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w w w . t h e b i g c h i l l i . c o m Now in its 20th year. Still the favorite magazine for Thailand's international community. Widely read here and overseas. Unique and exclusive stories about people, business, international school, embassies, hotels, restaurants and what's happening in Thailand. Written by expats with many years' experience of Thailand. The magazine with an inside track. Every month. The One and Only BigChilli.

PUBLISHER Colin Hastings editorbigchilli@gmail.com EDITOR Nina Hastings ninabigchilli@gmail.com SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai sendtorose@gmail.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Thana Pongsaskulchoti thanabigchilli@gmail.com ACCOUNTING MANAGER Janjira Silapapairson janbigchilli@gmail.com ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa PHOTOGRAPHY AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Drew McCreadie, Maxmilian Wechsler Zoe Evans, Jessica Weber and Ruth Gerson



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.


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The BigChilli Co., Ltd. 8/2 FMA Group Building, 4th Floor, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500. ☎ 02-635-5085, ☎ 081-358-1814 Fax: 02-635-5086 :thebigchillimagazine@gmail.com :thebigchilli.com

Book Review BOOK REVIEW: Very Bangkok by Philip Cornwel-Smith

Deep inside Thailand's complicated capital By Arshi Banerjee


hat more can be said or written about Bangkok that’s not already appeared elsewhere? After all, there’s a mountain of books out there on Thailand’s enigmatic capital, and the pile grows ever bigger by the year, so you’d think pretty much everything had been covered. Then along comes Philip Cornwel-Smith and his wonderful newly published book ‘Very Bangkok’ and you realize that there is still much to be learned about the Thai capital. Sub-titled ‘In the City of the Senses,’ this is a well written and deeply insightful guide to Philip’s adopted home since 1994, and deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone with an interest in Thailand. It’s an impressive production, beautifully printed, 360 pages long, featuring Philip’s thoughtful photography and unique research arranged in three parts: Senses, Heart and Face, each providing a different way of looking at one of the world’s most complex and complicated cities. These are further sub-divided into sections, ranging from the obvious like street food and transport to less well known aspects of the city, including animist shrines, the influence of colour on the landscape, birdsong (a visiting birder identified 85 different species in a single week) and even a local version of sci-fi called somewhat predictably Thai-fi, giving the reader comprehensive coverage of Bangkok. Philip, a British freelancer who wrote the first Time Out Bangkok city guide, says his aim for the book is to be a ‘krajok hok dan’ - a six-panel mirror - of Bangkok. It’s a term borrowed from Luang Phor Toh, a legendary former abbot who urged people to use the mirror to get a multi-faceted view of our nature. Each reflection is paired to a sensory organ: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and heart-mind (hua jai), the sixth sense which is a popular phrase in Thailand. To understand reality, it is important to perceive every angle.

As an example, in the libido section of Very Bangkok, the author talks about the hypocrisy of Thai society which tries to paint Bangkok as the ‘Prim city’, conveniently overlooking the sultry nightlife and Bangkok’s history of sex workers. He then focuses on how art has influenced the infrastructure of the city and how Thai culture, sometimes called ‘Thainess’, has influenced many postmodern artists based there. The local view of corruption gets a mention whereas politics are noticeably absent from the book. Probably the most interesting part of Very Bangkok is the sense of inclusion you feel, which basically captures the essence of Thai culture. Read the religion section and you realize that Thai people have a lot of respect for other religions. When it comes to tourists, everybody is welcome. Declares Wisoot Buachoom of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. “I can’t think of a market that we wouldn’t welcome.” Very Bangkok provides a kaleidoscopic vision of the many parts that make up this remarkable city and what it's like to be a Bangkokian. So, you can clear out all your old guidebooks and replace them with Philip Cornwel-Smith’s excellent work. Very Bangkok, Published by River Books Co Ltd (Publisher: Narisa Chakrabongse). 396 Maharaj Road, Tatien, Bangkok 10200. Tel 66 2 6221900, 2254963 Email: order@riverbooksbk.com www.riverbookbk.com TheBigChilli



Mosquito-borne menace raises its head again in Southeast Asia hefty fines and even jail for property owners failing to get rid of mosquito larvae By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

On June 14 last year Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), announced strong measures aimed at stopping the spread of dengue fever in Thailand: Owners of properties who fail to get rid of mosquito larvae are subject to jail terms of up to three years and/ or a fine of up to 25,000 baht. Thailand is not alone in taking aggressive action to fight a public health menace that takes a lethal toll in this part of the world during monsoon season. The Singaporean National Environmental Agency announced on June 22 for households who repeatedly fail to eradicate mosquito breeding areas will face harsher punishments. Three-time offenders are subject to a fine of up to S$5,000 (about 112,000 baht), or imprisonment for a term of three months, or both, for the first court conviction. Even heavier penalties are levied on construction sites where mosquitoes are allowed to breed. The fine for first offence has been raised from $2,000 to $3,000; the fine for second offence has also been raised from $4,000, to $5,000. Three-time offenders must appear in court instead S$5,000 fine, where they face a fine not exceeding $20,000, or imprisonment up to three months, or both, for the first conviction. The new penalties went into effect on July 15. 6



edia in Thailand and around the world are currently preoccupied with the struggle against the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. But some public health officials caution that another disease spread by mosquitoes and once commonly referred to as ‘break-bone fever’ is not getting as much attention as it should. With the rainy season upon us dengue fever is once again set to take a grim annual toll in Thailand (see box ‘Ten year statistics’).

Dengue fever is a mosquitoborne viral disease found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. As with COVID-19, there is no specific treatment, vaccine or cure for any of the three types. However, early detection of disease progression associated and access to proper medical care have lowered the fatality rate of severe dengue to below 1%. Dengue is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female mosquito of the species Aedes aegypti (yellow fever

mosquito) or sometimes Aedes albopictus (tiger mosquito), both found throughout the world and both able to live and reproduce inside and outside of homes. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes generally prefer to live indoors and near humans, their primary food source. They like to rest in cool, shaded places such as laundry areas, in closets, under tables and in wardrobes. Dengue-carrying mosquitoes may bite at any time of day, but mostly in early morning and evening. They often bite people around the feet and ankles, and reportedly are unable to fly





higher than an adult’s knees and unable to breed if the temperature falls below 16C. n Thailand peak transmission occurs during rainy season, from April to December. An infection can be acquired via a single bite. Humans are the main host of the virus, but non-human primates can be also infected. Dengue can also be transmitted via infected blood products and through organ donation. Vertical transmission (from mother to child) during pregnancy or at birth has been reported. Other person-to-person modes of transmission, including sexual transmission, have also been reported but not confirmed. Not long ago an Italian man was found to have the virus in his semen more than a month after he was infected in Thailand. The virus was apparently undetectable in his blood and urine after around three weeks. Spanish authorities reported the likely transmission of dengue as a consequence of sex between two men. One of the men travelled to Cuba and the Dominican Republic (both countries where dengue is endemic) and returned to Spain on September 4, 2019. He developed symptoms of dengue the next day and had unprotected sex




with a partner in Spain who had not travelled outside of Spain in the previous 45 days. His partner developed dengue symptoms on September 15. Health officials say more research is needed to confirm that dengue can be transmitted sexually. Mosquitoes have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult life span of Aedes aegypti can range from two weeks to a month depending on environmental conditions, and is normally completed within one and a half to three weeks. After taking a blood meal, female Aedes aegypti mosquitos produce on average 100 to 200 eggs per batch. The entire life cycle of the Aedes mosquitoes, from egg to adult, takes approximately 7-10 days. Dengue itself is caused by a virus of the Flaviviridae family, which infects the mosquito and is transmitted to humans when they are bitten. There are four distinct but closely related serotypes of the virus that cause dengue fever: DENV1-4. The incubation time is from 3-14 days after the mosquito bites, most often within 4-7 days. Recovery from infection is believed to provide lifelong immunity against the serotype that caused the infection, but infection with another serotype may occur as cross-immunity to other serotypes after recovery is only partial, and

temporary. It is therefore possible for a person to be infected four different times. Subsequent or secondary infection with a new serotype increases the risk of developing severe dengue. Three levels of illness Illness caused by the bite of a dengue carrying mosquito is classified into three types according to severity: uncomplicated dengue fever (DF); and two potentially life threatening conditions - dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). DF – Symptoms of typical dengue usually start with fever up to 40C/104F or even higher after the bite of an infected mosquito, and may also include severe headache (mostly in forehead), pain behind the eyes which worsens with eye movement, severe joint and muscle pains and aches, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, general weakness, vomiting, skin rash, sudden chills, diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss. DHF – Symptoms include all of the above plus pronounced damage to blood and lymph vessels, causing bleeding from the nose, gums or under skin and resulting in purplish bruises. Death is a real possibility. DSS – Symptoms of this most

severe and dangerous form of the disease include all of the symptoms of classic dengue and DHF, plus fluids leaking from blood vessels, massive bleeding and shock due to a very low blood pressure. DSS generally occurs when an infected person goes to the hospital too late and the disease has already affected vital organs. DSS is associated with high mortality, but some patients may survive provided they are admitted to an ICU where extensive treatment can be provided. Histor y of dengue The first recorded mention of symptoms compatible with dengue fever was in China during the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD), when it was referred to as a “water poison” and associated with flying insects. In the 15th to 19th centuries the primary vector, Aedes aegypti, spread out of Africa, due in part to increased transcontinental traffic secondary to the slave trade. There have been descriptions of epidemics since the 17th century. News of an epidemic in Batavia (now Jakarta) of an illness that sounds a great deal like dengue fever was reported in medical literature in 1779. Also in 1779 and 1780, an epidemic apparently swept across Africa and North America. In 1780 US physician Benjamin

Dengue infections and deaths in Thailand increased sharply in 2019 in comparison to the previous three years. Cases of dengue were reported in all of Thailand’s 77 provinces, with Chantaburi, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Rayong and Ubon Ratchathani posting the highest numbers.

Rush coined the term ‘break-bone fever’ in reference to the extreme discomfort dengue patients commonly feel in their movements due to intense joint and muscle pain. It was confirmed in 1906 that Aedes mosquitoes are responsible for transmission, and in 1907 dengue fever was the second disease shown to be caused by a virus. (The first was yellow fever, caused by a different flavivirus.) Further investigations by John Burton Cleland and Joseph Franklin Siler completed the basic understanding of dengue transmission. The virus responsible for dengue fever was first isolated in 1943 by Ren Kimura and Susumu Hotta, who were studying blood samples of patients taken during the 1943 dengue epidemic in Nagasaki, Japan. During the last part of the 20th century, many tropical regions of the world saw an increase in dengue cases, with epidemics occurring more frequently and with more severity. In recent years dengue fever has become a major international public health concern, and in a global context it is currently considered to be the most important viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that afflicts humans. Dengue and Thailand With an ideal climate for the spread of dengue, Thailand has probably witnessed epidemics going back centuries. The country’s first official cases of dengue weren’t diagnosed until 1949, however, after techniques to isolate the virus became disseminated. Since then the country has experienced several major epidemics. The first outbreak of DHF was reported in Bangkok in 1958, when 2,706 cases and 296 deaths were recorded, TheBigChilli


Feature a fatality rate of 10.9%. The first outbreak outside Bangkok was reported in 1974 and by 1978 confirmed cases were being reported throughout the country. A major outbreak occurred in 1987 and this remains the highwater mark for dengue fever in Thailand. In recent years the disease has demanded more attention. The dengue outbreak in 2013 was the second biggest since 1987 with regard to number of cases – a total of 154,773 infections – although the number of fatalities was relatively low at 136. This must be attributed to advancements in treatment. In 2015, 146,082 cases and 154 deaths were reported. Dengue infections and deaths in Thailand increased sharply in 2019 (see statistics on page12) in comparison to the previous three years. Cases of dengue were reported in all of Thailand’s 77 provinces, with Chantaburi, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Rayong and Ubon Ratchathani posting the highest numbers. The Department of Disease Control (DDC) officially declared the existence of a DHF epidemic last year on June 14. The same day the MOPH announced its intention to seriously control mosquito larvae and signed an agreement to commit to that course with the Culture Ministry, Defence Ministry, Education Ministry, Interior Ministry, Tourism and Sports Ministry, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. The DDC’s Bureau of Epidemiology reported in July 2019 that most patients infected were children aged 5-14, followed by those aged 15-34. A majority of the patients who died shared similar circumstances, such as living in communities with other dengue patients, self-treatment using non-prescription medicines from local shops, and being brought 10


In 2016 a much-anticipated vaccine became available in parts of Southeast Asia and Central and South America. People in Thailand were excited when the vaccine arrived with a promise of 93% efficacy in reducing severity of the disease and 80% effectiveness in lessening the need for hospital treatment. to hospital too late for effective treatments or receiving nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections. ant Muangnoicharoen, a dengue specialist and doctor at the Hospital for Tropical Disease, said that children are at greater risk because they don’t take the same level of precaution as adults and, in many cases, they are unaware of the dangers. For someone over 15, the chance of death from dengue is increased with the presence of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and drug use. This includes ibuprofen and injections of some pain killers. On January 21 this year the French government issued a travel warning to its citizens planning to visit Thailand due to an increase in the number of cases of dengue fever recorded since September 2019. The notice, which warned that the risk of infection was significantly higher in the Northeast of the country, particularly in Chiang Rai and Ubon Ratchathani provinces, was largely made irrelevant by the international travel restrictions


imposed after the emergence of Covid-19. At the end of May the DDC issued a national warning on dengue. According to the Bureau of Epidemiology, between January 1 and July 6 this year Thailand had recorded 25,708 cases of dengue with 15 deaths. Waiting for a cure Although for decades considerable efforts have been made toward developing a dengue vaccine, no truly effective vaccine currently exists. In 2016 a much-anticipated vaccine became available in parts of Southeast Asia and Central and South America. People in Thailand were excited when the vaccine arrived with a promise of 93% efficacy in reducing severity of the disease and 80% effectiveness in lessening the need for hospital treatment. Problems with the new vaccine soon became apparent, however. The three-installment dose was priced at around US$207, a bit expensive for most Thais. In 2017 a study presented evidence that the vaccine could backfire on those who had never had the virus

before and lead to a more serious infection. In 2018 the vaccine’s manufacturers confirmed that it should only be given to those who had previously contracted a dengue infection, as it might increase the severity of subsequent infections. Finally, the vaccination has proved to be only around 60% effective, leaving researchers still searching for a dengue vaccination that is more effective, affordable and safe. Medical inter vention needed People who suspect they may be suffering symptoms of dengue fever should see a doctor at once. There’s no specific medication to kill the virus, but there’s no doubt that medical intervention saves lives. For severe dengue symptoms, including shock and coma, early and aggressive emergency treatment with fluids and electrolyte replacement can be life-saving. One treatment involves the intravenous administration of blood platelets. Most people with uncomplicated

dengue recover completely within about two weeks, but others may go through several weeks to months of feeling tired and/ or depressed. Some victims say they experience lingering effects many years after infection. To

People who suspect they may be suffering symptoms of dengue fever should see a doctor at once. There’s no specific medication to kill the virus, but there’s no doubt that medical intervention saves lives.

speed recovery, healthcare experts recommend getting plenty of bed rest, drinking lots of fluids and taking medicine to reduce fever, although some doctors advise against taking aspirin. The mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus often breed in used automobile tires, flower pots, old oil drums and other man-made containers like earthenware jars, metal drums, concrete cisterns and discarded plastic containers. It is vital to eliminate these breeding sources from public and private property. To prevent being bitten, avoid areas with standing water, and wear long-sleeve shirts and long trousers or dresses in neutral colors that cover limbs and neck during daylight hours when the mosquitoes are most active. Secure windows and doors and check for holes in screens and consider sleeping under a mosquito net. Other suggested preventive measures include the use of coils, electric vapour mats and mosquito repellant sprays containing DEET. TheBigChilli



ASEAN Dengue Day

In recognition of the fact that dengue is prevalent in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, the 10th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting in 2010 declared June 15 as ASEAN Dengue Day. Since then, this day has served as a key regional advocacy point to strengthen relevant information exchange and raise awareness about prevention and control measures. Dengue is a global and regional threat causing a major additional public health burden for all communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This neglected tropical disease has a wide clinical spectrum which includes both severe and non-severe clinical manifestations. Dengue continuously spreads as a mosquito-borne viral disease throughout the Asia Pacific Region, and is no respecter of national borders. Nearly 75% of all dengue cases worldwide occur in Asia and the Pacific. National leaders recognize that preventive measures need to be taken at the regional level in order to protect people within their borders. ASEAN is a driving force in preparedness against dengue and all regional health threats.

