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Rugby School comes to Thailand


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contents

Culture from more than one country

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Adapting to your new destination

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Learning to thrive in a home away from home

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Cultural experiences to treasure and never forget

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The importance of tradition in the expat family

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Traditional embrace with a new version of culture

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Long weekend in Ao Nang

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The perfect partnership

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Forging friendship fatigue

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Singing soothes the soul

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The fires that cleanse the soul

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I haven’t found a place I like living in more

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To be a chef is not a job - it’s a lifestyle

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With software, it pays to be legal

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Ageing gracefully

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Trail running

112

Alcohol dependancy

58

Your traditions, your culture, your food

114

YoQi with Marisa Baratelli

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A knowledge enriching summer at Yale

116

The road to a better me

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Rugby School comes to Thailand

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Mediation and collaborative divorce

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Stanley Kang

120

Gourmet corner

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A week in boarding

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IWC Food Fair

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Attack my anxiety

126

Songkran

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Tots and gadgets

128

Sanook

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Superwomen

130

Ask Carolyn and Kasia

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Meet the artist

132

Muay Thai in Thailand

92

London Mami

134

A fascinator in the year of the cockerel

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Coffee culture

135

Social pictures

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Picking the right yoga retreat

136

Social pictures

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Yoga traditions

138

Social pictures

104

Chinese medicine

140

Social pictures

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Internet dating

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Expats can learn a thing or two

Accounts Panumas Kayan (Daow) daow.elbkk@gmail.com

Administration Natnicha Kornkamonwattanakit (Nat) nat.elbkk@gmail.com

Art Dew Piyaman dew@elbkk.com

Chintana Bunyakitanon (Pang) pang.elbkk@gmail.com

Front cover picture features: Nigel Westlake Founding Headmaster and Chatchai Teepsuwan, Taya Teepsuwan, Nataphol Teepsuwan, Kamolaphat Teepsuwan from the board of directors. Rugby School Thailand.

Online editor Tassapon Sutthidetkul (Tass) tass.elbkk@gmail.com 093 584 6748

Publisher and managing editor Nick Argles nick@elbkk.com 089 721 3384 / 083 734 2333

For all advertising, editorial, marketing, social media or sponsorship enquiries please write to or call the publisher - nick@elbkk.com or tass.elbkk@gmail.com

384 Sukhumvit Garden City, Sukhumvit soi 79, Bangchak, Phrakanong, Bangkok 10260 Tel. 02 331 3266 Fax: 02 331 5261

Subscribe now Subscribe today to Expat Life in Thailand and have your issues delivered direct to your door! Simply send a bank transfer to Pareto Communications Co. Ltd. Bank of Ayudhya account number 001-9-46370-4 savings account and send a confirmation email to subscribe@elbkk.com confirming your payment and giving us your address, email address and telephone number in case of problems. One postal issue 250B or six issues 1200B

Visit www.expatlifeinthailand.com or www.facebook.com/expatlifeinthailand The information contained in this magazine or website, while believed to be correct, is not guaranteed. Expat Life in Thailand magazine or website and its directors, employees and consultants do not accept any liability for any error, omission or misrepresentation in relation to the information. Nor does it accept any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred by any person whatsoever arising out of or referable to the information displayed within Expat Life in Thailand magazine or website. Any view expressed by a journalist is not necessarily the view of Expat Life in Thailand magazine or website. No part of Expat Life in Thailand magazine or website can be reproduced or copied without the express consent of the publisher.

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FEATURES

Culture from more than one country by Tassapon Sutthidetkul

When I initially thought of writing about my own tradition and culture, I was lost. When I thought of tradition and culture as a loose term, the first association that came to me was nationality; something specific to a country.

I asked myself what was my Thai culture and tradition and yes it is in past tense because I lived in Thailand when I was younger, about 10 years back. I would never forget it, my childhood and what I had learnt about being a Thai person. It is with me now and always will be. Being a Thai person is about being kind, loving and forgiving of other people. This created a capacity for me to be generous and doing good to others, it was my space of happiness. Growing up in different countries made culture and tradition complicated. I could not define exactly what is my culture and tradition. (And I do not have, too, to not taking the term for granted).? If I had to stick to a city defining my own culture and tradition, it would be Melbourne in Australia. The place offered me that sense of home and belonging, it made me feel I could be different. Perhaps, Thailand is that place for a lot of you here. I then knew I did not have to belong to one specific culture and adhere to one particular tradition. A friend once told me that you could bring your own culture in Melbourne and that made it different from other cities. I looked around the city and people wore different styles of clothes, they did not seem to

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care too much about what others thought of them. Someone said to me, ‘You could wear pyjamas to Melbourne Central, I mean no one would mind’ – and why would they? You were not wearing their pyjamas, you did not force them to wear pyjamas to a shopping centre, fully crowded and situated in a central city. Perhaps you simply wore it because the city felt like home you and it made you feel comfortable. In Melbourne, everyone had their own life schedule. They were punctual with time and this meant 10 minutes before time or after, depending on their previous schedule. People kept to their words and they worked hard because it was their mutual respect – cultural values shared amongst them, free from social stereotype and class. Living in a city that feels like my home, no one is a stranger to me. I see that everyone here is part of the city and some of the people I met called this place home, whichever the country and their origin. I am now typing this article at a Starbucks branch in Exchange Tower, Asoke. I found the space to be peaceful and perfect to finish this article. I went to order a Caesar wrap and a tall signature hot chocolate where a Swiss man who stood beside me was speaking Thai to the staff. I started a conversation with him because he was living in the same city as me and that is my culture and a tradition that I personally grew up with. My tradition and culture taught me - do not segregate one nationality from another.

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Travel

Soneva: Inspiring a lifetime of rare experiences

Discover the ultimate family getaway at Soneva Kiri in Koh Kood Twenty years ago, Sonu and Eva Shivdasani pioneered the concept of barefoot luxury on their private island resort, Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. It was a fabulous idea: exemplary service in beautiful surroundings, with a focus on sustainable yet ultra-luxurious accommodation. Two decades on, the resort still operates on this Robinson Crusoe ethos. Returning guests expect - and find - luxurious simplicity and intuitive service, facilitated by Mr and Ms Friday butlers. Unforgettable, authentic Thai experiences Soneva Kiri is Soneva’s Thai based award winning property and is located on Koh Kood - just one hour by private plane southeast of Bangkok. It offers an unrivalled combination of luxury, sustainability, authentic Thai experiences and mouthwatering organic food. The resort’s 36 vast pool villas (ranging in size from one to six bedrooms), all overlook the Gulf of Thailand. Highlights include the open air Cinema Paradiso (which screens modern and classic movies), an Observatory, some of the best beaches in Thailand, and spectacular dining options. The complimentary chocolate and ice cream parlours are also popular favourites!

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Children’s Den A giant moulded bamboo playground shaped like a manta ray and hanging high in the treetops, Soneva Kiri’s Children’s Den is dedicated to learning, to excitement, and to meaningful experiences. Professional childminders teach the younger Soneva guests how to play Thai instruments, and unleash their creative talents with painting, music, and the visual arts. A special programme is also offered specifically for children aged one to five years old at Soneva’s ‘Eco Den’. Other family activities at Soneva Kiri include: • Father and son Koh Kood Fishing Trip with mother and daughter spa • Cinema Paradiso private viewing with dinner • Gourmet tasting experience - with chocolates, ice creams paired with wine/mocktails • Family cooking class • Private Sunset Cruise • Family guided snorkelling excursion around Koh Kood

If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple: No news, no shoes. No pretensions either. The Sabai Sabi offer is now valid at Soneva Kiri, exclusively for Thai nationals and expats residing in Thailand. Stay with us for three days and two nights, or four days and three nights and receive complimentary daily half board, return air transfers and spa treatments. Terms and conditions apply. Please use booking code FMSMEL17 www.soneva.com

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand


Life

Adapting to your new destination - tips for all expatriates by Isabel Valle

As all expats will know, moving countries is not an easy task. Yes, we do get better at it, and yet every new location brings with it a whole new set of challenges and learning gaps that makes the move feel overwhelming at the best of times. On top of that, as expat families we also evolve. Children come into our lives, and they bring with them a whole new level of complexity into our already stormy lives. As we move around the globe, we expand and grow in so many different ways, that had we stayed back home, we wouldn’t have experienced. This continued growth and evolution force us to redefine ourselves, our identities and our course of action as we try to settle into our new location and our new lives. Add to the mix the logistics of your move, like finding a nice, comfortable place to live, a good school for your children. A location that makes getting around your new city bearable, whilst allowing your partner to avoid long commute times. Finding your way around, learning the basics of the local language if necessary, finding food that resembles what you are used to, places to go out to exercise, to eat, to enjoy yourselves … and of course one of the most important aspects of settling into your next destination, is to find like

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minded people, to help you connect and give you a sense of belonging. In essence, we have to start afresh, from the very beginning. We need to redefine and recreate our lives, if possible to be as good as they were before, or even better. Even though adapting to a new place and life may be a daunting process, there are many upsides too; we become incredibly resourceful individuals. Our ability to think on our feet develops dramatically. We grow radically, as we are often faced by ‘out of comfort’ experiences that we must conquer in order to get what we need; we become pros at decision making skills and solving everyday problems. These are just some of the many examples of how expatriates enhance and expand their capabilities during their various moves.

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So what can be done to make the process of adaptation into our new countries and our new lives easier? Let me share with you some proven tips to help you become a pro at adapting. Strategies to help you become a master at adaption 1. Don’t limit yourself. Let go of any predefined ideas or expectations that you may have about your new location. By all means read about it and talk to people that are living there. But do not let other people’s accounts of their experience dictate your own experience. We are all different, and come from very different backgrounds. Someone’s “hate” could easily be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life, or vice versa. Do not limit yourself about how you may enjoy your next move based on other people’s stories. Write your own story and create your own unique life in your new place. 2. Research intentionally. If you can, do an orientation trip prior to your move. It is worth investing some time and money travelling to your next location to intentionally research and gather as much information as you can about potential locations, valid ways of transport, favourite schools, and other important things in your list, and test it out. It will save you a lot of hassle and added stress when you get there, and a possible house or school move later on. Dive in and test it all out; interview your top schools, test the journey back to your potential new home to/from the school and workplace, etc.

whole day trying to find wrapping paper and birthday cards, don’t beat yourself up. Unrealistic pressures will only add to your already hectic life; so give yourself a break and accept that adapting to your new life does and will take time. 4. Write it all down. Even if you think that you know what you’re doing, and you’ve done it all before. Creating a list with all that needs to be done, down to the very specifics, will help you free up some space in your head, and help you progress and get things done in a more productive and orderly manner. The good thing about a master list is that, once done, you can pretty much continue to use it for all future moves. 5. Befriend social media. Thanks to social media, a whole new world of opportunities has opened up to us, especially for expats. You can join an array of local Facebook and Meetup groups, such as running groups, yoga, meditation, parenting, crafts, business, etc. The choice is overwhelming. There are also many networks that you can easily connect with that meet up weekly - all you need to do is look for them, and sign up. Additionally, there are country specific groups and clubs that welcome you with open arms. If you are unable to find them online, you can ask your local embassy for contact details.

3. Give it time. Give yourself plenty of time to get settled into your new life. It is always easier to get into a routine for the working partner. For the person at home, there is a lot of unpacking, sorting, shopping, finding and exploring to do, so don’t expect to arrive and hit the ground. So next time you spend a

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Life

6. Breathe. Breathing is going to be one of the cheapest, easiest and yet most powerful tools that you can use during the period of adaptation. You will have good days, bad days, and impossible days … on some days all you’ll be able to get through is breathing, so since it has to be done, do it right. If you start feeling overwhelmed, sad, frustrated … it is time to intentionally do some deep breathing. You will oxygenate your body and it will help you get out of your head and emotions, become more mindful and energised, so you can move on.

8. Stay healthy. Try to eat healthy nutritious food as much as you can, exercise and sleep and rest well. Your body is your temple, and you will need it to get you through this period of intense stress. A healthy mind is also critical during a relocation. Practise gratefulness and try to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives. Your choice of thoughts will have a direct impact on how you experience your new location. 9. Put yourself first. For the partner staying at home, it is so easy to fall into the carer’s role and do it all for everyone, attending to their every need, whilst completely denying yourself. Let me tell you that it is not selfish, in fact it is necessary for you to put yourself first, if you are to care for others as well. A person that cares for her/himself fully, will show up with much more energy and focus – and will improve the quality of their relationships at home too. So make time for breakfast, go for a walk, read a book you enjoy, meditate, do yoga, catch up for coffee with friends, take a relaxing bath, have a massage … do what you need to do to recharge and top up your feel good vibes.

7. Loosen up! Be open to the new experiences that the new country may bring. You many not be able to find the same things you loved in your previous place, and yet many more opportunities will be available to you, if you are open to them. When I moved to the Borneo jungle from the big city, I thought I wouldn’t be able to survive there. Then I started trying out the very things I thought I didn’t enjoy, like running, jungle trekking and yoga. Well, I fell madly in love with them all, and have enjoyed them ever since. Just because you haven’t tried it, or you didn’t enjoy it a long time ago, it doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it this time around. I guarantee you that if you are prepared to get out of your comfort zone and just give it a go, you will be pleasantly surprised.

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10. Show up. When you are in a new location, for many of us it can be quite difficult to get out of the house and meet new people.

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Life

There are some ways in which you can more easily get to know people, which require little effort. School is one of the best ways; attend parents meetings, greet parents at school drop off or pick up, attend a class or gym regularly, greet people in your building … Remember that most people are in a very similar scenario as you. Ask questions about them, people love being listened to. You’ll have friends in no time.

anxious, depressed, constantly focusing on the negatives and unable to cope with it all, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional that can help you sort it at once. If you take decisive action, in no time, you’ll be looking at the good in life. Let go of how things used to be. You simply cannot replicate fully your previous life in a whole new setting. But you can adapt and creatively enhance it.

11. Enjoy. Pursue a hobby or activity that gives you purpose and makes you feel good. You can do volunteering work, help out at school, join a craft or sports group, paint, study, create an online business, write a book … the possibilities are endless. Doing something just for you that brings meaning and fulfilment into your life will help you beat the blues and will bring much joy into your life.

14. Ask for help. We are all on the same boat. Ask your embassy, contact the school, online groups, etc. If you are coming across a hurdle, chances are most of us have been through it too, so ask people around and you’ll be surprised how easily you can get through those hurdles.

12. Let it out. Make sure you have someone to share your ups and downs with; your partner, family or friends back home … ensure that you reach out and open up to someone you trust. Talking it out will help you release stress, help you reflect on it, make you feel better, and help you move on. If you don’t have anyone who can support you during this time, engage in the help of a coach or other professional that can help you navigate through the waves of change. Or write a daily journal. 13. Get real. Accept that this experience will be a ride, with ups and downs along the way. Allow yourself to feel the feelings as they come, without judgement. No one said it’d be easy. And sometimes we just have to get on with it. It will pass. If you start noticing yourself being

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15. Connect. Find a group of people that you enjoy spending time with. Most people feel disconnected when they arrive in a new place. Many are too shy to instigate connections. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and ask people for a coffee, or offer help, or set up a kid’s playdate … you’ll be amazed how many people feel the same way you do. You are not alone. I hope that you found some of the above tips helpful. Put some or all of them into practise, not just on your next move, but anytime you go through changes, and you’ll be able to navigate through it all with swag and ease! With much admiration to you all, Isabel

Isabel Valle is an accredited ICF PCC Coach, Leadership Mentor and Facilitator currently based in Bangkok. Isabel has held senior positions within the hospitality industry in countries around the world, and facilitates a holistic approach to leadership, growth and success. She specialises in inspiring action and helping leaders from all walks of life bring their gifts to life to help them create professional excellence and personal fulfilment. More information available on www.isabelvalle.com.

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Regents International School Pattaya - Update These are just some of the recent happenings at Regents - more on our website: www.regents-pattaya.co.th

British Ambassador Opens New Science Labs Regents International School Pattaya was very pleased to welcome His Excellency the British Ambassador to Thailand, Mr Brian Davidson, who officially opened our state-of-the-art science laboratories.

Regents Celebrates Over 50 Nationalities The Regents International School Pattaya’s annual International Day was bigger and better than ever, as we celebrated the over 50 nationalities enrolled at the school.

Thrilling Finish to Senior Invitational Games Regents International School Pattaya’s boys’ team captured a silver medal on the final day to cap off a most successful international tournament.

The Juilliard School Collaboration Regents was delighted to welcome New York based classical pianist, Mr Kimball Gallagher, in the first week of February as part of our Juilliard collaboration - a unique collaboration that enhances our Performing Arts offering.

Did you know?

We provide a free shuttle bus service to and from Bangkok for our Boarding students.

www.regents-pattaya.co.th


FEATURES

Learning to thrive in a home away from home By Wentworth Power

Lauri Barrett talks about her new role as President of the AWC, the laborious process of international adoption, and making the most of new experiences. members. When a colleague leaves, the committee role needs to be redelegated. This creates an environment where everyone mucks in, contributing skills where they can based on their natural attributes and experience. Lauri, a mother of two, moved to Bangkok two years ago and was initially only interested in club in a social capacity. However, with over 20 years’ experience of marketing and finance in corporate America, she found herself putting her hand up to offer help. As time passed, she became increasingly woven into the fabric of the club, progressing through the positions of treasurer, fundraiser, VP and, most recently, AWC president. The contenders for best picture at the Oscars this year contrast wildly in genre, pace and plot. Amy Adams puts in a star turn using her beautiful mind to negotiate an independence day with the aliens in Arrival. In Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson does what he does best producing a flag waving, patriotic, schmaltz-fest that concludes in exhausting, nonstop machine gun action. And you can (literally) see Ryan Gosling count his steps as he keeps dancing pace with the angelic Emma Stone in La La Land. As the lights fire up the night sky over Tinsletown, and the winners’ names are plucked from gilded envelopes, it will be breakfast time 8,000 miles away in Bangkok … but no less celebrated.

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The American Women’s Club (AWC) host their annual Breakfast at the Oscars, a charity event where t-shirts, tiaras, Thai pants and bottles of Prosecco feature prominently. Making it happen Over the last few weeks, Lauri Barrett and her colleagues have toiled over the event logistics and planned a morning of fundraising activities around the occasion. The proceeds will be donated to programmes supporting communities whose lives are a far cry from the glitz and glamour of the show business world. Managing international member clubs and events like this one can be challenging due to the transient nature and diverse commitments of their

The rigours of international adoption Lauri and her husband, Lincoln, first became entrenched in the international community when they moved to Shanghai five-and-a-half years ago for his work. Since then, they have met a number of likeminded families who have endured the stringent process of international adoption. “Perhaps it’s the nature of the families who are willing to up roots and relocate their lives abroad”, she ponders. “If anyone wants to adopt, then they must really want children, because it’s a lot more paperwork and hassle than procreating yourself”. The Barrett's first submitted their application with a US based agency while living and working in the States in 2009. The entire procedure is an

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“If anyone wants to adopt, then they must really want children, because it’s a lot more paperwork and hassle than procreating yourself. ”

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FEATURES

invasive sequence of scrutiny involving background checks, home visits, personal references and mountains of paperwork. They turn your lives inside out, requiring clearance from the local police in every location you ever lived; at home and abroad. A local agency in Taiwan worked to find a match for the prospective parents based on their profile and requested age range: six months to two years. As the months and years ebbed away, it became apparent that they would need to increase the age range to stand a better chance of a match. After three-and-a-half years, shortly before their move to China, the Barrett's adopted their first daughter, Kiera, aged five. As Lauri recounts the delays and archetypal frustrations, her pragmatic sensibilities shine through. It is clear that she and her husband maintained a realistic outlook during the process. So once settled in Shanghai, they submitted the paperwork with the same agency to start the process again for a second child. Recalibrating the family Both girls were aged seven when Reagan arrived to complete the family of four. “It’s a big impact on them.

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You have to recalibrate as a family. You never know how they’re going to accept the new one. But Kiera was amazing”, Lauri proclaims. It seems obvious, but there is no instruction manual for new adoptive parents, and very little advice from the agencies going forward. Further compounding this were the language difficulties. Neither girl spoke English at first. But Lauri says, “You find ways to communicate. We watched a lot of Barbie movies and did crafts together.” Making life work for you That flexibility and resolve are important characteristics for any internationalist who relocates to a new country, especially those with little knowledge of the native language. When I suggest to Lauri it’s about finding a way to survive, she corrects me. “It’s about learning to thrive. If one thing works for you in one place, you may have to figure out an alternative in the next. It’s the people who can refocus themselves who have a great time.” With a school age child, Lauri got busy in Shanghai with the school and the USA Girl Scouts Overseas programme. She utilised her management skills to give back to the Chinese and international communities. “For me, it helps to give personal value to my efforts while living abroad when I don't earn a pay cheque”, Lauri says. The responsibilities she had accumulated after three years of living in China, say a lot about the American’s work ethic. She led a troop of 32 kids from the school, worked as treasurer for the city wide Girl Scout organisation, and led the planning of inter-club events at the city wide level. But that all changed within an instance. “I was up to my neck in Girl Scout stuff. I didn’t know I was leaving” Lauri reveals. “I got a call from Lincoln in the middle of the day who said: ‘Hun, how do you feel about living in Bangkok?’” She returned to her meeting, paused for a moment and then announced to her colleagues, “Erm … I’m moving to Thailand.”

Business as usual? As we near the end of the conversation, I ask Lauri about her ambitions for the club. She instinctively replies: “It’s never business as usual. It’s a changing environment depending on who’s participating in the club and their availability.” The new president hopes to make the club more inclusive and easier for its members to get involved in the committee and organising activities. This includes making the club house a more welcoming environment. Lauri has already had one notable success. Last year, as VP, she suggested knocking a wall down to open up the space in the lounge area. Once finished, it created the perfect, convivial atmosphere for social coffee mornings. Lauri also hopes the club will repeat the success of last September’s Run for Dek Thai in Lumpini Park, which attracted well over three thousand runners. The unique thing about the sponsored run is the increased interaction between the international and Thai communities, meeting in the park, and dispelling myths about expats simply ‘living the high life’. Most importantly, it helps to increase awareness of the fundraising activities of women’s clubs in general. AWC’s principle charity project is their Scholarship Programme. The club raises funds and solicits scholarship support from individuals for Thai girls in rural Thailand. To find out more http://awcthailand.org/scholarship

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ArtS and Culture

Cultural experiences to treasure and never forget by Carole Ann Eastgate

One can experience, assimilate and understand different cultures to one’s own on a variety of levels, for example, through travelling in a particular country, living there and staying with a friend who is of that culture and lives there. Although I have sampled all three, among experiences I will never forget is teaching Chinese students in Shanghai when I lived there and a day trip to Halong Bay in Vietnam. I lived in Shanghai from 2011 to 2013. I went to set up a secondary department in the international section of a school that had both International and Chinese streams. I thought that was my only role. However, on arrival, I was told I would also be teaching conversational English to four Chinese classes. Let the fun begin! I was given two Year 7 classes, one Year 8 and one Year 9. The class sizes ranged from 28 to 39, much larger than I’d experienced before! Here is a description of my cultural experience. When you look into a Chinese classroom you see pupil desks piled with books. The lessons are didactic and there is little or no exchange of opinions between pupils and teacher. There is a lot of note taking. The teacher talks and the pupil writes. Success in tests and exams is taken very seriously and high grades are very important. Parental pressure to do

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well can be great. Conversational English, however, is not examined, not taught in the same way because it involves practical work and interchange with the teacher and other pupils and is often seen as a release from other subjects. That is not to say that the pupils don’t enjoy it but they’re not used to working in such a less controlled structure and take advantage of the situation! Because of the large class sizes, I decided to make a seating plan of where the pupils were sitting so I could call them by name and learn their names. Imagine my surprise when in a second lesson I called a pupil who had been sitting on the left only to receive an answer from her from the right! Having asked her why she had changed seats, she told me that every week pupils change seats to exercise their eyes! In every lesson suddenly music would start playing and the pupils stopped what they were doing and began their eye exercises – opening, closing, looking left, looking right etc! Teaching in the UK, when a bell goes to end a lesson pupils continue studying until the teacher indicates the lesson is over. In China, as soon as the bell goes the pupils pack up, start shouting and running about the classroom! I had to establish a new end of lesson rule. The same is true before a lesson starts. Chaos rules! Pupils are running around, shouting, playing with each other and that is when there is a Chinese teacher in the room. Apparently, between lessons pupils did not have many breaks where they could go outside and let off steam so this was a means of doing so. On one occasion when I was teaching directions, I decided to take the class outside so they could direct each other to different areas of the school using the language they had learnt. One

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pupil volunteered to line the class up for me before we left the room. I was delighted. She barked her orders and everyone was silent. However, the minute I opened the door chaos reigned! Everyone, pushed, sprinted out and ran about the playground. It took me 10 minutes to get them together again! I soon realised that when under strict control such as during the Chinese flag raising ceremony every morning, pupils were serious and orderly but the minute there was flexibility they ran riot. They were not acquainted with self-discipline. I am not complaining. The pupils had great personalities and were helpful and friendly. When I met my pupils around the school they would say, “Good morning, Miss Carole Ann” and they often turned up at the office door to offer to carry homework books to the classroom. I found the whole experience fascinating and wouldn’t have missed it for anything. My class discipline was stretched to its limits and I did worry that I’d lost it and I was being taken advantage of because I was not Chinese. I was, however, relieved when my successor, a male expat teacher said he’d had the same problems. Outside the teaching experience, two other incidents took place which epitomised for me the culture I experienced of people saying directly what they thought. A receptionist asked me if I was learning Chinese. When I said I wasn’t but had enough basic vocabulary to get me by she replied, “Well at your age you would forget it anyway.” That was probably true. On another occasion, I was looking at some moisturising cream. Unfortunately, it had anti-wrinkle cream written on the package and I was asked if I was looking for “Old lady cream!” I was !!

Another experience I will always treasure happened when a few years ago I booked a trip to Halong Bay in Vietnam. In booking a ferry to tour the bay I assumed I’d booked an international boat but as it turned out I’d booked a local Vietnamese one! Very few people spoke English but when the boat docked at our first stop a lovely Vietnamese lady approached me and said, “I know you won’t understand what was said but you must be back to the boat by 9am” I thanked her and having made a note of the number of the boat and a short description of its colours and features (there were many boats docked) I went to explore the cave. Having reached its exit, I decided to head back to the boat via the beach. To my

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horror the sea came right up to the cliff face and there was no way you could walk back to the boat via the shoreline. The only way seemed to be back through the cave and time was running short. A fisherman in charge of another boat saw me hesitating and came over to speak to me. He spoke a little English. I explained the problem and, to my surprise, he told me the boat would no longer be there. It would have left the harbour to allow other boats to dock and would be among the other 40 plus boats bobbing in the sea!! Asking him how I was to find it he told me that I had to walk from deck to deck of the other boats until I found mine! By this time 9am had arrived and the boat would presumably have left anyway. Having explaining this to him he invited me to take his boat. Having established where it was going, I agreed. It was the best decision I could have made and it led me to the most wonderful experience I will always treasure and never forget. I was greeted by three young, very friendly male teachers who spoke English and who welcomed me to join a day’s outing for the teachers and their families of their school, organised by their headmaster. Everyone was so friendly and inclusive. Although I didn’t see much of Halong Bay, it didn’t matter one jot! They would not let me pay for anything, would not accept the shrimps I’d bought for them at our shrimp farm stop and asked me to join in all their meals and activities. I was given schnapps like drinks and asked to go from table to table to give a toast in Vietnamese. I had no idea what I was saying but everyone toasted me in return! To this day, I still wonder if my original boat had remained where it had docked or whether it was one of those many boats bobbing about in the sea. I will never know! All I do know is that these two experiences, one in China and one in Vietnam will always stay with me and help me to celebrate cultural differences.

Carole Ann Eastgate is a delightful lady hailing originally from the UK. She worked for Harrow International School for many years and as you will read in her article has travelled extensively. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Bangkok Eggs Benedict, new menu at THE COFFEE CLUB by Chef James Bradbury Can you tell us about your background Chef James? I am the Global Head of Culinary at The Coffee Club. I have lived in Thailand for 11 years or more and has been looking after food development and new creation for The Coffee Club branches in Thailand, the brand is also expanded throughout Southeast Asia. I am originally from Melbourne, Australia. How did you start to become a chef? I discovered what I liked doing when I was really young and so I started at the age of 15 or 16 as a chef. I acquired my culinary skills in Melbourne in an apprenticeship and then also studied at Le Cordon Bleu, Adelaide in Australia. I have been a chef for at least 20 years now. What is your inspiration of being a chef? I love the ability to be able to create new dishes for people. It is an art form but you get the extra added value that people are able to taste and enjoy your dishes. It is a product creative and passionate industry to be involved in. When I am travelling, I enjoy working everyday - I have a passion for food and coffee so it doesn’t feel like working for me. Most dishes we put together are simple – it is not meant to be complicated food but it has to be good quality with the basis of fresh recipes. Can you tell us about the new dishes that are going to be in the menu starting from March? We proudly introduce the Bangkok Eggs Benedict as the star of the new menu, what’s special about it is the heart of every classic Eggs Benedict – the hollandaise sauce. The basis of my culinary training was French so the recipes stemmed from a solid foundation of French cuisine blended with modern dishes. We adapted this French based sauce using the main Thai ingredients in Tom Yum. We have a little bit of Thai chilli paste which gives a sweet but also salty and buttery – a unique taste for our Eggs Benedict sauce, no one has done it in Bangkok. The Bangkok Eggs Benedict reflects Bangkok - it reflects the Thai ingredients whilst maintaining the characteristic of brunch and a little bit of Australian heritage. Is it going to taste like Tom Yum and what can we expect from this interesting combination of the French and Australian brunch with a Thai twist? People can definitely expect ‘the unexpected’ taste, having the familiarity of the classic Eggs Benedict and a hollandaise sauce which has a little character of the spice, creaminess and sweetness. It has got the flavours but does not have the complexity of Tom Yum. Our dishes are simple, fresh and good taste. All the key ingredients are imported.

use roasted salmon dice as it adds another flavour, it makes for the perfect combination of a classic Australian and even English brunch. Another dish on our menu is the gluten free mushroom and spinach Eggs Benedict. Almost all our breakfasts come with bread, this one we use portobello mushroom instead to keep it light specially for people are on diet with low carbs so they don’t feel heavy and tired finishing the meal. We also use imported baby spinach from Australia, a combination of freshness of fresh and perfectly cooked spinach. Where does the creation of all these amazing dishes come from? When I am creating a dish, my ideas come from travelling. I travel frequently between London, Singapore, Middle East, Bangkok and all around. I draw my inspiration from all those cities. I am able to pick up different elements trying so much good food from restaurants and dishes cooked by incredible chefs around the world. When I get back to Bangkok, I use elements of the different dishes to my creation - that’s the starting point, we never stop learning. What is the essence of The Coffee Club in term of the café’s trend and perspective? It is accessible for everyone - a rendezvous to ‘Where will I meet you?’ – an office away from the office, for friends and for families in a relaxed environment. We are particularly popular with women - a place where they can feel comfortable. You can get our breakfast menu all day, we are open at 6.30am where you can come and get your morning coffee or order your breakfast and stay as long as you want, with a good WiFi connection. You can even come in the evening and have the Bangkok Eggs Benedict. We create our menu for everyone – women, men, kids and group of families, expats or Thais with a selection they are comfortable with. We have a good staff and we love what we do with The Coffee Club. Our chefs in the kitchen are passionate about making great food that no one else is making.

