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January 31-February 6, 2014

YEAR OF THE HORSE

Raring to go


Contents January 31-February 6, 2014

❖ Economy

❖ Weekly Briefing

❖ Business

Prospects for year of the horse

Asia this week

The bitcoin bandwagon

COVER ARTWORK BY KANJANA LAOHARATCHATATHANIN/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK


Contents January 31-February 6, 2014

❖ Politics

❖ Politics

❖ Society

❖ Society

The colours of money

Fatal attraction

The girl bomber

Baying for Zhang Yimou's blood


Contents January 31-February 6, 2014

❖ Food

❖ Travel

Manila’s latest 'it' food

Travelling to Indonesia's remote places

Datebook Happenings around Asia

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WEEKLY BRIEFING

January 31-February 6, 2014

JOBLESS after online furore SINGAPORE: Briton Anton Casey lost his job in Singapore after posting derisive remarks about public transport users. His employer, wealth management firm Crossinvest (Asia), announced last week that it had "parted ways" with Casey, a senior wealth manager. Casey was forced to leave Singapore for Perth with his Singaporean wife and son after a Facebook post where he called train commuters "poor people" went viral. He also said he needed to "wash the stench

of public transport off me". Many offended Singaporeans criticised him and subsequent online attacks of personal nature were directed at him as well as his family. Casey apologised calling the incident “the greatest mistake of my life", adding that he and his family left Singapore because of threats, and he was prepared to give his time and resources to community work to make amends. — Jermyn Chow and Rachel Au-yong/The Straits Times


WEEKLY BRIEFING

January 31-February 6, 2014

AFP

UNHAPPIEST employees in Asia-Pac SINGAPORE: Employees in Singapore are the unhappiest in the Asia Pacific region, a new report has found. Some 23 per cent surveyed reported feeling unmotivated in their jobs and that their skills are not being used effectively. International recruitment and human resource services provider Randstad also discovered that 64 per cent plan to leave their current job in the next 12 months.

The results, recorded in the 2013/2014 Randstad World of Work Report, put Singapore at the top of the "unhappiest" rankings. Employees in India were found to be the happiest. Seven out of 10 said they were satisfied at work, noting that they feel challenged, motivated and are mentored to learn new skills. —Hoe Pei Shan/ The Straits Times


WEEKLY BRIEFING

January 31-February 6, 2014

COUNTERSUIT eyed in ‘Pine Trees’ copyright issue Gangwon Province, and as Kenna noted, it has become “almost an icon” after the artist published it throughout the world. But Korean Air has stressed that it hasn’t done anything illegal. The photo it used in its commercial was taken by an amateur photographer who had participated in a contest held by the company. The company said it owns the copyrights. The final trial is scheduled for February 25. — Lee Ji-yoon/The Korea Herald

GALLERY KONG

SEOUL: Korean Air, which is currently engaged in a legal battle with UK-based photographer Michael Kenna for copyright infringement, is considering filing a libel suit against him. Kenna earlier filed a 300-million-won (US$276,900) copyright lawsuit though his Korean agent Gallery Kong against Korean Air for using an image for a TV commercial in 2011 that was “almost the same” as his photograph. The photo depicts a set of pine trees on an island in

"PINE TREES" BY MICHAEL KENNA


WEEKLY BRIEFING

January 31-February 6, 2014

EXPRESS your love TAIPEI: Lovers in Taiwan can express their love publicly and how. Taipei 101 is offering a free service for up to 101 couples pre-selected to showcase their love on the iconic building’s LED screen. Names of those selected will be shown on the nights of February 14 and 15. But it’s not limited to lovers alone, registrants can also express their love to parents and other family members. —The China Post


WEEKLY BRIEFING

January 31-February 6, 2014

EXECUTION of Jang’s relatives SEOUL: North Korea has reportedly executed almost all relatives of Jang Song-thaek, the purged uncle of the hermit kingdom’s despotic ruler Kim Jong-un. Once dubbed the North’s No. 2 man, Jang was himself executed last December for plotting to subvert the regime, which presaged the purging of many with ties to the disgraced elite, who had a wide network of associates in the

ruling Workers’ Party, military and state organs. Reports said Jang’s sister Jang Kye-sun and brother-in-law Jon Yong-jin were executed in early December, while Jang’s nephew Jang Yong-chol met the same fate last month. Jon was the North’s ambassador to Cuba while Yongchol served as the top envoy to Malaysia. Multiple sources also said state agents had killed all di-

rect descendants of Jang’s older brothers, who were one-time general officers in the North Korean military before dying of natural causes. Children were among those killed, the sources said. North Korea traditionally purges all family members over the age of 15 after executing a government official in fear of future revenge against the regime. —Jeong Hunny/ The Korea Herald

AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS

THIS PICTURE TAKEN BY NORTH KOREA’S OFFICIAL KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY ON DEC 30, 2013, SHOWS A PERFORMANCE AT THE APRIL 25 HOUSE OF CULTURE TO CELEBRATE THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG-UN’S ASSUMPTION OF TO POWER.


January 31-February 6, 2014

ECONOMY AFP

Raring to go CHAN KIN SANG China Daily Asia Weekly Hong Kong

A

new zodiac cycle begins today in the Chinese calendar as the horse gallops in and the snake slithers away, ending its reign in the 12-animal cycle. Will the saddled-up equine gift a profitable ride or be an irascible wild stallion?


ECONOMY

January 31-February 6, 2014

Early signs are that the wood horse, seen as intelligent, energetic and hardworking, bodes well. The United States economy is on an upward trajectory and the worst seems to be over for Europe. As for China, while economic growth may be stalling somewhat it is still expected to canter along smoothly. The yuan is expected to rise in value and acceptance as it moves toward becoming a global currency.

One investment that is losing its shine is gold. The precious metal actually started its bull run in the last Year of the Horse, in 2002, but is on a bearish trend and the arriving quadruped is likely to trample all over it. The picture is more mixed for Asian stock markets. After a lackluster 2013, investors will be hoping that the equine trots out some gains. Expectant parents may take heart that the Year of the Horse has bred some great personalities, including former Chinese president Hu Jintao, former premier Wen Jiabao, movie superstar Chow Yun-fat, Oscar-winning director Ang Lee and billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Any discussion of the Year of the Horse will be incomplete without a reference to the king of sports or the sport of kings—or of punters. And nowhere is horse racing more prominent than in Hong Kong, where it is a prime pastime. Speaking of sports, this is also the year when the football World Cup kicks in and while Brazil is the stand-out favourite on home soil, they will be wary of some “dark horses” lurking in the shadows. Finally, at this time of reunion and thanksgiving, let us hope the Year of the Horse gives us fresh energy. As a Chinese saying has it, ma dao cheng gong—“where there are horses, there is success”.


