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

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



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


The BigChilli Co., Ltd. 8/2 FMA Group Building, 4 Floor, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500.




thebigchillimagazine@ gmail.com


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 :thebigchillimagazine@gmail.com :thebigchilli.com


We'll honor your refunds and mileage, says THAI

Members of Thai International’s Royal Orchid Plus have been given assurances their membership status and outstanding mileage accounts will be honored, as will

airfare refunds, though no dates for this “important” issue to be resolved have been given. The airline, which has filed for bankruptcy, said in a recent statement: “During the period where the company undergoes the business reorganization, which plays a significant role to its survival, the company remains resolute to ensure our customers are provided with the best care within its current capability, especially for those whose airfare

Big cash offers to host 5G towers The rollout of 5G in Thailand continues unabated, as reported by the BigChilli last month, with a growing demand for locations to construct the giant antennas and towers need for the nationwide network. In rural areas, finding such sites is relatively easy, with small resorts and even temples hosting the masts. Some regions of the country, particularly on the Eastern Seaboard, have already experienced



a mushroom growth of these facilities. Here in Bangkok, sites are not so readily available and the owners of big buildings have been offered significant sums to have these masts located on their roofs. Some hotels, for example, have been approached with deals worth 600,000 Baht a year to host a tower. Few, if any, have taken up the offer. Smaller towers are now being erected on top of billboards.

refunds are pending as well as honor certain benefits for our Royal Orchid Plus members, including membership status and miles being the most important. “Please rest assured that the company shall overcome this crisis, albeit great magnitude, and be ‘Airline of Pride’ which offers the best on-flight services for our valued customers once again. Any update and progress will be further communicated to you via various channels.”

`Pool Villa' partygoers upset residents with their non-stop noise Booked online via Airbnb and other websites, large groups make weekends unbearable for locals With the easing of domestic travel restrictions in Thailand, popular beach and country resorts are experiencing a sudden boom in business after the lockdown lasting several months. Hotels welcome this surge in visitors after the lockdown - but they’re not alone. So-called Pool Villas are also seeing a huge increase in bookings, especially at weekends. Often advertised as ‘party houses’ or ‘homestays’, these villas have grown massively in number in recent years thanks to online booking forums like Airbnb and Facebook. Their owners see them as a good return on investment. Typically featuring two or threebedrooms and swimming pool, they have no limit on the number of guests. Rents are low - about the same as a single hotel room.

Shared by multiple occupants, the cost per person is almost negligible. Not everybody is happy with the situation, however. Permanent residents and home owners in resorts with a large number of Pool Villas are now facing weekends of almost continuous noise as this new wave of visitors makes up for lost time due to Covid-19 stayat-home rules with their blaring music and partying. “Sometimes it’s unbearable – the loud music, shouting and screaming can go on for hours,” said the owner of a house in Pattaya.”We don’t mind people having a good time, of course. But they don’t respect their neighbors’ privacy or wellbeing with their behavior. We live here permanently – they just come for a couple of days and then move back.” Another home owner counted 18 people checking into one modestsize three-bedroom villa. “How

Is Airbnb Legal In Thailand?

Apparently not. Short term rentals of less than 30 days are illegal in Thailand unless the owner has a license to operate a hotel. Airbnb owners in Thailand do not have licenses to operate hotels. Many large condominium developments have notices posted in the building as a reminder. The notices say people who violate this law will be prosecuted. Owners of homes and villas may register with the Ministry of Tourism for this exception. If the unit or units pass inspection, the owner can offer them as short-term rentals via Airbnb and through other means. This exception does not apply to condominiums or other multi-unit dwellings. Under the law, a villa is defined as having four units or less. One Airbnb host, who owns a three-bedroom house in Bangkok and rents it out for B4,600/night, said renters do not need to worry because they rent a house, not a condo. “I’m renting out an entire home, not a single room,” he said. “I’m the owner of the property and I’m not doing anything to cause trouble to society or anyone around me. But if there’s an actual law enforced, then I’m happy to abide by the law.”

can so many sleep there,” she wondered. The same lady raised the issue of hygiene. “When these villas are vacated, are they properly cleaned and checked? This is important. While everybody else is being told to observe social distancing, that’s clearly not being observed when so many are packed into one small house. “This wouldn’t happen in hotels. They stick to the rules.” Some villa owners instruct their part-time tenants to turn off their music speakers by 10pm, but this doesn’t apply to them singing – “which can go until dawn,” added the lady. One road in Pattaya has a row of six adjoining Pool Villas, all usually rented out at weekends. “There are literally dozens of people making lots of noise for two days non-stop and parking their cars and minivans everywhere. It’s unbearable,” noted a disgruntled local resident.

