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Dr Darika Lathapipat

Chairman of Board of Governors

Christopher Nicholls Founding Master

Wellington College opens in Bangkok in August 2018


A rarity amongst condominium projects - Feels like home - Green living - Private and exclusive Feels like home Minimum space of 100sqm A large open space suitable for 2 or more residents. Compared to a 2 storey house with floor area of 150sqm, the 100sqm area in the condominium is more than enough to make you feel like home. Offers similar functions and layout as a single house Separated into public and private space to avoid disturbance from distraction, noise or odours. Kalm Penthouse has been designed so the function of each room is similar to a single house unlike many other condominiums. Increased common space and high ceilings The living and dining areas are clearly defined. The internal areas are therefore large enough for all family members who do not need to share communal space for individual activities. The 2.85m floor-to-ceiling height is considered higher than any low rise condominium, which only offers 2.4m. Maximising natural light Kalm Penthouse has been designed with open common areas and the high ceilings make the rooms look more spacious. Offer outdoor space for relaxation Inspired by the garden or a balcony in front of each condominium, Kalm Penthouse offers outdoor space for your relaxation. Privacy with limited units on each floor With only 2-3 units per floor and a total of 16 units in all Kalm Penthouse offers privacy to its residents.

Green living Cross-stacked facade With double space from cross-stacked design so it has space to plant high trees, shrubs and flowers. Not only green areas but also the building design that is environment friendly that saves energy. Building design with “modern tropical architecture” is suitable for the climate in Thailand and was made with eaves and battens. This helps to avoid sunlight and rain that also enable you to save energy. Private and exclusive Located in a serene neighbourhood Many condominiums’ selling points are ‘a convenient location near entertainment or shopping facilities’. Residents are often therefore disturbed by unwanted noise. Those who seek serenity will look for condominiums located in a Soi which are mostly low rise. Kalm Penthouse is located in Soi Soonvija 2 - just 5 minutes from prime locations such as Thong Lor, Rama IV and Ekkamai but that also remain residential, pleasant and private. Single corridor to enter your unit In most condominiums, you’ll have to walk pass other units in the hallway to get to your room. Kalm Penthouse offers individual corridors to ensure privacy and prevent you from meeting strangers. Private balconies - not facing other units Kalm Penthouse understands what residents desire and offers a design of secluded quiet balconies that are not overlooked. 100% allocated parking spaces Kalm Penthouse understands that residents choosing premium condominiums have their own vehicles and need fixed parking spaces. For more information please call 091 190 9119 or www.kalmpenthouse.com


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The Christmas lights are up in the street Lost and found in a holiday mash up My wonderful Christmases in the 60s Managing holiday stress Christmas the festive season The role of the heart in our wellbeing H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul The Finnish Ambassador to Thailand Wellbeing and schools in a changing world Cool and cruel Madame Astrid’s diary Khao Sok - reservoir monkeys Krabi beach holiday A weekend by the River Kwai Nepal: land of dreams Maldives - a return to paradise Stopover in Istanbul Oops - visa run to Penang, Malaysia Oman - really wild wadis Gyan Museum Our first Spartan Race Wellness for your soul! The simple science behind weight loss Acne, hormones and food choices Wellness and a bit of psychology in parks Where (and what) is the right FIT for you Gluten and your gut

Opening in August 2018, Wellington College International School Bangkok welcomes children from Pre-Nursery to Year 6 (ages 2 to 11, and through to Year 13 in the following years). Closely affiliated with Wellington College, Berkshire, England, the School is located in Krungthep Kreetha area of Eastern Bangkok.

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Welcome to Expat Life The editorial content in Expat Life is created by an enthusiastic and passionate group of volunteer, talented individuals. Without them there would be no magazine. The publisher would like to thank those individuals and welcomes submissions from any of our readers that have an experience, hobbies, an opinion or their pastimes to share. If you have travelled anywhere in Thailand and discovered a ‘hidden gem’ or had a holiday with family or friends in SE Asia or beyond, then we would like you to share it with us. If you are a nutritionist, dietician, fitness trainer, doctor, surgeon or a specialist in any field then please find time to share your expertise with others and draft up to a 1000 or 1500 words and we will sub edit, proof and publish it. If you would like to join our group and get your prose published online or in the magazine then please email nick@elbkk.com Accounts Panumas Kayan (Daow) daow.elbkk@gmail.com

Administration Juntanipa Suebma par.elbkk@gmail.com

Art Dew Piyaman dew@elbkk.com

Accountant Premchit Thongcharone

Meet the Swede Goran Alfredsson Fashion’s latest Superwoman: Suzy Nam Expat Book Club What makes a happy home? Friends of Thai daughters Able the disabled Starting a business in Thailand Financial wellbeing Is brain fog clouding your life abroad? A Christmas Carol for Michael and Don Siam Hockey League Winter wonderland in Asia 3 wellness tips for the new year Make 2018 your best year yet Social gallery Medical tourism in Thailand Advertisers welcome If you are a manufacturer, distributor or retailer and or if you supply and sell services and products to the affluent expat/international resident in Thailand. Or their constant stream of friends, family and business guests visiting from overseas. If you want to engage and connect with high net worth individuals and families then let us send you our profile and present our business case. You will find no better expat targeted strategic marketing solution in Thailand today. Please write to nick@elbkk.com (English) or par.elbkk@gmail.com (Thai) or call 02 331 3266

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 - nick@elbkk.com (English) or Par - par.elbkk@gmail.com (Thai)

384 Sukhumvit Garden City, Sukhumvit soi 79, 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

“The Christmas lights in the streets are up!” A friend posts on Facebook and it's September! by Neil Brook

Look closely enough and you'll find Christmas cards and decorations sparkling although this early surely they're last year's leftovers having been dusted off and displayed in anticipation. Anyone with any sense would have bought the same tinsel and baubles last year when they were on sale and stuffed them into a box until the never ending creep of preparations necessitated bringing them out in autumn. Having said that, we buy one new tree decoration each year, usually from our travels and give unusual decorations we find along the way as gifts to family and friends. Being privileged to travel the world and live in incredible places we bear witness to the gradual relegation of Merry Christmas to the trash heap, replaced with Happy Holidays plastered over cards and becoming the greeting of choice? People celebrate religious festivals the world over and have done for centuries. Celebrate if you like. Don't if you don't. Allow others their freedom and choice as you would expect to be allowed yours. We have lived all over Asia and while many of these countries do not celebrate Christmas, the effort shops, malls and local councils have made to make those who do feel welcome - Christmas trees, streetlights and festive music - is appreciated. Perhaps they are more inclusive and tolerant then many western countries, where lessons could be learnt? For us every ‘holiday’ is about bringing family together. Living in our expat bubble at times, our family has grown to include friends we have met along the way. Because of work commitments and distance sometimes these are the family that come together at times of celebration. This year and every year, although we may miss some family gatherings, Christmas will be celebrated with our own families. As the years pass and parents, nephews, nieces, siblings get older we have made this commitment. As a child, I remember hanging up my stocking and delighting with the assortment of treats that Santa had left in the morning.

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EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

Chocolates, fruit, small toys … following clues on a treasure hunt to find treasures hidden throughout the house. Enjoying the experience as well as the anticipation to see if Santa had read our notes. This year amongst the ever increasing commercialism we’re bringing it back to basics. While the kids get treated and spoilt (it is Christmas after all) the adults have a limit on spending for each other. It’s fun hunting down gifts within the budget. Alter all, it's the thought that counts? There is no denying the pleasure of witnessing the sparkle in children's eyes as they open presents on Christmas morning. This year we’ll witness that joy on the faces of a 1 year old niece and parents 86 years young.

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FEATURES

Lost and found in a holiday mash-up by Ema Naito-Bhakdi

In a mixed up expat, inpat, third culture, mixed blood, cross-culture family, which holidays should we celebrate? And how? Each year, the December/January holiday season is a time of confusion for me. We are a family of expats and Thai, third culture, mixed blood, cross-culture kids and adults. I’m from Japan but half grew up in the US; my husband’s German-Thai; and our three kids have been in Thailand since birth. I've read that it's important for children to grow up with family traditions. But with such a wealth of backgrounds to choose from, I am stumped when it comes to figuring out which holidays to celebrate with our kids, and how. In practice, we commemorate a random mish-mash of holidays throughout the year: April Songkran lod naam (water pouring ceremony) with the Thai elders and November krathong floating, Japanese March Girls' Day and July Tanabata ‘Star Festival’, German-style birthdays, Christmas and, some years, Easter, as well as the ubiquitous American Halloween. But it’s hard, when you’re the only one in the present family who knows about a particular tradition, or to celebrate a holiday when there's nothing around you that indicates that it's a special day. It doesn’t help having an impossible and unrealistic sense of responsibility to teach my children about all of their cultural heritages, evenly. For a year or two, I tried to ring in the New Year in Japanese style: I made soba noodles on the 31st, and prepared a mini version of the traditional New Year's dishes and offered them to my German husband and Thai relatives to sample on the 1st. No one showed more than a glancing curiosity for the dishes, which was completely unsurprising and

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understandable; they were all still busy enjoying the afterglow and leftovers from their main holiday, Christmas. Or you might find the local interpretation of a holiday all wrong think Bangkok at Christmas time: gaudy decorations, a cityscape snowless and hot under a blazing sun, and kitschy out-of-tune Christmas songs playing in department stores up to February. Inevitably I wish ourselves in Germany for my husband’s version of Christmas, or in Japan for my family’s New Year, and wonder how our poor kids will ever get to experience the same ‘authentic’ magic as from our own childhoods. As I struggle to recreate a Japanese holiday in Thailand for my

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

kids, I wonder, what's the point of 'celebrating' if it's just you, trying to go through the forms which mean nothing to the little ones? What's the point, when the main significance of holidays is to celebrate family and community? Then Christmas rolls around and each year my husband's westernraised Thai aunts and uncles and clan celebrate together with beautiful, (tastefully!) fully-decorated Christmas trees, candles everywhere, the Bach Christmas Oratorio softly playing in the background, carolling, mulled wine and turkey and stuffing and pudding and the whole works. It’s as ‘authentic’ as one can get in Thailand! My husband has also implemented the Santa Claus family tradition which he remembers from his childhood: the kids go off with him to look out for Santa, but Santa always somehow slips by and leaves the presents under the tree, ringing a bell as he leaves. Oh yes, the magic is there. And I am deeply grateful, for this family and for this tradition, here, in our home in Thailand.

Ema Naito-Bhakdi worked in international development, was editor of BAMBI News, and is now a freelance editor. She's a stay-sometimes-at-home mom to three kids, sings in choirs and as a soloist, and blogs at emanate28jpn. blogspot.com Contact her at emanaitob@gmail.com

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FEATURES

My wonderful Christmases in the 60s by Daniel Sencier

Christmas back then didn't start in September, as it does now; it started just a few weeks before, which made it oh so much more special. Can you imagine, Christmas when only one person in the street owned a car, everybody was employed, and nobody had a telephone? Writing letters was the way to keep in touch, and if you had to call, there was the big red phone box at the end of the street; and I was still trying to work out buttons A and B because now I could reach them. The TV was becoming affordable, but even so, very few had one where we lived. It would soon arrive though, firstly in black and white, with blissfully just two channels, and we'd all pack into Daphne's house when she shouted, "Lone Ranger's on!" Her husband, Dobin, worked in the Army stores, so they were almost middle class! She also predicted that TV was an evil that would destroy future generations of children, but it also brought me Robin Hood and William Tell, so I wasn't listening. My Grandmother would send a chicken (dead), all the way from Ireland! Yes, it smelt pretty bad when it arrived, the postman would always hold his handkerchief over his nose and mouth, but it tasted delicious once cooked. You had to use the vegetables

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from your own garden, everybody did, and being Irish we were good at growing potatoes, which we swapped with the neighbours who were good at sprouts, making everyone happy. My parents were very poor, but I have to say they always made Christmas feel like a magical time. Along with my teachers, they planted and cultivated an imagination that lived and grew with me to this day. In fact, only Disney films could compare with what went on in my mind back then and often still does! Christmas cards were essential and not getting a card was like being 'unfriended' on Facebook. You sent and received cards from everyone you knew and cared about, and they often had their latest address on, so you could be sure to know where to send their card. If you were lucky, there would be a 10 shilling note or even a £1, but as soon as my Grandmother's card arrived, it would always contain a British £5 note; which wasn't that easy for an old lady living in the Republic of Ireland. Putting things into perspective, my father was earning £15 a week; my

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

pocket money was one shilling (there were 20 in a pound), and a new car cost around £950. We never did afford one, but it didn't seem to matter, our legs, a bicycle or the bus would take us everywhere. There was always loads of snow from around December to February and no better site than looking out the window on a cold winter evening, with the coal fire at your back, and seeing giant snowflakes starting to fall gently in front of the yellow street lights. The following morning we would go out to a carpet of new crunchy white snow, often up to my waist, then we'd build massive snowmen and have snowball fights until our hands went blue. Some of the ice slides we made must have been the length of the street, and we'd play for hours, regardless of falls, cuts and bruises. It usually ended with some miserable old person pouring boiling water and throwing sand over our ‘work of art', and as that older person now, I can, at last, understand why!

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The postman delivered on Christmas Eve, right up to 4pm and though he had the next day off, he was there bright and early on Boxing Day. But, even the milkman delivered on Christmas Day morning, and after a sherry at every house, I often wonder what his evenings were like! Just as well I had all those outdoor activities because when it came to Christmas presents, there were very few. I had a clockwork fireman, I'd wind him up, and he'd climb to the top of the ladder and slide down again. How could that keep me occupied for hours? It did! Jigsaw puzzles were all the rage, and the more complex, the better; I even had one with just a cloudy sky! The only Christmas decorations were paper chains that you'd lick the ends and make yourself. I wish I'd thought of the wet sponge sooner as I found out the glue was made from old dead horses. I could never understand that, because when you touch a horse, it's not that sticky, is it? Meccano was to change my life forever; I could now build machines, but my attempt to make my very own electric motor was a bridge too far resulting in my first electric shock; such a scary feeling. I engaged my younger brother in switching on future experiments; he was always a willing victim.

As the 60s wore on we became a bit better off and Christmas saw my Mum switching from Emva Cream sherry to Harvey's Bristol Cream and my Dad choosing Castella cigars over his pipe. Soon, Blue Nun and Mateus Rose started washing down Vesta Chow Mein and spaghetti bolognaise as immigration, thankfully, began to change our diet in a way we couldn't have imagined.

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My favourite Christmas hits of the 60s? 1962 Elvis Presley - Return to sender 1963 The Beatles - I want to hold your hand 1966 Tom Jones - The green grass of home 1967 The Beatles - Hello goodbye 1968 Scaffold - Lily the pink 1969 Rolf Harris - Two little boys

Did Father Christmas exist? That was the terrible question I had to deliberate one day and though I had no doubts, it did lead me onto the shameful path of trying to prove to other less faithful followers, that he was as real as them. I thought very logically about how this

obese man could fit down our chimney, even though the coal fire was in full blaze, and carrying all those presents. Surely at the very least, he'd get utterly filthy? There had to be another explanation, and that could only be ‘magic.' So having accepted that it was possible for this guy to park a sled and team of reindeer on our council house roof, and drop in with all those goodies, I'd have to catch him in the act. I'd tried all the usual stuff, leaving out the mince pies and the sherry, and sure enough, they had all gone in the morning, which proved what? That someone ate them? I wanted conclusive proof but was told that if Father Christmas heard me, he might vanish so quickly, perhaps even forgetting to leave presents. After years of failed attempts, in 1966, I came up with the perfect plan - I would make him sick enough to slow him down and that way I'd at least see him as he struggled onto the roof. My parents filled the sherry glass, as usual, that night and along with the mince pies, left them by the fireplace. My mother was very ill that Christmas and my mind did not link that to the sherry I'd half emptied and topped up with bleach. Father Christmas was indeed a superman; even poison couldn't slow him down, he had proved himself beyond any doubt. I was told that if I stopped believing in Father Christmas, he would stop coming, and that was a risk I wasn't prepared to take. Aged 12, I was still shouting down the doubters, like a preacher trying to uphold the word of God; nobody was going to convince me otherwise.

Daniel Sencier 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 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 Bachelor’s Media Degree then 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. Contact Daniel for all your writing/copywriting/proofreading needs: dansencier@yahoo.co.uk EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Managing holiday stress by Barbara Lewis

The holidays can be a very stressful time for a lot of people. We often have to deal with family that we only see once a year because they cause us so much stress. This time of year is filled with tradition and when you live far from your home country trying to keep some semblance of those traditions can cause all kinds of undue stress especially when children are involved and you want to make the holidays as ‘normal’ as possible. So what are some sure fire techniques to get through the holiday season with the least amount of stress possible.

According to the renowned Mayo clinic, they have ten things they believe will help stave off stress and depression during the holidays: acknowledge your feelings, be realistic, reach out, set aside differences, stick to a budget, plan ahead, learn to say no, don’t abandon healthy habits, take a breather, and finally seek professional help if you need it. You can find more explanation on each of these points at https://www.mayoclinic.org under stress management for the holidays. WebMD also has some advice on this topic that differs slightly: give something personal, know your spending limits, get organised, share

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tasks, take breaks from group activities, keep regular exercise schedules, try to get enough sleep, limit your alcohol, also be realistic and learn to say no. Healthline.com suggests to make sure to take time for yourself, pick your battles and keep it simple. In a Forbes article on holiday stress a unique notion mentioned was realising your limitations. All of these sites have great ideas about managing stress but I think that the stress that we face as expats during the holiday season is amped up even more so and has some complexities that these suggestions just don’t address that over the last 25 years of living and dealing with the

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

holiday season in a variety of different countries I have come to understand pretty well. I do want to make a disclaimer here: I am by no means stress free during the holidays but in recent years it has become increasingly important to try to minimise it as much as possible because I have a chronic illness that gets much worse as my stress levels increase. My family is spread out around the world but it is very important to us that the immediate family spends at least a few days of the holiday season together. So my husband and I either travel to them or they travel to

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us. Of course travelling is likely part of most family ‘s holiday time ours is just further and for many more hours. Some of the lessons I have learned over the years about how to keep the stress levels at a manageable level. Prioritise should be number one. If you are travelling, make sure that when you get to where you are going that you aren’t pulled in a million different directions especially if you are surrounded by extended family. I am not sure why but often the people who have travelled across the world to visit end up still making their way around to see all the various relatives; especially if you have small children try to have a base and have people come see you. They will if they want to and only travel to visit those that it is really important to do so. Make a list with your immediate family of the most important things to do and people to see and plan everything else around these events and visits with people. Don’t be dissuaded by kindly aunts who just want an hour or two of your time or friends who you haven’t seen in 5 or 10 years who want to meet for a drink. These types of things can blow gapping holes into well laid plans and drain you of the very energy that you need to make it through the holidays. Also a priority when you are travelling

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is to get enough rest and exercise and for people to honour that you will be jet lagged for a period of time. Give yourself a break and don’t let yourself get run down by lack of rest. Be realistic as some of the sites have said about what you can and can’t manage and don’t try to squeeze in too many things. My family loves to snow ski and often we have travelled from a very hot place to Canada during the holidays. My husband would like for us to almost immediately get off the plane and then start driving to a ski destination. I hated this because I just found it too exhausting and it took many years before I made sure that my voice was heard and we took a couple days where we landed before we drove up to the mountains to ski. This one small change took all the stress out of the situation for me. If you are remaining where you are prioritising takes on a bit different of a look but you still need to do it to keep yourself sane and under tolerable amounts of stress. Now you have to make sure that your immediate family takes first priority and plan holiday events and work around them and their needs. This usually takes a family meeting of some kind depending on the age of the family members and a dose of reality as to which family traditions are possible to continue with and which have to be let go of. It is also important that everyone in the family learn to value their time wisely

and prioritise it, to ensure that you have time to participate in the events and situations that create meaning for you instead of hurrying from one to another. In Bangkok that usually means spending lots of time in a car travelling in traffic so you want to make sure that it is time well spent. Being realistic is especially important in all kinds of ways for expats during the holidays. Often we live in lands where our holidays are not recognised sometimes even despised. It can make it hard to get into the holiday spirit. Ironically if you have children in school this is often a time of great celebration in the schools with all kinds of notable events to try to

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FEATURES

bring on the ‘holiday spirit’. If you are in one of those situations where you are just not feeling it give yourself a break. This is one way you can reduce your stress. Go along with the events etc. but just don’t expect something from yourself you can’t give. It is also important to be realistic when you are travelling back as to what you can and can’t accomplish as far as visiting family and friends and attending social gatherings. Often when we travel home we get asked to attend so many things and we are pull in so many directions that it is extremely hard to know what to do so it is imperative that you don’t over book yourself and you know when to say “NO”. This can be one of the hardest things to do especially with family that you might not have seen in several months or years. Learning to say ‘no’ will save you so much stress and keep you grounded and realistic. It is also important to be realistic when you stay in country. Many of the traditions that you normally have might not be possible here in Thailand or some other country that you live. We are fortunate in Thailand that although Christmas is a nationally held holiday here there is still all kinds of evidence of it around commercially so it is easier to get into the holiday spirit. It is still so necessary to be realistic about your time however because everything for the holidays starts very early here because it is based on the schools schedules. Once the schools break up which is the middle of December many people leave or travel, so any holiday

events are held before this making the end of November and beginning of December a very busy time. Conversely, it can seem very quiet once the school rush has finished and be a bit of a let down. If you are staying in Bangkok with your children you want to make sure that you plan some things for you to do to ensure you don’t feel the stress and burden of bored children during the holiday season. All of this of course takes planning which is one way to keep the stress to a minimum whether you are travelling or not. The more you can plan and do ahead of time the more organised and at ease you will feel during those holidays. It will build the element of control that we all need not to feel stressed. One of the suggestions from the health sites was to divide up the

tasks and I think this is brilliant. It will definitely help divide up the stress. If you are worried about things getting done make sure you plan appropriately and give the correct tasks to the correct people. Also try and set timelines that get things done well and truly early. My final suggestion for keeping stress managed during holidays is take time for yourself in whatever form that my take. If you get the chance do something that truly brings you joy from the centre of your being with no effort on your part. I will give you my example: I adore watching my dogs wrestle and play together. It is so funny and my laughter bubbles up from my inner being when they chase each other around the coffee table. If I want true stress relief I only need to watch them for five minutes. There are many other things though as well: taking a walk by myself, deep water running and listening to a podcast or meditating for 15-30 minutes. Whatever can give you some time to think and be alone take that time it will save you so much stress in the long run. Most of what I have mentioned is just common sense and things most expats know but I think we all need to be reminded of it now and again.

Barbara Lewis is a regular contributor for EL. She is a teacher at Rose Marie Academy in Nichada Thani we wish her well and hope that she will keep writing for us!

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EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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New Primary School Campus Opening August 2018

Shrewsbury City Campus Sukhumvit – Rama 9

Early Years to Year 4 now open for applications Arrange to visit and find out more Contact our Admissions Team 02 203 1222 or email enquiries-city@shrewsbury.ac.th Special Open Days on 17th, 18th, 21st November, 7th December 2017 and 10th, 13th, and 23rd January 2018. Please call us to reserved a seat now. Visit our website http://city.shrewsbury.ac.th Follow the Shrewsbury success story @SHBcitycampus

Exceptional People • Outstanding Opportunities • Academic Excellence


Food and Beverage

The Coffee Club The Coffee Club is constantly adding to its already comprehensive menu. I went to the Ekkamai branch again this week to meet friends and the restaurant was buzzing with a good mix of Thai locals, international and Asian visitors. I have detailed below just some of the additional items: Loaded smoked salmon croissant - a toasted croissant filled with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, fresh baby spinach and sour cream. Loaded bacon and avocado croissant - toasted croissant, avocado, feta cheese, a poached egg and baby spinach. Pad Thai with river prawns - fried noodle with egg, tamarind fish sauce, beansprouts, toasted peanut, garlic chives topped with giant river prawns.

My guest chose Thailand’s favourite Pad Thai but could not finish it as the portion size was more than enough for a man yet alone a lady. I had the smoked salmon croissant which was absolutely delightful the contrast of tastes and the quality of the ingredients melted in my mouth. The Coffee Club is the ideal meeting place for all occasions and or groups and you are sure of a warm welcome and a good meal at anytime of the day. The staff are polite and attentive and the varied menu ensures that there is something for all tastes and ages.

Tom Yum with river prawns - just like grandmother made a spicy, sour broth with fragrant lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Rice noodles, baby boy choi topped with giant river prawns. The lady on the next table had the shortbread raspberry cold brew coffee - with baked cookies, raspberries and fresh milk which looked like a meal in itself!

Branches Bangkok: • Baan Rajprasong • Convent Road Silom • River City • Ekamai • Hive • Maze Thonglor • Riverside Plaza • Maitria Hotel • Mode Sathorn Hotel • Chatrium Sathon • Suvarnabhumi Airport - Food Stop • Don Muang Terminal 2 Phuket & Krabi: • Banana Walk Turtle Village - Mai Khao Beach

Pattaya: • Harbor Pattaya

Beach Point Phuket • Jungceylon - Patong Beach • Jungceylon 2 • Phuket Airport Ao Nang Samui: • Central Festival Samui • Samui – Chaweng Beach

North Pattaya

Royal Garden Plaza

Tuk Com Pattaya

Hua Hin: • Blu Port Hua Hin December 2017/January 2018

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

Motorway - Outbound

Hua Hin

Wireless Road

Kler Hotel Patong


Loaded Croissants

• mouthfuls of flavour •

Loaded Smoked Salmon Croissant

Loaded Bacon & Smashed Avocado Croissant GOOD FOOD, GREAT SERVICE, EXCELLENT COFFEE The Coffee Club Thailand

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Thecoffeeclub.co.th


FEATURES

Christmas the festive season, New Year and Wellness by Karla Walter

This is such a memorable time of the year. I grew up in Australia so Christmas was always hot. It consisted of swimmers, shorts, t shirts, sunburn and nights with the sound of insects chirping. In my very early days, I do remember a heavy traditional roast lunch with Christmas pudding. Thank goodness we moved away from that type of cooking as it became much lighter with salads and cool deserts. One year I had a friend who asked me to help cook what she referred to as a full traditional lunch, from her Scottish background. Dressed in swimmers and a very light cotton dress we cooked a hot lunch with roast vegetables plus the pudding and custard. No air conditioning in the house that we rented so at 40C outside it must have been 50C in our kitchen. When it was cooked I was too hot to eat it! After people had finished their lunch, everyone went to sleep. They woke up grumpy and tired and feeling quite out of sorts. These were all the experiences that I was collecting long before I had discovered my path of nutrition and helping others with their health. The foundation as I look back had been born. Many, many years later I moved to Chicago where my festive season was now full of snow, dark early evenings, overcoats, warm clothing and a roaring fire in the lounge. With the fire burning away, it seemed so fitting to have meals that were prepared to keep everyone warm, content, feeling nourished and relaxed. The oven would be on for

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hours. This time everyone enjoyed the warmth from the kitchen. From Chicago it was time to live in Dubai for many years and again I was back to a warm festive time. The energies between the two are so different and so is the food, the cooking styles and preparation. At present I am in the UK and here it is damp and cold at this time of the year. As the weather is similar to Chicago it is time to prepare food with the intention of love, nourishment and contentment. No matter where we live, stop for a moment, think, feel and be where you are, right now. This festive season in Thailand is going to be warm to hot. It is so easy to create your Christmas lunch or festive plate with what is around you. If your body is healthy and you are feeling in great shape, one day having something small and outside your healthy regime of food can also be a time of nurturing and nourishing. No need to convince yourself that you can eat all the cake or sugary desserts just because its Christmas. It is the next day when you wake up that will decide what you ate the day before and how you feel.

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If you are experiencing health challenges at the moment, stay with local healthy food choices and enjoy your festive season for the coming together of family and friends. Food traditions have been carried around the world. People coming from a cold climate to Thailand bringing their heavy roast meats, baked vegetables, heavy desserts will find their health struggles for a few days afterwards. They will feel tired, sluggish and have a foggy head. This also has the potential to flip emotions and cause anger and frustration due to the heaviness and intense cooking style of roasting. The energy is forced inwards with roasting and baking, and the body is doing everything it can to cool down naturally because of its surroundings in a warm climate. Start your new tradition of Christmas being in a warm climate with lighter cooking styles and lighter fare. Curries that are not hot, but flavoursome, salads, seafood, fish dishes or vegetarian options are endless in Thailand. The produce is so wonderful. A week later and it’s New Year. Everyone is now in party mode. What to wear, who will be there, are you taking the children or are they staying home. There is so much going

on and then someone is going to say, I will start a New Years resolution. Stop, right now and take a deep breath. New Year is not the time to be thinking of your new exercise programme or giving up something because you heard it through social media. Your greatest wellness gift is to let the New Year arrive, enjoy the moment, write a list the next day of what you would like the year to look like and what goals you would like to achieve. Now wait for a few days and come back to your list with a clear mind and find a quiet place to sit and see what is on the list that you “really” want to achieve. The first step to wellness it to make the goal realistic. Have an end in sight of what you want to achieve and then break it down into pieces that you can get excited about achieving. If planned right and executed properly 2018 has the potential to be one of your best years. Making decisions in

a state of anxiety or stress due to the excitement of the New Year as we all know, falls away very quickly. Usually by day 3 or 4 if you are lucky. Some exceptional people may go 10 days. May your festive season first bring you joy. May you and those around you enjoy the delights of Christmas. With the newness of another extraordinary year, find time to be with yourself to ask within the depths of your being what you want the new year to be for you. I wish you all no matter what your religion or belief a wonderful festive season and may the new year bring you all your dreams. Health and happiness Karla

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FEATURES

The role of the heart in our wellbeing by Alessandra Marazzi

We often hear or talk about body, mind and spirit and their alignment in connection to wellbeing. That we are interconnected systems in a continuous exchange with our environment is clear. Research, as well as our daily experience, confirms for example that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind in so many ways. I study and work on resilience, our innate capacity to stand strong and stay flexible in the face of adversity and challenge, and our capacity the grow from what life throws at us, into our highest potential. The alignment of body, mind and spirit is a condition for being more resilient, more grounded, more centred, more responsive, and more mentally agile. But as I worked on my own framework to help people realising their highest potential as human beings and overcoming often self-imposed limitations, it occurred to me that one aspect was missing: the heart. Growth in my own personal experience has implied that I learned not to just protect and defend myself but that I also that I opened up my heart to life. The question is, do science and research back up this intuition? I base my work on evidence - based approaches, so I started researching with great curiosity this subject. As I did, the case for the heart playing an important role in our resilience and wellbeing became more and more solid, backed up by over 40 years of research (and a the few centuries of yogis and eastern teachings). Science catching up with grandma? While the heart, for example, has its own mini-brain (intrinsic cardiac nervous system), it is in constant communication with the heart. It has been shown that the heart may be sending more signals to the brain than the other way round. The heart receives information from the body and the external environment and transmits it to the brain via the hormonal, nervous and electromagnetic systems. The heart rate variability (HRV) reflects our emotional states, and directly impacts the activity of the brain and of the autonomic nervous system (our accelerating and breaking system). When the heart and brain are in a state oh coherence, we function better, we think more clearly, we respond more effectively to the environment and we connect better to the people around us. “During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals travelling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions”(HeartMath Institute). Contrary to what we may think, our heart rate is far from

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being regular, even in resting conditions. It is actually very irregular, with the interval between heartbeats continuously changing from beat to beat, as a reaction to the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It is this variability that reflects whether we operate in a state of coherence or not and whether we can respond resiliently to stress. Resilience is a capacity, which we can train, which we can build and which we can deplete. While many factors, including our breath, physical exercise and thoughts impact our HRV, it is a common experience for people to report that it is the emotional experiences in our day that tend to deplete us or energise us the most. The heart rate variability (HRV) is the measuring system of our emotional responses. Emotions like anger, frustration and anxiety tend to deplete our resilience resources as they activate the sympathetic nervous system (the accelerator) and trigger the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which stays in our body for up to 12 hours after the stressful event. When we experience renewing emotions, like joy, gratefulness and contentment, we undo the effect of stress in our physiology and we recreate a state of coherence and harmony in systems. This is what ultimately makes us more resilient and the heart plays a great role in mediating these responses. Would you like to try that? Here is a simple technique, developed by the HeartMath Institute. HEART FOCUSED ® BREATHING With eye open or closed, bring your attention to your heart area and find your breath there. Slow down your breath a little, to a comfortable 4 or 5 seconds rhythm of in breaths and out breaths. And just breathe keeping your focus on your heart for a few minutes. If you would like to find out more, you can contact me at alessandra.resilience@gmail.com Alessandra Marazzi, HeartMath Coach, Coach at The Resilience Path, Mindfulness Educator and Practitioner.