Partial 2020 dengue statistics for ASEAN Member States, showing cases recorded since Januar y 1. Brunei Darussalam The Ministry of Health reported 43 cases of dengue and one death on July 25.

Laos Laos had reported 3,932 dengue infections and nine deaths as of July 29.

Cambodia As of July 16 authorities reported 3,649 dengue infections and four deaths.

Malaysia As of July 14, a total of 59,378 people had contracted dengue, with 96 fatalities.

Indonesia On July 8 authorities reported the detection of 71,633 dengue cases and 459 deaths. 12


Myanmar Myanmar reported 2,862 dengue infections with 20 deaths as of June 27.

Philippines Official figures as of June 27 put the number of infections at 52,601 and deaths at 190. Singapore As of July 27, Singapore had registered more than 20,600 dengue cases and 19 fatalities. Thailand A total of 31,438 people were diagnosed with dengue and 21 of these had passed away as of July 21. Vietnam Up to July 16, a total of 35,624 people had contracted dengue, with three deaths reported.

WHO report on Dengue worldwide According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades. The vast majority of cases are asymptomatic or mild and self-managed, and hence the actual numbers of dengue cases is under-reported. Many cases are also misdiagnosed as other illnesses. The WHO website says one modeling estimate indicates 390 million dengue virus infections per year (95% credible interval 284-528 million), of which 96 million (67-136 million) manifest clinically (with any severity of disease). Another study, on the prevalence of dengue, estimates that 3.9 billion people are at risk of infection with dengue viruses. Despite a risk of infection existing in 129 countries, 70% of the actual burden is in Asia. The number of cases is increasing as the disease spreads to new areas including Europe. The threat of a possible widespread outbreak of dengue now exists in Europe; local transmission was reported for the first time in France and Croatia in 2010 and imported cases were detected in three other European countries. In 2012, an outbreak of dengue in Portugal’s Madeira archipelago resulted in over 2,000 cases, and imported cases were detected in mainland Portugal and 10 other countries in Europe. Cases are now observed on an almost annual basis in the native populations of many European countries. Among travellers returning from low- and middleincome countries, dengue is the second most diagnosed cause of

fever after malaria. In 2020, dengue continues to affect many countries, with reports of increased numbers of cases in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cook Islands, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mayotte (Fr), Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka,

Sudan, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Yemen. The largest number of dengue cases ever reported globally was in 2019. All regions were affected, and dengue transmission was recorded in Afghanistan for the first time.

The six countries with the most dengue infections in 2019: COUNTRY




2,225,461 789

Philippines 420,453 1,565 Vietnam



Mexico 268,458 191 Nicaragua 186,173 India


136,422 132

Source: Wikipedia

Ten-year statistics According to statistics published by the Thailand’s Bureau of Epidemiology, Department of Disease Control, MOPH, there were 947,677 DF, DHF or DSS infections with 1,026 deaths in the country during the past 10 years: YEAR


2010 116,947 139 2011 69,800 63 2012 79,593 87 2013 154,773 136 2014 41,082 49 2015 146,082 154 2016 64,867 68 2017 53,961 71 2018 87,212 115 2019 133,360 144 TOTAL 947,677 1,026



Bangkok & Beyond Conrad Bangkok's staycation deal

Conrad Bangkok is offering guests a fantastic staycation in the heart of the city, with luxurious accommodation and delectable dining at their restaurants. Available for booking and stays between now and 30 September 2020, the Delectable Staycation deal invites guests to book their newly renovated Executive Room with Executive Lounge access at Conrad Bangkok at THB 5,000 for 1 person and 6,000 for 2 persons and receive a complimentary meal from the selection of “All-you-can-eat” Dim Sum lunch or dinner at Liu and “Daily Chef’s Special Set” at KiSara. The Executive Lounge offers guests freshly cooked breakfast, afternoon tea and free flow drinks during evening cocktails. The Chinese- Cantonese restaurant Liu promises classical and contemporary Chinese cuisine in an elegant setting serving lunch between 11:30 – 14:30 hrs and dinner at 18:00 – 22:30 hrs daily. Along with KiSara offering authentic Japanese cuisine with premium ingredients, open from Wednesday through Sunday, serving lunch between 11:30 – 14:00 hrs and Dinner at 18:00 – 22:30 hrs. SHA certified; Conrad Bangkok is the perfect option for a luxurious getaway right in the heart of Bangkok. For more information or to make a reservation, please contact: Tel: +66 (0) 2690 9999 Email: bkkci.info@conradhotels.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/conradbangkokhotel Instagram: www.instagram.com/conradbangkokhotel

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin reopens

Known as one of the grand hotels of the East, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin has launched its ‘Stronger Together’ offer starting from Baht 2,650++ per night. Each of the hotel’s 42 private villas is a tranquil oasis surrounded by lush gardens that enhance the feeling of seclusion. Travellers can take advantage of the latest ‘Villa Escape’ offer that features an overnight stay at only Baht 5,370++. For more information or reservations, please call +66 (0) 3251 2021.



Pullman Bangkok Hotel G `Glam' package

The Pullman Hotel G is now offering a unique ‘Glam Your Gram’ package, perfect for photography lovers, foodies and insta-travellers. Located in Silom, which is the heart of the entertainment, dining and shopping areas in Bangkok, Pullman Bangkok Hotel G hotel has received a certification which guarantees the highest hygiene and sanitization standards to ensure a safe stay for all guests and associates alike. Guests are invited to unwind in the signature all-white G Deluxe Room and enjoy exclusive perks for THB 3,500 net per night. The Glam Your Gram package can be booked from now until August 31st 2020, for stays until 28th December 2020. For more information and reservations please contact The Pullman Hotel G +66 02 352 4000, email h3616-RE@accor.com. or Facebook at www. facebook.com/PullmanBangkokHotelG.

Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen's Park celebrates reopening

The Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park has officially opened its doors with a ‘Summer Dreaming’ promotion and value-added vouchers. Guests who book a room or suite will enjoy daily breakfast for two people and THB 1,000 hotel credit per day, to be used for dining, spa treatments, accommodation upgrades and more. This offer is valid until 15 December 2020. The hotel services are in line with the new health and hygiene measures. In terms of leisure, the 9th floor outdoor pool, state-of-theart fitness centre, and serene Quan Spa are all open, with enhanced safety measures in place. Website: www.bangkokmarriottmarquisqueenspark.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ bangkokmarriottmarquis Telephone: 02 059 5555



Bangkok & Beyond

Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok and DoubleTree by Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok reopen in the heart of the city

The Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok and DoubleTree by Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok officially reopen this month, welcoming guests once again with Hilton’s signature hospitality. The hotels are conveniently located in Sukhumvit, just a two-minute walk from Emporium and EmQuartier malls and a four-minute walk from Benjasiri Park. Both have installed new procedures to help guests enjoy an even cleaner and safer stay. With promotional packages such as ‘Back on Track’ package that offers official meeting starting from THB 700 NET per person in Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok and THB 600 net per person in doubletree. Hilton promises serving their guests better in a safe and healthy environment. For more information or to make a reservation, travellers may visit www.sukhumvitbangkok.doubletree.com or call +66 02 649 6666

Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok's hot deal for expats

Expat residents in Thailand can enjoy a Superior Room including breakfast for two persons from now until 31 October 2020 at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok at only THB 1,899 net (one night) The hotel features a full range of facilities and services for the comfort and convenience of guests, including the 14th floor infinity swimming pool with spectacular views, a fully equipped fitness center, Wi-Fi and a free extra bed for children under 16 years old. For more information and reservation, please contact us on tel +66 2 210 8100 or rsvn@eastingrandsathorn.com or visit our website www.eastingrandsathorn.com

One-Bedroom Pool Suite luxury package at Vana Belle Resort Koh Samui Enjoy a great value package now being offered by Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, featuring a Jungle One-Bedroom Pool Suite available for only THB 7,999++ per night. The package includes daily breakfast for two persons, plus 20 percent discount on food and non-alcohol beverages, and on Spa treatments at Vana Spa.   Vana Belle is located directly on the sands at Chaweng Noi Beach, and is moments away from Koh Samui’s main attractions such as the Elephant Sanctuary, Wat Phra Yai, and Chaweng Beach. The Jungle One-Bedroom Pool Suite has its own private outdoor pool and terrace, 86 Sq.m. of space. Reservation period and stay period from 1 August to 20 December 2020. Contact: Reservations.vanabelle@luxurycollection.com, or tel: +6677-915-555; or visit the resort website at www.vanabellekohsamui.com. 16


Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach's `Summer Dreaming' offer

Overlooking the Andaman Sea, Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach, is celebrating its reopening with a promotion for Thai residents and expats called ‘Summer Dreaming’ which offers guests who book accommodation daily breakfast for two people and THB 1,000 resort credit per day, to be used for dining, spa treatments, upgrades and more! The majority of the hotel’s facilities are operational again, with measures in place to ensure the safety of guests and associates. In terms of dining, Big Fish Restaurant and Bar promises fresh seafood, prime grilled meats and cool cocktails overlooking the ocean. In-room dining is available 24 hours a day, for guests who want to dine in comfort and privacy. Connect with us via these channels: Website www.phuketmarriottnaiyang.com Facebook www.facebook.com/PhuketMarriottNaiYang/ Instagram www.instagram.com/phuketmarriott_naiyang/

Irresistible Flavours of southern cuisine at Cape Fahn Hotel, Koh Samui Long Dtai Restaurant at Cape Fahn Hotel, Koh Samui has reopened and welcomes diners to enjoy the tastes of authentic southern Thai cuisine led by chef David Thompson and his culinary team under chef Ommo. The menus feature fresh seafood grilled over an outdoor fire-pit and seasonal ingredients to recreate the quintessential southern Thai cuisine, including dishes such as Southern Shrimp Paste and Prawns in Betel Leaves; Lhon Relish with Chopped Prawn, Salted Duck Egg and Coconut Cream; Fiddlehead Fern Salad with Pork and Samui Clams; Coconut and Turmeric Curry with Mashed Prawns, Belly Pork with Black Pepper; Grilled Mussels Southern Style; Sweet Prawns; and Southern Curry with Minced Pork and Green Peppercorns. Desserts include Sugar Dumplings in Coconut Milk; Coconut crumble pudding and many more delicacies. Available for dinner from 18.30-23.00 hrs. (closed Tuesday / Wednesday). Tel: +66 (0)77 602 301-2, Email: reservations@longdtai.com or visit our website at www.longdtai.com



Food& Drink

Bangkok's hottest dining deals and news

ALATi presents Riviera Sunday Brunch ■ ALATi restaurant at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok is presenting the Riviera Sunday Brunch, featuring sumptuous dishes inspired by the diverse flavours of the Mediterranean region. On offer is a fantastic selection of unlimited a la carte dishes inspired by traditional recipes and cooking techniques of countries such as Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece and Lebanon. 18


ªSunday lunch is the special occasion when friends and families meet for what is probably their longest meal of the week, enjoyed with a variety of cocktails, wines and Champagne. We invite diners to spend an enjoyable afternoon in the comfortable atmosphere of ALATi,º explains Executive Chef Carlo Valenziano. There is a limited-time offer for Siam Kempinski LINE friends to enjoy

a 15% discount on the food and wine package (excluding Champagne), with one child (up to 12 years old) dining free when accompanied by an adult. The offer applies every Sunday until 30 August 2020. Guests must confirm that they are a LINE friend @ Siamkempinskihotel. From 12:30 to 16:00 hrs. Contact ALATi on +662 162 9222 or email alati.siambangkok@kempinski. com.

Sky-high views and a gourmet snack menu at CRU Champagne Bar at Red Sky ■ CRU Champagne Bar at Red Sky Bar is offering exclusive varieties of Champagne and Champagne-based cocktails on its rooftop bar on the 59th floor. Champagnes from France include G.H. Mumm Grand Cordon Rouge. They come with a tasty gourmet menu of bite-sized portions such as Pork Rillette Sliders, Popcorn Shrimp and Fish and Sweet Potato Crisps. For vegetarian guests, the menu includes Flavour Dynamics cheese platter and Sweet Potato Hummus. CRU Champagne Bar is located at the of Centara Grand at CentralWorld. Call +66(0)2 100 6255 or email diningcgcw@ chr.co.th TheBigChilli


UNO MAS rolls out its new `2 Feet of Tapas' deal

â– Experience the joys of tapear - the Spanish verb describing the art of eating tapas - by ordering `2 Feet of Tapas' at UNO MAS rooftop restaurant on the 54th floor of Centara Grand at CentralWorld. This special promotion featuring enough tapas to stretch two feet (or over half-a-meter) around your table is priced at THB 1,990++ for two people. Dishes include Spanish classics like Tortilla (Spanish-style omelet); Txipirones (fried baby squid with black ink aioli and lemon); and Gambas (tiger prawns, garlic, paprika and cayenne sizzling in olive oil). Also savor Cogollos de Tudela (smoked salmon, & baby lettuce); El Pulpo (grilled Galician octopus, chipotle, green mojo, & black ink aioli sauce); 36-month cured Joselito Jamon; Albondigas (Spanish meatballs, wagyu beef, & pluma pork in tomato stew); and much, much more! UNO MAS chefs use the highest quality ingredients to prepare the city's most authentic Spanish food and replicates the traditional way the food is eaten in Spain. This involves ordering and sharing lots of small, tasty dishes (tapas) among friends, all washed down with a glass or two of Spanish cervesa (beer), cava, sangria, or sherry. Tel. +66 2 100 6255 or email diningcgcw@chr.co.th. www.unomasbangkok.com UNO MAS Unomas_Bangkok 20




Furoshiki Mooncakes at The Okura Prestige Bangkok's La P�tisserie

■ Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with delicious traditional mooncakes from The Okura Prestige Bangkok's La P�tisserie. Across the Far East the annual Mid-Autumn Festival marks the period after the summer harvest, particularly in China where farmers give thanks for a successful crop. In Chinese culture mooncakes also symbolise togetherness. Hence, when given to friends and colleagues as seasonal gifts or to family members as tokens of love, these sweet delights beautifully wrapped with Japanese traditional wrapping cloth, Furoshiki, are sure to please. Made with intricately patterned light, flaky crusts and filled with four delicious flavours Ð Durian Single Yolk, Purple Sweet Potato Single Yolk, Green Tea and Custard Ð the mooncakes are the perfect accompaniment to a refreshing cup of tea. Available at La P�tisserie from Mondays Ð Fridays, 07:00 Ð 19:00 from 8 September Ð 1 October 2020. Priced at Baht 198 net per piece; Baht 988 net per box of 4 pieces. Early bird orders made between 17 Ð 31 August 2020 receive 10% discount on orders of 20-100 boxes; 15% on 101-200 boxes; and 20% for 201 boxes up. (50% deposit required for early bird orders). La Pâtisserie is located on the ground floor, Park Ventures Ecoplex. Open Monday – Friday from 07:00 – 19:00. For more information, please contact 02 687 9000 or email lapatisserie@okurabangkok.com. 22


