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January 2012 08 INSIGHT News, letters, reporters’ notebook, and more 22 JOKES Laughter’s the world’s best medicine. There’s buckets of the stuff here 28 SCHOOL REPORT A round up of news from Bangkok’s best international schools 35 GOURMET A round up of all the best restaurant deals and gourmet events in Bangkok 56 COVER STORY Where to find Bangkok’s hottest new restaurants and bars 64 THE KING’S LIFE AND WORK We review a fascinating new book about the life of HM The King 66 LIVING THE NOIR LIFE Novelist Chris Moore reveals where he gets his inspiration 72 ARABIAN NIGHTS & DAYS ON SUKHUMVIT How a small corner of Bangkok became home to a thriving community of Arabic traders 75 TIME OFF Exhibitions, performances, sport, movies and more 87 SOCIAL Last month’s best events in pictures 106 MOTORING We get behind the wheel of the BMW 525d 111 TRAVEL Deals and news from Thailand’s hottest destinations WWW.THEBIGCHILLI.COM



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Wanna get digital?

Now you can read The BigChilli anywhere in the world, any time you want, on any of your digital devices. That’s right. The Internet’s just got a whole lot hotter.

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Thailand a magnet for the West’s unemployed? AT a recent meeting of expatriate businessmen, one attendee suggested that westerners with solid professional work experience who have been rendered jobless by the current economic downturn should explore employment and business opportunities in this part of the world. It’s actually an extremely interesting proposition, fraught with problems and challenges, of course, but nonetheless logical and full of exciting possibilities, especially when viewed against the burgeoning economies of the region and the parlous financial/employment situation back in Europe. The problems range from people’s natural reluctance to relocate long distances from friends and families, and a general lack of information about living and working in countries like Thailand, to overly optimistic salary expectations. These factors should not discourage would-be economic migrants. Unlike the past when letters or the occasional expensive phone call back home were really the only way to keep in touch over thousands of miles, modern communications such as Skype allow for virtually cost-free daily contact. Besides, air fares have actually risen very little over the past 20 years, relatively speaking, and remain affordable on a regular basis for most people. Accessing information is hardly a problem either, with the Internet now full of hints, tips and personal experiences. Although the casualty rate is reasonably high, thousands of foreign investors have succeeded here, despite the alleged absence of useful information, and now run all kinds of profitable enterprises. Rewards remain a sticking point as many foreigners believe they should earn salaries at least as high as their last pay packet in Europe. Aside from the fact that the cost of living in countries like Thailand is considerably lower than in their homelands, recent figures from the UK, for example, show that the average earnings, after tax, are astonishingly modest. Even in prosperous areas, such as London, the median take-home pay of a male employee is in the region of 65,000 baht a month. In Thailand’s highly competitive jobs market, constantly on the look-out for trained and experienced personnel, this kind of take-home pay is certainly not excessive. If anything, it is on the low side. So, the issue of salary expectations not being met is a non-starter. Bureaucracy is sometimes seen as a barrier to foreign workers. It is true that work permits and relevant visas are not easily come by, and yet thousands of non-Thais manage to negotiate


The BigChilli Company Ltd., 1/7 5th Fl. Room 504, Siboonrueng Bldg. 2, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, TheBigChilli Bangkok 10500

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this obstacle course year after year. Of course, major investors receive a huge welcome from the Board of Investment, which accords them numerous financial advantages and tax breaks. Should more highly trained foreign nationals take up the work and business opportunities staring them in the face here in Thailand and throughout Asia as a whole, it will be a win-win situation for both parties.

Get your Residency, but be quick! THANKS are due to the Immigration Division for recently announcing that applications for Permanent Residency would be open to foreigners. After an apparent hiatus of several years, as pointed out in the last BigChilli, the resumption of this process has been widely welcomed. Trouble is, the window of opportunity for such applications ran only from December 22 until December 30, 2011, with a weekend in between, so would-be Residents had to be very much on the ball to use it. The list of requirements is exhaustive, though the main qualifications include possession of a non-Immigrant visa for at least three consecutive years, work permit and tax receipts, knowledge of the Thai language, good health, and clean criminal record both in Thailand and in the applicant’s home country. It helps if evidence of charitable or other work benefiting Thailand can be produced, and if the applicant has a Thai spouse. An application fee of 7,600 baht is levied. On approval a further fee of 97,500 baht is payable for those with a Thai spouse, or 195,000 baht without one. Even when all the documents are submitted, the process can take a year or longer.

Tax too far for British tourists YET another tax is squeezing British holidaymakers and putting them on the endangered list in faraway destinations like Thailand. A hefty 10% rise in the rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) is being introduced by the UK government on airline passengers beginning this April. This will inevitably lead to higher air fares, which will force many British tourists to re-think their travel plans. Families will be most severely affected, of course, as their holiday costs will escalate proportionally. Also hurt by this punitive, unfair and unwelcome tax are numerous Thais working in the travel industry. The UK government seems to have overlooked this fact.

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Publisher Colin Hastings MANAGING Editor Adam Purcell Editor Nina Hastings Associate Editor Narumol Trachoo Sales & Marketing Manager Rojjana Rungrattwatchai Account Executive Thana Pongsaskulchoti Accounting Manager Saranya Choeyjanya Art & Production Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakawat Photography Mini Bike Gang and WJ Contributing Writers Anette Pollner, DJ Tara, Johanna DeKoning, Maxmilian Wechsler, Paul Hewitt

Our online handle is ‘thebigchillimagazine’. Simply type this into Facebook’s search box, find the image of our magazine, then just click add.

We are now on Twitter. Find out what’s happening around town, which events to attend, parties to be seen at, and read all the juicy gossip! Follow us at ‘TheBigChilliMag’ No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission from The BigChilli Co., Ltd. The opinions and views of the writers are not necessarily the views of the publishers. All details are deemed correct at the time of print, the publisher, the editor, employees and contributors can not be held responsible for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions that may occur. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or amend any submitted artwork, photographs, illustrations and manuscripts. The BigChilli welcomes unsolicited contributions but assumes no responsibility for the safe-keeping or return of such materials damaged or lost in transit.

The BigChilli Company Ltd., 1/7 5th Fl. Room 504, Siboonrueng Bldg. 2, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 Tel: 02 233 1774-6, 02 266 7141 Fax: 02 235 0174 e-mail: AD Amontre_May11.indd 1

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letters It’s your


Has anything we’ve written touched a nerve? Agree or disagree with our views? Put pen to paper or fingers to keys and get in touch:

FACEBOOOK.COM/ thebigchillimagazine


■ DEAR BigChilli, I am Police Captain Amorn Chaisin. In response to your story about drink driving (BigChilli 10/11), I would like to address some laws and regulations regarding drink driving that might come in handy for expats living in Thailand. The statistics for road accidents in Thailand are extremely high mainly due to people driving under the influence of alcohol. Drivers should not have more than 50 milligrams of alcohol in their system while driving. If a driver is found over this limit, they will be sentenced to less than one year imprisonment and/or fined up to 5,000 - 20,000 baht. The driver’s license will also be suspended for more than six months. I remember one incident clearly when I stopped a foreign driver and his Thai wife at a police checkpoint. The driver had clearly been drinking so my colleagues and I asked to check his alcohol level. Before he blew into the breathalyzer, though, his wife whispered in English not to blow into the breathalyzer but to suck on it instead. They thought they could outsmart the police. However, drivers who are possibly under the influence of alcohol who do not cooperate with the police face a fine of no more than 1,000 baht, plus the drink driving fine mentioned above, and they must appear in court under charges of drink driving! It’s not just the fines and jail time that should act as a deterrent to would-be drink drivers though, but also the fact that drunk drivers make for dangerous drivers. And that can lead to people losing lives. Put simply – people should NEVER drive under the influence of alcohol. Please keep safe! And Happy New Year! Police Captain Amorn

TWITTER.COM/ TheBigChilliMag


■ FIRST I’d like to say Happy New Year to all the BigChilli team! I also want to thank you for providing a fun-toread magazine that’s packed full of useful information about what’s on in Bangkok. I’ve been living in Bangkok for almost two years and was recently introduced to the magazine by a long-term expatriate from the UK who has been in Thailand for over 20 years. I used last month’s listings to pick a restaurant for my Christmas dinner and it was wonderful! Please keep up the great work. Elouise B.

GETTING WHAT YOU PAY FOR ■ MY sympathies go out to the pregnant lady featured in your magazine who was charged 50,000 baht to treat a cold in a Bangkok hospital. Yes, it was a lot of money. But the lady should not forget that she received world-class treatment, which in the case of pregnancy, is absolutely vital. Let’s face it, she wouldn’t want anything less. Personally I think we are lucky to have such wonderful medical facilities so close at hand. By the way, hasn’t she heard of medical insurance? Mrs D. P

BRT WELCOME, BUT IT HAS ITS FAULTS ■ YOUR story on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), while helpful to those commuters who have yet to try out the system, failed to mention a couple of its more obvious faults. For a start, queues for the buses at peak times can be extremely long and time-consuming. What’s more, passengers can become a bit frustrated at the wait at bus stops, especially at Chong Nonsi, and as a result tend to barge and push their way to the front of the queue. Since most of their fellow passengers are Thais, who prefer to avoid conflict, very little is said to deter these very rude and selfish people. The second fault, which is not the BRT’s responsibility, is the number of cars and other vehicles that often block the special bus lanes, particularly on Rama 3 and the junction to Narathiwat. This is not in the spirit of the system, nor is it lawful. That said, I rarely see traffic police controlling the situation. I am aware that taxi drivers and some motorists complained bitterly at the instigation of the BRT, saying it made their life much tougher since it denied them access to one lane on designated roads. But these buses are a very welcome form of mass transit and everyone should respect them for that. D. James. Bangkok



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Publisher’s Blog Herve to reopen Le Beaulieu on Ruam Rudee ■ HAVING established itself as one of Bangkok’s leading independent restaurants in just a couple of years, Le Beaulieu on Sukhumvit soi 19 is relocating to bigger and more central premises on Ruam Rudee. Run by renowned chef Herve Frerard, Le Beaulieu has built up an enviable client base of Thais and expatriates with its distinctive home-cooked French cuisine. But the need for more space was clearly evident and Herve and his team found a suitable venue on the ground floor of the Athenee Tower. The additional space will allow Herve to add a bakery and wine bar to his restaurant operation. Although Le Beaulieu itself won’t be open until midMay, the bakery is set for a mid-February launch.

Hyatt goes for Japanese ■ JAPANESE cuisine is clearly hitting all the richest taste buds in Bangkok. When the six-star Park Hyatt Hotel opens here on the corner of Wireless Road and Ploenchit in two years’ time, one of its draw cards will be Kozue, whose namesake at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo (pictured) is reckoned to be among the best, if not indeed the best, of the city’s Japanese restaurants.

Playboy comes to Bangkok ■ IT was only a matter of time, of course, given Thailand’s unquenchable thirst for foreign ideas, so the launch of Playboy here is no big surprise. Having secured the rights to this legendary brand from High Hefner himself, the owners of Playboy in Thailand – two dashing young Thai entrepreneurs better known for their deeds in advertising and wine – are now planning the launch of a Thai language edition of the company’s famous magazine in the next couple of months. They say the centerfold will feature a high profile lawyer, who has apparently agreed to shed most, though not all, of her clothes for the benefit of a predominantly affluent male readership. As the publication’s ‘Pet of the Month,’ this still un-named lady will follow a long list of celebrities to appear in Playboy, including Marilyn Monroe, LaToya Jackson, Drew Barrymore and Jessica Alba. Until recently, the magazine was banned in Thailand; it remains so in Singapore, Malaysia and China. Other ‘Playboy’ enterprises will follow the magazine. They include a Playboy club, which will presumably feature the iconic Bunnies, along with the other mostly male pleasures and indulgences, though not gambling. Plus clothing and accessories bearing the company’s distinctive bunny logo.


Zuma’s German owner in town for launch ■ SOME 600 invited guests went shoulder-to-shoulder at the recent opening of Zuma, the latest in a chain of breathtakingly beautiful Japanese-style restaurants that owe their creation to a remarkable German entrepreneur called Rainer Becker, who attended the event. Set on the ground floor of St Regis Bangkok, Zuma’s open-floor plan was designed and styled by the legendary Takashi Sugimoto. In addition to a large main dining area, the restaurant has several counters made from huge slabs of granite, a bar, private rooms and an open cocktail area. Becker’s inspiration for Zuma came after spending a number of years in Japan and learning about informal izakaya-style Japanese dining in which dishes are brought to the table continuously throughout the meal. Other Zumas can be found in London, Hong Kong, Miami and Dubai. The newest Zuma is located on the ground floor of the St Regis hotel on Rajdamri Road. You can see more pictures of the event in our gourmet section.


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Venue updates… ■ THE city’s bar and restaurant scene continues to evolve at a rapid rate of knots. Newcomers include Café & etc, a Thai-farang outlet on Ekamai Soi 5; Surface, run by former French embassy chef on Sukhumvit Soi 53; and Mellow on Sukhumvit Soi 55. On trend-setting Sukhumvit Soi 11, Le Petit Zinc has opened, along with Snapper, a New Zealand-inspired fish and chip restaurant. Meanwhile, the land and gardens occupied on Sukhumvit Soi 8 for many years by the highly rated Le Banyan until the premises were burned down two years ago, has become La Colombe d’Or. The new British owner says Le Banyan’s signature dish, pressed duck, is still on the menu. The remarkable popularity of Oskar on Sukhumvit Soi 11 has spawned several other wine bars on the same street, namely Marshmallow, which has a sneakily similar design, Zak’s, set in a spacious converted house mid-way down the Soi, and Mellow

No Idea

Catalana, Catalana, which does a nice line in tapas and wine. Mulligan’s, a new pub with a mature feel about it, has taken over the site of the former Temples bar. Over on Sukhumvit Soi 22, Surface Kiwi Dave has opened No Idea, a two-floor bar and restaurant that was once occupied by Larry’s Dive. The combination of inexpensive food and drinks, plus nightly music is pulling in the crowds. Suburban dwellers might like to drop by the Crystal Design Centre on Ram Inthra Road, where the Jacob’s Creek wine and jazz bar is proving a big hit. Finally, a fast food outlet called Ar yaa’s, which specializes in ‘pure’ Indian vegetarian dishes, has opened on the Nana Skytrain station.

New era for Nana? ■ BANGKOK’S Nana Plaza is set for a long overdue

shakedown after the project and land it sits on was purchased recently by a joint venture comprising the Eclipse Group and the Indian family that owns a number of local properties including the Muse hotel, Eugenia, the Grande Millennium Hotel and the upcoming Holiday Inn on Sukhumvit. It remains to be seen how many current bar lease holders will have their agreements renewed, especially in view of the new owners’ expertise in operating highly successful bars elsewhere. But major improvements to the area are certainly expected.


Sathorn’s secret venue ■ ALTHOUGH we are sworn to secrecy about the name of the classy joint slated to open somewhere high above the Sathorn-Narathiwat junction, it hasn’t stopped the people behind this celebrated restaurant-cum-bar from revealing all when they recruit staff. Anyway, we’ll stick to our side of the bargain, gents, so if word does slip out, it’s down to you.

NewspaperDirect brings Financial Times to Thailand ■ MULTI-channel newspaper and magazine content distributer NewspaperDirect has reached an agreement with Financial Times (FT) to distribute all of its six daily printeditions in Thailand. While FT’s Asian Edition is still available in its original format in Thailand, the UK, US, German, European and Middle Eastern editions are now also available through NewspaperDirect’s print-on-demand network in the morning of publication day. NewspaperDirect’s technology allows sameday market penetration and demand-oriented supply through nine distribution partners in the Thai Kingdom. One of the advantages of its distribution system is that single copies can be subscribed to, allowing readers to choose their favourite title on their preferred day. Home, office or hotel delivery is generally free of charge. Individual copies can also be purchased through national retailers such as Asia Books, Bookazine, Kinokuniya, etc. Through NewspaperDirect distributors, over 2,000 national, regional and local newspapers and magazines from over 90 countries are available For more information, visit


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UK tourists hit by airline tax increase

Journalists entertain RCBS

■ ROTARY CLUB Of Bangkok South continued its tradition

of hosting interesting luncheons by arranging two events last month which each featured a talk by a prominent Bangkok journalist. The first, held on Dec 2, featured Bangkok Post journalist Voranai Vanijaka who shared his views about Thailand’s political situation. The second event, held on Dec 9, featured former Bangkok Post sports editor Roger Crutchley, who looked back on his 42 years working for the paper.

RCBS holds its weekly luncheons every Friday at The Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park Hotel. For more info see

HEARD ON THE STREET Exploiting a freebie ■ TO attract customers, a Bangkok bar offered complimentary alcoholic drinks before lunch. Unfortunately it caught the attention of a group of expat freeloaders who took the offer literally and got stuck into a never-ending round of drinks. When the staff pointed out that the deal also involved ordering some food, the group reluctantly ordered a few dishes to share. When the increasingly frustrated management said the customers were taking unfair of the restaurant’s generosity, the group got uptight and rude. When they finally departed, this bunch of cheap charlies threatened to post negative comments about the venue on the Internet. The free drinks offer has since been withdrawn.


■ BRITISH holidaymakers - reckoned by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to be the country’s most valuable in terms of numbers and average spend - face sharp increases in the cost of flying here because of a 10% rise in the rate of Air Passenger Duty (APD) being imposed by the UK government beginning this April. Travel agents say the new tax is likely to result in fewer Britons, especially families, visiting Thailand. Further increases in the tax are planned. In the UK, airlines and tour operators are furious at the tax increase, particularly in view of the uncertainty of the economic climate and the financial problems now being faced by major travel companies like Thomas Cook. The complex APD system does mean, however, that Thailand and Vietnam face a lower rate at £81per passenger compared to Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia, all at £92. Phuket, meanwhile, is £11 a person cheaper than Penang because it is marginally closer to the UK.

Drink-drivers beware: there’s no way out ■ A BIG increase in the number of drink-drive

cases has been noted in Bangkok. Police check points are now a regular feature of the city’s streets at night, especially in popular entertainment areas. And offenders who think that a kind word or angry confrontation can ease the situation will be badly mistaken. There’s no way out for those over the limit. Meanwhile, police are apparently also targeting taxis in their search for drugs. Passengers – mostly young Thai and farang males – are given a thorough shakedown by the cops. No part of the anatomy is off limits.

Chamber trouble ■ A MAJOR foreign chamber of commerce was recently given a dressing down by the Ministry of Commerce for engaging in commercial activities – something all such chambers are forbidden to do under their terms of reference stipulated in a government act. Because they enjoy a special tax-free status, chambers are not permitted by law to be involved in money-making businesses. The organization in question has apparently now curbed its ways.


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Sukhumvit branch open Mon - Fri for lunch 11.30am - 2.30pm, and Dinner 5.30pm - 11.30pm  Open all day Sat - Sun from 11.30am - 11.30pm. Tel : 02 259 3569. Visit: NEW BRANCH OPEN NOW! Located at the Avenue Chaengwattana. Please come and visit us. Tel: 02 574 1774

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KNOW MY COMPANY: Parker Bridge Recruitment Thailand

Tapping into technology for the right results How digital technology has changed the face of recruiting in Thailand

■ FEW recruitment executives in Thailand have a better vantage point on the changing technological landscape affecting recruitment in the kingdom than Steve Hamblin. For almost 30 years, Steve has been recruiting in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and now Thailand. During this time he has seen a number of symbolic changes to the recruitment industry. Steve is currently the CEO of Parker Bridge Recruitment based in Bangkok and co-owner of Parker Bridge in New Zealand with his partner Craig Hegan. Parker Bridge was originally set up in London in 1988 when a recruiter would work with a simple telephone and index card system. Fast forward 2011 and email is ubiquitous, the internet drives research, and job seekers are sourced via a whole host of online sources. Steve recently took time out to discuss the changes in recruitment practices and in particular how that has influenced the Thailand operation. How has the Internet or other technology improved the recruitment process in Thailandand what will happen in the future? Like many companies our staff use Blackberrys or Ipads and are able to process candidates and client queries immediately. When recruiters have infinitely powerful personal devices, connected to infinitely fast networks and servers the response times can be incredible. The mobile phone, or whatever other device is used, will be all that is required to perform the processing part of the job. Armed with this technology, what happens to the people side of recruitment i.e. the personal touch or the relationship building? In simple terms, the personal touch and the relationship building throughout the recruitment process has diminished significantly because of technology. Recruiters nowadays forget how to speak to people in lieu of using technology. This results, more often than not, in missed opportunities for the candidate,


recruiter and the client. I emphasize to my staff – please use the technology as an aid but talk to people as much as possible. Only use email to confirm information or in cases where the client has expressly requested it be used. At Parker Bridge we differentiate ourselves by retaining as much intimacy with our candidates and clients as possible and have found this to be a much more effective and successful method of communication – people appreciate the time we take to speak with them. What’s the single best aspect of technology that has emerged over the last few years? In Thailand we are finding that the contact website, LinkedIn, has started to make a huge impact in recruitment and relationship building between executive level contacts. We have seen a significant increase in the numbers of Thai candidates and clients embracing LinkedIn in order to expand their networks in a controlled way. It is one of the few ways that technology has ‘niched down’ and it provides the ability for individuals to “fast track” relationships in their chosen field. How different is recruiting in Thailand compared to the other countries you have recruited in? It’s not really that different. The fundamentals are the same anywhere in the world. Culturally, recruiters need to be less aggressive here than they would be in London or New Zealand. Given this, we have needed to change our training and the way we manage our client relationships. It’s been an interesting experience to achieve the right balance so that recruiters win and keep clients but keep candidates satisfied at the same time. Clients are far easier to deal with in Thailand – they give you their time and listen. From a recruiter’s perspective, we can’t but help appreciate and capitalize on that.   Parker Bridge Recruitment Thailand, Recruitment Specialists, 19/97, Level 11, Sukhumvit Suites, Sukhumvit 13, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey-nua, Tel: 02 651 3770 email:


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What They Said & What We Said

During the past 12 months we’ve published hundreds of articles covering all kinds of topics, some of which you may have missed. So here’s a paragraph or two from a selection of stories and interviews that appeared in the BigChilli in 2011 as a reminder of what a great year it was. ■ IT’S not uncommon to see food vendors dump everything from cooking oils and leftover food to dirty dish water and still-hot charcoal into the drains, and thereby support a large population of well-fed rats that can be frequently seen running along the city pavements. - extract from the stor y ‘Who owns Bangkok’s sidewalks?’ ■ “Many street hawkers, especially the

ones along Sukhumvit and Silom, are wealthy. They can make good money and rarely pay taxes. Corrupt officials are paid to turn a blind eye to the street-side chaos” - Vendor, ‘Who owns Bangkok’s sidewalks?’

■ Although some

European Jews managed to escape the Nazis by immigrating to Thailand, it was a very faraway and foreign destination with little or no support for refugees. Among the Jews that did come before and during World War II were doctors, dentists, and lawyers who practiced in Thailand. The Thais also helped many Jews to escape the Holocaust by issuing visas, though most of these visa holders never actually came to Thailand. - From the book ‘Jews In Thailand’ by Ruth Gerson and Stephen Mallinger, and reviewed by long-time Bangkok resident Fay Stombler Pansringarm.


■ Many expatriates have had an extremely positive impact on this country and end up loving Thailand and wanting to stay here on a permanent basis, which invariably involves a very human desire to buy land and build their own property. – BigChilli editorial urging a relaxation of laws currently forbidding foreigners from owning land in Thailand. ■ There appears to be a rather serious logjam; officials responsible for signing off the relevant papers seem to have put them to one side. Why this should be is something of a mystery. - BigChilli editorial on the Government’s apparent reluctance to issue long-staying foreigners with Residency and Thai citizenship. ■ “I particularly liked the story of the Government official who was transferred to an inactive post because of lack of productivity. When asked why he had done nothing he replied frankly that nobody had asked him to do anything. “Then there was a young lady down on her luck who went to see a fortune teller. He told her luck would improve if she had sex with him. So she obliged on a regular basis, but her luck didn’t improve. So she sued him, not for sexual harassment but for being a lousy fortune teller!” – Veteran journalist Roger Crutchley on his favourite memories of Bangkok over the past 40 years.

