Johan in Bangkok’s Bermuda Triangle December 2009 • ScandAsia.Se 1
2 ScandAsia.Se â€˘ December 2009
Your FREE Swedish Magazine in Asia ScandAsia is the only magazine that covers all the Swedish residents in South East Asia. We also publish a ScandAsia magazine for Norway, Denmark and Finland.
Please sign 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: email@example.com
Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce
20th Anniversary Celebration
he Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce 20th Anniversary Celebration was successfully held 27 November 2009 at The River Promenade. Swedish and Thai brands were showcased during the event with guests enjoying a wonderful evening in a great atmosphere. The Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce, its Members & Network have supported the establishment of Swedish businesses in Thailand for 20 years with strong innovative and famous brands represented in Thailand. A key objective of the Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce 20th Anniversary was to further strengthen the Thailand-Sweden relationship.
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December 2009 â€˘ ScandAsia.Se 3
In Bangkok’s Bermud By Joakim Persson Photos: Chaiwat Panyaviriyakul haken AND stirred” is how the Swedish General Manager of bar Nest (and also F&B Manager of the hotel Le Fenix Sukhumvit), Johan Davidsson describes the effect caused to the Bangkok event and bar scene when he and his young Swedish fellows at ‘Nubbe of Sweden’ (now Flow) entered Thailand some five years ago. Coming over from a stint in Australia, their niche was to serve cocktails with a touch of elegance, putting a real effort into it and dressing up in tuxedos. They arouse attention to say the least as so called mixologists, a profession which was increasingly gained recognition also within Southeast Asia. “People thought it was cool; In Thailand they had never before seen three young guys doing this style with audacious bar outfits and just rocking the place,” Johan recalls. Bartenders in their twenties from abroad serving great cocktail concoctions was just the kind of element of surprise the local market was then in need for. Their service got highly appreciated on a relatively conservative Thai scene. The Swedes had brought in something new and just happened to be at the right time and place. And they caught media’s attention. “I don’t think they would have accepted this almost entertainment style of bartender service from a Thai. But when introduced from outside it got accepted.” And they did much more than the usual bartender stuff. Johan gets a chance to explain the difference. “I would say a bartender is a person doing what he’s supposed to do, whereas a mixologist is somebody taking it to the next level by spending more time and effort, having more passion for it and making sure to work in venues where you can do it that way.” In a nightclub environment being a mixologist does normally not work very well; it should preferably be a calmer place, where guests can savour, where you have the correct type of glassware etc., he explains. “What this is about is to mix things, a little of this and that, and conceive a balance of the cocktail – which an ordinary bartender does
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not think much about. So, this is the very professional version of a bartender.” Many served drinks later and with several other assignments and jobs in his portfolio the still young Swede is now running the show at Nest in downtown Bangkok – a city he loves for its vibrant entertainment and nightlife scene. And the scene has evolved with more bars also seriously serving cocktails these days plus a much larger catalogue of liquor available on the market. Situated on the rooftop of Le Fenix this hotel claims to be ‘a hotel where to drink up the action in the heart of Bangkok’s nightclub scene’, on Sukhmuvit soi 11. Johan gladly elaborates on the topic and this street which hosts some prestige venues attracting many foreign visitors where Nest is part of what he calls The Bermuda Triangle of Bangkok. The nightclubs Q Bar and Bed Supperclub are the other venues in this triangle, he suggests. “We don’t want to be associated with trying to copy them but instead representing something new here on soi11. Not a nightclub, not a lady bar, we want to be more sophisticated and casual in fact, where guests can get music and feel that it’s vibrant but at the same time being able to have a conversation without having a too loud sound system.” Nest is the ideal place where to warm up for a late night session and then continue to the other venues. Though increasingly guests also tend to stay longer, Johan has registered. “Bed is trendy, with a bit more
upscale guests – Thai Hi-so mixed with foreigners and chancers, Thai girls, and everything else under the sun. Then we have Q Bar with a different offering; less prude, more casual, a bit heavier music and more clearly targeting foreigners. Q Bar is also better at attracting Thai girls and foreign guys,” Johan describes the neighbours, to which hotel guests at Le Fenix enjoy free entrance. Upon the topic of the importance of tourists for the area he replies: “I think all bars and clubs here are dependent on each other, so we collaborate closely. There is no competition about the crowd. The more places we have here the bet-
ter it becomes; should Bed or Q bar disappear, it would be very bad for the visitors to Soi 11. But now we have Nest and there will be more new hotels with new bars.” The Nest manager hopes the street can establish a bit more of a profile, more of an entertainment complex which the Soi 11 Association is attempting to achieve with theme nights etc. He speaks with enthusiasm about this nightlife version of a Bermuda Triangle, where Nest contributes with its combination of a modern boutique hotel and a combined outdoor bar and dining venue. “I don’t think Nest has any negative affect on the hotel; it probably looks very attractive when guests find out what we have on offer. Our hotel guests also have free entrance to Q Bar and Bed, so we have a lot of returning guests. It could not become better actually. We have really funny and active guests,” he adds. Most of the guest clientele are Asians between 25 and 35 years old but during high season also more Europeans and Americans come.
