The BigChilli April 2021

Page 1

Silom’s upgrade continues

PUBLISHER Colin Hastings EDITOR Nina Hastings SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai

he Silom Road area of Bangkok continues its revival as one of the city’s major business districts with the recent and ongoing demolition of several old office blocks and their replacement with modern high-rise buildings and the construction of several multi-purpose projects. Boonmitr Building, built less than four decades ago and once the main downtown office of Thai International, is currently being pulled down to make way for a new office block. This follows the demolition of the Sriboonrueng Building two years ago, which will be replaced by Park Silom, the new HQ of the Minor Group, now under construction. Other buildings to undergo significant refurbishment include Thaniya Plaza and the former Robinson’s building at the end of Silom. Opposite is the new Dusit Central Park featuring a hotel, retail space and residences, which will open in 2004. Nearby, the total renovation of the Montien Hotel Surwawong is nearing completion. Many old shophouses and even modern townhouses in the Silom-Surawong district have also been either demolished or are due for demolition. Meanwhile, the future of Patpong in its present form remains in doubt in the current determination to upgrade the entire area.


ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Thana Pongsaskulchoti ACCOUNTING MANAGER Janjira Silapapairson ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa PHOTOGRAPHY AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Robin Westley Martin Drew McCreadie, Maxmilian Wechsler Zoe Evans, Jessica Weber Ruth Gerson, Agneta de Bekassy



No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission from The BigChilli Co., Ltd. The opinions and views of the writers are not necessarily the views of the publishers. All details are deemed correct at the time of print, the publisher, the editor, employees and contributors can not be held responsible for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions that may occur. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or amend any submitted artwork, photographs, illustrations and manuscripts. The BigChilli welcomes unsolicited contributions but assumes no responsibility for the safe-keeping or return of such materials damaged or lost in transit.

The BigChilli 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

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Don’t miss the exclusive ‘4 Hands Dinner: French x Asian’ at Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok oin an amazing dining occasion ‘4 Hands Dinner: French x Asian’ at the Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok when Chef Som Jutamas Theantae and Chef Hervé Frerard combine their great talents to present seven delectable FrenchAsian dishes. This exclusive event, to be held in a private room in the Ruenton restaurant on Friday, May 7, 2021, is for 45 guests only, so early booking is recommended. The evening starts at 6.30pm with delicious aperitifs and Asian bites with a French touch, and then continues with a roster of unique dishes that includes Pork Belly Bottarga, Shio Ikura Roe, Crispy Lamb Shoulder Pocket and Braised Beef Tongue. Chef Som Jutamas and Chef Herve are renowned for their outstanding cooking skills and for this special event are putting many years’ experience at home and overseas into a selecting a menu that showcase the culinary influences of two very different parts of the world.


ASIAN FRENCH MENU: Chilled Green Peas Soup, Salmon Eggs & Fresh Dill Fermented Rambutan & Long pepper sushi *OPJRLU YPJL PU YPJL ^PUL )YV[O ÅH[ 9PJL 5VVKSLZ Pork Belly, Pork Belly Bottarga, Shio Ikura Roe *YPZW` 3HTI :OV\SKLY 7VJRL[ ^P[O 5VY[OLYU :[`SL sausage fresh Mint Yoghurt Braised Beef Tongue, Yam Dumpling, Coconut Tartlet and Tomato Coconut Jelly Caramelized Golden Apple Millefeuille Mangosteen sorbet Petits Fours ࠮ 7YPJL! ;/) WLY WLYZVU MVY MVVK VUS` HUK ;/) MVVK ^PUL WHPYPUN ࠮ )VVRPUNZ! 3HUKSPUL! 4VIPSL! 3PUL 0+ ! 9\LU[VU 6


Escape the Heat Suite Staycation at Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok ake advantage of the Suite Escape package and celebrate Thai New Year in style at the brand-new Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok. Escape the summer heat in a generously sized Premier Deluxe Room (56sqm) with soaking bathtub and the Montien’s signature California king bed. Skip the line and check-in in the comfort of your room and let your butler make arrangements to discover the popular Silom district of Bangkok. Receive F&B credit worth THB 2,500 to be used in the hotel’s Michelin recommended restaurant Ruenton and a complimentary welcome drink for two at the chic wine-bar Phar-Ram IV Bistro. Wake up to a delicious breakfast set served in your room! That’s not all. The hotel also offers early check-in at 8 am and late check-out until 4 pm for those booking this staycation package.


The Suite Escape package costs only THB 5,500 net. Inquiries and reservation, Tel + 66 2 233 7060 or LINE ID @montienbangkok Facebook @montiensurawongbkk Booking period now until 30 June 2021. TheBigChilli



Hachi Yin – Phuket’s hotel and property visionary Meet the man from Melbourne who’s adding Tonino Lamborghini to his portfolio of Utopia luxury hotels on Phuket t’s break time in a Melbourne primary school playground in the early 1990s and a swarm of eager-eyed students huddle in the corner chatting in hushed tones. At the centre of the scrum, eight-year-old Hachi Yin is busy exchanging exotic objects for loose change and lunch money. “I was the only Chinese kid at school back then and my relatives always brought me candy when they visited us in Australia,” Hachi says. “I soon realised I could make a quick buck selling these cool and unusual sweets to my classmates — and that, I guess, was my first foray into business.” Three decades on, he heads up one of the fastestgrowing real estate companies on Phuket. In just five years Utopia Corporation has launched a total of nine villa, condominium and hotel properties. Now the multifaceted firm is preparing to collaborate with global luxury brand Tonino Lamborghini on its most ambitious project to date.




But for Hachi real estate represents just the latest success in a colourful career that’s not slowed since his candy hustling days. An early adopter of eBay, he started selling second-hand toys and video games acquired cut price from friends who were “more than happy to pocket a few dollars of their parents’ money” - on the auction site before he turned 15. By the time Hachi reached university he’d launched




a comic book and VCD (the precursor to DVDs) store, catering to the demand from Asian overseas students for Asianlanguage films and graphic novels. He eventually sold the store and invested in a telemarketing company selling electricity - all the while studying. In 2007, Hachi graduated from the reputable Monash University with a BSc in Pharmacology & Anatomy and worked as a nutritionist for the next few years. “I pretty much did that for my parents. There’s a lot of truth in the cliche that every Asian parent wants their kid to 10


become a doctor or a lawyer,” he jokes. “But I never really enjoyed it because my mind was always on running a business. In fact, my parents didn’t even know about any of these side ventures at the time. They only found out when I quit being a nutritionist and moved to Phuket!” A combination of a quarter-life crisis, limited professional fulfilment and a lifeline from his aunt to join her fledging Thailand-based property agency were more than enough to convince Hachi to trade his comfortable existence in Melbourne for a new adventure on the Pearl of the Andaman. The business, known then as International Property Advisory, had been launched two years earlier in 2010 to service Australian retirees looking to invest in sun, sea, sand and real estate in Southeast Asia’s leading resort destination. Hachi’s arrival, however, coincided with the rise in demand from Chinese second-home investors. “My aunt had been in the agency game since the 1980s and was instrumental in Melbourne’s Chinese investment boom,” he says. “We saw similar trends emerging in the Phuket market and decided to shift our focus towards Mainland buyers. A few months later, we opened our Beijing office.” It soon became apparent however that simply acting as a broker between Chinese clients and local developers was a zero-sum game. According to Hachi,

the team spent most of its time handling complaints from investors. Eventually, they decided to take matters into their own hands and Utopia Corporation was born. The first undertaking was the acquisition of the land bank. This included plots in some of the island’s most established locales such as Kata Beach, Naiharn Beach and Karon, as well as up-and-coming in-land destinations in Thalang. Following the introduction in 2015 of its inaugural project Utopia Kata, a boutique condo property only moments from the eponymous beach, the firm rapidly surpassed its own development expectation of a launch a year, reaching six in total by 2018. rguably its highest-profile project to date is the multi-award-winning flagship property, Utopia Naiharn. Strategically poised between two of Phuket’s most impressive beaches, Rawai and Naiharn, the 110-allsuite resort channels the surrounding nature with minimalist architecture, a waterpark and easy access to nearby Yanui Beach. More than 80 percent of the units, meanwhile, are reportedly owned by Chinese investors, demonstrating how successful Utopia’s strategy to date has been. In line with the growth of its hospitality portfolio, the firm launched Utopia Hotel Group, a dedicated hospitality arm, in early 2020, with future plans to franchise the operation and management business across Phuket. Other recent diversifications include the addition of Club Utopia, the company that houses the IT division namely Zeus Teknology, which amongst other things, specialises in virtual reality property tours as part of the wider online real estate shopping experience. This was obviously a boon when the pandemic forced the closure of Thailand’s borders. “We’d already been using Zeus Teknology for two years, so when Covid came we just emphasised it,” Hachi says. “Many of the Chinese clients who buy from us have never even been to Phuket, so this has always been popular with them. Obviously already having this technology at our fingertips really helped us a lot over the last year.” ike most companies in Thailand’s real estate and hospitality sector, Utopia still inevitably bore the brunt of the pandemic, which has brought both industries to an almoststandstill for more than a year. Utopia’s response however has been to look a little closer to home with yet another pivot for the firm. “We started to think about how we can start opening up to the Thai market, as we’d never targeted it before,” Hachi explains. “It is now one of our priorities for 2021, but the challenge is that, unlike in China, nobody here really knows us.” The advantage Utopia does have in targeting the



local market however is its product diversity. One of the company’s unique selling points from its inception has been its ability to differentiate products by selecting a particular theme for each project, such as the recently launched Utopia Thalang, which takes aesthetic inspiration from Japan, and the Moroccanflecked, long-stay villa-project Utopia Yamu. t is Utopia’s latest project unveiling that Hachi is confident will propel the brand into investor consciousness in Thailand - and potentially farther afield. Nestled on Phuket’s sunrise coast overlooking Phang Nga Bay, the Bay of Icons is a 20 rai (3.2 hectares) seafront destination surrounding Ao Po Grand Marina, which the real estate firm intends to transform over the next five years into a master-planned lifestyle and leisure enclave. Slated to feature guests’ access by sea and a private helipad, luxury designer boutiques and retail outlets and some of the island’s top dining destinations, this is by far Utopia's most audacious move so far. Globallyrenowned luxury brand is Tonino Lamborghini is already onboard with its first foray into Southeast Asian real estate. Completion of the branded boutique hotel is due for 2023. “This landmark partnership represents the final piece of our profile,” Hachi says. “We now cover all investor bases from THB2 million condos to super luxury villas — and this collaboration is the ultimate testament to the trust placed in us since we launched just a few years ago. It demonstrates that we’re now at a level to attract such celebrated brands to partner with us.” Pausing to reflect on the apex of Utopia’s achievements over the last half-decade, Hachi once again thinks back to his formative days in Melbourne. “I had a good job, nice cars and was making good money, but I wasn’t happy,” he says. “It sounds trite, but money isn’t the real happiness. Loving what you do is the closest you get to that — and that’s what we hope to instill in our team. Only when you love what you do will you realise it’s no longer work.” “That’s why our company motto is Work Hard Play Harder!”