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FEATURES

The people’s Minister - H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul by Isabel Valle

Thailand is the most popular tourist destination in SE Asia, and for good reason. You can find almost anything here: pristine beaches, stunning National Parks, great food, unique cultural and historical sites, some of the best luxury hotels in the world and its carefree people famed for their smiles. There is something for every interest and every budget. It’s no surprise that Thailand is among the top 10 most visited destinations in the world. Tourism is also a major economic factor in the Kingdom of Thailand. The latest reported figures by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports claim that Tourism revenue contributed a 17.7% slice of the country’s GDP last year. For such an important sector, which creates jobs, drives exports, and generates prosperity across the country, we wanted to find out more about the person heading this role, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, H. E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul. At first sight, she appears to be a passionate woman working hard to showcase the tremendous economic, social, cultural, environmental, and heritage value that the sector can bring, helping create wealth and employment for the whole country. However, in meeting Khun Kobkarn, it doesn’t take you long to realise that you are in front of an incredibly inspiring woman. She speaks with such passion and depth of thought, yet in such a humble, friendly demeanour, that you wouldn’t know you are talking to an esteemed Minister. Her thirst for life stems from her first role model since childhood, His Majesty the late King, Bhumibol Adulyadej. “I am not just saying it

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because I feel that I have to. I truly feel it and believe it.” She speaks with such conviction about the late King’s teachings to his people. “He taught us to truly believe in ourselves and look for our strengths. That every individual is important – no matter who you are. Every person working at all levels are equally important, and all together can contribute to make Thailand a better place.“ Those teachings inspired her

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to foster a mindset of wanting to do good and contribute for the good of the people and the good of Thailand. “We should realise that what we have today is because of what someone did in the past. It depends on how you look at life and how you look at yourself. If you think nothing, then you are nothing. If you believe that whatever you do can contribute something to someone, then you can, and you have to be the one that takes action. Everyone is equally important. No matter who you are, what position you hold, or what you do, you can be the driver of your life. We have to do what we have to do to make the country a better place.” Her motivation in everything that she does is driven by two questions: “How can we make Thailand better? How can more people benefit from my efforts?” Khun Kobkarn is a versatile and accomplished woman which has achieved so much in business and in life. Despite her many accolades, she remains modest and focused on the principles and beliefs that have guided her from the beginning. An insurmountable belief in people and a desire to do good for everyone.

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“No matter who you are, what position you hold, or what you do, you can be the driver of your life. We have to do what we have to do to make the country a better place” She possesses an impressive and eclectic CV. Prior to accepting the Minister’s role, Khun Kobkarn was the Chairperson for Toshiba Thailand Co. Ltd., and has held numerous positions, such as the President of the ThaiJapanese Association, President of the Self Sufficient Economy Committee (Thai Chamber of Commerce), Committee Member of the AntiCorruption, the Head of the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World Committee –Thailand. For someone who has achieved so much in the corporate sector, the question remains – why move to politics at the height of her career? “I never thought I would end up here, working in politics”. She admits. “Back in 2014, I remember clearly the day I got the call from General Prayut Chan-o-cha, and

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the first thing that he said to me: Could you do something for the country?”. Even though she was aware that the Minister’s role would be a challenging role, and she lacked experience in the industry, being given an opportunity to do something good for the country was an offer she couldn’t refuse. And with that, she was appointed to the position of Minister, the first woman to be given this role in Thai history. And she hasn’t looked back ever since. Even though she has a topranked governmental position, she appears to be relentless in leading the way by engaging in every project that the Ministry is working on, and actively interacting across all levels. Her passion for the role, and a passion for people, is translating into positive growth and successful initiatives being

launched by the Ministry. Whenever she speaks, it is not about numbers, but the impact that good practices have in the people involved. Her approach to work has brought a very human side to politics. “You can do anything if you truly believe in it. For me personally, it’s not so much about how many more tourists we attract to Thailand, but instead, how can we distribute wealth for everyone? How can people have a better income and a better life?” Her focus for tourism is on people being closer with one another, embracing new cultures and longlasting friendships. To treat tourists not like numbers, but more like friends. “We know that people believe in people. So when people come to Thailand and meet us, they know who we are.

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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FEATURES

30% of tourists keep coming back, and we believe this is because of our friendship and understanding. So we work for much more than the numbers. It goes beyond our beautiful beaches, great food and culture. It is because of the friendship of the Thai people. We are friends with everyone and we value friendship very much. Once our friend, you are considered a friend for life.” Her vision for tourism is to make Thailand a quality tourism destination, not only within high-end luxury travel, but also across all other sectors and budgets. She hopes to be able to provide quality tourism to everyone that visits Thailand, irrespective of their budget.

Besides the emphasis on quality, Khun Kobkarn is also dedicated to the development of the industry and for it to grow sustainably, hoping it will become a top tourist destination in all aspects. “We welcome everyone” she said. In order to create wealth distribution and fulfil her legacy to make Thailand a quality destination, she is actively promoting secondary destinations aside of traditional holiday spots – Thailand’s “hidden gems” as she calls them, combined with growth in sustainability, so that more people can get something out of tourism. When asked what project is closest to her heart, she hesitates. She

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loves them all. However, you can see her come alive when she starts talking about the introduction of “Amazing Thailand Tourism 2018” campaign, commencing in November 2017, which will continue to introduce more destinations for everyone to benefit, across a wide variety of services – medical, gastronomic, cultural, etc. She is also very excited to tell us about the new sports initiatives that the ministry is implementing, among others, marathons, triathlons, biking events, MOTO GP and car racing, air races, etc. An extensive list with something for everyone. We could discuss at length about the positive projections that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is expecting over the coming years. However, in meeting Khun Kobkarn, we’d dare say that an increase in foreign visitors, higher expenditure per stay, longer stays per trip, and higher percentage of repeat

guests to Thailand are simply the result of putting the right focus in the right place, the people. Undoubtedly, under her leadership, the country’s tourism and sport sectors will continue to grow stronger. On a final note, we decided to ask Khun Kobkarn to share with the readers of Expat Life her most precious hidden gem, and she doesn’t hesitate: “Nakhon Si Thammarat” in the South of Thailand. It is one of the most ancient cities of Thailand – previously known as the Kingdom of Ligor. “It has everything. It is the first province where Buddhism entered Thailand. Khanom beach. Beautiful waterfalls. Pink dolphins. Historical buildings and ruins. Mountains with some of the cleanest air in the country. Great food and even greater people.” It sounds like the perfect place to add to our bucket list, and it comes highly recommended by the Minister herself.

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 virtual coaching and online mentoring that inspires action and helps leaders from all walks of life around the globe bring their gifts to life to help them create professional excellence and personal fulfilment. More information available on www.isabelvalle.com.

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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FEATURES

The Finnish Ambassador to Thailand by Agneta de Bekassy

Finland, the Northern country with 187,888 lakes and a blonde, blue-eyed Ambassador to Thailand. with a busy programme, we decided to concentrate and start talking about Finnish education. Finland is one of the world’s top countries when it comes to education. Its motto is: Free, equal, quality education for all! What makes Finnish education so special and successful I ask. “Well, we use to say that less is more” Mrs Satu explains. We do not overload our students with too many facts. We are trying to get the best out of every student and we give students the opportunity to become highly educated, irrespective of where they live or what is their background. Our teachers are extremely well educated and even after having passed a teacher exam; we offer them continuous and

“We do not overload our students, especially the young students with too long hours. It is important to have joy in learning” Finland is Europe’s most heavily forested country; it’s a “forest giant”. The country offers the best of nature’s treasures - lakes, forests, the Nordic Light and much, much more. Photographer Daniel Herron and I went early morning to visit the Ambassador H.E. Mrs Satu Suikkari-Kleven at the Finnish Embassy on Wireless Road. This woman is the Nordic woman personified. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and a bright smile. H.E. Mrs Satu has been Finland’s Ambassador to Thailand for a year now. She is a very warm person, easy to talk to and she’s genuine interested in what you have to say. She came from Helsinki to Bangkok and has settled in nicely to her new position. We could talk for hours about Finnish design, (think about Marimekko and Ittala to mention two well-known brands). The design starts out from simple ideas and natural materials, Finnish Sauna, (a Finn can’t live without a sauna). The age-old sauna customs have scarcely altered at all, even though many town houses have an electric stove instead of the traditional wood-fire one). As Mrs Satu is a busy woman,

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more advanced studies, to keep them up dated throughout their careers. Education is in fact a life long journey. There are several great universities in Finland e.g. the University of Helsinki, which was established in 1640 (Finland at that time belonged to Sweden) and the University of Turku. Another famous university located in Oulu, specialised in technical topics and also the Aalto University offering a combination of economy, art and technology studies. To be exact, Finland has a total of 14 universities and 25 universities of applied science, which prepare students for tasks requiring higher vocational skills. 40% of the age group of 30-34 year old has earned a higher education degree. Most Finnish people know at least two or more languages. It’s obligatory in the schools to take Swedish classes and therefore everybody in Finland knows, to some extent, how to speak Swedish. Finland belonged to Sweden from 1249 until 1809. H.E. Mrs Satu speaks fluent Swedish, but was brought up with Finnish at home. Finland is a democracy and has a President; right now it’s Mr Sauli Niinistö. The president has a 6 year term in office and can be reelected for one more term. Finland is one of the world’s most stable countries. This is a very special year for the Finns, as Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence. Let me give you a little more insight to H.E. Ambassador Satu. She was born and brought up in Helsinki, capital of Finland. She went to a school that concentrated on music. At an early age, she decided to get a profession, and decided on diplomacy. She worked 2 years for the UN

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refugee agency in Geneva and was briefly posted in Afghanistan and Pakistan (August 1997 until February 1998). She has also worked in New York at the Finnish Mission to the UN. Thailand is her first destination as an Ambassador. She is married and has a 9 year old daughter Ida, who goes to NIST School. Asked about her husband, she immediately smiles and tells us “he is just wonderful, he is helping our daughter with everything, as well as assisting me in my job. He is a businessman and also a photographer and plans to start working here in Bangkok in the near future as well.” I keep on asking all the usual questions like, how does your average day looks like. Are you an early bird or more a night owl? “Well, I’m more of a night owl she admits. I start in the morning to read and check emails; I read both Finnish and Thai daily papers. I enjoy a well-balanced breakfast before going to the office. My days are the same as for other Ambassadors, meetings, various events, paperwork etc. It’s extremely interesting and busy.” How about hobbies, exercise I was curious to know, “Well, I admire my colleagues who start their days with an early run in the parks but I haven’t managed that yet. I find exercise important and once had a private trainer and at that time I was in a very good physical condition.” I can tell, she’s in a real good condition today too, with or without a trainer, she is always on the run …

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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When she is off duty, she prefers to spend time with her family. As she is responsible for Cambodia as well as Thailand, she travels frequently to Phnom Penh, at least every second month. She is fascinated by the culture and traditions the neighbouring countries and Thailand offer. I asked if she sees any similarities between Thailand and Finland and she points out that both Thailand and Finland have very big neighbours, Thailand is close to both China and India and Finland to Russia. We also have some similarities when it comes to ancient art and traditions she explains. She has seen many parts of Thailand and likes Chiang Mai in the north very much and also Kao Yai. “We will of course, explore much more of Thailand before we have to leave (in 2-3 years) and soon we will visit Krabi”. I used to travel frequently to Myanmar, before we opened an Embassy there. It’s a very interesting and beautiful place she says. She sees both Myanmar and Cambodia facing difficult times now, a very sad situation. Asia is a fascinating continent and I would love to see more of it, she tells me. Where would you like your next destination to be if you could choose? “Oh, I would very much like to stay in Asia, but if not possible, I would rather be in a country close to home. My parents live in Finland and I go home to see them and friends as much as possible, so I’m happy that Finnair has such a good flight connections,” she says with a smile. I am also happy flying with Finnair. They also have excellent connections with Sweden and offer a very good service and comfort, I added. I also had to ask if she has time to socialise with her countrymen. “Yes of course, I try to engage myself as much as possible. I am often taking part in events by the Thai/ Finnish Chamber of Commerce and not long ago, a group of Finnish women started FINWA (Finnish Women’s Association) and they have already met with the IWC (International Women’s Club) exchanging ideas and experiences. We, as most other Embassies, are also inviting our countrymen to celebrate Independence Day.” Can I tell you about an idea that FINWA is trying to introduce to Thailand Mrs Satu asks me. She tells me that in Finland, when you expect a baby, you receive a so-called “Baby Box” from the government, as a gift. These comprise of a pack of diapers, a baby bottle, comforter and many more items that a baby needs and the box can also become converted into a bed. The members in FINWA are bringing this idea to Thailand and collect items to put in boxes and donate to the less privileged women and their babies here in Thailand. I think they are doing a wonderful job. What is your goal, what is most important for you to achieve during your time as an Ambassador to Thailand? For H.E. Mrs Satu, one of the most important things is to strengthen the bonds between Finland and Thailand, to open doors for the Finnish companies and of course, support the Thai people in their efforts to strengthen the education system. Education is the way out of poverty and I hope, all Thai children will be given possibility to study and reach

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a higher degree. We have some Thai students in Finland and we also send students to Thailand. We have designed teacher education programmes for our Thai partners and we frequently send professors to Thailand to assist the domestic group of teachers as well as students. Many students then do a follow up in Finland. Daniel, who had been a silent participant and very interested listener, ended with asking “Why would a tourist like to go and visit Finland, what is unique about this northern country?” Easy question to answer Mrs Satu quickly said “first of all; the nature, the clean air, the great architecture, the sauna and much, much more”. She also told us that Helsinki has become such a cool, trendy city. “A year ago, a big swimming pool was built in the city of Helsinki and on the sea, where people can swim all year round. Isn’t that a fun and fantastic idea”, she asked us. What can we say, it sounds like a very tempting destination so let’s go …. Finland next! We said farewell to Mrs Satu who rushed to another floor in the same building to take part in a meeting with the EU Ambassadors. Thank you H.E. Mrs Satu Suikkari-Kleven for an educational and nice meeting at your modern and tastefully designed office.

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Education

Wellbeing and schools in a changing world by Christopher Nicholls

Some of us look back on our schooldays with misty eyes and a nostalgic sense of longing for lost youth. Others may remember a prison of relentless torment and stark, meaningless unhappiness. Many recall perhaps both, to varying degrees. Today as adults, we may have children of our own; but are they facing the same demons? In some ways the answer is probably yes: it is not always easy being a child, especially as age reaches double digits, but saying ‘schools have changed’, or ‘schools haven’t changed’ does not really explain enough. Schools are not now – nor have they ever been – all the same. What we as parents are faced with today is a range of choices that can make a significant difference to our children’s lives both now and for the future. Working through those choices can be a frustrating affair, so Iet us examine a few of the current areas of focus in schools. What are schools for? On the surface, the easy answer is: schools are for learning, which begins with ‘primary’, or ‘elementary’ education: reading, writing and using

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numbers. This should give children a foundation of skills, knowledge and understanding to be able to function effectively and independently in society. Then the learning moves on to ‘secondary’ education, where those basics are applied to more complex, specific areas such as science, literature, languages, mathematics and so forth. This should enable young people to enter the world of work, or their university of choice, with confidence. This explanation is essentially correct – but it is also a long way from being the whole story. School is for a lot more: we must remember the truth that our children are not just pupils or students, they are also human beings who think, feel, like, dislike, play, suffer, worry, enjoy and live. As a teacher, I am aware that

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it is quite easy to perform teaching without acknowledging this truth, by simply standing at the front, drilling your charges about facts and figures, assigning tasks and administering punishments when someone is disobedient. That is the image many people have of teachers – and, in some (but not good enough) ways, it is an approach that works. So what is modern day teaching like? The best teaching and, therefore, learning in school is not just about book learning (though that remains a very important element) and obedience delivered wholesale by omniscient teacher leaders to omni-ignorant pupil followers. Education should never just be an exercise in information transfer, from teacher to student. This is a more


valid point in the 21st century than ever before: if your smartwatch can access Google Search, why do we need to know anything anymore? Actually, there are plenty of good reasons for still knowing things, but knowledge these days is no longer power in the traditional context. Today, knowledge is fuel for thinking. Thinking is fascinating when you, well, think about it. Of course, we are all thinking most of the time – some conscious activity is happening in our brains – but the thinking that a good school teaches is a more structured process. It is fundamentally scientific method: observe, formulate ideas, gather information, analyse, identify what is true, and repeat. This applies equally across the whole range of classes and activities that take place in school. A Robotics class experiments with alternative means of fulfilling a challenging brief; a Mathematics class explores the properties of three-dimensional shapes; a Physical Education class undergoes different training methods to discover which works best; a Mandarin Chinese class tests out alternative grammar structures until the correct ones start to make sense. Trained in this ability to be rational, children can become

independent minded and think intelligently for themselves. This is possibly the most important goal of top-quality education: giving children the tools to create paradigms, not just to understand those that already exist. What is ‘educating the whole child’? As well as ‘thinking’, all good schools these days talk about ‘educating the whole child.’ At Wellington College, what we mean is taking seriously, as part of the fabric of education, everything and anything that children may have interest in, aptitude for, and motivation towards, and not simply using it as an add-on or a piece of sales-friendly decoration. We take it so seriously because we recognise that all learning is valuable and it all contributes to the creation of the person we become. So our curriculum itself is broad and deep, embracing the widest range of subjects and disciplines, but further than that, we schedule further productive activities, in sport, music, creative and performing arts, coding and so forth as part of the regular school day. And the staff interact with the students in multiple ways – not just as class or subject teachers but also as pastoral guides, coaches, mentors and, sometimes, peers in learning. (My own

experience of learning to ski at age 47 on a whole school ski trip, alongside 11 year olds of much greater ability and potential, is a story for another day!) But even that is still not the whole story. One of the comments I hear most often from parents is ‘I can’t understand it – my child seems to love school. I hated school when I was young!’ Naturally, I am delighted to hear it, although to some extent I am sure the parent may have somehow forgotten all the good times. One of our aims as modern-day teachers is to create the conditions for children and young people thoroughly to enjoy, and make the most of, school. However, full-time enjoyment – twenty-four-houra-day, seven-day-a-week happiness – is just not feasible, either in or out of school. Life does not, and cannot, work that way. What is ‘Wellbeing’? And so to Wellbeing, the final big piece of the puzzle. To be exact, Wellbeing does not teach us how to be happy, but it does teach us how to be ready to be happy: how to be resilient, emotionally strong, open minded, thoughtful, mindful and aware. It teaches us to take responsibility for our actions and our feelings, to think critically and to care about others EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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as well as ourselves. It is not a topic that we grade (life does that for us) but it is one we take very seriously at Wellington College. Wellbeing as part of a school curriculum was pioneered more than a decade ago at Wellington College in the UK. In 2006, the school’s then Master, the legendary Dr Anthony Seldon, and Ian Morris, a teacher of the traditional PSHE course (Personal, Social and Health Education), teamed up with Dr Nick Baylis, then a lecturer at Cambridge University, to develop a unique course designed to provide young people with a set of emotional and intellectual skills which would enable them to approach, confront and move past the challenges and difficulties that life inevitably places in all our paths. A decade may not seem to be a long time in the history of education, but in that time Wellbeing has gone from being viewed as a fringe or gimmicky notion to being a subject that is increasingly popular in schools, particularly British and British-style schools, around the world. In fact, many of the roots of Wellbeing as an area for study actually stretch back more than twenty three centuries, to the work of Aristotle and, specifically, his view that how well a person reaches her potential

is the measure of how successful, or happy, that person ultimately is. For Aristotle, it is the exercise of Virtue (generosity, courage, friendship, eventemperedness, and so on) that leads to this goal. Learning Wellbeing involves finding out about ourselves – our own personal strengths and weaknesses, aptitudes, abilities and so forth. In his recent book, ‘Behave: the Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst’ (2017), American neuro endocrinologist and author Robert Sapolsky notes that human biology is ‘about propensities, potentials, vulnerabilities, predispositions, proclivities, interactions, modulations, contingencies, if/then clauses, context dependencies, exacerbation or diminution of preexisting tendencies’. So it is with Wellbeing: we recognise and appreciate that people are individuals, not cookie cutter products of either environment or genetic inheritance. And since anything can make a positive or negative difference to someone’s development, we believe the best way to support children during their formal education is by helping them to be aware, proactive, thoughtful and strong at their core, as people who understand what is happening, rather than simply reacting to events and occurrences. A note on technology Some years ago, technology was a serious sales point: one-to-one laptop schools; Apple environments, iPads in every classroom, and so forth. Some schools tried to go paperless and a lot of experimenting occurred. Then, to some extent, the brakes were applied (or at least seat belts were fastened)

as the weaknesses, as well as the dangers, of Connected Education became clearer. Use of digital technologies is now second nature to children and (many) adults and we are no longer so excited by the shininess of our new toys. Today, the key issues are security (we need sophisticated filtering systems to protect children); responsible use – a lot of work goes into this; a healthy balance between digital and analogue work; smooth communication; and up-to-date access to enormously exciting opportunities for collaborative and creative study and research. As educators, we are constantly committed to finding the Goldilocks zone – not too much and not too little – for technology in the classroom. So when it comes to Wellbeing, or Technology, or anything else in fact, there is no 'one size fits all' educational model that works. When we are not only asking 'what is the coefficient of friction?', or 'what does a jellyfish eat?' but also 'who am I?' and 'how can I make other peoples' lives better?', every answer, for every individual, will be different. At the best schools, what you get is a truly individualised, progressive education, allowing for the fullest and most powerful exploration of the answers to these and many, many more questions.

Christopher Nicholls is the Founding Master of Wellington College International School Bangkok. He has worked in some of the world’s top British schools, in the UK, Europe, Singapore and Tokyo. Wellington College is one of the UK’s most well-respected schools, with an enviable reputation as a genuine leader and innovator in the field of educational philosophy and practice in the UK and, increasingly, across the world.

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Education

Why wellbeing should be part of a child’s education by Nick Goligher, Brighton College Bangkok

I think we would all agree that today’s world is ‘loud’, both literally and metaphorically. We face tremendous levels of sensory stimulation, be it in the form of noise, traffic, crowds of people, clutter, and ever-present electronic devices. It is within this modern era that paying attention to a child’s wellbeing is of prime importance, particularly if we want them to develop into well-rounded individuals, who can achieve academically and are able to flourish as global citizens of the future. For a child, achieving positive wellbeing requires support from anyone who spends an extended amount of time with them on a regular basis, however this piece concentrates on why a focus on wellbeing should be part of a child’s educational experience. The Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations defines pupil wellbeing as “a sustainable state of positive mood and attitude, resilience and satisfaction with self, relationships and experiences at school.” 1 Much research2, 3 has highlighted links between pupil health and education, which provides conclusive evidence underlining the value for schools (and their pupils) in making wellbeing a discrete part of their curriculum. Key points highlighted by a Public Health England briefing in 20144 included: • Pupils with better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better academically.

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• Effective social and emotional competencies are associated with greater health and wellbeing, and better achievement. • The culture, ethos and environment of a school influences the health and wellbeing of pupils and their readiness to learn. • A positive association exists between academic attainment and physical activity levels of pupils. Top achieving schools have led the way in focusing on a number of areas where they can help to support and improve their pupils’ general wellbeing. These include promoting social and emotional learning to give pupils important skills in cooperation, empathy, resilience, responsible decision making and effective problem solving. As children acquire knowledge, attitudes and skills through a range of social and emotional learning experiences, they learn how to understand and control their emotions, establish and achieve goals and establish supportive relationships, building a strong sense of self-worth and self-belief. These give children the confidence to take risks, to try new things, to step out of


their comfort zone, to not be afraid of failure. Sometimes the most meaningful learning is achieved through trying, failing, amending and trying again. By engaging pupils through inspirational, innovative and individualised learning, schools can build a relationship between wellbeing and attainment that is mutually beneficial. “Engaged students do better and doing better increases engagement.”5 Children who are taught by professionals who differentiate the learning for every child in their class, who look beyond the ‘normal’ way of instruction to motivate and challenge their pupils and who break down barriers between subjects to develop inter-disciplinary awareness and create relevance, are interested, motivated and excel. Alongside this, praising a child’s efforts rather than focusing on the end product, has long reaching implications in terms of a child’s attainment and their wellbeing, many of which are outlined in Carol Dweck’s studies on Growth Mindset6. We have seen the impact of this at Brighton College, where praising and celebrating our pupil’s efforts rather than the final accomplishment has led to not only increased levels of effort but of achievement as well. It is equally vital that schools create a safe and nurturing physical and emotional environment for their pupils. As Public Health England states “the physical and social environment in which staff and pupils spend a high proportion of every weekday must have profound effects on the physical, emotional and mental health as well as affecting their attainment.” It goes without saying that schools should be a place where children are safe from danger, somewhere

that affords child protection the upmost importance. The development of positive relationships between all parts of a school community - pupils, staff and parents, is also critical in promoting a supportive emotional environment, free from negative behaviours such as bullying. Leading schools have also increasingly focused on providing a physical environment that actively promotes learning and nurtures wellbeing, rather than one of formal, institutionalised spaces. Children learn best when they are comfortable and making a school a welcoming and homely environment helps them to progress. The schools successfully promoting positive pupil wellbeing are the ones who take a whole school approach, where wellbeing under pins all aspects of academic life. This reflects the holistic concept of wellbeing, whereby the focus is on engaging and developing the multi-dimensional levels of each child’s character - physical, emotional, psychological and social. In the modern world schools have a responsibility to promote the wellbeing of children and elevate its importance within the academic environment. Schools not only help shape a child’s mental and physical health they also play a broader role in the development of young people in becoming thoughtful, caring citizens who respect themselves, others and the world around them. As the Chief Medical Officer of England reported in 2012 “promoting physical and mental health in schools creates a virtuous circle reinforcing children’s attainment and achievement that in turn improves their wellbeing, enabling children to thrive and achieve their full potential.”8

1. Australian Catholic University and Erebus International (2008). Scoping study into approaches to student wellbeing: Literature review. Canberra: Report to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 2. Bradley B and Greene A (2013). Do health and education agencies in the United States share responsibility for academic achievement and health? A review of 25 years of evidence about the relationship of adolescents and academic achievement and health behaviours. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52 (5), 523-32 3. Suhrcke M, de Paz Nieves C (2011). The impact on health and health behaviours on educational outcomes in high income countries: a review of the evidence. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe 4. Brooks F (2012). The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment. A briefing for head teachers, governors and staff in education settings. London: Public Health England 5. Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (2015). Student Wellbeing: Literature review. Sydney: NSW Department for Education & Communities: 6. Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: the new psychology of success. New York: Random House. 7. The Independent (2016) Children with no shoes on ‘do better in classroom’, major study finds. Accessed 01 November 2017: http://www.independent.co.uk/ news/education/education-news/schools-encouraged-to-adopt-no-shoes-policy-to-improve-pupils-learning-and-behaviour-a7044576.html 8. Brooks F (2013). Chapter 7: Life stage: School Years, in Chief Medical Officer's annual report 2012: Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention Pays, ed. Professor Dame Sally C Davies. London: Department of Health

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St Andrews Dusit light the way! Through their “Light Up Learning” event, St Andrews Dusit teamed with Solar Buddy to help brighten the futures of underprivileged children at Chiang Mai’s Baan Dek Fourndation. On the 27th of October, St Andrews Dusit campus had the pleasure of hosting representatives from the Solar Buddy Organisation, a charity that works to help alleviate the problem of energy poverty around the world. St Andrews Dusit are the first school in Thailand to team up with Solar Buddy and begin this exciting initiative! Solar Buddy were invited by Mrs Ratcliffe, the Head teacher of St Andrews Dusit campus, to come to the school and talk to the students about their programme to help marginalised people that face energy poverty. Mrs Ratcliffe was astounded to learn that an estimated 4.8 million people die from using kerosene lanterns to help them perform every day tasks such as reading, studying and cooking. The devastating effects of these lamps kill more people every year than Malaria and HIV combined so Mrs Ratcliffe felt compelled to try and involve the students in her care and help in some way. After learning about this problem and the solutions that Solar Buddy are providing, Mrs Ratcliffe enlisted the assistance of Debbie Rowan, Head of S.T.E.A.M at St Andrews Dusit (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics). The STEAM programme at the Dusit campus enables students to develop skills in different subject

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areas that extend their learning into physical skills linked to meaningful and motivating projects. These skills enabled the learning to have real impact; students learnt how to build their own solar lights, developed empathy for those less fortunate than themselves and learnt a great deal about resilience and not giving up … assembling the Solar Buddy lights was a challenging task! The representatives from Solar Buddy spent the day in school, educating students about energy poverty and discussing how they are working to solve the issue for others in several areas across the world. The students were told about how people without access to electrical energy use alternate methods for lighting, heating and unsafe fuel generators that can lead to major health issues. During the day, the St Andrews Dusit students were shown the solar light kits that Solar Buddy have developed to help solve energy poverty. The students were shown how to put together the solar electric kits and were guided through the process by the representatives and class teachers, using the resources at the school's STEAM room to help them complete the solar light kits.


