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Editor’s Blog Goodbye and good riddance to the vendors YEARS ago, the streets and sidewalks of Hong Kong and Singapore were alive with the buzz of vendors plying their wares. It was a vibrant scene that attracted tourists from all over the world who found these makeshift markets fascinating and offered the possibility of fabulous bargains. Then the authorities decided that the vendors needed to be cleared off the streets and swept them into the sparkling but largely characterless shopping malls that were being built with great abandon in these two newly affluent city states. And when that happened, Hong Kong and Singapore lost some of their allure. Something similar is occurring in Bangkok. City administrators have begun banning vendors from many major roads in an attempt to give the Thai capital a cleaner and more wholesome appearance. They are only partly succeeding because the banished vendors are already finding ways round the new regulations by, for example, setting up stalls in unused areas of offices and banks closed for the night, or by hanging their goods from walls. Few in Bangkok will lament the end of sidewalk vendors. Let’s face it, they were unsightly and often dangerous, with gas tanks and tubs of boiling water forever threatening pedestrians. Besides, they clogged up the sidewalks and while their awnings may have protected the vendors from rain, they showered everybody else. More than anything, though, there was considerable resentment from shops that paid for rent or mortgages for the privilege of being located along busy streets. They saw the vendors as unfair competition whose costs were much lower. Resentment was at its highest in the Siam Centre/Paragon part of the city when it was revealed that the temporary vendors who often blocked the streets with expensive cars and trucks (worsening the traffic congestion in the process) in order to offload their often fake products onto stalls located immediately outside some of the most expensive retail space in the country. Moreover, these pavement vendors paid a pittance in tax compared to the permanent outlets. So, for every tourist or hungry office worker who enjoyed the stalls, there are hundreds of others glad to see the back of them. There is a sting in the tail, however. Without these temporary vendors, you’ll be paying more for your bowl of noodles inside yet another Bangkok shopping mall. Please, blame someone for the beach garbage EVERY morning on hundreds of beautiful beaches along Thailand’s long coastline, hotel staff and municipal workers gather up huge amounts of garbage swept in overnight by the changing tides. They do so for the benefit of tourists who relish the ‘pristine’ beaches for which this country is internationally renowned. Many remain completely unaware of the daily toil required to present such an image. But this magnificent effort is really only papering over the cracks.  Sadly, the world’s oceans are full of garbage – and daily cleaning is not fixing the problem. No one wants to accept responsibility for this appalling situation. Everybody else is to blame. People in Rayong, for example, say the detritus that ends up on their beaches originates in either Pattaya or Koh Samet. In the southern province of Krabi, it is said the rubbish is swept in from Phuket or as far afield as Indonesia. Others claim that the pollution comes from rivers emptying into the sea. Sift through the stuff dirtying the coast and it’s very tempting to point the finger of suspicion at the many vessels (especially fishing boats) that sail these waters nowadays. The scale of the problem is vast, and no country can attempt to solve it alone. The impact on the environment is every bit as worrying as climate change. But don’t tell the tourists. It could spoil their vacation. 6


PUBLISHER Colin Hastings MANAGING EDITOR Morgan Thanarojpradit EDITOR Nina Hastings SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti ACCOUNTING MANAGER Saranya Choeyjanya ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Janjira Silapapairson ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakkanawat PHOTOGRAPHY JL & AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Drew McCreadie, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler, Kelly Harvey, Anette Pollner, Johanna Dekoning



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 ☎ 02 233 1774-6, 02 266 7141 Fax: 02 235 0174 Strip AD_Operation Smile_Aug16.indd 1

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Editor’s Blog   Dirty tricks of the wine business SO, the government is planning to increase the excise tax on wine yet again. While wine-lovers will be thankful for this early notice so they can stock up before the price hike, most will be furious and left wondering for a milli-second why wine is considered a luxury item when local beers and whiskies get a much cheaper ride. The answer, as they already know, is as much to do with protecting domestic producers as raising revenue. It is also well known that high taxes encourage smuggling, or at the very least a bending of the rules. That this happens in Thailand to some degree is fairly obvious. The profits can be huge so it’s an attractive proposition, but a dirty business. Some get an unfair advantage in the way they label their wines, pretending the contents are of a lesser quality and therefore face lower taxation. Others receive their supplies via a company that provides inaccurate invoices, while the more blatant smugglers simply take a risk by bringing in the stuff from neighbouring countries with lower tariffs on the back of a truck. Most wine importers in Thailand follow the rules.  Understandably, these companies are not happy to see competitors who find a way around the regulations. And when they see these same rivals offering wholesale prices that are below what they have to pay for exactly the same wine after paying tax, they are incandescent with rage. More dirty tricks of the trade can be expected when that wine tax goes up again.   Still watching those financial advisors EVER since the LM debacle, in which hundreds of expats lost millions of dollars in a ponzi scheme involving Australian real estate, the number of unlicensed financial advisors in Thailand has decreased dramatically. Having been exposed for their shady dealings, many have returned to their homelands. Some are still trying to sell their assets before packing their bags, while others have moved their operations elsewhere in Asia. It is this last lot that has caught the attention of the LM victims group, which is circulating their names as well as the titles of their new operations in a bid to thwart future investment deals that are nothing more than a bottomless pit. Although most victims accept that they are unlikely to get back much of their money, they are not forgetting or forgiving easily those responsible for their often catastrophic loss. British Chamber in final bid to save important Embassy structures A LAST-DITCH attempt to save part of the British Embassy in Bangkok is being made by members of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand. In a letter to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the chamber has expressed the concerns of many of its Thai and British members on the proposed sale of the compound and its buildings. The letter says that the sale as currently structured would be damaging to British interests. It goes on to offer a possible compromise that would enable the British government to obtain the same or similar financial benefits while preserving the non-financial benefits that Britain derives from the current embassy. The Chamber’s proposal is that the purchaser of the land could be required to relocate the Residence, the statue of Queen Victoria and the war memorial within the site. It adds that the cost of such a removal would be insignificant. “The retained structures could then either be leased back to the British government or become a valuable feature the project. “By relocating these structures, the development potential of the site overall will be minimally impacted, if at all. Since there is little prestige value associated with the office, apartments and other buildings, these can be replaced without any major impact.” 8



& proudly announce THE

Thailand International Business Awards 2016 BUILDING on the success of the Expat Entrepreneur Awards 2014, the BigChilli is joining forces with the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) to launch a new initiative aimed at recognising Thailand’s most successful and dynamic businesses and entrepreneurs. Awards exist in order to acknowledge excellence in performance, process and creativity, to compare against peers, to highlight best practice and to reward supporting staff. By participating in TIBA you will raise your profile, grow your networks and develop new commercial opportunities. A team of independent judges will review the nominations and select the winners in each of the categories. All nationalities of company and individual are welcome to enter whether they are nominated or self-nominated. Nominations are open to any company registered in Thailand regardless of size or affiliations. For more information see: 12







Top five tracks

What’s on the personal playlists of the pioneers in Bangkok’s music scene By Kelly Harvey

Chris Craker Role in the music industry: MultiGrammy nominated music producer and Founder of Karma Sound Studios in Bang Saray. Years in the industry: 30 plus. Current top five tracks: • Dagny – Backbeat • Slot Machine – Give It All To You • Bon Iver – 00000 Million • The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face • Michael Jackson – Thriller

Sunju Hargun John Will Sail Role in the music industry: Musician, promoter, event organiser, and dreamfollower. Years in the industry: I made my first band at 12 years old and haven’t stopped playing since. Current top 5 tracks: • Born From Pain – Scorched Earth • American Me – Said Nothing Began Firing • Spring.Fall.Sea – Bliss • In Each Hand A Cutlass – Satori 101 • Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over



Role in the music industry: DJ, producer, video composer, events coordinator, and Co-Founder of Karma Klique. Years in the industry: I would say I’m running deep 6 years into being involved with the industry as I attend a few conferences every year as well. Current top five tracks: • Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead • Nicolas Jaar – Killing Time • Weval – It’ll Be Just Fine • The Slow Revolt – Lean • Twenty one pilots – Heathens And one that’s been on repeat lately: • Jamie XX – Gosh

David Jacobson Role in the music industry: Owner of music driven nightclubs and bars, including Q Bar and now Smalls. Years in the industry: 24 Current top 5 tracks: anything by the following artists • Kamasi Washington • Arche Shepp • John Coltrane • Charlie Parker • Eric Dolphy

Maarten Goetheer Role in the music industry: DJ, music producer, Co-Founder of Sabai Sabai Radio, Head of Music and Entertainment at PACE Development, Music Director at VOGUE Lounge Bangkok, and in-house Booker BEAM. Years in the industry: I entered my first DJ competition when I was 16, so about 17 years now. Current top five tracks: • Dub Club – Signs and Wonders In Dub • Caribbean Disco Boogie Sounds 1977-1982 • Aurra – Body Rock • Universal Togetherness Band – My Sentiments • Al Hudson – I’m About Lovin’ You

Thanapol Anantakrittayathorn Role in the music industry: Drummer for Super Goods – the resident band at Soulbar. Years in the industry: since third year university, so four years now. Current top five tracks: • Betty Wright – Life • Bill Withers – Kissing My Love • Willam Devaughn – Figures Can’t Calculate • The S.O.S Band – Weekend Girl • Slum Village – Forth and Back

LAZYKAY Role in the music industry: DJ, producer, previous owner of nightclubs in France, and current Music Director, resident DJ, and partner at Sing Sing Theater. Years in the industry: I started playing records for fun in 1995, buying four or five records a month and playing for friends’ parties. It became my main occupation in 2004. Current top five tracks: • Kid Cudi ft. Pharrell Williams – Surfin • Låpsley – Operator (DJ Koze’s 12 Inch Disco edit) • Fatima Yamaha – Love Invaders • Paul McCartney and Wings vs Timo Maas and James Teej – NineteenHundred And Eighty Five • Suol Radio Show 043 – Tender Games: A Tape For You

Tek Harrington Role in the music industry: DJ, music consultant for The Banyan Tree Hotel Bangkok, and Founder of Backroom Music Consultancy.Years in the industry: I’ve been a ‘bedroom DJ’ ever since I could remember, but my first public gig was back in 2004 and I’ve been DJing ever since. The progression into music consulting came about in 2015. Current top five tracks: • Kings of Leon – Holy Roller Novocaine • Genesis – That’s All • The Joubert Singers – Stand On The Word • Fleetwood Mac – The Chain • Beautiful South – A Little Time



Insight Clairdee LIVE at The Living Room SHERATON Grande Sukhumvit Hotel welcomes Clairdee, the American jazz singer with a lustrous and soulful voice for a highly anticipated residency at the Living Room, Bangkok’s premier live jazz venue. Her beautiful voice will be complimented by the sensational Randy Canon Group.