What about the other two dishes of the Eggs Benedict menu? We have roasted salmon and spinach Eggs Benedict. The classic combination of a smoked salmon is something that we see everywhere in the normal brunch menu, we wanted to create something unique for our customers. So we EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Expat Stories

The importance of tradition in the expat family by Alex Bannard

Alex whose own family is a mish-mash of heritage and cultures explores why family traditions are so important especially in the expat lifestyle. Research time and time again proves that traditions are important in building strong family bonds, helping forge a sense of belonging and a familiar routine that is soothing and reliable year after year. They help to promote a sense of identity such as cultural or religious insights about heritage, they strengthen the family bond and offer security and comfort (children love routine, they like to know what to expect and what is happening next), they teach values whilst adding a seasonality and rhythm to life, they connect generations and create lasting memories. In the expat world where we often celebrate big life events without the

Pancake Sunday when Uncle Nige visits

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extended family I believe that traditions provide even more comfort. With feelings of being disconnected and conflicts within their identify many third culture kids feel like, creating traditions which foster connections and improve identity can only be beneficial. So, what is a tradition? It's simple: any behaviour you engage in time and time again. They can be big or small. For example dinner time is a hugely beneficial ritual for families. Many child psychologists rate eating together above reading to your kids. It is a chance to connect and engage, unwind, share stories, if necessary resolve conflicts, whilst instilling values such as good eating habits, table manners, courtesy and appreciation. In our increasingly busy lives, many families hardly ever sit down together, just eating dinner together gives half an hour of valuable connection time. Whilst many expat families have at least one parent working long hours or travelling, the importance of the caregiver who is available actually being present with the kids for one meal a day cannot be underestimated. In our house we combine dinner time with a chance to reflect on our 3 grateful things. Gratitude is a valuable tool for keeping a demons of negativity at bay as it helps to rewire the brain to think more positively. We switch it around with Rose (something good) Thorn (a mistake or something we wish we had done differently or better) and Bud (something we are looking forward to or a kind act we did). The kids enjoy

Practicing gratitude

this tiny ritual so much they will often remind me if we forget to do it. So that is an example of a daily connection tradition, small things done everyday that reinforce family values and identities. Weekly connections are similar but done weekly such as pancakes for breakfast on a Sunday, Friday night movie night, family board game night, Friday fizz by the pool (there is a theme to my rituals you'll start to identify with). They are so simple and easy to do and the children relish these times. I'll be honest, we don't always manage pancakes every Sunday or movies every Friday because real life takes over but they have happened regularly enough to support a tradition that is welcomed and enjoyed by us all. My husband comes from a large family of Indian heritage he was

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Halloween

“What

is a tradition? It's simple: any behaviour you engage in time and time again.� born in Kenya and raised in the UK. The family still retains some strong traditions: my mother in law always dresses in a sari, they eat freshly home cooked vegetarian Indian food every day and always have (it is amazing, so delicious and authentic) and the family language speak Gujarati to each other. This makes for some rather short conversations between my husband and his parents, which is the only downside but they will speak English to us and so anything really important and beyond Mr P’s limited linguistic skills is left to me to decipher. My daughter, has a strong sense of her Indian heritage, possibly because her name is India and she has inherited a more olive complexion than my son. She brags to him that she is more Indian than he is and then pretends she can speak like her grandparents (it's made up nonsense but very sweet nonetheless). Recently we returned to the UK to celebrate 'The Outlaws' as I affectionately call them, 70th wedding anniversary. What an amazing day. Humble and basic in a local community hall, there were almost 200 people there. Mr P didn't think his parents even knew who everyone was. There was a marvellous compere providing nonstop commentary interspersed with Bollywood classics and the occasional Kenyan tribal dance as a nod to the Kenyan times. Even estranged members of the family buried the hatchet to be there in celebration of an amazing marital achievement. The cuisine of course was Indian and delicious as it lends itself marvellously to mass catering and several of us were relieved to see that the bar was open so the wine flowed. We have also attended family weddings, which are a similarly

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EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Expat Stories

Loi Krathong

Santa's treats on Christmas Eve

rambunctious occasion. Despite the highly religious ceremony going on with the bride and groom at the front of the room, the aunties can be relied upon to be noisily gossiping and marrying off the remaining nieces and nephews who have slipped through the net at the back. It is an amusing insight into the importance of tradition and comparison to western weddings. After my son was born, I wanted to obtain a book which briefly explained the stories of the main Hindu Gods so he would appreciate a little more about his heritage. Heading off to a big shop in Leicester with my sister in law to obtain such a book we were told there were none. Families choose a God that they relate to for their family and tend not to swap allegiances. I was advised to hang pictures of different Gods around my son's bedroom to see which one he took a fancy to and invest in the story of that one. Knowing Mr P's cynical approach to the vast variety of Hindu Gods, I knew removing the Thomas the Tank Engine pictures and replacing them with Ganesh and Shiva would not go down too well. My husband is not so into heritage and tradition. Being from such a large family, Mr P has never really celebrated birthdays and of course not a Christmas. These are traditions that I know he struggles with. However they are a strong part of my heritage: setting up the mince

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pie and glass of vino for Santa Claus, filling the stocking and placing the presents under the tree, the pre-lunch fizz (only allowed on Christmas Day you understand) and recently the addition of sprinkling reindeer food (oats and glitter) to guide the reindeer in (a tradition introduced by a friend: we all get together and the kids concoct their own version). I love the simple rituals as much as I love choosing presents and dressing up, cooking and overindulging all day. These rituals have been adapted from the ones we enjoyed as children to create our own family traditions. Similarly birthdays are a big deal: it is the only day which is totally for you. My son, thanks to absolutely no planning on his parents’ behalf, celebrates his birthday on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). How rubbish is that? So we have developed a tradition over the years of the non-birthday-boxing-day party. We invite all our friends who have not gone 'home' to celebrate and enjoy cake and fizz but there are no party games or goodie bags, it's a great excuse to impart a little tradition to our expat friends at a special time of year. One year we had over 100 people round to

partake. And of course there is always an official party later in January whilst Christmas Eve is now traditionally cake making day! So very different from 'counting the Quality Street day' Christmas Eve of my youth. And so that brings me nicely back to the expat bit. With all of us away from our nearest and dearest at poignant times of the year, the traditions we engage in with our 'village' provide that familial connection that makes up for the missing relatives. It also gives a wonderful opportunity to embrace new traditions. We celebrated our first ever Thanksgiving in our first year in Bangkok. Our Moobaan supports Halloween with a compound wide event and the kids trick or treat safely, something again we had not done before arriving here. We have traditions for celebrating dear friend's birthdays and when it is their time to move on that all foster a unique sense of community, which provides support, attachment, belonging in an otherwise transient lifestyle. As I finish off, my thoughts drift to another tradition: the tooth fairy since my daughter finally lost her first tooth this morning. This follows a daily ritual for her of gurning in the mirror instead of getting dressed every morning checking on the progress of the wobbly one. She has been desperate to loose a tooth since her brother lost his first tooth 4 years ago. It's been a long wait and she was overjoyed. So now I must ensure I set the alarm on my phone to remind me to retrieve said tooth from under the pillow and deposit a generous but not overly so Baht note in its place. And there we have it: the simple things in life provide enormous pleasure and that's what tradition is all about, it doesn't need to be elaborate but it will be treasured. As mindfulness guru John Kabat-Zinn said, ''The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.'

Alex Bannard and her family have lived outside the UK for more than 10 years. Alex teaches yoga to private clients and group classes and can be contacted at masteryoga@elboliving.com.

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St. Andrews

BIGGER & BETTER With 4 world-class schools in Thailand offering the English National Curriculum, IGCSE and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, St. Andrews International Schools offer your child a world of opportunity in education.

4 Convenient Locations Dusit Campus

Sukhumvit 107

Sathorn

Green Valley

Ages 2 - 11 253/1 Sawankhaloke Road, Dusit, Bangkok 10300

Ages 2 - 18 7 Sukhumvit 107 Road, Bangna, Bangkok 10260

Ages 2 - 11 9 Sathorn Soi 4, North Sathorn, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500

Ages 2 - 18 Moo 7, Banchang-Makham Koo Road, Banchang, Rayong 21130

Tel: +66 (0) 2668 6231 E: dusit@standrews-schools.com W: www.standrewsdusit.com

Tel: +66 (0) 2393 3883 E: sukhumvit@standrews-schools.com W: www.standrewssukhumvit.com

Tel: +66 (0) 2632 1995 E: sathorn@standrews-schools.com W: www.standrewssathorn.com

Tel: +66 (0) 3803 0701 E: greenvalley@standrews-schools.com W: www.standrewsgreenvalley.com

St. Andrews International School Dusit• Sukhumvit 107 • Sathorn • Green Valley

Book your personal tour www.standrews-schools.com


Property

Mae Phim - a close kept secret Situated on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand in Rayong province in Southeast Thailand is the delightful resort of Mae Phim. One of Thailand’s ‘hidden gems’ and a well kept secret until now …

Escape condominium living room and balcony view

Just 170kms from Bangkok's international airport, 200kms from central Bangkok on the recently developed 344 highway it is a two and a half hour drive down from the city. The perfect haven for families for families from Bangkok and beyond as a weekend or holiday home the over 4km beachfront is a perfect spot for relaxed R & R. Whether you are looking for a destination for a long weekend or an extended stay then you have found the ideal location. Thai families descend at the weekend to enjoy the beach, sheltering from the sun sharing fresh seafood and salad under the trees and parasols but during the week the area is left to the few international residents to enjoy. For visitors of all nationalities and Thai middle to upper class families. During the week ‘far from the madding crowds’ took over - it appealed to me and even at the weekends there were quieter areas to be found. I need to relax and do not want to be amongst the crowds. The developed part of Mae Phim beach, roughly a third, offers a wide range of seafood restaurants with fresh food delivered every day, shops, bars, parasols and loungers. The other two thirds are left to nature clean clear blue seawater, trees that offer protection from the sun. There were however many sun worshippers bronzed and oiled sweltering in the heat. The names of the beaches sum up the hospitality on offer

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- Ao Khai, Coca Cola, Kens, Kims, Freedom and Be Happy beach. In the distance on the horizon are the islands of Koh Talu, Koh Mun, Koh Chang, Koh Pla Teen, Koh Kham, Koh Kudi and of course Koh Samet. You can get a ferry or a speedboat to many of them from Ban Phe. The craggy rocks of Mae Phim Island lay just off the shore and give the eye something to focus on. For the adventurous amongst us a trip to the many islands calls where you will find gorgeous beaches, coral reefs for snorkelling and the inevitable beach bars offering convivial hospitality.

Escape condominium location

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Over 60 seafood restaurants along the beach with food stalls and gaily coloured carts, vans and lorries selling inflatables and the local fruit available. In May the durian, mangosteen and rambutan all come to harvest and they celebrate with the fruit festival. The waves continually caress the beach and at the weekends jet ski’s towing inflatables occasionally streak across the bay. The main developer in this area, a Swedish company has been building Scandinavian holiday homes here for roughly 15 years. They have built over a dozen successful developments in the area - 500 modern villas and 7 condominium complexes in gated compounds to their name. They have invested heavily in the area attracting development from others and as the condominium market in the area has seen healthy growth the investment opportunities in the area are showing up to 40% profits. Sea View, Avatara, Grand Beach, Grand Blue, Mosaic and the newly announced Escape condominium complexes on the beach offer beach living to cover all levels of the market. The latter recently announced but already selling well. Tucked away at the eastern end of the beach just three minutes walk from the developed restaurant and nightlife area. Escape offers unrivalled sea views from 78 apartments - executive studios at 3MB upwards to two and three bedroom family units at 27MB, unit sizes ranging from 39sqm to 207sqm on a secluded beachfront bay bathed in tropical sunshine. This latest development will be of the highest quality available in the area and will suit the most discerning buyer. Initially serving the Scandinavian markets, who all expect certain quality of life standards, but now appealing to Western and Southeast Asian buyers. The mix of residents and visitors is distinctly international and multi cultured. The larger hotel groups are all arriving and building resorts - Marriott, Centara, Novotel and now Sheraton but the

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key developer in the region has just added a hotel - the Grand Blue, to their portfolio of condominium and quality villas. A family hotel with open walkways and all the necessary amenities it is situated on the beach road and the white sands and clean beach across the breach road offers itself up for the family to enjoy. Over 70 rooms offer short term accommodation to the area but many hotel visitors end up purchasing longer term solutions. The hotel has an oversized swimming pool, all day dining from the restaurants and wine shop, massage and spa facilities, fitness suite, tour desk and excursions or just plenty of opportunity to relax and take it easy. Rayong city is just 44kms and 30 minutes away and offers department stores, dining and entertainment complexes to suit all needs. Within an hour there are 7 international golf courses and of course all the nightlife that you need in Pattaya.

www.grandbluethailand.com www.maephimproperty.com I sales@maephimproperty.com for details about property available call 081 761 3233 EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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ArtS and Culture

Traditional embrace with a new version of culture by Meghan Lynch

The younger version of me, the pre expat version of myself, the version of the inexperienced traveller in me, the version of myself saying “I’ll never ride on a motorbike”. Then there is the earlier version of myself as to what holidays that I celebrated, never knowing that there would be new holidays that she and her children would celebrate soon. That unknowing version of myself is so, so very wide and deep. It is one I am pleased to have opened up and let inside of that old version to a new version of knowing, of finding, of letting go of fear and sharing the information I’ve learned along the way to that new expat whose just letting go of her old version to make way for the new version. The way I saw it, was different than how it came to be. The kids would go to an American school. They do not. We would see my husband more. We do not. We would play outside all day. We defiantly do not. We would go to the beach often. We do not. I would learn Thai. I have not. With the expectations I did have and many of them not met, there is a range of things I didn’t expect that actually I find, make me the most delighted about our years and experience here. The food. We love it. The Thai people. They have our hearts. Our new friends. Our friends spanning from all over the entire world now. My kids and their acceptance of the culture and their ability to adapt.

And that acceptance includes new traditions and celebrations. We have our holidays we celebrated back in the States, the obvious Christmas, New Years, Easter, 4th of July and Thanksgiving. We moved to a country where there are 16 National Holidays, 16! The most in any country in the world. We understand and now know what most of them are and what they mean, pronouncing some better than others. And some, we celebrate and are involved in more. Our favourites are Loy Krathong and Chinese New Year. Mid November the shops start to change inventory and the traditional Thai outfits for men and women, boys and girls are laid out at many indoor and outdoor markets. It’s like

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seeing Easter dresses come into the shops in the States. I stare, browse over them and decide now who needs a new one or who can wear the one from last year that the one ahead of them wore for the school and village celebration. Having four boys my variety is small, and nowhere near as glittery and pristine as the women's selection. I always have a moment going through the girls line of dresses. Luckily I have friends who have daughters and I can stare and obsess over their attire. On my second Loy Krathong here, I decided to dress in traditional Thai wear. I am sure you aren’t surprised given my earlier statement of admiration for the girls formal dress. I was given a piece of fabric by my husbands co worker and she said it could be used as a tablecloth or a skirt. I had it hemmed and found a traditional gold belt to wear around it to hold it up. I paired it with a tank top that may have been slightly not seen as customary or acceptable. I wore it anyway and began my walk to our villages Loy Krathong celebration. With each step I was sweating more and more and the dress was starting to slip down as soon as I arrived at the pool I was thinking i might jump in! That evening the majority of Thai’s smiled and some laughed when they saw me. It made me feel a little insecure. I started to question what I had done, I was hoping I wasn't offending anyone. A friend assured me that was them being happy to see me wearing their costume. They just didn’t have the words to say it. I’m hoping she was telling me the truth! Our second favourite holiday we’ve acquired is Chinese New Year. The red and gold replace the colours of the Christmas, green and red. The candles and lanterns line the streets and the food arrangements are something to be seen. I spent Chinese New Year in China town last year by a total fluke and what an experience that was. Costumes, dragons dancing the streets, ducks hanging and filling our noses with the aroma.

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The children also dress for this occasion at school as well. I always say a little prayer before both holidays. Knowing, if one decides he’s not into wearing the costume then, it will be a full on press to get the team back on track and on the same page to put theirs on too. Luckily so far, all have been agreeable. It still manages to shock me, how much of a normalcy it is for them to represent two countries in their traditional wear each year. They now know, what the holiday means and why they are dressed up. Time and maturity will do that to these third cultured children, which is a celebration and new a tradition in more ways than one. I’ll always have the memory of chaos to get them dressed and out the door on time. Holding my breath as they get on the bus and drive away. I walk inside and sit down with my cup of coffee and breathe a deep sigh of relief. My eyes might even swell with tears as so much of this life as an expat is hard but with new traditions and celebrations we keep moving forward, focusing on the embrace of what that day will mean at school and in our community. Making this new version of our family, with many new traditions, holidays and celebrations a celebration in itself. You can see here too, in the photos I’ve shared how far the boys have come with the other part of this, taking photos of them dressed up. As the saying goes “A picture speaks a thousand words”.

Meghan is mum to four happy boys and a loving wife to her husband. She embraces life in Thailand and tries to fit in with the Thai lifestyle and community as much as she can. We are grateful for her input. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Travel

Long weekend in Ao Nang by Neil Brook

Flying along at 35000 feet facing a sea of heads is nothing new to those familiar with low cost air travel. With seats low to the ground to give an illusion of space heads poke above the headrests searching for somewhere to rest. Slowly and surely one by one they disappear as legs slide under seats and backs arch, surrounded by the clouds of snail cells, silky recovery mask and moist fresh and firm essence, the ads plastered along the overhead lockers. Well placed as the temperature rises and your skin cries out for relief. Having said that, low cost is the only reasonable choice for the short flight to Ao Nang getting you there for around $40US. Jagged limestone pushing up from white sand seabeds through clear blue waters await. Pictures etched in my mind as Krabi approaches. However as we descend through the darkness and with a thirty minute drive to the coast these monoliths will have to wait until sunrise as we’re guided by the pictures of welcoming beaches on road signs. Ao Nang is one hour twenty

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minutes from Bangkok and opens the door to an incredible selection of adventure, exploration and relaxation in the more widely known Krabi province. Flirt with the snakes, monkeys, elephants and fish, the choice is yours. Visit waterfalls and caves, the nearby islands and white sand beaches hidden behind corners accessible only by boat or stay put and find you own patch of sand as the tropical waters lap at your feet. As the sun rises we’re surrounded as limestone formations appear out to

sea and cling to the coast. Long tail boats will take you to Railay Beach (go to West not East) from where you can walk to Phra Nang Bay. 100B each way. Hang around waiting for eight people then pile in as the skipper drops in the motor hanging from the end of a twenty foot pole and the bow rises cutting through the calm water. The return is another matter as winds chop up the swell that will carry you to shore on the crest of a wave. As climbers dangle from the cliffs at the far end of the beach others jostle for position

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on the sand. Depending on your point of view picturesque or overcrowded. There is no shortage of food and shopping huts weave in and out along Walking Street barely hidden by the canopy of trees. Whilst Ao Nang is the perfect launching pad for your four island tour (in a day) the Phi Phi islands and Railay beach we have decided to stay local this trip. Although the sand may not be as white and the seas as perfectly clear as those further out or around the corner, sharing the beach with a handful rather than an army of others is appealing. We take a right and walk along Nopparat Thara Beach beach as it curves seductively out towards the horizon. We skirt past anchored and beached long tail boats, while others load up with passengers before heading out to sea, along a narrow isthmus until we settle our towels on a small stretch of sand wrapping around green vegetation, surrounded by warm water. As the tide glides in our patch becomes an island as people scurry to join us hiking up shorts and skirts in a vain attempt to remain dry as hidden trenches and spiteful waves drench them anyway. Some turn back although the tides turn quickly here and soon the path will once again be clear. The water is just warm enough, the sun is just hot enough and the breeze is just cool enough ... As we walk back the tide flows

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in. At this end of the beach the sand disappears as rock walls supported by wire frames protect the oceanside park from falling into the waves. Grilled fish from the huts roadside

and some beers from the local bottle shop make for a perfect sundowner or if you prefer the shop owner will make you a cocktail to go. A bottle of Good Times Vodka some mixers and

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Travel

a bag of ice and you can make your own, although the hangover from this rocket fuel might outweigh the Good Times! We choose two small bottles of Belvedere appreciating the extra cost will offset any sign of the toilet bowl shuffle later on. With plastic glasses commandeered from the hotel pool bar we sit on the beach further along to watch the sun set as it hovers before gliding towards the horizon causing the sky to flame red as the clouds above, highlighted from behind, radiate light into the dusk sky. As long tail boats dump day trippers back on shore we sip vodka and tonic. The setting sun lights a trail on the ocean that leads to the perfect vantage point, a beach bar with a few seats holding prime position. We settle in and join the only other one person there. A couple arrive who are staying at Railay Beach. When they say the only way to reach this beach is by boat they mean it. They struggle to lift suitcases above their heads as they wade out to waiting boats ready to skim the sea and disappear around the corner to their secluded retreat. We have long since discovered you can pack for a few days, a week or a month for a Thai beach holiday in a carry on. Everyone else with any sense will have done the same. Then you can

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sling a bag over your shoulder rather than balance the weight on your head tempting fate as each wave threatens to throw you and your belongings into the wash. Ao Nang offers the usual strip of bars, shops and restaurants jammed in side by side that are a staple of many Thai destinations. Nothing screams you've made it onto the global stage more than the Golden Arches and Starbucks lighting up the night sky where surely some of the

best food in the world competes for attention. Jenna’s Bistro and Wine is recommended by a friend and we enjoy pork belly with perfect crackling and poached Cod that melts in the mouth. The next morning we've found the ideal place for breakfast Nang An Restaurant with windows open to the beach perched on the rocks to avoid the incoming tides. Good coffee, fresh fruit and French toast as we ponder the journey home.

Neil Brook will try anything once and agrees with the Bizarre Foods motto, if it looks good eat it! He now calls Bangkok home and is looking forward to discovering more of Asia, making the most of this opportunity. A regular contributor to the Aussie travel site The Big Bus Tour and Travel Guide he enjoys sharing his experiences, endeavouring to create a fresh perspective as he travels the globe. @treadingtheglobe I www.treadingtheglobe.com

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FEATURES

The perfect partnership:

From international development to sustainable capitalism by Wentworth Power

A Canadian businesswoman, restaurateur and social entrepreneur is blazing a trail in Bangkok The working class neighbourhood of Khet Pom Prap is one of the smaller Bangkok districts, located east of the Chao Phraya river in the old town. The community predominantly comprises Chinese expatriates who run artisanal businesses; each profession arranged street by street: printing shops, bottle manufacturers, carpenters, tea shops. Emperor Road (Thanon Chakkraphatdi Phong) serves as an artery through the heart of the district. It is here, a stone’s throw from the United Nations (UN) regional headquarters, that a few exciting food and drinks establishments have appeared, catering to UN staff; backpackers who brave the capital outside of the Khao San Road bubble; and Thais who seek adventure away from the shopping malls.

Seven Spoons shirks the shackles of the area’s traditional sole trading practices while embracing its heritage. The restaurant serves up modern, European comfort food with gourmet touches in a stylish setting: a renovation of two adjacent, traditional Chinese shops. The beautiful timbers – reclaimed from the same building, pre renovation – form the restaurant’s central columns and frames, which is cleverly designed in harmony with the concrete rendered walls. The flourishes of greenery inside and out really help to add that natural feel. Someone here has an artistic eye for detail. Turning up a little early for the interview, before the busy lunch rush, I have time to enjoy the comfortable setting, appreciate the air conditioning and watch the team of professionals setting up for another busy day. Little do I know that I will soon be out of my comfort zone. Seven Spoons is the brainchild of Joke and Regan Suzuki Pairojmahakij, the latter a Canadian international development professional of 20 years, whose career, hobbies and entrepreneurial pursuits are guided by her core beliefs. Coming full circle and realising ambitions In 1997, aged 21, she booked a one way trip from Canada to Thailand to volunteer with women’s groups in the Burmese refugee camps on the country’s border. However, she soon grew frustrated by the military activity and political suppression of developmental efforts. One year later, she returned to Canada to focus her academic studies on environmental science. Perhaps by coincidence, or even subliminal tracking, Regan eventually made good on her personal promise. She came back to Thailand and became a policy expert in the fields of forestry and climate change. “The one thing I feel really strongly about is drawing on my professional knowledge and experience.” She felt that work to improve people’s subsistence and livelihoods was a much more useful, practical intervention. It was recently, while working for the Regional Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC), that she provided technical advice to governments in the region, including the Myanmar government in the area of social-inclusive forestry, 20 years

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after that enlightening experience in the refugee camps. Regan has become deeply entrenched in life in Thailand. It becomes clear, as the conversation unravels, that professional experiences and personal interests have helped her cultivate a far reaching network of contacts in sustainable development, farming and forestry. She has close ties to the local community, farmers’ markets, and small farming practices. This has put her in a unique position where she can utilise her academic and policy expertise to implement environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive practices within her own commercial endeavours. Assembling their birds in a row The tale of her first foray into catering is the most endearing chapter of this narrative. It centres around her husband, Joke, who was born and raised in the neighbourhood. In 2008, the bar he owned on the Khao San Road imploded in ‘fantastic style’. He walked away with nothing. No resources. No capital. “Just the shirt on his back”, as Regan describes it. The couple of two years lived together in a shophouse just off Emperor Road. With no money, Joke was at a loss. So Regan, ever the opportunist, suggested gainfully: “Why don’t you create a food delivery service, focusing on organic and healthy ingredients?” The hospitality night owl had no cooking experience, and to this day, Joke eats very few vegetables. Even his older sister warned starkly, “Don’t do it. He doesn’t have the capacity to manage a business. He’ll only ever be someone else’s employee”. Regan concedes that his track record did somewhat validate his sister’s fears. Nevertheless, they bought a stove for the home. Regan designed a menu to western tastes. Joke taught himself to cook. They knocked on the office doors of the UN agencies. The lunchtime delivery service Birds in a Row was born.

In July last year, Regan left the security of her full time employment at RECOFTC to focus on the family businesses. She admits that adapting to the Thai business world hasn’t been easy. The work style is completely different to the bureaucratic processes she’s used to: planning, timelines and deliverables. She struggles with a system where anecdotes take precedence over meeting agendas, and the trust based system trumps business contracts. “No one takes contracts seriously”, she says, rather alarmingly. “They’re simply designed to start a conversation.” Sustainably diversifying The entrepreneurial couple make an excellent partnership in matrimony and business. Together for almost 10 years and married for five, they have two kids, a 4 year old and the younger aged 15 months. Joke, the self-taught chef, is also the talented interior designer with refined taste, yet no formal training. Day to day, Joke manically scoots around on his motorbike between businesses, managing several

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FEATURES

operations. Meanwhile, Regan focuses on designing the menus and the business concepts. The couple seem completely at ease with their increasing responsibilities and diversity of operations. For three years they have been involved in a joint venture. The popular restaurant Sheep Shank, located on Phra Artit Road, serves American comfort foods. Just recently, they opened Hazel’s Palor, on the same strip as Seven Spoons. It’s a whisky and ice cream store, along the lines of the old school American soda factories from the prohibition era. And currently, Regan is collaborating with a partner who works in natural resource management on a new business model: a women led community workshop, designing arts and crafts with forest materials. From aspirations to innovation All the while, Regan continues to blaze a trail in innovative, sustainable practices for the Bangkok restaurant sector. Drawing from a low-carbon pop-up organised in December, she’s been working on developing a menu with a view to calculating the carbon footprint of specific dishes and ingredients. There has been interest in the initiative from a number of others including parallel work by UNEP and King Mongkut university. There is currently little in the way of truly sustainable catering service providers in Bangkok and given at least strong niche market demand, the Seven Spoons team will be looking at ways to respond to this gap. It’s aspirational, but perhaps it will influence the market in the future. Curiously, for the last few months, Regan and Joke have been in conversation with a fashion designer/businessman about the artistic hub in Chang Chui. He plans to remodel a PanAm aircraft into a restaurant and they had bounced

around a few ideas for concepts. When Regan suggested insects he jumped at the idea. “Bugs!” I unwittingly agree. “What a great idea …” The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has been championing this sustainable protein source for the global diet for years. At this point, Regan brings my attention to the specials menu. Looking back over my shoulder I scan down the blackboard. Sure enough, listed just below an unassuming spicy Moroccan chicken, is the option for cricket pasta with green pea and wild tree basil pesto. “Would you like some?” she asks. Depending on your taste for adrenaline, Seven Spoons is an exhilarating motorcycle ride from skytrain station, Ratchathewi, a disorienting canal boat ride from Siam or a 10 minute walk from the famous Wat Saket (Golden Mount). http://www.sheepshankpublichouse.com/ https://www.facebook.com/HazelsParlor/ http://sevenspoonsbkk.com

It’s great interviewing people like Regan. She’s so articulate, knowledgeable about her field and passionately recounts her tales that the article virtually writes itself. A barman in the Bang Lamphu area, Joke had always worked until the early hours of the morning – a routine and lifestyle not particularly conducive to being in a relationship. The way she describes it; her tone was somewhat expedient but her intention and support positively absolute. Regan admits that the operation was pretty amateurish at first; but it struck a chord with the international crowd and they soon expanded beyond the UN to large office complexes in Sathorn. 1. Seven Spoons location Considering its modest popularity, the pair decided it was no harm to set up a few tables in the front of their home and opened the shophouse to the public. Real soon, they committed the rest of the downstairs to the restaurant, branded it Seven Spoons and it rose to number one on TripAdvisor for the area. Regan explains its popularity by the travellers who love finding an undiscovered, funky little place. 2. Seven Spoons challenges Managing a business in this area is not without challenges. The problem is that it is an area of political interest. The Red Shirt’s camped protests in 2010 forced the couple to shut down operations for a month. Frustratingly, the flow of business was reduced to a trickle before and after crowds that really took time to build back up again.

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Travel

An adventurous family holiday in Northern Thailand

‘Coming from a polluted and crowded Shanghai this was pure paradise. Beautiful nature, excellent hospitality, great food and loads of activities that kept our three boys fully occupied for the entire week. The boys loved the archery, climbing wall, pool, table tennis room and just running around in the gardens. We did boat trips, excursions and two fantastic hikes. After the first hike, the staff put together a special hike based on our abilities (an energetic three year old who walked almost 8 km that day) – fantastic service. We have a lot of experience in traveling with a family but I have to say that this trip, resort and service was extraordinary. Just an example is the basket with toys, books and sport equipment that was put together for our boys when we arrived’. This review on Trip Advisor was worth quoting in its entirety for in many ways it sums up what the Maekok River Village Resort has to offer and why it is so special. So special in fact that last year, it was given an award for the ‘Best Luxury Family Resort’ in Northern Thailand. Many resorts describe themselves as being family friendly but too often this means that there is a children’s pool, a crèche and maybe a ‘club house for kids’. This is great for younger families, but families with older children are often pushed to find somewhere which can provide something more appropriate.

