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THE NATION ASIANEWS December 7-13, 2008

travel, Food & drink, style, arts and trends in asia

t I e d a M ! f l e s y M Hot!



travel, Food & drink, style, arts and trends in asia THE NATION ASIANEWS

December 7-13, 2008


LURED by LiJiang




NIRVANA checks in

P16 Around asia




P24-25 teAM


GAY superheroes!


editor: Phatarawadee Phataranawik | deputy editor: Khetsirin Pholdhampalit | Photo editor: Kriangsak Tangjerdjarad | Photographers: Ekkarat Sukpetch and Thanis Sudto | writers: Phoowadon Duangmee, SirinyaWattanasukchai, Manta Klangboonkrong, Kitchana lersakvanitchakul and Pattarawadee Saengmanee | contributor: JC Eversole, Aree Chaisatien and Pawit Mahasarinand | designers: Nibhon Appakarn, PraditPhulsarikij and Ekkapob Preechasilp | copy editors: luci Standley and Rod Borrowman | sub editor: Paul Dorsey | contact:, e-mail:, (02) 338 3461-2. ACE is published by NMG News Co lTD at 1854 Bangna-Trat Road, Bangkok

What’s Hot

All aglitter in Germany


rit Gerlach presents a Christmas glitter ball valued at €20,000 (Bt900,000) at Krebs Glas’ showroom in Lauscha, Germany. The company has sold three of these luxury baubles with 12-carat

gold and 120 diamonds. Fifty employees produce up to two million individual Christmas glitter balls during the high season, with half of Lauschaproduced art work being made for export.

Vivorn’s cycle of life

A bottle with class


fter participating in the Montana World of Wearable Art Award Show in Wellington, New Zealand, for the last couple of years, young Thai designer Vivorn Suebhame finally picked up the firstrunner-up prize in this year’s Avant Garde section. The cycle of life - birth, old age, suffering and death – is the notion behind his “Embryo of Cycle”. “All creation and destruction in the world is born with the embryo,” notes Vivorn. Like a sculptural installation, his stunning costume is made out of ultrasound film and patent leather. The model was dressed in a black, white and beige tunic with a hood, top boots and ankle guard. The judges said his creation was a fantastic work in terms of both art and fashion.

Vivorn Suebhame



ans who caught the highpowered concert by Kylie Minogue at Impact Arena last month were full of praise for her fabulous costumes specially designed for the diminutive diva b y Je a n Pa u l Gaultier. Now Gaultier is following fellow Frenchman Christian Lacroix and putting his signature on product design, with a commission from French mineral water Evian to create designs for two limited-edition bottles — Pret-a-Porter and Haute Couture. Collectors here will only be able to buy the Pret-a-Porter bottle, which is now on sale at leading department stores. The shimmering bottle is emblazoned with the designer’s name in large blue letters and at Bt320 makes an ideal present for friends and family.

D e c e m b e r 7-1 3 , 2 0 0 8


Doh! Homer

Simpson wins Turner Prize

aFter damien hirst’s pickled cows and tracy emin’s dirty Bed, cartoon characters take Britain’s top contemporary-art award

‘Felix Gets Broadcasted’ (2007), by 2008 Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey.

Farah Nayeri Bloomberg



ark leckey herded Homer Simpson and Felix the Cat into london’s Tate Britain Gallery this week and walked away with 2008’s Turner Prize, Britain’s top contemporary-art honour. The 44-year-old artist, who included the cartoon characters in his submission, picked up the award from rock star Nick Cave at a Monday-night party at the Tate. leckey was surprised but delighted: “I didn’t expect it. It’s great to do something that has an effect on British culture.” He took home £25,000 (Bt1.3-million) in prize money for works that included the video “Felix Gets Broadcasted” (2007), recreating the world’s first television broadcast in which the plastic cat turns into a moving image. “That’s what I grew up with, and that’s what has ultimately affected me,” leckey said of his focus on moving images. “I can’t differentiate my true desires from movies, from film, from television.” Now a professor of film studies at the Staedelschule in |6|

Frankfurt, Germany, he said his ambition was to have his own show on TV, with music, performance and talks. The Turner Prize whips up storms of protest every year from traditionalists aghast at the avante-garde submissions. Damien Hirst won in 1995 Artist Mark Leckey’s ‘Industrial Light for his “Mother and and Magic’ at Tate Britain, the Child, Divided” exhibition that won him the £25,000 prize. (1993), a cow and a calf, each pickled and split in half. Tracey Emin was shortlisted in 1999 for “My Bed” (1998), an exhibit of her messy bed and dirty underwear. The Turner Prize show, running until January 18, also includes works by the three runners-up: Runa Islam’s videos of porcelain tea sets crashing to the floor; Goshka Macuga’s sculpture and photomontage of artist couples; and Cathy Wilkes’ meditation on the feminine condition — an installation of mannequins, supermarket checkout counters, empty jam jars, a toilet and a pram.

P hotos courtesy of B utoh C o - op T hai l and

virtually to the breaking point. On Friday and Saturday the masters will perform. The festival is backed up until Saturday by the Butoh Photo Exhibition of works by Finland’s Stephan Funke, and until January 3 by another display of butoh photos by Israeli Boaz Zippor at the Patravadi Theatre. “Butoh,” Zippor explains, “is described by some as ‘the dance of darkness’, while photography is the art of capturing light. “The whole process of butoh dance derives from the personal vision the dancer has. “But instead of trying to explain this vision using a camera,” he says, “the photography process has to remain obscure and elusive, as each pose is like a Rorschach test, in which every viewer sees his own version of the vision.” The Patravadi is also welcoming back Katsura Kan, who, more than a decade ago, with support from the Japan Foundation, pioneered butoh teaching and performance in Thailand. Influenced by butoh, experimental Born in a storm, butoh has broken new ground productions like the Patravadi’s “Kong Khao Noi” and Chulalongkorn Univeracross the world, as seen this week and sity’s “The Pink Elephant” showed how through the month in and around Bangkok butoh is truly international, not merely Japanese. Pawit Mahasarinand and B-Floor Theatre at the Tadu ConSince then, many Thai theatre artists temporary Art gallery. – most notably B-Floor’s Teerawat utoh might at first seem an Notwithstanding some of the per- Mulvilai and Khandha Arts ’n Theatre odd subject for a festival, formers’ cancellations because of the Company’s Sonoko Prow (both former like the one now onstage in airport mess, it’s proceeding at a stir- students of Kan) – have been integratBangkok. It was born of de- ring pace. ing its techniques into their unique spair in post-Hiroshima On Tuesday and Wednesday butoh styles. Japan and earned the nick- masters Takayuki Takita and Yuko KaNext Sunday through December 17, name “dance of darkness”. wamoto will conduct beginner-level Kan will conduct workshops at the theBut time lifts the darkness, and the workshops. atre. amalgam of dance, theatre and improvIf you’re interestAnd, on the last A dance like no other isation, influenced by traditional Japa- ed you can join in Saturday of the year nese theatre and German expressionist the preparatory his performance For details on “Butoh Rising”, call dance, has emerged from controversy stretching techwill be a highlight (089) 047 3016 or visit www. as a universal art form. niques and move of Suan Silp Ban “Butoh Rising” – the fourth Interna- on to altered states Din’s “All About The Patravadi Theatre can be tional Butoh Festival Thailand – is be- of consciousness, Arts” festival in reached at (02) 412 7287 and www. ing hosted by Butoh Co-op Thailand taking your body Ratchaburi.