Why Bangkok hits all the right notes for Randy For almost 15 years, pianist Randy Cannon has been a permanent fixture in the Sheraton Grande Bangkok’s ‘Living Room’, where he entertains guests with his unique brand of music The BigChilli caught up with Randy recently and learned a lot more about this enduringly popular musician. was born in Los Angeles 58 years ago and started to learn the piano at the age of five. Before that, I would always be drumming my fingers on the table at home, so taking up the piano was the natural thing to do.   My teacher became my second mum and she taught me to play the music of great composers like Mozart, Chopin and Bach. I began to play jazz at the age of 14 at the National Fraternity of Student

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Musicians of America, studying with George Shearing alumni, Charlie Shoemake and many great LA-based pianists like Alan Broadbent, Bill Mays and Terry Trotter.   I came from a screwed-up family, so the piano became my rock, reliable and consistent. Right up until today, I’m just so comfortable with the piano.   By the age of 17, I was performing professionally throughout California with various combos, big bands and orchestras. A couple of years later, I accepted a position as music director, conductor, and pianist with Princess

Cruises, and over the next 12 years I travelled the world. In my early twenties, I took on a series of performances in Honolulu, Hawaii, where I ended up living for six years. It wasn’t always easy there, and far from glamorous. In fact, I struggled for a while. In the end, it worked out well, however, as I went on to perform with entertainers like Bob Hope, George Benson, Don Ho, jazz harmonica player Toots Thielemans and saxophonist David Liebman. I eventually moved back to LA and played with some of the city’s top jazz players such as Billy Higgins, Harvey Mason, John & Jeff Clayton, Jeff

Hamilton, saxophonist Harold Land, Tony Dumas, Ralph Fenland, Andy Simpkins, and Jake Hanna. I also acted and performed in several top TV shows, including Hotel and Love Boat and composed music for Orion Pictures’ No Man’s Land starring Emilio Esteves and Charlie Sheen.   For the next 11 years I worked in Portland, Oregon, and performed with virtually every notable musician and in every jazz venue in the area, including a four-year collaboration with top recording artist Gino Vanelli on many of his projects. During this period, I expanded into record producing, writing, arranging and performing on three CD projects. The first of these was Nowhere Man for my brother, trumpeter Steve Cannon, who also lives and performs in Bangkok. I first came to Bangkok in 1999 and couldn’t believe what I saw. It was a beautiful city with a lively spirit that had more music going on than I had ever experienced in my life. I went to every music venue in town and played with just about every band. It was fantastic. Many of the clubs had jam sessions that went on all-night. Sadly, many of them have since closed.   After a short stint in Pattaya, I began a two-year alliance with hotelier and jazz lover Bruno Huber performing at The Imperial Queen’s Park hotel. Back then I was a big drinker and overweight. So I was something of a spectacle. But we always played to packed audiences.  

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To stop my drinking, I went on a 42day detox programme in Chiang Mai. It cost me US$15,000 and was a complete rip-off. It was a dependency doctor who finally got me off the booze. And I haven’t had a drink for years. I spent a short period in China before returning to Thailand and joining the Sheraton Grande, where these days I play all my own songs. You can find these on my website   In my spare time, I meditate. At my home in Bangkok, there’s no wife, kids or

even music. It’s just peace and solitude. I have great admiration for the people of Isaan (in Thailand’s northeast). They are so simple and beautiful, yet have very little. In my life, I’ve struggled so I understand them.   People ask me for my biggest musical influence. I know it sounds corny, but I tell them it’s love. I want to be a positive influence and make people happy.   I perform nightly Tuesday-Saturday.

10/27/16 2:15 PM





The Life and Work of His Majesty

Bhumibol Adulyadej

No one in the history of the Kingdom of Thailand has done so much to improve the well-being of its people as His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX. He has initiated literally thousands of development projects that have greatly benefited the country and its people. This is why almost every home, office and public building or even lining of streets in Thailand is adorned with portraits of His Majesty and other members of the Royal Family. This is also true in the homes of Hmong, Karen, Mon, Shan and other minorities along the Thai-Myanmar border. But while every Thai citizen is well aware of His Majesty’s many achievements, that might not be the case with some foreigners living in Thailand. In remembrance of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed away on October 13, 2016, this article commemorates His Majesty’s life’s work.





“We shall reign with righteousness for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people.” THIS declaration, spoken by His Majesty at his coronation ceremony was his first public pledge to promote the welfare of all his subjects. Throughout his 70-year reign, he has fulfilled this promise to the letter and more. Early on, His Majesty was inspired by the example of his parents to work tirelessly to improve the lives of the Thai people. Although most of his childhood was spent in the West, he was taught to be aware of his roots and his debt to the motherland. This attitude formed a solid foundation for a deep understanding of Thai society. In the early days of his reign, His Majesty made many visits to rural areas throughout Thailand. Accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, His Majesty visited the least developed areas of the country to see how people lived. The royal couple travelled to every part of the country, visiting villages and learning of the people’s living conditions, problems and needs first hand. His Majesty would then begin the process of devising schemes and projects to resolve their troubles and improve their conditions. Scenes of His Majesty sitting on the ground or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his subjects, engaged in conversation, became a familiar sight that touched all Thai people. To His Majesty, the people’s problems are also his, and so



he has never stopped striving to make their lives better. It is for that reason the people proclaimed their King “Father of the Nation” and the monarchy has become a rock solid institution, ensconced firmly in the hearts of the Thai people. His Majesty truly deserves to be called the Developer King for his dedication to alleviating the people’s hardships and improving their quality of life. The Royal Development Projects (RDPs) were directly inspired by the insight His Majesty gained while visiting rural areas. He realised that any projects that truly improved the lives of the people must go hand-in-hand with the protection of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources. The first initiative to help people was initiated in 1951 when His Majesty authorised the Department of Fisheries to acquire Tilapia Mosambica fish from Penang through the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. The fish were initially raised in the pond at the Ambarra Villa of the Dusit Palace in Bangkok. On November 7, 1953, His Majesty distributed the fingerlings to village and district leaders throughout the country for propagation and further distribution among the rural people in order to provide them with an alternative source of protein. The first RDP which directly emphasised rural development emerged in 1952 when His Majesty donated a number of bulldozers to the Naresuan Border Patrol Police unit for construction of a road leading to Huai Mongkol Village in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. This was to enable the villagers to easily commute and transport their produce

“His Majesty first elaborated his vision of Sufficiency Economy to the Thai people in 1974. At that time few people recognized its importance, but when the financial bubble burst in 1997, people began to take a second look. Now Sufficiency Economy is respected in Thailand and around the world.”

for sale in markets outside the village. His Majesty never simply issues instructions or gives orders. The impetus always comes from the local people. Before he makes any proposal, His Majesty first studies the available data and talks to the people involved. He then consults with officials and academics before passing the initiative on to the government. All royal development projects have started in this way. His Majesty’s development projects have brought substantial benefits and innovation not only to his subjects but to the whole world. Some of the most important are as follows: • Royal Rain Project

His Majesty is often associated with life-giving rain because of his pioneering work in cloud seeding techniques. Since 1971, the methods he developed have been used to bring drought relief to farmers and to increase water reservoirs, earning international patents and interest from foreign countries.

• Moisture Retention Dams To maximise the use of Thailand’s annual monsoon rains, His Majesty designed a system of small “check-dams,” which regulate the flow of water. The creation of multiple small reservoirs gives farmers immediate benefits and also replenishes groundwater. • Royal Projects

In 1969, the King introduced a comprehensive program to assist northern hill tribe people engaged in unsustainable farming practices. By training the hill tribe communities in the production of various handicrafts, these programs have raised their income and their prospects, and at the same time have benefited the environment. • Pa Sak Jolasid Dam Project To help the farmers of Thailand’s central plains to exploit fully the waters of the Pa Sak River, His Majesty initiated a development project that created a new reservoir for water TheBigChilli


conservation and controlled irrigation. The dam has also helped with flood prevention on the outskirts of Bangkok. • New Theor y on Managing Agricultural Land Combining concepts of water management with local control, His Majesty developed a strategy that promotes individual household reservoirs over large communal ones, maximising versatility while minimising costs. Overall agricultural production is boosted without the need for public funds. • Use of Vetiver to Prevent Soil Erosion To help stop the effects of soil erosion, the King initiated a program to plant certain varieties of vetiver grass, known for its ability to reduce siltation and stabilise the soil. The systematic application of the program has proven effective in maximising productivity and conserving precious water. • The Chaipattana Aerator Concerned with the quality of water in the Kingdom, His Majesty developed a device that keeps the water oxygenated and healthy. Its simple design and low cost make it easy to build and maintain, thus facilitating wide application nationwide.



• The Rama VIII Bridge Always conscious of the daily problems facing Thais, His Majesty suggested the construction of a new bridge across the Chao Phraya River to alleviate congestion in Phra Nakhon and Dusit districts. Named after his brother, King Ananda Mahidol, Rama VIII, the graceful bridge has become a city icon. • Pak Phanang Project To stem the deterioration of the naturally fertile Pak Phanang River basin due to unmanaged population growth, His Majesty initiated co-operation between government agencies to use more effective agricultural resources, maximise economic gain, and reduce harmful environmental practices. • Renewable Energy Long before the need for renewable biofuels was widely apparent, His Majesty was actively researching the resource potential of locally-made palm oil. The resulting biodiesel has become a standard additive in the nation’s fuel, and its local sourcing is an inspiration for ongoing research.

Royal Development Study Centres

“His Majesty’s development projects have brought substantial benefits and innovation not only to his subjects but to the whole world.”

In pursuit of his goal of sustainable development in rural Thailand, His Majesty initiated the establishment of six Royal Development Study Centers (RDSCs) throughout the country. In these centres, research is carried out to find development strategies suitable to the distinctive conditions of each region. The centres serve as “living natural museums” from which farmers can expand and apply their knowledge. The six centres are Khao Hin Sorn in Chachoengsao province, founded in 1979; Kung Krabaen Bay in Chanthaburi province, founded in 1981; Pikun Thong in Narathiwat province founded in 1982; Puparn in Sakon Nakhon province, founded in 1982; Huai Hong Khrai in Chiang Mai province, founded in 1982; and Huai Sai in Phetchaburi province, founded in 1983. The aim of the centres is to solve problems for people in rural areas to allow them to have a better quality of life and be free from hardship while enabling them to become strong and self-reliant. For more than 30 years, RDSCs have promoted the application of knowledge and technology that conforms to the principles of conservation and environmental protection. Another key requirement is that the methods used must be simple and easily applicable in order for the people to make a sustainable living according to their lifestyles. The RDSCs stated objectives are, among others, to conduct study, research and experiments in search of modern agricultural techniques consistent with the topographical and social conditions of each particular area; to serve as centers for exchange of experiences among academics, development workers and the people; and to demonstrate current agricultural research projects in the form of a “living natural museum.”

Vision for a Sustainable World In a lifetime of achievements, one of His Majesty King Bhumibol

Adulyadej’s most significant is, without a doubt, the development of the Sufficiency Economy philosophy. His Majesty first elaborated his vision to the Thai people in 1974. At that time few people recognised its importance because the country was enjoying robust economic growth and expansion. When the financial bubble burst in 1997, people began to take a second look. Now Sufficiency Economy is given the respect it deserves, not only in Thailand but around the world. Sufficiency Economy emphasises the Middle Path in daily living for people of all genders, ages and walks of life. It encourages people to reach a state of self-sufficiency and live in harmony with nature. It can be applied at the individual, community and national and international levels. The philosophy holds that each individual should be conscientious in their daily conduct and strive to lead a joyful and moderate life. At the community level, people should join hands in activities and participate in the decision-making process, promote continuous education and appropriately apply technology in the development of the community. At the national level, holistic development should be promoted to create balance in terms of society, economics and resources. The country’s domestic potential should be analysed to guide the types of goods and services to be promoted. The Sufficiency Economy can be applied at every level of organisation, be it family, school, institution, corporation or government, but it has to start with individuals. In contrast to the top-down solutions that never seem to work, the Sufficiency Economy is going from the bottom to the top, from the smallest unit and expanding ever wider. As His Majesty said, “development must burst from within.” According to His Majesty, the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy is embodied in three principles: Moderation, Reasonableness, and Self-immunity. Moderation means not going to extremes, proceeding with interdependence and with caution.



