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Contents 8

W H AT ’ S O N Upcoming Events in Thailand

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H E A LT H & W E L L- B E I N G Green is the New Black

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CO V E R F E AT U R E Emma Stone

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P R AYA PA L A Z ZO Reliving the Belle-époque Era of Edwardian Bangkok

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T H A I L A N D - T H E U LT I M AT E D E S T I N AT I O N For Passionate Couples

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T R AV E L Luxury Airport Hotels

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D O I I N T H A N O N N AT I O N A L PA R K The Roof of Thailand

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M E DA L L I O N S I N T H A I L A N D Medallion Mystery

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W O U L D YO U L I K E T O T R Y S O M E ... B U G S? Have you snacked on insects, worms, or bugs?

IMAGE: S_BUKLEY / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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W ELCO M E TO A BS O LU T E T H A I L I F E S T Y L E M AG A Z I N E A P R I L / M AY 2 013

For the uninitiated, Thailand’s Songkran festival may seem like one huge chaotic mess. The look on tourists’ faces who have the unfortunate luck of arriving in country during this holiday is priceless. As they roll their luggage down the sidewalk, desperately looking for their hotel, while getting absolutely drenched is a site to see! But we all know that it is a time of fun and enjoyment for everyone in the country. A time for families and friends to come together, put their worries aside, and party till the water buffalo come home. If the heat is really getting to you, and water has stopped being thrown about, then read the article about Doi Inthanon. It’s the highest summit in Thailand, and can offer a reprieve from Thailand’s hottest season. And for those of you with adventurous taste buds, our guide to insect eating will help you to select the perfect grasshopper or worm to satisfy your cravings. You can wash the critters down with a shot of wheatgrass; which is surprisingly good for you (see article). Spider-Man is already lucky to have superpowers, but he also gets the hot girl. See Emma Stone’s amazing look on page 20.

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IMAGE: S_BUKLEY / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Have a happy and safe Songkran!

TIM KNIGHT EDITOR

CREDITS CHAIRMAN: Bryan Lunt Bryan.Lunt@AbsoluteThai.com MANAGING DIRECTOR: Mike Hall MikeHall@Absoluteworld.net EDITOR: James Chanodom Editor@AbsoluteThai.com FEATURE EDITOR: Tim Knight TimKnight@AbsoluteThai.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Jason Hull Advertising@AbsoluteThai.com PUBLISHER: San, Sea and Sand Co. Ltd. PRINTING: Phongwarin Phongwarin@inet.co.th

ADVERTISING SALES GENERAL MANAGER: Callum Mckay Callum@AbsoluteThai.com Mobile: +(66) 083 596 7537 Loran Wanigasooriya: Media Consultant Loran@AbsoluteThai.com Mobile: +(66) 086 267 8235 Vinda Kallayanamitr: Media Consultant Vinda@truemail.co.th Mobile +66 (0)86 355 6218 Paul Eastland: Media Consultant Paul@AbsoluteThai.com Mobile +66 (0)80 826 2315

Absolute Thai is published by San, Sea and Sand Co. Ltd. Registration Number 8837354810366. Registered address 42/11 Taveewong Road, Kathu, Patong, Phuket Tel: 076 342 147. Printed by Phongwarin LTD., Samutprakarn. All material is strictly copyrighted and all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without prior permission of the copyright holder. While every care has been taken in the production of this publication, the publisher takes no responsibility for an errors, loss or omissions that may occur.


ABSOLUTE THAI WHAT’S ON

What’s On

UPCOMING EVENTS IN THAILAND APRIL - MAY 2013

YASOTHON BUN BANG FAI ROCKET FESTIVAL Date:

Sat. 11 May, 2013 8:00 am

11-12 May, 2013 Venue: Phaya Thaen Park, Yasothon Province

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hat/Why : Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival is an ancient local festival, which is associated with Thai traditional beliefs in the supernatural powers that help promote the production of rice crops for the coming planting season. In the rainy season, the local people believe that the god would hear the entreaties that they create a rocket or “Bang Fai” to send to heaven, and bless them with plentiful rain for rice cultivation. So, the celebration is entirely to the god of rain.

dress in colorful traditional costumes and dance to accompany the procession. The highlight of the festival is the launch time. The rockets are fired from their launch platforms one by one. Noisy folk music and cheers can be heard for each liftoff, and the rocket that reaches the greatest height is declared the winner. Contact : TAT Udonthani Office +66 4524 3770 +66 4525 0714

On the festival day, the beautiful rockets in different styles are paraded to the launch site. The local people

E-mail: tatubon@tat.or.th

IMPORTANT Event dates and program details may be subject to change. Many of the festivals and events listed on Thailand’s official calendar of annual events are traditional Buddhist or folk festivals, the date of which is either determined by the Buddhist lunar calendar and waxing and waning moon. These are not staged events. The festivals reflect the rhythm of life in rural Thai villages and local traditions as observed in times past. To ensure you have the most updated information, please reconfirm details prior to travel.

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IMAGE: GOLFX / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Palace. There are also art and cultural performances, demonstration of Songkran in the 4 regions, demonstrations of Thai traditional cooking and paying homage at nine sacred temples which is the highlight activity of this event.

IMAGE: PASSAKORN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL Date:

Wan Lai Bang Saen Songkran Festival: Bang Saen Beach, Chon Buri Province The stupa building contest is a predominant element of the Songkran festivities in Chon Buri. Festival highlights include the ‘Kong Kao’ (rice mound) religious ritual, rarely seen folk games, the traditional Thai sports and Songkran beauty pageant. Other activities include traditional folk games, including muay talay, which is traditional boxing by the beach, and stalls offering local products and food.

Fri. 12 Apr, 2013

April 12 - 21, 2013 Venue: Nationwide

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hat/Why: Songkran is a Thai traditional New Year Day which falls on April 13 - 15 every year. It is one of the most important festival that has been performed not only in Thailand but also in neighboring countries. Songkran is also called the ‘Water Festival’, which is believed to flow and wash away all bad omens during this time. Traditionally, the activities in Songkran Day begin in the early morning when faithful Thai Buddhists go to the temple to make merits by offering food to monks and listening to the Dhamma talk. In the afternoon, Thai Buddhists sprinkle scented water on Buddha images. During this time, the younger people ask blessings from the elders and pour scented water over their elder’s hands. In return, the elders wish them good health, happiness and prosperity. It might be said that the Songkran festival is the respected festival to the elders or the Family Day. Additionally, anyone who goes out on the street is likely to get a thorough soaking. The splashing water over friends or anyone will give them a New Year blessing.

Songkran On The Beach: Patong Beach, Phuket Province There are the procession of Phra Phutta Sihing around Patong beach, floral parade, cultural performance and Songkran beauty contest. Along the beach during the event, people will be fun with splashing of water each other. Chiang Mai Songkran Festival: Chiang Mai City, Chiang Mai Province There are many activities during this famous event, for example, the procession and bathing of Phra Phutta Sihing, riding a Kang Chong (A northern vehicle), carrying sand to the temple and cultural performance. The tourists also enjoy the fun splashing of water around the moat of Chiang Mai which is very famous and popular for both Thais and foreigners. Contact : TAT Bangkok Office Phone: +66 2250 5500 ext 3485-9 E-mail: eplandiv@tat.or.th Website: www.songkran.net

Bangkok Grand Songkran Festival: Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok The Buddha image ‘Buddhasihing’ is brought out from the National Museum for people to sprinkle lustral water at Sanam Luang, opposite the Grand

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ABSOLUTE THAI WHAT’S ON

IMAGE: NIKSHOR / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

THAIFEX - WORLD OF FOOD ASIA Date:

Wed. 22 May, 2013 10:00 am May 22 - 24, 2013 (Trade) May 25 - 26, 2013 (Public)

Venue: IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok

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HAIFEX - World of Food Asia will bring you a more improved platform for your business. Meet your targeted audience, network with key buyers and be updated with industry news. The premier sourcing platform for food and hospitality trade buyers will return from 22-26 May 2013, with an expanded array of the latest products, services and technologies from food and beverage players across the globe. THAIFEX - World of Food Asia covers the entire food and beverage industry value chain. It will feature more than 1,100 exhibitors, once again marking Thailand as the top meeting place for global players of the food and beverage industry.

Contact: +66 (0) 2507 8404, +66 (0) 2507 8358

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IMAGE: ADRIANO CASTELLI / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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ABSOLUTE THAI GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK

GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK WORDS: Samantha Choyce

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tarving yourself to size 0 is so last year darling! Healthy living is the fabulous new lifestyle of the ‘it’ girls and doing it in Bali is easy. With warm weather all year round, yoga studios and fresh juices on every corner, you are bound to come across wheatgrass on the menu at least once a day.

for the rest of the day. After doing some real research for this article though, I’ll be heading out to buy a seedling and will be growing my own at home. The benefits are endless, from the treatment of acne and eczema to dog bites and bruises to cancer and infertility; research shows wheatgrass truly is the medicine beneath our feet.

I started drinking wheatgrass about 2 years ago after seeing a flyer in a café stating 1 shot of wheatgrass is equivalent to 1kg of fruit and veg – that’s a good enough reason to gulp back a shot of grass, not to mention I could be guilt free if I ate chocolate croissants

ABSOLUTE THAI

So what is wheatgrass? It’s a complete food grown from the seed or kernel of the common wheat plant. It is a member of the cereal grass family, which includes barley grass, oat grass and rye grass. Wheatgrass is at its most

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nutritional at its young bright green leafy stage of growth, when it looks similar to lawn grass. At its nutritional peak, wheatgrass has an extremely high concentration of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, living enzymes, chlorophyll, and phytonutrients. Why does it work? Well it all comes down to something called the ‘Juice Grass Factor’. Scientists are still working to find out exactly what it’s made up of. In cereal grasses, the Factor reaches its highest concentration in the young grass sprouts and diminishes as the plant ages. The research shows wheatgrass facilitates the body’s natural ability to heal itself and the Factor has a powerful effect on the regeneration of damaged skin and improvement of health in general. Patients having wheatgrass treatment were clearly showing signs that their immune systems were being enhanced and strengthened.

DR. CHRIS REYNOLDS, AN AUSTRALIAN FAMILY PHYSICIAN, HAS OBSERVED THOUSANDS OF WHEATGRASS “HEALING EPISODES”.

