Salon 10 is a bar unlike many others in Hong Kong. It is certainly chic, but also eccentric; not many places could pull off its Henri Rousseau-meets-ET wall mural and Stanley Kubrick-like curved lines. With plush wall banquettes, midcentury furnishings and a rounded ceiling, it feels a little bit like being in a groovy tunnel. Recently, I discovered that the bar is hosting a series of midweek jazz and Latin concerts with free entry, so we decided to go last week and check it out. It was a fun night.
A Bangkok landmark, the modernist Dusit Thani flagship hotel in Silom, will be demolished next year according to an announcement from its owners earlier this week. Its site will become a large mall, office and hotel development. The Dusit Thani leaves behind the Indra Regent in Pratunam, behind an unlovely tangle of telephone wires, as perhaps the last of the great Bangkok modernist hotels (with the prickly facade of the Srifueang building, just down from the Dusit Thani on Rama IV, as another notable 1960s tower).
Hopefully these buildings will survive the massive construction going on around the Thai capital. Across Rama IV boulevard, by Lumphini park, the site currently occupied by a carnival funfair will soon become a massive city-within-a-city mixed use development, much like Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills or Midtown. It is to be called Bangkok City One. Meanwhile, the old Robinson’s department store across from the Dusit Thani on Saladaeng has also been empty for some time, awaiting flashy redevelopment plans.
And as if that is not enough, the vast and glittering ICON SIAM mall will open riverside later this year, complete with Takashimaya department store, museum, condos and perhaps a privately funded skytrain extension, while blueprints have been drawn up for a massive Bangkok Mall, to be the city’s biggest, topped with a water park in Bangna.
Exactly where this flush of construction money is coming from, and why this is all happening now, is a bit of a mystery to me but for better or worse, Bangkok in 2021 will seem quite different from the city we know now.
The Thai capital continues to blossom as a design force with this co-working space in the Habito mall recently awarded a prestigious prize from Archdaily magazine for “Best interior of 2017”.
Below, street art from Lisbon artist Vhils on the wall of the historic Portuguese embassy, marking the four hundred year old ties between Thailand and Portugal, one of its first Western traders, who left a now-almost-vanished expat community on the Thonburi side of the river for centuries.
Subhashok The Art Centre, an impressive concrete structure in the leafy Sukhumvit hinterland, is another addition to the city’s growing and impressive art scene, with mural by Cece Nobre.
And finally hair salon Klinsuwan reconnect with the city’s Southeast Asian roots, through walls of golden bamboo.
Travel magazines are a guilty pleasure. Utterly disposable and laughably transparent, they are purely devices to stimulate spending. To this aim, everything always has to be “new!” – all the time. “The new Paris”, “The new New York”, “Hottest new destinations for 2017” (are they really going to be so different from the hottest destinations of 2016?), and so many “extraordinary” new hotel properties, yet all offering overpriced variations on a well-worn theme…a room and a swimming pool. Got it.
And yet, I like them. They are pure escapism and a very cheap way, for an hour or so, to feel rich, idly leafing through the pages and deciding which of these places I would (will?) go to.
Conde Naste Traveller, with its well-executed Instagram-inspired art direction (above) is a particular favourite.
This weekend I read an article in it on “South America’s New Hippest City” which was – to its credit, surprisingly – La Paz. But the article put a strong case and I learned something about the city I had never known before, namely that it has sparked a new architectural trend dubbed “cholet”, a portmanteau of “Chola” (Andean native) and “chalet”. Apparently a sign of greater indigenous affluence under President Evo Morales, the buildings have been commissioned by the indigenous nouveau riche from a riot of influences: art deco, street art, Transformers and traditional Aymara culture among them.
You can read more about the cholet movement here.
Well, not quite. Still this “Lego Tower” apartment block is definitely a colourful break from Melbourne tradition – and I love it. I missed it on my recent trip and only learnt of its existence from a friend’s facebook pictures; when I asked where it was, I was surprised to hear her answer “St Kilda!”
And meanwhile, there is also the jaunty “Hello” house in Richmond: