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Beach Blanket Bingo at Bongo

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Phuket Gazette. Posted: 2nd Jun 2013

I can hear the distant pounding of bongos in the night. Of course, once you get passed 50, there is the sudden moment of terror and then the notion your heart is going to thump, thump, thump you right into the afterlife. Are there bongos in heaven or hell?

But no, it's definitely bongo madness out there somewhere in the dark. Switching TV channels. I come upon the late night classic - Night of the Iguana. Dark, exotic and with a twist from a case of tropical dengue fever. Wiping off my profusely sweating palms, I've simply got to try to regain some equilibrium after my imagined near death experience.

My 'bongoness' goes back to those beach party movies of the 1960s with Frankie and Annette. A hipster bongo player in classic Ray Ban shades, wearing a beatnik beret and smoking clove cigarettes. Bongo drums actually were born in the tropics and their origins can be traced back to the Afro-Cuban musical culture.

There is good news for those who missed out on all that bongo-bongo in the past, as this July Twinpalms Phuket is rolling out their all new sandlot entertainment zone on Surin B (formerly known as Surin Beach; but we are elevating the vibe). All we need now to take us higher is Ike and Tina.

Anyway, located just a hop, skip and a jump away from Catch is the new Bimi + Bongo. Bimi + Bongo Beach Club is set to take on a decidedly Euro-Ibiza feel, and taking on the hashtag as Phuket's only All Day Party venue. Sexy sounds of the sandbox, with DJs going from 10 to 10, morning to night.

Next door will be the Bongo Rum Bar. Reggae and other chill sounds will be tapped in a more laid back hang-out. And yes, for those of you who have been in Thailand too long, reggae in fact goes past those 12 classic, yet overplayed, Bob Marley songs you hear at nearly every local music joint. You might even want to grab a pair of bongos and join in?

Further north along Surin B is the locale for the upcoming Zazada. This is the brainchild of the luxury Paresa Resort on millionaires' mile in Kamala. Taking a stroll down the sandbox the other day, I was amazed to see the scale of the place. Combining a restaurant, swimming pool and bar - this place is huge.

Scot Toon at Paresa told me he expected Zazada to roll out this August and along with providing a unique oceanfront location, events such as weddings will be a key part of the business. Suddenly, by the middle of this year, Surin B is taking on a whole new feel.

While the typical response from a few local expats has been that pricing and too many tourists will keep them away, in certain ways the new products are likely to induce upscale visitors to Phuket in the same way the trendiness of Bali's uber-cool Seminyak does.

Despite all this Surin talk, I'd expect other nearby areas like Bang Tao and Kamala to get into the ring soon. While we can't say who or where, let's just leave it at this - there will be two large international branded outlets coming up in these areas which are going to raise the bar even higher.

All in all, change is good, Bimi + Bongo and even a late night Zazada - Surin B certainly is the new Sultan of Swing

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