ECONOMY

January 31-February 6, 2014

WANG ZHAO/AFP

Gallop, trot or stumble? ALFRED ROMANN China Daily Asia Weekly Hong Kong

A THIS PICTURE TAKEN ON JAN 25, 2014, SHOWS PEOPLE CROSSING A STREET IN BEIJING. THE CONTENTIOUS GLOBAL IMBALANCES HAVE NOW SHIFTED FROM THE SHRINKING CURRENT ACCOUNT SURPLUS OF CHINA TO THE GROWING SURPLUSES OF GERMANY, WHICH IS ALMOST THREE TIMES LARGER THAN CHINA'S SURPLUS IN TERMS OF GDP.

s we move enter a new lunar calendar, IMF Managing Director Christine Largarde is signalling that "optimism is in the air". In a speech on January 15, she claims that the global growth momentum will be strengthened further in 2014, mainly due to the advanced economies, but it is still stuck in low gear. The good news is that the US economy is recovering confidence, helped by housing recovery and private demand. Consequently, the Fed will begin its tapering exercise, albeit cautiously. Although Lagarde says that the European economy is on the mend,


ECONOMY

January 31-February 6, 2014

the internal differences are larger than ever. The contentious global imbalances have now shifted from the shrinking current account surplus of China to the growing surpluses of Germany, which is almost three times larger than China's surplus in terms of GDP. Europe as a whole has now moved into current account surplus, because southern Europe, which used to be in deficit, has started to cut imports and push exports. In short, it is now the emerging markets (excluding China) that are now running into current account deficits. As the advanced economies recover and return to more normal interest rates, capital flows will flow out of the emerging

markets. Hence, emerging markets are now staring at prospects of higher interest rates, lower exchange rates, and shortage of foreign funds to finance their own rising current account deficits. Countries that had emerging asset bubbles and high household debt will need to deal with rising bank non-performing loans. For emerging markets in general, this inevitably will mean slower growth, rising unemployment and higher inflation, particularly if there are weather changes that affect food production. As Largarde spun it more positively, "during the years crisis, we have relied on the emerging markets to keep the global economy afloat. Together with the developing

countries, they accounted for three-quarters of global growth over the past half decade. However, a growing number of emerging markets are slowing down as the economic cycle turns." Indeed, her caution is that global growth is still too low, too fragile, and too uneven. Inequality is getting more acute— since 2009, 95 per cent of income gains in the US went to the top 1 per cent of the people. In other words, the world is still teetering on a glass half full or half empty, depending on whether you are an optimist or pessimist. But the pressure is clearly on emerging markets on a number of fronts. I would argue that the party for the emerging

markets that everyone enjoyed during the period of quantitative easing is over. On January 2, reviewing 2013 in general, George Soros startled a number of people when he sounded a note of caution about the Chinese economy. This week, Forbes magazine published a piece that linked Singapore with an Iceland-style crash. Singapore as Iceland? How credible can that be? That piece went viral over social media. In a follow up piece, Forbes columnist Jesse Colombo argued that it is not a bubble until it is officially denied. He pointed out that both economies are islands with finance and real-estate driven credit cycles, benefiting from a similar trend in neighbouring economies.


ECONOMY

January 31-February 6, 2014

Specifically, he pointed out the risks posed by the bubbles in Asean economies and in China, including the higher correlation with Singapore investments in east Asia. These risks need to be assessed within the changing political environment in a number of emerging market economies. This year, there will be major elections in key emerging markets, specifically in India, Indonesia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Africa, Brazil, and Colombia. There is another election in Thailand. Election years almost always mean that economic policies to address the various risks are likely to be on hold until new governments are formed.

In the Middle East, as the US begins to become less reliant on imported oil because of the shale oil production at home, the political alliances are shifting in unfamiliar ways. Saudi Arabia is getting closer to Pakistan even as Iran begins to court the West, particularly since a new president was elected last year. Just as Lagarde reminded us that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of the first world war and 70th anniversary of Bretton Woods, we should recall that the Year of the Snake coincided with 1929 (the Great Crash) and 1941 (Pearl Harbour and Pacific War). In that sense, the Year of the Horse has coincided with periods of great change.

Not being someone who believes that everything is written in the stars, the fate of the global economy is actually dependent on whether the policymakers are willing to take tough action to deal with the excesses of the last decade. There is little doubt in my mind that the Chinese government is addressing these issues through the decisive decisions of the Third Plenum. But implementing these decisions will not be easy—reforming is never an easy task because all the critics will say it cannot be done and if it stumbles, they will say "I told you so". Because East Asia— China, Japan, South Korea and Asean—is de facto the world's factory or core of the global production

chain, its growth momentum will play a key factor in global growth in the run up to 2020. This means that regional cooperation, peace and stability will be crucial to the success of the regional reform efforts. The global fund managers and analysts will be watching closely whether these efforts will falter, be disrupted by regional disputes or political events, and capital flows will once again be a complicating factor in policy calculations. Whilst I am confident that the medium term outlook is still upward for the region, the bandwith of risk in Asia is widening and we will need cool heads and strong hearts to weather the choppy waters ahead.


ECONOMY

January 31-February 6, 2014

Horsing around with feng shui ALFRED ROMANN China Daily Asia Weekly Hong Kong

T

he Year of the Wood Horse should be a good one for stock markets in Hong Kong and not necessarily unpleasant for the Chinese economy, but as equities markets power forward, property prices are likely to take a hit. The horse—noble and positive—should bring with it a spate of good news even if an “elbow of evil” should temper that in real estate markets in large swaths of Hong Kong. Feng shui masters expect the horse to come out of the gate running in true equestrian fashion. And, while the horse

may run a bit short on energy in the second half of the lunar new year that starts on January 31, it brings with it a generally positive outlook. “The horse starts the second year of the zodiac and with that it might bring us a much-needed second burst of en-

ergy,” said Emily Lam, an analyst at investment firm CLSA on releasing the company’s annual Feng Shui Index. CLSA says the index, which it has been doing on and off for more than 20 years, is something of a tongue-incheek set of predictions for the perfor-


ECONOMY

January 31-February 6, 2014

mance of markets and economies in the coming year. But while the results might be lighthearted and investors may consider it in making decisions alongside more fundamental economic and financial research, the predictions contained in the index this year are derived from consultations with a team of feng shui masters. “The first half rally pretty much matches the character of the horse,” said Mariana Kow, an investment analyst who took part in putting the index together this year. “The second half is pretty much the horse jumping around.” “We are very bullish this year, the Year of the Wood Horse,” she continued. “And why? The fundamental reason is that there is a wealth of fire in the fortune chart of the Year of the Wood Horse.” The horse is generally a positive animal. It is powerful and driven and well placed to bring in a burst of energy. This has not always been the case. The last horse year in 2002, a water horse, featured a 13

per cent drop in the Hong Kong market. The one before that, in 1990, was a metal horse that generated 13 per cent gains. A good one was the earth horse year of 1978 that resulted in gains of 35 per cent. The last wood horse in 1954 saw the Dow Jones jump 40 per cent. The Hong Kong stock market was not yet active. “To date, that is one of the best years on record,” said Lam. The horse this year is further powered by the lucky element of “fire” that is closely linked to the idea of wealth, according to CLSA’s report. This fire should give the horse the energy it needs to outperform this year. In predicting the behaviour of the Hang Seng this year, the index comes out fairly positive. In broad strokes, Hong Kong stocks should perform well until March. It will then take a breather but should pick up again in May when the fire element returns to the horse in full force. This period, lasting until the end of July, should be particularly posi-

tive for technology stocks, telecommunications and Internet stocks. August and September are more difficult as losses pick up before a small recovery in October. Through November and December, the rat will make an appearance, and cause trouble. But in January the five basic elements of wood, earth, water, fire and wind are in balance and that should power a good finish for the year. By the end of the lunar year, the prediction is for the Hang Seng to reach a lofty height of 28,105, up from the current 23,082 as of January 22. CLSA’s more fundamental research has the Hang Seng also performing well, reaching 26,600 by the end of 2014. As it turns out, said Kow, the wood horse is good for markets and is made better this particular year because it is heavily influenced by the fire element. The fire element is good for investor sentiment and this should power the markets. The wood horse should be most positive for what CLSA calls wood