Out of the darkness



Go SHOPPING Donny, Bt2,390

Shogun with Suit Up, Bt2,490

Walking on air The funky footwear with a Thai name finally arrives in Bangkok Kitchana L ersakvanitchakul

ph o t o / ekka r at s u kpetch


anuk is no longer just a Thai word that translates loosely as the pursuit of happiness. Today, it’s also the name of a brand of fashion footwear with an unusual sense of style. “You’ll feel like you’re walking barefoot,” says Vitoon Tatiyamaneekul, general manager of local distributor Star Fashion Group, who invited a bevy of celebs to model the shoes and sandals at the launch party for Sanuk held recently at Zen in CentralWorld. Not that Sanuk is new in global terms. In fact, it’s been around since July 1997 when American businessman Jeff Kelley started making sandals out of inner tubes and indoor-outdoor carpet. Sanuk’s first full year of operations was 1998. “Jeff ’s very fond of Thailand and he loves the Thai people’s feeling of enjoyment and happiness,” says Vitoon. “Sanuk is a type of fashion ||

shoe that combines sandal with casual. The uppers are fashioned from cloth while the soles are made of ethyl vinyl acetate.” International stars are also pursuing Sanuk. Hollywood celebs spotted sporting Sidewalk Surfers include Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Luke Perry and Matthew McConaughey. “They’re colourful and light,” says Vitoon. “They can be worn for all occasions and they look great with both jeans and shorts.” Sidewalk Surfers start at Bt2,000 while sandals are priced from Bt690. Sanuk won the Footwear Product of the Year 2007 prize from America’s Footwear Plus magazine and was voted “Footwear Item of the Year 2007” at t h e 2 0 0 8 To p In n o v a t o r Awards. Sanuk is available at Zen, Siam Paragon, the Emporium and Central Chidlom, Bang Na and Lat Phrao.

Taos and Wild Flower, Bt2,290

Frayed Not, Bt1,490

Workday, Bt2,590 Basket Case, Bt2,290

The Cruiser, Bt2,890

Plain Jane (black), Bt2,290 and the Starlet, Bt2,190 D e c e m b e r 7-1 3 , 2 0 0 8


CREATIVEAS CHRISTM es! Free Santa’s elv gifts Make your own h this season withan nothing more t vention the power of in

Sa en gm an ee P at ta ra w ad ee P h ol dh am pa li t n an d K h et si ri


P hoto courtesy of B ig K nit

tmas gifts etting great Chris matter e pl sim a be to used t for of dashing off a lis tougher t lo a ts ge It a. Sant buy gifts when you have to d an le, op pe r he for ot presents. actually shop for r again when you sie But it gets ea fts, and we’re not make your own gi sy cards with ee talking about ch n wool glued to peanuts and cotto them either. go, how to do it, Here’s where you up with when a e m and what you co plied. ap little creativity is

December 7-13, 2008




it’s not ‘scrap’ at all, is it? Who doesn’t like scrapbooks? Scrap It, a fairly new shop at 49 Terrace on Sukhumvit Soi 49, is a playground for the imagination set up by Annata Mahamongkon and her sisters after their shocking-pink online shop selling imported scrapbook materials went into orbit. The humble scrapbook leaps beyond casual photo album to become a repository of what Annata calls “impressive stories”. “I used to have to fly to Singapore to buy scrapbook supplies because I couldn’t afford the stuff in Thailand,” she says, so the three siblings started importing gear from the US. The store has a stock of regular photo albums and scrapbooks, but the emphasis is on do-it-yourself, with kits, iron-on patterns, printed papers, colourful ribbons, stamps, stickers and enough stationery to set up your own publishing house. Where to begin? Sign up for a workshop. The staff will show you how to make an incredible scrapbook, greeting cards and photo frames. Akemi Sugie from Japan teaches scrapbook making as an art form, with specialised cropping, matting and layouts. You pay somewhere around Bt1,500 for a course, and that includes all the stuff you need. The shop is open weekdays from 10 to 7 and on weekends from 11 to 6. Call (02) 258 1585 or visit www. | 10 |

this is self-exPression Show your support for the latest prime minister or tell your boyfriend to hit the road with an unequivocal message on a T-shirt at Applique. The shop, with outlets at Siam Paragon, Siam Square and Central Pinklao, sells cute iron-on motifs inspired by the alphabet, animals, outer space, nature, sports and more. Print up a shirt or a bag and then doll it up more with fancy ribbons, lace, beads and embroidery. There are T-shirts, handbags, tissue cases, pencil holders, cards and dolls at the shops awaiting fur-

without dropping a stitch Don’t diss knitting. If you broke your arm and the bone pieces didn’t knit back together, then where would you be? You certainly wouldn’t be able to wield a pair of knitting needles the way they do at Big Knit to make sweaters, scarves, cute dolls and other excellent things. So the grannies there are very skilled, yes, but so are the Japanese housewives, university students and all kinds of other enthusiasts, young and old.

ther adornment. “This is perfect for young people who want to make their own stuff but aren’t good at needlework,” says owner Piyanuch Sirikulchayanont. “The iron-on decals can be the first step in discovering your creativity.” There are regular, free workshops on needlework and knitting, and at Paragon at the end of this month there’s a class on making calendars and magnet boards. You pay about Bt1,200 and get all the stuff you require. Call (02) 634 4133 or visit www. And if you show up not knowing your yarn from a yak, every single one of them is happy to

help get you started. One of the first things you learn is that knitting can be like meditation. In fact, the shop holds needlework classes at Samitivej Hospital to soothe recuperating patients. What to make? How about knitting caps for kids undergoing chemotherapy or monks in the chilly North? The shop has hundreds of craft books in English, Japanese and Thai and an eye-popping selection of yarns from Europe. It’s on Sukhumvit Soi 49, next to the Dental Hospital, and is open daily from 9 to 9. Call (02) 260 5050 or visit www. December 7-13, 2008

your book of life Homemade, one-of-akind notebooks are Phantipa Thanchookiet’s speciality, and she’ll show you how easy it is – a little folding, some punching, a bit of sewing and binding – at her home on Sukhumvit Soi 35. She’s the genius behind

the distinctive “likay” notebooks sold at Geo on Soi Thonglor. “You can choose your paper according to colour and texture and attach any mementoes you like,” says london-schooled Phantipa. “The idea is that people will have a surprise when they open the book and can interact with every page.” Her classes have only three students at a time, and they learn six bookbinding techniques over 16 hours for Bt5,500. Call (089) 699 6509 or (02) 258 8775 or visit www.likayBindery.

Zoned out on crafts Siam Paragon has 500 square metres on the fourth floor that are, collectively, hobby heaven. Fifteen shops insist that you try knitting, crocheting, quilting, painting, decoupage, crystal beading – anything manual, really. This is the Hobby Club, a comfy place to learn stuff and swap tips and techniques. Crystaline Mosaics deals in mosaic tiles made of resin, any shape and colour, ideal for picture frames, table clocks, scrapbooks and furniture. Craft House December 7-13, 2008

Paint anything, anywhere Put a smile on your sweetheart’s face with charming, hand-painted wooden furniture from the Sha Bha Shine Botanical Art School. On Charun Sanitiwong Soi 77, it’s owned by talented design duo Piyanat “Jam” Terapongsakorn and Yaovapa Saijun. What’s on offer is English country-style furniture and

cute decorative items with beautiful hand-painted floral motifs. Sign up for a class and learn how to paint fancy designs on any kind of surface, including fabric. A day-long session costs Bt1,300, a 10-class course Bt12,000, with all materials provided.

The school is open daily except Monday from 9 to 5. Call (02) 885 4788 or (089) 231 5021 or visit www.

where to Pinn your passion

will turn you into a nimble needleworker capable of producing pieces so stunning that Kwanruen and Handicraft magazines will want to show them off. That’s good, because the shop belongs to Sri Siam Publishing, which puts out both mags. The club is open daily from 10.30 to 10. Call (02) 690 1000, extension 1869.