Everyone has heard that chlorophyll is great for you and might think it holds the secret healing power in wheatgrass. However, since 1995, Dr. Chris Reynolds, an Australian family physician, has observed thousands of wheatgrass “healing episodes” and was able to duplicate many of the clinical results such as burn recovery, wound and fracture healing and many other conditions, but there was no chlorophyll in the extract he was using. So what was actually causing these phenomena? Dr. Reynolds’ guess-the Grass Juice Factor. The Juice Factor influences Growth Factor activity, this is what is responsible for cell growth, recovery, repair and many other functions in our bodies. Other research suggests that wheatgrass influences gene expression by speeding up the rate and levels of enzymes and other protein production by the DNA in the cell nucleus. Well that all sounds very technical, but the bottom line is that there are so many cases of people healing quickly and effectively from serious illness like breast cancer and maintaining good health through wheatgrass treatment that it should not be taken lightly. When it comes to the general upkeep of your health it’s cheap and easy to have 1 shot of wheatgrass per day, you can grow it at home, use supplement sachets or head to most cafes.

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ABSOLUTE THAI GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK

There are many great cafes in Seminyak alone with a shot of goodness on the menu. Gourmet Café, Earth Café, Zula, Zucchini, and Biku (my favourite), they have a great way to disguise the grassy flavour if you just can’t stomach it, by hiding it in a green smoothie. The green smoothie on its own is a brilliant concoction of healthy yumminess that is easy to make at home.

WHEN IT COMES TO THE GENERAL UPKEEP OF YOUR HEALTH IT’S CHEAP AND EASY TO HAVE 1 SHOT OF WHEATGRASS PER DAY.

There are thousands of recipes on the Internet, and a friend put me on to a green smoothie with the most interesting ingredient: baby romaine lettuce. I have always thought lettuce is just water, but blending up a whole head of baby romaine in your daily green smoothie with a shot of wheatgrass, papaya, pineapple and orange might be the answer to diets and detox. Here are the surprising facts about 1 head of baby romaine from incrediblesmoothies.com: 1

Protein. Believe it or not, romaine lettuce is 17% protein with 7.7 grams per head. It is also a complete protein. That means that it has all 8 essential amino acids, 9% RDA of some and up to 26% RDA of others.

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Calcium. One head of romaine has 206mg of calcium (about 21% RDA). Blend it with calcium rich fruits like papaya and oranges and you’ll get more calcium than a glass of milk.

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Omega-3s. One head of romaine lettuce contains 44% RDA of Omega-3 essential fats. Forget the tainted fish oils; reach for some leafy greens instead.

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More Vitamin C than an Orange. One head of romaine contains 167% RDA of vitamin C while an average sized orange contains only 92%.

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Iron. One head of romaine contains 6mg of iron, which ads a significant source of iron to the diets of vegetarians and vegans.

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Romaine Lettuce is Rich in B-vitamins: thiamine (B1) – 38% RDA, riboflavin (B2) – 32% RDA, niacin (B3) – 12% RDA, pantothenic acid (B5) – 18%, pyridoxine (B6) – 36 %, folate (B9) – 213%.

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A GREAT WAY TO DISGUISE THE GRASSY FLAVOUR, IF YOU JUST CAN’T STOMACH IT, IS BY HIDING IT IN A GREEN SMOOTHIE.

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Water. One head of romaine provides 16% of your daily water needs with about 20 ounces of water per head.

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Rich Source of Vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and K. As with most leafy greens, romaine is super rich in beta-carotene with 1,817% RDA per head and has 535% RDA of vitamin K.

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Low Levels of Oxalic Acid. If you have problems with calcium oxalate kidney stones, romaine lettuce might be a good choice for leafy greens since it is very low in this anti-nutrient.

10 Mineral-Rich. Don’t let the lighter color of romaine lettuce fool you. This not-so-dark leafy green is rich in minerals. One head contains copper (33% RDA), magnesium (22% RDA), manganese (42% RDA), phosphorus (27% RDA), potassium (33%), selenium (5% RDA) and zinc (13% RDA). So get on board with the new healthy living fad, and don’t let this be a passing trend. Surf the web for recipes and tips, make up your own blends, find out where to buy your wheatgrass seeds and get planting. Green is the new black and let’s keep it that way!

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SPIDER MAN’S GF

Emma Stone WORDS: Tim Knight

IMAGE: CHRISTOPHER HALLORAN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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hen Emma Stone talks about the kind of actor that she’d like to be, the conversation inevitably turns to comedy—which is appropriate, since Stone’s brief but impressive filmography thus far includes a number of funny movies: Superbad, The House Bunny, Zombieland, Easy A, and last year’s Crazy, Stupid, Love among them. But the kinds of comic actors that Stone is quick to mention—John Candy, Diane Keaton, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Gene Wilder—don’t represent the usual sort of formative stuff for a 23-yearold in 2012, especially one who looks like Emma Stone and inhabits the sort of world that she inhabits. It was Stone’s parents who introduced her to that brand of 1970s- and 1980s-style comedy, which, in every case mentioned above, verged on a kind of performative art and based on that information alone, they both sound like people you’d like to know. But that early education led Stone to become a devoted student of sketch comedy. As a kid growing up in Arizona, she studied Saturday Night Live religiously. She even performed in improv theater, which she credits with helping her to deal with near-crippling anxiety. It also went a long way toward forming Stone’s sensibilities as an actor herself. IMAGE: DFREE / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

HER NEXT FILM SHOULD PROVIDE PEOPLE WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE HER STRETCH EVEN FURTHER: ZOMBIELAND DIRECTOR RUBEN FLEISCHER’S PERIOD DRAMA GANGSTER SQUAD.

Her work is suffused with a kind of naturalism, which is a word that gets thrown around when people discuss actors who seem to have a realness or accessibility about them, but which, in actuality, has more to do with their ability to contain competing emotions or sets of circumstances in their performances in the way that people often do in life. It’s a quality that has been allowed to rise closer and closer to the surface as Stone has taken on less patently funny fare like Paper Man and The Help and even this past summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Her next film should provide people with an opportunity to see her stretch even further: Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer’s period drama Gangster Squad, about a group of cops tasked with taking on organized crime in late 1940s Los Angeles, which co-stars Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, and Josh Brolin, and is due out later this year. Stone joined the voice cast of The Croods, a 3D computer animated caveman comedy by DreamWorks

IMAGE: FEATUREFLASH / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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ABSOLUTE THAI COVER FEATURE

Animation. She will voice the role of Eep, the oldest daughter of Grug (Nicolas Cage) and Ugga (Catherine Keener). Ryan Reynolds voices Gy, the love interest to Stone’s character. The film is scheduled for release on March 22, 2013. She starred in the comedic short film, Veronica, alongside Kieran Culkin. The short, directed by Griffin Dunne, is a comedy segment that is part of the anthology film, Movie 43, featuring Kate Winslet, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Uma Thurman, Halle Berry, and others. The feature film was produced by the Farrelly brothers. Stone starred as the female lead opposite Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot by Columbia Pictures and Marvel Entertainment, of the Spider-Man film series. She played Gwen Stacy, the seventeen-yearold love interest of Peter Parker. Marc Webb directed the film, which was released on July 3, 2012. The film went into production in December 2010, lasting through April 2011. Stone was considered for the lead in a reboot of 21 Jump Street, alongside Superbad co-star Jonah Hill. She did not take the role however, after signing on to Spider-Man.

STONE WAS CONSIDERED FOR THE LEAD IN A REBOOT OF 21 JUMP STREET, ALONGSIDE SUPERBAD CO-STAR JONAH HILL. SHE DID NOT TAKE THE ROLE HOWEVER, AFTER SIGNING ON TO SPIDER-MAN. Stone co-starred in Gangster Squad, a film by Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer. She was reunited with Ryan Gosling in the ensemble crime drama, which also starred Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, and Michael Peña. Stone played Grace, who is caught in a love triangle with Gosling’s character, Sgt. Jerry Wooters and Penn’s character, mobster Mickey Cohen. The film was released on January 11, 2013 in North America. Stone will be reunited with writer and director Will Gluck, starring in and executive producing an untitled comedy for Screen Gems. The film studio has given Gluck and Stone full discretion in developing a new project, after the success of Easy A. As of January 2013, she was attached to a script, Little White Corvette, a comedy about a pair of would-be drug dealing siblings. In mid-2012, Stone voiced a supporting role in the crime-based video game, Sleeping Dogs. She signed on to star in an untitled love story feature from Academy

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IMAGE: JAGUAR PS / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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В нашем ресторане предлагается меню на русском языке.

Located on one of the most beautiful paradise shores in the world, is Chaweng Noi’s idyllic resort. An unspoiled beach-front setting, overlooking lush tropical gardens, endless turquoise lagoon, and luminous white sands, it pampers you with the ideal ambience of tranquility and romance. And not to forget, we offer you the very best location to suit all tastes. Whether you want to get away from it all and relax or shop till you drop!

Воплощение вашей мечты в реальность в отеле Impiana Resort на пляже Чавенг Ной острова Самуи. Идиллический курорт расположен в одном из самых красивых райских уголков мира - на пляже Чавенг Ной. Нетронутое побережье с видом на тропические сады, бесконечные бирюзовые лагуны и белоснежный песок балует идеальной атмосферой спокойствия и романтики. И не забывайте, мы предлагаем вам лучшее место, подходящее на любой вкус. Независимо от того, что вы хотите: убежать от городской суеты и расслабиться или наслаждаться походами по магазинам до упаду! www.impiana.com.my 91/2-3 Moo 3, Chaweng Noi Beach, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320 Thailand Tel: 66 (0) 77 448 994 Fax: 66 (0) 77 448 999 Email: info.kohsamui@impiana.com 


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THOUGH PREDOMINANTLY KNOWN AS A REDHEAD, STONE IS NATURALLY A BLONDE. SHE LANDED HER FIRST ROLE AS A TEENAGER AFTER DYEING HER HAIR DARK BROWN.

Award winner Cameron Crowe, for Sony Pictures. Stone will also reprise her role as Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is scheduled for release on May 2, 2014.

Apatow had her change from a brunette to a redhead for her role in Superbad. She returned to blonde for her role in The Amazing Spider-Man. Stone generally avoids discussing her personal life to the media. After Stone was cast in The Amazing Spider-Man, confirmed on 5 October 2010, the film’s director Marc Webb noted that the chemistry between Stone and Andrew Garfield made her the clear choice. That chemistry inspired their off-screen romance. In April 2012, Life & Style reported the duo had moved in together in an apartment in New York City. In a 2012 interview with USA Today, Garfield and Stone both elaborated.