What about Immigration Law? Some condo committees/managers are threatening condo owners that their daily/ weekly rental businesses could run afoul of the Immigration Act and land them in jail or face hefty fines. It’s based on a provision of immigration law that says any person who brings foreigners into Thailand unlawfully or does any act to help or facilitate their unlawful entry will face heavy punishment. This provision aims at battling human-trafficking rather than improper hotel operations and tourists in general entering Thailand lawfully. However the condo management was right in saying that the condo owner is mandated by the Immigration Act to notify immigration police within 24 hours of the foreign tourist arrival in his room. But the violation of this provision carries only a modest B2,000 fine.




New Motorway link to U Tapao opens The long-awaited Pattaya-Maptaphut motorway has opened, linking the existing Bangkok-Pattaya Motorway M7 to the international airport of U Tapao and nearby industrial estate while giving fresh impetus to the massive Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project. Entrance to the new route is at the Mabprachan Interchange between the Pattaya and Pong toll gates on the M7, some 20 kms south of Laem Chabang port. Currently the motorway has only one exit point at Maptaphut in Rayong. Two others are expected to open in September. One is at Huay Yai, which will connect the motorway to to Sukhumvit Road opposite Ocean Marina; another is at Khao Chee Chan, which will exit on to the 331 highway. The toll fees from Bangkok to U Tapao is 130 Baht for cars, 210 Baht for six-wheeled trucks and 305 Baht for larger trucks. Constructed at a cost of 17 billion Baht, the M7 extension passes through some of the most beautiful countryside in the Eastern region. Meanwhile, work on the 331 from Chachoengsao to Rayong continues at Bowin with road widening and construction of several flyovers.

The end of ARTBOX?

Condo may replace popular venue at Chuwit Gardens Lovers of ARTBOX Night Market on Sukhumvit 10 better get down there soon because this popular venue famous for its trendy food stalls, art booths, lifestyle shops and live music might be getting its marching orders. Nearby residents and businesses have been sent plans for a new 51-storey condo to be built on the site known as Chuwit Gardens after the land’s owner, the charismatic former politician and ‘massage parlour king’ Chuwit Kamolvisit. Launched in 2015, ARTBOX had several locations before settling in the park three years ago. Before becoming a park, the land was the venue of open-air beer bars – until K Chuwit ordered their destruction in an overnight raid which earned him a jail sentence. https://www.thebigchilli.com/feature-stories/bangkoks-massage-parlour-kingrejects-corruption 8


OPENING OURS.... We’re back – Bangkok’s unrivalled array of top quality restaurants, pubs and bars are back in business. Here are just a few where normal service has resumed. Watch out for more at www.thebigchilli.com SEND US YOURS • Octave restaurant and 57th Street restaurant, Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit • Goji Kitchen & Bar, Siam Tea Room, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queens Park • Praya Kitchen , Yao Restaurant & Rooftop Bar, Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse • Unomas, Zing Bakery, Dynasty at Centara Grand at Central World • Dynasty, Hagi Japanese Restaurant, Chatuchak Cafe, Don Giovanni at Centara Grand at Central Ladprao • Hard Rock Café, Siam Square • OutBack Steak House, Siam Discovery • Cafe Fish, Siam Paragon and Terminal 21 • Piri Piri, Siam Paragon, Terminal 21 and Emporium • Kisara, Conrad Bangkok • Up & Above Bar, The Okura Prestige Bangkok