BITS & BITES CRU Champagne Bar’s new Gourmet Snack Menu CRU Champagne Bar at Centara Grand at CentralWorld has some mouth-watering new additions to our menu. 7HPYLK ^P[O H ѓ\[L VM WYLTP\T Champagne or bubbly cocktail, try the Wagyu Beef Skewers with Périgueux sauce, Chicken Teriyaki Lollipops, Duck Spring Rolls with Hoisin sauce, Pork Gyoza with soya sauce and Fried Arabiki Sausages with homemade ketchup. -VY ђZO HUK ZLHMVVK SV]LYZ NV MVY [OL ‘Oysters on the Half Shell’, Crunchy Snow Fish Rolls with orange mayonnaise, Fried Calamari with garlic aioli or shrimp balls with XO Sauce. Sweet additions to the menu include Fine Crisp Alsatian Tart Flammekueche, Chocolate Combination and Passion Fruit Meringue "Macaroon". Prices start from THB 255, including the 360-degrees from our rooftop deck on the top of Centara Grand at CentralWorld. Call +66(0)2 100 6255 or email

Ma Marking M ten decades of the the St. Regis Bangkok Th St. Regis Bangkok The celebrates its 10th anniversary ce this April, with a month-long th sseries of activities. For bookings from 2021, and stays until 30 1–30 April 2 September start from THB 10,000++ for Septembe 2021, 2021 rates ates sta a Caroline Astor Suite, and from THB 18,000 ++ for a John Jacob Astor Suite. Dining experiences include: Mega 10th Anniversary Sunday Brunch: THB 2,850++ per person (add THB 1,299++ for an alcoholic beverage package, or THB 2,100++ for an alcoholic beverage package including Champagne). • Caroline’s Afternoon Tea: THB 1,600++ per set for two guests, including coffee or tea. • 10th Anniversary Signature Cocktails: THB 395++ per cocktail. Call +66 (0) 2207 7777. For room reservations: reservation. or for dining or visit 14


Afternoon Tea at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok Enjoy a selection of the beautifully-composed savory nibbles, sweets, scones and refreshing sorbet while sipping a cup of your favorite tea or brewed coffee in the relaxing ambience of Peacock Alley lounge with a view of the city. Highlights include Chad-Froid, Lobster Cream, Crispy Tiger Prawn Stick; Spicy Tuna Tartare Cone [VWWLK ^P[O *H]PHY" .VSKLU 7PSSV^ ;Y\MѓL 7\TWRPU Coulis and Pistachio; Coconut Cheesecake; Yogurt and Raspberry Mousse; Saint Honoré Tartelette and much more. Available from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, the price is THB 2,200++ including a choice of tea and coffee for two. Guests may also select a Billecart-Salmon Champagne option priced at THB 4,000++ including two glasses of champagne. Contact +66 (0) 2846 8888, email: bkkwa.fb@

Centara Grand Hua Hin introduces ‘Work from Hotel’ - a longer-stay offer for guests to discover their favourite workplace by the beach entara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin has introduced an unrivalled long-stay offer ‘Work from Hotel’, inviting guests to transform a SHA-certified hotel room into an office away from home starting from only THB 1,335 per night. Throughout the minimum 14-day stay, guests are protected with the Centara Complete Care certified comprehensive health and hygiene programme – developed in adherence to guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and Thailand’s health authorities – implemented across the resort. Guests enjoy a choice of accommodation, including colonial-inspired rooms and a private pool villa amongst lush garden surroundings with every luxury and comfort this iconic resort has to offer. Deluxe Room: Colonial influences meet modernday comforts together with relaxing views of the swimming pools or the gardens in the Deluxe rooms. Designed to evoke the spirit of the 1920s, each Deluxe rooms offers 37 sqm of living space, including a furnished balcony and interiors decorated in cream hues and accentuated by fine wood, high ceilings and rich fabrics. Also included is a king-size bed or twin beds, work desk, bathroom with shower and bathtub in most rooms.


Villa One Bedroom with Private Pool: Beautifully designed to a colonial décor that blends soft colours, and wood accents, each of the 16 Deluxe Pool Villas is a tranquil oasis with living areas of 76 square metres, offering the choice of a king-size bed or twin beds. Surrounded by lush gardens, the villa has a spacious terrace with a plunge pool. In-room amenities include wireless internet access, workstation, individually controlled air-conditioning, ceiling fan, flat-screen TV with international channels and in-room movies, IDD telephone line, minibar, tea and coffee making facilities, in-room safe and a hairdryer. The resort operates in accordance with a 12-point action plan covering Social Distancing, Health, Hygiene, and Enhanced Sanitisation across the entire guest journey, as well as extensive Training and Accreditation & Monitoring. Other key changes include free health check-ups from on-site medical staff, a dedicated system of contactless measures for check in and payment, as well as upgrading of teleconferencing capabilities for the meeting sector as businesses get back to work. All members of staff have undergone special training. ‘Work from Home’ at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin is available for booking and stay from now until June 30, 2021. Room rates start from only THB 23,000 per 14 days. For more information or reservations, please call +66 (0) 3251 2021. TheBigChilli


Imported Australian Beef at Praya Kitchen Every Friday and Saturday dinner in April, Praya Kitchen at Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse offers dishes featuring top-quality Australian dry-aged beefs along with a variety of fresh seafood from ‘Seafood Wall.’ Highlights include Dry-aged Beef Steak with E-Sarn Sauce, Grilled Wagyu Donburi with Ka Praw Sauce, Beef Noodles and many more. Alternatively, leave it to Chefs’ hands to cook according to your preference. The ‘Seafood Wall’ features River Prawns, Rock Lobsters, Blue Crabs and Mussels. Price at THB 1,688++ per person. Children aged 6-12 years old receive 50% discount. Contact 02 088 5666 or Official Line @ marriottsurawongse

Sunday Opera Brunch at The District Grill Room & Bar

UNO MAS’s ‘2 Feet of Tapas’Deal Using fresh, highest quality ingredients, this unique dining experience allows you to experience a range of traditional tapas dishes such as 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). This 2 Feet of Tapas deal (which is over half-a-meter of food) is now priced at THB 1,990++ Call +66 2 100 6255 or email 16


Executive Chef Gyula Harangi and The District’s Chef de Cuisine Christian Caluwaert present weekly a-la-carte selections from the Sunday brunch at The District Grill Room & Bar. Highlights include beef and beetroot tartare, foie gras on brioche toast, U.S scallop, Wagyu D-Rump beef minute steak, and Australian lamb chop. Plus appetizers, salads, premium cold cuts, various kinds of cheese, carving stations, fresh salmon on ice, soup station, grilled lobster and many more from our main dishes. THB 2,500++ per. Contact The District Grill Room & Bar at 02-797-0000 or

A Fine Lunch at Blue by Alain Ducasse

s business lunches go, you cannot do better than Blue by Alain Ducasse the onestar Michelin restaurant at ICONSIAM. Chef Wilfrid Hocquet has crafted a menu to ensure a superlative dining experience that comes as a guarantee the minute you step through the doors. The set lunch priced at THB 1,950 includes two starters, one main and a dessert is offered. Two beverage pairing options are also available; THB 650 gets you water, two mocktails plus coffee or tea. Or swap that for two glasses of wine for an additional THB 300. We start the meal on a decadent note with Marinated Sardines from Brittany and seasonal salad leaves. A stunning dish: a flower of salad leaves on a green sea of tomato water and basil oil. Anchoring the salad petals in the ‘sea’ is a mixture of potato, tomato confit, anchovy, chive and basil. Nestled in the leaves is the marinated sardine. This is certainly not a salad tossed in a hurry. The second starter has Hokkaido scallops as the stars with white asparagus and smoked egg yolk. On a base of a smoked egg yolk emulsion are roasted white asparagus and seared scallops. The dish is finished with a delicious lentil and black garlic sauce. Adding texture is a lentil tuile with shaved cured egg yolk for added umami. For mains it is either steamed skrei cod with


roasted cabbage or Iberico pork tenderloin with fluffy potato. We opt for the latter: the pork tenderloin smoked, seared and glazed with pork jus. It has a topping of pork crackling, g, crunchyy garlic, g , shallots and ham powder and a fluffy, uffy, crispy potato. On the side are celeriac rings. gs. The whole thing gs finished off with a pork ork & apple cider jus. Parfait! Of the three desserts erts on offer, the Tarte Tatin Our Way, with a Granny nny Smith and cider sorbet bet is recommended. The sweetness of thee caramelised apple tart is offset by the refreshingly tangy sorbet, crème fraichee ion making the connection oes The experience does ing the magnificent setting in ICONSIAM justicee and underlines why this restaurant ar rating. truly deserves its star Blue by Alain Ducasse is open from 12 noon until 22:00 (last order at 21:00), with a lunch set menu served between midday and 15:00. The A La Carte and Blue Experience are offered throughout. Restaurant opens daily except Tuesday and Wednesday. Tel. 02 005 9412 TheBigChilli


0U[LYUH[PVUHS >LLRKH` 3\UJO )\ɈL[ H[ .VQP 2P[JOLU )HY Goji Kitchen + Bar at Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park is offering a sumptuous buffet lunch Monday to Friday in the heart of Sukhumvit. Live stations showcase a wide range of delicious dishes from around the world, including local Thai specialties, WHU (ZPHU ѓH]VYZ >LZ[LYU MH]VYP[LZ sweet treats and more! In addition to fresh seafood includes blue crab and black mussels, there’s cold cuts, such as prosciutto, salami and chorizo, plus premium cheeses and hand-cut sushi and sashimi, including salmon and tuna. Prime meats include crispy pork belly, chargrilled Australian beef and YVHZ[LK SLN VM SHTI WS\Z IHRLK ђZO THB 998++ per person. Email restaurant-reservations.bkkqp@ or call 02 059 5999.

Cheese Wine dinner at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin The St. Regis Bangkok gets in the spirit of Songkran On Wednesday 14 April, enjoy a Songkran lunch I\MML[ H[ =0< PUJS\KPUN ROHV JOHL KLLW MYPLK ђZO ^P[O [OYLL ѓH]VY ZH\JL ;OHP ]LYTPJLSSP ^P[O J\YY` Z[PY MYPLK seafood with pepper sauce, and pad thai noodles with river prawn freshly prepared to order at a live cooking station. On the following day, 15 April, The St. Regis Bangkok hosts a Songkran barbecue by the outdoor Z^PTTPUN WVVS VU [OL [O ѓVVY MYVT ! Ϣ ! 74 with a live DJ keeps’ ;/) WLY WLYZVU VY ;/) PUJS\ZP]L of a trio of wines Songkran Barbecue Party THB 699++ per person Call +66 2207 7777, email or visit 18


Presenting a special seven-course wine-pairing dinner showcasing local artisanal cheese of Del Casaro, Hua Hin's one and only cheesemaker at Cheese Wine dinner at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin The 'Say Cheese’ Wine Dinner is set on Friday, 9th April 2021at COAST Beach Club & Bistro, the hotel’s popular beachside restaurant. Dishes created by Chef de Cuisine Tharathon Chindaphu will be paired with popular wines from Robert Oatley Vineyards of Australia, Longview Estate of New Zealand, and one of Italy’s most prestigious wineries, Tenuta Angoris. Throughout the evening, a cheese-making specialist from Del Casaro will be sharing his knowledge of each cheese’s characteristics with the diners. Priced at THB 1,550++ per person Call +66 (0) 3251 2021.

