Naphalai’s Diary: February 18-24
Thais are crazy about all things Japanese.
Just look at the number of our countrymen who visit the Land of the Rising Sun, which, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization, reached 1.1 million last year and was the highest among Southeast Asian countries. During Thailand’s long weekends and other holiday periods, it is not unusual to hear Thai being spoken on the streets of Tokyo as in Bangkok. Meanwhile, in our fair land, Japanese restaurants pop up on most corners especially in Bangkok, with Japanese products available at the ubiquitous convenience stores all the way to two large Nippon department stores.
Now we have an entire mall dedicated to Japanese speciality stores. The shopping and amusement complex Donki Mall Thonglor was unveiled last week, a joint venture between Pan Pacific Retail Management, TOA Venture Holding and Nippon Parking Development. With five floors of eating, drinking, sundry and beauty shops plus an indoor sports and event facility, the over 30 tenants include Don Don Donki, a Japanese specialty store for a wide variety of products that has become a must-visit for visitors to Japan. The opening ceremony drew a huge crowd of guests all of whom were eager to begin shopping.
Lunch With Piaget's New Manager Director
Other than that, last week was a relatively quiet week for me event-wise as we were closing our March issue, which meant I had to stay in to finish the work. But I did join in a press lunch for Petronille de Parseval, the new managing director of Piaget for Australia and Southeast Asia, who was in Bangkok to show the latest high jewellery collection to clients. It was good to meet her, but it would have been better if we had been able to see the new collection too. The lunch was at the Waldorf Astoria’s The Brasserie.
The New Maserati Quattroporte
I also turned up for Maserati’s launch of the new Quattroporte at Park Hyatt Bangkok. First introduced in 1963, this is the sixth generation of the luxury sport sedan which is offered in GranLusso and GranSport trims. The event organised by MGC Corporation, distributor of Maserati in Thailand, welcomed as guest of honour Italian ambassador HE Lorenzo Galanti.
Bye L'Appart, Hello Belga!
Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit’s 32nd floor restaurant has changed its nationality from French to Belgian. L’Appart was meant to resemble an apartment in Paris but today it is a Belgian rooftop bar and brasserie named Belga. Opened last week, it calls itself Bangkok’s first Belgian-themed brasserie, with an open kitchen and a copper beer tap that pours each month’s special beer in addition to over 30 other Belgian varieties available here. Other than beer, waffles are another well-known export and I must say those here are among the best.
Bangkok Wine Expo
From beers to wines, I also attended the Bangkok Wine Expo at the Shangri-La Bangkok. This is an annual event organised by Napaphan Wine Cellar that allows wine lovers to sample some of the best labels from around the world. This year over 300 labels from 30 countries exhibited, with ambassadors and guests rubbing shoulders with sommeliers and wine makers.
Interviewed By Monocle, Part Deux
The week ended with an interview by The Stack, Monocle’s radio show from London, which aired on Saturday about Thailand Tatlerand its role as a luxury society magazine. You can listen to it here. This is the second time I have been interviewed by Monocle, the first a year ago in its print publication. Great that we are known beyond Thailand and Asia.
(Previously: Naphalai's Diary: February 11-17)