter in the Gourmet Market. In addition, families will love Whaley Port, the first interactive underwater worldthemed park in Thailand.

Bluport Hua Hin

Petchkasem Rd. (b/w 100 and 102) Open: Mon-Fri, 10:30am-10pm, Sat-Sun, 10am-10pm www.bluporthuahin.com JA N UA RY 2017 | 57


TRAVEL | upcountry now

KEEP ON THE GRASS MUSIC FESTIVAL 4 January 14

For the fourth year running the folk and indie music festival Keep on the Grass brings together a mix of artists from different music genres, including reggae dub band Sriracha Rockers, R&B classic rockers The Front Row, Yena, and many more. Among the star headliners are Isaan-born singer Rasmee, famed for her unique singing style—known as Isaan Soul—which fuses jazz, R&B and funk, and world music multi-instrumentalists Yaan. Held amidst the natural surroundings of Muak Lek in Saraburi province, the festival promises a laid-back afternoon under (hopefully) blue skies. The festival starts at 2pm, and tickets are priced at B1,500.

BOR SANG UMBRELLA FESTIVAL January 20-22

The annual Bor Sang Umbrella Festival , which takes place in the Bor Sang Village, Chiang Mai, celebrates the reputation this community has for creating Thailand’s famous umbrellas made from Saa paper. During the three-day festival the streets are illuminated by lanterns, while hundreds of umbrellas are hung from the rafters and beams of houses and shops. Villagers compete to win the prize for the year’s most attractively designed umbrella, but there’s also concerts, a food festival, and a beauty contest all competing for the attention of the audience—a mix of both tourists and residents.

KHON KAEN MARATHON January 29

The 14th annual Khon Kaen International Marathon is open to everyone from professionals to fun runners. The event offers a wide selection of race categories and age ranges, so there’s something for just about everyone. The main featured run will be a 42 km full marathon for participants of 18 years or older, a 21 km half marathon route for participants of 16 years of age or above, an 11.5 km mini-marathon for participants 12 years of age or above, and a 4.5 km fun run open to everyone. It’s a great chance to get fit, and enjoy the natural beauty of Khon Kaen province.

LOPBURI SUNFLOWER FESTIVAL Until January 31

If you’re an aspiring Van Gogh, or just plain into flowers, then the Lopburi Sunflower Festival is the place, as endless fields of bright yellow sunflowers will be in bloom in the countryside around Lopburi. It’s the perfect location for an outdoorsy daytrip—only an hour and a half from Bangkok by car—and each year thousands flock here to roam amidst the tall, sun-dappled flowers. Bicycles are available to tour the fields, while tractor-pulled roadtrains take visitors on scenic trips between the blooms. Sunflowers will also be blooming in nearby Saraburi. 58 | JA N UA RY 2017

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ART

| ART & CULTURE

Alive

Solo Exhibition by Alex Face

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ince his breakout solo exhibition entitled The Underground Adventure, back in 2012, street artist ALEX FACE has taken the Bangkok art scene by storm. The painter, whose real name is PATCHARAPOL TANGRUEN, almost always uses as his central character the iconic threeeyed animal costume wearing baby (or is it a disillusioned grown up?) that can also be seen on many walls in and around this city’s urban landscape. His comical, but thought-provoking character has also adorned urban walls in other major cities, including Jakarta, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Now, four years later, Alex Face is back with his latest show, entitled ALIVE, which features more than 30 new artworks, including paintings and drawings, as well as large scale sculpture. The exhibition invites everyone into a fantastical world, where the famed “disillusioned child character” is lost in a waterlily pond. At first glance, the settings here seem serene and peaceful, a nod to the Impressionist art masterpieces that the artist has always loved and admired. But, like recent events happening in Thai society, even though the surface seems beautiful everything is stagnant and what lies underneath can be more than ominous at times. ALIVE runs until FEBRUARY 19 at the BANGKOK CITYCITY GALLERY (13/3, Sathorn Soi 1, South Sathorn Rd). Viewing hours are Wednesday to Sunday, from 1pm to 7pm. For more information, call 083 087 2725. www.facebook.com/bangkokcitycity

facebook.com/bangkokartmap bangkok101.com

JA N UA RY 2017 | 61


ART & CULTURE | exhibitions

UNTIL JANUARY 13 Bualuang Paintings: In Tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Queen’s Gallery

101, Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd. Viewing hours: Thu-Tue, 10am-7pm Tel: 02 281 5360 | www.queengallery.org

The Bualuang Foundation, in collaboration with The Queen’s Gallery Foundation and Bangkok Bank PCL has organized this exhibition to honour and to commemorate His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his boundless and gracious kindness to the Thai Art scene. In remembrance of His Majesty’s unlimited benevolence, this exhibition will present a total of 194 art pieces, including 124 art pieces (122 paintings and 2 sculptures) from Bualuang Paintings Contest winners, and 70 art pieces under the theme ‘The 70 Year Reign of Thailand’s Revered King Rama IX’, contributed by a variety of art students.

JANUARY 7-FEBRUARY 18 No Gravity

Kalwit Studio & Gallery 119/14, Ruamrudee Soi 2, Wireless Rd. Viewing hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-6pm Tel: 02 254 4629 | www.facebook.com/kalwitstudio

This exhibition has been created by Teeratat Namkeaw and Thanakorn Siriraks, two artists who are passionate about mythology and surrealism. They have also both chosen oil paint to intensify the realism and the liberty of expression to the best of their ability. Teeratat presents the dream sequence together with experiences from daily life, which are randomly arranged within the subconscious. Meanwhile, Thanakorn conveys the emotion that is propelled and circulated within the mind on the canvas. He does this by lessening the pigment and rigid surface— presenting much more than just a realistic style of painting.

JANUARY 7-FEBRUARY 25 A Boy Who Was Kidnapped by Time Kathmandu Photo Gallery

87, Pan Rd. Viewing hours: Tue-Sat, 11am-6pm Tel: 02 234 6700 | www.kathmanduphotobkk.com

A certain eerily dilapidated short-time motel in Suthisarn is a favourite location for filmmakers and photojournalists. The stories they get from it might revolve around the seedy cesspool of the melodramatic lives of cheap pimps and prostitutes. But for Harit Srikhao—a thoughtful and imaginative 4th year photography student at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang—it’s a universe that has locked away within its dimensions a haunting childhood memory, of a friend from middle school who had died young—the boy kidnapped by time, who’ll never grow up or grow old. 62 | JA N UA RY 2017

bangkok101.com


exhibitions | ART & CULTURE

UNTIL JANUARY 15 Mind the Monsoon Gallery VER

2198/10-11, Narathiwas Soi 22 Viewing hours: Tue-Sat, 12pm–6pm Tel: 089 988 5890 | www.facebook.com/galleryver

Atit Sornsongkram creates illusion with photographic techniques in order to raise questions about the “realism” in photography. He uses image editing, which is similar to the way the painter paints on canvas. However, his work has a different visual result—it’s meant to “bother” our perception. It is not smooth like what we expect. To look at his photography makes us question the realness in the image under the neatly composed beauty. We want to believe in what we first see, but it is something different from what we expect. The resolution and the blurred focus make his work attractive and mysterious at once.

JANUARY 21-FEBRUARY 26 Looking and Seeing

S.A.C. Subhashok The Arts Centre Soi Phrom Chit, Sukhumvit 39 Viewing hours: Tue-Sat, 10am–5:30pm, Sun, 12pm-6pm Tel: 02 662 0299 | www.facebook.com/sacbangkok

Artist Pichai Pongsasaovapark presents an exhibition divided into three sections. The Deluge series ponders the impact of flooding and rising sea levels by soaking canvasses in tanks of water mixed with pollutants such as motor oil and household detergents. In the Drought series, he overlays photographs of drought-stricken rice farms in Northeast Thailand with photographs of the farmers most directly impacted by the unforgiving weather. In The Air We Breathe series, he creates seemingly beautiful images by capturing exhaust emissions from such motorized vehicles as motorcycles, automobiles, vans, trucks, plows, and rice combines.

UNTIL JANUARY 31 The Blue Cinema RMA Institute

38, Sainamthip Soi 2, Sukhumvit Soi 22 Viewing hours: Tue-Sun, 9am–7pm Tel: 02 663 0809 | www.rmainstitute.net

The oil paintings of Nijsupa Nakaurai are derived from the impressions left by movie screens. The artist chooses the isolated, strange, or scary scenes to be her muses, and she creates aesthetically pleasing but illusive paintings based on scenes from the cinema—painting by observing the different living status, the ambiguity, and the loneliness that we are all facing in society. She modifies the scene, expands its space, and adds a mysterious and lonely feel with an oil painting technique that is realistic in style, finally becoming the illusive world of the artist. For the artist, film is the art of creating illusive images and narratives. bangkok101.com

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ART & CULTURE | museum spotlight

The Bangkokian Museum A perfectly preserved slice of life from days gone by By Luc Citrinot

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midst a patch of lush greenery, where chirping birds mask the noise of the outside world, is where you’ll find the Bangkokian Museum—a time machine to the late 1940s or early 1950s, and a labour of love for one curious local lady. She stands discreetly in the background of the information counter, flipping through magazines, looking at her laptop, or just glancing at the visitors entering into the compound of the house. Mrs. Varaporn Suravadee, now in her 80s, grew up on the plot of land where three houses stand today, surrounded by wild gardens and ponds. Visitors might not realize it but in the shadow of an expressway bridge along Charoen Krung Soi 43 there exists this piece of small paradise—a green oasis serving as a backdrop to the museum (also called the Bangkok Folk Museum). The owner spent her childhood here among these three houses, where she developed a curious habit, preserving and keeping all the objects of her daily life— from her school days to her adulthood. In the early 2000, she transferred her collection to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration which opened it as a museum. The first house of the three, built in the 1930s, was the main structure where the family used to live. It reflects the typical way of life of a Chinese Thai middleclass family. All the elements of the family’s discreet opulence are visible in each room: the lounge with a piano standing in a corner; a majestic radio dominating the room; the leather sofa; a large sculpted wooden standing clock; family portraits; and the table covered with precious chinaware and a phonogram. The family was indeed living a comfortable life.

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In the adjacent house, which was obviously the kitchen, visitors can admire a curious collection of objects, from matchboxes and candy tins, to advertising for cigarettes, postcards, old calendars, guide books, maps, plastic dolls, gadgets, cutlery, cooking utensils, and vintage magazines. It’s like entering a second-hand shop—a rather huge one—where almost anyone could find something of interest. The third house was the home of a doctor, and has paintings and artworks on display. It’s all a bit messy, but that is definitely part of its charm. It’s like a trip down memory lane, back to a time where innocence and the curiosity towards anything bearing the sign of modernity filled up the life of Bangkok boys and girls. This incredible collection is normally open to the public free of charge, but currently the owner asks a donation of B100 in a bid to preserve the environment of the house. The museum is currently under threat from a nearby real estate development which proposes the construction of an eight-story building (which would see the surrounding gardens threatened). The owner is fighting to find B30 million to preserve this piece of land, and although some 700 visitors come each month on average to discover the Bangkokian Museum, who knows how long this living remnant of old Bangkok can survive.

Bangkokian Museum

73 Charoen Krung Rd, Tel: 02 234 6741, Open: Wed-Sun, 9am-4pm Admission: B100 donation bangkok101.com


cinema scope | ART & CULTURE

Film News & Screenings T

By Bruce Scott

he major event for movie lovers this month will be this year’s World Film Festival of Bangkok. This marks the 14th edition of this highly anticipated annual film event, which will run from January 23rd to February 1st (originally scheduled to have run from the 4th to the 13th of November, 2016). As per usual the film line-up includes an eclectic array of carefully curated international films, including Elle, from acclaimed director Paul Verhoeven. Other notable features include Fire at Sea (Italy), Thithi (India), Gabo (Colombia), Kalo Pothi (Nepal), Present Perfect (Thailand), and Davy Chou’s Diamond Island (Cambodia), which received a lot of attention at the recent Luang Prabang Film Festival in Laos. The festival’s opening film this year is a decided change of pace, as it will be an animated movie. Directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit, The Red Turtle (2016) tells the story of a massive sea turtle who destroys a stranded man’s raft every time he tries to sail away from the tropical island he’s on. Fans of Studio Ghibli should note that this acclaimed Japanese animation studio was one of the production teams involved in the making of this feature. All screenings take place at the SF Cinema, Central World, and tickets are B120 each. For more info, and a complete schedule, visit www.worldfilmbkk.com.

