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Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand: A Highly Underrated Night Out

We have very few goals in life.  Co-write, produce and star in a movie about John Bonham (left), make enough money to buy Miami, become fluent in the language of love and join the Bohemian Club.

Well, the next best thing to goal number four appears to be the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT). The FCCT is an understated club that offers much in the way of mixing with a hotty toddy crowd to discuss current events, photography, movies, secret codes and the latest Wikileaks. Want to learn more?  Follow KohSpot to Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand.

The FCCT has been around for 54 years, and while they still have serious panel discussions, exclusive interviews and debates (e.g. civilian nuclear agreements) on a regular basis, the Clubhouse provides an entertainment outlet for when the work is done. Because FCCT is a member organization, there is a misconception that its events are only open to members. Every event and program is open to the public, and every Friday night live jazz resonates from its old-school bar in the penthouse of the Maneeya Center starting at 8 pm.

The house band is The Bylines and they provide a heaping portion of straight-ahead jazz for the mostly ex-pat crowd in a nonchalant and welcoming setting. These guys know a thing or two about improv. And to adhere to modern day ADD sports fans there are a few TVs broadcasting the latest cricket match.

An often overlooked, but more engaging part of the FCCT is the ivory walls that typically play host to rotating photo exhibitions. This month the photo focus is on Wilfred Burchett’s so-called pin-ups, women in Asia trying to cope with wars against mostly Western powers (see right). Burchett was an Australian reporter and photographer famous for reporting the Korean and Vietnam wars from the “other side”. He made his bones as the first Westerner to report from Hiroshima one month after the atomic bomb was dropped, and he shattered the misinformation Western governments were spreading about minor after-effects of the bomb and radiation. His reporting was so influential the Australian government withdrew his passport for 17 years and declared him “Public Enemy Number One”, which is also the title of a documentary about him to be screened at 8 pm on Tuesday, Aug 30 at FCCT (non-members 150 baht).

Back to the jazz: a group called Tonic plays the first Friday of every month, and they have a pedigree that includes a piano player who studied at the famed University of North Texas program. And did we mention that all this music is free? Tiger only costs 60 baht, Beerlao 80 baht, and Beerlao dark a mere 110 baht. The food is pretty basic but again is not expensive, and stir-fried John Dory fish with black pepper sauce did the job for 120 baht.

If you’re still bored, they have a pool table, mountains of publications to browse and a breathtaking view of downtown from their outside patio. A highly underrated evening option.

Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand
Location: Penthouse of Maneeya Center, 518/5 Phloen Chit Road, building is connected to BTS Chit Lom station
Mass transit: BTS Chit Lom
Hours: Clubhouse bar 11 am-11 pm Monday to Friday. Closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Phone: 02-652-0580
Website: www.fccthai.com

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