My Asia: My Bangkok with Kat Jones

Good ol’ Google found me one day on the blog of Katherine “Kat” Jones, a Bangkok-based Thai-British artist and businesswoman. She was born in Thailand but grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong, where she did most of her schooling. In 1998 she moved back to Bangkok.

She has worked a variety of jobs, from teaching kindergarten, to opening a casting agency, to managing a night club, to managing an art studio, all the while painting in her spare time. “I always knew I wanted to be involved in the arts—I have painted since I was a child—but ‘Artist’ as a career choice tends to be frowned upon, especially by one’s parents, so I got whatever jobs I could as a means to an end,” she says. “I was only able to start painting seriously near the end of 2008.”

“If I’m not painting, I’m constructing, printing, carving, coming up with new ways to use familiar materials, and even writing,” she continues. “For me it’s all art and it’s all relevant. The sense of discovery never ends and I would never want it to.”

Her bookstore/gallery cafe, The Secret Garden, named for the book as well as the little secret garden on site, carries a large selection of secondhand fiction and non-fiction books and handmade products from natural and recycled materials including greeting cards and home decor.

I am so thrilled to have her kick off notabilia’s 2012 My Asia series. Over to Kat…

o o o o o

Must-eats?

I eat out pretty much everyday. In Bangkok, it’s easy, cheap, and there’s good food around every corner. We’re kind of spoiled for choice.

Love Scene for ordinary evenings. It’s unassuming and easily missed. But if you find it, you won’t be disappointed. Enter through the little hallway past the seafood tanks and open kitchen to get to the seating area at the very back. Old farming implements, traditional instruments, and an array of paraphernalia hang off every wall. It’s open until late so it’s great for a feeding after a night at the club.

Tiger Eat Sleep for local dining with a little more atmosphere. It’s located in a two storey house with a little garden. Sit outside; the eclectic collection of retro furniture and lamps is reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Aside from Thai food, the kitchen also serves up a variety of tasty western dishes. Few people have heard of this place; I don’t think they have a sign in English.

Antonio’s for when we want to get a little fancier. It’s a top-notch Italian restaurant. Bangkok is rife with Italian restaurants, sometimes to the point of comedy. (some of them are so bad they have to be joking.) However, Antonio’s is one of the best. My mission is to try everything on the menu and I haven’t been disappointed yet. The ravioli with black truffle sauce is heavenly. Oh, and the tenderloin tartar! Yum.

Must-shops?

As an artist, my favourite places tend to be stationary stores, books stores, and art or craft supply stores.

B2S for general stationary supplies. It can be found in most Central department stores. The biggest one is in Central World.

Craft supply stores stock mostly imported goods (which means you’ll be paying some hefty prices). However, some things are worth the price tag. I like Goose. Also, I recently discovered Mind Memory, which stocks supplies there that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Chinatown is a mission but worth it for the prices. So cheap! The easiest thing to do is to get hold of a Nancy Chandler map of Chinatown, which shows you what’s for sale and where. I still use it.

Chatuchak Weekend Market for pretty much everything else. Be warned, it’s expansive and not something you can conquer in an hour. You need a day. Plus, it gets hot. Luckily there are plenty of cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the market so you are never far from refreshments.

Must-dos?

Every now and then, I like a good night out and Sukhumvit Soi 11 is where I go. There is just so much going on that street: from the low-end at Cheap Charlie’s to the high-end at Bed Supper Club; from seedy, underground clubbing at Climax to classy, rooftop cocktails at The Nest. If you get hungry, there’s traditional Thai food at Suk11, classic bistro style cuisine at Oskar, and scrumptious burgers at The Firehouse.

Must-art?

Attic Studios is an art studio that promotes up-and-coming artists as well as showcases the work of the studio’s students and instructors. Every first Friday of the month, it offers something new to explore like classes on drawing techniques and batik demonstrations.

Must-gos?

The best way to get around Bangkok is by Skytrain and MRT. I, however, love the motorbike taxis. It’s not for everyone and can sometimes be a bit freaky, but they get me to where I need to go and they get me there faster than anything else.

(Additional credits: Photographs by Katherine Jones.)