23 TheBigChilli

News By Staff Reporter

Hua Hin on double track for new golden era of tourism

Construction of motorways, a double track high speed train link to Bangkok and three international airports, plus a possible revival of flights, the royal resort is looking good In the background, the new elevated section of the Hua Hua train station



Hua Hin's main beach

ravelling between Bangkok and Hua Hin has always been a challenge, what with the weekend and holiday traffic congestion, the endless ‘work-in-progress’ road repairs and a desperately slow train service. Well, that’s all going to change - but you’re going to have to wait a few more years. Thailand’s capital and its famous royal resort are going to be linked by new motorways, high speed train services and a revival of domestic flights. The plan is to turn Hua Hin into the ‘Thailand Riveria,’ one of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s pet tourism projects that will simultaneously allow easier trade links with China and other members of ASEAN. Once completed, the new coastal motorway that from Bangkok to Samut Songkhram, across the salt flats of Samut Sakhon and beyond, will bring joy to motorists who for more than four decades have faced frustrating delays because of constant repairs to the existing road. Several sections of the new elevated highway have already been completed. There are also plans to build a motorway from Nakhon Pathom to Cha-Am. The 34 billion baht ‘high-speed’ rail project links Bangkok’s soon-to-open Bang Sue Grand Station to Hua Hin, via Nakhon Pathom, and further south to Chumpon. At certain points trains may reach a


maximum design speed of 160 km per hour along the 211 km double track. Apart from laying a new track running parallel to the existing track, the project involves the construction of a large number of railway bridges, overpasses, some 40 U-turn bridges, 12 underpasses, six container yards, and a 4 km elevated track at Hua Hin Station. A total of 58 new small and large stations en route are being either upgraded or built in the authentic traditional style. t’s been estimated that the new fastest express service will take about 2hr 45min from Bangkok to Hua Hin – more two hours quicker than the current service. The project was scheduled to begin operations in


New highway to Hua Hin

Adding a new track on the Bangkok to Hua Hin railway

January 2023, but this deadline is thought likely to be extended by 12 months because of various delays. This southern route is one of nine similar double track projects in Thailand. The Bangkok – Hua Hin line will be linked to Suvarnabhumi Airport, as well as the Bangkok – Rayong High-Speed rail project, the Bang Sue – Rangsit Red Line, and MRT Blue Line. Some sections of the project linking Thailand’s three major airports will allow speeds of up to 250 km per hour, classifying it as a genuine high speed train service. Meanwhile, flights from Bangkok to Hua Hin are already in operation, with a small 12-seater aircraft plying the route two times a week. Regular domestic services between Hua Hin and Chiang Mai and Udon Thani have also begun. When the road, rail and airport projects are all completed, it’s clear that Hua Hin will enjoy a new golden era of tourism. TheBigChilli


Twenty Questions Why cooking as a career? I have cooked since I was 11 years old. I fell in love with cooking and never looked back. Log Za__]kl afÛm]f[]k gf qgmj [Yj]]j7 My grandmother and my mother. :]kl ]Yjdq cal[`]f ]ph]ja]f[]7 Berjaya Georgetown Hotel in Penang, Malaysia. Ogjkl cal[`]f ]ph]ja]f[]7 Another hotel in Penang. :]kl e]Yd qgm n] ]n]j `Y\7 In the kitchens of home cooks. I love home cooked meals. That's why my restaurant focuses on home cooking. O`Yl k qgmj [ggcaf_ h`adgkgh`q7 Never compromise on ingredients. O`Yl k qgmj ka_fYlmj] \ak`7 Too many to remember. You will have to ask my regulars. Favourite cookbook? Right now, any cookbook that has traditional Malaysian recipes. Egkl \a^Ú[mdl af_j]\a]fl lg [ggc oal`7 Turkey. I really hate turkey. @go \g qgm c]]h af lgm[` oal` l`] dYl]kl ^gg\ trends? Books, Facebook, online research etc. We live in a digital age.

Have you ever created an entirely new dish? Many times. It's part of being a chef. Greatest achievement to date? I will have to say opening Makan Makan restaurant in Bangkok. Who would you like to cook for? Anyone who loves cuisine and appreciates food. Ml]fkadk qgm [Yf l \g oal`gml7 Doing what I do, if I don't have utensils I need, I adapt. Music you listen to while cooking? I am a metal chef. O`Yl k qgmj ^Yngmjal] \ak` lg [ggc ^gj yourself? CaYe [`Ya Zg]q& Al k Y EYdYqkaYf \ak`& Favourite dish cooked by someone else? Nasi lemak cooked by my wife. Or any dish cooked by my wife. Which restaurant above all others would you like to work for? I guess none. No preference, really. A^ qgm o]j]f l Y [`]^$ o`Yl ogmd\ qgm Z]7 Never really thought of that. I guess something related to F&B. O`Yl k f]pl ^gj qgm7 Now that's a tricky question. For now I am focused on my restaurant.

f e Ch Scott Joseph Da Silva

Chef Po Pofile

Chef Scott Scot Joseph Da Silva started cooking in his hometown ho in Penang, Malaysia. He opened open Makan Makan in Bangkok two-plus years ago with his siblings and two-plu never looked back. Recently Re listed as one of the musttry hidden jewels in Bangkok by a top newspaper, food here is cooked in new small sm batches and crafted with love. Chef Ch Scott enjoys Netflix on his off days da and looks forward to a trip back to t Seoul.

Makan Mak Makan Bangkok Sukhumvit SSoi 16 BTS Asok | MRT Sukhumvit Tues-Sundays from 11am to 10pm @makanmakanbkk FB: @makanm 0775543 Call 02 077554 24




Twenty Questions

Why cooking as a career? I started journalism at college as I loved creative writing and traveling and I thought that career would allow me to do so. I worked at hotels to support my studies and I was fascinated by the atmosphere in the kitchens. As it turned out, joining the Culinary Academy has allowed me to be creative and travel to the most interesting places. Log Za__]kl afÛm]f[]k gf qgmj [Yj]]j7 Juan Mari Arzak of Arzak Restaurant, in San Sebastian, Basque Country and Charlie Trotter in Chicago, now sadly closed. :]kl ]Yjdq cal[`]f ]ph]ja]f[]7 A small restaurant called Anton in Bilbao where almost everything was made at home, a truly organic, farm and sea to table concept, 30 years ago! Ogjkl cal[`]f ]ph]ja]f[]7 Two weeks at a famous celebrity chef restaurant. :]kl e]Yd qgm n] ]n]j `Y\7 Unforgettable dinner at El :mdda af Jgk]k$ ?ajgfY af *((-& >]jjYf 9\ja§ k Yl `ak Z]kl ege]fl& Followed by another culinary journey at Gaggan Anand in Bangkok two years ago. O`Yl k qgmj [ggcaf_ h`adgkgh`q7 Treat the product with respect and alter it as little as possible. O`Yl k qgmj ka_fYlmj] \ak`7 Right now at the Kampu Restaurant: Caprese Salad, with locally made ciliegini mozzarella, sun-dried tomato sponge, avocado and balsamic pearls. Angus Beef Cheeks, braised slow and served with oxtail and foie gras cannelloni and glazed baby carrots Favourite cookbook? Vegetables, by Charlie Trotter. It opened my eyes about the versatility and culinary value of vegetables. Egkl \a^Ú[mdl af_j]\a]fl lg [ggc oal`7 A bmkl \gf l like celery. @go \g qgm c]]h af lgm[` oal` l`] dYl]kl food trends? It used to be attending culinary seminars and congresses, dining at innovative restaurants anywhere and so on, now sadly is more checking online gastronomy magazines, Instagram or dining locally which might sometimes offer some interesting proposals. Have you ever created an entirely new dish? I have worked in different countries and I always tried to add some twists to local dishes making them a fusion of different cuisines, sometimes creating a whole new dish altogether. Greatest achievement to date? The successful and timely opening of numerous restaurants for various companies which years later still maintain some concepts of dishes that I introduced. Who would you like to cook for? Friends and family and anyone who does not ask for celery. Utensils you [Yf l \g oal`gml7 Sharpening steel. Music you listen to while cooking? It depends on the mood, from blues to opera to heavy metal. 26


O`Yl k qgmj ^Yngmjal] \ak` lg [ggc ^gj yourself? >ja]\ ]__k oal` _jadd]\ egj[addY ja[] Yf\ ha_ k Zdgg\ sausage). Not an everyday dish unless you are building up energy for a marathon but it is comfort, simple food that reminds me of the old country too!. Favourite dish cooked by someone else? Fresh, dg[Yddq [Ym_`l Úk` ZYjZ]im]\ Yf\ k]jn]\ oal` kge] ogc _j]]fk gj salad. Which restaurant above all others would you like to work for? In the past for La Maison Bras of Michel Bras in Laguiole, France. A^ qgm o]j]f l Y [`]^$ o`Yl ogmd\ qgm Z]7 A frustrated journalist. O`Yl k f]pl ^gj qgm7 More cooking and discovering the richness of Thai culinary.

f e h C Josu hails

Chef Pofile

Executive Chef Josu hails from Bilbao, in the Spanish Basque Country and he is a graduate of the Basque Culinary Academy with further studies in Hospitality Management with Cornell University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Gastronomy with ESHS - University of Zaragoza. Many cooking experiences since 1992 until 2018 he joined Accor Hotels Asia for the opening of the Mövenpick Kuredhivaru in Maldives before joining his current role, here at Mövenpick Asara Resort & Spa in Hua Hin in October last year. Josu enjoys dining out, playing golf and running, but most of all, he loves watching his beloved football team – Athletic Club Bilbao. Josu is fluent in Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese

Mövenpick Asara Resort & Spa Hua Hin | Hua Hin 5 Alley | 77110 | Hua Hin | Prachuap Kiri Khan | Thailand +66 32 520 777 +66 87 269 8881

Food & Travel tips

Northern cafe society

Chiang Mai is renowned for having some of the most beautiful restaurants in Thailand. Here are [^V WVW\SHY V\[SL[Z [OH[ H[[YHJ[ [OL ZLSÄL JYV^KZ because of their photogeneity but nonetheless certainly deserve a visit on your next trip to this charming, slow-paced northern city:

Q Chom Café &

Restaurant, famous for its mini tropical forest, moss covered trees and gardens, streams and waterfalls. While the exotic scenery is the main reason people head to Chom, its food is also excellent, with local Chiang Mai dishes VU VɈLY HSVUN ^P[O mainstream Thai and international fare. Chom, 2/13 Moo 2 Somphot Chinag Mai, 700 Pi Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100 Tel. 065 438 8188

Q Nakara Jardin was until

fairly recently a private property set on the banks of the Ping River. Boasting a lush tropical garden with a huge raintree and weeping willow shading the riverside terrace, Nakara Jardin is the brainchild of Le Cordon Bleu-trained Chef Pomme who turned it into an all-day easy dining spot for relaxed French dining, with JYHM[LK JVɈLLZ PTWVY[LK teas and delightful patisserie. Located close to the Chedi in central Chiang Mai.