THE BLACK HEN

The first film from the small kingdom of Nepal to be screened, and win an award, at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, will be shown this year at the World Film Festival of Bangkok. Entitled The Black Hen (Kalo Pothi), the film was released in 2015 and is the debut feature from Min Bahadur Bham. It created waves at festivals around the world, and was also Nepal’s official Oscarentry. The movie centres around the simple story of two village boys and their hunt for their missing hen, but it also tackles the issues of caste, communism, and culture in a gentle but thought-provoking manner. In an exclusive interview with film writer Lekha Shankar, the director talks about his inspirations and the upcoming Bangkok Festival. How did you conceive this story? When I was child, I always wondered why many of my friends could not enter my house, only because they were of a lower caste. I was also worried about the Maoist insurgency in the country, and I wondered when we would lead a normal life. All these observations led to the making of the film.

The Red Turtle

What was the response to the film in Nepal? I’m proud that it was a box-office hit, and was also praised by the critics. What was the secret of the film’s success? The honest story and the brilliant performances of the two children (who are not professional actors). Has your film made a big difference to the indie film scenario in Nepal? Definitely. Now the producers want to invest, and theatres in Nepal want to screen indie films.

Diamond Island bangkok101.com

How special is this film festival at Bangkok? We premiered our film in many Asian countries, except Thailand. That’s why being part of this film festival means a lot to me.

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Art & Culture

Photo Feature

Until March 14, 2017 House of Lucie: Center for Photography Ekkamai Soi 8, Sukhumvit Soi 63 www.facebook.com/houseoflucie

Monks run on wall, Henan Province, China (2004)

A LIFETIME OF WORK Photos of Steve McCurry World-famous photographer Steve McCurry, perhaps best known for his “Afghan Girl” portrait—often regarded as one of National Geographic's most iconic front covers—currently has a four-month-long exhibition, entitled ‘A Lifetime of Work’, on display at the House of Lucie: Center for Photography. These intensely arresting images are beautifully composed and expertly lit, but they also convey so much about the subjects depicted that it’s hard not to feel drawn into the larger story they illustrate. The exhibit features some of McCurry’s best portraits and images, carefully assembled from his extensive collection. The show has been curated by Hossein Farmani for the House of Lucie, and includes both large- and small-scale portraits that the artist has captured around the world—across numerous international and civil conflicts. The photos on display have been selected to show the scope of McCurry's work, from his early days as a newspaper journalist, to his recent commercial works that have never been displayed before, including his platinum series. This retrospective has over 180 images, the biggest so far of his work. all photos are ©Steve McCurry


Woman at Horse Festival, Tagong, Tibet (1999)


Dust storm, Rajasthan, India (1983)


Geisha in subway, Kyoto, Japan (2007)

Boy in mid-flight, Jodhpur, lndia (2007)


Young man walks behind elephant, Sri Lanka (1995)


Monks pray at Golden Rock, Kyaikto, Myanmar (1994)

Fishermen at Weligama, Sri Lanka (1995)


ART & CULTURE | required reading

Literary Leap

After road accidents, suicide is the leading cause of death for foreigners in Thailand... and many involve a fatal fall from a Bangkok balcony

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anadian-born author Christopher G. Moore has called Thailand his home for nearly 30 years. In 2011 his novel Asia Hand, part of the long-running Vincent Calvino Crime Series, won the Shamus Award—a literary prize given by the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) for the best detective fiction genre novels and short stories. This year the 16th novel in his popular Bangkok-based Calvino series was released. Entitled Jumpers, it tells the tale of a private investigator looking into the falling death of a friend. The medical examiner finds drugs in the man’s system and thus the police verdict of suicide seems justified. But in Bangkok appearances have a habit of deceiving, and sometimes “jumpers” are given a leg up in their leap to the next life. Unfortunately, when it comes to mysterious deaths, getting to the bottom of things in this town can be a risky business. What are some of the themes conveyed in your latest novel? Expats are from a long-line of dreamers. Ever since the title character in Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote set out to explore the world, wanderers have been charging at windmills. And sometimes it doesn’t work out. They don’t “find themselves”, as it were. Quite the opposite—they lose themselves to bitterness, disappointment, and depression. In frustration, some expats turn to suicide as a way out. Jumpers takes you on the elevator ride to the basement where the “wild things” are. Where gamblers, hustlers, and gangsters mingle with the musicians, party-makers, ladies of the night, and their customers. Each of the characters has a dream (like the rest of us), but when you look closer, you see it is broken around the edges— smeared with tears, torn in frustration

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By Kevin Cummings

Christopher G. Moore portrait by Peter Klashorst

and rage. Raphael, a young artist from Canada, paints these people of the night, their faces filled with shattered dreams. But each of the models “commits” suicide, and their ashes are later collected. The novel becomes a story about ritual, art, power, and belief… all set in Bangkok. So who exactly are these “jumpers” we sometimes read about in the grisly headlines of the daily papers? Some of the people I write about in Jumpers you will recognize. You see them late at night on Sukhumvit Road. You smell the whiskey on their breath, you read from their faces that hopelessness was their last employer, and you learn they carry a submarinesized grudge. They stare back at you from a periscope rising from a hole in their heart. That’s a noir lens they are looking through. That’s them looking through a crack wondering if you might be light. In many ways the book explores one of our greatest mysteries—when our dreams go missing, our ritual grows sterile, our distrust becomes too hot to touch, what is there left to live for? You’ve been involved in Bangkok’s artistic scene for decades. How has it changed over the years? There’s a line in a song by the late

Leonard Cohen that perhaps best sums up the role of art: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. In my 30 years in Thailand that crack has grown in size. More light has been getting in. Film, books, plays, paintings, photography, poetry, dance and song—all these art forms have been seeping through the cracks and now many people are talking about the meaning of all this light amidst the darkness. But Thai artists struggle in ways that foreigners are largely spared. I’ve seen a new generation of creative Thai artists emerge, and they are filled with courage and determination. Governments can try and plaster over the cracks, but if you look closely the light is still seeping in. Tell us about the London-based Christopher G. Moore foundation. Daniel Vaver, the director of the foundation, has sent the submissions for the 2016 literary prize to the three-panel jury. The head of the panel is M.R. Narisa Chakrabongse, a Thai publisher, author, environmental activist and founder of The Bangkok Edge Festival. A short-list will be out early this year and the prize announced a month or so later. The literary prize is for the best non-fiction title, which advances a component of “human rights” as a central theme. It takes enormous courage to write a book that can—in some countries— land you in jail or worse. Such an author deserves our admiration, encouragement and support. I set up this award to precisely do that.

Jumpers

A Vincent Calvino crime novel 362 pages Available in eBook and print formats www.cgmoore.com/books/ Jumpers.htm bangkok101.com


UND ERG RO U

OVERGROUND ND

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LEADING ART GALLERIES BANGKOKARTMAP


FOOD & DRINK |

Pâte Zitone from Chef Arnaud Donckele 74 | J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7

bangkok101.com


| FOOD & DRINK

AROY the star of saint-tropez

As part of ‘The Art of Dining’ series, LA SCALA, at THE SUKHOTHAI BANGKOK hotel, brings some Michelin star power to Bangkok this month when French Chef ARNAUD DONCKELE and his chef team present their exquisite Provence cuisine from the 9th to the 14th of January. As owner of the restaurant La Vague d’Or, and the hotel Résidence de la Pinède located in Saint-Tropez, Arnaud is the youngest chef to have his restaurant awarded three stars by the coveted Michelin Guide. His superb cuisine will be available for lunch and dinner, with set lunch menus priced at B4,200++ per person (food only), and set dinner menus priced at B8,500++ per person (food only).

one dozen delights The Chinese fine-dining restaurant SHANG PALACE, located on the 3rd floor of the SHANGRI-LA HOTEL BANGKOK (Shangri-La Wing), recently introduced a brand-new menu created by Chef CHOW WAI MAN. With over 40 years of culinary experience in China and Hong Kong, Chef Chow’s innovative creations feature authentic Cantonese dishes, which are divided into 12 series. Try the baked lobster, the BBQ’d meat platter— an assembly of honey-glazed pork, crispy pork, and roasted duck with a salad of jellyfish and sesame—or opt for the intriguing Buddha Jumps Over the Wall seafood soup, comprised of dried scallop, abalone, and sea cucumber.

enter the (beautiful) dragon The newly opened TATSUMI JAPANESE CUISINE—a combination of Tatsu (dragon), and Umi (beauty)—aims to serve all diners authentic, premium Japanese fare (with fish flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market), all meticulously prepared by Chef TANAKA SHIGERU. Located on the 2nd floor of PATHUMWAN PRINCESS HOTEL, diners here can opt for a counter bar seat, a table in the spacious main dining area, or one of the restaurant’s private VIP rooms. The restaurant offers one of the more affordable omakase experiences in town, with nine types of sushi priced at just B1,650, or B2,800 for seven types of sashimi. There’s also a rotating selection of craft sake and whisky, which can be paired with your meal.

don’t wait till august to visit Fans of organic produce have one more restaurant to call their own with the opening of AUGUST ORGANIC EATERY, located in the MERCURY VILLE plaza (near the Phloen Chit BTS station). This casual, brightly lit restaurant offers diners a signature menu that uses 100 percent organic ingredients, and while most of the selections favour Thai specialties—with dishes like mushroom and fried tofu, and grilled beef with green curry sauce—international fare, such as spaghetti carbonara, is also available. Of course, they also offer plenty of sweet treats (not everything needs to be healthy after all), including some very tempting crêpe and pancake dishes.

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FOOD & DRINK | meal deals

Sunday Family Barbeque at River Café & Terrace

The Peninsula Bangkok | 333 Charoennakorn Rd. Tel: 02 020 2888 | www.peninsula.com/bangkok Sunday is a culinary fun day for parents and children at River Café & Terrace where families can take advantage of a sumptuous Sunday Family Barbeque that offers something for everyone. Diners of all ages will enjoy a global selection of freshly prepared buffet delights, plus sizzling steaks and seafood served ‘fresh-from-the-grill’. The Sunday Family Barbeque is available every Sunday throughout January, starting from 5:30pm at River Café & Terrace. This meal deal is priced at B1,800++ per person, and children aged 12 and below dine for free.

Warming Winter Yose Nabe Hot Pots to Share at Yamazato

The Okura Prestige Bangkok | Park Ventures Ecoplex, 57 Wirelress Rd. Tel: 02 687 9000 | www.okurabangkok.com Get together with family and friends and enjoy a special Yose Nabe Hot Pot set at Yamazato. It’s a fun and healthy way to share a memorable dinner. Hot pot delicacies include a medley of seafood, delicious chicken, rolled Chinese cabbage, tofu, leeks, bamboo shoots, a selection of Japanese mushrooms, rice cake, and a choice of udon noodles or rice porridge. This promotion, suitable for two or more diners, is available for dinner—running from 6pm till 10:30pm—and continues until January 22nd. The price is B1,000++ per guest.

‘English Butcher’ Garden BBQ Dinner at Brasserie Europa

Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok | 991/9 Rama I Rd. Tel: 02 162 9000 | www.kempinski.com/bangkok The English Butcher BBQ Grill night is something new to look out for during the dinner hour at Brasserie Europa. Every Friday, from now until the end of March, guests choose their favourite meats (succulent imported American, Australian and Argentinean prime cuts) and shellfish from the ‘English Butcher’, and have them expertly prepared under the watchful eye of the hotel’s renowned Executive Chef James Norman. This oncea-week buffet is priced at just B2,200++ per person, including free-flow non-alcoholic beverages. Dining hours start from 6:30pm and continue to 10:30pm.