Making this a better, hand-crafted world for 16 years, Pinn has its main store on the third floor of CentralWorld, a happy little needlecraft factory producing crocheted scarves, knitted dolls, patchwork and beaded jewellery. Instructors are always on hand to get beginners into the swing, and there are free

classes, reasonably priced courses and hundreds of how-to books and DVDs. “Needlework is a relaxing hobby,” says Pinn’s Pornpimon Sae-lee. “It’s a great way to balance your life when you spend all day at the computer.” The shop is open daily from 10 to 10. Visit www. or call (02) 255 9606. | 11 |

Hip Hangout




| 12 |

BELLY BEAUTIFUL Find sky-high Mideast magic at the Cafe Mozu, where dancers shake tummies and shooters keep you airborne Manta K langboonkrong

T ph o t o / ekka r at s u kpetch

ike it or not, it appears we are all facing a little belt-tightening as both external and internal disruptions start tilting at our bank balances. Of course, a good deal is welcome in the best of times, whether scouting for a new car or a bottle of wine. If wine is your quarry, here are a few suggestions for the weeks ahead. Smaller speciality wine shops can offer good bargains, particularly on wines they’re importing themselves. Festive Wine Co, on the third floor of All Season’s Place on Wireless Road, specialises in Australian wines, several of which were award winners in a recent Food & Beverage Association of Thailand competition. Wines from Gnangara in Western Australia, Pirramirra in McLaren Vale and Elderton from Barossa all get high marks from James Halliday, Australia’s best-known wine critic. Each is being offered at two-for-one during the holidays, putting them in the Bt750-toBt1,000 range. Festive is also offering a couple of very drinkable Spanish wines at excellent prices. Silom Cellars on the second floor of the Silom Complex has some hard-to-find champagnes at very competitive prices, along with a nice selection of quality wines from all major countries. It’s worth a visit if only to get on their mailing list for some of their excellent tastings. Online shopping can also save you time and money in the weeks ahead. Strategic Catering Co, a leading hotelrestaurant supplier, has a broad range of products, including natural fruit juices, pastas and olive oils augmenting its extensive wine list. Owner Somchai Chancharoensin regaled his club members with a lavish tasting and buffet at the Four Seasons Bangkok last week, where guests perused multiple gift hampers starting as low as Bt1,100 and tasted more than 100 international wines. Standouts included Australia’s multipleaward-winning De Bortoli, Pascaul Toso from Argentina, Santa Monica from Chile and Alvear’s exquisite line of premium sherries from Spain. Check out the website, www.StrategicCatering. com, for details on joining its wine club.

hey’ve got belly dancers at the Cafe Mozu! Okay, so they’re from Canada, but they are professionals, and you should see what they do with swords and candles. The spanking new restaurant and bar in the State Tower certainly stands out from others that take their inspiration from the Arabian Nights and other Middle Eastern sources. It’s outdoors, way up on a high floor overlooking a pale-green pool, and it’s decked out in flashy red and gold embroidery. Cafe Mozu has flair. The belly dancers (from Middle Canada, probably) start shimmying their middles at 8.30 and don’t stop until everyone who wants to has satisfied their “always wanted to try that” cravings. On the other hand, the cushions carpeting the floor are absurdly comfortable for lounging, both tan-

talisingly close to the bar and all the way down to poolside. Italian DJ Marcello spins a flowery mix of chill-out house, Latin house and nu-jazz house every night from an early hour till closing. That gives you plenty of time to work through the bar list – all the standards plus a dangerously extensive, all-signature menu of shooters, almost a hundred in just as many flavours and styles, some of them on fire. The shooters have their own categories: appetisers, main courses and desserts. They might have whiskey, bourbon, gin or rum, they might have absinthe, or they might involve mixing beer with juices or sauces and condiments. You may need help. Ask any smoker for advice. Cigarettes and cigars are puffed anywhere on the premises, but unfortunately there’s not a single bubbling shisha pipe in sight.

Mozu on over Cafe Mozu is open daily from 6am to 2pm and again from 7.30 onwards. It’s on Level M of Lebua at State Tower on Silom Road, with the Saphan Taksin Skytrain station not far away (on the ground, silly). Call (02) 624 9555 or get uploaded to D e c e m b e r 7-1 3 , 2 0 0 8

DIY DINING OUT What’s the difference between Pepper Lunch and any given suki joint? Top-class Japanese steak at great prices


There are three branches – at CentralWorld Plaza, Jamjuree Square and the MBK Centre. Call them all at (02) 646 1914. D e c e m b e r 7-1 3 , 2 0 0 8

hat do you mean we’re going to a restaurant but we have to cook our own food? Oh, get your shoes on and relax – it’s Pepper Lunch, and it’s fun! You can whip up a steak or some pepper rice. The cooking instructions are spelled out right there on a paper ring wrapped around the 260-degree-Celsius pan, but the staff knows Thais don’ t read, so they explain everything verbally just in case. That’s one hot pan, so you have to be careful not to overcook. If you like your steak rare or medium, it’ll be ready in a flash, and then you have to get it on a plate or push it out of the way. Because that’s one hot pan. It stays at 260 degrees for 20 minutes, then automatically plummets to 80 degrees, just to keep your food warm. So don’t add the sauce during the cooking time – it immediately drops the temperature. Once you’re down to 80, spoon on the honey brown sauce or the hotter garlic soy sauce. And don’t even think about stealing the

pan: It’s not only heavy, it needs its own technology to work properly. You choose among beef, pork, chicken and salmon. The imported beef is superb and reasonably priced: 150 grams of Shimofuri striploin for Bt375, 130g of Yawaraka loin for Bt385, 200g of Tokusen ribeye for Bt385. The pepper rice starts at Bt110, steak at Bt145 and hamburger at Bt150. You might come across lamb as a special promotional option – they have it at the home branches in Japan, but it’s too expensive for the Thai market. Egg can be ordered as an extra for steak dishes, and cheese and curry powder for rice, but you can’t swap the add-ons. Soups and salads are also on offer. Pepper Lunch may be a fast-food restaurant, but it offers Japanese steak at a decent price, and the service is quick, within a few minutes of your arrival. Keep in mind that cooking your own meal means you’re going to smell like a kitchen, so skip Pepper Lunch if you’ve got an important meeting later. Yes, there’s takeaway, but who wants to miss out on the fun of DIY dining out? | 13 |

ph o t o / ekka r at s u kpetch



Phoowadon Duangmee


A linger in

Lijiang Chinese tourists swarm the place, but it’s so charming that you just have to learn to share | 14 |

aybe the best way to enjoy old Lijiang town in China’s northern Yunnan province – so old it’s a World Heritage site – is to find a nice little inn, plop down on one of those hard wooden chairs and have a glass of yak-butter tea or a light Tsingtao beer. Unfortunately, after a few sips, you’re going to be complaining about the Chinese tourists. They’re everywhere, funnelling along the narrow, cobblestoned lanes. They choke the old marketplace and overwhelm the rustic (yet chic!) pubs. There’s no avoiding them. Get over it and join the footloose swarm. Exotic and genuinely amazing, Lijiang is an escape. There are few Westerners to be seen – you’re a stranger in a strange town. The old town is, specifically, 800 years old, a settlement of the ethnic Naxi. Before Mao Zedong made his great leap forward it was a hub on the “Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road” from southwest China. Far less famous than the Silk Road, the Tea Road was nevertheless lucrative. The traders, their nags laden with bricks of tea bricks and bags of salt, negotiated some ver y high and dangerous terrain on their way to Tibet. In return they’d get … more horses. Lijiang was in the middle of all this to and fro. D e c e m b e r 7-1 3 , 2 0 0 8

“The caravans usually stopped over here, stocking up on supplies and swapping news,” says Wanchai, my Chinese guide. “Lijiang’s marketplace was vibrant and bulging with tea, horses and all kinds of produce from far afield.” You don’t see Tibetan horses any more, of course – maybe the odd lazy donkey posing for tourists – but you can certainly buy dried yak meat if a taste of Tibet is what you crave. Te a s h o p s , n a t u r a l l y, a r e abundant. Lijiang is more famous now for its waterways, small streams criss-crossing like a huge spider web slung around the town. Lining the tiny cobbled streets are traditional Naxi houses, made of wood and mud brick and with slanted terracotta roofs. I’ve been to Lijiang twice in fi ve ye a r s , a n d what I always do is wake up early, before the tourist parade begins, and follow the Naxi to their food markets. Out on the east end of the old town there’s a beauty of a market with spec tac ular Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as a backdrop. D e c e m b e r 7-1 3 , 2 0 0 8

The shopping scene is always chaotically e xotic, the vendors invariably blowing your mind with their live chickens, piglets and softshelled turtles and all sorts of plants and roots. You think you have some idea what

cheap guesthouse with a classic Naxi courtyard. “Lijiang was famous among traders hundreds of years ago. Now the old town enjoys flocks of travellers.” Lijiang is halfway between Kunming and Zhongdian, the Tibetan county

the Chinese eat, but it’s quite an experience watching housewives queuing up for custom-butchered dog meat. “It used to be so much more vibrant, but Lijiang has never lost its charm,” says the innkeeper at Dongba House, a

renamed “Shangri-La” by the Chinese government. Those in pursuit of James Hilton’s classic adventure “Lost Horizon” often stop in Lijiang before braving the high altitudes of the Tibetan Plateau. | 15 |

p h o t o / Ph o o wad o n D uangmee

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain


Hotel holistic Mixing 1940s charm with modern delights, Ariyasomvilla appeals to the spirit. You might even find yourself meditating