• No.43 at Cape House Lang Suan • R Haan at Thong Lor 9 • Chef Pom Cuisine by TODD, Rama 3 Road • MIA, Sukhumvit 26 • Mei Jiang, The Peninsula Bangkok • ALATI, Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok • Escape Bangkok, Emquartier • Flamingo, Emquartier • Hooters, Sukhumvit 4 and Sukhumvit 15 • ToKioJo, Samyan Mitrtown • Baan Dusit Thani at Soi Saladang, Silom • The Silk Road, The Allium Bangkok, The Athenee Hotel • Mahanakorn Bangkok Sky Bar, King Power Mahanakorn • Blunos, The Glass House,Eastin Grand Sathorn • Greenhouse, Landmark Hotel

Pubs and Bars • Bourbon Street Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Ekkamai • Roadhouse, Rama 4 • Shenanigans, Suriwongse • Royal Oak, Sukhumvit 33/1 • Kiwi Sports Bar & Grill, Sukhumvit 8

• Robin Hood, Sukhumvit 33/1 • The Huntsman, Landmark Hotel • O’Malley’s, Silom Road • Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub, Sukhumvit 23 • Havana Social, Sukhumvit 11 • Oska, Sukhumvit 11

TheBigChilli TheBigChilli 9



Still a long way to go - the Sukhumvit Skywalk isn't living up to its promise Siam cen


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ttached to the underside of various sections of the BTS Sktrain Sukhumvit line, the SkyWalk offers a great way for pedestrians to get around Bangkok while avoiding the city’s notoriously bad sidewalks. To date, only about 15% of the Sukhumvit Line boasts a SkyWalk. New sections are being added, albeit slowly, but the project still falls a long way short of the promises made by the former Bangkok Governor in an interview with the BigChilli back in 2010. 10


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Left, the spacious SkyWalk linking Chidlom to Siam and right, the long stretch from Punnawithi past the True Digital Park and the exit on to Soi 101/1.

“Within a couple of years, you will be able to walk all the way from Siam to Bang Na,” said MR Sukhumbhand Paribatr. The promise of a pedestrian-only alternative to the cracked and busy sidewalks, motorcyclists and vendors below had great appeal to Bangkokians. Well, that hasn’t happened, and it’s not unreasonable to believe it’s going to be a few more years to achieve that goal. To be fair to the former governor, shortly after that interview he had more pressing problems on his hands when Bangkok experienced one of its worst-ever floods.

Besides, and more importantly, financing for the SkyWalk and Skybridges comes from private businesses along Sukhumvit, and not the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority. Where they have been built, these The BTS Skytrain map here shows where the various SkyWalks currently exist. Most are simply add-ons to stations. Indeed, the latest is an extension to the Asoke station walkway, which now stretches to the Sofitel Hotel between Sukhumvit 13 and 15. A decent stretch of walkway extends from Punnawithi BTS station. This links into the giant

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Is this the world’s best travel bargain?

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Where on Earth can you buy a train ticket that gives you unlimited travel in a major city from early morning to late at night, and allows you to get on and off the system as often as you like – at a cost of a few dollars? The answer, as many have discovered, is Bangkok and the BTS Skytrain’s ‘All Day Pass,’ which costs a mere US$4.5, or 140 baht. By any standard, the Pass is an incredible bargain, especially when you intend making many stops around town. Compare it to the cost of paying-as-you-go with

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fares costing up to 44 baht a trip, and the potential savings if you’re planning a busy schedule are substantial – not to mention the time saved by not having to queue up to buy individual tickets. BTS Skytrain stations are located in most of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions and nightlife areas. And the system links into the city’s underground train service at several key points. Trains are air-conditioned, frequent and amazingly clean. Cities like London have a similar one-price ticket, but it costs roughly 520 baht. TheBigChilli



Some Skytrain regulars were left wondering how this tourist was permitted to drive his surprisingly fast three-wheeler on to the BTS Ekkamai station. It turned that it’s the latest word in mobility for the disabled – and as such is allowed on the BTS system.



True Digital Park before descending back onto Sukhumvit close to Soi 101/1, but is still several hundred metres short of Udom Suk station. The longest uninterrupted walk is from Udom Suk to Bearing, taking in three stations and crossing the busy Bang Na road junction via a series of public bridges. None of the nine stations beyond Bearing have SkyWalks. Apart from the financing, the SkyWalk faces another challenge: how will pedestrians transit BTS stations without paying for a train ticket? Despite falling short of the governor’s promise, the walkways that have been built are well-sued and popular.