TheBigChilli TheBigChilli 15 23

JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok reopens six restaurants ■ To celebrate the return of its six restaurants JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok is offering a 50% discount at Tsu, Nami, Man Ho and JW Caf� until 31st July 2020. Chef Yukio Takeda and his team with Tsu masterfully prepares a fresh variety of sushi, sashimi and a curated selection of rolls alongside artistically crafted dishes. Enjoy a 50% discount from their a la carte menu. Nami Teppanyaki Steakhouse serves authentic Teppanyaki dishes where diners can spectate as talented chefs prepare their meals to their exact specifications right in front of them. Along with that, diners can also enjoy a 50% discount from their a la carte menu.   Executive Chinese Chef Leslie Du and his team with Man Ho captivate the diner’s palates with the finest Cantonese delicacies. Enjoy a 50 % discount on their a la carte menu



and promotion on `all you can eat Dim Sum' for THB 750 net per person from Monday to Friday. JW Caf� serves an array of International cuisine including chef recommended signature dishes, and local favorites from fresh seafood to foie gras. Enjoy 50% discount on the dinner buffet from Monday to Thursday. New York Steakhouse -consistently recognized as Bangkok’s best steakhouse and awarded with 3 years of the Michelin plate award, due to its unparalleled service and premium cuts of meat. Complimentary signature cocktails will be served to guests till 31st July 2020 to get diners back in that New York state of mind. BBCO Ð Bangkok Baking Company is back with an upscale casual dine Ð in and to-go bakery offering. Delivery menu are available daily for lunch & dinner. Call 662 656 7700



New on the

scene Hot new restaurants, bars & caf�s in Bangkok

JHOL reopening its doors again ■ The new Indian Coastal Restaurant JHOL is now reopening in the 10th of July for both lunch and dinner after the long lock down period. With an updated menu and limited seating, JHOL is effectively adhering to the highest standards of health and hygiene. They have also designed a new delivery menu with an Indian coastal touch, as well as the quintessential Indian comfort food and twists to Indian classics such as the Thai influenced Kaffir Lime Butter Chicken. JHOL provides a stylish, family friendly, brasseriestyle dining experience with a menu that features fresh interpretations of coastal Indian cuisine being the first restaurant 26


of its kind to open in the vibrant Bangkok food scene. Its focus on Indian coastal cuisine is something Bangkok diners have yet to experience. Due to the effects of the global pandemic, JHOL had to close its doors but now with the reopening of the restaurant, World-class Chef Hari Nayak brings his passion for coastal Indian cuisine to delight the palettes of discerning diners seeking something new and unforgettable. Chef Hari Nayak comes from Udupi, a city on the southwest coast of India. The place where he started his culinary explorations. From there he ventured to USA where he further explored on gastronomic expertise

and wrote internationally acclaimed cookbooks that renowned New York. ªHe has given a new dimension to foodº said New York based French chef Daniel Bolud. Appreciating and celebrating those coastal roots, Chef Hari Nayak with JHOL presents an array of distinct flavors of delicious Indian coastal cuisine. Featuring delectable and mouth-watering dishes such as Chili Garlic Crab with Egg Appam, Sol Kadi Ceviche (Local Sea Bass with Kokum Local Fruit and Crispy Ginger) using the fresh local Ingredients and succulent seafood of city being the heart of the menu. Location: 7/2 Sukhumvit Soi 18, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110 Thailand. Website: www.jholrestaurant.com Facebook: @JHOLbkk Instagram: @jholbkk Reservations: reservations@ jholrestaurant.com Phone Number: +66 2004 7174

Bangkok Revival

Three new Pubs open on

Sukhumvit Life's getting back to normal

Watch out for details www.thebigchilli.com TheBigChilli


Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Guest review by

Back to Chesa – and happy to be home! A

fter three months of abstinence we resumed B&B lunches of course at Chesa, home for the Club, and it turned out to be a great homecoming. Though numbers were restricted to acknowledge that social distancing is still in force, 16 gourmands assembled to dine and wine in style. Our aperitif, Alma Cuvée Franciacorta Brut Bellavista NV (Brecia, Italy), is set to become a Club favourite; one-third the cost of a Champagne, it is a delicious, predominantly Chardonnay sparkler with an elegant, lush mouth feel and earned 28


compliments from Danny Arn, wine spokesman and white wine aficiando. Dining commenced with an amuse bouche, an Irish oyster enhanced with Whitcraft-style relish, presented on a golden mat. It was followed by a colourful and tasty dish, White Shrimp Bolognaise topped with Slow Cooked Pork Belly and Grilled Pacific Scallop, found by food spokesman John MacTaggart to be excellent, with the pork having been slow cooked for 18 hours. With this came Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (Nelson, NZ), a very typical NZ SB, and said by a Vivino critic to be “very crisp

and clean. Apples and lime come through on the [sic] pallets”. Our bottles arrived in a carton and were enjoyed especially by Danny. Next to arrive was Pan-Fried Dover Sole Fillet with Almond Crust; some thought the crust detracted from the delicate Dover sole but full marks were due to the Chesa team for procuring, then cooking the fillet to perfection; it was John’s dish of the day. This was served with Johannes Zillinger Numen Fumé Blanc 2016 (Lower Austria), a little cloudy (fermented in amphora) but nice to sup showing delicate smoky and light woody nuances and lively acidity, dense and persistent on the palate. I thought a(nother) great find by Thomas Boedinger though not quite as fully appreciated by Danny! Chesa is renowned for its soups and Tuesday’s offering, Cream of White Asparagus Soup enhanced with Morel Foam (and a wafer of morel), was no exception. It was possibly my dish of the day. Some found the Numen Fumé Blanc went much better with it than the suggested Gaja's Ca'Marcanda Promis 2013







(Tuscany, Italy), a blend of Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese. With subdued earthy notes on the nose, it exhibits the smoothness of Merlot, a contained spicy palate from the Syrah and sour cherry on the finish from the Sangiovese. A very harmonious, balanced medium-bodied red ironically said to be a match for anything in a tomato sauce. Drunk on its own, Danny and I both enjoyed it and Danny was confident it will improve further with age. Turning to the main dish of the day, we found Red Deer Saddle on Burgundy Wine Reduction served with Baked Potato filled with vegetables. Pink, tasty, the sauce a delight, and at the risk of offending our Chef Rene Kuhn, John and I could fault only the paucity of the vegetables. Accompanying this dish we drank Olivier Riviere Arlanza El Cadastro 2015 (Castila y Leon, Spain). Parker (93) said: “The nose is more expressive than the palate, where the wine is serious and a little muted with abundant dusty tannins and the chalky texture of the tannins. It’s an elegant and balanced Tempranillo with no noticeable oak and a dry serious finish”. Danny was just as complimentary. We did not reach however “a dry serious finish”; there followed Grapefruit Sherbet with Campari definitely enhanced by vodka to John’s delight and time to thank no less than three birthday boys, Thomas Nowak, Jake Meerman, and John Handley, for their generous contributions to our pleasure and delight. David Dean drew the short straw and was chosen to thank the Chesa team on our behalf for a welcome and great return to fine dining. 32


FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY The final step that Thailand took to align itself firmly with Japan came on January 25, 1942, when it declared war on Great Britain and the United States. The reason given for this action was that the participation of British and American fliers in bombing attacks against civilians as well as military targets in Thailand constituted an act of aggression. Britain was also accused of economic manipulation of the national economy to the detriment of Thailand; and the United States was accused of refusing to deliver airplanes, previously paid for by Thailand, and of having failed to come to Siam’s assistance by 1893 when it was threatened by France. Sir Joseph Crosby observed that the communique issued by the Thai government ‘can only be held to have set up a record for childish insincerity which must be wellnigh unique in the history of international relationships, and future generations of Siamese will assuredly blush to recall it.’ From that time on until 1944, Thailand cooperated fully with Japan, and during the war the two countries exchanged many missions of good will. Thailand retained nominal control of its internal administration; but Japan made ever greater demands on its economy, inflicting considerable economic hardship on the ‘THAILAND AND country before the war’s end. THE STRUGGLE FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA’ by Donald E. Nuechterlein. Published by Cornell University Press 1965





or more than a decade, during the 80s and 90s, nowhere captured the spirit, fun, excitement and the sheer outrageousness of Patpong more enthusiastically or famously than Peppermint and Limelight, one a disco, the other a go-go bar. Running their immensely popular nightly shows back then was ‘Sombat’ Wayne Napier, an extrovert Australian whose lively character and diverse background was tailor-made for Bangkok’s most notorious street in its heyday. Sombat, as he prefers to be called, boasts an extraordinary career that ranges from boxer, bouncer, model and male escort to teacher, lecturer, writer – and manager/ part owner of two legendary nightspots, where he made hundreds of friends as well as the odd foe, one of whom, quite literally, shot him the back. Now retired in Pattaya, Sombat lives a quiet and healthy life, controlling his diet and going on lengthy daily treks on his bicycle. 34


Wayne and staff at Limelight

Name and nickname: Wayne, given name …. Sombat (preferred) given to me by a very famous Thai movie star. Born: Australia (Non-Citizen status) prefer to be called a Honky (HK). Date of Birth: I’ve told so many lies about this one I forget the actual date….passports been missing for quite some time….555. What brought you to Thailand? A Thai girl walked into my travel agency in HK….that’s all it took to change my holiday itinerary. How long have you been here? On and off best part of 40 years. What’s keeping you in Thailand? I wish I knew Did you ever think as a young man that you’d end up in SE Asia? I did end up here as a young man Where do you live now, and for how long? Pattaya. I’d need to talk to my secretary about how long I’ve been here as she keeps all my info on tap….. Career and employment background: You mean what I have undertaken to survive the trials and tribulations of life… here’s the list in more or less chronological order: Night Club Service Boy, Boxer. Night Club Doorman / Bouncer, Discotheque – Manager, Dance Instructor, Model, Actor

/ Stuntman, Chippendales Dancer, Male escort, Personal Fitness Trainer, Race Horse partnership / Professional Gambler, Discotheque - PR Manager – Manager, Cocktail Lounge – Manager, Cruise Lines Thailand - General Manager, Bar / Bistro / Discotheque / Restaurant – Manager, Party House / Café - Owner – Director, Go Go Bar (2) SEMI-RETIRED (aged 43) Writer / Translator, High School – Teacher, University - Faculty Member – Lecturer. SEMI-RETIRED (age 48) Go Go Bar (4) – Manager, Sports Bar – Manager, Real Estate Agent / Property Management. RETIRED (age 54) Of all those jobs, which was the most enjoyable? I would say modeling, both with money and side benefits. A few hours a day (most days) would reap in bundles of cash and the women...well, they were stunners. I got to travel to many countries, meet people with different cultures and cuisines. I was chauffeur driven back and forth from jobs to hotels, wined and dined all at the expense of the clients who booked me. Chippendales was a blast with plenty of both, money and side benefits. Watching your

Bevy of Limelight beauties




Celebs like Sylvester Stallone were Patpong regulars in its heydays

horse flashing past the winning post in 1st place was exhilarating and also very rewarding money-wise. Entertaining in bars and clubs with music, beautiful women and a variety of misfit friends is more like a pastime than a job, and the money rolls in. Teaching makes you feel very special as you are assisting in young people’s futures but unfortunately the money is merely enough to survive. I often wondered why teachers got paid so little when many of their students become doctors, lawyers, and politicians, all earning exuberant salaries. How does your time as manager / part owner of Limelight and Peppermint rank in your life experiences? It was another stepping stone to add to my survival course of life. The memories remain through the many friends made, many now members of FB Limelight & Peppermint Entertainment Venues. How good was Patpong in its heyday years? Awesome……nothing will ever compare. What was special about your bars? The people it attracted, superstars from all over the world - Sylvester Stallone, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, just to name a few. But it was the expats who created the ambience and the music; hundreds of beautiful, sexy girls were as one on the dance floor. No go go bar ever had velvet seats and VIP booths, a resident DJ and monthly tabs for regulars until Limelight upped the anti in all areas. What are your favorite memories of Patpong? Too many to mention, I’d have to cut down a forest of trees to print them all. 36


Keeping fit on two wheels

Modeling, one of Sombat Wayne's earlier jobs

And worst memor y? The night market being set up - it ruined everything. From that moment on things took a downward spiral, there was no coming back from that….pure greed was the driving force behind ruining Patpong Most memorable characters? Way too many to mention but I would like to give a special thanks in recognizing all the friends who have sadly passed way and who helped keep the doors of Limelight & Peppermint running for so many years. I’d say may they rest in peace but these guys are partying in heaven for sure. With your nights filled with booze and partying, did your health suffer? You can’t kid yourself that drinking two bottles of whisky and 20-50 shooters every day isn’t going to affect your health. I’d hate to have an X-ray, I’m sure it would make medical history! So how did you stay reasonably healthy? Well, I ran in Lumpini Park as often as possible but I’d have to say the curricular activities played a big role in keeping the heart rate pumping! Any major health scares? Pancreatic Cancer, a bullet in the back, a kidney that malfunctions, several broken bones ….. all in a day’s work When did you close your bars, and why? 1999. In the previous years, business hours tightened to work against us, and leases sky rocketed to push us out. Are you still in touch with any your former employees and dancers? Yes many have reunited via FB and several have approached me on the street

A good reason to stay in Bangkok

Hamming it up in Limelight

extracurricular activities have … all very grateful, polite and always been high on my list. thank me for giving them an No animal based product on opportunity in life that never my diet for a few years makes a would have eventuated without huge difference to all my body Limelight & Peppermint. functions. Going on 70 feeling Have you been to Patpong 30 still…. recently, and if so, what did How’s life in Pattaya you think of it? Always sad to since the lockdown? What see Limelight as a leather goods lockdown???... 555. I still have shop and Peppermint as a tattoo my exercise routine so nothing and art parlour.. much affecting me. Love sitting Do you miss those great The quieter life, as a teacher at home these days glued to Patpong days? One always Multi Media TV box…. misses the good times but sometimes dwelling on the When will Pattaya be back to its old self? Never. past also has bad memories so I just move on taking It’s died a slow death just like Patpong did… too many one day at a time. The good memories are shared obstacles to overcome. It was dying well before covid. on FB with many of my friends and customers, so at Any favorite Pattaya hangouts? No I’ve moved away times you get to relive the past… Other than Peppermint and Limelight, what were from most, entertain myself at home these days and loving it. It’s like a whole new life for me. Patpong’s best bars? Gold Finger, Superstar, Crown Do you have many good friends in Pattaya? Royal, too many to recall. Mostly cycling friends. Many of my long term friends Could Patpong make a comeback? I’d like to think have moved to greener pastures, Vietnam, Philippines, Peppermint would have a chance, but with the lease Cambodia… less hassles. prices tripled, Thai baht as it is, many other variables I Any regrets in your life? Hell yes, but I can’t change guess in reality it’s just a dream… them. I chose to work in an environment that marriage So how are you filling your days now? Health and children couldn’t co-exist. I always called it the living, cycling, running, swimming, gym and some fast lane going nowhere, same day different crap. Can you imagine living anywhere else? I would love to settle back into HK but the cost of living and my age are negatives to resettle. What’s next for you? Does anybody ever really know the answer? Just to wake up every morning, jump on the bike, try and make the remainder of my journey a safe, healthy and enjoyable one. TheBigChilli


Concrete Therapy


Advice for modern city-dwellers Despite our best efforts, life in the big city can get pretty complicated, tr ying to juggle work, social life, personal problems—not to mention the never-ending stream of stressful traffic. We can talk to friends and family, but their involvement might be a little too close to home…sometimes a professional opinion really helps to put things into perspective. Calling our concrete therapists from New Counseling Ser vice (NCS) to the rescue for some solid advice! Do you have a question for one of our counsellors? We will never print your real name, you can ask anything anonymously. Just send your problem to: info@ncsbkk.com or message @ ncsbangkok on IG, FB, or Line.