■ “I need 300 baht

every morning. I give 60-70 baht to each of my sons before they go to school and I give them both 20 baht after they come home. I have to look after my family. Selling food is not enough. I need more money and the only way is to sell drugs.” - Ae, a drug addict, extracted from the story ‘Down and out in Klong Toey.’

■ “Since we started the

drug war in 2003 until the present time, we have arrested nearly 200 big players, 179 of whom have been sentenced to death. But so far, no one has been executed.” - Police Lieutenant General Atitep Panyamanond, Commissioner of the Narcotic Suppression Bureau (NSB), Royal Thai Police.

■ To stop the kind of flooding that could put much of Bangkok permanently under water within the next 40 years, a huge flood prevention scheme is now under way. - BigChilli editorial in Januar y 2011 reminding BMA Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra of the promise, repeated above, he made in 2010 to prevent the city from flooding. ■ Unless someone has a fantastic ‘grand’ design for Makkasan that they’re keeping top secret, this dull area of Bangkok seems a strange choice for the location of the station for the City Express Link to Suvarnabhumi airport. - BigChilli Insight.


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■ “Our refusal rate is 10%. And some of those who are turned down succeed on re-application once they comply with the documentation we need. It’s not a money-making machine. There’s a huge cost attached to running an immigration service. In fact, it takes more effort and cost to reject applicants than to accept them.” - UK Ambassador to Thailand HE Asif Ahmad on visa applications to Britain. ■ “Contrary to some rumours, I have no plans to erect a minaret on top of the embassy club. Equally, I see no reason to change the food they have served here for ages – bacon butties and meat, which happens to be halal in any case from the supermarket next door, will continue to be on the menu.” - UK Ambassador HE Asif Ahmad talking about the embassy and his religion. ■ British Nationals resident in, or visiting, Thailand were more likely to be arrested and admitted to hospital than in other countries. - British Behaviour Abroad Report by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2011/2011. ■ New hotels are popping up like rice

in a paddy. In Bangkok alone, at least 35 four and five-star hotels will open in the next two years. To fill them, the city will require an additional 3.5 million visitors, which is plainly unachievable. - BigChilli editorial.

■ “I felt like I couldn’t trust the hospital or the doctors after all and that they were trying to keep me longer merely to make money.” - An expat mother-to-be suffering from a common cold who was charged 50,000 baht for a three-night stay in a Bangkok hospital. ■ “Grey market dealers import secondhand cars in parts to assemble here, only paying tax for the spare parts, which is not much. Meanwhile, the total tax for imported, fully assembled luxury cars like Lamborghini and Aston Martin is 328 per cent.” – Vittawat Chinabarramee, importer of luxur y cars, extracted from the stor y ‘Going grey: The threat to Thailand’s luxur y car business.’

■ “The Oriental is 135 years old, it’s a legend. And for 41 years it was run by a legendary manager. I’m still here after two years, so I’m happy about that. And I’ve enjoyed it. Yes, of course, Kurt is a hard act to follow, though for all the right reasons. He is an icon and he deserves all the credit for what he has done for the hotel. But Kurt also recognized it was time for change. After all, the hotel is much bigger than any one individual.” - Jan D. Goessing, General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, on succeeding former GM Kurt Wachtveitl. ■ How many more allegations of misconduct will be necessary before FAT president Worawi Makudi considers his position as the head of Thai football? – Paul Hewitt, football correspondent. ■ The only thing that can make them different is the varying degree of tightness of their shirts and shortness of their skirts. The guys can’t concentrate because they’re too busy ogling the girls, and the girls can’t concentrate because their brains are oxygen-deprived. If they breathe too deeply, their shirts will pop a button. – Columnist Tara on ver y tight Thai university uniforms. ■ For the first time in the kingdom’s history, the so-called Thai elite will no longer be in charge. Instead, the marginalized masses will be in control. If this does transpire, questions will be doubtless raised about how such a monumental shift could have occurred. The answers will surely focus on the neglect by successive governments of vast swathes of this country, and the welfare and education of its people. The uncomfortable truth is that the real power in Thailand has rested in too few hands for too long. And now they will have to pay the price for their reluctance over the years to share out the spoils by being forced into opposition to a government that has fought hard to relieve these elite groups of what they have always believed was theirs by divine right. - BigChilli editorial in May, before the national elections.

■ Among the hundreds of fake products made in Thailand, the one that never fails to turn heads is the Replica Supercar. You name it and the car of your dreams can be yours at a fraction of the authentic version’s price. Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Jaguar – lookalikes of the world’s top models. - From the stor y ‘Copied in Bangkok – the world’s finest Supercars.’

■ Woops, I thought, as something solid inside me suddenly turned liquid. Just a few metres ahead of the car I was driving was a police check point. And drivers whose alcohol consumption could change the colour of crystals were being targeted. - A ver y chastened BigChilli writer on being slightly over the limit and as a result spending a ver y long night in a Bangkok police cell. ■ “They want to remove not only the Klong Toey port but also the slum. They want to attract the elite, the middle and high class people because now they think that we should have more parks for the past many governments have wanted to privatize the port and use the land for commercial purposes, to put up big five-star hotels. In fact, the land should be for use by the poor people. - Former Thai senator and activist Prateep Ungsongtham Hata on the proposed plan by the Democrat Party to replace Klong Toey Port with a huge recreational area and public park. ■ After a TV sting in a Bangkok bar, the world’s favorite sport is just a little less beautiful - BigChilli headline after Manchester United legend and former Thai national soccer team manager Br yan Robson was secretly filmed in Bangkok by a team of investigative reporters from the UK talking to foreign investors wanting to buy British football clubs and thereby breaking the law.


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Shop Hot products and stores demanding your attention


A SMARTPHONE perfect for sport nuts, Sony Ericsson’s new Xperia Active is water resistant – handy for extremely sweaty workouts – and can check its owner’s pulse and heart rate via ANT+ technology. It runs the Android 2.3 operating system and boasts a 3 inch screen, 5MP camera, and 1GB memory. What’s more, it can play MP3s and shoot video up to 30 frames per second – so, if you wish, you can capture high definition footage of all those horrible faces you pull after 30 minutes on the treadmill. The phone retails for 9,990 baht. Available now at all Sony Ericsson retailers, Power Buy, TG Phone, and Jay Mart.


SOUTH Korean technology giant ‘Samsung’ has launched the first smartphone operated by the Android 4.0 operating system, which has been codeveloped with Google. Called the ‘Samsung galaxy Nexus,’ the phone features 32GB storage, 1GB of ram, 4.65’ Super Amoled Plus HD (720p) display, 1.3MP front-facing camera, 5MP rear camera w/ 1080p video capture, and mobile hotspot support. The price is 19,900 baht. View the product now at all Samsung shops. For more info Tel: 02 689 3232



WITH its glowing green trim and bold design, the new ‘ECO-Dive Satellite Wave’ watch by luxury watch brand Citizen looks like something out of a James Bond movie. It’s got some nifty Bond-esque features too, such as a constant satellite link-up offering precise timekeeping anywhere you go in the world, and a solar powered battery meaning your watch never dies. Competition amongst gadget lovers for the watch is likely to be fierce – there are only 990 available in the world. In Thailand it sells for 139,000 baht. Available at CITIZEN shops in all leading department stores. For more info Tel: 02 222 7171


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BANGKOK’S heat and pollution can play havoc with even the best maintained heads of hair, as sweat, smoke, and food smells all conspire to turn any well-coiffed bonce into a ball of uncontrollable frizz. If you’re currently battling dry, damaged hair, you may want to check out Schwarzkopf’s new Extra Car Ultimate Repair range of hair care products. Featuring shampoo (85 baht), Conditioner (95 baht), Anti-damage Treatment (165 baht), and much more, each item in the range is created using a protein rich formula that restores vitality and leaves hair healthy and strong. Available now at many retail stores and beauty salons in town.


JAPANESE fashion house Hokuto has looked to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies for inspiration for its new collection of handcrafted clothes for gents. The results are a focus on earth tones (white, black and grey) blended with palates of olive green and crimson red. Add a skinny tie to the ensemble and you have a meterosexual look perfect for any occasion. Available now at Siam Paragon, 2nd Fl.


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Got a great joke? email us at:


TWO nuns are driving through Transylvania when Count Dracula suddenly jumps on the car. “Quick,” show him you’re cross!” shouts one of the nuns. The other nun shouts: “Hey, Dracula! Get off the God damn car!”



1. I was on this fairground ride, and one minute I was laughing and the next I was crying. It was an emotional rollercoaster – Tim Vine 2. Twelve female soldiers have got pregnant in Afghanistan. It’s a scandal our troops don’t have the proper protection – Jimmy Carr 3. I went to Subway for lunch and asked for the biggest, greasiest, most expensive sub. They gave me Andy Carroll. 4. The downside of fame? I can’t walk out of a nice restaurant without immediately getting harassed and hounded by a waiter holding the bill. – Conan O’Brien 5. I believe a lot of conflict in the Wild West could have been avoided completely if cowboy-era architects had just made their towns big enough for everyone.


“WE’VE got a new toaster,” said a little boy to his friend. “It’s really clever. When the toast’s done, a little bell rings.” “Ours is better,” says his friend. “When the toast’s done, it sends out little smoke signals.”

A MAN goes into a restaurant and the waitress comes to take his order. “I want a quickie,” says the man, and the waitress slaps his face. Another waitress passes and the man says: “Please, can I have a quickie? Again the waitress slaps his face. A third waitress passes. The man says: “All I want is a quickie.” Again the man gets his face slapped. A diner on the next table leans over and says: “It’s pronounced keesh.”


“WHY do you come out in a rash every time I give you your wages?” my boss asked. “I’m allergic to peanuts!” I said.



JUST got back from the hospital. They reckon I might have pneumonoultramiscroscopicslilcovolcanoconioses, but at the moment it’s hard to say.

A BABY shark asks his dad: “Why do we circle people in the water with our fins showing before we eat them? Why don’t we just attack?” The wise old father shark replies: “They taste better without the crap inside them.”

22 TheBigChilli

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Off the record


With DJ Tara

■ THE rough translation of this Thai slang means “It’s under control.” This little gem first came into popularity through PM Yingluck’s assessment of the flood situation and in her efforts to reassure the public this casual phrase was used often. It was used even more often in latter days by the public who snickered at the bravado of this seemingly false confidence.

COOLEST NICKNAME: PM YINGLUCK “THE PARROT” ■ EVERY year-end the Thai media get together and lovingly give various prominent figures in politics and society nicknames for their role in that year’s events. PM Yingluck received the nickname “The Parrot” after four months in power. No further explanation needed.


SIZZLING SCANDALS: SEK LOSO AND HIS ROCK STAR LIFESTYLE ■ TALK about a complex web of intrigue. Here we have the real-life story of boy (Thai rock star Sek Loso) meets girl, boy marries girl, boy carries on meeting other women, boy takes drugs, girl wants revenge, girl uploads photos of boy taking drugs onto facebook. Before you know it, you have the police, the label, the fans, all taking part in one messy drama. The fallout is set in the scene of a city idolizing celebrities and thirsting for gossip where this story has occupied the front page of Thai newspapers for approximately a week. Thais wait with bated breath to see whether Sek will get back together with his wife, whether Sek will willingly enter rehab to become a shining beacon of example to Thai youths and aspiring musicians again, and whether his label will take him back when he has cleaned up his image. (*In the latest and sickest twist, the Thai Office of the Narcotics Control Board has offered Sek the chance to become a presenter for entering rehab! Things always have a way of working out when you’re a celebrity in Thailand.)

■ AS the mercury falls a few degrees in ‘winter’ and Bangkok’s oppressive heat takes a welcome break, al fresco dining and hanging out become the only thing to do. At no other time will you find non-smokers voluntarily opting for a table outside. One of the hippest places to enjoy the breeze is Nest Rooftop Bar at Le Fenix Hotel. It is enjoyable not just for the stylish décor, comfy cocoon chairs and beautiful cocktails, but the crowd is also an interesting mix of expats and Thais. Every last Saturday of the month there’s the added bonus of the live music from 2pm till 7pm with the “Nest Miami Beach Party.’ Resident musicians Adam Sharpe and Johnny O take centre stage, alternating with and sometimes joined by musicians of various disciplines all through the afternoon – expect to hear the trumpet, table drums, percussion, violin and ukulele jamming together in perfect harmony (note: must be enjoyed with a mojito or two)! The music is a delight in itself but I would highly recommend it right now because of the gorgeous temperature. Nest also offers some awesome live music at ‘Thursday Live’ every week, 9pm until late.

RISING STARLET: MARIE BROENNER ■ MARIE plays the heroine in her first ever

acting role in the popular Channel 3 Soap “Sam Noom Nua Thong.” The popularity of the soap has recently seen her in countless gossip items and gracing the covers of magazines everywhere. Expect to see more from the young Thai-German starlet in the coming year in the popular remake “Waew Mayura” on Channel 3. Photos from Marie’s fan page at



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The menace of ‘Sunday’ drivers in Bangkok


S a topic, Bangkok’s traffic is unquestionably overdone. But since it is a daily time-consuming challenge for many people, it rarely fails as an attention-grabber. So, here are a couple of moans: Sunday drivers and yellow boxes. Sunday drivers are a joke the world over. And Bangkok has its fair share of these motorists who apparently only venture out on the last day of the week and thus never know what it’s like to face the usual mayhem and daredevil tactics of the city’s drivers Monday to Saturday. They’re conspicuous by their habit of hogging the centre lane of roads and highways, but at a speed just above a dawdle. When that happens at any other time, it is usually a sign that the vehicle’s occupant is engaged in a deep conversation on a mobile. But not on Sundays. On that day, you can bet the driver in the middle lane is merely blissfully unaware of the queue of cars, trucks and buses forming behind his or her vehicle. Even a good strong hoot normally fails to get them out of their reverie. Sunday drivers are also lousy at parking. They’re the ones who take forever to reverse into an empty lot. As for negotiating tight corners in hotel and shopping centre car parks, they bring tears to the eyes – and deep scratches to their lovingly washed cars. Bangkok has a few yellow boxes and, amazingly, their purpose is generally respected. So why can’t we have more? They would stop selfish motorists (and especially buses) clogging junctions and thus preventing the natural flow of traffic. Two roads (of many) that needs something similar to a yellow box are Ratchadapisek, from Rama 4 to Sukhumvit, and the road that runs parallel to the railway line from Rama 4 to Ploenchit. In the case of the former, the inside lane which feeds into Sukhumvit is usually the fastest moving, but it is often blocked by motorists (and especially buses!) who see it as a short cut to the lane heading across the junction to Soi Asoke. This thoughtless behavior is so frustrating. As for the latter, impatient motorists heading towards Ploenchit use the empty lane that’s supposed to be for vehicles traveling in the opposite direction as a way of jumping the queue. This selfish ruse comes a cropper when there is oncoming traffic, and the queue-jumpers have to force their way into the long line of motorists patiently waiting their turn to reach the junction ahead. If a yellow box won’t work – and it’s hard to see how it could in these last two cases – the best alternative is a traffic policemen, ready to hand out fines to transgressors. Unfortunately they seem too busy these days manning check points to catch motorcyclists not wearing crash helmets or drivers with out-of-date licenses.


Service charge too far

SURVEYS have shown that most people have no objection to paying a service charge or leaving a tip in a bar or restaurant when they believe they have received proper attention from the staff. Fair enough. But why should a customer, who sits, stands or waits, quite literally, at the counter to order food or drinks be charged a fee for service? It’s quite unlike waiter/waitress service, which relieves customers of the need to queue for their orders. Only the meanest refuse to leave a tip or baulk at a service charge in this case. But it’s different with staff who do little more than take orders.

When a beer doesn’t measure up SHORTCHANGED


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Sun rarely sets on my condo


OU have to wonder whether some condo owners only ever visited the project at night before purchasing the property. How else can you explain why someone would agree to acquiring an apartment that is bathed in baking hot sunshine for most of the day (except, of course, on cloudy or rainy days)? The place is habitable only if extremely thick curtain ‘walls’ are installed almost permanently to block out these piercing rays – along with the views that probably made the condo attractive in the first place. It should be mandatory for would-be buyers to be told of the path of the sun prior to buying the condo. Either that, or architects should be forced to build these high-rises in such a way that all units are protected from the sun.

FWD of the month: Politically correct ways to say someone is stupid DIGITAL DÉJÀ VU

To copy or to plagiarize?


S the media getting lazy? You might well come to this conclusion after viewing the increasing number of websites and publications that rely mostly on the work of others for content. The Internet is full of such sites that merely copy what others have already written, then palm it off as their own work in the hope that this ‘second hand’ editorial will attract advertisers. Actually, the appropriate word here is ‘plagiarize,’ which, according to the dictionary, is a verb meaning “to steal and use (the ideas or writings of another) as one’s own.”

IT’S perhaps time to take closer look at the way bar staff serve you beer after reports from the UK claim that some financially struggling pubs have been urged to under fill glasses of draught ale and lager as a way of increasing profits. The theory is simple: if 5% less beer is poured into a pint glass, then every 20th order is 100% profit for the pub, which already gets a decent cut of all the pints it sells. Smart drinkers rarely fall for this ruse and insist on a full glass. But not everyone notices the shortfall. Even the shape of a glass can produce higher profits for the publican. Many are designed like an inverted trumpet so that greatest volume of liquid is contained at the top of the receptacle. When the glass is not properly filled, even by a few millimeters, the customer is in effect shortchanged while the bar gets a welcome financial boost to its bottom line.

• Not the sharpest tool in the shed. • Light is on, but nobody’s home. • A few clowns short of a circus. • A few fries short of a Happy Meal. • An experiment in Artificial Stupidity. • A few beers short of a six-pack. • Dumber than a box of hair. • A few peas short of a casserole. • Doesn’t have all his cornflakes in one box. • The wheel’s spinning, but the hamster’s dead. • One Fruit Loop shy of a full bowl. • One taco short of a combination plate. • A few feathers short of a whole duck. • All foam, no beer. • The cheese slid off his cracker. • Body by Fisher, brains by Mattel. • Has an IQ of 2, but it takes 3 to grunt. • Warning: Objects in mirror are dumber than they appear. • Couldn’t pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel. • He fell out of the Stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down. • An intellect rivaled only by garden tools. • As smart as bait. • Chimney’s clogged. • Doesn’t have all his dogs on one leash. • Doesn’t know much but leads the league in nostril hair. • Elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top. • Forgot to pay his brain bill. • Her sewing machine’s out of thread. • His antenna doesn’t pick up all the channels. • His belt doesn’t go through all the loops. • If he had another brain, it would be lonely.


TheBigChilli 27

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Raffles contributes to 2011 ICOMOS Conference

THE International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory body for UNESCO, recently held a conference in Phuket to discuss ‘Asian Urban Heritage,’ with a focus on the environmental problems

Chinese New Year Fireworks


CHINESE New year is being celebrated with a bang at St. Andrews International School Bangkok. Actually, make that many bangs – because a spectacular firework show will paint the sky a variety of colours from 8pm onwards. Starting at 6pm, the event will feature kids’ games, face painting, dragon dancing, a bouncy castle, and food from the British Club. A bonfire will be lit at 7.30pm. Tickets are 200 baht per person (free for kids under 5, and free for families/teachers of St. Andrews Sukhumvit 107 & Sathorn). Parking is limited, so it’s best to catch the Skytrain to Bearing Station then hop in a taxi. St Andrews International School, Sukhumvit 107 Campus, 7 Sukhumvit Soi 107 (Soi Bearing),

that urban heritage sites face. Julia Davies, Interior Design Program Director, Raffles International College, Bangkok submitted a paper for this conference which was accepted. The topic that Julia chose was related to her graduate studies and went under the heading: “Industrial Heritage Buildings and Sites in Thailand from the 1850s – 1950s. The Relationship of the Architecture, Communities and Narratives.” Industrial heritage is a global phenomenon yet barely noticed or recognised within Thailand. But the legacy of the new economies and industries from the 1850’s onwards can be seen scattered throughout Thailand. Often, not obvious or visible, they include warehouse buildings, sawmills, rice mills, shophouses and other buildings which have an association, connection or relationship with industry. It is not only buildings which are valuable, but other aspects such as the printing industry, which are significant in representing new technologies, processes and communication. Julia’s paper offered some suggestions as to why industrial heritage should be more inclusive, specifically offering social and economic benefits for the community, such as the development of sites for Industrial tourism, or the redevelopment of de-industrialised sites for a new purpose. The conference was attended by participants from throughout the world, and covered a large range of issues and case studies, mainly from the Asia Pacific region in regards to urban heritage. The three day conference included a special meal at the Governor of Phuket’s residence for speakers, and a special architectural tour of Phuket by Professor Yongthanit Pimonsathean of Thammasat University, who is a specialist on the heritage of Phuket Town.

Harrow scholarships available now

HARROW International School is now offering scholarships for exceptional students aged 11 – 16 years. Scholarships are available for students who display exceptional skills in music (three available: one at 100% and two at 50% of tuition fees), sport, or language. Students with exceptional academic records and significant potential for success at A-Level will also be considered. Deadline for applications is Jan 20. For more information see page 31 or contact the school’s Admissions Department on Tel: 02 503 7222 ext 1127 email:

Regent’s School attends Round Square International Conference THE Regent’s School Thailand managers Dr.Virachai and Mrs.Thiphavan Techavijit recently travelled to the UK to join the Round Square International Conference at Wellington College. The Round Square Organization, led by H.M. King Constantine of Greece, Executive President, aims at enhancing young peoples’ ethics, life skills and community services to promote a better world and peace. Its event in the UK, held under the theme of “Reaching Beyond Our Limits,” was graciously opened by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II of United Kingdom, and attended by 1,000 delegates from 21 countries worldwide. In 2010, The Regent’s School Thailand had the honor of hosting The Round Square International Conference 2010 in Pattaya. Pictured here is H.M. King Constantine of Greece and H.M. Queen Anne Marie who warmly greeted Dr.Virachai and Mrs.Thiphavan Techavijit upon their arrival.



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Family fun at the Sukhumvit Fair

Jan 21 at The American School of Bangkok, Sukhumvit Soi 49-3

FUN for all the family is guaranteed at The American School of Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Fair. Held from 3pm – 10pm, the event will feature a kiddies’ land with face painting, hair braiding, a water balloon alley, an inflatable giant castle, mini train ride, and many more fun games and activities. Parents also have plenty to look forward to. You can feast on lots of tasty food from restaurants such as Sunrise Tacos, the Duke Express, Indian Host, Kuroda, il Tartufo, Home Run Bar & Grill, Pala Pizza, and Central Food Retail Co., Ltd; buy home appliances from GE, carpets from Al-Mubeen, and exclusive furniture from Westminster; and even take advantage on special deals from Ripley’s World, Kids’ Robotics Learning Center, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Munkinpie, DTC Travel, Superstar Academy, and more. All day live music will set the party atmosphere. The event will be held from 3pm – 10pm. Admission is free. Partial proceeds generated from the event will be forwarded to the local slums and charities in Bangkok. For more info, contact May at 02 620 8600 ext. 166 or visit:


NIST community unites to raise funds for Thailand’s flood victims

NIST, the New International School of Thailand, quickly responded to Thailand’s flood crisis during October and November by carrying out a series of fundraising events. The school started off its flood relief efforts by raising funds from the NIST community to purchase 100 boats, costing 350,000 baht. Amazingly the School raised this in less than seven hours. These 100 boats were distributed across the flood affected areas of Thailand. This first initiative then spiraled into a sequence of fundraising and relief efforts. To date, the NIST community has raised over one million baht in cash and countless donations of supplies ranging from 1.6 tonnes of rice, thousands of bottles of water, sanitary napkins, to diapers and children’s kits. The School’s second focus was on the distribution of relief packs to those in desperate need of food, water and medicines. This effort was an initiative that replaced the Bangkok Service Conference, an inter-school student service conference that was postponed due to the flooding. International schools united on a Saturday in mid November and 710 packs were assembled in just under two hours, with guidance from NIST’s Community and Service Coordinator, Teresa Tung. During the floods NIST also united with Harrow International School, which was flooded for months, by offering Harrow the use of NIST’s facilities and campus from 3.30pm onwards from Monday to Friday to ensure senior students could continue learning.