Father of the land


Training in Lesotho: His Majesty’s projects are improving lives around the world

borders. It can be applied as a way of thinking and living to protect our world, from global warming for example. The Sufficiency Economy philosophy has been officially adopted for use in some countries like Afghanistan, where in 2003, Thailand actively joined the UN’s program for rehabilitation of the

country. Thailand was involved in plans to promote the development of Afghanistan in a sustainable manner. Over the years the ORDPB and the RDSCs have hosted numerous foreign researchers, scientists, diplomats and other dignitaries that included delegations from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Chile, Germany, Israel, Laos, Lesotho and Indonesia as well as diplomats based in Thailand. Sources: Office of the Royal Development Project Board; a memoir of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand published in 1987, and publications of the Royal Thai government.

IS Majesty King Bhumibol Aduladyej was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA on December 5, 1927, the third and youngest child of Their Royal Highness Prince and Princess Mahidol of Songkla. The name he was given, Bhumibol Adulyadej, directly translated as “Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power,” has proven to be prophetic. As his reign advanced through many critical periods, the Thai nation revolved more and more around the throne as a source of unity and strength. In many respects, it seems that King Bhumibol Adulyadej was destined from birth to be a cardinal force in shaping the modern Thai nation, in keeping with the legacy of his royal lineage. He was the grandson and the direct descendant of King Chulalongkorn, or Rama V, who is renowned for the comprehensive reform of all institutions of Thailand (then Siam) to bring them up to date and in line with the increasingly Western-oriented world. King Bhumibol’s father, Prince Mahidol, was perhaps the most modern-minded of all the sons of King Chulalongkorn. His life was dedicated to the development of progressive ideas, particularly in the medical sciences. In fact, he is known as the Father of the Thai Medical Profession. Prince Mahidol passed away when His Majesty was not yet two years old. After a brief period of primary schooling in Bangkok, His Majesty left with the rest of the royal family for Switzerland, where he continued his secondary education at the Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande, Chailly sur Lausanne. He received the Bachelier ès Lettres diploma from the Gymnase Classique Cantonal of Lausanne. He then entered Lausanne University for a program of study in the sciences, but the death of his elder brother King Ananda Mahidol in Bangkok on June 9, 1946, changed the course of his life completely. The law of succession bestowed on him the arduous challenges of the throne. His Majesty decided to go back to Switzerland for another period of study, but this time in Political Science and Law, in order to equip himself with the proper knowledge for the government. An understanding of the sense of responsibility that impelled His Majesty to bring help and benefits to his people can be gleaned from the following passage of “When I left Siam for Switzerland,” written by His Majesty in 1949: “…The car passed through the crowd extremely slowly and on approaching Wat Benjamabopitr it began to speed slightly. At that moment, I heard the sound of someone crying out loud ‘Don’t desert your people!’ I wanted to call back that as long as the people did not ‘desert’ me, how could I ever ‘desert’ them?” By chance, some 20 years later His Majesty met with the very person who had called out to him. His Majesty told the man: “Your words made me aware of my duty and brought me back.” In May 1950, His Majesty returned to Thailand for the coronation ceremony, and then went back to Switzerland for another period of study. The urgent call of his country and people brought him back to Thailand in 1951 to stay. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej dedicated his life and effort for the betterment of the lives of his royal subjects. He will always be in his people’s hearts. We hope his great deeds will forever live on in the hearts and souls of Thai people. The BigChilli team would like to express its deepest condolences on the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (December 5, 1927 – October 13, 2016).



Notice by BMA prohibiting vending on footpaths


BMA command post on Sukhumvit Road

OLLOWING the military coup in May 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) promised to “Return Happiness to Thailand”. Part of the strategy was to enforce order and discipline through measures such as regulating motorcycle taxis and public vans. Another measure was intended to reclaim the city’s footpaths and streets from vendors who had virtually taken over some parts of Bangkok in recent years. So far, that part of the campaign has been quite successful. The BMA, which has direct responsibility for footpaths and streets, allowed the so-called 'markets' to flourish on its watch for years. Now the BMA has no choice but to comply with NCPO directives by evicting the offending vendors and making sure they don’t return. To enforce the NCPO’s edict, police and even soldiers were sometimes needed to help the BMA’s uniformed inspectors in confrontations with some of the more

combative vendors. Previously, Thetsakij officers spent much of their time watching and following foreigners in central Bangkok including parts of Sukhumvit, hoping to catch them dropping a cigarette butt, piece of paper or drinking straw on the footpath. Offenders were made to pay a 2,000 baht fine on the spot, often with no receipt given. The practice earned Thetsakij the nickname of 'cigarette police', a title known internationally from reports in English-language newspapers and magazines. They have apparently stopped following foreigners, at least for now, and given priority to NCPO directives to clear vendors from the footpaths. For more than two decades street vendors spread uncontrollably in many areas of Bangkok, nowhere more than along lower Sukhumvit between Sois 1-21 and down the side sois. Among the most conspicuous operations were dozens of illegal mobile bars that sold alcohol until the wee hours of the morning every night from 2001 onwards. These included converted VW minivans and other vehicles parked for years in Sois 7 and 11. A lot of money was made during these years both by the street vendors and illegal bar operators, as well as those who allowed them to operate for so long. Now the mobile bars, with their flashing coloured lights, blaring speakers and openly displayed bottles of alcohol, are apparently things of the past.





any of the mobile bars and the metal containers on wheels the vendors keep their goods in were stored during non-business hours on Duang Phitak Road, parallel to Nakhon Expressway and the railway tracks. The owners, who towed their rigs to and from sales points along Sukhumvit, paid rent to a certain company which supplied guards to protect their property. Just before the BigChilli went to print the containers and the mobile bars were spotted still under guard on Duang Phitak Road, perhaps waiting patiently for a time they might be allowed back on the street.

Exceptions to the rule After many years of unlimited selling hours, in August 2015 the BMA posted signs along Sukhumvit stating that vendors could sell only after 7pm. Thetsakij were out in force afterwards, patrolling the area during the daytime. They were more or less able to enforce the daytime ban, but according to some sellers, this didn’t really hurt them because most people shop after 7pm. Then, on October 3, the other shoe dropped when the ban on

Pirated DVD vendor on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 11



Vendors displaying goods on a fence near Sukhumvit Soi 7

nighttime vending was imposed. When vendors were asked about the sales ban in September most declined to respond, but two Thai shop owners at Grand 5 Shopping Mall said that street vendors should be evicted by the end of the year, maybe as early as October. Turns out they were right. It’s not likely that many people will miss the mobile bars or the vendors’ stalls packed close together along the footpaths. The goods sold on lower Sukhumvit Soi 1-21 were mostly low quality or counterfeit products like clothes, watches, bags and wallets, pirated DVDs, dangerous items – including knives, swords, parabolic batons and replica guns – cheap electronics, cheap food, sarongs, and footwear. But despite the ban, the same vendors still manage to stay in operation day and night. They move their tables close to the walls of buildings and in front of shops or wherever they can find a space that doesn’t block the footpath. A recent survey conducted after 10 pm revealed that many vendors display goods along Sukhumvit between Sois 1-19 and in some parts of side streets, including Soi 3, 5, 7, 9 11 and 11/1. Soi 3/1 is full of vendors with large tables, making it difficult for vehicles to pass, although some taxis and tuk-tuks still manage to get through. Instead of towing metal containers with goods to a particular sales point on the footpath, the vendors now have their goods packed in large bags and bring them by motorcycles that are parked on the street.

Feature ‘Little Baghdad’


he area from Soi 3 to 5 is sometimes called ‘Little Baghdad’ because it is full of people from the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. On a side street designated Soi 3/1 it is business as usual, almost as if no restrictions on street vending had ever been imposed. It’s a mystery how some foreigners can get away with openly selling goods on the street and in the shops – at this location and others in the area without a work permit. This type of job is not supposed to be open to non-Thais. One has to wonder how this would play with the authorities if the sellers were Westerners. It’s a safe bet they would be rounded up in no time if they weren’t already driven off by the local ‘mafias’. Apparently, this is what happens to locals. Most sales people hardly speak Thai but are fluent in English, which is good enough for them because most of their customers are foreigners. Most of the foreign sellers will admit they are employed by a Thai national who is usually the owner of the shop or stall and may own several others.

Soi 3/1. Several women from a neighbouring country were observed begging along Sukhumvit as well. They were taking in quite a lot of money from passersby, even B100 notes. After a contribution the women would immediately take the money from the cup and put it into a bag, showing always an empty cup. Foreign prostitutes continue to do business through the night on the footpath, some shouting out at passing foreign men, especially by a fast food outlet near Soi 5. The drug peddling starts after midnight, according to a Thai woman sent to investigate. “In the evening you don’t see too many (West) Africans around Sukhumvit, but they will surface after midnight and stay until morning selling their narcotics. It’s been the same for many years,” she said. The Africans mostly hang around a one-way lane dubbed ‘Soi Africa’, a narrow deadend lane off Sukhumvit Soi 3 where many Africans live and congregate, and where drug negotiations and sales have been going on for years. “The Africans are very clever, and some have a lot of money. Many things are going on around Sukhumvit that you cannot see, especially involving narcotics. Nobody can understand the Africans when they talk to each other. They are always looking for women to be their drug couriers. Some local and foreign prostitutes buy drugs from them,” said the woman.

More changes coming? There is speculation that the crackdown on vendors is part of a bigger makeover of the area, and there are some indications this may be the case. It is reported that a large new shopping plaza will be constructed in Soi 7, awaiting the demolition of the popular Beer Metal containers and mobile bars Garden and some low-rise stored along Duang Phitak Road businesses in the soi. Shortly before midnight on Oct 8, about 200 Royal In early September rumours started to Thai Police officers stormed circulate that all street selling would soon ‘Soi Africa’, checking be banned around the clock. This may be Taxi tries to navigate between passports and in some cases why many vendors began moving to Soi 3/1, vendors in Sukhumvit Soi 3/1 conducting urine tests for where a small new market opened starting at the mouth drugs. Six Africans were arrested and charged with failure to of the soi. Vendors sell there from afternoon until 1am or later, carry identifying documents and testing positive for illegal drugs. seven days a week. Such raids have been carried out in the past and it’s too soon to Many shops with foreign clerks are also selling all kinds of tell if this was the start of a serious effort to end the almost out-ingoods on the ground floors of the air-conditioned Grand 5 Hotel the-open sale of illegal drugs the area is known for. & Plaza and Grand 5 Shopping Mall, opened recently inside And on Sept 9, Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau Soi 5. The shops sell mainly clothes, footwear, bags, fashion Police Lt- General Nathathorn Prousoontorn instructed jewellery, perfumes, health and beauty products, watches, mobile immigration police chiefs nationwide through a video phones and accessories, cutlery, dental clinics and agarwood. conference to clamp down on migrant workers who illegally Several shops in both shopping venues openly display run businesses and take jobs reserved for Thais only under counterfeit bags of famous brands. The names of the shops the Alien Employment Act. Among other professions, the Act are written only in Arabic. One large ‘secret’ shop staffed by applies to traders and shop assistants. foreigners displays fake bags. The door to this shop is usually Pol Lt-Gen Nathathorn said the action aims to prevent closed, with a foreigner sitting outside the door. He will open it migrants from “stealing jobs from Thais” and comes in the and invite passing foreigners, mostly from the Middle East, to wake of a study by the Office of the National Economic and come in and have a look around. Social Development Board conducted at various markets and The area that might be called ‘lowest Sukhumvit’ has other places of business during May-June 2016. If thoroughly degenerated a lot in recent years. The beggars there are mainly enacted the crackdown should leave many sales points on foreigners, some wearing hijabs and often accompanied by Sukhumvit unmanned. children. They beg all day and night. You can see them inside




INTERCONTINENTAL Bangkok has doubled its festive offerings this Thanksgiving. Get in the festive mood at Espresso with a Thanksgiving dinner featuring everyone’s holiday favorites and more, priced at B1,289++. Or enjoy a five-course dinner menu of distinction and culinary finesse at Fireplace Grill and Bar, priced at B3,200++ per person. 973 Ploenchit Road. 02 656 0444.