K he t sirin Pholdhampalit

p h o t o / ekkarat suk p etch


here are more and more great ways to escape the Bangkok heat and hassles without actually leaving the

city. How does this sound: A boutique hotel in a Tudor-style house built in 1942 by Phra Charuen Visavakum, the first dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Engineering? Ariyasomvilla is right downtown, has a lovely spacious garden with lush palm trees, and – as a hotel – has been open just three months. T he house that Phra Charuen and his wife Aroon Shenakul built has been given fresh glory by their granddaughter, landscape architect Pariya Shenakul, and her husband, interior designer David Lees. They’ve added a new building, in the same style as the main house, to provide more guestrooms. Being a guest is very much a matter of stepping back into more leisurely times, all things being teak-qual, in the Siamese fashion. Lees has set out a huge collection of antiques, artefacts and paintings, with | 16 |

murals depicting the flora surrounding the hotel. Among the 24 rooms are 34-squaremetre studio rooms, 42sqm deluxes, 60sqm executive deluxes and 70sqm executive suites. Until December 20 the rates range from Bt3,450 to Bt7,950, inclusive of English breakfast. Each room is furnished with teakwood furniture with silk upholstery in contrasting shades – green, purple, orange and pink. T h e b e d s h ave reading lights, something that’s a rather rare treat in Thailand’s dimly lit inns. And there’s a large reading room on the premises too. The amenities match those of a five-star hotel. Restrooms are spacious and every room has an LCD TV, DVD player and free Internet access, and a safety deposit box big enough for a laptop. Spa rooms will open soon. Meanwhile, in keeping with the name Ariyasomvilla – which translates as “sanctuar y of enlightenment” – there’s a meditation hall where wellness workshops are regularly held.

Book a break Ariyasomvilla is at the end of Sukhumvit Soi 1. Call (02) 254 8880-3 or visit

D e c e m b e r 7-1 3 , 2 0 0 8


Holiday on the farm

Now,, don’t have a FIT How to escape the gravitational pull of the black hole called JEALOUSY Aree C haisatien

Ph o t o / L A T - W P


ven among the nastier emotions, jealousy is a kick in the head. It always brings along its pals – frustration, anxiety, depression and, nastiest of all, anger. No wonder there’s invariably a queue of psychologists and sociologists when jealousy puts on a show. It’s a challenge spiritually, too, as described last Sunday at the Wimuttayalaya Institute by Phra Maha Wutthichai “Wor” Wachiramethee. The monk’s talk on “Jealousy Management” was addressed to everyone who’s felt its bite, whether in being jealous about someone else or being on the receiving end. “The clergy are no exception,” he said, registering surprise among his listeners. It results, Phra Wor said, because we want to be as good or as happy as someone else seems to be. It’s a “mirror”, reflecting our mind’s desire to claim other people’s good fortune as our own. And it makes us happy if the objects of our jealousy run into bad luck. Left unmanaged, the monk warned, j e a l o u s y ’s b l a c k i n f l u e n c e c a n accumulate and cause cancer. D e c e m b e r 7-1 3 , 2 0 0 8

He offered a series of pointers on freeing yourself from the emotion: ¬ Remember that we are harming the objects of our jealousy, causing suffering to another person. ¬ Remember that life is short, and that negative feelings waste time. ¬ Filled with jealousy, say to yourself, “I have had it!” Give up on the feeling and let go of the rage. Otherwise a karmic chain reaction is likely. ¬ Improve yourself. You can be as good or better than anyone you’re jealous toward. ¬ Befriend the object of your jealousy. ¬ Develop mudita, one of the Four Buddhist Virtues. It means rejoicing in someone else’s joy. ¬ Practise vipassana meditation to reach the highest level of jealousy management. Watch how your mind works in everything you do and observe that jealousy arises from something in the past. If you can stay in the present, jealousy finds itself unwelcome, and ultimately, with continuous practice, you’ll see that there is no self, and thus no one to experience jealousy.

The beautiful Jim Thomson Farm in Nakhon R a t c h a s i m a ’s Pak Thong Chai district is celebrating the holiday season Isaan-style from December 20 to January 4 and treating visitors to “agro-cultural” tours. Indulge in the impressive array of fresh vegetables, fruits and other farm produce any day from 9 to 5. Admission is Bt50 for adults and Bt30 for children. Call (085) 660 7339 or (02) 762 2566 or visit

Got time to spare? The Siam Society is calling for volunteers to contribute an hour or more to “Timeless Siamese Heritage” on December 10. If you can pitch in selling books, manning the recruitment desk or guiding visitors around Kamthieng House, call Khun Ekkarin at (02) 661 6470-7.

Uncork your health Red wine as therapy? Sure, it’s got restorative power, as you can discover at Amari Hotels and Resorts’ Sivara Spa until January 31. Indulge in a stimulating, 30-minute red-wine body scrub, followed by 60-minute red-wine body wrap that utilises plantbased oils and natural moisturising ingredients. Top that off with a relaxing, 60-minute aromatic oil massage. The cost is Bt4,700. Visit

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uvarnabhumi, Bangkok’s international airport, has been riddled with controversies before it even opened in 2006. And last week, it grabbed the headlines again as protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) stormed the airport to prevent Thai PM Somchai Wongsawat’s flight from landing. The result was total chaos. The airport was closed and hundreds of thousands of tourists, businessmen, workers, even Muslims on their way to Mecca, were stranded, causing huge losses to airlines and businesses alike, and further putting at risk Thailand’s economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. In the meantime, PAD protesters—claiming to fight against the government and corruption— turned Suvarnabhumi into their park with some even biking or playing badminton inside the terminal, where passengers used to walk on their way to or from another trip. An airport never looked this homey before.



The Little Read Book Literary culture is undergoing a rapid transformation in China with more going online to find suitable reading materials rather than hitting the bookstores BEIJING

Mu Qian China Daily


n a typical day, 28-yearold fantasy novelist Tangjia Sanshao writes 9,000 Chinese characters and publishes them online. He can’t take holidays because readers look forward to a fresh chapter every day. Tangjia Sanshao’s eighth and latest work, God of Instrument (Qin Di), is currently being serialised and hosted on the website, on which it ranks 26th in terms of popu| 20 |

larity. Every click brings money and payonline reading is now Tangjia Sanshao’s main source of income. It costs about 0.02 yuan (less than 1 US cent) to read 1,000 Chinese characters of Tangjia Sanshao’s works on According to the website, about 100 of their writers can make more than 100,000 yuan (US$14,660) a year from their payonline works, and Tangjia Sanshao says he is one of them. “I should have made much more. If there had not been so much unauthorised copying of my works, I would have made at least 10 million yuan ($1.45 million),” he estimates.

Tangjia Sanshao started his journey as an amateur writer four years ago and used to post his works online for fun. Because of the popularity of his works, he became a well known writer and hard copies of his works have also been published. “I like writing on the Internet because you can get feedback immediately,” he says. “Whatever readers say, the comments are a positive factor for my writing.” Tangjia Sanshao is one of about 4,000 contracted authors at Boasting over 2 million paying customers a day, says it is the biggest online reading website in China. December 7-13, 2008