ECONOMY

January 31-February 6, 2014

sectors—although given the complexities of companies today it is difficult to fully assign sectors to one particular element. This includes areas like retail, traditional media, soft commodities and parts of agriculture. Fire sectors like advertising, entertainment, and oil and gas should also do well, particularly in the first half of the year and the very end. Water sectors like gaming, aviation, shipping and beverages have a flat outlook for the first few months of the year but should be buoyed in the second half, performing well in August when export markets are expected to rebound. Metal sectors like autos, banks, insurance, metals and white goods have a less positive outlook. Earth sectors, meanwhile, like building materials, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and resources are best left to the next year. The predictions for the property sector are less optimistic, particularly in Hong Kong where large swaths of the market will be affected by a

wedge of negative energy that will cover much of the territory. Only a few areas will be left unscathed. “This year, property will not be doing very well from the northwest to the southeast,” said analyst Jack Hui. Past years of the horse have been both good and bad for property markets, particularly in Hong Kong. The Year of the Wood Horse 1894, for example, saw the emergence of the bubonic plague in Hong Kong that hit the most crowded old quarters of the city. Other years of the horse have resulted in solid performances. Still, warns Hui, “past performance is no guarantee of future performance … it seems there is no clear correlation between the Year of the Horse and property prices”. CLSA’s official (non-feng shui) view is that property prices should drop around 10 per cent through the year. The company also expects another 5 per cent drop in property prices through 2015. From a feng shui perspective, the prospects are not good.

“This year we have an elbow of evil stretching from the northwest clockwise to the southeast,” said Hui. “This is bad news for property owners.” The index suggests that for property investors this year, all will depend on location but in general, things are not looking great for property markets. Gold should also do okay this year, with the feng shui predictions seeing prices jumping to about $1,600 an ounce. The price of gold broke a decade-long bull run in 2013 and was down to about $1,250 in mid-January. The Feng Shui Index was first launched in 1992. Its accuracy, in terms of correlation with the actual performance of the market, has been mixed. For the Chinese economy, CLSA expects a V-shaped performance. Feng shui notwithstanding, the house view is that GDP will grow by about 8 per cent, helped by a recovery in exports in the second half of the year. ¬


January 31-February 6, 2014

MELISSA SIM The Straits Times Washington

W

hen Pua Pyland, 33, heard that Overstock. com—one of the largest online retailers in the United States—was accepting bitcoins (BTC) as a form of payment, she immediately logged onto the site and bought a weighing scale for 0.03945139 BTC, which at that time translated to US$31.79 in ordinary US dollars.

JORDAN KELLEY, CEO OF ROBOCOIN. ROBOCOIN CREATED THE WORLD'S FIRST BITCOIN ATM, LOCATED AT WAVES COFFEE HOUSE IN VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, WHICH ALLOWS USERS TO BUY OR SELL THE DIGITAL CURRENCY KNOWN AS BITCOINS.

DAVID RYDER./AFP

THE BITCOIN BANDWAGON

BUSINESS


BUSINESS

January 31-February 6, 2014

"I was going to run down to Target that day to purchase one, until I saw the announcement about Overstock," says Pyland, a blogger and bitcoin trader. "I immediately purchased it from them online to show my support of the business of accepting bitcoins." That day—January 9—Overstock. com received 840 orders amounting to $130,000 in sales, all paid through bitcoins. "People want to use bitcoins, they have bitcoins, they think it's cool… there's a huge demand, and you can either choose to service that demand or step out of the game," says Bitcoin Foundation's director of public affairs Junyoung Lee Englund. Bitcoin is a digital currency created about five years ago. The current conversion rate is 1 bitcoin to $957. The virtual currency has been most commonly accepted by businesses on the West Coast of the United States to cater to technol-

More enthusiasm in the West about using bitcoins as currency, but Asia remains apprehensive ogy geeks, but it is slowly gaining ground throughout the US. Blogging site Wordpress and dating site OKCupid now accept it as a form of payment. It can even be used to purchase big-ticket items such as luxury cars. The latest announcement by Overstock.com is a coup for the bitcoin community, as Overstock. com is by far the largest mainstream operation to accept bitcoins, and experts say this might spur a more widespread acceptance of the virtual currency; the more widely accepted it is, the more legitimacy it has and, generally, the higher its value. Accepting bitcoins allows businesses to increase their profit margins because there are either no

transaction fees, or they are very low compared with those of traditional credit companies such as Visa and MasterCard. Consumers mostly buy bitcoins because they want to trade or invest in them, and some then use their stash to buy items because they say it averts problems like credit card fraud and prevents personal information from being stolen. A hacker can steal bitcoins but, since personal information is not linked to the bitcoins, there is no identity theft. The issue with bitcoins is that they are not tangible, and not easily defined, so people are wary. Lee Englund says: "It is normal for people to be afraid of what they don't know." Richard Weston, 55, an engineer, says he sells bitcoins to regular clients and new customers—who find him on a directory called localbitcoins.com that links sellers and buyers—on a daily basis. He meets people at places such as ca-


January 31-February 6, 2014

AFP

SOFTWARE ENGINEER MIKE CALDWELL SHOWS THE FRONT (R) AND BACK, HOLOGRAM SIDE, (L) OF A PHYSICAL BITCOIN HE MINTED IN HIS SHOP.

BUSINESS


BUSINESS

January 31-February 6, 2014

replace cash or credit cards but says it does have a place alongside these modes of payment. Regulation, too, is an issue at this point. China announced last month that it would restrict its banks from using bitcoins as currency, citing concerns about money laundering and financial stability. The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore has said bitcoins would be treated as a supply of services and thus subject to the goods and services tax of 7 per cent. The US has yet to issue any regulations, but the Internal Revenue Service has said that it would continue to "study virtual currencies and intends to provide some guidance on the tax consequences of virtual currency transactions". To be sure, bitcoins beg respectability in some parts of the world. Finland, for instance, designated it as a commodity this week after the central bank said it did not meet the definition of currency or an electronic payment form.

DAVID RYDER./AFP

fes, charges them a 2.6 per cent service fee, and transfers bitcoins from his digital wallet to theirs online, in exchange for the cash. It takes less than five minutes. But Weston, a big believer in the technology and its future applications in the areas of micropayments and forming online contracts, tells The Straits Times he is not making a business out of it. "I just want to promote it," says the enthusiast, who is also co-organiser of the Washington DC bitcoin users group that organises informal meet-ups for users and enthusiasts. Those who invested in bitcoins at an early stage when the exchange rate was 1 BTC to $6, $15, or even $100, are perhaps the biggest proponents of the virtual currency, which crossed the $1,000 mark in November last year. The wildly fluctuating currency, however, dropped to under $600 the following month. "It's a horrible unit of account. You can't price anything in bitcoins," says Weston, who acknowledges that the currency may not

THE WORLD'S FIRST BITCOIN ATM MACHINE CALLED ROBOCOIN AT WAVES COFFEE HOUSE, VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLOMBIA.

But as the community watches and waits for regulations to be announced, enthusiasts will continue to support bitcoin. Weston says he remembers when the Internet was uncharted territory and says bitcoin technology is something like that. "There are lots of areas still getting explored right now," he says. Pyland, too, says she will continue using it: "Bitcoin isn't going anywhere. It's going to continue to evolve and progress. It's the future of money." ÂŹ


January 31-February 6, 2014

POLITICS

The colours of money

More than as a venue for political views, the Bangkok protests are a chance for others to do business


POLITICS

January 31-February 6, 2014

PATTARAWADEE SAENGMANEE The Nation Bangkok

W

hile buses follow roundabout routes to get to their destinations and taxi drivers complain at the lack of fares, vendors are rubbing their hands with glee as they rake in cash from protesters eager to grab a souvenir of the "Great Bangkok Shutdown".