Parisian delights

AVAILABLE NOW AT LE MACARON LIVE the Parisian lifestyle with exquisite French pâtisserie, divine desserts, and freshly brewed coffees and teas at Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit’s gourmet café. Savour a Classic Afternoon Tea for just B799 or a decadent Champagne Afternoon Tea for B1,600. Available daily from 2pm-5pm. 189 Sukhumvit Road. 02 126 9999.

El Brunch SATURDAYS AT MEXICANO RESTAURANTE THE mouth-watering Mexican brunch buffet is now available every Saturday at the Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok’s Mexican restaurant. Priced at B699++ for adults and B350++ for children. Available from 12pm-3pm. 19 Sukhumvit Soi 18. 02 261 7100.

Food therapy for sore throats THROUGH DECEMBER 31 AT EAT WELL CAFÉ WELL Hotel Bangkok has introduced a Food Therapy menu to help fight off colds and flu this rainy season. The Sore Throat Set (B545++) which features Carrot and ginger soup; Rocket salad with sunkist oranges, pomegranate, cherry tomatoes and an orange dressing; served with Ginger and honey tea is filled with vitamins A and C to boost the immune system and is tasty to boot. Visit Eat Well Café on Saturday or Sunday and receive 25 percent off on all food and drinks (excluding alcoholic beverages). Available from 11.30am-10.30pm. 10 Sukhumvit Soi 20. 02 127 5995.

It’s all about the beef THROUGH NOVEMBER 30 AT BABETTE’S THE STEAKHOUSE BANGKOK THE award-winning Hotel Muse Bangkok is serving up a ‘Beef Around the World’ experience this month with premium quality beef from Australia, Japan and the USA. Enjoy prime tenderloin, tomahawk, striploin and T-bone cuts and flavours from Africa to South America, and Asia to the USA. Dishes start at B1,400++ and are available daily from 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-10.30pm. 55/555 Langsuan Road. 02 630 4000. TheBigChilli


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Dining out Paribatra, Peninsula Hotel


ARIBATRA was our venue for the fifth time in the 14-year history of the Bangkok Chapter. The views from the 37th floor remain spectacular and the décor (modelled after an airport lounge) seemingly almost unchanged since our last visit in 2009. A very polished service team of servers, eight strong, was there right from the start and, as on previous occasions, proved to be extremely well drilled and happy to attend to any needs. Thomas Boedinger, our eclectic sommelier, had chosen two rosé wines to start proceedings: Weingut Herbert Zillinger Rosé 2013 (Austria) and Stéphane Tissot Cremant Rosé Brut 2014 (Côtes de Jura, France). I tried them both and really enjoyed the Zillinger. Wine spokesman and newly appointed President Tom Whitcraft liked the ‘golden bubbles’ to be found in the Rosé Brut. The first course, Pepper Macarons with Petuna Smoked Salmon Trout, came as a surprise to many of us; the macarons were unexpectedly sweet and the trout filling a little bland. It was certainly different! Moving on, next came an attractive presentation of Pan Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Horseradish and Apple Puree topped with Apple Cris and food spokesman Harald Sauer finally got into his stride. This was less controversial and the scallops adjudged by Harald to be the best dish of the day, tasty, especially with modest dashes of that horseradish. Domain Chiroulet Terres Blanches 2014 (Côtes de Gascogne, France) accompanied the scallops and though Tom confessed to not being a big fan of white wine, we were left in no doubt that he is a big man!



'Wild and Tame' Mushroom Soup with Essence of Truffles and Crispy Shallots on a slice of toast found favour with nearly all the diners (especially the shallots) though possibly there should have been a little more seasoning for the soup. The choice of Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir 2012 (California, USA) pleased American Tom (and others), who deemed it a good example of Californian Pinot although it still seems a little young. The main course comprised Sous

Vide and Slow Roasted Leek Ash Crusted Angus Tenderloin with Crispy Truffle Risotto, Celeriac Mash, and other accoutrements. The beef was good, perhaps a little too large a portion, though I missed the Jus mentioned in the menu. The wine of the lunch was Zenato Amarone 2010 (Veneto, Italy), a hearty 16.5% ABV, and fully matched our expectations, even those of guest Grahame Fox. Robert Parker wrote, “The 2010 Amarone delle Valpolicella Classico impresses for its harmony, staying power and elegance. Wines made from air-dried grapes like Amarone can sometimes feel overdone and overtly jammy. But this wine, made from a balanced vintage, allows the quality of fruit to rise above all the rest.” The beef was followed by a generous Selection of Burgundy Cheese with Chutneys and with it came with a really nice selection of bread, as mentioned by Harald. Tom had special words of praise for Thomas for the choice of an Australian Shiraz, Keeyma Vineyard Reserve Shiraz 2013 (Canberra,

Guest review by Designed by Priya Lodha

Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Australia), and I thought this was a great choice to follow the Amarone. James Suckling reported, “The oak is boldly stated on the nose here, slightly resiny. There’s plenty of bright and ripe red plum and spice. The palate is nicely captured, with plenty of fleshy red berry flavour plus a liquorice thread; tannins are fresh and juicy.” I am not sure that everyone could stand the pace as there still remained Chocolate Creamy Bar, Crispy Praline, and Cherr y Sorbet to finish off a great meal (a 1000 calories dish according to Harald) but those who could found Dr Loosen Riesling (Mosel, Germany) a very nice dessert wine at their elbow. Those who did not find the Riesling to their taste instead found a single malt whisky. For whisky buffs who like trivia, Dalwhinnie is one of almost two dozen malt whisky distilleries that were founded over a century ago during the ‘whisky boom’ of the late 19th century and which

have managed to survive until this day. In 1905 the Dalwhinnie distillery was bought by an American company for the friendly price of 1,250 Great British Pound; Cook & Bernheimer from New York were the very first foreign owners of a Scottish whisky distillery. Proceedings came to a formal end with the presentation of tokens of our gratitude to the team, led by Sebastian, a very recent addition to the team at the Peninsula. Throughout, we were made to feel like honoured guests of the hotel and our thanks are due to the management and to all those in the F&B team for arranging the visit for us. As someone said at the conclusion, just the view itself was worth at least B500 per person. Peninsula Hotel, 333 Charoennakorn Road. 02 020 2888.

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Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

AccorHotels comes out tops FOR the second year in a row, AccorHotels was named the Best Hotel Chain at the TTG Travel Awards 2016. Chairman and CEO Sebastien Bazin also took home the award for Travel Personality of the Year. With the winners chosen by TTG trade magazine readers, these awards were the two most coveted prizes of the ceremony.

Celebrating culinary champions HILTON Sukhumvit Bangkok organised and hosted the third annual F&B Masters Competition at Dee Lite restaurant, DoubleTree by Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok. The F&B Masters consists of three rounds: individual hotel, national, and regional. The winners of the first round are: Anuwat Nareedet receiving the Bar cup, Sumonta Ampaipun receiving the Barista cup, Satiya Thongsang receiving the Dessert cup, and Rakchanok Buangam receiving the Culinary cup. 68


Wolf Blass’s Chief Winemaker visits Thailand CONSIDERED as one of Australia’s leading winemakers, Chris Hatcher recently visited Thailand to host a series of consumer and trade events with the aim of raising awareness and knowledge of one of the most awarded wineries in the world, Wolf Blass.

Sustainable food fest: Be Courageous Bangkok COURAGEOUS Bangkok showed a force to be reckoned with among Bangkok’s esteemed chefs to put Bangkok on the map of global ‘Save the Future’ movements. Held at the landmark destination, House on Sathorn, headed by Billy Marinelli of the Oyster Bar together with 20 eco-conscious chefs, the event was aimed at raising awareness on issues of health, environment and social responsibility when making purchasing decisions. Guests indulged in delectable and health-conscious food from various renowned restaurants including Appia, Blair Mathieson, Bo.lan, Bunker, Crab&Claw, EatMe, Gaggan, The House on Sathorn, Sloane’s, Lavanille, Le Du, Little Beast, Lobster & Oyster, Luca Cesarini, Quince, Sensi, The Oyster Bar, and Soul Food Mahanakorn.



School Report

RIS : Celebrating 60 Years of Excellence in Education


UAMRUDEE International School was founded in 1957 by Redemptorist fathers and was the first WASC accredited school in Thailand. Over the past 60 years, Ruamrudee has guided its students towards academic excellence and supported their individual growth as

compassionate members of the global community in which they live. As a hallmark of international education, RIS offers a rigorous academic program based on an American enhanced curriculum, as well as the choice of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school. From their first day, students are assigned a dedicated counselor who closely follows and assists them and their parents in selecting the best option for their particular academic strengths, postsecondary education choice and selected career pathways.

A home away from home RIS has a boarding facility with a family feel that closely resembles a college style boarding experience. Both locally based, as well as international students share semi-private rooms with private



bathrooms. For local students, this means less time in traffic and more time for study and extracurricular activities. For all students, it means living life within a multicultural community with peers who are going through the same life experiences under the watchful eye of teacher mentors who reside with them in the dorm.

Digital Age readiness RIS students learn to live, work and lead with a 21st-century global vision thanks to the seamless integration of supportive technologies within the classroom, as well as spaces dedicated to 21st-century learning, including a robotics lab and makerspace. These spaces are poised to transform learning and emphasize creation and creativity by exploiting new digital tools to make, share and learn across space and time in do-it-yourself style.

A conversation with the Head of School, Dr. Shalee Cunningham The trend in education reform has been a move to individualized and project-based learning, student-centered classrooms, an increase in the depth of academic rigor and the breadth of academic courses made available to students. Ruamrudee students can expect this and more in learning environments where the daily integration of technology is a given, where attention is paid to the needs of gifted and talented learners, to English language learners and to students needing learning support. RIS’s rigorous Common Core Curriculum focuses on developing the critical-thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills students will need to be successful in the 21st century. In high school, offering students the choice between the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program and Advanced Placement courses ensures both academic rigor and high expectation until graduation, as well as the ability to best meet individual student strengths and accommodate student post-secondary educational requirements. RIS also offers global education co-curricular programs where students have the opportunity to deepen knowledge in authentic settings and for genuine causes.

Your Child • Our World For RIS, the Your Child • Our World Campaign represents 60 years of

excellence in education. The benefit to students of a long and proud history of success is the stellar reputation RIS maintains on the world post-secondary stage. RIS graduates consistently garner offers from the best universities worldwide, including medical schools and advanced science institutions. It also highlights how RIS prepares students to be positive, proactive and successful global citizens, able to rise to the diverse demands of the challenges in a world defined by a global economy and contemporary issues that transcend national boundaries. A global education provides students opportunities both within and outside the classroom setting to learn to understand and to value multiple perspectives, as well as how to communicate within and adapt to a culture other than their own.