Clockwise from top left, Phrom Phong; the next Skywalk extension to Sofitel Hotel Soi between Soi 13 and 15; land cleared for a new shopping mall at Bangna; view of Sukhumvit; True Digital Park; and the crossing at the Bangna junction.




R-HAAN Embraces the Monsoon Season



■ The sound of rain and the accompanying rolling thunder bring a sense of relief and renewal. Thailand welcomes the rainy months and R-HAAN embraces the distinctive flavors and goodness of seasonal produce. The adage Nai Nam Mee Pla, Nai Na Mee Kao (There are fish in the water and rice in the fields) speaks to the great abundance and fertility of the Thai kingdom. To appreciate the culinary repertoire offered by the seasonal ingredients during the monsoon season, R-HAAN celebrates new flavors with an exquisite new menu “The Symphony of Thai Cuisine Welcome to The Wisdom of Thai Herbs”.

R-HAAN is a fine dining establishment founded by Khun “Todd” Piti Bhirom Bhakdi and renowned Chef Chumpol Jangprai. The restaurant is a combination of their extensive experience and strengthened commitment to promote the wisdom of Thai cuisine. Meticulously prepared from ingredients sourced in various regions throughout the kingdom, your meal here will be a sensory discovery and a culinary odyssey to all corners of Thailand. The Symphony of Thai Cuisine - Welcome to The Wisdom of Thai Herbs Samrub features a medley of Thai herbs like kariyat, black galingale, turmeric, Indian gooseberry, shallot, pepper, garlic and chili. Lunch Samrub menu is now also available from 11.30AM to 3PM daily. The exquisite dinner Samrub begins with an amuse-bouche of Kratong Thong: Crispy "Kee Mao" Thai Herbs and Rice Fish in Crispy Pastry Shell and Ma Hor: Fresh “Hom Suwan” Pineapple Morsel topped with Minced Pork and Royal Project Macadamia Nut. A Spicy Wang Nam Khiao Paco Fern Salad with Bang Pakong River Prawns is the salad of choice. Appetizers will take you on short hops across Thailand with Northern Thai Spicy Kurobuta Sausage Smoked with Thai Herbs served with Northern Thai Green Chili Dip, Steamed Gotu Kola Rice Dumplings with Chicken and Cashew Nuts, Savory Pickled Sea Fish Salad with Aromatic Rice and Spicy Caviar Sauce and Deep Fried Andaman Crab Curry. Before the main symphony, indulge in

the sublime flavor of Chon Buri Organic Lime Sorbet with Royal Project Arabica Coffee Flower Honey. Main dishes gracing your table are the Classic Thai Tom Yum Soup with King River Prawns, Spicy Beef Consommé with Thai Herbs, Royal Thai Copper Pod Curry with Charcoal Grilled Buriram Angus Beef and Savory Local Fish Curry with Tree Basil Leaves. A chili paste set has been introduced to the menu too. Spicy Southern Mango Chili Paste with Aromatic Shrimp Oil and Sun Dried Bang Taboon Octopus is a must-try. Spicy Santol Chili Paste and Sun Dried Sea Fish is also truly unique. Grilled River Prawns from Phattalung with Stir Fried Crispy Sea Fish with Chili Paste completes the dinner repertoire. Aromatic Organic Jasmine Rice and Ubon Ratchathani Germinated Brown Rice with healthy perilla seeds comes piping hot. The finishing sweet notes come from Muang Siam Mango Mousse and Singha Park Passion Fruit served with Fresh Buffalo Milk Ice Cream and Steamed Handcrafted Mung Bean Dumpling with R-HAAN Organic Jasmine. Petit Four: Savory Dark Chocolate, Flower Shaped Stirred Pound Lotus Seed with Sugar, Coconut Milk and Monthong Durian, Sweet Alua Rose and Queen of Thai Fruit. Chef Extraordinaire Chumpol Jangprai and his team look forward to welcoming you to R-HAAN. The restaurant has a 2-star Michelin recognition.