Enjoy the Fantastic4 at amBar Rooftop Lounge

Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok | 4, Sukhumvit Soi 15 Tel: 02 309 3000 | www.fourpointsbangkoksukhumvit.com Throughout January, come and enjoy the ‘Fantastic4’ offer at amBar, located on the 8th floor of the Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok hotel. This tempting promotion is served up daily, with a four-drink set including draught beers, a choice of standard cocktails, house wine, and house spirits, all priced at just B500. The bar opens daily from 4pm to midnight, offering guests a relaxed rooftop atmosphere, with comfortable couches and day beds—the perfect place for watching the sunset while enjoying a drink or two (or four).

More to Eat, More to Drink at Anantara Siam’s Iconic Sunday Brunch

Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel | 155 Rajadamri Rd. Tel: 02 126 8866 | www.anantara.com Enjoy Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel’s iconic Sunday Brunch from 11:30am till 3pm in the Parichart Court (extending also into the Madison and Spice Market restaurants). The renowned and very lavish buffet offers an incredible variety of delicious fare, including fresh seafood, meats, and irresistible desserts. The non-alcoholic package, including free flow soft beverages, juices, and mocktails, is priced at B2,999++, and for children age 6-12 years it’s just B 1,500++. Promotions including alcoholic beverages (some including champagne) are priced at B3,250++, B4,100++, and B9,500++.

Seafood & Steak Dinner Buffet at The Square

Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom | 320 Silom Rd. Tel: 02 206 9291 | www.novotelbangkoksilom.com Throughout January, The Square restaurant is serving up a Seafood & Steak Dinner Buffet which includes seafood-on-ice, a special grilling station, and other scrumptious dishes such as spicy salmon salad, cured meats and European cheeses, and smoked salmon pizza. Tempting sweets such as pastries, Thai desserts, and ice-cream are also available. The promotion runs every evening from 6pm till 10:30pm and is priced at B1,199 ++ per person, including free-flow soft drinks. A special ‘Come 2 Pay 1’ offer is offered to all guests who book directly with the hotel.

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bangkok101.com


hot plate | FOOD & DRINK

Jamie’s Italian

Superstar chef delivers a lifestyle dining discovery

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n a city that has had to undo a few notches on its belt with the glut of recent new restaurants, an eatery has to stand out to be noticed in Bangkok. Jamie’s Italian has more than a few of those all-important defining features. The culinary creative mind behind the restaurant is English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver whose style of cooking, and eating, is all about tucking into good dishes with friends and family and less about impressing as a Cordon Bleu aficionado. And with its modern, fresh-produce dishes and homemade pasta, this newly opened dining hotspot is right at home at the recently renovated Siam Discovery, The Exploratorium, where its ground floor setting creates a light, laid-back and inviting space. Those in need of Western-style carbs after some retail therapy are already sitting down and chowing down; sharing delicious, affordable. Italian food, Jamie style. The Crispy squid (B270) fried with chili, garlic and parsley, with a house garlic mayo dip, is a small starter for what is a big Bangkok favourite. The Classic meat plank bangkok101.com

(B690/B1180) for two or four to share is an antipasti of gourmet cold cuts, mini mozzarellas and aged pecorino slices served on a long wooden board with a rainbow slaw, caperberries, and olives. Two cans of tomatoes brought to the table balance the plank and add a fun, quirky quality. Whilst delicious, the meats are definitely wafer thin. The humbly named signature dish ‘Our Famous Prawn Linguine’ (B300/ B390) has a robust tomatoey and fresh-pasta sauce taste rather than a complex flavour, whilst the artisan Funghi pizza (B340) with roasted herby mushrooms and porcini mushrooms is a must for thin-and-crispy-base fans— delivering a strong taste of Italiano. The Classic super food salad (B360) creates its own culinary world with an impressive combo of roasted beets, pulses and grains, avocado and sprouting broccoli, plus spicy seeds and a harissa dressing with ricotta. Less health conscious is the Ultimate garlic bread (B140), a lighter-than-air buttermilk bun that is surprisingly delicate and totally unique. For entrees, or secondi, the Chicken Al Mattone (B520) is grilled

under a brick to give the marinated free-range chicken a succulent taste. The creamy wild mushroom sauce with lemony rocket and parmesan is powerful, and like most dishes at Jamie’s Italian more suited to sharing than eating entirely alone. Finally, the Amalifi lemon meringue cheesecake (B240) served with lemon curd and blackcurrants is divinely velvety, while the Wobbly panna cotta (B230) shows the cooking skills behind the relaxed atmosphere of Jamie’s Italian. On the drink menu Jamie’s Mojito (B300) is a classic with a twist—using Prosecco instead of soda; an example of what Jamie’s Italian is about, an enjoyable dining experience that is full of larger-than-life flavour, much like the famed chef himself. by Nadia Willan

Jamie’s Italian

GF, Siam Discovery, No 989, Room G06, Rama 1 Road Open daily: 11am-10pm Tel: 02 255 5222 www.jamiesitalian.co.th JA N UA RY 2017 | 7 7


FOOD & DRINK | review

Ruen Urai

A “golden house” where time-honoured recipes are given the Midas touch

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ll over Bangkok flash-fried street food is being consumed daily by patrons sitting on plastic stools at fold-up tables. And while this represents one side of the coin when it comes to classic “Thai food experiences”, a vastly different yet equally classic experience awaits at Ruen Urai. The restaurant—located next to the garden and swimming pool of the neighbouring Rose Hotel— exists in a secluded, century-old, golden teakwood house which was transformed 10 years ago into a Thai fine dining establishment. The house itself is a living museum, filled with exquisite antiques and artefacts, but also tastefully decorated with a stylish, contemporary flair. In the main dining area the deep, ochre-coloured rear wall, combined with the soothing natural tones of the tables, chairs, and other furnishings, instantly provides a warm, welcoming atmosphere. However, diners can also opt for outdoor seating, or a place in the newly added solarium room. During our most recent visit, owner Dr. Tom Vitayakul led us

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through the intricate backstories of many of the dishes, including selections from his recently launched ‘Northern Exposure’ menu. After an appetizer of Saengwaah Ghratong Tong (B320), the restaurant’s exceedingly popular bite-sized crispy cups filled with prawn and garden herbs, our group headed due north, sampling yummy Sun-dried spice marinated beef striploin (B350), Cured pork sausage with pig’s ears (B250), Soft crêpes filled with dried shrimp, coconut, and curry paste (B280), and a Lanna hors d’oeuvres plate (B300) with pork crackling, spicy sausage, vegetables, and condiments. But it was the Spicy salad of minced pork belly and liver in pig’s blood sauce (B350) that really wowed! None of us would have been brave enough to try it without Dr. Tom’s urging, but once we did we all agreed it was fantastic. But more was to come—order lots and share is the order of the day here—and soon we were tucking into a rich and flavourful Burmese style pork curry with ginger (B380), also from the Northern menu, followed

by Dtom Khloang Talay (B380), a classic spicy soup with seafood and tamarind, Pla Ghapong (B580), a whole steamed sea bass in spicy lime sauce, and a delicious plate of Woktossed young coconut shoots with sea scallops (B350). To end the meal, our dessert plates included Tub Tim Ghrob (B80), a refreshing blend of diced water chestnuts, coconut milk, syrup and crushed ice, Kha Nhom Waan Ruen Urai (B320), a platter loaded with five different Thai bite-sized sweets, and a large plate of Mango with sticky rice (B180/320), on which the individual dollops of brown and white rice are each decorated with a sparkling fleck of edible gold. Interestingly, “ruen urai” literally translates to “house of gold”, which is perhaps why every dish here is given its own Midas touch. by Bruce Scott

Ruen Urai

Rose Hotel, 118 Surawongse Rd. Open daily: 12pm-11pm Tel: 02 266 8268 www.ruen-urai.com bangkok101.com


review | FOOD & DRINK

Soul Food

O

Taking diners on an edible tour of Thailand

ccupying a space at the start of Thong Lor’s endless cavalcade of restaurants—mostly pretentious and pricey and decidedly un-local—is where one will find Soul Food Mahanakorn. The virtues of this tasteful, pint-sized combo bar/ eatery, and the reasons for its ongoing survival and loyal patronage, is that it shares none of the aforementioned characteristics. Founded by Jarrett Wrisley, who has gone on to partner in the excellent Appia and is currently bringing more “Soul” to Hong Kong, the menu offerings, both edible and liquid, have remained true to the spirit of basic dishes and flavours done well with the aid of an especially appreciative outside eye (and nose, and set of hands). As their restaurant philosophy states, it’s street food in a comfortable setting—actually umber-toned and wood-lined to resemble a log cabin à la Isaan—carefully sourced in upcountry farms. What could go wrong with that? Got a craving for honest crab fried rice, a smoky eggplant salad, red curry with rambutans, battered sea bass with Thai basil? All are priced between B220 and B280, which at one time would have seemed excessive but now seems very reasonable. The Pad Thai may lack a little of the street version’s burnt sizzle, but it does come with blue crab. The gimmick, if there is one, is that these samplings of true Thai, while generally snack-sized, are all pretty much as good as they sound—and won’t leave you chewing on the aftertaste of old, gristly fish or meat. And they look nice on homemade trays, not just slopped around. You won’t feel burned either by the chilies or haphazard preparation. In fact, it’s one of those places where you can fashionably, and without embarrassment, linger awhile and keep ordering dish after dish to form a mini-banquet or edible tour of Thailand. End it all with a finishing Lychee sorbet (B80), or a Mango sticky rice that may be a bit expensive at B180, but where you actually know the bangkok101.com

quality of mangoes and where they come from. And who wouldn’t want to start, or end, an evening of Thong Lor rambling by trying original, but not too fanciful, booze concoctions with names like Rainy Season, Bangkok Bastard and Lo-So Mojito (all B250)? Mine was appropriately titled The Exile, and it went down perfectly. Better than all that, look for changing chalkboard specials that mingle the magic of the loyal Thai cooks with the instincts of their Americano

boss—like the only sumptuous helping ever seen in this town of lightly spiced fried chicken served atop good ol’ breakfast-style waffles. Now there’s soul food on either side of the International Date Line. by John Krich

Soul Food Mahanakorn 56/10, Sukhumvit Soi 55 Open daily: 5:30pm-midnight Tel: 02 714 7708 www.soulfoodmahanakorn.com

JA N UA RY 2017 | 79


FOOD & DRINK | review

Kai

Modern Kiwi cuisine brings a taste of New Zealand to Bangkok

K

ai has developed quite a nifty niche for itself. As owner Craig McLean intones, there are zero restaurants outside New Zealand featuring mostly ingredients sourced from the islands, other than his. This is because a single eatery doesn’t buy enough volume to interest a supplier, unless you’ve spent a lifetime in the food supply chain building relationships as McLean has. The reason you should care is the quality of the ingredients on your plate. Though Kai doesn’t claim to be 100 percent sustainable, it puts more effort and money than most into sourcing quality. Some 90 percent of its seafood is from New Zealand, and when it does use Thai seafood it is often from local boats in Ranong where the restaurant’s network of suppliers have probed the supply chain rather than farmed output. In short, the owner doesn’t put anything on the menu he wouldn’t be proud to eat himself. The concept of Kai (the Maori word for “food”) encompasses four themes: New Zealand; wild-catch seafood; freerange meats; and homemade. As such,

80 | JA N UA RY 2017

the restaurant does all its smoking— including seafood, bacon, and ham—on manuka wood from New Zealand, ages its own meats, makes its own ice cream using New Zealand cream, and bakes its own bread. The block and tackle décor indicates the prominence of seafood, and indeed the best dish of the night was Drunken tuna (B340), featuring strips of sashimi-grade yellow fin tasting light and clean after a marinade of dark rum and sesame oil, among others. A new twist on an old favourite is the Ceviche (B350) concocted by the sous chef, using watermelon in place of citrus on red gurnard from New Zealand, together with avocado, red onion, and tomatoes. A recent addition to the menu is the triple-cooked, spiced NZ beef short rib (B890). Braised, then smoked, then slow-roasted, the tender fat balanced the earthy meat. Pumpkin is quite popular amongst the Kiwis, so Kai’s risotto (B460) uses pumpkin purée alongside mushrooms, spinach, and parmesan for some hearty comfort food.