“I usually read seven or eight nov- reading,” he says. caricature and computer games. Its els on-line at the same time. It’s very According to the fifth national read- film adaptation rights have been sold convenient. I don’t have to go to book- ing survey, conducted by the Chinese to famous Hong Kong director Johnny shops, but need to only search online Institute of Publishing Science last Au- To. to find the works I like,” says Liu Liang, gust, the rate of online reading in ChiThough the national reading survey a 26-year-old resident of Shanghai and na was 36.5 per cent, beating book indicates that online reading is increasreader of reading (34.7 per cent) for the first ing, while book reading is decreasing “In addition, online reading is very time. in China, Song Qiang, assistant to the interactive. Readers like me often ex“Online reading is a sunrise indus- director of the general office of the change ideas on works we are reading, try,” says Hou Xiaoqiang, CEO of People’s Literature Publishing House, and sometimes the authors invite us to Shanda Literature Limited, which believes that online reading has not yet vote on the development of their owns had a serious impact on traditional plots.” Hou says that unauthorised copying publishing. Liu pays an average of 50 yuan and pasting is a big problem for pay“The people who are used to online ($7.31) per month for reading online. online reading, but the situation is im- reading and those used to book readHe says with this amount of money he proving. ing are basically two different groups, can read many times more online On October 30, two people from and they can promote each other,” he books than printed books. Southeast China’s Fujian province says. “Many people who enjoy reading “Pay-online reading has become a were sentenced to one-and-a-half years a work on the Internet will later buy a part of my life. The money is not very in prison and slapped a fine of 100,000 hard copy for their collection, or as a much, but it is a kind of gift for others.” respect for the authors,” Song admits the Internet he says. is playing an important role Most works released on in people’s lives, and he are says he often surfs popular popular literature such as websites to read literature fantasy, martial arts and works. sentimental novels, but Many publishing houses the website has also starthave published works they ed to release more serious find on the Internet. Peoworks of established writple’s Literature Publishing ers, including 21 works House has not done so yet, that were nominated for because as an established Mao Dun Literature press for serious literature, Awards, one of the most they are very careful in prestigious literature picking works, Song says. awards in China. “Traditional publishing However, Mai Jia, one THE SITE: is one of the famous Chinese online reading sites. still has its advantages. We of the four winners of this are more experienced and year’s Mao Dun Literature strict over editing, and we Awards, says that he is not ready yet to yuan ($14,660) for illegally posting have more resources in terms of theosign a contract with an online reading original literature works owned by oth- retical and serious works,” he says. website. er sites, including 1,339 owned by “Traditional publishing will not be de“My readers are usually older and, on their website. feated by online publishing. It can only more intellectual than the average on- This was the first time violators of the be defeated by itself.” line novel readers. I’m not sure whether copyright law were punished in China. Song agrees that online reading is it is suitable for my works to be re“The result of this case not only pro- becoming a trend that should not be leased together with those popular fan- tects our interests, but also encourages neglected. He reveals that China Pubtasy novels,” says 44-year-old Mai. “In the development of the young industry lishing Group, formed by 13 of the bigaddition, I can’t judge whether proper of pay-online reading,” Hou says. “I gest publishing houses in China, inrules have been formed for pay-online believe there will be a great future for cluding the People’s Literature reading.” pay online reading.” Publishing House, Commercial Press Mai says that he uses the computer Apart from pay reading, www. and Zhonghua Book Company, will esto write and buys books on the Inter- also deals with copyright- tablish a literature website to develop net, but he still prefers reading a print- ed works in other ways. For example, online publishing and reading. ed book. However, he agrees that on- Ghost Blows out the Light (Gui Chu“We will try to make use of our line reading will grow in the future. ideng), a popular novel by the website’s advantages while adapting to the “The Internet will certainly grab contracted author Tianxia Bachang, times. In the future maybe only commore and more readers from printed has not only been released in printed prehensive media groups will survive,” books. I pay close attention to online versions, but has also been adopted for Song says. December 7-13, 2008

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Metrosexual vs Homosexual how far can meTroseXuaLiTy go wiThouT misTakenLy crossing The paTh of homoseXuaLiTy JAKARTA

Diaz The Jakarta Post


rying to pin down the exact point of departure between a fashion savvy metrosexual and his man-loving homosexual counterpart can be like splitting hairs. It is like questioning which one is more brutal, Alien or Predator? Or who is more psycho, Freddy or Jason? Metrosexual is the popular word used to describe the modern man with a high disposable income who pays great attention to his appearance. They’re no longer only found between the covers of fashion magazines, on television or in gay bars, metrosexual men are everywhere now—and they’re always so busy grooming. Out of the way, women! If you think you have achieved equality with men in professional or social spheres, you’re | 22 |

forgetting something. Men today are rapidly catching up in the vanity race and might soon be as pretty as you are! Forget that wet and sticky pomade from the past, today men’s lifestyle nourishment centres around malls, clubs, spas, gyms, beauty clinics and hairdressers. Some women find that the metrosexual man is more tender hearted than his ‘ordinary’ counterpart. I am not surprised though, whose heart wouldn’t go to putty after constant pampering with lulur, or a traditional lightening body scrub, a wax here and there; oh, and don’t forget the cucumber patches to help maintain the shine of the window to his soul. Surely they’ll understand women’s feelings and how to treat them better after being treated like one. But how far can this metrosexuality go without mistakenly crossing to the other side... homosexuality? With careful observation and a bit of extra common sense, you can spot the difference between these two types of

vain men. ladies, you may want to take some notes if you think your boyfriends’ or husbands’ metrosexual-o-meter might have gone just a bit too far. let’s explore how to tell when his dedicated urbaneness has taken a turn down bent street. Is he really just a metrosexual? Or is he a bit metrosexual and a bit homosexual? Bare in mind, not all facts stated below are 100 per cent guaranteed, but it helps to know if your guy prefers James Bond or Elton John. If he’s often overly fussy, like a cockatoo, about aesthetics and behaviours (such as neatness, decoration or public services) or he gets hysterically happy receiving gifts related to body treatment products (such as body lotion, exclusive shaving cream and after shave, perfume, etc), there’s an 88 per cent chance he’s homosexual. Pay attention to the way he arrange his tops. Size wise, if it’s semi-fitted, that’s acceptably metrosexual, but if it’s so tight you can see the curves of his December 7-13, 2008

gym-toned body, he’s most likely pitching his tent for the gay camp. Also watch if he pops the collar of his polo shirt, or ‘tries’ to look preppy by wrapping a sweater around his neck just for the heck of having a ‘focal point’, then he’s 99.5 per cent gay. Flat front trousers serve both categories, they are the most commonly seen, but it’s just indicating a modern silhouette and should be considered standard for this matter. Watch out for his selection of accessories. A metrosexual man will choose

FACELIFT: Two Chinese men get a makeover at a beauty parlour in Xian, central China’s Shaanxi province. With their sculpted bodies, moisturised skin and fitted suits, Chinese men are taking an increasing interest in their looks and in fashion. Yoshi kaz u Tsu no/AFP

and the appearance of dear cartoon character on his belongings can raise the queer factor 60 per cent. Last but not least, observe his so-called art collection, be it sculpture, painting or photography. If you find pieces inspired by the male body, then I rest my case right now. It’s the world’s modernisation trend that demands men make themselves their own object of desire and pride. But its their lifestyle orientation that causes us confusion in recognising which of them is straight, bisexual, or gay. No matter if you have a low opinion of metrosexuals, who can hate them when everyone can enjoy SPICK & SPAN: A Japanese businessman has his eyebrows trimmed by a make-up artist at a beauty saloon in Tokyo. the benefits? There’s less fashionable items that are rather func- a style gone passé, but when it comes problems with men’s style, they smell tional and most importantly practical. with bits of fringe and Liza Minelli good and neatness is not such an issue If you see him carrying the ‘it’ tote bag sideburns, and especially if it has been anymore. Not to mention the esthetics (no matter if it’s made from canvas or highlighted here and there, then you’re that delight our eyes. These are ‘bonus’ crocodile leather), wearing shoes that looking at 92 per cent chance he’s not elements from just being plain macho. are too pointy or too shiny, has reshaped just ‘with it’. Instead of sticking to the stereotypieyebrows and flaunts coloured contact Shaved armpits sometime present cal old fashion man that can be domilens, I’m sorry ladies, you can say “buh- cleanliness, but don’t you think it’s a bit nating sometimes, perhaps you want to bye gay!” to him now. girlie for guys? Don’t worry too much if opt for metrosexual man who will probToo much perfume can increase gay- he’s bulky on the top but has a pair of ably just dominate your shelf space in ness 45 per cent, but if you see any evi- tooth picks for legs. It’s quite common your bathroom? dence of whitening cream or concealer for the metrosexual gym bunny to conI know you wouldn’t mind sharing in his toiletries, beware of the 80 per centrate too much on the upper-body your feminine essentials with your metcent possibility he prefers the company and forget to exercise the legs. rosexual partner, so do the math, if his of gentlemen. Elements of pop culture can be ex- average percentage of H&M-esque is A ‘Dragon Ball’ hairstyle indicates pressed through a dashing of girlie still below 50 per cent, then you have over the top funkiness, which is simply colours on his shirt, tie or underwear nothing to worry about. December 7-13, 2008

| 23 |

ARTS & CULTURE Hulkling and Wiccan

Black Cat

Comic Queerdom Comic books are not just about straight, strong macho superheroes... there are gay characters too and not necessarily one that gays can identify with MANILA

Oliver Pulumbarit Philippine Daily Inquirer


ay characters have appeared in homegrown graphic novels and comic book series, which tackle the sometimes-controversial subject in varying degrees. In some foreign monthly comics, gay people have also made significant appearances. Sometimes, they’re realistically portrayed. Sometimes not. But they’re there, steadily increasing in number. They’re not necessarily characters that gays automatically identify with, | 24 |

but the fact that they’re given visibility at all is enough for some. DC, Marvel and other companies have introduced a number in recent years. Here’s a small fraction: Apollo and Midnighter — Superspouses and members of the ubertough Authority, this dynamic duo mercilessly gives deserving bad guys serious beat-downs. Toland Polk — The protagonist of the sublime and complex ‘Stuck Rubber Baby’ experiences sexual awakening, while encountering important cultural upheavals and conflicts along the way. Mystique and Destiny — The shape-changer and the prophetess have been the X-Men’s allies and foes.

