Colourful & Passionate
December 2009 â€˘ ScandAsia.Dk 1
2 ScandAsia.Dk â€˘ December 2009
Malaysian Tourism Growing Your FREE Danish Magazine in Asia
ScandAsia is the only magazine that covers all the Danish residents in South East Asia.
alaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. Despite the Influenza A scare and the economic slowdown, the number of tourists last month in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia increased compared to last year. Danish tourists visit more and more. The number of Danish tourists visiting South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia increased substantially this year. According to The Star Online, Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said, some two million tourists arrived in the country last month compared to 1.92 million in the same month last year and Denmark was among the countries showing a double digit growth. Tourists from other countries increased as well, in particular the Netherlands, Iran, Burma, France and Turkey.
We also publish a ScandAsia magazine for Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Please sig up for Your own FREE copy: www.scandasia.com Publisher: Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. 4/41-2 Ramintra Soi 14, Bangkok 10230, Thailand Tel. +66 2 943 7166-8, Fax: +66 2 943 7169 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief: Gregers A.W. Møller email@example.com Advertising - Thailand: Finn Balslev firstname.lastname@example.org Life style advertisements: Piyanan Kalikanon email@example.com Nattapat Maesang firstname.lastname@example.org Graphic Designer: Disraporn Yatprom email@example.com Distribution: Sopida Thaveesup firstname.lastname@example.org Printing: Advanced Printing Services Co., Ltd.
More news and features here: www.scandasia.com
By Morten Scheelsbeck
Dr Ng attributed the increase to successful promotions and cooperation from the industry. “Tourists for the first seven months of this year also increased by 3.6% to 13.35 million compared to 12.89 million for the corresponding period last year,” she told a press conference yesterday. And now the countries’ tourist departments will take further steps towards tempting even more Danes and others tourist into visiting the region. Dr Ng said Malaysia and Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to promote Malacca, Penang and Borobudur Temple under the one World Heritage Sites travel package. “The package will target heritage and culture enthusiasts and senior citizens. It is a very special package that provides an unforgettable experience of visiting three heritage sites located in two countries under one package,” she added.
Danish Rockwool Looks Towards Asia-Pacific ROXUL Asia, a unit of the Danish stone wool supplier Rockwool, sees growing opportunities in Asia-Pacific including Malaysia. By Sarah Mia Haagerup
he Malacca-based firm Roxul Asia, has been in the red since it was set up in 1999 as it had invested a lot to build its local market, its managing director Thomas Heldgaard says. “Our revenue has grown by more than 500 per
cent since 2000. We hope to net our first profit this year as we have a good focus on our earnings and are consolidating the business,” Heldgaard explaines. Roxul’s focus is in installing stone wool insulation for fire, thermal and acoustic protection in buildings in Asia Pacific including Malaysia. Stone wool is used in acoustic ceilings to reduce noise nuisance, and in walls, roofs and under floor as fire safe protection. Roxul has a factory in Malacca that produces 20,000 tons of stone wool per annum. Two-thirds of the production is sold in Malaysia and Singapore. The rest are sold in India, the Middle East, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey, Australia and Japan. “More than half of the world’s new building construction is taking place in Asia-Pacific. There’s huge potential to tap for energy improvement,” Heldgaard says. December 2009 • ScandAsia.Dk 3
Colourful and “The ultimate goal in life is happiness,” says 47-year old Charlotte Parks, who chose to listen to her inner passion and replace a business career with art and spirituality using her maiden name Charlotte Donvang. By Sarah Mia Haagerup
4 ScandAsia.Dk • December 2009
hen you look at Charlotte Dønvang Park’s painting you immediately think this is an artist who has been painting all her life. But this is not quite true. Actually Charlotte Parks just recently picked up the paintbrush for the first time since childhood after realizing that this was what she really wanted to do. With a mother, who is an artist, and a grandfather who taught her how to paint from childhood she had a creative start in life. But expectations and pressure to get an education made her choose a completely different path. Instead of following in her families footsteps she decided to study economics at Copenhagen Business School
(CBS). But her attraction to the more creative things later led her to the advertising industry and with a natural artistic sense she made herself a brilliant career in the field of international marketing. She helped introduce Sprite in Denmark and also worked creatively with major international companies such as Colgate-Palmolive, Kodak and Skoda. Later she fell in love with and married her British husband Dave. He was working for one of the biggest engineering consultant firms in the world and had to travel a lot, which suited Charlotte well since she loved to travel. First they moved to England and since to Thailand and now Malaysia.
In Thailand Charlotte started one of Thailand’s first e-commerce businesses selling uniquely designed jewellery made in Thailand but in 2003 she decided to sell this business when shed moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where she now lives in a house she designed with her husband. Vibrant colours and furniture from various travels characterize the house which is peacefully situated on a hillside in the area of Ampang. But what really brightens the house up and gives it character are Charlotte’s paintings, which you can find in almost every room of the house. The amount of artwork is quite impressing considering she painted it all in a period of only one year. Some she painted in Denmark in her summerhouse and some, actually most of them, she did in KL downstairs in her studio.
Attracted to spirituality After Charlotte moved to KL and sold her business in Thailand she started a quest for something new to identify herself with. This journey led her to the health and wellness industry. Among other things she started working with fresh air devices based on the idea of aroma
Passionate therapy - devices which cleans the air and has a healing effect. She also started studying traditional Chinese medicine and became a trained Reiki master in 2008. Reiki is originally from Japan and people who practice this form of therapy uses the body’s energies to heal and restore balance. Charlotte uses Reiki partly on her self but also on others if she is asked to help. Charlotte does a lot of jogging in the Malaysian jungle with the group Hash House Harriers and in this context her Reiki abilities has shown to be a quite useful tool since jogging in the jungle can be tuff and people sometimes get sick. “It is a lovely thing to be able to help people like this,” she says. Charlotte doesn’t practice Reiki professionally but if everything else fails: “It
is nice to know that there is something else I can do for a living,” she says laughing out loud. Through her journey of self-realization a little voice inside her kept telling her to paint. She asked her mother to give her a crash course in acrylic painting, just to brush up what she had learned as a child, and very slowly she began painting again, although nothing serious at first. Then one day she met up with one of her friends who had plans of opening an Italian restaurant by the name of Delucca in KL. Charlotte asked him what he had in mind in terms of decorations and two minutes later she had her first show. The first two paintings she made ended up on the walls of the restaurant, a sign that this new and artistic carrier path was the right way to go. ”It tells me that what I am doing now is the right thing. Because when things happen easily, then it must be the right thing. If you keep meeting discouragements then you are probably not on the right path,” Charlotte says.
Painting for Uffe Ellemann-Jensen Following the show at the restaurant she has had a couple of small private shows and in November 2009 she exhibited her vibrant collection “New Beginnings” at a VIP dinner, at the Royal Selangor Club in KL, with the Malaysian Danish Business Council and former Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen as guest speaker. At the dinner Mr. Ellemann-Jensen spoke about the financial crisis seen from his corner of the world and afterwards Charlotte handed him a painting she had made especially for him. The painting represented what Charlotte saw in Mr. Ellemann-Jensen. In other words, she tuned in on his energies and created a painting that reflected the personality of the former minister. She named the painting “Clarity” and gave the man in the painting a big nose to reflect Mr. Ellemann-Jensen’s nose for facts and detail and a nose which some might say has been out too far in the past. Charlotte used warm and earthy colours to represent his warm and grounded personality. Mr. Ellemann-Jensen was very moved by Charlotte’s painting and for Charlotte if was a very fun and rewarding experience and not least good promotion. The 12th of December Charlotte invited people to her garden for a private and exclusive viewing, which featured some of her different series of artwork. Later, during January 2010, these paintings will be on display at the W.O.W Centre in KL. One of Charlotte’s good friends is launching a health and wellness training centre for underprivileged and abused women – a charity organization to help abused women take control of their life. During the preparations some of the rooms at the W.O.W Centre will be empty. Therefore Charlotte and her friend came up with the good idea of moving her paintings to the first floor. So from January art interested people can walk in from the street and take a look at Charlotte’s unique and colourful paintings. Just recently Charlotte created the SSMart Group – A group for people who enjoy arts of all kinds. On their monthly outings they visit art exhibitions, galleries, artists and art collectors. Everyone is welcome to join the group. December 2009 • ScandAsia.Dk 5
Restlessness in the Blood He didn’t get it from strangers. Michael Gaarde-Nielsen comes from a family of explorers and he plans to continue the family tradition. After three years in Oman he has landed on the legendary hotel Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo.
or some people is a big leap to move to a foreign country to pursue the carrier ambitions, but when globetrotting runs in the veins, a relocation on, give or take, a few thousand kilometres isn’t so big a deal. My parents have lived in Taipei for a number of years and before them my grandparents were stationed abroad for FL Schmidt, so from an early age it was clear to me, that I wanted to follow their footsteps and explore the world,» explains Michael Gaarde-Nielsen. For four months he has been Front Office Manager on the legendary high class hotel Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo.
Citizen of the world By Charlotte Lund Dideriksen
The drive to travel the world was also one of the main factors behind Michael Gaarde-Nielsen’s choice of carrier. “I have always been attracted by the hotel-business. Well, my earliest carrier ambition was to become a pilot, but it didn’t take long before I realised the potential in working in hotels. But coming to Asia to work was actually my parents’ idea. When I finished high school in Denmark, they encouraged me to join them in Taiwan to work on the local Shangri-La,” he explains adding that this experience motivated him to study hotel-management in London.
6 ScandAsia.Dk • December 2009
“After working in a small London hotel for a while, I decided I was ready for bigger challenges, so I found a job on major resort in Oman where I worked in three years until I got the opportunity to come to Borneo.” “I really like Borneo, mainly because of the settings but also because of the people. Even though they island is a melting pot for various cultures and religions, everybody seems to be getting along fine – most countries could learn a lot from the Malaysians, “ he says.
Long hours ok But most people would most likely also say, that positive attitude is probably is quite necessary, when they hear about the long working hours Michael Gaarde-Nielsen puts into the hotel. Well, the days can get pretty long on the hotel, most days I work 12-16 hours, most of them I am on my feet talking to guests, arranging logistics and solving problems for my subordinates. There is a lot to manage on a hotel with room for more than one thousand guests,» he explains adding another truth that most certainty would deter many people. One of the basics about working in the tourist industry is that you have to be at work when other people are on holiday, so I haven’t had Christmas off for many years now, but believe it or not, you get used to it after a while,” he says. Despite the disadvantages of the job, Michael Gaarde-Nielsen sees no reason to change his carrier course. “I really thrive on this kind of living, instead of being stuck between the narrow walls of an office, I get to talk to all kinds of people, most of them relaxed and happy due to their vacation, and most of my friends work in hotels as well so there really is no such distinct line between work and social life for me. Besides airplane tickets are much cheaper when you travel outside the season,” he smiles.