With the People's Democratic Reform Committee converging at several rally sites around town, business is booming and almost daily new entrepreneurs, some of them more altruistic than others, are getting in on the act offering a range of goodies in white, red and blue. The routes alongside the political stages running from Asoke to Chidlom and onwards to Ratchaprasong and the Pathumwan intersection—at the centre of Bangkok's shopping disrict—have been turned into lively shopping streets, with hundreds of stalls boasting the latest in fashionable accessories and handicrafts inspired by the Thai flag. Chidlom has become an "Art Lane" in its own right, a vibrant venue for artists and students to showcase


January 31-February 6, 2014

their ideas and creativity through a unique collection of hand-made protest-related souvenirs. Pop art artist Kongpat ‘Ong’ Sakdapitak teamed up with designer Wannasiri Kongman of Boyy bag brand to launch a selection of hand-painted canvas shopping bags. They're being sold for 750 baht (US$23) a pop and the proceeds go to the Students and People's Network for Thailand's Reform (STR). Designed on the concept "wear your heart on your bag", the totes boast a Thai flag and come in several different design variations. "We wanted to raise funds for STR to cover food and medical costs while encouraging everyone to be creative. Our

POLITICS

products will also be available at the Boyy Cafe in The Glass on Thonglor," Wannasiri says. Silpakorn University student Nawasa Choochiam and her friend, meanwhile, are offering hand-crafted silver earrings, pendants, rings and necklaces fashioned to resemble the topography of the country. Prices are very reasonable, ranging from 150 baht to 350 baht. "We've been making our own jewellery for a while and selling it through Facebook," Nawasa says. "We're keeping our lines limited, producing just 30 pieces in each design." Natcha, who has set up in front of CentralWorld, is catering to


POLITICS

January 31-February 6, 2014

protesters with deeper pockets with a selection of glittering hand-made jewellery items adorned with Swarovski crystals in red and blue. The bling is of international export standard and includes colourful bracelets, rings, earrings

whistles, key rings and mobile phone straps in the shapes of the Thai flag and flowers, ranging in price from 150 baht to 1,000 baht. PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban is presented as a cartoon character in a series of creative key chains designed by Kitchapat

Kaobangyang. Priced at just 20 baht, the illustrations show Suthep in six postures Cases for the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy make a statement in front of Siam Paragon with slogans such as "Shutdown Bangkok" and "Occupy Bangkok" as well as flags and maps. They're selling for 100 baht to 200 baht. "I spend my free time designing iPhone cases, using colourful beads to form the shape of the Thai flag. They sell very fast," says vendor Ratchaneekorn Prapaichart. Meanwhile, sisters Arisanee and Pattanee Chokassut of Happy Chokas offer a range of handmade pendants, earrings, necklaces and bracelets in the national colours. "We want to promote unity and harmony in our country," says Pattanee. ÂŹ US$1 = 32.84 baht


POLITICS

January 31-February 6, 2014

PRAKASH SINGH/AFP

FATAL ATTRACTION Is it the end of the road for India’s Minister Twitter? NIRMALA GANAPATHY The Straits Times New Delhi

S SHASHI THAROOR.

hashi Tharoor, known as Minister Twitter for his prolific presence on the microblogging site, has survived many a controversy in his five-year career in Indian politics. Now, many wonder if it is all over for the suave 57-year-old, who hopes to be re-elected from Thiruvananthapuram, capital of his southern home state of Kerala.


January 31-February 6, 2014

AFP

"Politically it has done some damage," said Jacob Joseph Puthenparambil, a digital communications professional based in Singapore who once served as an aide to Tharoor. "He was elected because he was seen as an outsider, an academic and a man of polish. That (image) has been severely dented." Sunanda Pushkar, his third wife, died in a hotel room of unexplained causes on January 17. She had complained to newspapers about his amorous instincts and vowed to divorce him but later the couple appeared to have reconciled and issued an "all is well" statement. "His political career hinges on the cause of death," said former journalist Rashid Kidwai. "Already there is a backlash against him on Twitter and the whispers against him in the party will continue." In a country where personal lives of politicians remain out of bounds for the otherwise aggressive media, India had been transfixed by the alleged affair revealed over Twitter by Pushkar, who described herself as “distraught� over it. Still, some friends are standing by Tharoor. "Whatever it is, Shashi has worked hard to do good work and that doesn't change," author Chetan Bhagat remarked on Twitter before Pushkar died.

POLITICS

SHASHI THAROOR AND HIS WIFE SUNANDA PASHKAR AT THEIR WEDDING CEREMONY ON AUG 22, 2010. BOTH WERE MARRIED TWICE PRIOR TO MARRYING EACH OTHER.


POLITICS

January 31-February 6, 2014

PRAKASH SINGH/AFP

SHASHI THAROOR AND HIS WIFE SUNANDA PASHKAR AT PARLIAMENT IN 2012. PASHKAR WAS FOUND DEAD IN A HOTEL ROOM.

From earning a PhD at 23 from Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy to being, at 45, the youngest under-secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), the good-looking Tharoor has always had a following. Along the way, he authored more than a dozen books.

While he dotes on his twin sons Ishaan and Kanishk—born in Singapore while he served here with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees—his personal life swung many ways. His marriage to college sweetheart Tilottama Tharoor, the mother of his children, ended in divorce.

He then married and left another UN staff member, Christa Giles, before marrying Pushkar. Born in London and schooled in Mumbai and Kolkata, he was a champion debater at Delhi University's prestigious St. Stephen's College. He credited his academic success to the pressure exerted by his parents, typical of many middle-class households in India. He joined the UN in 1978 and was posted to Singapore in 1981 at the height of the Vietnamese "boat people" refugee crisis. His wife Tilottama contributed several articles to The Straits Times under the name Minu Tharoor. "Singapore has had a tremendous impact on the making of me as a UN official, as a human being and above all as a father," he told The Straits Times in a 2008 interview.


POLITICS

January 31-February 6, 2014

“I came to Singapore as a young man and with a huge responsibility at a very difficult time. There were about 4,400 refugees in the Hawkins Road refugee camp. By the time I left. we had got that number down to under 400. But the individual stories stayed with me,” he added. The best-known Indian in the UN system, he used his persuasive skills to convince Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to back him for the post of secretary-general. Unsurprisingly, Tharoor lost as the US was backing South Korean Ban Ki-moon. That forced him out of the UN, and he began eyeing a political role with the ruling congress. Many within the party saw him as an upstart and interloper.

"He was declared a congress candidate barely a month before election day," said Puthenparambil. Even though he won by a landslide, his peers, who attacked him on everything, including his lack of fluency in the local language, Malayalam, were not enthused when the MP bagged a coveted berth in the Ministry of External Affairs. His witty ways sometimes put him in trouble. Reacting to austerity measures ordered by the government, he tweeted about flying "cattle class" to slay "the holy cows". His detractors complained he was criticising Gandhi. Dr Singh was unable to protect him from his next controversy—the revelation that then girlfriend Sunanda Pushkar had been given a free stake in a cricket franchise under Tharoor's influence.

