His “piece of folded card” has now sold over a million copies; the man behind the sassy and saucy LUXE City Guides explains why no other travel companion comes close
By Grant Thatcher
Two and a half years after arriving in Hong Kong in 1996, and having travelled all over Asia grumbling about how cruddy, boring and unstylish all the available travel guides were, I moved to Bangkok.
I had swiftly come to realise that not only were these guidebooks not written for me, they were written by people with completely different lifestyles, values, needs and interests. Moreover, they were predominantly written by people who didn’t actually live in the city at all, but who were paid to visit and record their thoughts, then edited by someone in a foreign city who had probably never travelled to that destination.
To me, this just seemed all wrong, on every level. To understand and ‘know’ a city I think you must live there, full stop.
Today, Bangkok can seem a bewildering and challenging city to the first-time visitor, but in 1999 you couldn’t even buy unsliced bread or emulsion paint in any colour other than white. To stop the endless requests from friends for “where can I get yadda yadda” or “what’s the best place to blah blah,” I started putting together a list of the best craftspeople who would make and design bespoke goods, where you could have your silk woven to order or where you could find the elusive blue Vanda orchid.