The 60th Anniversar y Three major events are planned to honor this proud milestone in RIS history. On November 26, a talent showcase will be held at the school’s Performing Arts Centre and will feature both current RIS students and notable alumni performances. February 4 is Family Fun Day on campus and a gala dinner and dance on May 13 at the site of the original campus on soi Ruamrudee will bring the Diamond Jubilee celebrations to a close. Part of turning 60 is to focus on the continued success of RIS. The school has recently completed a facility master plan that will ensure improvements

in both curricular and co-curricular learning spaces. RIS prioritizes teacher professional development. All teachers engage professional development with both a school-wide goal, as well as personal professional goals supported by individual teacher professional growth allowances. RIS hires the best and the brightest new teachers who are supported by senior teacher mentors. In keeping with their goal to graduate positive, proactive, and successful global citizens, able to rise to the diverse demands of the challenges synonymous with our ever-evolving international world, they wish to further increase student diversity and offer a diversity scholarship to help achieve this goal.

OPEN HOUSE 23 NOV. 2016 22 FEB. 2017




Expat Women

Nominee Thailand International Business Awards



Bangkok’s cheesemaker By Colin Hastings


S recently as three decades ago, good quality cheese was a rarity in Thailand. The best you could expect was packets of bland-tasting slices made from reconstituted milk. It was a bad time for expats brought up on this delicious and highly nutritious food. Then, thanks mostly to overseas travel, Thais gradually developed a taste for cheese and to the delight of homesick foreigners a whole new market quickly opened up. In addition to a mini-avalanche of imported cheeses now sold through local supermarkets, a number of entrepreneurs saw the potential of locally made versions of this great food and decided to cash in. Among them was Jo Stevens, a Brit who has spent most of her life living and working in Asia, including Thailand for the

past 17 years. Her introduction to cheesemaking came improbably enough while visiting a friend in Ooty in southern India. The lady had established a small dairy farm that took advantage of the old hill station’s cool climate to make a number of cheeses such as parmesan, feta and mozzarella, and over a period of just two weeks happily passed on her tricks of the trade to Jo. Equipped with this new know-how, Jo returned to Bangkok and set about creating her own cheesery. With zero background in the food industry, it proved a tough assignment involving many different, delicate and time-consuming processes, from pasteurizing the milk (delivered fresh to her doorstep from a small farm on the outskirts of Bangkok) to adding appropriate cultures and vital ingredients like imported rennet to the

mix while ensuring that all surfaces and containers are thoroughly sterilized and preparations areas temperature controlled. Two and half years’ experimentation later, she now makes not just one cheese but many varieties, traditional as well as spicy, and some that are spectacularly exotic and probably unavailable elsewhere in Thailand. Today, under the label ‘Jo’s Artisan Cheese’ her output includes established varieties like mature cheddar, ‘Bangkok’ blue cheese, feta and Caerphilly. Among the more adventurous varieties is a Spanish porcini manchego cheese with truffles, several smoked kinds of cheese, as well as cheeses with porcini mushrooms, garlic and smoked paprika. Jo has also created a range of cheddars with rum and port, along with Wensleydale with mango, and Fromage Blanc infused with smoked paprika, herbs and garlic. Working alone from her Sukhumvit home, she currently produces 32 kilogrammes of cheese a month. In addition to a legion of friends, Jo’s customers include Bangkok restaurants and hotels. Buyers are split, more or less, equally between Thais and westerners. Interestingly, Jo has noted that her cheeses are proving popular with young Japanese. She’s also a regular fixture at local farmer’s markets, where her prices start from roughly 200 baht per 100 grammes. Jo, who has three daughters and three grandchildren, says the next step is to expand her workspace and output. “I want to get out of my kitchen at home and double my production. This could mean opening a deli-café selling other things like bread and chutneys. But I want to keep it simple.”



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Expat Women

Introducing Slin Drink Chief Marketing Officer of H2Flow Co., Ltd., Vises Rangsisingpipat, reveals all on Slin Drink and their new paradigm of slimming refreshment drinks • How did H2Flow originate? H2Flow was established in 2014 by myself and two friends; Naris Vittayavarakorn as the chief operating officer, and Patinya Dheva-aksorn as the chief financial officer. We decided to combine our strengths and experience to be a top performer in business, as well as offer quality products to Thai consumers. • Why did H2Flow decide to introduce Slin Drink? Before introducing Slin

Drink, we studied various industries and international trends. First we studied the overview of a functional soft drink, bottled water from the Euro Monitor 2016 database, which had both a high value and consistent growth rate. We also found the health and beauty industry to be growing tremendously worldwide as consumers become more concerned about the health benefits of using certain products. Moreover, we were able to get the patent of a unique and innovative Japanese ingredient,

Rosa-Canina that contains fat-burning properties. Subsequently following our research we decided to coinvest in a functional drink containing Rosa-Canina. • What is Slin Drink and what flavours are available? Slin Drink is a healthy, innovative drink from Japan that contains less than 40 calories. We selected the best quality raw ingredients with the highest health benefits from around the world. There are three flavours, each with their own function:

B-ERN Berry helps in stimulating the breaking down of fat in the body. B-LOC Roasted Coffee Matcha helps in blocking the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars. B-TOX Prune and White Grape helps in increasing fibre levels in the digestive system and stimulates excretion. • Who could benefit most from Slin Drink? Slin Drink is ideal for women who are very health conscious, want to stay in shape and keep healthy. • Tell us about the launch of Slin Drink. We will soon be launching ‘Slin Drink: Paradigm of Slimming Refreshment’. Along with our launch party hosted by actress Pu-Praya Lundberg, we will also be marketing Slin drink on air and online. We will also have 500,000 sample servings for customers to taste the product in stores for themselves. Eventually, we also plan to expand our market into countries in AEC as well as around the world. Founders of H2Flow Co., Ltd.: Naris Vittayavarakorn, Vises Rangsisingpipat, and Patinya Dheva-aksorn



Insight News

“I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. The next stage is fatal” Nearly a year after being diagnosed with Lymphoma, property expert Nigel Cornick talks about his battle with the disease and his long road to recovery By Colin Hastings ■ BRITISH businessman Nigel Cornick is marking his 25th year in Thailand. And he’s doing so with an enormous sense of gratitude and unimaginable personal relief. For less than a year ago, this well-known expat was diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of blood cancer that plays havoc with the immune system. Tests at an international hospital showed that the disease had already spread from stage one to the much more dangerous stage four. The fifth stage is often fatal. Nigel, not surprisingly, was in shock. For someone with such a famously huge appetite for life, the prospects were looking decidedly bleak. Today, amazingly, 63-year-old Nigel is on the road to recovery. The chemotherapy, which ravaged his body to such an extent that at one point some of his colleagues were expecting the worst, has worked. And although he’s still some way from the good health he enjoyed for most of his life, Nigel has beaten this dreaded disease. But there’s no question it’s been a tough year. Born in Dorchester, England, Nigel spent five years in both Saudi Arabia and Australia before landing in Bangkok to work for Colliers Jardine’s, a major property consultancy company. After a brief spell with another company, he joined Raimon Land as CEO, which marked the beginning of his 13-year association with the firm that saw him become one of the industry’s high fliers. Along the way, Nigel earned a reputation as a marketing renegade who believed that developing and selling condominiums should be fun. His Raimon Land parties were legendary, with the cream of the crop of Bangkok and Phuket society letting their hair down and



Nigel with his longtime girlfriend Cee - his “life saver” making lots of headlines, while propelling the company to the forefront of the nation’s property business. After leaving Raimon Land in 2009, he worked briefly with Binswanger Brooker before teaming up with fellow investors in Kingdom Property to build the five-star South Point condo in Pattaya. His only brush with illness during those early years came in 1994. “I had eaten something which caused stomach problems that spread into my liver. I was admitted to the hospital and, after extensive drug treatment, was quickly cleared. “It’s the only time in my life that I’d been in the hospital. Until then, I had always enjoyed good health,” says Nigel, a father of three sons, all living in Australia, and a daughter who lives in Thailand. “In fact, we have no history of serious illnesses in our family. My Dad is

85 and Mum is 80.” It was in April last year that he first noticed that there was something not quite right with his own health. “It turned out to be an infection in my chest, which became pneumonia and I spent a week in the hospital. Doctors initially thought it was due to a kidney problem. “Then, from May to September, I started to feel tired and run down. In November, I had a scan, which showed up my lymphoma problem. The computer had these yellow dots of light – I’ll never forget them – indicating cancer in my blood. “Results of the biopsy came on Friday, November 13, the same day as the terrorist bombings and shootings in Paris. I remembered it well. “The doctor came up to me and said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this but what you have is stage 4 cancer, and we’ve got to

do something about it right now.’” Wisely, he sought a second opinion and through contacts in the US emailed the result of biopsy to the renowned John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore. “They’re very good people, and when they got back to me, they said, ‘If you were coming to us, we’d do the same as your doctors are recommending,’” That recommendation was six doses of chemotherapy in a series of 21-day cycles, with Nigel alternating between the hospital and home. In theory, the treatment would last 126 days in total. The first session took place on December 10 last year. “This is another date I remember well. It was the day after the British Chamber of Commerce’s traditional Christmas lunch, and it was the last time I had an alcoholic drink. “After the first chemotherapy, I got a stomach and chest-related infection which lasted for a few days. At one point my temperature was up to 38 degrees, so it was back to the hospital because my immune system was crashing. My white blood cell count, which is usually at least 4,500, 4,500 to 11,000 per microlite, had dropped to 1,000. Your stamina and strength go, so you have to take heavy steroids.” Back at home, Nigel had many visitors, friends as well as colleagues. Throughout his illness, Nigel gave regular updates on his progress via Facebook and received many hundreds of messages wishing him well in return. Sharing his experiences was a welcome source of comfort and emotional support, especially when things got worse – which they did. His eldest son and twin sons arrived from Australia and stayed in Bangkok long enough to see their father through to the second chemotherapy in early January of this year. This proved relatively straightforward, though his hair started to fall out in clumps which prompted Nigel to go for the ‘Yul Brynner’ look. The third chemotherapy also produced few side effects and, for a while, Nigel was in good spirits. Then in March, the fourth chemotherapy was administered and Nigel was suddenly plunged into a health free-fall. “This is the one that put me back into the hospital. The reaction to the drugs was severe. I contracted pneumonia, a stomach infection, a lung infection and even a brain infection – a bit like meningitis, swelling of the brain. “In early April, I was in ICU for 14 days – this was my lowest point, a critical period. I was completely out of it, and the

