We started this day with pumpkin curry and stewed pork leg in Thailand’s rural rice fields, and ended it 350 kilometers away, surrounded by Bangkok’s big city lights. This is just one fascinating contrast in our recent travels in Thailand. For the night we stay at the Hilton Sukhumvit Hotel as we mark a significant milestone in our life here in Thailand. In the hotel lobby we meet with a property agent to complete a lease contract for our condo, nearby in the Asoke area. This had been our home for the past three years, but, with plans elsewhere, including our new home in Isaan, and further travels in Asia, it makes more sense to lease the condo, than to leave it empty. We instead opt to only visit Bangkok on passing, which will no doubt give us a new perspective on the city. Anyway, on this visit we begin with the Hilton Sukhumvit, a spanky new high-rise, found opposite the newly revived Phrom Phong area and newly branded Em District. This is one of the most exciting developments that Bangkok’s seen in decades. Anyway, after signing the lease in the hotel lobby, we reluctantly pull ourselves from the comfort of our guestroom luxuries, to indulge in cocktails at the Lapse Rooftop Pool Bar. It’s nice up here.
The Hilton is one of the newer additions to the Sukhumvit skyline and, having been built recently in 2013, it is refreshing, contemporary and offers all those state-of-the-art amenities which older hotels fail to. These include simple things like universal plug sockets, and the less simple, more innovative things, like built-in led TVs and many modern gadgets which, to be honest, I am clueless to. The newness of the hotel also suits its setting well where a rejuvenated Phrom Phong quickly builds around it. It is also in an area I have much attachment to as my first ever hotel stay was on Sukhumvit 24, and my first ever apartment was on Sukhumvit 22. It’s like my first home in Bangkok. But this was over 10 years ago, and very little changed since then, or at least until now.
Directly opposite the Hilton is the newly refurbished Emporium Mall, which is the flagship to the new developments in the area, although it has now been dwarfed by its successors. Connecting the Emporium is the Phrom Phong skytrain station, which now has extended walkways to navigate the new Em District, with its fancy new malls and flashing lights. The new big name here is EmQuartier, a beast of a mall that looks to be rivalling other big name mega malls from the Siam shopping district. It is impressive and the Helix foodcourts are alone worth the visit. Anyway, this is only the beginning of the new Em District, where there’s a somewhat overambitious development plan coming to fruition. There’s even a new theme park called Dinosaur Planet which I’m probably too old for. The new area is also being dubbed the ‘Epicentre of Sukhumvit’ and the Hilton Sukhumvit already sits in place next to it all. We get to watch from above, at the drop-off of the infinity pool, while sipping Mojitos.
Many of our Bangkok stories these days involve over-eating, or over-drinking, or both. Today will be no different. So executive lounges are quickly becoming one of my favorites things in life, where you more or less are given as much food and drink as you please. I, of course, see this as a challenge and, at the Hilton, we make full use of these privileges. Having eaten nothing but home cooked Thai food, for two weeks straight, I was also desperate for some international cuisines. I go to town on complimentary cocktails, wines, cheeses, nibbles, cold cuts, international beers, and this was all before the evening, when we had been invited to the opening of the new Mondo terrace bar, where Diageo was launching a new range of spirits in Bangkok. It did mean a night surrounded by PR people, suits, foodies and trendy folk, which sounds horrible I know, but there was also free booze. Anyway, it was a messy night in the end and we only leave the hotel for one quick run to the nearby 7-11 in search of Eno fruit salts. But, in all, it had to be one of the most exciting 24 hours I’ve had in a long time and was the perfect reintroduction to the city.