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The beauty of the Maekok resort is that it has an adjacent, very popular outdoor education centre and which invariably at weekends and during school holidays has no student groups in residence. This means that resort guests have access to the wide range of facilities, as well as to the team of instructors. Onsite, there is a climbing wall, an abseiling wall, high ropes course, confidence course, and an archery range. Informal facilities include snooker and pool, table tennis, beach volleyball, and a sport’s field. There is also a cooking school and for example it is possible for mum and dad to have a Thai cooking lesson whilst at the same time, the kids can be entertained producing their own food by barbecuing and cooking dishes in green bamboo pots over an open fire. Offsite activities include hikes of various lengths and difficulties, through or over the lovely surrounding hills. Longer expeditions with overnight camps are also a possibility for the more adventurous. The area lends itself to cycling and again, rides of different lengths and difficulty can be arranged. Being adjacent to the Maekok River, means that kayaking is readily available and can be combined with biking or hiking to make

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for exciting whole day adventures. The other rare offering as far as usual resorts go, is the chance to teach English in a local school, or assist in one the school improvement projects that the Maekok Resort is involved with. The resort has close links with most schools in the area and they are always most welcoming to visitors even if it just coming to try their hand at teaching English for an hour or two. But not to worry, advice and guidance is provided as well the opportunity to prepare lessons and resources … the owner-managers once a upon a time were teachers in international schools and will assist. In catering for international schools from all over the world, it is reassuring for guests to know that the demands that schools make with regard to risks and safety means that only high quality equipment is used and only well qualified and experienced instructors are employed. Mention should also be made of the restaurant which caters for all tastes, with a range of traditional Thai dishes plus some wonderful northern Thai and Shan specialities … and with a reasonable range of western dishes plus a good children’s menu. And finally, accommodation in the resort. A number of ‘family suites’ are available with two adjoining rooms (with a double bed in one and twin beds in the other). The price for these (depending on the season) works out at about 10% to 30% less than that for two rooms. In the low season (April to October) there is also an offer of ‘book two nights, get one night’s accommodation free’. And there are also whole packages available which could include free access to a number of onsite activities and discounted prices for offsite activities, dependant on length of stay. And judging by so many comments from guests, a long stay is a must! The Maekok River Village Resort is located in the far

north of Chiang Mai province near to the village of Thaton. However, it is nearer to Chiang Rai airport which is only an hour and quarter drive. Airport collections can be arranged. www.maekok-river-village-resort.com

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FAMILY and RELATIONSHIPS

Forging friendship fatigue by Barbara Lewis

Forging friendship fatigue is a very personal issue for me. Recently I have noticed that I just don’t seem willing to put myself out there to find new friends when I know perfectly well I feel lonely for good friends, you know the type: the ones you can tell anything to, do anything with and generally they make you smile.

Bangkok has not been kind to me in that regard because I had a very good friend here but as is the condition of being an expat, my good friend’s husband up and retired when the company my husband and he work for downsized their expat staff so they are now back in the States. She was the one person I really connected with here. That happened six months or so ago and they just came back to visit us which I have to say was bittersweet. I have kept myself busy since she left and have even attempted to get involved in new activities hoping to find another person or two I really connect with but so far to no avail. I have been an expat for 25 years and have made a new life in at least nine different cities in seven different countries. Much of the time my children have been with me but now that they have grown and with their own partners, have their own jobs and lives on the west coast of Canada it is

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just myself, my husband and our two beautiful dogs, Louis and Sassy. In most of the places we have had to make new friends. Some situations it is much easier than others or rather less demanding. When we lived in a camp or a confined community whether company owned, secured, or expat dominated it was easier to make friends. We were all in the same boat so to speak and we learned to get along, well mostly at least. I did hear of an experience of one woman who was ostracised from the community for the entire four years she lived there because of something two women believed she shouldn’t have done: which was leave their children in the care of their nanny while they went to her husband’s dying father. The whole family was shunned, even some of the children were told they could not play with her children. She and her family suffered horribly and were very glad to move on.

If we lived in a city then usually we managed either through our work, the children, their school or activities to develop friendships with people. But as I get older I just find it harder and harder and I found out through my research that I am not alone in this feeling. In each place we have lived we have always had a number of good friend couples. As the years have gone on I think the number has got smaller. I usually have one or two very good friends and then a number of other friends I know I can have fun with and count on. I must say in the last few cities that we have lived in the number seems to be dwindling. Bangkok is a wonderful place to be an expat and I don’t want to seem that I am complaining, it is simply that for me I am finding it very difficult not to be lonely. My husband is here and I am thankful for that but right now I find it so hard to find people that I want to attempt to make the demanding

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physical and mental effort to connect and make friends with. With the ever changing global economy it seems people are coming and going all the time and after all these years you would think I would be used to it but somehow I'm not. I have recently found out another friend of mine whom I was just really getting to know is retiring and returning home, which saddens me. A person I felt I had somewhat connected with is also destined to leave in June but she prepared me for this awhile ago. It just never seems to get any easier and I have to wonder how many others out there that feel same as I; lonely but not really sure if they are really sure they have the strength and the energy to keep putting themselves out there in hopes of finding that 'friend connection'. Experts say that as we grow older it is more difficult to build friendships for both internal and external reasons. Many of us relied for a long time on the group of friends we had in school and then in college. After college our lives begin to change. Often friends move away from each other to different location with significant others or start to build families that form a significant distraction taking away from free time a person has to spend with one’s friends. In college, 20s or early 30s we are more likely to live communally, in

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dorms, share accommodation creating an environment of intimacy, sharing and time spent in company. Internally we build friends by sharing the same values, backgrounds, interests and over time trust. As time goes on these things may change and where a childhood friend was trusted and valued your shared ideals have changed enough that the relationship no longer exists. As we get older making these connections, especially trust (which takes time and experience) is harder to do and that is part of the reason we just find it harder to make friend as we get older. Now add being an expat to that and it is no wonder forging friendship fatigue happens. Friendships are usually developed quite quickly (or at least they have been in my expat life) and they disappear just as fast since mere distance of place and time can put a heavy burden on a friendship. Never mind, that many of the things you had in common, your living circumstance, being a foreigner in a country not your own, evaporate once one of you moves on. Every expat knows that the relationships you forge are temporary and yet become a part of who you are. It is very hard to come to terms with the duality of knowing that to enjoy living somewhere you must strive to make

new relationships and friends but that you also grow weary of doing so at the same time. Experts also say that one of the ways to combat this lethargy is to try new activities, create new interests so you can meet like minded people. Expat communities in general do provide lots of opportunity for that and Bangkok is no exception. It does take quite a lot of courage and energy to join various interest group to find those like minded people. This is my challenge in Bangkok: to learn to deal with this transitional change and to muddle through and hopefully be blessed to find someone I can forge a friendship with and connect.

Barbara Lewis is a regular writer for EL. Her insightful pieces are a real treat for all readers. We look forward to more pieces from her in the future.

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Expat Stories

Singing soothes the soul in a busy Chiang Mai hospital by Paul Surtees

As I first entered a large hospital complex in Chiang Mai, I was intrigued to hear live music, with melodic singing, coming from the large lobby area. It represents a lovely expression of kindness, from volunteers, towards the hospital patients and visitors. Hundreds of people were waiting or milling about in the lobby; many were new or existing patients awaiting tests or treatment, or being transferred between hospital departments; while many others were anxious family members visiting their sick relatives. Visiting a family member or friend in hospital can be a worrying experience, especially if the patient being visited is seriously ill. And, of course, no matter what is wrong with them, or however good the medical care provided, few hospital patients enjoy the experience – which unfortunately is one of high anxiety, stress or pain for many of them. In the main lobby of the Maharaj Nakorn Hospital, the university teaching hospital of Chiang Mai University, these

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efforts are made by many kindhearted local people on a voluntary basis. Set up to one side of the main lobby is an area where Thai amateur musicians play their traditional instruments, or sometimes play the piano, to accompany local singers. Their music making can be heard in many parts of this large hospital complex, and is touching to observe. These providers of music are off duty doctors and nurses, medical or nursing students, the family members

of patients, or – most touching of all – former hospital patients, returning to give something back to the hospital that cured them. Some of these singers spend their lunch break there; some are regular performers; while there are generally different ensembles each day. Their choice of song ranges from Thai pop music, to folk songs, to classic musical numbers, sometimes including English language lyrics. Every lunchtime these melodic sounds waft their way through the soaring and busy lobby waiting areas

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and can even be heard in the special area set aside for receiving injured or sick people by ambulance. Many just discharged patients also wait near there on crutches, in wheelchairs or on hospital trolleys, to be transported back home by their relatives or friends. Arriving or departing patients, plus their visitors, often experience healthcare worries, despite this hospital providing some of the best healthcare in this lovely country of Thailand. Their anxious feelings can be soothed by listening to this delightful ‘live music show,’ which is put on – and, usually, to a high musical standard, I might add – by these kindly volunteers for exactly that purpose, every day. I have been in hospitals in many other countries as a long term expatriate - as a patient, visitor or

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staff member - yet I have never before come across the like of this lovely musical therapy conducted here in Chiang Mai’s biggest hospital complex. Their efforts could usefully be emulated in other hospitals here in Thailand, and indeed around the world. That would bring the benefit of more relaxation, and less stress, to people passing through a hospital: an experience that is of itself potentially stressful to many. The Chiang Mai Sriphat Hospital authorities are to be applauded for providing the facilities for these daily musical sessions. The many exemplary people who give so freely of their time, musical talent and kindness-of-heart are much to be thanked for their delightful musical contributions to lifting the mood of so many otherwise anxious patients and visitors in this hospital.

Paul Surtees was born in England and lived there until he reached his twenties, whilst travelling on holiday visits to some fifty other countries. After that, he has spent his life as an expatriate, working in the fields of tourism, education and the media. He has worked in almost every country in Western Europe, as well as in the then USSR and Czechoslovakia, plus Australia, Macau and Tibet. He has lived in Canada, Greece, Turkey, Finland, Germany, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, China (Peking and Hong Kong), and Thailand. He has been a prolific commentator for many years on social and cultural issues and his commentaries have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world, including (over recent years) in the South China Morning Post, the Asia edition of the China Daily, the Chiang Mai Mail, The Bangkok Post and The Nation (Thailand), plus others. He is these days also a university lecturer in Hong Kong and in Thailand, dividing his time between Chiang Mai and Hong Kong. He founded and ran, as branch president for 12 years, the Hong Kong branch of the International Commonwealth Club, the Royal Over-Seas League; where the branch activities included arranging five charity receptions with visiting royal family members. He has in addition been a board member of such organisations as the Hong Kong branches of the Royal Geographical Society, Royal Commonwealth Society, Riding for the Disabled Association, and of the Hong Kong Ballet, etc., His contributions to charity include his long standing role as a honorary lifetime adviser to the Hong Kong Federation of the Blind.

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ArtS and Culture

The fires that cleanse the soul by Daniel Sencier

On the west bank of the River Ganges, in Uttar Pradesh, sits Varanasi, the most sacred Hindu city on earth. The river, ‘Mother Ganga’, is itself considered to be a goddess; people come from around the world to bathe and drink from her holy water.

As a tourist, it was difficult believing in any possible health or spiritual benefits, as the occasional body drifted through the littered water, past the goats and water buffalo wading in the shallows. Along the river there are many giant stone stairways (gahts) leading up to the city, and two of these are locations for cremations. As you stand on the old stone balcony overlooking the smouldering pyres at Manikarnika Gaht, if the intense heat haze and white smoke, blur what’s going on in front of you, it only adds to the primeval scene that has remained unchanged for centuries. Nobody knows for sure how long the hallowed fires have been burning here, probably for much of the 5,000 year history of the city. On an industrial scale, over 250 bodies are processed every 24 hours in a relentless conveyer belt of spiritual farewell, dispatching earthly bodies and liberating souls. Hindus aim to be cremated within 24 hours of death, and it’s the expressed wish, of those who can afford it, to make that happen at one of the two sites in this holiest of Indian cities. If you die here, it’s believed that you break the cycle between life and death, avoiding rebirth where you might come back as a dog or a prawn. Around 9 million Indian Hindus die every year, and many make it here, before or after death, for the chance of a straight passage to Moksha (heaven).

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The dying and the dead arrive by road, boat, train and air, and as you walk towards the edge of the river, the crowds grow. Tourists like me do a very bad job at blending in, mainly because we are in awe at everything before us. There are humble buildings along the river where the dying can spend their final hours, which often turn to days or weeks; such is the unpredictability of the moment. That said, when death comes it’s a joyous occasion, a time for the family to celebrate as that person’s final goal is achieved. If this is your first visit to an Indian city, the main thing that hits you is the amount of cows (and a sprinkling of goats and dogs) that wander aimlessly everywhere. These holy animals go where they please, often sitting, blocking the traffic, raiding the many vegetarian food stalls or seemingly having fun running at high speed through the narrow streets as people dive for cover. It’s no different at the cremation site, where the cows have an appetite for the funeral flowers, even before they are stripped from the bodies. The ‘Doms’, a sub-caste of the ‘untouchables’, work on the cremation site and because of superstition, they alone come into physical contact with the dead. Even in death the ‘untouchables’ themselves are separated, with different levels in the gaht for each caste. When the male members of the family arrive with their shrouded relative, all goodbyes have been said by then, and the body is dressed in flowers before being carried down to the river’s edge. There, they are

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ceremoniously immersed, purified by ‘Mother Ganga’, and then left for several hours to dry. Enough mango wood is purchased and this is carefully weighed out from the massive stacks that dwarf many local buildings. It can take around 300kg to cremate the average body and nobody wants to look mean with their wood or see the result of not having enough, when ashes along with charred remains are raked into the river. When the pyre is ready, the flowers are removed and the mortal remains laid on top of the wood, with extra branches laid gently over them. This final weight of wood is necessary to prevent a more macabre sight as it prevents the body ‘sitting up’ as it distorts in the heat. With the feet pointing south towards Yama, the God of Death, and the head to the north facing Kubera, the God of Wealth, the pyre is ready. The head mourner, a male relative dressed in white, lights the fire having accepted flaming kusha twigs from the Doms. The body becomes an offering to Agni, the God of Fire, and after some time, as the heat increases, a loud ‘pop’ can be heard as the skull explodes, releasing the soul into the flames for cleansing. The Dom’s keep a watchful eye, poking and raking the steaming, spitting remains where necessary, on and off for about 6 hours until only ashes remain. At anytime there could be 20-30 bodies, all at various stages of the process, from the first ritual river dipping to the point of raking the ashes into the Ganges, their final resting place.

Some people avoid cremation completely and are buried instead. A good thing for children under the age of two and holy men, who’s souls are considered pure and not in need of cleansing. Not so good for criminals and those who’ve committed suicide, their souls considered too black to be cleansed by fire. As I walked away from the flames, through the white smoke at Varanasi, I thought of my father who had become a Buddhist in later life. Had I let him down? His funeral in England had been so commercial, synthetic and void of meaning to me, with the silk lined coffin, big fancy cars and men in black suits. He would have loved to have made his exit here at Varanasi, where it all seems so much more ‘believable’, that indeed there is a better place waiting for us all.

Daniel was born in London 1951, the son of Belgian/Irish parents who settled in England after the war. He spent his childhood being raised by his grandmother in the Republic of Ireland, before moving to go to school in England. He is married to Beverley, who is Head of an International School in Bangkok, and they have eight children between them. After service in the military, aircraft and hotel industries, he retired to further his education at the University of Cumbria. He successfully completed a Bachelors Degree in Wildlife & Media, and qualified as an English teacher. Now in Bangkok Daniel is organiser of the ‘Bangkok English Speakers Lunch Group’, encouraging others to improve their English and explore this wonderful city.

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Expat Stories

“I haven’t found a place I like living in more”

- a German tech entrepreneur takes business, puzzles and Bangkok living in his stride by Wentworth Power

Karsten Aichholz conveys a confidence you’d expect of someone who speaks fluent Thai and has lived in Bangkok for 11 years. The German expat feels at home in the City of Angels, loving the convenience of its 24 hour services and, in keeping with his appearance and national stereotype, manages his lifestyle here through a pragmatic lens. “What makes it convenient is a lot of people here are entrepreneurial. When Thai people see an opportunity, they start a business”, Karsten says. As a result it was usually easy to find something convenient and affordable, from food carts in front of the office to grocery deliveries. “I haven’t found a place I like living in more.” Yet, the way he speaks about his migration in January 2006, it is clear that Aichholz has always taken life here in his stride, even before he learnt the language. Within the first five years, his Bangkok based video games company grew from

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nothing to a million dollar enterprise, employing 18 staff in the process. Growing up The youngest of three brothers, Herr Aichholz grew up in Unterweissach, a small German village not far from Stuttgart. In his teens he developed a love for video games at a time when you had to build your own computer (without colour coded wires). “For us back then in high school, that was the most normal thing in the world. You could spend 20 hours a week, at least, playing games,” he says, recalling his marathon sessions.

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It’s no surprise that Karsten soon became a professional gamer. The online community grew rapidly during the 90s, creating a virtual space where gaming geeks from small villages could compete and converse with those in far off mega cities, often forming close social attachments. It was in these forums, where written and spoken English dominates, that Karsten honed his English language skills; not, as his British mother may have hoped, from her. An enigmatic yet ebullient character, Karsten’s blue eyes pierce through you as he eagerly rehearses his knowledge and enthusiasm for gaming technologies. Combining this energy with his technical whizz, he and a university friend built a platform for online role playing games, catering to a predominantly US audience. Soon enough, they figured that Germany was not the best place to maximise the company’s growth potential. Karsten’s business partner, having interned in Thailand, understood the opportunities available in Asia: the market seemed ripe for business, the Thai government was supportive of the industry, and they could keep costs down and (yet) retain quality of life. So at just 23, having negotiated an investment promotion with the Thai government, the two small town Germans relocated to the gritty metropolis of Bangkok. Technology: shifting the paradigms It wasn’t all plain sailing of course. Karsten soon learnt that the difficulties associated with running a business shift with time and location. They experienced issues with the quality of internet, limited bandwidth, outages that lasted for hours and the importance of backing up their data on additional servers.

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Now, of course, super fast 4G and broadband connections, faster processors and better graphics have changed the dynamics of the industry. The smartphone sector has opened up the market, now dominated, surprisingly, by mid 30s gamers, and mostly female. As the demographics have changed, so has Karsten’s interest in video games. “I make the choice not to do it anymore. I had a compulsive gaming behaviour”, he says conceding the difficulty of running a business and finding a spare 200 hours a month. On fashion Style is evidently important to Karsten. Sporting an impressively thick red beard, this is a man who takes pride in his appearance, keeping his facial hair well groomed, rocking the shaved head look and dressing dapperly in tailored shirts and suits. “People talk about Bangkok as a shopping destination but a lot of the items here have quality issues. The branded stuff would cost more than in Germany.” Karsten applies that pragmatic approach of his to buying and maintaining his wardrobe. He takes advantage of local laundry services, but sometimes they get ruined or lost. “So you buy t shirts that you don’t mind losing. You adjust to the available infrastructure and make your purchasing decisions accordingly”, he says. Bangkok living is easy Karsten Aichholz lives in Huaykwang, a predominantly Thai residential district that boasts few high rise condos. He appreciates the simple pleasures and

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Expat Stories

amenities. The MRT is a 10 minute ride to Bangkok centre, or “an hour by taxi”, he jokes. “You have everything in walking distance. There’s a 24 hour gym on my street, a supermarket nearby, a mall. At the same time, there’s this old Chinese tea store that sells you green tea for 20B.” These days he favours playing board games with close friends at dedicated cafes over consoles. “It’s a good way to mix the more social side of things with the competitive aspect,” he explains. Karsten believes that mobile gaming and global pop culture have helped to attract a broader audience to games in general, such as the ‘super complicated’ board game, Game of Thrones. “It’s a counter movement to the whole internet thing … a change of pace and scenery, and the available options have got a lot better.”

“The

biggest issue in Thailand is avoiding a long work commute and daily traffic struggles.”

Brewed in Bangkok His changing interests and personal ambitions have also led Karsten to diversify his business pursuits, most notably an online web resource for expats and a regular podcast series. The Thailand Starter Kit is a collection of free guides to help people in Thailand who are out of their comfort zone and lacking familial support networks. “Just think of it as the uncle, who you might turn to in your home country, who can offer you advice here”, the German expat states with aplomb. The website is a platform for Karsten (and guest writers) to talk the user through setting up a bank account, or a business, on how to import dogs, order gluten free groceries online, give birth in Thailand or lose weight here. This last one is harder than people might think considering the mistaken healthy image of Thai food. The lean German shed an impressive 10kg in 100 days cataloguing the micro details of the process. What’s next? Eleven years and counting in Thailand, what does the future hold? Moving abroad is something that could be on the cards for personal reasons and for additional experiences. His girlfriend’s career in medicine creates the potential for moving to the US in the future. And living in a middle income country does have its limitations. “The biggest issue in Thailand,” he says, “is avoiding a long work commute and daily traffic struggles.” He admits that it can be harder in a couple to develop simple workarounds that suit both parties, especially if you add kids to the equation. Giving a characteristically German analogy, Karsten describes the foreseeable challenge of bringing up children in Thailand. “Drinking water does not flow from the tap here, you have to pay a premium for the privilege of bottled water. That’s also the case with education. In Germany, high quality education is widely available, and free. In Thailand, the quality of public education is not at the quality that I would expect. You have to go private. You have to do bottled water education.” Website: Thailand Starter Kit Podcast: Brewed in Bangkok Kartsen’s favourite tailors: DNA and For Chong

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Food and Beverage

“To be a chef is not a job - it’s a lifestyle” by Agneta de Bekassy

These words come from Swedish born Chef, Daniel Isberg, whom I had the pleasure to meet over a delicious lunch at the Charm Thai restaurant at the Holiday Inn, Patong Beach, Phuket.

I had heard so many positive things about this talented young man from my Swedish girlfriends, it is no wonder that I was curious to meet him. As we never had met before I had no idea what he would look like, I asked him on the phone, “How are we to recognise each other”? He was quick in answering: “You can’t miss me, I’m wearing pink pants”. And indeed he did. He looked ravishing in his Bohemian outfit with spectacular sandals, dark hair and intense eyes. Chef Daniel was born in Sweden and at a young age he loved to follow his grandmother’s steps in the kitchen. So it was not a hard choice for him to apply to a culinary school, which he did and, after graduating, he started working in Sweden. His great passion for food has taken him all over the world. He has experienced exciting places, such as Greece, France, Monaco and Thailand, to name but a few. He has always paid close attention to his host countries, studying their culture, traditions and lifestyle.

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Daniel has worked on cruise ships, private yachts, and has handled private catering, the latter atop Angel Falls in Venezuela, South America. Believe it or not, at his relatively young age (I would guess mid 40s) he has cooked at parties for superstars as Alicia Keyes, the late Robin Williams, the legendary James Bond - Sean Connery, Bill Gates and last, but not least, the Swedish royal family. In every single dish Chef Daniel serves, you can feel his genuine passion for cooking and creating dishes with an extra touch. During his time in California, his eyes opened up to fresh market sources, to create ingredient driven menus of the area. He prefers the straightforward tastes of the West coast, along with the influences of Mediterranean and Asian cooking styles. In 2009 Daniel moved to San Francisco, California and opened his own catering company with his most popular Chef’s Table Free Range Dinners (underground dinners) in his kitchen.

Since 2001, Daniel has been a member of the California Mercenary Chef’s group, a title to a collection of noted chefs that promote the food and drink of this great gastronomic region. To become a good chef you have to experience every kind of role in the restaurant business. As Daniel explains, to be a dishwasher, waiter, bartender, consultant to the chef, etc., and he has done it all.

Daniel has managed to make a name for himself not only in his own establishment, but also with the organising of private dinners for Melanie Griffith, Bono, Antonio Banderas, Isabella Rosselini (daughter of the late, Swedish famous actress Ingrid Bergman), Calvin Klein, Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Springsteen and many others. For a short time Daniel lived and worked in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. He set about to turn the Restaurant KOM into the number one “Eatery”, one of Poland’s finest gastronomic establishments. He choose the best products the area had to offer.

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Daniel has received several awards for his extraordinary appetisers and entrees. After only 15 months in Warsaw, Daniel decided to move back to California. “It’s a dream, working as a chef in San Francisco with all its local, organic products all year round”, he explains. Next to Daniel’s passion for food and cooking, he also has many other strings in his lyre: He has been modelling in Sweden, played rock music in California and studied Thai boxing in Thailand. Life is a palette and it’s important to find a balance between passion and work, Daniel says.

Today Daniel lives in Phuket with his Thai wife and a young child. He finds Phuket a good place to bring up a child, but admits that Phuket isn’t a big challenge business wise. He is busy organising weddings and private parties and also hosts his “Chef Dinner Specials” twice a week. At these dinners, Daniel often serves his guests Swedish delicacies such as löjrom (Swedish caviar), and smoked deer or moose. Daniel would, with great pleasure, come to Bangkok as a “Guest Chef” as he finds Bangkok an interesting culinary destination with all different nationalities and tourists passing through.

Let us hope that in the near future he will have the possibility to do so. I would greet him with open arms as he will bring part of Sweden to Bangkok and that is what we are missing here. It’s a mystery that Bangkok until today still hasn’t got a good Swedish restaurant. Sweden is not only meatballs and sausages, believe me. Agneta de Bekassy is a wonderfully connected woman who literally knows everyone worth knowing in Bangkok. Elegant, sophisticated and the ultimate social butterfly, she conducts many of EL’s feature interviews and coordinates the social pages.

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FEATURES

With software, it pays to be legal … by Bernard Collin

This month, Bernard Collin, discusses a topic that he feels very strongly about: the dangers of illegal software and offers advice about how companies can protect themselves from the perils of piracy. It’s a fact of life throughout Southeast Asia and particularly in Thailand, piracy is rampant. You can’t walk down the street without running into trays of pirated DVDs and CDs or racks of t-shirts that aren’t quite official. If you’re a business owner and illegal software is in your workplace, then you should be concerned, because you’re setting yourself up for a potential liability and huge financial disaster. And if you are a private person with no connection with a business, you should be also concerned. If you have an illegal license on your laptop or home computer, there is a great chance that you are already infected with some kind of malware or trojans, which potentially can turn your PC into a member of a BotNet for criminal purpose or simply spamming. How would you feel getting the MiB (Men in Brown) knocking on your door with a copy of the computer crime act, asking if you are aware that your computer was traced back as being part of an illegal ring of scammers. People often ask me, “If my company is using illegal software, how can I get caught?” The answer is simple: Every day, local companies are raided by law enforcement officials whose sole intent is to find pirated software. Those caught are forced to buy original versions for every single computer in their office and are also hit with a heavy penalty. This amount could exceed a few million baht. You have to ask yourself “If I received a fine like that, could I even afford to stay in business?” If the answer is no, then why even take the risk? These raids happen because the Business Software Alliance (BSA) gives huge rewards (250,000B in cash) to people who report companies using illegal software. Every business owner has a disgruntled former employee or some rival who are candidates to contact the BSA, turn them in and collect the reward. That’s the reason why any company is exposed, no matter its size or activity. Besides the risk of raids and fines, which could dramatically impact the company finance and reputation, there are other reasons to avoid illegal software in the workplace. One is the fact that these programmes are more likely to fail or malfunction, which in turn can make a mess of your computers and render the valuable information they contain

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useless. The company then has to personally deal with these problems because their local pirated software dealer isn’t offering any warranties or technical support for the stuff they sell. Illegal software is also one of the main sources for computer viruses that can lead to all sorts of other problems for a company. A common mistake made by careless IT Managers, is when they install an illegal copy of Adobe Professional, under the assumption that they will remain legal because they only use it to read PDFs. I have seen this specific error responsible for very high fine from the BSA. If one of your employees installs unauthorised computer programmes on company hardware or illegally downloads software from the internet, you may be held liable - even if you or company management didn’t know this sort of activity was going on. When that happens, it’s a sad situation but it’s one more reason why business owners should police their computers and have regular audits performed if they have any concerns. Companies can help themselves by being proactive in this area, training employees and educating them about the dangers of piracy is one way to get started. Make them take personal responsibility for the contents of their workstations and explain to them that if they don’t, the threat to your business could cost them their jobs as well. It can be assumed that most people use pirated software because the original versions are so expensive and I understand that legitimate software is not cheap. For example, a legal version of Microsoft Office costs around 12,000B. That price is high for the US or European markets, let alone Asia. If someone has to pay that much for these programmes, it’s hard to blame them for wanting to pay just a few hundred baht for a copy. But there are different ways for someone to get legal even if they can’t really afford the version from Microsoft. For PC users, the alternative to Microsoft office is Open Office, an open source programme available for free. It has all features available in Office, with the main difference being the interface and

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the fact that people need to learn to use it differently. The conversion from Microsoft Office to Open Office works quite well.

If you work on a Mac. Apple has a bunch of programmes that are the same if not better than the ones contained in Office, but with significant savings as they are included with each Mac. That’s just one example. There is also available freeware that runs just like the programmes everyone has grown accustomed to using. Adobe even launched a free online version of Photoshop recently. People just have to know how to get these things. Even an OS like Windows 10 can be replaced by the ever growing in popularity UBUNTU, a linux environment that is very easy to install and use, especially if you are unhappy with the need to constantly upgrade your hardware to keep up with the ferocious appetite in Memory and CPU cycles of Microsoft Software. Individuals get addicted to their computer programmes and employees will resist change from Microsoft Word to a freeware version that basically works the same. Companies have to get their staff on board with this line of thinking, because there’s so much at stake for their business. It’s really about changing an entire business philosophy. And there are other reasons for people to be concerned about piracy and its effects on society. On the surface, the average person sitting in a coffee shop and using an illegal programme on their laptop doesn’t really care about the business down the street that’s getting raided and fined for pirated software. But they should, because this situation affects life as a whole in ways that people don’t even see. A low piracy rate is a sign of a healthy IT industry, which translates to more jobs, more money for economic growth and more taxes the government can collect to help improve other aspects of life throughout the country. Less piracy will directly affect the local economy in a positive way. As a generally optimistic person, I feel that this crisis will eventually get resolved. Companies like Microsoft have created a monster and the fact that their products are heavily

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pirated should tell them that their pricing is excessive. It would help if this software wasn’t so expensive to begin with, so for me the first step would be to get the costs down to a level that the average person (and average small business) can afford. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later, and we are getting there, Microsoft now has Office version for home and small businesses. The introduction of quality freeware will ultimately force the software giants to rethink their price policy, for the benefit of all. Secondly, it’s about education. People have to learn about the dangers of piracy and then help spread the message. The Thai government has recently got involved with this process of awareness building, so I’m encouraged by that. In the past three years or so, China has cut its piracy rate by about ten percent, so these things are not impossible to achieve. All you need to do is be proactive and contact a trusted partner who can help you on the path to a clean legal environment. If the task is daunting and too big to consider at first, you can always get help to negotiate a moratorium with the BSA (a time for you to get legal with financial planning ability). The only way is to engage the process before getting raided, because after that, it’s already too late. I view this topic as a highly personal one because my previous company suffered from having software that was pirated. That hurt me in more ways than one. Software developers like myself spend a lot of time and effort creating these programmes. In theory, a portion of our profits are supposed to be used for research and development so that we can improve our products in the future. But when people purchase pirated software, the money goes directly to pirates and the company that developed it never gets a single satang. And on a purely ethical level, avoiding illegal software is just the right thing to do, because if you don’t then you’re stealing - plain and simple. I highly doubt that most business owners would think of shoplifting a candy bar from the grocery store or snatching some woman’s purse, so why would they even consider engaging in the form of robbery known as software piracy? Companies must understand that they need to act on this before it’s too late by finding a trusted partner to plan a migration to a clean, legal environment. If you’re using illegal software, this will be your first step towards a good nights sleep.