Dear NCS, Every day, I put on a smile, go to work, greet everybody, and help wherever I can. People think I’m friendly and happy-go-lucky, but on the inside I am feeling totally empty. I am so lonely, I feel like nobody knows who I really am. My life is fine, I don’t have any crazy big problems or drama...why am I feeling so sad all the time? -Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside

Dear Smiling/Cr ying, ■ Clearly things are not OK for you, even though it might seem so from the outside. You describe a feeling of emptiness and sadness, despite being surrounded by people at work each day. This must leave you feeling very isolated, disconnected and unable to be yourself, and it is not working for you. You say you don’t have any big problems or dramas, so that suggests your emptiness might be due to your key emotional and social needs not being met right now. Maybe you’re not sure about how to change that, but there are some things you can do, so don’t lose hope. Maintaining this reputation of being the “helpful, together” person means that everyone else believes it, which also means they don’t know that you need support right now. Therefore you are the only person who can do something to change your situation, which involves having to reach out to others and be honest with them about how you’re feeling. This might seem a bit risky and daunting at first, especially as it will break that illusion people have of you. However, it’s going to be necessary for any change to occur, because you don’t deserve to feel sad and lonely all the time. What kinds of things do you think you could change or add

to your life to help relieve some of these sad and lonely feelings? More time and support from friends or family? Social activities with new people? More meaning in your work or personal life? Make a list starting with “I need” and then write down anything that comes to mind. Identify your own true needs (not what others have said about you) and be proactive in the steps you could take to get what you need most. If you need to improve your current relationships then don’t be afraid to explain this to your friends and family and ask if you can spend more time with them. Start with the people you think are most likely to respond in a positive way and Counsellor David Ogden

Photo by Verity Tan

if you’re comfortable, tell them why you’re asking for this. Since they care about you they won’t be upset by being asked, although be aware that some people may be limited in what they can offer you time-wise. If you want to develop new friendships then try asking your more sociable friends if they could invite you along when they meet with their other friends. Alternatively, there are many social or sports groups in Bangkok where you can get involved in new activities and meet people. Join a local Facebook group for activities or hobbies you enjoy and put out a specific request to meet new people. Ultimately, increasing your social and personal connections with others will help you overcome your sense of loneliness and hopefully your sadness as well. But if there are other things that you know need to change in your life—such as work, relationships, or health—these issues might take longer to address. Once you start taking steps resolve them at a deeper level, this should increase the sense of control you have over your life and give you hope that things can be better for you. Whatever you decide, be sure to find support in this process, whether that’s a trusted friend or family member, or a counsellor to guide you and cheer you on. Dave Counsellor TheBigChilli


Concrete Therapy



Counsellor Johanna de Koning

Dear NCS, I am writing to you about my son. He is 15 years old, and in the past few months, I’ve noticed a big change in his behaviour. He used to be a very happy child, but lately he has become nervous and withdrawn. When he comes home, he immediately locks himself in his room and won’t come out until dinnertime. He seems tired all the time and doesn’t even want to talk to his friends. Should I be worried? -Worried Parent Photo by Verity Tan Dear Parent, ■ Seeing such a drastic change in your son is understandably worrying, thank you for sharing your questions and concerns about it. Your son’s teenage years will certainly involve confusion and insecurity for him and it’s quite normal for teenagers to withdraw at times, particularly from parents. The fact that he’s also withdrawing from friends is less common, but there could be some good reasons for this. Teenagers get a lot of their self-confidence and self-esteem from their friendships, so if there has been a falling out with his friends, or if he is feeling extra insecure about himself because of an incident or online comments (for example), then it may be that he’s not coping with this well and could explain why he is actively avoiding everything by staying in his room. The fact that he’s still going to school and coming out for meals is a good sign that he’s engaging in several important aspects of his life, but his withdrawal suggests that he’s genuinely struggling personally

and isn’t sure how else to cope. Are you (or another close adult) able to speak with him about this? You could gently let him know that you aren’t seeing the happy person he used to be and that you’ve noticed he’s more nervous and distant. You could prompt him to tell you a bit about this change by asking open-ended questions, such as “what do you think about school, is it going well for you?” or “how have your friends been treating you lately?” If he says anything about friendships, school or recent disappointments then gently ask more about those. Try not to judge him or lecture him at this point, but listen to and validate any concerns he might raise. Also ask about his sleeping, since he seems more tired than usual. Ask him if he’d like to discuss options for how to deal with whatever’s going on, or if there is anything you can help him with. Whatever happens, reassure your son that you’re there for him, even if he’s a bit dismissive of that – it’s something he needs to hear even if he doesn’t know it. If he closes himself off completely from you or insists that

everything is OK when it clearly isn’t, then it’s probably worth connecting with his school to find out what they have noticed about his mood and behaviour. If his school has a school counsellor, speak with them about your concerns. It’s important to keep giving your son the message that you accept him as a person, that you care about him and will be there for him. Plan to do something together that you know he would enjoy. Find small ways to connect that aren’t too confronting for him – a smile, some kind words, allowing him an extra privilege where appropriate. Most teenagers go through phases of behaviour as they develop so there’s a fair chance that this could be a phase your son is going through. However, if his withdrawing from everyone continues for several more months and becomes more concerning in any way, then I recommend seeking professional help. Johanna Counsellor TheBigChilli


Expat Women



By Ruth Gerson


e live in strange times with many issues confronting us and forcing everybody to take a closer look at the world we inhabit. A new social awareness has arisen, especially with regard to the environment, what has happened to it and what we can do about it. Diane Archer is a young French-Australian woman, born in Thailand, with a PhD in Land Economy from Cambridge University in the UK. She explains that this degree is a multi-disciplinary subject dealing with human geography, law, economics and the environment. Diane’s field of expertise is in urban development, and it seems only natural that her PhD thesis concerned issues facing Bangkok, including climate change, unfavorable living conditions and the vast influx of plastic waste invading the land and oceans. Part of her research focused on the Baan Mankong slum upgrading program led by CODI (Community Organisations Development Institute) under the Ministry of Welfare, which empowers people to improve their living conditions, and helps them get loans for housing and infrastructure. In 2010 after completing her degree, Diane returned to Thailand to continue work with low-income urban communities across Asia. Asked what roused her interest in working on urban poverty, Diane replies: “It came from my Dad as he worked in urban management and development.� Her Australian father has indeed set an example that Diane pursues with passion. TheBigChilli


Expat Women

Diane Archer giving a lecture

To gain further experience in these timely issues, Diane returned to the UK in 2012 to work at the International Institute for Environment and Development where she remained for six years. She concentrated on climate change resilience and inclusive governance in cities, focusing on Asian cities. er work took Diane on programs such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s urban climate change resilience network. “I applied for the job because I knew that

H 44


it was relevant to Asian cities,� says Diane, who had always planned to eventually return to this part of the world. In fact, Diane found herself back in Thailand in 2018, together with her British husband whom she had met at Cambridge University. She now works at the Stockholm Environment Institute Asia Centre, a non-profit research and policy institute based out of Chulalongkorn University which focuses on the environment and sustainable development.

Diane in Udon Thani

opportunities to minimize waste and pollutants leaking into the environment. Informal waste pickers may lack protective gear, and may not be in a good position to negotiate prices for their collected recyclables. The research project will start with the recycling shops and from there trace back to the informal waste workers who supply them. Bangkok, meanwhile, has become more environmentally conscious. There has been a relatively successful drive to abolish the use of plastic bags at all retail places, and there are currently attempts to improve the mechanism of waste collections and

management. One of her current projects is in the northeastern An additional safety issue for urban outdoor city of Udon Thani, a collaboration with local workers is air pollution, a topic which Diane is also authorities to enhance urban environmental health working on. Many professions such as construction, and well-being. Diane explains that her work includes street sweeping, policemen and more are exposed identifying what parts of the city are considered relaxing and those which are stressful, and how people continuously to the city’s air, which at times is at higher pollution levels than is use public and green spaces, using acceptable for workers’ safety. Other the data to identify pathways for more issues addressed by the institute are livable and healthy cities. water management, climate change, The city of Udon has a forwardand gender issues. looking municipality that plans to turn Diane plans to continue pursuing it into a ‘green’ city with accessible what she has begun, and believes green spaces and green industries. that improvements can come in With a friendly smile Diane various forms to the Thai urban outlines the most pressing urban community. Her knowledge is ills, including waste management evident in her published academic and recycling. Informal recycling papers that include such issues has been going on in Bangkok for as collective approaches to slum decades, and while there have been upgrading, and urban climate attempts in the past to get households change resilience. She sums her to separate recyclable materials, more work with the following: “Trying to often than not, these are just dumped create more inclusive cities – to care into the rest of the household refuse. for its informal sector, which is its It is not unusual to see rubbish backbone but that has no voice in collectors sorting out materials at the city.” the back of the garbage truck during Hopefully, Diane’s hard work and their daily collections. dedication will make a difference in Diane is working on a project the lives of those who need it most, to better understand the working whether in Bangkok or any other conditions of informal waste workers, Asian city that she sets her eyes on. the challenges they face, and Marathon running with husband TheBigChilli



Story by Colin Hastings

New purpose for the beautiful fabrics and clothes of Thailand's hill tribe people How a personal passion for ethnic products inspired international research and marketing executive Rakdaow Pritchard to set up an Instagram business that preserves and promotes local traditions


fter a 30-year career working for some of the world’s largest research agencies as well as several large non-government organizations in six different countries in Asia, Ms Rakdaow Pritchard thought not unreasonably that it was time to slow down and retire in Chiang Rai. The move from Bangkok to the tranquil mountains of northern Thailand happened four years. But despite having a large garden and orchard to tend, and an English husband as a constant companion, Rakdaow soon found it hard to adjust to the slow pace of full-on retirement. “It just wasn’t for me,” explained this attractive and bubbly Thai lady. “I just had to get involved in something else.” That ‘something else’ came along not long after when Rakdaow, during her frequent travel in the North, attended the Akha hilltribe’s famous annual Swing Festival. She was captivated by the unique cultures of the varied ethnic peoples living in Chiang Rai and the extraordinary beauty of their traditional textiles and clothing. The vivid colours 46


Photo by Fon Windsor-Clive



Travel Photo by Fon Windsor-Clive

Photo by Fon Windsor-Clive

and complex designs of garments made by the Akha and other hill tribe people captured her imagination and she realized the commercial potential of their universal appeal. Rakdaow had found a project to keep her busy. “I have been fortunate to have one Akha woman I first met on that day at the Swing Festival as friend, and now partner, in finding traditional Akha fabrics and clothes and repurposing or repairing these so that they can actually be worn or used. It turns out she is a skilled seamstress with a great sense of design,” she says. It was time for Rakdaow to launch her project. Setting it up as a small community-based IG (Instagram) business, she called it ‘doihugdao’, combining the northern word for mountain (doi) with her own name as it tends to be said in the northern dialect. Its objectives combine the business of selling Akha and other ethnic groups’ traditional fabrics, clothes and antiques to a worldwide audience with charity, helping villagers involved in the trade and other less fortunate poorer members of villages. “The aim is to support the unique local cultures of the diverse ethnic peoples living in Chiang Rai province, especially those of the Akha hill tribe and the Thai Lue lowland peoples. 48


Photo by Fon Windsor-Clive




Photo by Fon Windsor-Clive

Photo by Fon Windsor-Clive






Chiang Rai's famous Swing Festival



Silver hill tribe headdresses can cost up to 500,000 baht

K Rakdoaw and her husband visiting a hill tribe village

“The Doihugdao IG project was created out of a personal passion for locally crafted traditional ethnic products from Chiang Rai's diverse cultures and a desire to preserve, encourage and promote these to help instill local pride,” explains Rakdaow, a fluent English speaker who holds a Master’s degree in Communications Development from Ohio University. “We are not pure charity,” she says of her business, adding: “Under a separate umbrella, we undertake projects for needy causes in the North. For example, we have supported remote hill tribe villages by providing lunches for children and donating necessities for the poorest households. This has been particularly important during the Covid-19 period, when schools have been closed and these kids have not been getting their usual free school lunch while their parents go off to the fields, leaving them to fend for themselves. “Because suffocating smog caused by uncontrolled forest fires also remains a major problem in the north, we have also supported both professional forest fire fighting Rangers and village-based volunteers with essential equipment such as leaf blowers, gloves, fire resistant boots, masks, hammocks and life insurance.” Since its launch, ‘doihugdao’ and its products have delighted customers across the world with smart clothes and accessories which are as suitable for the office as the mountains of northern Thailand. The site also strives to educate its audience about the culture and practices of the hill tribes and other ethnic groups of Chiang Rai. “I consider myself a lucky person to have had a great deal of support from my husband and friends such as Fon Windsor Clive whose beautiful photography has done much to accentuate the innate beauty of the products themselves.” TheBigChilli



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Travel Photos and Story by Andrew J Wood

Apsara Beachfront Resort and Villa Khao Lak

Heading South on a Road Less Travelled

Bangkok to Phuket and beyond by car 56


BANGKOK: I needed to attend a meeting in Phuket and had time to visit and explore. We decided to drive, a chance to really explore that flying for 75 minutes doesn’t allow. It's a journey we’ve done in the past twice before in my 29 years of living in Thailand. Our journey will take us south travelling 864 km from our home in Bangkok to Phuket – Thailand's famous island playground. The Pearl of the Andaman Sea. For centuries, the main source of income for the island was tin mining. Now, tourism and rubber have made Phuket the country’s wealthiest province. On this trip we plan to stay at a number of resorts a few that are very closely linked to the island’s tin mining past. Leaving Bangkok very early we follow the coast road south-west along the Gulf of Thailand towards Hua Hin and then all the way south to Surat Thani. From there we cross the isthmus east to west before turning south again towards Phuket and the Andaman Sea. With stops the journey time will take approximately 11.5 hours driving. We plan to do the journey in one day, God willing. The car has been fully prepped and recently serviced. With our early start we arrive in Hua Hin at 6.30am having avoided all the pre-rush hour traffic out of Bangkok. A journey of just under two hours. Normally with traffic it would be three hours. Our early start paid dividends. We see dawn break as we arrive turning a black sky into rainbow colours that never stops being special. We continue on Route 4, the Phet Kasem road, Thailand's longest (1,274km). Our journey will take us through 12 of Thailand's 76 provinces – Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Ranong,

The Slate Phuket

Surat Thani,Phang-Nga, Krabi and Phuket. rom Hua Hin we head further south along the Asian Highway, hugging the western edge of the Gulf. The kilometers slip by. We travel on good roads, mostly dual carriageways. The traffic is reasonable and we make good progress. Passing through Pranburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan, we continue leisurely south. We reach Chumphon - our halfway point. Located on the Isthmus of Kra, the narrow stip of land connecting the Malay Peninsula with mainland Thailand. With a 222 km coastline


and 44 islands, the Chumphon Archipelago is known for its coral reefs and a long coastline dotted with peaceful beaches. At Chumphon we join the A41. It is the main road for the lower southern provinces. We head south-west. Route 41 is a four-lane highway, two lanes in each direction. It is also part of the Asian Highway AH2. The journey goes surprisingly quickly. Flying from Bangkok to Phuket would only take 75 minutes, but you would miss all the amazing scenery. There's no better way to get a feel for the diversity of this wonderful country and take a TheBigChilli



Sirinat National Park and Nai Yang beach

Nai Yang beach

sneak peek at daily life as we drive past. e are on the last leg of the journey, passing through Krabi province with its hilly terrain and limestone outcrops, located in the Strait of Malacca, between Phuket on the west and the mainland on the east. We pass through Phang-Nga province festooned with dramatic limestone outcrops. We will explore this area on the return leg spending a few days at Khao Lak. We quickly reach the Sarasin bridge that links the mainland to Phuket island and pass through an almost deserted police check point.