Quite many local Swedes also frequent the property. The fact that Nest is entirely al fresco also has a special effect on the guests. In high season [winter] the locals come here because they feel they must be outdoors, in the same way as we feel we want to be outdoors in Scandinavia during the summer. So they think of Nest when they feel the strong urge to be outdoors. So you get a strong push here during the winter period, especially for Thais, when it is cooler in Bangkok. So it’s somewhat of a clash of cultures for us Scandinavians.” For anyone curious to know there is food at Nest too. There’s a very talented Chef, says Johan, who used to work at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok for many years and also at Jim Thompson house and whose passion is Asian fusion food.’ Thus one can expect and eclectic and interesting menu. “Anything from Japanese tofu to chicken wings and steak burgers. The peak time for this venue is from 8 pm to midnight, when guest come to get those first nice drinks or a nice bottle of wine. And they end up staying for more drinks and then moving on to the nightclubs. Then they mainly eat tapas or something light.”
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Se 5
Honorary Consul by Royal Appointment Dr Sompoch Nipakanont, Sweden’s new Honorary Consul in Phuket By Daniel Waites t was the day after Christmas 2004 when Dr Sompoch Nipakanont first became entwined with the country of Sweden. At around 9am, the Asian tsunami slammed into the Andaman coastline, flattening buildings, inundating resort towns and killing more than 5,000 people. It was the height of the Scandinavian tourist season, and more than 540 of those who died were Swedes. The shock of the tragedy still reverberates strongly in Sweden, which lost more of its nationals than any other Western European nation. Just a few months earlier, Dr Sompoch had taken up his job as Medical Director of Bangkok Hospital Phuket’s International Medical Center. It was a role that would put him at the forefront of the hospital’s work treating injured tsunami victims. In the four days following the tragedy, the hospital treated around 500 Swedes, just under half of the 1,035 patients treated during that time. It was Dr Sompoch’s responsibility to co-ordinate with Swedish foreign ministry officials, medical organisations and insurers during that most difficult of times. “We only lost one patient over those four days,” he says. “The performance of the hospital during the tsunami made its name as a medical service provider,” he says. That performance did not go unnoticed by the Swedish government, who sent a fact-finding mission to Phuket in early 2005. Dr Sompoch and his team must have impressed the group, because later that year the Swedish Red Cross invited them to Sweden to give their ‘Tsunami Relief Response’ presentation at four major university hospitals. It was Dr Sompoch’s first visit to
Sweden, and a source of much professional pride. It was also his first chance to meet Swedes on their home turf. The doctor was struck by certain similarities between his own culture and that of Sweden. “In my mind, Swedes and Thais have certain things in common,” he says. “We like to negotiate. Unlike places like the US and Britain, when something goes wrong in a hospital, people aren’t as quick to sue.” “And second, there’s something similar in the way we do business,” he continues. Dr Sompoch was struck by the importance of social connections in making deals. “Everywhere I went, I would meet Swedes on official business. But they’d say ‘do you play golf?’ Would you like to come for dinner?” It was a way of doing things that immediately made sense to this Bangkok-born doctor. But most important was the royal connection. “In Thailand, our royal family is very dear to us,” he says.