The Challenges of Parenting in the Digital World

Jan 24 at Rembrandt Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi 18 (BTS Asok) THE International Parenting Network offers a wide range of parenting support services to parents and childcare professionals through events, seminars and workshops. This month Megha Srisethi, Asia’s only PCI Certified Parent Coach, will discuss the challenges of raising kids in an age obsessed with digital gadgets, and she will share practical tips and strategies which will help parents build a healthy, happy and well balanced family lifestyle. Event runs from 6.30pm - 9pm. Cost: Free for members; 550 baht for non-members (includes wine, snacks, and door prizes). Tel: 082 222 1411, 081 826 2399 email: visit:


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Ask the experts

Real Problem s Real Solution s

Expat life getting you down? Don’t suffer in silence. Send in your problems and get advice from professional counsellors Anette and Johanna Send your problems to:

Shocked by my lack of willpower


his year, like every year, I have made resolutions for the New Year. Every year I make a fresh start. I promise myself that I will go to the gym, I will stop smoking, I will organize my life and pay more attention to my duties and to the people who are close to me. And every year, so far, I have broken them. All of them. By the end of January, my gym visits have lapsed; by February, my life is the familiar mess of missed deadlines and personal disappointments. It only takes a day for me to start smoking again. I don’t want this to be the case this year but I know I won’t be able to keep my resolutions. Why am I condemned to this humiliating cycle of great plans and miserable failure? Do you know? Jay, 27, from Bangkok

Anette says: ■ Dear Jay, Change is difficult. We establish patterns of behavior over a long time, and we reenforce them by repetition. Every cigarette you smoke will make the next one more likely. (And, on the subject of smoking, this may well be an addiction by now and your best bet might be enrolling in a ‘stop smoking’ program in order to overcome it). Habits are necessary to negotiate life, and our brain is very good at learning and maintaining them. But the brain cannot decide which habits are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad,’ it can only apply the learning and embedding process to any commonly repeated action. Eating with a fork, speaking a language, going to the gym (or going to the pub instead). This is

• Anette Pollner Adv. Dipl. Couns., is one of seven international counsellors at NCS Counseling Center in Saphan Kwai. She trained in London and the US and worked as a staff counsellor at Bart’s Hospital in London.

one of the reasons why it is so difficult to establish new habits. Your brain wants to save energy and build on what you have trained it to do best. On the other hand, we can learn new ways of doing things at any time, and in small ways, we do so every day. A new shop, a new colleague, a new stop on the sky train are all building blocks to re-shaping our lives. Still, establishing new pathways in the brain is a lot of work. And the most difficult part is the transition phase, where we are learning the new habit but the old one is still going strong, reinforced by all those years of repetition. A whole new approach to the structure of your work and personal relationships is of course much more than a habit. It goes straight down into your core values, and perhaps even beyond, into the unconscious mind, the parts of yourself that even you don’t know very well at all. Maybe a part of you wants to fulfill your duties, but another part of you resents them. Maybe you are not completely honest with yourself about that, or even not completely aware of it, and so your mind attempts to resolve that conflict by doing what you have to do, but badly and slowly. Your New Year’s resolutions represent the person you think you should be and your actual behavior shows you the person you are right now. The difference between them is painful. But what is missing from the picture is the person you want to be, and have the potential to become. Lasting change needs a sense of urgency, and a precise vision. Following general ideas of who you should be without investigating yourself as an ever changing and growing individual will

keep you in the undignified cycle you want to break out of. So perhaps this year your New Year’s resolution could be to get to know the exciting, fascinating and somewhat mysterious person you are. Without immediately knocking him over the head with a long list of ‘shoulds.’ Then, perhaps, you could find out where you really want to go in life, and make promises to yourself that you really want to keep. You may find that you are walking a different path of life from the one you thought you should take, but that path will unique and all your own, just like you. I wish you a good New Year!

Baffled by boyfriend’s proposal


’VE just discovered that my long term partner, the father of my child, is seeing another woman. He told me it happened because I did not appreciate his true value and also because I did not give him ‘enough spice in our sexual relationship.’ I wonder how I should react to these accusations. I admitted to him that for a period of time I was indeed not eager to have sex because I was always so tired. I have a baby that needs my care. But during my pregnancy, when I was sometimes reluctant to have sex for fear that it would harm the baby, we still did have regular sex. I talked to my doctor and he told me it is quite normal to have less desire for sex after giving birth, but that I should also think about the sex drive of my husband. I did think about him and I did try, but last year he suddenly became the one who was not that interested in sex, even when I initiated it. Now I know why - he had started this relationship with the other woman. He has now suggested that I could have boyfriends too. We live together and I just cannot accept this. What should I do?

Teresa, 32, from Italy 32


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•Johanna DeKoning MS is the Clinical Director of NCS Counseling Center. She trained in the Netherlands and Australia.

Johanna says: ■ Dear Teresa, This is a difficult question to answer because it all depends on your own values and beliefs in life. When we are in a relationship and feel that an important aspect is missing, that we feel unfulfilled, it is the responsibility of the partner who feels that lack to address it. Did your partner ever ask you to ‘spice up’ your sex life and perhaps suggest how? Did he ever express that he missed words of affirmation and he longed for your approval and emotional support? Do you remember talking about this in an open and honest conversation? Or do you only know this now after you discovered the affair? Is it possible that he makes his accusations just to justify his choices? Nobody can really guess the needs of another person. If you feel something is missing in the relationship for you, you should be the one to address it and not make the other partner try to guess what is wrong. When I read that you addressed the issue of sex and childbirth with your doctor, it seems to me that you were trying to take care of the needs of your partner, but without directly involving him.

When you tried to initiate sex and he was not responsive, what happened? Did you talk about it? How did you feel? Did you just let it go and never mention it again? A second thought that came to my mind is this: you say you live together, but did you discuss and decide on an agreement about the conditions of your partnership? Did you promise each other to have an exclusive relationship, sharing sex and romance only with each other, or did you never really talk about it and did you just assume that there would never be anyone else on either side? Right now, your partner is suggesting a more open relationship and is telling you to take a boyfriend too. You have to decide whether you want this. Are these your values or do you want a committed, faithful partner and a monogamous relationship? In effect this issue brings you back to the basics of what you want in life, what you think about relationships and what dreams you have for your future and your child. And you are the one who has to make this decision.

Contact details: Tel: 02 279 8503 Send your problems to:


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Gourmet p Wine and restaurant news


Our recipe of the month is this delicious Goat Cheese & Beetroot Salad by Chef Jai Govindan of Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa. Page 54

What’s Cooking A round up of this month’s best gourmet deals. Yummy! Page 36

Bar banter

We talk to Mellow bar’s affable bartender Khun Surasak Doungkerd Page 52

Dining out

Our favourite restaurants reviewed and listed Page 60 TheBigChilli

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What’s Cooking

Bangkok’s hottest dining deals and news

Hot Choice!

Strawberry delights DELIGHTS@22, UNTIL FEB 29

■ DELIGHTS@22 is a great option for anyone wanting to indulge in tasty desserts this month. Executive pastry chef Palash Gomes is using premium strawberries from

New menu for Rossini’s Truly Mediterranean


■ SHERATON Grande Sukhumvit’s lauded Italian restaurant has launched a new menu featuring dishes designed by Rossini’s Chef Stefano Merlo in cooperation with Chef Alfredo Russo, owner of the one Michelin Star Il Dolce Stil Novo restaurant in Turin. Highlights of the new menu include Chef Stefano’s seafood soup on garlic bread, and Chef Alfredo’s risotto with gorgonzola cheese and a beetroot emulsion.

the Royal Projects in Chiang Mai to create a range of strawberry-based desserts such as Strawberry Mille-Feuille, Strawberry mousse dome, and Strawberry baked cheese cake – a must try for strawberry lovers.

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, 250 Sukhumvit Road,Tel: 02 649 8364 email:  

The Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, Sukhumvit 22 Tel: 02 261 9300 ext. 5430 email:


■ NOVOTEL Bangna Bangkok’s international buffet restaurant is taking on a Mediterranean theme this month and adding a wide range of special dishes to its already generous selection. During the promo there’ll be Minced lamb patties with lemon, Seafood stew with garlic and tomato, Risotto, and much more. Lunch is 600++ baht and dinner is 700++ baht. Novotel Bangna Bangkok, 333 Srinakarin Road Tel: 02 366 0505 ext.1431, 1432


■ SPECIALISING in pastries and sweets that combine French culinary heritage with Japanese aesthetics and style, Patisserie Masatomi is always a good option for anyone looking for a tasty dessert. Head there this month and you can try seasonal treats like strawberry shortcake, and Entremets, a multi-layered moussebased cake. Open daily, 10am - 7pm.

■ Millennium Hilton Bangkok has opened a trendy new chill-out bar called the Threesixty Outdoor Lounge. Located on the hotel’s 31st floor, the lounge overlooks the Chao Phraya River and offers great views of the city. DJs spin lounge music, mixologists create gourmet cocktails, and vintage black and white classic films play silently on a movie screen. On full moon nights, a romantic Rooftop Picnic for two is priced at 1,800 baht (hamper includes sashimi, fresh seafood, foie gras, desserts, and fresh drinks). Open daily from 6pm.

Patisserie Masatomi, The Portico Langsuan on 3rd Floor (BTS Chidlom), Tel: 02 652 1977

Millennium Hilton Bangkok, 123 Charoennakorn Road Tel: 02 442 2000

Special seasonal sweets PATISSERIE MASATOMI, UNTIL JAN 23



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Wine events Spanish Tapas Tree WINE PUB, UNTIL MARCH 31

■ WINE Pub is one of the best value wine bars in town and has great deals every night of the week. Its latest promo, a Spanish Tapas Tree, features Smoky eggplant, Marinated feta cheese, Serrano ham, Beef tortilla, Sticky BBQ ribs, Spanish ham croquette, and more, for just 990 baht per tree. Available daily, 6pm - 10pm. Pullman Bangkok King Power, 8/2 Rangnam Road, Thanon-Phayathai, Tel: 02 680 9999 email:


■ NOVOTEL Bangkok on Siam Square will celebrate National Children’s Day this year with a special chocolate brunch and plenty of fun games and activities. 899++ baht per adult and half price for kids aged 12 - 16 (free for kids under 12 with two paying adults.) Siam Square, Tel: 02 209 8888 ext. the Square

Kongju launches new menu KONGJU KOREAN RESTAURANT, UNTIL JAN 31

■ PATHUMWAN Princess Hotel’s famous Korean charcoal BBQ restaurant now offers a new set menu featuring many innovative dishes. New creations include Grilled eels, Beef or pork spare ribs served in pumpkin; Mustard salad; Pan-fried mung beans pancake; and many more. Open daily, 11.30am - 2pm for lunch and 5.30pm - 10pm for dinner.

South African Food and Wine Festival THE REMBRANDT HOTEL, JAN 12 - 21

■ FANS of South African food should make a beeline for the Rembrandt Hotel this month. In collaboration with Emirates Airlines and the South African Embassy, the hotel is hosting a South African Food and Wine Festival which will give diners the chance to try Bunny Chow, Braai, Peri Peri, and more South African delicacies, as well as the country’s finest wines. Flying in especially for the occasion to cook the food will be Chef Nicola Anne Gibbs, Chef Thuli Mabunda and Chef Vusi Mtombel from the five-star Sandton Sun hotel in Johannesburg. Among the highlights are a South African fusion menu at Rang Mahal; grilled meats, barbeque and Peri Peri promotions at Señor Pico; and several wine dinners at da Vinci. Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, 19 Sukhumvit 18 Road, Tel: 02 261 7100 email:

Pathumwan Princess Hotel, Bangkok, 444 MBK Center, Phayathai Road, Tel: 02 216 3700 ext. 20230

Viva La Note Post Dinner

Spanish wine dinner



■ INSPIRED by the Slow Food concept, Medici’s Viva La Note Post Dinner offers late night Italian eats that are meant to be savored. Available every Fri and Sat from 10.30pm – 2am, the dinner includes an extensive selection of premium cold cuts, superior cheeses, and fine wines from Tuscany. With prices starting at just 450++ baht per person, it’s a great deal.

■ SPANISH wines take center stage at The Reflexions Restaurant’s wine tasting dinner this month. The evening kicks off with wine tasting (featuring wines produced by Cune, Berberana, and La Ina) followed by a three-course dinner of contemporary French cuisine. 1,700 baht per person. 6.30pm onwards.

Hotel Muse Bangkok, 55/555 Langsuan Road Tel: 02 630 4000

Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Meridien, 61 Wireless Road, Tel: 02 650 8800 ext. 4338 email:

Tasty quote ■ An empty belly is the best cook. Estonian Proverb


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Chinese New Year Welcome the Year of the Dragon with a feast

Lok Wah Hin

From Jan 23 – Feb 6, Lok Wah Hin restaurant at Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square will offer Chinese New Year Set Menus featuring specialties such as Chinese oysters with seaweed in brown sauce, and Braised sliced abalone and fish maw with seaweed in brown sauce. 6,500++ baht for four persons; 13,000++ baht for 10. Price includes a bottle of wine per table and a lucky draw ticket. (All this month, a special Come 4 pay 3 deal for an all-you-can-eat Dim Sum lunch is available for anyone who pays using a Bangkok Bank or UOB credit card).

Siam Square Soi 6, Tel: 02 209 8888 email:

Man Ho

Until Feb 15, Man Ho restaurant at JW Marriott Bangkok is offering boxes of ‘Nian Gao’ (traditional Chinese New Year Steamed Rice Cake) ranging in price from 380 – 680 baht per box. The cake is presented in the shape of a Koi fish and comes wrapped in an elegant box, making it an ideal choice for a gift.

Chefs on the move New Executive Chef for BITEC ■ BANGKOK International Trade & Exhibition Center (BITEC) is set to give its food menus a complete overhaul by appointing Eric Berrigaud as its new Executive Chef. The French national has over 10 years’ experience working with internationally acclaimed hotels and restaurants in France, the Caribbean, and Thailand. Previous employers in the kingdom include Sofitel Bangkok Silom, and Koi Restaurant Bangkok. “I’m very glad to have an opportunity to work with BITEC,” said the chef speaking about his appointment. “Cooking is what I love and I am always learning and creating new recipes to ensure I please all of my customers’ tastes.” Expect to see Chef Eric’s new menus appearing not only for BITEC’s catering and banqueting services, but also for its various dining outlets.

Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino at La Scala ■ ALFONSO Iaccarino, chef and owner of the two-Michelin Star Don Alfonso 1890 restaurant and hotel in San’tAgata sui due Golfi, Italy, is coming to town with his son Ernesto, also a chef, to create their Mediterranean haute cuisine at La Scala, The Sukhothai Bangkok, from Feb 1 – 4.

4 Sukhumvit Road, Soi 2, Tel: 02 656 7700 email:

Sui Sian

From Jan 23 – 24, Sui Sian at The Landmark Bangkok will offer its all-you-can-eat Dim Sum buffet (including Peking duck, shark’s fin soups, and more) for 888++ baht per person. Alternatively opt for The Golden Dragon Set Menu which features Braised dried scallops with seaweed and crispy pork in brown sauce, Braised shark’s fin with enoki mushrooms, and more specialties for 13,888++ baht per set. Diners will be given a set of lucky oranges and will have the chance to win lucky money. Club Landmark card members get 20% discount. 138 Sukhumvit Road, Tel: 02 254 0404 ext 7777


Their menu is based on three principles: Mediterranean character, absolute quality in raw materials, and modernity. The fresh ingredients they use come from “Le Peracciole,” an organic farm the Iaccarino family set up in 1990. Their four-day stint at La Scala will kick off on Feb 1 with a wine dinner (reservations essential). A Set lunch and Set dinner menu will then be offered from Feb 2 – 4. The Sukhothai Bangkok, Sathorn Road Tel: 02 344 8888 email:


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Buffet bonanza New on the scene Where to get your allyou-can-eat fill this month Asian favourites

Latest Recipe international restaurant, Le Méridien Bangkok, is now offering an Asian buffet dinner with interactive cooking. Highlights include Tom yum seafood rice with a crisp lemongrass crust, and Crab claws in curry and milk baked in the clay oven. Available daily, the buffet is 1,150++ baht per person (including a glass of wine, free flow soft drinks, ice tea, coffee or tea) or 500++ baht for food only. 40/5 Surawong Road, Tel: 02 232 8888, email:

International eats

The Terrace@72 Restaurant & Bar is offering an international buffet featuring a variety of Asian and Western cuisines. Lunch (Mon-Sat, 11.30am-2.30pm) is 690++ baht, dinner (Sun-Thurs, 6pm-10pm) and Sunday Brunch are 900++ baht. You can add BBQ seafood to the offerings on Fri – Sat nights for 1,200++ baht.

Heawen for burger devils

■ NOPE that’s not a spelling mistake – this new burger joint at K-Village shopping complex is actually called ‘Heawen for burger devils’.The name’s a good indication of the playful and creative approach to dining you’ll find on offer here, including a long list of burgers that have been given a local twist, such as the Tajima Wagyu mixed with Ko-Khun-Pon-Yang-Kham Thai beef burger (only 200 calories), Penang, Green curry, and Masaman curry burgers, as well as Yum fish burger, Larb Australian lamb burger, and Kurobuta pork burger. A novel twist is given to Fish and chips - you can choose from vodka, Pernod, beer, or sake batter - which is a must try for anyone who doesn’t like beef. Room #A218, K-Village (Zone A), 2nd Floor, Rama IV, Bangkok. Open Tues - Sun 10am-10pm. (Burgers are also available at Party House One Restaurant Siam@Siam Design Hotel & Spa)

Coffee Corner

Ramada Plaza Menam Riverside Bangkok, 2074 Charoenkrung Road Tel: 02 688 1000 ext. 231 email:

King crab & seafood

Head to Atelier restaurant, Grand Millennium Sukhumvit, on a Friday night and you can enjoy a buffet of fresh seafood, a variety of meats cooked fresh to order, and a wide selection of desserts. The all-you-can-eat feast is 1,400 baht per person including free flow house wines. Go as a group of four and you pay only for two. Dinner is served 6.30pm-10.30pm. 30 Sukhumvit 21 (Asoke) Road Tel: 02 204 4161 email:

Australian beef

Until Jan 15, Riverside BBQ Terrace at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is offering a BBQ buffet featuring the finest cuts of beef from Australia (tenderloin, striploin, rib eye, T-bone, and more) together with a large selection of fine Australian wines. Price is 2,766 baht per person.

48 Oriental Avenue, Tel: 02 659 9000 ext BBQ Terrace


Desserie Sweet Café ■ IF you’re craving a caffeine and sugar fix after a hard day’s shopping in the Terminal 21 shopping mall (next to Asok BTS), you may want to check out this little coffee shop tucked away on the mall’s second floor. Run by a young Thai couple called Khun Pui and Khun Nat, the shop offers a long list of pastries, cookies, crepes, waffles and cheesecakes (highlights include the Strawberry cheesecake for 135 baht, and Tiramisu cheesecake for 100 baht), as well as refreshing drinks like Pink lemonade (65 baht) and a good selection of strong coffee. 2nd Floor (London Zone), Terminal 21 (BTS Asoke or MRT Sukhumvit) Tel: 02 108 0583 email: Desserie., Open: Daily 11am-10pm.


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Gourmet scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

South Africa’s finest ■ The Reflexions restaurant at Plaza Athénée, A Royal Méridien Hotel capped off its 2011 series of monthly wine tastings with a special event featuring the finest wines from South Africa’s Robertson Valley. This year the hotel will update its tasting concept by adding a three-course dinner to the proceedings. Read more on page 37

ZUMA makes its debut ■ The Bangkok branch of the renowned Zuma Japanese restaurant chain celebrated its grand opening at the St. Regis Bangkok with a huge party. Sake cocktails flowed freely and plates loaded with sushi, sashimi and tasty teppanyaki made the rounds all night and were enjoyed by a cross-section of the who’s who of the Bangkok community, such as Thanpuying Varaporn Pramoj na Ayudhya; William and Katherine Heinecke; ML Laksasubha Kridakon; ML Chandchutha Chandratat and his wife, Khun Sakolwan; Natalie Glebova; Prakarn Raiva; Ardhawadee Jiramaneekul; Vorani Vanijaka; and more luminaries. The event was organized by Zuma management, led by founder and CEO, Mr. Rainer Becker. Read more about the restaurant on page 59.



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Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy Afternoon delights at Enoteca

The Bangkok B&B dining group capped 2011 with a hearty Italian feast


OR Bangkok B&B’s final lunch of the year, we returned to Enoteca. It was one of the early days of what passes for winter in this hot capital city of ours so we assembled in the shady garden of this very classy Italian restaurant and quaffed Prosecco Follador for ages and ages, basically until group President Luigi Vercotti could join us. The exuberant atmosphere was bolstered by the fact that four members of our group were celebrating their birthdays. There were also a few toasts for Bangkok B&B members Danny Arn and Keith Hancock, who had both attended every lunch of 2011. We sat down to enjoy a very excellent amuse bouche, beef carpaccio with white truffle flavoured ice cream, and did not have long to wait to taste the Gavi di gavi dei marchesi chosen by our host, Nicola Bonazza, to accompany this and the following dish. Given advance notice of the wines, wine spokesman for the day Harald Sauer waxed long and eloquently about this wine made with 100% cortese grapes and also gave us a short history of the Piedmont region and the Roman origins of wine-making. Our food spokesman, Neil Pawsey, who had already given the amuse bouche 10/10 points tried to mark down the Home made smoked salmon presented by Chef Stefano to 9/10 but a noisy crowd insisted it too deserved full marks. And so it did; Chef Stefano had previously worked in Russia, and he applied skills acquired there to the smoking of the salmon and it was served with a beetroot flavoured sauce based upon borscht soup. These dishes had set an extremely high standard; could it be maintained for the rest of the meal? The short answer was yes. There followed Fetuccine filled with amatriciana sauce (made from dried pork cheek, pecorino cheese and tomato - very tasty) served with a merlot, Rosso monferrato D.O.C. Both found favour with our spokesmen and virtually all of the diners though the merlot gave little hint that it was from Italy. A second pasta, Ravioli filled with lamb on parmesan cheese consommé, also was greatly enjoyed. Chef Stefano


had skillfully managed to avoid the greasiness one might have expected to find in such a dish. The main dish comprised Pigeon legs, one roasted covered with bread crumbs and one marinated, pigeon liver pâté and a raviolino filled with other delicacies from the pigeon (which, we learned, had flown here from France). The pâté for those that like such dishes (a few diners did not) was truly outstanding. The same could be said for the Primitivo conti zecca which accompanied it. Here we had a wine which does really typify Italian wine-making. It went equally well with the specially selected cheeses that followed (one made from a mix of cow, goat and sheep milk), a second a really mature example of a hard cheese made from cow’s milk, and a third cheese that had been flavoured by and preserved in dried grapes. To conclude we had coffee, always something to look forward to in Enoteca, a caramelized frozen cream with oodles of hazel nuts and drenched in chocolate (very nice for those with a sweet tooth) and one or more wee drams of 12 years old Macallan aged in sherry casks.This had been a great way to start the New Year dining season; it took Tim Randall’s rendition of ‘Gone away’ on the hunting horn, which the Secretary had used intermittently to bring order to the group, to get them to head for home. Many Happy Returns to the birthday boys and we look forward to a return to Enoteca in around 12 months. Enoteca Italiana, 39 Sukhumvit Soi 27, North Klong Toey Tel: 02 258 4386 www.


