by Carmen Roberts
, Roving travel reporter
Exhausted, aching and dirty, I collapse in the back of the chauffeur-driven car as it speeds through Bangkok’s narrow alleys before arriving at Tenface hotel in a residential quarter off Wireless Road. No, that’s not the effect of a long-haul flight but of a week’s mountain biking in Laos. Thankfully, the hard part of the holiday is over and now it’s time to relax and be pa...
Exhausted, aching and dirty, I collapse in the back of the chauffeur-driven car as it speeds through Bangkok’s narrow alleys before arriving at Tenface hotel in a residential quarter off Wireless Road. No, that’s not the effect of a long-haul flight but of a week’s mountain biking in Laos. Thankfully, the hard part of the holiday is over and now it’s time to relax and be pampered.
After checking in, a flurry of bell boys usher me through burgundy corridors and into a spacious One-bedroom Suite roughly the same size as my flat in London – but not before I thrust a bag of mud-stained cycling gear into the hands of a bemused Tenface employee with strict instructions not to open it but to send it directly to the laundry.
Mr Smith is waiting for me at a nearby bar with a group of friends so I make a bee-line for the shower, savouring the scalding water. Glammed up, with the red dirt of Laos scrubbed away, it’s time to venture out. Tenface might seem like a hotel tucked away in the back streets, but it’s surprisingly central and within a five-minute taxi ride I’m in an elevator rocketing up to the 61st floor of Vertigo Bar, on Sathorn Road. Mr Smith has a post-cycling cocktail waiting for me, as we laugh at my tan lines and gaze at the city’s twinkling lights below us.
Silly and giddy after too many vodkas, we retire to the hotel, giggling like small children at the size of our room. I perform a cartwheel to demonstrate, a feat not usually attempted after the age of 10 and certainly not without alcoholic inducement.
The next morning I wake with a start, shocked to find myself in a plush four-poster bed and lost in a mountain of marshmallow-like pillows. This certainly makes a change from the spartan bungalows and mosquito-netted cabañas of my cycling trip.
Realising that in my haste to meet Mr Smith at the bar I’d forgotten to open the complimentary Tosakan’s Heart Box I’d received at check-in, I race into the living room. Tosakan, the story goes, was a ten-faced giant who hid his heart in a box in a bid for immortality. There’s nothing so gruesome in ours, but beneath the dark-brown leather casing are yet more bathroom amenities, local travel and sim cards, and an iPod nano supposedly for viewing the in-house video podcasts – although Mr Smith seems more engrossed with the recommended bands you can download to the playlist.
While Mr Smith lazes by the pool, still married to his iPod headphones, I make use of the hotel’s free tuk tuk drop-off at the nearby Ploenchit BTS (Bangkok Transit System) station and use the pre-paid Skytrain card to hit the shops. In truth, I just duck out to pick up a pair of flip-flops, but time seems to slip away as I get delightfully lost within the air-conditioned, retail heaven that is Central World, the largest shopping mall in Bangkok, if not south-east Asia.
Several hours later, the local phone sim card comes in handy for calling the hotel to let Mr Smith know that I’m caught in a ‘shopping vortex’ and my arrival at the pool will be delayed until that elusive pair of sandals (note the upgrade) is found. Later that afternoon, I finally make it to the pool – a small yet lengthy affair with comfortable sunbeds and oversized beach towels – and work on removing those dreaded tan lines.
When the scorching Bangkok sun has set, we embark on a leisurely late-afternoon jog around Lumpini Park, one of the few green areas in this hectic city. The park is just a 10-minute run from the hotel, but it might be wise to ask the concierge for a map. Lumpini is Bangkok’s answer to New York’s Central Park, albeit a more frenetic version, where you’ll find yourself shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of locals going about their daily exercise or large gangs of women doing an alfresco aerobics class to a ghetto blaster.
After sweating out the previous night’s excesses, I feel virtuous enough to try the oddly-named ‘Nun’ cocktail at Tenface’s hip Sita Bar. It’s a refreshing blend of vodka, coconut, strawberries, fresh mint and lime juice. Mr Smith, feeling a little more adventurous, opts for the potent ‘Lovelorn Tosakan’, a devilish concoction of just about every spirit you can think of, and a splash of lime. Sita’s in-house DJ spins the decks as we recline on leather couches and toast a relaxing, yet productive day in Bangkok: the tan had been evened out, the muscles were no longer aching, we’d rekindled a love for gymnastics – and, mercifully, there was not a bicycle in sight.