In January 2013, Stone is in talks to star in Guillermo del Toro’s horror film Crimson Peak alongside Charlie Hunnam. The film is a gothic romance set in a haunted house. Though predominantly known as a redhead, Stone is naturally a blonde. She landed her first role as a teenager after dyeing her hair dark brown. Film producer Judd

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IMAGE: MAGICINFOTO / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

“We’re not together in real life!”, joked Garfield. “It’s weird because of that question. We don’t talk about anything personal. That’s just the way it is. Right now, we’re just actors. Em will soon be a producer, too. It’s just something that’s personal, and this is work, really. Even though this interview is a genuine connection.” Stone also explained her unwillingness to discuss Garfield: “There’s such a great sense of comfort in knowing that the only thing you have control over is what you say. People can say and do all they want. If it never comes out of your own mouth, you still get to keep that semblance of what is sacred to you.”

you can play a human being going through real human experiences without being able to walk down the street. If you can’t live a real life, how do you play a real person? It always confuses me when actors work back-to-backto-back with no break. If you live your life on a film set, how the hell can you relate to real people? You don’t know what it’s like to not have people fussing over you all day, and that’s not life - that’s silly movies. I will always want to take breaks, and I wouldn’t be OK with losing that.”

Stone’s low-pitched husky voice is a result of having baby colic, a condition of frequent screaming as an infant, resulting in the development of nodules. She has calluses on her vocal cords as an adult.

AS OF JANUARY 2013, SHE WAS ATTACHED TO A SCRIPT, LITTLE WHITE CORVETTE, A COMEDY ABOUT A PAIR OF WOULD-BE DRUG DEALING SIBLINGS.

Emma has a great attitude about acting, “I realize I have a lot of amazing opportunities, but I don’t know how

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ABSOLUTE THAI PRAYA PALAZZO

PRAYA PALAZZO Reliving the Belle-époque era of Edwardian Bangkok W O R D S : L a u re n c e C i v i l

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raya Palazzo sitting in the shadows of King Rama VIII Bridge offers the unique opportunity of reliving the Belle-époque era of Edwardian Bangkok as Laurence Civil recently discovered.

stands majestically on the banks of the Chaophraya River. It was built by Colonel Praya Chollabhumipanich a Thai-Chinese nobleman and millionaire who worked for the King collecting taxes, and being responsible for the interior and foreign affairs mostly with China, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Some say it’s too far up the river, but I found it easy. I took the express boat from Saphan Taksin to Phra Athit pier, called the mansion and within five minutes their shuttle boat arrived to carry me resplendently across the river. During the crossing a was given a refreshing cold towel and a welcome drink. No sooner had i stepped onto their pier than I was whisked away to a quarters, a palatial deluxe room, luxuriant bathroom that looked out onto the garden and stunning river views. I was re-living history.

He chose the position as it was directly facing the customs house, so could keep an eye on the business from the comfort of his home. The identity of the architect responsible for designing the mansion remains a mystery but one undocumented theory is that as the mansion was being built to start their married life, the architectural services were a wedding present directly or indirectly from the Royal Court. Khunying Suan had been raised in the inner court of the Grand Palace and was the favourite maid of honour to Queen Saovabha who was Queen of King Chulalongkorn, who had

The Praya Palazzo is a stunning Paladio-style built in 1923 during the reign of King Vajiravudh (King Rama VI)

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brought an army of Italian architects to Thailand. The mansion was originally known as Baan Bang Yee Khan, a name taken from the local surroundings. The colonel, his wife and 10 children lived in the mansion until 1946, when the main means of transportation changed from waterways to roads and the family moved to the Sukhumvit area, on the other side of the river. The house’s ownership was then transferred to the Foundation for Muslim Community and was subsequently turned into Rachakarun School, replacing the school’s original were destroyed during World War II. which operated as such until 1978 when it closed due to financial difficulties. Five years later, the building became the Indara Vocational School until 1996 when the school closed.

THE MANSION REMAINED EMPTY AND

The mansion remained empty and neglected for over a decade until it attracted the attention of Wichai Pitakvorrarat, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Rangsit University who enjoyed looking at it while sitting in Santichaiprakarn Park in Bang Lamphu on the other side of the river. He and his wife Preeyadhorn decided to restore and renovate the building back to life despite the costs.

NEGLECTED FOR OVER A DECADE UNTIL IT ATTRACTED THE ATTENTION OF WICHAI PITAKVORRARAT, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ARCHITECTURE AT RANGSIT UNIVERSITY WHO ENJOYED LOOKING AT IT WHILE SITTING IN SANTICHAIPRAKARN PARK IN BANG LAMPHU ON THE OTHER SIDE OF

The renovation was a big challenge, the property is waterlocked. with access only by river. This meant all the materials, tools and big trees had to be brought to the site by boat. Wanting to recreate the mansion as close to the original as possible, Mr Wichai had to seek out materials and the services of craftsmen whose skill were almost extinct.

THE RIVER.

After three years hard work the elegant mansion was brought back to her original glory and christened “Praya Palazzo” which means “Praya Chollabhumipanich’s Mansion”. It was Asst Professor Wichai Pitakvorrarat’s last architectural masterpiece as he passed away in the same year. For the past three years Praya Palazzo with its legendary designed 16 room/suites has been boutique hotel waiting take its guests back to a time when people’s lives were associated with rivers and when Thailand was still known as Siam in the golden period of the reign of King Chulalongkorn. While the lifestyle experience is journey back in time the mansion isn’t a dinosaur, all rooms are fitted with LCD television with a choice of satellite and cable channels, CD/DVD players and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout.

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ABSOLUTE THAI PRAYA PALAZZO

THE RENOVATION WAS A BIG CHALLENGE, THE PROPERTY IS WATERLOCKED WITH ACCESS ONLY BY RIVER. THIS MEANT ALL THE MATERIALS, TOOLS AND BIG TREES HAD TO BE BROUGHT TO THE SITE BY BOAT.

While the mansion is only accessible by river, access isn’t a problem. The ferry boat team are on standby 24 hours to transfer guests across the river at any time of day or nights. From Phra Athit pier the vibrant nightlife of Khai San Road’s bars and restaurants is just a five minute walk away. Hop on the express ferry boat to explore the oldest parts of Bangkok a few stops down river such as The Grand Palace, The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn). Shopping is just 30 minutes down river to Saphan Taksin to connect with the BTS Skytrain. While the express boat service shuts down a little after sunset, getting back is never a problem. Even those who want to enjoy the city’s nightlife can get back. Downtown Bangkok is a surprisingly short taxi ride back to the pier, there is no such thing as the last boat to miss. Simply call the mansion and five minutes later a smiling boatman will arrive to take you back.

bone china, with matching three tiered cake stand. On the lower tier white and rye bread sandwiches with different filling and crusts removed. The middle tier offers a selection of pastries while on the top, freshly baked scones, homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream served on the terrace beside the pool looking out over the river. Dinner was served either on the terrace or in the ground floor Praya Dining room. The menu is a choice of authentic Thai dishes made with recipes from the palace or European fine dining. The service in both location was impeccable. After dark the illuminated Rama VIII bridge is the jewel of the night reflecting in the calm of the river. The undisturbed silence on the quiet side of the river ensures a perfect night’s sleep. An a la carte breakfast is served in the dinning room with tables available on the adjacent patio. After breakfast I moved the the first floor themed Chao Phraya Suite the epitome of early 1900’s luxury

Taking Afternoon Tea is appropriate with the Edwardian period and while the food was a blend of Thai and Western, the service was elegantly British. Delicate floral

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THE PRAYA PALAZZO IS A STUNNING PALADIO-STYLE BUILT IN 1923 DURING THE REIGN OF KING VAJIRAVUDH (KING RAMA VI), STANDS MAJESTICALLY ON THE BANKS OF THE CHAOPHRAYA RIVER.

completely decorated in the style of the period. Behind the king size bed the smaller of the two bathrooms with a shower. The lounge with a sofa armchair and writing desk. From here an uninterrupted view over to the pool to the river and Pom Phra Sumen one of 14 fortresses built in King Rama I’s era to protect the capital. Leading of the lounge the second bathroom with a standalone massive bathtub. This suite is the absolute haven of privacy, perfect for couples wishing to spend quality time with each other. As the mansion fronts directly onto the river and to ensure all guest have a relaxing stay only children above the age of 12 years old are welcome. The stay is very special, it doesn’t feel like being a hotel rather being the guest in the very comfortable home of a benevolent gentleman.

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PRAYA PALAZZO 757/1 Somdej Prapinklao Soi 2 Bangyeekhan Bangkok 10700 T +66 2883-2998 E reservation@prayapalazzo.com

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ABSOLUTE THAI THE ULTIMATE DESTINATION FOR PASSIONATE COUPLES

THE ULTIMATE DESTINATION For Passionate Couples WORDS: Steve Field

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opportunity to grow together and challenge themselves emotionally and intellectually. There is exotic spiritual indulgence on offer too, the peaceful settings allowing for a kind of otherworldly intimacy in which you can explore each other’s hearts and minds.

ithout stating the obvious, some of the activities that couples plan during romantic getaways are best saved for moments of privacy. But others, the kinds that live on as shared precious memories, can be done in a multitude of amorous ways in a wide array of places in Thailand.