Finally, the Toffee cheesecake (B220) comes with bits of hokey pokey placed on top, a honeycomb toffee biscuit that is a favourite nibble of New Zealanders. The focus on NZ extends to the bar, which uses over 20 suppliers to offer the best from that country. Kai has four beers on tap including Tuatara Midnight Rye IPA (B380 per 400ml), a lovely combination of malt and coffee tones without being overly bitter. Meanwhile an extensive wine list—mostly from NZ—is available offering 10 wines by the glass. The Yealands Estate Land Made Pinot Gris (B370 per glass) was dry and crisp, while the Riesling from the same vineyard in Marlborough (B370) was floral and paired well with the fish. by Robin Banks

Kai

142/22-23, Sathorn Soi 12 Tel: 02 635 3800 Open: Mon-Fri, 11am-midnight, Sat-Sun, 8:30am-midnight www.kai-bangkok.com bangkok101.com


review | FOOD & DRINK

Volti Ristorante & Bar T

Authentic Italian fare done to perfection

raditional Italian cooking builds on simplicity and the use of quality ingredients, rather than elaborate techniques and kitchen processes. In Bangkok, a city with an abundance of Italian restaurants, many overcompensate on the latter in an effort to stand out. However, Executive Chef Marc Cibrowius, the kitchen master at Volti Ristorante & Bar, stays true to the original beauty of the cuisine—mastering the skill of creating authentic Italian dishes with some unique twists. The restaurant is located on the lobby floor of the Shangri-La, Hotel Bangkok’s Shangri-La Wing, and is divided into three sections. From the modern bar with adjacent lounge area at the entrance, a staircase leads guests to the main dining area. Furnished with cream-coloured, upholstered seats, and dark wooden tables, the high-ceilinged room is lined with a glass panelled wine display and a large open kitchen. Opposite of the kitchen, guests can overlook a lower floor dining area, with access to an outside terrace. We began with the Caprese di bangkok101.com

Burratina (B460), an Italian staple of creamy Burratina cheese sitting on a bed of finely sliced tomatoes, basil, and rocket salad, followed by the Insalata di polpo (B390), consisting of tender pieces of marinated octopus on a medley of diced potatoes, parsley, taggia olives, and cherry tomatoes. A definite highlight, however, was the accompanying home-made onion bread. In traditional Italian style, this first course was followed by pasta—in our case a plate of divinely al-dente, creamy Lobster linguine (B790). A recent addition to the Volti menu are the giant pizzas, which are available until the end of January and are served with a pitcher of Chang beer per set. While the thin crust is as Italian as it gets, it’s in the toppings that the chef dares to get a little more innovative. Different in taste, but both recommendable, we devoured slices of the decadent Gourmet pizza (B1,288), with BBQ chicken, foie gras, and crispy prosciutto, as well as the Thai-inspired “Krungthep” pizza (B788), featuring Northern-style sausages, Thai baby eggplant, chili, mango, and rocket salad.

After this excursion into the world of comfort food we were back on the fine dining track with our two main courses: the roasted sea bass (B700), which was expertly cooked and accompanied by potato slices, salicornia, and a flamboyant saffron sauce; and the succulent Grilled lamb chops (B1,100), served with couscous and red wine jus. To end this beautiful dinner, it only seemed right to indulge in some traditional Italian desserts. Despite being a self-confessed-connoisseur when it comes to tiramisu, the light mascarpone mousse of Volti’s version (B280) had me at the first spoonful, while the crumbles of mascarpone cheese and liquid nitrogen which were sprinkled on top of the accompanying Panna Cotta (B280) made for a smoky surprise. by Julia Offenberger

Volti Ristorante & Bar GF, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu Tel: 02 236 7777 Open daily: 6pm-10:30pm www.shangri-la.com/bangkok

JA N UA RY 2017 | 81


FOOD & DRINK | review

Sra Bua

Not strictly Thai food, but an edible homage to Thailand itself

L

et’s face it. Thailand may have great food, but it’s not the main or only reason people are drawn here. There is something about the place, the culture, and the weather, that comforts the weary and inspires the weird. And no one group of humans are weirder than chefs. That’s certainly true of the brilliantly driven Henrik Yde-Andersen, and why Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin has about as strange a lineage—and menu—as any restaurant you could find. Henrik was just another adventurous Scandinavian wanderer/ backpacker when he ended up spending four years working in Thailand kitchens, before returning to start Kiin, the second Thai restaurant to ever win a Michelin star. But while the chef’s now numerous establishments all aim at luxurious refinement and maximal, unbounded creativity, he still likes to boast that he continues to maintain a “back door”, selling street food and humble favourites to local Thais. And he calls his 120 employees back in Denmark “his Asian family.”

82 | JA N UA RY 2017

Sra Bua (which means “lotus pond”) is about as far as you can get from a family-style Thai restaurant or setting. As the mainstay for in-house dining at the Siam Kempinski, the setting is practically regal (befitting some of the patronage that encouraged the Danish dude to dare bring his tom yam coals to Newcastle). Despite the highest ceilings south of Elsinore Castle, the place is actually relatively cozy, and the menu, changed quarterly, is even cozier. In the intervening years since my last visit, the restaurant has found its footing and vastly improved, and so has my tolerance for cross-cultural whimsy—one might even say it has grudgingly blossomed into admiration. This time, I didn’t mind at all savouring frozen white bits of tom kha gai soup that melt in one’s mouth to reveal all the coco-nutty complexity. And I actually adored the cold lobster curry surrounded by cascading flumes of dry ice and lychee foam. This isn’t the sort of place to get politically correct, or anything correct, even if it feels like you should be wearing a Thai silk suit and a Jim Thompson tie.

At Sra Bua, you don’t feel like you are eating “Thai food” as created and consumed every day by Thais. What you have before you is an edible homage to Thailand itself, viewed from both a distant and appreciatively intimate perspective. That means, of necessity, that sometimes the homage gets carried away. But the quest for some ineffable essence of the place and its culture is always there, and in a way that has no resemblance to any restaurant on earth. The three-course lunch is only B1,350 for the frugal, while dinnertime’s full Journey—around Thailand and maybe to the North Pole and back, with everything from foie gras to salt-baked carrots to beef Massaman—is B3,100. by John Krich

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin

GF, Siam Kempinski Hotel 9, 991 Rama I Rd. Tel: 02 162 9000 Open daily: noon-3pm, 6pm-11:30pm www.kempinski.com/bangkok bangkok101.com


review | FOOD & DRINK

Eurasian Grill Experiencing the thrill of the grill

S

prinkled liberally along the riverfront sits a generous handful of well-regarded hotel restaurants hustling for the attention of diners. But to attract visitors beyond their overnight clientele, they often need to offer something a little different, something special, or even just good value. To boast all three is surely to hit the gastro jackpot. But more often than not, two will do just fine, and Eurasian Grill at the Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside does this with aplomb, providing a menu of fine carnivorous dishes and prices not to be scoffed at. There’s something about the word “grill” inserted into a restaurant name that—for me at least—connotes eating competitions and the need for bibs. So it comes as a welcome surprise arriving at this particular venue to find that the restaurant setting is, in fact, a pristine room of bright white table cloths, luxurious lounge chairs, and twinkling chandeliers. The staff are far from burgerflippers too. We are politely greeted by immaculately dressed servers, bangkok101.com

who lead us to a wide table beneath the glamorous lighting. They talk us through the small but perfectly formed menu, lovingly created by the hotel’s Executive Chef Boonplook Thiengsoosuk. We opt for the special set menu (B1,250 per person), featuring a Salmon crostini appetizer, Seafood soup and a choice of Snow fish with truffle sauce or Australian rack of lamb for the main course (I chose the latter). Though the starter would have benefitted from a kick of horseradish or lemon zest, it made a tasty start to the meal and was swiftly followed by the soup course. I confess that I requested the seafood broth be switched for a mushroom equivalent, a decision I did not regret once slurping down the light and delicately textured bowl. But the star of the show was undoubtedly the meaty main. Lamb (especially done well) can be a rare find in Thailand and it’s been a while since I last ate the high-protein fare. So perhaps it was absence making the

heart grow fonder, or simply that the succulent dish had been cooked to perfection, but this was an impressive show of herb-crusted delight with a hearty, wholesome feel. Dessert is served in the form of a warm chocolate cake and though simple, is embellished with vanilla ice cream, fruit, and whipped cream to fashion a comforting end to a generous and satisfying meal. Beyond the set menu, diners will discover a tempting selection of seafood (starting at B450), Frenchinspired plates, and a selection of fine wines (from B1,000 a bottle). But it’s with meat dishes that the Eurasian Grill unsurprisingly shines, and the braised beef cooked in red wine sauce (B550) is a house specialty not to be missed. by Annaliese Watkins

Eurasian Grill

GF, Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside 2074 Charoenkrung Rd. Tel: 02 688 1000 Open daily: 6pm-11pm www.ramadaplazamenamriverside.com JA N UA RY 2017 | 83


FOOD & DRINK | street eats

Siang Ki Khao Tom Pla W hen I feel the first cool breeze of winter on my skin I know it’s time to revisit one of my favourite dishes, served in one of my favourite street stalls, in one of my favourite parts of Bangkok—Chinatown. Chinatown is full of life at any time of the day or night. The streets here are always lined with colourful vendors, selling everything from DIY tools and expensive imported fruits, to Chinese porcelain and all manner of tschotskes. And like everywhere in Bangkok you are never more than a few steps from the next delicious snack—be it duck, noodles or sweets. After nightfall the buzz remains in this part of town but the mood changes. The street scenes are played out in pools of yellow light, while dark shadows create intriguing shapes on the walls of nearby buildings. The whine of Chinese music and the smell of roasted chestnuts fills the air. A tangle of neon signs in Chinese and Thai scripts dance above the shops, marching like a luminous parade down the main drag. But it’s not all noise, movement and light, one of the things I love

eat like

Nym

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. 84 | JA N UA RY 2017

about Chinatown is how one can transition from hustle and bustle to moody tranquility just by crossing a road or turning down an alley. Siang Ki Khao Tom Pla (boiled rice soup with fish), my destination for dinner tonight, is nestled in one of those quiet alleys. To find it, walk past the Grand Tourist Hotel (to your right) and take the first side street on the right. Though Siang Ki is off the beaten track, its prices are worthy of some of Bangkok’s fancier restaurants. You can pay anything from B300 to B500 per bowl, but rest assured you will get what you pay for. The quality is among the best in the city, and the flavours are outstanding. My go-to dish is khao tom pla jaramed (white pomphet) and hoy nangrom (oysters). It is served in a tasty clear broth with big chunks of fish and a generous helping of oysters with homemade seasoned fermented soy sauce (known as tao jiew) on the side. The taste is so good I don’t need any extra seasoning. I prefer to savour the soup just as it’s served. I use my spoon for the rice soup, and my chopsticks to pluck the oysters from

the rich broth. Nothing is better than a big sweet oyster bathed in a salty sauce. More happiness awaits when I bite into the fish. Its sweet flavour and firm texture instantly brings a smile to my face. Like many of Bangkok’s best eateries, Siang Ki has been a family run restaurant for generations. Every bowl is still prepared by the “aunty” of the family, who makes sure that the fish and oysters are absolutely fresh. I’m pretty picky when it comes to khao tom pla, I won’t settle for anything less than super fresh. If I walk past any fish place and my nose picks up a fishy smell I’ll walk right on. But at Siang Ki I never hesitate to place my order right away, knowing just how fresh it always is. I recommend sitting outside on the sidewalk so you can enjoy that cool winter breeze and take in the theatre of life that is Bangkok’s Chinatown. Address: The restaurant is located about 50 metres inside Soi Bamrungrat, just after Grand China Hotel on Yaowarat Road. It’s open daily from 4pm till 10pm bangkok101.com


