Sawasdee ka! It seems anytime is a good time to say hello to Bangkok. The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2015 has just been launched, and if there is anything that can draw me to that beautiful country, it is the shopping.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invited me and my shopping partner Tim Yap to be part of a “Shopping Challenge” involving 15 teams from 11 countries across Asia. It was like representing the country to the Southeast Asian Games of shopping.
Step one was to be stylishly dressed for the occasion. Sadly I couldn’t find any flag-themed stilettos. Perhaps I should say luckily, because running was involved!
The Shopping Challenge was a fun-filled race around Bangkok’s best-loved malls and shops, to bargain for items, and compete for a 100,000 Baht prize.
TAT’s objective is to maintain Thailand’s reputation as a Southeast Asian shopping hub and lifestyle destination.
Vilaiwan Twichasri, TAT deputy governor for tourism products and business, told the Asian teams that the Shopping Challenge is a wonderful way to kick off the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale as it showcases the massive range of goods and products available in Bangkok, many of them uniquely Thai.
Also present at the opening ceremonies was Somboon Krobteeranon, country manager of Visa Thailand, a campaign partner of TAT.
10,000 Baht budget
Within two hours, the teams were running around four different malls, including Siam Paragon, Siam Center, and CentralWorld, rushing to complete shopping lists and reach the finish line at the Gaysorn Shopping Centre in the heart of Bangkok’s renowned Ratchaprasong shopping district.
Each team had a 10,000 Baht budget and a Thai interpreter; the goal was to find the best bargains in the fastest time.
Tim and I rode our designated tuk-tuk all over, and were leading the race until the third mall. Unfortunately, Niharika Keerthi and Vidya Kishore Kumar from India overtook us in the last mall. We were just two minutes behind them and placed second.
TAT has been holding the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale since 2009. Tim and I plan to start training for next year already.
I plan to visit Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia and see if our silver medal gets us any government incentives. Training for shopping can be expensive, you know!
The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale has grown annually, and this year 15,000 shops in 110 malls and shopping centers in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Udon Thani are participating. Shoppers wearing traditional Thai dresses will get discounts.
After the awarding and to console our egos, Tim and I ended up shopping some more. TAT director Khun Kate Kritwutikon took extra care of us as we relaxed at the spa at RarinJinda before heading to our luxurious suite at Dusit Thani Hotel. We also visited the Jim Thompson House and Asiatique.
(The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale runs until August 15. Thai Airways is offering promo fares to Bangkok. Log on to www.thaiairways.com.ph for fares as low as $246 until end of September. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I loved that Thai Airways kindly granted Tim and me extra luggage allowance, what with all the shopping we did.
Jo Malone in Manila
On board the flight home, we chatted with Bench king Ben Chan and Miguel Pastor. They told us about their Bangkok vacation where Ben is always on the lookout for new ventures to bring into the Philippines.
Ben’s latest project is to bring in the Jo Malone London shop, which opens in October at Greenbelt 5. To spice up the coming launch, Ben’s team organized a special dinner by chef Colin McKay at Blackbird in the Nielson Tower.
Manila’s beautiful people experienced the epitome of British luxury and were welcomed to the World of Jo Malone. Elegant guests were treated to a relaxing hand and arm massage at the Tasting Bar, an invitation to engage the senses and discover fragrance combining.
A preview of Jo Malone’s line of scents was available at the Discovery Bar where stylists assisted guests to find their own bespoke scent.
The evening’s host, Angel Jacob, welcomed Debbie Wild, the global speaker and Jo Malone Studio lifestyle director. Debbie shared her in-depth knowledge of the brand’s lifestyle concepts, and the captivating and unusual ingredients of Jo Malone London fragrances.
She introduced “fragrance layering” for guests to be inspired in creating their own trademark scent.
Let me end with a preview. Next week, I am hosting an affair to introduce HOOQ, a video-on-demand movie app now available in the country.
HOOQ offers over 30,000 hours of movies and TV series in an online library with over 10,000 titles. This content includes everything from Hollywood and a ton of Pinoy content as well, from ABS-CBN, Star Cinema, GMA 7, Regal and Viva.
Foreign content includes movies from Disney, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment, DreamWorks, Miramax, and more.
I’m sure my kids will love going through all the summer movies they want to watch, since their school doesn’t start until August.
And all this is available for only P199 a month, a great price which means I have more to spend on shopping!
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