Or perhaps, as you may feel inclined on sleepy summer mornings or brisk autumn evenings, all you want to do outdoors. Would any of Thailand’s countless stunning beaches suffice when this mood occurs? Would a mountain trek or forest hike? We think so and we can offer suggestions that fulfill this impulse for solitude

If adventure is your shared passion, then the Land of Smiles has an abundance of activities to choose from that will satisfy your quest for the ecstasy of the adrenaline rush. Thailand also offers a wealth of educational experiences, ones that afford couples the

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and exploration, too. What’s important is that you and your special loved one experience these sentimental moments together, bringing you closer, developing special memories to be recalled for friends, recounted to children and grandchildren, or simply nurtured and called up among yourselves in quiet moments of reminiscence. LEARN SOMETHING TOGETHER Virtually every couple that enjoys what is considered a successful relationship is able to communicate and understand each other. Over time, some couples develop what can only be described as a sixth sense, an ability to complete one another’s thoughts and perceive moods and feelings. One way to strengthen

IF ADVENTURE IS YOUR SHARED PASSION, THEN THE LAND OF SMILES HAS AN ABUNDANCE OF ACTIVITIES TO CHOOSE FROM THAT WILL SATISFY YOUR QUEST FOR THE ECSTASY OF THE ADRENALINE RUSH.

such a powerful bond is by learning something new together. By overcoming what appears at first to be a daunting challenge, but ultimately becomes a shared commitment, you and your lover reinforce your bond. Here in Thailand, there is an endless selection of fascinating new arts, skills, and disciplines to discover as one. But be warned, what you learn here may become a lifelong passion, something to consume you as an individual, or couple, long after you’ve returned home from Thailand. Recommendations: • Wat Po Massage School, Bangkok www.watpomassage.com/2009 • B  lue Elephant Thai Cooking Class, Phuket www.blueelephant.com/school/index.html • Thai Wine Tour @ PB Valley, Khao Yai www.khaoyaiwinery.com/en/activities/activities.html VISIT A COUPLES SPA On any trip to Thailand, no matter the season, and at any time of day, you’ll see couples sitting side-by-side, eyes half-closed with that blissful expression that says “I’m happy”. They haven’t a care in the world, because they’re enjoying a foot massage from an expert masseuse. For lovers, the Thailand experience isn’t complete without at least one spa or massage treatment, together, relaxed, subdued, and at peace. It is the ultimate intimate engagement for women,

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ABSOLUTE THAI THE ULTIMATE DESTINATION FOR PASSIONATE COUPLES

and for men it’s a special treat they can give their special love: undivided attention and pampering with minimal effort! Slip into a couples’ treatment room, share a private soak in a milky herb-infused tub for two, and recline gently on adjacent spa beds, just a short reach from each other, while the soft touch of expert therapists works its magic on your resting bodies. Most spas offer two hour, half-day, or full-day treatment packages. Ample time for you to turn off your phones, and lose yourselves in a carefree journey to a place where the only thing you’ll remember is the state of bliss you’ve shared. Recommendations: • Divana Spa, Bangkok - www.divanaspa.com • Pimalai Spa, Koh Lanta www.pimalai.com/en/spa.asp • The Barai, Hua Hin - www.thebarai.com Explore the Underwater World As we all recall from science class, 75% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. And underneath, in our oceans, lies an incredible world teeming with colorful life. Thailand is fortunate to be blessed by some of the planet’s finest underwater landscapes and habitats, and is regarded by scuba enthusiasts as one of the best dive spots in the world.So, if your soul-mate also happens to be your dive buddy, then an undersea adventure might be in store for you in Thailand. An abundant and diverse array of coral, moray eels and manta rays, schools of colorful fish, and unforgettable giants of the deep like sea turtles and sharks await you. And, for those of us who can’t swim or scuba, Thailand has plenty of places to catch a glimpse of Poseidon’s milieu at some of the best aquariums and underwater exhibitions in the world. Recommendations: • Siam Ocean World, Bangkok www.siamoceanworld.co.th • Mai Zoo Aquarium, Bangkok www.chiangmaiaquarium.com • Sea Bees Diving, Phuket - www.sea-bees.com HEART POUNDING THRILLS Some people just seek out excitement. They live for the thrill of the adrenaline rush, and any hint of danger provides them with unmatched joy. Couples seeking such activities together can certainly satisfy these whims in Thailand. The default attitude in Thailand is sabai sabai, which is to say, “everything’s fine, just chillax!”

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Normally, this disposition would preclude one from the extreme pursuits that adventure seekers search out.

bold flavors and abundance of fresh ingredients, and it makes eating well something that is nearly taken for granted.

However, this lack of aggression doesn’t mean that nobody here knows how to enjoy a rousing good time. From treetop flights-of-fancy, to crashing down cascading rivers, there are countless opportunities for daredevilry here in the Land of Smiles. Hold on tight (to each other!) as you put yourselves through heartstopping exploits on the exhilaration junkies’ ultimate romantic date.

Delicious meals can be had at humble street-food shops almost anywhere, and for a fraction of the price of the many high-end restaurants scattered throughout the country. As a result, fine-dining establishments know they must really bring their A-games. And that’s exactly what they do: mouth-watering fare for all tastes and all occasions, and, since many hot-spots cater to the high-end clientele, they deliver luxurious ambience, too. After dinner, continue the fun with a sampling of the legendary Thai nightlife. Whether you and your love are in the mood for the nightclubs’ pulsating beats, or a more chilled-out vibe, Thailand has it all, especially when you’re looking for romance.

Recommendations: • Rock Climbing - Krabi • Motorcycle Ride in the Golden Triangle Northern Thailand • Hot Air Balloon Ride - Chiang Mai • White Water Rafting - Phang Nga Indulge in a Romantic Dinner

Recommendations: • Dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya: chaophrayacruise.com

Ask any expat who has fallen in love with Thailand how it happened, and one of the first reasons they’ll give is simply “the food!” Thai cuisine is famous for its

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ABSOLUTE THAI LUXURY AIRPORT HOTELS

LUXURY AIRPORT HOTELS An Oasis of Calm in a Frantic World

WORDS: Peter Holthusen

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f ever there was a rallying cry among business travellers and holidaymakers alike, it would be their unanimous disdain at having to spend a night at yet another forgettable airport hotel. And who could blame them? Very often underwhelming compared to their stylish downtown cousins – airport hotels – with their ghastly wall-to-wall carpeting and cookie-cutter leatherette sectionals – had become the sclerotic bête noire of the industry.

once again made the journey as pleasurable as the destination itself, for many even include up to 15 days parking in the room rates. Add to this their sumptuous furnishings and decor, imaginative cuisine, exceptional wine cellars and the very highest levels of personal service, with staff genuinely pleased to see you, I can assure you that your entire airport hotel experience will now be one to cherish. Herein, are three of the finest ...

The prospect of flying out of one of the world’s larger international airports can often be a daunting task, but now, as posh trappings and upgraded amenities become standard fare across the board, the lowly, downtrodden and often-maligned airport hotel, too, is getting a much-needed facelift, and the increasing popularity of a pre-flight stay at an airport hotel has

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RADISSON BLU EDWARDIAN HEATHROW Just five minutes from London Heathrow Airport and the M25 you will find the ‘Best Airport Hotel in the World’. That is what the readers of ‘Business Traveller Magazine’ have voted this luxury 4 star hotel for 7 consecutive years. It is easy to see why. This is a grand hotel in every sense of the word and is designed with both the business and leisure guest in mind.

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The Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow has two restaurants and bars to suit every occasion. The Oceanic Bar & Restaurant is where 1920’s Miami meets New York’s finest steak and seafood, at Heathrow’s new destination restaurant. The Oceanic was the original name for Heathrow’s Terminal 3 when it opened in 1961 to handle long-haul transatlantic flights. Today, The Oceanic is a must-visit for drinks, lunch or dinner, with its subtle Art-Deco styling, a striking centrepiece bar and a mouth-watering menu that celebrates the best of Americana. With its specially commissioned DJ booth, this is where Heathrow comes to play on Friday and Saturday nights.

IMAGE: RADISSON BLU EDWARDIAN HEATHROW

THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF A

A dramatic new departure for the hotel, the Bijou Bar brings West End style to London’s Heathrow Airport. A striking contemporary chandelier presides over luxury styling, premium champagnes and spirits and a decadent ambience that beckons you to stay longer. For the health conscious, the Pegasus Health Spa is a positively serene urban retreat, with facilities including a dry heat sauna, eucalyptus essence steam room, plunge pool, relaxation room with complimentary refreshments.

PRE-FLIGHT STAY AT AN AIRPORT HOTEL HAS ONCE AGAIN MADE THE JOURNEY AS PLEASURABLE AS THE DESTINATION ITSELF.

The Pegasus Health Spa have chosen ESPA as their preferred skin care brand to help them deliver exceptional results through a wide range of spa treatments. Widely recognised as a leading global authority on all things spa, ESPA never compromise on quality and literally go to the ends of the earth to source the finest and most active natural ingredients to offer effective, holistic and advanced wellness therapies. THE RITZ-CARLTON, MARINA DEL REY Located less than five miles from Los Angeles International Airport, The Ritz-Carlton, Marine de Rey offers guests a wide variety of luxury hotel facilities and services, as well as convenient freeway access to some of the city’s main visitor attractions.

IMAGE: RADISSON BLU EDWARDIAN HEATHROW

Enjoy the warmth of the vibrant waterfront, as this now legendary gateway to the famous Marina awaits you in sun-drenched Southern California. The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey is Los Angeles’ only AAA Five Diamond waterfront hotel and is listed annually on Condé Nast Traveller’s Gold List. This luxury hotel lies close to Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Malibu and is literally surrounded by some of the finest restaurants in LA, upscale shopping on Rodeo Drive and an array of recreational and entertainment options. IMAGE: THE RITZ-CARLTON, MARINA DEL REY

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ABSOLUTE THAI LUXURY AIRPORT HOTELS

IMAGE: THE RITZ-CARLTON, MARINA DEL REY

THE RITZ-CARLTON, MARINA DEL REY IS LOS ANGELES’ ONLY AAA FIVE DIAMOND WATERFRONT HOTEL AND IS LISTED ANNUALLY ON CONDÉ NAST TRAVELLER’S GOLD LIST.

a landscaped courtyard garden filled with cherry blossom and a fitness centre, sauna and spa facilities, you could easily be forgiven for mistaking The Regal Airport Hotel, Hong Kong for an island resort.

The 304 luxuriously appointed guest rooms and suites feature world-class amenities, dedicated service and private balconies with breathtaking views over the Marina, waterfront and the shimmering blue of the distant Pacific Ocean.

This landmark hotel is the only hotel connected directly to the passenger terminal of Hong Kong International Airport by an enclosed, air-conditioned link bridge. With sophisticated transportation networks, The Regal Airport Hotel is just 24 minutes from the business, financial and shopping district of Central Hong Kong via the Airport Express Line (AEL), while attractions such as nearby Asia World-Expo Convention Centre, and Hong Kong Disneyland are within easy access by the hotel limousine and public transportation.