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When a Swede told him about the visit of King Chulalongkorn – one of Thailand's most revered kings – to Sweden in 1897, he was fascinated. Equally fascinating was the memorial to the king's visit built at Rogunda a century later. “There is a Thai palace in northern Sweden,” he says. “When I found out our beloved king had been to Sweden too, I was amazed.” It was therefore with much pride that Dr Sompoch was chosen as King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia’s private physician during their royal visit to Phuket in 2005. “I had the chance to treat the queen herself,” he says. “It was a great honour and a great responsibility. I just worked to the best of my ability.” A further honour from the Swedish royals came when the hospital opened its new conference hall . “We decided to ask King Gustaf if the building could be named after him,” he says. Such was the king’s
regard for the hospital’s work during the tsunami that permission was granted. “We’re the only private organisation outside of Sweden in the world to use the royal name,” he says. But it is to Dr Sompoch’s latest royal honour – as the Kingdom of Sweden’s Honorary Consul in Phuket– that we must now turn. Roughly 400,000 Swedes visit Thailand every year, and 60 percent of them visit Phuket. “Phuket is probably better known to Swedes than Thailand itself,” he says. “It’s their number one holiday destination.” With such a large contingent of Swedes both on the island and in the neighbouring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi – for which Dr Sompoch also has responsibility – he realises he has his work cut out. The bulk of his workload will be paperwork. The Consulate of Sweden in Phuket issues various certificates and provisional passports, as well as delivering ordinary passports, driving licenses and credit cards (for a full list of services, the Embassy of Sweden’s website). But he will also assist Swedes when things go wrong: visiting citizens in jail, in police stations or in hospitals and ensuring they have access to appropriate services and understand the situation. “Of course, everyone in Thailand, whether Thai or foreigner, has to obey Thai law,” he says. “We can’t make a crime go from wrong to right. But, for example, if you need a translation, or confirmation of identity or you’re visa has expired or you need to contact relatives in Sweden, I can help.” And he will also represent Sweden at local meetings in which the country’s citizens have a stake. He will continue in his role as Assistant Hospital Director of Bangkok Hospital Phuket and Medical Director of the hospital’s International Medical Center. But he is delighted with his new position. “It’s a great honour for me, my family, our organisation and our country. Especially for a Thai citizen. In our culture an appointment by a royal family is the greatest honour we can have in our lives.”
December 2009 â€˘ ScandAsia.Se 7
Great Nordcham HCMC Christmas Party
ordcham Ho Chi Minh City held on Friday 4 December 2009 a great Xmas Party for its members and their guests. A total of 112 people participated, including 8 children. The venue for the party was this year Hotel Equatorial where the Vikings were served traditional Nordic food including herring, meatballs and snaps. A Charity Auction was held as part of the event. “The members were very generous and 3,400 USD were collected for our Charity Fund,” says Nick Jonsson, one of the organizers from the Nordcham Board. People only had warm comments. Next event is Nordcham Viking Fest. More details on Nordcham HCMC website soon.
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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-
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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.
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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.
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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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or GLOW Trinity Silom’s reservation office Tel. 02 231 5050 Fax 02 231 5417 Email email@example.com 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.Se 9
Escape to Cape Sienna By Joakim Persson
Arriving at this new getaway resort offering on Asia’s Riviera, Phuket, it is hard not to be impressed.