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EATERTAINMENT AT ITS BEST Delicious Japanese food and fun-packed culinary shows ensure every mealʼs a joy at Benihana THE last time we visited Benihana we saw a female guest toss an egg so high that it cracked on the ceiling. She’d not gone crazy – she’d been invited by one of the chefs to attempt one of his culinary tricks, which involved spinning an uncooked egg on the Teppanyaki grill, launching the egg in the air with a spatula, catching the egg with the spatula, then cracking it with a flourish. The lady had failed spectacularly. And it was hilarious. Humour is one of the key ingredients of the Benihana dining experience. Sit at any


of the restaurant’s Teppanyaki cooking stations and you’ll be treated to a fun-packed culinary show. The chefs will grill meats before your eyes, but they won’t just cook. They’ll also perform magic tricks, juggle salt shakers, and even throw ingredients into the air and catch them in their hats. It’s great fun for all ages. While the Teppanyaki stations and the Hibachi style of dining have been the highlight of the restaurant since it opened in 1992, a recent redesign has seen the introduction of a sushi bar where guests can now sit and enjoy handcrafted sushi, sashimi and other raw seafood delicacies such as lobster, crab and oysters. A large display cabinet has also been added which is stocked with all kinds of sakes. These can be drunk neat or as the base in one of the many unique Japanese cocktails on offer. The restaurant’s menu has also been upgraded, and now alongside the Hibachi (Japanese Grill) selections are a wide range of appetizers, salads, soups, Donburi,

and, of course, the aforementioned sushi and sashimi. New menu highlights include the Fireball (350++ baht), a spicy tuna tartar and avocado roll laced with Thai sriracha hot sauce, spicy mayo and shaved scallions; and Toro Tartar (425++ baht), fatty tuna chopped with scallions and smelt roe and topped with crispy tortilla chip, black flying fish roe, shari spicy mayo, and shaved tempura shallots. The real action though is still at the Teppanyaki tables where a selection of combination menus are available ranging in price from 455++ baht to 4,500++ baht. All choices, whether it be a US certified

Angus steak or succulent Maine Lobster, come with onion soup, salad, shrimp appetizer, hibachi vegetables, steamed rice and hot green tea. Must tries include the Deadliest Catch (1,750++ baht), featuring Alaskan crab claw, snow fish, Parma ham, and saffron cream butter; and Kobe Konnexion (1,850++ baht), featuring thin slivers of classic Kobe with US scallops and pepper butter. Benihana is designed in a contemporary Japanese style with veneer finished wooden pillars joined by modern ironwork. Granite table tops, suspended pendant lights, and a striking red and black colour scheme give the restaurant a trendy and classy look, but it still retains a warm atmosphere that makes you feel at home. Benihana is open for lunch 11.30am – 2.30pm, and dinner from 6pm – 10.30pm. A private room for up to 16 people is available. Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, Tel: 02 476 0022 email: (complimentary shuttle boat from Saphan Taksin BTS every 20 mins)


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TWICE THE ITALIAN CHARM il Tartufoʼs second branch brings fine Italian dining to the Chaengwattana district

NOT so long ago, expats living or working in the Chaengwattana district of Bangkok had to drive into town every time they fancied some good Italian cuisine. Aside from getting Italian food delivered to their homes or offices, they had no other option. This all changed last July when il Tartufo opened at The Avenue Chaengwattana. Owned

and operated by the same people behind the popular il Tartufo on Sukhumvit 51, the restaurant finally brought fine Italian dining to the area, plus some lovely contemporary surroundings in which to enjoy it. Located on the second floor of The Avenue, a bustling shopping complex, this second branch of il Tartufo may not possess

the same sun-soaked Tuscan-style atmosphere as the branch in Sukhumvit 51 – after all, that branch is set in a wonderfully renovated villa with its own private garden – but it still does a great job of establishing an all-Italian feel. Its walls are lined with framed black-and-white pictures of romantic Italian scenes, warm colour tones of browns and creams set a relaxed ambience, and the tables are elegantly dressed with white tablecloths. Diners familiar with the Sukhumvit branch will find all their favourite dishes on the menu plus a selection of options unique to the Chaengwattana branch. And they needn’t worry about the quality. The restaurant’s chef, Carlo

Zucchi, boasts many years’ experience cooking Italian cuisine and he uses only the finest ingredients. On our visit we opted to try only the newest creations and we found a great selection on offer. A starter of Seared Japanese scallops wrapped with bacon in leek cream sauce (400 baht) arrived piping hot, very tasty and enjoyed by all at the table. We followed this with Risotto braised in Barolo Italian red wine & beef in truffle cream sauce (400 baht), which featured perfectly cooked rice, a well-balanced sauce, and very tender pieces of beef. The risotto would have been the star of the show if we didn’t opt to try two of the mains:

Grilled Australian rack of lamb with Polenta served with mash potatoes citrus in gorgonzola cheese sauce (850 baht) and Grilled Australian beef tenderloin served with creamy truffle sauce, sautéed spinach and onion ice cream (850 baht). Both were presented superbly and tasted simply delicious. Full marks must also go to the Deep fried frog legs with spinach mousse (300 baht), which provided plenty of meat and a lovely crispy batter. To wash down our food we selected a Triple Shooter (250 baht), a creative cocktail with a delightfully boozy blend of Grappa, Midori liqueur, and crème de cassis. Try it and you won’t be dissappointed.


Until August 2012, the restaurant will offer a complimentary ice cream for every 500 baht spent. What’s more, a three-course set lunch will be on offer for only 300 baht, featuring soup, salad, pasta and pizza, and homemade ice cream to finish. il Tartufo Restaurant at The Avenue Chaengwattana, 104/42 The Avenue Chaengwattana, Room B-202, Chaengwattana Road, email: Tel: 02 574 1774, 080 804 1232 Open: Daily 10am-10pm



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GOING GAGA FOR GAGGAN Bangkokʼs most innovative restaurant wows diners with its progressive approach to Indian cuisine MOLECULAR Gastronomy. The final frontier. This is the specialty of Gaggan Anand, a chef who boldly takes Indian cuisine where no chefs have taken it before. Peer into the kitchen at his eponymous restaurant on Soi Langsuan and you’ll see chefs hunched over metal containers, whipping up clouds of vapor as they prepare desserts in liquid nitrogen; others prodding small, jelly-like

shapes with thermometers before popping them into a colleague’s mouth for appraisal; and a distilling machine concocting a unique cocktail or two, such as a gin and tonic, without the tonic. It all looks very scientific, but this isn’t just science – this is culinary art. Gaggan, a Calcutta native, studied molecular gastronomy at the worldfamous El Bulli restaurant in Spain. Using the skills he picked up there,

plus plenty of his own flair, he creates a progressive version of Indian cuisine which delights all of the senses. There simply isn’t another dining experience like it in Bangkok. Where else in the city, for instance, could you find sphericated yoghurt served on a spoon? Called Chowpati Year 2050 (250++ baht), this wonderfully wobbly creation resembles a peeled soft-boiled egg. It is made by delicately dripping yoghurt into an alginate bath, which causes a thin gel membrane to form around the yoghurt. As soon as you pop the parcel in your mouth it explodes with a riot of flavour. Gaggan’s menu is full of similar surprises. There’s The Goose is Not Cooked (850++ baht), which features organic Hungarian foie gras roasted, tourchon, and even as a powder; India meets Italy selections like Green Fish

(375++ baht), featuring green chilli and coriander fettuccini with smoked salmon and cucumber raita; and exciting desserts such as The Big Mango (300++), which is made by dropping a balloon filled with mango mousse into liquid nitrogen. Even the least experimental items here, like Simple chicken curry with fiery hot peppers and tamarind (390++ baht), offer exciting new flavours. Most dishes come garnished with edible flowers that taste like various Indian spices. Try the ‘oyster leaves’ and your palate-tomind nerve endings will almost short-circuit. The leaves really do taste like oysters.

The excitement spills over into the drink selections, which includes a long list of edible cocktails such as the Sugarcane Mojito, and a walk-in wine cellar stocked with a well considered selection of international vintages. Further consolidating the restaurant’s wow factor is its setting in a lovely white wood house, which is cozy, homely, and the perfect place to enjoy Gaggan’s modern interpretation of Indian cuisine. 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Tel: 02 652 1700 email: (Open 6pm – 11pm). Vegetarian food available.


Gaggan’s Blind tasting Menu (starting at 1,600++ baht for 10 courses) is a must try. Changing every week, the menu presents several menu highlights plus new creations inspired by seasonal produce. The best place to enjoy the experience is at the chef ’s table, which provides a view into the kitchen (book at least two weeks in advance to ensure you get your seats!).



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Bar Banter

This month: Khun Surasak Doungkerd

Mellow Restaurant & Bar’s affable bartender takes a break from mixing cocktails to share a few trade secrets When did you first join Mellow and what made you decide to work there? I started working at Mellow just over a year ago. I decided to work here because the bar offers something different, both in looks and drinks. What’s the best thing about being a bartender? Apart from learning and creating new drinks, I truly enjoy meeting new people, talking with them, and hearing their stories. I meet people from all walks of life and some of them have great tales to tell.

western and Asian elements and has a relaxed New York style vibe. Alongside our vast selection of Western cocktails we even have a long list of Japanese drinks. And, of course, great service always comes as standard.

What sets Mellow apart from other bars in Bangkok? The bar’s minimalist design blends

What’s the best joke you’ve heard while working behind the bar? Well one customer once told me

to try and do my job without going anywhere near alcohol. Probably not the best joke, but it made me laugh. What’s the most interesting gossip you’ve heard while working behind the bar? Oh, trust me there’s a lot. But as a bartender I can’t talk about it – that’s the bartender code. Can you tell us an interesting fact about Mellow that most people don’t know? All our major shareholders are from Boston, USA. What nights/days are best to visit and why? Well we have happy hours every Sun – Thur from 5pm – 8pm when drinks are two-for-one, but really every night is a great night to visit! Come and enjoy a few cocktails and I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Mellow Restaurant & Bar, Penny’s Balcony, Thonglor 16, Sukhumvit 55 Tel: 02 382 0065



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17:00 - 20:00 ON SUN-THU

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Recipe of the month Goat Cheese & Beetroot Salad Packed full of flavour and bursting with colour, this delightful salad by Chef Jai Krishnan Govindan, Executive Chef at Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, looks great on a plate and tastes divine. Try it at home and you won’t be disappointed.

cut out and keep


Ingredients • Beetroot 100g • Baby arugula (aromatic salad green) 50g • Sliced shallot 10g • Goat cheese 60g • Olive oil 3 table spoons • Lemon 10g • Walnuts 40g • Ginger 10g • Mandarin orange juice 10g • Cinnamon stick 8g • Anis star 5g

Method 1. Clean beetroot and slice as Carpaccio (thinly sliced) then arrange on the plate 2. Reduce mandarin orange juice with cinnamon, anis star, ginger until rich then whip with olive oil, lemon juice 3. Put arugula on top of beetroot Carpaccio 4. Pour the reduced mandarin orange sauce on the arugula and beetroot 5. Tear the Goat cheese and put it on the salad 6. Ready to serve

About Chef Jai CHEF Jai has over 18 years’ culinary experience working for top hotels in his native India as well as around Asia. Former employers include the Hyatt, Oberoi and InterContinental group. A classic exponent of authentic natural cuisine, Chef Jai has always believed in upholding the true nature of ethnic cuisine by developing local talent and emphasizing local ingredients. His mantra is “Top quality ingredients enhanced by simple cooking.” The salad presented here is just one of the many dishes he creates at Trader Vic’s Restaurant. Look out for the review in next month’s issue. Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, 257/1-3 Charoennakorn Road, Tel: 02 476 0022 email:



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Tasty Bangkok The city’s hottest new restaurants and bars

Issaya Siamese Club

Catalana Tapas and Wine

■ RENOWNED Thai restaurateur Chef Ian Kittichai’s latest project is located in the same 90-year-old Thai home which housed the recently closed Le Café Siam. Created in partnership with Frederic Meyer, the founder and owner of the international music management firm Avril Prod, this new restaurant offers Chef Ian’s unique signature Thai cuisine which blends local and international ingredients to delightful effect. Lunch and dinner is served daily. 4 Soi Sri Aksorn, Chua Ploeng Road, Tel: 02 672 9040

■ WHILE it’s not technically ‘new,’ this trendy tapas and wine bar is soon to launch a brand new menu featuring a wide range of dishes specially created by its new head chef, Fernando Andrés. Chef Fernando is originally from Rioja. He made a name for himself in Bangkok as owner of the renowned Rioja Restaurant in Central Bangkok where he wowed diners with his authentic Spanish cuisine. At time of writing his new menu was still in development, but he plans to introduce it at the restaurant’s Grand Opening Party on Jan 18. Sukhumvit Soi 11, Tel. 02 651 0220

Zak’s wine pub

Coming Firehouse ■ BURGER fans may soon

■ SUKHUMVIT Soi 11 is set to get a brand new wine bar offering “exceptional wines at everyday prices.” Named Zak’s Wine Pub, and owned by the same team behind The Robin Hood and Molly Malone’s pubs, the bar is located in the premises which formerly housed Contrazzi Italian restaurant. Zak’s is set to open in the middle of this month.


want to check out this new pub and restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 11. Specializing in burgers and bar snacks, you’ll find a range of hearty burgers ranging from 195++ - 300++ baht and other tasty western selections like fish and chips for 250++ baht. Daily Happy Hours 8pm – 8.30pm offer selected drinks at two-for-one; Ladies’ Night Wednesday has 70 baht cocktails; and Date Night on Saturday offers half price on food when you order a bottle of wine. Sukhumvit Soi 11, Tel: 02 651 3643


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Wine Connection Tapas Bar & Bistro

The Speakeasy / Medici ■ MUSE Hotel is fast establishing itself as one of the city’s hippest night spots for dining and drinking. Not only can you tuck into top quality Italian cuisine at Medici (pictured), but you can also head up to the rooftop to enjoy gourmet cocktails at The Speakeasy, a trendy new lounge bar fashioned on what the hotel calls a “highly exclusive den of pleasure during times of prohibition.” You can even experiment with The Speakeasy’s very own ‘Rotavapour’ for unique home-made vodka infusions such as chocolate or basil and honey, or any other flavour you may desire. Let the good times roll. Hotel Muse Bangkok Langsuan, Tel:02 630 4000

■ FOLLOWING on from the success of the hugely-popular Wine Connection Deli Bar and Bistro at K-Village (Sukhumvit 26), Wine Connection is preparing to open a new bar at Rain Hill Shopping Complex on Sukhumvit 47. Scheduled to open on Jan 17, the bar will offer the same great value as its K-Village shop and will once again consist of a wine shop, wine bar, and restaurant. Rain Hill, Sukhumvit 47, Tel: 02 261 7217-8 wineconnectiontapasbarandbistro

No Idea ■ PROOF that Gastropubs don’t have to be expensive can be found with the arrival of this new bar and restaurant on Sukhumvit 22. The extensive menu offers a selection of imported and prime meats, snacks and tapas, soups, curries, burgers, pizzas and

Pala Pizza Romana

much more, including a good selection of signature breakfasts (traditional breakfast, 285 baht). All food is offered at great value for money and can be enjoyed either in the pub’s air-conditioned interior or out on the outdoor balcony or terrace.

■ THIS Italian-style snack bar near Asok BTS serves a large selection of salads, pasta, fish dishes, and freshly baked “pizza al taglio”, or “cut pizza,” with a vast array of toppings to choose from. For pizza, prices range from 25 baht per slice up to 1,430 baht per 1 metre (these are long ‘Roman’ style pizzas, not the round ones readily available elsewhere). Wine is available from 130 baht per glass. The restaurant also features a deli counter where you can choose from a huge variety of cold cuts, cheeses, and breads. Open 10am - 10pm.

Sukhumvit Soi 22, Tel: 02 663 6686

1025/13 Ploenchit Road, Tel: 02 655 0565


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Coming soon

■ NO fellas, unfortunately it’s not Scarlett Johansson who’ll be coming soon, but a trendy bar offering wines and gourmet snacks at great value for money - just as good in our opinion. Set to open at the end of the month, the bar will be located at the Sofitel Bangkok Silom and replaces V9 Wine Bar, which was famous for its breathtaking views of the city.

La Colombe d’Or ■ LOCATED in the premises which formerly housed Le Banyan, this restaurant offers a similar selection of traditional French cuisine all served in an elegant setting. The Signature pressed duck (Rouennaise style) is a must try. Last orders 10pm. House 59, Sukhumvit Soi 8, Tel: 02 253 55 56

Tell Me Wine ■ PEER inside the open kitchen at this industrial-styled wine bar in Nawamin Festive Walk and you’ll see chefs hard at work creating fusion dishes such as Squid ink seafood spaghetti, Herb beef Capaccio, and the signature Tellmewine Roll (Japanese Tempura with salmon and soft shell crab). Prices are reasonable, with most dishes around the 250 baht mark, and wine starts at 750 baht. Open daily 6pm – Midnight. Room G12-14, Nawamin Festive Walk, Kasetnawamin Rd. Tel: 02 236 8021-4

Surface ■ SERVING modern French cuisine made using homegrown and global ingredients, this new restaurant is run by a young and creative chef called Chalee Kader who, prior to owning his own restaurant, cooked food for dignitaries at the French embassy in Bangkok. Surface is set inside a renovated house and has its own private garden decked out with comfortable loungers. Sip cocktails, smoke shisha pies, and dig into highlights such as Black cod with black olive emulsion (420 baht), Spinach with roquefort and peaches (280 Baht), and Stuffed calamari with black risotto (280 Baht). For a boozy treat try the Arms Beauty of Suface signature cocktail (275 baht). Thonglor Soi 11 (in the left most corner of the parking lot) Tel: 02 258 2858 Open weekdays 6pm – 11.30pm and weekends for brunch at 10am – late.



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Zuma ■ THIS award winning Japanese restaurant, with branches in London, Hong Kong, Miami, Beirut, and Istanbul, offers a ‘contemporary interpretation of the Izakaya concept,’ which means you get to enjoy a trendy-yet-informal drinking and dining experience in cozy comfort. Potent sake cocktails, top grade wagyu beef, and some of the freshest sushi and sashimi to be found in Bangkok are what this place is about. The design created by Noriyoshi Muramatsu of Studio Glitt is striking, and ensures Zuma easily sits among Bangkok’s most visually impressive restaurants. Rajdamri Road (Connected to Rajdamri BTS station). Open for lunch and dinner. Tel: 02 252 4707

Marugame Seimen ■ WITH over 500 branches around Japan, this self-service-styled Japanese noodle Udon shop has now brought its creations to Bangkok. A comprehensive selection of traditional Udon noodles, both hot and cold, are available, with a chance to experience a step-by-step cooking process of each order. Must tries are Oroshi Shoyu Udon at 59 baht (small), Niku Udon (beef udon) at 99 baht, Curry Udon at 89 baht (small) and Zaru udon (cold noodles) at 79 baht. Restaurant opens on Jan 19. Rain Hill Community Mall, Sukhumvit 47, Tel: 02 620 8777

L’Ulivo Mulligan’s Irish Pub ■ THE sister of Mulligan’s in Pattaya and Singapore, this new pub on thriving Sukhumvit Soi 11 offers the same selection of international eats plus a wide selection of imported beers. Daily Happy hours from 4pm – 7pm offer 33% off selected drinks. All day House Wine is 120 baht and House Spirits at 100 baht. 22 Sukhumvit 11, Open daily 6am – 2am. Tel: 02 255 5025

■ OWNED and operated by Italian Chef Danilo Aiassa, former head chef of Biscotti Italian Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, L’Ulivo offers authentic Italian cuisine made using recipes handed down from Danilo’s grandmother. The restaurant’s setting within a 50-year-old Thai home is wonderful. The restaurant is open Mon – Sat for lunch (11am -2.30pm) and dinner (5pm -10pm). Narathiwas 7, Tel: 02 6775756


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Where to eat

Your ultimate dining companion

Recommended restaurants and bars American cuisine

French cuisine

Great American Rib

Ribs, pulled pork and BBQ chicken, staples in the Southern United States, are the specialities at this casual spot. Accompaniments include cornbread, curly fries and coleslaw. Although there is an a/c dining room, most people opt for the authentic picnic tables outside, cooled by giant fans. Portions are gargantuan, the management amiable and the beer never stops flowing: an ideal spot for the entire family to spend a casual night on the town – American style. Sukhumvit Soi 36, midway between Sukhumvit Rd and Rama IV Rd (BTS Thonglor) Tel: 02 661 3801


Harvey features Californian cuisine served up in sleek, modern and decidedly posh surroundings. California is noted for its wide variety of fresh fruits and produce, and an equally wide variety of ethnic groups. The developing cuisine from this state reflects this diversity, making it a fusion lover’s delight. The menu ranges far and wide, but most dishes are memorable and well presented. This is rapidly becoming one of the city’s most popular spots. Drop-in and see what all the excitement is about. Thonglor Soi 9, 300m from Soi Thonglor (BTS Thonglor), Tel: 02 662 9911

Bourbon Street

Le Vendome

The quality of Bangkok’s French restaurants has improved immensely in recent years and Le Vendome is one of the big reasons. The pleasant setting includes a garden, and private rooms for special functions. If you are looking for signal French food served with élan and presented with pizzazz, this is where you’ll find it. Although relatively expensive in the evening, the set lunches are a fantastic bargain at around Baht 500. Try them once, and you’ll be back in the evening for the Full Monty. Sukhumvit Soi 31, just past the Soi Sawasdee junction (BTS Phrom Phong – but it’s a hefty walk), Tel: 02 662 0530


Reflexions offers contemporary French food in modern surroundings. It’s open for casual lunches and relaxed, but mildly elegant, dinners. There is live music from 19.00 – 22.00 each evening to add ambience. Don’t expect traditional French dishes, the menu is contemporary with a great deal of emphasis placed upon presentation. The service is efficient and friendly.The entertainment and atmosphere make this a good place to spend the entire evening. Plaza Athenee Bangkok, Wireless Rd, 200m from Ploenchit Road (BTS Ploenchit), Tel: 02 650 8800


An old timer on the local scene, Bourbon Street serves Cajun/Creole food from Louisiana’s bayou country. House specialities include Blackened Redfish, Crayfish raisedon and some of the best Gumbo this side of Louisiana. They even have a fresh oyster bar with some of the finest oysters to be found in Bangkok. A large bar dominates the entrance area and it’s always filled with pundits enjoying themselves. If you haven’t tried this cuisine, Bourbon Street is a must visit. Its friendly, homely atmosphere may even see it becoming your second Bangkok home.

This restaurant puts to rest arguments Bangkok is a backwater restaurant town. Dusit Thani Bangkok has teamed with Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, operators of a two-star Michelin restaurant in Montpellier, France, to create D’Sens. Located on the top floor of the hotel, the restaurant is lavishly decked out in red and has beautiful views of Lumpini Park and the city. The food, as expected, is expensive, but superbly executed and presented. The wine list at 550 bottles is one of the most extensive in the city.

Sukhumvit Soi 22 in Washington Square behind the Mambo Cabaret (BTS Phrom Phong) Tel: 02 259 0328

Dusit Thani Hotel, Junction Silom and Rama IV Rds (BTS Saladaeng or MRT Silom), Tel: 02 200 9000 ext. 2449



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Indian cuisine

Mexican cuisine

Indian Host

If you’re looking for authentic Indian cuisine, this is the place for you. The menu follows traditional North Indian recipes with dishes that are rich in flavour and aroma. There’s a wide range of exotic curries, succulent Tandoori meats, mouth watering vegetarian dishes and much more to please you here. Set over three floors, Indian Host has a warm atmosphere and the service is spot on. Home deliveries are also available. Sukhumvit Soi 22, (between BTS Asoke and Phromphong) Tel: 02 260 1115-6 email:,


Elegant drinking and Indian dining in culturally interesting surroundings, created by a company with outlets in Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing and Jakarta. The serene setting is an eclectic mix of wood, artifacts, plants and Thai inspired architecture. The menu specializes in items from Northern India, including numerous dishes from the tandoor oven. Before dinner, most patrons have a drink in the nearby bar that also services a delightful Thai restaurant. Hazara is ideal for those seeking a peace haven from Bangkok’s excesses while enjoying a memorable meal. Sukhumvit Soi 38 (BTS Thonglor), Tel: 02 713 6048


A large bar, entertainment and restaurant/coffee shop complex featuring Indian and Kashmiri food. The décor attempts to create a feel for the Indus Valley Civilization. The food is excellent and includes some great curries and a signature Chicken Tikka Kati Roll. Thai and snack items are also available in the coffee shop. DJ music and cocktails are available in the entertainment area. If you are looking for a complete night on the town with Indian overtones, this is a good choice. Sukhumvit Soi 26, 400m from Rama IV Rd, 1200m Sukhumvit Rd just past Four Wings Hotel (BTS Phrom Phong, then taxi) Tel: 02 258 4900

Coyote Bangkok²


equila, Margaritas and Mexican food are what this place is all about. The tequila collection is the largest in Thailand and over 75 different margaritas are served. The menu is diverse and not only possesses the requisite Tacos, Enchiladas, and Burritos, but also more elaborate items like Empanadas Carnitas - cornmeal pastries stuffed with spicy pork and a roasted tomato salsa. Although popular at lunch, the Coyote really howls in the evening when the after work crowd stumbles in for margaritas and a bite to eat. The best news is that there are now two branches – one located on Convent road, and one near the entrance of Sukhumvit Soi 33. Coyote on Convent: Convent Road, about 100m from Silom Road, (BTS Saladaeng) Open daily 11.00 - 01.00 Tel. 02 631 2325 Ladies Night on Wednesday, 6-8pm and Saturday 10-midnight. Coyote Sukhumvit: near the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 33 (BTS Phromphong) Open daily 11.00-01.00 Tel. 02 662 3838 Ladies Night on Thursday, 6-8pm.