Nakara Jardin, 11 Soi 9 Charoenprathet Road. A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand. Tel. 053 81 8977 Mobile: 061 370 6466




Brasserie 9 ‘Sunday Roast’ Superb All You Can Eat dining occasion in Bangkok’s most elegant restaurant

or many people, lunch on Sunday is the highlight of the week, a good few hours to catch up with family and friends well away from all the stress and pressure of the workday schedule – and a chance to sit back and savour great food and wine in pleasant surroundings. This is exactly what you can expect at Brasserie 9, one of Bangkok’s most beautiful restaurants, inside and out, where its Sunday dining experience excels and even exceeds on so many levels. The same chefs who have earned Brasserie 9 plaudits for its French cuisine also oversee the lineup for the restaurant’s superb all-you-can-eat ‘Sunday Roast’, guaranteeing a quality dining experience. It’s actually an international culinary journey that begins for many with a selection of crispy salads together with Jamón ibérico, ‘Iberian ham’ from Spain cut straight from the bone, or slices of tasty fresh salmon. Not to be missed either among the starters is the ‘Soup of the Day,’ always a delicious surprise.




News Then it’s over to the live station and a touch of France as the chef pan-fries individual portions of flambé escargot in garlic butter, complete with a spectacular flame-flourish. Premium roast meats are the main focus, of course: top quality beef, lamb and pork, cooked to perfection and presented in various options to suit personal preferences. And you can always ask for more! The dessert trolley is full of wonderful delights, such as crème brulee, macaroons, chocolate mousse and lemon tart, while another live station prepares mouthwatering crêpes Suzettes. For cheese lovers, there’s a great selection of the best imported cheeses. Brasserie 9 staff are always discreetly on hand to help and recommend a wine from the restaurant’s extensive list. There’s a kids’ corner and special menu for youngsters with 50% discount. The unique design of both the exterior and interior is based on an old Siamese mansion with a series of inter-connecting rooms, creating a wonderful light and airy yet elegant ambiance. It’s a venue made for long and relaxed dining occasions. And with the restaurant being open from 11.30 am to 4.30pm, there’s certainly no reason to rush. Sunday Roast at Brasserie costs only THB 1,599 net, but customers who book before Friday of each week get the early bird price of just THB 1,199 net. Every Sunday 11.30 am to 4.30pm. Parking available. Brasserie 9. 21 North Sathorn, Soi Pipat (Sathorn Soi 6), Bangkok. Tel 02 234 2588






Five decades of filming Asia’s biggest stories The extraordinary and unique career of Bangkok-based cameraman Derek Williams Arriving in Hong Kong in 1971, New Zealander Derek Williams went on to cover some of the region’s most turbulent events, from the fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the 1976 bloodbath at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, student uprisings in Korea, and Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. He also witnessed the deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown – and received a rousing welcome on his return to Hong Kong. Based for many years in Bangkok where he set up AsiaWorks Television, this highly respected and popular journalist is now enjoying a well-earned retirement in the US. Fellow Bangkok journalist Scott Murray sought out Derek in California for a closer look at his remarkable and eventful life.

never planned on becoming a cameraman, but when I finished high school my father and I heard an ad on his car radio. It was the local radio station advertising for technicians (all that was required was a decent mark in physics!). I was good at physics so I joined the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation working at Radio 4ZA, Invercargill. I loved radio and had a ball! But eventually I made my way to Wellington and television where I worked in Film & Sound. It was the early days of TV in New Zealand and we sort of made it up as we went along. But it was great training, as I worked on TV dramas, news, and documentaries.




Feature I was in Bangkok for one of the most memorable events on October 6, 1976 at Thammasat University. Quite frankly, I had never before witnessed such brutality and couldn’t believe I was seeing Thais inflict such cruelty on fellow Thais. Every young Kiwi plans some overseas experience, and I was no different. I planned to go to London and work for the BBC, but before that could come about, I heard about a job as a film soundman for CBS News, based in Hong Kong. I snapped up that job and arrived in Hong Kong in June of 1971. I was a wide-eyed country boy and loved the excitement and hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, so there I stayed, covering Indochina, India, and Japan. In fact almost everywhere, but I spent the most amount of time in Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos). y now wife, Tran Thi Thu Ha, was the chief stewardess with Air Vietnam & we actually met in Hong Kong. Because the US Congress severely cut back on aid to Vietnam, there was a lull in the war, and my travels out of Hong Kong were reduced meaning I had more of a social life in Hong Kong and I made the most of it, before we headed to Cambodia for the dry season offensive and what was to be, eventually, the fall of Phnom Penh. I asked my boss if I could head over to Saigon, as the fall of Vietnam was imminent and I wanted to ensure that Thu Ha and her family were able to leave. Once there, I had to convince a doubting future wife


With Sebastian on the Square



that Vietnam was truly going to fall (I had had many briefings from Western intelligence officers and diplomats confirming that the end was nigh). Ha and I were married on April 20. Saigon fell on April 30, so we cut it a bit fine. We rode out of Saigon on the last Australian C-130 aircraft (thanks to some friends at ABC Australia). We transited U Tapao in Thailand and stayed one night in the Montien Hotel in Bangkok before leaving on a commercial flight to Hong Kong the next day. As we settled into life in Hong Kong, CBS announced that they were going to open a Bangkok bureau. I volunteered immediately, and we moved to Bangkok in late 1975 and stayed until 1978 (CBS News was never truly sure on how to cover Asia). I would spend a lot of time in India covering Indira Gandhi’s ‘State of Emergency’, but was in Bangkok for one of the most memorable events: (the violent crackdown on students) on October 6, 1976 at Thammasat University. Quite frankly, I had never before witnessed such brutality and couldn’t believe I was seeing Thais inflict such cruelty on fellow Thais. It was a true reality check! It was all go after that, and in 1982 the Israelis invaded Lebanon and I was sent to Beirut to cover events there. I loved Beirut and the Lebanese people. I feel sorry for them and all that they have endured over the years. In December 1979 we were in India to cover the elections there, when the Soviets chose to invade Afghanistan on Christmas Eve. It’s a short flight from Delhi to Kabul and we were at the Delhi airport every morning trying to get on the daily Kabul flight without any luck. Suddenly, one morning, the Indian Airlines manager announced that the flight would leave that morning. There was a mad scramble for seats and one hour later we had landed in an extremely busy Kabul airport. So, an airplane full of journalists lands in Kabul. I had written on my landing card that I was a technician for CBS Inc. and was planning to visit Afghan TV. Apparently, the other hacks on the plane wrote their full job descriptions on the card. I was

In 1982 the Israelis invaded Lebanon and I was sent to Beirut to cover events there. I loved Beirut and the Lebanese people. I feel sorry for them and all that they have endured over the years.

During The 'Tanker War" in the Gulf in 1988



Feature allowed entry while the rest of the plane was not. After I was sure I had all the baggage tags for our equipment I bid farewell to the rest of the CBS team who were being held in the immigration hall. I caught a taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel, our prearranged meeting point and waited there for about 30 minutes. When the others didn’t show up I went out filming Soviet troops on the street and in the market place. On my return to the hotel I met a very friendly Bob Reid from AP who had just flown in from Frankfurt. He was kind enough to give me a briefing on the political changes, and told me that the group of journalists was still being held at Live shot with Dan Rather during Operation Desert Storm in Dahran, Saudi Arabia the airport. security guys grumbling loudly. When I returned to o I rushed to the airport with my videotapes. Delhi about five days later I received a phone call from I found the lads being held in the transit the V.P. of Operations (my boss) telling me I had been lounge and was able to squeeze the tapes promoted to ‘Staff Cameraman’! through a partially opened window. My Ten years, and a lot of news later, my next major ‘World Exclusive’ was on its way to Delhi to be assignment was to China, where Soviet leader Mikhail transmitted to New York. On my return to the hotel, Gorbachev was about to visit. CBS News had decided the Soviets arrested me and got me to check out and that was the big story and had gotten visas for a go to the airport with two burly security chaps to be swarm of correspondents and camera crews. expelled from the country. It is always flattering to be considered one of the With a bit of continuing luck the plane has already ‘A Team’ on events such as these, when the Evening taken off, so we returned to the Intercon with the two News anchor-man shows up, along with the anchors from the morning At Utapao Air Base with cameraman Udo Nesc and weekend shows. While it is fun to hobnob with the big guns, I quite enjoy being away from the circus. With that in mind, we jetted off to Shanghai with correspondent Bruce Morton and an extremely smart young fixer, a tall blond American girl named Chelsea Honderich. hen we first saw the Grand Canal with its ancient stone bridges (straight out of a Chinese ‘Blue and White’) along with the ancient forms of canal traffic, Bruce started waxing lyrical. But eventually the Shanghai students started demonstrating in sympathy with their Beijing counterparts and we were compelled to concentrate on them, rather than the colourful canal.





I had to convince a doubting future wife that Vietnam was truly going to fall – I’d had many briefings from Western intelligence officers and diplomats confirming that the end was nigh. Ha and I were married on April 20. Saigon fell on April 30, so we cut it a bit fine. We rode out of Saigon on the last Australian C-130 aircraft. students’ hunger-strike. One of the student leaders, Eventually we had to make our way back to Beijing Wu'er Kaixi, was dressed in hospital pyjamas and paid and the BIG story. For the next few days Dexter (my little respect to the high ranking politburo members soundman) and I did daily duty on Tiananmen Square, who visited them, trying to convince them to end their which wasn’t too difficult. It was extremely hot and hunger strike, which was gaining attention from the dusty, so we always made sure to have a cooler full of Chinese public and also overseas Chinese. cold drinks on hand. There were a lot of familiar faces When I saw among the crowd Wu'er Kaixi of journalists and interrupt Premier cameramen on the Li Peng on live square, so initially, television, I just at least, it had the knew that the air of a reunion. April turned into students faced a crackdown. The May and I think the language Wu’er students realised it was time to get Kaixe used was quite rude and serious. There disrespectful. The was definitely less Chinese leadership smiling on the would not be able square when the to handle such a students began public loss of face. their hunger Americas Cup in Freemantle with team NZ skipper Chris Dickson It did not require strike around the me to be a Chinamiddle of May, watcher to realise this - just a knowledge of Asian with Gorbachev due to arrive on May 15. The students had allies within the Chinese leadership and therein manners and decorum. It wouldn’t have mattered if became the struggle between the hard-liners and the the leaders had been communist or capitalist, but I more liberal party membership. would not imagine any group of students in any Asian country showing such disrespect (and seemingly I realized that the protests would have an unhappy getting away with it). ending when watching Chinese TV coverage of the So to my mind, at least, the die was cast. I am sure that the China-watchers and scholars have chosen another breaking point, but to me, that was it. umours where swirling around Beijing. Various folk were reporting troop movements and you could tell that everybody was getting fatigued. As we entered the month of June and even higher temperatures the strain was starting to tell and I personally felt that the story was about to break. On the afternoon of June 3, there were reports of troops advancing on the square so Dexter, correspondent Richard Roth and myself were dispatched to check it out. With CBS Correspondent ,Richard Roth when we were We found a position near the Great Hall of the released by the Chinese policae in T-square