December 2009 â€˘ ScandAsia.Dk 7
Royal Visit to Mascot International Vietnam Her Majesty Queen Margrethe and The Prince Consort together with a large business delegation visited Mascot’s factory in Vietnam during their State Visit.
ietnam has become an excellent destination for foreign investments," Michael Grosb l, Chief Executive Officer of Mascot International A/S, told Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark and the Prince Consort during the State Visit on Wednesday 4 November 2009. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness were accompanied by a major delegation of senior representatives from the Danish government and the business community in Denmark. "If you are willing to invest the funds and a reasonable amount of energy, you are very likely to succeed,” Michael Grosb l told the distinguished visitors.
It was a great moment for all, when the daughter of the Managing Director of Mascot Vietnam, Thomas Bo Pedersen, presented Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark with a bouquet of flowers.
Mascot International Vietnam has completed its investment project in record time – it took only 11 months for Mascot from ground breaking to put into operation a garment factory for high quality work wear and a bonded warehouse.
Committed to safety and health Mascot International has become well known for its strong commitment to health & safety for company staff, including safety training programmes in cooperation with the local authorities, and the company’s health awareness programme. “Some people ask us, why we are doing these things. The answer is simple: We believe that a well managed company is more profitable. And I think that we can prove it by a look at the efficiency rate of our production here in Vietnam – it is 2-3 times as high as the average garment factory in this country. With our project in Vietnam, Mascot International has become even more competitive in the market – and therefore you will also see a significant development of Mascot Vietnam in the coming years,” said Michael Grosb l.
Good working conditions Managing Director, Michael Grosbøl, showing Her Majesty around the factory in Vietnam. 8 ScandAsia.Dk • December 2009
The investment project was also acclaimed today because of Mascot’s
strong emphasis on good working conditions for the approximately 750 staff in the company. Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Minh, People’s Committee of Hai Duong said: "Mascot has implemented the project very effectively and at the same time made a great effort to introduce international standards with respect to health & safety, environment and human resource management. This is an important contribution to our social and economic development.” The chairwoman presented a special award to the managing director of Mascot International Vietnam, Thomas Bo Pedersen, for the achievements of Mascot’s management and staff in the project. Mascot International is Europe’s largest privately owned work wear manufacturer, producing work wear and safety shoes for the European market. In addition to its own factory in Vietnam, Mascot cooperates with a number of subcontractors in Vietnam, China and elsewhere.
The Lovely East Coast Park Situated at the south-eastern part of the island, East Coast Park Beach is the largest and the most popular park in Singapore. By Gregers Moller ingapore is “all city and no nature” some people say. My guess is they never visited the East Coast Park located on the southeastern coast of Singapore. This park is one of my favorite places in Singapore and a great place for families and friends to relax and enjoy themselves out door. The park has barbecue pits, entertainment facilities, chalets, food and beverage, and amenities for sports activities. A cycling and inline skating track runs along the perimeter of the park, which measures at least 20 km long. The whole area is 1.85 square kilometre and thus the largest park in Singapore. The beach is manmade but the water perfectly alright for swimming. You may camp out in your own or in a rented tent at designated spots and combine this with the barbecue stations. For those looking for action, there are water-sports by the sailing club and the Peoples’ Association (PA). Apart from that, there are also several rental kiosks should you need bicycles or roller-blades.
ing how this once-barren piece of reclaimed land offers a diverse flora and fauna. Several isolated parcels of land were left to grow wild into bird sanctuaries and if you’re lucky, you will be able to spot some species of birds you may never have seen before.
Facilities Overview Large open spaces, fitness equipment at areas B, C, E, O, barbeque pits, 12km cycle track, 15km jogging track, bicycle and skates rental kiosks, 7.5m of sandy beach, refreshment kiosks, rest-rooms, restaurants, hawker centres, water sports centres, tennis courts, ponds, reflexology footpaths, bowling alleys, holiday chalets, camp sites. Some of the popular spots in East Coast Park are: • East Coast Seafood Center • East Coast Fort Road Carpark • East Coast Marine Cove
• Big Splash @ East Coast Parkway • East Coast Lagoon, now Singapore’s First Cable Ski Park (Ski360) • East Coast Food Center • Costa Sands Resort (East Coast Chalet) • Bedok Jetty, an all time popular spot.
How to get there The park is easily accessible by East Coast Park Service Road with numerous exits along the East Coast Parkway. The place has ample parking space with many carparks near the park. The park is also accessible via public transport in the form of bus services, available on East Coast
Park Service Road. Underpasses link the park to the nearby Marine Parade housing estate.
Bicycling to the airport One of my personal favorites is to rent a bicycle and ride along the coast all the way out to Changi Airport to watch the planes take off and land. It’s not too far and still gives a good excersice. On my way back, I always wonder why I don’tr become a member of the sailing club there - like most Scandinavians I love to sail. Then when I am back and have returned my bicycle, I will spoil it all by having a large cold beer in one of the many beach front restaurants. Besides the excersice, it is amaz-
SCANDINAVIAN SHOPPE Special offer:
* Scandinavian Shoppe 30 South Buona Vista Road How to get there? - MRT to Buona Vista. Bus no. 200 to Lor Sarhad. - MRT to Harbour Front / Vivo City. Bus no. 10, 30, 143 to Redwood West. Walk up South Buona Vista Road Tel:+65 6476 2575 - email@example.com
‘Gamle Ole’ Vintage Cheese
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Sg 1
Danish Furniture Design Last November Danish furniture design company BoConcept hit the South East Asian market in downtown Singapore. Plans to expand further are already on the table. By Morten Scheelsbeck he first BoConcept store in South East Asia opened in Singapore in November 2008. The store has already proven to be a big success, and BoConcept now plans further expansion in the region. Yung Ong, the 29 year-old Singaporean Director of BoConcept Singapore, has been watching and following BoConcept for already about three years ago. “We thought that it offered another kind of furniture compared to all the other firms in the sector. BoConcept had a special opportunity that we found interesting. They offered not only certain kinds of furniture like sofas or chairs. They gave their customers the chance to actually fill out an entire home. You can come to only one shop and find anything you need,” Yung Ong says. He is sitting in a Danish designed sofa in the new 7.000 square-feet store in downtown Singapore. Yung Ong is basically responsibility for everything here. He looks after the general strategic direction of the company. He is actually a lawyer of education, only 29 years old, and has been a part of the Proof Living for five years. In Singapore the Danish franchise store is a part of the Proof Living Company which specializes in selling furniture and quality brands for their customer’s homes. About a year ago they decided that it was time to move into a new market and that was when Danish BoConcept came in.
sage was that the company had reached a certain state where they could not accommodate more regions. They wanted to pay more focus on their current stores,” the 29 year-old Director states. But Yung Ong was still convinced though that it was the right thing for them, so they made a trip to Denmark to meet with BoConcept. “We wanted to make clear to them that Singapore would be a no-brainer to them. We knew we had a market that would be opened to BoConcept. We believed in our selves and in the concept. After hearing our presentation in Denmark they finally decided to try Singapore,” Yung Ong says smiling.
Doing pretty good Difficult to persuade BoConcept Proof Living had to kick BoConcept for a long time to get permission to start the store. First, when Yung Ong contacted the Danish head office they did not want a department in Singapore were not at all eager to get into a whole new market. BoConcept’s concept is not a very old, only about 10 years. So even though Yung Ong had his eyes at the company three or four years ago it was not until a year ago they finally decided that the concept was strong enough and developed enough to fit the Singaporean markets. “We tried to contact them, first via email. In fact we had been emailing them for a couple of years without getting any response. I started calling them, but still no replies. Eventually I called them every day and it took two weeks before I got through. Then they told us that they were not looking at opening any new markets. The mes2 ScandAsia.Sg • December 2009
The prices at BoConcept are mid-range compared to many other furniture stores in Singapore, and all the designs are Danish. Yung Ong explains that he thinks that Danish design has always been one of the more popular classifications of furniture products. Danish and Scandinavian designs have always been admired in this part of the world. First when they looked at a catalogue they were pretty sure, based on their experience they thought that the market in Singapore would definitely accept the Danish design.
BoConcept didn’t reply to our emails, so I started calling them every day. It took two weeks before I got through to the management,” Yung Ong recalls while sitting in a Danish designed sofa in the new 7.000 square-feet store in downtown Singapore.
But how are they doing and what effect has the world wide economical crisis had on the sale? “We are doing well. I actually think we are fortunate to have opened in the middle of a financial crisis. It has definitely given our company a strong foundation. That is because originally we were only selling luxury, but today in BoConcept we have the opportunity to sell more kinds of products because of different kinds of needs from the customers. Some might cut down on more expensive investments, and our wide catalogue
Popular in Singapore offers something for everybody,” Yung Ong states. He explains that when they usually compare they store and their sales in Singapore with other BoConcept stores in for instance London, New York, or Tokyo, their hit rate there is actually much higher.
Lots of Scandinavian customers BoConcept’s typically customer is, according to Yung Ong an international person who has probably travelled a lot before, maybe have seen BoConcept in another country. They are city people used to living in big cities and they usually live in apartments. They are design minded and they are looking for things to their homes that are a little more special. Maybe it is because of the Danish designs, the strong brand, or the good furniture, but Scandinavians do frequently visit the store. Yung Ong evaluates: “I think that anyone would be nationally patriotic and we can feel that a lot of especially Danish and Scandinavian customers come to us. They are proud of the fact that BoConcept comes from Denmark. The concept and the brand are strong and I think that Danes feel kind of at home when they are here. They feel comfortable supporting the concept. And of course Danes usually would like Danish designs.” BoConcept doesn’t advertise to especially hit Danes or Scandinavians. They primarily target their marketing towards certain groups demographically but not in terms of culture or ethnicity.
Expansion plans on the table Because BoConcept is a franchise the Singapore department reports directly to Denmark regarding how they are doing here and of course how the business is running. The Danes know exactly what is going on down in terms off marketing and promotions. They make a one-year calendar with the Danes, and every three months an operations manager comes to check with Yung Ong and his colleagues. And the Danish top of the franchise chain will soon have even more to focus on regarding to Singapore and South East Asia.
