This German moved to Thailand in 1962 and never left

Rolf Von Bueren, founder of Dubai’s exotic homeware store, Lotus Arts de Vivre, spoke to EDGAR about his adopted home country.


Robert Chilton May 24, 2017

Do you speak Thai?
Yes, I can read and speak Thai. I took lessons every day for 10 years. Everybody is stunned when I spoke Thai to them. It used to be a serious surprise.

And where is home in Thailand?
Bangkok has always been a great place for me. Food is the most important thing there. I love all the food, it’s so wide ranging. Thai food is like an orchestra: all the ingredients must play together to produce a great sound.

Can you give us a good restaurant recommendation?
Try Krua Kling. It’s very authentic. What about a good Bangkok landmark? You must see the temples of course. Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is my favourite. But Wat Benchamabophit – The Marble Temple – is also very good.

What kind of traveller are you?
I’m like a piece of wood floating and going with the current. If anything goes wrong I always carry a book to read. I take two books with me always. At the moment I’m reading Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari, which is very good. 

How do you handle long plane journeys?
I try and adjust my sleep to my destination when I get on board the plane. I watch a film or check my emails. I’m awful with jet lag – coffee is the trick.

What’s your favourite hotel?
The Puli Hotel in Shanghai is very good and has fantastic interior design in the French bourgeois style. But I stay with friends whenever I can because they can tell me where to go. I’m 77 and to have great friends is a privilege, but to stay with them is an even greater privilege.

What city do you like in your home country of Germany?
I’m from Frankfurt but I find Berlin very exciting. It’s spacious and green, and full of culture, plus a little bit of pretension. I return to Germany twice a year, only for short visits. I feel very estranged from Germany now but when I’m there and I smell fresh bread in the morning... Smell memory is the best type of memory.

Do you like beaches?
I love Bali but it’s being ruined by abominable politicians and the beaches are dirty. Thirty years ago it was an unbelievable paradise. I first went there in 1966 on my honeymoon and it was full of magic.

Where was your last holiday?
I went skiing in Hokkaido in Japan for the fourth year in a row. It’s the best powder in the world and, in typical Japanese style, it’s very well groomed. The runs are short but the snow is great. When you get on the lift somebody bows, but in France they kick you onto the lift!

Do you like to see some culture on your trips?

I always see a gallery or a museum when I travel. Berlin has some fantastic museums, especially the museum of Greek history. The Hermitage in St Petersburg is out of this world. You can go there for 10 days but you won’t see it all. The Napoleon portrait there is amazing – I get emotional when I see it.

What impresses you about Dubai?
I remember standing in front of the Burj Khalifa for the first time and I felt proud to be a human being. It’s an amazing building. I love the quality of everything in Dubai and the cleanliness. But the Burj Khalifa alone is worth the trip.