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FOOD & DRINK | listings

CHINESE M Krub

Picture perfect Cantonese cuisine that is so beautifully presented you almost won’t want to eat it—but that hesitation won’t last long. Splurge on the exquisite mains but keep room for their wonderful Chinese desserts. 96 Mahanakorn Cube Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd. Tel: 02 019 8105 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm www.facebook.com/MkrubMahanakhon

FRENCH Eve

Ostensibly, it’s French, but that label is generously applied, with the menu borrowing bits and pieces from all over the place. If anything, the Frenchness refers to the rich flavours and fine, fresh produce used. 1F, Hansar Bangkok Hotel, 3/250, Soi Mahatlek Luang 2, Ratchadamri Rd. Tel: 02 209 1234 Open: Mon-Sat, 6pm-10:30pm www.hansarbangkok.com

J’Aime by Jean-Michel Lorain

Mei Jiang

The classic cuisine lives up to lofty expectations, even rising above, thanks to the vibrancy in taste and colour of the dishes. You might even find yourself trying to re-create certain ones the next day. 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

Mei Jiang

Le Du

Widely regarded as one of Bangkok’s finest Cantonese restaurants in town, Mei Jiang has built a loyal following for its dim sum, fresh classics, and behindthe-scenes “Chef’s Table” concept. Garden Level, The Peninsula Bangkok 333 Charoennakorn Rd. Tel: 02 861 2888 Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm www.peninsula.com

The Mayflower

Authenticity is the name of the game and the menu here is exceptionally satisfying and interesting enough to start a tug-ofwar over the Lazy Susan. Dusit Thani Bangkok, 946 Rama IV Rd. Tel: 02 200 9000 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10pm www.dusit.com

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. 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 86 | JA N UA RY 2017

This 70s-style room, with its low glittery ceilings, may sound like a French restaurant, but in fact, it’s a play on the Thai word for “seasonal”— which is exactly what its delicious dishes are. 399/3, Silom Soi 5 Tel: 092 919 9969 Open: Mon-Sat, 6pm-10pm www.ledubkk.com

GERMAN

10, Yen Akat Soi 3 Tel: 02 287 1799 Open daily: 6pm-12am www.facebook.com/suhringshome

INDIAN Maya

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. 29F, Holiday Inn Bangkok Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit Soi 22 Tel: 02 683 4888 Open daily: 5pm-1am www.mayathailand.com

Punjab Grill

Punjab Grill

Punjabi cuisine has a rich tradition, with many local distinctions, but the inventive chefs here also give modern interpretations and delicious contemporary twists to their otherwise authentic recipes. Radisson Suites Bangkok Sukhumvit 23/2-3, Sukhumvit Soi 13 Tel: 02 645 4952 Open daily: 6pm-11:30pm www.punjabgrillbangkok.com

INTERNATIONAL Sühring

Sühring

German gastronomy comes alive using modern techniques and high-quality ingredients, while still following traditional flavour profiles. The kitchen is helmed by a pair of identical twin chefs, and the results are like nothing you’ll see anywhere else.

Blu36

Peruvian cuisine is explored at this unique eatery newly opened resto, with various dishes influenced by Peru’s long-time Spanish, African, Chinese, and Italian influences. Sukhumvit Soi 36 Tel: 02 661 5448 Open daily: 3pm-midnight www.facebook.com/BLU36Bangkok bangkok101.com


listings | FOOD & DRINK

Red Oven

Styled as a World Food Market, this 7th-floor all-day dining venue puts a contemporary twist on buffet spreads. On weekends, the restaurant offers an irresistable scrumptious, free-flow wine brunch buffet. 7F, Sofitel So Bangkok, 2 North Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 624 0000 Open daily: 6:30pm-10:30pm, Sat-Sun Wine Brunch, noon-3pm www.sofitel-so-bangkok.com

Char

Char

The amount of fantastic French and Mediterranean dishes (with a few Thai touches) that this busy rooftop restaurant can churn out in an evening means one visit most likely won’t be nearly enough. 25-26F, Hotel Indigo, 81 Wireless Rd. Tel: 02 207 4999 Open daily: 6pm-11:30pm www.hotelindigo.com/bangkok

Dine in the Dark

The title says it all. Guests experience an exercise in coping by entering a world of total darkness—which both accentuates the flavours of the food, but also gives diners a taste of what it’s like for their visually-impaired servers, who deal with blindness as an everyday fact of life. GF, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit 250 Sukhumvit Rd. Tel: 02 649-8358 Open: Mon-Sat, 6:30pm-9:30pm www.dineinthedarkbangkok.com

57 Soi Prasarnmitr, Sukhumvit 23 Rd. open 11.30-14.30, 17.30-22.30, Tel. 02 259 9593

bangkok101.com

Cantina Wine Bar & Italian Kitchen This Italian restaurant is patterned after a subterranean wine cellar and has the cozy feel of a dimly lit tavern. The concept is clearly more trattoria than fine dining, with a focus on quality ingredients. 4, Ari Samphan 3 Alley Tel: 02 278 0250 Open daily: 5pm-midnight www.facebook.com/cantinabkk

Wine Connection Tapas Bar & Bistro

Enjoy a variety of tapas and other eclectic menu items, plus a great selection of wines. The elegant yet casual atmosphere makes it suitable for everyone—families, friends, or duos on dates. GF, Rain Hill, 777, Sukhumvit Soi 47 Tel: 02 261 7217 Open daily: 11am-1:30am www.wineconnection.co.th

ITALIAN

Galleria Milano

Azzurro

Azzurro is a new Italian addition to the bustling food street. The extensive menu of this quaint, two-story restaurant is inspired by the flavours of the different regions of Italy. 253/2, Sukhumvit 31 Tel: 02 003 9597 Open: Fri-Wed, noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm www.azzurrorestaurant.asia

7th Fl.,The Emquartier, Sukhumvit open 10.00-22.00, Tel. 02 003 6267

4th Fl.,The Emporium, Sukhumvit open 10.00-22.00, Tel. 02 664 7525

Galleria Milano

An Italian restaurant 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

e-mail :ledalat@ledalatbkk.com www.ledalatbkk.com Le Dalat Restaurant

@Le_Dalat

ledalatrestaurant

JA N UA RY 2017 | 87


FOOD & DRINK | listings

La Bottega di Luca

A relaxed, welcoming space with indoor and outdoor seating. Chef Luca updates the menu regularly and orders produce from Italy every fortnight. It’s all rustic, filling, flavoursome Italian cooking, delivered with real passion. 2F, The Terrace 49 building, Sukhumvit Soi 49 Tel: 02 204 1731 Open: Mon 5:30-11pm, Tue-Sun 11:30am2:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm www.labottega.name

JAPANESE Benihana

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

Morimoto

The restaurant’s founder is a hard-tobeat mainstay of the Iron Chef TV cooking competitions, who has now opened a sleek, modern Japanese eatery within the futuristic confines of Bangkok’s iconic MahaNakhon Cube building. 4F, MahaNakhon Cube 96 Narathiwas Ratchanakharin Rd. Tel: 02 060 9099 Open daily: 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-1am www.facebook.com/MorimotoBangkok

Zuma

This izakaya-style joint really delivers. Fish and beef get equal treatment, each prepared with duteous touch. Dishes come out in no precise order and can be shared or eaten individually. GF, 159 Rajadamri Rd. Tel: 02 252 4707 Open daily: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm www.zumarestaurant.com

KOREAN Kong Ju

When you’re voted Bangkok’s favourite Korean restaurant 13 years running you must be doing something right. The chefs here go to painstaking lengths to ensure an authentic dining experience, by preparing meals of unparalleled culinary brilliance. Highly recommended. 2F, Pathumwan Princess Hotel, 444, MBK Center, Phayathai Rd. Tel: 02 216 3700 Open daily: Lunch, 11:30am-2pm, Dinner, 5:30pm-10pm www.pprincess.com

MIDDLE EASTERN Shahrazad

The grand old dame of Middle Eastern dining, where the baba ghanoush is just as excellent as the grilled lamb leg. The superb cuisine spans the Middle East, with a nod to Iranian. 6/8, Sukhumvit Soi 3/1 Tel: 02 251 3666 Open daily: 9am-3am

MEXICAN El Diablo’s Burritos

Ten-Sui

Ten-Sui

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, Soi Sukhumvit 16 Tel: 088 540 1001 Open daily: 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-10pm www.tensui.co 88 | JA N UA RY 2017

The enormous burritos are the stars of the show, but they make their own tortillas on the premises, too. The tacos are particularly impressive, and the salsa and toppings are light, refreshing, with just enough spice. 330, Sukhumvit Soi 22 Tel: 02 259 4140 Open: Mon-Fri, 4pm-11pm, Sat-Sun, 11:30am-11pm Facebook: El Diablo’s

Tacos y Salsa

A brightly-coloured haunt, decorated with the owner’s own artwork, serving

up authentic Mexican food and tasty margaritas. A great spot to satisfy any Mexican cravings. 21/3, Sukhumvit Soi 18 Tel: 08 6346 0822, 086 346 0822 Open daily: 11am-11pm

SEAFOOD Crab and Claw

Ensconced on an upper curve of the EMQuartier mall, this popular restaurant features “New England-style” lobster, clams, crabs and plenty more. 7F, Helix Bldg, EmQuartier Tel: 096 197 5769 Open daily: 10am-10pm www.facebook.com/crabandclaw

Laem Charoen Seafood

Laem Charoen Seafood

Offering a wide range of seafood delicacies—all straight from the sea—this seafood restaurant has been growing in stature while staying true to its original roots. Reliability and customer satisfaction has made it one of the best seafood restaurants in town. 4F, Siam Paragon, 991 Rama 1 Rd. Tel: 02 610 9244 Open daily: 10am-10pm www.laemcharoenseafood.com

SPANISH/LATIN Islero

The warm and inviting interior, divided between a tapas bar and a regular sit down restaurant area, welcomes adventurous diners to try some of 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 bangkok101.com


listings | FOOD & DRINK

Uno Mas

With its expansive menu of authentic Spanish specialties, coupled with spectacular city views, this chic, sky-high tapas bar and restaurant reaches new “heights” in several respects. 54F, Centara CentralWorld Bangkok 999/99 Rama 1 Rd. Open daily: 4pm-1am Tel: 02 100 6255 www.unomasbangkok.com

1052-1054 Charoen Krung 26 Tel: 087 593 1936 Open: Wed-Mon, 5pm-11:45pm www.facebook.com/8020bkk

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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

Burger Factory

Burger Factory

Serves 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

THAI 80/20

Sharing a massive former warehouse with always-full Old town Hostel, this is the place where the best Thai local products are combined with the brightest passion for hospitality. bangkok101.com

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Blue Elephant

Blue Elephant

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

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Chili Hip

Wide, unobstructed skyline views from an open-air perch over Pratunam, and a menu consisting mostly of authentic Thai and Asian inspired flavours. There is almost no covered seating, so bear that in mind when the rains come. Centara Watergate Pavilion Hotel 567 Ratchaprarop Rd. Tel: 02 625 1234 Open daily: 5pm-11pm www.centarahotelsresorts.com

Jim Thompson House and Museum

The city’s number-two tourist attraction is ALSO home to a restaurant that pairs a sumptuous setting with surprisingly unusual Thai food. Factor in the generous happy hours, and there’s no reason not to visit. 6, Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Rd Tel: 02 612 3601 Open daily: 9am-5pm, 7pm-11pm www.jimthompson.com JA N UA RY 2017 | 89


