Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Personal shoppers and room service in Bangkok

This afternoon, I decided to avail of a service that the Banyan Tree Bangkok offers its guests: the services of a personal shopper for three hours to accompany you wherever you wish for shopping in Bangkok. I'd made an appointment with Nat, my assigned personal shopper, late in the afternoon after a relaxing day at the spa and a bit of work on the next issue of Travelife Magazine in the privacy of my suite. As you know, shopping can be a great, if not temporary, panacea for all kinds of ills, imagined or otherwise. Many a female has gotten a headache or a stomachache cured just by a visit to a shopping mall or -- better yet -- an outlet mall.


Well, my personal shopper appointment this afternoon came at exactly the right time. I'd been having a semi-serious BBM conversation between Bangkok and Manila that was giving me just a bit of a stomachache, and just then I felt like I needed some fresh air. That's when Nat appeared and off we went in a car to run through my list of shopping destinations as quickly but as thoroughly as possible.

The first stop was the Jim Thompson outlet in the outskirts of the city. It usually takes about an hour to get there by car from where I was; but this week is the week of Songkran holidays and many locals have already disappeared into the country or to foreign climes. So we used the expressway and practically zoomed across town, arriving in just under 15 minutes. If only Bangkok was always like this.


The Jim Thompson outlet is housed in a rather nondescript building. It has four floors of items on sale, with two floors for textiles and two floors for gift items, clothing and interior items. As with most outlets, many of the items are marked down significantly because they didn't sell well enough in the regular stores, so I found the selection so-so. I was hoping to pick up some beachwear and a few scarves, but nothing made my heart beat faster. I ended up buying a few gifts and some things for the dining table.

Mind you, even at the outlet, Jim Thompson products aren't cheap. But of course, they're the best quality you can find in Thailand. These products are very popular with tourists and lots of Thais buy at Jim Thompson when they need to give someone a pretty impressive gift.

The Jim Thompson house in Bangkok, by the way, is my favorite sightseeing destination in this city. I've been several times and I never tire of seeing it as it's one the most beautiful traditional Thai houses in Bangkok and it's impeccably maintained. I always come away from a visit here wishing to renovate my own house and add just a few more antiques to my generally modern and contemporary layout. Jim Thompson products, by the way, are especially loved by the Japanese. In fact, in my short time at the outlet mall, there were about three groups of Japanese in the store.


My next stop was Paragon Mall, home to a slew of designer boutiques, lots of high-quality local shops, and the Paragon department store. On the top floor of Paragon department store is a large section of fine Thai goods under the section called Exotique Thai. If you're looking for a one-stop shop for traditional Thai goods, this is definitely the place to go. This offers an impressive selection of handicrafts and high-quality products from all over Thailand. I so wanted to buy an entire set of Benjarong dining ware and lots of celadon ware, as well as a couple of decorative Buddhas. Unfortunately, my luggage is already completely stuffed with Sri Lankan sarees, so I'm overweight and there's not much room left for bulky products.

It was very nice to shop at Paragon as almost every store was on a Songkran sale. Tomorrow is the first day of Songkran, the Thai New Year, and it's going to be full of merrymaking everywhere. There's also going to be a lot of water-throwing all over the country -- a much-loved practice among Thais during Songkran. I've been warned not to go out of my hotel, and to wear old clothes, bring extra shirts and keep the camera and Blackberry in the hotel room if I actually decide to venture out as I will probably get doused with a pail of water by happy Thais. Fortunately, I'm not planning to leave my hotel tomorrow except to take the hotel car to the airport. Yes, my journey this time ends tomorrow and I'm finally flying back to Manila.

By the time I finished with Paragon it was way past regular dinner time and so I had to chuck out the remaining shops on my list.


"Why don't you have really good Thai food tonight?" My friend J in Manila had earlier suggested, before we closed our BBM conversation for the afternoon. It was his way of making me feel better as I'd been in a lousy mood that afternoon. He even ventured to suggest a restaurant that I should try. I actually had a couple of options and two people on standby as dinner companions. But I knew exactly what I really wanted to do -- and neither involved fancy dining nor socializing.

After weeks and weeks of eating out and eating with other people, all I wanted was to return to my suite at the Banyan Tree and order room service. I returned to my room just before 9 pm and the first thing I did was to scan the room service menu. What a great menu they have. It's not large, but they offer the best food from their seven outlets via room service so you can eat very well without having to dress up and leave your room. Tempting as it was to do a repeat of last night's special Banyan Tree Dine Around dinner in the privacy of my suite, I skipped all the other restaurants and opened the page to Saffron, the hotel's famous Thai restaurant, and ordered a prawn green curry. It's my last night in Thailand and of course I needed to have real Thai curry before I leave.

When my dinner arrived, I had the waiter arrange it on this huge lounging sofa in my living room. Then I changed into comfy clothes, sat crossed-legged on the sofa, and turned on the television set to cable. I can't even remember when I last watched TV at leisure; and even tonight, it's not exactly leisure as I'm back on my computer again. But for about 30 minutes, I had good food, alone time and pure bliss. And my Blackberry.

Interested in the Travelife Turkey Tours
for May 2011?
Click here to watch an interview on ANC
with Christine Cunanan,
Travelife Magazine Publisher

Travelife's Special Summer Issue
with Angel Aquino in Boracay
Angel Aquino in Bora
for Travelife Magazine's April-May 2011 issue


1 comment:

  1. Now, I really prefer to buy everything from Thailand now, this is where I buy my stuff, for $20 "Personal Shopper Bangkok" (Google it I don't have the exact link) will go shopping for you (anything), cheap and good, I would love to find the same cheap service in Paris or New York !!!