Thai cuisine Ana Garden Restaurant Bar and Grill

Ana Garden has been providing delicious Thai and barbecue food for more than 10 years. There are plenty of daily specials and drinks promotions to tempt you here. Sit back and enjoy the unique atmosphere created by a lush, tropical rainforest setting and you’ll feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. For an evening of escapism and fine food, head to this restaurant and you will not be disappointed. Make a night of it and follow up your meal with boozy cocktails in the restaurant’s ‘Groove Kitchen’ nightclub. 67 Thonglor between Soi 1 & 3, Sukhumvit Road 55, Tel: 02 391 1762 email:

Baan Khanitha & Gallery

Baan Khanitha, an award-winning restaurant, has made its mark by rigorously insuring its food is consistently well-prepared. A wide variety of Thai dishes are offered, many reflecting the taste of owner Khanitha Akarnitkul, formerly a designer of women’s clothing. Classics are the Yam Som-O (spicy pomelo salad with shrimp and chicken) and Pla Krapong Phad Khee Mao (stir-fried sea bass with chili, hot basil, and eggplant). There is an art gallery on the site and ample parking. A sister restaurant can be found on Sukhumvit Soi 23. South Sathorn Road at Soi Suanplu (MRT Lumpini), Tel: 02 675 4200


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International cuisine

Italian cuisine The Dubliner Rossini’s

As Sukhumvit’s oldest Irish Pub, The Dubliner is to many a home away from home. It has an authentic feel with a wood finish covering the three floors, all tinged with rustic Gaelic memorabilia, making this pub “Pure Irish.” The Dubliner isn’t just a pub that serves food but is a fully fledged restaurant whose kitchen staff adapted their culinary skills to preparing and presenting traditional Irish favorites as well as dishes with an international flavour along with a range of Thai dishes. The pub’s atmosphere lends itself to a casual approach to dining but the menu range is far from casual.

Great food with a prominent Italian chef at the helm. The Sheraton takes this restaurant seriously and insures the quality is always first rate. The setting is that of an elegant Italian farmhouse with an open hearth. Not the sort of place to go dressed in shorts and a T-shirt for pizza and pasta. This is a restaurant to take that special someone you are trying to impress. The menu is a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes. The latter vary with the season, the ingredients available, and the whims of the chef. Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel, 250 Sukhumvit Rd (BTS Asoke or MRT Sukhumvit) Tel: 02 649 8888

440 Sukhumvit Rd, Tel: 02 204 1841-2


Offering an extensive selection of hearty, traditional pub grub, Jameson’s is a great place to enjoy an authentic taste of the West. Burgers, fish and chips, and spicy hot wings score good marks here. For brave diners, there’s also the pub’s ‘Hot Wings Challenge.’ This offers prizes to anyone who can eat eight spicy chicken wings in under ten minutes. The spice level: a whopping 200,000 on the Scoville Scale – which is probably like dipping your tongue into malten magma. Ouch. Other draws at the pub include four pool tables, 12 widescreen TVs, and the Minus 5 Ice Bar, where you can sip vodka in a large freezer room. Jameson’s Irish Pub and Minus 5 Ice Bar Bangkok, Holiday Inn Bangkok, 931 Silom Road, Tel: 02 266 7703-5, email: /

100m Wine & Bistro

Creative cuisine and delectable wines are served in style at this modern restaurant on the 22nd floor of the S31 Sukhumvit boutique hotel. Sit at any of the well-dressed tables and you’ll enjoy a stunning view of the Bangkok cityscape, a breathtaking sight which is especially stunning at night when the urban jungle’s buildings light up like modern day fireflies. From the kitchen come gourmet creations which blend Italian and French flavours to exciting effect. Pan seared yellowtail loin fish, Sous vide lamb loin, and Pan seared foie gras are all must tries. And sweet lovers shouldn’t miss the Panna Cotta, which has a delicate balance of cream and fruity flavours; a real sweet treat to be savored. S31 Sukhumvit hotel, 545 Sukhumvit 31, open daily 4.30pm – 10.30pm. Tel: 02 260 1111 ext. 2302



At Biscotti, great Italian food is prepared under the watchful eye of diners and an Executive Chef from Italy – almost half the dining room is filled with a massive open kitchen. Located in the middle of Bangkok’s business and shopping action, Biscotti offers a set lunch with a buffet for appetizers and desserts plus a cook-to-order main course. In the evenings, things are more subdued and formal and you should gussy up a bit. Biscotti is noted for its excellent wine list, numerous special wine dinners and exemplary service. Four Seasons Hotel, Ratchadamri Rd (BTS – Ratchadamri), Tel: 02 250 1000


Set inside a wonderfully renovated villa on Pan Road, this delightful wine bar and restaurant serves top class Italian cuisine and boasts a walk-in wine cellar with over 500 different Italian labels – easily the largest selection in Bangkok. Owned and managed by Italian wine-expert Alex Morabito, formerly of Zanotti, the restaurant is classy and sophisticated yet it still retains a homely atmosphere. Chef Christian Martena, who honed his skills working at Spain’s three Michelin Star restaurant El Bulli, brings talent, creativity and experience to the kitchen, and he creates a wide range of contemporary Italian cuisine which wows all of the senses. 64 Pan Road, Silom (BTS: Surasak). Open daily 6am – midnight. Tel: 02 637 9899 email:


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China House

Asian cuisine Vientiane Kitchen

Upmarket Laos and Isaan food served in a bamboo restaurant constructed around a giant tree. Wildly popular with Japanese and Korean tourists who enjoy the beer, funky Isaan music and dance, and the chance to nibble on Laos-style eats. Although the spice level is toned down, the ingredients are from up country. Items like frog, duck’s beak and ant’s eggs are readily available should you be interested. This restaurant is always fun and a great place to take someone from out of town. Sukhumvit Soi 36 (BTS Thonglor), Tel: 02 258 6171

Without doubt China House is one of the city’s best hotelbased Chinese restaurants. Aside from an incongruous clump of glass out front, the design of China House is as exciting as anything done recently in the Big Mango. The food could be horrible - it’s not - and people would still flock to the restaurant. The interior somehow manages to combine Chinese elements with a twostory central vault that is reminiscent of a medieval cathedral. Exciting stuff that’s going to be hard to beat. The Oriental Bangkok, (BTS Saphan Taksin, then take the hotel’s shuttle boat) Tel: 02 659 9000

Shui Xin


Kongju first opened its doors as Bangkok’s first hotel-based Korean restaurant 15 years ago, and Madam Kim, the restaurant manager and master chef who’s been with the restaurant since the start, takes pride in offering cuisine just like you’d find in the best restaurants in Korea. In fact, the wide range of appetizers, main dishes, soups, rice and desserts on offer all arrive at the table looking like they’ve been beamed directly from Seoul. If you’ve never tried Korean cuisine but are looking to give it a go, you couldn’t find a better place to start.

For Chinese food, Shui Xin is the real deal. You’ll find no Thai-Chinese fusion, no westernization of dishes, and no greasy imitations. What you will find is a superb selection of authentic Szechuan and Cantonese dishes prepared by a talented team of master chefs using only the finest ingredients. The restaurant’s menu is designed to cater to groups of diners sharing rather than individuals eating alone and the large platters served always look impressive. As with most Chinese restaurants, the most popular choice here is the Peking duck (999++ baht with pancakes), and it’s a triumph.

Pathumwan Princess Hotel, 444 MBK Center, Phayathai Road, Tel: 02 216 3700 ext. 20230,, Open: Lunch (11.30am-2pm) and Dinner (5.30pm-10pm)

Novotel Bangna Bangkok Hotel, 333 Srinakarin Road, Nongbon, Pravet Tel: 02 366 0505. Open daily for lunch 11.30am to 2.30pm, and dinner from 6pm to 10.30pm.

Peking Restaurants

Dragon Xpress

Chinese Indian restaurant Dragon Xpress, while being a charming place to go and eat itself, is now actually more famous for its delivery service. The reason? Well, imagine being famished and receiving an American-style takeaway box packed with delicious Chinese Indian cuisine which you won’t find anywhere else in Bangkok. With delivery charge at just 20 baht and meals starting at 89+ baht, it’s a bargain. What’s more, orders arrive within 45 minutes – meaning the food is always piping hot. A full menu can be viewed on Dragon Xpress Restaurant and Take Away, Sukhumvit 21, Tel: 02 204 0588-9

Located in the basement of the President Tower Arcade (next to the Intercontinental Bangkok), Peking Restaurants’ largest branch (they have 10 in town) continues the trend of offering a wide range of tasty Chinese food at wallet friendly prices. The focus here is on northern Chinese specialties, with plenty of seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes to choose from, as well as countless Dim Sum selections and, of course, the famous Peking Duck (700 baht). Peking Restaurants, President Tower Arcade, Basement (next to Intercontinental Hotel Bangkok) 971 Ploenchit Road, Bangkok 10330 Tel: 02 656 1615 (Ploenchit BTS)


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The King’s life and work: A new and candid view


“A must-read for anyone who really wants to understand Thailand, the monarchy and the King’s lifetime of work.” - Khun Anand Panyarachun



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Living the noir life in Bangkok Canadian novelist Christopher G Moore, author of the critically acclaimed Vincent Calvino private eye series, talks about his life as a writer in Thailand and reveals where he gets his inspiration



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Asia Hand, the second novel in your Vincent Calvino private eye series, was awarded the prestigious 2011 Shamus Award in the Best Paperback Original categor y. How does it feel to win the award? And why do you think the judges singled out this particular book when there are 12 in the series? Winning a major award is always a good thing. Until you realize that awards are basically a crapshoot. Some books are left out, others ignored, depending on the blood sugar level of the judges when they read your book, a chance remark, something someone liked or hated about you from the Internet. In any highly competitive artistic field like crime fiction, people certainly love awards – publisher, agents, publicists. It helps them sell books. Asia Hand was the second book in the Vincent Calvino series and originally came out in Thailand in 1993. But the American edition published by Grove/Atlantic came out in 2010. The Shamus Award works like most literary awards, which are set up to honour books published in the previous calendar year. The 2011 Shamus Award was for private eye fiction published in the United States in 2010. The judges weren’t at liberty to choose from the 12 books in the series.

Top: Asia Hand, the second novel in Christopher’s Vincent Calvino series, won the 2011 Shamus Award in the Best Paperback Original category. Bottom: His new book, a crime caper set in Pattaya, hits the stores this month

How many books have you written – all based in Thailand? I’ve finished my 23rd novel titled The Wisdom of Beer, a crime caper set in Pattaya, which will come out this month for the Thailand market. Most of my novels are set in Thailand. But around half a dozen are set elsewhere such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Burma, South Africa, England, Canada, and New York. I know that’s more than half a dozen places but a couple of the novels are set in more than one country. I’ve also written non-fiction: Heart Talk, The Cultural Detective, The Vincent Calvino Reader’s Guide. The non-fiction is Thailand connected. This year another collection of my essays will be published under the title: Faking it in Bangkok, a collection of about 40 plus essays about life in Bangkok, writing crime fiction, law enforcement and criminal justice systems.

“I think that imagination is highly overrated and basically the resort of the lazy and fearful who are afraid to leave the safety of their computer and room.” Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do to get over it? If there were a pill to take to have writer’s block, I’d buy a bottle. I’d probably become a junkie. Not being ever able to turn it off has to be worse than not being able to turn it on. Have you always enjoyed writing? I am not certain ‘enjoyed’ is exactly the word I use to describe my relationship with the written word. Writing for me is more of a process, like an Iron Man contest, where you run 10K, then swim 5K, bicycle 20K, and hop on one foot for the last 500 meters to cross a finish line. You fall over the finish line exhausted and count your arms and legs to make sure everything is still attached. And there is always some critic who pipes up that your form at kilometer 4 marker of the swimming part of the race was really not impressive, and how he was really surprised you didn’t drown. So next time you try to remember at the kilometer 4 marker to make certain you really show them how you can swim. No sooner do you catch your breath, and then someone fires a starter pistol and you start all over again. And by the time you hit that swimming part again, you are just struggling the best you can, and think maybe the critic is right - it’s just better to give up and drown. Who were/are your favourite novelists and books? Most writers give a load of revisionist crap when asked this question. They want all the great writers whom everyone admires but almost no one reads to be their inspiration. If you name living writers, you need to name 20 or you’d have all sorts of people who feel snubbed and they will lie awake at night trying to figure a way to get revenge. I usually have four or five books going at one time. At the moment, here’s my reading: Bone and Cutter by Newton Thornburg, a brilliant crime novel (the author’s dead by the way), Stephen Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, John J. Mearsheirmer’s Why Leaders Lie, Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By, and Frans De Waal’s The Age of Empathy.

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels? Is Bangkok the sort of place that fires the imagination? Bangkok is a mental scape of sensory and intellectual overload, filled with gossip and stories of glory, intrigue, superstition, feuds, disappearances, hidden forces, thirdhands - and that’s just the people sitting around the bar at the FCCT on a given Friday night. It isn’t a question of finding inspiration, but choosing from an endless buffet of incredibly interesting material that stretches into infinity; this is working in an environment straight out of Borges’ Library of Babel. Or from Jose Saramago’s Blindness. Or inside Roberto Balano’s


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FEATURE Q&A novel 2066. These Latin American authors shine a flashlight down a path that leads a fictional way to deal with such strangeness, beauty and horror and make it accessible to the rest of us. Bangkok attracts all kinds of characters to its fly paper of the weird, surreal, scary, unexplainable, unknowable, and sensual. Pick up any copy of The Bangkok Post, The Nation or better yet Thai Rath or Daily News and there’s material for a dozen books and movies every week. In the short story collection I recently edited titled Bangkok Noir I brought together 12 of the best known authors to write about Bangkok. If you want a good guide to the dark side of Bangkok, read Bangkok Noir. And half the money from the book goes to educate the kids of migrant workers in Thailand. When did you first come to Bangkok and what made you decide to stay? I first wandered into Bangkok in 1983 and returned at the end of 1988 to write a novel. That’s when I fell into something like Borges’ Library of Babel and have never been able to find my way out. I stayed because I am held hostage by my imagination, which feeds on the interaction between the various communities inside Bangkok. Foreigners and Thais living, working, playing and dying side by side. It is the nuance within the foreign community: each nationality clumps together but they also overlap in many different locations. The same can be said about the Thais who are diverse in background, education and outlook. The goal is to get below the surface, emotionally and intellectually, and show the way people deal with each other. How the power flows through these communities. I stayed to try and figure out something about myself from the cracked mirror in the creepy corridor of the old Thermae coffee shop (see next question), a little more about the human condition so I can have a better idea if there is any real meaning in the world. I am still working on it. It has been long rumoured that, in your early days in Bangkok, you spent countless nights at the infamous Thermae coffee shop to study the sort of people who would appear later in your novels? I never tried to count the number of nights I spent at the old Thermae. There would have been a ‘count’ but it would be ‘countless.’ For a few years I was a frequent visitor to the old establishment. It is said the past is a foreign land. Those days in Bangkok are quite foreign to most people now. They’ve forgotten about the time 20 years ago when we had no Internet, cable TV, cell phones, or high-speed computers. The nightlife was far less developed than today. The expat population smaller, more closely knit. Most of the people who flitted


in and out of the Thermae in those days didn’t stick around long enough to be studied. The place had a noir, an unlit, dangerous back alley entrance. You entered through the restrooms, and the first thing you saw was a cracked mirror over a dirty sink. You could study the way people looked at themselves in that cracked mirror, as if to say, “Is that really me?”


It’s also said that some expats here have indeed recognized themselves, or people they know, in your books? One of the highest honors an author can experience is to have others believe that they recognize themselves or their friends in one of his or her books. I could fill a small stadium with people who, over the years, claim either to be a character in one of my books or know someone who was used as a character. It reminds me of the old comic routine, “I am unique just like everyone everyone else.” If an author can create the illusion of uniqueness so so that each of the readers believes that he or she alone possesses sesses exactly the same insights or qualities of a character, looks the same, acts the same, dresses the same, then he or she will have written a successful book. True story. Years ago when the old Thermae was still in business (pre-1996) a stranger asked if he could sit at my table. “No problem.” For the next twenty minutes he explained how he was a character in a book. “What book?” He nodded, “A Killing Smile.” “That’s something,” I said. He told me he knew the author, too. About then an old journalist friend from the Bangkok Post sat down at the table. A couple of minutes passed before the stranger found out I’d written A Killing Smile. Loss of face on a scale I’ve not seen since. The stranger left. But to answer your question, yes, every single character in every single book I’ve written is based on an actual real life person. (In the next question below I explain the dreadful influence of alien ideas like imagination and creativity on writers and how this needs to be exposed for the fraudulent illusion it creates around writers.) Have you ever had any adventures of your own similar to those of Vincent Calvino? Here’s how it works. Every last one of Calvino’s adventures I have personally experienced, and in exactly the same way that I describe them in the Calvino novels. I think that imagination is highly overrated and basically the resort of the lazy and fearful who are afraid to leave the safety of their computer and room. I can assure you that my limited imagination could never have conceived of half of the stuff that happens to Calvino. Imagination is a big, fat myth. The only thing worse than imagination is the fraud of creativity. Something either happened or it didn’t. Am I right? Don’t beat around the bush pretending like there’s a Tooth Fairy. We’re grownups so don’t try that “pretend it happened” business with me. Of course everything that will happen to Calvino in the future, will happen to me first. I immediately write it down as it is happening (this does take some skill as people can see your scribbling at the most awkward moments), revise it (keeping it absolutely truthful), and find the right place in the story to paste it. Or if I can’t find the right place, just stick the experience in randomly. At that moment, I can completely forget it ever happened to me and pretend to myself and everyone else it only happened to Calvino. When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time? Experiencing Vincent Calvino’s next great adventure. Find out more about Christopher and his books at:


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Twilight world of a Bangkok escort Maxmilian Wechsler goes in search of women – and men – who make a good living as professional companions


PROVIDING ‘escort’ services in Thailand is a big, unregulated and in most cases a sleazy business, modeled on a western concept that first appeared here more than three decades ago and has since developed into a multi-million baht industry. It’s believed that the first escort service was introduced to Thailand in early 1979 by a British national who saw the potential and posted an ad for female ‘guides’ in a local English llanguage anguage newspaper. Over 50 women replied to the ad, according to an informed ssource, ource, and were personally interviewed by the Briton in a Sukhumvit S ukhumvit motel where he lived in a twin suite. The motel is still in business. The women were mainly bar girls, a few students and office workers looking for extra income. Some also saw an opportunity to find a foreign boyfriend or husband. The British man had no intention initially of providing call-girls. His original idea was to run a genuine service for foreign travelers and businessmen who wanted someone with good English to show them around or just for company. The business was going smoothly and the ads attracted a stream of foreign clientele. The Brit and his Thai partner, Mr Somchai, were busy day and night answering inquiries. Both men would also accompany the escorts to their customers and often picked them up after assignments, collecting money from the client in the process. The customer was charged according to the time the escort spent with him or her. The partners shared the small expenses and considerable profits of the business until one day Somchai decided that he wanted it all. After threats that, as a foreigner, he was in violation of various laws and faced arrest and deportation, the Brit wisely


conceded the business to his former partner and vanished, leaving Somchai and his ‘contacts’ to continue raking in substantial profits. Today escort services are promoted in countless English language websites and a few publications; the implied message is that the agencies are a source of prostitutes. Although prostitution is actually an illegal and criminal offence in Thailand, it remains the chief means of income for many women and men. It’s offered in various guises in massage parlors, spas, bars, discotheques, karaoke clubs, tea houses and brothels. In several areas of Bangkok, prostitutes also solicit customers on the footpaths. Setting up an escort agency is easy and relatively inexpensive. All that’s really necessary is a mobile phone and a list of willing escorts. There’s no need for a license or company registration. Overheads are low, while potential earnings are high and tax-free. Many agencies offer women, men, ladyboys, gays, transvestites and even bisexuals. Some also advertise VIP escorts, claiming they are students and even foreigners. Most leave little doubt that ‘escort’ is a code word for prostitute. One agency might operate several websites, but actually display the same girls in each of their galleries. Escorts are aged 18-45, and their hourly rates depend on location in Thailand and duration of the service. Agencies are able to charge high fees because they mostly target foreigners who are in the planning stages of a visit to Thailand or who have been here only for a short time and don’t know where to find a partner. Curiously, the few escort agencies offering male escorts for women charge higher rates than those with girls on their books.


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High earnings, low life Tricks of the business, as revealed by a VIP escort


Ms Pooky is an attractive 26-year-old from Pha Yao province in northern Thailand who recently resigned from a Bangkok agency after three years as a VIP escort. “Before joining the agency in September 2008, I worked freelance for about four years, finding customers mainly in discotheques. After my friend told me that I could make a lot of money working as an escort, I singled out one particular agency tto o contact because of the high charges mentioned on its website. I figured I could make maybe three times more than I had been eearning,” arning,” she explained. After filling out a questionnaire, she was told to have a medical examination and was later interviewed in a five-star Bangkok hotel by a representative from the agency. “The agency told me what was expected of me and said the fee was split 40% for me and the rest for the agency, which was ok with me. I was told some logistic details, like how to meet customers and what I needed to do to take care of the business end. I was instructed in how to deposit the agency’s share in their bank account after every job. Everything was agreed verbally - there are no written contracts.” Her agency won’t accept African, Arab, Indian or Thai customers. “I don’t know why and I didn’t ask either, but it was ok for me because when I was freelancing I preferred to meet Europeans. The conversation was mostly in English and the agency was surprised at how well I could converse in the language,” said Pooky. “I got my first job the following day. “All my customers were well-to-do tourists or businessmen who came here for a short period of time. Some made bookings before arrival and some were already here. “I had very few clients who lived in Bangkok. Men who go with escort girls are mostly well-off, married executives employed by foreign firms. “After seeing the client for the first time, I would screen him during an introductory conversation that would last 10 to 15 minutes. If I thought there could be a problem – like he wouldn’t pay – I would ask him to pay the full amount immediately. If the customer appeared trustworthy, I would ask for the money after one hour, just to be on the safe side. “Don’t forget, I was marketed as a VIP escort and this required for me to be sophisticated and to engage in general but intelligent conversation with the client – especially businessmen. It often paid off in longer-term friendships and financial benefits. In fact, this is one of two reasons I decided to quit, at least for now. The money is still coming in. “I made a lot of money and got nice gifts from the clients while working for the agency. But one reason I left was that sometimes I wasn’t in the mood to work but I had to because I was ordered by the boss. This was something I agreed before they accepted me. I didn’t want to tell lies, like I was sick or my mother was sick and I had to go visit her immediately. The agency was good to me, so I wanted to be good to them as well. “If the customer didn’t like me – which happened several times – then he would pay my travel expenses and the agency would send another girl. I didn’t meet many of the girls. I don’t

know how many girls the agency employs, or who the big boss is. I was making good money, and that’s what mattered to me. “It was pretty obvious what virtually all my customers were after. Most of my bookings were for evenings and overnight. Some customers booked me for a late afternoon and some wanted me to show them around Bangkok. I hardly ever went outside Bangkok,” Pooky said. “Some customers also took me shopping for watches, bags and other things. I always treated the customer – provided that I liked him – more like a girlfriend than a highly paid escort. I gave him the illusion that I actually was his girlfriend, but it was for the money. “I didn’t have to report to the agency if the customer gave me extra money or bought me presents. They just wanted what belonged to them.” The illusion that an escort girl is more like a ‘girlfriend’ is established at the first meeting. “When going to meet a new client at a hotel, most escort girls will go alone,” said Pooky. “They will then pay the agency immediately after each job. I accepted only cash but some escorts will accept credit cards. They carry the manual imprinter with them,” she explained. “Sometimes a customer will send the girl back to the agency because she looks beautiful in the photo on the website but not so good face-to-face. Photos can be enhanced to make the lady look pretty, and hide pimples or tattoos that many men dislike.” “In some cases I would drive to the airport to meet a customer off the plane. As a result, I was often able to establish relationships that continue to this day with several customers who live abroad. “Now I live comfortably and enjoy life with the money they are sending me regularly – at least for the moment. I have four bank accounts and five mobiles, one for each customer and one for everyone else. “All four men who gave me

“I had very few clients who lived in Bangkok. Men who go with escort girls are mostly well-off, married executives employed by foreign firms.”

money to buy the mobiles told me to leave the set open 24/7 and only for them. Every time they return I must organize things. I try to make sure they don’t come at the same time as this would make things very complicated,” said Pooky as she took five mobile phones from a Louis Vuitton bag and put them on the table. “I don’t have my photo on the agency website because I didn’t want my friends and family members – or especially my four customers – to recognize me,” she giggled. “I would be out of business and have to join the agency again. “I have made good money and keep ever ything. I have to make as much as possible when I am young. After I get old and can’t work, I will go back home to Pha Yao and open a food shop.”