Bernard Collins is the CEO of SafeComs, established in 1999 in Australia with a focus on computer security in the SME and enterprise market. In 2003 he launched the Asian branch of the company located in Bangkok. Prior to launching SafeComs Bernard was CEO of Pacer Software Inc in Europe and was with Digital Equipment and Apple. info@safecoms.com 02 105 4520 EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Health and fitness

Trail running reaches new heights with iconic The North Face 100® Thailand by Duncan Worthington

The North Face 100® Thailand has grown to become the largest trail running event in Thailand. Welcoming a record turnout of 3,200 competitors for the 2017 edition, The North Face 100® Thailand gets its name from the 100km ultra distance in which almost 300 people took part in this year. While 100km is the longest and most challenging distance, the event caters to runners from all walks of life with 15km, 25km, 50km and the newly added 75km distance. Anyone will tell you that 15km should not be the first distance you run - perhaps start with a 3km or 5km fun run on the road first - but the generous time limit for the 15km at The North Face 100® Thailand is three-and-a-half hours and gives you plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way. The North Face 100® Thailand is a trail run. By its very definition, it takes people off road to run on dirt trails, taking in nature and the beautiful vistas of Pak Chong district in Nakhon Ratchasima.

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Nakhon Ratchasima is just a two-and-a-half hour drive northeast from Bangkok and home to the country's first national park - Khao Yai National Park. Covering approximately 300 square kilometres, the park is home to a large variety of protected flora and fauna, and is most popularly known for it's wild elephant population. A popular weekend getaway for Bangkokians, Pak Chong offers a back-to-nature experience, yet is equipped with plenty of family friendly activities which makes it a great place to enjoy some down time surrounded by nature. The North Face 100® Thailand was launched in 2012 in Amphawa and since 2013 has been held in Pak Chong annually. With 300 people

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competing in the first year, the event has grown considerably in large part due to the stunning course and professional organisation, as well as the convenient location within easy access of Bangkok, and the sport of trail running has also grown alongside the popularity of the event. From families to elite runners, The North Face 100® Thailand welcomes everyone and it's this diversity that has made it the most popular trail running event in the country, attracting more and more people each year to get out amongst nature and run the trails. Held in February this year, the largest field of competitors were the 25km and 15km distances with 1,137 and 930 runners respectively. With split starts in the morning, there was great camaraderie on the trails and some close racing across all the age group categories. In the 25km it was Kritsada Narasavat (THA) and Shiu Yan Leanne Szeto (HKG) who took home the overall male and female titles while Sarawut Ngamsri and Chalita Chuleekeitl won the overall male and female titles in the 15km. Part of The North Face® Asia Pacific Series, The North Face 100® Thailand is billed as “Thailand's Ultimate Trail Running Challenge”, and has put Thailand on the map as a top trail running destination in Asia. With 1,144 runners competing in the ultra distances (50km, 75km, 100km) this year, Thailand's hopes were pinned on Sanya Khanchai (2013, 2014 winner) and Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana in the 100km. Following a breakout performance just three weeks before the event at the Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail® Race - one of the signature events on the Ultra Trail® World Tour - where he finished seventh in his first ever solo 100km, Jantaraboon put in an excellent performance at The North Face 100® Thailand to finish second behind Chiang Mai based Harry Jones (GBR) who claimed the 100km title in a time of 9h 26m 24s. Sanya finished a credible sixth in a field of top talent from 21 countries.

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In the female division it was a close race for the top spot between Phitchanan Mahachot (THA) and Kylie Ayson (NZL). Previously based in Hong Kong and having trained on the mountainous trails there, Kylie pushed Phitchanan hard but it was the Thai athlete who crossed the line first in a time of 12h 34mins 26secs, with the fast finishing Kylie less than 10 minutes behind. Following 50km wins in 2015 and 2016, Naomi Imaizumi (JPN) stepped up to 75km - new for The North Face 100® Thailand 2017 - this year and asserted her authority again, romping home with a winning margin of more than three hours while Jisub Kim (KOR) placed first in the men's field in a time of 6h 54m 25s. Another breakout performance, this time for Sunimit Ngandee (THA) training partner of Jantaraboon - who was competing for the first time at The North Face 100® Thailand, Sunimit took home the 50km title against a top international field. In the female division, Thailand based Carole Fuchs - also competing for the first time at The North Face 100® Thailand - delivered a crushing performance, finishing one hour ahead of her nearest rival and second overall - less than one minute behind the male winner!

Trail running is growing in popularity across the country, with new events appearing on the calendar each year. This is good for the sport and also offers great opportunities for runners (and beginners) the chance to enjoy Thailand's nature with like minded friends and appreciate the beautiful destinations around Thailand. Then dates for The North Face 100® Thailand 2018 edition will be announced soon. For all updates, go to http://thenorthfacethailand.com/ TNF100/en/home.php or follow www.facebook.com/TNF100Thailand.

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Food and Beverage

Your traditions, your culture, your food by Karla Walter

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “How am I made?’ Not in the sense of conception but how are you made from your parents, grandparents and your ancestral lineage? If we look at who made us, where they came from, who made them and where they come from, a pattern starts to appear of our cellular heritage. Let me explain. Where did your parents come from and where were you born? Where did your grandparents come from and where did they have your parents? Are you an expat that has children born in a different county or countries from where you were born? My personal belief is we are all born equal except for our digestive systems and that is what makes us different. Take a couple from the Maasai tribe in Kenya and send them off to live in London, England. After one year they are expecting their first child and the child will be born in London. What have the parents been eating and what do they feed their child after it is weened? The Maasai diet is traditionally meat, milk and blood from cattle. The blood is used as part of their protein and caloric needs. They have one of the highest levels of cholesterol in the world due to their high fat diet. They are not overweight or obese people, they do not run, however they walk a lot and researchers believe this moderate walking explains their good health, even with their high cholesterol. They have no heart disease or diabetes. Their digestive system has a way of breaking down the fat they eat and blood they drink. (reference Maasai Association) I am not saying this is what everyone must be doing, far from it. It is to outline how we are made and where we live is an indication of the foods that each of us requires. Just because we go to live in another country does not mean the food in that country is the food that we should be eating all the time.

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Let me explain about a mixed background. Your grandparents on your father’s side came from Japan and moved to New Zealand. Your grandparents on your mother’s side came from London, England and moved to New Zealand. Your grandfather is one hundred percent Japanese and your mother is one hundred percent English. The foods they were fed whilst growing up were different and their digestive systems formed in a way that supported their cells and their health. Now, you are born in New Zealand and are a mix of Japanese and English. What do you eat that will support your health? Many people would say you are born in New Zealand so you eat the food in New Zealand but you were not made from the people who have their ancestral line in New Zealand. Your parents were born in New Zealand and grandparents came from very different countries. They are made from their ancestral background. Who do you take after and what foods will support your health? Have they continued to eat the foods from their traditions and culture? Digestive systems do not change just because you move countries.

One more example: Let’s take a couple from Alaska, the Inuit Indians, and move them to Thailand. Their traditional diet is seasonal. Winter season is seals, whales, and other sea mammals. They eat the meat raw, cooked or dried. When summer comes, they eat caribou, small game, fish and berries. They receive high doses of Vitamin C from the skin of the beluga whale (called muktuk). Now they have moved to Thailand, so what are they going to eat, that is consistent with what they have grown up eating - surely not Thai chicken curry. They now have two children born in Bangkok. Being born in Bangkok does not mean those children are able to

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digest Thai food with all the spices and herbs that are used in the cooking process. Luckily, with world trade in foodstuffs as strong as it is in modern times, they will be able to find the food they require to build healthy cells just in case the day to day diet of Thailand may not agree with their digestive system. I’m not saying that Thai chicken curry is not absolutely delicious, I’m asking you to think about what would be the best for them and don’t forget to ask yourself the same question. What is the food that your body needs? Our world has become ever smaller as we move around from country to country. We marry people from different countries and are tempted by food from countries in supermarkets and restaurants.The ability to have these experiences is so special and wonderful for everyone but we must take the time to consider who made us and who did we make? How does this combination work for you? In my own family, I take after my father and grandfather. There is no doubt in my mind I also take after that side of the family with my digestive system. When I eat the food they grew up with, the foods they could digest, I feel very

energised and happy. I have been an expat for a long time and know the food I have eaten in some of those countries does not agree with me and it is best I avoid it. When I am in Thailand, I love the food and the spices but, if the food is spicy and hot, my body is not happy. Therefore I choose the very mild foods, still with wonderful flavour that not only I enjoy but choose foods to support my health. Once you know what you can and cannot eat given the unique digestive system you have, the world once again becomes your “oyster” so to speak. Learn about your culture and traditions and rejoice in foods that make your digestive system sing.

Karla Walter has completed extensive studies in homeopathy, nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine, macrobiotics, Shiatsu massage, vegetarian cooking, human bio science. Karla has been changing lives through private counselling, public lecturing and teaching. www.living557.com I karlawalter@me.com


The most influential university ranking systems’ results 2016:

# in the US

# in the UK

Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking)

50/100

8/10

Times Higher Education

39/100

16/100

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)

30/100

19/100


Education

A knowledge enriching summer at Yale by Napat Sakulsaengprapha Junior - Ruamrudee International School

The Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) is a selective leadership development programme for rising high school juniors and seniors. YYGS does not only expand the participant's leadership skills, but also challenges them with university level material. As of 2016, six courses are offered in the programme: Biological and Biomedical Science; Politics, Law, and Economics; International Affairs and Security; Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Applied Science and Engineering; and Sustainability, Energy and Environment. The Yale Young Global Scholars requires an application, which consists of five parts: a resume, an official school transcript, two letters of recommendation, standardised test score (optional) and essays. The programme brings together talented, motivated, and inspirational scholars from around the world. Students get exposed to a variety of course related topics through lectures, seminars, and open ended discussions. The lecture is done mainly by Yale faculty members, while the discussion section revolves around the students sharing different ideas and perspectives on the lecture. These discussions not only heighten one’s understanding of the topic, but also allow the students to learn about cultures and lifestyles of people from around the globe. In addition, the scholars will collaborate with each other on a capstone project based on a topic which they are assigned and for which an academic research database is provided by Yale. The residential life is another very important aspect of the programme. Students will be able to live on Yale’s University campus for two weeks; they will be able to subtly experience what college life is like through living in and

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sharing a dorm room with their peers. Sharing a suite or a room with scholars who may live from across the globe allows for cultural exchange. During the two weeks of the programme, YYGS offers a variety of campus tours to scholars, which range from Yale’s research facility in the West Campus, The Cushing’s Centre, to the British Art Gallery Tour. With the rigorous

schedule, participants will often time relax with a game of pool in the games room or Frisbee in the courtyard during their free time. Apart from the classes, students are given the opportunity to audition for the Speaker’s Series and the Talent Show. Both listening to inspirational stories from other talented youth in the Speaker’s Series or singing along to a song with everyone

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in the Talent Show, are just amazing experiences that one will remember and cherish in the future. The Yale Young Global Scholars programme has been inspiring students from around the globe, to not only dwell deeper into subject areas they love but also open up to people and other cultures in the world. I chose to attend YYGS because of my interest in science. I attended the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) course because I wanted to further study biology, since I found my biology class at school fascinating. Biology courses at school are often times very structured; we learn about ideas that directly connect to biology. However, at YYGS my vision on the field of Biological and Biomedical Sciences was enhanced greatly due to the structure of the classes there. The lectures not only focused on topics which we learn at school, but combined those topics and built off

of them to explore more ideas. One example is a lecture on the usage of music to improve stethoscopes auscultatory skills for new doctors and nurses. These lectures that introduce ideas that will never be taught in a regular biology class are what scholars get to learn and talk about in discussion groups, not only allowing them to learn about new ideas but to see real life applications of biological and biomedical sciences as well. My favourite aspect about the programme was definitely the people. The people who attended the course

were probably the friendliest group I have ever met. Randomly sitting at a table with people who you have never talked to can lead you to becoming best friends. Everyone was talented, motivated, and shared an interest in the same area of study. Sharing a room and suite with people who have a totally different background was an astounding experience. Learning about my friends’ cultures and their opinions on different ideas contributed to long lasting friendships that will extend far beyond the two weeks at Yale.

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Education

The whole person, the whole point Rugby School comes to Thailand by Rianka Mohan

This year marks 450 years in the history of Rugby School, one of the oldest and most prestigious co-educational private schools in Britain. It also coincides with the launch of Rugby School Thailand where for the very first time, the Rugby brand and ethos will be established overseas. Expat Life met Nataphol Teepsuwan, Chairman of Rugby School Thailand and Lucinda Holmes, Chair of the Board of Governors of Rugby School UK to get the details of this momentous enterprise. Yet another international school was foremost on our minds as we were ushered into a conference room at the Intercontinental Hotel Bangkok. There are almost 200 international schools here in Thailand, of which British curriculum schools are the majority. But Mr Teepsuwan is quick to point out - this is not just another international school. Their unique proposition follows the British independent school model, and their campus is located well away from the centre of Bangkok with its traffic and chaos, on a sprawling 90 acre site amid birds and trees. A co-educational day and boarding school with a ‘House’ system and state-ofthe-art facilities that will be the first in Thailand to provide an extended day, beginning at 8am and finishing at 6pm. The Rugbeian philosophy is that education should develop students not just academically but to the best of their potential, whether in sports, music, arts or drama, and also, equally, address the formation of their character, their moral values, and their social manners. In other words, ‘the whole person is the whole point.’ The partnership Mr Teepsuwan, who during his career as a Member of Parliament in Thailand had occasion to study the schooling system here, shares his deep passion for education with his wife, Taya Teepsuwan. She brings years of experience having been the youngest deputy governor of Bangkok covering education and sports, and having also managed Srivikorn School, a private school founded by her parents in 1962. After stepping away from the political limelight, both of them were keen to turn this passion into something tangible. And as parents to three children who attended UK schools (Brambletye Prep, Harrow, St Edwards Oxford), they are strong proponents of the British boarding school

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education. They spent four years immersed in studying the UK educational system and speaking to people. In 2015, Nigel Westlake came on board having previously served as Headmaster at Packwood Haugh and Brambletye Prep, both leading British prep schools. Their market research led them to conclude that they would need a partner - a top school with an impeccable reputation. One of the schools that they approached and presented to - Rugby - fit the bill in more ways than one. Mr Teepsuwan says, “We quickly realised that this was everything that we would want in a school, with a similar setup to what we were planning, and a shared sense of values. We were clear in our minds that we didn't want a mere licensing deal. We wanted a true partnership with someone who understood our long term vision and would help us achieve it. Their senior management visited our site, saw our plans, and discussed at length with us the kind of programmes we would provide students.”

“A longer day allows more time for teaching and learning. ”

Ms Holmes recalls the meetings. “Over the years, we’ve been approached by many schools and prospective partners asking us to franchise the Rugby brand, and to be honest, none of them felt right. We are fortunate in that we’re under no obligation to branch out or make choices for purely monetary reasons. Our 450 year old brand is extremely precious to us and the board was reluctant to consider an expansion

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out of the UK. But the Wisdom Enterprise (the wholly owned Teepsuwan company) presentation blew us away. What was so attractive to us was that this was a school along the lines of what we understood and knew, which is that education cannot just be an academic hothouse. Out of everything that we have seen over the years, this was the vision that gave us pause.” The key differentiating factors of Rugby School Thailand have been the enormous space and cutting edge facilities, as well as the distinctive extended day programme. “A longer day allows more time for teaching and learning,” noted Ms Holmes. “You do your homework at school but you also have time for music and theatre. You can take tennis or basketball lessons at the many courts on site; swim at either the 25 metre or the 50 metre olympic swimming pool; play rugby or football; take up rowing, cycling or golf, all whilst surrounded by stunning views!” The boarding school system In addition to being a day school, Rugby School

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Thailand will introduce the concept of voluntary residential boarding in 2018 for Year 3 to Year 13. Students can choose from three options - weekly boarder (five nights a week); day boarder (three fixed nights a week); or full boarder (every night returning home over breaks). Lucinda admits that there has been a rising interest in boarding since the Harry Potter books, with children eager to have the experience of belonging to Houses, and enjoying a camaraderie with their peers that I have to agree, is sometimes lost when you’re shuttled to and fro from an international day school in Bangkok traffic. Arranging playdates for my nine year old with his friends spread across our metropolis seems to sometimes require the coordinating skills of a CIA field operative! Lucinda describes a conversation she had with a prospective Thailand parent whose family is up daily by 5:30am in order to get to school and work on time - a schedule familiar to many a Bangkokian parent. The afternoon commute is even longer as the traffic builds up. The mother was looking forward to the day that her children leave on a Monday morning, get a full productive week of academics and activities to return on a Friday and be at home over the weekend to enjoy nothing but quality time as a family. The boarding school option is also appealing to expats who have multiple postings across the region as it provides a stable environment for their children through their academic years. Moreover, as Mr Teepsuwan notes, “Many Thais and families in the ASEAN region feel compelled to send their children to schools in distant countries at a young age in order for them to receive a stellar, holistic education. Now with Rugby School Thailand, they have the opportunity closer to home.” The school also welcomes students who intend to transition to UK schools at a later stage and would prepare them for the Common Entrance Exams and the admissions process, with the hope that given their experience here, Rugby School is among their top choices. Then is Rugby School Thailand intended to serve as a feeder school to Rugby School UK I ask, to which Mr Teepsuwan categorically states that they have not asked, nor do they expect Rugby UK to have to take students from Thailand. But the goal is to ensure that the students here will be on par with their UK counterparts in academic and extracurricular achievements and that they would naturally be an excellent fit there. Ms Holmes adds, “We anticipate it to be a partnership that has mutual benefits. Students could go from here to the campus there or vice versa through exchange programmes. The world today is a different place and we should not be so insular. This is my first trip of what I hope will be many to Thailand. Five representatives from Rugby School UK will sit on the board here. We will have a bit of a shuttle system of senior management between the schools, especially so in the near term but ongoing as well. We plan to be deeply involved in all aspects to ensure success.”

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Education

Staffing The school will open this September, initially with their Pre-Prep (Nursery to Year 2) and Prep schools (Year 3 - Year 6). The older Prep groups of Year 7 and 8 and the Senior School (Year 9 - Year 13) will open in 2018. Staff recruiting and training has been jointly managed by the Founding Headmaster Nigel Westlake and Rugby School UK. They will launch with a teacher headcount of 14 to further grow and maintain a healthy student to faculty ratio of 10:1. Westlake has received 700 applicants for the initial 14 posts, a record that he has not seen in his 30 years of teaching and headship. The process has been highly selective with interviews conducted at the Rugby School UK and selected applicants teaching Rugby School students to demonstrate their approach and methods. Ms Holmes attributes the strong interest, which even extends to current Rugby School staff, to the excellent package, accommodation and facilities on campus offered to teachers and their families.

“ We will be very conscious to support our students and also offer opportunities to the under privileged so that exceptional students from across Thailand can attend Rugby and partake in its promise.” Campus 90 minutes from Bangkok in the Chonburi province is a 500 acre site owned by the Teepsuwan family, of which the new school currently takes up 90 acres and will be the

largest school campus in Thailand. The facilities, designed by the award winning Beaumont Partnership Architects, offer separate areas for the Pre-Prep, Prep, and Senior schools with all sorts of activities from golf to sailing, art studios to theatres, indoor running tracks to extensive playing fields. And the Teepsuwan family is just getting started with their ambitions to build a world class, second-to-none learning environment. Subject to feasibility study they plan to construct an athletic training centre in the next year or two so the school can host inter-school tournaments. They hope to shortly bring on board, Sporting Clube de Portugal, the club that trained champions like Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo. There will be language studios where it will also be possible for interested students to speak, read, and write Thai. “While we will be aggressive in providing the latest technology, we also want our students to be able to thrive without technology. Reading will be an important part of their daily routine here. Similarly, music will be key to everyone’s day and no pupil will leave Rugby without a fond musical memory,” declares Mr Teepsuwan. He is relaxed when I ask about the returns he expects on his investment. “Rugby has a long history and we look to catch up. Our investment horizon is long term and we don’t expect an immediate commercial return. We are more focused on laying down the proper foundations for many lifetimes and many generations to come.” Bursary Rugby School UK has a tradition of providing both merit and need based scholarships. Of their 800 students, 40% have some kind of financial assistance into the school with 10% of the students coming in with 100% bursaries, which means that everything from tuition and boarding, school trips and expenses are covered by the scholarship. “It is very important to us at Rugby and we were thrilled to learn about the bursary system that they plan to establish here too,” says Ms Holmes. Mr Teepsuwan also notes, “We will be very conscious to support our students and also offer opportunities to the under privileged so that exceptional students from across Thailand can attend Rugby and partake in its promise.” Best school from day one No expense seems to have been spared and the administration has high ambitions for the school to be the best in Asia. When the headmaster Nigel Westlake was asked the question when, he paused for thought and then answered unequivocally, “From day one.”

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Education

JFC RIS Kan

Stanley Kang Like many members of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT), Chairman Stanley Shu-Teh Kang values contributing to the greater good. “The JFCCT lobbies and presents policy papers to the government and the Prime Minister every year on ways to improve economic conditions and increase free trade agreements in coordination with the various ministries in the public sector, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank,” he says. This time consuming voluntary role has to be balanced against his other professional roles as Chairman of Vision and Power, a LED total solution provider that he and his wife established with 3 Thai partners a couple years ago. Deputy General Manager of Tuntex Textile (Thailand) and Independent Director of Success Holding Group International that develops professional manpower. The Taiwanese businessman has been a member of the JFCCT for nearly a decade. His capacity to work with all 36 Chambers of Commerce as Vice Chairman for four years resulted in his election as the first Chairman representing a Chamber of Commerce from the Asia Pacific region to be elected Chairman of the JFCCT. “I believe this reflects the real rise of Asia in global markets,” he observes. In banding together, ASEAN and its affiliates found itself in a position to negotiate better terms against bigger counterparts. “Everything starts from free trade agreements. When you have free flow of goods, you can start pushing for free movement of people, followed by free capital flow because national financial systems and regulations are the most difficult to coordinate.” In the next 10 years, Stanley predicts that “technology will disrupt every job, but it will be in such a way that we will have to incorporate new technology into the role rather than replacing all jobs with artificial intelligence. This means that we have to keep on learning new things throughout our life.” Change is a constant and the JFCCT which focused on attracting foreign inward investment into Thailand when it was established in 1976 under Stanley’s leadership took on a more bilateral role as more large Thai corporations like the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, Siam Cement Group, Central Group and Thai Beverage expanded into global powerhouses. “We have to open windows to support the Thai companies as they go out into the world.” At the same time, “Thailand has to learn how to expand its network and markets. The most sustainable way to move out of the ‘Middle Income Trap’ is through research and innovation. This starts with education,” he says. “Another method is to collaborate with other countries that are willing and able to do so like Taiwan, Germany, Japan, and the

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L

ike many members of the Joint

Chambers of Commerce in Nordic countries so Thai Foreign manufacturers Thailand (JFCCT), Chairman Stanley Kang values contributing can gradually upgradeShu-Teh themselves from to the greater good. “The JFCCT lobbies and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) presents policy papers to the government and the Prime Minister every year on ways to develop their own innovations for conditions global and to improve economic increase free trade agreements in coordimarkets.” nation with the various ministries in the public sector, the Thai Chamber of Nevertheless, high technology Commerce and Board of Trade, the World and the Asian Development Bank,” is not a prerequisite asBank, unique Thai he says. This time-consuming voluntary role brands like NaRaYa bags and Tao Kae has to be balanced against his other professional roles as fans. Chairman of Vision Noi seaweed snacks have global and Power, a LED total solution provider that he and his wife established with 3 Companies can also grow through Thai partners a couple years ago , Deputy acquisitions and joint ventures likeofThai General Manager Tuntex Textile (Thailand), and Independent Director of Union Group, who figures among the Success Holding Group International that develops professional manpower. world’s largest seafood producers. The Taiwanese businessman has been a member of the JFCCT for nearly a Working with so many parties with decade. His capacity to work with all 36 Chambers of Commerce as Vice-Chairman divergent interests means that his greatest for four years resulted in his election as the first Chairman representing a Chamber of challenge is clear quality communication Commerce from the Asia-Pacific region to elected to Chairman of the JFCCT. “I with all members. “Webehave respect believe this reflects the real rise of Asia in globalminority markets,” he observes. every view as a democracy and ensure that views In banding together, ASEAN and its are heard. We need to be transparent, open minded and affiliates found itself in a position to negotiate better terms against bigger understand each other’s ideas to come tocounterparts. a better“Everything solution starts from free trade agreements. When you have free and agreement.” flow of goods, you can start pushing for of people, followed by free Stanley credits his initial preparation free formovement this complex capital flow because national financial and regulations are the most role and for life in general to his educationsystems at Ruamrudee difficult to coordinate.” In the next 10 years, Stanley predicts International School (RIS). “In learning how to understand that “technology will disrupt every job, it will be in such different cultures, we learn to find the bestbutsolutions toa way that we will have to incorporate new technology into problems without complaining.” He fondlytherecalls enrolling role rather than replacing allin jobs with artificial intelligence. This means that we Grade 9 after moving to Thailand. This year, as a member of have to keep on learning new things throughout our life.” the Class of 1987, he is looking forward to his 30th Change is a anniversary constant and the JFCCT which focused on attracting foreign gathering. After RIS, he received his Bachelor in Mechanical inward investment into Thailand when it Engineering from National Taiwan University and Master of Business Administration from California Miramar University. His inclusive attitude towards life extends to building successful businesses. “There should be a separation between family members’ share ownership and hiring capable professionals to run the company to ensure that small and medium sized family owned businesses grow,” he says. “Amid this global war for talent, being open to people from any country allows you to attract the best candidates who will help push your company’s expansion domestically and overseas.” His friendly personality makes him cherish his alumni friendships and memories that span decades, especially since his two younger sisters are also RIS alumnae. His sisters, Teh-Lan Kang, Class of 1989 and youngest sister, Jen-Teh Kang, Class of 1996, was a friend and classmate of his wife, Jung Jung (Carrie) Lee. “I was very focused on my career so I married just five years ago.” His career mindedness resulted from his father passing away during his junior year in university. Despite this tragic loss, his mother insisted that he acquire experience at professionally run companies overseas before returning to the family fold. “Now, I leave my businesses to my wife,” he laughs. The couple’s two year old daughter may well attend RIS when she grows up as there certainly are myriad benefits of belonging to this tightly knit alumni network.

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was establish leadership to more large Petroleum A Cement Grou Beverage exp houses. “We support the T into the world At the s learn how t markets. The m out of the ‘Mi research and education,” he collaborate w willing and Germany, Jap so Thai ma upgrade them ment Manufa innovations fo Neverth a prerequisite NaRaYa bags snacks have also grow joint-venture figures amon producers. Working divergent in greatest chall nication with


Miku Suga Shrewsbury International School Music Scholar since 2013. 16 year old Miku is a talented pianist and percussionist, who performs in many of Shrewsbury’s choirs and orchestras. Miku won 1st Place and a special prize (Best Tchaikovsky Performance) in the Grand Prize Virtuoso Competition in 2015. She was also honoured to play at ‘Martha Argerich’s’ Music festival in Japan. She was subsequently invited to perform in the award winners’ recital at the Royal Albert Hall.

MUSIC

SCHOLARSHIPS AT SHREWSBURY Shrewsbury International School invites musicians with exceptional talent, promise and commitment to apply to join one of the best music scholarship programmes in Bangkok. • Perform as part of the Symphony Orchestra, Ensembles and Choirs • Join a thriving and lively classical and contemporary music scene • Receive expert tuition and mentoring • Enjoy masterclasses from visiting professors A variety of scholarships are available for orchestral players, singers and pianists who are able to demonstrate significant achievement on their main instrument and potential on a second instrument. Students with experience and potential on brass or woodwind instruments either as a first or second study are particularly encouraged to apply.

Yearam (Candy) Park Flautist and former Music Scholar at Shrewsbury International School, Candy now studies at the Paris Conservatoire. Finalist at 2014 Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition (3rd Place).

Now open - applications for Music Scholarships for 2017 see bit.ly/SHBmusic2017 or call Ilka Hodapp on 02 675 1888 ext. 1110

www.shrewsbury.ac.th


Education

A week in boarding

Gavin Terry (Head of Boys’ Boarding at The Regent’s International School, Bangkok) The world is getting smaller. Metaphorically, not literally. (Don’t worry: this is not a scientific report designed to spread global panic!) As international links expand, and transport across and within countries becomes easier and everywhere becomes more accessible (unless you live in the heart of downtown Bangkok), the opportunities to learn and live in other countries are increasing. The world appears a smaller place than it did fifty years or even ten years ago. Parents, with ease, now send their children to fantastic schools in vibrant parts of the world to learn new languages, experience new cultures and gain qualifications to secure their best possible future. For parents that cannot themselves relocate, a safe and secure boarding house is a necessity. However, boarding isn’t just a choice for international families. Living in one of the busiest cities in the world can make the daily commute to school a nightmare. For some families, a boarding house can save hours of draining travel. For others, who have busy work schedules that take them away for days or weeks at a time, a boarding house can often be a lifeline even if students are only enrolled for a few weeks at a time.

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So what is life like as a boarding student? A typical week for a boarding student starts bright and early on a Monday morning with a knock on the door from a friendly Boarding Assistant to wake students from their deep slumbers. For some students, this represents the first challenge of the week: staying awake long enough to reach the shower! Refreshed and rejuvenated from their showers, hair styled, and uniform smartly straightened they head down to the dining hall for breakfast. Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of

the day, and much needed fuel for the busy day ahead. With stomachs topped up, boarding students make their way to the main school building for registration with their tutors. For some this may be a simple walk across campus; for others it may mean a short minivan journey to a different campus. Once the school day has finished, students have the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of extracurricular activities (ECAs). Whilst these ECAs might vary between different school sites, likely activities include extra academic sessions, sports clubs EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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for fun, sports team training, Model United Nations and Debate Club - as well as many other choices. Whether compulsory or not, most students make the most of the excellent opportunities available. Prep, another key feature of boarding schools, runs either before or after dinner at the end of the school day. This session provides students with time to complete homework, supervised and supported by teaching staff from the school. These teachers are able to provide both general and subject specific assistance, which is very helpful to students in examination year groups. The amount of time spent in prep usually increases as students move up through the school to mirror the increase in homework and assignment requirements. Food is a hugely important factor in the satisfaction that students get from being in boarding. As a consequence, the Boarding House caterers try to provide a wide variety of both local and international cuisine options to cater for the range of students present in the house. As well as eating familiar dishes, students are also able to sample dishes they have never tasted before. After a busy day, expanding horizons and learning new ideas, students have some well earned free time in the evening. Many of the older

students continue to study (the IB programme can be very demanding), whilst others choose to make the most of the facilities on offer: playing badminton, table tennis, football, basketball or going for a swim. Boarding students are an extremely active bunch, and there are always activities to keep them busy. Many students, those who have family in or close to Bangkok, sign out for the weekend. For those that remain, there is an extensive enrichment programme of activities available. Students are encouraged to get out of the boarding house, to experience

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something fun and new. Trips are run to such varied destinations as wakeboarding, cycling, water parks and theme parks, ice skating, malls and paintballing. In house options are also offered, such as cooking lessons, ‘bobble football’ and archery. Saturday nights will often see popular house social events being organised, such as BBQs, meals out or bowling at the mall. Sundays are generally more relaxed, with a lie-in-and-brunch option. With such a hectic timetable from Monday through to Saturday, we appreciate that everyone needs to take some time out! Students may initiate their own activities. Many students choose to get involved in service opportunities in their spare time. Sometimes they raise money for a particular charity and sometimes provide a more direct service, such as providing English and swimming lessons to local children. This approach is particularly useful for students on

the IB Diploma Programme, who are required to complete CAS (Creativity, Activity, and Service) hours in order to pass. And so begins another week in boarding. A smaller world brings better experiences and helps mould globally minded, culturally compassionate individuals, ready to face an ever

changing world. Life in boarding is action packed, international and rewarding. It is demanding, but the impact it has on their future is powerful. If boarding is something you are considering, get in touch with the Boarding House and ask us about the opportunities and experiences that we offer.