Tharoor denied wrongdoing but was forced to resign. He went on to marry Pushkar that year. In spite of it all, Dr Singh brought Tharoor back into the cabinet. Even after the scandal over the Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar broke, Tharoor, who said his Twitter account had been hacked but whose wife revealed she had sent the tweets revealing the affair, has since returned to Twitter tweeting about the congress meet. “Rahul Gandhi in the midst of his rousing speech which electrified the...audience,” he wrote, uploading a picture of Gandhi, the vice-president of the Congress Party who was addressing a party meeting, that made it to the headlines. But by the end of the day it was Tharoor himself who made headline news. ¬


SOCIETY

January 31-February 6, 2014

A MAJEED/AFP

PAKISTANI GIRLS PRAYING AT A SCHOOL IN MINGORA, SWAT VALLEY IN PAKISTAN. IN TALIBAN COMMUNITIES, GIRLS ARE EXPECTED TO BE KEPT AT HOME AND UNSCHOOLED. THEY ARE REGARDED AS A FINANCIAL BURDEN, AND THEREFORE SACRIFICING DAUGHTERS TO SUICIDE MISSIONS ALSO MEANT CUTTING LOSSES FOR THE FAMILY.

THE GIRL BOMBER RAFIA ZAKARIA Dawn Islamabad

S

he said she is the sister of a local Taliban commander. Spozhmai, a young girl believed to be between 10 and 11 years old, gave herself up to the

Afghan police in the city of Lashkargah, southern Afghanistan. Her father and brother, she said, had forced her to put on a suicide vest and ordered her to blow herself up at

a checkpoint in Helmand province. Only the targets would be killed, her father had told her. Her brother Zahir gave her more specific instructions. She was

to approach the deputy commander at the checkpoint and ask for a ride to the neighbouring Kunar province. Then she was to blow up the vest attached to her body.


SOCIETY

January 31-February 6, 2014

On the other side, the spokesman for the Afghan Taliban denied the group's involvement in coercing the girl to engage in a suicide attack. The girl's story was nothing more than government propaganda, they said. "We never do this, especially with girls," Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the media. The last three words of his sentence were important. Girls, after all, were expected to be kept indoors and unschooled; the political act of martyrdom, something they sell as an ultimate act of heroism to their conscripts, is something too important to be wasted on the unholy and female. These are the two visible ends of the argu-

NOOR MOHAMMAD/AFP

Spozhmai didn't follow their instructions. Instead, she ran away and chose to ask for protection from the Afghan police. Taken into protective custody, she appealed to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to not send her back home. "God did not make me to be a suicide bomber. I ask the president to put me in a good place," she pleaded. Her life with her family was like that of a slave. She was not allowed to learn to read or write. Instead she was kept indoors, and expected to cook and clean, day and night. The Afghan authorities promised that they would not return the girl to her family unless tribal elders guaranteed her safety.

SPOZHMAI SPEAKING TO POLICE IN HELMAND PROVINCE.

ment. On one end, there are those who want to save girls like Spozhmai, whose story garners her more attention than the perfunctory bits awarded to the every day abused girl who tries to run away from the cruelties of

home and captivity. On the other, there is the Taliban, for whom the very idea of a girls' school has become so imbued with imperialism and occupation, that all iterations of female education, even the barest possibility of a


SOCIETY

January 31-February 6, 2014

female presence beyond the home, must be obliterated. The details of Spozhmai's story present a third reality. The mercenary benefits that the Taliban and their affiliated groups attach to those who volunteer for suicide bombings are an important denominator here. In the hardscrabble economy of this area, where war is the past, the present, and the future, several thousands of rupees can make the difference between a family's survival and its extinguishment. A son sacrificed to a suicide bombing means a onetime payment, a complete loss of earning potential to the promises of heaven mouthed by recruiters. Enter daughters, whose only potential lies in losses and future debts. Slipping a daughter instead of a son into a

suicide vest thus presents the opportunity to maximise the yield from the transaction of terror. A blown-up girl minimises losses, leaves behind the boys for other things, and allows for the survival of the family in whose servitude she lives. The calculations are dark; but similarly dim are the prospects for the girls that have not blown themselves up yet. In the tribal areas of Pakistan and in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, thousands of schools have been bombed in the past several years as Taliban encroachment has graduated from a possibility to a reality. In the paltry few weeks of this year, three girls' schools have already been

bombed. In Charsadda, explosives were lobbed over the boundary wall to maim the main building. In Landi Kotal, armed men planted bombs in the empty rooms of the Said Akbar Kali Girls School, their explosions tearing apart the silence and destroying all intentions of education. A few days later, bombs destroyed the Government Girls Primary School, located in the limits of the Huwed police station in Bannu. None of the culprits planting bombs in these fallow fields of female enrichment have been apprehended, and there is no likelihood that they will be. The songs to female education in Pakistan, so resounding in the years of international aid agencies

and urban do-gooders, do not echo in these schoolless climates. They are stuck between the Western desire to cover up with schools, the stabbings of strategic imperatives, and the Taliban insistence on sacrificing girls at the altar of an imagined Islamic authenticity. The girl bomber exists because, to both of them, her existence represents the vacuity of their meaningless mantras. In the land of the Taliban, the schools have bombs and the girls too have bombs. The buildings of one lie maimed and mangled; the bodies of the other are reduced to just that—only bodies—their tasks to carry the burdens of others, babies and now bombs. 


SOCIETY

January 31-February 6, 2014

Should renowned director Zhang Yimou apologise for violating China’s one-child policy? RAYMOND ZHOU China Daily Beijing

AFP

When the crowd bays for blood

C

hina's most eminent filmmaker has become a victim—of a lynch mob that carries the banner of equality more than of a national policy whose implementation is constantly fine-tuned. Renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou has found himself in deep water. Not only has he been fined 7.48 million yuan (US$1.24 million) for violating the family-planning policy, but many Chinese want even harsher punishment. The tidal wave of malignancy displayed online is nothing short of unsettling. It's like a virtual lynching. Zhang has a daughter with his first wife and he bore three more children with his current wife, all in the new millennium. They did not officially tie the knot until recently, which means none of


SOCIETY

January 31-February 6, 2014

the three children were legally permitted to come into this world. Had they been registered for marriage in the first place, the first child could have been legally allowed. The public was suspicious that Zhang used his official connections to obtain the special privilege. But it turned out the children were not registered until in recent years. Without official registration, they could not have gained any official status or benefits. Theoretically they did not exist in the tally of China’s population. Zhang rarely appeared in public with his family, and when his children got close to him, he had to run away, pretending not to know them. It is heartbreaking to learn of these details. As a father, I know first-hand how much he would want to hold his children, both in private and in public, as a proud parent. To put on a childless facade to avoid public scourging is simply too high a price. If I were Zhang, I would have paid the penalty and made the children

legal as soon as they were born. But his apprehensions were borne out by what is happening right now. The public, or a certain segment of it, is simply not satisfied with the official penalty, which is calculated as several times the family income of the year before each "illegal" child was born. They demanded apologies, which Zhang delivered in a solemn voice in a video interview. This, in my mind, is way across the line of propriety. It is in the realm of Red Guards toppling figures of authority under the illusion that true equality would be achieved. Since family planning is enshrined in law in China, every citizen should abide by it. The law stipulates that anyone who violates it be punished with a monetary fine. It does not require that he apologise to the whole country. There is a difference between breaking the law and trampling on ethics. It would have been unethical if Zhang had pulled strings and got his

children hukou (household registration) with special permission from authorities, in which case the fault would have been with those who granted him the privilege. And it would have been disgustingly hypocritical if he had advocated draconian implementation of the family planning law while he himself secretly violated it. But he did neither. He just wanted to have two more children than is legally allowed. He could have easily done it by obtaining Hong Kong residency or moved his family overseas. For reasons I cannot fathom, he preferred to have the children born in mainland China and stashed them away in a way uncomfortably reminiscent of Anne Frank. Just imagine China's foremost film artist keeping his family in the dark from the public for over a dozen years. Either the paparazzi were doing a terrible job or he was doing a terrific job hiding from them. Violating the family planning policy is not like stealing from others.