Laos temple

People and found a safe spot where our driver could park the car and wait for us. I would not be overstating it if I said there was an air of inevitability and gloom in the Square that night. The rumours of troop movements in the suburbs had proved to be true and it was really a matter of waiting for the troops to arrive. We had begun our evening in the centre of the square, but at around midnight an alert was broadcast over the square’s vast loudspeaker system advising all journalists and TV crews to vacate the square. We retreated to a position closer to The Great Hall of The People, on the southern side of the square. It felt safe enough. We could hear distant shouting and shots from along the major avenues leading to the square, but as we knew there was another CBS News crew there we elected to stay put. s the night dragged on, we eventually heard the sounds of troops advancing into the square from our right, and when they came into view they were a menacing sight. They goose-stepped towards us, with their

A 36


assault rifles at a 45 degree angle. It was dark but I was able to see some detail in my viewfinder. I was rolling video-tape as often as I could, and as soon as I had something reasonable on tape we would eject that tape and give it to our fixer to run it to the car which was safely parked in the dark a short distance away. (I was quite convinced that we could be arrested by the authorities and our tapes confiscated at any time during the evening). At one point during the advance of the troops there was some shooting in our direction and we sought shelter behind a public toilet block, which was an imposing cement edifice. A burly NBC cameraman, Tony Wasserman, an easy-going South African joined us in our position. It was soon very apparent that the toilets had not been cleaned since the student occupation of the square. Tony said to me “mate, I’d rather die than hide in this stench” and he loped off into the darkness. We moved back to our position close to the Great Hall, from where I did my best to get footage of the advancing troops. There was a fence around the Great Hall of the People and I found that if I stood on the cement base of the fence and looped my left arm through the railings, I could get sufficient elevation to see over the by-standers who were blocking my view. Quite a number of locals had ignored Government warnings and come out to watch the proceedings. Then the order was given. A security detail of about 6-8 soldiers came out from the Great Hall. They were shooting in the air in order to keep the crowds away. Dexter yelled out to me “You’d better get down. They are coming for your camera!” And they were. As I clumsily descended from my perch I only had a loose grip on the camera and before I realised it was gone off my shoulder. At the same time the soldiers went for Dexter’s

Strait of Hormuz

The Soviets arrested me and got me to check out of my hotel and go to the airport with two burly security chaps to be expelled from Afghanistan. With a bit of continuing luck the plane had already taken off, so we returned to the Intercon with the two security guys grumbling loudly. When I returned to Delhi about five days later I received a phone call from the V.P. of Operations (my boss) telling me I had been promoted to Staff Cameraman.

With Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter in China

videotape recorder. Dex was able to slip out from the harness leaving the troops with their targeted prize, while Dexter was able to melt into the crowd. He later hitch-hiked back to the CBS News office in the Shangri-La Hotel and was able to report that he had seen us alive. Richard Roth was on a mobile phone describing the scene to New York. On his shoulder was a tan travel bag in which was Richard’s passport, a walkie-talkie and a spare battery for same. ne of the soldiers decided to take Richard’s bag and when he resisted, Richard received a punch in the eye, breaking his eyeglasses and opening a small cut. Richard called out “Oh no! I’ll go” as the phone dropped to the road surface. Suddenly the phone call ended with a ghostly beep beep beep. With sound of gunfire amid all the chaos it is easy to understand why our colleagues in New York feared that we had been shot. That phone call had made US the story. Both Richard and I realised this and we then started worrying about our families worrying about us. Many of the local gawkers had come by bicycle, which were parked in an area behind us. Many of the bikes had fallen over and Richard was dragged through a sea of

bicycle wheels. An American woman from California, Valerie Sampson, was grabbed at about the same time as we were. Valerie was studying music in Beijing and spoke some Mandarin. After we were seized, we were frog-marched up the stairs of the Great Hall to a position from where we could not see any of the square itself. Richard seemed to be hyperventilating and he was certainly out of breath. From the top of the stairs we could not bear witness to events in the square, but at around dawn, after all the chaos had stopped, we were bundled into two army jeeps (one for each of us). We were driven directly across the square and right under the huge portrait of Chair-man Mao, into the Forbidden City. It was the drive of a lifetime! The sun was rising and there was a grey sky mixed with a little smoke. As we crossed the square we were ordered to look straight ahead and not to look around, On the India /Bangladesh border in 1971





With Mike Wallace in West Beirut (1982)

In T-Square with NBC cameraman Gary Fairman

but given that I had a soldier on each side of me, each armed with an electric cattle-prod, I was on my best behaviour. Although we did pass some piles of debris, which might well have been the students’ ‘tents’. remember sniffing for tear gas (the obvious weapon for crowd control) but smelt none. The PLA had put down a protest using live ammunition! (Dexter and I has spent the year previous covering the student uprising and riots in South Korea and were well used to tear gas and mayhem.) Once in the Forbidden City we were held in classroom of a school for the children of employees of the Forbidden City. I remember sitting at a child’s desk while the Public Security officers questioned us. It all felt quite bizarre. Richard had recently quit smoking, but started again that morning. He was smoking my cigarettes

I 38


so I was most concerned that I (we) would run out at some point. After a relatively light interrogation we were left alone under the guard of an elderly trustee. He was a very nice old man who spoke no English. Using sign language and my very limited Mandarin vocabulary I dispatched our guard with some small US dollar bills with orders to return with some Marlboro and some cold beer. He returned successful so the immediate cigarette crisis had passed. After being accused of not leaving the square when ordered, I recall Richard and I writing long-hand confessions in which we confessed to not fully knowing the geography of the square, not really life or death stuff! Valerie would occasionally translate what the soldiers were saying, which was occasionally helpful. But the troops looked like country boys and I suspected they knew little about the wider scheme of

I realized that the protests would have an unhappy ending when watching Chinese TV coverage of the students’ hunger-strike. One of the student leaders, Wu'er Kaixi, was dressed in hospital pyjamas and paid little respect to the high ranking politburo members who visited them. When I saw Wu'er Kaixi interrupt Premier Li Peng on live television, I just knew that the students faced a crackdown. The language Wu’er Kaixe used was quite rude and disrespectful. The Chinese leadership would not be able to handle such a public loss of face. So to my mind, at least, the die was cast.


things. Valerie was very concerned about her 12-yearold son, who she had left in the care of a friend. About mid-morning lunch boxes are delivered to us. We had no idea what was happening outside the Forbidden City so were looking at the source of the food, so that we could figure out which parts of Beijing the army controlled. The lunch came from a relatively well known hotel, which gave us a clue. It was only when I arrived back in Hong Kong that I realised what a huge story Tiananmen was for Hong Kong and the Hong Kong people! here was a throng of Hong Kong TV crews and journalists awaiting my flight (they were obviously meeting all flights out of China). After passing through Immigration and Customs I was able to look out into the Arrival Hall and see all the Hong Kong press corps waiting there. I could also see Ha waiting there. She was accompanied by our old friends Hugh and Annie Van Es. In the Kai Tak arrival area there were two ramps leading down into the main hall. The one on the left was little used and I elected to use that one, as it

brought me into the hall behind Ha and our friends. When I approached them and said something Ha shrieked loudly. She was heard by an astute young reporter from a local Hong Kong TV Channel, TVB, who approached and asked if he could interview me. I consented as a professional courtesy, as we had been sharing video with TVB during the crisis and TVB was a CBS News syndication client. I wrapped the TVB interview as quickly as possible, and we all headed over to the Foreign Correspondents Club on Hong Kong Island, where the staff gave me a raucous welcome and we had a couple of unnecessary nightcaps. By the time Ha and I got home there were a bunch of messages on the answering machine, several of which were from TV New Zealand and also from Channel 9, Sydney. oth TV channels were asking me to appear on live satellite interviews at around 9.00am our time the next morning. I felt compelled to do them, most importantly to let family and friends know that I was alive, well, and



Student Leader W'er KiaXi in Beijing in 1982 TheBigChilli


Feature There was an air of inevitability and gloom in Tiananmen Square. Around midnight an alert was broadcast advising all journalists and TV crews to vacate the square. We retreated to a position closer to The Great Hall of The People. Eventually we heard the sounds of troops advancing into the square from our right, and when they came into view they were a menacing sight. They goose-stepped towards us, with their assault rifles at a 45 degree angle.


The CBS News team in Kwangju, Korea during the student uprising in 1980




With the Muj in Afghanistan, Soundman Dexter Leong DQG FRUUHVSRQGHQW 3HWHU &ROOLQV

As I got out of my taxi-cab, the technicians saw me, leaned out of their bus windows and applauded me. I had goosebumps, as the importance of the events in Tiananmen Square to the Hong Kong populace hit me for the first time. It was extremely moving and sobering.

With Tran Thi Thu Ha in Hong Kong in 1974

out of China. The satellite live shots were to take place in Telecom House (formerly the Cable & Wireless Building), which was also the home of the CBS News Hong Kong Bureau. Cable and Wireless was an old British company which ran all international communications in and out of Hong Kong. I will never forget that morning when I arrived at the C&W building, a busload of C&W technicians were setting out on their daily maintenance run, servicing and checking all the microwave stations in the many hills of Hong Kong. As I got out of my taxi-cab, the technicians saw me, leaned out of their bus windows and applauded me. I had goose-bumps, as the importance of the events in Tiananmen Square to the Hong Kong populace hit me for the first time. It was extremely moving and sobering. When the China story was truly over, CBS News wanted to move us to the Middle East, based in Israel. We even went as far as to check out schools for our youngest son, but our hearts were not in the move. a reasoned that if I got in trouble in Asia I would be able to talk my way out of it, but not so in a world of kidnaps and terrorism. So I was able to negotiate a


transfer back to Bangkok where we stayed until 2017. CBS News was going through a lot of changes and I got laid off in 1991 (around the time of the Lauda Air Crash). I had been a CBS News ‘lifer’ back from the days when we all worked for Walter Cronkite and was quite shattered at being unemployed, and many friends and former colleagues called me with career advice, but I decided to stay with what I knew, and sell myself along with my knowledge of Asia. So, I worked on a freelance basis for a few years, doing a number of shoots for CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ which is one of the most satisfying things a cameraman can do. As I started to get a number of calls for extra camera work, I learned of a younger Canadian cameraman based in Bangkok, Marc Laban, who was working with his business partner, Heather Kelly. They both were skilled TV producers and eventually we discussed working together. As we planned over beers in the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT), a tech wizard named David McKaige from Reuters TV overheard us and asked if he could join any partnership. Lo and behold, the birth of AsiaWorks Television! Initially we focused on satellite transmission, because that was David’s expertise. And very soon we needed to open a Jakarta office as the students there had begun their anti-Suharto demonstrations.’ UPDATE: Derek says he stays in touch with his tennis playing pals at the British Club Bangkok and also with the likes of fellow New Zealand journalist John McBeth who is living out his retirement in Jakarta together with his Indonesian journalist wife Yuli. “Our two sons are doing fine. The youngest is an investment banker in Sydney, Australia, and the eldest recently left the California Highway Patrol to join the Close Protection Detail for the Governor of California. His son, our grandson, lives and attends school in San Francisco and he is our main reason for living in California.” TheBigChilli




Charles ‘Chucky’ Wrightman Hotelier, golfer and raconteur eteran hotelier Charles ‘Chucky’ Wrightman is one of Bangkok’s great characters, a man known almost as much for his friendly disposition and his golfing prowess as his professional skills. In a long career that began in Baghdad in 1983 and took him to 10 countries, Charles worked through the ranks and eventually became Managing Director of Lenotre Thailand, one of Accor Hotel Group’s finest confectionary and catering brands. After 30 years working in many brands of the Accor Group, including Novotel, Sofitel and Mercure, Charles left the hotel chain to launch his own hospitality business. In two years the company created two brands, The Duchess and The Zone. It also manages a small portfolio of hotels and restaurants which he is planning to expand. Until recently, Charles was a consultant for Sindhorn Village, one of the largest hospitality developments in Bangkok, comprising luxury serviced apartments, hotels, restaurants and entertainment outlets. In his spare time, Charles is a keen golfer with one of the most consistently




low handicaps among local golfers. He was the Vice-President of the Australian Thai Chamber of Commerce from 2014 till 2018 and the driver behind the annual chamber golf tournament. An accredited director, he holds a diploma from the Thai Institute of Directors. As for the future, he says: “I will continue to enjoy every moment of my life together with everyone I come into contact with.”