The kits that the students assembled were then tested to make sure they worked before being packed up ready to be sent to Chiang Mai. The students were given a chance to write letters to the unknown recipients, encouraging them to use the lights with their own studies. This helped the students to understand what it means to help others and be a global citizen in today’s world. At the end of the day, the whole school came together to share their experiences from the event. The lights in the assembly hall were turned off and the excitement in the air was palpable. The children began singing together in the darkness and suddenly the solar lights were turned on with the children waving them together from side to side; a truly wonderful sight. Overall the experience was incredible. The students were able to learn about a global problem, learn about how they can help and why it is important and then take part in a practical solution. The students developed empathy for those less fortunate and they are so proud that they have contributed to making a difference. St Andrews Dusit feel very thankful that they were able to work with Solar Buddy to help the children from the Baan Dek Foundation in Chiang Mai and ultimately work towards helping the world to become a better place. Solar Buddy has held workshops in several countries, including Australia, New Zealand, China and now Thailand. The light kits that they produce help people all over the world, including people in Myanmar, Nepal, India, Ethiopia, Ghana and now, thanks to St Andrews Dusit campus, in Thailand too. The company hope to increase their support for people all over the world in the coming years. “I felt really helpful and supportive when I was making the solar lights. I loved the ‘Light up Learning’ day and had so

much fun. We are always told that if you help other people, you will always get a reward. This day has made me feel really happy.’ Quote from Maheen a Year 6 student “Being a Headteacher is the best job in the world made even more wonderful when you can involve your students in initiatives such as these where they learn about how to be a global citizen and help others less fortunate than themselves.” Caroline Ratcliffe, Head teacher at St Andrews Dusit campus “Special thanks to St Andrews Dusit for reaching out to us and wanting to participate in the Solar Buddy project. The format was great, as was the content. Every room we visited and every activity we saw was full of energy and interaction. The kids are amazing, very inquisitive and intelligent, and clearly had a lot of fun learning about energy poverty and renewable energy. Your teachers are all very passionate and should be proud of the work they are doing! We truly couldn't have wished for a better school to collaborate with for our first school project here in Thailand”. Greg Maloney, Solar Buddy representative for Thailand “It is collaboration like this - in so many different forms - that makes it possible to support underserved communities and disadvantaged children. St Andrews Dusit’s support of this creative Solar Buddy initiative is truly appreciated, and we'll make sure it has a positive impact on the communities we work with. Allison Sanders, Partnerships Coordinator at Baan Dek Foundation EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Education

Cool and cruel - the problem with phones in school by Peter Hogan, Principal at Regent’s International School, Bangkok

Every parent has to decide at what age to give a child a phone or if to give them one at all. However in my experience the question isn't if families should get one - but when and which one. It seems part of the growing process for most children and while having a phone isn’t a necessity it seems more and more like one. Every child seems to want one and few seem to live their lives without one but this doesn’t answer the big questions about the impact of handing over a phone and letting children roam free. Families who haven’t been through this will wonder when is best - what age is just too young to have a phone when there is always someone in your child’s class who has one already? In youth parlance there is the FOMO (fear of missing out) as "everyone" has got one and the accompanying pester power can be hard to resist. Then there are the more obvious safety and communications reasons - having a phone is a sensible way to keep in touch and stay safe. In short there are plenty of practical, peer, social and commercial pressures. There are also loads of great teaching tools, translators, maps and apps to use in school to help teaching and learning. So what about the downside? New data from about online bullying is

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enough to make any parent or teacher stop and think. Reliable UK think tank Davos claim that almost a third of boys and just less than a quarter of girls admit to cyberbullying and this is most likely to take place via phones. Their Facebook and focus group research in different cities found “shockingly high incidence of hostile behaviour to peers”. Added to this over 90% of those who admit to bullying say they have been bullied online themselves. As a school leader in the UK and abroad I have had to deal with countless horrible experiences of phone bullying – it is a problem that crosses class, age, race and cultural barriers and I fear, it is not going away any time soon. So what do we do? What about

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

prohibition? One exclusive school in the UK has gone on the attack banning mobiles altogether. The Head’s criticism of “wretched parents” buying phones suggests she is out of sync with the needs and lifestyles of many families. When she said that she wanted to rid the school of WiFi altogether it was only the “huge international student rebellion” that stopped her. Such so called rebels have good reason for wanting to communicate with families when they are a long way from home. Bans seldom work and tend to subvert rather than solve issues. Even Demos, whose survey revealed the extent of phone bullying in schools, warns against barring young people from social media as they deem it

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counterproductive. When I posted this story on LinkedIn I received the most replies and most outrange I have ever had for an article. Many voiced concerns about the challenges of understanding the behaviour of modern children and it seems clear we have a way to go in balancing the good side of phones with what can be troublesome and downright dangerous. We have to be vigilant against one to one bullying online but also the growing problem of trolling contributing to the strings of negative and hateful messages added to website about anyone who is in the public eye. Evidence suggest that young people are all too willing to take part - some seeing it as cool to be cruel. Solutions are hard to find but schools are working hard through good safety policies, training staff to look out for the signs of bullying and providing information for families. The

“Almost a third of boys and just less than a quarter of girls admit to cyberbullying and this is most likely to take place via phones� best advice for anyone worried about this growing and important phenomena is to talk openly with their children and look out for changes in their behaviour. From the moment of giving a child a phone we should insist that it can never be completely private and parents should approach their school to raise concerns no matter how small. 10 signs your child may be the victim of cyberbullying 1. Spending more or less time on the phone or computer 2. Opting to delete accounts 3. Asking how to block others 4. Sudden surges of connections 5. Mood shifts after using social media

6. L  oss of self-esteem 7. C  hange in eating and sleeping habits 8. S  uddenly not wanting to go to school or losing interest in school 9. S  ecretive on the phone or computer 10. S  hutting off from family and friends peter.hogan@regents.ac.th

World

Regent’s


Education

Sixth form at Bromsgrove International School Thailand The growing student population at Bromsgrove International School Thailand (BIST) is having a positive effect on the campus. Not only are they attracting more students, but their student body is becoming more diverse and dynamic as a result. This is especially true of their sixth form population which has grown a staggering 130% in the last twelve months. With twenty nationalities represented in years 12 and 13 alone, they are truly an international school. BIST is currently the only international school in Bangkok to receive full approval from the Ministry of Education to offer the BTEC Diploma Programme. As a result, the unique sixth form pathways have attracted a cohort of students from a range of backgrounds. Their Diploma Programme allows flexibility to students, who are free to combine BTEC and A Level qualifications. By offering the BTEC programme in four different subjects their are assuring provision for a range of talents and interests that go beyond the traditional A Level subjects. With courses in Travel and Tourism and Creative Digital Media, the students have opportunities to learn more about the ever changing job market in the region and also to develop the skills required to get ahead in a fast paced media driven world. Their BTEC Sport course mixes elements of psychology, physiology and biology which opens doors to a range of sport and leisure industry based courses, and their BTEC Business programme is offering a practical approach to the subject, allowing students to get hands on experience before moving into further study. They are exceptionally proud of the students who have chosen the traditional pathway of A Levels and the outstanding results which they achieve. The majority of students go onto prestigious UK Universities, with Bromsgrovian’s being accepted into Oxford and Cambridge for the last 3 years in a row. Despite being a relitively small school, they have 16 A Level courses on offer, as well as 4 BTECs, meaning that sixth form student can make choices based on their interests, abilities and talents. The many subject choices on offer also means that Bromsgrove students benefit from smaller class sizes and a more personalised approach. Aside from academic qualifications, sixth form students have a wealth of opportunities to develop the skills and characteristics needed for success in higher education. They have a host of leadership roles open to students who want

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to take responsibility, from the prestigious titles of Head Boy and Head Girl, to class representatives and encourage all seniors to make the most of the experiences offered to them. In line with the school ethos, they place great value on community service and giving back to the wider community. Sixth form students are heavily involved in service projects, something they believe is an essential element to being a Global Citizen. In year 12 and year 13 students take part in Challenge Week. For them, this is a unique learning experience that takes them to Northern Thailand for a residential trip. They have worked closely with a local NGO to develop a programme that allows students to build resilience as individuals while also having a positive impact on the wider Thai community. The relationship that students build with the community they support will carry on for future sixth formers as they take part in their own Challenge Weeks in subsequent years. An extra-curricular activities programme has been devised to encourage engagement, creativity and an active lifestyle amongst our students. There are over 35 different activities available for students to choose from across the week, meaning students find ways to express themselves and enhance their abilities. Each student is guided towards activities that will improve their school profile, and support them to get the most from the programme. For the sixth form, this means they can look ahead to their university aspirations and consider how to shine in their future applications. All students at BIST take part in a unique programme designed by the school. BEAM, Building Effective Attitudes and Mindsets, has been created to fit the profile of their students. They have the opportunity to explore personal and social topics, whilst also gaining an appreciation for their role as Global Citizens. As they reach the senior year groups in the school, this becomes more focused as they consider their future pathways and career goals. In addition, they offer expert guidance in the application procedures required for


entry into university with each student supported personally by a pastoral team and experienced HE advisors. With such a vibrant group of young people benefiting from all they do at the school, the present growth trend looks set to continue. They are excited to see what their students can achieve in the coming years. Below are two extracts from interviews with two of the Class of 2017 graduating students, reflecting on their time at BIST: “As BIST is relatively small almost everyone knows each other, making me feel comfortable and settled. There were teachers that I could trust to talk to about problems or worries I had. If I were to describe the school using one word, it would definitely be ‘caring’. Even before choosing which universities I was going to apply to Bromsgrove had several universities visit the school, giving students advice on writing their personal statements and explaining the outlines of their various courses. The school offered many opportunities for us to take part in extra-curricular activities and take on roles in school that would add individuality to our personal statements and personal growth. I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Student Leadership Group as Deputy Head Girl - leading the Wellbeing Committee in school. In addition, I took part in the regional round of World Scholar's Cup, where my team qualified for the global rounds in Dubai. In terms of preparation for university, the higher education adviser was there to help me every step of the way. This included a weekly catch up session on my personal statement writing and also giving me the opportunity to do mock interviews. I am proud to call myself a Bromsgrove graduate as the school did not only allow me to grow academically; it also made me a more confident individual. Being one of the 10 Thai nationals to get accepted into the University of Cambridge this year makes me incredibly proud. I am honoured to represent both BIST and the Thai people overseas.” Papawarin (Ply) Pinji, Class of 2017, University of Cambridge, BA Architecture “I have been interested in science since I was a small child. At BIST, they offer an opportunity for Secondary students to attend our sister school, Bromsgrove School, UK (BUK) on a one-term placement. Whilst there I attended a speaking forum at BUK and I got to listen to a lecture from a professor of University of Warwick; a speech that inspired me to choose a scientific pathway at university. Once I returned from BUK, my physics teacher gave up his time during lunches to spend time with me further developing my knowledge and love of science. What I liked most about Bromsgrove was the wide array of opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. With support from teachers I led a Science Club inspiring the younger students to create and develop a range of science projects. Last but not least, the Bromsgrove Learner Profile attributes contributed to me becoming a truly global citizen - I see myself as part of fast changing and dynamic world. Bromsgrove has certainly prepared me for my future! Henry Millard, Class of 2017 Received an unconditional offer from Durham University, MSci in Natural Sciences. He is currently on a gap year for an internship with GITSDA

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FEATURES

Madame Astrid's diary by Madame Astrid Garcia

Madame Astrid (Amaya) Garcia is the wife of the Ambassador for Colombia to Thailand H.E. Andelfo Garcia and together they rank as one of the favourite diplomatic couples on the Bangkok social scene. They are always on the guest list and are well known, universally respected and liked by both their fellow Ambassador’s and spouses, Thai high society and the business community in Bangkok. They have been together since their high school days and make everyone feel so welcome and at ease in their company. Always have time to stop and talk and make further introductions to their friends in the diplomatic community. Expat Life is honoured that Madame Astrid finds time to share part of her privileged life with us and our readers as she typifies expat life in Thailand in engaging and connecting with the very best that Thailand has to offer the international residents that make up the writers and readers of this magazine. We sat down with Madame Astrid and tried to keep her sat still for an hour and for all those that know her well you will appreciate how difficult that is!

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Tell us about the wonderful art event you organised this month.    Well, the Embassy of Colombia, partnered with the Art Museum of Chulalongkorn University to offer a powerful art exhibition called ”Winds of Peace”. “Winds of Peace” was a contemporary art exhibition to celebrate the end of conflict in Colombia. The end of the war was a groundbreaking moment in Colombia's history. In recognition of this historic achievement the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Dr Juan Manuel Santos. “Winds of Peace” exhibited the works of three Colombian renowned artists. Mario Ayerbe, Leonardo Salazar and Andres Santodomingo. Mario Ayerbe travelled to Bangkok

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from the southern province of Huila, one of the regions that historically suffered the most from the scourge of violence. Today that region enjoys new winds, winds of peace, and an environment suitable for the flourishing of the arts and other expressions of human creation. I am pleased that the exhibition was such a great success not only because the number and quality of the attendees but because of the silent auction that took place in aid of the Yuvabadhana Foundation. The programme proved that Bangkok high society likes contemporary art, not only to see it, but to buy it and enjoy it at home with their family. The art world is seeing an important change across the globe and the far east is no exception as millennials and women are now the new art collectors, they are spending their money on meaningful and interesting things rather than just branded products. What was the best event you participated this month? The Indian Garba Dance Festival. The festival was organised by the Indian members of the diamond industry in Bangkok. I was invited to the Indian Navaratree celebration, a true celebration of good over bad. It was by far the most joyful festival that I have ever been to. The entire Indian family attended with children of all ages. Everybody was dressed in traditional costumes from the Gujarat province. The girls wore colourful, beautiful dresses with full makeup, and the boys had moustaches and wore face paint. They all danced in a big circle with people of all ages, and then there were dance competitions according to age. All the kids were so enthralled with their dancing that many lasted until 2am! I don’t want to miss it next October. What was your best trip this month? I went to the Philippines on a well organised trip by the International Women’s Club. I enjoyed it very much even though I was really sick on arrival but luckily for me one of the ladies travelling was a doctor so she gave me medicine

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and kept guard for me and it did not stop me from doing a zip line over the Blue Ladoon and sand surfing at their beautiful Dune. I was pampered by all the lovely ladies on the trip and thank them for their kindness. In Manila, the highlight was Intramuros, the “Walled City.” The famed site was built under Spanish colonial rule. Visitors should go to The Fort and have dinner at Barbara’s, an old-fashioned century house turned into a restaurant. Barbara’s has a cheerful, entertaining show of local performers of traditional artistry with lively Filipino dance and music. I visited two very interesting and well kept museums The National Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum. If you are more adventurous you will want to visit San Antonio, a very poor, old, traditional neighbourhood to get a feel of the real Manila. The best of the Philippines is to be seen travelling around the Unesco World Heritage sites. There you will enjoy the amazing landscapes while you travel from one town to another. Malacanang North with its Paoay Church, one of the four Baroque Churches in the Philippines that are part of Unesco sites, should definitely be seen. Vigan City in Ilocos Sur is considered as one of the seven most wonderful cities in the world was absolutely beautiful, we really needed more time to enjoy it all. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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“They are things that you do not have to teach but they come engraved in the soul” I bought two unique, hardwood, old sculptures and we all found local handmade fabrics to bring home. I think I will go back soon as I would like to visit many of the other islands in the Philippines. What are some of the important things you and the Ambassador have done together? I think the most important one has been raising our three sons. There are things that you do not have to teach but they come engraved in the soul, like the love for art, music and travelling. Children will love them. For Andelfo and I, to have original art, good music, some lovely friends and travelling has been very important in our lives. When we got married the most important thing was to have a good stereo for our music and art for the walls. Furniture was not on the list. We had a very inexpensive dining room and we just covered the table with a nice tablecloth. Our living room had big cushions on the floor with small round tables topped with museum art books for reading. I guess the importance of art came from how my parents raised us surrounded by art and constantly visiting museums. My mother used to tell us "look at the walls, there is where you find the difference, furniture is a necessity, art is the difference". For the first five years of marriage, we studied and worked, just to spend it all travelling and buying pieces of art on each trip (200USD was our maximum art investment budget on each piece). When our first son was born, my mother said, “Now that you have a son you have to start thinking of buying a house.” Then we started thinking of moving from renting to buying a house. No matter what, we still did big trips with the kids

“Look at the walls, there is where you find the difference” every year, they grew up loving to research and visit the different countries and cultures we experienced. We knew that the importance of having original art with you was already passed on to them when the first thing that my sons thought of when they moved in to live with their now wives, was to ask for a piece of art from the family collection. How will you celebrate Christmas and New Year this year? We had always celebrated Christmas with the whole family, mainly in New York, but now that our sons are all married we have had to adapt our plans and be more flexible. We are lucky that our daughters in law are now part of our yearly celebrations. One year when Andelfo was working in London, we had to go to New York to celebrate Christmas together and then return the next day for an official event in London. We did not want to break the tradition. New Year’s Eve too was always the same as we wanted to be with family and friends, but now we have to share our sons with their wives’ family, so we celebrate with whoever is available, their families and many good friends.

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Travel

Khao Sok - reservoir monkeys by Scott and Nori Brixen

My confidence was beginning to slip. After a one-hour flight to Surat Thani, a one-hour drive and a one-hour wait we were motoring away from the deeply unimpressive Ratchabhrapha “Light of the Kingdom” dam across an underwhelming lake. Logan had fallen asleep on the bow, at least until it started drizzling. The other boys had ‘are we there yet?’ on repeat. Nori was giving me that ‘what have I let you get me into again?’ look. Then we cut hard left. The break in the high karst ridge wasn’t even visible until we were in it. Suddenly, we were in a narrow channel between towering, jungle-topped peaks. Deep inlets framed by soaring grey cliffs extended to the horizon. There were mini ‘James Bond’ islands, Krabi-like limestone walls and tiny coves where you’d need climbing shoes to go ‘ashore’.       How can I describe Khao Sok National Park’s extraordinary Chiaow-Lan lake? It’s like the Eurasian love child of a Norwegian fjord and a Thai jungle. It’s like a flooded

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Guilin, China. It’s Vietnam’s Halong Bay with an overactive pituitary. It’s better and real-er than Avatar’s Pandora. It is so mind-blowingly spectacular that it seems impossible. It’s totally karstastic. How is this not world-famous? What makes the nature of Chiaow Lan lake so staggering is that it isn’t truly natural. In 1982, Thailand’s national electricity utility, EGAT, started building the dam and power station that would hold back the Klong Saeng River and provide 240MW of much-needed electricity to Thailand’s

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“It’s like the Eurasian love child of a Norwegian fjord and a Thai jungle”

southern provinces. Somewhat cruelly, the new lake/reservoir took its name from the town it flooded. Nearly 400 families were forced to resettle. It took a year for the reservoir to fill. King Rama IX officially opened the Ratchabhrapha Dam (it could also be translated as “The King’s Light”) in May 1987 on his Majesty’s 60th birthday.   Reservoirs drown. Reservoirs hide. Reservoirs turn valleys into inlets, outcrops into islands and villages into dive sites. They disrupt the immemorial flow of current and fish and sediment and submerge whole biomes. It’s no surprise that NGOs and environmentalists hate them. But sometimes destruction is creative, beautiful and necessary. That’s what God (and the King) thought anyway. We shouldn’t forget the resettled people and the billions of creatures that died as the water levels rose. But we should also rejoice at the post diluvian wonderland that was created. Importantly, this wasn’t a case of an authoritarian government uprooting families, withholding proper compensation and plonking them down in some inferior location. As a Royal project, King Bhumibol was adamant that the villagers were treated fairly and that the project benefits far outweighed the costs. Each family received 19 rai suitable for rubber plantations, another rai for their house and 1,000B month (about US$30) until the rubber trees reached tapping age.   

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An extraordinary place deserves extraordinary accommodation and the 500 rai “Floating Resort” is just that. (A ‘rai’ is a Thai unit of measurement equal to 0.4 acres. So that’s 200 acres.) An arc of floating villas extends from the main reception/restaurant building - a sort of Maldives-onthe-Lake. The rooms are simple woodpanelled affairs but very comfortable; this is no teenage summer camp. Every room has amazing views. And extending into the lake is something I had never seen before: a floating pool.

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Each room has kayaks tethered to the deck. I had the kids take turns as I paddled around the wild coastline. We saw monkeys cavorting in stands of bamboo, heard hornbills go ‘bonk!’ as they flew overhead and explored nearby islets. We joined a guided excursion that culminated in a very steep (and sharp) hike to a vantage point that put the whole reservoir into perspective. And naturally, we spent hours in the pool. If your kids can’t swim, I’d wait until they can. But if your kids are adventurous, love animals and are confident in the water, this place is a fantasy. Warning: If you visit this website, you’ll want to start planning your next Thailand trip. www.500rai.com PS I want to stuff a tent, camping supplies, bug spray, binoculars, sunscreen and food into dry bags and tow it behind my SUP as I spend a week exploring the reservoir’s bronchi. I want to scout for epic cliff-jumping locations. I want to hike, scramble and spelunk. I want to discover new species that evolved on suddenly enisled mountains. I want to scuba in drowned forests. There is so much adventure waiting to be had in Khao Sok that my pulse races every time I think about it.

Scott & Nori are avid travellers and knowledge seekers who have travelled to 110 plus countries across all 7 continents. Now they're sharing their wanderlust with their two sets of twin boys, Tai, Logan, Drake and Kiva. Follow their travels at www.twotwinstwavel.com

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OceansideBeachClub @putahracsa

P UTA H R AC SA HUA HI N 22/65 Neab Kaehat Road Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan 77110


Travel

Krabi beach holiday by Cody Jackson

I just got back from a remarkable vacation. My husband and I went to Krabi. There is so much to do there. You can be a beach bum, kayak, beach hop, hike and eat to your heart's desire! We did all of the above. We did two nights on Ao Nang then we beach hopped over on a long tail boat to Tonsai Beach. The boat ride was only fifteen minutes and the views were alluring. We saw huge cliffs surrounded by crystal clear blue waters. The pounding waves crashed against the cliffs and we could hear the sea breaking around us. It was music to my soul and I was dancing with excitement. The boat came to a stop and we hopped off the boat into knee high water carrying our luggage on our shoulders. We looked like we were performing a circus act! None of that mattered because we were in paradise. As we were walking to our resort we were greeted by monkeys but they weren’t monkeys that we had seen before. They had black fur with white around their eyes. I found out these monkeys are called the Spectacled Langur. We were feet away from them and they just went about their monkey business eating their leaves. I could tell right away that these monkeys were used to seeing humans and we were going to see many more of them later. Once we checked in and got settled we went exploring. There is so much to do! We took a hike over the cliff to Railay Beach. The beach had the softest sand I had ever felt. It wasn’t crowded and once you get your feet into the water you won’t want to leave. The ocean water felt warm, like bathwater. If you ever go to Krabi you must make it a point to

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check out Railay Beach. You won’t be disappointed. You can sunbathe, swim, kayak, hike and eat till your full. We did all of the above. Our time at the beach ended when a storm came rolling in. When it started raining everyone quickly left the beach and headed back to their resorts. We were the only ones still out and about. The rain didn’t dampen our vacation. We packed up our stuff and went to find Phranang Cave. We figured it’d be a great opportunity to find it and have the cave to ourselves. While we walked to the cave we passed a sign that read lagoon and viewpoint. We were confused, where was the path to the viewpoint? We looked up and all we could see where sharp rocks proceeding up a steep mountain. There was a rope hanging down from the top that looked like it had been bolted down on a rock. No way could that be the way to the viewpoint. To our surprise, it was. A sign was clearly posted that read “CAUTION This trail is strenuous, muddy, and slippery when wet. Not recommended after rain.” Since it was clearly raining we decided that we would hike that trail the next day if it was better weather. So on we went to find Phranang Cave. Once we exited a small pathway we were on Phranang Beach and sitting right in front of us was the beautiful cave. The rain had let up and we as we walked to the cave I had to detour because I noticed from the corner of my eye a very unusual shrine. The shrine had phallic symbols carved from wood stacked as high as four feet. The phallic sculpture is known as a “lingam” in Thailand. Locals believe the lingam can create fertility and prosperity for the entire world if left at the cave of the Phranang. I didn’t see any locals at the time at the shrine but I did read that fisherman stop here to give offerings at this shrine.

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To get to Phranang cave you have to wade through the water to the limestone cliffs. Once you are there it’s breathtaking being inside a cave in the ocean. We followed the clay mud paths that led us to the opening on the other side of the cliff. You could easily sit here for hours and watch the ocean and the long tail boats go by. We climbed up the rocks to get a good view of Phranang Beach. The next day we put on our hiking gear to go to the Railay viewpoint and princess lagoon. I was nervous because I hadn’t rock climbed before. My husband assured me he will be there to help me so that put me at ease. Once we got there and got started it came natural. I was climbing up the steep mountain very carefully and having loads of fun! It was challenging and we got very muddy but that made the experience even better. We read reviews to not climb in flip flops and not to climb in good clothes because you will get clay mud on you. The reviews were spot on as you can tell from our pictures. The climb to the lagoon was the most challenging because after you climb up the steep mountain you have to climb down the other side to get to the lagoon. You have to climb down another set of rocks and down three bamboo ladders. There is also a mud pit, most likely from all the rain, that you can’t dodge and your feet will be so muddy. I tried extremely hard to balance on a log and not fall in but the log was slippery and there I went! Luckily, the lagoon was only three bamboo ladders away and I washed off. The lagoon was serene and it was a nice reward for such a strenuous climb.

I absolutely love being in nature and experiencing new adventures. We loved visiting Krabi and overall had a wonderful trip. We got to see Tonsai beach, Phranang Beach, Phranang Cave, princess lagoon, and Railay Beach! We brought home some unforgettable memories and not to mention a great tan.

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A weekend by the River Kwai by Harris Woodman

We left Bangkok in rush hour on a Friday evening in congested traffic in the rain. At one point we sat stationary between Thong Lor and Phrom Pong for over 20 minutes and then when we did eventually move an impatient young lady decided to run into the side of my car doing a U turn. An hour and a half later when police, insurance companies and their investigative agents had been called and explained patiently to the young lady that she was in the wrong and had to accept liability we were finally on our way again. What a perfect start to the weekend. As a result we did not get to the hotel until just before 10pm tired from the 145kms nearly 3 hour drive up the 323. We had booked into the Felix River Kwai Resort some 500 metres from the world famous bridge. Exhausted from the long week and tiring drive we showered and fell into bed. Waking early next morning we walked through the hotel’s pleasant gardens to the dining room and had breakfast. Supplemented we decided to drive into town and get our bearings before the coaches and day trippers arrived. Touring round we saw Kanchanaburi waking up to a Saturday morning, the locals going about their daily life, opening their shops. The focal point is obviously the river and the Bridge over the River Kwai. Which is actually a replica of the

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original bridge after the bridge was attacked and bombed by Allied aircraft built some 5 kilometres from the town on Kanchanaburi. We have all seen the film, read the book or heard of the dreadful loss of life. The real history of how the railway between Burma and China was built, including the bridge, is a horrific story. The British didn't build the railway in the 19th century because it was deemed to be too expensive and an impossible task. During World War II, the invading Japanese took on the project, but expected it to take five years to complete. Those plans were drawn before they found a source of free labour: the Allied POWs. Because of the inhuman amount of labour forced on the prisoners, the railway line that was expected to take five years to complete was ready in only 16 months. The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway.

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An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma. Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma, worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre. Starvation provisions, overloading of work, dismal or absent accommodation and sanitation, and the individual viciousness of Japanese and Korean engineers and guards, took their expected toll. Disease (predominantly dysentery, malaria, beriberi and cholera), brutality (69 men were beaten to death by their guards) and 12 to 18 hour daily work shifts made for a high death rate. In fact, the work went on 24 hours a day with the aid of oil pot lamps and bamboo/wood fires that were kept burning all night long. When looking down on the work area at night it looked like working in the “jaws of hell” - thus the workers gave it the name “Hellfire Pass”. The city is now a tourist destination for local and international visitors alike. The cemeteries are a solemn reminder of what the city really should be remembered for but the river trips, dinner cruises and disco boats now vying their trade downriver towed by powerful tugboats seem to be one of the key attractions for visitors now. As we dined by the river directly across from our hotel the train rumbled over the replica bridge 500 metres away and the gaily lit riverboats created a moving vista. We meanwhile dined out on a delicious fare of seafood and river

prawns. The busy restaurant was turning over tables quickly with the staff climbing up the stairs with large trays of food and drinks. Kanchanaburi is the largest of the western provinces and there are other attractions to take in. The Erawan waterfall is known as one of the most pictorial falls in SE Asia and it is 65kms and just over an hour from the city. A further hour away is the Huay Mae Khamin waterfall both located in dense jungle surrounds. there are also a number of caves within an hours drive to the city if you want to go beneath terra firma. I am told that there are 9, 18 hole golf courses in and around which keep the expats happy. I am pleased to report that the controversial Tiger Temple is now closed, not that I would have endorsed it with a visit anymore than I would ride an elephant. The quicker the authorities rid Thailand of these questionable so called ‘attractions’ and stop exploiting and violating wildlife the better. I feel that same about zoos. I know I would not like to be stuck behind bars in a limited confine for the rest of my life. The Felix River Kwai Resort is a 4 star resort built on a 130 rai plot of riverfront land. There are 255 rooms with warm wood finishing and private balconies that open out to pretty gardens and or a pleasant view of the River Kwai. There are two swimming pools, a spa with saunas, a health and massage centre, a fitness centre, tennis courts and a jogging track along the riverside. It was pleasant to walk alongside the river - it was quiet and had a calming effect on my partner and I and we had a nice weekend that was over too soon. We shall definitely return to explore the region more.

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Nepal: land of dreams by Margaret Elizabeth Johnston ND

Laos, Malaysia, Bali (I can’t really say Indonesia since I just stayed on Bali!) and now Nepal, where I find myself today! Combining travel with my medicinal plant studies has been a different journey than planned and now even my way of depicting and area has differed. A very personalised painting with lots of symbolism isn’t what I normally paint, however, perhaps being in the land of dreams, fantasy and heights has inspired something inside me to do something a bit different. Nepal is a beautiful country to visit and as I find myself here, as my SE Asian journey has continued, I enjoyed creating a painting that I felt encompassed quite a few interests of mine; the lotus flower, Tibetan prayer flags, water and dreams! I included dreams here because sometime when one is in a magical place, magical dreams may come. There is a system called “honouring your dreams”, which means if you wake with a strong dream,

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you write it down, as much as you can remember, and by virtue of this action you have a tendency to remember more of your dreams. The psyche realises you are “honouring” them and even more meaningful and stronger dreams will come to guide you. Being in Nepal is giving me space to do just this! Not coming for trekking brings its own gifts. Katmandu is a lively city to say the least, however, I have

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based myself in Pokhara, where a lot of trekkers come to do the Annapurna circuit or parts of it. There are a few lakes in the area, the main one called Phewa, where you can rent a boat and paddle out for the day, crossing the lake to the base of the World Peace Pagoda way up high on the mountain, do a small hike to it, and have an all encompassing view of the city of Pokhara. You can also rent a scooter or bicycle and cruise around, eat at the local restaurants on the lake and enjoy light nightlife as the sun sets. There are a few day hikes, loads of good bookstores and coffee cafes and a general relaxed wellbeing permeates this town. I joined a yoga centre/spa called Holy Garden that not only has traditional style yoga available, but 2 sound healing’s a day with Tibetan bowls and a lot of personalised spa treatments by a local group of Nepalese which keeps prices low but quality high. It is a nice change to the westernised expat coming in and creating something that you have had before.