FOOD & DRINK | listings

Steve Café and Cuisine

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

VIETNAMESE

Le Dalat

Le Dalat

The newest branch of stately Le Dalat finds it in unusual territory—a high-end shopping mall—but its fresh Vietnamese fare is still as impeccable as ever. 7F, The Emquartier Mall, 651 Sukhumvit Rd,Tel: 02 269 1000 Open daily: 10am-10pm 57, Soi Prasarnmitr Sukhumvit 23, Tel: 02 259 9593 Open daily: Lunch, 11:30am-2:30pm, Dinner, 5:30pm-10:30pm www.ledalatbkk.com

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VEGETARIAN Broccoli Revolution

The brick-walled warehouse turned veg-friendly restaurant features a menu full of bright veggie bites that could pull in the most stubborn carnivore. 899 Sukhumvit Rd. (at Soi 49) Tel: 02 662 5001, Open daily: 7am-10pm Facebook: Broccoli Revolution

CAFÉ D’Ark

The stylish interior and furnishings embrace a coffee-coloured palette, offset by abstract artwork and tasteful lighting. The coffee machines are manned by world champion baristas and roasters, and the kitchen whips up some amazing Mediterranean-inspired fare (3 locations). EmQuartier, Tel: 02 003 6013 Piman 49, Tel: 02 662 7900 Central Festival EastVille www.darkoffee.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

Minibar Café

Minibar Café

A modified version of the modern New York bistro whose pleasant ambiance is staked on good food, laughter, conversation, and music, because these elements help make meals memorable. 5F, Central Embassy, 1031 Ploenchit Rd Tel: 02 160 5610 Open: Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat, 11am-midnight www.facebook.com/MinibarRoyale

Quaint

Combining an international kitchen with a few Thai twists, this charming day or evening venue is everything at once—café, bar, restaurant, and function venue— with a huge selection of food and drinks. 23, Sukhumvit Soi 61 Tel: 02 714 1998 Open daily: 8am-midnight www.facebook.com/QuaintBangkok

bangkok101.com


Sky high suds at Brewski


| NIGHTLIFE

NIGHTLIFE taking craft beer to new heights

It seems like one of those ideas that’s so obvious it’s surprising no one thought of it before—a sky bar that’s also a craft beer bar! This idea recently came to fruition with the opening of BREWSKI, the city’s newest (and highest) rooftop craft beer bar, located on the 30th floor of the RADISSON BLU PLAZA BANGKOK. It’s a beautifully designed, sophisticated, yet relaxed and welcoming rooftop gathering spot, with a state-of-theart cooling system that delivers 12 international craft beers and ciders from the tap to the glass. There’s also an astonishing choice of 100 bottle brews—offering everything from pilsners and wheat ales, to stouts and IPAs—and a damn fine view as well. www.venuesbkk.com

art meets alcohol Creative cocktail cravings can be quelled at VESPER where, for the next eight months, a collaborative effort between owner CHOTI LEENUTAPHONG and award-winning bartender PAILIN ‘MILK’ SAJJANIT introduces tipplers to a new cocktail menu entitled THE ART BOOK. The book features 14 lavish new creations, all inspired by modern art movements—namechecking such renowned talents as Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Wassily Kandinsky. So how does a painting become a potable? You’ll have to visit in person to fully appreciate the charm of these alcohol abstractions. www.vesperbar.co

star powered spirits The 86 CO., a brand co-founded by former writer and bartender SIMON FORD, has released its four flagship spirits in Thailand: Caña Brava Rum, Tequila Cabeza, Fords Gin, and the unusually named Aylesbury Duck Vodka. The company bills its boozes as “spirits made by bartenders for bartenders”, and so these aren’t exactly sippers. But the flavours really pop in mixed drinks, particularly the classics. Of the four, the fruity, nine-botanical Fords Gin—what Ford refers to as “his baby”, owing to the five years he spent perfecting the recipe with distiller CHARLES MAXWELL—is sure to be a hit among cocktail enthusiasts. Try the spirits at select bars and restaurants around town, from BUNKER to CRYING THAIGER. www.fordsgin.com

society soirée SOCIETY FAIR, a new drink and dine hub on busy Thong Lor Soi 10, recently had its grand unveiling. Located in the OPUS building, it is comprised of a central open-air chill out area—with casual tables and chairs set up—with an array of well-known food and drink outlets surrounding it. Try one of the excellent pizzas or craft beers at HOT WHEELS PIZZA (the first brick and mortar location for this popular food truck), grab some middle Eastern fare from THE KEBABRY, some Japanese snacks at TONKATSU, or some American-style grub at CITY SKYLINE. And for great cocktails try HEISENBERG at the front end, or 10/10 YOU NAILED IT at the rear.

bangkok101.com

JA N UA RY 2017 | 93


NIGHTLIFE | review

Vogue Lounge A flair for the dramatic

F

rancesco Moretti seems like the perfect man to have behind a bar backed by Vogue magazine. The well-travelled barman doesn’t want for style or ingenuity—or bravado, for that matter. Italian by birth, Moretti left home years ago and has since worked at some of the hottest nightlife venues in the world, including Bar Rouge in Shanghai, his last stop before moving to the chic Vogue Lounge, located on the 6th floor of the MahaNakhon Cube. Having extracted himself from a Chinese nightlife scene which he says “was too much about partying,” he’ll tell you he’s right in his element at Vogue Lounge, where a staff-wide devotion to the finer details doesn’t go unnoticed. Moretti has been in charge of the bar here for only a few months, but he has already revamped the cocktail menu; building a brand-new line-up of cool and complex signature drinks while simplifying the choices for customers at the same time. The menu is now broken down into easy-to-process categories—sweet and sour, strong, and so on—and each

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page-long category is broken down even further by price (come during so-called “fashion hour” and get twofor-one standard drinks, which are anything but standard). Of all the fizzes and sours, it’s the signature cocktails that best demonstrate the hold Moretti has on flair and flavour, not to mention the time he’s put into ensuring Vogue’s clientele are catered to well. In the Bronze & Coco (B450), Absolut Elyx vodka, coconut cream, passion fruit, pineapple juice, kaffir lime leaf, homemade cinnamon syrup, and Jamaican allspice form a smooth and aromatic medley. Kaffir lime lends a Thai touch to a cocktail that would play well at any tropical beach, and the warming allspice is the perfect foil to the fruit juices. The Bronze & Coco is served, fittingly enough, in a bronze pineapple atop a bed of dry ice. When the dry ice blooms, the cocktail practically begs for Instagram posts and check-ins. Don’t miss Moretti’s coffeeinfused Negroni (B380). Beefeater gin ages for one month with Italian

coffee beans, retaining the earthy undertones of Italian espresso. The Oh Beautiful (B340), on the other hand, re-examines tequila’s role as a masculine spirit. Pineapple skininfused tequila meets pandan syrup, egg white, pineapple juice, Galliano vanilla liqueur, and lemon juice, resulting in a light and fruity mix with a nod to local flavours in the pandan. Meanwhile the food menu has become a calling card in itself. Smoked tuna tartare rolls (B420) and Salmon cones (B450)—bites made to be shared on the air-conditioned patio (yes, there’s air con outdoors), or beside the original Warhols on the walls inside— neither overpower the drinks nor wilt under their potency. Plated beautifully, they keep pace with Vogue Lounge’s flawless style. by Craig Sauers

Vogue Lounge

6F, MahaNakhon Cube Narathiwas Rajanakarin Rd. Tel: 02 001 0697 Open daily: 5pm-2am www.fb.com/vogueloungebangkok bangkok101.com


review | NIGHTLIFE

Sky on 20

A sky bar where the view is lofty, but the prices are down-to-earth

W

ho says a sky bar has to break the bank? At the aptly named Sky on 20, the recently opened rooftop venue atop the Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20, the food and drink prices don’t rise higher as the floors ascend. Instead, they stay within the realm of the reasonable, with cocktails ranging from B250 to B400, and food in roughly that same range. But affordability doesn’t cheapen the charm or dilute the drinks. And it certainly doesn’t take away from Sky on 20’s stylish setting, either. Illuminated planter boxes surround plush love seats and cushioned wicker chairs while, in the corners, circle sofas offer privacy. The flooring and fittings are hardwood and marble. Vibrant art pieces hang on the walls. Altogether, Sky on 20 feels like the kind of place you would go to for sundowners on Phuket or Koh Samui, but instead of being down on the beach the venue is 26 floors up, overlooking Phrom Phong’s sea of lights. On one side, the view bangkok101.com

captures the glimmer of the lake in Benjakitti Park as the sun sets. On the other, Emporium’s nightly light show shimmers over little Benjasiri Park. Well-travelled Portuguese bartender Joao Santos—“You can call me Johnny; everyone does,” he says—is in charge of the drinks. He puts forth some classic, easy-drinking cocktails that are pure fun in a glass, like the Ginger Mojito (B250), a well-made mix of lime, sugar, and mint muddled with ginger syrup and finished with ginger beer for a little added spice. The New York Sour (B350), meanwhile, builds off the base recipe for the whisky sour, topping a base of Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar with Shiraz. The wine’s bold flavours temper the drink’s sour notes, infusing it with an earthiness that lingers on the palate. La Chouffe Soleil (B200 half pint/ B300 full) and La Chouffe (B250 half/ B350 full) on draft give weight to the beer selection. Come on Tuesday and get two pints of either beer for B500— one of many seductive deals (they

also offer B150 mojitos on Fridays). Rounding things out there’s also a long list of wines by the bottle and glass. The food is no afterthought, either. There are plenty of smaller plates to share, including selections of cheese and charcuterie, as well as a tasty Crab bruschetta (B310), but the pizzas make for a much more filling meal. One such pizza, topped with Parma ham, fresh rocket, and shaved Parmesan cheese (B430), could stand up against the margheritas and pepperonis from some of the top pizzerias in town—plus, it’s large enough to feed a table. Stylish, affordable, and fun, Sky on 20 is an exciting alternative in an otherwise high-priced and highfalutin rooftop bar scene. by Craig Sauers