Name: Charles Wrightman. Nickname: Chucky. Born: 24th Feb 1961. Education: Diploma IOD. Family: Two Daughters, four grandchildren. Profession: Hotelier. What is your present position? CEO, Wrightman Corporation. What does your company do? Hospitality related business. Any other business interests? Yes. golfing and people. First job: Waiter. Early influences: My fascination with meeting people from different backgrounds. How long in Thailand? 20 years. Where did you work before Thailand? Johor Bahru, Malaysia. What brought you here? Accor Hotel Group. How did your hotel career progress? From a waiter all the way up to General Manager in nine different countries and then Managing Director of Lenotre Thailand with Accor. Why did you leave the hotel company after so many years? To start my own hospitality business. Apart from your business, what else keeps you here? Golf and all my friends. As a longtime hotelier, what is the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in? Villa Vita in Portugal. Any hotel you’d like to stay in? People make the difference, so any hotel that has friendly staff with a sense of humor. Best hotel in Thailand? A hotel where the people are enjoy what they do. You can have all the expensive amenities, interior decoration, fine architecture, latest

With Tony Fernandez at the ASEAN CEO conference in Sydney Australia

IT and all the best hardware. People make it what it is. Will Thailand’s hotel industr y eventually back from Covid19 and when is that likely to happen? Covid has changed travel forever so we may not get back to the way it used to be. Any lessons for the hotel industr y once the allclear on the virus is called? The hotel industry will have to be better prepared for future pandemics and change the way in which business is done. Any major setbacks or disappointments in your career? None. How good is your address book? I am the wealthiest person on earth with the number of friends I have. What’s your favorite restaurant in Bangkok, apart from your own? Indigo. Any other favorite hang-out places? Chockers Australian Bistro & Bar, Soi Lan Suan.. Hobbies and exercise? Golf. Favorite weekend destination? Amata Springs Golf and Country Club. Is Bangkok a better place to live and visit today compared to when you first arrived? It has changed. Can you imagine living anywhere else? No. What’s next for you? Open a hotel management school in Bangkok and enjoy every day as a bonus to meet with people. TheBigChilli


Expat Women By Ruth Gerson

How a globe- hopping Italian chef and restaurant owner ended up in Bangkok Meet Anna Borassi, the lady behind Italian Osteria in The Groove ike so many other successful chefs, Anna Borrasi learned much of her cooking from her grandmother, whose home kitchen in Naples, Italy, was always steeped in enticing, delicious aromas. “I was allowed to play the cook and try different things,” she says. Another major inspiration and influence on her life was her father, an ambitious businessman who managed thirty businesses together with his wife. Despite being surrounded by food in her early life, and exposed to myriad Italian cuisines while later living in various regions of Italy, Anna did not want to pursue a career in the restaurant business. She wanted to become a doctor! These plans were dashed when during her studies she met a handsome young freelance photographer with whom she fell madly in love, got married, and began wandering the world. The first destination was Tenerife in the Canary Islands where the young couple settled. The lure of food soon proved too strong. “I think it is in my DNA, and it can’t be changed,” says Anna. In Tenerife Anna gave birth to two children, opened an Italian restaurant as there was none there, and became fluent in Spanish. All this she accomplished by the age of twenty-one. The outdoor restaurant that produced simple Italian food from a converted garage was an immediate success, famous for its fish from the nearby sea. Next stop was Portugal, for three years, where Anna was initially employed by an American- British group that owned hotels and restaurants, and where she worked as a chef in a stand-alone villa. At the same time, Anna and her husband opened a pasta factory. Working from home they sold their products to hotels




Anna Borrasi, restaurateur



Expat Women

IO Italian Osteria in Central World Anna with business partner, Gianluca

that served international cuisines. This was their life from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. er children said they wanted to return to Italy, so Anna agreed moved back to her homeland, settling in Rome where she felt like a stranger after living abroad for so many years. She also realized that to succeed in a food Mecca like Rome she had to learn many new skills. This is when Anna began learning about wine. She secured a position in one of Rome’s most prestigious restaurants, Enoteca, where she met many of the ‘who’s who’ in the city – politicians, actors, writers, artists and more. She worked there for three years until she felt Italian again, and it was time to move on again. By now Anna had graduated from chef to restaurateur, something she says she could do because of all the experiences she had gathered in the various phases of this business – cooking, baking, understanding wine and restaurant management. Asked what she likes best, she says that her passion takes two directions - to the kitchen where as a cook she can transform ingredients into delicious dishes, and inside the restaurant to see for herself the




customers’ reactions to her cooking. A courageous risk-taker, Anna opened her own restaurant in the most desirable part of Rome, in the center of its historical sector, home of many famous restaurants. It was, she admits, a huge challenge. To succeed in such an illustrious area she had to come up with something new and different. “I offered food with a twist – Italian recipes with an international touch, using food techniques I had learned overseas.” nna’s positive interaction with her customers was of utmost importance. A warm and welcoming person, her restaurant gained popularity in this very competitive area, bringing in clientele that matched that of her previous place of employment. She also added to Anna with her son and daughter who manage her Singapore restaurants the list of dignitaries, people from the brands. Anna saw the potential for opening a company Prime Minister’s office and Papal officers hailing from with a variety of restaurants where she could apply her the Vatican. “This variety of humanity helped me to be skills. where I am today,” Anna says. Anna arrived in Singapore in early 2002 where she Anna still marvels at her success, in an extremely opened three restaurants with her business partner competitive field that was traditionally male Gianluca – two offering fine Italian dining, the third dominated. She explains how in the old days the cooks an osteria where she serves whatever the chef makes were self-made chefs who had strong competitive that day, a concept that is common in Italy. The beauty and survival skills. Rather than being deterred by is that many amazing creations have come out of such these men, Anna learned from them restaurants. Today her adult son and daughter manage and managed to forge her way into this the restaurants in Singapore, while Anna has moved mad world with no rules – just survival. on – to Thailand. Chauvinist male chefs are now a thing Arriving here three years ago, Anna has opened her of the past, thankfully. She is however osteria in Central World’s The Groove section where aware of the competition in the restaurant many eateries are located. Situated at ground floor business, and the constant evolution of level, the restaurant is named IO, standing for Italian food and management concepts. Osteria but she adds with a smile that it also means hen Anna felt that she ‘me’ in Italian. had reached the peak of Rather than just serving the expected traditional her career in Rome, she Italian food, the osteria offers food from all twenty decided to move on. This regions of Italy introducing an exciting culinary decision was reinforced by the fact that experience, giving Anna free range to explore her success had left no time for her own new recipes but remaining true to the region they private life. So in 2001 after fifteen years in represent. The success in Bangkok prompted Anna Rome, Anna decided to reassess her life. to open a second restaurant a year later, this one in Encouraged by her sister, she traveled to Pattaya. Singapore for relaxation, a place that she When asked what the future will bring, Anna immediately liked. She returned to Rome, answers that she would like to cultivate her own sold her restaurant in one week, and vegetables and produce a side line of specialty moved away, never looking back. foods such cheeses, jams and whatever she can do With Singapore on her mind, Anna herself. She would also like to teach better restaurant now had greater plans. She traveled to servicing skills that Thailand seems to be short of, and New York where for three months she continue to offer the public the best that she can offer. learned the business of franchise from big





Feature By Tim Cornwall

John the Auctioneer From the hills of Wales to the beaches of Pattaya, John Collingbourne plies his special skills at a weekly auction and for a haulage business, but there was still a lot of spare room so I was looking for something else to do. When the Severn Bridge was opened in my younger days it was much easier to travel to the car auctions in Bristol. I’d buy a car on Monday, sell it, and return the next week for another one. I became fascinated by auctions and the seed was sown. Many years later, a car auction was opened on our spare land in a marquee and over the next 20 years it grew to larger premises and subsequently sold. At first we employed funnily an auctioneer but I soon taught myself the skills so we could save the expenses. You see, I am a self-taught auctioneer and am still doing it today.

n an earlier life, I was a philatelist who acquired much of my collection via various stamp auctions around the world. Although I sold my stamps a while back, I still enjoy browsing the contents of local auction houses – and one of the most interesting is John Collingbourne’s weekly auction in Banglamung, Chonburi. It’s an occasion I follow most weeks and definitely visit when I am in the Pattaya area. Having a few items lying around the apartment I no longer needed, I thought I might take a few of them over to Collingbourne Auctioneers and listen to John’s amazingly persuasive patter to an attentive audience of buyers. After chatting to this most engaging Welshman, I learned how I can either de-clutter or clutter my living abode even more.


How did you become an auctioneer? In 1984, I held the lease on an acre site in Newport South Wales. It was being used as a motor station 48


How did you end up in Thailand holding auctions? By mistake, really. After handing over the auction to my family in Newport I opened some antique shops. My mistake was buying a hotel, working too hard and drinking too much. I had a friend in Thailand so I came for a week’s holiday. On my return to Wales, I sold everything and came back here and bought Dok Rai resort in Rayong and ran it for ten years. I then sold it and came to Pattaya and took up my old trades. For the past ten years or so I have been now selling antiques, motor vehicles and property. Who sends you items to auction and who comes to bid? A whole variety of customers send consignments to us, including those downsizing o moving from Thailand, funding a divorce, collectors from around the world selling their collections, bar and business closures. On the other side, our bidders are the public looking for a bargain, dealers - especially in antiques and collectors of different rare and unusual items.

How do your auctions work for sellers? After a contact is made, we visit and value small lots. Some people bring their goods directly to us. If a client does not wish to deliver, we can collect, book in, and include all their goods on our website to be included in our next sale. Our catalogues are free and on-line after 4 pm on Friday evenings. All goods are then sold the next day and payment is made one week later. To view a catalogue, visit: What can the public expect to find at one of your auctions? Our auctions consist of small antiques, kitchen furniture, fridges, freezers, electrical equipment, tools, bedroom furniture, paintings, books, bicycles, motorbikes, trucks and cars, bric-a-brac, TVs and computers as well as lots of new and antique furniture. We also get furniture from bars, restaurants and businesses that have closed down.