• Opens daily from 11.30AM to 3PM (lunch) and 6PM to 10PM • Reservation call + 66 (0) 95 141 5524, + 66 (0) 64 194 6416, + 66 (0) 2 059 0433 – 34 • Address: 131 Sukhumvit 55 (Thonglor Soi 9), Khlong Tan Nuea, Wattana, Bangkok 10110



Beyond Bangkok Luxury Escapes to Cape & Kantary Hotels

Cape & Kantary Hotels have announced the reopening of its hotels in Thailand. They include Cape Fahn Hotel, Private Islands, Koh Samui; Cape Kudu Hotel, Koh Yao Noi; Cape Panwa Hotel, Phuket; Kantary Beach Hotel, Khao Lak; Kantary Bay Hotel, Phuket and Somewhere Hotel, Koh Sichang, from 1 July 2020. All have special offers. For example, Cape Fahn Hotel, Private Islands, Koh Samui has a ‘Stay 1 night get 1 night free for all Pool Villas’ with prices starting from THB 26,000 net per room. This also includes round-trip airport transfers, free minibar (excluding alcohol), free afternoon snacks and seasonal local fruits. At Cape Panwa Hotel, Phuket, Junior Suite starts from THB 3,200 net per room per night with breakfast for two.  For more information, please contact Cape & Kantary Hotels - Bangkok Sales Office Tel: +66 (0)2253 3791-7 or Call-centre: 1627

Clean Promise© at Holiday Inn Resort Vana Nava Hua Hin

Using new, science-led protocols and service measures, Holiday Inn Resort Vana Nava Hua Hin is making guests ‘A Clean Promise’  that will deliver high levels of cleanliness for its reopening. “That means clean, well maintained, clutter free rooms that meet our standards. So that you and your family can have a safe and memorable stay with us,” said Michael Janssen, General Manager. “With complimentary access to Vana Nava Waterpark, next to our resort, you can rest assured that all health and safety measures that we’re implementing across the hotel are the same at the waterpark including additional hygiene standards that’ll keep the family happy, safe, and entertained. “New opening hours of the waterpark will be 11:00AM to 4:00PM and to enter there will be temperature checks for all employees and guests plus all guests and staff must wear masks.” Book now at vananavahuahin.holidayinnresorts.com 16


"New Normal" meetings at Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit

Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit has launched New Normal meeting package featuring a wide choice of fully equipped meeting rooms. All arrangements comply with safety and social distancing policies. The safety and hygienic measurements will be provided throughout the meetings or events. For more information, please contact our professional team at 02 797 0000.

Stay with confidence at Hyatt Regency Hua Hin

For those wanting a break whilst also staying closer to home, Hyatt Regency Hua Hin and THE BARAI has unveiled a beach getaway offer inviting Thai residents to stay in one of its newly renovated Hyatt Guestroom at THB 4,500 net per room, per night. Every booking comes with these additional benefits: • Complimentary breakfast for 2 adults and 1 child • A 15 percent discount on food and beverages from our à la carte menu • A complimentary meal for one child under 12 years old dining with both parents and 50 per cent discount on a meal from our kids’ menu for a second child • A spa voucher from THE BARAI worth THB 1,000 net per person, per stay This offer is exclusively for Thai residents, and bookings should be made by 8 September 2020 for stays through 20 December 2020. Saturdays and long weekends will incur a surcharge of THB 1,500 net per room, per night. Booking at https://bit.ly/2Wxjxva or visit www.hyattregencyhuahin.com and quote "Thai" in special offer code. +66 (0) 32 521 234. Or Reservations.hrhuahin@hyatt.com.

Marriott International launches `Summer Dreaming' promotion

Save 50% at hotels and resorts under Marriott International, plus 1,000baht credit per night to be spent during your stay and bonus Bonvoy points, for reservations made by 31 August 2020 Travelers who book a minimum two-night stay at 40+ participating properties all over Thailand will be able to save up to 50% whilst also enjoying complimentary breakfast and a daily resort credit of 1,000 baht. The promotion also offers 1,000 baht of credit per room per night to be redeemed at the hotel’s restaurants, bars, spa treatments, room upgrades and more. Travelers can a stay in Bangkok, Phuket, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Rayong, Khao Lak, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. Marriott International’s hotels and resorts in Phuket, namely Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa and Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort will reopen on 1 July, while Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach will open on 2 July 2020. Reservations can be made via https://hotel-deals.marriott.com/summer-dreaming-in-asiath/ or https://hotel-deals.marriott.com/staycation-bangkok-th/ for hotels in Bangkok.