n southern Kamala beach this boutique resort with the intriguing name Cape Sienna Phuket Hotel & Villas is positioned on a remarkable location – a steep headland facing the Andaman Sea with 180-degree views of the bay. With its individualistic yet understated style this in the surroundings unique property climbs high up the hill, offering superb unobstructed sea views from each of the 96 rooms as
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well as several venues partly under the open sky. The clever way in which the architecture, ultramodern structures and interior designs have been utilized for the curvaceous topography of the site is nothing short of a stunning achievement. Meticulously planned, a number of buildings are placed on different levels; enhanced by vivid tropical gardens. A lift takes guests up to a wide lobby with panorama full length windows overlooking the bay, conveying the first of several wow discoveries. Reaching further for the sky, the pinnacle of the resort, the Martini Sky Bar, is situated on the top level and offering an amazing sea view and one of the island’s musts. Downstairs, a romantic fine dining restaurant with an extensive wine cellar also attracts discerning guests from the resort and elsewhere. This embracement of style continues with the sleek rooms and the Thai marble-tiled pool with its adjacent bar and restaurant. All facilities offer a perfectly balanced mix of formal elegance and relaxed style. It increasingly becomes clear that this is an accomplishment by masters at work. And the masters behind it are Swedes. Setting new standards in the area Cape Sienna is part of an extension of Phuket’s legendary ‘Millionare’s Mile’ (further north towards Surin beach), where a number of luxury residential properties have been built recently. With such surroundings and its own concept of being an escape to minimalist luxury, Cape Sienna is a sanctuary likely to appeal to both today’s affluent city-dwellers simply on vacation away from it all as well as those explicitly seeking a peace of mind. And among its guests who can feel privileged and even spoiled –
partly thanks to the elevated, personalized yet discreet service the resort aims to offer – are plenty of Swedes. “This is thanks to the hotel having a contract with a Scandinavian tour operator,” Managing Director Magnus Bergekrans explains over coffee. Upon our visit in October 2008 he was seen around savouring the premises, and, as we learned, overseeing the finalisation of nine extraordinary oceanfront cliff villas situated below which will be managed as part of the resort. In addition there will be a beach club. The co-investor who is a veteran on the island however does not run the daily operations; those are assigned to a skilled general manager. But he has been the project manager for this whole dream project that came true. Previously he was the managing director and co-owner of kamala Bay Garden Resort (now sold and converted into a Courtyard by Marriott hotel). “I like to plan and build things, says Magnus, but once something is
on Kamala, Phuket finalized I’m usually done with my part, stay behind the scenes and continue to the next project.” Clearly he is very pleased with what has been accomplished at Cape Sienna, which he believes will mainly be a relaxing getaway for cosmopolitan dwellers. “Guests will mainly appreciate this as a retreat where they can relax.” People from all walks of life sharing the same appetite for Phuket’s fantastic climate and the melting pot of people with different lifestyles and backgrounds the island increasingly is becoming, are among their core target groups. Cape Sienna, he believes, will not be a nightlife venue but most likely attract an exciting and stylish crowd much thanks to its extraordinary sunset venues. Cape Sienna was something of a coincidence for him it turns out, just as his move to Phuket was. At a very young age, thirty years ago he moved to Hong Kong and started an export business, after having been sent there on a business trip.
Magnus came to Phuket – like many others of course on vacation – for the first time already back in the late 1980’s and started investing in properties and small businesses such as guest houses and restaurants as he believed strongly in the island’s potential. Eventually he decided to move here in the early nineties and now has a family in Thailand, raising his own children. He has accomplished a string of successful property developments and investments during nearly 20 years on the island. His early investments also paid off big time and he could continue with larger projects, for example co-owning the island’s most known Swedish restaurant brand. Then he invested into Kamala Bay Garden Resort which was eventually sold. So Magnus has invested on the island basically since the inception of tourism there and could see the value of his properties double several times. Just as he could early on invest some in plots on the island which turned out to be very valuable the acquisition of the headland where Cape Sienna is now situated was a similar finding which now puzzles many people. Some are surprised they could at all purchase such a plot of land, and others are amazed by the result achieved. “The steep plot where we built the resort was considered as impossible for any development of significance. It basically consisted in jungle and it’s very steep,” says Magnus. Seeing Cape Sienna one can certainly start envisaging that there could be another resort of the same pedigree in the pipeline; launching it as a resort brand. That will however not happen. Magnus explains why: “Sadly there
is also a deep tragedy behind this proud project, because it was my business partner who conjured up this resort concept from the beginning and convinced me to join. And he was very convincing with ideas based on very well thought out thinking about branding and target groups to cater to. However he tragically passed away at very young age before the project could be accomplished. So I was left alone to
fulfil it and overseeing the realization of Cape Sienna.” Now he is not sure if there will be or what could become his next project but he intends to stay on the island but perhaps finally coming to a point where he can cut down on the work hours and instead enjoy more quality time with his family and many superb sunsets overlooking the Andaman Sea.
