Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bangkok - A dandy day of luxe brunches and tailors

Brad and I officially started our first overseas trip together, and his first visit to South East Asia, on the 3rd of July. I had arrived in Bangkok on the 1st, first, as I had a few other work related things to attend, and Brad flew up on the 3rd. 

Yes I swear. The two above pictures are work related. Kinda. I might have eaten a lot too.

I have to say, I was nervous! Would we last a whole month together in each other's presence 24/7? Could he put up with my shopping habits when I'm travelling? WOULD HE GET LOST ON THE WAY TO THE HOTEL FROM THE AIRPORT?! 

It took everything I had when I got to the hotel that would be home for a week, not to send up a slew of text messages, to find out where he was, if he had taken the train okay or if he knew which way to walk and if needed me to go out to find him. I was hopping from foot to foot in our room, until I saw him from the window and ran down to meet him. 

Yeah, I'm a little pedantic and easily stressed out. Fortunately Brad's the opposite, so between the two of us there was a calm balance…somewhere…

Great big comfy beds! Slept like a baby here! <3

We stayed in the Citypoint hotel, which was an awesome little place! For around $60 a night, we had an incredibly new, clean, modern and spacious room, with free speedy wifi, located right next to Sukhumvit Road, that was literally a 2 minute walk from the closest BTS Skytrain and MRT station (I timed it), and right across the road from the Terminal 21 mall, perfect for picking up little essentials here and there. We took the BTS or MRT to just about everywhere, it's just that convenient. I think we only took a cab about 2 or 3 times in our 7 night stay!

My dad also stayed at the same hotel shortly after we did, and absolutely loved it. Highly recommended! 

I had opted for us to stay in Bangkok for 7 nights, instead of flying to somewhere else domestically as Bangkok is really one of those vibrant and lively cities, with many different personalities, where there's plenty to do and see (and eat of course) and also lots of opportunities for day trips to cities outside of Bangkok. And for Brad who was a first timer to the area, it ended up working out really well. 

We had a fairly lazy first day together in Bangkok. Brad had just gotten off an overnight flight, and I had had only 4 hours of sleep due to partying and then jetlag, which had me up much earlier than desired. 

We met up with my friends at the Sukhothai Hotel for an incredibly sumptuous brunch. Damn that place is huge!

In a room that looked like it belonged to kings, with a pianist tinkling at the keys, we had one of the most luxurious brunches I had come across in a long time. From delicious Thai curries, where we had a selection of white, red or black rice (the black rice proved to be particularly nutty and delightful), to roast beef, prosciutto sliced to order, a ridiculous cheese selection with fresh honeycomb you scoop out yourself and foie gras cooked to order…well, the world was on offer for your plate. I definitely didn't take enough pictures of this place.

A luxe brunch/lunch naturally meant a luxe nap afterwards, which I think both our bodies sorely needed!

Before we left Melbourne, Brad thought it might be a good idea to get a tailor made suit. We were originally looking at getting it made in Hoi An, but mum reminded me that Bangkok is also very well known for good suits and tailoring and since we were in Bangkok for longer…Bangkok it was! 

Like many things, particularly in Asia, it's worth doing a bit of research before you jump in. Even along the length of Sukhumvit Road, you will find endless amount of tailors, many, during the day, with young men seated in front of them, who will call you 'friend', ask to shake your hand, and of course, buy a $100 suit. It don't feel right, so don't do it. Or that's what I reckon anyway.

After a bit of googling, and with a few reputable, recommended names in hand, we strolled down Sukhumvit Road to see which tailor we would come across first.

Sukhumvit is an interesting street, it is pretty touristy, and at night, there are plenty of pretty young things with long legs, short skirts and high heels strutting around, trying to get the attention of the caucasian tourists or expats that may be in the area. Brad and I continuously played the ever amusing game of: woman or man? You really can't tell sometimes! Even my Thai friend who lives in Bangkok says that, while they can usually tell 90% of the time, they still get surprised 10% of the time! I frankly find it quite fascinating and am often jealous at how good the ladyboys are at dolling up!

We eventually got to Soi 8 (Sois are the little side streets on Sukhumvit. Even numbers are on one side and odd on the other), where Crown Tailors could be found amongst a few spas and street food vendors. It wasn't too flashy from the outside and there was no one trying to hustle us in…just what we were looking for. 

Inside the brightly lit and simply elegant store, Raj was soft spoken, straight to the point and not pushy in the slightest. Brad didn't really know what he was after, which meant I could dictate what I wanted him to have. Teehee. We had to flip through a couple of the style books at the store to get a visual reference for what we were after. 

When choosing the suit there are three choices in quality of fabric, which meant three choices in price. The cheapest material was about 20% wool and 80% polyester, whilst the most expensive was about 80% wool and 20% cotton or polyester (I don't remember). We ended up choosing one of the materials from the cheapest range, largely because the colour we liked was only available in that range (I demanded he get a light grey suit, none of this navy business!)…and well, it was cheaper. We ain't lawyers here. Although there was a lawyer from Sydney buying his suits from the same tailor…that's got to be a good sign right?

So Raj took all of Brad's measurements, confirmed what we wanted for the lapel, collar, cuffs, pleats, darts, pockets, buttons, lining…(there are a lot of decisions to be made when getting a suit made), we made a 50% deposit on the suit (our total, with one tailor made shirt included, came to around AUD 220) and made an appointment for the first fitting in two days. Crown Tailors kept it all simple. 

Whilst I will go into more detail in future posts, to give a quick summary, we were very happy with how Crown Tailors did their work and are very glad to have used their services. They obviously have a lot of pride in what they do and are incredibly detail orientated, to really make sure your suit perfectly fits you. They noticed so many things we didn't at the 3 fittings Brad had, but it really makes all the difference at the end. 

And no, I won't show you the suit right now. Have to leave some suspense right? 

We had asked Raj to recommend somewhere to eat for dinner, and he pointed us to a restaurant that was part of the Grand Business Inn (I think). To be frank, it is quite unremarkable and I probably wouldn't recommend it to others. But if you stay close by and want a nice hot tom yum soup, that was the one thing that was quite decent. 

The green curry was a bit too thick and herbaceous in flavour. Pad thai was okay, but not the best I had had, a little bit too dry for me I think. I wanted it sticky! 

I think we were both too tired to really care though! At the very least the beer was cold and the meal was cheap. My gosh the wallet loves eating out in Asia! 

Fresh icy cold coconuts, bought from street vendors are just perfect. Perfect. 

I was going to combine our first two days into one post…but I've had a lot more to say that I expected to, so you'll just have to wait for the next instalment, which will have truckloads more pictures, which I'm also sure will temple you out! 

The Sukhothai Bangkok
13/3 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok

13 Sukhumvit Road Soi 8, Bangkok 10110