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FEATURE street life

Arabian Nights & Days on Sukhumvit How a small corner of Bangkok became home to a thriving community of Arabic traders and a growing number of visitors from the Middle East


TO sample the exotic sounds, smells and tastes of a Middle East bazaar, there’s no need to jet off to Cairo, Baghdad or Manama. It’s all right here at the heart of Bangkok, in an area known as Little Arabia, centered on Soi Nana, Sukhumvit 3. The street is a hive of activity around the clock, attracting hordes of visitors - mostly from the Persian Gulf but increasingly by other nationalities - all curious to witness this somewhat surprising spectacle and enjoy its rare pleasures. These include a staggering array of restaurants specializing in Arabic cuisine, along with travel offices, money changers, foot massage parlors, pharmacies and other shops selling local and imported products. Signs in Arabic script are everywhere. Small hotels occupying shophouses, some which have constructed extra floors to boost room count, proliferate. In addition to the usual tourist souvenirs, visitors can buy shisha tobacco pipes in a variety of styles. Groups of men regularly gather outside restaurants to a water-cooled puff of tobacco smoke drawn through the pipe’s long flexible tube.


By Maxmilian Wechsler

The distinctive tones and rhythms of music from the Middle East can be heard all around. Arabic newspapers are displayed on stands, while the satellite TV channels viewed in many hotels and restaurants are clearly beamed in from the Middle East. Skilful Thai artists sit on the footpaths and paint portraits of tourists from photographs amid samples of their work to show to potential customers. The artists labour throughout the night and are always busy. Middle Eastern families with children stroll slowly along this constantly crowded network of streets. Women generally walk behind their husbands and almost always wearing the hijab head covering and dress. But there is a surprising amount of variety in the feminine attire. The styles range from full black loosefitting burqa with niqab face veil to bright scarves over colourful, form-fitting robes, which are eye-catching.  The majority of visitors are from Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and other Arab countries; few are from Saudi Arabia. This has nothing to do with politics. Saudis generally have


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Shisha pipes are available in a variety of flavours

The Nana area was originally populated by South Asians, and the word Nana in Hindi stands for ‘mother’ and ‘father.’ About 15 years ago the area was called ‘Little Baghdad’ but the name didn’t catch on. more money and prefer to take their holidays in London or New York. Typical Arab tourists in Bangkok are not so wealthy and are on the hunt for bargains. Tourists from countries like India or Iran visit the area mainly for the food. West African Muslims also visit in large numbers, and Western tourists occasionally wander through out of curiosity or because they enjoy the exotic cuisine. While other parts of Bangkok were badly affected by the recent floods, this Arab enclave was spared and it was mostly a case of business as usual. The only reminders of the disaster are the sandbags stacked in front of some businesses. The Nana area was originally populated by South Asians, and the word Nana in Hindi stands for ‘mother’ and ‘father.’ About 15 years ago the area was called ‘Little Baghdad’ but the name didn’t catch on. In the earlier times, the nightspots here consisted of a handful of go-go bars, a few small restaurants and the ‘legendary’ Grace Hotel whose famous coffee shop and its female ‘regulars’ even made the pages of Playboy magazine, which taunted certain male customers with the immortal words: “If you can’t find it here, you can’t find it anywhere.” However, following the Arab invasion in the mid-1980s, Westerners gradually moved out to other parts of the capital for their entertainment. One of the motels is still doing good business there; the other was recently demolished.

A lane just off Soi 3 known as “Soi Africa” is a favourite meeting point for West Africans, some of whom were recently arrested for illicit drug dealing and other illegal activities. Nearby Soi 4, home of Nana Entertainment Plaza is still popular with Westerners. So in a relatively small area of Bangkok, three distinctly segregated enclaves exist side by side.

Many Arab visitors come to Bangkok for medical treatment


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Interview with a Nana vendor


Longtime resident Syed Arif Maqboon was born in Pakistan and is married to a Thai lady. At his stall on Soi 3/1 he sells wallets and other leather goods and clothes manufactured and exported by a Thai-Pakistani company. He is well acquainted with the area and other local traders. He was happy to share his experiences with The BigChilli. “The Arabs started coming to this part of Sukhumvit Road about 25 years ago when it was popular with the Europeans. Nowadays, about 45% of Arab visitors are here for medical treatment, especially at nearby Bumrungrad hospital. Some will come for treatment twice or even three times in one year,” said Mr. Maqboon. “When a Middle Easterner comes here for medical attention, at least two or three people accompany him or her. When not attending the patient, they spend money eating and shopping. This explains why the Arabs quickly took over this area.” Local Indian and Pakistan restaurants proved popular as well, especially when they expanded their menus to accommodate the tastes of these new customers. “About fi fty percent of the Arabs come to shop because everything in Bangkok is much cheaper that in their own countries. Some visit during school holidays and stay for a few weeks shuttling between Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and other places. They eat mainly at night, while the single men go in search of ‘partners’,” added Mr. Maqboon. “Many holiday here in July and August because it is too hot back home. This is high season for us. “Arab men who have a lot of money like to buy expensive sandals and often order special designs. They like to be comfortable. They also wear T-shirts and shorts during their stay, but revert to their national dress as soon as they return home. “Wealthy Arabs, especially those with families, like to stay in the first-class hotels along Sukhumvit Road, while singles prefer cheaper places on Soi 3, which are well-known throughout the Arab world.” “Some ladies shop for counterfeit bags of famous Stall owner Syed Arif Maqboon


Above center: Foreign female beggars in the area often wear hijabs. Top and bottom: Restaurants and food stalls do great business selling Arabic cuisine

brands, but most still prefer to buy the genuine ones, which are more expensive back home.” Mr. Maqboon said all the restaurants in the area do good business. “Many make deliveries to hotel rooms. Women often prefer to eat in the private because they feel free and relaxed and don’t have to worry about their dress.” He said that Arab women are normally conservative and don’t talk to strangers, but they “will talk to me after they know I am from Pakistan. They feel free to talk because millions of Pakistanis work in Arab countries.” He said Arab visitors rarely complain, though they do not like the growing number of beggars in the area. “They’re mainly from Myanmar and Cambodia, and they wear hijabs, even though they are not Muslim. They learn a few words in Arabic and impersonate Muslims. Some beggars make good money because Arabs are usually very generous.” Beggars photographed by The BigChilli who were eating and chatting mostly in Burmese and Cambodian all seemed to know each other. Two women who spoke fluent Thai claimed to come from the South. Mr. Maqboon said Arabs are very friendly and peaceful people who don’t like trouble and don’t go looking for it. They like to socialize, smoke and drink tea or coffee, but not alcohol. They will always fight for the bill as they consider it a privilege to pay for others. “However, they sometimes get upset and offended when shopkeepers try to cheat them, like when one sells an item for 100 baht and another sells the same item for 600 baht. Sometimes they will even call the police.” He also mentioned the three mosques located on Sukhumvit Soi 3/1. “They aren’t very noticeable from the street, but you can hear them at prayer times, which are five times per day.


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Y O U R U L T I M A T E W H A T ’ S O N G U I D E F O R J A N U A R Y 1 2

What’s on pArt pPerformance pSport pMovies & Albums pBooks

New Zealand electro rockers The Naked And Famous are bringing their danceable tunes to BKK. Page 78

Black Lips

Catch the controversial American ‘Flower Punk’ rockers live in BKK PAGE 79


The Thailand International Jazz conference returns PAGE 79

Ready, set, go! The second Columbia Trail Masters kicks off this month PAGE 80

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WHAT’S ON The arts

Exhibitions Jan 26 – Mar 4 Ardel Gallery of Modern Art

Lady Image

THERE’S plenty of girl power to be found in this exhibition by emerging artist Anchalee Arayapongpanich, whose series of paintings depict a young woman who is free to express herself how she wishes.

99/45 Belle Ville, (Moo 18) Boromrachachonanee Road, open Tues – Sun (Closed Mon) Tel: 02 422 2092 email:

Until Feb 5 Sombat Permpoon Gallery

Life After Music

SUKIE Kamol Sukosol Clapp, founder of popular ’90s indie Thai record label Bakery Music, presents a series of photographs that he’s taken since he quit the label five years ago to travel and discover ‘life after music.’ Sombat Permpoon Gallery, Sukhumvit Soi 1 (Ploenchit BTS). Tel: 02254-6040-6

Jan 3 – 29 The Neilson Hays Library Garden Gallery

Until Jan 22 DOB Hualamphong Gallery

Images of a Disappearing Isaan

See Saw Seen IV

SEE Saw Seen’s fourth edition presents the work of 16 photographers who each shot their images using the newest models of cameras by Sony Thai. DOB Building 4F, 318 Rama 4 Road, open Tues – Sun (closed Mon) Tel: 02 237 5592-4


Jan 10 – Feb 5 Eat Me Restaurant


THIS first solo exhibition by Thongmai Thepram, who holds a master’s degree from Silpakorn University, explores the moral issues surrounding genetic engineering and its possible effects on life as we know it. Next to the Carmelite Monastery on Convent Road (near Sala Daeng BTS Station). Open daily 3pm – 1am. Tel: 02 238

FLORAL artist and water colour painter Chai takes a trip down memory lane by presenting a series of paintings which show his hometown in southern Isaan as he remembers it from his childhood. In recent years the natural landscape has been damaged through land clearing – Chai wants to remind viewers of its former natural glory. Neilson Hays Library, 195 Surawong Road, open: Tues - Sun 9.30am - 6pm. Tel: 02 233 1731


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Until Jan 21 Number 1 Gallery

Charles LaBelle

FOR his first solo project in Thailand, Hong Kong-based artist Charles LaBelle presents two bodies of architecturally inspired drawings: the 200-composite sketches in his body focused ‘Corpus,’ alongside the newly created, site-responsive series of 100 drawings, ‘A Kind of Counter Sublime.’ Silom Road, Soi 19, Tel: 083 445 8333, 02 630 2523, email:

Q&A: Michele Mikesell

The Dallas-based artist tells us more about her first solo exhibition in Bangkok What inspired you to create Dichotomy?

Jan 9 – Feb 6 Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok

Bangkok Mass Transit System Jan 16 – Feb 10 Silpakorn University

Muang Krung – Muang Thep

RENOWNED photographer Somsak Pattanapitoon has shifted his focus to Bangkok for his latest collection of images. Presented in black and white, his photographs highlight the city’s rich cultural and architectural diversity. Art Centre, Silpakorn University, open: Mon – Fri 9am – 7pm, Sat 9am – 4pm. Tel: 02 221 3841, email:

FOR his fourth solo exhibition, 36- year-old Thai artist Sarawut Ngernpum presents seven semiabstract nightscapes of the Bangkok Mass Transit System. Interpreting urbanization and its effect on humanity, Sarawut’s new series reiterates the notion of coexistence between living spaces and voids within an urban setting with heavy reliance on light and shadow.

Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, Parichart Court, 155 Rajadamri Road (BTS Rajadamri). Tel: 02 126 8866

Jan 14 – Feb 22 La Lanta Fine Art


THE first solo exhibition in Bangkok by Dallas-based painter Michele Mikesell features stylized animal forms that recall the cave drawing imagery which inspired her interest in painting. She compares and contrasts human ideas with animal instinct. Irony, contradiction, humor and tragedy, have been focal themes in her work and are illustrated not only within the image, but within the actual paint and surface of the painting. Read more about the artist on the right. La Lanta Fine Art, 245/14 Sukhumvit Soi 31. Open Tues – Sat 10am – 7pm. Tel: 02 204 0583 email:

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Dichotomy is a continuation of a general theme I have worked with for sometime now, comparing and contrasting human characteristics with animal instinct. In the past I have worked with animals’ heads on human bodies, allowing the viewer to decide if they were looking at animals masquerading as humans, or humans masquerading as animals. In this chapter or series - I took the opportunity to more clearly define the human figure wearing animal costumes, in some using vintage photographs to clearly define real people as well as more stylized realistic depictions of the painted parts of human faces. Who are the subjects of your paintings and what made you choose them?

The subjects in my paintings are always a metaphor for people in our community and society. No matter who or what I am painting, I hope to be creating individuals we can all relate too, characters we recognize and that are familiar to us, personality traits and emotions that we recognize in others and in ourselves. Does your work carry a particular message?

By creating these singular portraits, I am comparing and contrasting animals and humans. I am speaking collectively about all of us - and how universally we are all the same, in that we share this human experience. About the artist

Mikesell is a Dallas Artist who lives and works in Oak Cliff and is currently represented by Chiaroscuro, Sante Fe; JRB Gallery, Oklahoma City; Alan Avery Art Company, Atlanta; DECORAZON Gallery in Dallas/ London, and La Lanta Fine Art in Bangkok. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a minor in graphic design from Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas; and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Mikesell’s work can be found internationally in many private and corporate collections, and has been exhibited in many National and International Art Fairs including, Miami Art Basel, The Suite Art Fair Dallas, Red Dot London, Art Santa Fe, and the Affordable Art Fairs - New York City; London Battersea Park; and Singapore. TheBigChilli 77

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10 hot choices 5



NEW Zealand’s electro-rockers have shot to international fame since the 2010 release of their debut album, ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You,’ and they’ve racked up numerous awards, including BBC’s Sound of 2011. Expect an exhilarating live show packed with danceable tunes. Tickets: 1,000 baht from Show starts 9pm.




HELD over a period of nine weeks, La Fete French Festival will feature more than 20 cultural and artistic events, mostly French, but Thai as well, covering many fields of creativity. A quick peek at the program reveals new circus, classical music, rock concerts, DJs, modern dance, hip-hop, visual theatre, photography, cinema, and fashion shows. The fun all kicks off on Feb 2 with a symphonic orchestra and choir concert on the stage of Thailand’s National Theatre. For more info and a full program see:




AS part of Underworld Darren Emerson has filled stadiums and provided an uncountable number of anthems for the chemical generation - most notably the 90’s dance anthem, Born Slippy. Now, thanks to Champion Sound, he’s returning to Bangkok to spin what’s sure to be another eclectic collection of house and techno tunes at Bed Supperclub. Party starts 10pm. Tickets: 900 baht (includes one drink)






PERFORMING dreamy acoustic renditions of hit singles by bands like Switchfoot and Tamia, twin sisters Janice and Sonia Lee have become a YouTube sensation. Now the Australian born Korean duo is taking a break from their webcam and coming to perform in Bangkok. Are they just as good live? Head to the concert to find out.

THE Sukhothai Bangkok’s New Year Concert in The Garden will feature the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jae Alexander, together with guest artists from the London-based ensemble Incognito Artists (soprano Seija Knight, and tenors Edward Heath and Thomas Lowe) performing a program of waltzes and polkas specially selected from the world-renowned operettas of Franz Lehar and Johann Strauss. Tickets: 1,500 – 2,500 baht (concert only); 2,100 – 3,100 baht (including buffet dinner after the concert. Concert starts at 7.30pm. Tel: 02 344 8888 email:

Tickets: 1,200 – 3,000 baht. Play at 2pm and 7pm. Night show opened by Room 39.



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THE Millennium Hilton Bangkok is joining forces with Hitman Jazz to host a concert featuring performances by international jazz artists Jacobs Dinesen, Jonathan Fritzen and Malene Mortensen, pairing with local legend Koh Mr. Saxman. Entry of 2,012++ baht includes a welcome drink and an international buffet at Flow restaurant. 123 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, Tel: 02 442 2000 email: (free shuttle boat from River City and Sathorn pier)


NUDITY, vomiting, snogging, and chickens – just some of the surreal ingredients which have made up Black Lips’ live shows in the past. Now six albums into their career, the American ‘flower punk’ rockers are less likely to spill bodily fluids on stage, but their live shows are still spontaneous and crazy. Expect a high energy performance unlike anything else you’ve ever seen in Bangkok. Tickets: 1,200 baht from Doors open 6pm



THERE’S something for every musical taste at this one day music festival featuring critically acclaimed artists from around the world. The impressive international line-up includes Incubus (America), Owl City (America), Seether (South Africa), Anti Flag (America), Akira Jimbo (Japan), Gray Gregson (America), Franko (UK) and Young Guns (UK). Local artists include Tattoo Colour, Scrubb, Slot Machine, T-Bone, Moderndog, and more top names. Tickets: 1,500 baht from Festival runs from Noon – 2am.




THIS annual treat for jazz fans features discussions, workshops and lessons by world class jazz musicians, a jazz solo competition, and performances by various jazz artists from Thailand and all over the world. Among the international acts performing this year are the Benny Green Trio; Taylor Eigsti and David Hart Group; Marcus Strickland Quartet; and Robert Knop Quartet. For a full program of events see



DAN Goggins’ delightful romp of a musical won four outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Musical during its 10-year run in New York. It tells the story of five nuns who are putting on a concert to raise funds to bury 52 of their colleagues – who were accidentally poisoned by the convent cook. Full of hysterical nun puns, the show will be performed in Bangkok by the Bangkok Community Theatre. Tickets: 800 baht from Tel: 087 936 3798 email: Shows will be held Feb 23 – 25 at 8pm, and Feb 25 – 26 at 3pm.

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THE 46th annual edition of the Super Bowl may be screened here at the early hour of 6.25am, but any Bangkok bar with a US flavour is bound to be packed with American football fans getting into the spirit of the occasion. Top picks include Roadhouse Barbecue (Surawaongse Road, and Home Run Bar & Grill (Sukhumvit 31,



SLIP on your running shoes and team up with a buddy to tackle three-eight hours of trekking, mountain biking, canoeing and swimming in the beautiful surroundings of Nong Chok. This annual adventure race, now in its sixth year, is part of the popular Amazing Thailand Adventure Race Series. Two divisions are on offer: Adventure level (45km), which is accessible to anyone with a minimum of fitness; and Extreme (65km), for more experienced athletes. Over 100 teams from around the world are expected to take part. For more info:



THE second Thailand Trail Running Championship kicks off in January with an off-road half marathon (21.5km) in Kao Mai Kaew. There’ll also be a choice of a 10km trial run or 3km fun run/walk. Integrating physical and mental endurance, the great outdoors and adventure, the race is sure to be a blast.



STARTING and finishing at Sanam Chai Road, in front of the Grand Palace, the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon takes runners past a large selection of historical sites and impressive landmarks. Think you’ve got the stamina to take part? Sign up today at


AFTER putting trail runners to the test in China, Australia, Philippines, Japan, and Singapore, The grueling North Face 100 is now coming to Thailand. Set in Samut Songkram province, the trail will lead runners throughout coconut and banana plantations, over rivers and canals, and throughout various traditional Thai temples. Categories include 100km solo; 100km duo which is run in pairs, 50km each; 50km solo; 25km run; and a 10km run. For more info: /



Tottenham v Everton


Aston Villa v Everton Blackburn v Fulham Chelsea v Sunderland Liverpool v Stoke Man Utd v Bolton Tottenham v Wolverhampton West Brom v Norwich


Newcastle v QPR Swansea v Arsenal


Wigan v Man City


Norwich v Chelsea Everton v Blackburn Fulham v Newcastle QPR v Wigan Stoke v West Brom Sunderland v Swansea Wolverhampton v Aston Villa Bolton v Liverpool


Man City v Tottenham Arsenal v Man Utd

For more info and for details about how to sign up see:






THERE’S plenty of fodder for fight fans here as top Muay Thai fighters go up against foreign specialists in karate, judo, wrestling, and kung fu. The highlight of the event will be a bout between kung fu master Erol ‘The Assassin’ and Muay Thai bantumweight champion Jaroenthong Kiatbanchong. Event starts at 3pm. Tickets: 500 – 1,500 baht from

Swansea v Chelsea Tottenham v Wigan Wolverhampton v Liverpool Bolton v Arsenal Man Utd v Stoke Sunderland v Norwich


Aston Villa v QPR Blackburn v Newcastle Everton v Man City Fulham v West Brom


Arsenal v Blackburn Norwich v Bolton QPR v Wolverhampton Stoke v Sunderland West Brom v Swansea Wigan v Everton Man City v Fulham


Newcastle v Aston Villa Chelsea v Man Utd


Liverpool v Tottenham


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Football in focus



By Paul Hewitt


It’s pre-season yet Muangthong United start the year by ‘parting company’ with hugely successful coach Rene Desaeyere. No official reason is given for the departure which tells all in itself: a behind-the-scenes conflict between Rene and the club’s owners. Uncertainty grips Thai Port F.C. In December, the Port Authority, owners of the PAT Stadium, locked the gates as they demanded over a million baht from Thai Port F.C in unpaid rent. By January, it was unclear if Port would even be able to start the season as the PAT and the club were locked in a dispute over a memorandum of understanding (MoU).




Just five games are played on the opening weekend of the TPL. Bangkok Glass get off to a poor start by putting in a dreadful performance and losing 2-1 away at Pattaya. Muangthong United’s season takes an early blow as they fall at the first hurdle of the AFC Champions League. Sriwijaya of Indonesia won the one-off East Zone play-off 7-6 on penalties after the match finished 2-2 AET. The defeat sets the tone for a season of disappointment and underachievement. Rene Desaeyere’s successor in the MTU hot seat, Carlos Carvalho, was sacked in late February after just a month in the job: a chaotic start to the season for the Twin Qilins before they had even played their first TPL match.

The month begins with MTU announcing their new head coach: Henrique Calisto quit his job as coach of the Vietnam national side for a new life in Nonthaburi. Ray Wilkins and Winnie Schaefer, amongst others, had been linked with the job. Calisto’s first task was to witness his new charges being thrashed 3-0 at Army United. The Soldiers enjoy a strong start to the season and move to the top of the table after taking the 2009 and 2010 champions apart in Din Daeng. Things get worse for MTU as they suffer a shocking 5-1 defeat at Osotspa in the middle of the month. At this stage of the season, Bangkok’s big three of Muangthong, Bangkok Glass and Thai Port are all in the bottom half of the table. Some good news for Thai Port as the Super Rich Company Ltd invests heavily in the club.


20,011 spectators watch Muangthong United and fellow title contenders Buriram PEA play out a goalless draw at the Yamaha Stadium. Bangkok Glass’s season goes from bad to worse as they lose 2-1 against a TOT side which had lost five in a row. The embarrassing defeat leaves the Glass Rabbits just three points above the relegation zone. BEC Tero Sasana is the best-performing Bangkok side in April: the Fire Dragons finish the month in third place. Khlong Toey’s Thai Port F.C again found themselves the centre of financial problems in late April. The club’s main backers, Super Rich Co Ltd, threatened to withdraw all funding and take their money elsewhere. That MoU is again at issue. Super Rich are less than happy with its constrictive terms and want the PAT to make some concessions. One effect of the impasse is the non-payment of players’ wages in March and April.