FEATURES

Attack my anxiety by Kiran Khanijow

Amornrat Sachdev is currently a secondary school counsellor at Bangkok Prep, working with students from Year 7-13. In her years and experiences working with students and parents to help guide children and adolescents through anxiety, she realised that she wanted to spread what worked for her as far as she could - hence the birth of her book ‘Attack My Anxiety!’. (Funnily and coincidentally enough, the official publication process lasted approximately 9 months). The characters of Sam and Pete help her help children (and adults) with anxiety. They bring to life the counselling techniques she has adapted with her clients. Why did you decide on this topic? How did you come up with this idea? Anxiety and stress are, by far, the most common issues I have had to help my clients with. This includes my work in counselling sessions with them as well as informal and formal side conversations I have with teachers and parents. Parent workshops on helping their children cope with anxiety were also very popular. The idea of using Pete and Sam as companions on a journey to make sense of and then control Sam’s anxiety came naturally to me. That is usually how I feel in my counselling sessions - that I am on a journey with my clients - and I do want them to understand and be able to manage their anxiety at the end of it. How did you get interested in writing for children? I was mostly working with primary students at a certain point and, that too, regarding anxiety. I adapted and then combined a few techniques that I thought worked well for my clients and appealed to my counselling style. When they seemed to help my clients and address many of the aspects that come with experiencing anxiety, I wanted to share it with other educators, parents and of course, children.

mentioned, once I had the thought that I wanted to share the set of strategies I use with many people as I could, the storyline was dying to come out. However, the time between getting the story on paper to it being an official published piece is about 1.5 years.

How long did it take to complete the book? I wrote the story over a weekend at home. However, like I have

What was one of the most surprising things you learnt while creating this book? I was very surprised by the amount of support and well wishes I received during the process of publishing this book and after. People in my life and community wholly supported

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my desire to get a child and parent friendly tool about anxiety out into the world, and I could not be more thankful. My publishers, Tosca and Jeff from Ed-ucation Publishing, were also extremely easy to work with. I always had questions and I mean always - because I was new to the process, and they were very accommodating. What are your future plans? I hope to continue to share information that I find worth sharing, that I think can possibly make a difference to someone’s life, or even light up a moment in someone’s day. I hope to continue to write for my peace of mind. Maybe what I write for myself will transform into more published and unpublished articles, poems I write for myself, or another children’s story book- who knows? What do you think are the topics that bother children the most these days? I think all children have and always will struggle when learning how to control and maintain their feelings and relationships. What kind of research did you do before writing on this? I did not do any research for my book, per se. I did research when trying to find strategies that worked for my clients in our sessions and appealed to my counselling approach. I adjusted various strategies and through trial and error found what suited my clients and myself. The improvement and success I found within my sessions were the main ‘research’ that went into writing the book. Can you give an example of how you adjusted a technique to suit you and your clients? For example, therapists often employ psycho-education as an intervention - which is just educating your client about

their condition so that they feel empowered. I felt it was very important for my clients to know how biology was responsible for their anxiety, and that knowing this would allow them to recognise, predict, and then be able to manage what they were feeling. You see, our bodies are designed to survive, and there is a reason our bodies respond the way they do to stressful events. It was just about creating a child friendly story that addressed all these elements. What are you working on now? I am currently focused on promoting ‘Attack My Anxiety!’ as I do want parents and children to know that this tool is available should they want it. I have only received positive reviews about its usefulness, which has motivated me to get the story out there even more! What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Just write. Write for yourself, and write the way you want and about what you want. I started with writing poetry for myself and shared this new venture with two colleagues of mine. One asked if I was 13 years old. The other told me to keep exercising that muscle, and understood the need to create something (even if it was just for myself). Write for yourself. How can we purchase this book? Where is ‘Attack my Anxiety!’ available? ‘Attack My Anxiety!’ is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Book Depository.

Kiran Khanijowa is a Thai Indian and has lived in Bangkok all her life. A freelance writer who regularly contributes to Missmalini - a Bollywood blog based in India and Masala - an Indian community magazine in Thailand. She loves writing and feels that she can express all her thoughts through it. Used to teach English in a Thai school and found the experience to be interesting as she herself studied in an international school.

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Why arts education matters There is a growing trend in schools towards reducing the time available for creative subjects. But if we want our children to do better academically and socially, arts education clearly plays a vital role. Indeed, the World Economic Forum has named critical thinking, emotional intelligence and creativity as qualities required for success in the 21st century. Academic performance, skills and confidence of our future innovators Recent research highlights the link between performing arts learning, strong academic performance, and cognitive development. Students are more likely to do better in academic and social spheres where they are actively engaged with the arts as makers and doers, rather than pure consumers. The performing arts teach children a range of personal skills that will help them thrive in the modern world and workplace. Creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to collaborate grow, along with self-esteem, discipline and self-confidence. Moreover, creative processes and products allow students to explore and exhibit their unique identities. Even if they do not pursue the arts as a career, students will apply these key attributes throughout their lives. The arts encourage students to make independent decisions and to be self-critical as they create. This is at the heart of all innovation as we shape the future. Arts education at St. Andrews International School Bangkok St. Andrews offers students the benefit of unique collaborations with world leading performing arts conservatory The Juilliard School in New York, and one of the world’s top universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These partnerships contribute to an educational experience second to none. Workshops, masterclasses and performances in school allow our students to interact with Juilliard’s worldwide network of performers and teaching artists. Students follow an innovative embedded arts curriculum designed by Juilliard that enriches learning and inspires students to succeed on the world stage.

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New in 2017, St. Andrews offers an innovative STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) curriculum designed by MIT, which inspires students to create and build through hands-on, cross-functional activities and challenges. Our teachers will receive training each year at MIT from renowned academics, and select students will visit MIT annually to immerse themselves in MIT’s problem-solving culture, trying their hands at building robots, bioengineering and coding. About St. Andrews International School Bangkok and Nord Anglia Education St. Andrews is an inclusive co-educational British international school for students age 2-18 years. The school will open a state-of-the-art High School facility this summer, conveniently located on Sukhumvit Road between Ekkamai and Phra Khanong BTS stations. The school offers a range of courses designed to strike the right balance of challenge and support so that every student makes exceptional progress, culminating in the majority of students following the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB). For more information, visit www.standrews.ac.th, call +662 381 2387 or email admissions@standrews.ac.th. Nord Anglia Education is the world’s leading operator of premium international schools, with over 34,000 students at 43 schools throughout the world. We are driven by one unifying philosophy - we are ambitious for our students, our people and our family of schools. Our schools deliver a high quality education through a personalised approach enhanced with unique global opportunities. Visit www.nordangliaeducation.com for more information.


INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL BANGKOK

Britain’s number one* co-educational school expands its campus for children up to 15 years old. *The Sunday Times (London), 2016 Brighton College Bangkok’s Prep School, opening in September 2017, will give every pupil a full and exciting school experience, the opportunity to achieve more than they thought possible and to develop the intrinsic motivation required to really ‘reach for the stars’. We aim to deliver outstanding learning opportunities through excellent and innovative teaching, where pupils are encouraged to become reflective learners who can create and develop their own targets. Beyond the classroom, Prep School pupils will be encouraged to explore new disciplines, skills and interests, to give everything a try, and, in doing so, learn to take risks and also to risk failure. It is our belief that we are enabling children to find their passions and those ‘things’ that really makes them tick. This excellent training for our pupils, teaching them the passion will thereafter feed into everything else that they fundamentals of exam technique and revision skills while do. Most importantly, at Brighton College Prep School, we providing a strong foundation for Senior School. ensure that pupils are able to do all of this, knowing that Throughout the Prep School our innovative curriculum they are in a safe, secure and friendly environment. includes a strong emphasis on wellbeing, which is woven Children join the Brighton College Bangkok Prep School in into all aspects of school life. It feeds into every single Year 4 where they will continue to have a Class Teacher for subject we teach and, as such, underpins all we do. the majority of their subjects. When they reach Year 5 Wellbeing at Brighton College focuses on developing pupils are ready for something different and, unlike many constructive, healthy and mindful habits, which in turn lead

other schools, specialist teaching is introduced across to creative thinking, resilience, empathy and respect. the curriculum. Children in Year 5 are at the right age to Our pupils will be busy; we want them to find out what they really benefit from this; their thirst for knowledge and love really enjoy doing and where their natural talents lie. They of learning makes them ready for the challenge. An will be encouraged to explore new disciplines, to take risks increased level of learning is evident across all subjects as and to know how it feels to conquer challenges. They learn children are stretched and challenged by teachers who are to prioritise and to manage their time while maximising enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable about their their own personal achievement in the classroom. chosen subjects.

Our expectations are high but children rise to these Also unique to the Prep School system is that, in Year 7, challenges and thrive on the opportunities that they are instead of becoming the youngest in the Senior School, awarded. We will celebrate all their successes, big and pupils begin two years at the top of the Prep School. They small, as our pupils grow and develop into motivated, become young leaders and role models, gaining compassionate and confident young people. enormously from this opportunity. The academic challenge continues as pupils prepare for their first external examinations and sit the Common Entrance (set by the Independent Schools Examination Board, UK). This is

SCHOLARSHIPS NOW AVAILABLE For more information contact the Admissions Team on +66 (0)2 136 7898


Meet Meet our our inspirational inspirational teachers, teachers, pupils pupils and and parents parents


Education

Tots and gadgets: How much is too much? by Krissie Enrado

“Teacher, does your phone have a video?” said my three year old Kayle. Today, over 1.8 billion people in the world use smartphones and tablets on a daily basis. This extensive use of technology seeps down to the youngest members of our society. Let's face it, our kids are digital natives. In the advent of e-learning, devices coupled with reliable internet connectivity, have been used as platforms to optimise learning in the classroom. Devices that deliver several types of stimuli to the learners all at once. This further increases a child’s frequency of usage of such devices. In this day and age that the world is getting flat – with reliable internet connectivity, knowledge work can be done by skilled workers anywhere whether synchronous or asynchronous. Our children are expected to acquire 21st century lifelong skills which include: critical thinking, creativity and innovation, communication and media literacy, collaboration and leadership, computing and digital proficiency, cross cultural and social fluency, career, civic and learning self-direction. It is known that digital devices help the acquisition of 21st century skills because with the use of such technologies, activities and apps that help hone

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skills are executed with ease in the classroom. But just how much gadget time is healthy for our kids? Although e-learning is becoming a mega trend that shapes the educational landscape nowadays, the utilisation of these devices in the classroom is slowly becoming the norm. Parents use these devices in the home to keep their children busy. Many times we see a child as young as 2, holding an iPad and playing games or watching videos with it. This means that aside from limiting actual interaction with their peers in school, by letting children use these devices at home, it further limits their social interaction with their siblings and parents. However, inasmuch as these devices help optimise classroom instruction and help us keep them busy within the day, we are compromising one vital aspect of their lives – social development. Bangkok Grace International School faces this with great care. BYOD is limited to classwork encouraging students to interact personally with one another in and out of the classroom. Teachers are likewise encouraged to engage students in hallway talks about anything under the sun. Kids

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spend almost 80% of their waking hours in school, each class integrates technology with some limits without compromising the quality of instruction. For example, in a Grade 1 class, teachers may allow use of gadgets for reading class but when the bell rings for break time all students run out of class to play and socialise amongst their peers. This fosters a lot of intangible benefits making students grow in their interest with one another as well as explore the world around them. Besides, when children are taught the basic concept of a circle, visual pictures can help imagination but having to hold an actual object that is of the shape will have more lasting effect in their retention. A child’s interpersonal skills, poise and social competence are dependent on their interaction with their peers. Since the use of most electronic gadgets, like the ones mentioned earlier, is relatively solitary by nature, it is highly likely that children will tend to develop “electronic friendships” with their devices rather than actual people. This poses a threat in their social development as individuals. They may be savvy in communicating through chat or email, since they are highly exposed to such activities, but they will tend to be aloof when they are asked to mingle with people in a group or deliver an extemporaneous speech in front of the entire student body. Missing out in developing essential social skills will highly impact their lives as adults, practically since most jobs tend to kick off with interviews and once they land jobs, in any industry at that, they will have to work and coordinate with other people. In our school, we value the holistic growth of young children. We embrace the fact that the children we are teaching today no longer learn in the same way we were taught yesterday, we embrace their nature as digital natives by employing e-learning techniques in our classroom instructions, but we pay careful regard of their development as social beings. Exposing our students to play is very vital at such a young age. Through this they get to learn verbal and nonverbal interaction with their peers, their bodies become supple and healthy, they learn how to deal with conflict, and they learn how to deal with losses and rise up from them. We expose them to tasks and activities that will enable them to learn teamwork, cooperation and

collaboration with their peers in their corresponding grade levels as well as their schoolmates in the other levels. With this, they get to learn how to interact with different types of individuals with much eloquence and social grace. We let them do metacognitive activities that enable them to reflect about theories, how it translates in their lives as children and encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences with their peers. This makes them become reflective individuals at such a young age, which helps them understand themselves better. As a mom and educator, I believe that a child’s development should be holistic. It is imperative to sharpen the mind, for it serves as the discerning faculty in our lives as humans. It is important to shape the body, for it is the machine that enables one to be a mechanism of change in this world. But most of all, it is essential to hone the heart. As impressionable as young kids are and with the type of influences that they have around, a heart rooted in the word is their best weapon to the threats of this world. We aim that every child that goes under our care will soon become individuals with competent and critical minds, with compassionate and committed hearts who will be agents of change in this world.


FEATURES

Superwoman by Ravit El-Bachar Daniel

Superwoman: A woman who fulfills her many roles with apparently superhuman efficiency. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition

I've came across several Superwomen during the time I have been living in Thailand, and I keep having the honour to meet more of them every now and then. I have decided to dedicate a regular section for them - to bring their story, give them a little praise, and let all our readers get some inspiration.

Layla Shaw - designed by nomadic life

She had to decline an offer from the late Franca Sozzani of Vogue who was impressed with her African designs; Accessories designer by passion, and expat by destiny, life took Layla Shaw to interesting places around the world, where she came across rare materials that inspired her designs. Moving to Thailand was her 8th relocation since leaving her home country Bosnia-Herzegovina. And it doesn't seem to be the last one. Her motto is to live each day to the fullest. She surely does. “My childhood stopped early and abruptly when the war started in my home country of Bosnia-Herzegovina”, says Layla Shaw. “I had to grow up overnight living and

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working in a hospital in a city under siege. Since everyday required another survival story, I am driven now by a thirst for life and desire to live each day to the fullest, as I know from experience that each day we have with loved ones is a precious gift”. Layla, celebrated 40 this year, still sometimes looks like a teenager, and definitely has the lively youth energy – maybe as a compensation for the lost teenage years. She is all out and about, knows everyone and everything that is going on in the city; she won't miss any social/charity/ cultural event; she knows the best spots to shop, eat and hangout. If you get to know her, you will immediately think she is a veteran Bangkokian. Who could have imagined that she arrived to Thailand only 6 months ago? A quick look at her apartment – with the extensive collection of antiques and artworks from all around the world – gives a glimpse to her fascinating nomadic life. Layla is definitely what you will call an 'experienced expat'. Following her husband's work, she lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uganda (twice), India, USA, Botswana and now Thailand. In some countries they lived more than once, and in some - for only a short period of time. Therefore she has learned to settle down and get involved in a new place in no time. What takes other people several years – takes her a few weeks. Within couple of months – her social and professional network in Bangkok seems to be larger than that of many other expats I've known in the city. How did your nomadic journey start? I met my husband in my home country, Bosnia, when I was working for the World Bank and he was working for an humanitarian NGO. As he spoke perfect Bosnian language

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"Bag Design by Layla (Africa days)"

“ It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default ”

and was helping with translation, I was sure he was a local guy. I couldn't be so wrong. We moved later to his home country - the US - and then abroad from country to country following his his work. What motivates you in life? After moving so many times, I realised we try to condense a lifetime of country specific experiences and friendships into a few years while we are there. I am driven by a desire to immerse myself into local cultures, languages,

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cuisine, cultural traditions, art and design scenes. I want to see as much of each country as possible and to get to know people from all walks of life. The end result is that we truly call each place we have lived home. I’ve always sought out opportunities to get involved in volunteer and fundraising projects to help the communities we live in. From raising breast cancer awareness to organising art shows and gala auctions to raising funds to support local orphanages, I love to devote my time and talents to helping others. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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FEATURES

What brought you into the world of design? Design was always my passion and I find inspiration in everything around me, especially in rare materials and art forms discovered on global nomadic voyages. I see art in African Kitenge prints, East African Ankole cow horn, fish skin, hand block printed Indian textiles and uniquely cut semi-precious stones. I am currently obsessed with Thai silk. What are you proud of? I am proud of the unique designs I have created through what I call my 'expensive hobby', while teaching single mothers in Africa tailoring skills so they could make a living with donated sewing machines. It was rewarding to see this work acknowledged by the late Franca Sozzani, former editor of Italian Vogue, who shared my passion for the huge potential for fashion and for development around Africa. However, I am most proud of my best designs …. my two boys, aged 8 and 15. They continue to be 'work in progress', but they remind me every day of my success. Perhaps inspired by his Mom’s use of recycled materials in creating handbags in Africa, my eldest son recently launched a Bangkok based non-profit called Rescued Glass, for which he collects bottles from bars and restaurants and turns them into useful and beautiful household items such as drinking glasses, vases, candleholders and soap dispensers. You always seem so busy with many activities and tasks. What is your 'secret'? Do you take some time off? The key to successfully juggling the responsibilities of motherhood and being a spouse with finding time to create

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new designs, volunteer, and keep up with Bangkok’s many social events, is developing great organisational skills. As we all need some time off, to pamper myself, I love a good Thai massage as well as making time for yoga and reiki sessions. I also love jumping on a boat and heading down to the flower market to surround myself with exquisite colours, scents and textures. Since you are obviously an experienced expat, please share your top tips for other women who relocate to a foreign city. As I have now moved across various countries and continents eight times, I’ve gained some experience when it comes to maximising the nomadic lifestyle. The key is to

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do your homework and research your new city and country before you arrive. This involves networking and using social media – things I’ve learned to do well. My husband jokes that I become a “social cyber-stalker” as I create a network of friends and contacts even before we arrive in a new city. Reach out in advance. If you have children in schools, contact PTA coordinators. If you plan to join a book club, a professional women’s organisation, or to volunteer your talents and time with a charity organisation, find them online and let them know you are coming and want to get involved. Sign up for events so that you are on track to get to know people just as your plane hits the ground. Depending on your children’s and spouse’s interests, look up activities and clubs you can sign up for even before you get there. Life gets super busy after arrival with unpacking and settling the family, so advanced research into where you want to live, social activities, etc., really helps me and my family get settled immediately so we can more fully immerse ourselves in our new home. What worked for us was joining the InterNations forum and reserving our spots in advance for their Bangkok events, before we arrived, so that we had a social agenda as soon as we landed. LinkedIn too proved to be helpful in building our network. You are not a shy person and you are usually an open book. But still - who is Layla that not everyone knows? Even though I might occasionally come off as a 'dragon lady', I am deeply committed to relationships and friendships and have a strong desire to please and make people happy. Therefore I tend to give a lot of myself to people, even though we may have just met. This may seem unusual to people used to keeping other especially new acquaintances at arm’s length. And I am also a strong believer in the importance of uniqueness and madness. As Robin Williams used to say “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” What or who inspires you? I have always been inspired by the words of JK Rowling who said “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default”. Therefore I have never been shy at trying my hand at new things, sometimes with great success … sometimes not so much … but I always have fun anyway and learn from such experiences. Even after losing my childhood to the war in Bosnia, I have never seen myself as a victim but rather as a survivor and a fighter trying make the world a better place with everything I do. Another major inspiration to me has been Michelle Obama through the power and grace she displayed during

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"Bag Design by Layla (Africa days)"

her eight years in the White House, and the many causes she so passionately supported. Where do you see yourself in ten years from now? As a girl during the war, there were times I truly thought I would never survive. Since then, I really do live in the present rather than dream about the future. Of course, through my travels I have discovered a lot of places I hope to revisit and spend more time in, but for now I look forward to exploring more the social, art and design scenes of both Bangkok and Southeast Asia as a whole, while also getting to know new friends. This is the first place we have lived where I have not lined up a job before arrival, so I am focusing on things I have always wanted to pursue including a certification in life coaching, advanced levels of reiki and yoga, and, of course, creating new designs inspired by Thailand. Stay tuned.

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ArtS and Culture

Meet the Artist: The irrepressible charm of Sonia Hamza by Rianka Mohan

It was a warm weekday evening at the press event for Galleries Night when I espied a lithe and lovely woman sporting a beguiling black dress with a versatile shawl and cool black flats that I instantly craved. Meet Sonia Hamza, a French Moroccan visual artist who is in Thailand as part of Project 189, an artist residence programme. She had two shows in February of this year - the first, a photography exhibition ‘Passe-moi le Ciel', which ran from 3-5 February as part of Galleries Night;

and the second, an almost month long installation at the Soy Sauce Factory called ‘Nippon Kiss’, a multi-media exploration of her experience in Japan.

Sonia’s experiences in Japan also led her to create a series entitled ‘Les Couleurs de Tôkyô’, which was highlighted by Slideluck (a global platform presenting diverse perspectives on art, culture, food, and music) in Rome, Italy, and further selected to be showcased in Varanasi, India. In June 2016, she won an EU bursary award and was invited to Lisbon to present her work for the Flâneur project, an European photography project focused on city and contemporary photography. How did you become an artist? I was born in Paris to a Moroccan father and a French mother and I currently live and work near Paris. I would say that I have been a full time artist since 2013 although I studied photography at the Duperré School and further went on to obtain an Applied Art degree at Central Saint Martins in London. However after that I switched gears and trained and worked as a fashion designer being deeply interested in textiles, colour, and pattern. Photography continued to remain an important part of the process as I explored various shapes and visuals to inspire my unique designs. During my art residency in 59 Rivoli (a famed historic building in Paris devoted to art), I experimented with textile sculptures, paintings and photography.

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“I was mesmerised by the clouds and I could not stop taking pictures.� I decided to focus on photography after a stay in Japan, an experience which gave me a lot of material to express myself about universal and sensitive issues such as love, cultural differences and the various (mis)understandings that can occur between people. I primarily work on subjects connected to my personal experience to give my work honesty and then I try to enlarge the theme.

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How did you come to be in Bangkok? Thailand is a real source of inspiration for me. I first came to Bangkok in March 2015 after having exhibited at the Yangon photo festival in Myanmar. I fell in love with the aura emanating from the temples and the unique architecture, which is just as intricate and detailed as in Morocco. I was hoping for an opportunity to return and express my personal emotions through photography. Coincidentally, the year after, I met a Thai photographer who introduced me to the artist-in-residence in Bangkok with Project 189 at the time. Intrigued, I then contacted the founder, Ekua Yankah, and after a meeting in Paris, she offered me the chance to return as their resident artist. What was your show here about? My first show, a photographic series called “Passes-moi le ciel” (Pass me the sky), was based on my work here, which really began on the plane while flying to Bangkok last November. I was mesmerised by the clouds and I could not stop taking pictures. When I suddenly saw a rainbow, I took it as a sign of good luck coming my way. It felt auspicious and I felt blessed. I have since retained my fascination with the sky over Thailand, made all the more poetic by the panoramic views of the Chao Phraya river from my room in Chinatown. I see the winter sky in Bangkok as a theatre, full of comedies and drama. Cloud gazing has become a daily ritual during my time here and it is that, which I have incorporated into my art. What is your creative process like? Is it the same each time or does it vary? What inspires you? I love to get lost in a city and discover places by chance. I take hundreds of photos on the streets on impulse. I need tons of material before I know what my subconscious is attracted to and then from this, I see subjects emerging - some more absorbing than others. Then I follow my

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heart while editing. This time though the city was not the only character in my pictures; it was joined by the sky who was the leading actor and in my heart, reflected the pulse of the city. I could see it everywhere, even reflected in the new high rise buildings. Through the clouds, I see the smiling and peaceful side of the Thai people and sometimes, I get a glimpse of their passionate temper. What is one of your favourite pieces of art - your own or someone else's? Which artist do you most relate to? My favourite pieces of art are made by nature but if I have to choose a human creation, I would say Hot Spot by Mona Hatoum. The French conceptualist, installation artist and photographer,

Sophie Calle, was who gave me the confidence as an artist to explore my own feelings and express them through art. Your favourite place in Bangkok so far? The Pink condo in Chinatown where I took pictures of the sky day and night and the surrounding areas. What are you working on next? I am trying finish the last embroidered portrait, which is part of my long term project Nippon Kiss. It is bigger than the others so it takes much longer. In April, I have been invited to explore Torres Vedras in Portugal through my pictures as I did last June in Lisbon.

Rianka Mohan moved to Bangkok last year from New York, which she called home for 15 years. She spent 13 years on Wall Street, 10 as an investment banker before taking a career break to pursue writing. She has two kids aged 8 and 4. Rianka is Expat Life’s Art and Culture editor. Please contact Rianka with any arts or cultural events or profiling. rianka.elbkk@gmail.com

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At KIS International School in Bangkok, Thailand all students can shine. The midsize, caring community allows KIS students to be confident and to be appreciated as an individual, with unique dreams and strengths. The school is a full IB school, offering the International Baccalaureate Programmes for all age groups (IB Primary Years Programme, IB Middle Years Programme and IB Diploma), ensuring an academically rigorous curriculum that not only prepares students to be successful at university, but also teaches important life skills. KIS, it’s all about Knowledge, Inspiration and Spirit. Check out the students’ videos to learn more about their passion www.kis.ac.th

Tel: +66 (0) 2274 3444 Email: admissions@kis.ac.th

“A better future starts with one person who cares about a better world.” Fran, Grade 10, designed a sustainable building for his personal project.


Expat Stories

London Mami by Lakshmi Ramaswami

Strange as it reads, that is what she was called, my grandmother. I called her Thathi. She was a tall, striking woman, in a traditional silk madisaar,(traditional South Indian 9 yard sari), diamonds twinkling on her ears and both nostrils, a mane of pure silver, imperial bearing and a piercing stare. Of course, she hid a loving heart …. deep within. She hated any and all displays of weakness. Resourceful, a hard worker and a strategic thinker, she was a pure management genius. Uneducated, she could only sign her name in Tamil, she often quipped, “Had I an education, Indira Gandhi may not have been the only Indian woman Prime Minister”, Knowing my Thathi, it was no idle comment, she meant every word. She could manage anything, anywhere … with her zero English, Tamil accented meagre Hindi she was a fixer! Supreme confidence was her passport. None would dare mess with her. If we wanted sequins for craft at school or that dreaded political map of India at school tomorrow, at 8pm in the night; she would frogmarch us to the shop 15 minutes away, and ensure the shopkeeper gave it to us, before his shutter came down …. the talking to, would be after. Thathi would not abide rudeness or any kind of public misbehaviour, she was always the first to stop and speak out and fire the life out of the offender, be it a policeman or a queue breaker or God forbid, a Best (Bombay’s public bus service) driver who did not wait till she boarded the bus! She used the public buses in Bombay even at the age of 75, comfortably and happily. She chose to do so. She was unflappable. My friend once, brought his dog over to our house, a big ugly boxer, ironically named

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Cleopatra, I took one look, and rushed into the bedroom of our one bedroom Bombay apartment. My Thathi sat down, made my friend sit, got Cleopatra to sit, conducted an interrogation; was Cleo vegetarian? Was she potty trained? Why did she slobber? Why this foreign name when so many Indian names were far better. And then called out to me, stating this poor creature won’t do anything. She was always rather proud that she was called London Mami, without ever having been there. It was my father, in 1963 who had managed to get a job in London and was living there. It represented so many things for her. She had a London connection … elevating her status in Matunga (South Indian dominated area of Bombay); it obviously meant her son spoke English and was earning in Pounds Sterling; She was often triumphant about the name, almost as if she snatched it from under the noses of the British! She earned and owned the sobriquet and revelled in it. She was outspoken, stood ramrod straight always, had

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an opinion on everything and always did precisely as she had planned. She never bore any injustice to herself or anyone she knew … we grandchildren were petrified if any one picked a fight with us, when she was around. That kid and the parents would be lectured on values and behaviour. Fiercely proud, with no education at all, she knew that she was worthy of anything she dreamt of. My mother was a beautiful, timid, young widow, bringing up my brother and I, my Thathi lived with us and helped us all out. One of the neighbours, a bit nosy, would see my mother being helped into the public bus by a male friend. She had the nerve to ask my Thathi who it was. My Thathi, gave it to her, explaining clearly that it was her daughter in law, smart and capable and she cared not one bit what anyone thought. She never offered any explanations … just shut her up for good. Of course, she never told us any of this. But another neighbour told my mother what a champion my Thathi was. When I asked her about it … she said it is always your life, and you are the boss … don’t take this from anyone. On many a day, she brought our lunch to school, by taxi because our dabbawallah (lunch delivery man) hadn’t shown up. She would also wait till we finished, with a good stare. That was always the fastest meal, with not a morsel wasted! She would not tolerate it. My mother chose to send us to one of the best schools in Bombay, a bit privileged it was, but many walked to school with us, or used public transport and some arrived in chauffeur driven foreign cars. The school had a lunch room where we ate and there were benches outside in common areas too where we could also eat. One day, I walked out of class to see my Thathi plonked on one of the benches, all set up with our lunch. I gawked and said politely (one could not argue with her) that this wasn’t our place … we sat elsewhere. Meanwhile behind her was a posh mom, with her designer handbag and huge sunglasses looking very stressed and asking for my Thathi to move over …. because her kids (one of them is a top Bollywood actor now) sat there usually. There was no assigned seating it was first come first serve basis. We were embarrassed and I begged in my native tongue, to be allowed to change our place. My Thathi walked up to that lady and in her poor accented Hindi asked “Do you see

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any names printed on the table?”; the flustered lady replied, “ No”. Thathi then proclaimed “I thought so. It is a school and it’s for everyone to use. I am sure you agree” and she added, “If you like we could always ask the Principal!” The poor lady had no choice, and we had to sit there and eat our lunch … heads bowed. Then I was embarrassed with my 9 yard sari clad grandmother who spoke no English and poor Hindi. Many years later, I marvelled at how clear her concepts were, and how she never backed down and always made her case. Always proud of herself, she believed in only being herself. Never a hair out of place, dedicated to her routines. I think of her every day, and am so proud to be her granddaughter. Today I miss her brand of feminism (I can’t imagine what else it was). Know that you are the best and accept no less. We secretly called her the terrorist. She believed in herself and in what she knew was right, she never accepted anything else. That is how she brought us up to be. With no education, life was her teacher, she always took control of her life and never sat back or cribbed. She had the courage of her convictions … and knew right from wrong. She called a spade a spade. She knew how to hold her head high, no matter what. Supremely resourceful, she feared no one and nothing. She was loud and she loved us fiercely. Actually, the word, fierce suited her. She would have revelled in it.

