Tower Club at lebua

Bangkok binge

This is one destination that always leaves you wanting more, says Chitra Anand Papnai. There I was high in the clouds on the 63rd floor of the Tower Club at lebua hotel in Bangkok but it wasn't vertigo I was suffering from. It was deja vu.

Here I was sitting in the hotel's elegant alfresco rooftop restaurant Sirocco and towering over us was the hotel's amazing Sky Bar that seemed almost to be suspended in mid-air.

From my vantage point I looked out over the city and the Chao Phraya River gleamed like silver mercury as it snaked between the city lights. It all seemed very familiar - but this was my very first time in Bangkok.

The answer came quickly enough. As I reached my dinner table I heard someone mentioning the movie Hangover 2. "This is where that rooftop scene was shot!" the person declared with delight, whipping out her camera.

The location scouts of Hangover 2 certainly knew what they were doing when they chose this spot with its view of Bangkok. And like the stars of the movie, we had an action-packed evening. As our candlelight dinner got underway with a string of chef's special dishes, a jazz band made mellifluous music in another corner. And the steadily growing crowd around the circular neon Sky Bar reminded us, again that this city never sleeps.

The Tower Club at lebua had been written off by the travel industry when it was being constructed and it isn't tough to imagine why. The hotel is located in the bustling Bang Rak District, which is a maze of narrow roads filled with street-side food carts. Not exactly the stuff of luxury said the naysayers. But once the building and its fine-dining restaurants got into action, all fears were put to rest.

The next day I had a quick lunch at the hotel's Cafe Mozu. Being a vegetarian, I was apprehensive, but not for long. To my relief, quite a few dishes were marked with bold Vs. I opted for the yam som a jay, a pomelo salad with tamarind sauce that is a mix of juicy sweet and sour flavors. For the main course I was recommended a vegetarian pad thai with mushrooms, which had a hot and sour flavor.

Bangkok's most important tourist spot is the Grand Palace but I was advised to avoid the heat and go the next morning. So, I did the next best thing and took Bangkok's famous Sky- train to visit Siam, the city's central shopping district.

Siam is a shopaholic's poison. After whetting my appetite at the high-end Siam Pargon mall, I headed, on a more realistic note, instead to MBK mall, which is filled with middle-bracket stores that are just right if you don't want to burn a hole in your pocket.
Back at the hotel I was treated to a quick massage. And after that I trotted down to the nearby flea market, Bangrak Bazaar, which is right next to the Silom Skytrain Station. Traveller tip: there is scope for bargaining here but don't expect the prices to go down drastically.