Sky on 20

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 JA N UA RY 2017 | 95


NIGHTLIFE | connoisseur corner

Wine News & Events By Bruce Scott

O

n the evening of December 9th, 2016, the folks at JamesSuckling.com presented the 3rd edition of the Great Wines of Italy in Bangkok event. It has become the region’s largest premium wine event, and this year featured more than 80 prestigious Italian brands, as well as hand-picked selections from several premium boutique wineries. All wineries represented have reached top scores of 90 points and above by Hong Kong-based wine expert James Suckling, who tasted more than 3,000 wines in order to assemble this definitive list. Nice work, if you can get it! The show itself took over the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, which was filled that Friday evening, with more than 1,000 wine lovers—a sell-out crowd—in attendance. The demand for tickets was so huge that hundreds of thirsty hopefuls clamouring for last minute entry had to be turned away. Inside the ballroom a lavish display awaited the stylish crowd (a sophisticated mix of Thais and non-Thais alike). In the central portion of the room four wine serving areas had been arranged—delineated by style and region—with about 20 vendors at each. Meanwhile, on either side of the main entrance, a selection of European cheeses, breads, cured meats and antipasti was on hand to make 96 | JA N UA RY 2017

sure no one was drinking on an empty stomach. Finally, at the far end of the room on the raised stage, James’s pal Surahn Sidu (Australian recording artist, formerly of Empire of the Sun), acted as DJ, spinning a fantastic variety of tunes specially curated for the tasting. Mr. Suckling was present all through the course of the event—which ran from 4pm till 8pm—meeting and greeting his many admirers and always taking the time to talk. His easy going manner and style is the antithesis of what you might expect from one of the world’s most respected wine critics; a trait that no doubt endeared him to everyone on hand that night. About halfway through the evening Mr. Suckling addressed the assembled crowd, thanking them for attending, and encouraging them to raise a glass and sample all they can of the great wines of Italy. The wines represented at the event ran the gamut from bold Barolos to superb Super Tuscans. It would have been impossible to try every single bottle on offer (though most attendees gave it their best shot), but of those sampled some highlights included: the 2011 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino; the 2011 Renieri Brunello di Montalcino (which ran out before the evening’s end); the 2013 Bruno Giacosa Falletto Barolo Le Rocche; the bangkok101.com


connoisseur corner | NIGHTLIFE

2012 Mazzei Chianti Classico Castello di Fonterutoli Gran Selezione; and the 2012 Monte Antico Toscana. But regardless of one’s preference it’s worth noting that all these wines, whatever their cost or rating, represent a unique Italian character that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in the world. “There’s a great sense of history and culture distilled into every bottle,” says Suckling, and it’s hard not to agree with his sentiment. The event organizers also hosted a few private dinners for specially selected VIP guests, and Mr. Suckling was on hand to preside over them all. At a special media luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Erawan’s Tables Grill, the focus was on pairing Italian wine with spicy Thai food. For Suckling, the idea that spicy food can only be paired with a cold beer or a chilled Gewürztraminer is narrowminded thinking. A mellow red can pair just as nicely with a spicy Asian dish, and so the assembled media and VIP guests were invited to match each course at lunch with whatever wine they chose from the five pre-poured selections set before them. It was interesting for each person to act as their own sommelier, seeing how each wine matched—successfully or unsuccessfully—with each of the five courses. Dishes such as the zesty tom kha pla ocean trout soup worked well with the whites, especially the 2013 Cantina Terlan Pinot Bianco Alto Adige Vorberg Riserva, while the show-stopping lobster khao soy haeng worked well with the reds, especially the 2014 Petrolo Valdarno di Sopra Galatrona. The overall idea is that the spice level of the dishes initially awakens the taste buds, allowing for an enhanced appreciation of the wine’s own flavours, while the fact that the wine is a liquid tempers any extreme bangkok101.com

tongue-tingling sensations brought on by the spiciness. In a conversation with James after the lunch we agreed on a general rule: “whites cool, reds calm”. NOTE: If you missed this event, or just can’t wait till the next big wine expo, the Great Wines of Andes—featuring top producers from Chile and Argentine wine—will be coming to the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok on May 10th.

ORNELLAIA WINE DINNER At an exclusive wine dinner held the day after the Great Wines of Italy in Bangkok event, a small group of VIPs were invited to the newly opened Pru restaurant at the Trisara resort in Phuket (see story on pg. 48). The wines were supplied by Ornellaia, whose Bordeaux blends are a modern legend in Tuscan winemaking. The winery had been part of the previous night’s wine event in Bangkok, however at this intimate supper a different set of vintages were on offer. We sampled a total of five wines, paired with the multi-course meal, beginning with a 2014 Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia, a smooth citrusy white with a predominance of Sauvignon Blanc. This was followed by the 2014 Le Volte dell’Ornellaia, a structured yet complex blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the beautifully aged 2006 Ornellaia Bolgheri Doc Superiore was the highlight for many—a cuvée of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

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NIGHTLIFE | listings

BARS About Eatery

The bottom line is this: if you are a wine lover, you’ll love this place. It’s a warm and welcoming bar and restaurant that specializes in Mediterranean fare and artisan wines made using natural, biodynamic, and organic methods. GF, Ocean Tower II, Sukhumvit 21, Soi 3 Tel: 081 920 0740 Open: Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm, Mon-Sat, 5pm-1am www.abouteatery.com

Evil Man Blues

This retro cocktail bar promises only top-shelf spirits, housemade mixers, and fresh garnishes. Meanwhile, live music by renowned jazz musicians creates a close-knit vibe. GF, 72 Courtyard, Sukhumvit Soi 55 Tel: 02 392 7740 Open: Tue-Sun, 6pm-2am www.facebook.com/EvilManBlues

Face Bar

This visually stunning complex is reminiscent of Jim Thompson’s former mansion. It’s a dimly-lit joint that Summons patrons with cosy settees, ambient soundscape, and giant cocktails that aim to please. 29, Sukhumvit Soi 38 Tel: 02 713 6048, Open daily: 11:30am-1am www.facebars.com

Inblu Bar

Bronx Liquid Parlour

Bronx Liquid Parlour

This half-hidden tippling spot brings something of a higher class of cocktail culture to the Thong Lor strip. Stylish interiors and exotic cocktail menus make it even more distinctive—a perfect combination of Tokyo, New York, and London in one bar. 8, Thonglor Soi 25 Tel: 02 036 6071 Open: Tue-Sun, 7pm-2am www.bronxbkk.com

Coyote’s

A long-standing Mexican restaurant and bar, where the margaritas flow like water—specially during ladies’ night— and the meals always satisfy. Sukhumvit Soi 11 Tel: 02 651 3313 Open daily: 12pm-2am www.coyotebangkok.com

Dark Bar

A tiny and, well, dark bar serving beer and booze at cheap prices. It’s popular with hipsters and counter-culturists. Ekkamai 10, Sukhumvit Soi 63 Tel: 02 381 9896 Open: Wed, Fri-Sat, 9pm-2am www.facebook.com/darkbarbangkok 98 | JA N UA RY 2017

decorated, and includes a sweeping bar, comfortable armchairs and sofas, and subdued lighting—not to mention fine whiskies, cocktails, and cognacs. Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit 1F, 250 Sukhumvit Rd. Open daily: 9am-midnight Tel: 02 649 8353 www.thelivingroomatbangkok.com

Touché Hombre

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

ROOFTOP / SKY BARS

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

Rabbit Hole

A proper cocktail bar, run by industry insiders, where the drinks come first and the cool interior just tops it off. What's more, the personable bartenders really know their spirits. 125, Sukhumvit Soi 55 Tel: 081 822 3392 Open daily: 7pm-2am www.facebook.com/rabbitholebkk

Rarb

Ensconced in a hipster-chic, glass-encased nook, this Old Town craft cocktails mecca features a rotating menu of daily drink 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

The Living Room

Home to one of the finest live jazz venues in Bangkok, this nightspot is tastefully

amBar

amBar

Located on the 8th floor rooftop of the Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok, this pool bar offers an inviting and relaxed lounge atmosphere. Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok 4, Sukhumvit Soi15 Tel: 02 309 3288 Open daily: 4pm-midnight www.ambarbangkok.com

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 minorhotels.com/en/avani/riverside-bangkok bangkok101.com


listings | NIGHTLIFE

Char

The Speakeasy

Long Table

ThreeSixty Lounge

Located on the 26th floor of the Hotel Indigo, 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

Known for its massive communal dining table – you can also glug signature cocktails or new latitude wines while enjoying the view from the 25th floor. 25F, 48 Column Building, Sukhumvit Soi 16 Tel: 02 302 2557 Open daily: 11am-2am www.longtablebangkok.com

Moon Bar & Vertigo

The top floors of the Banyan Tree Hotel offer three iconic rooftop spots: Moon Bar, Vertigo, and the 64th floor Vertigo Too. All are perfect spots for honeymooners. 61/64F, Banyan Tree Bangkok 21/100 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 679 1200 Open daily: 5pm-1am www.banyantree.com

Red Sky Bar

One of Bangkok’s most acclaimed rooftop bars, perched dramatically above the heart of the city, offers light bites and drinks such as the signature Imperial Mojito and Martini-infused cocktails. 56F, Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld, 999/99, Rama 1 Rd. Tel: 02 100 6255 Open daily: 4pm-1am (Happy hours: 4pm-6pm) www.centarahotelsresorts.com

St. Regis Bar

This rectangular venue overlooks the Royal Bangkok Sports Club through a large plate-glass window, a lovely spot at sunset, even better on Sunday afternoons, when you can spy on horse races with a fine malt whiskey in hand. St. Regis Bangkok Hotel 159 Ratchadamri Rd. Tel: 02 207 7777 Open: Mon-Fri, 10am-1am, Sat-Sun, 10am-2am www.stregis.com bangkok101.com

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

Go sky high in style above the Chao Phraya River at Millennium Hilton Bangkok’s grand rooftop venue. With 360° panorama vistas of the city, this lounge spot truly stands out from other sky bars in the city. 31-32F, Millennium Hilton Bangkok 123 Charoennakorn Rd. Tel: 02 442 2000 Open daily: 5pm-1am www.bangkok.hilton.com

Zest Bar and Terrace

Zest Bar and Terrace

Recently refurbished, this tippling spot entices guests with an all-new drink menu, featuring expertly crafted cocktails, and a range of gastronomic delights such as beer battered fish and chips. 7F, Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok 259 Sukhumvit Rd. Tel: 02 207 8000 Open daily: 7am-1am www.westingrandesukhumvit.com

CLUBS Beam

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 JA N UA RY 2017 | 99


NIGHTLIFE | listings

Onyx

An upscale nightclub borrowing from the futuristic interiors of other outlets in the milieu. Laid out over two stories, with most of the action confined to the ground floor. RCA, Soi Soonvijai, Rama 9 Rd. Tel: 081 645 1166 Open daily: 8pm-2am www.onyxbangkok.com

Sing Sing Theater Cé La Vi

Cé La Vi

Cé La Vi Bangkok (formerly Ku De Ta Bangkok) is one of Bangkok’s top nightlife venues, 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

Levels

One of the most reliably busy nightclubs in Bangkok that welcomes a mix of resident expats, stylish Thai party animals, and wide-eyed holiday-makers who can’t get enough. 6F, 35, Sukhumvit Soi 11 Tel: 082 308 3246 Open daily: 9pm-2am www.facebook.com/levelsclub

Mixx Discotheque

Classier than most of Bangkok’s after-hour clubs, a two-room affair, one plays R&B and Hip Hop, the other does Techno & House decked out with chandeliers, paintings, and billowing sheets. President Tower Arcade, 973 Ploenchit Rd. Tel: 02 656 0382 Open daily: 10pm-late www.mixx-discotheque.com/bangkok

Narz

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: 8pm-3am www.narzclubbangkok.net 10 0 | JA N UA RY 2017

Not entirely a club, nor exactly a bar in the truest sense, Sing Sing Theater transcends the limitations of our nightlife vocabulary. Sukhumvit 45 Tel: 097 285 6888 Open: Tue-Sun, 8pm-2am www.facebook.com/singsingtheater

Titanium Club & Ice Bar

With congenial hostesses clad in ao dai, a gifted, all-girl rock n’ roll band jamming nightly, and over 90 varieties of vodka, it’s definitely a fun night out. Sukhumvit Soi 22 Tel: 02 258 3758 Open: 6pm-1:30am www.titanium-club.com

Four Points by Sheraton 4, Sukhumvit 15 Tel: 02 309 3255 Open daily: 10am-1am www.thedrunkenleprechaun.com

The Huntsman

English-style pub, cool and dark, with lots of nooks and crannies and a Sunday roast like no other. GF, The Landmark Hotel 138 Sukhumvit Rd. Tel: 02 254 0404 Open daily: 11:30am-2am www.landmarkbangkok.com/huntsman-pub

The Pickled Liver

Pub grub, pool, quizzes, live music, and more make this landmark pub—now in its second incarnation—a perennial favourite with locals. Sukhumvit Soi 7/1 (opposite Maxim’s Hotel) Tel: 02 651 1114 Open daily: 3pm-late www.thepickledliver.com

PUBS Mulligan’s Irish Bar

A Khao San institution that draws hordes of young locals and a more refined foreign crowd than the norm in the neighbourhood, thanks to great live music and day-long happy hour deals. 265 Khao San Rd. Tel: 02 629 4477 Open daily: 24 hours www.mulligansthailand.com

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

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.

