Getting a dress made in Bangkok – Tailors for Women

For a while I have been eying up a dress in the window of a shop near Asoke. Given that one of the things on ‘my to do before I am 30 list’ is to have a dress made, I decided this was reason enough to explore my options.

Let me tell you shopping has never been more fun. Getting a dress made in Bangkok means you can chose the colours, the fabric, and the best thing is that they take the measurements in Thai and despite learning numbers in last weeks lessons I didn’t catch a word, so I have no idea how fat I am!

I went to Atelier Azzurro (http://www.azzurrotailor.com/), and they were fantastic. The best thing is that instead of being run by men who have no idea about women’s fashion, I was greeted by a young woman who had been trained in Milan and had designed some of the dresses in the window.

I picked a navy dress with a silver sash, that she had designed based on some of the clothes she saw on the TV show Mad Men. The fact that she watches Mad Men was exciting enough!

I had barely been measured for my first dress when I was planning my next dress, a slightly modified version from the Louis Vuitton AW10 campaign…

After a week I went back for my first fitting. They tend to make things slightly too big and then pin you in on the first fitting. I took a picture in the changing room, which doesn’t look that impressive, I just wanted a before pic:

I went back a week later for my final  fitting and it fitted perfectly. Now I need to plan afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental and cocktails at the Sky Bar to show it off. And save my pennies for dress number two!!!

I loved the extra detailing: little poppers under the top to keep your bra straps in place, and the face you can order more coloured sashes to

 

This week, I also purchased a slightly cheaper dress from an amazing stall near the underground. The stall owner seems to hunt down the best vintage dresses from around Bangkok and I always want to stop and have a look first thing before all the good things go (which would make me late for work). On my way home the other night I found an amazing spotty dress, a bargain at roughly £7. And it fits! However it was long enough for two of me, so I decided to try out my local sewing machine lady.

This is not MY sewing machine lady!

Dotted all over the city are ladies and their Singer sewing machines. On Sukhumvit Soi 18 we have a double act who work in the shade of a large tree near the Rembrandt Hotel: the sewing lady and the shoe repair man. I dropped my dress off (communicating mainly with nods and sign language) and then 24 hours later I picked it up. She had done a great job of taking it up and it only cost £2.

When I moved here I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fit into anything, and my experience with the XXL sport shorts only made it worse. But on my last trip to the weekend market (JJ) I found some cool t shirts and interesting clothes stalls run by independent Thai designers (no Chang t shirt for me!) and now with the dress making and the vintage shop I have found my new shopping heaven!

The Alchemist Bar – Sukhumvit Soi 11

I seem to be spending a lot of time on the Cheap Charlie’s sub soi of Sukhumvit 11, so I was excited to find a new bar squeezed into the street. The Alchemist’s décor is basic but comfortable, with space to sit both inside and outside.

The bar is named after the famous book by Paulo Coelho. Whilst I have to admit that I found the book slightly too new-age for my liking – the quotes that they have chosen for the walls of the bar are intriguing enough to spark some interesting conversations. The Alchemist play some great music too (the owners are former DJs). The staff are friendly and attentive and even though it said order at the bar they still came over and served us at our table.

In another nod to their name the focus is mainly cocktails (around 200 Baht). They have added their own twist to some of the classics and have a few specials they mixed themselves. The drinks went down well at our table, and they also serve beer and wine at bargain prices too.

The Alchemist great place for some casual drinks after dinner if you are not in the mood to hit some of the more pretentious bars along soi 11. It is more of a band t shirt than a bandage dress (which suits me fine) and I could have easily wiled away a few more hours there.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Alchemist, 1/19 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok, Thailand (Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight) Phone: 083-549-2055

Chu – Best brunch in Bangkok

Chu Chocolate Cafe is easily my favourite place to eat Brunch in Bangkok. Situated in Exchange Tower on the Asoke Junction it is easily accessible via the sky train, and unlike some of the fancier brunch locations you can turn up looking a bit worse for wear in your flip-flops. Most of the time booking aren’t needed, so you can have that extra long lie in if needed.

Chu’s has been open for almost two years and it has always been a favourite place of ours for tea and cake. Recently we’ve been coming more and more frequently to load up on carbs and sweet treats on Sunday mornings. There is always tons of English reading material (BK Magazine, The Nation, Bangkok Post and others), free wi-fi and comfy chairs to lose yourself in. The choice of music and films running is delightfully eclectic and always makes me feel that I would be good friends with whoever is making the selection.