Regular visits by friends and colleagues kept Nigel’s mind off his predicament only thing I can remember of that time are my dreams. Nothing else.” Slowly, with the help of more drugs, Nigel pulled through this dark period. He then underwent a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan, which injected radioactive tracers into the body to determine the progress of cancer treatment. “There was no sign of lymphoma,” said Nigel. “It was amazing. I then had a biopsy on my bone marrow, and again there was no trace of cancer. By mid-June, internally, my cancer had gone.” The last two chemotherapy sessions were deemed unnecessary and Nigel was allowed back home. The treatment had taken its toll, however, and Nigel was confined to his bed for the next three months so that his body could recover from the effects of the powerful drugs used in chemotherapy. At one point, his weight had dropped to under 60kgs, ten less than normal, leaving him with sunken cheeks and an alarmingly thin look. Although his white blood cells count is still low and any sort of infection now could have serious consequences, Nigel says he is feeling better than he first left the hospital “by a factor of ten.” He goes to the gym in his condominium regularly and his weight has increased to 76kgs, the heaviest he’s been in years. A recent fall has affected his ankle and, for now, he needs help to get around. “That’s just a temporary setback,” he says. “If it wasn’t for that damned ankle, I’d be a lot more mobile.” Today, he reflects long and hard about his illness. He knows, for example, that cancer could return at any time, though if it’s not back within the next five years, that’s unlikely to happen. By coincidence, his son’s wife had lymphoma when she was 15. Happily, that was

cleared up and she’s had no recurrence of the disease. He also recalls a much earlier warning sign that cancer might be present in his body. “For years I had a lump in my neck. I took no notice of it and thought it would eventually go away. It didn’t.” Nigel is thankful too that the disease was diagnosed when it was. “We got it at stage four. Any later and I would most likely be dead.” He’s hoping to return to work early 2017 and praises his partners in Kingdom Property for their support throughout his illness. “They gave me a clear mandate to get better,” he says. He is also full of praise for the health care he continues to receive. “For four months, I had to wear diapers. Just imagine,” he says. “The doctors and nurses are first class, and underline Thailand’s upside as a health care centre. For good reason, it’s a booming industry.” But his kindest words are for Cee, his long-term girlfriend, who has been at his side throughout the illness. “I am very lucky to have her. She’s been wonderful – a life saver. I am forever grateful to Cee.” Until his ankle heals, Nigel is housebound. In addition to twice-daily treatments and visits by his physiotherapist, he spends his time following the US election on TV and “sending out usually negative comments about Donald Trump on Facebook,” he jokes. When asked about the funding of such exhaustive treatment, he has some interesting advice, “People should think long and hard about health insurance. Once you become seriously sick, there’s no way of increasing the coverage.” Ever grateful and happy to be nearing full health again, Nigel is now looking forward to marking new milestones in the country he loves.



A D V I C E Expat life getting you down? Professional counselors Anette and Johanna are here to help.




Rekindle the connection I’ve wanted to write to you for a while because something in my marriage is really bothering me. But whenever I start to write it down, I stop and think I’m making a big fuss about nothing. That’s also what my husband thinks and he refuses to discuss it any more. But then it happens again and it really hurts my feelings. What is happening is that my husband goes out a lot, and travels a lot. I feel that he doesn’t make a lot of time for me. Not as much as I make for him. But when I ask him to change it, he either says it’s not true or he says that what I’m asking for Is unreasonable. When I take the initiative and organize an event for us, he either cancels at short notice or shows his boredom and impatience while we are with our friends. It’s a long time since we spent a romantic evening together, but he says that’s normal when you’ve been married for a long time. So I’m stuck – if I do nothing, he doesn’t connect with me and if I do something about it, I get dismissed and shut down. Am I making a fuss? This is all really making me unhappy. Meryl Meryl, 42, USA

A • 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.

Dear Mer yl No, you’re not being unreasonable at all. The situation you describe is extremely painful for you and I can see how difficult it must be to sort it out. It seems that your husband is not interested in connecting with you but at the same time doesn’t want to acknowledge the situation and prefers to carry on as if nothing was happening. On top of that, he is putting you down and denying not only your needs but the validity of your views and emotions. Maybe this is how he hopes to maintain the status quo. However, it doesn’t seem likely that he will change. So the only person who can be the agent of change here is you. What you want is clear, you want more connection. More time spent together, more real engagement with each other, but also more respect for yourself. It may be that you are collaborating with your husband’s strategy, perhaps without realizing it, but doubting yourself so easily. If your husband dismisses you, do you perhaps also dismiss yourself? After all this is the reason why you didn’t write to us earlier. So perhaps the first step for you could be to value your own feelings and thoughts. They are valid because they are yours. You don’t have to prove that to anyone. And certainly not to anyone who loves and values you. They would naturally be interested in what you think and what you have to say because you are important to them. So next time your husband is dismissive, tell him that. Say that you want him to listen to when you feel when he doesn’t spend time with you, when he upsets your friends, and when he devalues your emotions. Try to say it in a calm voice, and use so-called ‘I-statements’ ‘I feel’, ‘I think’, instead of accusing him which will only make him become even more defensive. Maybe he can still hear you if you approach him like that. Maybe not. In that case, try to explain to him what you think is happening by using a recent example. Make it clear that this is not a wholesale accusation. It’s an attempt to connect. At the same time, ask him what kind of activity or event he would enjoy together with you and make an official ‘appointment’ with each other. If that also fails, then there are probably some deeper unresolved conflicts in your marriage. And if you can’t manage to talk about them constructively, I suggest that you seek the help of an experienced couples counsellor. Every relationship needs mutual respect and mutual interest in each other. No matter how long you have been married, you need to connect every day. Lastly I would like to remind you to value yourself. You are an adult, a unique individual. You make your own decisions. Your husband doesn’t seem to have a problem with that! You decide what is important. You have every right to voice your needs and try to get them met. Often, the needs of partners clash, and there is conflict. Conflict can be scary and painful, but if you avoid conflict, your relationship can lose its substance. Conflict is still an attempt to connect. Whatever you do, don’t take yourself out of the equation. On the contrary, take your own side. Nobody else will!


p Last month’s best events in pictures



Social|Around town

DRIVING THAILAND TOWARDS SUCCESSFUL DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION MICROSOFT (Thailand) unveiled its latest innovations to drive Thailand onward to success in the Digital Transformation journey across all dimensions of development. Led by the General Manager, Mr Orapong Thien-Ngern; Director of Developer Experience & Platform Evangelism Group, Ms Siriporn Pajharawat; Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Lead, Mr Tanapong Ittisakulchai and Consumer Channel Group Director, Mr Ekaraj Panjavinin recently.



HUGO Saavedra, Country Manager with the management team, Ms Warawan Chantarasomboon, Consumer Business Unit Manager and Ms Naiyarat Ratprasartporn, Senior Product Manager recently launched the company’s new campaign, ‘Get Out & Play’ and introduced two new products: Betadine Dry Powder Spray and Betadine Plast at Atrium Park 2 CentralWorld. Pleumchit Thinkao and families of famous actresses to joined in the promotion.

INTRODUCING South East Asia’s and Thailand’s first co-creation community and hub for all art lovers and crafters alike. Sansiri and HUBBA Thailand joined forces to give a co-working space a newer and fresher dimension by adding a workshop space to the already existing co-working space. HUBBA-To, Thailand’s co-working space pioneer, is situated on an 800 sq m space on Sukhumvit 77 Road (Soi Onnut 1/1), offering the modern work force a great atmosphere, environment and freedom to work from where they want. For more information, visit

TAT REVEALS ‘THE RATCHAPRASON TRANSFORMED Ratchaprasong ART MAZE’ Skywalk, Ratchaprasong Square Trade

Association (RSTA) together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) launched ‘Thailand Art Walk,’ an in-situ exhibition of six installation arts by six top contemporary artists under the ‘Urban by Nature’ concept. The art maze at the Ratchaprasong Skywalk will be greeting Thais and visitors alike until November 13, 2016.


THE Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) together with The Emporium and The EmQuartier hosted a ‘Chinese National Holiday Celebration’ at Quartier Avenue in The EmQuartier to promote tourism and build relationships between China and Thailand. In attendance were Kriengsak Tantiphipop, CEO of the Emporium Group; Zhang Xinhong, Director of China National Tourist Administration (CNTA); Srisuda Wanaphinyosak, Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and the South Pacific) and honourable guests and celebrities. TheBigChilli 101

Social|Last Around Month’s town Best Events


WANDA ONE recently hosted a dinner discussion on the real estate investment trend in Thailand and launched its One Nine Elms Development on prime real estate in London at St. Regis Ratchadamri.


ASEAN-based technology consortium recently launched the comprehensive ‘Destination Thailand’ mobile app to further boost domestic tourism and facilitate international visitors to Thailand.

CELEBRATING ITS 19TH ANNIVERSARY WITH ‘SUPERSPORTS19JUMP’ DANIEL WELLINGTON NEW WATCH COLLECTION THE Daniel Wellington new watch collection, Classic Black model, was launched simultaneously worldwide at Groove&Groovy Sukhumvit 26. The news conference was attended by the Ronny Inter Trading Co., Ltd., American, European and Japanese fashion watch and footwear importer representative, Mr Ronny Grover, Manager Director and Founder. 102


CRC Sports Co., Ltd executives hosted an event to celebrate its 19th anniversary under the ‘Supersports19Jump’ concept at the Central Court 1st floor, CentralWorld. Represented by Managing Director, Mr Tony Morton and Deputy Managing Director for Marketing, Ms Siriporn Watthana, Supersports decided to celebrate the anniversary by donating 19 baht for every picture or video post with the Hash Tag #Supersports19Jump to the ‘Pink Park Village,’ the nursing home for last stage cancer patients under the operation of Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer Foundation.

DIPLOMATS p Meet the people uniting nations

H.E. Excellency Stanislav Opiela The Ambassador of the Slovak Republic talks about his country's history and its improved relations with Thailand.

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Diplomat: His Excellency Stanislav Opiela, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic

Slovakian Ambassador, an ice-breaker in so many ways



IS Excellency Stanislav Opiela is a highly experienced diplomat who is not afraid to say what is on his mind or display his welldeveloped sense of humour. The Ambassador, who began his term in Thailand officially on December 30, 2015, is a big ice hockey enthusiast and was happy to discover he could pursue his passion here in the tropics. Together with his Slovakian wife, Viera, he is fully engaged in strengthening bilateral relations between Slovakia and Thailand. Ambassador Opiela was born in 1952 in a small town of Levoča in the northeastern part of Slovakia close to Poland. Levoča is a famous and well-known historical town that was also added to UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 2009. The ambassador’s father was director of a local school for deaf children during several decades. After his death, his wife became the director. When he was growing up the former Czechoslovakia was firmly aligned with the Soviet Union. “I didn’t want to be a diplomat originally; I was interested in foreign trade. That’s why I decided to apply for entry to the University of Economics in Bratislava with a specialisation in foreign trade. After almost finishing one year at this university, I had the chance to switch to the famous Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). “I was admitted and in 1971 started to study there in the faculty of foreign economic relations,” said Mr Opiela. An opportunity to study at MGIMO was regarded as a great honour in those days. “Almost everybody who was a student at MGIMO from the former Czechoslovakia was so-called a ‘reserve cadre’ for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as I understood only later, it was almost impossible after finishing a degree to say, ‘thank you, I don’t want to go into the ministry’. This is because the Czechoslovakian government paid for the students’ education in Moscow. I was told that I must go into the ministry, ‘we rely on you, we need you’, etc.” When he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in



Prague in 1975 he had already decided to make the best of it. “I had always liked to learn and read about foreign countries, and I thought it might open the possibility for travel. In this period the country was relatively closed and it wasn’t easy to travel abroad, especially in a western direction. Everything was forbidden and, at the same time, very attractive. So I looked at the MFA as a means of experiencing something different than what was around me.” That’s exactly what it has been. “Besides holding various positions back home, I served in Congo, Tunisia and Canada before coming to Thailand. In fact, I have had three postings in Canada and each one cost me a child,” said the ambassador with a smile. “When I finished my first posting in Ottawa my oldest child, a daughter of 16 years at the time, stayed there. During my next posting, my older son decided to stay on too, and when I completed my third posting in 2010, this time as ambassador, my younger son also stayed behind. So all my three children are now living in Canada, even though they were all born in Slovakia.” When asked how long he has been married to Viera, Mr Opiela smiled again and said, “Since before my daughter was born.”