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Food and Beverage

The coffee culture and why it can be good for you! by Margaret Johnston

I have been on and off coffee my whole life switching between green tea to herbal teas then back to coffee, then it goes around again. Being a holistic health educator and herbalist I do know that green tea has a lot of antioxidants and such and all about the herbal teas, staying away from even green tea at night due to the caffeine content. Coffee is prepared from roasted beans that are seeds of the Coffea plant. Coffea is a native plant of Africa and has been exported around the world where there are now over 70 countries, mostly in the equilateral regions of the world, as one can see in my map painting. The Arabica and the robusta are the two most commonly grown. In the 15th century it has been shown that the Sufi Tribes of Yemen were the first to roast and brew the beans in a similar way we still do today. In the 16th century, Turkey, Persia and North Africa traded and spread it throughout the world, including

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Europe and the Americas where there is a distinct “Coffee Culture” and it is almost like the Japanese way of Tea Ceremonies, the conditioning of that first lovely cup of coffee in the morning, and the routine that goes with it. In the 17th century of England, there were coffee houses called "penny universities" because with one penny, or should I say pence, one could go to a coffee house and have an interesting stimulating conversation with friends. Expats all over the world always feel at home when they have a good coffee no matter where they are and with the many ways it is prepared these days from expresso to lattes etc., it is a joy when one finds a good coffee café they can return to. It is interesting to note that the word “coffee” has many theories where the term/label comes from. The Ottoman Turkish called it “kahve” and the Italian’s “caffe’”. The Arabic “qahwah” was a reference to wine which is called “qahiya” and means "to lack hunger". Coffee and its caffeine content tends to suppress one’s appetite for a bit. The Proto-Central Semetic root q-h-h means “dark”

and the word "Khat" (which I heard a lot when living in Cape Town, South Africa) is a stimulant for strength used by Africans, Yemans and Etheopians! Wherever the word coffee comes from, it is certainly known throughout the world! Thailand is one of the top coffee producers in the world as of 2014 and the country is ranked 3rd among coffee producing countries of Asia with robusta coffee being 99% of its production. King Bhumibhol Adulyadei, in the 1970s, began many coffee projects to help local communities grow crops to bring income to replace the opium fields. This allowed Thailand to become a major exporter of coffee in 1976. Most of the north of Thailand grows Arabica beans and the south grows robusta beans. It is in the southern part of Thailand that there is the greatest amount of coffee

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production, 80,000 tons of robusta. In the northern parts of Thailand there is about 500 tons of Arabica grown. In the north, Burma, Thailand and Laos are considered “The Golden Triangle”, the coffee grown here is grown at an elevation of 800 metres (2,600 ft) to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) and is very profitable for the hill tribe people and is often of an organic level. Being here in Laos I have some friends that run coffee shops that use only organic and good quality hill country grown coffee. I do confess to being a coffee snob and I am not disappointed here in Laos nor have I been in Thailand! In 2015, in Thailand, there are two types of coffee that received “protected designation of origin (PDO)" for both Doi Tung and Doi Chang coffee. This status is equal to the labelling of “Champagne”, “Parma Ham” and “Bordeaux”.

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Now that I have done a light history on the coffee plant and the Thailand coffee status, let me explain why you should not feel guilty about that cup of coffee! The liver benefits very much from black coffee moving through it and cleansing it. I even do coffee enemas at times if I am doing an extreme cleanse, luke warm water of course! Drinking coffee is medicinally best (sorry caramel latte lovers and frapachino junkies) if it is black. Coffee lowers liver enzyme levels and lowers the risk of liver cancer by 40-60%. Cirrhosis of the liver from alcohol abuse can be lowered by 22% if coffee is consumed next day and staying off alcohol for a few days afterward, 2-3 cups a day is recommended. It has been shown to benefit people with Type 2 diabetes, even decaffeinated coffee, which shows that it isn't only the caffeine that is acting upon your body

in a healthy way. The risk of depression and suicide (especially for woman for some reason) has been shown to be decreased among coffee drinkers, a lowered risk of Alzheimer's disease, protection against Parkinson's and heart disease. There are many studies done in top major universities but I am just writing about the outcome, this isn't a scholastic article but if interested to know more there is plenty of proof of what I am writing out there to read. One of the most interesting things I learned writing this article was that coffee drinkers have stronger DNA strands. The white blood cells of coffee drinkers have far less DNA strand breakage. There is also a lower risk of Multiple Sclerosis and colorectal cancer. Adding to the list is; less gout issues with men, improved longevity, protected eye/retinal damage, cavity and melanoma prevention. There EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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are more antioxidants in one cup of coffee than in a small serving of blueberries, oranges and raspberries. I say this knowing that there are other wonderful antioxidants in these fruits that coffee doesn't have so there is no substitution here, just all in moderation! The antioxidants in coffee also deflate most forms of inflammation reducing disorders like cardiovascular disease. I will discuss caffeine a bit here since that is what the main desired outcome of coffee drinkers focus on, the stimulant, the mental "high" and the feeling of being ready to get on with the day or cure that mid-afternoon "slump". Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the methylxanthine class. It is interesting to note that it is the world's most consumed psychoactive "drug". Caffeine reversibly blocks the action of adenosine on its receptor so prevents the onset of drowsiness which is induced by adenosine. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is also stimulated. It can cause insomnia if taken too late in the day and pregnant woman should stick to herbal teas in general. If one is a habitual coffee drinker and decides to "get off it" for a while, there can be some withdrawal symptoms like headaches, irritability and drowsiness. I usually feel this for about 2-3 days as I go back to green tea/herbal mixtures for 3-6 weeks then I just have to go

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back to my coffee, but everyone has to decide for themselves how to moderate their life and feel the best they can within their own parameters! I would like to "shout out" to some of my friends here in Luang Prabang, Laos, that run very excellent coffee shops if you make it to Laos for a trip, visit these coffee cafe's; Bounsuay (Apple) Vongsouvanh at Mekong Coffee Lounge 1 (where I painted the world map) and Todd Moore along with Derik Smith at Saffron Coffee. I did a small interview with both Apple and Derik, these were the questions: 1. What interested you in the coffee business? 2. What is the most fun part about running a boutique coffee cafÊ? 3. Have you experienced some good coffee in Thailand and if so, where? Derik Smith of Saffron Coffee (saffroncoffee.com) 1. I’ve been making espresso coffee for 20 years. I was interested in working for Saffron Coffee because it sources all coffee through a direct farming partnership with over 780 hill tribe families, each with their own micro plot of Arabica coffee. 2. Three most fun parts: working with our awesome Lao staff, meeting and talking with travellers from all over the world, and constantly aiming to serve customers with the best Arabica coffee in northern Laos. 3. Ristr8to, Chiang Mai.

Bounsuay (Apple) Vongsouvanh of Mekong Coffee Lounge 1 (facebook.com/apple.vongsuvanh) 1. S  outheast Asia including Lao, has very good quality coffee beans, that is why Mekong Coffee Lounge promotes and serves what we found in Lao (Lao coffee bean) including my love and passion of coffee. Luang Prabang is an Unesco World Heritage Site so the number of tourists are increasing every year. 2. W  e are happy to serve customers coffee from real Lao coffee beans, the most fun part is to promote our Coffee Latte Art. 3. R  achadumdeun Coffee Shop in Chiang Mai. So, it looks like Chiang Mai has a hold of the coffee scene in Thailand! I am in Laos until the end of February and am moving on to other pastures however I will be in Thailand by the time this April 2017 article is out and I look forward to seeing some old and making some new friends back in Thailand. Enjoy your coffee and know you can always be good to your body, soul, spirit and feed your mind at the same time!

Margaret Elizabeth Johnston ND is a holistic health educator, botanical illustrator and artist. She enjoys living in different cultures around the world for long periods of time to immerse herself in the way of life there and to learn, paint and write about the local medicinal plants. After getting enough paintings together she puts on her own expo's along with some fun travel stories so she can share what she has learned. It seems adding wall mural paintings to her repertoire may be the next thing coming! You can follow her journeys, see her paintings and enjoy her art and health blogs on: www.mejcreations.com

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Health and fitness

Picking the right yoga retreat by Lisa Donaldson – find her on Instagram @LisaTheRoadWarrior

Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular way to destress and keep physically fit. In the US alone, it is estimated that nearly 36 million people practice on a regular basis. There are so many types of yoga, it's unfair to categorise them all together. I'm a firm, believer that yoga is for every body and if you haven't found the kind that resonates with you, don't give up, keep looking! My own yoga journey started nearly 10 years ago in Los Angeles. I initially wanted it to keep my body healthy, but soon found the mental benefits as well. I went through phases with yoga, sometimes moving away from practicing, but always finding my way back to the mat when life got tough or challenging. I needed an outlet where I could quiet my mind and focus on the practice, not the drama around me. Practicing yoga on a regular basis

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quietly starts to permeate beyond the physical into other aspects of life. It makes sense as some of its core principles involve self-respect, observing your thoughts with no judgement, peace and universal kindness. All honourable and desirable qualities in my book! Also more in vogue lately, in line with the 'wellness' trend, has been attending yoga retreats as a way to destress, reassess life and find the

elusive work-life balance. About 5 years ago I took my first ever solo trip to a week long retreat at a Shivananda ashram in the Bahamas. It was eye opening and scary to show up without knowing anyone, but so much more rewarding at the end when I not only survived 4 hours of yoga each day, but thrived, made new friends and loved the experience. Last month, I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training certification in a colourful shala in South Goa. This was another solo trip; I've become quite fond of them now. Over 50 hours of yoga later I am certainly more bendy, sun kissed, relaxed and centred than when I first arrived. I believe strongly in the powers and benefits of yoga as well as the importance of solo travel. Combining the two together seems perfectly logical to me as a retreat provides some structure and guidance while still allowing for personal activities and unplanned adventures. I see how women change into the beautiful, independent, powerful creatures they were always meant to be when empowered by solo travel and making decisions for only one person themselves! But before booking your tickets and jumping headfirst into your yoga immersion, there are a few core characteristics in addition to the

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obvious (how long, where in the world and budget) that you need to consider when researching and ultimately selecting where to go. 

YouTube videos to get a sense of what you can expect. There's not one that better or worse than the other, but everyone is different!

• Yoga style - every kind of yoga has different qualities and expectations. For example, Shivananda yoga involves a lot of meditation and chanting. Ashtanga yoga a lot of vinyasas. Yin yoga a lot of relaxing and holding poses for a very long time. Make sure to do the research on the specific style the shala teaches, even watch some

• Get ready physically - the lifestyle at the yoga shala will likely be very different from home … isn't that what attracts us to the idea in the first place! While a week of skipping meat, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine and sugar sounds great on paper, it isn't a silver bullet that can magically cure a

lifetime of bad diet and inactivity. So start to make small changes before the retreat so it's not a total shock to your body. And of course practice the kind of yoga you'll be doing as much as possible so you aren't bedridden with sore muscles! But saying that though, there's really no way to fully prepare for the intensity as muscles, ligaments and bones will be put under strange new strains. I had bruises on my hands from the sheer number of vinyasas last month and a jammed little toe after a miscalculated transition.

“ Over 50 hours of yoga later I am certainly more bendy, sun kissed, relaxed and centred than when I first arrived ”

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• Know the limitations - what is allowed and banned at the retreat? Some places are religious ashrams while others are a loose, open community. Know what you are looking for and don't be afraid to ask! For example, my yoga teacher training in India did not allow alcohol in the premise, but didn't mind if students drank or smoked outside. In the Bahamas ashram, alcohol was strictly prohibited and it was looked down upon if anyone was caught sneaking back at night drunk.

That wasn't what I had in mind for my holiday, so it was a good thing we were never caught! Two very different environments and experiences! • Research - To start, take a look at bookyogaretreats.com to get a look at the many different options available in this big beautiful world. There you can narrow down by region, style, length, time, etc. Then, once you have focused on a region or a few specific studios, go check out the reviews on Trip

Advisor or any other booking site they are on. Read the reviews and see if any resonate with you. For my teacher training, I was looking for a place that was welcoming and easy to make friends, so I was looking for the reviews to specifically talk about that. Instagram is also a great way to see a place before you arrive. You can search the location and see other people's photos of the yoga shala, beach, jungle or city you are considering. Lastly, email the finalists and ask about their availability. The way they respond and compose the email will tell you a lot about what you should expect when you get there – I’m always looking for those who are nice, helpful, accommodating and informative. But perhaps the most important piece of advice I could give to someone on the fence would be to just do it! No one has ever come out of a yoga retreat a worse person than before they went in. Namaste!

Lisa Donaldson is originally from the US, Lisa moved to Asia in 2013 with work. Lisa has caught the travel bug and loves to explore and experience new things. Find out more about Lisa at lisatheroadwarrior.com/about/

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Yoga traditions by Alex Bannard

Alex explores the different yoga styles so you can find it easier to navigate through the class schedule to find the ideal approach for you. There can be no denying that yoga has become mainstream. And with that there comes recognition and acceptance of the enormous therapeutic benefits yoga provides from the physical to the mental and into the spiritual. But working out which style suits you best, especially if you are not entirely sure what's what can be daunting. So let's explore the fundamentals in the most popular yoga tradition: Hatha yoga This is an old system and relatively easy for beginners to access. It explores basic yoga postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) to bring peace to the mind and body sometimes used in preparation for meditation. It is generally slow, gentle and relaxed with the poses being big held deliberately and for longer than in other styles. You may not work up much of a sweat in this class but you will feel longer, looser and more relaxed.

Vinyasa yoga This is a flow style class whereby the instructor will lead you through one posture to the next continually, often linking the standing poses through sun salutations. It is a dynamic class synchronising the breath with the movement. No two classes are generally the same and you will work up a sweat and feel it. Ashtanga yoga Ashtanga yoga was bought to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s. There are 6 different series of poses, each of which are always practiced in the same order moving fluidly from pose to pose. It is typically physically challenging and fast paced and not really aimed at the beginner, unless everyone is starting at the same point together. Like Vinyasa every movement is linked to a breath. Bikram yoga This style of yoga was introduced around 30 years ago by Bikram Choudhury. Like Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga always follows the same sequence of poses. There are 26 poses in Bikram practiced in an artificially hot room around 40 degrees centigrade with high humidity for 90 minutes. It is a physically demanding class where you will sweat like never before. Like marmite, you either love it or you hate it. It was designed to emulate conditions in India where yoga originated and it is claimed to flush out toxins. Choudhury himself is a controversial character, living a luxurious lifestyle

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funded by the success of his Bikram brand of yoga and suing anyone who dares to use the name and not present the exact 26 poses in the correct order. Thus, many studios will offer hot yoga where the conditions in the room are hot and humid but the sequence of poses is different in each studio. Iyengar yoga 'Invented' by B.K.S. Iyengar one of yoga's original and authentic yogi's. A typical class involves the poses being held for much longer than in other traditions to intensely explore the subtleties of each asana and pay attention to the foundation and alignment of each pose. Props are often used such as blocks, belts, blankets and chairs to accommodate individual's limitations, tightness, injuries, etc., so that the student can move into a posture gradually and with precision. As such this is a great choice if you have a chronic condition or injury. Anusara yoga John Friend developed this style relatively recently in 1994. It is a deeply spiritual practice based on the belief that within us we are all filled with intrinsic goodness, we all hold our own Buddha nature. Physical poses are used to open the hearts of students allowing their grace and goodness to shine through. Classes are sequenced utilising Friend's universal principles of alignment and are a vigorous workout for both the mind and body categorised around the 3As: attitude, alignment and action. Power yoga This style is not dissimilar to Ashtanga whilst accessing elements of Vinyasa flow yoga too but it is not a determined series of poses, so each teacher will devise their own sequence. It is a more accessible style of yoga to most in the west than Ashtanga which is often seen as a more 'purist' style and is popular in many studios. In this class you will work hard and feel it. It is not so spiritual.

Kundalini yoga Kundalini yoga repeats movements, dynamic breathing techniques, chanting and meditation designed to awaken the energy at the base of the spine allowing it to navigate through each of the seven chakra's. Introduced to the west by Yogi Bhajan this style of yoga is quite different to the others due to its repetitive focus on breathing techniques and energy flow in the body. Not for the faint hearted! Yin yoga A slower paced style of practice where each pose is held for several minutes, often 5 minutes or more. This passivity in itself can be quiet challenging especially if you are not used to holding poses for such times. It was founded in the late 1970s by Pauline Zink, a martial arts expert and I think the interesting thing is the link between martial arts and yoga, the mental discipline and flexibility necessary for both. Restorative yoga This is a gentle, passive, relaxing style of yoga. Students relax and release into a pose or a stretch with the support of blankets, bolsters and blocks in order to completely let go. Poses are typically held for 5 minutes at least. Despite the seemingly inactive approach, this style of yoga is actually fairly advanced and demanding. It can feel emotional to engage in one pose for an extended period. These classes are great if you are slightly injured and don't want to put your body through a more dynamic class as well as being a fabulous way to relax and soothe yourself after a stressful week. A restorative class can be as rejuvenating as, if not more so, than a nap. So now you are equipped with the right knowledge to go forth and practice, whether it be exploring a new genre or just feeling confident when perusing the timetable to try a class now you know vaguely what to expect.

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Bliss Body Pilates and fitness studio Bliss Body is more than just an alternative workout. Khun Rachawan Chongprasith, a sports aficionado and founder of Bliss Body said that her goal is provide access for her customers to be able to design their own learning experience through functional training supported by the specialised programmes they offer. This newly opened Pilates and fitness studio imported world class equipment from the US with maximal safety standards and cater to every individual’s physical goals. Their programmes are supervised by qualified coaches for you to Discover the perfect you. It offers full range of specialised categories of sport performance conditioning, weight loss, seniors (aged 60 years old and above) and children (aged 7-13 years old). At Bliss Body, what you will get as part of the training is the following: • Body composition measurement including fat, muscle and lean body masses • A combination of customised functional training and Pilates programmes designed to suit individual needs • Nutritional consultation • Progress monitoring • Results follow up The benefits for physical health and body from the training are: • Improved posture • Increased muscular strength, control and flexibility • Rehabilitation of joint or spinal injuries • Better physical coordination and more efficient functional movements • Development of a strong core - flat abdominals and a strong back • Improved sports performance • Boosts your brainpower • Promotes weight loss and a longer and leaner appearance • Better concentration • Stress management

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Current classes include: Bliss Core Power - a combination of bodyweight training and Pilates mat training which will challenge and train your core muscles Bliss Core Strength - Pilates reformer which will strengthen the core, tone and firm the muscles and result in good posture Bliss Booty Pump - for those who want to lift their booty and shed fats at the same time Bliss Fat Blast -. designed for those who want to get rid of excess fats while toning and strengthening the muscles at the same time MOTR which stands for More than a roller - a combination of a roller and a reformer. Each session includes cardio workout, Pilates, balance, strengthening the muscles and myofascial release. Private sessions include: Pilates mat, Pilates reformer; Pilates apparatus; CoreAlign; MOTR; Bodhi suspension; Stretching and Myofascial release; Functional training. Call now for a free trial Bliss Body is located in the heart of Bangkok on Sathorn Rama IV Road, level 5, Krits building with a convenient access of MRT - Lumpini, Exit 1, with space for parking. Opening: Monday-Saturday 8:30-20:30 and Sunday 9:00-18:00 Contact: 02 677 6889 Website: www.blissbodythailand.com Email: blissbodythailand@gmail.com Facebook: facebook.com/blissbodythailand Address: 1032/1-5 Soi Ngam Duphli, Sathorn soi 1 - Rama 4 Road, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120

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Chinese Medicine in Thailand, before and today by Nicole Sheldon

Thailand has one of the world’s largest settled and fully integrated Chinese populations, with 14% being of full Chinese descent and up to 40% of mixed Chinese-Thai descent. Along with this immigration into Thailand came Chinese Medicine. For the large part, until approximately a decade ago in fact, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) had been practiced by practitioners who studied in China and /or apprenticed in a family tradition as was the old way in China before the medicine became systematised and modernised in the 1950s. Chinese immigration to Thailand can be traced to the 13th century when Ayutthaya was Thailand’s capital and traders from China’s South (Fujian and Guandong provinces in particular) were welcomed. But it was in the last 200 years

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that the Chinese population surged after King Taksin aka The King of Thonburi (1767-1782), also a son of a Chinese immigrant, encouraged further immigration. Initially, only Chinese men immigrated to Thailand and inter-marriage with Thai women was common. Later, as Chinese women also immigrated to Thailand there were many families that were composed of Chinese on both sides and thus the cultural aspects that came with them from China, persevered. As someone who has studied TCM after it became modernised and integrated into the healthcare system, both in the US and in China, it is interesting to observe TCM here in Thailand. Much like many immigrant populations around the world, the culture that comes in a suitcase tends to be frozen in time. The original TCM doctors here came before it had even been systematised in China (ie pre-1950s). The last vestiges of these TCM doctors can be seen in their family herb shops that dot Bangkok in Yaowaraj, Bangrak, Yanawa, and Sampeng. As these shops are dying out with younger generations moving into other careers and interests, there has simultaneously been a resurgence in the integration of TCM into the Thai medical system. Approximately 10 years ago Hua Chiew Hospital opened up Hua Chiew University

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where one can study a full TCM degree (in Chinese and Thai) and there is now a TCM department in the Thai Ministry of Health which issues out licenses once a practitioner has both completed their degree and passed the national TCM board exams. The Thai Ministry of Health is intent on expanding the use of both Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Currently, 17% of the population utilises these modalities, and with an increasing number of insurance companies covering TCM (along with Thai social security) these numbers are expected to grow. The irony is as the small mom and pop shops seem to be a (currently) dying breed, the hospitals are bringing the medicine into the modern sphere as it has been practiced already for over 60 years in China. This will mean the medicine will improve with more options, higher quality herbs, more qualified and experienced practitioners, and ultimately more choice for the patient who doesn’t only want to go the way of the biomedical model for what ails them. I have worked in hospitals in New York City, Chicago, Beijing, and Chongqing as a TCM practitioner and have seen the potential there is to offer both biomedical and acupuncture/herbal/nutritional (the three main tenets of TCM) services to patients. Where biomedical doctors and TCM doctors can liaise with each other to find the right balance for a patient. When you go to a TCM doctor you will want to know the following: do they practice acupuncture, herbal medicine, and/or nutrition? TCM doctors can study only acupuncture or herbs (or both), and sometimes they do not focus on nutrition. Some will study all three, and take longer to graduate. Acupuncture works well as a general medicine but is at times not sufficient for more complex ailments involving internal medicine such as cancer, infertility, and chronic insomnia for example. However, in such cases of cancer and infertility you will want to have a balance between both biomedicine and TCM and each individual needs to find that right balance with their team of doctors. You want to go to a TCM practitioner who has studied a full degree which is anywhere between 4-6 years depending on their specialty. Seeing a TCM doctor who has only received a 3 month certification will often mean they cannot do more

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nuanced treatments beyond pain management, and this is only awarded to biomedical MDs. Often a TCM doctor will specialise in an area of interest much like a biomedical doctor, may it be gynaecology, neurology, or otherwise. Finding the right TCM doctor is as essential as when you go to a biomedical doctor. Currently, you can see TCM practitioners at Hua Chiew University, St Louis Hospital, and many of the private hospitals in Bangkok. There are also many smaller private clinics. For those that haven’t tried Chinese Medicine before and are interested this is what a visit to a doctor might look like: they will first lead you through a series of questions related to what you are coming to see them for, then they will take your pulse (part of the internal medical diagnosis where they can feel the state of your lungs, digestion, heart, liver and more), they will look at your tongue (also another diagnostic tool for internal medicine), and they may also palpate your abdomen or look at your nails, eyes, hair, skin, etc. Following this, once the practitioner has an idea of the diagnosis, they will select a series of points to needle all over your body using fine small needles which are almost painless if inserted gently. You will lay down on a bed with the needles will be inserted for up to 30 minutes while the needles do their work. The best way to look at this is to see each point as a key that is unlocking a specific physiological reaction that is triggered by a needle versus a pill. We have now accepted and grown into the idea of magic pill entering our body to correct wrongs but it is sometimes harder to see how a needle might illicit the same reaction (without the side effects), but that is what it is doing. There are points for headaches as there is aspirin, which is coincidentally based on salicylic acid which comes from the bark of a tree. If you have found you are hitting walls with your biomedical treatment and need to try a different angle, TCM may well be an option!

Nicole Sheldon specialises in TCM medicinal cooking and has a doctorate in Chinese Medicine. She has recently moved from Pattaya to Bangkok. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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FAMILY and RELATIONSHIPS

My ups and downs on internet dating by Daniel Sencier

Just 17 years old, I finally plucked up the courage to ask a girl out. She worked at ‘Marks & Spencer’, and there seemed to be a mutual attraction every time I walked past. Maybe it was just because I walked past so many times; unusual for a lad in the lingerie department! Anyway, she said yes, and I’ll never forget that feeling of sheer elation as I floated out of the store. The plan was 7pm that night, outside the ABC cinema, and I was there for 6.30, just to be safe. Sadly I was still there alone at 8.30, didn’t even get her name, and it was another year before I had that kind of courage again. Such was the pace of dating in the 1960s, before the internet changed everything. Roll forward to 2005, my wife had just left me, I’d been through the suicidal, heavy drinking, depressive phase, and was now ready to launch myself back into the stormy sea of relationships. However, as I quickly found out, nothing was going to be same for this, ‘new kid on the block’. You certainly didn’t hang around in shops anymore, the facial recognition cameras would highlight you to security and you’d be lifted fast. Nightclubs were out of the question, even if they let me in for the novelty of seeing me doing the ‘twist’. I started to wonder where guys like me could go to increase their chances of a ‘pick up’! A friend said that he’d been told to hang around the ‘ready meals’ section at Waitrose, where you can, “bag a better class of woman”. Another suggested

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B&Q on a Wednesday, discount day when all the helpless females flood in needing DIY advice. I’d have ended up doing freebies around the houses, but then that might have been fun, if not exhausting for a while! Then I discovered ‘internet dating’, and though it sounded like harmless fun, I was about to become a ‘serial dater’, addicted to love! I went with ‘Match.com’, because I knew a few youngsters who used it simply as a way of getting an instant

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partner, even for just that evening sometimes, a bit like ordering a takeaway. So I started by putting up a ten year old photo, and gave my age as ten years younger; they said everyone did that! If you think CVs are exaggerated, you can be anything on Match.com, but I was fairly honest, after all, I was looking for a relationship. I paid my fee, it wasn’t expensive, then like a new pin-up, I was out there live, waiting for my first ‘wink’. When you’re new on the site, you’re flagged up as such, and it’s like you’re fresh meat thrown into a shark pool. I went from famine to feast that same evening, wondering why I’d even considered the ready meal section just a week before. The next year would see me dating more women than in my whole life up to that point, but at what price?

My first date was the very next day, a 20 mile round trip, to meet with a lovely woman, all arranged in a very short email. What she hadn’t told me was that her husband had recently died, but it soon came up in conversation, a very awkward moment. She was very nice, but shouldn’t have been out dating so soon, she needed good friends at that time, not a quick replacement. I was polite, sitting with her for hours until I couldn’t take any more. I said I had a dog, and if I didn’t get home to feed her, she would start to shred the curtains in the house. That came easy as it happened to me years before. She offered to come back with me, told me she thought she might be falling in love with me, then didn’t stop calling for days. I found it rather traumatic, but it also taught me some valuable lessons, as to what not to do the next time. It’s a steep learning curve, because you really have no idea who you’re going to meet until they pop out in front of you. I also soon realised that statistically, I was going to reject a large amount of people, so had to develop a way of doing this with minimal pain to myself (and them). I’m not good at rejecting people. Is anyone? So if I didn’t like someone in the first few minutes, either because they had obviously lied about their age, their physical shape, their habits or whatever, I got them

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to reject me! How? I developed an armoury, which included: Telling them I had epilepsy and what to do if I started to fit. Telling them my mentally ill mother lived in the attic. Telling them I had been in prison recently, but would rather not talk about it until I got to know them better. Just simple things that would make me less attractive, and it worked. They rejected me and fairly quickly in most cases. Those I wanted to see again, of course had to want to see me again, and some didn’t, but that was alright, I never felt it was ever going to be one sided. A second date was very different, as it signalled from both sides that there was more to explore, and a second or third date could even end in going back for ‘coffee’. A few months in, this in itself became a big problem, because you now had a conveyor belt process and had to know where you were on that belt at any given time. New dates were coming on board weekly, second dates were sprouting up and subsequent dates were evolving too. The numbers were increasing, the addiction had started and the problems were compounding. When you date one person for a period of time, you start to remember things, but when there are up to a dozen at different stages in the process, inevitably you get them mixed up. Not just names, but what they like to eat, drink, about their families, likes and dislikes … inside you are screaming. I kept a notebook with details on each person, but this only helped a little, as I couldn’t refer to it when it was most needed. My last date, a wonderful Yorkshire girl, Beverley, was the end of the ‘internet dating’ line for me, and we are still happily married today. But even in the early days of our relationship, I was still winding down the ‘dating tidal wave’ that had built, often calling or texting her by the wrong name. I came clean; the stakes were too high! Yes, it’s a great way of meeting potential partners, after all, at least you know that everyone you meet is looking for someone too.

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Fashion and Beauty

Ageing gracefully by Phyllis Ansusinha

The ageing female body, the female body in general, is a complex machine that when treated right and constantly adjusted will drive like the car of your dreams.