SOCIETY

January 31-February 6, 2014

For one thing, Zhang did not have a bunch of kids and shoved them to the state for financial support. He and his family are fully capable of raising them. More importantly, this law was first designed with a long litany of exceptions: Rural couples whose first child is a girl can have one more; ethnic groups are not bound by it; families who are willing to pay the penalty can have more, etc. In China today, an average couple has about 1.5 children, which roughly translates to two children for half of them and the other half having one child. Family planning is a policy whose applicability is always being calibrated. There were times when its execution was rigorous and times when it was palpably relaxed. The new revision to allow couples to have one more child if either the husband or the wife is an only child is a sign of further loosening control of the policy. Experts are forever debating how fast the grip should be eased and when the system should

be abolished all together. It is simply ludicrous that some people see Zhang's violation as if he had committed rape or arson. They argue that a celebrity like him be held up to the highest standard of morality. But the way I see it, his nonobservance has nothing to do with ethics or morality. It is just an issue of legal technicality. The law has embedded a loophole or an exception in the guise of a financial forfeit. It does not mind if people who pay it have more than one child. Public sentiment can be a force of good or evil. For example, online vigilance has repeatedly brought down corrupt officials. But the impulse to knock down figures of power can be indiscriminate. Some people do not seem to ask themselves whether what Zhang did compromised public interests. Like the Red Guards in the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), they believed that shooting down people like Zhang would create a better world. It does not

seem to occur to them that if Zhang had to pay more than legally stipulated, it would be much worse when the same happened to them. In a widely reposted message on the Weibo blog, I defended Zhang, arguing that he should pay the fine only and need not apologise. Those who are pummeling him on the moral high ground are even worse than Javert, the police inspector in Les Miserables who made it his mission to bring Valjean to justice. And Valjean, like Zhang, had done something, like stealing a loaf of bread for starving children, which is technically illegal but that anyone with common sense can understand. The lynch mob has the mentality of the Thenardiers, striving for equality not by lifting themselves up but by knocking others down. The campaign to strip any citizen, let alone a great artist who has brought his country enormous fame and pride, of basic human dignity is deplorable. Just let the father be. ÂŹ


January 31-February 6, 2014

Manila’s

latest 'it' food CLINTON PALANCA Philippine Daily Inquirer Manila

B

read has become the latest obsession in Manila, which can only be a good thing. Pan de sal (local bread brought by the Spaniards) was recently featured in Saveur, described as “pillowy-soft”, though it needn’t be; the best has the merest semblance of a crust and a mature, slightly fermented, decidedly non-industrial interior.

FOOD

Filipinos discover there’s more to bread than ‘pan de sal’


FOOD

January 31-February 6, 2014

I used to buy mine from Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City, which no longer uses a woodfired oven; the closest old-fashioned pan de sal to Manila is Lipa, and the best, they say, is still that of Panaderia de Molo in Iloilo. Two notable bakeshops are Paul in Taguig and Eric Kayser in Makati. Eric Kayser opened its first branch inside Rustan’s Supermarket in Rockwell, Makati. Around Christmas last year, the bread lines could have been from a Soviet famine. People would stand in crowds waiting for the baguettes to come out of the oven, and when the trays emerged we would all rush forward, waving our “ration” coupons. Kayser’s baguette is the classic Parisian baguette, with soft but springy crumb, and a thick, hard crust that quickly gets soggy in our humid atmosphere, but needs just a few minutes in the oven toaster to be once more crunchy and sublime.

PAUL’S BAGUETTE

This, I feel, is the bakeshop’s masterpiece, and that alone justifies its existence. Its other main draw are the croissants, which also need about two or three minutes in the oven toaster (under a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent the top from burning). Both are not just as good, but better than the average baguette or croissant in Paris,

though not as great as the very best you’d get in Paris. The baguette and croissant are urban inventions. In France, bakers do an afternoon bake for people to take home to dinner, because the best baguettes shouldn’t last more than a few hours. If they do last longer, it’s an ominous sign that preservatives have been added to keep the bread fresh.


FOOD

January 31-February 6, 2014

The problem with Eric Kayser is that, as of now, there is only one branch, so it’s hard to get a fresh baguette for dinner on a regular basis. And, as always, I’m worried about the quality. According to the grapevine, the trainer bakers are still in town. We still have to wait and see if they are able to maintain the quality, or if the franchise holders will cut corners on ingredients. The rest of the selection is pretty good, but not mind-blowing. The almond croissant looks like something that was run over in the road, though it tastes okay; L’Artizan made a better one for a fraction of the price. The financiers are a bit heavy on the sugar but competent, as are the eclairs. The sourdough loaves are dense, soggy and heavy: not even close. At Paul’s, the natural leaven baguettes are standouts. The same dough is used to make pain a l’ancienne, which they shape like focaccia loaf and might be a better option if

you like the crumb more than the crust. The baguettes aren’t cooked with a hard, crackling crust like a lechon skin the way Kayser’s is, but there’s a bit of fermentation to the dough (you can see the irregular holes) and the merest hint of acidity. Paul originally made its name as a boulanger (baker) rather than a patissier, but when it turned corporate and expanded its reach as a worldwide brand, it included patisserie in its lineup. The Manila selection includes macarons, chocolate and lemon tarts, canele sponges, as well as sandwiches, making it more like a salon-de-thé. The swathes of fabric, the lamps and the seats are all very Angelina or Laduree, lavish and lush in the vein of TWG rather than functional. I’m not sure about how well the finde-siecle look works in a mall, but the interiors definitely trump the Paul franchises in London, where they’re a bit grimy and compete with the cheerful utilitarian blond wood interiors of Pret, everyone’s

favourite sandwich place. The pastries are better than London’s, too. Johnlu Koa, who was unceremoniously taken out of Rustan’s to give way to Kayser, has set up shop at Serendra, much in the style of Paul’s but at more affordable prices. But I have yet to visit. The last time I spoke with Koa, more than a year ago, he promised that he would attempt to produce an authentic sourdough, or even something close to Poilane bread. This is a brave claim, because the only thing better than good sourdough is Poilane sourdough bread, the best in the world and rumoured to be made with a decades-old starter. But after years of our bread languishing in the dark ages, with everyone saying that real classic breads and pastries couldn’t be done because of the humidity, suddenly they’re a reality. As the crowds outside Versailles once told Marie-Antoinette, we’re hungry for bread, and have been for some time. ¬


TRAVEL

January 31-February 6, 2014

NOVANI NUGRAHANI The Jakarta Post Jakarta

F

orget about business class, luxury hotels, cash machines and convenience stores, some of those sites don't even have electricity and paved roads. A little extra preparation is the key to a successful adventure. These helpful tips may not only make you survive your trip, but enjoy it that you’ll promise yourself to do it again.

