Thursday, 25 February 2010

Bangkok situation update and, er, the best rooftop bars.

Please see for more recent up-to-the-minute updates on the Bangkok situation and the situation in Thailand as the Thai election draws nearer. Thanks.

'Oim roolly glared we caaaim,' said a middle-aged female Aussie tourist, as the group chinked glasses at Vertigo, on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. It's funny how the Aussie accent at home is just the endearing Aussie accent we all know. But somehow on this romantic night it cut through the air like a chinesaw. I mean chainsaw. The group was saying how they nearly cancelled their flights after hearing 'the news' about Bangkok, but here they are enjoying a truly stunning 360-degree city night vista and quenching their thirsts with cocktails.

In fact this blog was supposed to be about 'all the bad stuff' going on in Bangkok at the moment (no, no, I'm not talking about Patpong). So we caught the Skytrain to Sala Deang station right in the middle of the Silom District. You might remember that as being one of the places I indicated might be best to avoid around this time.

Anyway, we enjoyed a really authentic Thai meal at a restaurant called Banana Leaf in Silom Complex, adjoining the BTS, before getting a tuk-tuk to the Sukhothai Hotel. Apart from a car accident, there was no sign of anything untoward, and certainly not an out of place policeman, soldier nor Red Shirt to be seen anywhere. So ...

From there we strolled to the Banyan Tree. And, boy, is Vertigo well named. I swear the skinny building was swaying in the evening breeze as we emerged on the top deck. And busy! We finally found a cushioned bench at the far end adjacent the railing. Bangkok seemed right in our faces, as we picked out the major buildings and got our bearings. Cocktails are a bit punchy at around 300-350 baht, but, hey this is a five star hotel rated by Conde Naste as one of the world's very finest. The special Jamaican coffees only added to the swaying sensation.

In a similar vein, check out Skybar and Sirroco on top of the Lebua Hotel. On the 63rd the latter holds the distinction of being the world's highest al fresco restaurant. Woah -- this is high! What an amazing difference those two floors make ... it seems like we are set well back from the action, looking at Bangkok from afar -- more like we're in a low-flying airplane -- although it is easy to pick out the Chao Phraya River coursing below. The Skybar itself is a circular bar that glows radioactively amid the plush surroundings, seeming to levitate transcendentally.

Continuing the sky theme, try Red Sky at Centara Grand Hotel, which is a chic urban bistro and lounge style set up (see photo). The lighting on the roof is one of the most amazing lights on the Bangkok skyline, as it looks like some sort of extreme Rollercoast of Death arcing over the roof of the building, glowing red and all the colours of the rainbow. Here, you are only 55 stories up, but being right downtown in the Siam area, gives you a different perspective of Bangkok again.

Anyway, we finished our night with a deliberately long and slow walk from Banyan Tree hotel down Silom Road to the MRT station Silom. Under a perfect half moon sky, with stars and the odd cloud for character, it was a lovely, peaceful night.

Now I am reading this morning's Bangkok Post (Thursday 25 March 2010) and I read where the nationwide rally in support of Thaksin, widely tipped to beheld on Verdict Day (tomorrow) -- and the subject of so much media bleating and over-reaction -- has now been deferred. Furthermore Red Shirt leader Veera Musikhapong is quoted as saying whatever their moves may be, they will be adhering to a strict code of 'non-violence, peaceful, unarmed.'

Certainly not the story I thought I was going to be writing, but, that folks, is what Bangkok is like right now. Jing jing! So another beautiful day writing around the pool then ... Oim roolly glared I caaaim, too.

PS: Footnote (May 2011): Sirroco Bar features prominently in the Hollywood movie Hangover 2 ... complete with gangsters, CI agents and helicopters. That doesn't happen there every day, trust me!

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