With continuous culinary offerings throughout the day, including breakfast, light snacks, hors d’ oeuvres, a variety of beverages and sweets, and access to a computer station – it is the ideal place to conduct business, plan a family outing or simply unwind on a private balcony. You can enjoy innovative cocktails and inspired cuisine in The Lobby Lounge, where you will be invited to relax with friends and fellow guests beside the outdoor fire pits or simply unwind next to the soft crackling glow of the fireplace.

Awarded the ‘Best Airport Hotel in the World and in Asia’ in 2011 and 2012 by ‘Skytrax’, ‘Best Airport Hotel in the World’ for 5 consecutive years by ‘Business Traveller UK Magazine’, and the ‘Best Airport Hotel in Asia-Pacific’ for 12 consecutive years by ‘Business

THE REGAL AIRPORT HOTEL, HONG KONG With two swimming pools, one indoor and one outdoor,

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IMAGE: THE REGAL AIRPORT HOTEL, HONG KONG

THERE ARE ALMOST A HUNDRED LUXURY HOTELS OF THE TOP RANK IN THE WORLD’S CAPITALS. EACH SHEDS A SUBTLE BUT QUICKLY-DETECTED AURA OF OPULENCE AND SOPHISTICATION.

IMAGE:THE REGAL AIRPORT HOTEL, HONG KONG

Traveller Asia-Pacific Magazine, The Regal Airport Hotel, provides superb and comfortable accommodation with no less than 1,171 guest rooms, state-of-the-art meeting and conference facilities, including Hong Kong’s largest pillarless hotel grand ballroom and 30 function venues.

IMAGE: THE REGAL AIRPORT HOTEL, HONG KONG

With six restaurants and bars to choose from, including the renowned Café Aficionado, The China Coast Bar & Grill, Airport Izakaya, the Regala Café & Dessert Bar, Rouge and the intimate Dragon Inn, each with their own inimitable style and atmosphere, featuring an extensive array of Cantonese, Shanghainese, Japanese, western and international cuisine.

quickly-detected aura of opulence and sophistication. Technical precision blends so effortlessly with a cosmopolitan suavity of style that, apart from local nuances of cuisine and décor, they are not always distinguishable except to the most habitual and discerning of patrons. These three hotels are the yardstick by which other airport hotels must be judged.

Located on the 3rd floor, the OM Spa provides an extensive range of treatments to help you relax and rejuvenate, and is the first and only spa facility in Hong Kong to provide couple massage and Jacuzzi in an exclusive al fresco setting, while the 22m long outdoor swimming pool and intimate indoor heated pool with whirlpool are also available to guests.

FURTHER INFORMATION Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow www.radissonblu-edwardian.com The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey www.ritzcarlton.com The Regal Airport Hotel, Hong Kong www.regalhotel.com

There are almost a hundred luxury hotels of the top rank in the world’s capitals. Each sheds a subtle but

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YOUR FIRST VIEW OF THE DAY, EVERY DAY...* Experience ultimate luxury of owning a designer Private Residence Club retreat on the stunning island of Koh Samui. Five-star concierge service, well-being spa, private transfers, courtesy powerboat, the latest golf equipment, private dining, all as standard. The price‌ incredibly down to earth.

STARTING AT THB 1.54M, OWNING A PIECE OF PARADISE HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER


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The Beach Samui is a multi award winning and consciously developed five star boutique resort nestled on one of Asia’s most idyllic beaches in the tiny fishing village of Thong Krut, southern Koh Samui. Designed by the world renowned Yoo team, brought to you by the Absolute World Group and now proudly part of the prestigious Design Hotels worldwide collective. A limited number of The Beach Samui’s one and two bedroom suites are available to own, ahead of the much anticipated resort opening later this year.

To arrange a private viewing please contact Shom Ganguly, Sales Director. Tel: +66 (0) 89 980 7758

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ABSOLUTE THAI THE ROOF OF THAILAND

DOI INTHANON NATIONAL PARK The Roof of Thailand WORDS: Brad Rifkin

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Formerly known as Doi Angka, the mountain now bears (since 1899) a shortened version of the name of Chiang Mai’s last sovereign, King Inthawichayanon. During his reign, he had, with great foresight, expressed his concern for the forests of the northern hill country as the watershed for all of central Thailand. The modern study of rain forest hydrology has borne out his early convictions and given substance to Thai folklore which describes this hill region as the home of the Phiphannam, the ‘spirit who shares water’. Before the King died near the turn of this century, he commanded that his remains be placed at the top of this mountain: his ashes at the summit stupa are visited by thousands of people each year.

ocated in Chiang Mai Province, Doi Inthanon National Park encompasses the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, as well as several lesser summits. The doi (mountain) is largely a granite batholith intruding a southerly extension of the Shan Hills range and forming the divide between the Nam Mae Ping River to the east and the Nam Mae Chaem River to the west. Lower elevations in the most easterly pant of the park are limestone formations and contain a number of caves.

The park covers an area of 48,240 ha. Its lowlands below 800 meters in elevation are warm and very dry during the rain-free season, but the summit of Doi Inthanon, at 2,565 meters, has a climate more like Canada than Thailand. The temperature has been

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known to drop as low as -8 degrees C. and frosts are not unusual during the cool, dry season. January is the coldest month: an average nighttime temperature is 5.5 degrees C. At any season, Doi Inthanon is a comfortable reprieve from the heat of the lowlands. At altitudes above 1000 meters, rainfall exceeds 2500 mm, considerably more than at nearby Chiang Mai. Even in the dry season, November to April, there is rare but occasional rain or the summit may be shrouded in cloud for a part of the day; persistent mist is an important factor in the maintenance of moist forest there. The various sub montane forest formations at higher elevations are a unique asset of the park. They have dominant species belonging to temperate climate families rather than tropical. The summit area supports the only red rhododendron in Thailand; it blooms from December through February. Where mists are persistent, the slopes carry a moist hill evergreen or ‘cloud forest’ with many epiphytes, plants which live on tree trunks and branches but do not receive their moisture and nutrients from the host tree as do true parasitic plants. Instead, they are nurtured by the accumulation of dust particles and humus around their ‘root’ area and the moisture retained there, augmented by frequent bathing in cloud and mist. Epiphytic orchids are also abundant, along with lichens, lianas and fern.

THE TEMPERATURE HAS BEEN KNOWN TO DROP AS LOW AS -8 DEGREES C. AND FROSTS ARE NOT UNUSUAL DURING THE COOL, DRY SEASON.

At mid-elevations, 800-1500 meters, two species of pine are present, Pinus merkusii mixed with dipterocarp in the lower range, and P. kesiya with oak and laurel on drier slopes in the upper range. The pines are thought to be a relic from a prehistoric cooler climatic period when flora from the Sino-Himalayan region migrated southward. At the mid-elevations of the park, much of the forest has been removed by the activities of swidden cultivators and the slopes have converted to fire climax grasslands. Because of its broad altitudinal range and the cool climate of its upper reaches, the park supports the largest number of bird species of any site in Thailand. The Center for Wildlife Research at Mahidol University records a present total of 362 species and expects additions. Many at the summit are migrants from northern Asia. Species restricted to Doi Inthanon are Ashy-throated Warbler and an endemic race of the Green tailed Sunbird; the park is the only site where the Chestnut-bellied Rockthrush and the Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker are known to summer and probably breed. Over 190 bird species are listed as common to abundant. Bird lists are available at the Visitor Center and at Park Headquarters.

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ABSOLUTE THAI THE ROOF OF THAILAND

GETTING TO THE PARK Private transportation is the recommended way to visit Doi Inthanon. The main attractions are spread over a distance of 40 kilometers and only a private vehicle will allow flexibility in planning your itinerary. Motor cycling is the best mode since it allows travel on some of the rough and narrow dirt roads which lead to hill tribe villages. Mae Klang Water fall is located 66 km southwest of Chiang Mai. From Chiang Mai, take Highway 108 to Km 57 (just 1 km before the village of Chom Thong). Turn right onto Highway 1009 and continue 8 km to where the road forks. Mae Klang is 300 meters straight ahead. The summit road forks to the right, reaching Park Headquarters near Km 31 and the summit of Doi Inthanon at Km 48.

BECAUSE OF ITS BROAD ALTITUDINAL RANGE AND THE COOL CLIMATE OF ITS UPPER REACHES, THE PARK SUPPORTS

The 14 kilometer route to Mae Ya Water fall begins in Chom Thong village. A minibus can be hired in Chom Thong for about 500 baht for the return trip. Minibuses labeled in English Doi Inthanon Park can be hired at either Chom Thong or Mae Klang for the trip to the summit; the cost is about 500 baht for the return trip. These mini-buses have a regular touring route which includes the main points of interest along the summit road. Per-person costs will be lower it you can share the tour with others. Unmarked mini-buses also leave Chom Thong frequently for Mae Chaem (decreasing in mid-afternoon). The fare is 20 baht to the point where the Mae Chaem road intersects with the summit road at Km 38, or 30baht to Mae Chaem. If you request it, this mini-bus route will drop you at Park Headquarters, Km 31. If you arrive at Km 31 or 38 in the morning hours, you may be able to flag down another vehicle to reach the summit.

THE LARGEST NUMBER OF BIRD SPECIES OF ANY SITE IN THAILAND.

FACILITIES Adjacent to the Hmong village, Ban Khun Klang, behind Park Headquarters, is a large compound with 11 guest houses available for public rental. Electricity, beds and bedding are provided in all units. Arrangements for guest house rental should be made at Park Headquarters. Campsites are located at the Headquarters area and at the Mae Pan Ranger Station. Two-person tents can be rented at Headquarters. No sleeping bags or mats are available, but a number of blankets are available for rental. Firewood is provided and campfires are permitted throughout the year. Please use caution during the dry season. Food stalls serving meals and snacks are located at several places in the park (see maps). Stalls at Mae Klang Water fall and in the Headquarters area are open during

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beyond the entrance to the guest house compound. The falls are actually twins: two parallel plumes named for King Bhumipol and Queen Sirikit.

daylight hours every day. Bottled water is widely available in the park, along with other drinks. VISITOR’S CENTER A new information and interpretive center is located at Km 9.5 on the summit road. There is an excellent slide show of the park, plus assistance, maps and other interpretive displays. The Visitor Center can also be reached by a short walk from the Mae Klang Ranger station. The trail follows the river up stream, passes the waterfall and reaches the Visitor Center in a few hundred meters.