They raised the young mutant outcast Rogue together. Piper — While his allegiance falters occasionally, the Flash’s former friend and current foe has remained truthful and open about his sexual orientation. The Question and Batwoman — Ex-cop Renee Montoya and adventuress Kate Kane share a complicated relationship. They are recent additions to Gotham City’s gaggle of masked protectors. Hulkling and Wiccan — Teen children of superheroes, these Young Avengers’ relationship enjoys the support of friends, and even Wiccan’s adoptive parents. Rage the Gay Crusader — In the super-campy comic book for adults December 7-13, 2008

Catwoman Colossus

based on characters from the TV series, Queer As Folk, the gay vigilante Rage rescues a hate-crime victim from a vicious attack and revives him in an unorthodox manner. Valerie — One of the most heartwrenching parts of V for Vendetta is the story of Valerie, an unapologetic lesbian actress who was imprisoned, mocked and tortured repeatedly in a concentration camp. Colossus — In the alternate reality of Ultimate X-Men, Colossus is attracted to males, especially to fellow mutant Northstar. Catwoman — The second Catwoman, Holly Robinson, was a former prostitute and friend of the original cat burglar, Selina Kyle. Holly was forced to leave her lover Karon because of complicated circumstances. Francine and Katchoo — Stars of the recently concluded “Strangers in Paradise,” these old friends share an angst-ridden past (Katchoo was a gay call girl with unrequited feelings; Francine had gender identity issues, December 7-13, 2008

Piper Mystique

etc.). Their juicy, soap-y drama was a shared journey that’s as bittersweet and affecting as its destination. Vivisector and Phat — The wolf-like intellectual Vivisector and the inflating Phat were teammates in the celebrity mutant team X-Statix. They became an item, outed themselves, eventually broke up, and were killed in separate missions. Phantom Jack — One of the no-nonsense super-cops of Top Ten, intangible lesbian Phantom Jack is a single gal who has some secret admirers among her male co-workers. Terry Berg — Green Latern Kyle Rayner’s assistant Terry Berg once had a crush on him. Openly gay, Terry was chased and savagely mauled by homophobes after a date with a friend. An enraged Green Lantern soon goes on a hunt for his barbaric tormentors. Black Cat — Spider-Man’s catty ex-girlfriend briefly mentioned her bisexuality. Also, in an alternate future (the Spider-Girl timeline), Felicia Hardy is established as someone

having a relationship with another woman. Northstar — The former member of Canadian super-team Alpha Flight publicly announced his homosexuality back in the early ’90s. He eventually became a teacher at Charles Xavier’s school and a member of the X-Men. Jetman — Precinct Ten’s wise, fatherly Jetman is respected by officers under his command. The former teen hero’s ongoing relationship with a retired adventurer is currently several decades old. Buffy the Vampire Slayer — While creator Joss Whedon said that the former TV character is straight but “experimenting,” Buffy has gotten really intimate with a fellow Slayer in her “Season 8” comic book. Technically, she’s bisexual; she still fancies guys, but acknowledges that she had a great time with a girl. Anole — Formerly one of the New X-Men, this teen lizard-boy is angsty and sometimes ill-tempered, but is an efficient team player and fighter. | 25 |


Javanese Domination NEW BATIK: A model parades a modernised Batik outfit during a fashion show in Java.

if Japan in The 1970s and 1980s had a sLogan ‘buy Japanese firsT’, Then indonesians are now being ToLd To wear baTik if They Love Their counTry JAKARTA

Eric Musa Piliang The Jakarta Post



ri Muljani Indrawati and Mari Elka Pangestu are the icons of Indonesian batik. The two women in Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Cabinet can be seen sporting battik ik dresses perhaps more often than any other public figures. The two look elegant and comfortable as they go about the business of managing the country’s economy. Batik is experiencing somewhat of a resurgent lately, with more and more people wearing the designs regularly, even to work. In the past, batik was generally reserved for special occasions such as wedding ceremonies; most men | 26 |

December 7-13, 2008

BATIK DOMINATION: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (R) with Singapore Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong both wear batik during a meeting in Singapore.


December 7-13, 2008

men. Admittedly, I’d never be seen dead in one of those. I don’t think Indonesia has the right to accuse other countries of stealing our batik. Wax printing methods have been around for centuries, which I think makes it a sort of an ‘open source’ style. What we, or rather what the Javanese have done, is to develop the designs into a higher form of artistic expression. The Javanese claim to batik is more a claim to specific motifs and designs. Indeed, no one can take this away from them, but if you think about it that way, there is no such thing as Indonesian batik in Indonesia, just as there is no such thing as Chinese restaurant in China or a Padang foodstall in Padang. In Indonesia, batik aficionados recognise Yogya batiks, Solo batiks, Pekalongan batiks or Cirebon batiks for their unique designs. But there is no such thing as Indonesian batik. The Malaysians, Indians, Chinese and Africans have every right to claim their own batiks, at least as far as motifs and designs are concerned.

Incidentally, if Wikipedia is to be believed, Nelson Mandela is not wearing Indonesian batik. He may have worn a few from Indonesian designer Iwan Tirta’s collections, but apparently most of his Madiba shirts are supplied by a South African designer. My sorry excuse for not wearing batik is that to me it is just another form of Javanese cultural domination that we other ethnic groups in Indonesia have had to endure. They already dominate the nation through the sheer size of their numbers, especially among the ruling elite. Their culture permeates our lives, and batik is just another part of this. But you can’t win them all. We Sumatrans won the language war back in 1928 when the Javanese, the largest cultural group in what is now Indonesia, agreed to use Malay as the root for Bahasa Indonesia, the national language. That’s a huge concession on their part that no amount of ‘Javanization’ of our local cultures can ever match. Perhaps, I’ll start wearing that batik shirt after all, if only to preserve Malay’s linguistic domination. MODEL: Former Indonesian cooperatives minister Suryadarma Ali models for Indonesian traditional fabric batik fashion show. | 27 |


for example would keep just two or three in their wardrobe. Today, government agencies, state enterprises and an increasing number of private companies, make Friday ‘batik day’ or ‘casual wear’ day. The batik industry has responded to this by introducing more creative designs and motifs. Short-sleeve batik shirts, long dismissed as too casual, are now in vogue even for office attire. Personally, this is important for me. I am one of the few Indonesians who have never felt comfortable wearing batik. And if you don’t feel comfortable in something, you just don’t look good in it. Thankfully, a short sleeve batik shirt is not as torturous as the long ones. I felt somewhat unpatriotic at times whenever the nation gets up in arms at Malaysia for promoting their own batik styles, and more recently at China, which has flooded malls in Jakarta with their batiks. The resurgence in batik in Indonesia is in part a response to this growing intrusion into what Indonesians feel is our heritage. If Japan in the 1970s and 1980s had a slogan ‘Buy Japanese First’, then Indonesians are now being told to wear batik if they love their country. I, for one, don’t buy this at all. Batik is an ancient method of dyeing fabric that was developed in Java—so it’s more correct to say that its part of Javanese heritage. We, Sumatrans, have kain or songket and Baju Melayu or Teluk Belanga as traditional costumes for


A Tougher Horse Race

Japan’s horse racing is likely to find the going tough in face of laws, public image