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You get the “real deal” with these folks. Check out Denny Lama if you have a chance! The bliss I receive after a yoga and sound session is divine, then a “spa” treatment with local herbs with steam and afterwards having medicinal herbal tea feels so authentic and natural that I use the centre a few times a week. Denny is also a good contact to learn about local day hikes and villages to visit and combines some yoga and herbal knowledge along the way. If you wish to stay in a traditional Buddhist Monastery for a small donation please contact him also, it is on the hill in Pokhara and has rooms and surveys the little lakeside town. (I receive nothing in return for discussing people or companies, I honestly just have real authentic information on what is true and good vs just another promotion. I have travelled enough to know surface commodities vs deep traditional healing techniques and been in the holistic health business over 25 years myself so please accept my suggestions freely and joyfully!) Tibetan prayer flags represent the

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spreading of goodwill and compassion by the Tibetan monks into the “all-pervading space” of the world. The colours of the flags represent the five elements; blue symbolises the sky and space, white symbolises the air and wind, red symbolises fire, green symbolises water, and yellow symbolises earth. Lotus flowers are forever a symbol of strength

and endurance, beauty and divine inspiration as they push up through the mud and blossom into a beautiful flower. Both in Nepal and Thailand the lotus flower is used in many designs and symbols. I have found it to be one of the most popular flower’s used in SE Asia and have had fun painting them a few times. This one example was inspired by a friend that actually

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goes into his swimming pool with his underwater camera, having someone throw flowers into his pool as he snaps away. I saw the pics on Facebook and thought what a fun idea and view of flowers … I just had to try a painting with some of his images!

steep one, but a walk-a-bout no less! Viewing it this way, you’re just having a lovely time along the way without the main goal to go up and down. I recommend if one comes here for a trek and puts all that effort into bringing or buying the right gear, deciding the trail, picking a company or on your own, you allow yourself time to not only enjoy the trek at your leisure, but make sure to stay in the town of Pokhara on either end. Tea houses along the way are a pleasure to stay in and getting to meet local mountain people is part of the experience! For anyone wanting to experience the great Himalayas by not just trekking but actually living, Pokhara is the place to be for any creative writing, thinking, personal explorations and fresh insights. There are inexpensive lovely hotels on the lake and airbnb is the way to go for longer than 2-3 week

As I write this I feel a bit confused as to if this is an art article, travel article or personal journal entry! Something I have realised is not all trips have to be one thing, i.e., a trek, a scholastic study, a working holiday, a beach read, etc. We are a bit of this and a bit of that all the time, combining your joys and passions into a journey is always a fulfilling way to see the world. Knowing what you like and don’t like yet perhaps challenging yourself to something new, is a good way forward. After hanging out in Pokhara, I have learned that if you do want to go trekking, it is easy to change your trip to suit yourself. I have found that on some of the intense hikes, you may want to stop and stay in a village longer than the average stay and that is OK as long as you know you may have to be patient with your guide or Sherpa when they want to carry on. Just make sure they know ahead of time that you may want to take your time. For those that don’t need a guide or Sherpa, you can consider the idea that you’re not necessarily trekking, you’re just taking a walk-a-bout … granted, a high and

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stays. One of the refreshing things I enjoy here is also the relaxed clothing options. Since there are a lot of trekking type folk passing through, I feel more relaxed wearing shorts and t shirts than I normally would around town. Make sure to pop into some of the art galleries that have incredible hand painted Thangka’s, a Tibetan form of art that is painted mandala style. The imagery up close is so detailed, and it is wonderful to speak with the actual artists that paint them. Local food is very inexpensive and healthy, local people smile at you and are very pleased to have you enjoy their village. I feel no pressure here to buy as I have other places in SE Asia and recommend a Himalayan trip for your itinerary soon! Happy holidays and celebrations of life everyone! Namaste!

Margaret has been on the road for 14 months and has been circling around Thailand getting to know other SE Asian countries as she studies medicinal plants and local indigenous ways. Painting watercolours that represent her experiences has been a creative process along with learning new forms of bodywork, yoga and healing techniques. She is now in India and can be followed on her website through most forms of social media, enjoy! www.mejcreations.com

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Travel

Maldives - return to paradise by Scott and Nori Brixen

We never expected to return to the Maldives. Not that we didn’t want to. It’s just one of those unique places - like Bhutan, the Galápagos or Antarctica - that you dream of visiting once in your lifetime. Beautiful, remote, romantic and take-your-breath-away expensive, the Maldives is for honeymoon splurges, silver anniversaries or to “close the deal” on that special relationship. It’s not a repeat destination, and it’s not appropriate or affordable for families like ours. That’s how most people view the Maldives. That’s how we viewed the Maldives. But a three-day weekend at the Anantara Dhigu Resort changed our minds. We are big fans of the hotel brand’s Asian aesthetic, service levels and kid-friendly (but not kid-focused) resorts. Through clever resort planning, they’ve managed to maintain that balance even in the couples-heavy Maldives. Our very active boys never ran short of adventures, and we never felt like lepers for bringing them. A visit to the Maldives is never going to be cheap. However, with Air Asia now offering direct, daily roundtrip

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flights from Bangkok's Don Muang to Malé for as little as 200USD, a key expense has been reduced. And if you choose a resort located in either the southern half of the North Male Atoll, or the northern half of the South Male Atoll, you can avoid a pricey seaplane flight and arrive by a 30-60 minute boat transfer. Plus, with the number of resorts having grown from around 80 to 120 over the last 5-8 years, many hotels (including Anantara Dhigu) are offering very attractive packages if you visit their websites directly. For 4 hours we had flown west across the Indian Ocean, with nothing

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but clouds and the fathomless blue sea below. Then, with a suddenness that made me gasp, we seemed to pass through a turquoise curtain into a dreamworld of island-halos, barely submerged reefs and white sand fringes. Comprising 26 atolls and nearly 1,200 islands, the Maldives stretches north to south across 800km of territory. Entranced, I nearly forgot to let my kids have a look. After speeding through Malé Airport, Anantara staff led us to the adjoining port where a luxurious surprise awaited us: the Nirvana - an 18 metre Sunseeker Manhattan power

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yacht. In our experience, boat transfers are usually something to be endured. In this case, I wish the journey had taken longer than 40 minutes. Most of the time the boys crashed on the sumptuous leather seating, while the affable captain, Jal, allowed Kiva to pilot the boat for a few minutes. And then, that wondrous moment of island arrival: a greeting party at the end of a jetty that leads to paradise. We stayed in one of three beachside family villas, which was perfect for our crew: Mom & Dad in a king bed in the main room and the boys sharing three twin beds in the side room. The open-air bathrooms were extraordinary as was the private front 'yard' - a sandy circle with bean bags and a hammock, all nestled in a hedge of laurel, Indian almond and pandanus trees. But the boys were exploding with energy, so we threw open the suitcases, located the goggles and sprinted for the beach. Moments later, the boys were gaping at a trio of elegant but venomous lion fish drifting beneath the pier of Dhigu’s over water spa. The 110 villa Dhigu is one of three Anantara resorts in the six-island cluster. Just across a narrow, stunningly blue channel is the adults only, 67 villa Anantara Veli. While on the opposite side of Dhigu’s tranquil lagoon is the Naladhu Private Island, with 20 villas and houses, each with a pool and butler. Adult guests of Dhigu and Veli can move freely between the two resorts. The larger Dhigu has the cluster's spa and water sports centre, while Veli has the cluster's Thai, Japanese and Maldivian restaurants.

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“Gulhi Fushi is known as the snorkelling island or the picnic island” Bushi Island houses the staff. Tiny Moyo Island is a short swim from Veli's over water villas. But the island that really captivated us was Gulhi Fushi. Located at the edge of the lagoon, Gulhi Fushi is known as the "snorkelling island" or the "picnic island". Most resort guests get there by boat, but we opted to kayak there, stopping at blinding white sandbars along the way. A high seawall runs parallel to the reef, protecting the sandy island from wave erosion. On the lagoon side, there's a wide white sandy beach where the boys played for hours, chasing crabs and watching small sharks 'herd' schools of fish into the shallows before striking. On the ocean side is a circle of vegetation

sheltering a small hut with a few tables and chairs and a bar. That’s where we donned our snorkelling gear. "The water's a bit rough," the barman advised, "and there's a current, so don't go into the dark blue water beyond the reef." I dropped in to test the waters myself. He was right - definitely not the ideal conditions for my boys' first snorkelling adventure. But they are confident swimmers and were all wearing lifejackets so I decided to let Tai and Logan have a go first. Just below the surface, an astonishing variety of reef fish were darting about, nibbling on coral, fleeing to little caves, chasing schoolmates or staying magically motionless while our less-streamlined forms rocked back and forth with the waves. The boys were so excited and wanted to show me everything they’d spotted. "Dad!" Tai shouted, pulling on my arm. His eyes were wide behind his goggles. I followed his finger to a little coral head, over which a beautiful Picasso triggerfish was hovering. "Well, I guess we found Dory!" joked Logan, dragging me over to admire the resplendent blue and yellow of a Regal Tang. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Later, Nori joined with Drake and Kiva. Despite weeks of pool training, our five year olds were still struggling a bit with their snorkels in the waves (Nobel Parent Prize for the inventor of one that stays upright) and their masks slowly filled with water, but that didn't stop them from absolutely loving the encounter. So much so that Nori and I were running late for our massage! In the late afternoon, we were scheduled to join a dolphin watching cruise. In truth, I was worried that the boys might be bored. Just last year, the trip we did off the coast of Oman had been marvellous. We encountered a pod of 70-80 dolphins. It was so beautiful, I had tears in my eyes. But it had taken 1.5 hours of battering through heavy seas to find them. The boys were elated to see the dolphins, but they were also soaked, chilled and nauseous. I hoped the Maldives dolphin watching would be less arduous. I started to relax when I saw our vessel: an open decked, sunset cocktail cruiser rather than a powerboat. The pre-trip briefing further boosted my optimism. "Nothing is guaranteed because the dolphins are wild creatures," the guide said, "but we usually see them." He added that guests could go up on the roof if they wanted. "Let's go boys!" I shouted, heading for the ladder. The boys wouldn't be able to sit still for long. Soon they'd be chasing each other around the deck and annoying everyone. Up top, I reckoned, they'd be too afraid to roughhouse. And the extra height should make it easier to see the dolphins as well. The crew had laid

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out some cushions on the roof; just enough space for the six of us to sit comfortably. For most of the excursion, we were the only ones up there. For 30 minutes or so, we didn't see anything except small seabirds. Then a dolphin erupted from the water on the port side, spinning on its axis like a figure skater. But not just a single or double or even triple axel; spinner dolphins can execute as many as seven rotations per leap. And they tended to do a series of leaps! We followed the pod of 20-30 dolphins for more than hour. Each time one spun or flipped, the passengers roared their approval. Scientists aren't 100% sure why the spinners do this, but to me it was clear that they were showing off. "OK," Tai admitted, "that was a lot more exciting than I expected." What a result! Cost aside, the Maldives is (perhaps counterintuitively) a perfect family destination: the islands are small so the kids can't get lost (though Logan did try), there is no vehicle traffic to worry about, the water in the lagoons is clear and full of life and the resorts offer a myriad of activities to keep kids engaged. We were so busy snorkelling and exploring that the boys never even made it to the kids only Dhoni Club. And after an early dinner for the boys at Aqua (kids under 12 eat for free), Nori and I were still able to enjoy wonderful dinners at Sea. Fire. Salt. on the first night and Origami (at the Anantara Veli) on the last night.

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Was the trip a bit rushed? Yes. But the experiences (snorkelling at the reef’s edge), encounters (lion fish, crown jellyfish, dolphins) and Anantara service levels were amazing. My four boys absolutely loved it. Nori and I loved it. A visit to the Maldives is expensive. But with a bit of research and some flexibility on dates, there are ways to reduce costs significantly. I suspect that we’ll be back to the Maldives - again. Planning details: •A  ir Asia flies from Bangkok’s Don Muang at 9:30am and arrives at Malé at 11:40am local time (it’s a 4 hour flight with a 2 hour time change). •O  n the return leg, the flight leaves Malé at 12:30pm and arrives at 7pm Bangkok time. That gives you ample time for breakfast at the resort before the 10am boat transfer. •T  he piers for hotel boats are adjacent to Malé Airport, so no time is wasted. It takes 40 minutes to travel from Malé to Anantara Dhigu. We arrived at the resort at 1pm. • If you book online direct through Anantara’s website, there are some very attractive specials available currently (includes breakfast and complimentary dinner) •W  hile Anantara Veli’s villas, pools and beaches are for adults only, families with kids are allowed at Veli's restaurants for dinner. •Y  ou are not allowed to bring liquor/ wine/beer into the Maldives. All bags are x-rayed.

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Travel

Stopover in Istanbul by Neil Brook

Commuting between Asia and London is something that takes up my time every month. Living in a coastal town in Vietnam, connecting flights sometimes work, sometimes they don’t, and I try to avoid tedious overnight flights to allow my body to adjust easily. In order to make the journey a pleasure I mix it up and try different routes and stopovers now and then to spice it up. On a recent trip I decided to drop down in Istanbul. Leaving London I hop a late afternoon flight arriving in Istanbul in time for dinner and allow myself 30 hours transit before the inevitable early morning departure when Istanbul’s international terminal is heaving. I'm thinking I'll arrive, check in to the hotel and get a good night's sleep, enjoy a relaxing day and then continue my journey. Transit if you stay at the airport is free however if you leave the airport, a pay on entry visa is required. Grabbing my bags I head out to the taxi rank and if ever there was an advertisement for the benefits of Uber or Grab then this is it! I was a relative

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Uber novice, where pickups from airports are concerned, however after this experience I am now a pro! Ads plastered on walls in Kuala Lumpur airport recently reminded me that they were just a tap away. And given the driver was waiting as I left the building, I cannot imagine life without them now.  At Istanbul airport meters will not be turned on in any circumstance and after weary flights and questionable inflight meals, haggling for a ride is the last thing travellers wish to do. You know that audible sigh you let out when you're at the markets and the price starts way above the price you know it should be? As residents

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of Asia we consider ourselves locals as far a market prices are concerned and immediately cut the price by 80% and then start the bargaining process. Well forget that. Drivers here pump up the prices to, let's say you could pay off their mortgages with one ride. After much frustration and half a dozen attempts with different drivers, I managed to source an acceptable fare and we’re off. I have shown the driver the address and map on my phone. Traffic is backed up and we detour and backtrack until I see the lit sign of my hotel. It's on the other side of the road and it takes 20 minutes to navigate the

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“Walking through the archway into the grounds of the mosque the size and grandeur are incredible” freeway and alleys to get back to it … Something’s not right. Checking my map I realise we are at the right hotel, wrong location. So the fun starts. I get my bags and head into the foyer as the driver follows me in. The hotel staff are incredible and it transpires that from this one it is easier to get to the airport the following day. They graciously contact the other hotel and transfer my booking to them at the same price. I use Accor Hotels everywhere, and this is why. Their service and customer relationships, especially when on property are outstanding. Accommodation sorted the taxi driver demands more than the negotiated fare as it took him longer to get here than he had anticipated. No wonder as we've travelled further to the wrong hotel! I'll leave this here. Dinner and a glass of wine or two and anger and frustration has turned to ambivalence and acceptance. I have all day tomorrow so I grab the hotel area map and plan the day. This is one of those times where everything happens for a reason. This hotel is perfectly located to explore the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. There is a complimentary shuttle which takes 15 minutes and drops you in the centre of one of the most incredible spots to explore the history and culture of Istanbul. This is a result and now I'm grateful. This hotel will be my stopover of choice.  Walking up the steps towards the blue domes and towering minarets The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) and Hagia Sophia are separated by gardens and a large pedestrian square which allow photo ops from every

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angle. Walking through the archway into the grounds of the mosque the size and grandeur are incredible. Hand painted blue tiles cling to the walls surrounding men as they kneel after the call to prayer. It's an honour to be welcomed inside and non Muslims are expected to show respect and stay behind the roped off areas reserved for the local faithful. Crossing the square to Hagia Sophia I secure the services of a guide and bypass the line to head inside. This is a stunning building that has transformed from church to mosque to museum. A shining example of how different cultures can contribute to the emergence of developing nations. Inside golden domes reflect the light entering through stained glass windows, Arabic inscriptions hang on huge round medallions and crypts protected by carved marble bodies tell a story of the ages and piece together history. A monument to Byzantine and Ottoman empires. In the square the sun reflects and illuminates both buildings as I enjoy

delicious flatbread, pide with minced beef. Simple flavours and delicate spices better than any pizza you'll ever eat. The grand bazaar is nearby and is an assault on the senses. One of the oldest markets in the world where over 4000 shops spill out into the alleys weaving in and out through the arches. It's all undercover and be prepared to get lost. Glittering lanterns, silks and cloth in every colour imaginable and sparkling gold are surrounded by the aromas of spices, cuisine and coffee. This is the perfect spot to sip Turkish coffee. Unlike espresso where filters hold the grains at bay, Turkish coffee is served from a pot so the coffee needs to rest in the cup before drinking. Its strong and delicious. Fortune favours the brave if you choose not to add sugar. I'm brave! To get out of this maze it's advisable to remember the number of door through which you entered, or leave it to chance and exit allowing the city to guide you on your way. Having visited three of the must see Istanbul landmarks my appetite is spiked and I'm making notes for

another stopover, to explore other parts of this incredible city, where east (Asia) meets west (Europe) as they sit on each side of the Bosphorus River. Back at the hotel there's time for a nap. The journey to the airport takes 20 minutes. The meter is on ...

Neil Brook will try anything once and agrees with the bizarre foods motto, if it looks good eat it! He now calls Vietnam 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

Oops - visa run to Penang, Malaysia by Barbara Lewis

The story is too long with too many complicated details. Suffice it to say I needed to go somewhere out of Bangkok immediately. I needed to come back on a different visa than the one I had the last time I entered Thailand. We found this out on a Thursday afternoon and had to make an immediate decision on where to go to get this done. We certainly wanted to go somewhere close and some place where it wasn’t going to cost us a fortune to get there and back. After my husband and I mulled it over separately we came up with Penang, Malaysia. This was a place I wanted to go ever since I had read that it was a destination for medical tourism in this reputable magazine. The first great thing about this choice was that we could fly out of Don Muang Airport, which is not far from our home in Nichada making it easier to get out of the city. At first we were going to try to get out on Friday afternoon and had booked a flight on AirAsia premium flex however my job at the time prevented me from getting away; I had a meeting that went well and truly over and we couldn’t make the flight. Anticipating this might happen, Friday morning we moved our flight to the first one out

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on Saturday taking the pressure and stress off me. This really only gave us just over 24 hours in Penang. The flight is an hour and three quarters. There is a time change between Bangkok and Penang so we lost an hour. It took by taxi about 30 minutes to get to our hotel and cost approximately 16USD. We stayed at the Blue Mansion in Georgetown. It also

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has a Malaysian name Cheong Fatt Tze. It is a gorgeous heritage building. In fact there are tours of this gorgeous restored house now boutique hotel three times per day. As guests we went on the tour for free. The tours are given in a variety of languages by historians

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and are very interesting. As guests we never felt like these tours intruded on us however as I said we were only there for just over 24 hours. The Mansion is right beside an outdoor eating space and area with live music that seemed very happening. We didn’t check it out as we ate at a lovely restaurant called Kebaya. It was a Malaysian restaurant with a set menu located in the beautiful hotel Seven Terraces. It was a four-course menu that was delicious in every bite and authentically Malaysian. We enjoyed it tremendously. There are only two seatings at this restaurant and a reservation is a must because it was very busy. The next day we printed off a walking tour of Georgetown and got up early enough that it was quite pleasant. We walked around Georgetown and

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saw all the sites – it was really fun. There was after a wonderful made to order breakfast at the hotel included in the stay. Not far from the hotel is a Chocolate and Coffee Museum which we visited just before we needed to have lunch and check out. The tour of the museum was brief but we got to try lots of samples of different kinds of delicious chocolate. Of course, we bought both coffee and lots of chocolate. Definitely recommend going here. For lunch we went to Indigo the restaurant in the Blue Mansion. They serve a variety of set lunches and a la carte items. Both my husband and I had a set menu, different from each other. The food was superb. It was a great way to finish off our trip with a bottle of red wine to toast it all.

All of the places we went were very reasonable. We may have only had a short time in Penang but it definitely gave us enough of a taste to want to go back and discover much, much more.

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Travel

Oman - really Wild Wadis by Scott and Nori Brixen

My wife still hasn’t caught on to one of my greatest deceptions: I find places and activities that I really want to experience and then I pitch them as ‘something the kids will really enjoy’. Of course, it helps that my kids are all boys and that I have childlike desires. What Scott likes, the boys will like, she thinks - and in general, that’s accurate. Still, I was surprised that she wasn’t more heavily revising my plans to visit a half-dozen wadis during our Oman/UAE trip. So what exactly is a wadi? It’s a steepsided canyon carved by a seasonal (or ephemeral) river. In Spanish-speaking countries, it’s an arroyo. In English, gulley, gorge or gulch probably comes closest. When heavy rain falls on mountainous, parched lands, the water rushes down violently, gouging deep and tortuous ravines. And then the water is gone, or mostly gone, until the next time. Except in Dubai, at the mammoth “Wild Wadi” waterpark, where an eco-unconscious deluge of water keeps the slides lubricated and the skin on your back. With more than 30 rides, including the terrifying “Jumeirah Sceirah”, Wild Wadi is one of the world’s biggest and most diverse waterparks. And I love waterparks.

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Unfortunately, we had only a few days in Dubai and Nori rightly pointed out that “the kids can to go waterparks anywhere”. So on to Oman! The Al Hajar Mountains rise to as high as 3000 metres within 50-100kms of the Gulf of Oman. While the capital, Muscat, receives as little as 4 inches of precipitation a year (Portland, Oregon gets 44!), the mountains get 2-4 times that, with half of it falling in the winter months of December to April. That makes Oman wadi country, and these wadis are really wild. In Dubai, Wild Wadi has a ride called “Flood River”. In Oman, a flash flood is the chief risk of hiking, or driving up, a wadi. If it starts to rain, the guidebooks advise, get out or up.

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After nearly two hours of driving through some of the most dry, cracked and beaten landscapes on earth, I needed some green. But I knew that Wadi Shab was a full-day activity, so we zoomed right over the bridge that spans its lower reaches and continued a few kilometres more to Wadi Tiwi. With adolescent glee I piloted our Land Cruiser up a twisting, narrowing ribbon of asphalt flanked by palm trees and reed-lined pools. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. We barely squeezed between the homes of a very poor looking village and then the road just disintegrated. If we had parked the car and hiked further up the canyon, I’m sure the scenery would have been much more impressive. But it was already very pretty and I knew that the boys needed some activity. So we changed into our swimming gear and started exploring the pools beneath the village (I know what you’re thinking, but I tried not to think about it). Climbing boulders, swimming against the mild current, bird spotting and admiring the orange-red canyon walls - it was great fun (despite the slimy algae) and a tantalising taste of what was to come. That night we slept in Sur, the largest city in eastern Oman. The next morning we drove the 40 minutes back to the Bridge Over the Wadi Shab (sorry, I lived in Thailand too long).

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The wadi and its pools are some of the most popular in Oman, so I was glad we had gotten an early start. We paid the equivalent of 8USD for a laughably short ride across the slow-moving river to the trailhead. The guidebooks and blogs say it takes 40-50 minutes to reach Wadi Shab’s upper pools. Clearly, none of them travelled with four young boys. The initial section of the trek was along the relatively wide, pebbly exposed riverbed. As the canyon narrowed, the trail became more challenging, sometimes all but disappearing in a jumble of boulders. But the scenery had become breathtaking, a blend of Wadi Rum’s ‘melting’ mountains and a Moroccan oasis. Unfortunately, it was already beastly hot, and leastlikely-to-complain Logan was flagging. “Daddy, can we please go back? I’m so tired. And we don’t have enough water. This is not fun for me. I just want to go back to the car.”

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Thankfully, we soon reached the first of the pools. The cool water revived the boys as they waded in. They were delighted to find a tiny waterfall that resident frogs appeared to be using as a waterslide - the “Amphibi-rush”? There were rocks to jump off and fun places to boulder. The pellucid water was like air; visibility was incredible. Around each corner was a new discovery. The boys were happy and I was relieved.

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I was grateful that we had brought inflatable armbands for the boys. Several of the upper pools were long and deep, with no places for the boys to rest. They are all strong swimmers for their age, but I could see that they were tiring. Without the extra buoyancy, I wouldn’t have let them come this far. As we swam, the canyon seemed to close around us, with no obvious way around the giant boulders ahead. Huh? All this water had to come from somewhere! That’s when I spied a triangular cleft in the rocks and remembered a travel blogger’s video. “Boys! Wait right here! Don’t go anywhere!” I commanded. I held my breath, ducked under the water and made my way along the narrow passage. I returned a few seconds later, very excited. “Oh guys, you gotta see this!” I exclaimed. One by one, with Logan in front and me behind, we doggy-paddled forward. The pocket of air was not much bigger than my head, the current was moving against us and a disconcerting roar was getting louder. Drake looked terrified, so I held his hand and rescue stroked the last metre. We emerged into a small but

high-ceilinged cave, illuminated by shafts of light from above. A small but spirited waterfall emptied into it, its modest gurgle amplified into a Niagaralike thunder by the acoustics.   I was already puffed up with pride. But the boys soon gave me another boost. On the way up, I had identified a promising cliff-jumping location just 20 minutes into the hike. That section of the trail followed a natural ledge in the canyon walls. There were launchpads everywhere and deep water seven metres below. So I did a front flip and waited to see who would follow me. Everyone did, even my 4 year olds, to the astonishment of nearby hikers. My fears of raising feeble ‘city boys’ evaporated; they were brave, confident and trusting.           Two days later, we pulled into a huge parking lot at the entrance to Wadi Bhani Khalid. The drive over the pass and into the valley had been spectacular. We were now on the other side of the mountains that we had driven past on our way to Wadi Shab. The downside of WBK was that it didn’t feel very wild. The lowest pool was crowded with locals swimming and having picnics. The upside was that you didn’t have to walk very far up

the wadi to enter a world of smooth, concertinaed channels; slick rockslides and shortcuts through caves. It was like being in a rock lined small intestine, but with much clearer water. Once again, the boys impressed me with their cliffjumping prowess. One leap was so high my GoPro handle snapped in half when I hit the water! In four days, we had visited three wadis. But there were still so many left to discover: Wadi al Arbaeen (near Tiwi) and Wadi Dhum (near Ibri), in particular, were recommended by Omanis and expat groups. The boys had tested their endurance and courage and we had all seen some truly beautiful canyons along the way. I was glad we had skipped the theme park and seen the really wild wadis instead.

Scott & Nori are avid travellers and knowledge seekers who have travelled to 110 plus countries across all 7 continents. Now they're sharing their wanderlust with their two sets of twin boys, Tai, Logan, Drake and Kiva. Follow their travels at www.twotwinstwavel.com

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Travel

Gyan museum, the jewel in the land of the Kings by Mei Chen Ledoit

This summer, I travelled to India alone for two entire weeks in the region of Rajasthan before my husband could join me in Delhi and visit the Taj Mahal in Agra to celebrate our wedding anniversary together. Three unforgettable weeks in a country full of contrasts, with a value system so remarkably different from that of the western world, providing so many unexpected surprises at every turn. To travel, we must open the mind and the heart, be receptive to new experiences to be able to understand other ways of life. No one goes to India and comes out the same way. India is a very spiritual place and so are its people. It transcends life; there is wisdom and faith that cannot be explained or understood without having been there. Travelling to India adds perspective to our lives, leaving a lasting imprint. Rajasthan means Land of Kings. It is a region steeped in history with the early migration from the Aryans and the Persians centuries before. It is known for its magnificent forts, built for military defence purposes but also for the palaces of the Maharajas and the Havelis, the grand houses of the nobility. I visited the cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Female lone travellers are rarely seen in India. However, with the help of a knowledgeable local guide and a good driver, there was absolutely no problem at all. Farooq, my guide, was a Muslim with a history major and could recite poems in Urdu, the ancient language of nobles and artists. Rishi was a Hindu from the warrior caste, very polite and capable of negotiating the maze of the local traffic. During this trip, I came in contact with Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Sikhs, people of different religions who coexist, each with their own beliefs and ways of life. Across all religions, we notice that family is the cornerstone

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of Indian society. This is the common denominator for them all. When people think of India, they automatically think of poverty, the caste system, the vibrant colours and the explosion of flavours. Fewer people think of the decadent jewels of the Maharajas, the cultural heritage of beauty and opulence, the detailed and fine craftsmanship transmitted down from generations in the decorative arts. The Taj Mahal is testimony to this incredible skill and it is quite moving to see it in person. As a trained gemologist, I really wanted to visit Jaipur because it is an important jewellery centre. Diamonds are traded mainly in the Belgian city of Antwerp, the current capital of the diamond industry and also in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Bangkok is also a major gem trading centre dealing with precious and semi-precious stones. Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan in northwestern India, also called “Pink City� for its trademark

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colour of its buildings. It is best known for several Rajput Mughal architectural landmarks, with six hill forts on the Aravali mountains classified UNESCO world heritage sites, such as Amber Fort. Jaipur also has a very ancient and rich jewellery tradition. In the 18th century, the ruling Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II founded Jaipur as the

capital of Rajasthan, and drew the best jewellers and stonecutters from all over India to craft high quality jewels for the court, even for his royal elephants. Over time, the city built a reputation for having the most talented craftsmen in the country. Today, the prominence of the city in the global arena stems from the technological advances coupled

with the abundant supply of cheap skilled labour, which helped transform Jaipur into a major gemstone cutting and jewellery-manufacturing centre. Visiting the major jewellery street in Jaipur, where most jewellery is traded, it is noticeable that the industry is highly fragmented with most companies being family owned. The

“Gyan means knowledge in Sanskrit. The museum is named after the late Gyan Dhadda (1940-2004)�

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quality is quite heterogeneous, from the mass market products up to the very high end jewellery. It is at moments like this that life surprises us and warns us against preconceived notions. Farooq wanted to take me to a jewellery museum he strongly recommended but was nowhere written in the travelling guides. After some moments of doubt, I decided to take a leap of faith and agreed to go. And there, in the midst of dusty roads and honking cars, the museum suddenly comes to view. The moment that followed was absolutely surreal. The building structure boasted clean pure lines. We pushed through the thick door and immediately, there was a feeling of being transported to another place and time. We might as well have been in Paris, London or New York. It was a first grade museum with

all the aesthetic codes of the modern world. “Gyan” means “knowledge” in Sanskrit. The museum is named after the late Gyan Dhadda (1940-2004), a gemologist and collector of fine decorative arts in antique textiles, jewellery, paintings, and much more. It is a private museum and gallery built by his sons, Arun and Suresh. They come from a traditional Jain family, several generations in the jewellery business, and most of all are art lovers who appreciate beauty in its many forms. Paul Mathieu is a French furniture designer with a beautifully restored home in Udaipur, among his other bases in New York, Aix-en-Provence and Murano. The Gyan Museum was Paul’s first architectural project and immediately earned him international

recognition as he won the prestigious AD50, Architectural Digest India’s award for the 50 most influential architects and interior designers. Paul is an architect of immense talent, now with projects in several countries, in partnership with established international brands. It was a meeting of the minds when Arun and Paul embarked on this creative project together. Arun is a highly educated soft-spoken Jain, looking 10 years younger than his age due to daily yoga practice. Jainism is a branch of Hinduism that emerged in India in the sixth century, with emphasis on not harming living creatures and non violence. The Jains are extremely successful in business, contributing to almost 25% of the income tax of the country while accounting for less than 1% of the Indian population. Their success is due to their business ethics and solidarity in their tight-knit community where trust is paramount. Arun wanted to create a first-class museum to showcase his father’s collection without being

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confined by Indian standards, which is why he gave artistic freedom to Paul to realise his vision. As we walk into the airy entrance of the Gyan Museum, we are greeted by the carved statue of Ganesh, an impressive single piece of jade in a beautiful shade of green. No other piece of decoration on the clean white walls, almost as if Ganesh was inviting us to go ahead and embark on a journey upstairs. Going up the staircase, we find ourselves in a circular structure, with custom built display cases featuring exquisite objects including textiles, utensils, manuscripts, antique jewellery. There are over 3000 objects that are constantly rotated for exhibition. The idea is to let the visitor wander around in this oasis of calm and feel the common thread of art and sensibility which permeates the whole collection. The exhibition flows in an interdisciplinary way through the custommade furniture, the storytelling behind each section, the water feature conveying a sense of space and

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reflection, the clever illumination, all up to the levitating sink carved from a solid piece of marble. The museum leads to the crown jewel: the showroom of this family business, with high end jewellery pieces taking inspiration from the museum collection. For the lucky few able to visit, there are exquisite pieces of high jewellery which are produced in the manufacturing grounds adjacent to the museum. This is a top-notch factory with the same standards as workshops in Paris or London. Just bigger, brighter and more modern. They are fully air-conditioned with rows and rows of designers, jewellers, polishers, and much more, all in uniform. Most important of all, they seemed happy, taking pride in their profession, working

with the latest equipment available, including laser and 3D printing, and even their own foundry. The Gyan Museum is a poetic little jewel in a city as dynamic as Jaipur. It gives us the feeling of being cut off from reality, living an alternative world envisioned by the brothers Arun and Suresh Dhadda. Incredibly, they managed to pull this off with the creativity and execution of the multitalented Paul Mathieu. The museum imparts a meditative feel as we emerge calm and serene before stepping back into the hustle and bustle of busy India. To know that gems like the Gyan Museum exist, we need the serendipity of well meaning and knowledgeable guides like Farooq, for I have him to thank for this wonderful discovery.

