Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday



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The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Hit the ground walking

Hit the ground walking

Early Sunday morning, Bangkok. I’ll start with a confession. No, no, worry not. I didn’t get into trouble in a strange bar in a seedy soi, wake up with a puckering tattoo south of my waistband or find lifestyle refugees from Khabarovsk and Yekaterinburg passed out on the loungers outside my room. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that, for the first time in the 25 years that I’ve been travelling to the Thai capital, I hit the street at 06.45 and went for a proper walk. What had I been doing all these years? The early start made sense as the mercury was due to hit 40 by mid-afternoon. I set off in the direction of Sindhorn village, grabbed a coffee and made my way toward the newish Benchakitti Park. Along the way I watched the city come to life as street chefs started preparing fried rice dishes, kids made their way to Sunday classes or tennis lessons, dogs were taken out for tinkles, while runners and cyclists also took advantage of less sultry temperatures. Bangkok is not exactly walkable if you rely on the likes of Google Maps but if you use your instincts and have a rough idea of where you’d like to end up, it’s amazing how a city falls easily into place and you eventually home in on your desired destination. By the time that I had reached the Villa Market in K Village I’d covered about 10km, found a tasty looking street vendor frying eggs, settled on a shady perch and felt that I’d established a routine worth repeating. And that’s exactly what happened on Monday and Tuesday: new routes, superb architectural discoveries and a fresh appreciation for the city.Sunday evening, Bangkok. A solid jolt of “I could live like this” envy is always a good thing to keep ambitions in place and daydreams colourful. On my last visit to Bangkok I zipped past an amazing residential tower dubbed Windshell and made a note to visit it on my return. Fortunately my friend Chanintr was involved with the designs of two apartments so gaining access wasn’t difficult. The tricky part was leaving once I’d fallen for a sprawling, triple-height apartment that comes close to being one of the best that I’d ever seen, anywhere. Engineered to exploit cross breezes and reduce the need for air conditioning, the two residences that were orchestrated by Chanintr, his partner Belle and their colleagues at his namesake company had me rifling around in my pockets for loose change. If you’re in the market for a chic Bangkok set-up, I know just the people who can help. If you’re simply looking for an excellent place to drink and dine while contemplating whether to splash out on an airy Thai pad, Chanintr also has Café Craft – an exceptional new offering that specialises in classic Thai and international dishes – at the back of his company’s showroom compound in Thonglor. If our schedules agree, we might just host a little Monocle event there before the start of the summer break.Monday morning, The Forestias, a new community on the outskirts of Bangkok. Thailand has already proven that it knows how to run department stores (witness the Central Group’s takeover of most big European names: Rinascente, Selfridges, Illum et al) and now it is also gaining a reputation for conjuring up visions of what living might look like in the future. The Forestias is a new development near to the international airport that is being created as a multi-generational, fully integrated precinct with all the trimmings, from Six Senses villas to low-rise retirement residences. Created by Magnolia Quality Development Corporation (MQDC), it puts much of what’s on offer in the West to shame. On arrival we were greeted by a phalanx of handsome young men in olive-green jumpsuits and black, pointy go-go boots. We were then whisked along a pathway and up a sweeping staircase to a lovely café before being given a physical and virtual tour of what’s to come. If you’re planning the next and, dare I say final, chapter of your life, MQDC seems to have considered everything. It’s also worth a peek from a pure branding perspective.Monday evening, Bangkok. My colleague Gwen was the perfect host for a little Q&A that we held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand and it was a delight to meet local hacks as well as Monocle readers and listeners. The event was a good reminder of both the dynamism of Bangkok’s journalism community and the city’s potential for building new ventures.Tuesday evening, Zürich. Finally, three nights in a row at home. While it was good to escape the 40-degree heat of Bangkok, I couldn’t stop thinking about that apartment at Windshell.Thursday afternoon, Zürich. Spring – or something resembling early summer – has put in an appearance. The street outside The Monocle Café is packed, the rosé is flowing and it feels good to be back in the city as it shakes off the raindrops from the past six weeks.Friday midday, a Swiss 777 bound for Tokyo, somewhere over Turkey. I’m happy to report that the proper buffet trolley is back in the air and there’s a seafood extravaganza being served up by perky crew members who seem very happy with the service upgrade. The Spanish white goes well with the lobster tails and all seven episodes of The White Lotus.Saturday afternoon, outside Little Nap café in Tomigaya. I’m standing with my colleague Fiona (our Tokyo bureau chief), enjoying a late afternoon coffee and watching the dogs and funky Tokyoites ease into their Saturday evening. It’s a near-perfect picture of easy, agreeable urbanism. You should have joined us.

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