“It is our intention to make three or four BoConcept stores in Singapore and we are also looking towards other markets like Malaysia and Indonesia,” Yung Ong says, adding: “Our plan right now is to open another store this year at Orchard Road and we already have the locations in the big shopping centre The Paragon.” After that their next step will be to stabilise the businesses over the year, and then they have plans looking at another location, probably in 2011. “We very much look forward to expand our businesses in Singapore,” Yung Ong states.
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Sg 3
KLM Celebrated 90th Anniversary Celebrations in Singapore Changi airport when KLM turned 90 on 7 October 2009. The KLM departure lounge in Changi Airport was in a festive mood on October 07 when the Anniversary flight took off for Amsterdam.
or the past 90 years, KLM has remained an important airline by looking ahead. Since 1919, KLM’s pioneering spirit forms the basis of successful operations and alliances. The merger in 2004 with Air France are of course memorable milestones in its long history. The activities in KLM’s 90th anniversary year worldwide illustrate the vitality and flexibility of KLM in cherishing the past and having confidence in the future. Despite the current economic situation, KLM remains focused on the customer with its reknowned refreshingly genuine service and reliability,
Ensuring that customers feel at home and consider their journey as an inspiration when travelling with KLM. KLM - which is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name - turned 90 years old on 07th October 2009.
90th anniversary at Changi airport On 07 October 2009, KLM in Singapore celebrated its 90th anniversary with champagne at Changi airport for KLM passengers before they left for their flight to Amsterdam. Champagne and a cake! To the right is Paul Rombeek, Air France KLM, General Manager Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, celbrating the Anniversary.
First KLM Bio-fuel Passenger Flight Royal Dutch Airlines has operated its first ever passenger flight powered by sustainable biokerosene as a result of the cooperation with North Sea Petroleum and Spring Associates to establish the SkyEnergy consortium. “This is technically feasible. We have demonstrated that it is possible. Government, industry and society at large must now join forces to ensure that we quickly gain access to a continuous supply of biofuel,” said KLM President & CEO Peter Hartman. KLM founded SkyEnergy together with North Sea Petroleum and Spring Associates.
4 ScandAsia.Sg • December 2009
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) will advise the consortium in relation to ecological aspects. The development of biokerosene is a quest that KLM is pursuing in accordance with strict financial, technological and ecological criteria. “The establishment of SkyEnergy is a groundbreaking initiative,”added Johan van de Gronden, director of WWF The Netherland, who is acting as advisor to the new company. “KLM has been involved in biokerosene research since 2007. With the establishment of SkyEnergy, we are accelerating development and
hope to achieve a market breakthrough. Within the consortium, we have clustered expertise and experience in legislation, ecology and technology, as well as the ability to develop biokerosene in an economically viable manner. “ “We are moving forward with great resolve, but cannot do it alone. We need the efforts and support of government, industry and broader society.” KLM and Air France are jointly pursuing an ambitious Climate Action Plan. Air France KLM has been the sector leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for five consecutive years.
December 2009 â€˘ ScandAsia.Th 1
Bangkok by Bike
2 ScandAsia.Th â€˘ December 2009
Who would have thought that Bangkok was so peaceful and green? On Arne Wilhelmson’s bicycle trips tourist have the rare chance of seeing what is hidden behind the busy streets of Bangkok. ScandAsia jumped on a bicycle and drove through the back streets of Bangkok with Arne leading the way. A trip highly recommended. By Sarah Mia Haagerup Photos by Disraporn Yatprom angkok by Bike, that sounds a bit risky This is how most people react when they hear about Arne Wilhelmson’s bicycle trips in the city notorious for its frequent traffic chaos. But Bangkok is more than crowded six lane roads, huge business towers, and busy streets crammed with food stalls and shops. If you take a bicycle trip through the city’s small winding roads you will se a part of the city unknown to most tourists. It all started because Arne had a Danish friend who was very fund of cycling. Every year they both spent about 3-4 months in Bangkok and one day his friend bought a bike, urging Arne to get one too. “At first I was hesitating a bit. Like every one else I thought it wasn’t possible in Bangkok,” Arne recollects. Even so Arne bought a bike and went biking with his friend. On their bicycle trips through the back streets of Bangkok they met another side of Bangkok and came to the conclusion that other people might enjoy it as much as them, so they bought 10 bikes and went to Khaosan Road to attract the tourists. The bicycling trips appeared to be a great success and in 2006 Arne decided to start the company Bangkok By Bike. Today Arne lives in Thailand with his Thai-wife - quite different from when he worked for the Swedish post office.
No money for advertisement Arne has never had a great deal of money to do marketing, as having your own biking company isn’t the most lucrative business especially because of the low season and the competition from other similar companies. Advertisement has mainly been through Scandinavian newspapers, his web page and travel organizers as Vingresor. But even without big advertisement campaigns it seems like Arne has succeeded in getting the word out, also to tourists outside of Scandinavia. As soon as tomorrow, two Spanish tourists are joining him on one of his trips. Something he is much exited about as he doesn’t get a lot of tourists from this part of the world. Usually he arranges trips for Swedish and Danish tourists. 99 percent of the time tourists are very satisfied with the trips while a small percent is a bit “iffy” about the whole idea. Biking isn’t for everyone, as Arne says. “It’s a very nice job where I meet a lot of people and almost everyone is happy and friendly but it happens when somebody is in a bad mood. I specifically remember this woman, who was very unhappy when she discovered there was no foot break on the bike but only hand breaks. It destroyed her mood so she wasn’t that exited about cycling”, Arne says. Since people typically have fun on the trips it often happens that Arne gets contacted by tourists who have heard about Bangkok by Bike through friends. The tourist group today also consists of people who have heard about Arne through friends. Besides me and my photographer, the group is made up of four people from the Danish island Bornholm: 21 year old Phuket-guide Julie Carlson, her mother Hanne Carlsen and their friends, husband and wife Nils Kofoed and Hjørdis Nielsen. Like me they are all anxious to see a
different side of Bangkok. Our 8 bikes are waiting for us outside Arne’s small office near Phra Pin Klao west of the river and we get ready to leave, fully equipped with water and cameras.
Getting a glimpse of daily life Not long after take-off we enter a small local community and a large shining temple is made visible behind the grey roof tops. We make the first stop. The temple Wat Bangyeekhan, which is located in between small houses, is just one of nearly 30.000 temples in Thailand and one of the bigger ones in Bangkok. Fifteen monks live inside the temple, which is used for social activities. The stop is short and we continue on our bikes. Next stop is the 7 year old
Rama VIII Park by the Rama VIII Bridge which stretches across the Chao Phraya River. The park was built in honour of the former King Rama VIII, who was brother to the existing King IX. A statue of the king has been put up in the middle of the garden beautifully surrounded by trees blooming with white Hawaii flowers. Since it is still early in the day hardly anybody is in the park except for us, a few gardeners and a Thai man out for a morning jog looking very amused by our presence. He probably noticed us when we parked our bikes by the garden wall. The sight of six white foreigners paddling away on bicycles is an interesting and odd sight for the locals seeing that tourist in Bangkok usually travel by taxi, tuk tuk, or bus. We leave the park and continue on our bikes and drive past two Thais sleeping under the bridge. One of them wakes up, yawns and smiles when he sees us. The town is still waking up and people are on their way to work and school.
The sinking temple We follow the road away from the traffic noise into an area with narrow alleys and plain little houses with sheet metal roofs. After a little while we make our third stop by a small river. Arne brings fried bananas for us to try while his guide Palida Diwell or Tammy, as she is also called, tells a story about the community we just drove through. She December 2009 • ScandAsia.Th 3
knows a lot about Bangkok’s small communities and you can tell that she is very interested in introducing us to the city’s rich history. We continue along the river on a pathway full of holes through a small middleclass community. After a while we make another stop this time at a coconut stand by the side of a small gravel road. After having a cool and refreshing drink we drive to a temple by the name of Wat Chalor - slow down temple. The huge temple is, however, under construction so apart from its impressive and beautifully coruscating and multi coloured facade there isn’t that much to see behind the huge temple walls. Right next to it however is a very small and ram shackled temple, which almost looks like it is sinking into the ground. Tammy tells us it’s from the Ayutthaya period (1677 – 1767). We move closer to the temple and inside an orange-robed monk is blessing a Thai woman, who is sitting on the stone floor in front of the monk, surrounded by smoking sticks and candles. It’s a very peaceful ceremony and it doesn’t seem like anybody is disturbed by our presence. Not far from the temple we stop at a little local outdoor restaurant right next to the river. Arne orders phat siyu gap gai, a traditional Thai dish with fried noodles and chicken. With renewed energy we continue on our bikes through a peaceful and green area called the Bangkruay district. It’s almost like we’ve left the pulsating city entirely and entered a small village. There are no cars or motorbikes here only us and a few locals.
river. If it wasn’t for the law which makes it illegal to fish in front of temples this little spot would by far be every fisherman’s dream. The amount of fish here is overwhelming and it almost looks like they don’t have enough water to swim in.
Back at the office
Fortune telling We drive through narrow tortuous paths covered with palm leafs and stop at another old temple. The temple, which looks like it belongs in a fairytale, has aged in a very captivating way. It’s totally covered in leaves and tree roots have twisted their way up the temple walls hiding it from plain sight. Traditional Thai music is playing from somewhere in the temple very suitable since the temple is called the music temple or Wat Phlaeng in Thai. Again we are the only ones there. We enter the small temple and gather in front of the altar. Tammy tells us a little about Buddhism and Arne hands us a jar with some Chinese wood sticks carved with numbers. The wood sticks are part of a very old fortune telling tradition passed down from China, where the idea is to shake the jar and let one of the sticks fall to the ground. The stick’s number will then reveal the future if you dare to read the text that goes with the number. All of us get a number with a fortune detached to it but we are apparently an unlucky bunch since almost all of the fortunes are riddled with ill-luck. We are told to
leave the text in the temple as it will bring us luck, and we do. We step up on our bikes again and enter an area with narrow winding paths on the canal. We all make an extra effort to watch our step as none of us have any desire to end up in the shallow waters. At the end of the path a long-tail-boat is waiting for us, ready to take us down Bangkok Noi Canal to Arne’s office as we have almost reached the end of our trip. Arne hands out bread so we can feed the fish as we get near a big temple area leading out into the
Everybody are in good spirits when we arrive at Arne’s office at about half past 12, four hours after leaving his office. It doesn’t seem like the twelve kilometres was too much for anyone, on the contrary. Julie Carlson, her mother Hanne Carlsen and their friends, Nils Kofoed and Hjørdis Nielsen are all very pleased with the trip. “It was really exciting seeing so many different neighbourhoods and so many social layers of the society here in Bangkok,” Nils Kofoed says. They are all surprised by the green scenery and especially enjoyed getting close to the locals in the small communities - A perfect way to get to know Bangkok and experience other sights then the ones you can find in the guide books. Besides morning trips Arne also offers trips in the afternoons and weekends. The afternoon route is completely different from the morning trip and is more concentrated around the typical tourist areas. On weekends Arne takes the tourists to the floating market in Taling Chan, the Royal Barges Museum and to the old Thonburi railway. The trips cost from 1250 – 1800 Baht per person. And as the icing on the cake you can after completing the trip buy a t-shirt with the words I Did Bangkok by Bike, as proof that you actually did drive through Bangkok on bike, crazy as it may sound.
