Tuesday 3 August 2010

Bangkok - Sukhomvit Soi 11 is go, go, go ...

You might've been to Bangkok a few times already, or even if you're new to it, and looking for some different options -- two words:

Soi 11.

It's a fascinating street, rich in cosmopolitan life at any time of day or night. A destination in itself.

First, walk the gauntlet of Indian tailors working the shops on the corner from the Asoke BTS. Unsurprisingly, there are some good Indian cafe/ restaurants nearby - good value and worth a try.

One of the established favourites for the expat crowd is on the left: Cheap Charlie's. It's a whole in the wall, selling beer and wine and spirits, with tables and stools spilling out into the street. 'I really don't know what the attraction is,' says Jim, a long time Bangkok expat, 'but I keep coming here.' The drinks are affordably priced and it's casual and raffish. And the Thai bar keep (I'll call him Charlie) ensures ongoing quality control by sampling liberally of his products as the evening goes on.

Then on your left you'll soon see Zanzibar. A great place to sit on the outdoor/indoor terrace setting of this renovated Thai house and sink a few pints while the piano man croons his way through the evergreen songbook. He's a human jukebox. Other nights the bands are more lively. There's also a well-regarded Thai/ Italian menu to enjoy.

The sprawling Ambassador Hotel is adjacent, a quite old though perfectly comfortable place to stay, with its own F&B options.

Then comes, um, a steam train. Jing jing!  I'm not sure what a steam train has to do with an upmarket Thai restaurant, but there you go. The logo of the Rosa Viang is a steam train, and on the outdoor terrace a jazz band smokes it up while diners enjoy fine Thai cuisine. Indoors, in air-conditioned comfort, a model train set mesmerises as it whizzes around.

Then there's the Old German Beer House, which is a sprawling barn of a bierkeller -- huge, with an amiable mix of locals, tourists and -- as the name implies -- Old Germans enjoying large steins of German brews.

Um, then things get a bit foggy. There are Japanese restaurants, Koreans restaurants, apartments and ... no, it can't be ... yes, it's a space ship that's landed on the right. A large silver-white capsule. On closer inspection it's Bed Supper Club.

This has become an institution in Bangkok over nearly 10 years now, offering the ultimate place to chill on comfy mattress-sized sofas. Occasional cultural and fashionista floor shows in one space; and the other: dancing. Shaking your booty till whenever it closes. The cover charge keeps the riff-raff out, so it's high end Bangkokians looking for a party.

And just when you can't take it anymore, you move on to Q Bar. Some regard it as one of the coolest clubs in the world. Subjective. It's cool. It's expensive. It's full. Of beautiful people. DJ's play a mixture of, well, whatever they like, frankly. Could be jazz. Could be retro. Or swamp-grunge-metal-trip-hop-acid-funk-blues-adelia. You with me y'all? Who knows. You could be in a New York lounge.

And if you haven't already had enough fun by now ... of course you've had enough by now. Time for bed. Because you've got to get up tomorrow and do it all over again. Good night!

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