Naphalai's Diary: December 31-January 6
A belated Happy New Year.
Hope you all had a good one and all the very best for the year ahead. I missed the previous week's diary posting as the week between Christmas and New Year is always very quiet—that is for events. Although we had Christmas off on Tuesday, we were back in the office—well most of us anyway—for the rest of the week and it was a good time to clear up any backlog.
As is usual around this time, we also welcomed a host of visitors stopping by with holiday season gifts of cakes, cookies and heaps of other goodies. It's so nice to feel appreciated. Thank you so much to all who have visited us and also to those who will be coming in the next few weeks. No, gift-giving doesn't end with New Year Day for us pampered media members (I know that's what you are thinking).
I had almost given up hope of any cool weather this year, but what do you know, Mother Nature decided to be beneficent and granted us some really nice days. But she got a bit carried away with her generosity and also brought tropical storm Pabuk, which hit the southern provinces quite hard. Although it was one of the most severe storms to hit the country in recent years, the casualty rate was limited to four fatalities, thank goodness. Relief efforts are ongoing to help those affected and we hope they will receive the help they need to get back on their feet as soon as possible.
The lower temperature was a good time to do things that required being outdoors. I had wanted to visit the Un Ai Rak winter fair at Suan Amporn but didn't fancy walking in the heat. But when I received an invitation last week from Dr Kritika Kongsompong, wife of the army chief, to go with her and a group of friends, I quickly said yes. We first met at her house where she had prepared tea, champagne and cheese as well as make-up artists and stylists to dress everyone in the style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I had to dig deep into my wardrobe to find something appropriate—which turned out to be merely passable when compared to some of the other ladies, but I was not going to spend over 5,000 baht to rent a costume (that's the rate I was quoted) to walk around in for a few hours.
We then left in a convoy of five vans to the 1st Army headquarters just next to Suan Amporn, where we were received with tea and nibbles. An escort led the way to the fair ground. No hassles with having to park far away from the venue like everyone else—now you know why I was quick to accept the invitation from the army commander's wife. The VIP treatment continued as we went from booth to booth set up by the different ministries, government organisations and public sector.
The majority of visitors at the fair were dressed in period costume, all it seemed with the intention of getting the best photos against the backdrops of settings during the period of Rama V and VI. We spent over two hours walking around—and in the meantime posing for loads of photos as Kritika had organised a photographer to follow us around while Somsak Chalachol had someone with him to take both photos and videos. Later we returned to the hostess's house where a khao tom spread was laid out complete with keyboard player and singer to keep the party going. Now that's what I call the perfect outing.
And that was not my only one. Last Saturday I went to Jim Thompson Farm in Nakhon Ratchasima. I had always wanted to go to this agro-cultural tourism destination highlighting the Isan way of life which the company opens to the public for a month each year. With Sunday being the last day and since the weather was so nice I decided to go with my sister and her son. The drive took almost four hours each way, not helped by the construction work on a huge overpass bridge along the Mitrapab Highway. Located on 600 rai of land, visitors can wander through a multi-coloured organic fruit and vegetable garden, fruit and art installations, an Isan village and the Jim Thompson market. It was very pleasant to sit under the trees at the village enjoying roast chicken, som tum and other northeastern delicacies.
Final Farewell For Dusit Thani
The first was a Christmas party hosted by Dusit Thani general manager Titiya Chooto, the hotel’s final swansong before it closed this past weekend for redevelopment. It was a bit of a nostalgic affair, with long-time guests and clients attending. I missed the farewell held earlier, so it was good to be able to attend this occasion to say goodbye to a city landmark that has been around for almost 50 years. Also joining in were the Dusit’s Chanin Donavanik and his wife Vipada.
An Arts Gala Dinner
There was also a thank-you party organised by Lalisa Chongbarami, president of the Stream of the Arts to Foster the Thai Artists Foundation, for supporters of the foundation’s charity gala dinner held in early December at the Peninsula hotel. Food stands had been set up in the garden of her place on Sukhumvit 39, which also serves as a studio and gallery. A band made up of some of the artists provided the music to accompany anyone who wanted to sing. Enjoying themselves were Thidej Maithai and his wife Siriluck Phatraprasit who I must say gave very good performances.
I am not looking forward to the next few weeks as, in addition to the February issue, we also have to close our annual Society and Expat Society publications. No rest once those are out of the way either, as this is followed by our annual restaurant guide, Thailand Tatler Best Restaurants. I am going to have to curtail my attendance at events until all these publications are finished. How I wish I could start my new year differently!
(Previously: Naphalai's Diary: December 17-23)