Bicycles…for rural students
he Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel in conjunction with “Foundation for Rehabilitation and Development of Children & Family” (FORDEC) invite during the month of December interested donors to contribute a cash donation for “Bicycles …for rural students”. Donations will be used to buy a bicycle to be shared by children to transport them from a distant home to school. More than 15 provinces in rural areas across the country are active
4 ScandAsia.Th • December 2009
in selecting the students most in need for a donated bicycles. Initially, 1,219 schools have been identified where students have to walk a long distance for about 3 kilometers to school everyday. They are located in provinces all over the country, but obviously most are in remote provinces like Chaiyapoom, Surin, Buriram, Srisaket, Srakaew, Nongkai, Nakorn Rajchasrima, Chieng Mai, Chieng Rai, Nan and Mae Hong Sorn. Not only those children can have a better mental health, but
also they would be able to save lots of expenses of children’s family, learn to share with friends, arrive school on time so they can concentrate more on lessons and most of all, it is a good daily exercise. To make a cash donation, please stop by at the Lobby area, Imperial Club Tower from December 1-31, 2009. For more information,, please contact Public Relations Department at T. 02 261-9300 ext. 5938, 5945
December 2009 â€˘ ScandAsia.Th 5
Killed in Action While Protecting the Kingdom It was around Christmas 1900. Hans Marqvard Jensen, a young Danish officer had just arrived in Bangkok. He was ready to start his career as newly appointed Premier Lieutenant in The Royal Thai Provincial Military Police, or ‘Gendarmerie’ as it was then often called. By Flemming Winther Nielsen
his institution was formed by the government of the absolute Monarch King Chulalongkorn in 1897, with a Dane, then Lieutenant Colonel Gustav Schau, as its first commander in chief. It also included many Danish officers in the ranks. The overall task of the corps was to keep some order in the provinces, where no other real force, such as police, existed. Murders, gang robberies and theft, especially of cattle and teak wood, were rampant. Smuggling of opium, too, was widespread, thereby bypassing the government’s monopoly on this trade. The Sovereign needed to establish his authority, especially in the disputed and very unruly areas of The North.
First posting Korat The young Premier Lieutenant of 22 years was first stationed at the corps facilities in Nakorn Ratchasima, then (and often still) known as Korat. From there, he went to Prachinburi,
Ayutthaya, and finally Chiang Mai in early 1902. He must have lived a disciplined and Spartan life. A list of his belongings includes almost exclusively necessities such as a mosquito net, one tent, a lot of sundries for making cartridges, a travelling trunk, some plain teak-wood tables, one plain teak-wood bedstead, one carry stove, one camp wash basin, cartridges, two pairs of spurs, the most needed kitchen utensils and two egg-cups, etc. No luxuries or precious items at all. Among ‘extras’ Hans possessed were two sitting Buddha images, a Richard Andree’s famous World Atlas, a native sword, one cigarette case, an open box of cigars and ten photographs in frames; presumably images of the family back in Odense, Denmark. In the spring of 1902 Bangkok had virtually no control over the situation in The North. The region was at that time not fully integrated into Siam. Furthermore, many migrant workers, mainly belonging to the Shan tribe from Burma, felt oppressed and humiliated by the Southern Siamese officials. Consequently they started a rebellion. From the mines where they were working, they went to the provincial town of Phrae, looted the place, and killed the governor and at least 20 officials. After some skirmishes with gendarmes and militia, who eventually ran away, they got hold of a large number of efficient German Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifles and some ammunition. Then they marched on Lampang, south of Chiang Mai, a much bigger and wealthier provincial town. Geographically Lampang was sort of the ‘key’ to The North.
numerous staff fled to Chiang Mai with all the valuables. Marqvard Jensen managed to beat off the Shan, he himself in the frontline of the battles, lasting for days, around in town, encouraging, stopping mutiny and sidetracking infighting. When also the Shan leader got killed, the survivors ran away, beaten. A few days later Marqvard Jensen decided to pursue the Shan back towards Phrae, and set out with a small contingent of gendarmerie. At kilometer 130, near the village of Ngao, south of Phayao, they were engaged by another group of Shan from Laos, and as bad luck would have it, he got shot in the left side of the breast and died. His troops then fled. What was left of the allegedly mutilated body was picked up the next day and taken back to Lampang, but there were no further attacks on this important town.
Recognition The Ministry of The Interior in Bangkok recognized Marqvard Jensen’s victory and bravery by for many years decorating the Entrance Hall with an enlarged photo of him. I
have no doubt that the Minister knew and acknowledged that the defense of Lampang broke the back of the Shan rebellion. After this battle, regular army troops were hastily sent up from central Siam and some order restored. The Burmese Shan were British subjects, and in the event of their success, the colonial power might well have felt tempted to occupy Northern Siam. In fact, there were strong rumors to that effect. On the 16th of October 1902, an official memorandum, a Death Certificate, was forwarded from Captain August Kolls, liaison officer of the Gendarmerie, to the acting Danish Consul General, Mr. d’Abaza. The memorandum states that “Captain Hans Marqvard Jensen was shot to death on the 14th of October, 1902 at Muang Ngao, Nakon Lampang”. Somewhere along the way he had been promoted to Captain. On the 7th November, the Consulate acknowledged that they had received from Colonel G. Schau “1000 Ticals, being the amount due to the late Captain Jensen as his salary for September and October,
The defence of Lampang These historical details to establish the context, in which Marqvard Jensen played the major role, became the Hero of Lampang — and died. He was sent to the town from Chiang Mai with orders to lead the town defense. In Lampang, barricades were built and a colorful group of militia and gendarmerie were supposed to defend the place. In the meantime officials and their
6 ScandAsia.Th • December 2009
The battle of Lampang took place on 4 August 1902. The first troops to back up Hans Marqvard Jensen in his defense of the city took nine days to arrive from Nakorn Sawan and Pitsanuloke. Danish Colonel Springer who set out from Bangkok immediately on 4 August marched with 200 gendarmes over fifty kilometers a day to arrive on the 17 August - by which time he was sure the Shans had alredy taken Chiangmai if Captain H.M. Jensen had not defeated them at Lampang.
Captain Marqvard Jensen’s bravery is not forgotten, and his name has been recalled now and then through all these years. 1902”. His salary was 500.00 Tikal’s per month, worth approximately 485.00 Danish Crowns (In 1897 the exchange rate was stipulated as 1 Tikal = 0.97 Danish Crowns). At the same time, by comparison, a blacksmith at Allerups Machine Works in Odense, Denmark, earned around 110.00 Danish Crowns per month. So, absolutely a fair salary, but not exorbitant taking conditions and hardships into consideration.
fell Captain Jensen in a battle with the Shan’ (translated from Thai). Mr. Steiner then collected two pieces with the inscription and forwarded them to the Society. He then suggested that the small area where the Captain actually fell, 30 meters from the road should be registered and that a small memorial stone should be placed there. He asked the Society to bear the expenses. Someone financed a small durable memorial, which is still there today. Recently a foreign friend told Mr. Torben Poulsen, a Dane residing in Chiang Mai, that the inscription on the obelisk of Hans Marqvard Jensen was no longer readable and the stone was dirty. He asked the Embassy for support to renovate the memorial, but in the end found that all he needed was some scouring powder and a bit of elbow grease. He then did the job himself. And so, the name of the courageous Danish Captain who broke the back of the Shan rebellion and helped the Kingdom regain control of the North is again readable and his reputation lives on – at least among us who live here, know the conditions and respect him.
Memorial and Grave The story doesn’t quite end here, though. King Chulalongkorn went out of his way to honor Hans Marqvard Jensen. He donated the tombstone, formed as an obelisk, still to be seen at the graveyard for foreigners in Chiang Mai. He also decided to award Hans’ mother, Marie Jensen, an annual pension of 3,000.00 Tikal’s per year, half of her sons’ salary. She was a widow, and in accordance with Siamese traditions, her only son should have taken care of her in old age. She enjoyed the pension, administered by EAC, until she died in 1938. Captain Marqvard Jensen’s bravery is not forgotten, and his name has been recalled now and then through all these years. In 1929 a Dane, Mr. Steiner wrote to The Committee for The Danish Society and told them that the original eight foot tall memorial post at kilometer 130 had fallen to pieces. It bore the inscription: ‘Here
.................. I would like to thank archivist Lena Stabel Larsen, The Public Record Office (Rigsarkivet) in Copenhagen for her invaluable assistance in finding old and odd documents in the archives.
This monument stands close to the road from Lampang to Phayao, near the village of Ngao, where Hans Marqvard Jensen fell.
