Porsche - Bangkok. An Electrifying City.

Bangkok. An Electrifying City.


“I was a bit skeptical, but the Taycan has 100 percent Porsche DNA.”
Sihabutr “Tenn” XOOMSAI

Bangkok and Porsche. It’s an infectious, inspiring, and yet irresistibly natural combination—as demonstrated by Sihabutr “Tenn” Xoomsai and his Asian cult event Das Treffen. Under Tenn’s direction, the community has been gathering once a year for the past four years. The filmmaker and journalist organizes the event for Porsche drivers and fans from all around Southeast Asia. On hand for the first time in December 2019: the new, all-electric Porsche Taycan Turbo. Tenn in the Taycan, the Taycan in Bangkok. Electrifying.

Bangkok is thrumming outside—loud, colorful, moved by a rock-around-the-clock ethos—but we begin with a polite “Hello!” at the front door. An attentive glance through the windows of a striking pair of glasses meets our gaze. Sihabutr Xoomsai quickly runs his fingers through his tousled locks, almost bashfully, and then waves us in with a sweeping gesture: “Come on in. Something to drink?” This is manifestly the home of someone who likes art and architecture, masculine coolness, and the air of stylish nonchalance. With its glass elements, steel structures, and exposed brick walls, the home of “Tenn”, as friends, colleagues, and associates of the filmmaker and journalist call him, could easily be in the Hollywood Hills.


Tradition in modernity
The fully electric Porsche Taycan Turbo in front of Café Narasingh in Phyathai Palace.


Outlaw love
Tenn’s Porsche 911 short-wheelbase racing machine and its powerful 3.2-liter, short-stroke, dual ignition engine is his favorite classic for every day.

Having noticed our sidelong glance into the open garage, the grinning Tenn stays put, casually leaning against the wall with crossed arms. “I seem to have a thing for Porsche; there’s no denying it.” He laughs: “I currently have a few friends’ 911s here—the yellow 993 GT2, for example—but the 911 short-wheelbase is mine, as is the 997 Carrera S. There’s generally a lot of coming and going here.” Tenn has already moved on to the living room, where he’s looking at a silver 930 in a glass case that has levitated from the entrance area by means of a lift system. “It took a while before my wife agreed, but now I can actually wash cars in the living room,” Tenn says with a sly wink. “I must be crazy.” No, not really.

Indeed, his story doesn’t sound crazy at all. There’s an irresistible logic to it. Born in Bangkok in August 1970, he attended high school in the United States and later studied filmmaking there. Not quite twenty at the time, Tenn was in Bangkok over the summer when one of his father’s friends stopped by for a visit, but not alone—he had come in a Porsche 911 Carrera. Color: Amethyst Metallic. Built: 1991. Tenn recalls every detail, every moment. “At some point, he tossed me the key to his Porsche and said: ‘Why don’t you go grab us some beer?’ I could hardly believe my luck. I took off right away before he could reconsider and when I got to the store, I had forgotten the money. So I had to drive to and fro again.” What a pity. Tenn grins. “I’ll remember every moment forever. The sound. The feeling. But what really stuck with me was this: the Porsche spirit isn’t an exclusionary thing, not exclusive. As a true fan, you want to share that excitement. Porsche is for everyone.”

Pause. Reflect. Enjoy. Then Tenn hops up with a slap of the thighs and says, “Should we head out? I’m really excited.” The reason for his excitement is down below in the entryway. White, electric, powerful: the Taycan Turbo. This drive, too, is shared in a spirit of brotherhood. Tenn gets to experience the Taycan, and we get to experience Bangkok. Fair deal.


Bangkok after midnight
The Taycan Turbo moves confidently through the bright lights of the capital.

The trip is turbulent and explosive, bewildering and captivating—the Southeast Asian metropolis overwhelms us with impressions. Old temples sprout like rare flowers between concrete and asphalt; single-story blocks with crumbling stucco facades huddle around modern skyscrapers; scents and colors of psychedelic intensity draw us into a maelstrom of sensations. The electric Porsche seems to take a quick liking to the city. It gamely wades into the hubbub, sprints with epic electric power from light to light, and adroitly navigates the tightest of spots with a magician’s aplomb. Crisp braking, precise handling even in staccato, and again and again the instantaneous thrust into the firm lateral grip of the seats provided by the electric motors. Tenn is increasingly impressed: “Hey, I was a bit skeptical, but the Porsche DNA is there in spades. Design, dashboard, instruments, look and feel—pure Porsche. Home. And the performance is amazing!” Then he begins to calculate: “The Taycan is perfect for Bangkok. I could drive for a week on a single charge before having to think about recharging.”


Triumphal arch, pagoda-style
The Taycan surfs through the roundabout with typical sports-car nonchalance.

The white 911 SWB and the yellow 993 GT2, which came along for the swim through the vivid sea of lights, seem a bit winded by the frenetic rhythm of the big city and appear to be sending a message. “Hey,” they grouse with panting boxer drums and whistling turbochargers. “As soon as you get out into the dust of the long haul, up north or down south, away from the city, you and your electric motors stand no chance against our furious engines. The roads of Thailand are good, but you can’t just refuel like we can …” Tenn seems not to be listening. He considers. “Perhaps that’s the magic of electric cars. You want to strike out into the unknown again, rediscover everything, start over from scratch. Techno instead of rock ‘n’ roll, but with the same punch. With incredibly powerful emotions. I’m a fan.”

Porsche - Bangkok. An Electrifying City.Porsche - Bangkok. An Electrifying City.Porsche - Bangkok. An Electrifying City.

Porsche in the living room
Tenn likes to take his 911 3.3-liter Turbo from 1986, with classic modifications of the era, on long-distance trips all the way down to Malaysia.

It’s time to keep driving; there’s no question about that. Bangkok has us in its grip. The white car whispers away, sailing through the dusk into a city of dazzling lights. It transforms into incandescent energy for the elapse of a quick sprint. Tenn shakes his head in wonder. “This car is a such a good fit for this city, with its contrasts between traditional temples and stark modernity. The Taycan is exactly the same, an incredible mix of familiar feelings and totally new inspiration.” Tenn closes his eyes for a moment, seemingly chasing another image. “Doing video shoots back in the day, you’d have Bangkok to yourself after three or four in the morning. It’s different now. Bangkok is never tired. The Taycan feels similar. It’s always on. Wide awake.”


A world of color
Since the Bukruk Urban Arts Festivals of 2013 and 2016, Bangkok has become ever more colorful.


Das Treffen 2019

Notwithstanding the now nearly one thousand visitors and 380 cars — at Das Treffen 4 a few weeks ago in Bangkok, the family character of the event was still much in evidence. And organizer Tenn aims to continue growing: “There are a lot more Porsches in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. And even more friendships.”

By Ben Winter
Photos by Stefan Bogner