Southeast Asia and Thailand “Thailand and Slovakia established diplomatic relations on January 1, 1993, the date the Slovak Republic was born, and we opened our embassy here the same year. We have good relations with Thailand now, in the old days Thailand, as a close ally of the United States, wasn’t our friend. Our relations with the rest of Southeast Asia go back a bit further. We were good friends with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar because these were communist or socialist countries and cooperation with them was very good. “In this period of time we didn’t have an embassy in Thailand; our embassy in Rangoon covered Thailand. Only after the political changes in 1989 did the Czechoslovak government decide to open an embassy in Bangkok, and after the division of the country to the Czech and Slovak Republics on January 1, 1993, the embassy was separated accordingly.” “I came to Thailand for the first time in December last

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year and presented my credentials to His Royal Highness in Slovakia. And everybody was smiling from morning to evening Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on August 17. I am and very polite. I am very close to this nature of the Thai people covering four countries: Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar because I also like to smile, talk to people and enjoy life. My wife as well as Thailand, which is quite a lot of work. To really and I were very happy to be here right from the beginning.” follow closely developments in four countries is practically Mr Opiela travels outside Bangkok often and tries to visit impossible, especially if you don’t know local languages. I rely interesting places in the provinces. “I went to Chiang Mai to be a lot on the local newspapers and some other information in in the mountains and get a look at the famous farms created by English,” Mr Opiela said. the ideas of His Majesty the King. It was very interesting to pick “Concerning Myanmar, it is less difficult to stay abreast such tasty strawberries at an attitude of more than 1,000 metres because we are receiving information daily from the and see where coffee and other crops are grown. I have also European Union Delegation in Yangon. They provide us with visited Hua Hin, Phuket and other places throughout Thailand.” information and articles from English-language newspapers in Yangon and articles in the local language translated into Talking trade English. After reading these reports I know everything. “The situation is somewhat similar with Laos, but the The ambassador said that at the present time Slovakia doesn’t information comes only on a weekly basis and not very have an economic section at its embassy in Bangkok as there isn’t regularly. This is not so good. Concerning Cambodia, there is no a long tradition of bilateral relations. “However, our trade with information - nothing. I do learn things from English-language Thailand is relatively high compared with other SouthEast Asian newspapers and Thai newspapers translated to English. But I countries - around €210 million both ways. It is nothing special but don’t receive information on Cambodia from the EU. it’s a relatively solid number. We mostly both import and export “What I receive from the EU are electronic products. only extracts from the newspapers “The Slovakian government doesn’t without comments or anything else. influence much, for example, what products Still, it is very helpful. I can follow up will be exported to this or that country. The three major and go on the internet to find more This is totally in the hands of the companies information. involved and that’s why I can’t give exact international “There is a lot of information on the automakers producing statistics on what products made in Slovakia four countries I am assigned to on the are exported to Thailand and vice versa. passenger cars in internet, but to track it and digest it Moreover, the statistics that we have are takes a lot of time, which I don’t have. Slovakia for export created with regard to groups of products. We are a very small embassy with only represent almost It doesn’t mean that all these included in two diplomats. The other diplomat is the group are being imported or exported. 80 percent of the my deputy and she is dealing mostly This makes it very difficult to give an exact Slovakian gross with consular issues, which is very composition of trade figures. I can say, for time-consuming work.” example, that furniture for IKEA is made in national product. Mr Opiela said he did not request to Slovakia and exported to Thailand.” We are the biggest come to Thailand. “It was not my choice. A fair number of the cars on Bangkok car producers in the My minister approached me and said, roads, mostly high-end, are also made in ‘You are going to Thailand. What do Slovakia. Mr Opiela said that there are three world per capita. you think’? I replied, ‘I'll take it.’ A few major international automakers producing months later I was here in Bangkok. passenger cars in Slovakia for export: KIA, Volkswagen, and “After I was offered the job, I spoke about it with my PSA Peugeot Citroen, with Jaguar Land Rover joining soon. wife of course. At first, she wasn’t very happy and a little bit “These three car producers represent almost 80 percent of shocked because she used to say that she could go anywhere the Slovakian gross national product. We are the biggest car except Asia. She has an extreme fear of snakes and she producers in the world per capita. The population of Slovakia thought they are everywhere. But after I told her about the is around 5.5 million. Some electronic products by Sony and job offer she softened her stance and said, ‘We can go to Samsung are also made in Slovakia and exported here.” Thailand, why not’. And fortunately, she has learned that snakes are not a problem here. he ambassador added: “According to Thai “I had never been in Thailand before my arrival last statistics, in 2015 around 15,000 Slovaks visited December, but I did have some first-hand experience in Asia Thailand. The number of Thais visiting Slovakia because in my last assignment at the MFA in Bratislava I was was about 4,000.” Director of the Office of the First Deputy Minister and we “In March of this year, Thailand’s Permanent travelled a lot together. I had the chance to visit several Asian Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs countries with him, including Sri Lanka, India, South Korea, visited Slovakia. It was the first relatively high-level visit in the Japan and Kazakhstan. This gave me some picture about history of our bilateral relations and it was dedicated mostly to Asia, but I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised economic issues. We expect good things to follow from it. when I arrived in Bangkok. “We see a lot of possibilities on both sides, but the distance, “I didn’t know it was such a developed and organised city. financing and cultural and language differences create some There are so many cars and motorcycles, but it’s relatively clean obstacles for development. Slovakia doesn’t have companies like and quiet. For one thing, there aren’t so many drivers using Mercedes-Benz and Philips that have been known in Thailand for their claxons here like, for example, in Arab countries and also many years. Competition is very high here and there are many

, ‘




well-established foreign companies. “We are in the beginning stages, but we are not starting from zero on the economic front. For example, the Thai company Delta Electronics employs more than 1,000 people in Slovakia and they want to expand their activities. They want to construct new buildings, and that means they are probably happy with business conditions in Slovakia. We are also happy to support them. “At the same time, we want to bring Slovakian businesses to Thailand. I can tell you that several weeks ago I participated in a few meetings with a Slovak company, DRON Industries, which came here to offer a unique technology for the liquidation of Photo courtesy of Slovakian Embassy old tyres. It is technology that has foreign services and diplomatic corps,” Mr Opiela said. achieved a high standard of approval in Germany and other “What makes the Presidency demanding is primarily the EU countries. It is not cheap, but there is a great benefit in the preparation and chairing of meetings of the Council and its recycling of tyres in an environmentally totally friendly way. preparatory bodies. The Presidency organises formal and Tyre disposal is a big problem all over the Thailand and no one informal meetings not only in Brussels and Luxembourg but knows what to do about it. This technology is an answer. also in the country of Presidency. In Bratislava, there will be “We are also expecting a group of experts from another 19 ministerial events, around 180 events at working level, Slovak company to come here with proposals for another unique seven parliamentary events, including the meeting of chiefs of technology that has solutions for general waste management. parliaments. “We are not here to penetrate all Thai markets and to be “Altogether it will represent more than 20, 000 delegates. number one. We are trying to find possibilities for business Unusual and exceptional was a big summit of 27 leaders of the activities which we expect to be beneficial for both sides. We European Union - not 28, because we already excluded the don’t want to come here and just try to gain a lot of money and United Kingdom - which took place in Bratislava on September after two or three years say goodbye. We want to have a normal 16. The EU is looking at what to do about Brexit, and it was not and productive long-lasting economic cooperation here. The very appropriate to have the British there. But what made this embassy can open the door but the rest is up to the companies summit very interesting was not only Brexit but also because it and business people.” was held in Bratislava. “Usually EU summits are held in Brussels, not in the EU influence and diplomatic environment country that holds the presidency. I don’t know why it was held in Bratislava, but naturally, it was a big PR event. It was a very “Slovakia holds the presidency of the Council of the EU for important summit for the future of the EU as a whole, and what the last part of 2016, from July until the end of December. This is important for the EU is important for other countries as well. is a very important and prestigious activity, especially for the “At the same time, it was especially important for Slovakia as we were directly responsible for its success. Twenty-seven leaders tried to draw up a roadmap, so called Bratislava Process, for the future. The aim is to present more concrete proposals at a summit in March of next year that coincides with the 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding Rome Treaty. “As a member of the EU, we have to follow its rules and policy decisions. After the military came to power here in 2014, the EU decided to restrict relations with Thailand. In practical terms this means diminishing contacts at the level of permanent secretary on the Thai side and on our side at the level of state secretaries or deputy ministers. “The EU took the decision to stop discussions on free trade agreements and so on. Also, the “lowering of contacts is” still in place because the EU doesn’t consider that Thailand has taken the necessary steps to warrant a change in approach. There are discussions under way and Thailand generally, moves in a positive way. Left: Czech Ambassador Vítezslav Grepl on the ice with Ambassador Opiela ˇ Right: Ambassador Opiela rollerblading at Lumpini Park

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CV OF H.E. STANISLAV OPIELA Education 1971-1975

1970-1971 Work experience 2014-2015

2012-2014 2011-2012 2010-2011 2005-2010 2002-2005 1999-2002 1998-1999 1997-1998 1995-1997 1994-1995 1993-1994 1975-1993

Moscow State Institute of International Relations University of Economics, Bratislava Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Director of the Office of the 1st Deputy Minister Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Department of Americas, Senior Desk Officer National coordinator for the Slovak Republic to the EU Strategy for Danube Region in Prime Minister Office Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Slovak Republic, UN Department, Senior Desk Officer Embassy of the Slovak Republic to Canada, Ambassador MFA of the Slovak Republic, Senior Desk Officer Embassy of the Slovak Republic to Canada, Deputy Head of the Embassy, Minister - Counsellor MFA of the Slovak Republic, National coordinator of the Slovak Republic for Central European Initiative Embassy of the Slovak Republic to Canada, Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Embassy of the Slovak Republic to Canada, Deputy Head of the Embassy, Counselor MFA of the Slovak Republic, Department of European Integration, Acting and later Deputy Director Embassy of the Slovak Republic to Tunisia, Chargé d’Affaires, Counselor Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the former Czech and the Slovak Federal Republic, different position at the headquarters in Prague, including foreign postings in Congo (1984-1988) and in Tunisia (1990 -1992)

“So the possibilities are a little limited, and because we have restricted our contacts relations are not so warm on the Thai side. No one is happy that relations aren’t normal, but there is a clear solution to the problem. “Not only does the situation handicap our embassy’s ability to work with the Thai government, we also have a certain viewpoint because our country was for a long time under a communist regime. If you always have someone telling ‘you can’t do this, it is not appropriate, it is forbidden’, this is not good. “I personally hope that next year will be another story and the situation will improve. If there is no dramatic move against so-called democratic principles, I believe the EU will make at least a small change in its approach towards Thailand. But it appears that what we ambassadors from EU countries here in Bangkok think is not so important; what matters is what the people on the European Commission in Brussels say. The Foreign External Service in Brussels is responsible for everything. We can provide recommendations, information and opinions but the decision is taken by Brussels. “Although I haven’t had a lot of experience with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so far I can say only positive things. They organise a lot of different activities and always provide



excellent service. Everything is done at a very high level, and in fact, in this regard, it is much better here than in Ottawa. Thailand is very generous towards foreign diplomats; it is superb.” When asked to compare the diplomatic environments in Ottawa and Thailand, Mr Opiela said: “My wife and I have spoken very often on this subject. It is quite natural since we were there for so long. Frankly speaking, we find diplomatic life in Thailand little bit different than what it was in Canada. “In Canada, the atmosphere was friendlier within the diplomatic corps. There were no divisions between countries from the EU, the Persian Gulf, Latin American or African countries or elsewhere. It was one big, very friendly community and we enjoyed it very much. Most probably, after more time and we enter activities a bit more deeply here, we will find it is not so bad, but as I look now, sort of from the outside, I see that there are divisions.” The ambassador added that the diplomatic community in Thailand is much smaller than in Ottawa, and not even all the EU countries are represented here.”

