Bangkok Diary – Annus Horibilis For Residents At Le Raffine

Bangkok Diary

From Andrew Drummond, Bangkok, November 6th

As the flood waters spill their way towards the city there are a lot of unhappy bunnies camped out in one of Bangkok’s most expensive condominiums having undergone their own ‘annus horibilis’.

I’m talking here about residents of Le Raffiné (refined or sophisticated) in Sukhumvit Soi 24 where to buy a place one needs about 30 million baht stashed away.

The condominum, one of Bangkok’s longer established high-end residences, was, of course, the subject of a recent fire. The fire broke out on the 18th floor of the 30-floor building.

Documents in my possession show that, while desperately trying to preserve their cool, residents have been worried that at any time they could be grilled, smoked, electrocuted to death, unless management gets its finger out.

Despite paying service fees equivalent to a small mortgage for us country folks, (well it would pay my mortgage) it seems some people believe that the security they have been getting has not been that much better than one would get from renting a 4,000 baht condo in Klongtan. Though, of course, this is not my claim I should point out.

(Right: Fire drill at Le Raffine)

To date residents do not know the cause of the fire, which they think might possibly have been an exploding gas bottle.  They have to wait for a report from Thonglor Police, who in turn are waiting for a report from the Forensic Police etc. A maid seems to be taking the blame.

What is more ominous is that not many people heard the fire alarm at the time. Some of these apartments are so vast apparently unless you have your ear glued to the front door you will miss it completely. Forget it if you like ‘Thin Lizzy’.  If another fire breaks out it could be ‘Good Night Vienna’ for a few of the owners, who comprise a Who’s Who of Bangkok’s local and foreign elite.

Above: Fire alarm – not negotiable


Apparently new wiring and a new fire alarm system are being put in place with alarms now inside all the apartments. In the meantime if a fire breaks out residents are going to be alerted by a Somchai down at reception who will call them immediately.  This could be tragic for some people who do not take calls after hours, even if Somchai were to get to them. There are 54 separate units to call. I would be tipping Somchai to get the first call.

Meanwhile the management would like to stress they are doing their best.

‘We would like to sincerely say from our heart that we never ignore to make our place improved but some issue example cause of fire it is beyond our ability to force police and we were informed by Thonglor police that this long time waiting is very normal process.’

 For more suggestion, please feel free to give us.”

The letter was addressed to Dear Owners and Tentants. One wag has changed it to ‘Dead Owners and Tenants’.

In many ways management are to be complimented. There have been no reports of fire doors being cemented up or merely just locked. And, as there is a swimming pool on virtually every floor, it seems the Thai fire brigade which cannot get to the top of high buildings had a built-in source of water.

And it’s also nice to know they are ready for the floods.

Seems these plans are much more sophisticated than mine which is to leap aboard my floating sala with a several crates of beer, a bottle of La Phroaig, or Old Pulteney, several large flagons of water, plus food,  with fridge, TV, fans, music etc. connected to the Thai national grid via overhead wiring.

My wife however says she is taking the kids to the eastern seaboard to loot the supermarket shelves there at the same time – a current complaint by locals down in Chonburi.

Picture: The floating sala. Lazy shot from bedroom window. My lake is now up at record level and another foot or so will be over the lawn or part of it.  Another 2 ft and the cricket pitch is done.  When it gets to 1.5 metres my wife is ‘outta here’.

Footnote: Just done a live two-way with Sky News to say most of Bangkok city centre is still dry but serious flooding to north and west. But many people have left due to warnings. Authorities may now be getting a grip on situation. Interesting to see what is coming out of people’s houses, green mambas, lions tigers etc.

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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