Refreshing ideas to stay cool during the hot season.
by Dave Stamboulis.
There is a good reason why Songkran, the Thai New Year water festival, is celebrated in April. Temperatures are hot enough to fry omelets on the pavement, and air conditioner maintenance service requires a long enough wait to contemplate getting a job in ice delivery. So other than forking out for flights to Antarctica, what’s a soul to do to get some relief?
Walk on Water
Doing a Moses imitation can be a very good thing at this time of year, and if you aren’t submerged, well, at least have the decency to be on top of the cold liquid. While you might have to jump aboard a plane to find surf at this time of year, you can be just as cool without ever leaving town over at Flow House (A Square, Sukhumvit Soi 26, 02 108 5210, www.flowhousebangkok.com), an urban beach club complete with a Flowrider wave generating machine that lets you pretend you are in Waikiki or Bondi Bay. The Flowrider machine creates a perpetual sheet wave perfect for surfing and body boarding, generating a thin wave that flows up over a soft plastic surface that is like a wrestling mat, soft enough to ensure that one too many margaritas at the bar won’t result in a total wipeout. Up to 30,000 gallons of water a minute flow as fast as 32 kilometers an hour, and riders can slide down and ride up the wave surface, using body/boogie boards or else standing up on skateboard-like surfers. The Flow House also puts on extremely cool vibe urban parties with plenty of music, dancing, and cold drinks to help keep things watered down.
Take a Plunge
Staying submerged is a great way to beat the summer sizzle, and you might as well find the biggest and baddest pools imaginable to do it in. Why not head up to Chiang Mai, which has the hottest Songkran party in the kingdom (see this month’s Mini Guide), and check into the Dhara Devi Chiang Mai (51/4 Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Road, 053 888 8888, www.dharadhevi.com), where the immense colonial pool fronts a spa and wellness center that is built to resemble a traditional Burmese stupa complex. If you think it is something right out of a fairly tale, remember that it only gets better: a traditional horse and carriage will cart you around the grounds, lest you risk breaking a sweat in the searing temperatures.
While Pattaya’s Centara Grand Mirage (277 Moo 5, Naklua, Pattaya, 038 301234, www.centarahotelsresorts.com/centaragrand/cmbr) might not be quite as opulent, it gets absolute top marks for being a resort built around a mammoth water park that features swimming pools, waterfalls, water slides, and even a river flowing through it all. The Mirage features kids’ pools, adult pools, family pools, and poolside bars and restaurants. If that isn’t enough, the resort’s private beach is just another few meters away. There is even a “Lost World” water park in the middle of it all, complete with rope bridges, waterfalls, and a meandering river, where you can live out your cool-as-a-cucumber Indiana Jones fantasy.
Refresh with an Aperol
A what? Yes, an Aperol Spritz, an amazingly refreshing concoction of Aperol, which is a Campari-like Italian aperitif, yet far less bitter and with much less alcohol, making it perfect for sipping in pairs on those warm evenings. Made popular after WWI, Aperol has had a grand resurgence in Italy, where it is seen as an icebreaker and a symbol of a lively atmosphere. The fashionable Spritz is made by combining Aperol with Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, and promises to be the feel-good hit of the summer! You can cool off with a few glasses of these and some cool breezes on the terrace of Jojo at The St. Regis Bangkok (159 Rajadamri Road, Bangkok, 02 207 7777, www.stregisbangkok.com), where the Aperol is paired up with Chef Carlo’s new tapas menu, perfect for a summer evening’s meal.
Get Frozen at the Ice Bar
While it may be 42 degrees Celsius outside, it’s guaranteed down jacket weather in the Minus 5 Ice Bar (Jameson’s Bangkok, 981 Shop 6–13 Silom Road, 02 667 7035; Amari Nova Suites, 254 M. 9, Soi Petchtrakool, Pattaya, 038 052366). Yeah, it’s overpriced (THB 500 for about 20 to 30 minutes, which does include all the vodka you can drink), but you’re paying for—no, make that begging and pleading for—the frigid temperatures. There are several Minus 5 bars to choose from, including one in the Amari Nova Suites in Pattaya and another adjacent to Jameson’s Irish Pub in the Holiday Inn on Silom in Bangkok. Both establishments provide patrons with hats, gloves, and heavy jackets with which to withstand the cold, and plenty of Absolut vodka to keep you chilled, or at least under the illusion that summer no longer exists.
So get your best bathing suit out of the closet and start marking your calendar, there are only 200-odd days until the cool season is upon us again!