Our journey thus far had taken a little under 11 hours. We were keen to get to our hotel in time for a swim and a relaxing dinner. It wasn’t far as our hotel, the Slate Phuket, is situated close to the airport at the wonderful Nai Yang beach, one of Phuket’s famed sandy beaches. The ‘tin-mine’ vibe of the five-star Slate Phuket is quirky and unique. I fell in love with the design the moment I stepped into the hotel. It is simply exquisite. The Slate Phuket has been a constant fixture on Phuket’s resort hotel inventory for many years and was previously known as the Indigo Pearl. Rebranded as The Slate Phuket

in 2016, the beachfront resort was designed by Bill Bensley in a style that reflects the area's former tin mining heritage, with several custom-made works of metallic modern art. The rooms follow this theme. Oversized and packed with every amenity imaginable – even an outdoor bath tub. It wasn’t tin but brass! Later that evening we had dinner at Black Ginger restaurant. An award winning Thai restaurant, the cuisine, presentation and service were top notch. To get to the restaurant is a delight, one of those memorable moments – a hand pulled raft to

cross a smoke filled lagoon lit by flaming torches. Straight out of a movie. Loved it! Sadly it was time to leave The Slate and for me to put on my meeting hat start as we headed south to Angsana Laguna Phuket Resort for my Skål Asia mid-term board meeting. The Angsana was to be our home for the next three days. ocated at Phuket’s Bang Tao Bay in the island’s northwest, Angsana Laguna Phuket is a luxury resort, (formerly the Sheraton Grand Laguna), and is central to Asia’s first integrated resort, Laguna Phuket, developed across a former tin mine. It boasts great beaches with lovely white sand and a 300m freeform pool that wraps around the resort. Known for its meeting space, the hotel has its own on-site convention hall, and its impressive grounds makes it an ideal venue for large events. The Laguna Phuket houses a number of fine resorts and is a destination in its own right. With restaurants, golf, sea sports and activities aplenty it is just 40


minutes from historic Phuket town and superb shopping throughout the island. After the business side of the trip it was off to Patong to have a few days R&R by the pool at the wonderful Holiday Inn Phuket – a perennial favourite in the bustling heart of the island. After breakfast, we drove to Patong just 30 minutes away. We were given a brand-new, ground floor pool access deluxe room in the renovated Busakorn Wing - very impressive! We were just steps away from a quiet jacuzzi pool area adjacent to the glorious new main pool. The central pool dominates the resort. Decorated in a stunning mustard brown sandstone with mythical animal fountains. The pool tiles are sky blue and compliment the sandstone perfectly - most attractive! The greenery and landscaping provide a ‘garden oasis’ atmosphere. The rooms, as with all modern Holiday Inns (IHG Group), are stunning. Artful designs for modern comfort. Spacious and generous our deluxe room included a complimentary mini bar with beers, cocktail mixers,

soft drinks and water. It was replenished daily. The location is ideal - just steps away from the beach, Jungceylon and Soi Bangla and its famous nightlife. Phuket’s most famous and developed beach is here. Patong beach, with a 2km long sandy beach located in a bay with warm waters, is ideal for swimming and relaxing in the sun. Patong is also Phuket’s centre of nightlife. The area around Soi Bangla has more than 200 pubs, bars, go-go bars and discothèques where the action doesn’t stop until very late at night. Being Patong's first international hotel, the Holiday Inn Phuket Resort has been serving guests for 32 years (1987) becoming one of the most well-known hotels in the region. As part of its re-launch, a total of 104 studio rooms, including 17 new poolside rooms, have been renovated. The new refurbishments also offer an adultonly villa area with pool access and pool view rooms, new facilities and exclusive indulgence packages. At breakfast we had a huge selection and a great dining experience. All the bases are covered - Western, European, American, Vegetarian, Asian, Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern and Japanese. ood kitchen, good staff, great service and an essential breakfast ingredient - lots of smiling happy servers. The Busakorn wing is all new - rebuilt from the ground up at a cost of Bt 240m (US $ 8m). You are right in the heart of Patong but with its clever design you hear very little of the hustle and bustle going on outside. Whist there we visited Wat Chalong - Phuket's finest temple. Wat Chalong was built at the beginning of the 19th century, it is

G Angsana Laguna Phuket Resort



Travel the largest of Phuket's 29 temples and the most visited. No visit to the Holiday Inn Phuket is complete without a visit to Sam’s, the island’s famous steakhouse. Located in the main wing it was everything and more. The interior design is all about leather, glass and floral displays. The restaurant has a walk-in glass wine cellar, temperature controlled, to keep the wines in tip-top condition. A great menu and slick efficient service; a truly fine dining experience. adly it was time to leave the island and to head north to start the long return journey homeward bound. Unlike the trip down we would be making two stops. We crossed the Sarasin bridge that links Phuket with the main land. Our next stop was the Apsara Beachfront Resort and Villa in Khao Lak, Phang-Nga. The Apsara Beachfront Resort and Villa, is located at Pakarang Beach, just 90 minutes from Phuket International Airport. It was late November / early December, and the weather was




Holiday Inn Phuket

glorious. As you approach the resort you see the wide beach with its beautiful, white sand and clear seas. The beach is perfect for early morning jogs and evening sunset runs too, never crowded; the ocean was warm and we loved watching the surfers. The sunsets are out of this world. A great place to chill, just heavenly. The tide goes out a long way leaving a lovely long stretch of white sand beach. There is a good selection of bars and activities. The resort is popular with European guests. Many are repeat guests. Always a good sign. Being away from busy Phuket there are many good deals to be had. Many guests stay for 2-3 weeks and longer. Barefoot luxury is available and affordable. The resort is a popular honeymoon destination. Nestled in an area of outstanding natural beauty where the tides of the Andaman Sea flow into a lush lagoon and mangrove forest, against a backdrop of forested mountains, the Apsara

can be divided into two zones for accommodation choices. The Resort Zone (195 rooms) is close to the beach and swimming pools. The beachfront resort zone is perfect for families. It has a lively ambiance while across the lagoon bridge at The Villa Zone (60 villas) the village setting offers privacy and tranquility. e had booked a Pool Villa and it was perfect - self contained with 100% privacy behind a locked entrance and walled garden. The pool had a built in jacuzzi and a shaded outdoor dining area and two sun loungers. It was well designed. It’s the top category of accommodation, designed in tropical contemporary style covering 180 sqm of living space. The pool villas offer a spacious bedroom, plus living space with large sliding doors that access the swimming pool and sundeck, plus a great bathroom with a rain shower. It’s just a short walk to the beach. What we particularly liked was


Apsara Beachfront Resort: Pool Villa

the Villa Apsara, club like, with its own restaurant, bars and pools. It was delightful and the food and staff outstanding. We had most of our meals at the club’s Napalai Restaurant. The room amenities across all accommodation choices are extensive including flat screen TVs and DVD players, free WiFi, electronic safes and free drinking water. There is much to do and see around the resort. Filling your day with activities is easy. We spent most of our time around the pool at the Villa, but there are Thai cooking classes, fruit carving, batik painting, photography, bird watching, kayaking, cycling or simply working out at the gym. Don’t forget a visit to the Apsara Spa. We spent a relaxing afternoon being pampered by their expert team. For a taste of local life take the shuttle bus to Khao Lak town centre and enjoy exploring the shops, convenience stores and restaurants. For a more cultural experience, there are local markets

held during the week selling local food, clothing and other everyday items. Visit Takuapa Old Town, Buddhist temples, play golf or enjoy a day diving and snorkelling. ur final visit before returning to Bangkok was a stay for two nights at the award winning ecolodge, the Anurak


Community Lodge, the 2019 winner of both the SKÅL Asian Area environmental award and also SKÅL’s global sustainable award for rural accommodation. Anurak Community Lodge is located adjacent to the Khao Sok national park area in southern Thailand and is Travelife certified. The 20-unit ecolodge, which opened in 2016, received its certification after complying with Travelife’s rigorous Gold Certificate criteria. We accessed the resort from Khao Lak travelling east via a dramatic mountainous drive through the national park. Most guests would probably transit via Surat Thani. The scenery around the lodge is utterly spectacular. The ecolodge focuses very much on minimizing environmental impact, reducing energy consumption, respecting labour and human rights, maintaining health and safety standards, encouraging community integration, working with appropriate suppliers, and inspiring guest participation in onsite sustainability initiatives. Anurak has adopted principles of reducing, reusing, and

Views from Anurak Community Lodge TheBigChilli


Travel Anurak Community Lodge

recycling. Key aspects of its sustainability commitment include the banning of single-use plastic and styrofoam and the creation of a recycling station and composting zone. Greywater from the laundry is filtered and used on the ecolodge’s ‘Rainforest Rising’ project, which, over the long-term, will return 3,300 square metres of oil palm plantation to native vegetation cover. In August 2019, the ecolodge was listed among 36 of the world’s leading green lodges and hotels in the National Geographic Traveller (UK) invitationonly Earth Collection. On the edge of Khao Sok National Park, the lodge offers a range of ecotourism packages from two to four nights. Activities include hiking, rafting, kayaking, forest cooking, and boat trips on nearby Cheow Larn Lake, with its spectacular limestone cliffs rising sheer from the water’s surface. Located a 75-minute drive from Surat Thani airport and two hours and 30 minutes from Phuket airport, the lodge offers deluxe green, eco double, eco twin, and deluxe jungle tent options. Surrounded by limestone karst scenery, the lodge is an ideal base to explore.

About the author: Born in Yorkshire England, Andrew is a professional hotelier, Skalleague and travel writer. Andrew has over 35 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew is a past Director of Skal International (SI), National President SI Thailand and is currently President of SI Bangkok and a VP of both SI Thailand and SI Asia. He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University's Hospitality School and the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo. 62


The BigChilli

Modern History of Thailand TheBigChilli



Journey through Thailand’s past: 1977-1981

By Maxmilian Wechsler

The third installment of our 10-part series describing some important events in Thailand over the past 50 years begins with the year 1977. The March issue covered 1972-1976. 1977 (January) Thanin

money into Thailand. Speaking at Dusit Thani Hotel before a large crowd of members of various chambers of commerce and diplomats, Prime Minister Thanin Kravixien said: “There has been a lot of delay and inefficiency in our administration and this has spoiled the investment climate.” The incentives included income tax exemptions up to five years, a 90% reduction in business taxes up to 10 years and tax exemptions on imported machinery and raw materials. The government also guaranteed that no foreign owned businesses would be nationalized.

1977 Entrance to JEATH War Museum

1977 was the year Thai News

Agency and Chiang Mai zoo were established; the JEATH (Japanese, English, Australian, American, Thai and Holland) War Museum was opened in Kanchanaburi as a permanent reminder of the horrors of the Death Railway built 64



by Allied POWs in 1942 and 1943; and Phayao became a province after separating from Chiang Rai province. Januar y • A plan was announced offering foreigners incentives to bring

Februar y • The operation license of Air Siam was revoked after the airline was found to have repeatedly violated conditions in the permit. The Ministry of Communications announced that the Civil Aviation Board had studied the

(ISOC) headquarters at Suan Ruen, Radio Thailand and three military installations in Bangkok. Chalard installed a revolutionary council from Suan Ruen and broadcast an announcement ordering all battalion and division commanders in Thailand to join in the coup. y) Air Siam

1977 (Februar

issue very carefully and took into consideration the national economy, foreign relations, the country’s reputation and public safety before making the decision. Air Siam was established in 1965 under the name Varan Air-Siam by Prince Varananda Dhavaj. Air Siam declared bankruptcy in 1976 and Thai Airways International took over the airline’s debt and remaining fleet. • M.C. Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit, 56, Private Secretary to Her Majesty the Queen, was fatally wounded while flying in an army helicopter over communist

1977 (March) Samak Sundaravej

helicopter was also hit and forced to make an emergency landing at the Wat Bong Son school, where the Princess was transferred to another chopper. She died en route to Surat Thani provincial hospital.

March • Interior Minister Samak Sundaravej escaped assassination after a group of assailants fired three M72 rockets at his Mercedes, 1977 (February) M.C two of which exploded. Gunfire gsit Ran adi hav Princess Vib from automatic rifles riddled the infested Wiang interior of the Mercedes, which Sa district of was transporting the interior Surat Thani minister from the Channel 8 province. She studios at night. The attack was on the occurred about 100 metres from way to deliver the TV station. Two people were supplies to the arrested shortly after the attack Border Patrol but were released after police 1977 (February) Police (BPP) determined they weren’t involved. Prince Varananda Dhavaj on behalf of The involvement of communist the royal family. While in flight a insurgents was also ruled out broadcast came over the helicopter and police focused the ensuing radio which said two BPP officers investigation on political motives. had been wounded by a landmine. The Princess ordered the flight • General Chalard Hiranyasiri to be diverted to pick up the and about 300 soldiers attached to wounded men. The chopper took the 9th Army Division, reportedly heavy ground fire as it flew at a dressed as monks, staged a shortlow altitude and the Princess was lived coup. They seized Internal hit and gravely wounded. The Security Operation Command

• However, top military commanders loyal to the government led by Defence Minister Admiral Sangad Chaloryu aired their own broadcast on TV Channel 5 urging the public not to listen to the rebels and assured the nation that the government had not been overthrown. Sangad then surrounded Suan Ruen with tanks and troops and the rebels surrendered. Chalard tried to escape on a scheduled flight to Taiwan but China Airlines pilots refused to take off. Chalard was arrested and executed by firing squad for staging the coup and also for the death of Major General Aroon Thawathasin, commander of the First Army Region who was shot after he refused to surrender. April • PM Thanin, wielding absolute power provided by Article 21 of the provisional coup-installed constitution, ordered dissolution of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Bangkok Metropolitan Assembly, thus ending long-standing conflicts between the two elected bodies. June • Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was dissolved. SEATO was founded in February 1955 with its headquarters in Bangkok and had eight member nations: Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan TheBigChilli


Feature (withdrew in 1973), Philippines, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States. Its stated purpose was to prevent the spread of communism in the region. August • Heavily armed Khmer Rouge forces assisted by Thai insurgents trained by the Khmer-backed Angka Siam (Siam Organization) raided three Thai villages in Ta Phraya district of Prachinburi province, just inside the Thai border. The intruders killed 29 Thai citizens ‒ five women, 14 children, one BPP sergeant and nine militiamen who fought with a small BPP unit based in the area. The three villages were torched by the attackers and many buildings, including a field hospital, were destroyed.

1977 (November) General Kriangsak Chomanand

1978 (February) Upadit Pachariyangkun (on

Thammasat University on October 6, 1976. The 18 were ordered before a military tribunal on charges of communist activities, treason, rioting, resisting arrest, murder and illegal possession of firearms. Six were charged with lése-majesté. One of those charged was secretary-general of the former National Student Centre of Thailand Sutham Saengprathum.

September • Several people were injured after a bomb exploded near a October royal ceremony • Police arrested a group presided over by of southerners, among King Bhumibol them three escaped Adulyadej and convicts, for the attempt Queen Sirikit, on Thai royals’ lives at the who together ceremony in Muang Yala with Princess in September. Sirindhorn and Princess • Top military Chulabhorn commanders under the were handing command of Admiral 1977 (October) Admiral out awards to Sangad Chaloryu staged Sangad Chaloryu principals of Muslim a coup and removed pondok schools. No royals the government of PM Thanin. were harmed, but according The subsequently formed to newspaper accounts almost Revolutionary Council abrogated 50 people were injured. The the 1976 constitution and lifted ceremony, which continued restrictions on the press. In a without interruption, was held at broadcast statement after the coup Elephant Pavilion in Yala’s Muang Sangad explained that the district and was attended by about branches of the three armed 10,000 people. services and the Royal Thai Police had found it necessary to seize • Charges ranging from murder power because of the disunity, to treason were lodged against 18 divisiveness, and lack of public former students and other activists cooperation under the Thanin arrested during the crackdown at government. 66


the left)

November • General Kriangsak Chomanand, a professional soldier widely credited for defusing the longrunning communist insurgency in northern Thailand, became the 15th Thai Prime Minister. He also held the position of interior minister. December • In an announcement made simultaneously in Bangkok and Hanoi, Thailand and Vietnam officially normalized relations. The two countries agreed to set up embassies in their respective capitals in January 1978. • On the occasion of his 50th birthday, the King conferred the titles of ‘Somdej Phra’, the highest rank of prince or princess, and ‘Maha Chakri’, meaning the Great Chakri, on Princess Sirindhorn. The royal announcement was made at the Amarin Vinichai Throne Hall and followed a few weeks later by a ceremony held at Government House.