PHOTOS BY INDRA FEBRIANSYAH

Travelling to Indonesia's remote places


TRAVEL

January 31-February 6, 2014

Be alert

As a rule of thumb, stay alert when you travel to strange places. Be aware that travelling to remote areas in Indonesia might expose travellers to certain risks. Robbery and pickpocketing are common crimes in Indonesia,

particularly on public transportation, traditional markets and anywhere crowded. So, never leave your belongings unattended. Avoid wearing glittery jewellery and an expensive watch on public transportation. It is also wise to keep your fan-

cy smartphones and DSLR camera inside your bag when you are walking in public places. Talking to local people can benefit you, as they can share the dos and don’ts of local etiquette, things that you will not find on Google or in a tourism brochure.


January 31-February 6, 2014

Pack, pack and pack

When travelling to remote places, pack light and take a backpack or carrier. Wheeled luggage can slow down your trip. If the trip includes exploring Borneo's lush tropical forest or scaling Rinjani's peak, a good pair of hiking boots is a good choice to keep your feet comfortable and dry. The rainy season, which usually falls between November and March, can harm your belongings. Bring dry bags, and remember to cover your backpack with a rain cover. If a decent hotel and laundry service will be out of your reach, a packet of powder detergent and elastic clothesline may come in handy. Quick-dry

TRAVEL

clothes and quick-absorb travel towels will prevent the tropics from keeping you permanently damp. Also, a sarong or pashmina is light and incredibly versatile, useful as a skirt, blanket or head cover.

Money matters

Money changers are widely available across Indonesia, but in remote villages finding a place to withdraw or change money (especially for currencies other than US dollar) can be a major headache. Therefore, it is better to load up on rupiah before heading to Indonesia's outer islands. Cash machines for international banks such as Citibank, HSBC and CIMB are commonly available


TRAVEL

January 31-February 6, 2014

in major cities and tourist destinations, but only limited local bank ATMs can be found in rural areas. Don't count on being able to use your credit card when travelling to the country's remote villages.

Stay healthy

Even the best trip will not mean much if you are sick. There are some health considerations that you must look at ahead of your trip. Food hygiene can be an issue when you are eating at street vendors. Lack of clean water and sanitation resources in remote villages can also lead to poor food hygiene. To prevent diarrhoea, take immodium tablets or other similar med-

icine with you. Keeping oral re-hydration packets in your bag is also a good idea. Getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid before you reach Indonesia is a wise precaution. Various species of mosquitoes thrive in the tropics. In Indonesia, dengue fever is a threat anywhere and malaria still exists in several rural areas in Sumatra, Borneo, East Lombok and other eastern parts of the country. Malaria prophylaxis should be taken prior, during and after travelling to malaria-risk zone to boost the immune system. The best defence against dengue and malaria, however, is long clothing and insect repellant. A mosquito net also helps. ÂŹ


January 31-February 6, 2014

DATEBOOK

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ÂŹ Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture An internationally renowed inter-city architecture and urban planning event, exploring Hong Kong's relationship with Shenzhen. Events include a series of exhibitions, workshops, symposiums, film screenings and, of course, Friday night networking parties.

Where: Ekeo (Kwun Tong), Kwun Tong Pier, North Point Pier, Oi Street (North Point) When: Until February 28 Info: uabb.hk


January 31-February 6, 2014

ÂŹ Hong Kong Photos of old Hong Kong A collection of 14,000 prints and other related items create an impressive timeline of Hong Kong's history and development.

Where: Museum of History, Tsim Sha Tsui When: Until April 21

DATEBOOK

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DATEBOOK

January 31-February 6, 2014

¬ Kuala Lumpur Timeout Comedy Thursday (TOCT) TOCT returns in February for more cheers, jeers and free beers. This time around themed "Trojans —The Year of the Laughing Horse", be prepared to laugh till you ache with local funny acts Kavin Jay, Papi Zak, Hartley Pool, Sulaiman Azmil and Luwita Hana Randhawa.

Where: Velvet Underground, Zouk KL When: February 6, 8:30pm-11pm Info: eshop.mongooseasia.com


January 31-February 6, 2014

DATEBOOK

¬ Kuala Lumpur Dirty Secret at Heli Lounge Bar Ladies' Night at former helicopter pad, Heli Lounge, every Thursday. Ladies get free Appletinis from 9pm to 12am.

Where: Heli Lounge Bar, 34th floor, Menara KH, Jalan Sultan Ismail When: February 1-28; Thursdays Info: facebook.com/Heliloungebar


January 31-February 6, 2014

DATEBOOK

¬ Jakarta Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival 2014

The Java Jazz Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary, this year with a spectacular lineup of international acts such as Jamie Cullum, India Arie, Natalie Cole, Sadao Watanabe and Snarky Puppy.

Where: Jakarta International EXPO (JIExpo) When: February 28 to March 2 Info: javajazzfestival.com

INDIA ARIE


DATEBOOK

January 31-February 6, 2014

ÂŹ Kyoto Mibu Kyogen

A mime play performed at Kyoto's Mibu-temple three times a year, just as they were during the early medieval period. Kyogen performers in colourful and elaborate costumes use colloqial language to poke fun at subjects such as the samurai, depraved priests and faithless women.

The plays were originally created to provide comic relief during a programme of a Noh play.

Where: Mibu-dera Temple When: February 2-3

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ASIAN CITY GUIDE Asia News Network

A guide to leading cities in Asia

THIS WEEK IN

BEIJING BANGKOK MANILA HONG KOKG SEOUL TOKYO SAPPORO TAIPEI SHANGHAI

BANGKOK

HIGHLIGHTS

What's on

Shopping

Eateries


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

¬ Go vintage Scala Cinema Where: Scala Cinema, Siam Square What: The old cinema offers a modest one-screen experience compared to the large complex situated in Siam Paragon just across the road. Built in 1967, this exquisitely maintained movie theatre is worth a trip not only for the bargain priced seats and popcorn, but also for the retro setting. 100 baht minimum

¬ Experience Wax Museum

¬ Dine and watch

Where: Siam Discovery Centre What: Madame Tussauds presents exhibit items you can touch, hug, play with and even kiss. Imagine shooting hoops with the Houston Rockets centre Yao Ming, appearing on The Oprah Show, practicing Kung Fu with Bruce Lee, drinking espresso with George Clooney.

Where: Asiatique River Front What: The Calypso Cabaret Show gives an entertaining show of ladyboys doing what they love the most: dressing up to the nines and miming to Cher.

800 baht for adults, 600 baht for children and senior citizens or book online and save 50% discount

500 baht (Child rates are applicable)

Siam Niramit


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

¬ Explore

Recreational Tour

Where: Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo What: The zoo is situated on 60 acres of land an-hour drive west of Bangkok. Visitors watch an elephant show complete with dramatic sounds and narration and see demonstrations of elephants at work and re-enacting ancient battle scenes in full battle gear.

1,190 baht (2-3 pax); child rates applicable

¬ Pedal away

Bangkok Jungle Tour

Where: Bang Ka Jao A half-day trip explores the green heart of Bangkok: Bang Ka Jao. Close to Bangkok, this small green area has a unique style of waterways and small roads. Pass through temples, local markets and Thai houses and see communities that live and work here. 2,520 baht (2 pax, minimum); children between 12-16 years old allowed


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

What’s on

¬ be entertained Calypso Cabaret Show

¬ learn it

Where: Asiatique River Front What: The Calypso Cabaret Show gives an entertaining show of ladyboys doing what they love the most: dressing up to the nines and miming to Cher.

Bangkok Thai cooking

What: Qualified Thai chefs teach the secrets of preparing Thai food. Lessons take place in a stylish fully-equipped Thai kitchen where you'll learn about the seasonality of Thai food, a range of dishes that includes starters, salads, curries, noodle dishes and desserts.