It was well into her post-menopausal phase when Kristi found herself sitting in her OB-GYN’s office for her annual exam. Killing time as she waited for her doctor, she found herself browsing through the vast pamphlets of women’s health literature that adorned the wall. Breastfeeding, NO! Been there, done that. Pregnancy? That was certainly no longer an option she thought sadly, that ship had sailed too early and now that she had a second chance at love it would have been wonderful to have

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shared a child with her new husband. Birth control, no longer needed. Well that wasn’t so bad because being able to freely make love with no worries had great advantages. Menopause. There it was. She already knew what to expect as she had been through it, but this, this new piece of information had her very alarmed. She paced the floor with new anxiety, what the hell! Kristi had started her perimenopause phase after the unexpected loss of a pregnancy that had left her with only part of her reproductive system intact. In her 30s, the doctors refused to believe this could be a possibility but Kristi knew, she knew her body, it’s little nuances and how she reacted emotionally, physically, it was different. It started with odd hot flashes from the bottom of her feet, moved on to 10 years of night sweats so intense she would have to change the soaking sheets and bathe in the middle of the night. Every single night! Her emotions had been

all over the place as her oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone decided it was an ongoing symphony of Mozart, Beethoven, AC/DC and the soft sounds of Lionel Richie that rotated every 2 minutes. Insomnia, racing heart, blood pressure sudden changes, uncontrolled cravings, weight gain, hair loss, crazy hair with a mind of its own, skin that was beginning to dull, topped with an active lifestyle, active children and still a desire to be desired kept her seeking answers through a sleepy haze. Finally, 12 years after her initial inquiry of her hormonal status her doctors had taken notice and yes, based on her oestrogen level, she had finally crossed that dismal finish line. But yet, it hadn’t been dismal. She felt amazing for the most part! There’s something to be said about feeling even keeled when your emotions are not controlled by foreign beings in your body. She felt like she had climbed the highest mountain and any scars

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she received she proudly bore for the world to see. Young men fell at her feet pining for her attention and time (this still was baffling to her). She no longer felt hurt by the emotional rat race of back stabbing female colleagues who were likely dealing with their own hormonal issues, she stood her ground with her male colleagues in her industry and she felt confident at last in her abilities and knowledge. Yes, she thought as she pounded her chest with pride and strength, “I am Jane, but I own Tarzan”! Her doctor walked in, all 4 foot 9 of her beaming happy self and exclaimed at her excitement in seeing Kristi this New Year, “You look amazing Kristi, how are you doing?” Kristi softened a bit and didn’t throw the pamphlet at her doctor as she had planned. “I’m doing great but I have some questions when we have time.” We will get to that pamphlet in a moment! What to know about Perimenopause, Menopause and Post Menopause. First, nobody is alike so each woman will experience different affects as her body and hormones change but you can look for certain signs that might cue you as to what is happening to your body. Commonly experienced side effects are (keep in mind some women experience no side effects and realise one day they are no longer having a period but very few): Hot flashes and cold spells, emotional changes, off schedule menstrual flow, excessive bleeding during your cycle, night sweats, insomnia, foggy brained feeling, forgetfulness, loss of sexual desire, weight gain, weight gain in unusual parts of your body, loss of lean muscle, cravings for food and possibly alcohol, mood swings, feelings of depression, hair loss, hair growing where it shouldn’t, changes in hair texture and colour (you might go from straight hair to

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curly), bone mass loss, weakened teeth, brittle nails, dry dull skin, vaginal dryness. Then there is the thing that had Kristi very upset; a thinning vaginal wall that could bleed and tear during intercourse. Kristi explained to her doctor that she and her new husband were very intimate and sexually active. “I can’t be torn and bleeding and oh yes, what is this about a possible prolapsed vagina?” Calming Kristi, her doctor explained that there were many options for dryness when that time came, with

surprising news that her kitchen might have the best lubricant to her and that was vegetable oil. “You’re already ahead of the game Kristi and I wish all my patients were proactive in their health like you”. Sharing some tips from Kristi and her doctor: Stay active or get active, it’s never too late to start a fitness routine. Women lose lean muscle mass due to the hormone structure and changes their bodies go through.

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Fashion and Beauty

Cardio training will help with heart health, the vascular system, blood pressure, blood sugar balance and increasing endorphins that help one feel better. Strength training is vital, as women need to try to maintain or build mass to support their skeletal structure which will lose some density natural. Building lean muscle will burn more calories on a daily basis and activate neurotransmitters in the muscle to prevent falls and help with reaction time. Strength training also helps with controlling blood pressure and blood sugar. Lean muscle will help strengthen bone mass by adding tension to the bone, automatically creating more density. Mind body exercise for peace of mind, clarity and flexibility training should be incorporated into ones activity regime. Diet is key during this phase of life. Clean foods, chemical free, lots of plant food and lean meats along with healthy whole grains and fibre will add to your health and vitality. Portion control understanding will help you avoid weight gain. As you lost lean muscle with age (even if you actively lift weights) you will find you cannot always eat the same portions as you used to. Most of us eat much more than we actually need to provide our body with the nutrients and energy we need. Limit caffeine alcohol intake as

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that will also have adverse effects on bone density and the way your body absorbs nutrients. Your physician may recommend vitamins, probably calcium. Find a doctor who is proactive in your healthcare, not your sick care. Journal your body’s reactions and your emotions, this can be started at a very young age. Managing perimenopause will be much better if you know that the changes are happening and you are not blindsided by it. Find herbal supplements that are safe and have some research or good feedback on. Many women find that Cohash is helpful with hot flashes and night sweats. It might work for one but

not the other so it is up to you to find what works for you. Listen to your body. Feed healthy relationships, find plenty of girlfriend time. Explain to your family what you are experiencing so they have some compassion and can help you through what you are experiencing. Love and nurture yourself. Choose what kind of car you want to be and keep that engine purring!

Phyllis Ansusinha has just stood down as the President of the American Women’s Club of Thailand (AWC) and currently serves as activities and excursions chair. Before arriving in Thailand in 2013 she managed fitness centre’s across the Midwest (USA), and is a health, fitness and nutrition coach. She has taught fitness classes for over 30 years and has been featured in magazines and newspaper articles over the years. She is the mother of seven adult children and grandmother to one. The AWC believes that every child has the right to an education and has strived for that goal for the 61 years as an organisation but more specifically the last 21 years as a focused sub-committee for the AWC Scholarship Programme.

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FEATURES

Keep your valuables safe in Bangkok Living in Bangkok for the past 35 years, expat Neal Kothari has seen the capital grow from a quiet city to the bustling metropolis it is today. Although this expansion has resulted in a surge in tourism and infrastructure, there have also been some unwanted consequences. One is the steady rise in the crime rate, especially petty thefts such as purse snatching by motorcycle gangs. Although we can be more cautious, some circumstances are difficult to avoid. Expat families’ schedules generally revolve around our children’s holidays. We travel out of town for extended periods of time in summer and winter. Even during the school year, we are out of the home everyday, whether for work, shopping, or kids’ activities. Thus we leave our valuables unattended at home in a predictably consistent manner, exposed to both internal and external risk factors. To address this concern, Kothari has opened a new safe deposit box rental service called ‘CB Lockers’ conveniently located in the basement of the Interchange 21 Building at the Asok intersection. The building is directly connected to the Asok BTS and Sukhumvit MRT stations, with ample parking. Open Monday through Saturday from 9am - 7pm, including most public holidays, the flexible hours mean you do not need to sacrifice important daily engagements to make a trip to the vault. Unlike banks offering similar services, a dedicated safe deposit vault means customers are not required to maintain large deposits or buy life insurance products in order to become eligible. There are 4 sizes of boxes available to rent immediately, without any waiting lists. Built with expats and tourists in mind, there are short and long term contract options. Registration is a simple process with only a valid passport or Thai ID required. The focus is on privacy; so there is minimal paperwork and instead, customers use an advanced biometric access system consisting of a fingerprint and face scan to gain entry into the vault area. There are no queues; you can be in and out within a matter of minutes. And especially for the ladies, there are private cabins equipped with mirrors so you can try on your jewellery before going out in the evening.

If safety is the primary concern, wouldn’t a bank vault be a better choice? Although the Asok branch only opened last October, the original location in the Silom area has been operating since 2003. Originally built to service the jewellery industry, a niche clientele demanding both first class security and privacy, CB Lockers has gained a solid reputation. This has also been possible through a strong partnership with G4S, the world’s largest security company. They have actively managed both branches since inception. From designing the vault from the ground up with fire resistant solid steel walls, to providing highly trained security personnel for daily operations, and monitoring the surveillance and alarm systems 24/7 from the G4S headquarters, they provide the professionalism this business demands. If you are concerned about theft or fire, CB Lockers now provides insurance options that cover your personal belongings in such eventualities. That is peace of mind that you simply cannot find at the bank. www.cblockers.com CB Lockers (Asok) Interchange 21 Bldg, Level B1-D 399 Sukhumvit Road Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-7pm Tel: 02 258 5853-4 Email: asok@cblockers.com BTS Asok Exit 6 MRT Sukhumvit Exit 2

CB Lockers (Bangrak) Gems Tower, 8th Floor 1249/61 Charoen Krung Road Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-8pm Tel: 02 267 4620-1 Email: bangrak@cblockers.com BTS Saphan Taksin Exit 3

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Health and fitness

Alcohol dependancy by Dr Donna Robinson

It’s like failing eyesight … it creeps up on you and before you know it …..? You were wondering why you bumped into a doorframe or tripped over on a footpath. A glass of wine after work, some beer with friends ….. the culture of social drinking makes it easy to forget that, as for any drug, alcohol can be addictive. As a regular and often too visible presence in our daily lives it can be difficult to ignore. Soon, the social drink can lead to a need for something a bit more. The social aspect diminishes and the need is for the stimulus that alcohol provides. The feeling of relaxation gives way to anxiety as the effectiveness lessens and soon the need takes over. Inhibitions are reduced. You are experiencing alcohol abuse. Over time, this can lead progressively to alcohol dependency, the inability to quit. You are now an alcoholic and you need medical intervention. At this point, the ability of the body to resist is diminished, not only in the short term but in terms of permanent, irreversible damage. While the general perception of someone who suffers from alcohol dependency is of a person who is constantly visibly intoxicated and whose life is obviously being adversely affected by their addiction, this is not always the case. The signs and symptoms of alcohol dependency can be much more subtle. You are not alone. Alcohol dependency is the most common addictive disorder in society. In Bangkok, with street bars, numerous pubs and even cocktail bars that are open all day in the middle of shopping centres, alcohol is almost always available. Indeed, alcohol is a familiar and, to some, a welcome presence in our daily lives. However, for others, alcohol means more than a nice bonus at the end of a hard day or a good time out with friends. Living abroad is difficult and can exacerbate most problems. Being away from a friendly and familiar environment can be daunting and can lead to feelings of depression. Alcohol can become an important, or even the most important factor, in a person’s daily routine. This is the most prominent sign of alcohol dependency. When a person feels they are unable to function without alcohol, feels they must have a bottle of wine after work, or are not able to do without a couple of beers with their lunch, then this may be indicative of a looming problem. If the behaviour continues unchecked, it is likely to escalate and lead to a long term adverse impact on health. So, it is important to recognise these smaller and more subtle symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependency, and to be

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aware of when you or someone close to you should consider seeking professional help and advice. If you suspect that your, or your partner’s, alcohol consumption is becoming an issue then you should seek advice and guidance from one of a number of available options. Alcoholism is as much a psychological illness as it is a physical one. If someone finds it difficult to unwind without a drink, or if they become moody and agitated if they have to forego alcohol consumption for any length of time, then this could be indicative of a developing psychological dependence. Some of the patients I see in my clinic come to me because of stress at home or work which has led to an escalation in their drinking patterns. Are you drinking too much? Here’s some pointers. How many boxes do you tick? 1. Inability to control alcohol intake after starting to drink. 2. Surrounding themselves socially with heavy drinkers. 3. G  etting drunk before actually arriving at parties/bars (pre-partying). 4. Increasing sense of denial that their heavy drinking is a problem 5. D  riving drunk and, by sheer luck, not getting arrested or involved in an accident. 6. A  lways having to finish an alcoholic beverage or even another person's unfinished beverage. 7. L  iving a double life by separating drinking life from professional or home life. 8. Binge drinking (more than 5 drinks in one sitting). 9. H  aving chronic blackouts about what happened the night before 10. Engaging in risky sexual behaviour when intoxicated. 11. Not being able to imagine life without alcohol. Too many alcoholic drinks can take a serious toll on your health OK so we all know about cirrhosis …….. what about high blood pressure, diabetes and erectile dysfunction? While living with a person dependent on alcohol or dealing with the illness yourself can be difficult, do not give up. There are many treatment options available and there are

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also support groups for the unseen victims of alcoholism, the family members or friends. How can you help the problem The self-help tools ……… Follow a moderate drinking plan • Set a realistic goal for your alcohol intake. Decide ahead of time how much and how often you would like to drink. •K  eep an honest journal of your drinking. This helps you become mindful of your drinking. •S  tart with a non-alcoholic drink to quench your thirst. When you’re at a social event make sure you have a non-alcoholic drink to start. Thirst can make you drink more alcohol than you need. This also helps you become more mindful of your drinking. •D  on’t drink on an empty stomach. Make eating part of the experience. Hunger can also make you drink more alcohol than you need. •A  lternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Don't have all your alcoholic drinks at once, or you may be tempted to drink more than you planned. Instead have at least one glass of water before each alcoholic drink. •A  void heavy drinking situations. Some situations are associated with heavy drinking, and it may be difficult to stick to your plan. Learn to recognise and avoid heavy drinking situations. If you believe you or someone close to you may have a problem, don’t ignore it, take action and urge them to seek advice. Offer your support. In Thailand, there are several treatment options and a wide array of help available for people dealing with alcohol dependency. There are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups in Bangkok, and this treatment can be very effective in letting the patient know they are not alone and allowing them to share their experiences with others and hear about others struggles and triumphs. Another option for treatment is counselling. Several expatriate counsellors in Bangkok are trained specifically in substance abuse therapy. Counsellors The best counsellors come up with practical rules that you must follow ………. take out only 500B, leave your credit card and ATM card at home ………. etc, etc. There are several counsellors available that specialise in expats and the unique problems that we foreigners face in a new country. Speaking to someone openly and honestly about the problem can be the first step to taking control of the situation and developing a healthy attitude regarding it. At my clinic

in Sukhumvit 49 we’ve enlisted the help of two counsellors, one of whom specialises in drug and alcohol abuse. There are also regular alcoholics anonymous (AA) meetings held throughout Thailand. I’ve found that the support some of my patients have received at these meetings has proved invaluable and has been a crucial factor in their recovery. To find out when and where the meetings are held go to: www.aathailand.org Medical treatment and recovery strategies • Treat underlying depression and anxiety. Some of these medicines can help addictive behaviours as well. • Take anti abuse medication. Some of my patients say once they have recovered this is the only way they stop drinking • Monitor your blood test results. The shock of seeing how your liver is affected by fibroscan or blood tests even by fatty liver. • Enter rehab. This is a good option in Thailand since you can tell people you are away on holiday or at a meditation centre. There are also some wonderful rehabilitation centres that some of my patients have attended, two of which are the Cabin in Chiang Mai, Lanna centre in Chiang Mai, “Asian Health Channah” centre in Koh Chang and also Inspire in Bangkok. Sometimes escaping the hectic life of Bangkok, and the temptations it presents can be a positive experience and can go a long way towards recovery. • Self-help strategies. Some people have managed their own recovery by going on a trip, doing exhausting activities daily such as cycling or hiking and becoming too physically tired to go to the bar at night. It is important to remember that recovery is a long term process, and even if a relapse does occur, it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. In fact, it is not uncommon to suffer a relapse. However, it is imperative to not let this discourage you from seeking help and continuing to recover. Formulating a plan can be a very helpful tool. Taking up new hobbies can be a welcome distraction to fill the void left by your addiction.

Dr Donna Robinson is a UK qualified, trained and experienced doctor. She has been a resident of Thailand for over 25 years and is one of the few foreign doctors to hold a Thai Medical Licence.

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Health and fitness

YoQi with Marisa Baratelli by Agneta de Bekassy

Marisa said “Over fifteen years ago I discovered qigong as a student in China. Soon after, I combined it with a yoga practice and received amazing results, more sensitivity to energy, deep self-healing and access to nature’s unlimited potential. I call this integration of yoga and qigong YoQi. Today my greatest joy is in sharing the tools to cultivate our most precious resource, life force energy for self-healing, vitality, clarity of mind, spiritual fulfilment and a deep connection to all of nature”. These are Marisa’s own words. Today everybody talks about yoga, meditation and mindfulness and if you want to learn how to meditate the traditional Thai way, you should not hesitate to join The Buddhist Meditation Group, run by a British monk named, venerable Pandit Bhikku. www.littlebang.org

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When American born Marisa Young Cranfill was teaching meditation at the Young Buddhist Association of Thailand in Bangkok, seven years ago, she had the honour to meet Pandit Bhikku. Pandit got interested when he heard Marisa was teaching qigong as a moving meditation and started to follow her lessons. Today Pandit Bhikku and Marisa organise annual retreats and weekly live qigong classes in the heart of Bangkok at the Rojana Centre in Sukhumvit (Sukhumvit Road Soi 23). When Marisa is in her home country, videos of her classes are projected on the wall at the centre for the students to follow along. After a session there are always a 20 minutes of silent meditation. An average class consists of 30 to 40 people, female, male, young and old. There is no fee, you just pay a donation that covers the teacher’s cost and contribute to keep the centre going. Very often you will find Khun Pandit watching over the classes. The monk has several ongoing activities and people come from all over the world to discuss and understand the real Buddhism and also to meet new friends. The monk started back home in England to meditate in a Thai temple and later on he decided to come to settle in Thailand and become a monk here. Marisa teaches yoga combined with qigong and meditation. She says, yoga and qigong make a good marriage, they work very well together. Marisa has studied hatha yoga in Bangkok at the Yoga Elements Studio, rated as the best yoga studio in Bangkok. She has also practiced and studied qigong in China with various teachers and at TAO garden, a healing resort in Chiang Mai Marisa is probably the only female westerner teaching qigong in English here in Thailand. She teaches a style

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that is based on the five elements, Chinese medicine and continuous flow. One moment flows into the next, calms the mind, releases stress and circulates internal energy. She calls the integration of yoga and qigong YoQi. She knows exactly what she talks about and you can see and feel that she is in completely harmony with herself, her mind and body. Qigong is … Qigong is a Chinese system of physical exercises and breathing control related to Thai chi. YoQi is all about energy. With YoQi you learn how to remove resistance to the flow of energy. Energy is the vital, vibrating, moving force of nature that directly has an influence on our health, happiness and ageing process. In China life force energy is called Qi and it is associated with breath. When our vital Qi is flowing, we feel healthy, vibrant and happy. When our Qi is blocked, we feel pain. If Qi becomes weak, we will feel tired and if Qi disappears, we “die”. Qi is not as mysterious as it seems. Energy follows principles and patterns. Qi is polarised into Yin Qi and Yang Qi. Yin is potential and force activity. With the right tools and determination, anyone can tune into nature’s abundant flow of Qi. For most of us, maintaining a healthy, strong and abundant life is the first discovery the power of Qi. YoQi makes the ancient practices of Qi cultivation simple, fun, safe and accessible for whatever serves your highest good. If we listen to our body and respond quickly, we can

resolve minor health problems before they become a major problem. We need to work with our energy and give the body, mind and spirit what it needs. If you need help to find the practices that can optimise your energy state, Marisa offers YoQi videos to help. At the end, it’s all up to you to become an active participant in the state of your energy. It is known that YoQi is beneficial for Asthma, Arthritis, Cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, headaches, pain etc. I think that YoQi, Marisa’s invention, might be a good start for e.g. people like me, who have no experience in yoga, meditation or qigong. Marisa is not only a teacher; she has also worked many years as a creative director for the exclusive Thai silk collection Marisa Baratelli, a company owned by her mother. Marisa has inherited her mother’s passion for Thai culture and designing with Thai silk. Marisa says, she has found a connection between the vibrant colours and magical properties of hand woven Thai silk. Marisa moved to Thailand in her early 20s and she, like her mum, has a deep love for Thailand and its culture. Today she divides her time between the US, where her husband Walker Young is located and Thailand. During all her years in Thailand, Marisa has also become an expert in “Spirit Houses” and what she doesn’t know about them, is not worth knowing, but that is another story. www.littlebang.org www.yoqi.com www.marisabaratelli.com


NGO

The road to a better me by Sarochinee Unyawachsumrith Pratthanadee Foundation

Weena Utharam speaks to Expat Life on her transformation from a sex worker to trainer helping thousands of underprivileged girls in Ubon Ratchathani. Some 15 years ago, Weena Utharam (nicknamed Nang) was one of many uneducated country girls working in the infamous Nana area in Bangkok. Like many before her, the then twenty something from one of the poorest Northeastern regions in Thailand, was drawn to what she believed would be better economic prospects in the capital. Without a high school diploma and or any relevant skills, she could only flit in and out of jobs in the informal sector that paid her as low as USD40 a month for working round the clock six days a week - not enough to feed herself nor her family, relying solely on her, back home.

“ I was working in an abusive environment and was struggling with a child and a runaway boyfriend, thinking this was my lot in life; I felt trapped and wanted to do anything to get out of poverty and for my baby. � Nang Nang started working in the bars and resorted to selling her body to keep food on the table for her parents and her young son. But it did not matter how many nights she worked, she just could not keep her family out of debt. She felt like a failure, like she was worthless. Nang's story would have been the familiar, sad life trajectory of girls from the Northeastern provinces who migrate to Bangkok, if not for a serendipitous interruption. A chance encounter with a stranger led her to Pratthanadee Foundation, and so began her transformation. Through the free training in soft and hard skills at the non-government organisation, Nang became markedly more confident, independent and ambitious.

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“ When I first met Nang, she was isolated, depressed and had very low self-esteem. She didn’t think she was worth anything. ” - Sarochinee Unyawachsomrith Managing Director, Pratthanadee Foundation Nang’s journey to a better self was not without struggles. When she first took part in the training, the foundation’s trainers did not know if she would have the perseverance to pull through. An incessant Greek chorus comprising family and others working alongside her in the red light district were relentless in trying to talk her out of the training. They told her that it was a waste of time and that she was selfish as every hour she was not at work was money lost that could have gone to her family. Impressed by her progress, Nang was hired as an administrative assistant at the foundation, six months after she enrolled for training. In 2011, she was made coordinator of Pratthanadee’s new outreach in Ubon where she has been based since then. Nang now speaks English and even some Khmer, in addition to her mother tongue; she is also conversant in Microsoft Office. These days she runs workshops for high school girls, training them in identifying gender related risks, basic self-defence and women’s rights and the law. The 35 year old single mother has finally found her footing back in the Northeast where she was from, inspiring others like her younger self to secure a better future.

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NGO

Help us understand the desperate situation you were in when you moved to Bangkok 15 years ago. At that time, I was working as a live in maid at a motorcycle shop in Surin province. I was pregnant and my boyfriend had ran away. I had to find whatever work I could to support my soon-to-be-born child and family which included my parents, younger sister and my grandmother. I remember my salary then was about 2,000B which I never saw because my mother would take almost all of it leaving me with some 400B. After my son came, it was impossible to subsist on the pay from the job and feed everyone else. I decided to head to Bangkok in the hope of making a better living. I was in and out of many jobs including working as a domestic help, factory worker and finally at a bar owned by some people from my hometown. What were some of the jobs you did? Which was the most difficult one? Why? The most difficult was working at the bar. It was painfully demeaning. I put myself at risk of sexual disease and abuse. How did you come to know about the free training at Pratthanadee? What made you decide to give it a try? By then, I was able to communicate in basic English which I picked up at work but I was keen to learn more. One day, a customer told me about a foundation that offered free English lessons. I decided to visit Pratthanadee. You were offered a job six months into the training. Was it a difficult decision to take it up? It was tough to make the switch as my family wasn’t supportive knowing I would be drawing a lower salary at the foundation. At the same time, it was always a dream to be in a 9-to-5 office job, to dress up for work and sit in front of a computer in an air conditioned room. I didn’t think it was possible as I only had high school qualifications from an informal high school. I told myself if it didn’t work out I could go back to working at the bar. But I very much wanted to pick up skills and improve myself. You now train high school girls in Ubon. Tell us more about what you do? I’m the office manager at the Ubon Ratchathani branch of Pratthanadee. My core job is to conduct workshops on women’s rights and self-defence for girls in high schools. I contact schools to discuss the possibility of running

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workshops for them. To date, together with my colleagues from Bangkok, I’ve trained thousands of girls on asserting their rights and protecting themselves from violence and abuse. Where do you see yourself in five years’ time when you hit 40? It’s been a fulfilling experience for me. I’m certain I’ll still be in the same line of work helping others, especially girls and women, who may feel limited by life and want to break out of their circumstances. For more information, visit www.pratthanadee.org

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FAMILY and RELATIONSHIPS

Mediation and collaborative … Divorce by Andrew Maxwell

One of the best ways people choose to go about getting a divorce is through mediation or collaborative divorce. In this scenario, the married parties choose a mediator – a neutral third party who will attempt to help resolve any issues you may be having with the divorce. The mediator isn’t a judge – they won’t make rulings, or even decisions – they will just work to get both parties closer to an agreement. Is it right for us? In most cases, mediation is something that couples who want to divorce should consider. Decisions are reached and agreed to mutually – this usually means the divorce goes smoothly, costs less and leaves less acrimony. There are, however, circumstances in which careful consideration should be taken before entering mediation. For those in abusive or violent marriages, it can occasionally be traumatic and counterproductive. In such cases, it’s preferable to allow a lawyer to do the negotiating. On the other hand, some people find it empowering to negotiate for themselves. There are also cases of participants entering mediation with the sole intention of delaying the process as much as possible for one reason or another. If you need a quick decision, it may be easier to go straight to court. Mediation works best when both parties are open and willing to compromise. With this attitude, even the most awkward and stubborn issues can be resolved satisfactorily. What are the benefits of mediation? • It’s less expensive than a trial • Most mediations end in a settlement • It’s confidential • The settlement is not imposed on you • You can still get legal advice What to expect The first step is usually to talk with your mediator about the issues you are struggling with in your divorce and to

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provide them with relevant information and details. This may happen at the same time and in the same place as the other party, or it may happen separately, depending on what you agree with the mediator. You won’t be forced to feel uncomfortable at any time. If you have an attorney, they can join mediation with you, if you wish. In most cases, attorneys are not required to be present, as this allows you and your spouse to do more of the talking and decision making. It also saves a lot in costs. If your spouse insists on bringing their attorney, you should also bring yours. It’s often easier to negotiate and agree on smaller issues to start with. This helps the parties maintain confidence in each other as larger issues approach the table. In order for mediation to go smoothly, do your best to make it clear and easy to understand what you want. You should also try hard to understand exactly what your spouse wants. You don’t need to agree with it – just be sure to understand them. Once both parties are clear about what the other wants, you are much closer to resolving any remaining issues. The other thing you need to do, is be willing to make compromises. If you and your spouse simply sit down, set out what you want, draw red lines around it and refuse to budge, the mediation will be drawn out, and may fail. You can have red lines, but be aware that they may kill the mediation and you may lose what you wanted in court anyway.

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Food and Beverage

Gourmet corner

from Arlene Rafiq’s kitchen by Arlene Markets, food and entertaining have always been part of my formative years. At the age of 10, I was, by choice, initiated into the world of marketing for fresh produce. It was at first a disaster. Naturally, a 10 year old knew nothing better, but with great enthusiasm and perseverance, I continued to learn throughout the years. Next to marketing lessons, cooking was what I was taught. I discovered the joy of choosing what to cook, so during the weekends, cooking for my parents became my passion. My palate has progressed from simple meals to elaborate dishes through the years. I have been lucky enough to have travelled to many parts of the world and the local markets would always draw my interest. I would then visit the national restaurants to taste the authenticity of the particular country's specialty. For thirty five years, I have had the opportunity of hosting more than a hundred luncheons and dinners for Royals, VIP's, Diplomats, friends and family. Half a century of learning, getting frustrated, experimenting until cooking became not just my calling but my art. On the other hand, my husband's family, who are members of the former ruling Royal family of Afghanistan are also great artists in the kitchen ‌ they also contributed to my penchant for quality tasting food. It was my husband's love for food and his culinary expertise that made me experimental with different kinds of dishes. The taste of Qabuli Palau (a rice dish with lamb or beef cooked with various spices and yogurt among others) of my sister-in-law was so unique that I watched her prepare and cook the dish making sure that I learnt the whole procedure from top to bottom. Likewise, my aunt in law makes the most delicious Aush - a yogurt based soup with four kinds of beans and minced meat on top. I have developed this gift of tasting food and recognising

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the ingredients most of the time ‌. but I also like to invent dishes with whatever is available. My food experience is varied but for a starter, let me introduce you to Afghan cuisine, food that you may not have heard of. Not many people in this part of the world have tasted the interesting food that Afghanistan has to offer. The most delicious Afghan dishes are cooked with yogurt. While different brands are available in most supermarkets, there is nothing more fulfilling than making your own and at the end of the day, you save money and have the pride of knowing how to make your own. In three separate issues, I shall make a complete Afghan meal for you to serve to your special guests or loved ones. This corner will be your guide to the best food that you can cook with ease. How to make yogurt Ingredients: -1  litre of whole pasteurised milk or if preferred low fat or nonfat milk (the final product will be thinner than when you use whole milk) -2  tbsp yogurt culture (preferably Bulgarian or Greek yogurt) You need: - s tainless steel pot - s trainer -w  ide mouth glass container (make sure that it's sterilised) Procedure: In a stainless steel pot, boil the milk for at least 20 minutes. After boiling, set aside until it reaches room temperature. When it has reached room temperature, stir in the yogurt culture and mix well. Pour the mixture in the glass container using a strainer and cover with muslin or cheese cloth. Make sure that this glass container with the yogurt is not moved (not in the slightest) for at least 24 hours. When yogurt is formed, refrigerate. One of the most popular dishes in Afghanistan is called Qabuli Palau. It is considered a national dish and served in most important gatherings. The late King of Afghanistan, King Zahir Shah, knowing my prowess in the kitchen requested that I cook this dish for him. Close family members were at the palace dining table anticipating how it would turn out. They took pride in their culinary skills and I acknowledge that wholeheartedly. To cut the story short, I made my mother in law proud and the King ate with gusto. That was a confirmation that my version of the Qabuli Palau was acceptable to the monarch's discriminating taste. If anyone should learn an Afghan dish, this is it ...

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Qabuli Palau Ingredients: -1  kg leg of lamb on the bone chopped into 6cm pieces or beef shank on the bone -4  carrots, peeled and julienned -1  onion sliced -3  cloves minced garlic -1  cup water -1  cup sultana raisins -1  tbsp sugar -1  kg basmati rice, -1  0 cups water -3  tbsp salt -½  cup oil -1  tbsp cumin -1  cup meat broth -½  cup of either almond or pistachio (optional) Procedure: Rinse the rice until clear from starch and then soaked in cold water for 4 hours or overnight. Heat oil in a big pan and fry onions until golden brown. Add meat pieces to the fried onion and cook until brown on both sides. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer the meat until tender. Add more water if required. In a separate pan, add a little bit of oil and sauté the carrots. Add sugar add 1/4 cup water and fry until soft. Remove from pan and set aside. Add a little oil in the pan and sauté the raisins until they swell up. Add the carrots and mix with raisins. Remove from pan and set aside. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, put in 4 tbsp of sugar in the hot saucepan. Shake the pan for at least 5 minutes until sugar is caramelised. Add 1/2 cup of oil, 1 tbsp salt, meat broth and cumin. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and set aside. Drain the soaked rice. Cook in a large sauce pan of boiling water. Add 2 tbsp salt for at least 10 minutes until the rice is almost cooked. Drain and return to pan. Mix over the caramelised sugar mixture and stir until rice is evenly coated. Mix rice well. Using the end of a spatula, make holes all over the rice to steam evenly. Top with spiced carrot and the meat. Cover the pan with a muslin cloth or cheese cloth and then the lid. Over low heat, cook the rice for at least five minutes or until you hear a ticking sound. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another thirty minutes. Remove from heat. Remove the meat and spiced carrots and mix the rice well. To serve, cover base of a platter with a little rice, spoon over the lamb or meat and then cover with remaining rice.