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Se 11
Keeping the Swedish In Hanoi’s number one international school, UNIS, Swedish students have the exceptional opportunity of studying their mother tongue during school hours. Scandasia talked to three of the Swedish students. By Sarah Mia Haagerup
he United Nations International School of Hanoi (UNIS) is the biggest international school in Hanoi with about 890 students from nearly 50 nations around the world. UNIS has strong ties to Sweden due to the fact that the school was established by Sweden and the United Nations in 1988. Back then there were no schools for foreign kids in Hanoi so Sweden and the UN, who at that time were involved in aid projects in Vietnam, decided to establish a school of their own. This school grew and became UNIS. Because Sweden had been involved in founding the school the Swedes made an agreement with the UN allowing Swedish students to take Swedish during school hours. Thus, Swedish became the only Scandinavian mother tongue to be fully integrated into the UNIS curriculum. Other mother tongue languages such as German, Danish and Dutch are also available, but these are only offered after regular school hours as extra curricular activity. Students at UNIS have the possibility of enrolling at grade two when they are about 7-8 years old. Graduation is in 12th grade at the age of 17-18 after which most stu-
dents go abroad for their university degree. Most Scandinavian students at UNIS come from Denmark, 29 students, the second biggest group is from Sweden, 20 students. Norway has eleven students and Finland four. The majority of students are from Vietnam and Korea. Since a lot of the local Vietnamese schools are at a lower level compared to western schools many wealthy Vietnamese families choose to send their children to UNIS. However, in order to keep the school truly international, the school policy dictates that one single nationality shouldn’t be larger than 20 percent of the total student body.
Teaching at UNIS Charlotta Ekman is a Swedish teacher employed by UNIS but paid by the Swedish School Association, which cooperates closely with UNIS due to the historic relation between the school and Sweden. Charlotta recently moved to Hanoi to start teaching UNIS’ Swedish mother tongue classes. Even though Charlotta just started five weeks ago she already feels comfortable in her new surroundings despite the fact that working as a teacher at UNIS is very different from teaching in the Swedish schools.
12 ScandAsia.Se • December 2009
Her new job at UNIS means longer working weeks but unlike her previous job in Sweden she now has only two students per class because the number of Swedish students at UNIS are quite limited. In Sweden Charlotta used to teach classes with up to as many as 30 students.
UNIS is the best! 13 year old Swedish twins Louise and Alexandra Lien are students of Charlotta and study Swedish at a regular basis as part of the Swedish mother tongue program. They moved from Sweden to Vietnam in 2006 because their parents, Molly and Christian, got a job at the Embassy of Sweden in Hanoi. The girls speak mostly English in school and have become so good at it that their Swedish accent is almost none existing. Even though Louise and Alexandra are twins they are very different both in looks and personality. Louise is a big fan of sports and technology while Alexandra is more into softer
UNIS Student Carl Wingårdh (17) would like to go back to Sweden for a year after graduation - but then go abroad again preferably in Europe.
subjects as art and nature. Both of them attend basketball as an after school activity, though not entirely voluntarily but more because their mother wants them two, Alexandra says with a big laugh. School days are typically from 8.15 to 15.25 after which Louise and Alexandra have to do about two hours of homework every day, depending on the teacher. “At UNIS you learn a lot more than in the Swedish schools. The education is better, it’s more serious, you work harder in school and you have more assignments. It’s a
Mother Tongue Not forgetting the Swedish heritage
The United Nations International School of Hanoi (UNIS) is the biggest international school in Hanoi.
Charlotta Ekman employed by the Swedish School Association, which cooperates closely with UNIS due to the historic relation between the school and Sweden. Charlotta recently moved to Hanoi to start teaching UNIS’ Swedish mother tongue classes.
bit harder but after a while you get used to it,” Louise says. The teachers are also firmer than in Sweden. “In Sweden we didn’t have to work hard at all. You could just sit and talk to your friends in class and the teachers wouldn’t care, but here they are more strict about it,” Louise adds.