Adjusting to the tropics


r Opiela said the climate here is a bit of a ‘special issue’ for his wife and him. “We spent more than 12 years in Canada, three postings in a row, with some intervals when we returned home. It gets very cold in Canada in the winter and we were used to engaging in outdoor activities in the winter. To say it simply, here in Bangkok we miss the Canadian winters. “In Slovakia, I played a lot of indoor soccer, tennis and so on, but in Canada, it was ice hockey and cross-country and downhill skiing. I enjoyed winters in Canada very much and the hot and humid climate here has made it difficult for me in terms of sporting activities. “Finally, I have started to play ice hockey in Bangkok. This is thanks to my Czech colleague, Ambassador Grepl, who strongly recommended that I join the team. He is also a team member and a big ice hockey enthusiast. “I am playing now on the international ‘no name team’ team every Thursday-Saturday evening. We play at the arena on the 7th floor of Central Rama 9. It is a regular international-size venue. Our games are one and a half hours, which is too long. We don’t follow exactly the international rules. It is ice hockey for fun. “A few weeks ago I received information by email about the creation of the Bangkok ice hockey league. We should start in November and we’re expecting to have at least four teams. I have applied to be a player. We will see if I am accepted and if so what my level of participation will be. “There are now two ice hockey teams in Bangkok, mostly foreign players, including from Canada. There are some Swedes, Finns, Russians and also some young Thai players. They are very good. I play as a defender. Ice hockey is a very fast game and if you are not fast enough it is a big handicap. “I brought all my hockey gear back from Slovakia when I went there on holiday, except for my skates which were already very used in Canada. My daughter visited me here early in the year and I asked her to bring me the skates from Canada. The funny thing was that when I looked at them I saw they were made in Thailand!” Other sporting activities Mr Opiela enjoys are biking, which gives him a chance to learn more about Bangkok, and roller skating in Lumpini Park.


BLACK SEPTEMBER ORGANISATION (BSO) BLACK September Organisation (BSO) was founded in late 1970, taking its name from the bloody civil war in Jordan in September 1970 in which Jordan’s King Hussein crushed guerrilla groups that were threatening his rule. The group, which is no longer active, had strong links to Al Fatah, the largest of the Arab guerilla movements which was closely connected to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) founded by late Yasser Arafat. The self-proclaimed founder of BSO was Palestinian Munzer Suleiman Khalifah, then 29, and the group’s membership was made up of about 300 young Palestinians. BSO’s first operation, on November 29, 1971, was the assassination in Cairo of Prime Minister Wasfi Tell of Jordan, which Khalifah took part in. The most notorious and widely publicised terrorist operation began when 11 members of the Israeli national Olympics team were taken hostage on September 5, 1972, at the Munich Olympics. They were all killed the next day along with one West German policeman. Up until the time, it was disbanded by the PLO then under command of Arafat in September 1973, the BSO conducted or was involved in dozens of terrorist attacks that killed and injured many people. These included hijackings of passenger airlines, assassinations, bombings, hostage-takings and posting hundreds of letter bombs.

THE LOD MASSACRE The Lod Airport massacre occurred on May 30, 1972, at Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport) near Tel Aviv. It was carried out by three members of the Japanese Red Army who were recruited by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-External Operations, a group with strong ties to the BSO. The attack left 26 people dead and as many as 80 injured. Two attackers were killed and a third, Kõzõ Okamoto, was captured, tried by an Israeli military tribunal and sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1972. He served only 13 years and was released in 1985 along with more than 1,000 other prisoners in an exchange for captured Israeli soldiers.

HIJACKING OF SABENA FLIGHT 571 On May 8, 1972, Sabena flight 571, scheduled from Vienna to Tel Aviv and operated by the Belgian national airline, was hijacked by four armed members of BSO. They instructed flight Captain Levy to land the plane at Lod Airport. When the plane landed, the hijackers demanded the release of 315 convicted Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel and threatened to blow up the aeroplane with all passengers. The next day, a team of 16 Israeli commandos, disguised as technicians, led by Ehud Barak and including Benjamin Netanyahu (both future Israeli prime ministers) convinced the terrorists that the aircraft needed repair. The commandos stormed the aircraft, killing the two male hijackers and capturing the two female hijackers. All the 90 passengers were rescued. Netanyahu was shot in the shoulder. The two female hijackers were sentenced to life imprisonment, but set free in a prisoner exchange after the 1982 Lebanon War.



Chatichai Choonhavan

Chief Air Marshal Dawee Chullasapya

During the hostage situation, the terrorists hung a Palestinian flag from an embassy window and threw out notes with statements describing themselves as “the Palestinian organisation Black September – Ali Taha group.” They demanded the release of 36 Black September members and others imprisoned in Israeli prisons, including Japanese national Kõzõ Okamoto, who along with two other Japanese terrorists was responsible for the Lod Airport massacre in May 1972. They also demanded the return of the bodies of two Arab terrorists killed in the attempted hijacking of Sabena Flight 571, as well as one terrorist who survived the Israeli commandos’ counter-terrorist strike. The gunmen set a deadline of 8am on Friday for the release of the prisoners and said if it was not met they would kill all hostages and then blow up the embassy. They said they didn’t want to harm the Israeli hostages but added that “if the demands are rejected we would be free to treat the staff in the same manner of murder it treats our people.” The Israeli Cabinet met in an emergency session with Prime Minister Golda Meir in her Tel Aviv office at noon Israel time. A brief statement issued after the meeting said only: “At today’s special Cabinet session a report on the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok was given.”

Negotiations succeed


he Egyptian ambassador to Thailand Moustafa el Essaway and two Thai officials, Chief Air Marshal Dawee Chullasapya, Chief of Staff of the Royal Thai Army and Chatichai Choonhavan, the Deputy Foreign Minister began negotiations with the terrorists. Prime Minister Thanom was also at the scene. General Praphas was quoted as saying that Thailand would not make “any rash movements to endanger the lives of the hostages.” When darkness fell the three-storey embassy building, the residence of the Israeli ambassador and the surrounding area were brightly lit with flood lights and remained so throughout the night. The Thai officials who conducted sporadic negotiations with the four terrorists said that they sounded like well-educated men and were probably less than 30 years of age. The assembled media at the scene weren’t able to get a good look at the terrorists, who all wore scarves around their faces to prevent identification.

The spokesman for Golda Meir expressed Israel’s gratitude to the Thai authorities for their handling of the crisis and the successful conclusion. No prisoners were freed as demanded by the terrorists.

During the negotiations, food was brought inside the embassy one time. The terrorists finally agreed to leave the embassy in exchange for safe passage to Cairo. The Thai government guaranteed the terrorists safe conduct from Thailand to Cairo and arranged for the Israeli hostages to be transferred into the care of Thais. At 10.30 pm on December 28, Chief Air Marshal Dawee made this public announcement: “For the King and for the Thai people, the terrorists have agreed to leave the country.” The negotiations and the outcome were dubbed the “Bangkok solution.” After the announcement, the Egyptian ambassador and two Thai officials who negotiated the surrender Current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (right) during their returned to the embassy with military service in the Israeli Defense Forces food agreeable to the Muslim hostage-takers like the curried chicken with rice, onions and The terrorists said they were unaware that the investiture garlic, and oranges. They also brought two bottles of whisky ceremonies were scheduled the day of the attack and apologised and several bottles of wine. for the seizure of the embassy. “We are most sorry…” One gunman At exactly 5.30am on Friday, December 29, the six Israeli said, “One day we would like to come back and visit in a different captives, apparently tied together loosely with rope, were way.” Possibly he was still under the influence of the whisky and driven in a blue bus in a motorcade with sirens blaring to wine. In fact, it’s hard to believe that the BSO knew nothing of the Don Mueang Airport, about 28 kilometres from the embassy. investiture ceremonies on December 28. Thai officials and the Also in the van were the four BSO members and three chief general public tended to regard their action as an unforgivable insult. negotiators – Egyptian Ambassador Moustafa el Essaway and The spokesman for Golda Meir expressed Israel’s gratitude two Thai officials, Chief Air Marshall Dawee and Mr Chatichai. to the Thai authorities for their handling of the crisis and the They were there as safety insurance for the terrorists, a successful conclusion. No prisoners were freed as demanded by guarantee that the convoy wouldn’t be attacked by Thai the terrorists. forces on the way to the airport or that the plane would not be sabotaged. Not so happy ending for some The Israeli hostages were released at the airport at 6.45am, one hour and 15 minutes before the deadline set by the terrorists. Inside Israel, the seizure of the embassy sparked criticism It was Colonel Narong Kittikachorn, the son of the Foreign of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israel’s security services. Minister, who persuaded the guerrillas to surrender their three People demanded to know how four terrorists were able to handguns, two submachine guns, and pistols by telling them that enter the embassy, especially after earlier terrorist incidents regulations did not permit them to be brought aboard. like Lod Airport and the Munich Olympics. They wanted to It was reported that the terrorists said at Don Mueang know where the security guards were at the embassy and Airport that one machine gun was a gift to the Prime Minister what happened to the stringent security measures the Foreign Thanom and another to General Praphas. They then boarded a Ministry had ordered all Israeli missions abroad to observe. special Thai Airways International jet and the plane took off for The terrorists arrived in Cairo to a heroes’ welcome Karachi, Pakistan and then to Cairo along with the three new according to unconfirmed reports, but BSO leaders weren’t hostages. The Israelis stayed on the bus and were driven away happy with their conduct and how they settled the incident. in it, all in good health. After interrogation by a Palestinian commando leader in Cairo, “The Egyptian Ambassador helped us out a lot last night,” they were tried in absentia by a revolutionary court. Three said Colonel Narong. “He told them that yesterday and today were sentenced to death and one to 20 years’ imprisonment. were very important days for the Thai people, and if anything To the BSO, their men had completely failed their mission and happened it would make things very difficult.” deserved severe punishment.

TheBigChilli 113

Hua Hin

True Arena Hua Hin half marathon BOOSTING Hua Hin tourism, Mr Suwat Liptapanlop, former deputy prime minister of Thailand together with Dr Tawee Narissirikul, Prachuap Kiri Khan Governor joined forces to announce the ‘Run for Hua Hin’ half marathon event at True Arena Hua Hin.

BLÚPORT Hua Hin Resort Mall to be the Tourism Hub of Asia HUA HIN Asset Company Limited, in collaboration with The Mall Group Company Limited and Proud Real Estate Company Limited unveiled their latest pride and joy, BLÚPORT Hua Hin Resort Mall, which will become the new landmark of Hua Hin. investing over 5 trillian baht into the project, the BLÚPORT Hua Hin Resort Mall stands on over 200,000 sq m space of prime real estate in Hua Hin offering extravagant shopping experience and top premium services that are sure to fulfil all essential relaxation and lifestyle needs.



The BigChilli November 2016  

Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. November 2016.

The BigChilli November 2016  

Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. November 2016.