Masao Kojima The Yomiuri Shimbun


he Japan Racing Association (JRA) has begun considering the introduction of sponsored horse races to cope with declining revenues. However, there are still some high fences to be cleared, including possible revisions to relevant legislation. During a recent Asian Racing Conference in Tokyo, one particular session focused on marketing and customer satisfaction. A European representative, who was invited to take part in the session as a panelist, said vitality in other business sectors was necessary to make horse | 28 |

racing more attractive. Horse racing may not be able to survive without the support of other businesses, he added. Other panelists also stressed the importance of introducing sponsorship to the world of horse racing. This year’s top European race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe—sponsored by the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Association—attracted considerable attention in Japan due to the 2006 participation of the Japanese horse Deep Impact. The race’s 4-millioneuro (US$4.9 million) prize money, rivals that of the Japan Cup. In Britain, Vodafone Group PLC has long been the sponsor of the Derby. Oil-producing Middle Eastern countries and ordinary companies, including firms from Japan, also sponsor British

horse races. Cathay Pacific Airways sponsors Hong Kong’s largest horse race. According to Tomomi Abe, an official of the JRA’s management planning division, the Japanese association started studying the possibility of sponsored races about two years ago. However, it hit a wall with the Japan Racing Association Law. Article 19 of the law, which defines the operational scope of horse racing, does not permit the generation of sponsorship-related revenue. As such, if horse racing is to thrive, the law must either be revised or the interpretation of Article 19 must be broadened to allow for sponsorship. Horse racing in Japan differs from that in Europe, where revenues from betting have been sluggish. December 7-13, 2008


In addition, with most of the income from betting ending up in the hands of bookmakers, horse racing associations in Britain have been finding it difficult to organise horse races and raise prize money, forcing racing associations to seek sponsorship from companies. Kenji Konami, a board director of the Japan Association for International Horse Racing, said Japan’s situation is not as dire as Europe’s. Nevertheless, the JRA is mulling the introduction of sponsorship, as the amount of money spent on betting has declined for 10 consecutive years. Takings peaked in 1997 at 4 trillion yen ($52.9 billion), while last year they stood at 2.7 trillion yen ($35.7 billion). The JRA is concerned that this year’s figures will also fall. Sponsorship was, in a broad sense, December 7-13, 2008

partly introduced eight years ago under a tie-up programme with soft drinks firms and food makers, under which visitors are provided with food and drinks at race tracks while the firms are able to support events. This has led to the establishment of Wins shops, or offtrack betting booths. Takeshi Yoshida, an official of JRA’s service planning division said this payment-in-kind arrangement does not violate the law. The JRA is also studying the possibility of introducing multi-race sponsorship instead of single race sponsorship. This is because the prize money for a particular race would not be stable if there was no guaranteed backing from a reliable sponsor. Some in the horse racing world

believe it is folly to ignore international trends at a time when the JRA is in the process of internationalising itself. Further, the introduction of sponsorship for domestic horse racing faces yet another obstacle—the JRA’s own public image. A JRA official said the organisation is keen to solicit sponsorship from international companies capable of raising the profile of horse racing but that such companies often do not hold the world of horse racing in particularly high esteem. Compared with Europe, where royalty and aristocrats started racing horses as a hobby, the sport has a low status in Japan. Thus, the JRA likely will find the going tough in its bid to secure sponsors. | 29 |


Little Girl On The Prairie A role model for young Muslim women, actor Sitara Hewitt now wants to experience the intoxicating effects of Bollywood KOLKATA

Mathures Paul The Statesman


ayyan Hamoudi is increasingly being seen as a role model among young Muslim women around the world. The character from Little Mosque on the Prairie is an outspoken, devout Muslim doctor who has taken on the personality of the IndianCanadian film and television actor Sitara Hewitt. Hewitt started her career as a dancer with training in ballet, jazz and hiphop for 16 years. Her first gig was as a dancer in Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood Hollywood. Small acting roles started to come across the table and, determined to excel in the field, she began to study acting in earnest, and soon landed lead roles like in the Bollywood-themed Bollydouble, Zahra in Fragile and Tina in Tony and Tina’s Wedding. In Little Mosque on the Prairie, Hamoudi attempts to balance her devotion with her religion, her lifestyle and career. Born to a Pakistani mother and Welsh father, the actor spent her childhood in a remote village where her mother wrote her PhD. After every few months they would return home and she would | 30 |

THE CAST: Sitara Hewitt (3rd from left) with the cast of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

slip back into the world of a young Canadian girl. During the early phase of her career she trained with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) at their camps in Louisville and Atlanta, touring Canada as a backup dancer for hiphop artist Foxy Brown and touring as a singer with Pure’s Jordy Birch. She now divides her time between Los Angeles and Toronto. The actor speaks to The Statesman. Little Mosque on the Prairie has fans across the Muslim world. How easy (or difficult) is it to be a young role model for Muslim women across the world? I am delighted that people around the globe are enjoying our little show and that young women from all backgrounds relate to my character. I don’t think that translates to me being a role model. However, I just think it means I’m doing my job as an actor properly in bringing to life a real, likeable, accessible character in Rayyan. Also, I have some female Muslim friends in Canada and they always tell me that the best thing about the show is that this is the first time they are seeing a character similar to themselves in the mainstream media. It is an honour for me to portray that character and represent a group that has been unrepresented or even misrepresented in the media.

I myself am not Muslim (she is a Christian), so I do a lot of research into the role through these women. What is special about rayyan?

She is a strong woman who makes her own decisions about her life and is always trying to be a better person. She’s not perfect which makes me like her more—she’s stubborn, quirky and a bit naive. You spent your childhood in the Himalayas. Did the experience of living in small villages, seeing the ‘other side’ of life, change you as a person?

I spent a couple of years in the Himalayas while my parents did their academic research; they are both professors in Canada. It is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth; I feel very privileged to have visited it extensively. What I most learned is gratitude. The people there have so little in the way of modern comforts, no electricity or running water, and they work very hard in the fields and at home. Yet, they are full of hospitality, warmth and laughter. They are grateful for the simple things in life, a perfect loaf of bread, the company of friends. You were seen in Bollywood/ Hollywood, Do you plan to take it forward and enter the Hindi film industry?

Yes! I grew up watching Shah Rukh Khan films. Bollywood’s colour and romantic fantasy are absolutely intoxicating. If the right script came my way I’d definitely be open to it. December 7-13, 2008

The Trophy Ex-GF She is the only romance that Taiwanese pop superstar Jay Chou has acknowledged, thus, the public’s fascination with Patty Hou

Besides handling the pressure of the high-profile Chou-Hou relationship and its aftermath, the University of Southern California mass communications graduate has been busy hosting gigs including Taiwan’s Emmy equivalent, The Golden Bell Awards, and acting. The former news anchor has also been co-hosting variety show Azio Su-

would say that I’ve learnt to be brave and just to love,” she said. Jasmine Teo Some may wonder, after romancing The Straits Times Chou, what exactly she looks for in a guy. “I would like him to be optimistic t has been over two years since because there are a lot of downsides in Taiwanese show host Patty Hou the world. If you can grow old with an broke up with superstar singer optimistic person, you can face diffiJay Chou, but their story still culties with a smile and with a lot of makes headlines. energy. So I’d like my other half to be In fact Chou, 30, mentioned optimistic.” the old relationship in an interShe and Chou are friends, view with Apple Daily Taiwan Hou assured, and she would not only last month. He said that mind him guesting on Azio Suthe Chou-Hou romance, as it perstar, which she co-hosts with was called in 2005, was a Jacky Wu. “Because we’re “healthy” one. friends, I would do the interview Still, as it is the only relationas I would (with) other people. ship that the singer, who has also It wouldn’t be any different.” been linked with Jolin Tsai and Hou, who has a degree in Hebe Tien from girl group S.H.E, mass communications and has been upfront about, the mestarted out as a news anchor did dia fascination is understandable. not plan to go into showbusiAs for Hou, 30, she is trying to ness. move on from being labelled his “My plan was to get married trophy ex-girlfriend, though preand have children. All these vious media reports have said she EX-COUPLE: Jay Chou and Patty Hou during happier times; happened accidentally. Fate gets emotional when the break- theirs was a romance duly followed by Taiwan’s paparazzi. changed that. I believe in fate up is mentioned. and that’s what led me to this But in a telephone interview from perstar with veteran host Jacky Wu. industry. It has opened up doors and Taipei, the relatively composed TV host On top of that, she released a book changed my views towards the whole and actress gamely fielded questions last year titled Zi Yan Zi Yu (Words), world,” she said. about her failed romance, although in which she divulged details about her “But now with this twist of events, some of her answers were a bit cryptic. romance with Chou. I’m more open-minded and I’ve learnt “I can understand that people are inHou said she did not only talk about a lot. So all this came very surprisingly terested in celebrities’ private lives and relationships, but shared her views on but it has all been pleasant so far.” I respect that.” love and even politics in her book. Despite her share of heartaches, she She added in American-accented But the most interesting subject re- said she won’t change a thing if she English: “I also understand some mains to be love, the hardest lesson could live her life all over again. things are best kept private. It’s hard to from which was that “you evolve and “I think every step I take means talk about it openly because some you learn”. something and I learn something things are not as simple.” “To love, you need courage. So I from it.” SINGAPORE