1978 saw the founding

of agro-giant conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Foods, as well as charitable foundations designed to help children and the blind. The Petroleum Authority of Thailand (now PTT Public Company Limited) was also established.

1978 (September) Sukhothai Thammathirat


Also making headlines in 1978 were the 8th Asian Games and a paramilitary force set up to fight communist guerrillas and drive them from their strongholds in the Northeast. The games were held without incident in Bangkok, with 4,000 athletes and officials participating. Januar y • Thailand and Vietnam signed an aviation pact as well as an agreement to foster economic and technical cooperation in a key step towards the normalization of relations. PM Kriangsak and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Trinh agreed to a speed up the exchange of ambassadors and HM the King granted an audience to Trinh. • Laos released 15 Thai citizens who had been detained in the country and handed them to officials of the Thai embassy in Laos. Most of the detainees were former employees of the US embassy in Laos who had been arrested in 1975 on suspicion they were spying for the CIA. Februar y • The government imposed a ban on the import of a number of ‘luxury goods’ in order to reduce the trade deficit. Included on the list of banned goods were foreign-assembled vehicles, leather

goods, marble and porcelain and some food items. After the sudden announcement prices on the banned items immediately skyrocketed. • Thailand and the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot agreed to resume formal trade and exchange ambassadors. Thai Foreign Minister Upadit Pachariyangkun returned from a ‘fence-mending trip’ to Cambodia and said the two countries would ‘forget past misunderstanding and normalize relations’. The minister also said Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary had accepted an invitation to visit Thailand. • Two males and one female member of the Indian-based Ananda Marga sect were arrested in Bangkok on suspicion of planning to bomb the Australian embassy. It was believed that the action was designed to protest Australia’s ban on Ananda Marga members entering the country. Thai police found 1.25 kilograms of high-powered explosives, battery cells, fuses and ignition caps in possession of those arrested. March • Bangkok and other parts of Thailand were without electricity following an unexplained blackout that extended from Chiang Mai in the North to Hat Yai in the South.

The power outage lasted up to nine hours in some places, disrupting communications and temporarily crippling Bangkok’s water system. August • Thai immigration laws were relaxed to allow foreign tourists to stay longer. Under the new regulations visitors from most countries could stay up to 60 days upon arrival and could extend the initial visa for an additional 30 days. Previously tourists were only granted a 30-day visa on arrival. September • The Ministry of Industry gave permission to Mercedes Benz to assemble vehicles in Thailand. The company agreed to meet all government requirements, including that its assembly workforce must include a minimum of 25 percent local hires. • The ‘Thammasat 18’ were freed from prison after the National Assembly passed an Amnesty Bill to pardon them. Student leader Sutham Saengprathum thanked PM Kriangsak for allowing the pardon. After their release, the PM cooked breakfast for the group at his house. • Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University in Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi province was officially established under TheBigChilli


Feature the royal charter as the country’s eleventh state university. The King bestowed the university name in honor of King Prajadhipok (Rama VII). It was the first university in Southeast Asia to use a distance teaching/learning system. October • The Thai five-baht coin was demonetized due to counterfeiting issues. Many businesses refused to accept the nine-sided coin after several counterfeits were discovered. About 480 million baht worth of the coins was in circulation at the time.

1978 (November) Deng-Xiaoping

November • Senior Chinese Vice-president Deng Xiaoping made a five-day visit to Thailand. He was welcomed by thousands of Thai-Chinese when he arrived at Don Muang airport. On the first day of his stay, Deng attended the ordination of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Deng was the highest level Chinese official to visit Thailand since diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1975.

1979 is the year

Assumption Samut Prakan School (formerly Assumption College Samrong) was opened as the newest campus of the private Catholic boys’ school run by the Brothers of Saint Gabriel in Thailand. Ron Fai Don Tri (Music 68


government in large numbers after suffering heavy casualties. According to the government, in the previous four months 231 guerrillas had been killed and about 67 captured. Many guerrillas surrendered in the South after one of their top leaders, Chitr Chongchit, gave Januar y himself up to the • Lieutenant General Royal Thai Army. In Pin Thamasri, the Northeast the Fourth Army Region communists were Commander, was made seriously weakened commander in charge because they could of suppressing the urin 1979 Saensak Muans no longer count on outlawed Communist support from the ousted Khmer Party of Malaysia in the South Rouge regime. of Thailand. General Prem Tinsulanonda said that the May appointment of Pin would improve • A new computerized trafficthe military’s capability to crush control system caused massive the communist guerrillas in the traffic jams throughout Bangkok area. when it began operations. The new system, installed at 48 capital • Thailand closed its border with junctions, had apparently been Cambodia after Vietnamese forces successful during testing. toppled Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, triggering a mass exodus • About 600 homes on both sides of refugees. of the Chao Phraya River were demolished and more than 300 March trees along South Sathorn Road • Nai Lert, the oldest bus company were cut down to prepare the way in Thailand, closed down its for Taksin Bridge. When residents remaining four routes after serving asked why the trees couldn’t be Bangkok passengers for 90 years. moved elsewhere one official said there was no budget for it. • PM Kriangsak slashed duties on foreign films from 30 baht to 15 June baht per meter. The PM came to • Bangkok was almost completely the conclusion that reducing the paralyzed after a heavy downpour tax would bring more foreign films on June 16. The heaviest rainfall in to Thailand and “help make Thai 25 years flooded shops and houses films better by making them aware and brought traffic to a standstill. of stiff competition.” At the same Sukhumvit Road was one of the time, however, the PM announced hardest hit areas. a plan to impose a quota on foreign films in order to make local film August producers happy. • Fifty-one people were killed and 184 injured when a southbound • Communist guerrillas began freight train hit a city-bound surrendering to the Thai Train) record label was founded and the Robinson Department Store chain opened. Former world super lightweight champion Saensak Muangsurin announced his retirement from boxing after a defeat in South Korea.

passenger train at Taling Chan railway station west of Bangkok. September • Illegal trade along the ThaiCambodian border flourished as thousands of Thai merchants offered their goods to Khmer customers every day at three popular markets. Most of the goods were resold inside Cambodia.

way for RTA chief Prem Tinsulanonda to take the reins of power.

November • Seven hundred soundproofed public phone booths were installed in Bangkok by the Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT). TOT asked the people to protect the boxes against criminals who attempted to break open the equipment and steal coins.

1980 witnessed the

birth of Bumrungrad International Hospital and Central Pattana, Thailand’s largest property development and investment company. It was also the year the Pizza Company was founded. Januar y ‘Thai Tourism Year’ was kicked off with a plan to ease visa restrictions on natives of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia. Malaysian citizens holding border passes were given permission to travel 50 km into southern Thailand instead of the previous limit of 25 km. Hong Kong residents were required to put up a 20,000 baht guarantee when visiting Thailand. Februar y • PM Kriangsak resigned less than three years after he seized power to avoid a no-confidence vote brought on by the threat of mob violence over rising oil prices. The resignation paved the

April y) PM Prem • Thailand’s first labour court was launched by PM Prem. The Central Labour Court only had jurisdiction in and around Bangkok, but nonetheless gave hope to hundreds of thousands of workers facing unfair working conditions.

1980 (Februar

• Forty of 48 people aboard an Avro 748 turboprop died after the plane nosedived and crashed in bad weather on a routine flight from Khon Kaen. The disaster occurred after the plane began its landing approach about 13 km north of Don Muang airport. May • The Thai Olympic Committee voted unanimously not to send athletes to the Moscow Olympics, saying the athletes were not up to standard. Thailand denied that the decision was related to US President Jimmy Carter’s call for a boycott of the Olympics to protest Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. June • Interior Minister Prathuang Kiratibutr instructed immigration officers to deny entry to travelers who looked like ‘hippies’ According to ministerial directives, anyone sporting a singlet, waistcoat and no vest, shorts worn in an ‘impolite manner’, slippers or silk trousers, or who had long, untidy hair and a ‘dirty looking’ appearance, was most likely a hippie and should be refused entry. • Suspected southern separatists staged a series of coordinated

bomb attacks in Bangkok that injured about 40 people. Bombs rocked two railway stations, one bus terminal and one bus full of passengers. A fifth bomb planted at a cinema in Thonburi was found and defused by the bomb squad shortly before it was set to explode. The acronym PULO was inscribed on the bomb. Police reportedly received a warning from the southern separatist group before the attacks. PULO is an acronym for the southern separatist group the Pattani United Liberation Organization. July • The country’s first automatic direct-dialing long distance telephone service went into operation, allowing people in Bangkok and adjacent areas to call directly to provinces in the North without having to go through an operator. August • Fourteen people were injured when a hand grenade exploded in the Thonburi cinema where a bomb was defused in June. Another unexploded hand grenade found inside the cinema bore the PULO acronym. There was speculation, however, that the cinema had been targeted after the owner refused to bow to extortion demands. September Thai troops smashed a major stronghold of the CPT, killing 16 insurgents and capturing nine. Shortly after the camp was seized 136 communist guerrillas turned themselves over to the Thai military. October • Seksan Prasertkul, a former student activist, left the jungle where he had spent years hiding out and surrendered to authorities in Uthai Thani province. Seksan TheBigChilli


Feature was a leading figure in the October 14, 1973 student uprising that led to the overthrow of the ThanomPraphas-Narong military regime. Seksan refused 1980 (October) Seksan Prasertkul to betray his comrades by giving their location to the Thai authorities. He said his reasons for surrendering were ideological conflict with other communists, the ‘lack of democracy’ within the CPT and frequent conflicts with top people in the party.

of the explosions wasn’t clear, but sabotage wasn’t ruled out.

• Siam Park City amusement and water park was opened in Khan Na Yao district of Bangkok. It was the largest entertainment venue of its kind in Southeast Asia. The 300-rai, 500-million baht park encompasses a huge pool with artificial waves and a 21-meter-high slide.

• Major floods in Bangkok and upcountry prompted December Deputy Prime Minister • Thai troops captured Boonchu Rojanastien the CPT headquarters to call for a longin the Northeast. The term national flood location was used to prevention plan. direct terrorist activities Damage was estimated in 16 provinces for 1980 (October) in the hundreds of about 11 years. The Boonchu Rojanastien millions of baht and Thai military also took schools were closed for over a over more than 50 CPT camps month in Bangkok. Bangkok in Kalasin, Nakhon Phanom and Governor Chaowas Sudlabha was Sakhon Nakhon provinces. criticized for failing to deliver on his promise to protect the city from flooding. was the year the Bang Lang Dam in Bannang November Sata district of Yala province • At least 24 people were killed was completed; Doi Suthep-Pui and around 360 injured following National Park in Chiang Mai explosions at an ammunitions province was established, along plant in Bang Sue district with at least a dozen more national of Bangkok. The plant was parks throughout Thailand. The operated by the RTA’s Ordinance RTA continued to dismantle the Department and produced antiCPT, seizing a huge arsenal that tank rockets. Two rows of wooden included 5,500 claymore mines and shop houses near the plant were other explosives as well as medical destroyed and it was reported that equipment. windows were shattered in houses eight km away. A mushroomJanuar y shaped cloud was seen from all • Electricity rates went up in over Bangkok. A military official Bangkok by 15%. It was the third called it the worst accident of its rate hike in 12 months. It was done kind in Thai history. The cause quietly in order to avoid the kind




of political fallout that plagued the previous administration.

1981 (February) Thirayuth Boonmee

Februar y • Thirayuth Boonmee, the former student leader who fled Bangkok after the bloody October 6, 1976 events, left the jungles of the Phuphan mountains in northeastern Sakhon Nakhon province and surrendered to the military. He was joined by 54 more former activists and communists. Treason charges against Thirayuth and 11 other activists led to the uprising which toppled the regime of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn. March • A Garuda jet with 54 passengers and nine crew members was hijacked on a domestic flight and commandeered to Don Muang airport. Armed with hand grenades and guns, the hijackers originally demanded that the Indonesian government release 20 political prisoners, but after two days demanded the release of a further 84 prisoners. They also wanted a DC-10 aircraft and safe passage to Sri Lanka. After three days Thai and Indonesian commandos mounted a siege that ended with a gun battle between them and the hijackers, who identified themselves as ‘soldiers in a holy Muslim war’. Three hijackers were killed and two were captured in the siege. One child hostage was killed and 10 hostages were injured

during the operation. Earlier one passenger was shot while attempting to flee the plane. • Government urged Thai citizens not to marry refugees from Indochina, claiming it was a matter of national security. The Cabinet passed regulations requiring government employees who wedded refuges to regularly report to the authorities. Guidelines also instructed various government agencies to monitor their employees at border areas.

1981 (April) General Sant Chitpatima

April • Military officers led by General Sant Chitpatima, deputy commander-in-chief of the RTA

staged a coup on the first day of the month, dubbed the ‘April Fool’s Coup’. PM Prem sought refuge at Second Army headquarters in Nakhon Ratchasima, where he was joined by the royal family, cabinet ministers and provincial governors. The bloodless coup was led by disgruntled mid-level army officers known as ‘Young Turks’. The coup failed as thousands of troops loyal to Prem entered Bangkok early in the morning on April 3 and took control of the capital. One plotter was killed and another injured. Several more surrendered to Prem’s forces. Another 155 former military men were arrested. General Sant fled to Burma. May • On the anniversary of the coronation of the King the government granted pardons to 52 suspects in April’s failed coup. General Sant wasn’t named in the amnesty. PM Prem mentioned the need for political stability and unity in the country as a reason why the amnesty came so soon after the coup. About 30 coup plotters went 1981 (June) Srinakarind Dam

to Prem’s residence and apologized to him. General Sant returned from self-exile in Burma and then refused to comment on the coup or following events. June • The King presided over a ceremony to activate the hydroelectric generators of the just-completed Srinakarind Dam, named after Princess Srinakarind. The dam on the Khwae Yai River in Kanchanaburi province is 140 metres high and 610 metres long. • Three bombs exploded at three shopping centres in Bangkok, injuring about 40 people. An anonymous caller with a southern accent claimed that the three bombs were the work of the PULO. One official said that the bombings were intended to gain foreign support for the southern separatists. The three blasts occurred in the space of a few minutes and sent shoppers fleeing for their lives. September • ISOC reported that 1,308 communist insurgents surrendered to the authorities between October 1980 and September 1981. In the previous 12 months around 850 communist insurgents called it quits. November • Interior Minister Sitthi Jirarote declared ‘war’ on vice and illegal activities, ordering the police to reduce crime and eradicate illegal gambling within one month.

Sources for this story include archives of UPI, AFP, the Bangkok Post, The Nation and Wikipedia.

December • The National Security Council announced a campaign to eradicate opium cultivation in hill tribe villages. The plan involved various steps including treatment for opium addicts. The government also offered to provide farmers with seeds for alternative crops. TheBigChilli



Golden Triangle Still a major source of narcotics as the war on drugs goes high-tech to catch the online smugglers Deputy NCB chief describes multipronged attack on traffickers By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER


he Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers, remains one of the world’s major sources of illicit drugs, a top Thai police chief has confirmed. Paisith Sungkahapong, Deputy Secretary-General of the Narcotics Control Board (NCB), says illegal operations in this region include opium production and heroin manufacture, but in recent years the cultivation of the opium poppy in Myanmar has constantly decreased while the production of synthetic drugs in the Golden Triangle has been on the rise, especially methamphetamine tablets (yaba) and crystal meth (“ice”). 72


According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), East and Southeast Asia together make up the world’s largest market for methamphetamine. “The most popular drug smuggled from neighboring countries to and through Thailand is yaba, followed by crystal meth, ketamine and heroin. There are some small refineries in Thailand to produce heroin from opium, but the big ones are located outside the country,” said Mr Paisith during an exclusive interview from his office at the Office of the Narcotic Control Boards (ONCB) in Phayathai district of Bangkok. “Other drugs smuggled into Thailand are ecstasy and cocaine. Cannabis is grown in Thailand and neighboring countries.

