Naphalai's Diary: July 22-28
The Land of the Thunder Dragon
The name conjures images that are magical and mystical. And the country itself is like a place stuck in time. Bhutan is high on the bucket list of many tourists, but with its "high value, low impact" policy, it doesn't really welcome all visitors with open arms. Which is why Bulgari, in trying to give its clients and media an unparalleled experience, chose this tiny Himalayan kingdom for the regional launch of its Cinemagia high jewellery collection.
Although this was not my first visit to Bhutan, having been invited for the inauguration of the Queen Mother's Royal Textile Museum in 2013, I was still excited to be going back to this country where the air is clean, there is negative carbon emission and its growth is based on how happy the people are. Even more exciting was the fact that we were supposed to have had the chance to meet with and interview members of the royal family including HM the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. Unfortunately, there was a death in the family days before we were due to arrive which resulted in none of them able to be present.
On the day of arrival, we had dinner at Terma Linca, a stunning resort by Thimphu River that is owned by the Queen Mother. Bulgari had arranged the local kira (ladies’) and tego (men’) outfits for us and dressed in those clothes while dining on a Bhutanese menu in a traditional setting, we felt transported to another world. Joining us was Dorji Dhradhul, director general of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, who explained the core of brand Bhutan was the monarchy, the happiness concept and respect for nature.
The next day we were taken to Six Senses Thimphu, a resort on the mountainside with stunning views all around, where a room had been turned into a Bulgari high jewellery showroom. The team from Rome consisting of creative director Lucia Silvestri, high jewellery senior director Giampaolo Della Croce and managing director of the jewellery business unit Mauro Di Roberto introduced the Cinemagia collection inspired by Bulgari’s links to the movie world. Following the launch of Fiorever last year, which focused on diamond pieces, Cinemagia this year presented coloured stones and the big three: emeralds, blue sapphires and rubies. And they are really big and beautiful, something that should resonate well with the Chinese tai tais and Thai khun nais in the region. It is good to know that the Asia Tatlers are well regarded by Bulgari as, other than myself, there were two more representatives, Lily Ong from Malaysia Tatler and Hashirin Nurin Hashimi from Singapore Tatler.
With the work part done, we were taken on a whiz sightseeing tour of Thimphu, with a stop at Buddha Point with the largest sitting Buddha in the world and participation in a prayer flag hanging experience. We managed to slip in a stop at a souvenir shop as well, although that was rather disappointing as most of the products can be found at stores in Bangkok. Then on Sunday, it was time to fly home after an all-too-short visit.
Alex Albon For Moose Craft Cider
Before leaving for Bhutan, I did my usual round of events. Four of them were at The Emporium/The EmQuartier, which meant I was there every day, from Monday to Thursday. That’s where my free parking card comes in handy. Anyway, the first was the introduction of Thai-English F1 driver Alex Albon as the brand ambassador for Moose Craft Cider and partnership with the Scuderia Toro Rosso team. Importer Siam Winery COO Christopher Carter announced the collaboration and unveiled the racing car with the Moose logo with Alex and the team’s Franz Tost. I just had to get Alex’s autograph as this young driver is tipped to be the next F1 champion.
Mi Casa Es Su Casa
The next day, Issue, a 20-year-old fashion brand, hosted a party at Flamenco on The EmQuartier’s ninth floor to launch its Mi Casa Es Su Casa application as well as the Frida and Friends capsule collection. Creative director Pupawit Kritpolnara loves colour and bold prints and the guests who turned up in his outfits created a mass of bright and striking colours.
Citi Mercedes Credit Card
This was followed by the launch of the Citi Mercedes card on Wednesday, featuring three brand endorsers: young businesswoman Apinara Srikarnchana, TV personality and DJ Puwanart Kunpalin and singer-turned businessman Burin Boonvisut. Flying in for the launch was Sergio Zanatti, Citi Asia Pacific cards and loans region head who was joined by Citi Thailand top management as well as Roland Folger, president and CEO of Mercedes Benz Thailand. I am a client of both companies so was quick to apply for the co-branded card—especially when it offers privileges such as a discount for repairs and free car wash once a month.
Chloe C Bag
And finally, fashion brand Chloe presented its fall collection and the C bag, designed by Natasha Ramsay-Levi, at the boutique at Emporium. Distributor A-List’s CEO Danai Sorakraikitikul invited guests who turned up for dinner at Chingcha Charlee followed by an after-party at Flamenco.
What a bath!
Of course there weren’t events only at the Emporium and I also went for the preview of the Ritz-Carlton Residences at King Power Mahanakhon. The freehold units at this super-luxury condominium start from 135 sqm to 447 sqm with a residential club lounge on the 54th floor. The iconic pixelated building also houses the Mahanakhon Skywalk and Skybar.
Then there was also a mooncake-making demonstration at Shangri-La, the only one I was able to attend among those hosted by hotels for this annual festival. Most hotels and restaurants in Bangkok offer mooncakes from now until mid-September, with many experimenting with unique new flavours.
Mia In Action
Finally, I attended the press preview of a new restaurant, Mia on Sukhumvit 26 near K Village. Fans of Freebird and Suhring will remember chefs Top Pongcharn Russell and Michelle Goh who are now collaborating with chef Julien Imbert from London to present ingredient-driven international cuisine. Located in a house, there is a bar and the Mia dessert counter on the ground floor while upstairs there are three richly decorated dining rooms: Floral, Colour and Dark Rooms each designed to provide different dining experiences.
Private Photoshoot With Asava
Oh, nearly forgot. I also went to the photoshoot of Polpat Asavaprapha and Suquan Bulakul for a regional story about bespoke fashion designers and their muse, to run in all eight editions in September. Polpat, or Moo, designs for his brand Asava and is as well president of the Bangkok Fashion Society. I don’t always turn up at fashion shoots but in this case I did, at the Asava head office, as he is a great supporter. Check out the beautiful pictures in the September issue.
Previously: Naphalai's Diary: July 15-21