Do you hold auctions elsewhere? I have conducted many property auctions in various locations around Pattaya and travel extensively to conduct charity auctions. What are some of the most unusual items you have sold in an auction? The most unusual item was a pink, full-size cow with white spots which realized 10,000 baht. Another interesting lot was an old box of vinyl records that sold for 100,000 baht. We have come to realize that we should never take anything for granted and always expect the unexpected. What are the best items to auction? Almost anything. But not knock-down PDF furniture as it normally falls to pieces. How can we learn more about your auctions? Buyers and sellers can go to our website (www. as everything is shown along with full details as to buying and selling 50


Expat Sport Photography by Tadamasa Nagayama

SHL season heads into the final stretch Q With only a handful of games remaining in the Siam Hockey League's 2020-2021 regular season, the standings are starting to take shape, and it seems barring a major turnaround by one of the teams, the SHL playoff matchups are close to solidified. Looking at the standings and the individual statistics, Novotel Spitfires continue to set the pace this season. With a 12-2 record for 24 standings points, they hold a two game lead on second place KCG, although the most recent loss for Novotel was at the hands of their close rivals. Siam Mandalay sits in third with 13 points, and Aware continues to struggle mightily in fourth, securing only one victory on the campaign and sitting with a total of 2 standings points. Aware has put together a few good outings, but they have not been able to get the better of the rest of the league the past few months. Looking at the individual performances, Novotel first-year standout Tomas Stastny leads the SHL in points with 29. Teammate and nd Novotel captain Mike Freeson n is only one point behind with 28. Rounding out the top three is Thai National Team captain and Novotel D-man Ken

Kindborn with 24 points. Kindborn is tied in third place with Thai National Team sniper and KCG's leading point-getter, Patrick Forstner. In the goal department, Freeson leads the league with 18, followed by Stastny with 15, and KCG Thai newcomer Jan Isaksson with 13. The battle for top goalie is closer this year thern preseason predictions. As expected Lu Cheng Liao (Leo) sets the pace with a 2.71 goals against average (GAA). Surprise rookie Ben Kleineschay sits in second place with a 3.00 GAA. Dream Ungkulpattanasuk is third with 3.20 and Lance Parker is at 4.75 GAA. The season continues with games each Sunday in March. Two games are scheduled in April, and then May sees the SHL playoffs begin. As was the case last year, the captain of the first place team will be allowed to select his team's first round opponent. The semi finals are a best two out of three series. And the SHL final will be played this year on Saturday, May 29. As always, SHL games aare free to attend at Imperial Samrong mall. And those that S ccan't attend can view all games o online at for free. Visit for V more details and to watch The m BigChilli SHL weekly podcast. Big TheBigChilli



Raine Grady art

Travel media down but not out – and due for a comeback soon

Where have all the travel v/bloggers gone? Travel writer, video producer & vlogger Raine Grady explains y now, as we sit and watch another Netflix epic or scroll through our Instagram pictures from the good old days of BC – as in ‘Before Covid’, most of us are well aware that the joys of travel have entered an endless holding pattern. For the travel trade itself, the disaster has touched down with an almighty thud. From holiday agents to tour guides, from airlines to resorts, from car rentals to souvenir sellers the industry is sinking with no rescue boat on the immediate horizon. There are also many people, myself included, who thrived and survived on a buoyant travel industry through the strength of our pens or the focus of our lens. We storytellers who inhabit that enviable world of travel blogging, or in my case as a video creator, vlogging, are floundering around within the confines of our shrunken borders wondering ‘where do we go from here?’


Is it end of days for us? We of the endless holiday, we of the never quite unpacked suitcase…The answer to that is, well, it’s complicated. From my own perspective, thoughts of distant shores have shrunken to the closest escapes possible, and on other days, determinedly inwards. 52


Just over a year ago, (it feels like a century), my team and I were venturing around Thailand and Asia filming dreamy resorts and exotic playgrounds for platforms like Luxury Escapes – one of Australia’s biggest travel booking platforms. On other days the job description included filming stories for our YouTube Channels Destination Thailand or Travel Asia & Beyond. Sometimes we had to rough it and produce a video for a hotel construction project in somewhere like Bali or Mexico. However, believe it or not, it’s the bloggers and vloggers that the travel industry – at least in the good old days BC - reached out to when they wanted to promote a destination or a new property. Good travel storytellers tempt their audience to watch, read and then, hopefully, pack their own bags and go there too. Nothing shows you a better perspective of a place, an experience or a journey than the view from the front seat, though now I am a passenger on the same runaway train we are all trapped on. Yet I firmly believe that any true blogger or vlogger can still find a story to tell. To begin with, I am lucky enough to be living and working in Thailand, so wearing my travel writer’s hat in my own backyard is not a hard pill to swallow. Depending on lockdowns, red zones and varying degrees of pandemic induced freedom I have still managed to visit and explore lovely islands, glorious

Debbie Oakes Travel

beaches, national parks and cultural attractions – appropriately masked and distanced of course. While the destinations are bare of tourists, the scenes I have captured are defined by the dazzle of pristine nature, the freshness of uncluttered paradise and the sounds of silence. For a storyteller these are rare moments to capture rather than to lament, for who knows when we will see such scenes again. It’s certainly a first for me after more than two decades of exploring this land of smiles. I have also stepped bravely in another direction. Inwards. Besides videoing and editing my own stories I now search for other ways to be creative. For me, that has meant picking up a paintbrush and capturing images of my life experience and imagination on canvas. It was either this or baking. That’s how I am faring, but how about other travel storytellers? Debbie Oakes is a lifestyle and travel writer who

lives between London, England and Umbria in Italy. While navigating the challenges that Covid has presented to those two countries, she says she has found inspirational people, exotic food and lifelong friends and, in equal measure, poverty, injustice and pain. “The road gives and the road takes away, but it never stops teaching,” she says. ebbie’s work has appeared in international publications including South China Morning Post, Culture Trip, Bangkok Post, Prestige Magazine and Lifestyle + Travel Magazine. Thousands follow her adventures in Italy on Instagram @umbriatuscanygram or in London @debbieoakeslifeasart. “As a grounded travel writer & blogger, I have devised a simple formula in order to survive,” she says. “Pandemic buzz word + Darwinian theory = Pivot or Die.’”




Feature To that end where once she blogged about delicious travels, now it might be leveraging those contacts and writing about where to buy the ‘delicious’ online without the travels. “I am focusing on subjects that we are collectively concerned about thanks to the pandemic,” she adds. “Lifestyle changes, sustainability and ecology. Do I think that it is the end days for travel writing? Call me Pollyanna, but No. However, I think it is time to develop new skills, to think about communicating things that are important to the community, the vulnerable and the environment”. Debbie says it’s also time to niche down and dive into the things we were perhaps too busy to notice before, like how exotic our own backyard can be if looked at in the right way in a certain light. While my visual focus morphed onto canvas, Debbie’s skill with words entered another realm. She took Covid time out to become a wedding celebrant. “I am now weaving words of power to celebrate life, love food and everything in between,” she says. he other dilemma for travel storytellers is that we don’t really exist without an audience. How do you know a tree has fallen in the forest if someone hasn’t shared it on Instagram or Youtube? And if we can’t go anywhere how do we keep our literally captive readers and viewers engaged, even though, let’s face it, they are constantly glued to their screens these days.


online posts and businesses. “A lot of travel bloggers are by nature good at adapting,” Max tells me. “The immediate future for them is to keep people inspired even if it’s by reshaping stories in a different way to keep people engaged. People need to look at repurposing great content with a new angle and use the online tools available to promote their clients remotely.” Max says there is also a lot of demand for aspirational content. “We have thousands of influencers and content creators on our platform looking to reach more people,” he says. “The shift from global travel to localized hashtags is much more noticeable. Digital nomads are used to working online and can probably cope better than most. “For the globetrotting travel-bloggers it’s a time to reassess their storytelling, reflect and support their home communities. We have also seen a lot of people turning to educational programs online and improve their skills while they have more time on their hands.” Now is certainly a good time to upskill and help others learn in a peer to peer environment. Also a shareholder in the Bangkok Expats Facebook group, Max says there are many local hotels and resorts for instance who still seek support from bloggers and vloggers. “There are some hotels and resorts we are working with who are taking bookings well in advance and offering great deals,” he says. “These companies still


That’s the question I posed not to a writer but a techie. Maxwell Kimberley-Thompson is the brilliant 30-something founder of, a subscriber-based web platform that helps story-tellers and influencers on Instagram, TikTok and Youtube to hold and grow their audiences through the mysterious power of hashtags. For many influencers, this also ensures they continue to make an income from their 54


Bruno Huber

welcome support from local vloggers and bloggers who already have a captive audience and are desperate to travel within the country”. ell-known hotelier Bruno Huber certainly hasn’t let Covid slow him down. General Manager of the Mövenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok, it’s fair to say he was directly responsible for


Movenpick BDMS Wellness Resort Bangkok_Wellness Sleep Suite

the implementation of the Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) system in Thailand. “We were the ones who invented this thing in Thailand,” he says. “We went to the government and asked if they were interested in a private hotel quarantine for people who come back from overseas, so they don't have to stay in the state accommodations. They considered it and after three weeks they came back and said yes.” hat was in March 2020 and the hotel had its first ASQ guest soon after on April 25. The system doesn't cost the Thai taxpayer any money and people, especially foreigners, wanting to return to Thailand this way can pay for it out of their own pocket and stay in considerably more comfort for the required two weeks. While most Thailand resorts and hotels are suffering from the massive fall in tourism, Bruno’s city resort has been lucky. “I can operate 250 out of 293 rooms and sometimes for six weeks I'm totally sold out,” he says. In fact, the hotel has rarely dipped below peak occupancy. Part of the reason is that Bruno has maintained a fixed and fair room price. The real advantage is that every room has a balcony and the hotel has a huge garden that ‘guests’ are allowed to walk through each day. Only one other Bangkok hotel in the ASQ program can offer the same feature. It’s in many ways thanks to media coverage and blogger reviews that Bruno has been able to maintain the hotel’s desirability during lockdown. “We have lot of media coverage, so we've been seen on TV, in newspapers and online because we were also the first hotel from the Accor group to operate an ASQ.” “We have had a few influential bloggers who have stayed with us and made some fantastic stories about the hotel by reviewing their experiences,” he adds.