NAPAMAYTANIDOL CHEDI (KM 41) Continuing north of the main summit road, turn left at km 41.8 over a bridge on a paved road which leads to a magnificent chedi completed in 1989 to honor the 60th birthday of King Bhumipol. SUMMIT OF DOI INTHANON (KM 48) The drive to the summit offers some fine views, especially during November and December, before the dry season haze has become well established. On your visit to the summit stupa containing the remains of King Inthawidhayanon, be sure to read the English translation on the back of the marble plaque nearby.

PLACES TO SEE, THINGS TO DO MAE KLANG WATERFALL Because of its easy access, this unusual waterfall has been visited by Thai people for many years and they continue to come in large numbers on any sunny day in the year to swim, picnic and relax in this beautiful setting. The rapids and waterfall spill over a wide exposure of granite and can be approached closely. A well maintained trail leads up the side of the waterfall, and continues to the Visitor Center and beyond.

On the main road and opposite the summit Ranger Station is a sign in Thai marking a short, self-guided nature trail which descends to a sphagnum bog in a small karst depression. The bog area which displays the red blossomed Rhododendron delavayi, comes nearest to a true montane forest formation and is a good location for bird-watching. If you continue around the bog and down a short distance, you will reach a memorial shrine marking the site of a helicopter crash which occurred in the mid-seventies and killed the first superintendent of this park. Also, be sure and look for a bench that has a sign over it reading “The Highest Spot in Thailand” (never mind the small slope behind that goes a meter or two higher!).

PARK HEADQUARTERS (KM 30.8) The headquarters building has a small camping space nearby, and staff will provide assistance. Access to the Hmong village Ban Khun Klang, the guest house compound, and Siriphum Waterfalls via road intersecting with the main summit road at Km 30.4. An excellent view of Siriphum can be enjoyed by walking or cycling along the track which forks left from the main road just

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TRY WAKEBOARDING IN PHUKET WAKE PARK GOOD FOOD. FREE WIFI. MASSAGE. MUSIC. FUN. APARTMENT FOR RENT

www.phuketwakepark.com E-mail: info@phuketwakepark.com Tel: +66(0)898730187


ABSOLUTE THAI THE MEDALLION MYSTERY

THE MEDALLION MYSTERY A craze for mystical medallions has swept Thailand in recent years. A combination of religion, superstition, and money where financial worth is driven by spiritual power. W O R D S : R i c h a rd S . E h r l i c h

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n every town and village in Thailand you will see people wearing elaborate pendants containing religious symbols encased in precious metal. Some will wear as many as five or six. There are huge areas of every market place devoted to the trade in these mysterious objects. Millions upon millions of Thai baht changes hands every year as people trade money for luck. These bling-sized medallions, or Jatukam Ramathep amulets, represent powerful magic. When a fresh batch went on sale in April, buyers stampeded, trampling a woman to death. Thieves have infiltrated shops, homes and temples to steal the lucrative charm. It is recorded that Jatukam amulet sales may have reached 1.7 billion baht during the past two years.

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In the centre of the cookie-sized amulet, a man in traditional regalia sits in a meditative pose, left hand on his knee, and right hand held shoulder-high, palm outward. Variations can include one or two dragons behind him, or a multi-headed serpent, or a surrounding ring of Hindu deities. Medallions come in red, white, black, silver or gold. The reverse side may show a man standing, or instead display a sun or moon emitting rays, or the 12 cosmological signs. There is debate as to what the amulets actually represent. Some insist Jatukam Ramathep are the names of two princely brothers who lived in this region hundreds of years ago.

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Others believe Jatukam Ramathep is one person, perhaps King Chandrabhanu, who ruled much of Southeast Asia during the ancient Srivijaya Kingdom. Others insist the person on the amulet is a potential Buddha, or perhaps a Hindu deity. Although laymen are not excluded from making amulets, their manufacture is largely in the hands of older monks. In order to make a pressed or printed image, commonly known as ‘phra phim’, a monk needs a mould, a recipe, proper ingredients, as well as considerable knowledge of spells, sacred scripts and magical drawings. Not everyone agrees that the amulets are a positive thing. Frenzy over the amulets, and concern over the purity of Thailand’s Buddhism, coincide with an ongoing public debate about how Buddhists should behave.

IT IS RECORDED THAT JATUKAM AMULET SALES MAY HAVE REACHED 1.7 BILLION BAHT DURING THE PAST TWO YEARS.

The amulet market is controlled by the Buddhists’ Ecclesiastical Council in Thailand, and allows temples to gain millions of dollars, tax-free. Thailand’s Supreme Patriarch announced in April he will stop providing materials from his temple to make Jatukam amulets, but declined to specify why. His temple earlier provided sacred ash from burnt incense, coloured powder from bricks used in temple construction, and other Buddhist-related material to make thousands of Jatukam amulets. Most Jatukam amulets have been made with the blessing of Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawiharn, the Supreme Patriarch’s temple in southern Thailand’s Nakhon Si Thammarat city. When the amulets’ price recently soared, dealers throughout Thailand rushed to set up stalls next to the temple, hoping to get the newest versions. For many, they are becoming a dangerous obsession. Crowds crushed a woman to death, and injured about a hundred others when thousands of people ran toward a school in Nakhon Si Thammarat to buy the amulets. In the same town, during March, an amulet-collecting woman used her husband’s 9mm pistol to kill a man allegedly breaking into her home along with three other criminals, who fled into the night. Never less, for many they are both collector’s items and a cosmic insurance scheme. “Most people request the

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ABSOLUTE THAI THE MEDALLION MYSTERY

COMPETITION AMONG SELLERS IS FIERCE.

One amulet enthusiast explains the attraction. “It is like if you already have 70 million baht. It is enough, but won’t you then want 140 million baht? I observed my life before I bought this amulet, and compared what happened after I bought it, and I saw my business became better and my family life became better.”

Jatukam amulets because it is good for business, good for your family, and good for your life,” said Hua Pongsak, an amulet shopkeeper offering a selection priced at 700 to 2,500 baht each.

Sculptors, who create a unique mould to cast the amulet in a clay-like material, make hundreds of baht by designing new versions. Printers are churning out colour brochures, vinyl-covered posters, and other displays to advertise the amulets. Web sites, including Uamulet. com, offer the amulets online. Ebay is flooded.

MORE THAN 100 VERSIONS OF THE JATUKAM AMULET NOW APPEAR IN SHOPS THROUGHOUT THAILAND, AND

The first Jatukam amulet was reportedly made in Nakhon Si Thammarat in 1987, to raise funds for the city’s shrine. Originally selling for about 50 baht, those early medallions now list for 70,000 to 955,000 baht. More than 100 versions of the Jatukam amulet now appear in shops throughout Thailand, and competition among sellers is fierce. Some versions include tempting names, such as the expensive ‘Arch-Millionaire’ and ‘Money Pouring In’ series.

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Clothing vendors print Jatukam’s portrait on T-shirts, while metalworkers produce the amulet as a thin bronze coin. Other profiteers include producers of raw materials to make the amulets, organisers of blessing rituals, and distributors. Jatukam also appears on ‘incantation cloth’, which is usually a rectangle of inexpensive cotton, illustrated with a wood-block printed image. Temples, making cash by manufacturing the amulets, pump the

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MANY PEOPLE HAVE MODEST COLLECTIONS AND DEPEND ON AMULETS AS A FORM OF SPIRITUAL BACKUP, TO FILL ANY SUPERNATURAL LOOPHOLES NOT FULLY PROTECTED BY BUDDHISM.

money into the local economy by hiring construction crews to build Buddhist shrines, stupas, and schools. Superstition is a part of the Thai way of life. For example, some people rub Johnson’s baby powder on trees, until they can see a number in the powdered bark’s three-dimensional surface. That number will then be used when gambling on the lottery. Successful gamblers will then return to the tree and offer it alcohol, soft drinks, flowers, plastic dolls, frilly nylon sashes, or other tributes in thanks. In some ways, the amulets are simply part of a pre-Buddhist culture. A tough guy may strut the streets with a necklace weighted down by several big amulets, as if to proclaim his celestial powers and intimidate people who might harm him. Others keep their amulet collections at home in velvet-lined boxes. Many people have modest collections and depend on amulets as a form of spiritual backup, to fill any supernatural loopholes not fully protected by Buddhism. Christian, Jewish and other non-Buddhist foreign tourists often buy amulets and wear them as souvenir jewelry.

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Whether the amulet is seen as a religious icon, a pagan charm or simple decoration there is no doubt that it has become an art form in itself. A sub-economy where financial worth is dictated by spiritual power and driven by profound belief. Whether you believe in it as heavenly protection bringing ultimate serenity and peace, a holiday souvenir or maybe simply as a wise financial investment there is no doubt that the amulet is here to stay.

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It’s here

now!

Want to make an Yxaiio party, or have this in your hotel, contact us on +66 (0) 81 3700 103 Phuket, Samui, Pattaya facebook.com/yxaiio yxaiio.thailand@yxaiio.com


ABSOLUTE THAI WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY SOME...BUGS?

WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY SOME...BUGS? WORDS: Steve Field

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AVE YOU SNACKED ON INSECTS, WORMS OR BUGS? Welcome to Thailand, where snacking is not only a way to satisfy your craving, but it’s a leisure way of life.

reaching a complete state of crispiness, heavily salted, and eaten as a protein enriched snack. Throughout Thailand you’ll be able to locate carts piled high with freshly cooked bugs, and grabbing an exotic snack is one of the top things to do while you’re in Bangkok.

Throw away your artificial bag of chips and preserved cookies, because fresh bugs are widely available and waiting to be your next snack!

A portable bug street cart It’s like a mass bug graveyard, abundant piles of creatures on big platters. An insect cart in Thailand will often include 5 – 10 different choices.

Sometimes edible insects are cooked within certain Thai dishes, but most of the time they are deep fried until

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Many of the street food insect carts are attached to portable motorbikes or bicycles so they can cruise around to find customers, who are often beer drinkers craving salty snacks. To order you simply point and choose to whatever bite sized bugs look the most attractive. Twenty baht will get you a small snack, but this time around I ordered a mixed bag full of 100 baht worth of bugs – and believe me, it was way too much for two of us. Once you’ve chosen your bag of insects, worms, and bugs, the vendor will normally give them a mist of soy sauce from a spray bottle and a dash of pepper to top them off.