Tough but worth it Another of Charlotta’s Swedish students, 17 year old Carl Wingårdh, has spent a big part of his youth in Vietnam, approximately 7 ½ years. Before Vietnam he lived in Singa-
pore as his father, August Wingårdh, had a job there working for Ikea. They moved to Vietnam because his dad left Ikea and started the furniture company UMA in Hanoi. So even though Sweden is Carl’s native country he has only lived there for a very small part of his life. “I don’t really count Sweden as my home anymore. Vietnam is more like home because I’ve lived here for such a long time,” Carl says. Despite not considering Sweden as home, Carl still visits Sweden regularly and has friends there. At UNIS Carl studies subjects
as Swedish, English, business management and computer science. He doesn’t know what he wants to work with in the future but he is interested in engineering, so it will probably be something in that area, he thinks. After graduation in two years he would like to go back to Sweden for a year and then go abroad again preferably to Europe where he wants to attend a university with an international campus like the one at UNIS. Like Louise and Alexandra, Carl considers UNIS to be tuff because the school expects more from the students which often results in big piles of homework. But Carl accepts the terms in that he knows that the school’s diploma is very prestigious and that it can help him get accepted at reputable universities. Carl especially likes UNIS for its openmindedness. He thinks the openmindedness comes from the fact that the school houses all sorts of people with different backgrounds and cultures.
Twins Louise and Alexandra Lien (13) are two of the students at UNIS. They study Swedish at a regular basis as part of the Swedish mother tongue program.
All three students are very happy to be in the Swedish mother tongue programme. In class they learn about Swedish language, geography and literature. “It’s very fortunate that we have this chance. Without these classes I probably wouldn’t be able to talk Swedish,” Carl says. Carl only talks Swedish to his parents. With his sisters and Swedish friends he uses English because he feels more comfortable this way. Louise and Alexandra share the same view. “The Swedish mother tongue classes are good because we get a change to catch up with everyone else in Sweden so we don’t forget our mother tongue,” Louise says. Besides studying Swedish language, geography and literature they also learn about Swedish culture. Once a year during Christmas all the Swedish classes get together for the Lucia celebrations. The students dress in white gowns while carrying candles and singing the Lucia song. The Danish, Norwegian and Finnish students often join in. The students spent altogether four weeks practising after which they visit the employees at the Swedish Embassy. Sometimes they also go to Ikea and Ericsson’s offices in Hanoi. Every year they sing at the Swedish Embassy as it is a mandatory destination. Carl has taken part in the procession since he started at UNIS. But after so many years of preparing and doing the same thing, the event has kind of lost its charm, he says. The St. Lucia Day procession is also a part of the schools community service programme. A programme dedicated to help the local community. Every year the students have to do a certain amount of hours. “It’s a weird thing to have to do but it is a good thing knowing how to take care of your community and to not just focus on your school work. It’s very important,” Carl says. Also Alexandra and Louise appreciate the community service programme. Right now they are helping the local vet with the animals every Friday. Learn more about UNIS at www.unishanoi.org
December 2009 • ScandAsia.Se 13
The Hulten Sisters Designs Sara and Frida wanted their very own room, where they could develop their own careers, and at the same time enjoy living half way around the globe from their native Sweden - and still have the luxury of seeing each other almost on a daily basis.
hat’s the short version of why they started The Room, design and architecture, together in Phnom Penh in Cambodia almost one year a go. Since Sara, 39, arrived in Cambodia in 1998, she has been deeply involved in the Khmer version of her trade, design and architecture. As a branch director of Archetype Cambodia, witch she brought from four to 45 employees, she felt that she was drowning in management. She simply longed for being involved in the daily work with architecture and design. Her younger sister Frida came to Cambodia with her husband, and she just wanted to be able to work, use the trade the two sisters both inherited from their father, namely architecture and design.