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Th 7
Chief Engineer Nai Wirgin I stumbled over the name of this Swedish gentleman bestowed with a Royal Siamese Baronet title around 1930, but only got the name and the briefest of descriptions—and instantly the interest and curiosity was aroused. By Flemming Winther Nielsen
had trouble finding references for Mr. Wirgin and saw only a glimpse of a description. “Why is it that we don’t know more about this outstanding Swede,” I asked myself. “He worked so many years for the benefit of Siamese/Thai agriculture, especially within the field of irrigation. He even was quite close to The Siamese King, and was ennobled by him.” After a lot of vain searching, I decided to phone the long retired Professor Jan Wirgin in Bromma, Sweden. He was director for The East Asiatic Museum/Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm for many years. Furthermore, he possesses a profound knowledge of many realities in this part of the world. However, even he couldn’t help—he had not even heard of Engineer Wirgin. “Maybe my father knew him,”
8 ScandAsia.Th • December 2009
Nai Wirgin sitting in white tropical dress to the left in a garden in Bangkok. It is not known who the other two persons in the picture are. Below: A Thai boy on a longhorn buffalo in the country side. Before Engineer Wirgin build the current network of canals, the rain that fell was not distributed in a practical way, resulting in thousands of hectares of paddy fields to be without sufficient water.
from Gothenburg paddy fields to be without sufficient water. One can say that the water was and always has been here, and the rain fell regularly in the season every year, unlike in Egypt, for example, where rains are erratic and only a few kilometers of the banks of the Nile are irrigated. The situation was ripe, just waiting for irrigation, and could fully benefit from the new technologies brought in from the West. King Chulalongkorn started irrigation schemes, but it was under his successor, King Vajiravudh, Rama VI (1881 - 1925), that the schemes got practical Royal support, gained momentum and reached more and more of the arable farmland. It seems that the statistics started in 1938 and that year 440.000 hectares were under irrigation, in 1950 650.000 and growing.
the provinces Eje also observed a man who could frown when he saw that conditions regarding the irrigation systems were not in order, about which he presumably made notes down for later taking care of at the appropriate time and place. Eje tried to get The Engineer to talk more and provide some details about his work, but Mr. Wirgin simply made no comment, stating that he was only doing his duty. Maybe that’s why the information about his professional life and achievements are so sparse.
More information? Nevertheless, from the many examples given by Eje it is obvious that Mr. Wirgin was a very influential person. Another reason why we know so little about him is perhaps because he became a Thai citizen, even referring to ‘we’ when talking about things Siamese. At that time there was not the same tradition in Siam for keeping archives as we know them, and the oral tradition of telling stories generation after generation is dying out in the society of changes that Thailand has now become.
Bestowed with the Luang title
he suggested, “but that is a bit too late to ask now.” Nevertheless, Professor Jan Wirgin could confirm that this family name was and is not very widespread.
Around 1930 The fragmentary little portrait in this article is therefore mostly based on a chapter in a travel book written by Anders Eje and published in Stockholm in 1932 titled ‘Landsmaen I Foerskingringen.’ According to this source, Nai Wirgin worked in Siam/ Thailand for many years both before and after 1930. In addition, Mr. Wirgin obtained Siamese citizenship; he was fluent in the language in all four disciplines of reading, writing, listening and speaking. We do not know why, but it seems that he happened to come to Siam as a newly graduated engineer. Conditions must really have impressed him because he simply
stayed and established his own career. One of the reasons may have been the difference between the quite rigid Swedish social conventions and the relaxed Siamese lifestyle. If we take a look at Siam at the time of King Chulalongkorn, Rama V (1853 – 1910), we know the country’s farmland regularly suffered from severe draught, or one could say, the rain that fell was not used or distributed in a practical way, resulting in thousands of hectares of
Mr. Wirgins work was to plan and to provide irrigation systems. His work did not go unnoticed and he got promoted to a high ranking executive position in the ever-growing Irrigation Department. Furthermore he was, as mentioned, bestowed with the Royal Luang (Baronet) title, a seldom honour for a foreigner in those days. The export of rice grew and grew during those years, thanks, to Engineer Wirgin’s, among others, admirable organizational and logistical talents, at least that is how it would appear. It must have been a delight for the farmers to watch the water being lifted from the canals to the sun-burnt and dried-out eroded soil, running non-stop from the new pipes and tubes. How different especially the Central plains and the North of Thailand must have looked before this irrigation evolution started – and how sparsely populated. From Anders Eje’s narrative and an illustrative photo, I have the impression of a very well-balanced professional man. During a tour of
I sincerely believe that it would be of interest, both for Swedes in this country and for Thai development history, if a much more detailed picture of Luang Nai Wirgin’s life, work and achievements could be exposed. It will therefore be highly appreciated if readers can give more information. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Thai authorities have been contacted, but could not provide any contributions. The Swedish ‘Riksarkiv’ also, but they don’t seem interested. The search machines have been consulted – in vain, but I might of course have overlooked something.
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Th 9
While the world around him cried “crisis” and people saved up their money, Danish real estate developer Flemming Bo Sørensen took a different approach to the economical downturn: He opened up one more office and got himself a spot in the famous Danish television show “Hammerslag.” By Anya Palm
he camera is rolling as Danish TV host Peter Ingemann climbs up the outside stairway and reaches the roof top balcony of a brand new house in sunny Hua Hin – just finished hours before he arrived here. “This looks like the scenery from Apocalypse Now!” he exclaims. “I can almost hear the chopper,” jokes the well-known, curly haired TV host of Hammerslag - a Danish real estate TV program, looking out over endless pineapple fields surrounding the consstruction area and the blue mountains in the distance The house is 140 sqm and has been sold recently. The new owner will move in later in the day. However, real estate developer Flemming Bo Sørensen is not quite done with it yet. Peter Ingemann turns his eyes from the horizon and notices the brand new jacuzzi installed on the roof top terrace: “Does this jacuzzi work? Can we turn on the jacuzzi?”
10 ScandAsia.Th • December 2009
Sørensen confirms and helps the TV-host with the va ious handles and buttons. Peter Ingemann has been the host of the one of the most watched Danish shows on television, Hammerslag, for six years. It has been running for over 20 years and usually gets around 20 percent of the viewers when aired. The concept is simple – two teams of real estate agents are shown three or four houses. They take a guess at the price and whoever comes closest gets points. One of the featured houses in the Christmas special of the show will be Unit A2 in Flemming Sørensen’s project Oriental Mountain View; 13 houses in an enclave build up around a large pool, a little outside Hua Hin. For Sørensen, this means the undivided attention for an hour of around 1,3 million potential buyers. “I am happy to be on the show, very happy,” Flemming Sørensen says. “I am looking forward to put the
Flemming Sørensen and Danish televisionhost, Peter Ingemann, on the roof top balcony of Unit 2A in newly build Oriental Mountain View.
Hua Hin house on display, so people back in Denmark can see for themselves that good quality houses can come with an equally good price here in Thailand.” “These houses are Danish quality and Danish management. You have to be blind not to see that this is a good deal,” he says. His clients seem to agree – 80 percent of the first phase of the houses in Oriental Mountain View were sold before they were even build. Two more phases are waiting to be realized. All are expected to go equally easy.
From agent to developer Flemming Sørensen has been in Thailand for four years. Educated as salesman, it was natural for him to present the best of Thailand to the Danish market and thus, he worked as a real estate agent the first year, selling houses to Scandinavian customers. After having understood the market better, he decided to make the shift from agent to independent developer. He set up his company, Oriental Invest, in 2006. This way,
he can be involved in every aspect of the sell, from the first brick is laid to choosing the art on the walls in the houses. “I took the chance, because things were going well as an agent. I did not want to just fly in and start building houses immediately, because that is bound to go wrong, but I felt it was time to try this out,” he says. And thus the Dane started out with first an office in Rayong, then Bangkok and six months ago - amidst a worldwide economic crisis - he opened up one more in Hua Hin. “Of course, you have to be careful in times of crisis and I do not just open up offices and go at it like a bulldozer. But the crisis also means that I can rent office space cheaper and Hua Hin is where the best land for the best price is right now,” he explains. Currently the Danish entrepreneur has three projects in Hua Hin. Oriental Mountian View, which is almost done and will consist of 35 houses in total, once the construction is fully done, Oriental City Villas, a central enclave in Hua Hin of
Flemming Sørensen in front of the pineapple-fields surrounding the houses of Oriental Mountain View
”...and action!” Peter Ingemann gives signal for the cameras to roll.
18 villas and Oriental Beach Pearl, which is yet at the drawing board, but is to be located south of Hua Hin and consist of 73 villas surrounded by a 2000 sqm swimming pool. “It is a big project and I am quite excited about it. I look forward to be able to show it to people already,” he says. So in Thailand, things are moving fast for the Dane. He sells his houses with the offer of a four percent rental guarantee as a service – the customers can accept and live in the house for six weeks every year. Or they can decline and use the house the whole year round. This has proven to be an effective tool in a market, where the word “guarantee” is more welcome than usual, when spending money. His appearance on Hammerslag will boost business as well, he hopes. Or, as TV-host Peter Ingemann puts it: “Actually, if you just adjust your currents loans in your bank minimally, you can afford a house in Thailand. Not many people know that.” Well, now they do. And for Flemming Sørensen right now the question is simple: How many of the TV-watching Danes back home like the smell of pineapple in the morning?
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Th 11
Bumrungradâ€™s New Inpatient Suites
The newly-designed suites combine the comforts of home and the latest technology to deliver an enhanced inpatient experience.
ealing with an illness requiring a hospital stay can be a stressful time for patients and their loved ones. With that in mind, Bumrungrad set out to create a new standard in comfort and care with the launch of its new inpatient suites. The new facilities feature a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere and advanced technology to enrich the quality of medical care. Patients and visitors will notice an array of enhancements in the new facilities. The hi-tech entertainment system offers a wide range of options, from television programs and movies on-demand, to radio, music, and Internet TV. The recently-installed high-speed Wi-Fi system offers Internet access throughout the hospital. Patients and visitors using the laptop rental service can surf the Internet from their hospital bed and in other areas worry-free, thanks to hygienic keyboards that are cleaned and sterilized before each use. Each room features the state-of-the-art Microsoft Amalga Hospital Information System, which gives authorized doctors and medical staff bedside access to medical records and information.
1. Medical monitor The Microsoft Amalga Hospital Information System gives authorized doctors and nurses immediate bedside access to important medical records and information. 2. Bedside controls Create the ideal room atmosphere with automated controls for room temperature, lighting, and window shades. 3. TV/Entertainment system Enjoy a wide variety of television channels, entertainment programs, on-demand movies, radio, music, and Internet TV. 4. Hygienic entertainment system keyboard The system control keyboard is hygienically sterilized to ensure maximum user safety. 5. Laptop rental and hi-speed Wi-Fi service Stay connected via the laptop rental service and hospital-wide hi-speed wireless Internet service. 6. Visiting area A separate visiting area for the comfort of family and friends. 7. Enhanced space and privacy Larger suites accented with wood and earth tones create a warm, comfortable environment with greater patient privacy. 8. Restaurant-quality cuisine The room service menu features a wide range of international dining options, including Thai, Chinese, Western, and Halal menus. Healthy choices are prepared without MSG and feature fresh organically-grown vegetables.