TO ORDER YOU SIMPLY POINT AND CHOOSE TO WHATEVER BITE SIZED BUGS LOOK THE MOST ATTRACTIVE. 20 THB WILL GET YOU A SMALL SNACK, BUT THIS TIME AROUND I ORDERED A MIXED BAG FULL OF 100 THB WORTH OF BUGS – AND BELIEVE ME, IT WAS WAY TOO MUCH FOR TWO OF US. While eating dog, cat or even horse meat can cause some psychological trauma, bugs on the other hand are much less nerve racking to eat. Some of them are a little scary looking, but just keep in mind that they are all safe and harmless to devour. HERE’S WHAT’S ON OUR MENU (TOP TO BOTTOM): 1. Grasshoppers 2. Giant water bugs 3. Crickets on steroids 4. Silk worms 5. Bamboo worms 6. Crickets 1. GRASSHOPPERS Grasshoppers are one of the top attractions on any Thai bug cart. Most of them are around 10 centimeters or so in length and are cooked fully intact. Eating Method: Plop the entire grasshopper into your mouth in a single bite. How Does It Taste: How Does It Taste: Forget about potato chips, these guys are way crunchier, more like a deep fried piece of pork skin yet much lighter and airy. Grasshoppers do have a little bit of a bug flavor, but mostly take on the flavor of salt and pepper. As soon as you bite down, the entire carcass of grasshopper is reduced; kind of like Cheetos.

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ABSOLUTE THAI WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY SOME...BUGS?

2. GIANT WATER BUGS Giant water bugs in Thailand are known as maeng daa, and their essence is commonly extracted and added to special Thai nam prik chili sauces. I have also eaten them in boiled form which makes for quite an interesting snack.. Eating Method: In order to eat a giant water bug you need to first amputate the hard outer wings. Pull them off before digging into the meat and eggs of the body, and finally fish out all the meat from the head. How Does It Taste: Giant water bugs have a highly distinct flavor that is reminiscent of black licorice or anise. The body is a bit juicy, and to me it tastes a bit like scrambled eggs, while the head tastes more like sour mushy crab.

SILK WORMS ARE PRETTY DECENT, BAMBOO WORMS ARE EVEN BETTER, BUT I GOT TO GIVE MY AWARD TO GRASSHOPPERS. IN MY OPINION, THEY ARE THE CRUNCHIEST AND BEST FLAVORED BUG OF THE ENTIRE THAI EDIBLE INSECT REPERTOIRE. 3. CRICKETS ON STEROIDS I don’t actually know what these bugs are, I just know they look pretty scary and appear to be crickets gone wild! Big bulging eyes and gnarly legs and claws make these crickets on steroids a little frightening to look at. Eating Method: The entire bug is edible, so just go ahead and toss the entire thing in your mouth. How Does It Taste: TThese crickets have some seriously razor sharp legs. When I was eating them I nearly cut the inside of my mouth. Flavor wise they weren’t anything special, far less tasty than a grasshopper, and the crunchiness didn’t permeate through the entire body, leaving some parts mushy instead of crispy. Perhaps it would be beneficial to pull off the nasty legs prior to consumption. 4. SILK WORMS Silk worms in Thailand are deep fried, but they are the least crispy bug of this snack. These little 1 to 2 centimeter worms are kind of like fried little mashed potatoes or gnocchi pasta (Italian potato pasta) bites. Eating Method: Silk worms are like little pills, you swallow the entire thing, and they really go down quite easily.

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How Does It Taste: Silk worms have a very familiar nutty taste, almost peanutty I would say. Like I mentioned, they are the texture of mashed potatoes or mushed mung beans. Just like all the other insects and bugs on this list, they take on the heavily salted flavor.

They are about the same size as silk worms, 1 – 2 centimeters in length. Eating Method: Again, the whole thing is edible, so just go ahead and grab a handful and start snacking. How Does It Taste: Crickets indeed have a rather strong bug flavor. Imagine what a bug might taste like, and that’s exactly how a cricket tastes. Crickets also give a slight dryness to the mouth, almost like a sip of dry wine.

5. BAMBOO WORMS Another Thai favorite bug to eat is thin white bamboo worms which are about 2 – 3 centimeters in length. If you’re not excited about eating bugs, but still want to say you did it, I’d recommend having a sample of bamboo worms. They are very neutral tasting and if you didn’t know they were worms, you may think it was just a cheese-less Cheeto.

WHAT’S THE BEST TASTING BUG? Silk worms are pretty decent, bamboo worms are even better, but I got to give my award to grasshoppers. In my opinion, they are the crunchiest and best flavored bug of the entire Thai edible insect repertoire.

Eating Method: Just like the other silk worms, you just pop these guys like you’re munching on popcorn at a movie.

None of the bugs are bad, in reality most of the bugs are far less flavorful than you would imagine, and are simply just crispy and salty.

How Does It Taste: They really don’t have a distinct flavor to me, and eating them is quite similar to eating popcorn in both taste and texture.

There you have the ultimate guide to eating insects, worms, and bugs in Thailand. There are also many more edible creatures like red ants (which I particularly love) and scorpions as well, but these are the standard bugs included on many of the snacking carts.

6. CRICKETS Normal sized crickets, as opposed to their steroid pumped up counterparts, are small and innocent looking without the ferociousness.

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SO GRAB A BAG OF BUGS NOW!

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THE NEW ABSOLUTE THAI APP Download Today Owners of the iPad can now download the Absolute Thai Magazine iPad application FREE to read and enjoy at your leisure.

Absolute Thai iPad app is a user-friendly interactive magazine which contains extra content not found in our printed magazine, so now there are even more stunning photos, articles and even videos!


Brand new Gym on Beach road, PatonG, Phuket enjoy the fantastic views whilst you work out.

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• diet Plans and suPPlement advice • strenGth, x-fit and trx traininG • male and female sauna and steam rooms oPeninG times: 7am – 11Pm 7 days a week. daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rates availaBle.

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Situated on a magnificent private beach in the sleepy fishing village of Phala, Ban Chang, Approximate 2.5 hours from Bangkok and only a 30 minute, drive to Pattaya. We offer luxurious accomodation all with magnificent views over the Gulf of Thailand.You have the choice of a totally relaxing holiday, or being in close proximity to many attractions and numerous world class golf courses, as active as you want.

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ABSOLUTE THAI ANCIENT REMEDIES

ANCIENT REMEDIES

Chinese influence has had massive historical importance in Phuket. This extends into the ancient traditions of wellness where centuries of knowhow are bought to bare. WORDS: Dan White

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huket is largely peopled with the descendents of immigrants from China who first arrived to work in the tin mines. Establishing very strong cultural traditions, they brought with them millennia of experience in medicine and the healing arts. Although the traditions still very much exist, they are being eroded in a modern world where remedies come in sealed plastic bottles wrapped in plastic rather than from the plants and wildlife that populate our mountains, seas and forests.

disharmony enable the practitioner of Chinese medicine to comprehend and treat or prevent illness. Even though Chinese medicine is part of an ancient tradition it has also been very adaptable in developing in response to changing clinical realities. This includes herbal therapies, acupuncture, dietary therapy and regulated exercise in breathing and movement such as Tai Chi. The fact remains though that the whole is based very much on lifestyle management and the maintenance of harmony to prevent medical problems from occurring in the first place.

The basic fundamental tenet of what in the 1950s was designated ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’ is that every part of what makes up a human being is in constant interaction with the other parts. Establishing signs of

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Phuket Town is one of the island’s oldest and most revered purveyors of Chinese herbal remedies. The shop

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owned by Mr. Ho can be found in the heart of the city. We could tell that it was what we were looking for as soon as we approached the entrance. It was dimly lit and jam packed with all sorts of boxes and products that most foreigners had never seen before. As we entered we were hit by the strong herbal fragrances that perfumed the air. At the counter the elderly Mr. Ho started to gather a wide variety of jars and containers and then passed them along to his son standing beside him. He then immediately pulled out a very old, conventional set of scales and started to weigh out some of the products and then sort them into what seemed to be individual portions. While we were carefully examining the procedure, our Singaporean translator went on to explain that we are here for a reason other than journalism.

THEIR FAMILY AND PRACTICE WERE VERY MUCH WELCOMED BY PEOPLE IN PHUKET AS THE DEPTH AND COMPLEXITY OF THEIR MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE BECAME KNOWN.

His wife had recently given birth and a specific blend of herbs was known to help a woman recover from the ordeal. In order for these herbs to have the desired effect, they have to be boiled with a whole chicken for a few hours thus infusing the chicken with the potent medicine. Eating this super-chicken is apparently known to help convalescent women produce more and better quality breast milk as well as replenish blood lost during labour. Even though the form of medical delivery may appear unorthodox, chickens being less common than needles as medical aids in the West, across the scattered Chinese communities of Southeast Asia it has been known as an effective treatment for centuries. Mr. Ho explained that like many others involved in the trade, he has followed the footsteps of his ancestors, and his son is also following the family tradition that originated in his home province of Guangdong in Southern China. His wife’s grandfather decided to move from Guangdong to Phuket roughly 50 years ago as the political and economic situation became unstable in China during the seismic upheavals predating the rise of Chairman Mao. Their family and practice were very much welcomed by people in Phuket as the depth and complexity of their medical knowledge became known. Although Thai traditional medicine also uses herbal remedies, it is done in a very different way from

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ABSOLUTE THAI ANCIENT REMEDIES

“THIS SHOP IS A CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE SHOP NOT A THAI HERBAL MEDICINE SHOP!”

traditional Chinese Medicine. “This shop is a Chinese herbal medicine shop not a Thai herbal medicine shop! Although I do admit that even though some of the herbs and treatments are different, in many cases they do treat the same illnesses.” So what kind of illnesses can be treated or cured by these mystical herbal formulas? The range and diversity of cures and remedies on offer would fill an encyclopedia. First and foremost, using certain herbs on a daily basis is known to help prevent illness and maintain good health. Second, Chinese herbal medicine can also help cure a wide variety of ailments ranging from the common cold or flu to certain types of cancer. In some cases, ‘special’ ingredients need to be used in conjunction with the herbs. As an example Mr. Ho’s son shows us a jar filled with dried giant centipedes that are used as a form of natural antibiotic. Strangely enough, this very poisonous insect has curative properties. Following these interesting specimens, we were shown what seemed to be a pair of dried lizards. We were told that both the male and female of this animal have to be

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THE FUTURE FOR TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE IN PHUKET LOOKS

placed in wine for seven days and the drinking of the wine is a remedy for some serious liver diseases.