By Bjarne Wildau
“Sara and I talked a lot about what we could do together here in Phnom Penh. At that time, more than two years ago, Sara was deeply involved in finishing the construction of Siem Reap International Airport,” says Frida. Sara continues: “For more than four years I was in the management. The last year or two years I felt I was bogged down with management tasks; the design and architecture disappeared more and more from my daily work life. During my biggest project until now, the new airport in Siem Reap, I left my children, and not to forget my husband, behind me in Phnom every Monday morning. I was ready to do something different; I wanted to be able to work as an architect too.”
“Frida had four good projects she could bring into our coming business, so we decided to risk our savings, and give it a try. In the search of office space, I called my former landlord. The only property he had vacant, was my old apartment plus the ground floor. And all of a sudden I could see it. My former apartment building was the perfect place to start our own firm The Room Design Studio - http://theroomds. com. While Frida brought her four projects into the partnership, Sara came with her experience, both international for UN, and here in Cambodia, but she was also tied up with a one year competition clause from her former contract with Archetype Cambodia. Former costumers from her past was a no go for at least one year.
The start While we are talking a late Friday afternoon outside The Room, there is surely a life inside the office too. The staff of five, plus visitors, trainees etc, are preparing to leave the office. And at the same time one or two are responsible for watching Frida´s small baby, who is laying comfortable at the office floor, doing what all babies should do, sleeping 70 minutes an hour. “I decided to go freelance more than two years ago. You can say that it was a test of the market. If all went well, Sara and I would start something together. I talked with a teacher at the Architect Academy, who recommended a young female designer to me." "I did not take long to realise, that there is a market for modern western style architecture and design. The first months as a freelancer were very promising, and despite the financial crisis, things went in the right direction”, says Frida. Sara’s huge project in Siem Reap for Archetype Cambodia went also well. So the right time in her career for a change back to “real design had come.
Female designers The two Swedish sisters had obvious very different experiences when we talked about hiring and cooperating with local Cambodian staff. But they agreed on the fact, that they simply felt better with female designers. So it was in that direction they went. The one female designer Frida had hired almost one year back at that time moved happily with Frida into the new office. And one female turned soon into two, and three. “When I finished working for Archetype Cambodia, I had absolute no plans to try to steel staff from them. One fantastic designer had left six months before my own departure, but I was very sure that she was busy. But she wasn’t. So she joined us. The third designer came straight in from the street, she was literally knocking on our door, the old fashioned way”, explain Sara. And now when we know the Hulten sisters preferences according to the sex of designers, it would be appropriate to ask about the attitude to female architects and designers in a male dominated Khmer society in Cambodia.
The two Swedish sisters and best friends, Frida (left) and Sara Hulten (rigtht) do not regret their big step to open their own The Room Design Studio in Phnom Penh. “We are very happy with the way The Room is working. We have a very good time with the staff, and with our clients. And we have time for our husbands and children. What more can you wish for?” 14 ScandAsia.Se • December 2009
the Modern Cambodia “We have never had any problems at work in Cambodia due to the fact that we are females. Despite many of the decision takers are males,” they say. And Sara continues: “My feeling is that we have a very relaxed environment. I think and hope that our clients feel safe and secure, when we are together. The daily communication with a client throughout the project, is extremely important, for the project in it self, but also for the next project our client may launch.” And Frida adds: “We have a very pleasant work atmosphere at work. I am sure our clients can feel that we and our staff love what we are doing.”
Up and running The first year The Room has been in the business, one order has been followed by the next. The modern style which The Room represents
and cultivate, is simply in demand. The sisters has among many other projects been in charge of the design of the new head office and residence for The European Commission in Phnom Penh, the Skyline Apartments, a French lingerie boutique, Sweet Soul - the first Hip Hop boutique in Cambodia. They even did the interior home decoration for Hun Maly - the daughter of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen. At on top of that, they also keep their hands busy on designing of spas, restaurants, bars, offices and villas. “We are very happy with the way The Room is working. We have a very good time with the staff, and with our clients. And at the same time we have time for our husbands and children. What more can we wish for,” the Swedish sisters and best friends agree.
Sara’s beautiful 1984 Jaguar is solid proof that she and her sister Frida are doing well in Phnom Penh - and that she loves quality and good design.