“Bloggers have been quite interested in what we are doing and this is helped us a lot in terms of the ASQ program.” The hotel has also re-engaged with local bloggers, inviting them to events and promotions that are held in the hotel café – which is still operating normally for the public. The biggest question Bruno is asked repeatedly is when will travel return to normal and will the hotel industry in Thailand, and elsewhere in Asia, fully recover. “I am 1000% convinced that once this whole thing is over and people can travel freely again then the immediate reaction will be let's go, let’s get out,” he says. “Look at the Maldives right now. The Maldives are open and they don't know where to put people any more as everyone wants to go there. There will be a huge response of people wanting to get up, go out and travel. You will see the second the destinations open, there will be a huge demand and Thailand will be as popular as ever.” With a career that has spanned decades and taken him across the region, when it comes to hotels, Bruno Huber is a man in the know. According to his network, the general discussion in the travel trade is that hotels and tourism will not see a full recovery before 2024, and that’s just to get back to 2018 or 2019 levels “I do believe it will come back,” he tells me with his trademark optimism. “Look at what happened during the last pandemic. The Spanish flu in 1918, followed by a global downturn and then came the roaring 20s. The whole world went out to party. Some people think the world will be a healthier place, a cleaner place and that people will be more focused on their wellness and the environment. Let’s face it, people have been locked away for almost two years and they will want to get out”. ven through his industry is hurting, Bruno believes Thailand did the right thing in enforcing a national border closer. “Thailand has handled it very well up until now,” he says. “The lockdown and its ongoing management have controlled the spread of the virus very well and life here has generally continued quite well but I am of the opinion that the countries that will fare best beyond Covid will be those that quickly adopt and implement a vaccination program.” While many of us, for once, now actually look forward to having an injection, some hotel and resort industry leaders are maintaining holding patterns of their own. Bernhard Bohnenberger, or BB for short, had the





Movenpick BDMS Wellness Resort_pool_gardens

ultimate dream job and was lucky enough to take a break before the pandemic wave battered the shores of his world. The former President and Founder of Six Senses, he was the smiling face at the helm of the globally acclaimed Six Senses Hotels Resorts & Spas. Gorgeous places in Thailand, the Maldives and Vietnam to name a few – some of which I was lucky enough to video in splendor. He joined the company that would eventually become Six Senses in 1991 as Development Director and was appointed Managing Director in January 1996. BB was appointed President in July 2011 and left the company in July 2019 after the successful sale of Six Senses to Intercontinental Hotels Group for US$ 300 million.

being placed on environmental and sustainable product, something that I think the circumstances of the past year have made even more prevalent in the mind of the ultra-highnet-worth-individual. “My belief is that as soon as it is possible the first thing that everyone will look to be doing is to book a holiday. Everyone is in the process of deciding where that holiday will be and the dream of arrival. I believe that the high-end leisure travel industry will be amongst the first to recover.” BB has always been at the forefront of major changes and emerging consumer expectations in the travel industry. It’s not hard to assume we’ll see something innovative and interesting when he emerges from his current sabbatical. So, for now, we wait, we create, we pivot, we paint. Good storytellers don’t really have to look too far to find that blog or that vlog that will inspire and remind Bernhard Bohnenberger travel

How is that for awesome timing? These days, he might be relaxing on his own balcony, but you can bet the resort business is always on his mind. Does he think its end of days for the travel blogger? “No,” he says. “The established travel media will continue to hold a hugely important role with the consumer in making them aware of the wide array of opportunities worldwide. The hotel industry will continue to strive to push the boundaries of expectation and will want to engage with the travel media to ensure coverage of their exploits.” But he acknowledges the travel narrative has evolved. “As the vaccinations roll out around the world the narrative will return to the norm. It is also interesting to see that more emphasis is 56


our followers that we are still somewhere out there and still have something to share. As it happens, my suitcase is already packed. Raine Grady is a journalist, TV producer and video storyteller who has been producing travel related content in Asia for over 25 years.

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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: or message @ncsbangkok on IG, FB, or Line.

Dear Friend,

Dear NCS, I am a 48-year-old woman who has had the same best friend for thirty years. My best friend and I shared everything in life: our trials and hardships, victories, our joy and sorrow. We know everything about each other. I truly thought that nothing in the world could ever come between us. However, I recently found out that my best friend is in contact with my estranged parents. My parents treated me terribly, they abused me both verbally and physically for years and I finally managed to break all contact with them 10 years ago to start my own life, to be my own person. My best friend was right beside me through all of that, but now I discovered that she has been exchanging texts with them for years behind my back. When I confronted her, she swore that it was only to update them and let them know I was safe, and that she never shared any personal information or connection with them otherwise. I feel so incredibly betrayed, I feel like I lost trust in the one and only person who was ever there for me. I don’t know if our friendship can ever recover from this. What should I do?

Q Understandably, you feel betrayed that your best friend had contact with your parents, while you decided after long years of hardship to break the connection with them. You had a very close relationship with your best friend and the fact that she still connects with your parents makes you feel like she is not with you in the decision to separate from them. How did you discover that she still is in contact with your parents? More importantly, how did the two of you talk about it together? You mentioned one conversation in which you confronted your best friend and expressed your disappointment. Have you been able to address the topic again after the initial shock? My advice would be to plan a talk together, possibly with a neutral third party (such as a professional counsellor or mediator) and listen to each other. You need to tell her your feelings TheBigChilli


Concrete Therapy

Counsellor Johanna de Koning Photo by Verity Tan

of betrayal and your fears regarding the fact that she is still connecting with your parents. At the same time, your friend may need a chance to explain what made her decide to keep that connection with your parents. Perhaps she felt compelled by their concern for you and wanting to know all was well and you are safe. She may not have realised the impact this would have on you emotionally. You also need to express your boundaries regarding potential contact with your parents. Would

you be OK with your friend relaying some basic updates about you or is that out of the question? This way, you could clear the air and see if trust can be rebuilt. In the end, it is up to you whether you wish to rebuild the friendship with your best friend or not. If you decide to part ways, it is important to have a network to fall back on— do you have other friends in your life who can offer support? Breaking with one’s parents is a big decision and has great impact on all parties. If you decide not to be in touch with them again, unfortunately you cannot demand the same decision from other people that are in your life. They have the right to decide for themselves. You can, however, decide what the implications will be by making your boundaries and intentions clear for your relationship with your best friend. I hope you two are able to have a fruitful conversation about this topic and honestly discuss the next step for your friendship. Johanna Counsellor

Dear NCS, We are a working couple with an 8-year old son, and we are worried about his development. It's not so much his behaviour that troubles us, it's his voice. Our boy is generally kind and helpful, but for some reason his voice sounds raspy, as though he's shouting all the time. We don't raise our voice at home, nor do we encourage it. Teachers at school say that he sounds hoarse, and they've been asking if he suffers from laryngitis. He doesn't show any signs of illness, but his voice is like this all the time even though he doesn't really shout much. Could this be a psychological thing? We really don't know where to start and we're wondering if counseling would be a possible solution. - Whispering Parents



Counsellor David Ogden

Dear Whispering Parents, Q Yes, it would be a concern that your son sounds so raspy and hoarse when he speaks. It is possible there could be a psychological element to this, in which case counselling would potentially help. However, I would suggest getting a medical opinion on this first, as I believe it’s probably more likely to be a physical health issue rather than a mental health issue. There are several conditions that can affect vocal cords and therefore how our voice sounds. Vocal cord nodules can develop over time when a child uses their

Photo by Verity Tan

voice unnaturally (such as speaking in a loud or strained fashion) for a sustained period. Pollution and allergies can affect vocal cords and cause damage, leading to a raspy voice. There are other health conditions that can also affect speech and it would be good to know if any of these are a factor, because if they are then counseling won’t be very effective as it won’t address these physical health issues. Seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at a hospital would be a good starting point as they can check for any possible physical or medical issues that could be contributing to the problem. Arranging for your child to

see a speech pathologist for an assessment would also be a useful step. If your son’s raspy voice has developed due to some bad vocal habits then a speech pathologist can help determine the cause and offer some advice and treatment to improve your son’s voice. A speech pathologist should also be able to advise on whether there might be a psychological component to your son’s speech issue or not. If it turns out that there are no physical issues affecting your son’s voice, then counseling would be worth trying. If your son is experiencing some stress or insecurities about himself then it’s certainly possible this could manifest itself in how he speaks. Helping him learn some basic relaxation techniques and finding ways to help build self-confidence, especially when he’s talking, could be a helpful way forward. As parents, you could even start trying some relaxation strategies with him now to see if this makes any difference. It’s great that you are setting a good example yourselves in how to speak calmly at home without raising your voice, and appropriately praising him when he uses a more natural voice will reinforce this behaviour and help build his confidence. The other factor that may be present is if he’s just developed a habit of talking this way for some reason and may not realise that he’s doing it so habitually. Gently drawing his attention to the way he speaks and encouraging him to speak more clearly in his natural voice may help him become more aware of this issue and gradually allow him to change how he talks. This is another aspect with which counseling help. Thanks for your question and I hope you can help your son resolve this issue.

Dave Counsellor TheBigChilli


Guest review by Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Lunch reconvenes at New’s Restaurant

he first lunch of 2021 was delayed until March in deference to the restrictions imposed by the Covid outbreak. It was gratifying therefore to find 19 hungry souls anxious to return to K. Suchard’s reincarnation of Pizzazo, aptly named New’s Restaurant. Perhaps because of this, wining and dining started very promptly with Neudorf Tiritiri Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (Nelson, NZ) and two tasty canapés. The winemaker promised “a serious rather than showy sauvignon with concentrated melon, apple and citrus flavours that dominate an array of more subtle notes (try ginger and roasted nut)”. Both Wine Spokesman Alex Fisken and I liked it a lot as it did not present the normal rather acidity flavour of the current in vogue style of NZ whites. We moved on to Beef Carpaccio Classic Style with extra virgin olive oil, shaved parmesan & rocket. The




only complaint one heard was that it lacked a second plateful to do it justice; it was very tasty, beautifully presented and drew deserved praise from Food Spokesman Andrew McDowell. With it, Winemaster Thomas Boedinger had unearthed our last bottles of Altrovino Duemani Merlot/Cab Franc 2015 (Tuscany, Italy). This proved to be both very enjoyable and very cost effective (later vintages have doubled in price); Parker awarded it 91 points and said in 2016 “there is a wild, untamed and brambly element

to the bouquet with forest floor, dark berry fruit, grilled herb and scorched earth. The wine shows a sharp and edgy personality that will soften with another year of bottle aging”. Parker was correct and Alex mentioned that this vintage marks the first edition in which Tuscan clay amphorae plays a role as do large cement vats. Only a small percentage of the wine (15%) is aged in terracotta, but the wine's personality has been noticeably changed. There followed Angel Hair Crab Meat with garlic, dry chili, & extra virgin olive oil. Garlic was indeed there in abundance (I am not a fan) but the dish as a whole was most agreeable with lots of crab to be found nestling in the pasta. Andrew thought that it might have been even better paired with the Sauvignon Blanc instead of the chosen Altrovino. The main course was Lamb Chop with parmesan mashed potato & thyme sauce; Kiwi Andrew attracted ribaldry as some thought the lamb deserved at least a second sibling but the orphan had been cooked perfectly individually to order and accompanied by a tasty mash and nicely cooked carrot.



Guest review by Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

The wine of the lunch proved to be Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2015 (Tuscany, Italy). James Suckling 94 points had said: "There’s beauty and drinkability to this wine that really is enticing with blueberry and cherry aromas, as well as hints of hot stone and liquorice. Medium to full body, integrated tannins and a fresh and polished finish. Shows focus and brightness. Very drinkable now [2016], but better in a year or two. Try in 2021." We did and found it to be excellent; “Thank God we did not drink it in 2020,” said Alex!! Dessert and cheese rounded off an excellent start to 2021 dining. The Crispy Chocolate with Vanilla Ice Cream and a platter of Mixed Cheeses gave all the chance to prepare themselves for the final round of libations; the February birthday boys (Mark, Nigel and David) had held their fire until March and treated the Club to a whiskyfest. Aficionados of the finest malts might have been a trifle offended but we tasted 2015 Odyssey Barley (from the Cotswolds, England) and Auchentoshan 12 Year Old (from Glasgow) in a successful attempt to find something new and different. Lastly the team at New’s were thanked for their sterling service in customary style and K. New finally could sit back in time to prepare for the evening service.

New's Restaurant aka Pizzazo 188 Soi Sukhumvit 16, Khwaeng Khlong Toei, Khet Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110 Phone: 02 259 1234 Facebook: 66


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