500 baht (Child rates are applicable) 2,400 baht (minimum 2 persons)


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Shopping

ÂŹ Asiatique River Front

ÂŹ Chatuchak Weekend market A huge, sprawling weekend market, Chatuchak or JJ, has 15,000 shops offering almost everything, from clothes, souvenirs, furniture, artworks, books, plants and even pets. Down the road, you'll find the Talad Rod Fai or the Train Market that opens at 6pm, just after JJ closes, where you can do some serious vintage shopping.

Address: Kampaeng Phet Road, BTS Mo Chit

This new shopping centre is the first along the Chao Praya River. Housed in a 100-year-old refurbished sawmill, it has over 1,500 boutiques selling fashion and souvenirs, with several restaurants and bars at amazingly reasonable prices.

Address: 2194 Charoenkrung Soi 76


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Shopping

¬ Siam Neighbourhood The Siam area is where one can find the best malls and fashion boutiques. Siam Paragon and Siam Centre have the high-street fashion brands, design stores and chic restaurants. Opposite these malls is a sprawling market with boutique stores selling clothes, bags, shoes and accessories for cheap. Nearby is the multi-storey MBK, one of the most popular malls among tourists and locals. Go dizzy with eight floors packed with 2,000 shops that sell everything from clothing, fashion accessories, handbags, leather products and luggage to furniture, mobile phones, electric appliances, cameras, stationery and DVDs. Address: Rama 1 Road, BTS Siam/National Stadium

¬ Chinatown What you will find here are beautiful Chinese temples, Taoist places of learning and traditional Chinese medicine shops selling all sorts of fascinating remedies. The alleys are crammed with market stalls and small shops jostling to sell just about everything--from hair accessories, tea sets, hardware and food, to fabric, strange vegetables

imported from mainland China. Once crossing Chakraphek Road you will enter Pahurat – one of Chinatown’s premier attractions. Goods such as flip-flops, toys, household items, and herbs can be bought here.

Address: Chakraphek Road and Sampleng Lane


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Shopping

ÂŹ Silom Area ÂŹ Pratunam Shopping You'll find incredible deals, and make sure you know how to haggle in Thai, in Pratunam. Deciding what to buy (whether clothes or bags), and comparing prices around, is a good start. Things start to get really cheap when you're buying bulk. Buy two at any store and you get great discounts. Across the street is the Pratunam Market, a major market selling clothes, shoes, and fashion accessories at wholesale prices. Down the road is Pantip Plaza, the mother of all IT shops, where you can get the latest tech items for low prices. They sell everything from computers and computer-related accessories and printers, digital cameras, MP3 players, PDAs, and much more. Remember to keep your bags and wallets close!

Address: Petchaburi Road

Head out to the famous Patpong Night Market! In between peeks at the sex trade, you will find souvenirs, Thai crafts, CD's, DVD's, counterfeit watches and bags, shirts, boxing shorts and a whole lot of other things can be bargained for. You'll also find in the area the Jim Thompson Shop, the famous international promoter of Thai silk. On the corner of Suwarong and Rama IV roads, the mansion-like Jim Thompson store offers a variety of colourful silk products-from personal items to household pieces to handkerchiefs, shirts, neckties, place mats, wraps, cushions, curtains, and bed sheets.

Address: Surawong Road


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

¬ Isaan Cuisine Are you in for a simple, Thai peasant food? When in Bangkok, try the quintessential northeastern or Isaan-style dish. With a touch of 1920s Shanghai, Thai Lao Yeh offers an extensive menu of classic authentic Isaan and Northern Laotian dishes. The aromatic larb dish of finely chopped meat or fish, flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice, chili and fresh mint herbs is nothing like any you’ve ever tasted before. Enjoy it with sticky rice and a plate of fresh herbs and vegetables.

Address: 14/29 Sukhumvit Soi 45 Tel: +66-02-25928713

¬ Som Tum

Spicy Green Papaya Salad

No one sets foot in Thailand without having a plate of the sumptuous som tam. Enjoy the many versions of the one of the best loved, traditional dishes, recently listed a national treasure. Som Tam Nua offers varieties of the salad that one can imagine. The place is packed at peak hours and is more of an eat-andrun place. And while you’re at it, pair your salad with the popular phad kanomjeen (stir-fried rice noodles) and crispy chicken.

Address: 392/14 Soi Siam Square 5, Rama 1 Road. Tel: +66-22-514880


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

ÂŹ Tom Yum Goong

ÂŹ Pad Thai

(Spicy Shrimp Soup)

A must try is the classic spicy lemongrass and shrimp soup recipe from Thailand, also known as Tom Yum Kung. This potent herbal mixture is well known for its medicinal properties and it comes with shrimp (goong or kung), fish (Tom Yum Taleh) or chicken (Tom Yum Gai). Nai Sow, a Chinese-Thai restaurant next door to Wat Plaplachai, has the city's best tom yum. Order a desert of fried taro to cool down the chilli.

Addres: 3/1 Maitrichit Rd., Chinatown (Pom Prap Sattru Phai) Tel: +66-02-2221539

(Thai style Fried Noodles)

This noodle plate is the default international Thai dish cooked in searing hot wok with small, thin or wide noodles (you can choose), crunchy beansprouts, onion, egg, fish sauce, sugar, chilli powder and finely ground peanuts. This yummy recipe will leave you craving more at Thip Samai, the Bangkok institution specialising in Pad Thai since 1966, and it's often mentioned as the best in Thailand. But pad thai is known as the ultimate street food that can be ordered from any stall on the street.

Addres: 315/1 Mahachai Road Tel: +66-02-2216280


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

ÂŹ Khao Pad

ÂŹ Gaeng Daeng

(Red Curry)

Get those buds tingling with this bowl of red curry paste, smooth coconut milk and topped off with a sprinkling of finely sliced kaffir lime leaves. This aromatic Thai dish is served with rice or rice noodles and combined with meat or poultry. But watch out, it can be very hot! Nara Thai is fine dining place where you can get a perfect bowl of the red curry, matched with a contemporary design for an ultimate dining experience in cozy ambience.

Address: 7th floor, Central World Plaza, Chid Lom Tel: +66-02-61316589

(Fried Rice)

Dubbed as the no-brainer food, meaning you can go to almost any restaurant or street food stall in Bangkok, this popular Thai rice dish is mixed with either beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or crab meat along with egg, onions, garlic and sliced tomatoes. The plate of searing, hot fried rice is known to be in Chinatwon, at Rut and Lek Seafood, on the corner of Yaowarat and Soi Texas. Or there's also Ko Yee that serves great crab fried rice with a Thai-Chinese flavour.

Address: Bangkok Yaowarat and Charoennakorn Rd. Tel: +66-02-863-6955


BANGKOK

ASIAN CITY GUIDE

Eateries

¬ Wine By The River After dinner, head out to the Amorosa al fresco bar, the best spot to admire the Wat Arun pagoda that lights up at night. The bar offers a stunning view of the majestic Chao Phraya River and the people’s life along it. The bar is big on old world wines, as well as sparking and champagne.

Address: Arun sidence, Soi Pratunokyoong Tel: +66-02-211 9185

¬ Thai Tea The Thai milk tea is called cha yen, and be sure to remember that when ordering one from a street stall. The traditional drink is a strong brew mixed with milk and is best served chilled. If you like it light, go for the lime Thai tea (cha-man-now), which is also sweetened with sugar and mixed with lime. Both will keep you energised!


AsiaNews Magazine : Jan30-Feb6,2014  
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