Being an international model can put you in quite the circumstance; in a swim suit on a frozen glacial lake in Alaska, shooting an editorial, or in triple layer wool outfits in a Japanese football stadium, at 113 degrees Fahrenheit, birthing front-side-back-poses on eighty looks. This type of situation is not for everyone, but good Lord; what amazing opportunities have I had.
Cliff diving, skydiving, dogsledding, interacting with a tiger, all things that came with the job. Naturally, I can already imagine some brains crushing, like; “Wait, what? You had to skydive for a shoot?!” Well no, though I would have, but on- and in between jobs, opportunities have presented themselves through the company I keep. This has landed me in some amazing settings throughout the years. By chance, by choice, by faith, but most of all through the impulsivity of saying yes to something new. In 2009, I was in Tokyo for work and I thought to myself; “I’m already in Asia, why not go to Thailand?” and so I did, on a tight budget. I can assure you that Thailand on a budget is as gorgeous as can be and often creates experiences money cannot buy, but… a more luxurious encounter with Bangkok, can open doors to dreams you never knew you had and lift up some of that Thai smog. So, for my third chapter of Based in a Suitcase, I went and opened some and left them ajar, for you to access when in need of some pizzazz on your trip to the Land of smiles. Caution! In this chapter, I also listed a place to steer away from. Don’t say I didn’t warn you… —
#1: Anantara Riverside
For the past twenty-five years, the grand foyer of the Anantara Riverside has been welcoming guests from all over the world. In Bangkok most five star hotels have entrance halls large enough to host the Olympics. Nice and all, but that’s not what I am looking for in a resort. I’d say one wants the impeccable comfort of a bed one does or doesn’t own at home, ditto on the shower, a nice view, great staff, a beautiful spa, and so forth. Well, say no more. The Anantara has a special place in my heart and thus deserves a spot in this chapter of Based in a Suitcase.
Everyone in the service industry has learned how to casually throw on a smile when a guest is near. Unfortunately, you either get none or a fake one. Here, the authenticity of the staff’s friendliness is noticeable. Their punctuality is impeccable, they are willingly helpful, naturally well mannered and speak their languages. Some of these qualities are a rarity in Thailand. Especially here, in Bangkok, on the wealthier side of the river, where not very few people unjustifiably show some sort of false superiority or lack of care when they get a chance.
Apart from one hundred other things I was enthused about during my stay, my biggest compliment goes out to the spa. I realize that massages and treatments are very personal and need to cater to one’s preferences in pressure, products used etc. That being said, I grew up with a professionally trained massage therapist for a mother, so I became an awfully picky body to get hands on. I had a ninety-minute full body massage in a tranquil treatment room, soft playing positively repetitive meditation music in the background. After, I called my mom to tell her she’s got competition across the globe. ‘Nough said, my opinion!
#2:Avani Resort & Spa
The Anantara Riverside has a much younger sister; Avani Resort & Spa. They are practically separated by a drive way but born over 23 years apart. Now, I’m pretty old fashioned when it comes to luxury hotels and like some maturity to a place. The walls seem to hold stories and let one slip once in a while, which makes it more alive. You can feel that in the air. Besides, it’s foundation has been set so it has a reputation to uphold. Having said that, this beauty of a sidekick is very welcome in my book. The stories will come later, that’s just a matter of time. Though I didn’t stay at The Avani, I did visit their spa and sky bar. The massage area smells like heaven and has a much hipper interior and approach if you will. No traditional vibe like The Anantara, but a fresh, luxurious one. A true five star atmosphere.
Like I have stated before; massage techniques and the likelihood of enjoying them are very personal and I found more comfort at The Anantara. To each, their own I’d say. However, here’s something you cannot disagree with in a million years; the view at Avani’s sky bar is to die for. Not in a suicide-rate-kind-of-way (though it’s high enough to go out with a bang), but rather a cannot-breathe-it’s-so-pretty-up-here type of situation. With an infinity pool that stretches alongside one of it’s edges, this place serves great cocktails and let’s you enjoy one of the best eye-watering-situations I have been lucky enough to experience. Especially during sunset on a whimsically moody day, when the smog settles into a golden light that takes your breath away.
