Bangkok: To do list

21 08 2016

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It has been a while since I was in my favourite city and the list of new and interesting places I want to check out is growing ever longer, especially since I discovered the Thai magazine “aday”, which has lots of great tips like this cafe near the Hua Mak airport express stop in Ramkhamhaeng called Sunday.

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Or this pretty jogging track around the Ram Inthra stadium:

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Restaurant Harmonique with its courtyard under a banyan tree.

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Plus a secret drinking den in the city’s US military headquarters

The Skytrain jazz bar

The dining table inside a swimming pool at 3nvy.

The city’s riverside Protestant cemetery.

And the cluster of art workshops and galleries amid old European buildings on the Charoen Krung Soi 30, also known after an obscure historical figure as Soi Captain Bush.

Plus there is the new incarnation of the Thailand Design and Creativity Centre nearby in the vast old nineteen thirties main post office building, and the glittering ICON mall across the river promising a new art museum and Takashimaya department store, coming next year.

 





Hidden Bangkok

4 08 2016

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Thai magazine ‘aday’ has released a “100 secrets of hidden Bangkok” issue and it seems to be a hit; I asked a Thai friend to help me get hold of a copy but the magazine had sold out everywhere. These kind of “Secret City X” articles always tread a fine line, sometimes the tips are exceedingly basic and obvious, as in a recent “Travel+Leisure” magazine feature I read on Hong Kong which tipped Sheung Wan as an under-the-radar district the expat hordes had yet to discover, when of course, it is in fact firmly established.

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Oneday Wallflowers, the elegant floral workshop tucked into an alley on Chinatown’s Soi Nana, and one of the 100 secrets of Hidden Bangkok.

But in the case of “Hidden Bangkok” the editors seem to have made some interesting choices – and discoveries! Some of the places listed are obscure attractions which I have none the less visited and enjoyed, while many others IU had never heard of. I can’t wait to get back to the city to explore them.

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The public park in the old Tiajew Chinese cemetery near Surasak skytrain station, read more here.

Good luck getting your hands on a physical copy  of the magazine but there is a Google Map to the 100 secrets of hidden Bangkok here, although it is only in Thai – let google translate be your friend!

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Chula University’s little-visited zoology museum.

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The Islamic Center of Thailand in Ramkhamhaeng.





Face Off

21 06 2016

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Incredible imagery from Thai makeup artist Monticha Sriyoschati and model Jan Baiboon.





Bangkok round-up

19 06 2016

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As its rainy season gathers, Bangkok continues to sparkle with its golden lottery-predicting toads, awesome gyms for transgender (female-to-male) men, marauding lizards named after Disney stars and new hipster hangouts.

But my favourite story to come recently out of the effervescent Thai capital was the “Fat Run”, held in the city’s Lumphini Park. Designed to encourage people of all weights to enjoy exercise without shame or embarrassment, it adopted the slogan: “Run 5km – and then eat whatever you want!” Participants received a medal decorated with pictures of pizza and cupcakes.

I love this for two reasons. The first is that it reminds me of my own sweat-drenched communal runs around the park, weaving in and out of a heaving mass of runners of all shapes and sizes including the odd shirtless gym-bod with rock-hard torso. We all ran together, heaving and sweating, dodging bugs, bats and birds. Music blasted, people danced to techno in mass aerobic exercises and in the dry season, the Bangkok Symphony orchestra struck up on the central lawn, as a tropical twilight fell swiftly over the city. It was a great experience.

But other than that I love the sentiment, so different from the exercise cults coming out America and rabidly adopted in HK, with their barely disguised puritan ideology that suffering is what makes you a better person. In the Fat Run, exercise, like food, is something to be celebrated and enjoyed, not a gruelling punishment to prove your self-worth (think: no pain, no gain). It is this pro-exercise, pro-life, pro-joy philosophy that powered me to make the switch into semi-serious running. I couldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it and I think that is a great, powerful message to be sending: exercise can be fun, too!





Big trouble in little Thailand

6 06 2016

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Dozens of dead tiger cubs in a black market temple racket, a winged penis, Thailand’s scariest road and a Latin food festival and a Southeast Asian literary salon in the latest Bangkok roundup…





Seventies fetish

4 05 2016

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Last night I watched for the first time “Emmanuelle.” The 1974 French ‘erotic’ movie broke records on its release in Paris and turned its star, Dutch model Sylvia Kristen, into a sex symbol. The sex scenes were not that interesting to me (but then I’m not exactly the target market I guess, the men in the movie were resolutely unmemorable) but what I did love was the seventies fashions and the charm of seeing a vintage Bangkok on screen. I had heard of the movie before but never knew that it was set  – and filmed – in  an exotically rendered, soft focus-version of Thailand.

With its Lanna Thai mansions and Chinatown street scenes, vaselined lens and over-dubbed lines, ridiculous plot, even worse dialogue and parade of seventies frocks and interior decor, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The film was so successful it even spawned a similar, if slightly inferior, Italian imitation in the “Emanuelle” films, spelled with one “m” to avoid litigation.

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Thai “sakura” season

25 04 2016

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Thailand’s own little-known “sakura season” is coming to an end as the brilliant blossoms of the Tabebuia tree – here seen in Chatuchak park – fade and fall to mark the beginning of the traditional Thai new year.








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