Paisith Sungkahapong




“The smuggling of drugs into Thailand is most rampant in the North, especially in the area of the Golden Triangle,” he continued. “Smuggling has been going on there for a very long time. The smugglers use many routes and these often change. They use main roads or highways with checkpoints and also natural channels like forests. “We work with international partners and the Thai police and military to suppress drug smuggling activities. We receive reports on seizures from international partners and sometimes we go to other countries to help with their investigation. “We have information that these chemicals for production of these drugs, known as precursors, are being smuggled to the Golden Triangle from India through Bangladesh, from China to Myanmar or Laos, and some via the Mekong River. That’s why it is so important to work with other Mekong sub-region countries in what we call ‘Golden Triangle Operation 1511’ to dry up the supply of precursors. We’ve seized large quantities of precursors since the start of the operation in November 2019, and we’ve arrested a lot of smugglers.” But it is not just the remote areas of Southeast Asia that are fueling the drug problem. It also occurs much closer to home, says the police chief. “There are also cocaine smuggling rings operated by West African drug syndicates through Suvarnabhumi, Phuket and other airports. “Before COVID-19, African syndicates were bringing in ecstasy from Europe. Last year we had a case where an African man was working with a Thai woman – maybe she was his wife – to send the drugs to Japan using Thai women as couriers. Some of the women knew they were smuggling and some didn’t know. Many of the couriers were arrested by the Japanese police and later we managed to arrest the African man here. “The illicit drug problem cuts across all the important issues of society – health, crime, poverty, human rights, and also takes a big toll on the country’s economy and security,” adds Mr Paisith, a career law enforcement officer with a

diverse educational background. That “diverse” background has several interesting surprises, including a diploma in Art and Technique of Film Making (London International Film School, 1984), a Bachelor’s in Law (Ramkhamhaeng University, 1988), and a Master’s in Political Science in Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy (Thammasat University, 1995) as well as Barrister at law (Thai Bar Association, 2017). He also was trained at FBI Academy in 1998. After receiving training at the Royal Thai Police Academy in 1989 he began his career in law enforcement as a sub-inspector at the Office of the Secretary of the Royal Thai Police (RTP). He was later assigned to the Immigration Bureau, and served as Inspector at the Interpol office in Bangkok with the rank of Police Lieutenant Colonel. Mr Paisith left the RTP in 2002 to join the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) under Ministry of Justice. His last position at DSI was Director of the Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime Bureau. He left DSI in 2018 to become Deputy Director-General at the Central Institute of Forensic Science, Ministry of Justice, and was appointed to his current position this year. As Deputy Secretary-General of the NCB his responsibilities are to assist the Secretary-General of the NCB and to supervise five ONCB bureaus. These bureaus are concerned with International Affairs and Cooperation; Narcotics Crop Survey and Control; ONCB Scientific and Forensic Laboratories; Regional Bureau 3 in Nakhon Ratchasima; and Regional Bureau 4 in Khon Kaen. “The focus of the ONCB is on the integration of drug control agencies in Thailand and with their international counterparts,” said Mr Paisith. “We do the strategic planning for drug control in the country, and we support other agencies in terms of intelligence. When the government accepts our policy recommendations, they will be used by the ONCB and also by other agencies as well.” Mr Paisith explained that while the ONCB is tasked with devising

Before COVID-19, African syndicates were bringing in ecstasy from Europe. In one case, an African man was working with a Thai woman to send the drugs to Japan using Thai women as couriers. Some of the women knew they were smuggling and some didn’t know. Many couriers were arrested by the Japanese police and later we arrested the African man here.






Mr Paisith sits next to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (center) during a video conference on drug policy at Government House on July 17. High-ranking officials from all provinces joined in the conference.

the nation’s drug suppression strategy, it is up to the police to enforce it. “Normally we don’t do cases on our own, but join with the police, namely the Narcotic Suppression Bureau (NSB). The ONCB has the authority to search and arrest suspects. We can also interview drug suspects before transferring them to the police for further investigation, but usually when we make an arrest we turn the suspect over to the police right away. We don’t have a detention facility at the ONCB headquarters in Bangkok.” International cooperation is the key “The ONCB is keenly aware of the importance of international cooperation in drug control efforts and we are constantly working on ways to maintain, improve, extend and strengthen cooperation both bilaterally and multilaterally with ASEAN, neighboring countries and international organizations. “We work closely with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the National Police Agency of Japan (NPA) and the British National Crime Agency (NCA) among others in terms of information and intelligence sharing, joint operation, joint training, etc. We also work with other police liaisons attached to embassies in Thailand. “An important area of cooperation is with the other 76


five countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region – Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam – to tackle drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle area under the principle of ‘No Chemicals, No Drugs’. Our 2019-2022 Safe Mekong Operation Plan is focused on interdiction of illicit drugs and their chemical precursors, and bringing the traffickers to justice. Targeting Thailand Thailand remains a major destination for narcotics produced in the Golden Triangle and is also a major transit route for drugs that are trafficked elsewhere. Last year the ONCB conducted a joint assessment with the Ministry of Interior on the extent of the drug problem in 82,127 villages and communities in Thailand. The survey showed illicit drug use was taking place in around 30% of these communities and more than 3,440 were seriously affected by the drug problem. Again, methamphetamine use is by far the biggest problem in Thailand. “A major transit point for yaba is in Rangsit district near Bangkok. The NSB made a big seizure some weeks ago,” said Mr Paisith. “While the North of Thailand is still the main theatre for drug smugglers, smuggling through the Northeast and West has increased in frequency and volume. Interestingly, the emergency decree announced on March 25 to control the spread of

COVID-19 in Thailand allowed the ONCB and our allied law enforcement agencies to more effectively control drug trafficking, especially in the first month of the lockdown. Apparently the smugglers went into lockdown too. This is indicated by the fact that seizures of over 100,000 methamphetamine tablets were rare during that month. “However, the situation began to return to normal during the second and third phase easing of the lockdown. After May 2020 we started to make seizures of from one to ten million meth tablets in nine districts of six provinces in the North and Northeast. At the beginning of the lockdown the authorities set up many checkpoints throughout the country and the border controls were also very tight, so the drug syndicates were having a difficult time. But after a while they adapted and started using natural channels more. “Our intelligence networks confirm that the same drug syndicates and fugitives operate in Thailand and neighboring countries to smuggle illegal drugs across borders. There are many drug syndicates, and some of the biggest are involved with producing yaba and smuggling it into Thailand. Some of the masterminds of the syndicates live inside Thailand and some outside. They don’t usually touch the drugs themselves. Most of the drugs are produced by various ethnic militias in the Golden Triangle in neighboring countries. Very little is produced in Thailand. “We believe that more than 72% of smuggling activities are disrupted by border defense forces working with drug suppression agencies. Based on intelligence reports, it is likely that the smuggling of a large volume of illicit drugs from neighboring countries into Thailand via different routes is pending at this time.” Online and in the mail On a much smaller scale than the cross-border trade, drug smuggling via private courier services through long-distance routes has been on the rise. “Many suspects were recently arrested for smuggling via courier services, yielding yaba tablets and crystal meth. The smuggling of ecstasy and its precursors from

Europe via international courier services is also being found. Most of those arrested are youthful offenders. Their M.O. is to smuggle the primary precursors and make club drugs here, to be sold to teenagers hosting parties at private residence in Bangkok and tourist destinations in the provinces. “Drug trafficking groups have exploited online platforms in parallel with various concealment methods. They use postal and courier services to rapidly deliver drugs to targeted users. Data from the Online Illicit Drug Monitoring System shows a considerable growth of online drug trafficking in April during the period of the emergency decree. In that month 769 online posts of illicit drugs were reported, a two-fold increase from the 383 posts reported in March. Different delivery options are offered, including pickup services, and private and public courier services. Crystal meth is the drug most traded online, followed by cannabis and then yaba tablets. “The ecstasy epidemic in Thailand is on the upswing, as seen from the rising number of arrests. The process of ecstasy importation is managed by Thai traders collaborating with foreigners. Most of the ecstasy imported into Thailand originates in Europe. It is bought through underground websites using digital money and then sent via postal services. “The problem of ecstasy in Thailand is still limited, and occurs mainly among younger addicts with good financial status. The price of ecstasy is much higher than meth tablets, and it’s sold mostly in tourist spots and at nightclubs. “The ONCB is increasing surveillance measures to deter drug smuggling from foreign countries in collaboration with the Thai Postal Company, international shipping companies and social media platforms. Twitter is the most commonly used online platform to market illicit drugs in Thailand, accounting for 91% of the volume (up from 74%). Twitter users are mostly quite young. Other social media platforms like Facebook and Line are used to sell drugs as well. We are now trying to purchase new equipment to allow us to monitor and trace the activities of online

Some of the masterminds behind the biggest drug syndicates involved with producing yaba and smuggling it into Thailand live in the kingdom, some outside. They don’t usually touch the drugs themselves. Most of the drugs are produced by various ethnic militias in the Golden Triangle in neighboring countries. Very little is produced in Thailand.




A large quantity of drugs before its destruction in Ayutthaya province on January 12, 2020.

drug traders. The objective is to arrest people who use social media to sell drugs, not for any other purpose.� Seizing assets is a top priority Mr Paisith said his organization is focusing more than ever on seizing the assets of drug traffickers. He explained that this is often easier than catching drug kingpins red-handed, and it also provides a direct benefit to the ONCB because it can use the seized funds to finance operations. “Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha came to the ONCB headquarters on May 8 and declared that assets seizure is a top priority in the fight against drug traffickers. I also believe that this is a truly effective way to suppress the drug trade. If you arrest someone with a shipment of drugs, the next day there will be another in his place. �We can usually get our hands on only the couriers or mid-level guys. If you seize one million yaba tablets today, tomorrow the factory will produce one million more. No matter what quantities we seize or how many people we arrest, the illegal drugs trade will 78


The smuggling of ecstasy and its precursors from Europe via international courier services is also being found. Most of those arrested are youthful offenders. Their M.O. is to smuggle the primary precursors and make club drugs here, to be sold to teenagers hosting parties at private residence in Bangkok and tourist destinations in the provinces.

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, at ONCB headquarters on June 26, 2020.

Mr Paisith at the National Drug Committee meeting.

continue unabated. But confiscation of assets deals a real blow to the traffickers because, for one thing, they won’t have the funds to purchase new machines and chemicals to produce the drugs. “Like the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), which is a government organization we work closely with, the ONCB is authorized to seize the assets of criminals. However, there are differences in the two processes. According to AMLO regulations, they can seize assets if they suspect the holder of the assets has broken the law. AMLO can seize assets related to many types of crimes. After assets have been seized – or frozen to be more exact – AMLO begins a further investigation to determine if the crimes are committed. If not, then the assets will be returned. “Sometimes the investigators know that a suspect is involved in the drug trade and we know the person has a lot of money, houses, land, sports cars or whatever, but maybe we don’t have yet enough solid evidence to show the suspect has broken the law. In such a case we might ask AMLO to seize assets according their laws. We will then continue to investigate to try to secure evidence.” Summar y of Thailand’s drug trends Mr Paisith concluded the interview by summarizing major trends in the global narcotics trade as they relate to Thailand, as follows:

ONCB officers preparing for a drug raid.

• The Golden Triangle remains the main drug production area in the region, with a huge impact on the drug situation in Thailand. • The North remains the major area of drug smuggling into the country, while smuggling through the northeastern and western borders has been increasing in the volume and frequency. • Drug syndicates have increasingly exploited new technologies, and technology is increasingly being used to track their illegal financial transactions. • Young people, including children, are at serious risk of involvement with illicit drugs in Thailand. A call for informants Mr Paisith said the ONCB needs informants to help it fight illegal drugs use in Thailand. “We have a team which is looking for informants. Anyone can call our hotline by dialing 1386 to give information. But informants go way beyond this. An informant is someone we can believe and trust and who will be assigned to work undercover to collect intelligence for us. We protect every informant, and this includes relocating and giving them a new identity in a witness protection program, if needed, we have to work on this with the Ministry of Justice.” TheBigChilli



Drug cases and seizures throughout Thailand In the fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018 - September 30, 2019), there were 363,769 drug cases with 385,771 offenders who were charged with narcotic offences, classified as below:

to heroin. Arial and ground surveys of these areas during the August 2019 - April 2020 cultivation season detected 319 opium cultivation plots with a total area of 267.90 rai or 42.864 hectares in seven provinces, as follows:

• Consumption offences: 177,101 cases/179,846 offenders. • Possession offences: 104,402 cases/109,882 offenders. • Five major offences: 81,784 cases/95,207 offenders.


136 22.376

Quantity of seized drugs:

Chiang Mai



• Methamphetamine: 518,896,162 tablets. • Crystal methamphetamine: 16,284.52 kg. • Cannabis: 14,342.71 kg. • Heroin: 941.85 kg. • Ketamine: 734.82 kg. • Cocaine: 27.90 kg.

Mae Hong Son



Chiang Rai




3 0.32

Kamphaeng Phet



Opium poppy cultivation in Thailand Lampang 1 0.12 Areas in the North of Thailand are suitable for growing opium poppy, which can then be refined

Mr Paisith Sungkahapong Education • 2017: Barrister at law, Thai Bar Association. • 1998: Certificate in English for law profession, Sukhothai Thammathirat University. • 1995: Master of Political Science in Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy, Thammasat University. • 1988: Bachelor of Law, Ramkhamhaeng University. • 1984: Diploma in Art and Technique of Film Making, London International Film School (UK). • 1980: Certificate in English as Foreign Language, Hammersmith and West London College (UK). Selected Training • 1998: 194th session of FBI National Academy, FBI Academy (USA). • 1988: Police officer training course, Royal Thai Police Academy. 80



319 42.864

Selected Work Experience • 2020 - Present: Deputy Secretary-General, NCB Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). • 2018 - 2020: Deputy Director-General Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS), Ministry of Justice. • 2015 - 2018: Director Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime Bureau, Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Ministry of Justice. • 2011 - 2015: Director Anti-Human Trafficking Center, DSI, Ministry of Justice. • 2002 - 2011: Chief and Special Case Inquiry official, Foreign Affairs Division, DSI, Ministry of Justice. • 1996 - 2002: Inspector (Pol Lt Col) Interpol, Foreign Affairs Division, RTP. • 1991 - 1996: Sub-Inspector, Immigration Bureau, RTP. • 1990 - 1991: Sub-Inspector, Office of Inspector General, RTP. • 1989 - 1990: Sub-Inspector, Office of the Secretary, RTP. Selected Honor Outstanding Civil Servant of the DSI, Ministry of Justice, 2008.

About the NCB and ONCB

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha (4th from left) during his visit to ONCB headquarters on May 8, 2020.