Mei Chen Ledoit holds an MBA from UCLA and is a G.I.A. Graduate Gemologist and Jewellery Professional meichen99@yahoo.com Guide: Farooq Khan (mob. +91 94140 55735) Driver: Rishi (mob. +91 95299 55576) Gyan Museum: www.gyanjaipur.com, info@gyanjaipur.com EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Health and fitness

Stimulate

your way back to recovery Sukumvit Hospital successfully helps stroke patients to a full recovery with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. 4.5 hours golden period No one questions the fact that timely treatment averts permanent disability and death. In the case of stroke and related neural blockage problems, it has been proven that treatment within the first 4.5 hours, more commonly known as the ‘Golden Period’, can help patients make a speedy recovery and resume their lives to total normalcy. However, not every patient suffering from a stroke is lucky enough to receive such timely treatment. Dr Pannawish Wongwiwattananon, head of Rehabilitation Medicine at Sukumvit Hospital explained that there has been a significant increase in the number of stroke patients left

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with numbness of the limbs, movement disorders, and many other problems associated with motor function. According to Dr Pannawish, there is a new treatment that is not only effective but is also non-invasive. This is known as TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. What is TMS? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. TMS can be used clinically to measure activity and function of specific brain circuits in humans. The most robust and widely accepted use is in measuring the connection between the primary

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“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent strokes.” Dr Pannawish Wongwiwattananon Rehabilitation Medicine

motor cortex and a muscle to evaluate damage from a stroke, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, movement disorders, motor neurone disease, and injuries and other disorders affecting the facial, other cranial nerves and the spinal cord. TMS has been suggested as a means of assessing short - interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) which measures the internal pathways of the motor cortex. How does it work? During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp near your forehead. The electromagnet painlessly delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control and depression. It may activate regions of the brain that have decreased activity in people who have suffered from a stroke. Repeated stimulation appears to affect how this part of the brain is working, which in turn seems to ease symptoms, as well as improve the mood. TMS is currently available at Sukumvit Hospital, where a fully trained team is providing this treatment to patients suffering from damage of

strokes. Dr Pannawish and her qualified medical team of surgeons treating stroke patients strongly recommend that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent strokes. This means adequate exercise, balanced diet, proper rest, and of course abstention from smoking and other high-risk habits. Last but not the least, it is of utmost importance to rush a stroke patient to the hospital within the Golden Period. It can save both lives and quality of life.

“Sukumvit Hospital, which began operation in 1977, has just completed a major makeover. Not only have they built a brand new building, but the entire team of doctors, specialists, nurses and assistants have all been trained with the singular aim of helping their patients maintain optimum health. Then there are the equipment, state-of-the-art MRIs, Cath labs and myriad of others, so that their specialists have the best available tools for diagnosis and treatment. Conveniently located on Sukhumvit Road with English speaking staff, Sukumvit Hospital is now ready for any emergencies or treatments.”

Sukumvit Hospital 1411 Sukhumvit Road (Ekkamai BTS) Prakanong nua, Wattana, Bangkok, Thailand 10110 Tel: 02 391 0011 www.sukumvithospital.com www.facebook.com/sukumvithospital EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Health and fitness

Our first Spartan race by Meghan Lynch

I felt him touch my arm. I turned away. Surely it was not time yet. He said my name. I said “No … it’s not time.” “Yes it is, let’s go buddy,” Pete said. I replied, “I can’t do it, I didn’t sleep babe, not a wink.” He said, “You are going to do it. Imagine what your Dad did when he was in bootcamp or fighting in the war. You can do this.” I opened my eyes, looked at him and said, ” OK, OK.” He left the room. I laid there for 10 more seconds and thought … why does it always go back to my Dad when I need a reminder I can do something? This is how I woke from my one hour of sleep Ryker granted me on the night before my first Spartan Race. My first Spartan Race, Thailand’s first ever Spartan Race, Brody and Parker’s first kids Spartan Race. A few months back, Pete called me and was screaming on the other end of the phone. He told me he had the best news ever. Best news ever? I couldn’t even grasp what that might be. So what was it, I asked? The, The Spartan Race is coming to Thailand in September. And guess what, Brody and Parks can do it too! You know what these races are, right? It’s become a craze in the US and it’s leaking into many other parts of the world; 14 other countries including Australia, South Korea and Canada to name just a few. They have different distances; 3 miles to marathon distances with 20 some odd obstacles to conquer. Now they even different franchises with a little of this

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or a little of that. Pick your poison I say, or your choice of self torture. Pete said I had to do it! I had to! We did our typical dance. I say no, he says yes. I say I can’t, he says you can, you can! I use the kids as the excuse, throw in I’ll still be nursing the baby. Then he gets emotional with me, touches on my feeling heart and says, “This, this is going to be your comeback race, this is going to be your achievement after having Ryker and getting back into shape; this is going to be your race.” Well, fair enough. Sign me up. And sign those big boys up too. I don’t do dirt. I don’t do swims in water I can’t see the bottom of. I don’t lift heavy things, only heavy children. I don’t swing on monkey bars and I do not climb up walls and jump down off of them.

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I run. By run I mean I jog and some times I run. It’s my happy place that will someday hit me hard and make my knees weak and my hips ache. But for now it’s my thing. I strength train when I am in Bangkok with a trainer who is the best but I haven’t gotten back into it with him in over a year with pregnancy and all. Over the next few months if anyone asked Pete or I about the race we would share we were doing it. They would ask if I was training for it and I’d reply no. I’m going into as I am. I am not going to over think it and I am not going to look online at what it’s like. I am going to show up and do my best. There were two other couples doing it with us. The husbands all chatting about it and getting amped. Us women laughed and said let’s just have fun. We will do our best. A week before the race I got an email from Spartan Race stating what I needed to wear and what the children would need. I got organised, made a list which I “lost” the next day after I clicked on the videos of Spartan Races. After that I couldn’t focus on who needed what and why and when. OMG! That’s all I thought. What the heck had I gotten myself into? I spoke to Pete and said I was starting to freak out and not in the way he did when he found out this race was coming to Thailand. I meant freak out like I might vomit because I am scared. He shrugged me off as he knows to do. You don’t add gas to someone in this state, you let the fire simmer and hope it goes out. We left a day early to head to the area the race was. We set up in an Airbnb house and the kids began to enjoy the luxury of a pool in their backyard again. They are certainly missing this from their life in the USA in the summer months. Ryker had been fighting a cold since we got back from our summer holidays. When he gets a cold it isn’t an easy task to get rid of it or work through his system. I was starting to see signs that it was improving until I put him to bed on Friday night and around 11pm he began coughing, and wheezing. I’ll spare the details, but this went on until 4:30am. After I crawled out of bed I showered. While in there I felt

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a twinge of sorrow and pity for myself, something I know Pete wouldn’t have wanted to hear me say. I somehow just imagined I would wake up feeling great and ready for the race, after all this was my comeback, right? I washed my hair letting the water wash away the long night nasties and did what I know best, choosing to make it not break it with my attitude. We met our friends and their children and got in line to let the race day events begin. The energy at the race site was contagious. The music was blaring and soon an American accent hit the airwaves with race times, time delays and many, many Aroo’s! My nerves were pumping and I tried to settle the kids and prepare them for our departure for an hour or so, or so I thought. The kids were eager to begin their race too but they had to wait until noon. They were able to do some obstacles to keep them busy which they really enjoyed. We set off at about 8:30am. 7km, 20 obstacles, almost two hours of running, walking, swimming, climbing, carrying, crawling, pushing and screaming Arooooo! It was insane. We completed all but 4, the 4 we missed left us doing 20-30 burpees each time. Our friends that we did the race with, Morten and Annemette, are now a part of the story of the scars we will have on our bodies for evermore. We pushed each other, laughed at each other and supported each other. For the team player that lives within me each day, my soul is full with those things alone. Our children, cheered us on while we failed at the climbing rope, crawled under barbed wire (not my choice of obstacles for my sweet boys to watch and worry their Mama would get cut). They watched us climb up one more rope wall and then together, Pete and I jumped the fire together, hand in hand with a hug and a tear stained, filthy kiss to seal it off. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically in my life. It pushed me in ways I probably never had before or never would have, if someone hadn’t pushed me to do it. There were times Pete tried to help and I said no, I can do this one. There were times I had to accept help, be it a push, or a back to step on for extra inches to climb up over that EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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wall. I carried 20kg of sandbags and imagined it as one of my children. “I won’t drop you, I won’t,” I said to myself merely just keep my mind distracted from the agony of carrying it. I imagined my Dad, in full military gear with boots on and no socks in the exact heat I was burning under running for safety, for his wellbeing, for his life. No amount of weakness would allow me to break when I went to that place. While we cooled down and hydrated, Pete did what he does. He complimented me, and said “You did this all with no sleep. Just look what you are capable of Meghan.” He hugged me again, which is gross when I think of it now because of the filth factor, but lovely just the same. And in that hug I cried for the second time that day. After a shower and 8 bottles of water we prepared for the Kid’s Spartan Race. Brody and Park needed no preparation. They were ready. Camden hadn’t realised he wasn’t old enough to participate in the race. Being given a tee shirt and a headband kept him feeling a part of the team. When the race began he happily took his place next to Pete and I to watch his brother’s perform. I just realised. I cried three times that day. Watching the boys climb walls, and pull themselves up ropes and climb up and down ladders was just awesome. They were in their element. And Cam in his, cheering them on by their respected nicknames, “Come on Brod, Come on Park!!!” On the way home they asked us when the next Spartan race was. Brody asked when he’d be old enough to do the race Pete and I did. We made a promise we’d Spartan race with them for as long as we could. I looked back at the three of them and smiled. I turned around and peaked at Ryker next to me. Then the reoccurring thought I’ve had over the past year came to me once again. These boys, they are brave and strong and capable of conquering anything. In my quiet space since the race, the journey home, an hour alone today while the baby napped and the kids were at school I did what I do and reflected. The last 13 months of my life have been beyond measure. Beyond anything I could have ever imagined. There are months that have I’ve experienced pain and suffering and worry and fears in the deepest depths of my soul. They are months that have shown me understanding and forgiveness and disbelief. They have fostered friendships I never knew

I could have. They have taught me things I never thought I would ever have to learn. They have given me the ability to connect with people on levels of life experiences I never thought I possibly could. They have brought me strength and healing and forward movement. I have pushed myself physically, ploughed through limits I thought were always going to be there. I’ve found acceptance and peace and a determination to survive with the strongest mental strength I can. These months, well they have changed me and changed the shape of my heart and I can see now they turned me into what I had no idea I was headed into becoming. A Spartan. The Spartan code Words to live by • Spartans push their minds and bodies to their limits. • Spartans master their emotions. • Spartans learn continuously. • Spartans give generously. • Spartans lead. • Spartans stand up for their beliefs, no matter the cost. • Spartans know their flaws as well as their strengths. • Spartans prove themselves through actions, not words. (This one, I might not follow … but, hey! I’m a writer … that’s my thing, words!) • Spartans live every day as if it were their last. The mission - We are Spartans. - On and off the course. - We believe in changing your frame of reference and transforming your life. - Spartans laugh in the face of failure and continue forward. - We welcome challenges and embrace discomfort. - Be active. Be curious. Be human. - We are unbreakable. - We are strong. - We are Spartan.

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 contribution to the magazine as with four boys time is a precious commodity.

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Health and fitness

Wellness for your soul! by Agneta de Bekassy

Classic music, escape to Sala Sudasiri Sobha in Ladprao. On a Sunday afternoon in June, I discovered Sala Sudasiri Sobha. This unique concert hall was very hard to find, but worth the long taxi drive and lots of trouble before finding it. A friend and I had signed up to attend a piano recital by Khun Pana Yontararak, Khun Nat Yontararak’s son. We arrived to this beautiful villa, built in colonial style and were greeted by Khun Paranee and her distinguished mother Sugar. The Yontararak family is dedicated to music; they live and breathe music. Father Nat says; “My life is full of dreams. One of my dreams was to have an ideal concert hall which has beautiful acoustics along with a beautiful piano (Steinway and Sons). A hall which both performers and the listeners are equally fulfilled since it would unite them together through music”. The most important person and supporter to Khun Nat has been H.E. Princess Sudasiri Sobha, the daughter of H.R.H Prince Chudadhuj Dharadilok who was the 9th son of King Rama V and Queen Sri Bajarindra. Khun Nat started to play piano at an age of 9 and gave his debut recital when he was 20 (junior year in Chulalongkorn), then went to London to study music after graduation. His dream was to become a professional musician. He studied music during for many years in London and received a scholarship and took his Master’s Degree at Reading University. Khun Nat became a famous and much popular piano teacher and many are the students who have practiced on the Steinway big wing piano under his indulgent

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care. Khun Nat married Sugar, the love of his life. Together, after the marriage, they started their piano school. When the school, “Nat Studio”, celebrated the 25th anniversary, they had wisdom to build this concert hall Khun Nat says. Khun Nat is also an architect, who graduated in 1977, so he built the hall himself with a help from his friends. The name Sala Sudasiri Sobha was granted by the permission of M.R. Sunida Kitiyakara who is the only daughter of “Than Mae” (word for mother) H.H. late Princess Sudasiri Sobha. At this special Sunday concert, the son of Khun Nat and his wife Sugar, played the piano. He started the recital with Muzio Clementi: Sonata in F sharp minor Op. 25 No.5 continued with Franz Liszt; Funerailles and finished with the Sonata No.1 “Glory to our Great Kings”. This young man also has an incredible education. Khun Pana is most grateful to the late Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana who presided over his debut recital in 2003. Khun Pana won an Albert Roussel scholarship to study at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. Afterwards he moved to Italy to study under Maestro Pierpalo Levi and Maestro Uberto Martinelli and received the “Diploma di corso di alto perfezionamento in pianoforte” from the Academia of Perugia under Stefano Ragnia and Patrizio Cerrone. Khun Pana has become the first Thai piano student to be accepted and to graduate from the State Conservatory in Italy and was awarded as the most outstanding student in 2013. Since then he has performed at several places around the world. You could write a book about Khun Pana’s concerts

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and life. Since 2013 he has been assistant director of the Nat Music School and a lecturer for music appreciation at the Faculty of Music Engineering and Multimedia of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang. It took his father Nat, 7 months to write Sonata No 1 “Glory to our Great Kings” and it took Khun Pana 37 minutes to play it. I can just say that it was a magical recital, so beautiful. During the evening 5 artists had the opportunity to present their paintings and each painting was accompanied with a piece of music. For music lovers I can only recommend a visit to this unique bijou concert hall, designed to provide Bangkok with a place where fine music can be performed and enjoyed in intimate surroundings far removed from the city’s hustle and bustle. “Music builds people, builds community, builds us. Sala Sudasiri Sobha was built for music”. Through the magnificent entrance hall you will go up the stairs to the second floor. To the left of the entrance hall is the room “Duangduen” named after Chao Mae, bearing her emblem on the wall. Chao Mae is one of the last Princesses of the Lanna Kingdom. Khun Chao Mae was donated all the teak and rosewood from her old houses. There is also a VIP room named “Ladawan” after Khun Ladawan Mojdara, who is like another mother to us, the family explains. ‘She was the one who encouraged me to marry Sugar’, Khun Nat says with a smile. There is also the “Pantipa Room”. Kru (teacher) Pantipa was my very dear piano teacher who taught me how to play from grade 8 and until I obtained the FTCL (the highest diploma of Trinity College of Music London which took place in Bangkok). This room has two grand pianos and is used for rehearsing piano concerto or small ensemble and it’s also a good room for vocal training. I was told by Kru Pantipa that “to master the art of piano playing is not enough, one needs to have the virtue as the master of your soul as well” Khun Nat says. The main room is “Sala Sudasiri Sobha hall”. This room

is 16 metres long, 8 metres wide and 8 metres high. The main floor has 140 seats and up on the balcony you can seat a further 40 people. The stage is beautiful and has a high window that makes it possible to see the full moon as a backdrop. “We are so blessed to have these 5 rooms and Sugar and I pray for God’s Kingdom bestows upon this place to be a place of blessings to whoever enters this Sala” Khun Nat says. Fine music is an international language that leads the mind toward the heart and the heart toward the mind, fusing the two and infusing them with discipline that is one of humanity’s greatest and most lasting achievements. If you are longing for some beautiful classical music in quiet surroundings, I suggest you visit one of the upcoming concerts. Throughout October, the family is on a tour in the US and there will be a concert at Carnegie Hall amongst many more at several locations. I can warmly recommend you visit this place and enjoy music at its best. I also have to mention that “The Gift of Life Foundation” has been established and has organised a campaign to help haematological patients with the following beliefs: Giving: We believe giving brings more happiness than receiving and that we can give cheerfully to one another unconditionally. The Gift: We believe that life and talents are gifts that everyone has received from birth and the communities that we live in is an accumulation of different forms of gifts in order to make society more vibrant and whole. Of Life: We believe all life in the community has value and meaning. It is an honour to help other people to live longer. It’s a great blessing to be able to share part of our life to extend the lives of others. Feel free to participate in this commitment by donating or giving your time and talents. Volunteers from different professions are needed to share this vision with us. www.givingthegift2015 at gmail.com

For more information please visit: www.SalaSudasiriSobha.com or on Facebook Sala Sudasiri Sobha.

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Health and fitness

The simple science behind fat loss by Rishi Haria

I started off as that fat kid in school for the majority of my teens before deciding to elevate my fitness lifestyle to what it is today. My body had to endure years of trial and error before I was content with my knowledge on training and nutrition. Anyone’s brain would scramble with all the misconceptions and the contradicting information there is out there on fat loss and creating that perfect body. Fat loss can be made to look overly complicated by all the latest diet trends and fads that come and go year after year. I’m not saying it’s necessarily easy, but it is quite straightforward. There are scientifically proven methods that will help you achieve your fat loss goal if executed correctly. In order lose fat it is essential that your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) exceeds how many calories you consume - creating a calorie deficit. In other words, you need to eat less and do more. Obvious you might think. However, it’s the finer details within this concept that will help you get leaner. This is going to get a little bit scientific but fear not, I will break it down as simply and digestible as possible. The energy your body uses to digest nutrients is the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), or the increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of a meal. This thermic breakdown of a meal is produced by the energy required for the consumption, digestion, metabolism, and storage of food. There are 3 macro nutrients in foods (proteins, fats, carbs), and all 3 have different thermic rates. Macro ratios

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are important and necessary considerations to burn fat, followed by the total calories you consume. Your body uses the most energy to break down protein, followed by carbs, and then dietary fats. That’s why during a fat loss phase, a relatively high protein diet is effective to help you lean down while preserving muscle mass. This preserving effect is great because it reduces the risk of becoming too scrawny. Most of us want our abs to pop and our backsides to stay perky rather than being wafer thin. Not only is protein great for your metabolism but it’s highly satiating and suppresses your hunger for longer. I could easily eat a whole box sugary cereal in one sitting. My stomach will just absorb carbs like water to a sponge. That’s the fat kid in me. However, give me a couple of chicken breasts and then I can barely finish one without starting to feel full. It’s always a struggle when you’re trying to lose fat to stop yourself feeling hungry. So try attributing a solid amount of your daily calories to protein every meal, and reap the fat loss benefits from it. Now we have the nutrition side of things covered,

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let’s move on to the exercise side of things. Active Energy Expenditure (AEE) can be divided into Physical Activity (PA) and Spontaneous Physical Activity (SPA). Both are ways that we use up the calories from the foods we eat on a day to day basis. PA includes forms of exercising both anaerobic (weight training) and aerobic (cardio). SPA involves activities that might not be a direct form of exercise. Whether it’s walking to the BTS station, cleaning your room, or helping your friend move apartment, you burn through calories because you are physically doing something. If you are cooped up in an office from 9-5 it’s likely that your SPA will be lower than someone doing manual labour. The calories burned through SPA really does accumulate more than you might think. We all need to make the effort to be as active as possible, both in and out of the gym. The fitness scene in Thailand is noticeably growing every year and I don’t see this trend ending any time soon. There are more and more commercial and boutique gyms popping up around Bangkok over the past few years. Even the latest gadgets such as Fit Bit and Apple watches help us stay more active by counting our steps and calories burned. Weight training/resistance training has been proven to increase Excess Post Exercise Energy Consumption (EPOC), or the “after-burn”, more than simply doing cardio. This basically means your body becomes more efficient at burning calories after a lifting session for up to 2 days. Our muscles require calories to maintain and rebuild itself. If you increase your muscle mass then your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) will improve too - meaning you will burn through calories quicker than before. You might plough through more calories in 1 hour of cardio vs 1 hour of strength training, but that doesn’t mean weight training is not an essential part of shedding those excess kilos. The combination of weight training and cardio will not only enhance your fat loss results, but also your cardiovascular health. You can afford to eat more food and still stay in a calorie deficit if you do both cardio and strength training. Hopefully by this point I’m motivating you to start pumping iron.

“The fitness scene in Thailand is noticeably growing every year and I don’t see this trend ending any time soon” More woman are beginning to realise the benefits of weight training when it comes to staying trim. Your muscles won’t immediately bulge through your shirt simply by staring at a dumbbell. Woman will generally have less potential for muscle growth than compared to men as they have lower levels of testosterone. Weight training will help you sculpt your body in ways that cardio and dieting alone cannot. Other benefits of weight training include better posture, healthier bones, and disease prevention. You will only get that bulky look if combine weight training with eating a lot. When we overeat, our belly’s expand regardless of the training anyway!

Starting our own body transformation journeys can be daunting without expert help. My advice would be to set clear short and long term goals with a realistic timeline for achieving it. Track your food intake using apps such as My Fitness Pal as well as keeping a record of your gym performance and general level of physical activity. We can all make the effort to be more active and eat better. Even those of us with busy lifestyles can rely on clean meal delivery services to help keep us on track. Above everything else, it’s important to enjoy the journey to a healthier, happier, and fitter version of yourself!

Rishi is a strength coach and takes a holistic approach to training and body transformations. He holds a Sports Science BSc from Brunel University (UK) and has also competed in Men’s Physique and Strongman competitions. He believes that training should be, progressive, enjoyable and goal oriented. rishi.elbkk@gmail.com

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Health and fitness

Acne, hormones and food choices by Judith Coulson

The familiar red and white pimples of acne are caused by pores that are blocked and often infected. Although acne is most common in adolescents (more than 80% of those between ages 12 and 21 are afflicted), it now appears with increasing frequency in adults. As most people are aware, hormones play a significant role in acne. Normally, the body produces sebum, an oily lubricant, and secretes it through sebaceous glands to the skin. This lubricant is necessary to protect the skin from the elements and to keep it moist. During adolescence and other times of hormonal change, fluctuating hormones change this process and create several conditions that are likely to produce acne. For one, sebum production increases, and the oil, instead of passing harmlessly through the glands, hardens and clogs up the glandular canals. As a result, a red bump, a pimple appears on the skin. Second, there is also increased production of keratin, a protective protein that covers the skin. Third, the same hormones cause an increase in the number of sebaceous glands, so there are more opportunities for acne to develop. All of these factors can lead to clogged and infected pores, resulting in increased bacteria and yeast overgrowth on the skin. Overgrowth of these organisms causes skin inflammation. Superficial inflammation results in pustule formation and skin redness. Inflammation that occurs deeper in the skin can result in the formation of nodules and cysts and, possibly, scars. One must also consider the role of food sensitivities, which can cause or worsen acne. These are discussed further in the Food to Avoid section. In addition, candida or yeast overgrowth can be an underlying cause of acne. This is most common after chronic antibiotic use, where "friendly bacteria" are destroyed, setting up the over­growth

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of candida. Many people are on long-term antibiotic use for the treatment of acne, which sets up not only a further acne problem but potential digestive problems as well. Finally, nutritional deficiencies often need to be addressed to improve acne. Zinc, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients are crucial in preventing acne. If you suffer from acne, be wary of the usual conventional treatments. Most prescription drugs for acne are either harsh topical lotions, which can cause dryness, redness, scaling, and sun sensitivity, or antibiotics, which disrupt the natural balance of intestinal flora and may give you yeast infections and diarrhoea. Instead, try a natural treatment plan for acne that emphasises dietary changes, detoxification, stress reduction, natural hormone balancing, and identification possible food allergies. Causes of acne Hormones can fluctuate at times other than adolescence, most notably during pregnancy, around the time of menses or menopause, and during periods of emotional stress. Oral contraceptives can also affect hormonal production. Acne can appear on babies as well. This is normal and goes away with time. It would be a mistake, however, to attribute acne solely to fluctuating hormones. The second biggest contributor to acne is poor nutrition. Fat, sugar, and processed foods accelerate skin inflammation and acne. They also contribute to constipation, and thus the body responds by trying to expel the poisons through a different avenue, via the skin.

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Symtoms Each of the following symptoms can appear on the face, the chest, or the back: • Red spots, bumps or pustules, sometimes inflamed and painful • Blackheads • Whiteheads • Oily skin Root causes • Genetics • Poor diet • Nutritional deficiencies • Food sensitivities • Hormonal fluctuation or imbalance • Emotional stress • Poor digestion/toxic body system • Candida/yeast overgrowth Treatment/diet Recommended food: In general, acne sufferers should follow a simple diet of basic, unprocessed foods. Dark green or orange vegetables are especially helpful for their carotenoids, which help maintain and repair the skin. Eat them raw or lightly cooked to retain their nutrients and fibre. A quarter cup of ground flaxseeds provides plenty of fibre for proper elimination, as well as helpful essential fatty acids. Take with at least 2.5dl of clean quality water daily. Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, are good sources of skin-healthy vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Quality protein sources are beans, peas, lentils, eggs, and fresh cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. The latter are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Meat products should be hormone and antibiotic free and limited. Drink a glass of clean quality water every 2 waking hours to flush toxins out of the body and to maintain good general health. If you must use topical or oral antibiotics for acne, be sure to eat some live unsweetened yogurt (natural Greek yogurt) every day. Antibiotics destroy the "friendly" bacteria in your gut.