BLEAK. HAVING BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR OVER 50 YEARS, MR HO HAS SEEN

The future for traditional Chinese Medicine in Phuket looks bleak. Having been established for over 50 years, Mr. Ho has seen a steady decrease in the number of Chinese traditional herbal medicine shops. The art is dying. This is mainly due to the lack of interest from the younger generation who are not interested in learning the arts. It is not modern Western medicine that is to blame as this is often used to compliment traditional Chinese medicine and a wide array of Western products are also offered at the shop. It seems to be a part of a general apathy in preserving old traditions. When asked if his grandchildren were going to follow the family tradition, Mr. Ho and his son look pensive and tell us that they would be happy to teach them but they are just not showing much interest. Apparently the younger generations still do purchase some herbs at the shop, but actually learning the complex arts of the business is a different matter.

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A STEADY DECREASE IN THE NUMBER OF CHINESE TRADITIONAL HERBAL MEDICINE SHOPS.

As time goes by, more people around the world are becoming more health conscious and are looking at alternatives to using drugs and surgery to treat illnesses, and perhaps this new interest from non-Chinese will help save this dying art that has been kept alive through the ages. Medical tourism is increasingly important in Phuket. Once people are woken up to the wealth of medical knowledge that is available then there might be a real and blossoming renaissance of the Chinese traditional healing arts and all those centuries of accumulated knowledge will once again be put to good use.

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ABSOLUTE THAI NEWS

HILTON PATTAYA ANNOUNCES PARTICIPATION IN HILTON WORLDWIDE’S DREAM RESORTS PROMOTION

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uests can save 30% off Bed and Breakfast at this stylish hotel.

Hilton Pattaya together with Hilton Worldwide’s portfolio of hotels and resorts today kicked off its Dream Resorts Promotion which allows guests to save 30% off Bed and Breakfast rates at participating properties.* To take advantage of this deal, guests must make their reservations at least 30 days in advance between February 14, 2013 and May 14, 2013 for stays between March 14, 2013 and December 31, 2013. Guests can experience their dream holidays in a stylish environment and indulge themselves with contemporary dining options at Hilton Pattaya. Thailand is also a tropical paradise for sun seekers, hoppers and adventurers alike. Rich in culture and warm in hospitality, this colourful destination promises unforgettable experiences. From the bustling city of Bangkok to the pristine beaches of Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Hua Hin, guests can be assured a complete luxury experience worth sharing! Book by May 14, 2013 and enjoy 30% off Bed and Breakfast, plus Hilton HHonors members earn points and miles for every stay. To book, call +66 (0)3 825 3000 or visit pattaya.hilton.com Terms and conditions • The special offer is available at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and DoubleTree by Hilton properties across Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. • Customers can visit Hhonors.com/resorts to make reservations. • The offer is valid for all days of the week and guests will also get to earn HHonors Points. No minimum length of stay and a non-refundable prepayment of a 30% deposit is required at the time of booking. • For more information on this promotion or to become a Hilton HHonors member, visit HHonors.com/dreamresorts.

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ABSOLUTE THAI NEWS

CHECK IN TONIGHT TO SOUTH EAST ASIA’S FINEST HOTELS

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njoy Huge Discounts in Luxury Hotels with Exciting New Travel Solution

been personally vetted by CheckInTonight.asia, ensuring that only accommodation of the very highest quality is promoted for travellers to enjoy.

CHECKINTONIGHT.ASIA is delighted to announce the launch of ‘CheckInTonight,’ a mobile travel application that will allow travellers in South East Asia to book same-day accommodation quickly and easily.

As well as enjoying fantastic discounts on hotels, users of ‘CheckInTonight’ can also earn credits to use towards a future booking by easily sharing promotion codes with friends. Facebook and Twitter features are both included within ‘CheckInTonight’so that users can share with as many people as possible and increase the potential to earn big money.

‘CheckInTonight’ will be available to the public to download for free from the iTunes App Store from Monday 25 February. This application is based on the existing mobile site, ‘ CheckInTonight.asia,’ which is South East Asia’s only same-day hotel booking system. By extension, ‘CheckInTonight’ is the first application of its kind to be offered in South East Asia, and gives power to both travellers and hoteliers who are looking to secure last minute bookings and fill rooms.

Announcing the launch of ‘CheckInTonight,’ CEO of CheckInTonight.asia Mark Southby commented, “We have found that travellers, tourists, and even local residents are increasingly looking to make quick, short-term travel and accommodation decisions. ‘CheckInTonight’ enables all of these groups to secure a last minute hotel booking, should they wish to.

‘CheckInTonight’ features the three best last-minute hotel deals from a travellers’ selected region, allowing for quick, well-informed decision-making, rather than the toil of scrolling through hundreds of options. In fact, a user can book a hotel in less than 10 seconds!

“In addition, hotels now have a marketplace to fill rooms at the last minute that would otherwise have remained empty. Hotels have full control over how much discount they wish to offer in order to fill their rooms on each evening.”

Each deal featured in ‘CheckInTonight’ is exclusive, with up to 70% savings available on same-day hotel bookings, making this application the only place to find the best travel deals in South East Asia. All of the hotels that are available for booking in‘CheckInTonight’ have

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‘CheckInTonight’ is quickly set to become a must-have, essential application for anyone travelling to the South East Asia Region. The application is also being developed for Android devices, with launch later in 2013.

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ABSOLUTE THAI NEWS

HILTON PHUKET ARCADIA RESORT & SPA COMPLETES A STATE OF THE ART GRAND BALLROOM RENOVATION UPGRADE TO STRENGTHEN THEIR COMPETITIVE POSITIONING IN PHUKET’S MICE MARKET

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huket Arcadia Resort & Spa today unveiled its newly renovated Grand Ballroom, designed to cater to the needs of event planners looking at hosting their next MICE event in Phuket, Thailand. This new state of the art venue project completion bolsters Hilton Phuket’s reputation as one of the most competitive MICE venues in Phuket and Asia Pacific.

secretariat room, and a large pre-function foyer. Organizers can choose from highly customizable menus through the resort hotel’s food and beverage catering services. Planners can be assured of a successful event thanks to the support of an award-winning events management team at Hilton Phuket that has been nternationally recognized for providing personalized touches to meetings.

“The renovation is a significant milestone and plays a key role in positioning us in the international MICE market. The newly upgraded ballroom now offers the latest technology to meet the demands of clients who wish to hold conferences in Phuket,” said Andre A. Gomez, general manager, Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa. “Backed by the impeccable service and hospitality synonymous with the Hilton brand, and given Hilton Phuket’s strategic location on Karon Beach with our dedicated, we will continue to set the benchmark for hosting quality MICE events in Thailand.”

In addition to the business services, conference attendees have access to the resort’s leisure amenities, which includes a well-equipped gym, 15 spa villas that offer traditional Thai and modern Western rejuvenation techniques, five pool bars, and five restaurants that serve international and local cuisine. Phuket is internationally renowned for its pristine white sands and clear blue water, allowing MICE travelers to mix business and leisure. Strategically located on Karon Beach, Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa is only a few minutes away from the popular Kata and Patong beaches – both well-known for shopping and nightlife.

The 850 square-meter Grand Ballroom features meeting and event space that can accommodate up to 800 people in a theatre style setting, making it the ideal place for exhibitions, conventions, corporate events, and private functions. In-house services include an on-site professional audio visual outfit offering easily adjustable fiber optic lighting, sustainable architectural style,

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ABSOLUTE THAI NEWS

DUSIT INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS WITH VILAILUX DEVELOPERS FOR NEW KHAO YAI HOTEL

F

resh off the heels of a project launch in Nairobi, Kenya and a joint venture announcement that will see 5,000 hotel rooms developed throughout China by 2020, hotel management company Dusit International brings their expansion efforts closer to home with the announcement of a new dusitD2 hotel in Khao Yai, Thailand.

portfolio, and dusitD2 is the perfect fit for this project.” “Offering classic Thai hospitality with a modern and chic touch, dusitD2 is one of the most promising brands of the Dusit family,” said Dusit International Managing Director and CEO, Mr Chanin Donavanik. “We are excited to add dusitD2 khao yai to our development pipeline and are confident it will be a great addition to the Phuphatara Khao Yai development.”

The 79-room hotel, scheduled to open Q4 2014, will be part of Phuphatara Khao Yai, a residential development by Vilailux Development Co., Ltd. Owned by major shareholders of the telecommunications firm Samart Corporation, the company plans to build villas and condominiums in addition to the hotel in the flourishing Khao Yai area.

dusitD2 khao yai is an inspired winery / vineyard concept boasting a grill restaurant, banquet-style meeting room, outdoor event lawn, a hot spring spa and multi-purpose library. The Phuphatara Khao Yai development is located a short two hour drive from Bangkok and is only 13 km from Khao Yai National Park, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2005. With easy access to scenic mountain ranges, waterfalls, family-run dairy farms and charming vineyards, Khao Yai is emerging as one of Thailand’s top new holiday destinations.

The hotel, dusitD2 khao yai, will be managed and operated by Dusit International. Of the villas and condominiums to be built at Phuphatara Khao Yai, several will be part of a leaseback rental pool program. “We are so pleased to have Dusit International partner with us on our second hotel enterprise,” said president of Vilailux Development, Ms Oraphan Laoprapatsorn. “Our vision is to have at least three hotels in our

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Phuket is proud to host the first event in the new ITU Long Distance Series calendar Saturday 9th November

Sunday 10th November

Sprint Triathlon (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run),

2013 Phuket ITU Long Distance Triathlon Series

Standard Distance triathlon (1.5km, 40km, 10km),

(3km swim, 80km bike, 20km run)

Relay and International ITU Kids race part of the

Broadcast to over 336 million viewers worldwide,

ITU Asian Cup

in more than 120 countries.


ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET... 9Th & 10Th NOvEMbER 2013 EARlYbiRd REGiSTRATiON NOw OpEN www.ituphukettriathlon.com

“ i look forward to welcoming you to my beautiful home, phuket” Jaray Jearanai, Current Thailand Triathlon Champion

Earlybird registration and sponsorship opportunities reaching a worldwide audience are available online at: www.ituphukettriathlon.com facebook.com/ituphuket twitter.com/ITUPhuket



Absolute Thai Magazine issue 33