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'Tis the Season' for Choc & Shop-aholics, Part One
By Sue Marr
20 December 2011





I've never been to Bangkok in December before and I can't believe I've been missing the best month of the year up there. I’m here to discover the best Belgian treats that Bangkok has to offer – and beer and chocolate is a great place to start.  It's also all about Christmas and nobody does Christmas decorations as well as the Thais.

To emerge from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi's cavernous arrival enclave to a cool breeze, bright blue skies and relaxed traffic was all a bit of a shock. OK, it was a Sunday so you'd expect the traffic to be a little lighter but the biggest surprise was the weather. No odorous wall of heat and humidity to wrap itself around you, sending your senses reeling.

Within 20 mins ride down the free (of traffic) way, we’re standing in the lobby of the Plaza Athenee in the city centre on Wireless Road. And it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Stretching to the ceiling is a magnificent white tulle tree, adorned with golden baubles and twinkling lights…and there’s a couple of others at the base of the sweeping staircase.

 

A giant life-size Gingerbread House welcomes guests to the adjacent Rain Tree Café (until mid-Jan). Chef Martin tells us it took 3 months to bake the gingerbread and about a week to build the house. Some children from a local school visited for an activity afternoon to decorate the walls with gingerbread decorations. Inside, the roof is lined with pure Belgian Chocolate and the House is filled with an array of chocolate delights from the hotel’s resident Chocolate team. Yes, they even have a ‘Chocolate Room’ back of house where the most intricate and elaborate chocolate treats are painstakingly crafted.

 

Metre-high Christmas spires of macaroons and sugar stars, toad stools, Santa Clauses and snowmen complete the decorations and mesmerise both children and adults alike. I’m wondering how many of them are thinking what it would be like to try and eat a whole tree. Wow, I’m not leaving the hotel until I fill my bag with all this stuff.   That’s easy too, as the lobby Gift Shop is loaded with take-away goodies including miniature Gingerbread Houses, handmade boxed chocolate gift sets, macaroons and lots of other festive delights.
 

 

“We can put anything on chocolate” declares Chef Martin as he proudly displays some examples of the welcome gifts created and personalised for hotel guests. We’re impressed by the white chocolate platter, personalised with a welcome message and hand-painted images of chocolate delights…chocolate chilli (of course!), chocolate mandarin and chocolate durian. The turn-down macaroons were an extra treat.  As was the white chocolate CD on the desk next to bed.
 
 

That pretty much takes care of the choco-holics…for the shopaholics, there are plenty of options within easy reach. Sukhumvit Road has great street stalls, especially around Nana BTS station; the new Terminal 21 is only 2 stops by Skytrain; legendary MBK and Central Chitlom are also close by, the latter having a week-long midnight sale with discounts of just about everything in store. And the best thing about shopping in December (or even January/Februrary) is the cooler, even invigorating breezes of the northern hemisphere winter season and the absence of energy-sapping humidity which can demoralise even the hardiest of bargain-hunters.

Don’t miss THAI’s ‘Thailand Plus’ promotion with fares to Bangkok return from only $852 (ex Sydney) and experience Bangkok at it’s best. Travel 1 Jan to 20 Jun ’12, book by 29 Feb ’12.
 
Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of THAI

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