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Topped with spice carrot/raisins and nuts. This dish can serve 10. Another Afghan dish that you can be sure to be a showstopper is an eggplant dish with yogurt sauce called Banjan Bolani. This has been a favourite on every Afghan table. The meal is not complete without this delicious dish. I have served this as an accompaniment to different Afghan rice dishes and it has always been a hit to say the least. Banjan Bolani Ingredients: -6  medium size purple eggplants -2  large garlic cloves, finely chopped -3  medium tomatoes, chopped -¼  teaspoon turmeric powder -¼  teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional -¼  cup water -o  il, to fry the eggplants - s alt, to taste Yogurt sauce: -1  cup plain yogurt -1  teaspoon grated garlic -d  ried mint, to sprinkle Procedure: For the sauce - Take yogurt in a bowl and whisk it. Add grated garlic to it and mix. Keep it in the fridge while you cook the eggplants. For the eggplant - Cut the eggplant into thin slices … about 1/2 inch. You can remove the outer covering of the eggplant if you wish. Heat oil in a pan on medium flame. Once hot, add the eggplant slices and fry till they are golden brown in colour. Do not over fry the slices as they will become soggy, you still want it to be a firm in the centre. Place the eggplant slices on a kitchen towel to drain excess oil. Set aside. In another pan, heat 2-3 teaspoons of oil and add chopped garlic to it. Sauté till it becomes light golden brown in colour. Add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper, salt and cook till tomatoes become soft and mushy. This will take 6/7 minutes. Next add the fried eggplant, around ¼ cup of water and cover and cook at low heat for around 10 minutes. Switch off the flame. To serve, take a plate and put half of the yogurt sauce. Then place the tomato sauce and eggplant over it and finally pour the remaining yogurt sauce on top of the eggplant and sprinkle lots of dried mint. Serve with Qabuli Pulao or Naan bread Next time I will show you how to make Ashak, a leek filled pasta with yogurt mint sauce and Aush, a soup dish that is a complete meal in itself. Please try to make these dishes and I can assure you that it will be a hit with your friends. Don't forget to send me feedback or any questions that can help you in the preparation. arlene@lenscape.com EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Food and Beverage

Life in a supermarket Ask anyone what it’s like to work in a supermarket. We’re sure images of shelf stocking, attending to customers, running between aisles 4 & 5 to find that particular can of tomato soup, comes to mind. It’s one of those things you see on a daily basis. But have you ever wondered what it’s like behind the scenes once a supermarket goes online? It’s a whole different playing field. honestbee is an online concierge service that connects vendors to customers. Through our platform, customers have access to Bangkok’s leading supermarket - Villa Market, and a series of specialty stores. For the convenience of our customers, honestbee provides same day, 1 hour delivery service to your home in Bangkok. With honestbee, you wouldn’t have to brave Bangkok traffic to stock up on your groceries. Have a dinner party to prepare for? We got you covered. The process is simple. When a customer places an order, our trained concierge shoppers will be notified of your shopping list immediately. The selected groceries will then be handed over to our delivery bees, ready to be dropped off at your doorstep.

“It’s been a great experience to be part of the shopper team here. The job teaches me to be responsible, and I get to play a part in making our customers’ lives a little more convenient. honestbee’s interesting business model, combined with the flexible schedule attracted me to the job and the company creates a career path for their shoppers. I started out as a shopper, and have now become a team supervisor.” Ann, shopper supervisor Creating sustainable job opportunities is one of honestbee’s key visions. Our shopper and driver bees can grow their skills in a job that provides flexible working hours and professional training. The job fits into their lives and provides stable supplementary income. Online shopping is becoming a lifestyle norm in Bangkok. Customers need an app that provides them with the flexibility and convenience, one that would integrate into the daily lives of working professionals, stay-at-home parents and essentially, everybody who needs a bit of help in getting food stocked at home. Beat the traffic, cross one errand off the list and sit back for your groceries to be delivered right to your door. Delivering from Villa Market & many more. Shop now and automatically get 100B off your first order at www.honestbee.co.th

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FEATURES

IWC International Food Fair by Kathleen Pokrud, President of International Women’s Club of Thailand

The International Women’s Club of Thailand is one of the oldest and largest social clubs in Thailand. It was founded in 1964 and currently has around 400 members from 80 countries. Our membership includes many well connected expatriates and prominent Thai personalities. For centuries, people have found that breaking bread together is the best way to foster friendships. In previous years, the IWC has organised the “International Food Fair” on an ad hoc basis, but always with great success. This May, we plan to relaunch the event to welcome participation from members and friends of IWC. His Late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej devoted his life to improving the lives of Thai people and building relationships with many foreign nations. Based on His Majesty's guiding principles, the vision and theme of IWC for this year is "Friendship and Love". As a long established and prestigious social club in Thailand, our mission in 2017 is to build stronger ties among our members, and extend our positive energy and love to our friends and the community around us. With the new era of making friends in social media, a virtual hug cannot overshadow physical connections in person. The IWC “International Food Fair” aims to foster cultural exchange between international expatriates and Thai communities. In addition, we hope the event will be a fundraising opportunity to provide financial resources for educating less fortunate young girls through our “IWC Scholarship Foundation” and other charitable organisations benefitting education. Format of the IWC International Food Fair The event is a friendship luncheon with the attendance of members and guests of IWC. VIPs to be invited include Lady Ambassadors and spouses of Ambassadors. IWC has close relationships with the various foreign ladies groups, and many are invited. To honour the cultural exchange, which is the main objective of the IWC International Food Fair, there will be a display of international food by individual countries. IWC are in discussion with foreign embassies in Thailand for sponsorship and support. Entertainment will comprise a fashion show of national costumes and cultural performance from different cultures. Vendor tables will provide the sale of products from various places. Of course, no ladies’ luncheon will be complete without attractive raffle prizes.

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Objectives of the IWC The main objectives of the International Women’s Club of Thailand are: •T  o foster friendship and mutual understanding among women of different nationalities, without discrimination as to race or creed. •T  o promote the cause of education and the welfare of women and children. •T  o broaden women’s interest in current affairs, in order to encourage them to promote the status of women. •T  o keep abreast of other women’s organisations. History of the IWC A group of Thais and foreign residents in Bangkok met in 1964 with the objective of starting an international women’s club. Those involved actively in the formation of the club included M.R. Sermsri Kasemsri, Mrs. Dorothy Culver (an American, who was a former president of an International Women’s Club in the United States), Khunying Mani Sirivorasarn, Khunying Alma Link, Aimee Lefevre and a number of other connected ladies. Mom Ngarmchitr Purachatra (a.k.a. Princess Prem Purachatra), the then president of the International Council of Women, encouraged the formation of the club. It was officially founded as the International Women’s Club of Thailand in 1965 under the presidency of M.R. Sermsri Kasemsri and had about 100 members. Since its inception, the Club has emphasised the fostering of understanding between women of different nationalities and the promoting of various women’s causes worldwide. IWC became very popular among women of all nationalities, religions and ethnic backgrounds, where women have learned to appreciate different cultures and respect one another. IWC monthly luncheons Since its inception in 1964, the International Women’s Club of Thailand has promoted monthly luncheons emphasising the fostering of friendship and understanding between women of different nationalities and promoting the cause of women worldwide. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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FEATURES

IWC soon became very popular among women of many nationalities, religions and ethnic backgrounds. Later, the monthly luncheons were expanded to include special themes, performances and food festivals. Luncheons are open to members as well as their guests who would like to attend and get a feel for what the IWC is all about. IWC luncheons are entertaining, fun, and are a good opportunity to socialise. Luncheons are organised at 5 star hotels, each with a wonderful ambience and delectable menus, especially chosen by our programme directors.

International Women's Club of Thailand presents:  The IWC International Food Fair Tasty cuisine from around the world and entertainment including a national costume fashion show and cultural performances. Attractive raffle prizes. Date: 25 May 2017 (Thursday)   Time:  Bazaar 10:00am Registration 11:30am Lunch 12:00 noon  Venue: Novotel Sukhumvit 20 Bangkok (02 009 4999) Dress code: National dress  Menu: International Buffet Price: 1,200B (Table of 10 is 10,000B)   Contact: Nora Kositamongkol 081 936 0778 Mukda Sorensen 081 814 2221

IWC Scholarship Foundation The International Women’s Club Scholarship Fund was created in 1994 to carry out one of the main objectives of the club, the cause of education and the welfare of women and children in Thailand. Scholarships are provided for girls in need, who are good students, but whose families do not have the resources to provide schooling for them. The aim is to help families provide better educational opportunities for their daughters, raise their families’ standard of living, while giving our members an opportunity to help others. Throughout the year, the club organises a number of activities to provide funding for these scholarships. Presently, we provide support for some 40 Thai girls.

Some of the Charities that IWC has supported in previous years:

• International Women’s Club Scholarship Foundation • International Support Group Foundation •S  ister Robert Medical Center

•F  atima Self Help Center (Sister Louise) •F  oundation for the Blind in Thailand •S  ai Jai Thai Foundation of Thailand •T  he Karen Hill Tribes Trust THEP (Sanitation Project)

•P  attaya Orphanage (Father Joe) •S  oi Dog Foundation

Kathleen Pokrud was born in Hong Kong. She graduated from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom with both B.Sc in Economics and M.Sc in Energy Economics. The diligent work she spent during the bachelor years earned her an award with the Adams Smith Medallion for the best performance in the year. She met her husband, Dr Boonyarit Pokrud when they were university students. Kathy has lived in Thailand for over 25 years. Prior to moving to Thailand in 1991, she worked for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council responsible for exhibitions and trade missions. For the past 20 years, she has worked for various market leaders in their respective industries, namely JATO Dynamics (global automotive research company), Burda-Rizzoli Asia Holding (publishing), Regus Thailand (serviced offices), Reed Tradex (exhibitions) and Institute for International Research (conferences). In her capacity as international and regional sales manager throughout her professional career, Kathy gained vast business experience in dealing with various markets in Asia, in particular with China, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Kathy has been a member of International Women’s Club of Thailand for over 15 years, and served on the IWC Executive Committee for the past 4 consecutive years. She is also an active member of Hong Kong Ladies’ Group and American Women’s Club here in Thailand. Kathy is outgoing and enjoys meeting new people. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing. When she is not immersed in her community work, she prefers to unwind in the company of good friends or visit her extended families who are scattered around the globe. “Faith, family and work” is the life principle she carries around from her loving parents.

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ArtS and Culture

Songkran by Neil Brook

Bangkok celebrates the New Year, Songkran, April 13th -15th each year. If you're planning a trip to Thailand then add this to the list of must do’s and be prepared. The streets are lined with vendors making the most of this once in a year opportunity selling everything to keep you dry and everything to get you or everyone else wet. To really enjoy the spirit and atmosphere of Songkran take to the side streets and immerse yourself into the culture and traditional celebrations as Bangkok turns into one giant waterpark. Bangkok offers an amazing street culture at the best of times as food and drink stands pop up everywhere, bars opening to the footpaths tempting passers by. During Songkran in front of every business those usually hidden inside emerge to ‘bless’ those that walk by. As the day progresses people get more merry (drunk) and blessings turn from splashes to saturation. Floral shirts are the order of the day colouring the streets making it easy to spot your assailants as they fill pump action water guns with a range that will

easily spray you from across the street. Huge buckets are replenished with a continual flow as bottles of water are delivered or taps run freely. Snipers lay in wait as gun battles ensue moving targets chased and captured, the chaser retiring to reload and select the next mark. Hot rods pull up onto the curbs with music blaring in competition with others as the back of Utes provide mobile dance floors and colourful lights flash in sync with the beat. Revellers beckon offering a drink, sometimes beer mostly scotch and something, just to get you closer. Fly fishers casting

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their line tempting you to bite before the enviable water cascades from head to toe. When you head out onto the streets during Songkran beware and be ready. Having taken a cab to get some shopping I decided to walk home. I knew it was coming and given the temperature it was refreshing. However soaked is an understatement. I am not yet prepared with my plastic phone cover, I was planning my day tomorrow. Forget that, 13th -15th April it's on, non stop. So holding my phone above my head, the first wave greets with water cups splashed front and

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back, the next with buckets poured. It's difficult to avoid so I enjoy the cool sometimes icy cold water as it runs down my back. In this heat I'll be dry before I get home. You can traverse the street remaining dry, pleading and threatening as you go, however what's the point? Public transport provides a cocoon, that is if you are huddled inside a taxi or car peering out. Tuk tuks and motorbikes are not immune. They will get you. Warnings

go unheeded as those on motorbikes zoom by getting wet from guns and hoses aimed with uncanny accuracy. Streets are filled with celebration, people scattered along the footpaths music blaring, dancing, drinking and spraying. Songkran is not complete without a visit to Silom Road, one of two major areas packed with locals and tourists alike. Here early in the morning people set up shop beneath the BTS that as the sun starts to scorch the earth will provide some shade. Toy guns of all shapes, sizes and colours, food, drinks and plastic covers to hang around your neck spill out of car boots and off the back of motorcycles clinging to every available space gradually spilling out onto the street. Ice chests are full as towering icebergs gradually succumb to the heat providing the water that keeps weapons refilled at 10/20B.  Traffic flow is reduced to a trickle before an eventual halt as the road is

cordoned off, allowing the street party to take hold. The BTS will drop you just above the mayhem. Follow the crowds armed with pump action shotguns and phones dangling around their necks. From 12-12 people push together moving en masse as DJs pump out the music while crowds dance holding hands and guns in the air. Gradually clothes stick to the skin as people sneak up from behind to ambush or blatantly corner you with buckets full of icy cold water. Getting home soaking wet with of millions of other people is surprisingly easy. Tuk tuks line the end of the street four deep, filling and driving off, others replacing the void simultaneously. It's a hard barter to get a good price. How else are you going to get home soaked to the skin? As we drive off the warm breeze starts to dry me off. Wishful thinking. Along the street others take aim, wet again and again and again … The driver is wet and for one final blessing he slows down near our destination and allows the cascade of water to cover me and him. Perhaps his tuk tuk needed a wash? I pay the negotiated fare plus half again. Happy New Year. Home safe and wet.

Neil Brook will try anything once and agrees with the bizarre foods motto, if it looks good eat it! He now calls Bangkok home and is looking forward to discovering more of Asia, making the most of this opportunity. A regular contributor to the Aussie travel site The Big Bus Tour and Travel Guide he enjoys sharing his experiences, endeavouring to create a fresh perspective as he travels the globe. @treadingtheglobe I www.treadingtheglobe.com

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Travel

Sanook by Stella Bella

April has always been my favourite time of the year in the “Land of a Thousand Smiles”. The hottest month of the year, April sees the entire country go bananas in friendly water fights, known as Songkran to mark the Thai New Year. It is renowned worldwide for being the world's largest water fight. This annual tradition is highlighted on the calendar for many tourists and residents alike because Songkran reflects the essence of Thainess and embodies each element of Thai culture like the concept of sanook (to have fun). Sanook is a wide reaching idea that embodies the playfulness and sense of humour that is so central to life in Thailand. Sanook can refer to a spontaneous and joyful meeting with someone on the street, or a humorous pun made at just the right moment. The sense of humour and joie de vivre captured in sanook is central to the Thai way of life. Just how did the culture of sanook originate? Let’s look back at the history of Thailand, with its cultural mixes of strong Indian influences, Chinese traditions and elements that are uniquely Thai. Thai culture is deeply influenced by religion. With around 95% of the country being Theravada Buddhist, the belief system and values of Buddhism play a huge role in day-to-day life. Throughout the country, the most important values that Thai people hold to are respect, self-control, and a non-confrontational attitude. No matter how frustrated or upset a person might feel, he or she will always strive to maintain a positive and friendly attitude, a sense of humour, and a smile. Sanook is a deep cultural value in Thailand and one that I am proud to inherit in some ways, the goal of most casual social interactions is sanook. Sanook is the output of a group that is in harmony; a group that does not have an agenda. There is a raucousness to sanook, but also a deep caring and

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comfort. Something really can't be sanook if you're alone - being around friends and family is what makes an experience sanook. Here is the top 5 destination for sanook this Songkarn 1. Nakhon Si Thammarat

Nakhon Si Thammarat is located in the South of Thailand, only a 1 hour flight from Bangkok, the city highlights of Songkran include the bathing ritual of the Phra Phuttha Sihing image, the procession of Nang Kradan and a Swing Ceremony to welcome Phra Siva.

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2. Chiang Mai The Rose of the North or Chiang Mai the charm of this northern Lanna tradition city draws millions of visitors, the highlights are a colourful parade around Chiang Mai city moat, a ritual of Buddha bathing and Rodnam Damhua, Lanna-style cultural performances. 3. Phuket Phuket, the largest Island in Thailand host a communal Thai New Year merit making ceremony, witness the procession of Phra Phuttha Sihing Buddha images parading along Patong beach, and paying homage to elders in reverence. With a variety of events and entertainment being held at Loma (Dolphin) Public Park and the port, and at the Jungceylon activity plaza overlooking Patong beach.  4. Pattaya Pattaya, the closest beach getaway for a Bangkokorian welcome  Songkran or Thai New Year (Wan Lai) with the tradition of local men carrying a lady to the sea and back. Muay Talay competition (two fighters straddling on a wooden board above the water!). Rice throwing ceremony and the Parade of Ghosts as well as water drenching on the beach road. 5. Khon Kaen Khon Kaen, the second largest north eastern (Issan) city and regarded as the heart of Issan. One of Khon Kaen landmarks includes Thanon Khao Niao (Sticky Rice Street) where visitors will be part of the world’s longest human wave with water drenching! Other highlights include the procession of ornately decorated ox carts, folk plays, and a food fair at Kaen Nakhon Lake.

Stella Bella is the resident wellness and network fairy at Stella Wellness and Holture. When she is not creatively creating up a wholesome meal or menu, she is with nature moving her body through yoga and trekking out to the rural farms around Thailand and teaching others like you to do the same. To find out more visit http://stellawellness.weebly.com/about.html

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FAMILY and RELATIONSHIPS

Ask Carolyn and Kasia by Carolyn Ford and Kasia Szymanska

Dear Kasia and Carolyn, I need advice on what to do about my 14 year old son's addiction to video games ... he has no other interests, and just wants to stay in his room all day. He doesn’t interact with us or his friends, and if we insist he joins us he is so withdrawn and miserable he ruins the activity for everyone. I want to take away the games completely; he is a completely different child since he started playing these games. My husband says this is too extreme and at least we know where he is! But I feel I'm letting him go down a bad road. How do I get him interested in something else? JD This is a problem for many parents JD. One recent study showed that 91% of American children play some form of video game, either on computers, game consoles, tablets or cell phones. Looking again at recent research, the indications are that little if any harm comes from this, provided the games are age appropriate and in moderation; i.e. leaving time for other activities. I agree that taking away the games completely may not be the solution – he will be resentful, and you want to teach him that moderation and control – not deprivation – is the way to go in life. Explain to your son that these games are causing problems in the home and family, and offer specific examples (e.g. “your grades have dropped”, or “you use abusive language when I tell you to turn off the computer”). Let him know that rather than taking the games away you want to try some new rules – and whether he follows them or not determines if the games stay.

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You could try implementing some of the following strategies: •C  omputer games can be only played after homework is completed, •P  laying games is limited to 2 hours on weekdays, maybe 3 or 4 hours on weekends, • If possible dedicate one computer for homework and one for gaming. On the work computer, games and Facebook should not be installed, so you can leave your son alone without “checking up” on him. If these strategies don’t work then the next step would be to keep all computers/phones out of bedrooms, but expect a strong reaction to this! As parents you have to take the responsibility for healthy gaming habits and to ensure your son realises playing is a privilege, not a right. Try and find an activity he might enjoy - martial arts, rock climbing, a cinema trip or a weekend at the beach. The key here is he participates with the family and/or with his friends, and let your son choose the activity. Once the event is decided, make sure he realises there will be no gaming access for that day if he doesn’t attend/participate. Remember: CONSISTENCY is critical in effective parenting. If you set boundaries or limits they must be enforced. If there is a consequence for ignoring your rules you must follow through. So we are looking at a clear structure for your son – limiting his time playing and having other activities with some logical consequences or rewards. I hope this helps. Carolyn

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Dear Kasia My daughter’s partner is a really difficult man, she has been with him for 5 years and they plan to get married in a year’s time. He is lazy; does nothing around the house, drinks far too much beer and only works part time. They have one child, I think he should be looking after their son as he has more time on his hands, but instead it’s up to my daughter who works full time and has had to hire a nanny. I really think she should cut her losses and leave, the thought of them getting married just makes me so nervous, I just want to stop her making a huge mistake. How do you think I can do to persuade her to leave him? Kasia replies You obviously have very strong feelings about your daughter’s partner and their future together. I can really appreciate that you do not want your daughter to stay with him; however I’m a bit concerned about you saying that you want to ‘persuade’ her to leave him. In my experience that can lead to problems. Have you spoken to her about how you feel? If not maybe now is the time to do so, however if you rush in she may not react very well, and may become defensive or guarded. You will need to handle this conversation carefully, bear in mind that you are not with her on a day to day basis and you probably don’t have the

full picture. Perhaps you can start by telling her what do like about her partner, for example is he a good dad? Then you can gently go onto voice your concerns. If at that point she also says that she is also worried about her relationship you can sympathise and then offer to support her, if that is what she wants. If she doesn’t want to listen, then it’s time to back off and if you want to, try and talk to her another time. Ultimately as you know this is her decision to make. Also I’m wondering if there is anyone else you can talk to about how you feel? Your partner or another of her siblings? Do they share your views? If yes can they help? If not and you are the only one that doesn’t like her partner, you may need to stand back and think about why you are reacting so strongly towards him. If your daughter does go ahead and marry him and you continue to have doubts, I think it’s important that you don’t alienate him or indeed her, rather if you can, spend time with them as a family, talk to him and try and find some common ground. This might be hard to do but if you are proved right and the relationship does fall apart, you will be in a better position to support your daughter and grandson.

Carolyn Ford and Kasia Szymanska are both registered counsellors and Carolyn works for Psychological Services International (PSI) in Bangkok. PSI provides Bangkok’s expat and local communities with international standard psychotherapy and counselling services.

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Health and fitness

The evolution of Muay Thai traditions by Ror Alexander

The tradition of Muay Thai in Thailand is centuries old, dating to at least the 14th century, and was developed as a very effective form of hand to hand combat. The basic theory is that as tribes travelled from China into the south, even as far as Malaysia the fighting styles from the ongoing territorial and defensive skirmishes honed the skills of modern Muay Thai. One of the main tribes was the Siamese tribe who fought fiercely to defend themselves, and for life in general. The fighting style began to become more polished through battles, fights, and the constant warring with both the Cambodia and Burmese. Men returning from war, or during times of relative peace would want to keep up with their skills, as well as continue the coaching and teaching of art of Muay Thai to young men in the villages. However, like all things time changes things a great deal, and now women all over the world learn and participate in Muay Thai, but not so much for the combat and defensive purposes, as much as for the war on fat, and inactivity and for fun. Muay Thai, as mentioned above has come along way since it’s traditional war and defensive uses, and even in the last 5 years has seen an explosion of activity within the Muay Thai industry. With Muay Thai and fitness kickboxing gyms opening up not just all over the major cities of Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai, but globally as well. And world class facilities like Tiger Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket, Evolve in Singapore, and Evolve, or Impakt MMA in Hong Kong are running very successful businesses’ with Muay Thai training creating a decent part of their revenues and popularity.

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Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that Muay Thai and it’s fighting tradition of both being a beautiful art, as well as an effective fighting system is without question a corner stone of the worlds fastest growing sport of MMA as well. Thailand at first was very concerned about MMA as they believed it would “water down and diminish” the very defended traditions of Muay Thai, but it world seem that within the last year, they have lightened up on this view somewhat, with organisations like

ONE Championship, and Full Metal Dojo highlighting the importance and traditions of Muay Thai within MMA. Women however in Muay Thai (or MMA for that matter) is a relatively new evolution, yet they are quickly taking to Muay Thai training in ever expanding numbers. Muay Thai is proven to be a very effective form of exercise with a number of health benefits from burning calories, to being effective cardio, building strength, and as an excellent core workout.

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Many Muay Thai fitness gyms are opening all over the country, with reports of up to 70% of the customer base being women, and high end facilities are popping up in the more expensive areas of Sukhumvit, within condos, malls and office buildings. Something that would have never happened even 5 years ago when Muay Thai gyms were either rural, or run down camps in back alley Soi’s. Even the so called “HiSo” populations of Bangkok, and many well off, white middle to upper class, expats are being spotted in Muay Thai (and MMA) gyms sweating the ounces and kilos away with everyone else. Bangkok based gyms like Muay Thai Mania, and RSM have very high numbers of women in their daily classes. Even my thriveLIFE Studios near Bang Chak BTS has a private Muay Thai studio for my executive clients. Women are also now fighting in Muay Thai on a regular basis at the camps of Tiger, Dragon, Yokkao, Fairtex, and many others, while Thailand based global brands like

Yokkao Muay Thai have held fight events featuring women all over the world, including an “All Women’s” Muay Thai event in Australia recently with their Yokkao Next Generation promotion. While still not allowed to fight in the local traditional big stadiums of Lumpini, Rajadamnern or Channel 7 Stadium, women are competing in more private venues such as local “Smokers” at Tiger or Fairtex, as well as in the cages and rings of Full Metal Dojo, or MBK’s Fight Nights during the dry season. We will of course wait to see how much longer the big arenas can keep women on the sidelines as the popular sport pushed the traditions even further. We can look at UFC as an

example of gender equality pressure and modernisation. Only 5 years ago President Dana White stated definitively “women will never fight in the UFC”, and now women’s cards are some of the UFC’s most exciting and awaited. While the Singapore based organisation ONE Championship has always welcomed women’s bouts. Making athletes like Ronda Rousey, Angela Lee, and Cris “Cyborg” well known combat names globally. Muay Thai itself has it’s own fast rising women stars like Caley Reece, and Tiffany van Soest (both training out of Bali) to name just two. It’s very clear that the traditions of Muay Thai are as strong as ever, and have gained a growing popularity around the world; as a fighting sport, a self defence, a way to get fit, or as a keystone element in the fast growing sport of MMA. If you’re interested in trying out Muay Thai, or its cousin kickboxing as a fitness venture, simply Google a gym near you or visit one of Thailand’s many women friendly Muay Thai gyms.

Ror Alexander: Build yourself better I Optimisation - Fitness - Nutrition www.roralexander.com I thriveLIFE Studios: Bangkok I Follow on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram

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A fascinator in the year of the cockerel by Meghan Lynch

Just when you think you’ve seen it all one of the most creative looking fascinators comes to light at this year’s Melbourne Cup charity lunch presented by ANZWG in Bangkok at the Amari Watergate Hotel. Postponed from November to January due to HM the King’s passing, one of the year’s most well attended events did not disappoint, even with the delay. In addition to the glorious luncheon and hat wearing festivities the event raised over 900,000B towards their beneficiaries. This year, three British friends, Hazel Birchall, Clare Nevin and Lorraine Slowther, are now fellow fascinator creators. They came up with a fun way to get ready to the event. You see they decided that a part of this was organising a theme for their fascinator and preparing around that. Which was included in the glitz and glamour and even glue. Mamma Noodles, just came to be, they said, not even sure exactly where it came from, more of an evolution shares Hazel. They knew they wanted it to have a Thai flair and

with it being the year of the cockerel, they realised they had something, unique and silly, just like themselves. Everything came from scratch, the paper mache noodle bowls placed onto Alice bands and painted with typical cockerel motif. Jazzed up some chopsticks with red paint, and there came the glue, that hit the noodles and packaging hot and stayed put! If it sounds easy, well, there was some mastermind engineering behind it. One cannot have a fascinator snafu can they? They had to get the balance right, Hazel says, “if we didn't then the whole thing would fly off our heads and into our soup!” The ladies paired their fabulous fascinators with black dresses they already had waiting for them in their wardrobe. For Hazel, Claire and Lorraine the creation of the hats and making them took time, time well spent with friends, though. Mornings over coffee and biscuits and lots and lots of giggles. With that kind of outlook and experience it’s easy to see with the smiles on their faces and the hats on their heads how too for some, a bowl full of Mammas Noodles can do the same, either in your belly, or on your head.

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ANZWG Melbourne Cup

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ANZWG Melbourne Cup

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IWC host Chinese New Year Luncheon

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AWC Oscars Breakfast

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IWC January lunch

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SWEA during 2016

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love yourself Trunk Show at the metropole

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Expat Stories

Expats can learn a thing or two from our gracious Thai hosts by Paul Surtees

When you first come to live in a foreign country, there will be some things you find which are comfortingly about the same as those with which you are familiar back home; there will also be many things in your new location which are markedly different. Some of these differences may be unwelcome; whereas some other of your new discoveries will delight you, and even inspire you to copy them. All those of us expats who are lucky enough to become residents of Thailand are launching ourselves on a new life in the ‘Land of Smiles,’ and there are many aspects of Thai social behaviour which are truly delightful to experience – and which foreign residents could, with benefit, seek to emulate. I have for decades lived as an expat in many interesting parts of the world, from Canada to Oman, from Finland to Greece, and from Mongolia to Turkey. Of course, you will find many good people, plus some not-so-good people, in every part of this varied world. But it seems to me that in some fortunate places, there is a much higher percentage of kindhearted and well behaved people to be found, than can be found in certain other places. In my view, our national hosts here in lovely Thailand are generally the most gracious, friendly, pleasant and respectful people that you could hope to meet, anywhere on the planet! Running a close second are the generally very nice people of Turkey, where I used to live. We expats could pick up a thing or two from the generally unfailingly seemly social behaviour of our Thai hosts. As a longtime resident of Hong Kong, I would say that the exemplary levels of efficiency to be experienced there (for example, in public transport, in banking, in utility providers, and in much more besides) are seldom to be encountered anywhere else. On the other hand, our expat home of Thailand isn’t called ‘The Land of Smiles’ for nothing: few peoples in this world are as ever gracious as the Thais. For example, over the 25 years that I have been coming to Thailand, not once has a Thai person ever bumped in to me in a crowded place. On the other hand, numerous foreigners here are all-too-likely to bump into you on the street or indoors, or to brush rudely past you - their backpack or shopping bags colliding in to you - without even an apology. And then there is the noise! Many groups of foreigners here raise their voices, and indeed shout, to each other, thereby disturbing the peace of a restaurant, market or shop; which is something no Thai would ever do. We could all learn to use softer voices, as our gentle hosts do.

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Our dear Thai hosts rarely, if ever, barge their way in to a lift, before letting the occupants out first. Such impatient conduct is commonplace with certain groups of foreigners. In fact, no matter how crowded the place, Thai people generally move in a careful way, so as not to push against others. Again, would that such seemly local conduct were more often emulated by foreigners here. Some foreign visitors are apparently unable to walk around, without having their noses constantly buried in their smart phones. They are oblivious to other pedestrians, and sometimes to the dangers of traffic, too. They stand still in doorways, or at the entrance or exit to flights of steps or escalators, thereby blocking access by others. Or they stand in immovable groups, so blocking the pavement. Few local people behave in such ways, though they may be similarly fashionably obsessed with their electronic communicative devices. In wet weather, pavements and roadways quickly develop puddles. I have been pleased to notice that in rainy weather, Thai scooter, motorbike and car drivers consciously slow down or swerve to avoid splashing water on to pedestrians from roadside puddles. Would that many more of the foreign drivers here could learn to be as thoughtful and courteous. It is a common sight here in Thailand to see the children of foreign adults, for example in a restaurant, running around and shouting: thereby disturbing the other customers – with no action being taken by their parents to control them (the parents apparently being completely indifferent to any disturbance to other people that their own offspring may cause). By contrast, Thai parents are generally very responsible in guiding their children in correct public behaviour. Thai graciousness is clearly first taught by the parents. And then there are the local people in Thailand who readily do as much as they can, to help a stranger. I recently asked an unknown Thai person the way to reach a certain destination within a city. He very kindly insisted on driving me there in his car! That would likely not happen in too many other parts of the world, sadly. Expats living in Thailand could certainly pick up a tip or two from the courteous and gracious Thai people, about seemly public behaviour; whilst at the same time being very grateful for it, to the people of Thailand.

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Expat Life in Thailand April/May 2017  
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