Vertigo, Bangkok

8 Jul
Bangkok night sky illuminated by skyscrapers, seen from top of Vertigo, Bangkok.

Bangkok by night. From Vertigo.

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This is the view from Vertigo, the aptly named, open-air bar which sits on the sixtieth floor above the Banyan Tree hotel, Bangkok.

And I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend our last evening in one of Asia’s most dynamic cities than this.

The neon-blue night ahead of us, expressways surging into the distance, pyramids of skyscrapers far below, and the winding Chao Phraya river forming a patch of slinky darkness amid the buzz and hubbub of the city.

Now, the nine-year-old and I have been living out of backpacks for over five months now. So, even when we make an effort, which we did, our wardrobe is hardly, well, five-star.

On arrival we are greeted, simultaneously, by charming, smiling staff, making the wai bow of respectful welcome, and a short sign regarding dress code, which we breach in no fewer than three specifics.

“Mum!” hissed the nine-year-old. “The sign says no…”

“I know,” I hiss back, mentally itemising our wardrobe errors (sandals, rucksack and ripped jeans, though I have invested in some platform flip-flops for this and similar occasions). “Don’t draw attention to it. I think they’re letting us off.”

And, honestly, faced by a nine-year-old boy so proud and smart in the blue silk shirt he had tailored to his specifications in Hoi An, Vietnam, you would need a heart of stone to enforce a dress code.

An ear-popping, 600-foot elevator ascent, two flights of internal stairs, and one open-air staircase later, we are admitted to, well, pretty close to paradise.

city skyline of bangkok at night, seen from Vertigo, Bangkok.

A skyline all the more magical for being in the open air.

An elegant, architecturally stylish bar and restaurant, which hovers over Bangkok like the prow of a ship, Vertigo has, justifiably won a bunch of awards.

And the beautiful waitresses welcome us with a genuine warmth.

“I think they like my silk shirt,” says the nine-year-old, when we are safely ensconced.

I can only agree.

Like all the best hotel bars, drinks come with nibbles in silver salvers. Wasabi peanuts, with a time-delay burn. Slightly sweet-roast cashews. Chewy banana chips.

Z dives into them with zero inhibition, while I am torn between wonder at the view and my own, all too genuine, vertigo, which waist-height glazed walls and counters with merely a six-inch backing strip twixt one and the void intrinsically produces.

It’s an odd feeling, vertigo. Simultaneous repulsion and attraction. The drop feels like a magnet. Sir can’t reach for a peanut without me visualising the drop pulling him over the edge and down to street-level, six hundred feet below.

And, yes, I know there’s a grating on the other side. And one would have to be an athlete to overleap the walls. It makes no difference. It’s a drop.

Even the air, which circulates from a gap twixt floor and counter, provokes a nervy, sweaty reflex. It’s the same air as two hundred yards below. THE SAME AIR, I think. It’s come all the way up. Will go all the way down…

The cocktails on the menu, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, tend to the sweet and tropical. So sir’s first virgin Mojito will have to wait.

Negroni cocktail and floating rose over Bangkok skyline, Vertigo

Drinks close to the edge...

We opt for a ginger ale for him, served with panache in a hurricane glass, and a Negroni for me, which they make flawlessly, off-menu, without a query.

“Do you think they have mosquitoes at this altitude?” junior asks.

“No,” I say. “There’d be no point them being up here. Plus, I think Bangkok’s malaria-free. Which I guess means no mosquitoes.”

We do the photo thing. Vertigo isn’t solely a tourist destination, like many sky-high bars. But there are sufficient obvious tourists, at least early in the evening, to make one feel at home being, well, a tourist.

We chatter, admire the view, spot landmarks we have known and loved, talk about how much we like Bangkok and how sad we will be to leave.

A Thai girl pulls in Z for a photo, the curls and blue silk shirt proving their magnetism yet again.

Z atop Vertigo Bangkok with new friend.

The shirt and the curls work their magic...

After our regulation one drink (which costs almost double one night’s accommodation at our Siam Square cheapie), we descend and walk towards the Skytrain.

The magic of the shirt is growing, exponentially, in sir’s memory. He looks very sweet, I think. Handsome, he thinks.

“I think everybody liked my shirt,” he says. “I mean, who wouldn’t want a photo of a boy in a blue silk shirt in their bar?”

“Who indeed?” I say.

Thanks to Beth Whitman at Wanderlust for hosting Wanderfood Wednesdays.

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5 Responses to “Vertigo, Bangkok”

  1. Anne-Marie July 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    The love and pride in this one has made me weepy! See you soon.

    • MummyT July 9, 2010 at 9:44 am #

      Ahhhh! I look forward to it very much…

      The funniest thing was when we were contemplating what to wear. The aquarium had given us a leopard print bag as a free gift.

      Z said, “Wait! Maybe we shouldn’t take the daypack. How about the bag from the aquarium?”

      I said, “I don’t think that’s going to help much.”

      He said, “Oh yes. It’s a cheap leopard print bag. Good point…”

  2. Wanderluster July 13, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    I’ll definitely check this out on my next visit to Bangkok this fall. What a great find!

  3. marketingtomilk July 16, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    I loved this post. And i love your son!

    • MummyT July 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

      Why, thank you! I think he’s adorable, too…

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