First GLOW Hotel in Thailand GLOW Trinity Silom is the first Glow Hotel in Thailand. You can be the first to try it out! If you book a two nights’ stay you will receive one extra night for free! LOW Trinity Silom that opened in November in Bangkok is the first hotel following the new GLOW brand concept developed by the hotel management experts, InVision Hospitality Co., Ltd. To celebrate the opening of the first hotel under this new concept, GLOW Trinity Silom offers a special introductory ‘Stay 3 and Pay 2’ promotion package. From now until March 31, 2010 book a two nights’ stay and receive one extra night for free! Room rates start from THB 2,000* for a Superior Room, inclusive of breakfast for two persons and free Wi-Fi internet access everywhere in the hotel.
Ease and convenience are guiding principles for the GLOW Hotel concept. The surprise of the ordinary, done well. A desire to provide guests with precisely what they need. Every GLOW focuses on five crucial elements for today’s on-thego travellers: a delicious bed and pillows, free high-quality WiFi in every room, access to a fitness centre, a satisfying breakfast, and an excellent shower. GLOW Trinity Silom is the first managed hotel using the GLOW Hotels brand in Thailand. The hotel has 104 spacious rooms
over 6 floors in a contemporary style. All rooms are equipped with a 32 inch LCD flat screen TV, state of art DVD player, iPod docking station, coffee/tea making facilities and free high speed internet access. GLOW Trinity Silom is centrally located at the heart of the commercial and office area in downtown Bangkok, Glow Trinity Silom is just off Silom Soi 3, near the Trinity Complex. The hotel can also be accessed through Naratiwas Soi 3 or Soi Phiphat 2. Glow Trinity Silom is conveniently situated near both the
Chong Nonsi BTS skytain station and the Silom MRT subway station For reservations, please contact InVision Hospitality’s Sales, Marketing & Reservation office Email email@example.com or GLOW Trinity Silom’s reservation office Tel. 02 231 5050 Fax 02 231 5417 Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.glowhotels.com
Majestic Gold and Silver Dining along the River of Kings Discover pure enchantment as you pass by beautiful touristic places, savoring the sights and sounds of vibrant life on the river banks. Enjoy seamless service and plush comforts aboard our restored antique rice barge.
anohra Cruises launches a luxurious dining experience along the Chaophraya River, with Gold and Silver set menus featuring authentic Thai delicacies to astound even the most discerning palettes. Both the Gold and Silver options offer 5 delectable menus to choose from, with the repertoire rotated every week to keep diners constantly regaled with surprises. Delve into scintillating Silver set menu of 6 courses or sample an amazing repertoire of dishes in the Gold set menu of 9 courses featuring authentic Thai delicacies guaranteed to astound even the most discerning palettes. Try the Mieng Kham - traditional Thai appetizer with chapu leaves and condiments, then the refreshing starters such as
14 ScandAsia.Th • December 2009
No visit to Bangkok is complete without a trip on the historic Chaophraya River, so why not cruise the majestic River of Kings in luxurious dining style? Thoong Thong - deep fried flour stuffed with prawn and minced pork, followed by soup for example Tom Yum Hoy Shell - traditional spicy Japanese scallop soup with lemon-
grass. Explore Thailand’s finest regional dishes with main courses such as Gaeng Kiew Waan Ped Yang - green curry roasted duck with eggplants and sweet basil or Goong Lai Suea Rad Prik - tiger prawns with sweet chili dressing and round off your dining extravaganza with a traditional Thai dessert of Khao Niew Mamoung - mango sticky rice and Ice Cream.The Manohra Gold Menu is priced at Baht 1,990 per person and the Manohra Silver Menu is priced at Baht 1,250 per person (subject to 10% service charge and applicable government tax) and departs from Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa pier at 19.30 hrs. each evening. For further information or reservation, please call (66) 2 476 0022 Ext. 1416 Email manohra@ manohracruises.com or visit website www.manohracruises.com
A Little Piece of
Spa Heaven The Spa at the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa brought me closer to the angels. By Rikke Bjerge Johansen Photos by Richard Mcleish
’m in heaven. Actually, I’m not there quite yet but it certainly feels like it. After one and a half hours in the hands of my masseur Apple (yes, that’s her name) I’m more floating than walking. From I entered The Spa on the first floor at the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa I knew I was guaranteed quality time in a total stress free zone. The Spa is decorated with inspiration from the ancient Khmer architecture and consists of a large, beautiful hall that leads to the ten treatment rooms, two of them with sea view. The rooms are spacious couple’s rooms with their own private little garden and outdoor bathtub if you feel like relaxing after or in between treatments. They offer spa packages, Western therapies to traditional Oriental treatments, body wraps, massages, floral and herbal baths as well as hair and nail studios. I was recommended to go for The Spa’s signature treatment called ‘Equilibrium Therapy’. With the slogan “putting back a little of what
life takes out” I knew I couldn’t go wrong. First, I had to fill out a form where I had to indicate how hard I wanted my massage strokes, if I had health problems, where I wanted the massage to focus on. My masseur Apple came and introduced herself in English and led me to the beautiful room. I changed to a nice bathrobe and let the relaxation begin. She started with an exfoliation body scrub explaining that she used a mix of Thai Royal honey and black
sesame blended with milk. All the dead skin peeled off and after taking a shower which was in the room as well, my skin was soft as a baby. I felt more than ready for the one hour oil massage that followed. The oil is Hilton’s own brand Wild Mint oil together with a specially created Thai natural herbal pack. Halleluja, it was nice and because of Apple’s English skills she understood every need I had regarding my back and shoulders. After the massage my 16 ScandAsia.Th • December 2009
tensions had left the body and I felt relieved and reborn. Some things you can’t buy for money. But for 2,500++ for the signature spa ‘Equilibrium Therapy’ it can certainly give you a little piece of heaven. Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa The Spa: located on The M-floor / open daily 10.00 am - 9.00 pm. For more information or reservations, please call +66 0 3253 8999.
KIS School on Head of
Founding Head of KIS International School, Mrs. Sally Holloway has been elected Chair of the Heads Council, which is made up of 12 elected representatives from the three global IB hubs. The position carries with it a place on the global IB Board.
Global IB Board KIS Head of School Sally Holloway has been elected to Chair the Heads Council of the International Baccalaureate board.
Council of International Schools (CIS) and is an affiliate of Washington International School (WIS). The International Baccalaureate® is a nonprofit educational foundation motivated by its mission and focused on the student. Their programmes help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate currently work with 2,741 schools in 138 countries to develop and offer three challenging programmes to over 755,000 students aged 3 to 19 years old.
rs. Sally Holloway, founding Head of KIS International School, has again been recognized for her wealth of knowledge and professional experience by the IB Heads Council. The Heads Council, made up of 12 elected representatives from the three global IB hubs, recently elected Sally to Chair the Heads Council, a position which carries with it a place on the IB Board. Sally Holloway’s new role will see her communicating internationally with IB School Heads, and growing familiar with the schools in each global hub. “I am extremely honoured to be elected as Chair,” Sally Holloway says. "This appointment will enable me to be part of the decision making processes behind the scenes, that ultimately lead to continuously improvements in all IB programmes globally.” The IB Board is a professional body which governs the IB globally and relies upon the input from the Chair of the Heads Council to represent the opinions and concerns of IB School Heads. In addition to these responsibilities, Sally will also serve on the Education and Finance Sub-Committees. Sally will hold the position until the end of 2010 and will then be eligible for re-election, if she so chooses. KIS International School is an IB world school authorized to offer all three IB Programmes- the Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and the IB Diploma Programme. The school was established in 1998 from the vision of a team of enthusiastic and dedicated partners and parents who sought to develop a quality international school for students in Bangkok. KIS International School is licensed by the Thai Ministry of Education. It is an active member of the International Schools Association of Thailand (ISAT). KIS is authorised by the International Baccalaureate is an accredited member of the
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Th 17
Away Koh Kood Resort Away Koh Kood - located on the west coast of Koh Kood at Klong Chao Beach - is a privately owned resort managed by Astudo Hotel & Resort Group and the first of three locations under the Away Resort brand. The birth of Away Resorts evolved as the owners recognized that in this high speed life that we live in,there is a desperate need to provide people with the opportunity to truly slow down and appreciate the great pleasures in life once more.
18 ScandAsia.Th • December 2009
ounded on the precepts that we largely live in an “Age of Rage”, Away provides guests a renewed balance in life, where the ‘slow’ philosophy exists encouraging you to vacation at the right speed – tempo giusto. “The Away philosophy is not a new religion, or strict doctrine, because we don’t take ourselves that seriously,” the owners add. “It is more an interpretation of enjoying the simpler things in life and provides a break from the high velocity life we all tend to be trapped in.
”Away Koh Kood, where the located is known as the “Maldives ofThailand,” is surrounded by crystal clear water and breathtaking scenery. The resort has been designed in a simple but comfortable manner with a distinctive tropical Polynesian theme and traditional island hospitality. The truly fresh and unconventional design harmonizes perfectly with the private and unspoiled natural surroundings. The resort offers two types of accommodation fully equipped seaside bungalows to accommodate groups of up to 6 people complete with TV, air-conditioning, private terraces and sea views or the
island tents where couples can enjoy the simple yet very spacious accommodation escaping some of the everyday luxuries that control our busy lives. Not quite the tent experience you would expect as these island tents come complete with queen or twin beds, fans, bathroom facilities, private terraces and sea views. Although the main activity encouraged on the island is simple relaxation, Away Koh Kood has an array of activities to choose from if you want to do a little more than just relax. Home to Koh Kood’s only water and activities center, guests at the resort can partake in scuba diving, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, private or group island excursions, sight seeing tours and car and motorcycle rental to explore the island yourself. Getting to Away Koh Kood is simple as well as the resort has its own private speed boat ferrying guest between the island and the mainland of Trat city. Away Koh Kood is the perfect location to relax, rejuvenate and restore the balance back into your life. December 2009 • ScandAsia.Th 19
Away from the
“Farang Crowd” Go East! Go as far as you can along the Thai coast towards Cambodia. There you find the unspoilt island of Koh Kood. Famous for its crystal clear waters, this island is often referred to as “The Maldives of Thailand”
inged by sleepy seaside villages and coconut plantation, Koh Kood - or Kut Island - is your perfect place to get away from it all. And right now happens to be the best time to go. From the beginning of November till the end of February, it is relatively cool, dry and mostly sunny. But until the end of May, when it is hotter than the cool season, a visit is still convenient.