Look out for: Vitamin E rich foods Almonds, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, butternut squash, trout, olive oil. Selenium rich foods Brazil nuts, eggs, sunflower seeds, liver (from lamb for beef), tuna, herring, chicken breast, salmon, turkey, chia seeds, mushrooms Zinc rich foods Lamb, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, raw cacao powder, cashews, kefir or natural Greek yogurt, mushrooms, spinach Beta carotene rich foods Carrot juice, pumpkin, spinach, carrots, sweet potato, collard greens, kale, turnip greens, winter squash, dandelion greens, cantaloupe, apricots, mango Foods to avoid Eliminate junk and processed food, such as refined grains, colas, and candy. These products are a large source of toxins in the average diet. Sugar encourages oil production and provides food for bacteria and yeast. Do not consume foods that contain added sugar. Avoid artificial sugar substitutes like saccharine or aspartame. Although any food can conceivably result in an allergic response, by far the most frequent triggers are dairy, wheat, sugar, chocolate, and corn. Try the elimination diet to determine whether a food allergy is causing your problem. •S  aturated and hydrogenated fats (trans fats) are particularly difficult to digest, and they worsen acne. Stay away from fried foods and solid fats, such as margarine, lard, and vegetable shortening. •A  n acidic internal environment encourages acne, so avoid alcohol, sugar, chocolate, fried foods, and soda, and limit meat products. •C  offee and other caffeinated products may aggravate skin conditions. If they cause problems for you, cut them out and drink herbal teas instead. •P  eople with carbohydrate sensitivity may notice improvement in their skin by reducing their refined carbohydrate (low GI foods) intake. This is because elevated levels of the blood sugar - regulating hormone insulin increase skin inflammation. To find your diet changes to reduce acne contact Judith@lifestylefoodclinic.com Judith Coulson is a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist, Positive Psychology and Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach, working with individuals, executive teams, schools and companies based in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

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FEATURES

Wellness and a bit of psychology in parks by Monica Nilsson

We all have different ways of dealing with the so-called grey days in our lives. It can be related to just anything from just a bad moody day to stress, sorrow and of course worst of all grief, that we all will go through in life sometimes. Different individuals find different ways of coping with these days. Some have to go and burn out all those stress hormones in a sweaty hour at the gym. Others go for a run. A good swim might be good for some if you are privileged enough having a pool close by. Some people escape into another world with a good book not having to think of the things that give you that “blue or sad feelings”. For me however it is always has to be “being outdoors”. Always. Whenever I feel low for some reason the best thing I can do is to get out of the house or apartment or office, if only for an hour. To get away from the area where the negative or sad feelings started if you know what I mean. To walk a few hours at least is preferably the best for me and it should not be walking to a shopping mall or to the grocery store, which is more stressful than anything, but to walk to a nice green park somewhere. In Bangkok my two favourite parks are Benjakiti and Lumphini Parks. I walk there several times a week since I live fairly close to both of them and can walk to the parks as well. No tuk tuk, taxi or skytrain needed. Sometimes I walk with friends if I want to talk but quite often I walk alone with music in my earphones. A park differs from day to day. Nothing is really the same. The weather varies of course which gives different light, shadows and sometimes even a bit of drama if it starts

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to rain or if a thunderstorm begins in the middle of your walk. That can happen during rainy season in Bangkok as we all know. In the park you find animals, flowers, lakes, statues, clock towers, old people, young people, cyclists, kids playing, people out with their parents in wheelchairs, workers, tired people having a sudden nap on a bench, friends having breakfast together, Quigong exercising people, sometimes you even see people dancing in Lumphini park practicing outside. People are simply enjoying spending time in a park. It´s just the way it is. Everywhere. The need we all have to get away and to have a free zone without boundaries of musts for a little while. Away from computers and TVs etc. All cities in the world have at least one park. I don´t think I have ever been to a city that actually doesn't have one. It would be very strange. It gives me so much pleasure to live close to Benjakiti Park and that was in fact a request I had when moving to Bangkok since I love walking so much. A park or some green area at least in this busy “concrete jungle” was a must. However when moving here I realised to my surprise that I had mixed this park up with Benjasiri by Emporium in Phrom Phong. I like Benjakiti better so that mistake didn’t matter at all when looking at housing. My Swedish friends and I have a few people that we have seen around for all of the three years I have lived here and I would in fact miss them dearly, if they suddenly were not to be seen. It is for example the man who collects branches and leaves from the other gardeners and he has his sort of bicycle with a loading tray right in front. He bikes really slowly around the lake. I guess this is his routine for a daily life. Then we have what we call “the sleeping man in the park”. He has a white

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pony tail and almost always wear the same kind of shorts and we see him resting or sleeping on a bench. He seems quite happy with that. There is also this cute boy I have been following now for three years and I think he is there with his mother instead of being at a day care centre or more common here with his grandmother and grandfather looking after him. Sometimes this cutie also sweeps and collects leaves and the other gardeners spoil him sometimes with candies. He looks very happy and I have always thought to myself that you can indeed have worse times as a child than this boy has. I can see in his eyes that he admire the gardeners who run the grasscutters. The sound they make attracts the boy. Then of course we have the “cat of the park�. This one in Benjakiti has a feeder so he is also a lucky one. Parks, animals and people. The combination and green life - I just love it. In Lumphini but also in Benjakiti you can spot monitor lizards and turtles but also big fish of course in the lakes. The

duck boats usually are used a lot by visitors on Sundays. I have a few fantastic parks that I would like to share with you if you travel to any of these places; Namsan Park in Seoul, Central Park New York, Haga Park in Stockholm, Botanical Garden in Singapore, Griffith Park LA, Shinyuku National Park in Tokyo, Keukenhof in the Netherlands, Kings Park in Perth, the park and walk up to Sintra Portugal is simply amazing. There are just too many to remember. Your park lover of the month. Monica Nilsson is president of SWEA (Swedish Womens Education Association)


Health and fitness

Where (and what) is the right FIT for you by Robin Westley Martin

… gyms and fitness centres are bright, modern, and welcoming … Technology, robots, and automated machines in the workplace are increasingly taking over from the physical efforts of the human workforce. On a bus, on a train, in a car, people are forever staring into a smartphone screen. We are becoming sedentary, lazy … and obesity is a growing problem, even in the developing countries of Southeast Asia. Only 20 years ago you would have found it difficult in Thailand to spot people carrying around more kilos on their bodies than was healthy for them. But as people have become more overweight, they have also found that they have more free time, and many are

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looking for ways to use this free time to counter the problem of their obesity or lack of fitness. They are looking for a fun and enjoyable way in which to do it, and gyms, fitness centres, yoga classes, and Zumba high energy dance workouts provide the answer. Globally, gym and fitness culture is on the rise, and Bangkok is no exception to this trend. The old days of seedy, sweaty, somewhat run-down gyms - such as those depicted in the ‘Rocky’ movies are a thing of the past. Today, fitness gyms and private health clubs are bright, techy, and welcoming. They are a huge global business and Bangkok

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

and other urban centres in Thailand have plenty for you to pick from, with international chains such as Fitness First, Clark Hatch, Virgin Active, Crossfit, WE Fitness Society, or True Fitness all having a presence here. Memberships can be weekly, monthly or yearly, and if you just want to check out if they will be good for what you are looking for most of them offer a free trial. If they don’t, ask for one … more than likely they will agree. There are private sports clubs available too, as well as the gyms or fitness centres in most 4 and 5 star hotels, which are

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free for guests. You can also choose to have your fitness programme tailor made for you by working with a personal trainer. There are, naturally, still gyms around that cater to those who are looking for competitive training programmes in sports such as boxing, judo, Muay Thai here in Thailand, or bodybuilding. But the modern day gym or fitness centre caters much more to the mindset of the ‘fitness culture’ that has been developing around the world over the last decade or so. People of all ages and classes are drawn to fitness centres to participate in yoga classes, Tai Chi, jog along on a treadmill, or just Zumba away to hi cardio dance routines, accompanied by the booming beat of the most popular tunes of the day. The equipment available to you will vary from place to place, but apart from the ubiquitous weights found everywhere, it can include treadmills, rowing machines or static bicycles, many of which are electronically metered. On a fitness centre bicycle you can choose to pedal along a flat road, or struggle to climb up a mountain track. You can see your speed and distance travelled on a digital readout in front of you, and you can maybe imagine yourself competing in the Tour de France against champions such as Bernard Wiggins or Chris Froome. But perhaps the main driver powering interest in personal fitness nowadays is the popularity of wearable tech. Fitness trackers and smart watches have been sought after gifts over the last few years, and this trend is continuing its increase in 2017, with healthy sales figures from the industry leaders like Garmin, Apple, and Fitbit, which continue to post a high growth rate in sales. The problems previously experienced regarding the accuracy of the trackers has been addressed by the developers and their tech wizards, and the precision of the monitoring is now pretty much guaranteed by all of the leading players in the wearables

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game. The trackers will monitor your heartbeat, steps made in one day, distance travelled, will store a log of your achievements, as well as help you stick to a healthy diet by keeping a count of your calories. However, it is what you actually get up to in the gym that really counts, and you have a wide choice of activities to choose from. In 2017 one of the most popular exercise regimes is HIIT (high-intensity interval training). HIIT helps you to burn calories quickly, by alternating rapid bursts of powered-up exercise with short rest periods … you give all out, one hundred percent effort through speedy, intense bursts of exercise followed by a short, sometimes active, recovery time. This type of training gets your heart rate up, and keeps it there, burning more fat in less time. It is the current darling of people who want to change their lifestyle and get fit. It’s popular because there is no equipment needed, as the workouts generally use only your own body weight - with sit ups, jump squats, press ups, split jumps, tricep dips, and planks. You

really do need an instructor to start you off on this regime, though, or to learn about body weight training. Apart from the gym chains that some people find a little too businesslike, there are also several independent gyms and fitness centres around Bangkok, where the service is more personal and friendly. We went along to check one out - Sammakorn Fitness (www.sammakornfitness.com)

“We give our members something more; we are a part of the community, and the people who come here become part of a family”

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in Ramkamhaeng district, where we met the owner, fitness professional and personal trainer, expat Brit James O’Callaghan. James said, ‘At Sammakorn

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Fitness we have everything that the corporate gyms have, when you look at the quality and range of our equipment, and the programmes put on, but it’s all at a lower price. And we give our members something more; we are a part of the community, and the people who come here become part of a family’. When I visited the gym in Sammakorn Village (Baan Sammakorn) I saw this for myself first hand. At 10.30 on a Tuesday morning there were 20 people lining up for a circuit training session, from the local area, and further afield. They were Thai and farang (nonThai westerners) and they came from all age ranges. To the encouragement of James they gave their all, in 20 different exercise routines, using different pieces of equipment, where they work - hard - for 30 seconds, before moving on to the next activity, until all 20 have been completed. Then they do it all over again! By the end they were exhausted, but elated at their achievement, and pleased with the praise and encouragement from James. At the spacious Sammakorn Fitness, which has taken over the premises of a primary school, the prices are so much more reasonable than the corporate gym chains, but with the same top-notch equipment and

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

well-trained staff. I live a fair distance from the gym myself, but after my tour around the place, and talking to the guys and girls who are members there I am seriously considering signing up myself. There are weight machines, free weights, static bicycles, cross trainers, rowing machines, treadmills … there is boxing and Muay Thai training, yoga classes, Zumba dance exercise, HIIT, body weight training, and even table tennis. And over 60s can attend the yoga classes for free. This writer - who spends most of his time on a computer - has had his eyes opened after working on this story. I visited both the corporate gyms and the independents, but everywhere I went I was taken by the enthusiasm of the members of the gyms and fitness centres. They are not fanatics trying to turn themselves into musclebound superheroes. Rather, they are people just like you and me, who have realised that it was about time they did something about their lazy lifestyle. And to a man (and woman) they look and feel better about themselves. I think it’s about time I joined them. You?

Robin Westley Martin is a journalist who has lived in Thailand for almost 30 years, and has contributed his experience as a writer and editor to many magazines. His first position was as news editor at Business in Thailand, after which he moved on to Hotel and Travel and Kinnaree, where he was assistant editor. His work has been published in newspapers in Thailand and overseas, such as The Nation and The Sunday Times. Robin currently works on a freelance basis, covering a wide range of genres. Email - robinsiam@yahoo.com Line - robinsiam555 Facebook - Robin Westley Martin

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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.


Health and fitness

Gluten and your gut by Monique Jhingon

If you or any of your family members are suffering from inexplicable health issues that are not getting better through medical protocols, I suggest you read this article. It might or might not be an answer to your problems but either way it contains information that, in my opinion, everyone should know about. Gluten sensitivity is a subject close to my heart. In 2004, after suffering from symptoms ranging from fatigue to skin allergies and digestive problems, I was diagnosed by my medical practitioner with intestinal permeability caused by the consumption of gluten. “I am Dutch!” was my first reaction. “I grew up on bread!”. How was it possible that the very foundation of my diet was causing these health problems? And I was eating wholegrain wheat instead of the unhealthy refined white flour products! Despite my disbelief, I adopted a gluten free diet and “miraculously” healed my digestive system as well as all the other lingering health issues I was suffering from. In the past 9 years global awareness has increased, especially with respect to Celiac Disease which is the most severe level of gluten intolerance. What many people don’t fully understand is that Celiac Disease is only the tip of the iceberg. For every Celiac patient there are many more people that suffer from lower levels of gluten sensitivity which stay undiagnosed. Adding to the problem is the fact that symptoms are not limited to digestive issues and can show up in countless different ways. Why is this happening? What has changed in the wheat that we eat that is leading to this rise in numbers? How can

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you find out if you suffer from gluten sensitivity and most importantly: what can you do about it? In this article I will try to answer, to the best of my ability, all these questions and more. First, some background information on grains and anti-nutrients If you consider human evolution grains are a relatively “recent” addition to our diets. They were added approximately 10,000 years ago when the shift happened from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural lifestyle. From a dietary point of view grains provide us with all the major nutrient groups that our bodies need: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. It is therefore not difficult to understand that grains have been an important and popular dietary component. There are however a few potential problems associated with grain consumption: Anti-nutrients The inherent purpose of a grain is to find fertile soil, germinate and grow into a new plant. To ensure that this happens and to protect themselves against predators (which include human beings), grains contain certain toxic compounds that interfere with digestion. The most well known example of this is gluten, a toxin found in wheat (as well as


some other grains) that damages the lining of our digestive track, leading to a compromised digestive system that can be the underlying cause of many different health problems. It is possible to reduce the anti-nutrients in grains to a certain extent. Cultures all around the world that eat traditional diets have successfully included whole grains by adopting specific cooking techniques to make them more easily digestible, such as soaking, sprouting and fermenting. Too much of a good thing? Today grains, mostly in the form of wheat, make up a huge portion of our diets: wheat cereals for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta, bread with dinner and biscuits and crackers in between. To give an example of the problems this can cause, let’s have a look at gluten. Once gluten enters our bodies, it is broken down by digestive enzymes into peptides, which are too large to be absorbed through the small intestine. To allow these peptides to enter into the bloodstream, the wall of the intestine has to separate. Once let through, these peptides trigger an immune response. In a normal, healthy situation the immune system takes care of the invader, the wall of the intestine closes back up and the body is ready to go on with its regular business. Just imagine what happens if there is a non-stop supply of gluten coming into our digestive track? Continuous fire in the belly, so to say, which leads to inflammation in the gut, an out-of-control immune system, and eventually different kinds of health problems. And it doesn’t help that most of us already have an impaired immune system as well as a compromised digestive system due to stress, poor diet and over use of antibiotics.

Modern wheat The wheat we eat today is very different from the wheat that was grown many years ago. Through genetic modification scientists have been able to cultivate higheryielding crops that have lower mineral content, higher gluten content and a different kind of gluten protein which a majority of people with Celiac disease react negatively to. Furthermore, wheat is prepared very differently now. During his studies of traditional diets in the 1930s Dr Weston Price came upon a number of cultures that thrived on wheat but used special preparation methods that included

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stone-grinding and fermentation. Today, most wheat products are mass produced in factories, made of refined white flour with fast rising yeasts instead of a slow fermentation processes. All of the above factors are likely to be major contributors to the rise in gluten and wheat allergies world over. We have an “impending epidemic”, a quadrupling of people with Celiac Disease in the last 50 years, and fast growing numbers of people suffering from different levels of gluten or wheat sensitivities. Let’s have a look at what can happen if you are one of those people. Celiac Disease The most severe form of gluten intolerance is Celiac Disease (CD), an auto-immune disease that causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues. It causes intestinal atrophy, which is a wearing down of the intestinal lining (more specifically the “villi”) thereby seriously interfering with nutrient absorption. Celiac Disease can cause all kinds of other auto-immune diseases of which thyroid auto-immune disease is the most common. Symptoms of Celiac Disease are of many different kinds. The first symptom that one would think of would be gastrointestinal related but research shows that for every CD patient with gastrointestinal symptoms, there are 8 others who have their symptoms somewhere else: •N  eurological (fatigue, insomnia, sleep disorders, brain fog, depression, headaches, anxiety, irritability, neuropathy etc.) •R  eproductive health issues •S  kin problems (eczema, acne, etc) •B  one and joint issues (osteoporosis, arthritis, joint pain, bone pain, fibromyalgia etc.) •D  ental problems •O  ther chronic diseases including diabetes and cancer Gluten sensitivity People who are gluten sensitive cannot tolerate gluten and may develop symptoms similar to those in Celiac Disease. They do not, however, have flattened villi or the permanent “leaky gut” intestinal permeability in the intestinal EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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walls. Their intestinal permeability is transient and milder and sometimes non-existent. Their immune reaction is also different in the sense that it activates the innate immunity as opposed to the adaptive immunity as is the case in CD patients. The latter is a more sophisticated response where specific cells are developed that fight foreign bodies and can mistakenly attack the body’s own tissues. As with Celiac Disease symptoms are not limited to gastrointestinal issues but can also show up in the form of skin conditions, headaches, foggy brain, fatigue, depression, joint pains, etc. According to Dr William Davis who wrote the book “Wheat Belly”: “When in doubt, suspect wheat.” How do you find out if you have a problem with gluten? There are tests that can be done to determine if you have Celiac Disease. Doctors will normally prescribe a blood test and if this comes back positive a biopsy can be done to further determine the extent of intestinal atrophy. However, if the intestinal lining is only partially worn down, the blood tests may come back negative. According to experts this happens 7 out of 10 times. Testing for gluten sensitivity is even more difficult. There are only a handful of labs that have been able to develop a comprehensive panel of blood tests that can accurately diagnose more people. (Cyrex Labs) The most foolproof method is to go on a gluten elimination diet: remove all gluten-containing foods for a period of 30 days and then reintroduce it and see how you feel. If you have gluten sensitivity you should experience an immediate and heightened reaction at that stage. Lab testing for Celiac Disease should be done before you start an elimination diet as the test will not work if you are not consuming gluten. How do you deal with gluten sensitivity? If you have determined that you are sensitive to gluten, you will need to take the following steps: 1. Remove all gluten containing foods from your diet. This includes: • Wheat, barley, rye, spelt and triticale and products made from these grains • All processed foods that likely contain gluten in the form of hydrolysed protein, starch/modified starch, malt, binders and natural flavourings • Foods that may have been contaminated during the manufacturing process such as oats As this may involve a complete diet makeover it is advisable to work with a healthcare professional. 2. Heal your gut According to Dr Thomas O’Bryan, an internationally recognised speaker and workshop leader specialising in Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease, “there is nothing more important than having a healthy gut.”

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To heal your digestive system you may need to eliminate not only all gluten containing products but, depending on the severity of the problem perhaps also other foods that can interfere with the gut healing process such as other whole grains, dairy, soy, corn and coffee. Introducing good gut flora through high quality pro-biotic supplements and/or fermented foods as well as prebiotic rich foods is another important step to take. Stress affects the body’s immune system so managing stress levels is a critical aspect as well. 3. Clean up your diet Adopt a diet that contains a variety of whole foods, seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, high quality fats, no sugar and eat with awareness and appreciation. I personally think that one of the best things that happened to me was my gluten sensitivity diagnosis. I was lucky to be working with an “enlightened” alternative medicine practitioner at the time who guided me through the initial stages of living with gluten sensitivity. In order to get well I had to remove much-loved foods from my diet and become more aware of the important connection between diet and health. It forced me to look at everything I put into my mouth and as a result I now feel better than ever. I have healed and repaired my digestion to a point where I can even occasionally enjoy food that has gluten without an issue. Gluten sensitivity might not be your issue but knowing about it will hopefully increase your awareness level and help you make better choices for yourself and your family that will benefit you tremendously in the long run.

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Fashion and Beauty

Meet the Swede Göran Alfredsson, a man with a passion for fashion! by Agneta de Bekassy

In Sweden, when you receive an invitation, might it be for a gala dinner at Grand Hotel, The Nobel dinner at the City Hall or a private VIP party, most women will visit Atelier Thalia, located on one of Stockholm’s most famous streets, Karlavägen. Thalia opened in 1979. Here, in this calm and friendly environment you will find your dream dress. It is a wonderful experience when you enter the shop, or, as I prefer to call it, the Atelier. Just walking by, doing window shopping to get inspired, is also a pleasure.

The Atelier Thalia got its name after one of the three Charites (Graces) in Greek mythology. Thalia was the goddess of festivity, which makes the name very suitable. The Atelier itself breathes pure luxury with haute couture dresses, suits, coats, among much more, for every occasion. The customers are business women, actresses, politicians and last, but not least, royals. The Swedish royal family with Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Madeleine and the newest Princess Sophia, are all frequent customers. In Sweden the Nobel Banquette at the Townhouse is, I would say, the biggest and most prestigious gala during the year. It is celebrated on the 10th of December every year. This is the event when every woman wants to look her very best. You can be sure, that at least a third, if not more, of the female guests’ dresses are made in Atelier Thalia.

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I happen to know that Göran, the man behind these exclusive and well done dresses, has one more passion than just dressing women, Thailand. Göran regularly spends a few months of the year in Bangkok and at his house in Phitsanulok, about 400 kilometres north of Bangkok. Göran built the house almost 20 years ago which is located in a mango garden. The perfect place to get away and relax for a busy man like Göran. It’s also in his Bangkok atelier, that many creations see the first daylight. When it comes to choosing fabrics, Göran is very selective, only the finest will do. He came to Thailand and bought his first Thai silk in 1987. Be it silk, Thai silk, wool or chiffon, it has to be impeccable. Thai people are known for their handcraft and are excellent sewers, as they have lots of patience and are gifted when it comes to detail. They don’t lose interest or get careless, even if they have to decorate an item with thousands of small beads. In 1987 Göran met a Thai woman who helped him to find the right vendors and contacts and still to this day they are working together.

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When you visit Atelier Thalia in Stockholm, you immediately recognise that not only the dresses are important, but accessories as well. Here also you will find the perfect shoes to match your dress, the little clutch and even the right jewellery. Maybe you walk in to the Atelier feeling like Cinderella, but I promise you, when you walk out, you will feel like the Princess at the ball. Many of the exquisite jewellery, Göran has handpicked in Thailand. Who is the talented man behind the masterpieces? Göran was born in Sandviken, Sweden where he attended school. After completion of his schooling, he said goodbye to Sweden and went to Paris. He had booked a charter trip and arrived in Paris, where he stayed in a small hotel for some months. “It was tough in the beginning and I felt quite lonely and was longing for my own place” Göran says. He found both friends and an apartment after a while and settled in. As we all know, Paris is a Mecca, for people who are interested in fashion. Within four years, Göran learned the handcraft and the meaning of “haute couture” from the masters like: Pierre Balmain. “By at an age of four, I was interested in fashion and women’s wear” Göran confesses. He was a bit different from his young male friends who dreamed and talked about cars and football, while Göran was dreaming of beautiful female clothes. “When I was in high

“Design and making clothes are something I always have wanted since a child and I think I will do forever to the very last day of my life”

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school, my classmates asked me to make clothes for them and so I did” Göran told me. “Design and making clothes are something I always have wanted since a child and I think I will do forever to the very last day of my life” he says. He points out that there are so many varieties in female fashion that attract and stimulate him. “I do clothes to bring out a woman’s personality, I don’t dress them to show off” Göran is careful to point out. I happen to know, that by wearing a Thalia outfit, you’re guaranteed to stand out and make an entrance. I was curious to know if Göran sees any differences in the way Swedish women look at clothes and how they dress, compared to Thai or Asian women. “Well, I do think Asian women dress up more than say Swedish or European women do. Asian women are proud of being feminine and show it more than Western women” was his answer. I can agree with Göran. Thai women are very feminine in their way of dressing and also very careful about their makeup and hair. Göran is a well-known man in the Swedish high society and invited to most events of any value. I suppose, there is no Swedish woman or even man, who hasn’t heard, read about, or met Göran. Here in Bangkok, he has a large circle of friends. I was wondering if he could imagine opening a similar Atelier to Thalia here in Bangkok. Göran hesitated for a second before answering, but told me, that in the future he would like to organise a fashion show in Bangkok. He also let me know that long ago, he organised a fashion show at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the guest of honour was our King Carl the 16th Gustav’s youngest sister, Princess Christina Mrs Magnusson. It was a great success, he says proudly and I am sure it was and extraordinary event. Let’s hope that Göran will soon organise another show for us women in and around Bangkok. If you happen to travel to Stockholm, pass by at Thalia, just because you are worth it. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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S

et on Siam Paragon’s G floor, The Gourmet Garden offers more than 8,000 sq meters of tranquility

and dining pleasures. Designed under the concept “Pandorascape,” it creates a natural setting complete with a waterfall curtain and unique art installations. At The Gourmet Garden, fine-dining restaurants gather together to provide choices for customers of every age and lifestyle, no matter what the time of day. Whether it’s a breakfast date, business lunch, special dinner or party with your friends, you’re bound to find a restaurant that’s perfect. For those who love sweets, take a trip to the island of desserts and pastries from well-known Bangkok shops like Gokoku, Milch, Tarr Tarr, Bake a Wish, Shio Company, Brix Dessert Bar, Veganerie Soul, Whittard of Chelsea, KOI Thé, ChaTraMue, Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory In addition, you’ll find big international restaurants like Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant, Mugendai Steakhouse, Chilli Thai Restaurant, Wang Jia Sha, IHOP, Another Hound Café and Townhouse.

Experience the deliciousness of world-class gastronomy at The Gourmet Garden, Siam Paragon’s G floor.


KOI Thé

The premium Taiwanese tea brand offers the freshest tea selections from ingredients to brewing process. The tea here is only kept for three hours while its chewy, aromatic golden bubbles are kept for one and a half hours. Don’t miss its signature drinks like Golden Bubble Milk Tea, and Matcha Macchiato with a special way of enjoying its taste to the full.

Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory

Cheese and dairy lovers must visit this legendary bakery brand from Japan, known for cheese-based and milky creations. Try some of its highlights: Salt & Camembert Cookie made with Hokkaido milk, Guérande salt from France, and Camembert Cheese. Or mouthwatering Milk Cheese Cake with light and tender cheese texture blending with soft, delicate crepe.

ChaTraMue

This original Thai tea brand founded since 1945 gives a wonderful selection of drinks and desserts, inspired by its product ranges, to Thai tea lovers. Enjoy classics like Thai-style tea, black tea, green tea, oolong tea or twisted creations like jiaogulan tea mixed with honey, and latte Thai-style tea. Don’t miss its popular rose tea with different flavors. Must-try desserts are soft serve and parfait in Cha Thai, and Matcha Durian.


Fashion and Beauty

Fashion by Talar Zambakjian

Holidays are finally here .... can't believe 2017 is almost over! Haven’t accomplished my to do list yet! And now working on my New Year resolutions .... what about you? Have you completed yours? Let me tell you the fun part of resolutions - they are always challenging and something to look forward to, because every success starts with a clear goal and achievable timeline, so the best time of the year has come to do that. The good news is you don’t need to worry; what to wear? What is the trend? Am I up to date? .... I will be here to help and guide you throughout the year. Just grab your issue and be a starlette ... Now that the year end party schedule is full, what to wear for each occasion is a challenge. How to cope with all these parties? Should I always stick to the classic black dress? Or le smoking suit? All these are questions we women ask, right? My advice is to add some festive colours and touches ... this time I will not focus on brands - just trusted be a starlette style advice.

2. Add a strong bright red colour to your neutral day or night look. My favourite is a red shiny skirt and red knee high boots.

Here are some 11 tips how to look festive this season: 1. Mix a very simple material with a statement making piece whether pants, skirt or even a jacket in glittery crystals.

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3. Match a lacy see through top with a classic deep colour to-the-knee skirt - you can add a dramatic lip colour to make it interesting.

5. Don’t miss out on this season’s velvet suit ... A must wear, especially in red, green or black.

4. A festive green colour dress can also be an option, since it’s in fashion. Don't forget to pair it with a pair of very chic ankle-strap pumps or skinny ankle boots.

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6. Wear that minimalist simple and feminine silk slip dress complemented with nice jewellery and some sexy lace up shoes. You can select a neutral or dark shade to suit your skin tone.

7. A mixture of leather and lace is a winning choice, try pairing a lace top with a leather skirt.

8. Tuxedo dress - whether one shoulder or off the shoulder, with or without stripes, it's the perfect solution for an office holiday party.

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9. Add some flair to your black dress if you choose to wear one. Bring something a little different to your classic LBD - try cut-out shoulders, sequin embellished sleeves or a bedazzled high-slit dress.

10. Bring back the 80s for your New Years Eve party - go with a shiny top or dress paired with oversized tassel earrings - one shoulder works with this too, as seen below!

11. Finally, to really impress your Prince Charming, opt for the all crystal sexy Swarovski dress that Kendall Jenner wore for her birthday. BOOM

Have a lovely holiday and don't forget "dress to impress" not only for the others, but for yourself. @be_a_starlette @talarz

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Women's Empowerment

Superwoman by Ravit El-Bachar Daniel

Suzy Nam is writing the world Usually she is the one who writes about other people; this time - being the subject of an article - is somehow uncomfortable for her. Corporate lawyer turned journalist, guidebook writer, welfare volunteer and busy mother of twins, Suzy Nam wants to make a difference. “Nothing is impossible”, she says, “don't listen to any noise that tells you, you must be a certain way”. Five years ago, I was looking for someone to replace me as the BAMBI News magazine Editor. It was not an easy task to find a replacement as this was a volunteer based job, unpaid, a very demanding commitment. It took a few months until I received a message from a young Bangkokian mum named Suzy Nam - she presented years of experience in the journalism area, she was a writer for Forbes, and after 9 months of changing nappies for her

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new twin babies, she felt ready to fill her life with more action. I couldn't ask for more. Getting to know her, I felt very comfortable to leave the magazine in her hands. Since then she experienced many other projects and never sat still. Suzy Nam, 43, American, came to Thailand 13 years ago for a year, and as happens to many others - hasn't left since. What brought you to Bangkok? And how is it different now from the days you arrived here? I came to Thailand for a job as a newspaper reporter, expecting to stay for a year then move back to either New York or London (where I'd come from). But, I enjoyed the adventure of living here, and in that first year I met my to-be-husband, another American planning to be in Bangkok for a year. I've really enjoyed living in this city through many stages of adult life. First, I was a single, young professional focused on my career and taking advantage of the city's vibrant nightlife and meeting some of the very cool and interesting people who call

EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

this city home. Later, I was a married professional working and exploring the country and the region. And now, I'm focused on being a mom and trying to do some good in this world. So, I guess you could say that I really grew up in Bangkok. You studied and practised law, and then continued developing your career in journalism. What brought you from law to journalism? Travelling the world and learning about new things is very fulfilling for me; journalism allows me to do both of those things. In Forbes you write on the richest people in SE Asia. What attracted you to this topic? I write and cover tycoons in SE Asia for Forbes. Wealth on its own isn't that interesting, but the stories about how people went from nothing to being a billionaire are fascinating. You wrote travel guidebooks and a guidebook for living abroad in

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Thailand. Now, as a veteran since the days you wrote those books, do you feel you would write them differently? Good question! My travel needs have changed. I'm no longer able to pack up a backpack, hop on an airplane, then rent a motorcycle to explore my destination. Though that type of travel is so much fun, I'm more sympathetic to people who are travelling with children and I am very sensitive to those who need large hotel rooms, child-friendly restaurants, playgrounds and safe outdoor space. For now I'm “retired” from guidebook writing but that might change soon. I'm a local guide on Google Maps and contribute all the time on that platform. In the past few years you were involved also in welfare community work. Tell us a bit about this experience. The older I get the more I know that the only thing that really matters is what we do for other people. In Thailand it's basically impossible to ignore the extreme income disparity, so I'm always looking for ways I can make a difference in people's lives. We support some after-school programmes in Khlong Toey, and I'm also helping an NGO that works with girls in Northern Thailand. Right now I'm looking for something in Bangkok that I can engage my children in. You are a mother to twins. Some will say "double trouble". How did you, an-always-active woman, deal with having two at once, in this bustling city? My twins are always keeping me busy! They are 6 now, so it's a lot easier than it was when they were babies and toddlers. Right now, thank goodness, we’re able to enjoy being out and about in Bangkok. They are not quite ready for hardcore exploring though, but they will be soon.

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“I'm focused on being a mom and trying to do some good in this world”

What type of child/teenager were you? Hmmm … I was pretty wild. I had absolutely no idea what my life would look like!

What or who inspires you? I have met so many people in the world who have made a big difference in the lives of others. That really inspires me.

Who is Suzy that not everyone knows? I'm dorky and nerdy, I hope that's not too obvious.

What are you proud of? Ask me in 10 years. I've got a lot of work to do.

How do you pamper yourself? What are your hobbies? I love playing tennis, and that's what I do in my free time. I'm not a big pamper person. I mean, where I come from - having a nanny is the ultimate in pampering, so I'm really appreciating that. What drives you? Family, and just trying to do something good, something that matters.

So where do you see yourself in 10 years from now? Who knows. I hope I'm doing things that make me happy, nurture my family and make a difference. Your top tip to inspire other expats women in a foreign city? Nothing is impossible. The trailing spouses I've met over the years who have been determined to get jobs and continue their careers have been able to do it, even if it took 6 months to find a job. Don't listen to any noise that tells you you must be a certain way. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Reviews

Creating a community for book lovers around the globe: Rebecca Hilton, Expat Book Club by Ema Naito-Bhakdi

Rebecca Hilton (a past editorial contributor to Expat Life) started an online book club in hopes of creating an engaging community, unbound by (most) geographical limitations, for expats who shared a love of books. and to do some voluntary work. It’s also allowed me the space to focus on my passion - books and writing.