The main reason we keep coming back to Chu is the amazing food. They serve great versions of the usual breakfast fare (Pancakes, American Breakfast, blueberry muffins) but  we tend to go for the dishes that stand out from the every day crowd, such as the egg white frittata with smoked salmon, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and caramelised onion, French toast with cream cheese and fresh strawberries and blueberries or lemon curd, paninis with beef and mozarella and the light and crispy churros with cinnamon sugar that give the café its name.

The ingredients used are a huge part of what makes it taste so great. French butter and chocolate, light and fluffy breads, fresh fruit and quality cheese. The coffee is tasty too with a great selection of tea (with free hot water refills). The drink selection is almost as impressive as the food but it takes a lot to sway me from their dreamy chocolate drinks.

The only two niggles I have with Chu are its less than romantic location (in an office block) and that they keep the air con on so high. Perhaps it’s to hurry the customers on their way, as it would be easy for brunch to segue into afternoon tea and perhaps even dessert themed cocktails.

Chu, 2nd floor of Exchange Tower, Ratchadaphisek Road (Asok intersection)  
Mon – Fri 7:30am – 9:30pm; Sat – Sun 9am – 9pm

Yoga in Bangkok – Getting Bendy

I’ve never been very sporty and I use being an August baby as an excuse for why I am not very good at anything that involves moving in any way that could be suggested as a form of exercise. I have been to the gym once in six months and I don’t use our pool half as much I should. It has come as a surprise to even me that I have been able to keep up with regular yoga classes. Now I know many people don’t consider yoga to be an actual sport, but given that it has been suggested for the Olympics, that during my classes I sweat and I occasionally ache afterwards I’m counting it as one.

I have been going for around six months now and I still look forward to it. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, I very much enjoy the non competitive nature of it. If I can’t be bothered stretching my arms all the way down to the ground I can use a block, and if I am feeling very lazy I just bend my knees when you’re not meant to.

A few months ago I read an article in the New York Times warning that yoga was bad for your health as you can push your body too far. It mentions that you can slip a disk of damage you knee joints. Whilst I am sure this can happen, the teachers that I have had in Thailand teach the class at a kind of multi-level, and they don’t make you feel bad if you cannot get into a particular position. You might not be able to wrap your leg around your head, but you can certainly stretch in the right direction. My friend tells me that Asian people are more stretchy than me, something about extra elastic tendons… This reassures me when everyone around me can do both the Malasana pose and the Downward Dog pose with flat feet and I can’t even get off my tip-toes!

Another thing I love about yoga is how relaxed I feel after it. As someone who usually has a thousand thoughts a minute it’s great to spend 90 minutes focusing on my terrible balance or trying to slide along the mat whilst balancing on my hands (how come everyone else can do the Cobra pose so elegantly?!). I’ve managed to learn enough of the poses so that I can now manage at least 30 minutes of yoga by myself. Admittedly I have only done this twice, but I’m hopeful.

Yoga has also made me look better. It may not be the best way to shift the pounds but when you go from spending most of your life sitting to doing any kind of exercise there are bound to be some physical benefits.

Although up until recently I was attending yoga at the Racquet club at Thong Lor I have recently discovered The Yoga Place. Situated on Thong Lor and only a 20 minute walk from my house. It’s a really great place, you can turn up to any lessons and it’s just 350 Baht (7 GBP). The teachers are really lovely, and there is a cute café on the ground floor with after exercise suitable foods like smoothies, salads and soups. I recommend a visit, even if  you only are in town for a short time!

Friday Night Celebrations

After many sleepless nights and intensive studying Dan has finally finished (and passed) his course, so it was time to celebrate. It hasn’t been an easy four weeks for him, the CELTA seems to pack in more work than the other TEFL course but in the same amount of time. One of the girls on his course even collapsed because it was so much work! So congratulations Mr Coleman, I always knew you could do it!!

To celebrate we  went to a bar just around the corner from our flat called Bar 23, which apparently used to be on Soi 23 and when it moved to Soi 16 it just kept the name so people wouldn’t get confused!  It is confusing! From the outside it looks like a run down grocery store or similar, but the decor inside is far more interesting, art that wouldn’t look out of place in the Tate Modern, Animé characters in shrines and fish in vodka bottles.

Dan is dancing somewhere in this pic!!!

 Not only had we found an awesomely cool bar only a hundred yards from our house, we were also lucky enough to be there on J Pop night, with live music from Rojo Regalo, who may or may not be big in Japan (probably not).  Now it may have been the extra strong G&Ts but I thought they sounded pretty good.

At 11.30 the smoke and noise got too much for me and I stumbled home. I miss the UK’s no smoking policy! It was a very clear night and I could see Orion directly above my head! It was nice to see some stars as Bangkok tends to be smoggy or cloudy most of the time. I also tried to capture the monstrous size of our tower block. You really do feel small when walking amongst them.