December 7-13, 2008

| 31 |


Sassy Seoul Changdeokgung

South Korea’s capital is one of the world’s largest cities with plenty to offer for the discerning traveller SEOUL

Deepika Shetty The Straits Times


eoul is a complicated, busy and challenging city, says art exhibition coordinator K a t e Yeon K e e Lim, a 44-year-old native of the city currently living in Singapore. Home to more than 10 million people, it is one of the world’s largest cities. Since co-hosting the 2002 Fifa World Cup, Seoul’s urban landscape has been transformed. It has evolved into a major economic and cultural centre with plenty to offer the discerning traveller. | 32 |

The city is divided into two parts by the Han river. The north side of the river is called Gangbuk and the south side, Gangnam. Seoul is best experienced by subway and cabs for short distances. Here are tips on exploring the city:

Palace grandeur

As the ancient seat of Korea’s royalty, Seoul is home to five major palaces. You may not have time to explore all of them but try to visit Gyeongbokgung in Yulgukno. This was the first palace used during the Joseon dynasty (1392 to 1910). Its vast grounds also house the Joseon Palace Museum and the Korean Folk Museum. Also make time for Changdeok-

gung, another of the palaces. This was built in 1405 and was the seat of power between 1618 and 1896. The palace is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Picture-perfect parks

Namsan Park is located in the centre of Seoul and on a mountain filled with pine trees that can be seen from almost every corner of the city. There is the Olympic Park as well which was built for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. A lake, a large field and a square with sculptures are very popular with visitors. It also has six stadiums that are often used for concerts.Another popular park is Ye o u i d o P a r k w i t h a n a n c i e n t forest. December 7-13, 2008


you are likely to be stuck inside for hours. Dongdaemoon, another popular shopping area, is more organised. It has shopping malls such as Doota and Good Morning City. Many style-conscious Seoul residents search Dongdaemoon for clothes that imitate upmarket styles at more affordable prices.

Beverly Hills of Seoul

The upper-crust areas of Cheongdam-Dong and Sinsa-Dong are where the high-rollers eat, drink and shop. You can’t miss the immaculately dressed women here. Hot spot for peoplewatching.

Coffee, music and dance Lure of the museum

The National Museum of Korea has the best collection of artefacts and relics from across Korea. They reflect the different periods and dynasties that ruled the country and how they influenced the development of art. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Leeum (Samsung Arts Museum)

Go gallery-hopping

Head for Sagan-Dong in Gangbuk. This area is home to many top galleries such as Gallery Hyundae and Gallery Kukje which showcase the best of contemporary South Korean art. The galleries are located opposite the Kyoung-Bok Palace. With its traditional wall and gingko tree-lined path, it is lovely to take a walk there.

Architecture icons

While largely a city of functional high-rise buildings and nondescript remnants of old buildings, Seoul has its occasional landmarks. Leeum, Samsung Art Museum in Hannam-Dong, is made up of three buildings, each designed by different architects. The three buildings ambitiously represent the past, present and future and often host contemporary art shows on their premises. The Hyundai Development Company has a fascinating facade named the Tangent. It has a huge 62m aluminium ring around it which gets you to ponder on the meaning of design.

Shopping galore

Dongdaemoon December 7-13, 2008

“If you are comfortable with markets selling counterfeit products in Bangkok, then you are bound to feel at home in the Namdaemoon market,” she says. Namdaemoon is a chaotic 24-hour market. Once you get into the area,

Hong-Dae Ap is synonymous with clubs and arty cafés. Take note though that some rock cafés do not welcome people above a certain age. You may be denied entry if you are in your 30s. “What I like in this area is the newly opened club, The Museum. It throws parties hosted by internationally renowned DJs,” says Lim. If you long for something quieter, head for a more contemplative café called Ether In A Coffee Cup. Artworks are displayed on the walls and writers and musicians frequent this place. Another great area to visit is InsaDong. It is full of small galleries, shops, cafés and roadside kiosks selling all kinds of snacks at affordable prices. The street is teeming with tourists and locals. It is a great spot to feel the pulse of the city.

Glorious food

One restaurant Lim always visits is Koong, famous for its dumpling steamboat, Mandu-Jeongoll, and a soup dish called Tuck-guk which has cocoonshaped sticky rice balls. Mandu-Jeongoll costs about US$15 for two people. “The owner will proudly tell you that they make the soup stock with beef and various vegetables, and by boiling it for 12 hours. Having tasted it many times, I can vouch for it,” she says. If you prefer a traditional Korean meal which features a full set of small side dishes, head to Keun-Kee-WhaGyeep in Samcheong-Dong. It serves great traditional set meals and boasts an excellent soya sauce. The prices of the set meals start at $18 and can go up to $39. | 33 |


Kartikai Deepam


t is a popular festival in Southern India commemorating a fight between the gods Vishnu and Brahma to see which one was strongest. However, Shiva intervened and revealed himself in a pillar of fire which ended the fight. The festival includes processions, parades, celebrations and music. When: Dec 12 Where: Tiruannamalai



Qurban Bayram

Hiwatari Shinji



he ’Festival of Sacrifice’, one of the most important days of the Islamic calendar, commemorates both the end of the Hajj pilgrimage and the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for God. It is most well-known as Eid al-Adha. It involves the ritual sacrifice of a goat, camel or similar animal. The meat of the sacrificed animal is then ritually divided amongst friends, family but mainly distributed amongst the poor, to uphold one of the five Islamic tenets, charity.

riests walk over burning embers in a purification rite at Fukugon Temple. The festival features barefoot walking on the tamed flames after a holy fire had been lit, wishing for prosperity and safety of a New Year. When : Dec 10 Where: Fukugon Temple, Nishihora, Komaki



4M Challenge

When: Dec 8

World Bazaar Festival




he extreme sports Kiulu 4M Challenge gets its name from the 4 ‘M’s of the Kadazan language—Manangkus (running), Mamangkar (rafting), Manampatau (bamboo body rafting) and Mamarampanau (walking on bamboo stilts).

he Philippines’ largest charity bazaar has a range of products on offer—from crafts to the latest hi-fi gadgets. Proceeds from the event have benefitted a number of non-profit organisations. When: Dec 5-14 Where: World Trade Centre

When: Dec 7 Where: Kiulu, Malaysia



Riverside Auctions


his auction is a great place to pick genuine antiques and traditional handicrafts from Thailand and beyond at reasonable prices. The auction offers a wide range of ceramics, porcelains, woodcarvings and lacquerware from China, Japan, Viet Nam and Burma. When: Dec 6 Where: River City Centre


t is Southeast Asia’s largest dance music festival, which takes place from dusk till dawn and is attended by thousands of clubbers. The ZoukOut dance festival is an outdoor spinoff of Singapore’s most famous nightclub, Zouk. Clubbers dance on the sand to a broad spectrum of styles from cutting-edge electronic dance to hip-hop, R&B and retro, bringing together the world’s best DJs. When: Dec 13 Where: Sentosa Island

FASTER TRANSFER TIMES We’ve developed a concept where all our member airlines come together at one terminal, under one roof: we call them Co-Location airports. It means much faster connections between flights. For instance, at Terminal One at Narita in Japan, we’ve cut the waiting times by over 50%. There’ll be six more by the end of 2008, in Bangkok, Miami, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore and Seoul. That’s one more innovation from the Star Alliance network to make your journey easier. To find out more, visit

Information correct as at 02/2007

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