As an expat and a mom to young children, and living outside of BTS range, the possibility of joining a book club here seemed an impossible dream. So when a friend told me about an online book club for expats, I immediately joined up … and in the short time since, have been having a blast. I asked Rebecca Hilton, founder and administrator of the Expat Book Club, about her brainchild.

Please tell us a bit about your online book club. When did you start it? How does it work? Who are its members? I set up the online book club at the end of August this year and the response has been overwhelming - it’s only been two months but we now have almost a thousand members! Our members are women living overseas who want to connect via a shared love of reading. The group is on Facebook and each month a new book is selected. At the end of the month we discuss the book on our Expat Book Club Live Chat. This is a Facebook Live video where a group of us discuss the book and take questions from people watching at home so that, even if you aren’t in the room with us, you still feel part of the discussion. We then post questions on the group so everyone can share their comments and thoughts. I also host the Expat Book Club page on my website, Making Here Home, and publish a monthly article giving reading recommendations and the Expat Book Club’s verdict on our Book of the Month.

Please first tell us a bit about yourself. I’m a British mum-of-two and have spent the past four years navigating life overseas - first in Bangkok, currently in Germany and soon Paris! In the UK my I worked in marketing and change management for a large multinational company and I left my job when we moved to Thailand. I have now learned this - putting their career on hold to move overseas for their spouse’s job - is a familiar story amongst expat women. Although I initially felt a bit lost without work, I have come to see this period of time as a gift. I have been able to get the family settled, to spend time investing in friendships

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So … why an online book club? What inspired you to create it? I had the idea for the Expat Book Club after I wrote an article called ‘Last night a book club saved my life’. Since moving overseas, my book club groups have been a lifeline. I was a member of a book club in Bangkok and when I moved to Germany I started a book club because I really treasure these monthly get togethers. There is something wonderful about a group of women coming together to talk about books and ideas rather than the kids and the everyday ‘stuff’. I think we all have a need both to connect with others and to engage our critical thinking. There is a pleasure in being able to express our responses to literature -  and to listen to other people's responses - but it’s not something we often get the opportunity to do. I also love the idea of a big group of people reading the same book at the same time and then discussing all the details. So often you read a book by yourself and then have no-one to talk to about it - unlike watching a movie. And then I started thinking about all the women who move overseas who would love to be in a book club but can’t find one near them - a club they could join and remain in no matter how many times they moved. A place where they felt welcomed, where their expat experience was understood. And so the Expat Book Club was born. Facebook seemed to be the most convenient place for it, and so far it is working well. Are there specific aspects of a regular book club that you hoped to capture in this online format? I want this group to be a virtual happy place. Regular book clubs are about connections and engagement, and that’s what I want to replicate here. We encourage differences of opinion and debate - but we criticise the books, not each other. Expat life can be lonely, but books can be a real refuge, and I am hoping that’s what the Expat Book Club can provide. Whenever the chance arises, we will do the Expat Book Club from different countries. Last month I was in Dubai and got together with 10 members from the online club. It was fantastic to meet these women in real life and we had a great evening …. and the group are going to get together again to discuss our next book which is just brilliant! How is an online book club different from a regular book club, apart from the fact that not everyone is even in the same time zone? Time zones are tricky! This is why the videos and comments are left open so people can view and join in later. The benefit is the size of the group - if we met up in real life we’d need a sports hall to accommodate all the members! People can read at their leisure - if they don’t finish a book on time, they can catch up later. Also it’s easy for people who may not have childcare or who are working … it’s easy to fit this into your life. Selfishly, I am thrilled that I can still be in this club when we move again next summer!

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Do you have any challenges that are unique to an online book club? Time zones are hard but we are trying to do the Live Chat at different times each month - the first one we did in the evening, the upcoming one we will do in the afternoon to catch people in Asia. With a group this big it’s impossible to please everyone, but if the club encourages people to read more and engage more then that’s a good thing. Anything that has surprised you so far in doing this? The reaction has been a surprise - it has been really popular so far and I have loved seeing how passionate people are about reading. I am happy to say that, out of this, a real life book club has sprung up in Paris - so we really are connecting people through reading! What are your hopes for where you want the Expat Book Club to be in the future? I want the Expat Book Club to continue to be a fun group where people are engaging with the books and each other. I would love to get some interaction from authors - it would be fantastic to have an author join our Live Chat, for example. Ultimately, I would like The Expat Book Club to be able to give something back by supporting women’s literacy in developing countries. So, how does one join the Expat Book Club? Join us on Facebook and on Instagram! Wherever you’re from, wherever you’re living, you’re welcome here. Thank you, Rebecca! I, for one, am looking forward to joining my first Live Chat (if the kids actually go to bed on time … fingers crossed!), and then finding out what the next book will be!

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NGO

What makes a happy home? by Lindsey Higgs

Domestic workers all across ASEAN cook, clean and care for our families. Yet, they are among the most vulnerable to exploitation. What’s going on behind closed doors?

Auntie, helper, maid - whatever term you’re familiar with, if you’ve hired someone to work in your home then you’re employing a domestic worker. And hidden from public view in their employers’ homes, an estimated 1.9 million domestic workers are being exploited in the Asia Pacific region. Why is this happening? For some expats, living in this region comes with the luxury of being able to afford to hire a live-in domestic worker, perhaps for the first time. For others, it may already be the norm. However, for both expats and locals, when the workplace is your own home and your domestic worker becomes an integral part of your daily routine with access to the quirks and quandaries of your personal life, the employer/ employee relationship can easily become blurred. Many employers think of their domestic workers as part of the family, which can seem like a positive approach but this mentality can quickly become the basis for delayed payment or no days off. We take care of everything for her, an employer might reason. What’s the harm in being late with this month’s salary or in asking her to work seven days this week? It’s a slippery slope. A 2015 study by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that of the 10 most common sectors where exploitation occurred, those who had been exploited as domestic workers worked among the longest hours

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(15.2 hours per day). They were also among the most likely to have their freedom curtailed (92.1% were never free to do what they wanted or go where they wanted) and they were among the least likely to be compensated - (84.2% were never paid). Can you imagine if you faced these conditions in your own job? The fact is, while exploitative experiences vary, many domestic workers are in a precarious position. Approximately 21.5 million domestic workers – or 41% of the estimated global total – are employed in Asia, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and they often don’t have clear terms of employment or the full protection of labour legislation and social security. The majority of these workers are women and girls and many are migrant workers. The vulnerability of their status, combined with the fact that the exploitation is happening out of public view, means that many domestic workers live in fear and uncertainty. Because the workplaces of domestic workers are always going to be private spaces, ultimately it’s the employers who have the power to make a difference but attitudes can stand in the way. Many employers fear that their live-in domestic workers will get into trouble if they’re given a day off to go where they choose or if they have free access to the internet or a mobile phone, and they prefer to hold onto their passports and work documents to prevent any runaway attempts. For the domestic workers who are often already living away from their own families, these measures only increase their isolation and unhappiness.

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IOM X – IOM and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) innovative campaign to prevent human trafficking and exploitation – set out to make the case for why a positive relationship between employers and domestic workers, based on trust and communication, helps create a happy home. IOM X’s Happy Home campaign uses the drama Open Doors with three stories from this region to highlight common exploitative practices that are too often condoned as the norm. In Open Doors, Serene, Lisa’s employer, wakes her in the middle of the night because she is hungry and wants food prepared. Fon’s employer promises her a day off every week but then always makes excuses for why it’s not possible. Lisa’s passport is taken as soon as she arrives at her employer’s home. Ani’s employers put off getting her a phone that would enable her to stay in touch with her young son. One day off per week, freedom of movement, access to communication devices – these are all rights that domestic workers have, according to the ILO, and they are all within the power of each employer to provide. The Happy Home campaign is encouraging employers to uphold these rights and appreciate how these rights are linked to creating happy homes. Lisa’s employer realises that her unfair treatment is being observed and imitated by her daughter at school and creating a barrier of fear and distrust between her and Lisa. This realisation prompts her to return Lisa’s passport and work permit and provide one day off each week. Ani’s employers come to understand that Ani is sad and distracted without a way to stay in touch with her son back home and they provide her with a mobile phone. The story of Lisa has resonated especially strongly with both employers and domestic workers with 160 million views on Facebook, and millions of shares and comments. One viewer commented, “I was treated like this by my past employer. Three hours of sleep every day, my passport was kept by her … I couldn’t leave and come back to their house without her checking my bag.” While many others shared similar experiences, employers who are trying to set a positive example also spoke up. One woman from a Muslim family shared that she

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employs a Christian domestic worker from Myanmar and is teaching her young children to respect her: “I tell them to say sorry and hug her every time they throw a tantrum at her. They need to learn to respect elders despite race and religion.” What does respect look like in practice? A happy home is a fair one. The My Fair Home campaign is an initiative of the International Domestic Worker Federation with support from the ILO. They have a pledge for employers of live-in domestic workers on their website that includes the following commitment: • I will ensure fair wages are paid to domestic workers in my home (at least the minimum wage) and that domestic workers in my home have reasonable work hours and time to rest. • I will negotiate the terms and conditions of employment with any domestic workers in my home, ensuring a mutual understanding through a written agreement. • I will ensure that domestic workers in my home have access to decent healthcare. • I will actively ensure a work environment that is free from abuse, harassment and violence. • I will ensure that domestic workers in my home enjoy decent living conditions and a safe, secure and private bedroom. • I will ensure that domestic workers in my home are able to spend their free time wherever and however they choose. Even if you’re not employing a live-in domestic worker, you can be part of the conversation to shift attitudes that excuse or rationalise the exploitation of domestic workers. So much comes down to how we communicate about sensitive, complicated issues in ways that resonate on a personal level and lead to action. In Thailand, more than half of Open Doors viewers surveyed said they learned something new and would speak to others about the issue of domestic worker rights. That’s where creating a happy home starts. To learn more about IOM X’s Happy Home campaign and view Open Doors: An IOM X Production, visit http://iomx.org/happyhome. For more information about the My Fair Home campaign, visit http://idwfed.org/myfairhome.

Lindsey Higgs is strategic communication specialist who has worked on a number of social and behaviour change campaigns in SE Asia to help prevent human trafficking and exploitation, including IOM X and MTV EXIT. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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NGO

Friends of Thai daughters - preventing child trafficking with education, shelter and love by Jane McBride

In 2002, my friend Patty and I were travelling in Northern Thailand when we encountered a group of 15 girls at risk of human trafficking, fending for themselves in an abandoned school. The girls had little adult supervision and were trying to survive as best they could in an area known for human trafficking agents. The situation was extremely worrying.

We provided financial assistance and made a promise to the girls of Doi Luang that we would not forget them. We later returned to Thailand with a camera and made a documentary about the girls' stories and life in their villages. Each girl had a tragic story to tell. Many were AIDS orphans or had parents in prison. Most lacked ID cards, leaving them "stateless" and highly vulnerable to traffickers. Something had to be done to protect them before it was too late. We decided to help them and the idea of Friends of Thai Daughters was born. After three years of providing financial support from friends and family, we registered Friends of Thai Daughters as a 501(c)3 charitable organisation in 2005. Friends of Thai Daughters is an intensive, comprehensive and long-term prevention programme, focusing its efforts on those most at risk of being trafficked. Our mission is to prevent child trafficking in Northern Thailand with education, shelter and love.

Prevention through education: Education is the foundation of FTD's mission. Our Daughters receive educational funding through university to enable them to be self-supporting adults upon graduation. Many of our Daughters attend or have graduated from Thailand's top universities. Graduates have gone on to become nurses, teachers, artists and entrepreneurs. Protection through safe shelter: In 2015, the Otto & Fran Walter Foundation provided the funding to purchase the first permanent Sunflower House in Chiang Rai. FTD Daughter Pitchaya Aryi is the General Manager and loving housemother, mentoring and guiding our fifteen Daughters, ages 8 through 18. In 2016, we established a second Sunflower House in Chiang Khong in partnership with the Child Rights Protection Center. It is home to 15 Daughters, ages 12 through 18. Support through loving kindness: FTD is not just a programme, it's a family where older sisters care and mentor younger ones. After Daughters graduate from college, they remain family members receiving emotional and professional support as they forge their careers and build their lives as strong, self-confident and independent young women. FTD: Working to address a worldwide crisis. Human trafficking is a growing problem across the globe, especially within developing countries. The Greater Mekong Sub-region and Thailand have served as a source and destination country for traffickers and victims. Sex

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www.expatlifeinthailand.com


trafficking puts women and girls at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other devastating health consequences, both mental and physical. The violence and poor living conditions victims experience is unimaginable to many people but is all too real to them. Steps need to be taken to help trafficking victims now and to prevent future trafficking. Women and girls can be lured into trafficking in multiple ways. Often traffickers go to impoverished hill tribe villages and promise girls and their families that they will be taken to the city to start jobs as waitresses or maids. Traffickers tell the families stories about all the money their daughter will make and the different opportunities she will have. Traffickers will even make a “down payment� on the girl and pay parents for their daughters before they take them. FTD: An effective method to fight trafficking FTD is a prevention programme, focusing its efforts on ethnic hill tribe girls in Northern Thailand who are at-risk of being trafficked due to extreme poverty, lack of legal status, being orphaned or having parents in jail. FTD focuses its efforts on the most vulnerable girls in Northern Thailand. While many NGOs provide support and services for a short number of years, the FTD model provides shelter, support and education through college and beyond. FTD daughters enter the programme as vulnerable children and emerge as empowered adults. As confident, self-supporting young women, they are able to break the cycle of poverty and exploitation and lead productive and happy lives. The video, A way back home: Fighting child trafficking with education, shelter, and love, is a short film that shows how Friends of Thai Daughters changes the lives of young girls. Take a moment and see the amazing impact FTD has on girls' lives. You can find the video at www.friendsofthaidaughters.org/human-trafficking-crisis Daughters helping raise awareness on human trafficking and statelessness. Our Daughters also participate in a number of activities to help raise awareness about human trafficking and statelessness in order to help others. These include regional conferences and sports programmes here in Thailand. In September, a group of Thai Daughters headed to Bangkok to make their voices heard at a 3 day conference sponsored by the Thai Health Foundation. For many of the girls, it was their first time exploring the capital city but more importantly, it was their first time standing up in front of an audience of hundreds of people, including government officials, to advocate for the rights of vulnerable minority groups. Children from all over Thailand were selected to take part in the workshop which included team building activities, discussions on human trafficking and the issue of statelessness. The girls were excited and energised to have the opportunity to voice their concerns to government officials

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and returned home hopeful that the opportunities for minority groups will improve Opportunities to get involved. To learn more about Friends of Thai Daughters and ways you can assist the amazing work of this organisation, please visit FTD’s website at www.friendsofthaidaughters.org It costs approximately 2,500USD per year to provide each Daughter with food, transportation, clothing, books, and school fees. One way we help raise these funds is through our sponsorship programme. This can be done through sponsoring a Daughter with a group of friends, family members, colleagues or on your own. You can stay in touch through letters, emails and Skype calls. Please see our website for more information on sponsorship. Along with financial assistance, we are looking for energetic, passionate and caring women who are interested in sharing their time and talent with our Daughters as short or long term volunteers in Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong. We especially welcome English teachers, musicians, photographers, sports enthusiasts and others with skills that they would like to share with girls and young women.

For more information, please contact us at info@friendsofthaidaughters.org EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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NGO

Able the disabled by Jess Thakkar

Having a child that is disabled or visually impaired, suffering from autism or has any other medical condition that classifies he or she as not "normal", is probably the most painful thing one can experience as a parent. You can't change things, and you have to look for ways to make life easier and simpler. In recent years, with medical and therapeutic advancements, lives can and are being improved. Children suffering from a disability or illness are no longer locked up, drugged and ignored. They have a chance at attaining an education and living fulfilled lives, going on to marry and have children of their own. Many western countries have specific schools, hospitals and learning centres to help parents with their disabled children. But what happens if your away from your home country? Does SE Asia "understand" the needs of these children? Let's be honest, it is often thought that a disabled child, in any form is paying for his or her sins from a past life. This is true of many countries, certainly in India and Pakistan as well as Thailand. So is there a willingness to help these parents raise their children, give them therapy and make their lives better? Here in Pattaya I have to say yes. We have schools for the blind and the disabled, a special needs school and day centres for children suffering with autism and learning difficulties. We also have a equine therapy centre.

The charity is called "Able the Disabled", based out at Horseshoe Point and is part of a bigger (430 hectares) resort comprising of an international riding school as well as a hotel with an array of activities on offer, along with conference facilities.

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The centre was founded in 2006 by Khun Chaikiri Srifuengfung. It is now run by a British woman called Sandra Cooper who joined in 2008. She came to Thailand as a trailing spouse from Malaysia. It was in Malaysia where she became actively involved with the disabled riding programme at the "Royal Selango Polo Club" which provided therapy for children with Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and autism. She spent most of her time there, and became fully qualified as a riding instructor, and therapist to work with the disabled as well as all aspects of horse management. Pattaya was the next stop for the Coopers and Sandra offered her help to the centre on a voluntary basis initially, and then was directly employed by them in order to help grow the "Able the Disabled" charity and therapy centre. She tells me she currently has anything between 30 to 50 children a week attending the centre for therapy, she is assisted by a group of 30 expat women all of whom volunteer their time to help provide the therapy to the children. This group includes one occupational therapist and one nurse. There are 96 horses based at Horseshoe Point, but only 10 can be used to provide therapy. The horses have to be of a particular kind, they must be gentle and not startled easily, she has even devised her own "horse interview" for the selection process.

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What is equine therapy? Equine therapy or hippotherapy from the Greek word for horse, puts people and horses together, along with a therapist in an environment that promotes emotional growth and learning.

Horses have been used in physical therapy since the 1950s in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It was used along side physiotherapy for those with physical disabilities, here the movements of the horse were thought to influence neuromuscular changes in the patient. Equine therapy teaches balance, coordination, self-confidence, self-esteem, empathy and calms the mind. It's considered to another form of physical therapy, yet much more enjoyable and set in a less stressful environment. Over the last 20 years, equine therapy has evolved to include psychological therapy, more and more people have discovered just how much empathy these animals have and can help in assisted therapy and recovery. Horses are herd animals and desire company, they are social animals and create bonds with humans. Therefore, the ideal animal to help with this form of therapy. Their size is and can be imposing but once this fear is overcome, the gentleness and affection of these animals shines thorough. It's said that horses have their own personality and feelings and can sense emotions. Much research has been done into the effectiveness of equine therapy, and it's thought that it can help with a huge range of issues and illnesses. These include anxiety, autism, behavioural problems, trauma, anger and addiction. As well as specific therapy for children suffering from Cerebral Palsy, Down's Syndrome and autism. In Scotland there is a charity called Horseback UK, which uses horses to help rehabilitate injured and traumatised members of the armed forces. It offers them dignity and mobility, without any form of pity. Something these men and women certainly don't want. The centre is run by a former marine, Jock Hutchison in Aberdeenshire, who states that the horses have an enormous effect on them, which is empowering. Horses are beautiful, yet the sheer size of these magnificent creatures has always frightened me. My stepdaughter rode regularly when she was younger. I wouldn't go near them, I admired them from afar. But when I visited the stables at Horseshoe Point, to speak with Sandra,

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I was surprised at how calm I felt. The environment is just as you would imagine, bales of hay, clanking of hooves, that horsey smell, stables with the heads of horses popping out to say hello, a few huffs and puffs and all a little bit mucky, which is what you would expect but it is an otherwise very calm and serene place. The horses were happy, and looked healthy. I can understand their influence on someone that needs help and therapy, someone who is unwell and lost within themselves. I greatly admire Sandra. She is working in a very limited budget, times are hard. The money the centre made from riding lessons has dwindled, as those who could afford the lessons have left the country. As she herself said, "riding is a luxury". But yet the centre continues to provide the equine therapy to the children that need it. Those that can pay, do so. A group of children attend twice a week from the Father Ray School for the Disabled and they receive the therapy for free. Which is wonderful. And many of the volunteers, sponsor a child's therapy personally, paying for the minimum 8 therapy sessions, which Sandra conducts. Thailand is one of many SE Asian countries that have this form of therapy available but it is by no means at the forefront. Singapore and Hong Kong are known to be the best. Thailand has equine therapy centres in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, as well as in Pattaya. So we have begun to see its advantages and how it can change the lives of those that need it.

Being an expat and a parent of a special needs child needn't be as hard as you think. Help is out there. If you would like further information on equine therapy or "Able the Disabled", please get in touch, with Sandra at: www.horseshoepoint.com www.ridingschoolasia.com riding@horseshoepoint.com

Jess Thakkar was born in the UK to parents of Indian, East African origin. She followed her husband to Thailand in 2010. She is the president of Rayong Pattaya Ladies Circle, an expat women's group based in Pattaya. EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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Finance

Starting a business in Thailand by Philip Sweeney

One of the most frequent enquiries I receive is: “How can I set up a business, get a visa, and obtain a work permit in Thailand?�

Unfortunately it is nowhere near as simple as it might be for someone starting out compared to for instance the UK. Firstly, under Thai law, a foreigner cannot, in most cases, obtain 100% ownership of a Thai company or limited partnership. That may not be a problem for the investor who already has a Thai business partner with whom he or she proposes to work. But what about the person who knows no Thai people who can become shareholders in the business, or the foreigner who wishes to have control over the business? Secondly, how can a foreigner obtain a visa to remain in the country? And thirdly, how does the foreigner go about obtaining a work permit? There are of course exceptions to the 100% foreign ownership rule. The two most obvious being a company set up under the provisions of the Treaty of Amity and a BOI (Board of Investment) approved company. The Treaty of Amity which was reiterated in 1966 during the height of the Vietnam war, allows for American citizens and businesses incorporated in the US, or in Thailand to maintain a majority shareholding or to wholly own a company in Thailand, and thereby engage in business on the same basis as would a Thai national. These companies are also exempt from most of the restrictions on foreign investment imposed by the Thai Foreign Business Act of 1999. The treaty in effect allows

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for an equality of benefits between the countries. American companies that wish to be covered by the treaty should have a minimum of 50% American directors and a minimum of 51% of shares must be held by American citizens. The Board of Investment was established in 1997 to attract investment from both foreign and local entrepreneurs within industries that the BOI promotes. The main advantages for eligible companies are either tax or non-tax incentives. The fact that BOI companies can be 100% foreign owned, flexibility on the number of work permits allowed for foreigners working for the company without the usual ratio of 4 Thai employees for each foreign work permit and the ability for the company to own land even if the company is majority controlled by non-Thais. Another important factor for a foreigner employed by a BOI approved company is that the visa extension and work permit will all be dealt with at a one stop centre without the need to attend separately at the Immigration Office and the Department of Labour. With a Thai company however there will always be the problem of share ownership and control. In the past foreigners have often used Thai nationals as proxy shareholders. This is illegal and carries strict penalties and the practice is now routinely being rooted out by the authorities. Notwithstanding the obvious drawbacks, there are share structures that can be utilised with the allocation of both ordinary and preference shares that can allow the

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foreigner to retain overall control of the company without falling foul of the Foreign Business Act. Either as an employee or shareholder in a company a foreigner can apply for a business visa. The visa will be obtained outside of Thailand and will usually last for a period of 3 months, at which stage an application to extend will be made within Thailand for a period of one year. A work permit can then be applied for. There are a whole host of documents required by the authorities to fulfil the criteria for both visa and work permit applications. The company must employ 4 Thai nationals for each work permit for a foreigner. The paid up share capital of the company must be at least two million Baht for each foreigner who is employed by the company. Thus a company with three foreign employees must have a paid up share capital of six million Baht. Also there are minimum wages that foreigners must earn. This depends upon nationality but at the moment is sixty thousand Baht per month for US and Australian nationals, fifty thousand Baht per month for most European nationals and lower amounts for other foreign nationals. Teachers have different rules applicable to them pertaining to monthly earnings. Bearing in mind the language differences that will be encountered at Immigration, Labour and other government offices, it is usually a wise choice to employ the services of a Thai speaking lawyer to assist with regard to all these applications. The work permit will also usually last for one year. It is important to note that if the visa has been extended (i.e it is not the original 3 or 12 month visa granted in a Thai embassy or consulate) then any loss of employment and cancellation of the work permit by the employer, means that the extended visa will also expire giving the holder the option of

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immediately leaving the country or applying for an extension of 7 days stay at the Immigration Office. Another visa that allows the holder to apply for a work permit is a Non Immigrant O visa based upon marriage to a Thai national. An advantage in holding such a visa for those who are so eligible is the fact that if his or her employment is terminated and the work permit cancelled, their visa status and right to remain in Thailand is not affected. This article contains general background information without setting out specific details or requirements. The author is an English qualified Solicitor who works with Thai licensed Lawyers providing a comprehensive legal service to all expatriates within Thailand. Philip Sweeney is a qualified Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales with over 30 years experience. He is the Director of Opus Law International and can be contacted by email at p.sweeney@opus-law.com, www.opus-law.com please quote Expat Life

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119


Finance

Financial wellbeing - chasing your retirement target by William Frisby

If you plan for your retirement early, your retired life may be as long as your working life. A lack of planning may result in your retirement being as short as half your working life. Retirement is the time in life when we break free from the constraints that employment has held upon us. Retirement is the time to do all the things in life that we were unable to do while we were working and raising our family. But unfortunately for many, retirement does not provide the lifestyle they desire and more often than not this is down to poor planning. A lot of people find the whole notion of planning for their retirement an ordeal that they do not want to face and continually delay it. This procrastination can have a significant financial impact when the situation is finally addressed, as it inevitably has to be. If you are one of those people who has been hesitating for no good reason then you don’t have to do everything all at once, you just have to do something. Your next decision might be the most important decision of your life. When we decided to move overseas and take up expat life, we entered a whole new world and left the old one behind. Our former life had a government that cared for our wellbeing by forcing us to save for our retirement through social taxes, or offering us tax relief on savings so that we would be able to support ourselves in our later years. Governments know how important it is to secure your future because they know the cost of footing the bill for the people who do not adequately save for their retirement. Now that we are overseas many services such as healthcare, social security and state retirement planning cease to exist. It is down to us to look after ourselves as nobody else is doing it for us!

wanted. And always remember, if you don’t plan for these goals, then no one else will do it for you. When is right to time to start planning? It is never the best time to start retirement planning. Throughout life, there are always barriers that tell us now is not the right time. From leaving university, planning the purchase of your first home, getting married, having children, to bringing up your family, when is the right time in these years? Maybe at the end of this period when your children have flown the nest, earning levels are high, and commitments are back to a low? However, we all know that this is undoubtedly the wrong time as saving is always easiest over the long term. Don’t let life’s natural barriers put you off. If you haven’t started planning already then now is probably the best time! Putting the wheels in motion Retirement plans are built on the foundation of saving money on a regular basis. There is no better way to accumulate and grow wealth than being disciplined and living below one’s means.

Where do I start? First of all, set an age when you would like to retire and an income that you would like to retire on. If you have difficulty imagining what income you would like, then ask yourself, would you like to live on more or less than your current salary? Imagine a lifestyle you would like to live. Try and visualise the things in life that are important to you, the holidays you wish to take, the second home you always

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The first place that everyone starts saving is in their bank, but this only really helps with short-term goals, and before long you will need to invest your money. To achieve longterm growth, you need to access a vehicle that creates a return and increases your wealth year after year. What we should all be aiming for is very similar to the proverbial grain of rice on a chess board. You cannot double your money every year, but your goal is to use each year’s growth to fuel the following year’s return. The first step will be to find an investment platform or advisor who can help get you started. Finding an investment platform can be a difficult task to undertake, especially while living overseas. Many consider sending their money back home and investing it there, but domestic pension providers are suited to consumers living in their native country. Many companies will not even open accounts for non-residents. Also, no matter how large the investment company may be unless they are an expatriate focused company, you may find continued international calls, across time zones, speaking with the first person to pick up your call or talking to a faceless website an unnecessary and tiresome undertaking. These problems lead many people to use a professional advisor for their investment and planning needs.

properly? Most people do not represent themselves in court or perform surgery on themselves. They seek professional help from lawyers and doctors, and your retirement is no different. Having someone who works on a face-to-face basis with you and understands your unique set of needs has value. An advisory relationship should be lifelong, following you no matter where you live in the world and whatever changes in your life. When choosing your advisor, you should be judging whether they have the commitment to go on this journey with you and do they have the global presence to support you.

Find a trusted advisor An advisor does a lot more than helping you find a suitable investment platform. It is their job to understand what their clients want to achieve and to help them put in place a plan that will get them there. When done properly this is an ongoing process that requires constant review. Your life changes all the time, and these alterations could affect your planning. You need to know if you are on track to meet your goals and this should be reviewed in detail at least once a year. Professional advisors dedicate their lives to guiding clients through this process. Advisors possess knowledge and experience about investing beyond most of their clients. Your retirement plan might be the most important investment decision of your life. Is it something you should do yourself? Does your busy life even allow you the time to focus on your financial planning

Willam Frisby works for Hampton Bridge who are a financial advisory which covers the whole Far East region. To contact him please write to: wfrisby@hampton-bridge.com please quote Expat Life.

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121


mind matters

Is brain fog clouding your life abroad? by Monique Jhingon

You’re trying to read your book but the words are just not registering. You walk into the kitchen and all of a sudden you don’t remember what it is you came to do there. You keep forgetting where you’ve put your keys. You loose your train of thought in the middle of a sentence. To lighten the mood you crack a joke about early onset of Alzheimer’s but deep down you are a bit concerned … I come across it very often in my practice. Many of my clients relate to one or all of the examples above and experience a general sense of feeling cloudy, unfocused, forgetful, distracted, anxious, moody, depressed and fatigued. I work with expats who have health issues related to a compromised digestive system (a common issue within our community) and brain fog is often one of them. You can recognise inflammation quite easily when you injure yourself. A cut in your finger for example, brings on an inflammatory reaction that leads to redness, swelling, throbbing and pain. What you can’t easily see is the inflammation that occurs internally, in your gut, as a result of diet, stress, toxins, infections or otherwise. But what you can see is the ripple effect that it has on other areas in our body, like joint pain, skin rashes, allergies, stagnant weight or brain fog. Here’s how your brain reacts to gut inflammation: Chronic internal inflammation in the gut is linked to a

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compromised inner “skin”: the intestinal barrier that is meant to let through nutrients and keep out unwanted particles, toxins, bacteria and other pathogens. When this barrier becomes “leaky” and unwanted molecules cross into our bloodstream (a very common issue for people who travel the world and are exposed to new environments, germs, foods, and sanitary conditions) then your immune system kicks in. The inflammatory cytokines that are produced (these are signalling molecules that trigger an immune response) travel through the blood and cross the blood-brain barrier, where they activate local immune cells in the brain. The result of this is brain inflammation, which is often the cause of all these frustrating “brain fog” symptoms. One of my clients, who had just moved to Asia with her family came to me with brain fog as one of her main concerns. She had been noticing forgetfulness and a lack of focus in addition to low energy levels and some digestive issues such as bloating. We worked on her diet, removing inflammatory foods and upgrading her nutrition by bringing in better and more nutrient dense foods. We worked on healing and repairing her digestion with the help of special healing foods and select natural supplements. She also implemented other important lifestyle changes and it didn’t take long for her to feel energised and a sense of mental clarity and focus returned. She was soon back to feeling like herself again, feeling sharper, alert and on top of her game.

