Football fever has gripped the country.
Even I was roped into participating although I am not by any measure a fan of football. I was invited for Pride, the FIFA World Cup Russia opening ceremony dinner, which I would normally not attend but, in addition to the Russian embassy and King Power, the main organiser was Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz, chairman of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Foundation. Count Gerry is a charming man who loves to host parties and this keen football fan wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to put on a splendid bash. It was too, a glamorous dark suit-evening gown affair at the ballroom of The Athenee Hotel.
Starting with welcome addresses by Count Gerry and Russian ambassador HE Kirill Barsky, the gala dinner came with nothing less than caviar, lobster and other gourmet specialities. I especially enjoyed the Russian borscht (beet soup) as I am trying to stay healthy. Which also meant that I had to get my eight hours of sleep, so I didn’t stay for the kick-off between Russia and Saudi Arabia. However I did take home with me the soft toy souvenir of the 2018 world Cup mascot, the Russian zabivaka wolf, which I understand, is very popular at the moment.
From Football To Coffee
I can’t believe Starbucks opened its doors in Thailand 20 years ago and during that time, has turned the country into a nation of coffee lovers. To celebrate the occasion, the company opened its largest concept store at CentralWorld, featuring a Starbucks Reserve Bar and the first in Asia to offer the four-tap Starbucks Draft system. Occupying a whopping 760 sqm and accommodating more than 230 seats, the store also has meeting rooms for community events. I was invited to try my hand at drawing my own tumbler design with the help of Olive Creative Lab. The first Thai woman to hold the position of managing director at the company, Nednapa Srisamai, participated, as well as Sumonpin Jotikabukkana, marketing and communications director. Starbucks coffee connoisseur and ambassador D Major Cohen also gave a brief introduction on coffee and tea beverages.
Opening of Baan Suriyasai
One of the major landowners on Suriwongse Road is Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, whose son Thapana has launched Baan Suriyasai, a fine-dining Thai restaurant located in a beautiful 100-year-old heritage house along this road. A glittering opening was held hosted by Thapana and his wife, Papatchaya, attended by distinguished personalities including the current minister of foreign affairs Don Pramudwinai and his predecessor Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul. Each course of the dinner was presented with cocktails made from the group’s Mekhong whisky. After dinner, they were invited to the bar to continue with the after party.
There were also three fashion-related events last week. The first was Christian Louboutin’s "Loubi in Progress" event at the Central Embassy boutique. Ratika Thakur took me through the new collection at the store where it is good to see the designer has descended somewhat from the dizzying heights previously reached by his heels. She also gave me a sneak peek of the Berluti men’s store nearby that has also been brought in to Thailand by the same young entrepreneur, Pranapda Pornprapha, but is not fully opened as yet.
Tiffany & Co, meanwhile, introduced its "Believe in Love" campaign with a reception at its Emporium boutique to highlight gifts in its iconic blue box. Country manager Apinya Dolan also presented a Tiffany table setting with its glassware and tableware which, although not available at the store in Thailand, can be ordered for those interested.
I also went to the launch of Red Red, a new beauty brand created by Yuwared Sarutanond with the aim of providing Thai women with premium products at affordable prices. The event at Lady L presented a collection of 12 matte lipstick shades named after female icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Dita Von Teese, as well as foundation powder.
Think Happy Thoughts
On Friday I had lunch with Titiya Chooto, vice president of Dusit Thani International and general manager of the Dusit Thani Bangkok. She had met me at the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer where I had gone for a check-up and seeing the worry on my face, felt she needed to reassure me, having gone through the experience herself. Hence the invitation for lunch. Her concern was really touching and the result of the check-up? Nothing to worry about as yet, but Dr Kris Chatamra has scheduled me for additional tests when I return from my European trip in early July. Keeping fingers crossed.
(Previously: Naphalai's Diary: June 4-10)