Clean environment The west coast of Koh Kood is lined with a series of pristine beaches, sparkling clear sea, captivating views and a great place to catch the magnificent sunset. Most of the best known beaches are along the bays which include the Ao Pak Waeng, Ao Klong Ta Tain, Ao Klong Yai Kee, Ao Ta Pow, Ao Klong Chao, Ao Klong hin and Ao Prao. The prime areas include Ao Sapparos, Ao Klong Kwaen, Ao Yai Kerd, Ao Hin Yai and Ao Chak. Ao Salad and Ao Yai are the major fishing villages here. The Khao Paenthee 20 ScandAsia.Th • December 2009
is the highest hill and has just been recently discovered as a superb viewpoint for the sparkling islanddotted seas. Otherwise, the island is rather flat compared to Ko Chang with the highest mountain on the island, Khao Phaenth, measuring 315 meters. About 70% of Koh Kood is covered by tropical rainforest. Inland, the island is very wild with a lot of coconut and rubber tree plantations located in the plains. Most of the inhabitants live off of the cultivation of coconut, rubber production or fishing. But the expanding tourism industry gives more and more work to the less than 2,000 residents - which is the smallest population in any amphoe (district) in Thailand.
Getting there From Laem Ngob, the ferry will take 4-5 hours to island. Speed boats take over an hour. The resorts which cater to the higher priced market include this trip in their packages.
in Southern Thailand
A young Finnish couple has big dreams and has invested 100 million baht in their very own brand new luxury resort in Khanom. The grand opening is only for February, but already for Christmas is full house.
According to Kati, the many foreign employees help raise the standard: “Scandinavians are working hard, they are targeted, they are quickly accepting and understanding messages, and they work independently. This is all something that makes it much easier for Atte and me,” she explains, continuing: “They are clearly paid some more in wages than the Thais, but we think it is money well spent.”
By Morten Scheelsbeck
wo Finns, 29-year-old Kati Häkkinen and her husband, 31-year-old Atte Savisalo is right now getting ready for the grand opening of their new dream, the five-star resort Aava Resort & Spa on the eastern side of Thailand’s southernmost tip off the city Khanom. They have so far invested more than 100 million baht in the project and they have high hopes that the resort will be a success and earn the investment back home. “Just to start with, we are not here to make money. First we need to have it running while we are
enjoying life down here, but in the longer term we are off course very ambitious about the project,” Kati Häkkinen explains. She is responsible for marketing and communications, while her husband Atte is managing director and has control of the finances. The couple is from eastern Finland and was on holiday in Thailand in October 2007 on Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Kati and Atte met a Finnish woman who suggested them to visit Khanom.
Scandinavian way to build and furnish is a world-famous guarantee of high standard and here Aava Resort & Spa will also be the guarantor. Additionally, the Scandinavian elements specifically address to the two most important groups of potential visitors to the resort. One group is the Scandinavians, who are not willing to gamble with standards when they travel far away and spend a lot of money. Another is Asian families who also want to try something a little different.
It was always envisaged that the design had to be Scandinavian. The
“Originally it was our intention that we would invest in a resort for better-off couples. But that all changed since we early this year became parents of our first child. Now we want to go after smaller families as our customers. Now we know even more what a small family will look for when they go on holiday – and that is precisely what we want to achieve with Aava Resort & Spa,” the new father explains with a smile.
Scandinavian employees Kati’s and Atte’s staff at the resort will also help to appeal to the Scandinavian customers. The chef is Finnish, the baker is Finnish, the front office manager is Swedish, the customer service manager is Finnish, the tour manager is Thai-British, and besides that the interior design-
ers who have helped to equip and design the 28 bungalows, are also Finnish. They all have experience in restaurants or hotels in the past. Although Aava Resort & Spa not officially opens before in midFebruary 2010, most of bungalows are ready to live in already from mid-December, and a promotion at home in Finland has meant that all the bungalows are rented out over Christmas and New Year.
The Khanom area The beach is about nine kilometres long, but besides the new Finnishowned resort, there are only four other resorts. That means a lot of space, and the area is very quiet and peaceful. Khanom is the nearest town. It is a small fishing village with about 20,000 inhabitants. In the areas around the city, the magnificent nature features many exciting experiences. Drive up the mountain and look at waterfalls or find a hidden beach, where you can enjoy an afternoon alone. The water off the Khanom is also known as a place where pink dolphins breed, so there are good chances of winning a beautiful and unique sight. Moreover, Aava Resort & Spa offer tours containing kayaking and tours to nearby caves.
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Dk 9
MT Højgaard Leaves A Mark on Vietnam MT Højgaard has not only made a difference in Denmark with impressive constructions such as Øresundsbron. In Vietnam they are right now involved in the construction of a bridge, a waste water treatment plant and pipelines with central importance to the local Vietnamese community. By Sarah Mia Haagerup
T Højgaard is Denmark’s leading construction and development company. The company has an impressive resume with previous constructions such as Øresundsbron, Storebæltsbroen and the Metro. About five years ago the company had an annual turnover of about two million Danish Crowns in foreign countries; today this annual turnover has grown to two billion Danish Crowns. “In Denmark there are many years between major projects, and you are therefore forced to look abroad. Right now we are building the world’s fifth longest suspension bridge in Norway,” says Søren Riber Carlsen, MT Højgaard’s area manager of Southeast Asia. Søren Riber Carlsen is responsible for 10 countries in Asia among others Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Because of MT Højgaard’s involvement in Vietnam the company recently opened an office in Hanoi. For about four years Søren flew back and forth between Denmark and Vietnam. But travelling all the time meant less time with his wife and fourteen year old daughter so the family decided to move to Hanoi.
Right now Søren is busy with two big projects in Vietnam, a new modern waste water treatment Plant incl. pipelines in the Vietnamese city of Bac Giang and a bridge construction in the seaside City Haiphong - Vietnam’s third biggest city with about 3-4 million residents. The waste water treatment plant and the pipelines are almost done while the bridge project is in its start-up phase. Building the bridge takes about 21 months which makes the bridge ready in June of 2011 unless they are hit by delays, which Søren is quite sure will not happen.
A modern treatment plant in Vietnam The new water treatment plant in Bac Giang is situated in the middle 10 ScandAsia.Dk • December 2009
of a very idyllic Vietnamese landscape with paddy fields as far as the eye can see. The city of Bac Giang is located 55 kilometres north east of Hanoi and has around 200,000250,000 citizens. By Danish standards a fairly big city but not on a Vietnamese scale. Until recently Bac Giang had lots of open latrines running on the side of the road with waste water being discharged into the river, a river that the locals bathe, fish and wash their cloths in. Naturally it was a problem that had to be dealt with since the waste water ran directly out into the river without being treated in any way. This led to the creation of the waste water treatment project on the outskirts of the city. The project, which is supported
by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), consists of a wastewater treatment plant and a distribution system under the city. In order to catch the waster water MT Højgaard had a challenging task ahead as they had to build an extensive distribution system in the streets around the city. Workers put down about 25 kilometres of pipes, some concrete and some plastic. Some of the pipes were up to two meters in diameter, big enough to drive a car through. The distribution system works in a way, so that the pipes under the streets gather the waste water, which is then led to the plant. Here the water is treated and led out into the river. Exactly like the sewerage systems in Denmark. The waste water plant itself is not running yet, but a lot of the sewer pipes are operating, leading the waste water out into specially created lakes instead of the river. If everything goes as scheduled, the plant will be up and running at the beginning of January 2010. When building for donor coun-
tries such as Denmark the countries have a requirement that a certain percentage of the construction material must have a Danish origin. This meant that MT Højgaard had to buy 50 percent of the materials from Denmark, which is why all the slurry pumps and some of the plastic pipes are Danish.
Slow bureaucratic procedures MT Højgaard has offices in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines and Vietnam and a lot of branches in the Middle Yeast. But in some respect the work in Vietnam has been the most difficult. Søren thinks this has to do with the fact that the Vietnamese system in many ways is still managed as it was during the old communist days. All things considered the bureaucratic system in Vietnam is the reason why there are a lot of cultural differences, he says. It has for example been really difficult getting through to the Vietnamese authorities, and to get in contact with competent decisionmakers.
“Also the fact that everything is in paper, you can’t just send the building owner a mail, because he doesn’t have a computer,” Søren adds. Danish sewerage projects in Vietnam are not new to the country, far from it. Per Aarsleff a/s another Danish building constructor has been involved in sewer projects for the last 10 years.
Finnish Bridge in Haiphong In Vietnam’s third biggest city Haiphong two bridge slopes stand on each site of the river Latsch Tray, but without being connected to an actual bridge. The slopes are all that is left of a Finnish development project, that went wrong. The Finnish building contractor exceeded the budget, so Finnvera – Finland's international development agency - had to abandon the bridge plans for a while, completing only the bridge slopes. After a lot of talks in the Foreign Ministry of Finland agreements were made to offer the project again but this time they decided to ease the conditions in terms of who could bid on it. Now
the project was also made public to OECD countries, before it had only been offered to Finnish companies. This time though, no Finnish building contractors wanted to be a part of the project. Only a French company and MT Højgaard showed an interest and MT Højgaard was chosen for the job. Thus, the bridge in Haiphong became MT Højgaard’s first bridge project in South East Asia. Like the sewer project in Bac Giang, a certain percentage of the material have to come from Finland seeing that the project is supported by the Finnish government. However in this case only 30 percent of the material has to be Finnish. Therefore MT Højgaard has bought the bridge’s health monitoring system in Finland - Equipment used to monitor potential problems with the bridge caused by factors such as weather. In addition the bridge has been designed by the Finnish consulting firm Finnroad. Length wise the bridge is about the same size as Langebro in Copenhagen, approximately 230 meters long. Apart from that it has the same design as Øresundsbron. The bridge, which is located in the middle of the city, is being build in order to ease the traffic in the city. As the living standard in Vietnam is steadily rising, it is very likely that everyone who has a scooter has a car ten years from now. And therefore there is a growing need to expand road systems and infrastructure, Søren explains. Right now MT Højgaard has engineers in Vietnam working on the project. Right now MT Højgaard has engineers in Vietnam working on the project. Vietnamese workers started the actual construction in the beginning of October.