The Penalty Spot

The Penalty Spot

Cosy, atmospheric crowds form here mostly to check out live sports on TV, drink beer on draft, and watch the passing parade. Sukhumvit main road between Soi 27 and 29 Tel: 02 661 6164 Open daily: 3pm-2am www.facebook.com/thepenaltyspot

The Royal Oak

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 bangkok101.com


listings | NIGHTLIFE

The Sportsman

Whether you want to shoot some pool, throw darts, or just sit back and watch your favourite team on TV, it’s all here at one of the best sports bars in Bangkok. GF, Trendy Condo, Sukhumvit Soi 13 Tel: 02 168 7241 Open daily: 8am-2am www.sportsbarbangkok.com

LIVE MUSIC

13 Samsen Rd. (opposite Soi 2) Open daily: 6pm-midnight Tel: 089 769 4613 www.facebook.com/adhere13thbluesbar

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

Brown Sugar Adhere the 13th Blues Bar

Adhere the 13th Blues Bar One of Bangkok’s funkiest, coolest hangouts, and nothing more than an aisle packed with five tables, a tiny bar, and a band that churns out cool blues, Motown, and originals.

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

Queen Bee

A great place to hang out and meet up with friends while enjoying great live music. Come play some pool and check out Bangkok’s best rock’n’roll and blues cover bands. 25/9, Sukumvit Soi 26 Tel: 092 446 4234 Open: 10:30am-2am www.facebook.com/QueenBeeBangkok

Saxophone

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

SoulBar

Metalwork, modern art, and live Motown, funk, blues, and soul form the backbone of this stark, yet cool, shophouse turned small bar on the edge of Chinatown’s art district. 945 Charoenkrung Rd. Tel: 083 092 2266 Open daily: 6pm-1am www.facebook.com/livesoulbarbangkok


LIFESTYLE |

The largest Onsen in Thailand, at the Grande Centre Point Sukhumvit 55 102 | JA N UA RY 2017

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| LIFESTYLE

LIFE+STYLE getting into hot water The newly unveiled GRANDE CENTRE POINT SUKHUMVIT 55 has plenty to boast about—including 442 rooms, two on-site restaurants, a swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and a prime location in Bangkok’s hip Thong Lor district—but it also lays claim to having the largest ONSEN in Thailand, a facility managed by the hotel’s LET’S RELAX SPA. It consists of five mineral pools, including four hot pools with temperatures of 38-42°C, and one 18°C cold pool. Apart from the baths this peaceful and unhurried oasis offers a variety of spa treatments and relaxation packages. www.grandecentrepointsukhumvit55.com

spanish sport import Next to football, PADEL—a racquet sport that combines tennis, squash and racquet ball—is the most popular sport in Spain. Now it’s arrived in Bangkok, thanks to REAL RACQUET ACADEMY BANGKOK (888/20, Soi Pracha Rat Bamphen 26, Huai Khwang). This energetic and addictive sport is played on a 10 x 20 meter court (1/3 the size of a tennis court), and the rules are the same as in tennis, except the ball can bounce off the wall and serves are under arm. The racquet is string-less, smaller, and lighter than a tennis racquet, while the ball is less pressurized than in tennis. Once you’ve mastered the basics it’s a fun way to exercise and improve all-round fitness. www.realracquetacademy.com

prestige packaging HARNN, Thailand’s natural spa prestige brand, recently launched the ASIAN HOLISTIC ACADEMY (12M floor, Zen Tower at CentralWorld), dedicated to holistic wellness derived from Oriental wisdom and knowledge, as well as offering professional spa consultation services. The academy provides theoretical and practical education to learners in Thai and English programs—from the basic beginners to those pursuing a career in spa and wellness business worldwide. Artistry, local practices, and local cultures are integrated with the aim to bring a harmonious balance to the body and mind, which is primarily the core concept of holistic wellbeing. www.asianholisticacademy.com

one-day weekend warm-up It’s time to lace up your sneakers and work up a sweat at the EASTIN GRAND HOTEL SATHORN BANGKOK. In collaboration with CASCADE CLUB, Thailand’s premier health club, and TRIKA YOG, healing to nature yoga institute, fitness fanatics are invited to participate in the upcoming ‘Fit & Fun Sunday’ on Sunday January 29th. You’ll be put through your paces by leading yoga teachers and fitness instructors and for only B699 you can join as many classes as you desire from 9am to 5:30pm. In addition to the classes there will be unique market stalls in front of the venue where you can purchase a variety of healthy foods and products. www.eastingrandsathorn.com bangkok101.com

JA N UA RY 2017 | 103


LIFESTYLE | spa deals

Sharing Happiness with Kiriya Spa

LiT Bangkok Hotel & Residence | 36/1, Soi Kasemsan 1, Rama 1 Rd. Tel: 02 612 3456 | www.litbangkok.com The festive season might be drawing to a close but you can still share happiness by giving yourself, or a loved, the gift of relaxation in a private sanctuary at Kiriya Spa at the LiT Bangkok Hotel & Residence—the first and only spa offering treatment derived from Thai Dance forms. Until the end of January Kiriya offers the most blissful gift of a 90-minute massage (your choice of four regions) at the special price of B1,200. Let the touch of each dance play upon your heart and the movement on your body.

Good For Your Soul at Lullaby Spa Lullaby Spa | 1 South Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 677 7261 | www.lullaby-spa.com

This month, Lullaby Spa offers a mix of Thai style Lullaby Signature and Upper Body Relaxation treatments. These relaxing and rejuvenating 75-minute treatments will relieve the accumulated tensions brought on by long-hours of work, or other stressful activities, and will allow you to get an improved night’s sleep. They’re especially suitable for people who have travelled and are fatigued from jet-lag. In addition, the therapist will focus on the tight upper body parts, such as the temples and the cervical and shoulder blades area. This special promotion is priced at just B2,150.

Boost, Balance, Calm, and Purify at Avani Spa Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel | 257 Charoennakorn Rd. Tel: 02 431 9100 | www.avanihotels.com

Throughout this year, four treatment options from the Avani Spa at the Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel are being offered at a special price of B2,600 (for the 60-minute treatment) or B3,200 (for the 90-minute treatment). Boost is for a weakened body and tired mind, while Balance therapies aim to control mind and mood. The Calm experiences melt muscle tension and settle nerves, and finally the Purity option is for cleansing and detox. Choosing the right treatment, and focussing on what you really need, are what Avani Spa does best.

Divine Floral Remedies at Devarana Dusit Thani Bangkok | 946 Rama IV Rd. Tel: 02 636 3596 | www.devaranaspa.com

Devarana Spa at Dusit Thani Bangkok invites you to mark the upcoming Year of the Rooster with a series of special treatments featuring the magical healing properties of flowers. Starting with the Glittering Lotus Healing treatment, a Thai floral therapy featuring a 30-minute Glittering Lotus Body Scrub. The treatment is rich with antioxidants, offers protection against UV damage, and leaves skin radiant and soft to the touch. It is completed with a 90-minute Oil Massage utilizing gold leaf to promote total wellbeing. Price at B3,600, this promotion is available until the end of March.

New Year Relaxation at Spa Cenvaree

Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao | 1695 Phahonyothin Rd. Tel: 02 541 1234 | www.centarahotelsresorts.com The festive season is over, but Spa Cenvaree at Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok is here to make this weary time of year a little less stressful with a delightfully reviving treatment to welcome the new year. Pampering from head to toe is yours with the luxurious Shea butter massage (70 minutes), followed by a head massage with a lavender-infused warm towel back compresses to release a tension (20 minutes). Priced at B2,000, this special is available until the end of February. And during this period, retail items are 15% off.

Touch of Wellness at SoSPA So Sofitel Bangkok | 2 North Sathorn Rd. Tel: 02 624 0000 | www.sofitel.com

Start a new chapter this new year with the Touch of Wellness Promotion now underway at SoSPA at the SO Sofitel Bangkok hotel. Awaken your senses and feel re-energized with the spa’s special selection of health and beauty treatments. Freshen up for 2017 with an invigorating Foot Ritual, followed by a Pink Himalaya Body Scrub for 30 minutes, and a Mohom Indigo Massage for 60 minutes. Give yourself, or someone you love, a gift this new year with overall wellness spa treatments. This promotion—priced at B3,900—is available until the end of February.

10 4 | JA N UA RY 2017

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spa review | LIFESTYLE

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Spa Cenvaree

t every spa pampering session, the overall atmosphere is nearly as important as the treatment itself. It determines how much you’ll be able to relax and let go, and thus has a big influence on how you’ll feel after hours of decadent relaxation. With their newly introduced ‘Awakening’ wellness concept, Spa Cenvaree, at the Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya, promises to stir all the senses through a unique emphasis on music, rituals, and traditions. Located directly on the beach of Wong Amat Bay, only 10-minutes out of downtown Pattaya, the spa is located on the ground floor of the luxurious Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort. Amidst lush greenery, the spa is attractively furnished in neutral and soft beige tones, accentuated by warm and welcoming wooden interiors. Its extensive facilities comprise 24 bangkok101.com

treatment rooms—both single and couple suites are available—an indoor Vichy shower, herbal steam room and sauna, cold and hot plunge pool, yoga and meditation pavilion, nail studio, and a relaxation lounge with complementary herbal tea, fruit juices, and healthy snacks. Their comprehensive spa menu addresses every customer’s needs, ranging from massages and body scrubs, to multi-day retreats, couples’ treatments, Ayurveda therapies, and hot stone treatments. One of their signature treatments is the Thai Harmony Four Hands Massage (B2,495++), a 90-minute body pampering performed by two therapists in unison. The ritual uses a blend of different techniques—Thai, Swedish, Shiatsu, and Reflexology— and the deep rhythmic movements will leave you completely renewed and rejuvenated.

Another recommended favourite is the 90 minute Signature Salt Pot Muscles Melter (1,995++), which is a locally inspired ritual combining deep tissue massage and hot salt pots that compress to release tension in the shoulders and lower back muscles. Each pot contains a blend of coarse salt and medicinal herbs to provide relief to tired muscles. Besides this vast offering of pampering sessions, the spa also offers yoga and dance classes, as well as Thai massage classes for the more active customers.

Spa Cenvaree

Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya 277 Moo 5, Naklua, Banglamung, Pattaya Tel: 038 301 234, ext. 4333 Open daily: 9am-9pm www.centarahotelsresorts.com JA N UA RY 2017 | 105


SIGNING OFF | did you know?

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id you know that the wine list at the Nai Harn Resort in Phuket was created by renown wine expert James Suckling? This same wine expert recently delighted Bangkok’s most ardent oenophiles at the Great Wines of Italy in Bangkok event, which was held last month at the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok hotel. The event brought some of Italy’s best winemakers and wines to the city (see story on pg. 96). However, for those who might have missed this special occasion you can still treat yourself to a James Suckling curated wine selection at the

Nai Harn Resort in Phuket. This recently reopened resort is one of Phuket’s premier luxury beach destinations, and is located on the south end of the island. In addition to unbeatable views of the Andaman Sea, as well as 130 luxurious guest rooms, the resort’s entire wine list was specially chosen by the globally renowned wine critic—applicable in all outlets of the resort, including in-room dining. He also created a special feature called James’ Rockstar Wines By The Glass where expensive wines are served by the glass (making them more affordable to try since you needn’t buy the whole bottle). “I love the Nai Harn! It’s such a great place to hangout in Phuket, and a close friend is the manager,”

Suckling remarked when asked about his involvement in the project. “I put together a list of 80 or so wines that are really fun and flavorful and they are right for different occasions from hanging at the beach or pool to dining at the hotel restaurant. All the wines, of course, have 90 points or more ratings. We also have top wines by the glass, from a 2010 Pio Cesare Barolo to a 2004 Montrose.” To find out what else the island of Phuket has to offer, check out this month’s travel section (starting on pg. 36).

Nai Harn Resort 106 | JA N UA RY 2017

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Bangkok 101 Magazine January 2017  

Bangkok's leading travel and leisure city magazine.

Bangkok 101 Magazine January 2017  

Bangkok's leading travel and leisure city magazine.

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