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I love seeing every time how powerful the effect of digestive healing is on the entire body and mind! Here’s an easy way to begin clearing brain fog: Digestive healing and repair involves a number of different steps that include eliminating inflammatory foods and bringing in more fresh, whole, real nutrient dense foods. There is one powerful food that you can bring in right away to build good gut health and experience the positive effect this has on your brain function: super gut healing, nutrient dense bone broth. Bone broth is one of the best gut healing foods on the planet. My dad tells me that my grandmother used to always have bone broth bubbling on the stove. Feeling under the weather, down with a cold, or flu: bone broth was the magic solution. We have lost touch with these powerful home remedies and it is time we bring them back. Bone broth contains important nutrients including glycine and gelatine, which help to repair and heal the lining of our digestive tract. It is easy to make bone broth at home. You can find detailed instructions for a basic chicken broth below. If you want a more convenient solution there are good quality ready made bone broths available these days. Look for organic and grass fed bone broth that has been cooked for around 48 hours to draw out all the important nutrients. Taking care of your digestion is going to help you resolve many health issues, including brain fog.

This is a basic recipe for broth made with chicken bones. I like to freeze the chicken carcasses after making roast chicken. When I have two carcasses in the freezer I make this easy bone broth, which can be used to increase the nutritional value of soups, sauces, stews etc.

Ingredients: • 2 whole chicken carcasses • 2 carrots, roughly chopped • 4 stalks celery, roughly chopped • 1 onion, cut into quarters • 1 tsp dried thyme • 1 tsp peppercorns • 2 bay leaves • A handful of parsley leaves Preparation: •P  lace all the ingredients, except the parsley in a large pot with 3 litres of cold water. •S  lowly bring to a low simmer •C  ontinue to cook with the lid ajar for about 2 hours. Don’t bring to a full boil •R  emove the lid and allow to cook for another 1 hour •A  dd the parsley leaves 10 minutes before the cooking time is finished •S  train the broth through a fine-mesh sieve •C  hill and remove congealed fat •S  tore in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months

Homemade chicken bone broth Homemade bone broth (or stock) is an excellent source of minerals. It is well known to heal and repair the digestive track, it is excellent for bone health and its high collagen content makes it a super skin booster. The trick is to cook the broth for a long time over low heat with some vinegar, which helps draw out the minerals into the cooking water.

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Monique Jhingon is a Functional Nutrition & Lifestyle Practitioner who offers select private coaching to expats whose health and digestion has been compromised as a result of transitioning into new environments, cultures, climates and foods. You can read more on her website and sign up for a free nutrition breakthrough session here: www.moniquejhingon.com EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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ArtS and Culture

A Christmas Carol for Michael and Don by Ravit El-Bachar Daniel

They first met in 2010 in Bangkok when Don produced The Fantasticks for IWC, and have been close friends since. But it was only in 2016 when Michael Allman and Don Harrelson joined forces and became an inseparable team at the Bangkok Community Theatre (BCT), Michael holds the director wand and Don sits on the producer chair. A Christmas Carol, an entertaining musical to be staged this December, is their 4th production together. After their successful productions for BCT - Art (2016), Midsummer’s Night Dream (2017) and Spelling Bee (2017), to highlight this festive season - Michael and Don present A Christmas Carol, a play adapted from the book by Charles Dickens. We took the opportunity to sit and chat on theatre, team work and their Thailand experience. Don Harrelson, 70, 14 years in Thailand, comes from sunny California. Michael Allman (Mike), 63, 8 years in Thailand, comes from cold Michigan and Wisconsin. Both claim they are in Thailand by mistake. Michael got his BA, majoring in Theatre Arts at the University of Michigan, and earned his Master of Arts at University of Denver. Don’s professional background includes working for a hospital and a long career in travel and conventions. But his main pride goes for the the children’s theatre he founded back in 1968 for NOR Recreation and Park District, California. The theatre celebrates its 50th season now.   What brought you to Thailand? Mike: My first trip to Asia took me to Korea. While I was there I came to Thailand on a vacation. It was winter in Korea, so sitting on the beach in Pattaya, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I thought 'This is the Asia I meant to come to' and here I am.   I grew up in the US in very cold states, so anytime I am tempted to think that Thailand is too hot I think, well, I could be shovelling snow. Don: I Never had any plans to live anywhere but the US, but by a coincidence, in 2003, I found myself in Bangkok, and now call it home.

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What was your first experience with the Bangkok Community Theatre and what productions you were involved with along the years? Don: When I first arrived in Bangkok, a friend worked on the musical Annie and told me all about BCT. Since I had some theatre experience, I thought it would be a good place for me. My first show to produce at the BCT was Aladdin in 2003. I’ve also directed a few plays, and have done lights and sound for several shows. A Christmas Carol marks my 15th production I have produced for the BCT. Mike: The first BCT show I was involved with was Lysistrata in 2010 as an actor. That was a show set in a spa so most of it we were wearing towels and little else, though I did manage to get into a dress in the later part of the play (I have a history of wearing dresses in BCT shows). I later acted in The Country Wife and acted and directed for the

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Main reason why people should come to watch it? Mike: Those two reasons mentioned earlier - connection and community. Theatre seems to be one of the few things left that demands that you stay in in one place and take in what's presented before you, that you make yourself available to the actors and the rest of the audience for the duration of the performance. I think that attention is valuable and it's getting lost in our electronic helter skelter world.

BCT fringe shows in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2012 I directed the musical Nunsense. I then took a break to experience Chiang Mai and returned to Bangkok in 2016. Since then I was quite busy directing 4 plays for the BCT, working closely with Don.   It seems you are a good match for running stage productions together. Why does it work? What is your secret? Don: We both know how each other work and have respected each other’s area of responsibility. I trust Mike as the director. We do have our disagreements but always work around them and make sure the show is the best we can make it and also support the cast and crew. This is a team “sport” and we all have to work for the common good and that is the audience walking away with “wow!  Wasn’t that great!” feeling. Tell me a little about A Christmas Carol from your perspective as director/producer. Don: A Christmas Carol is the all time Christmas classic! When Dickens wrote the book, it changed how Christmas was celebrated. It is Christmas and provides 2 things: First it has a story that everyone knows, and second - it is a challenge to our actors! I think that is the most important thing any theatre group should strive for ….. a good story and a challenge to our actors. I’ve directed A Christmas Carol twice in the past with a cast of 23. In our current production Mike has chosen a script that calls for 6 actors to play a number of roles, which makes it quite different. Mike: I like to work with a smaller number of actors and ask them to do more - it's just my preference and I think it's interesting for the actors. It certainly stretches them a lot. My take on the show is that we all have an inner light that we carry inside of us. The main character’s -  Scrooge - light is in danger of going out so the spirits have to redeem him, they have to reignite his inner light. It's all about connection and community.

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Theatre work is exciting but stressful and tiring at times. How do you handle it? Mike: I do EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) every morning and I find it to be helpful, calming and invigorating practice. I do meditation and watch a lot of spiritual teaching videos. I also love to read and I always have a book at hand to read on the BTS. Then I have two cats - Thelma and Louise and they are endlessly entertaining. Don: Theatre can be stressful but it also needs to be fun. For our actors and crew, I hope they walk away from each theatre experience with a good feeling. Every show that I’ve produced, I have walked away knowing that we’ve done our best and the audience has left with a smile.

A Christmas Carol The story: Stingy businessman Ebeneezer Scrooge is known as the meanest miser in Victorian London. He overworks and underpays his humble clerk, Bob Cratchit, whose little son, Tiny Tim, is crippled and may soon die. He also has nothing to do with his nephew, Fred, because he disapproves of his marriage. He has no use for Christmas and condemns it as a ‘Humbug’. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is haunted by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley. Later he is visited by three ghosts and is given one last chance to change his ways and save himself from the grim fate that befell Marley. The ghosts show Scrooge the deeper meaning of Christmas and how to live with charity and compassion towards his fellow men. A Christmas Carol Directed by Michael Allman; Produced by Don Harrelson 7:30pm, December 1, 2, 8, 9; Matinee 2pm, December 2, 9 Creative industries, M Theatre, New Petchburi Rd., Bangkok Tickets: 800B at bangkokcommunitytheatre.com info@bangkokcommunitytheatre.com Audience: age 10+

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FEATURES

Siam Hockey League prepares for second season by Scott Murray photography by Tadamasa Nagayama

The Siam Hockey League (SHL), Thailand’s most competitive ice hockey league, enters its second season November 12th with a schedule running through to a one-game championship final to be held on March 17th. SHL season two features a title sponsor (Sport Corner Bar), thus for the 2017/18 season the league with be officially called the Sport Corner Siam Hockey League. Sport Corner teamed with sister bar Titanium last year to sponsor the championship team. The season brings two new sponsors, both global brands, Expedia and Hertz, and they will join remaining sponsors Aware (Technology Solutions for Business) and the Sukhumvit Spitfires to form the four-team league. The early favourites are Expedia (formerly SC Titanium) as captain Mike Wilson, and league-leading scorer and

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SHL President John Schachnovsky, return along with a core veteran defence, led by Jari Eerikainen and Remo Nyffenegger, which will make this team very hard to beat. Along with Wilson, all four captains from last year are returning with Justin St. Denis helming the new Hertz squad (formerly Hooters Nana); Patrik Lundback, who last year won the REV RUNNR trophy as the SHL’s best defensemen, is back leading Aware; and Brad Wilson is captaining the Sukhumvit Spitfires again. Goaltending will again play a huge role in determining this year’s champion. All four keepers have returned from

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last year, but they have all switched teams. Champion Gabor Toth, formerly with Sport Corner Titanium, will now stop pucks for AWARE, whereas Yves Gaboriault, last year’s AWARE keeper, and winner of the best goalie award, will now be Expedia’s (formerly Sport Corner Titanium) net minder. Lance Parker and Pattarapol “Dream” Ungkulpattanasuk have also switched positions with Dream going to Sukhumvit and Lance to Hertz. There is a lot of continuity to the league as each of the four team MVPS from last season are back to try and capture the SHL championship. Expedia’s Mike Wilson and Sukhumvit’s Adrian Meyers will continue with their squads from last year, while Brandon Vick moves on from AWARE to Hertz and Michael White moves from Hooters Nana to the Sukhumvit Spitfires. The league will not only feature the best expat players in Thailand, but a large number of the Thai national team players will play in the SHL this season as will their Finnish coach, the superb blueliner, Juhani Ijas. Earlier this year, the Thai national team won the gold medal in tier 2 of the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo and the silver medal at the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, so the team is cementing its reputation as one of the powerhouse hockey nations in the region. Young Thai players are now playing hockey for competitive teams in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Holland. SHL rookie of the year the past season, Chanokchon “Tan” Limpinphet, a member of the Thai national team, has switched sides this year and will be honing his skills for the Sukhumvit Spitfires, while Yean Ever continues to have the hardest shot in the league and will blast away for AWARE once more. NHL defenseman and two time Stanley Cup champion Johnny Oduya has graciously sponsored an annual SHL scholarship and this year’s winner was Chayutapon “First” Kulrat, another member of the Thai National Team. Oduya, who now plays with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, is friends with many players in the SHL and the league’s MVP trophy is named after him. Last year’s winner, Donny Kerfoot, has moved back home to Winnipeg, Manitoba, so will unable to capture a second straight MVP title. The league came about after John Schachnovsky, Scott Murray and Christian Olofsson organised a charity game for the Thai Red Cross in May 2016 featuring NHL defensemen Johnny Oduya. They raised 80,000B on the night, but sensing a synergy they decided to try and revive the expat hockey league, formerly known as the Thai World Hockey League (TWHL), which had lain dormant since April of 2015. The three took the titles of President, Vice-President and Secretary, respectively, adding Alasdair Fawcett as

Treasurer, Pratch Siridhara as Head of Marketing Sakchai “Jeab” Chinanuvatana as Referee-in-Chief and then Dom Dumais as head of administration. They decided to make it a non-profit league, setting out to secure four team sponsors putting any extra revenue they earned back into the league, thereby making it cheaper for players to join the league. They also set out to make sure that the talent was divided evenly on all squads; consisting of 13 skaters and 1 goalie per team, aged 16 and above. Another 20 skaters are listed as substitute players, filling in for those travelling, injured or in other ways unable to play on any given game night. The expats playing in the league come from Canada, the USA, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The 22 game schedule sees matches played on Thursday and Sunday nights at 8:30 and 9:30pm. Admission is free and all games take place at the Rink, 7th floor, Central Grand Rama 9. The two best-of-three semi-finals start February 22nd with the second SHL champion being crowned on March 17th. Rolling Stone Wood Fired Pizza will again present “player of the game” awards to the outstanding player of each game.

Please come and check out the most exciting game on ice; live in Bangkok. www.siamhockeyleague.com; www.facebook.com/SHLhockeyThailand/

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127


Travel

Top 5 places in Asia to experience winter wonderland by Raymard Gutierrez

“I'm dreaming of a white Christmas . . .” Back on my childhood, listening to the lyrics of this song, as my eyes closed and the fan on “high”, imagining playing in the cold, making snowman, throwing snowballs etc. are the only things that I can do so my mind can create an illusion that I was not living in the tropical paradise of the Philippines. I know not only me, but other Asians as well love to experience the cold weather and the snow that we can only feel when we travel somewhere in northern Asia. Researching online is my way to feed my wanderlust and to feed my mental focus. I came into these 5 Asian destinations that you could go to experience a cold Christmas. Number 5 - Northern Philippines (Sagada mountain province) A 12 hour rough bus ride from Manila will take you this lush countryside, in the mountainous province of Cordillera. Here you can experience a cold temperature with the highest point of 20C all year round and much colder from November to February. In this province it can take your mind into the lives of early Filipino mountain people in terms that you will learn how the live, make clothes as well as being mesmerised by the famous Hanging Coffins (yes you heard it right, Hanging Coffins!) inside the caves. Surely this province is worth the hassle!

Number 4 - Baguio City (Benguet province) A closer 6 hour bus ride from Manila, will take you to this city. As Manila is the known capital city of the Philippines, Baguio City rather is known as the summer capital of the Philippines. In this mountain region, you will experience a temperature that will range from 8 - 20C daily. This city is famous from the world renown Flower Festival and known for their award winning vegetables and strawberries. As well as housing the summer house of the President of the Philippines and a gateway for most of the Philippine Military, the PMA Philippine Military Academy. Don’t forget to try the famous sweets that you could only buy in this city!

Number 3 - Cameroon Highlands (Pahang, Malaysia) 3rd on our list is one of the most visited places of the locals as well as foreign tourists to experience the cold. If you love a sip of the freshest tea of all as well as jungle and walking and early morning walk, this is the place to be. Did you know that you can see the world’s biggest flower, the Raffalesia can also be seen in this place!? It’s just a 35

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Ringgit (roughly 275B) and less than 5 hours to travel by bus from Kuala Lumpur to the Cameroon Highlands in Pahang. Come on let’s go! Number 2 - Hanoi (Vietnam) This place for me is my 2nd to top choice if you want to feel cold weather without leaving Southeast Asia. Hanoi is often called the “Paris of Asia” as you can see the Parisian influence in most of the buildings and structures in this glorious city. This city is the coldest from October to February, I can still remember the first time I visited Hanoi and I was not prepared for the cold weather that really put chills to your bones! Some of the places that you could visit in this city are the Hanoi Opera House, President’s Palace and the very famous Dong Xuan market. Oh, did I forget, try exploring Hanoi by renting a motorbike to be sure to complete the experience. Number 1 - Chiang Rai (Northern Thailand) The top of my list belongs to the place that I really fell in love with especially the cold breeze and the cold winter weather. This place is somehow unknown to most tourists as they know more about Chiang Mai. If you’ve never been to this place, book your tickets now as I know you will be missing an enchanted view in your lifetime. This province is a more countryside view of Chiang Mai that will give you picturesque view of the Sunrise at the Fu Chi Fah Cliff and see the Mekong River and parts of Laos, maybe it will entice

you to see the Boon Rawd Farms in which you can zipline into trees, flowers and tea plantation around. I could not say more as you really need to visit that place and enjoy it the same as I did. I can still remember sitting on the bench of my rented house as I was drinking a cup of Chiang Rai’s finest tea leaves. Ahhhh . . . . How bout you? Why don’t you try to visit the places on my list? As most of this you’ll just spend less than 500USD to do your own adventure. Now, as I was writing this article, I am now sitting at Suvarnabhumi Airport together with my wife Angelika and our expat friends, Quinton and Colleen as we are off to explore Krabi! Byeeeeee!

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Health and fitness

3 wellness tips for the new year by Dr Donna Robinson

As the new year rolls around, the idea of a “new year's resolution” becomes more realistic than ever. Local gyms start to become more appealing and a green smoothie a day seems to sound better than a morning cup of caffeine. Old habits of eating takeout and watching TV until midnight with a beer handy start to sound like a distant memory. A new year, a clean slate, a time to become the version of yourself you always wanted to be. The idea of “health is wealth” should begin to take precedence in you mind. It’s time to start the new year, and what better way to do this than to set yourself some goals which will work to improve your health both physically and mentally. Although new year’s resolutions may be perceived as daunting, this article will provide simple solutions and advice that will allow goals to become possible and give you a sense of achievement when the positive benefits begin to show. Exercise Improving fitness levels, daily exercise, joining a gym ... one of the world’s most popular new year’s resolutions. It is known that the benefits of having a healthy level of fitness can be life changing. Your overall mood will improve, your memory will become sharper and the levels of concentration you will be able to sustain throughout the day will be more than impressive. Furthermore, through the act of physical activity, blood pressure levels will drop and the risk of health conditions and diseases will decrease. Daily physical activity will also work to prevent the risks of heart problems, type 2 diabetes, and a range of other cardiovascular diseases that could harm the body. However, having the motivation to improve your fitness levels, as well as sustain these fitness levels can seem like the world's greatest challenge. It requires time management, commitment and perseverance, but it is definitely possible. A few ways to make the routine of regular exercise sound a little less strenuous could involve finding a workout buddy. This buddy could be your husband, wife, best friend, or anyone who shares the same goals as you do. Having someone by your side when working out will be more fun, less serious, and give you something to look forward to. The idea of teamwork and a team effort will provide moral support and hopefully motivate you further to continue to pursue your new year’s resolution of keeping fit. On the other hand, if you prefer to workout alone, joining a gym or scheduling workouts in advance may help you will time management and make

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regular exercise a more possible component in your daily routine. Another way to stay active is to participate in sporting activities. Playing sport can be enjoyed by everyone, despite their athletic abilities. Not only does it allow the body to receive its daily intake of exercise, but it can open doors to many social opportunities. From recreational participation, to extremely competitive tournaments, sport will allow you to meet new people, make lifelong friends, as well as keeping your body healthy and strong. This exercise can vary from a walk in the park to a quick session of your preferred sport with friends. It’s vital to maintain an active daily routine. Quit smoking Another resolution that has been tackled by many throughout the years. It’s a habit that everyone wishes to stop, but is one of the hardest to shake off. There are many remedies that are said to aid and encourage the act of quitting smoking, these vary from joining support groups and participating in hypnosis therapy, to taking matters into your own hands and finding a self-help book. Another recommendation to combat this new year’s resolution is to try prescription medication that is generally used to treat a nicotine addiction. One option in this direction is CHAMPIX Varenicline Tartrate. This works as a nicotinic receptor and stimulates nicotine receptors more weakly than nicotine itself does. Another alternative can be Bupropion. This also works to decrease the amount of smoking

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per individual by reducing cravings and other withdrawal effects that come with a more limited amount of smoking. These types of solutions can help to make your new year’s resolution of quitting smoking seem more achievable and not just a hopeful goal in the distant future. However, like any form of medicine, it should be taken with care a doctor should be consulted to provide any information or cautions prior. Alcohol As we all are aware, the month of December is a time of reflecting on the past year, planning ahead for the new year, and of course, parties. From Christmas brunches, to New Year’s Eve night, it is a easy to assume that alcohol will be involved. As you wake up on New Year’s Day with your head pounding and stomach churning, you mutter the words, “I’m never drinking again”, into your pillow. There it is, another new year’s resolution that is taken on by many. This particular resolution can vary in degree from quitting drinking completely to only limiting yourself to a few drinks on weekends or special occasions. Some people may quit or limit their drinking because they simply feel it is not a necessity in their lives. Others may make this change because the idea of drinking themselves into oblivion doesn’t seem too appealing anymore. Now, there’s no denying that a bit of alcohol here and there isn’t fun and a nice way to unwind. A chilled glass of wine at dinner, a beer and TV with some mates, what’s not to enjoy about that? These are fine, it’s just when you become dependant upon alcohol to unwind or have a good time out is when there is a problem. If you feel as though you might be heading in this direction, these simple steps can help you overcome your resolution during the new year. Below you will find what we like to call a “moderate drinking plan”. It involves nothing too crazy and will only work to benefit you overall. A moderate drinking lan • Set a realistic goal for your alcohol use. Decide ahead of time how much and how often you would like to drink. • Start with a non-alcoholic drink to quench your thirst. When you’re at a social event make sure you have a nonalcoholic drink to start. Thirst can make you drink more alcohol than you need. This also helps you become more mindful of your drinking. • Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Make eating part of the experience. Hunger can also make you drink more alcohol than you need. • Alternate 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.

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•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 following someone else’s plan doesn’t work for you, there are other ways to achieve limiting your consumption of alcohol. A fun and unique way to do this would be to create your own rehab. Not only is this personalised but you can change it to adapt to your daily routine and lifestyle. The idea of your own rehab simply involves being so physically busy that you can’t get a hold of alcohol or you are too distracted to even think about alcohol. This could involve joining a sport team or gym, going on hikes, or even participating in daily classes that gives you an incentive. For some people, this form of a solution may not work due to a limited amount of time or just a disinterest in the idea. Another solution is looking to benzodiazepines. This can be seen as useful for people who have a problem with alcohol and limiting the amount they intake daily. Essentially, benzodiazepines help people deal with the withdrawal symptoms that people may face when attempting to limit or completely cut out their intake of alcohol. It is important to find balance in your lifestyle, more importantly, a healthy balance. Time must be taken to enjoy all aspects of life, from travelling to indulging in delicious foods. Fitting in time to exercise and manage your fitness levels should not come as a burden. It is important to blend in the idea of a healthy lifestyle into your daily routine and remain educated when it comes to sustaining positive mindset throughout your journey. Hopefully, the new year can mean a positive change for many people that will be sustained long enough to enjoy the positive effects. Happy New Year. site: www.medconsultasia.com email: appointmentmedconsultasia@gmail.com facebook: www.facebook.com/MedConsultClinicAsia

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Make 2018 your best year yet by Isabel Valle

As 2017 comes to an end, this is the perfect time to reflect on the year and come up with a plan for 2018. Having an understanding of your goals for the coming year and the actions you will need to take will give you great momentum and will help you to stay on track in order to achieve all those things you really want. 2. Lessons learnt I don’t know about you, but in 2017 I made many mistakes, failed at many things too, and I didn’t get to achieve goals that I initially intended to. It was all part of a great learning curve that allowed me to grow and change course, which made me wiser and stronger. You see, mistakes are a great opportunity to learn, and so taking the time to reflect on the lessons that we learnt from those not so good experiences, will allow us to face similar circumstances in the year ahead in a more proactive way and make better choices, which will make us get better results. ACTION: Ask yourself, what lessons did you learn at work? And in your life? Write down the top 3 lessons you learnt at work and the top 3 lessons you learnt in life. Here are my 5 top tips in order to make 2018 your best year yet: 1. Time to acknowledge yourself At this time of the year it is so easy to think about those things we didn’t achieve, the mistakes we made along the way, any sickness or accidents we had, opportunities we missed, goals we failed, etc. However, what is most important at present is to really take the time to sit down and think about those things we did achieve, however big or little; the great events we took part in, the times we spent with loved ones, great friendships, amazing trips or journeys we got to take, etc. Most of us will come to realise that there were more positives than we originally thought, and taking time to appreciate them and celebrate them will be an invaluable tool for us to continue to build on in 2018. ACTION: Think about those things that you need to appreciate yourself for, your successes, your wins, achievements and special moments, and write down at least 5 good things from 2017.

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3. Start looking ahead Now it is time to look at 2018. What are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months? This is not the time to be safe and come up with some small, comfortable ideas. This is your opportunity to dream about living the life you really want, becoming who you truly want to be, having achieved things you never thought you could, in order to have lived your best year yet. This will require you to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and you will probably feel a bit scared. Don’t give in to your fears, as they will soon dissipate once you start your journey.

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Make sure that you take into account your own values (what’s really important to you) when deciding what actions to undertake, as your values dictate your behaviour. If your action steps are in line with your values, you will find the journey of achieving your goals a very enjoyable experience.

ACTION: Ask yourself, what would need to happen in 2018 in order for me to live a happy, meaningful and satisfying life? What would it need to happen in order for 2018 to be my best year yet? Write down the top 5 things that you want to achieve by the end of 2018. Put them somewhere where you can look at them daily to help you stay focused and motivated. Then, write down a list of goals that you will need to complete in order to achieve your 2018 top 5 priorities.

4. Plan for it Finally, the time has come to put it all together and commit to a plan that will become your road map for the year ahead. Keep your eye on it to stay focused on the task at hand, and see the rewards of your work become a reality in 2018. ACTION: Now that you have a list of your top 5 priorities, and also a list of what goals you need to achieve in 2018, put them down into a specific plan, and spend some time breaking down each goal into small, achievable, realistic steps, that will allow you to start the process and to complete your goals within a given time frame. In your 2018 action plan, try to be as specific as you can, on a month by month basis, including milestones and rewards that you will give yourself to celebrate for achieving them.

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5. Do your best My last tip for you will be to be gentle with yourself. Life has ups and downs and you will probably experience a bit of both in trying to achieve your priorities. There will be wins and losses, successes and failures, and times when you will feel like giving up. At times like this, ask yourself the following question, how will I feel if I gave it my best try and achieved my goals and priorities? Try to visualise yourself living the life you really want, having achieved all those things, and imagine the feeling living that life. Then, think about how you will feel if you gave in to your fears and doubts and quit trying; how will you feel at the end of 2018? ACTION: Think about what potential challenges or blocks you may come up against in trying to achieve your goals for 2018. Is it procrastination, fear of failure, fear of success, a poor support network, a lack of know-how? Whatever these may be for you, become aware of them and try and come up with some possible solutions that may help you remove these obstacles when they arise. Above all, understand that life is not perfect, you are not perfect and not all days will go according to plan. Gently push yourself to get back on your journey, and if things get hard, take smaller steps for a while, until you can manage bigger ones. The important thing is to keep trying, moving forward towards getting those things you always wanted. And I promise you, if you don’t give in, if you keep trying, if you just do your best most of the time, you will achieve things you never thought possible. Investing some time in working on the above steps will place you in great shape for achieving extraordinary things in the year ahead. If you don’t want to do it alone, then contact me for a free 60 min no obligation consultation to help you decide if coaching is right for you. Here’s to making 2018 your best year yet! EXPAT LIFE in Thailand

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IWC's getting to know you morning at the Finnish residence

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Concert at Thailand Cultural Centre, part of the 19th Dance and Musical Festival

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Arlene Rafiq celebrated her birthday at The Square, Novotel, Ploenchit

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Celebration of Germany Unity at The Mandarin Oriental

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Duke of York (Prince Andrew) visiting the British Ambassador at his Residence

Italian Film Festival opening night at EmQuartier Helix

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Art auction "Winds of Peace" hosted by H.E. Andelfo Garcia and Mrs Astrid Amaya

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SWEA goes exercising" at HENRIKÂ HAUS '3, trainer Henrik Olofsson

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A celebration of Turkish Independent at Ramada Menam Plaza

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Nordic Film Festival press conference

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Reception hosted by the four Nordic Ambassador's at the St Regis Hotel

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IWC ladies luncheon at the Holiday Inn, Silom, "Bollywood" theme

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IWC emcee Shakuntla Gurbani's birthday party at the Lotus Hotel, Coco's cafe

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Medical tourism in Thailand by Robin Wesley Martin

Medical tourism is a fairly new phenomenon, that involves travelling outside the country one was born in – or resides in – for the purpose of receiving medical care. Growth in the popularity of medical tourism has garnered the attention of government policy makers, researchers and the media. Initially the term referred to the travel of patients from lessdeveloped countries to developed nations in pursuit of treatment not available in their homeland. But there has been a sea change. Nowadays many people from developed nations are travelling to those less developed, as the medical facilities and technology available in those countries is now on a par with their own. And at a far more reasonable burden on their wallets. Thailand is at the forefront of this growing trend towards medical tourism, and Expat Life is well aware of this as the Embassies and the expat groups that we serve provide the link for patients abroad seeking medical experts. Overseas guests seek the advice of our readers in the embassies, diplomatic and affluent expat/international resident community. Our readers are often the fixers or influencers to those seeking treatment in Thailand and you can now in turn

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inform and influence them through Expat Life. Throughout 2018, each edition of the magazine will be taking an in depth look at just what is available in Thailand. Medical tourism represents a worldwide, multibillion-dollar opportunity, that is expected to grow exponentially over the next decade. Over the course of the coming year we will be taking a close look at the medical facilities available in the Kingdom; the range of medical treatments and procedures; the state of the art technology and equipment; and last but not least, the incredible locations, hotels, and spas that patients can go to for their recovery and recuperation. Thailand offers the medical traveller far more than the transgender procedures that often occupy the media spotlight. Specialties include cosmetic surgery, cancer treatment, cardiac or cardiovascular surgery, orthopaedics, cardiology, IVF/reproductive medicine, spinal surgery and dentistry. Despite rising standards of living, Thailand still remains one of the world’s best in terms of value for money, with cost savings on medical procedures ranging from 40/60% over out-of-pocket fees found in United States, Europe, the Middle East and Japan. Thailand’s world renowned spas

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and wellness resorts, often set in breathtaking coastal surroundings, make it even more appealing to the health traveller, particularly in a world now more conscious of preventable disease and alternative treatment strategies. Medical spas in Thailand lead the world in combining recuperation and relaxation with clinical procedures under medical supervision. No longer will people have to scour through an internet search engine to find the information they need, it will be available in this magazine, print and online, and links to all online content will also be found on Embassy and hospital websites. You want to know all about medical tourism, procedures, and recovery/recuperation options in Thailand? Look no further than Expat Life in Thailand.

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Auction date: December 2nd, 2017 Viewing: 10 days prior to the auction date

รูปปนหินออนรูปเทพเจาวีนัส (อโฟรไดท) เทพีแหงความงาม

A VICTORIOUS VENUS ROMAN WOMEN MARBLE FIGURE (APHRODITE) ON MARBLE STAND. STYLE: EUROPEAN AGE: 20TH CENTURY SIZE: W. 63 CM. L 148 CM.

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Expat Life in Thailand December/January 2018  
Expat Life in Thailand December/January 2018  
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