#3: The Peninsula
Peninsula; a piece of land almost surrounded by water. Or; one of my favorite hotels in Beverly Hills. It’s not only there you can find one though. New York, Paris, Hong Kong, you name it, they have one. Well, Bangkok does too and it is pretty as can be, so off I went to explore this link in the chain.
The bed: check. The bathroom: double check! (It was as big as my apartment and offered to dote on myself through mirrors with great lighting on both sides). The view: one heck of a holy check. I’m not much for heights when it comes to a living situation. However in a city like this, where the buildings are as high as my expectations, being on the twentieth floor or higher is a big plus. For the more grounded checks, there was the pool area: On point, but the water was too warm to find refuge from the heat. Breakfast buffet including mist sprinklers for the easily overheated folk like myself; checkity-check. And then my favorite (think perfectly swiped up pen-check you see on voting slips of those with OCD): the restaurant… After twelve hours on a plane and seeing spots from humidity meeting appetite, it was time for good food and God had I missed Thai curries and Tom Yum Goong! Our waitress was the absolute cutest and made sure we were okay every two minutes.
Maybe a little much when you’re trying to have a romantic dinner with your love, whom you haven’t seen in six weeks, but it was all with good intentions and the food was great. It allowed me to forget about all the European restaurants that have a Thai name but end up being Chinese. Next up: Back to The Peninsula Beverly Hills.
I am here to tell the tale of one of Lebua’s restaurants: Sirocco. Tun tun tun! (Think mid 70’s horror film sounds). Once upon a time, there was a restaurant that had me stunned and flabbergasted. It all started a month before my reservation when I had sent them an email and it’s follow up to ask some questions and never had the honor of getting a reply. We’re all busy, I get it, maybe it got stranded in spam. Moving on… When I arrived in Bangkok, I had tried to reserve a table and had been told there was absolutely no way my girlfriend and I could get one. After the concierge of our hotel tried, we were all set and were on our merry way. As we sat down and were asked if we would like flat or sparkling, I was preoccupied counting the (fourteen!!) tables that were unseated. “Sparkling please”, my partner in crime said in her friendliest voice.
Then the menus came. I had been here before, so I knew what to expect; it wasn’t going to be cheap, especially for Thai standards, but the food was going to be amazing and their service impeccable. Or so I thought… Apparently, a few things had changed.
The pricing on the food was through the roof, not to mention the wine list. As in; ‘shall I buy a bottle of wine and some food or a pair of Louboutins’-kind of expensive. And hey, I like my wines, but don’t mark up a bottle five times when I could just as well fly to Cape Town and drink it in the actual winery thank you very much.
So, shocked as we were, we decided to go for a small bite. We didn’t want to be rude and we had come all this way to enjoy a night in the warm breeze. Maybe share a starter and a main, have a cocktail…? That’s when the next eye popping-, jaw dropping moment came; this wasn’t allowed. We had to both (mandatorily) order two courses or leave. Uhum, how do I put this… Uhm, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING?!! I have been to many many many restaurants in my day and never have I ever been sent away for ordering something small. What if I’m just not that hungry and decided to join my friends to this ridiculous place?
We kindly declined the invitation to order more off the insane menu and in full awe of what had just happened, we asked for the bill. The sparkling water was a whopping twenty dollars. Wait, let me repeat that: There’s people dying of thirst in this world, as a matter of fact sixty- three floors down probably someone is, and this water is twenty dollars! But who knows, maybe there were crushed diamonds in it that are slowly scratching against my stomach’s walls so that I’ll die a slow, painful death and will never have to think about how horribly incompetent this situation was ever again. I felt robbed, degraded and okay, quite frankly a little amused, cause I was already telling this story in my head. Thank you Sirocco, for this amazing anecdote, that I will be telling all my friends, colleagues and acquaintances, of which not few have the money to buy the place and will be asking me for a great spot to eat in Bangkok. Now that’s a dusty storm. You’re welcome, the pleasure is all mine.