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The Port Authority and Super Rich call a truce. The PAT made the necessary concessions in order to induce Super Rich into signing the MoU. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t to be the last time in the 2011 season that Port’s financial problems made headlines. It’s a bad month for the FAT and president Worawi Makudi in particular. Worawi is accused of attempted profiteering by Lord Triesman in the now infamous ‘television rights’ controversy. And in the same week, Worawi also saw fit to cancel the FAT presidential election at the last minute, allegedly because he was heading for defeat in the poll. Media mogul and Muangthong United owner Ravi Lohtong announces that he wants to sell the club. The owner of Siamsport oversaw MTU’s transformation from an obscure non-league outfit into a title-winning machine and one of the biggest clubs in the country.



Runaway leaders Buriram PEA finally lose a game – 1-0 at Sisaket – but Muangthong and Chonburi, PEA’s main challengers, cut each other’s throats as they draw 1-1 in Chonburi on the same weekend. A host of coaching changes in June: Bryan Robson resigns as coach of the Thai national team; Peter Butler leaves BEC Tero Sasana and Sasom Pobprasert resigns from Thai Port to take the reins at Buriram F.C of Division 1. Sasom’s resignation is, according to the man himself, an act of self-sacrifice. Cash-strapped Port receive a big fee from Buriram to secure Sasom’s services and get big earners off the payroll as four of Port’s best players, along with their coveted coach, head for the northeast. FAT president Worawi Makudi wins the rescheduled election by a huge majority. His first act after re-election is to remove two of his opponents from the FAT executive committee; his second is to appoint Winnie Schaefer as new national team coach.

TPL chiefs extend the June mid-season break by wiping almost all fixtures from the schedule in July. There was really only one story this month: the signing of Robbie Fowler by Muangthong United. He may be 36 and well past his best, but in a country where Liverpool is the best-supported team, the signing of Fowler is greeted with near hysteria by fans and media alike. He even has an audience with Thailand’s new Prime Minister as ‘God’ gets his first taste of an MTU game: a 9-0 demolition of Samut Prakan United in the FA Cup.


And staying with Robbie Fowler, he makes his competitive debut for MTU at the start of the month in a League Cup match against Kasetsart University. He plays for 32 minutes of the second half at the Thupatemi Stadium. Thailand are drawn with Australia, Saudi Arabia and Oman in the third-round group stage of 2014 World Cup Qualifying. The Thais are immediately considered rank outsiders to progress. Muangthong have a good weekend late in the month: a 3-1 win over TOT moves them into second and to within six points of PEA as the leaders are held 1-1 at home by Pattaya and Chonburi lose 1-0 in Phichit.

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Football in focus



Thailand play their first two group-stage World Cup Qualifiers, and the general consensus is “Wow!” The first match, away in Australia, was meant to be a walk in the park for the home side. Instead, Thailand took a 15th-minute lead, and Australia needed a goal four minutes from time to snatch victory, after equalizing midway through the second half. A few days later, back in Bangkok, the Thais took out their frustrations on a hapless Oman side. Schaefer’s marauding Elephants handed the shell-shocked visitors a 3-0 thrashing, and Paul Le Guen’s side got off lightly – a score of 5-0 or 6-0 wouldn’t have flattered the hosts. FAT president Worawi Makudi again came under the glare of an uncomfortably close spotlight. This time, Fifa, the world governing body of which he is an executive committee member, asked him to clarify his legal position in relation to land he owned in Nong Chok. Fifa had reason to believe that Worawi had used funds acquired through Fifa’s ‘Goal’ programme to build the National Football Training Centre on land owned by Worawi. The FAT president strongly denied the accusations and threatened Fifa with legal action.




Robbie Fowler’s first game as head coach is a successful one as Muangthong win 3-1 at Samut Songkhram. Fowler’s predecessor Henrique Calisto was sacked at the end of September. Thai Port’s off-the-pitch problems return. Port’s players claim through the media that they haven’t been paid for three months and will strike unless they receive some cash sharpish. They targeted the League Cup Final on October 15th for their industrial action. But, in the event, the clash with Buriram PEA is postponed owing to the ever-increasing risk of flooding.

There was precious little league action as the schedule is cleared to allow the under-23s maximum preparation time for the SEA Games in Indonesia. Futile generosity on the part of the TPL as the team performs terribly, losing three out of four of their group games thus falling at the first hurdle. The senior men’s national side returns to World Cup action. Unfortunately, some of the hope generated in the early stages of the competition starts to evaporate as Thailand lose back-to-back matches away in Saudi Arabia and at home to Australia. The Thais were outclassed in Riyadh, but gave the Aussies another run for their money. Schaefer’s men should have taken at least a point from the game in Bangkok and possibly all three, but went down 1-0 after conceding another late goal against the Socceroos. Muangthong’s title challenge completely falls apart as they draw at home to Army United and away at BEC Tero whilst rivals PEA win against TTM and Siam Navy.


Buriram PEA wrap up the title with five games to spare by winning away at Army United. Muangthong’s faltering form continues as they draw 2-2 at rock-bottom Khon Kaen – after leading 2-0; lose at home to Siam Navy (MTU’s first home defeat since 2008), lose away at TTM Phichit and lose at home to rivals for second place Chonburi. There’s no change at Thai Port as players continue to claim they are not being paid, or, at best, are being paid irregularly. The fixture fiasco reaches farcical levels. At the time of writing, the season is due to end on January 28th, just two weeks shy of a full year since the season started. “Flooding” is the official excuse for all the delays. In truth, the extended mid-season break in July; the break to allow the under-23s preparation time for the SEA Games in November and the decision by Worawi Makudi at the start of the year not to have scheduled midweek games are really to blame. And the League Cup Final, originally scheduled for October 15th, will now be played sometime in February. In other words, our ‘2012 Season Review’ will also include part of the 2011 season!


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Movies & music JAN 19 HORROR


KATE Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.





WRITER/Director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) delivers a new take of the beloved 1984 classic film. Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) is transplanted from Boston to the small southern town of Bomont where he challenges a ban to music and dancing, revitalizes the town, and falls in love with the minister’s troubled daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) in the process.

MMA superstar Gina Carano stars as Mallory Kane, a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the most dangerous corners of the world. After freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone in her own agency. Now the target of skilled assassins, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive. Also stars Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, and Michael Angarano.



THIS suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, based on the best-selling novel of the same name, explores the factious relationship between a mother and her son. Tilda Swinton, in a bracing, tour-de-force performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller).

Movie screenings are subject to change. Keep up to date at





THE Black Keys last album ‘Brothers’ won three Grammy awards and THIS greatest hits album has been released sold over a million copies – not bad for a to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the garage rock duo from Akron, Ohio – and Manic’s first major single. It features 37 previous single releases from their 10 studio El Kamino is sure to consolidate the band’s superstar status. Gritty, sexy, and hinting albums, plus new single ‘This is the Day.’ at influences from White Stripes, Queens Ranging from the raw energy of ‘Motown Junk’ to the poptastic splendor of ‘Your Love Of The Stone Age, and even Johnny Cash, Alone Is Not Enough,’ the album proves that the album boasts 37 minutes of exhilarating the Welsh rocker’s songs still hold the same rock songs worthy of any arena. If the demise of the White Stripes left a hole in verve and excitement they did on time of your heart, The Black Keys are sure to fill it. release. And that’s impressive.



TOPPING THE UK CHARTS JAN 1982 1. T Rex – Telegram Sam 2. Chicory Tip – Son Of My Father 3. Neil Reid – Mother Of Mine 4. Don McLean – American Pie 5. Chi-Lites – Have You Seen Her 6. America – Horse With No Name 7. Melanie – Brand New Key 8. Al Green – Let’s Stay Together 9. Fortunes – Storm In A Teacup 10. Donnie Elbert – Where Did Our Love Go


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BMW 525d Price: 4,399,000 baht Engine Type In-line 6-cylinder common rail diesel Acceleration 0-100km/h 7.2 sec Maximum Speed (km/h) 236 Average Consumption (km/l) 16.4 Transmission 8-speed sports automatic transmission Steptronic with electronic gear selection and Dynamic Driving Control Wheels 18” light alloy wheels V-spoke style 328 (245/45 R18)

BMW 525d: Redefining diesel

By Maxmilian Wechsler

Classy and quiet, BMW’s luxury sedan is miles ahead of the competition


AFTER test driving the BMW 525d recently I can say without reservation that if you’re considering buying a European sedan which is elegant, comfortable, fast and safe – and can afford to spend 4,399,000 baht – then this is the one to go for! This is not only my recommendation but also the opinion of Nina Hastings and Adam Purcell from The BigChilli, as well as American expatriate Harold Brown, all of whom joined me during the road test as drivers, passengers or both. Like me, they were genuinely impressed by the quietness of the diesel engine, the roomy and superbly equipped cabin, the smooth and comfortable ride, the excellent braking system and the acceleration – from 0-100 km/h in 7.2 seconds, almost in sports car territory. “What a piece of engineering,” remarked Harold after the road test, still


surprised at how the 525d had shattered the preconceptions about diesel-powered passenger cars that are common to most of his countrymen. “Americans usually think of diesel cars as slow, noisy, tank-like vehicles that emit noxious odors and discharge clouds of black smoke. They associate diesel engines with locomotives or the tractor-trailer rigs that crowd the interstate highways in the US.” This perception is due in large part to a myriad of engineering failures in diesel engines manufactured in the past in the US, especially the infamous Oldsmobiles made by General Motors from the late 1970s until 1985. “American consumers have tuned out diesel for 30 years, but hopefully with cars like the 525d around, they will change their minds like I have,” Harold

said enthusiastically. I must confess that, until recently, I was also not a fan of diesel engines; the noise and vibration found in even the best models put me off. But I changed my mind completely after a few days with the BMW X3xDrive 20d, which is powered by an in-line 4/4 engine (see the review in The BigChilli, Dec 11). I can certify that the 525d, with its in-line 6-cylinder common rail diesel engine is even better. This is logical, because more cylinders mean less noise and more power, and this applies to petrol engines as well. “The 525d model is so quiet that while idle you can hardly tell that you are sitting in a diesel-powered car,” said Nina after taking a turn at the wheel. She was also overwhelmed by the handling, well laid-out dashboard with clearly visible dials and easy-to-reach controls. And the


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driver’s seat “couldn’t be better.” Nina said the acceleration and overall performance are remarkable considering the size and weight of the car. It all adds up to an extraordinary experience for both driver and passengers, she added. Nina’s only unfavorable comment was that she didn’t like the cinnamon brown colour of the seats and dark interior, which she described as “boring.” Everyone liked the black exterior, which looks stately and prestigious in a large car. Passengers Adam and Harold praised the comfort of the seats in front and back. “These are perfectly designed with a flawless finishing. They’re so comfortable that you could almost fall to sleep,” said Adam who also commented on the generous legroom in front and back of the car: “You can stretch and spread your legs without feeling cramped and uncomfortable,” he said, as Harold agreed. BMW 525 is without a doubt a superbly engineered, robust, top-quality, well-built, fast car made from high quality materials. I’ll go so far as to say that if there were a Nobel Prize for engineering, BMW would have a very good chance of winning for developing such an extraordinary car and engine. You don’t hear the motor running or any other noises from the outside while sitting in the sound-proof cabin, and with the superb 12-speaker audio system you can escape the hectic world for a while. Speaking of the cabin, this one is much better than the previous generation of the 5 Series. Everything is placed exactly where you like to have it and where it

should be. The current 5 Series is the sixth generation since BMW began the series in 1972, and uses a shortened version of the 7 Series platform that results in the roomy cabin and generous legroom throughout. The boot is also quite large and able to accommodate a lot of luggage. There might be a negative aspect to all the comfort and quiet, because even when you are doing 200km/h, the tranquil atmosphere inside the cabin makes it feel like you are only doing half that. This could earn you a ticket for speeding on highways where police are using radar guns. Setting the cruise control to an allowed maximum speed should be the answer. As for the braking, while going 210 km/h on the Bangkok-Chonburi elevated expressway and stepping on the brake, the car stopped quickly without swerving,

If there were a Nobel Prize for engineering, BMW would have a very good chance of winning for developing such an extraordinary car and engine.

sliding or spinning. Not long ago an employee of BMW Thailand told me something that I will never forget: “Don’t judge a car by how many seconds it takes to reach 100km/h, but on how many seconds it will take to stop safely at that speed.” It is not only the engine inside the 525d but the whole car which is so well constructed. All four of us went inch by inch over its interior and exterior, short of sticking a nose inside the engine or gearbox, but failed to find any significant fault. However, we were a little puzzled by a slot for the electronic key, because when inserted it prevented the lid from closing on a compartment that also includes two cup holders. Maybe the designers could explain this minor glitch. Still excited a few days after the road test, Harold sent me an email with some further comments on the car: “I was very impressed with the smooth ride and overall comfort of the BMW 525d. As we rolled swiftly down the Bangkok-Chonburi elevated expressway, I was thinking that this car was the king of the road. I felt completely safe while you maneuvered the car at high speed through the traffic (which was heavier than usual because the toll had been lifted that day) to test

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the performance. Even when we changed lanes often and you had to brake quickly, the ride stayed smooth. There was no jerking around at all.” A senior sales consultant from BMW Millennium Auto, Thailand’s biggest BMW dealer, described the 525d as a mid-size executive and family car that has sold extremely well since it was introduced to the Thai market in August 2010. “The car is used by executives more in Thailand than, for example, in Europe, where in comparison with Thailand the 5 Series is ranked like a Toyota Camri. If you are an executive with a driver and sit in the back then you will appreciate the legroom and overall space,” the consultant said. “Like other models made in Thailand, the car is assembled at a plant in Rayong, with the same reliability and excellent workmanship and quality as those from the factory in Germany.” He added that the production line in Rayong has not been affected by the floods, nor has the supply chain, as has been the case for other brands. When the 525d was first introduced in Thailand customers had to wait five to six


months for delivery, but production has been increased and the wait is now shorter. “Right now, the waiting period for the 5 Series and especially for the diesel engines depends on the colour. For some you have to wait two or three months and for others you can pick up the car immediately,” the consultant said, adding that the car comes in five exterior and two interior colours. He said the 5 Series accounts for 35 to 40 per cent of the total BMW market in Thailand, with 70 to 80 per cent of all 5 Series sold being diesel engines. Asked why diesels are selling so well, he said: “Because of three main advantages over the petrol engines: Economy (low fuel consumption), higher torque and better acceleration.” When asked what makes the 525d better than its competitors, the consultant said: “the acceleration, handling and braking system are all superior. There are also features for extra convenience such as the iDrive, which integrates the functions of a large number of switches. These can be controlled from one central point, for example to check navigation information or locate radio stations or telephone numbers you have saved. “The highlight of the car is the Integral Active Steering (IAS), which is a combination of active steering and


rear-wheel steering. In critical driving situations, IAS steering can stabilize the vehicle by specifically steering the front and rear wheels before the driver intervenes. The car also has Dynamic Driving Control (DDC), which allows you to adjust suspension from Comfort to Normal to Sport and Sport +.” “As for major safety features, among others, the 525d, has six airbags located in front, on sides and the head. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) prevents the driven wheels losing traction when you accelerate, or pull away from rest.” When the consultant was asked why 525ds assembled in Thailand are not equipped with cameras or night vision as in some sold in other countries, he replied: “These options would make the car more expensive. Maybe we will add these features here in the future but I can’t say when.” As always, the 525d comes with the BMW Service Inclusive warranty – good for five years or 100,000 kilometers, whichever comes first. This car is such a pleasure to drive that it is more than likely to be the latter.

NEXT MONTH: MINI Cooper S Coupé THE BigChilli is the first magazine in Thailand to road test MINI’s first two-seater sports car. Made in Britain, the vehicle was introduced to the Thai public at The 28th Thailand International Motor Expo 2011, and in early December we were given the opportunity to take it for a four-day test drive. Is the car worth all the hype? Find out in next month’s issue!


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p Deals and news from Thailand’s hottest destinations

This Feb, The Spa by MSpa at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok will offer a Valentine’s spa package for couples. Page 114.

Mate’s Rates

Friends or family visiting Bangkok? Let them know about these deals! Page 116

Hua Hin

Read more about the town’s best resorts and restaurants Page 118


A round up of hot news and deals from the Eastern Seaboard Page 126 TheBigChilli 111

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Spectacular sailing at The Phuket King’s Cup ASIA’S biggest and most popular regatta marked its 25th anniversary last month with one of its best regattas yet 112


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See all picture the s the reg from closing atta’s p thebigc ar ty on


HELD from Dec 3 – Dec 10 on the waters off Phuket’s Kata Beach, the 2011 Phuket King’s Cup Regatta boasted a record fleet of over 120 boats, ranging from the high tech yachts in Racing Class, to live-aboard ocean cruisers, multihulls and classics. What’s more, for the first time in the Regatta’s 25 year history, the event also featured a Kiteboarding Class, with 20 international riders taking part in the exhibition event. First sailed in 1987 to celebrate His Majesty the King of Thailand’s 60th birthday, the Phuket King’s Cup is now a principal fixture on the Asian Yacht Circuit. Every year it attracts over 2,000 participants from all around the world who enjoy not only the spectacular sailing, but also a series of superb beachfront parties at some of Phuket’s best hotels and restaurants. Offering free-flowing booze and mountains of tasty food alongside some cracking live entertainment, the parties are almost as legendary as the action on the water. Pictured on these pages, amongst the sailing shots, are images from the regatta’s closing party at Kata Beach Resort & Spa, which was hosted by PTT Group and attended by hundreds of sailors, partygoers and media from around the world. The fun-packed function began with a fireworks display and then featured a roster of entertainment which included live music by the Big Bamboo Band, a DJ spinning funky beats, a Daft Punk-style dance troupe with dazzling ‘robot’ dance moves, and some vintage

rhythm and blues courtesy of The Pjay Standley Band. The party provided a fitting end to what the organizers say is one of the best regattas they have ever held. “This anniversary year has been an event of particular poignancy,” said Kevin Whitcraft, President of the Phuket King’s Cup Organising Committee. “To see a great number of keelboats and multihulls, strong levels of ability in the International Dinghy Class and the introduction of Kiteboards, this has been one of the most exciting Regattas in years. “Our sponsors have also supported us strongly each and every day, and everybody has had an enjoyable week. The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is renowned throughout Asia, and with good wind and beautiful conditions, the racing has not disappointed. We continue to push the Regatta, to innovate and to improve it, so it has lived up to its billing as the best Regatta in recent years.” Sponsors of the 2011 Phuket King’s Cup Regatta included Kata Group Resorts Thailand, PTT Group, Siam Winery, Singha Corporation, AIA Thailand, PTT Global Chemical, PTTEP, Thaioil, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket, Boathouse and Sunsail. Under Royal Patronage, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is organised by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organising Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club. For more info visit

The winners IRC Zero Class Team Premier’s skipper Hannes Weimer and crew took a win from the first race and a second in the final race to conclude the series as IRC Zero Class winner on 13 points, ahead of Neil Pryde’s ‘Hi Fi’ and Sam Chan’s ‘Freefire’ in second and third respectively.

IRC 1 Class The IRC 1 Class was arguably the most competitive of all with 13 boats and sailors of 17 different nationalities. Winning entry ‘Karasu’ is the first-ever all-Japanese team to win their class at the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta.

IRC 2 Class Thailand scored a magnificent victory in IRC 2 Class, as Chief Petty Officer First Class Wiwat Poonpat’s team on ‘Royal Thai Navy 1’ honoured His Majesty the King of Thailand with a clear class win.

Kiteboard Class In the Kiteboard Class, an exciting exhibition event at this year’s Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, France’s Olivier Dansin won four out of five races in the Series to be the runaway winner. Thai star and two-time Asian Champion, Narapichit Pudla, finished second overall with Turkey’s Salih Alexander in third.

For a full list of winners in all classes see:

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Exclusive resident rates at Anantara Chiang Rai


and Beyond

IF you’re Thai or live in Thailand and hold a valid work permit, Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa in Chiang Rai has a deal for you. The Lanna-inspired resort is offering stays in its Deluxe 3 Country View room for 7,500 baht per night, Anantara Suite at 15,500 baht per night, and Suite 3 Country View room at 17,000 baht per night. Rates include breakfast for two. A range of activities are available at the resort such as elephant trekking and mahout lessons. Promotion is valid until the end of March.

Tel: 053 784 084, email:


New spa treatments and special deals


THIS Feb, The Spa by MSpa at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok will offer a Valentine’s spa package for couples called “In the Mood for Love.” The package includes a 30 minute Chocolate Body Scrub, 30 minute Romance Blooming Milk Bath, 60 minute Aromatic Massage, and a free gift to take home. Conducted in one of the spa’s luxurious double suites, the treatment is 2,000 baht per couple. The Spa by MSpa, Tel: 02 250 1000, email:

Modern facial treatment CONRAD BANGKOK, UNTIL JAN 31

SEASONS Spa at Conrad Bangkok has introduced a new facial treatment specially designed to counter the affects of stress and pollution. Called ‘Modern Skin Facial,’ the package is conducted using superior products from Elemis and is 3,900 baht per person. Tel: 02 690 9355 email:


SPA Athénée’s new head-to-toe spa treatments are specially tailored to suit a client’s blood type. So A, B, and O blood types all receive different therapies conducted using specially formulated oils, lotions and aromas. There’s a choice of Signature Therapies (pampering and beautifying), Lifestyle Therapies (soothing and restoring), or Massage Therapies. A four-hour long ‘Blood Type Therapy Retreat’ package features a 30 minute steam; 30 minute exfoliation; three minute ginseng bath; 30 minute tourmaline body wrap; and a 90 minute aromatic gems massage. Priced 8,200 baht. Tel: 02 650 8800 ext. 5001 email:


New All Seasons Hotel in Chiang Mai

HOTEL operator Accor has extended its services to the North of Thailand by opening a new property called ‘All seasons Chiang Mai’. Located in the heart of Chiang Mai, near Phu Come Intersection, this modern hotel features 70 guestrooms decorated in a minimalist modern style and decked out with all the usual modern conveniences. Until March 31, the hotel’s introductory rates start at only 1,185 baht for a Standard Room and 1,422 baht for a Superior Room (inclusive of breakfast buffet and Wi-Fi internet). For more info:

New Executive Assistant Manager for Rembrandt

REMBRANDT Hotel Bangkok’s executive team has appointed Mr James Miller as the hotel’s new Executive Assistant Manager. With over 18 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, James has worked at world-renowned hotels, resorts, restaurant groups and consulting companies in the United States, Hong Kong and Thailand. Prior to joining the Rembrandt, he worked for the Six Senses & Evason Resorts & Spas group in Hua Hin, Thailand. James’ predecessor, Simon Pedro Rindlisbacher, is now the General Manager of the Ramada Hotel & Suites Bangkok.

Tel: 02 261 7100


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s ’ e t a M s rate

amily f r o s d Frien kok? g n a B visiting now about k Let them e deals thes

• Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom: Until April, the • Novotel Bangkok Platinum:

Until June 30, this new hotel at Platinum Fashion Mall is offering introductory rates for its Superior Rooms starting at 3,300++ baht per room per night (inclusive of American buffet breakfast for two persons). Tel: 02 160 7111 email:

hotel is offering a ‘Stay 3 Pay 2’ deal starting at 2,200++ baht for a Standard Room (room only). Prepayment required. Tel: 02 206 9100 email:

• Grand Millennium Sukhumvit: Until Feb 12, a

‘Merriment Package’ offers 25% discount off the best available rates for Deluxe or Grand Deluxe Rooms. To qualify, quote ‘Merriments.’ Tel: 02 204 4000 email:

• Grande Centre Point Hotel & Residence Sukhumvit - Terminal 21:

Until March 31, this brand new property is offering a special opening rate starting at 3,100 baht per Superior Room per night (inclusive of breakfast for two persons and internet access). The hotel is located next to Terminal 21 shopping mall and Asok BTS and MRT stations. Tel: 02 681 9000 email:

• Novotel Bangkok Fenix Ploenchit: Until Feb

29, the hotel’s “City Breaks” package offers rates starting from 2,400++ baht per room per night, with free breakfast for two persons per day. There’s also the option of 5pm check-out on Sunday.

• Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok: Until

March 31, this new hotel is offering introductory rates ranging from 2,350 baht for a Superior room to 6,850 baht for an Executive Suite (includes breakfast for two). All rates are available for Thai residents and expatiates based in Thailand only. Tel: 02 212 3738 email: rsvnm@

• Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square: The hotel’s ‘Hot

Deal’ promotion offers 15% discount on best unrestricted room rates starting at 2,975++ baht per room per night. Online booking and prepayment is required. Tel: 02 209 888

• Aloft Bangkok – Sukhumvit 11:

The hotel’s ‘One Night in Bangkok’ package offers rates starting 2,811++ baht for a Chic room and 3,111++ baht for an Urban room including daily semi-lunch (for two persons), two daily cocktails, free entry to Bangkok’s trendiest clubs (Bed Supperclub and Q bar) and late check-out. Booking is available now until June 30 and the promotion is valid until the end of Oct. Quote APPKG5 when booking. Tel: 02 207 7000 email:



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Romantic Monday movie ■ COUPLES looking for a fun date should check out the new Romantic Monday movie night at Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa. Held at the resort’s lagoon pool from 7pm – 9pm, the event features a romantic box office hit enjoyed from the comfort of the hotel’s sun loungers. Plenty of drinks and snacks are available. Find out the movie schedule by contacting the resort’s Chief Experience Guru. Tel: 032 520 250

to t o N s! mis

Hua Hin International Film Festival 2012

■ MOVIE fans take note – the Hua Hin International Film Festival 2012 will be held in Hua Hin from Jan 26 – 29. In four days over 50 movies will be screened representing both box office and festival hits from ASEAN, Asia, and Hollywood. Screenings will take place at InterContinental Hua Hin Resort, Major Cineplex, Vic Hua Hin and Centennial Park. A program of industry seminars will focus on inter-ASEAN co-operation, and there’ll also be an exhibition to honor the photographic talents of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and outdoor activities at Centennial Park. The event is being organized by the National Federation of Thai Film Associations in conjunction with Hua Hin Municipality, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province and The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). A full schedule of movies and seminars can be found on the festival’s website,

Hilton GMs’ charity day out ■ HILTON Hua Hin Resort & Spa’s General Manager, Mr. Boris Blobel, took a group of GMs from Hilton Hotels in Southeast Asia to visit the children at the Baan Nong Ka Thum School in Prachuap Khiri Khan. The GMs, who had traveled to Hua Hin for the Southeast Asia GM Meeting 2011, spent time playing games with the children and also donated educational gifts and sports equipment to the school. Tel: 032 538 999

Charity concert for flood victims

Truly Thai buffet night

■ SKAL Club of Hua Hin and Cha Am teamed up with Rotary Club of Royal Hua Hin to organize a flood charity fundraising concert named ‘Reach out, Rebuild, and Restore.’ Held last month in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin, the event featured performances by Canadian classical guitarist Paul Bankes, and Khun Nan Sathida Prompiriya, winner of five Gold Medals at the World Championships of Performing Arts 2011 in Los Angeles. The event was a huge success, with around 200 guests turning up to enjoy the show.

■ EVERY Wed night, Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa is offering a Thai Extravaganza Dinner Buffet featuring many popular Thai dishes such as Spicy and sour prawn with lemongrass; Fish cakes; Prawns in blankets; and a variety of seafood. Adding to the fun is a Muay Thai kick boxing show. The buffet is 750++ baht (food only) and 990++ baht with free flow local beers and soft drinks.

Tel: 032 521 234 email: huahin.regency@hyatt. com


Tel: 032 511 881 ext. 1804 email:

Royal & Ancients at Banyan Golf Club ■ GOLFERS were given a fascinating insight into the workings of the game when Mr. Michael Coffey, committee member of The Royal and Ancients, organizers of The Open Championship, held a special talk at the December edition of the club’s popular monthly golf and wine dinners. Michael talked more about his role with the Ancients and explained what factors make an exceptional golf course. Prior to dinner he played a round at the club and was suitably impressed. “The layout and set up is first class,” he said. “The choice of native grasses for the majority of the course is exactly what we are trying to teach other courses around the world.” Tel: 032 616 200


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THE AUTHENTIC TASTE OF INDIA – IN HUA HIN A GM from Bombay, a chef from Calcutta, kebabs and Nan bread fresh from the Tandoor oven – yep, Hua Hin has finally got its first authentic Indian restaurant SEAFOOD, seafood, and more seafood tends to be the diet of most visitors to Hua Hin, but if you fancy a break from maritime bounty you should definitely pay a visit to Thank you in Indian. Located at the recently opened Colonnade Mall in the center of Hua Hin, Thank You in Indian is the resort town’s first authentic Indian restaurant. And while it may not be much to look at – it’s a simple coffee-shop

style eatery with white washed walls and orange tables – it has a wonderfully relaxed vibe and provides plenty of wow factor with its food. The restaurant’s General manager, Bunty Mulajker, hails from Bombay and has rich experience working in the hospitality trade in Thailand. Prior to joining Thank you in Indian he was the operations manager at the popular Grass Thonglor in Bangkok. “I know what

customers want from a dining experience,” he says when asked how he plans to make the restaurant a hit with diners. “They want authentic flavours, good quality, and excellent value. And that’s what we aim to provide.” While that sounds like the typical spiel of any restaurateur, Thank you in Indian does offer what Bunty promises. The menu (for both dine-in and takeaway) offers a wide selection of curries in chicken,

mutton, seafood, and vegetarian categories, and they range in price from just 80 – 100 baht. Freshly baked Nan bread starts at just 25 baht, Papadums at 20 baht, and Tikka kebabs at 120 baht. All portions are generous. Giving the restaurant its stamp of authenticity is Chef Sajed Shaik from Calcutta. He follows traditional Indian recipes and cooks using only the finest ingredients. His curries arrive at the table with wonderful aromas,

vibrant colours, and packed full of flavour. His Tandoori meats, marinaded overnight and cooked to order, are wonderfully succulent and tasty to boot. For such a small venue, the attention to detail and focus on quality is impressive, and very welcome too. Thank you, Thank you in Indian.


Visit the restaurant this month and you can enjoy the following promotions: Tandoor Platter (12 pieces) featuring chicken, fish, lamb, beef, prawns for only 350 baht (Dine-in and take away); Chef ’s special Set Menu, featuring Chicken tikka masala, Mutton rogan josh, Chicken Vindaloo (Spicy), Yellow dal, Yellow rice (Pulav) and plain rice with Fresh Nan breads and papadums for only 250 baht. Colonnade Mall (Hua Hin Center), Tel: 08 431 96449. Open daily 10am – 11pm. Full takeaway menu available.



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Hua Hin Where to eat Oceanside Beach Club Cocktails

Chom Talay

■ Set in the beautiful Putahracsa Hua Hin resort, this relaxing beachfront restaurant offers a great selection of international food, drinks and music. You can tuck into seafood with piquant Thai sauces or devour huge slabs of meat fresh from the grill. The Jumbo Tiger prawns, Rock lobster, and New Zealand lamb chops score particularly good marks here. Other bonuses include a great sea view, and a long list of delightfully boozy cocktails. Open 5 pm onwards.

■ This delightful beachfront restaurant is a great spot for alfresco dining. Pushed up against the water’s edge it has an easy going charm, good food and drink. The menu features a wide selection of delicious seafood dishes. Of note is the stir fried mud crab with X.O. sauce. A piquant tom yam with fresh prawns, pineapple and the flesh of young coconut offers an interesting variation on a classic dish. Open from 11am till 10pm.

22/65 Nahb Kaehat Road, Hua Hin Tel: 032 531 470

Phetkasem Road, Hua Hin, (next to the airport). Tel: 032 547 253-4

Rocks Restaurant

Papa John’s Grill Restaurant & Beer Garden

■ This chic all-day-dining restaurant at the Cape Nidhra Hotel, Hua Hin offers a delectable selection of Italian and French favourites together with other international cuisines and local favourites. Designed to enhance a visitor’s holiday experience, this eatery provides a relaxing atmosphere and great a nice view out over the beach. The breakfast buffet is priced at 600 baht. If you stop by in the afternoon, Pavlova is a must to accompany an English Afternoon Tea set. Open 6.30am - 11pm.

■ In business for over 13 years, this popular diner has established a large and loyal clientele of locals and returning holidaymakers. The secret to the restaurant’s success is the owner’s welcoming nature and an extensive menu of good honest well cooked food. Papa John’s is a spacious open-sided restaurant with a bar area ideal for pre-dinner drinks while you survey the excellent selection of dishes on the menu. Try the fillet, T-bone or rib-eye, each very reasonably priced. The ideal venue for European comfort food and a drink with friends.

97/2 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin Tel: 032 516 600

1/54 Soi Moobaan Khao Takiab, Nong Kae, Hua Hin Tel: 032 514 295

Hagi Japanese Restaurant ■ This stylish Japanese restaurant established by the Sofitel Centara Grand Resort & Villas possesses an air of sophistication and understated beauty. Diners can enjoy an excellent selection of contemporary and traditional Japanese dishes, each one beautifully executed and presented with artistic flair. The eclectic menu features sushi, sashimi, noodles, and much more. A 16-seat teppanyaki kitchen turns cooking into theatre, creating a dramatic dining experience. The restaurant has also started to run weekly cooking classes. Open from 3pm - 10.30pm. Damnernkasem Road intersection. Tel: 032 512 021-38

Thank You in Indian Restaurant ■ Hua Hin’s only authentic Indian restaurant enjoys a superb location right in the middle of Nudphob Market. The comprehensive menu covers everything from traditional Indian starters, main courses, seafood and vegetarian dishes, featuring chicken Samosa, Beef Sheek Kebab, Mutton Pepper Fry curry, and many more. As you would expect at any good Indian restaurant, each creation is full of herbs and spices and well-prepared by experienced chefs from India. The restaurant also provides homemade Nan bread and kebabs from their Tandoor oven. Every order comes with a spicy eggplant gravy and Ratia (cucumber, onion, tomatoes, and chilli diced in a yogurt sauce). Guests can dine in or take-away. Open 10am - 11pm. Tel: 084 319 6449, 087 164 7668



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Hua Hin Where to sleep Baan Bayan

The Cape Nidhra Hotel, Hua Hin

■ This fine resort features one of Hua Hin’s finest examples of early 1900’s architectural style. The beachfront resort has been faithfully restored to its former glory by the family who once lived there. Guests staying at Baan Bayan can experience the glory of a bygone era in its colonial style structure, yet without sacrificing the modern day comforts and amenities. It has 21 rooms comprising of three suites, 10 sea view rooms and 16 rooms with views of the courtyard or tropical garden.

■ Located in the heart of Hua Hin right next to the beach, this luxury hotel combines comfort and convenience for the perfect escape. Each suite is well-furnished in stylish décor and each has its own private swimming pool. General facilities include a fitness center, a swimming pool, steam rooms, spa, library, and meeting functions. Rocks Restaurant serves up a wide range of international dishes and local favourites, while the beachside bar, and the cigar and whisky bar, mix up some excellent cocktails.

119 Petchkasem Road. Tel: 032 533 544

97/2 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin Tel: 032 516 600

Sofitel Centara Grand Resort & Villas

Putahracsa Hua Hin

■ Set within 13 hectares of landscaped gardens, the property dates back to 1923 and is one of Southeast Asia’s most renowned hotels. The luxurious colonial-era beachfront resort features 207 beautifully appointed guestrooms and suites, each one offering comfort and convenience. The Pool Villas include four Deluxe Spa Villas with queen sized twin bed, lounging area, bathroom with rain shower, and oversized Jacuzzi bathtub. Refined dining is available at Sala Thai, Hagi, the Railway Restaurant, and Palm Terrace. Guests can unwind in the Elephant Bar or Satchmo Club.

■ This stylish resort skillfully marries Mediterraneaninfluenced villa accommodation with the best contemporary Thai interior design flair to create a unique experience. Putahracsa is a secluded sanctuary with 36 SilkSand rooms bordering a magnificent swimming pool and mini beach. Interiors emphasize the ‘sleek and chic’ approach to modern design. The Oceanbed Villas are truly exceptional, providing some of the highest quality accommodation and service in Hua Hin. The resort features a day spa, and superb dining opportunities at Nahb Talay and Oceanside.

1 Damnernkasem Road, Hua Hin. Tel: 032 512 021-38

22/65 Nahb Kaehat Road. Tel: 032 531 470

Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa ■ This imposing resort in the centre of Hua Hin is regarded as one of the best family hotels in the region. Accommodation features comfortable rooms and suites, providing guests with a living space that exhibits contemporary Thai design flair and good in-room amenities. There are also 11 Spa Suites available. The award-winning White Lotus on the 17th floor of the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa offers sky-high dining at down to earth prices. 33 Naresdamri Road. Tel: 032 538 999

Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa ■ Sheraton brand in Hua Hin is a delightful low-rise resort comprising of 240 luxurious rooms and suites, 56 of which have direct access to a 200-metre lagoon-style swimming pool. Stylish and elegant, they provide a generous 49 square metres of light and airy living space. Facilities at the resort include five restaurants and bars, the highlight being InAzia, the resort’s signature restaurant. Other options include Luna Lanai, a laidback beachfront bar. The Aspadeva Spa offers an extensive menu of massage and body services. 1573 Petchkasem Road, Cha-Am. Tel: 032 708 080



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Hua Hin Dune Sky Bar

Where to drink ■ Located on the rooftop of the boutique Dune Hotel, the Dune Sky Bar offers sweeping views of Hua Hin and is a great place to drop by for boozy cocktails and tasty international eats. Recently given a New York-inspired overhaul, the bar is stylishly furnished with eco-friendly furniture, including dining chairs made of recycled plastic bottles. Chilled out beats and subdued lighting make this one of the hippest relaxed hangouts in town. Tel: 032 515 051-3 email:

Mondo Vino

■ This stylish-yet-casual wine bar should be the top of any oenophile’s list of places to visit in Hua Hin. You’ll find a large range of wines from new and old worlds (with an emphasis on Italian brands), available by the glass or bottle at more than reasonable prices. Accompanying the premium wines is a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, fresh hams, pizza, and pasta. Monthly promotions and wine tastings mean there is always something exciting going on here – simply check the website to keep up to date. Tel: 032 531 493

Sala Wine Bar and Bistro

■ No visit to Hua Hin is complete without a trip up to Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, home of the award winning Monsoon Valley Wines. Here you can journey into the vineyards to learn more about New Latitude Wines, or simply head straight to the winery’s Bistro, which is housed in a beautiful sala and serves a wide range of Thai and international eats and, of course, Siam Winery’s finest wines. An onsite shop sells premium Thai wines, souvenirs and other quality grape-based products. Tel: 081 701 8874-5, 081 701 2222, 081 701 0444

The Veranda Lodge Huahin

113 Soi Hua Hin 67, Petch Kasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuab 77110, THAILAND Tel: +66 32 533678 Fax: +66 32 533679 Website: , Email: AD Veranda Lodge_Sep11.indd 1

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Woodlands opens with a new look ■ AFTER undergoing extensive renovations the Woodlands Hotel & Resort, which has been operating in Pattaya for over 24 years, has now re-opened with a vibrant new look. All of the hotel’s Superior rooms have been given a contemporary makeover, with the addition of modern furniture, HD TVs, and integrated media hubs. The hotel’s Lobby Bar has also been totally revamped and now offers a more relaxed environment and comfy sofas for guests to lounge in. Tel: 038 421 707 / Tel: 038 052 299

Nice surprise for the Mayor

■ PATTAYA Marriott Resort & Spa, led by Director of Operations Mr. Dylan Counsel and Marketing Communications Manager Khun Asanee Intaring, visited Pattaya City Mayor Khun Itthiphol Kunplome last month to present him with a festive hamper and wish him and his family all the best for the new year.

New luxury property coming in 2015 Thailand’s first Dead Sea treatment ■ WANT to benefit from the health boosting properties of the Dead Sea but don’t have the cash to travel to Jordan or Israel? Then simply pay a visit to the new Spa Cenvaree at Nova Hotel & Spa Pattaya. The recently opened spa is the first in Thailand to offer spa treatments using imported sea salt and mud from the Dead Sea. A Day package starts at 999++ baht per person and features a salt bath, one massage and one mud treatment of your preference. Other detoxification programs with Dead Sea mud wraps and body polishes are available. Tel: 038 725 999

Martini and manicures at eforea spa ■ IF your hands resemble those of an overworked farmer’s then there’s nothing like a good manicure to restore some vitality. You’ll find a good option this month at Hilton Pattaya’s eforea spa, which is offering its manicures and pedicures at the special price of 800 baht each, or both for 1,200 baht. What’s more, add 400 baht and you get unlimited Martinis. Open 10am-10pm.

■ CENTARA Hotels & Resorts plans to open a new five-star hotel and residential complex at Pattaya’s Jomtien Beach in 2015. The high-rise beachfront development will consist of three towers, one of which will contain the 200-room Centara Grand Pattaya, with the other two towers branded as Centara Grand Residence and containing 283 privately owned apartment units. Centara will manage the entire project, which is being developed by the Tulip Group. The apartments units have already gone on sale, with sole agent CB Richard Ellis reporting 55 units sold within the first 48 hours. For more info:

Accommodation deal at Siam Bayview ■ SIAM Bayview Hotel, Pattaya is now offering an exclusive ‘Bayview Getaway’ which features five nights staying in its Deluxe Room (inclusive of breakfast for one), a food-and-beverage voucher for 1,000 baht, a buy-one-get-onefree drinks deal at Poolside Bar (3pm-5pm), late check-out, a welcome drink, and 15% discount on additional nights. The package starts at 12,900++ baht per person and is valid until the end of March. Tel: 038 423 877 email:

For more info:



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Event in focus

Hilton Pattaya turns one with a party ■Hilton Pattaya, led by the hotel’s Director of Business Development, Ms. Peta Ruiter, celebrated its first anniversary last month with a day-long party offering special deals for diners at its Edge and Flare restaurants. Among the offerings were a free glass of champagne, a slice of birthday cake, and a chance to win 365 prizes.



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LIVING AND WORKING ON THE EDGE IN PATTAYA By Thailand-based TV host and Capital TV producer Raine Grady


OUR team has been making TV programs and short films for many networks and clients over the years and a few of those have been in the edgy resort city of Pattaya. Pattaya is known for many things, a few of them infamous and a quite a few of them seedy, but over recent years I’ve been bback ack there more and more often for productions p roductions on five star projects. Suddenly Pattaya P attaya is home to some of Thailand’s best hotels h otels and its now the new destination for high end property developments with prices to match. On this occasion I was there to make a short film for a new project called the Waterfront. Its name suggests exactly where it is, on the water front near Pattaya’s Bali Hai Pier. It’s been newly taken over by the Tulip Group, the name behind some of Pattaya’s leading projects such as Centara Grand Residence, the Centara Avenue Residence & Suites, The Cliff, Amari Residences and several other projects, all in prime locations. Once it’s complete, this stunning 50story tower will consist of 300 residences and a 100 room hotel managed by the London-based Park Plaza Group Europe. It


will in fact be the group’s first hotel in Asia. Why Pattaya? Partly because the Chairman of Park Plaza Group, Eli Papouchado fell in love with the destination and partly because his partner in the project, Tulip Group CEO Kobi Elbaz, is a force to be reckoned with in this town when it comes to luxury development. So why was I here? “I want you to make a movie for me about the Waterfront project” Kobi told me. “And hurry up because we’ve already sold 50 percent of the units.” OK, sounds interesting, but right now I am standing on the site looking at a pretty nice multi-level showroom and a sizeable hole in the ground. Construction is well underway but it will be several years before the building is complete. So how do I take a crew of 10 people, two top models, and make this into a movie? Well, just ask any top developer. It’s all about building a dream. We began with the concept. The Waterfront’s theme is “living on the edge.”

That was something cool to work with right from the start. Our model Redin Hadzic was of Bosnian origin and a familiar face on Thai TV commercials. His role was to emulate a film noir Phillip Marlow character and head into Pattaya like a detective on a mission. To capture the mood, the whole production was to be produced in black and white with only the colour red appearing. If you’ve seen the opening of the movie Sin City you’ll know what I mean. Our mystery girl was Zoom model Polina Kondratikova, a Russian bombshell, who would appear throughout the video, mysteriously surprising our lead actor and then finally meeting him at the end. Scene one began with the car. No suave detective should arrive in Pattaya in a pickup truck. “Use my car,” said Kobi. The latest Mercedes SL55? Well, OK. I was lucky enough to collect the car myself. A few instructions later and I was casually driving down Pattaya beach road, top down, traveling in style. The drama began when I stopped at


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an ATM for some cash. I wandered over, smiled smugly at the dazzled tourists and jumped back in. The only problem was, I couldn’t restart the car. You don’t look too cool when furiously pushing a dozen buttons and all you can do is raise the roof. After a few false starts, the first day of the shoot was upon us. The next drawback was that Redin was so nervous driving our gorgeous Mercedes that he refused to do a U turn, just in case he scratched something. That entailed me on one end of the road and assistant producer Billy Vaughan on the other end waiting for our model to drive nonchalantly past on film and then screech to a halt so we could jump in to turn the car around. The audience of road workers standing nearby no doubt thought we were a bunch of mad Farangs who’d gone crazy in the midday heat. Well, they weren’t totally wrong.

dazzling pair of red speedos. Even more amazing than the colour was the fact that we actually got our model to wear them. On the beach, we relied on local designer Louisa from Regardez Moi to prepare our red bikinis and beach wear for Polina. Louisa actually sewed them up the night before. From the passing traffic we stopped her innovations were a big success. Well, that and the 2 hours of footage the cameraman took before he was forced to yell “cut”. The next day, Polina was due to join us for a shoot on a luxury yacht. Just offshore from the Waterfront project, at Bali Hai, our vessel was neatly bobbing in the water. However the dingy had broken down and while we could see where we had to go, how to get there? Why not ask a local speedboat operator? “5,000 baht, madam, I take you there!” “Oh sure, you want to take me for a 200 meter ride?!”

destination - a multi-million baht gleaming white machine. So near and yet so far. Finally, after a few prayers and some minor screaming fits, we made it. The sky was blue and the seas were rough but I will say the footage looked great, in between 10 minute emergency bathroom breaks for half the team. Looking back to the Pattaya City sign atop the hill on shore and the site of the Waterfront just below, you can imagine what an amazing spot this would be to live or stay on a holiday. It’s without a doubt one of the best locations in town for those who want to be on the edge of the city and the sea. The views sweep across Pattaya Bay and by the time the project’s complete this will also be home to Pattaya’s new marina. It will be a boat owner’s dream come true. Combine that with the management and service of one of the best hotel chains in Europe and it was easy to see why Waterfront was selling quickly.

Filming in the showroom was the easy part. This is a project where just about every angle is a winner. Our photographer Alain had to be dragged off the set. Well, really. 300 photos in one spot is more than enough. Then to the jacuzzi scene. “Oh I forgot my bathing suit,” said Redin. Oh gosh, really? There was a brief moment when I wondered if that really mattered. But just to be safe, Billy suggested a quick dash to the local markets. Bearing in mind we would only see the colour red on screen he returned promptly with a

“Yes sure!” “Mmmm, let me think…” Suddenly a smiling fisherman in a battered wooden vessel appeared at the jetty. “Hello! I will take you to the big boat for free!” The thing is, 10 camera crew, two models, three fishermen and an overweight bus driver don’t sit too well in a tiny wooden dingy that’s seen better days. Stress levels were magnified when our Japanese cameraman Sugi admitted halfway across he couldn’t swim. That meant a turn around to dump several of the crew and then renew the dodgy ride in the battered coffin to our

It was time for us to get moving too. Back on shore, sea legs shaking, we made our way to the stunning Mantra restaurant for the final scenes. This involved a surprise ending where we decided our couple should meet up, and then…well, you’ll have to watch the film to see. After all, there’s only so much romance you can handle in paradise. Suffice to say it was the perfect ending to a few days in a place where anything can happen, where living on the edge is par for the course. For more info about Waterfront, visit

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