Members of partnership to thwart trafficking of illicit drugs in Thailand.


he NCB set up on 1976 comprise of the Prime Minister as Chairman and ex-officio members e.g. Minister of Office of the Prime Minister who was assigned by the Prime Minister, Ministers of Defense, Minister of Interior, Minister of Justice, Minister of Public Health, Minister of Education, Attorney-General, CommissionerGeneral of the RTP, Director-General of the Customs Department, and Secretary-General as member and secretary of the Board. In addition, the Cabinet appointed other members up to six qualified persons. The term of appointed members is two years. Among other responsibilities and duties the authorities of the Board are to determine the work, plans and measures for preventing and suppressing the offenders relating to narcotic offences; to control investigation, inquiry, suppression and prosecution of offences under narcotic law. Also to prepare

Mr Paisith with some foreign colleagues.

and implement projects, to give recommendations to the Cabinet for the improvement of the official performance or in the work plans or projects of the regulatory government agencies on narcotic control and narcotic laws. The ONCB under the Ministry of Justice is the central agency for drug control and a leading agency in development and driving forward the drug control strategies of Thailand and ASEAN in order to make Thailand safe from drugs. ONCB focuses on the integration of drug control implementation with agencies concerned in the country and with the international counterparts. Narcotic control has been implemented to suit the drug situation in terms of the narcotic drug vigilance, monitoring, drug law enforcement, international cooperation, strengthening of village/community, raising the public awareness and encouraging the participation of non-government agencies, civil societies and private sectors. TheBigChilli



What is UN ESCAP? For more than 70 years, this United Nations' agency has been based in Bangkok. Its Executive Secretary explains why its multi-faceted role is so important to the region ESCAP came into being in 1947 as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) to assist in post-war economic reconstruction. After a two-year period in Shanghai it moved to Bangkok in January 1949, its permanent home ever since, serving as the United Nations’ regional hub promoting cooperation among countries here. The BigChilli recently caught up with Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, ESCAP’s Executive Secretary who took up her post in Bangkok on November 1, 2018. Appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, she is also the UN Under-Secretary-General. Ms Alisjahbana celebrates her 60th birthday on August 16. By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER “My immediate superior, who has been a pleasure to serve under, is the current United Nations SecretaryGeneral António Guterres. His support for ESCAP and the Regional Commissions has been instrumental in positive UN Development System changes,” commented Ms Alisjahbana to open this interview. “As we continue to reform, I look forward to his stewardship to better achieve our objectives. “My Senior Management Team comprises two Deputy Executive Secretaries, eleven Directors in Bangkok and five in the subregions, who supervise the work of ESCAP’s substantive divisions and subregional offices, as well as operational and administrative matters. The Senior Management Team also plays a key role in strategically advancing the work of ESCAP.” 82


Background “I am a native of Bandung, Indonesia and have fond memories of my hometown in West Java province. Indonesia is where my academic and professional career began. After completing my undergraduate degree at the Economics and Development Studies from Universitas Indonesia and obtaining my master’s degree in the United States, I began as a lecturer at Universitas Padjadjaran. The classroom holds a special place in my life; academia is my second home. In 2005, I continued my career as an educator at Universitas Padjadjaran as Professor of Economics,” Ms Alisjahbana said. “I transitioned to a different role in the public sphere from 2009 to 2014, when I served my country

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana



Feature Minister of National Development Planning and the Head of the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), Indonesia. During this period, I was Alternate Governor of the World Bank and Alternate Governor of the Asian Development Bank representing the government of Indonesia. I have also served as Co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation from 2012 to 2014. “The United Nations and the broader development community has always been in my orbit. My background in the academic field related to development economics also helps because I did a lot of research work, basically on human resources, labour and sustainable development. In 2016, I was a member of the High-Level Independent Team of Advisors to support the ECOSOC Dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the United Nations Development System in the context of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. “Throughout my career, I’ve been involved in various research projects and consultancies to the United Nations University/Institute for Advanced Study in Tokyo, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the European Commission, and the International Labor Organization (ILO). “In mid-2018, the UN Executive Office of the Secretary-General invited me to take part in the selection process to lead one of the UN’s regional commissions - ESCAP. I had some interactions with ESCAP before, so, I participated. The selection process was led by a team of senior UN officials, led by the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms Amina Mohammed. The process went on, and around September 2018, I was selected. On November 1, 2018, I assumed the helm of ESCAP. “I have two goals in my tenure. The first one is climate change. It is a big problem because 50% of newly created greenhouse gases come from the Asia Pacific. If we create the problem then we have to contribute to the solution. The second one is technology. Many countries in the Asia Pacific have transformed into middle income countries and even emerging countries. “Many countries in the region are already leaders in technology. So, technology is a potential solution to climate change and also other development problems such as poverty and economic inequality. Those two had not been the focus of ESCAP so far. “As a regional commission, ESCAP has intergovernmental convening power that could be used effectively and this is now especially crucial in bring countries together to discuss policy responses 84


to handle the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and ways the region can build back better post COVID-19.” About ESCAP ESCAP’s journey began in 1947 as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) to assist in post-war economic reconstruction. Initially, ECOSOC declared Shanghai to be the temporary home for ECAFE. In January 1949, it moved to Bangkok, which has been our permanent home ever since. ESCAP serves as the United Nations’ regional hub promoting cooperation among countries to achieve inclusive and sustainable development, with priority accorded to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the largest regional intergovernmental platform with 53 Member States and nine associate members, ESCAP has emerged as a strong regional think-tank offering countries sound analytical products that shed insight into the evolving economic, social and environmental dynamics of the region. “Each year, representatives for Member States meet for the Commission session to deliberate important issues pertaining to inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in the region, decide on the recommendations of its subsidiary bodies and of the Executive Secretary, review and endorse the proposed strategic framework and programme of work, and to make any other decisions required. “Today, strategic alliances and regional expertise have lifted millions out of poverty in Asia-Pacific and guided the region on enabling a better standard of life for all as envisaged in the Charter of the United Nations. “We are at a critical moment as a regional organization to step up support to countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and to ultimately meet the ambitious targets set out by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Our absolute priority at ESCAP is to support our members achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. “The Commission’s strategic focus to deliver on the 2030 Agenda is reinforced and deepened by promoting regional cooperation and integration to advance responses to shared vulnerabilities, connectivity, financial cooperation and market integration. ESCAP’s research and analysis coupled with its policy advisory services, capacity building and technical assistance to governments aims to support countries’ sustainable and inclusive development ambitions. We already know our region's effort must be




UN Secretary-General António Guterres at swearing-in ceremony for new ESCAP Secretary-General Alisjahbana in New York.

intensified – on its current trajectory, Asia and the Pacific will not achieve any of the 17 Goals. “The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 is also threatening to reverse years of hard-won development gains in many countries. We owe it to future generations to seize this opportunity, to come together and to quicken our pace to achieve sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. “ESCAP emphasizes strengthening institutional capacities by working in close cooperation with other United Nations entities and intergovernmental organizations in the region, in the following areas: ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction; Environment and Development; Social Development; Statistics; Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development; Trade, Investment and Innovation; Transport; and Energy. “Institutional change at all levels is required to ensure more efficient and effective delivery of essential services to the region’s growing population. Hence, ESCAP’s products and services support its member States in building national capacities in: Strengthening and implementing equitable and sustainable economic and social development policies and programmes; promoting multilateral and regional trade, transport, information and communication technology, energy and environmental partnerships; building effective partnerships with civil society and the private sector; and reviewing progress in achieving the internationally agreed development goals and targets adopted at global and regional conferences. “We have five Subregional Offices and five Regional Institutions: 86


• Subregional Office for the Pacific, located in Suva, Fiji: The Subregional Office for the Pacific provides a link between the work of ESCAP and the needs of the Pacific island developing States members in their efforts to achieve sustainable development. Established in 1984 the office promotes regional cooperation and knowledge sharing, provides technical assistance and advisory services on economic and social policies and conduct researches on issues relevant to Pacific island developing States members. • Subregional Office for East and North-East Asia, located in Incheon, Republic of Korea: The Subregional Office for East and North-East Asia (ESCAP-ENEA) works to build and strengthen multilateral partnerships and intergovernmental cooperation for inclusive and sustainable development and integration in East and North-East Asia. It also serves as the Secretariat of the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC). • Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia, located in New Delhi, India: The Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia (ESCAP-SSWA) promotes regional cooperation for inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in South and South-West Asia. The SSWA Office bridges the developing and developed countries in the subregion and works with ten member States in the subregion. • Subregional Office for North and Central Asia,

Ms Alisjahbana accompanies UN Secretary-General Guterres on a visit to Wat Bowonniwet Vigara in Bangkok, November 2019.

Ms Alisjahbana speaks at the Global Engagement & Empowerment Forum in the Republic of Korean in February 2019.

located in Almaty, Kazakhstan: The Subregional Office for North and Central Asia (ESCAP-NCA) is the subregional coordinating body for sustainable development among the member States in North and Central Asia, many of which are landlocked developing countries. Given the lack of territorial access to the sea, the region is advancing connectivity, namely in transport and trade agreements to reduce transit costs and reach markets for exports. • Subregional activities for South-East Asia, based in Bangkok, Thailand, were consolidated to promote development in the South-East Asian subregion and strengthen cooperation with ASEAN. • The five Regional Institutions: The Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT) was inaugurated on 16 June 2006 and is located in Incheon, Republic of Korea. Guided by the 2030 Agenda and other internationally agreed development goals, the Centre’s objective is to build and strengthen the capacity of members and associate members of ESCAP to leverage information

Ms Alisjahbana with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Ms Alisjahbana and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Yang Yi display copies of MoU they signed in April 2019.

and communication (ICT) for the purpose of socioeconomic development. APCICT’s work is focused on training, knowledge sharing, and multi-stakeholder dialogue and partnership. • The Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) was established in 1977 and is based in New Delhi. APCTT promotes transfer of technology to and from small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in Asia and the Pacific. The Centre also implements development projects funded by international donors aimed at strengthening the environment for technology transfer among SMEs in Asia and the Pacific; in this respect the Centre makes special efforts to encourage more participation of women in the field of technology. • The Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM) began operations in Tehran in 2018. APDIM’s key aim is to build disaster resilience in the Asia-Pacific region through information management. The Centre strengthens regional cooperation in Disaster Risk Reduction TheBigChilli



Ms Alisjahbana with Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, VIPs and heads of Delegations at 75th session of ESCAP in Bangkok in May 2019.

(DRR) and promotes effective policies for inclusive, sustainable and resilient development in the region. • The Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), based in Chiba, Japan, was established in May 1970 as a centre for statistical training in Asia and the Pacific. It seeks to improve the use of statistics for evidence-based decision-making and to produce and disseminate quality statistics for inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies in the ESCAP region. • The Centre for Sustainable Agricultural 88


Mechanization (CSAM) in Beijing, China, was established to achieve production gains, improved rural livelihood and poverty alleviation through sustainable agricultural mechanization for a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable Asia and the Pacific. CSAM’s objectives are to enhance technical cooperation among ESCAP and other UN member States through extensive exchange of information and sharing of knowledge, and promotion of research and development and agro-business development in the area of sustainable agricultural mechanization and technology.”

ESCAP mission is a good fit for ASEAN and Thailand “The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an important focus of my role at ESCAP. We at ESCAP are located in Thailand. I'm also from Indonesia, which is part of ASEAN, so ASEAN is a big thing for us. ESCAP is also cooperating with ASEAN on how to enhance complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda. Our strong, regular cooperation with ASEAN represents joint efforts in attaining the SDGs

and building a people-centred ASEAN Community to accelerate development gains, particularly in the era of COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Alisjahbana said. “Our response to the pandemic cannot be delinked from actions on the SDGs. The forthcoming ASEAN-UN Plan of Action 2021-2025 is an important opportunity to strengthen our comprehensive partnership and update emerging areas of cooperation such as gender mainstreaming, cyber-security and safe online environments and climate action. “The Government of Thailand is both a strategic partner and gracious host to ESCAP. They have been TheBigChilli



New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and Ms Alisjahbana at 74th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Ms Alisjahbana with Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labor Organization, during his visit to Bangkok in July 2019.

Working friends, family, fitness and fun into a demanding daily routine

Singaporean Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with Ms Alisjahbana.

invaluable partners in our safety and security during COVID-19. Before the pandemic, their generous hospitality allowed participants from across the region to convene in Bangkok to achieve our goals and share knowledge. “ESCAP also relies on the Thai government for in-country expertise on strategic areas of work. For example, ESCAP and Google Thailand, in collaboration with the National Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy Office of Thailand initiated a partnership to share best practices and identify solutions for promoting the use of AI for social good in Asia-Pacific. As part of the partnership, Google will be providing a grant to the Association of Pacific Rim Universities to create an Asia-Pacific AI for Social Good Research Network. “The partnership will focus on developing cutting edge research and policy advice on AI for sustainable development. ESCAP has a mandate to strengthen the regional technology and innovation agenda through our role as a think tank, policy adviser and convener. We hope that multi-stakeholder partnerships such as the ones we are launching here today will support member States in their efforts to harness technology and innovation in pursuit of the SDGs.” 90


“I start off the day with exercise by either going to the gym or just walking / jogging around my complex for 45 minutes. In the mornings, I aim to complete 4,000 - 6,000 steps before I head to the office and start work. I’m usually kept very busy during the workday consulting with colleagues (either at the office or now on videocalls), attending bilateral meetings with member State representatives and other UN counterparts, as well as participating in various events and intergovernmental meetings. “During the last few months, the digital transformation in the way we work has been interesting with more meetings and events taking place fully online, drawing a good representation of participants from all corners of our vast region. After work, I aim to get in another 3,000 - 4,000 steps by walking around or working out after dinner. During the weekend, I enjoy going for walks in the parks and visiting local markets,” Ms Alisjahbana said. “I have always loved to travel and once the COVID-19 travel restrictions have been fully lifted, I look forward to resuming my travels to places in AsiaPacific which I have yet to visit and explore. “Working from home during the last few months has given me the opportunity to indulge in my passion for cooking. I have been longing for Indonesia and the rich flavours of Indonesian food. Indonesian food utilizes a lot of spices and the bumbu spices mixtures

Ms Alisjahbana with UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt (center right) in Bangkok, March 2019.

can take a lot of effort to prepare. I even brought my own stone mortar and pestle from Indonesia to ensure the spice pastes are ground the traditional way to enhance its natural flavours. Living in Bangkok, it is easy enough to find the same spices here in the markets. Although I have had some trouble finding one ingredient here in Bangkok – kemiri (candlenut) which is a key ingredient for certain dishes, so the taste is not quite 100% there. “Aside from that, since Bangkok has eased COVID-19 restrictions, I have also been able to get together with my friends for lunch or dinner. We recently resumed the Women Ambassadors in Thailand group get-togethers and I look forward to the Indonesian community gatherings starting again as well. “Before the COVID-19 travel restrictions, I usually returned home at least every two weeks or, at minimum, once a month, taking turns with my husband. So now I have been having a lot of videoconference calls on Zoom to catch up with friends and family in Indonesia over the weekends. Among these groups include my university colleagues to discuss upcoming papers and educational topics. “As I was previously a non-executive director (independent commissioner) of CIMB Niaga, I am also a part of the Indonesian Ladies Bankers whatsapp group which comprises of current or former directors and commissioners of financial institutions and supervisory authorities. We rarely discuss serious topics here rather we have a lot of fun organizing various celebrations including line dancing and musical gatherings – which I often participate in when I am back in Jakarta. In addition, I am a lifetime member of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences and All photos courtesy of United Nations ESCAP

a part of the social science committee which still gets together once a month via videoconference,” Ms Alisjahbana concluded the interview.

Résumé of Ms Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana Education • 1985: Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, University of Indonesia. • 1987: Master of Economics, Northwestern University, Chicago, United States. • 1994: PhD in Economics, University of Washington, Seattle, United States. Career highlights • 1988: Lecturer at Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung, Indonesia. • 2005: Named economics professor at Universitas Padjadjara, Indonesia. • 2009-2014: Minister of National Development Planning and the head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Indonesia. • 2012-2014: Co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. • 2016: Member of high-level team of advisers to the UN Economic and Social Council Dialogue on the longer- term positioning of the UN Development System in the context of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. • November 1, 2018: Appointed executive secretary of ESCAP. Family: Married with two daughters, one living in Stockholm and the other in San Francisco. TheBigChilli


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The BigChilli August 2020  

Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. August 2020

The BigChilli August 2020  

Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. August 2020