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Dk 11
Alex Seven years after he got laid off by Schrøder Plast in Juelsminde in Denmark, Alex Heimdal Petersen is running the agency ”Bangkok Mold Consultants” with his wife Sukanya Junthai. By Bjarne Wildau
even years after he got laid off by Schrøder Plast in Juelsminde in Denmark, Alex Heimdal Petersen is running the agency ”Bangkok Mold Consultants” with his wife Sukanya Junthai. The company has made a business out of finding cheap sub-suppliers in Thailand to companies in countries with far more expensive labour cost than in Thailand. ”Over five years as a production manager for the plast producer BFK here in Thailand, I serviced the entire Japanese car industry in Thailand. During that time I used several Thai workshops, who produced high quality tools at a quality level much like in the northern part of Europe,” Alex Heimdal Petersen explains. As a trial he took in a couple of orders from a factory near his home town in Denmark. And it all went well. His Thai wife Sukanya Junthai took care of the daily visits to the workshops, only stepping in when problems occurred. After two years with Sukanya Junthai as the practical head of Bangkok Mold Consultants (bangkokmolds.com), Alex felt that his fulltime engagement in his own business was needed.
12 ScandAsia.Dk • December 2009
“We had so many costumers and so many tools in order, that I was clearly needed. But more than that. A Danish engineer who has been working for me at BFK, left the factory at the same time as me, and he is now taking care of mainly our American costumers. During our first years in the tool business, there have been huge changes. In the beginning we produced the tools here, and they went off to Denmark. But more and more of our tools stay out here, meaning we are also taking care of the production. Some of our costumers have never seen the tools we produce, they only receive the end products,” Alex Heimdal Petersen says. Bangkok Mould Consultants has also entered the developing business. “For more than a year, we have been developing a special chair for a costumer in Scandinavia. The chair consisted of more than 50 parts and more than 100 operations. If our costumer should have developed that chair in Scandinavia, the project would properly never have been started. But because we can do such a job for far less money, all of a sudden it’s possible,” Alex Heimdal Petersen says.
Unemployed in Denmark Looking at Alex today, you wouldn't think so, but actually his life in Thailand started on a negative note. He explains: “I did not expect any of this to happen when I was unemployed in Denmark. As a night shift manager I had fired many of my own friends from school and sports clubs. Then one day, the next guy up the ladder took over and fired me! So I was down, to say the least,” Alex Heimdal Petersen recalls. The only good thing in this situation was, that the Thai woman he met two years earlier during a holiday in Phuket was living with him in the small Danish provincial town. Through the Internet, Alex found three possible jobs. One in Australia, one in China, and one – surprise – was in Thailand, where he was asked to come to an interview.
Sets Up His Own
Alex Heimdal Petersen (right) with his old schoolmate Allan Lunding Nielsen, who is mainly handling the American costumers.
BKF entered Alex' life The plast producer in Thailand, BKF, had been a candidate as a sub supplier for Toyota Thailand for several year, and the family owned business felt that they were as close as they could get to make their own fairytale come true. They needed a foreign manager to instill more confidence or trust in their company. The company had three lines of production. One producing tires for two wheelers, one molding spare parts in aluminum, and the one most interesting for Alex, the plastic production. ”It was clearly a huge thing for the Thais to hire me. So they were
writing e-mails about me coming to Bangkok, staying and helping them a couple of weeks to see if I had what they needed to gain the supplier contract with Toyota, and if we could work together. I repeated that I did not have that much money, and they promised me to pay the ticket, a simple but proper room, and what I needed to live there, food and whatever. So I left Denmark, including my Thai girlfriend. It was very exciting, I have to say”. ”It was a good experience. They were nice people, and not to forget, I could from the very first day see, that there was lots of things I could improve, if we talk about the craft.
Before I left, the owners promised me to send me a contract proposal within two weeks, and they kept there promise”. Shortly after, his Thai girlfriend moved from Denmark to join him in Thailand. The couple got a small townhouse nearby the Factory. Things were fine. And during the working hours Alex started to make his small “Danish” miracles, supervised by sceptical managers. ”The first improvement went well at the cost of approximately 10 US dollars. Six female workers had to climb a platform at the high of 35 centimetres twice every minute, 12 hours a day, and seven days a week. It was torture, and impractical”. The local management thought Alex had gone mad, but with the help of some used wooden planks, he extended the platform. No more climbing, but definitely a lot more smiling. Six happy ladies, and not to forget, a finance controller who could see that the production in that small case went up with 15%. The Dane who seems to get along well with all kinds of people carried on with his so called small miracles. After a while, 22 machines became almost 40 when Toyota finally became the King among BKF's costumers.
An idea was born One of the most important tasks that the owner of BKF gave Alex, was handling the contact to the local toolmaker. ”I was deeply impressed by the skills in crafting the tools, but you
could also trust them. If they told me that I would get my tools next week, it would happen”. So the former nigth shift manager in Denmark started calculating. Quality toolmaking, to a tenth of the cost in Denmark - this could be a fantastic business. And back home in the small townhouse, his wife had far to much time on her hand, he thought. She could easily help him a little here, and a little there. That was how “Bangkok Mold” was born. Alex stayed in his job as a production manager at BKF, but when he visited a toolmaker in his BKF capacity, nobody had a problem that he used the opportunity to also make arrangement for another order to be delivered to a small far away country called Denmark. That last couple of years, Alex has concentrated all his power on his new company. The former unskilled worker from Juelsminde turned manage, turned unemployed, turned into production manager in Thailand, and now he is the CEO for Bangkok Mold, serving costumers in USA and in Denmark. More than 10 people make the staff, plus Alex, his wife. ”I did not let the plastic production and the molds down. We are still doing that with great success. But we also deliver metal parts to costumers in USA and Denmark as well. Even to airplanes, pushchairs, and other products”. When I ask Alex, if his is happy that he was fired in Denmark, he is laughing out loud. Good on him.
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Dk 13
Danish Management At Hilton Hua Hin Christian Madsen and his family moved from Dubai to Thailand last year because of Christian’s new top job as Director of Operations at the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa. It has been an exciting and learning challenge from the start since Christian didn’t know much about Thais and the culture before he had to adjust the hotel to the growing number of Thai guests. By Rikke Bjerge Johansen Photos by Richard Mcleish
he spacious hall with high ceiling is made out of dark teak wood and decorated with armchairs, couches, cushions and a big panorama glass facade with a beautiful view over the pool area. The atmosphere is relaxed, the weather gorgeous and the hotel oozes of sophisticated ‘sabai sabai’. The hotel is Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa in Thailand and is a very popular spot for both Scandinavians and Thais from Bangkok. It is also the biggest hotel in Hua Hin with 296 rooms and 380 employees – and with a Dane in one of the top positions. His name is Christian Madsen, 33 and he is Director of Operations at the hotel. “Director of Operations means that I’m responsible for the hotel when the General Manager is not here, from the kitchen to IT and everything in between. I had the same title in Dubai but this is the biggest hotel I have worked in so far,” Christian Madsen says. Coming directly from Hilton in Dubai one year ago, he and his family were completely new to Thailand. “I feel like we have really settled down here. My wife Louise is pregnant with our second child and we
14 ScandAsia.Dk • December 2009
live in a nice house three kilometres from the hotel and have some good friends here. We like to cook at home and just relax when I’m off work. Compared to the Middle East where we just came from, the climate is much more pleasant in Hua Hin and not so hot as in the desert,” he says. Actually, it was not a complete coincidence that Christian ended up getting a job in Hua Hin. “Louise and I stayed here in 2005 and we really liked the feeling of the hotel. From the beginning I could see all the opportunities here. So when the position as Director of
Operations was available, I applied and luckily got it,” says Christian.
Born to travel Christian is literally speaking born international. He grew up in such exotic places as Rio, Iran and Kenya before his Danish parents settled down in Nærum north of Copenhagen. He always knew he wanted to live and work in foreign countries and with that in mind he got his hotel education at the Copenhagen Hospitality College (Hotel og restaurantskolen) in 1998. “I knew that a hotel career was the perfect solution to me. It could give me possibilities and challenges everywhere in the world,” Christian says. “Being part of an international chain suited me perfectly and today Hilton has more than 3000 hotels all over the world. I started as a supervisor and it was a lot of work. I learned the hard way how important it is to find a balance between work and private life or you will burn out,” Christian says. Speaking of private life, Christian met Louise in Denmark and even though she had a very good career in the banking sector, she was happy to travel with him. First, they went to the Middle East where Christian was sent by Hilton in 2005 to Salalah, Oman and Dubai, and now Thailand. The couple got married in 2007. “Her brother is in the hotel business as well, so she has always understood my job and has always got a job of her own as well. Now,
she takes care of our one and a half year old son Carl and prepare for the new baby in February,” Christian says with excitement.
Challenge in Hua Hin A five star hotel is not just a five star. There are different standards everywhere in the world. “It is a challenge working for five star hotels. We have to deliver the highest possible standard every time,” explains Christian. Especially at a hotel like the Hilton Hua Hin since sixty percent of the guests are regulars who have stayed at the hotel five times or more and have certain expectations. The hotel is the biggest in Hua Hin and very popular among Scandinavians. “In order for me to improve the hotel I’m looking at the guests. Who are they, what do they want. We do surveys and go through every guest feedback we receive and since I arrived the team has done some big changes. Our guests used to be mainly Scandinavians, but recently it has changed,” Christian says and explains: “At the moment most of our guests are still foreign, however our Thai domestic market has grown
substantially and we see many Thais from Bangkok coming to our hotel. They are not necessarily impressed by the very looks of blue ocean and palm trees and have different expectations to the hotel. I could see from the surveys that we needed to regulate a few things. The Scandinavians always praised our Thai staff for being so nice and polite, whereas the Thais expected at different style of manner. “ “At the breakfast buffet we regulated food and staff in order to please the growing Thai number. Of course they wanted more rice dishes and soups at the buffet but their whole eating pattern is different. Scandinavians take a plate and fill it up a couple of times and then leave. The Thais take a bit of everything and make their own buffet at the table and sit there for a long time and eat together which gives another demand of food and staff. It is very interesting,” Christian says.
More Info: Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa 33 Naresdamri Road, Hua Hin, Thailand 77110 Tel: 66-32-538-999 www.huahin.bangkok.com/ hilton-resort/ December 2009 • ScandAsia.Dk 15
16 ScandAsia.Dk â€˘ December 2009