Staycation package at Shangri-La Bangkok

Enjoy a relaxing time beside Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River with the ‘Shangri-La Staycation’ package from now until 24 December 2020. Starting from THB 3,900 net per room per night for a Deluxe Room, the package includes: •  24 hours stay: check-in anytime you like and keep the room for 24 hours • Daily breakfast at NEXT2 Café for 2 persons • Complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe River View Room • In-room wired Internet and Wi-Fi access For reservations, please book direct with us at 0 2236 7777. TheBigChilli


Food& Drink

Bangkok's hottest dining deals and news

Dine at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok - and then stay free!

Dine at Blunos or The Glass House, two great restaurants at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok, and get a free one-night stay in a Superior Room for two (excluding breakfast) for every THB 3,299 (net) per bill. From now until 30 September 2020. Facilities at Eastin Grand Sathorn include a 14th floor infinity swimming pool with spectacular views of Bangkok, a fully equipped fitness center, Wi-Fi and a free extra bed for children under 16 years old. Tel +66 2 210 8100 or rsvn@eastingrandsathorn.com or website  www.eastingrandsathorn.com

Enjoy `New Normal' UNO MAS 54 floors above Bangkok!! To safeguard our guests, UNO MAS restaurant, at Centara Grand at CentralWorld, has introduced comprehensive safety, hygienic, and new normal measures to ensure the highest standard of health and safety for guests dining at UNO MAS restaurant. Enjoy the authentic tastes of Spanish and Mediterranean dishes 54 floors above the heart of Bangkok, such as ‘2 Feet of Tapas’, mushroom croquettes, cogollos de Tudela, white 18


anchovies, fried baby squids, grilled octopus, Spanish meatballs, padrones, bravas, and tortilla and gambas pil pil. Or feast on the 2 to 4 person Segovian style Suckling Pig “cochinillo” - half roasted suckling pig Segovian style served with green and red mojo sauce, brown gravy sauce, and nam jim jaew sauce. Seafood delights include ‘Selección de Mariscos a la Parrilla’ - charcoal oven grilled fiesta Galician with

Mediterranean seafood; UNO MAS paella; GAMBAS pil pil, Tiger prawns, garlic, paprika and Cayenne sizzling in olive oil; EL PULPO, Grilled Galician octopus, chipotle,green mojo and black ink aioli sauce and more. UNO MAS is open every day from 16.00 to 01.00 hrs. Tel. 02-100-6255 or email diningcgcw@ chr.co.th Website: www.unomasbangkok.com Facebook: UNO MAS Instagram: Unomas_Bangkok



Goji Kitchen + Bar back in business

Dine at Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse - and get a free room Dine on delectable cuisine at Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse – and enjoy a complimentary stay when spending THB 5,000 or THB 8,000 at Praya Kitchen, Yào Restaurant & Rooftop Bar or The Lobby Lounge. • Spend THB 5,000++ and get a complimentary 1-night stay in a Deluxe Room (for 2 persons) • Spend THB 8,000++ and get a complimentary 1-night stay in a 2-Bedroom Residential Suite (for 4 persons) Praya Kitchen is a Thai 20


restaurant featuring recipes from the chefs’ childhood memories, using seasonal local ingredients. The Lobby Lounge and Yào Restaurant & Rooftop Bar is the city’s first modern Chinese influenced multi-level hot spot in Bangkok. Yào Restaurant features fine modern Chinese cuisine while Yào Rooftop Bar serves midnight Dim-sum menus and cocktails, with a glimpse of Chao Praya River.   Starting now - 31 July 2020, for a stay from now - 31 August 2020. Tel. 02 088 5666.

Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park has re-opened Goji Kitchen + Bar, its all-day dining destination and international culinary marketplace. With a farm-to-table concept, chefs focus on ingredients that are locally sourced, seasonal and sustainable, to ensure the freshness of the produce and to drive benefits back to the community. In line with its responsible dining pledge, Goji Kitchen + Bar also operates a wide range of initiatives to ensure that no food is wasted, including working with Scholars of Sustenance Foundation (SOS) to deliver meals to underprivileged communities in Thailand. The restaurant is adhering the “new normal” of social distancing and enhanced health and hygiene requirements. In line with official guidelines, guests can order food at the buffet that will be delivered dishes to their table. Diners will be able to sit together, but seats will be strategically positioned a safe distance apart. All kitchen staff will be required to wear masks and face shields to ensure the highest standards of sanitation. visit www. bangkokmarriottmarquisqueenspark. com or call 02 059 5999. Website: www. bangkokmarriottmarquisqueenspark. com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ GojiKitchenAndBar/ Line official account: @gojikitchenbar Operating hours and prices: • Saturday Lunch - 11.30-14.30 hrs): THB 1,498++ per person • Sunday Brunch - 11.30-14.30 hrs): THB 2,128++ per person • Dinner Buffet (Sunday & Thursday) 17.30-21.30 hrs: THB 1,498++ per person • Dinner Buffet (Friday - Saturday) 17.30-21.30 hrs: THB 2,128++ per person

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Savour the Summer at Michelin Plate restaurant Yamazato

Throughout August Master Chef Shigeru Hagiwara and his team at The Okura Prestige Bangkok’s Michelin Plate restaurant Yamazato are serving seasonal treats with a special summer Gozen lunch and a 9-course Kaiseki dinner.     The Gozen lunch encompasses traditionally prepared soup, sashimi, tempura, and grilled and simmered dishes featuring a range of ingredients associated with the time of year, particularly premium seafood and refreshing summer garnishes. Highlights include steamed octopus, shrimp and Suisho eggplant with edamame, and a succulent sashimi course of tuna, yellowtail and surf clam. Also, don’t miss the grilled Amberjack with tomato sauce, and a simmered dish of squid dim sum with pumpkin, taro, carrot and okra with soy milk and crab sauce. Stars on the Kaiseki dinner menu are two dishes with highly prized eel and sweet fish as the main ingredients: a soup of deepfried sweet fish with seaweed, mushroom, green vegetable, oboro kelp and grated radish, and a simmered dish of eel with sweet potato, okra, eggplant, baby corn, and carrot. The dinner is rounded out with a grilled surf and turf course of Spanish mackerel and beef with teriyaki balsamic sauce. The Summer Gozen lunch and Kaiseki dinner at Yamazato run from 1 – 23 August 2020, lunch 11:30 - 14:30, dinner: 18:00 - 22:30, priced at Baht 1,600++ for Gozen lunch and Baht 4,700++ for Kaiseki dinner. Yamazato Restaurant is located on the 24th floor of The Okura Prestige Bangkok. Tel. 02 687 9000 or email yamazato@okurabangkok. com or book on our website www. okurabangkok.com 22


Authentic cuisine at No. 43 Italian Bistro, Cape House Hotel, Bangkok

No.43 Italian Bistro, led by Italian chef, Massimo, is welcoming back diners for five-star cuisine and first-class service together safety standards and social distancing measures. Enjoy exclusive authentic Italian cuisine featuring Carpaccio Di Manzo (THB 380++); Risotto Saffron (THB 430++); Lasagna Bolognese (THB 310++); Lamb Chops in Red Wine (THB 800++); Salmon Fillet Baked in Foil and Served with Vegetables (THB 550++); Affogata Pizza (THB 380++); Tiramisu (THB 170++) and more delicacies. No. 43 Italian Bistro is located in Cape House Hotel, Bangkok, Soi Langsuan. Open daily from 11.00 to 24.00 hrs. (Last order 23.30 hrs.)  *Delivery Service is available! Tel: +66 (0) 2658 7444 ext. 285 Website: www.capehouse.com



New on the

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

% Arabica opens first store in Thailand at ICONSIAM ■ Japanese specialty coffee brand % Arabica has launched its first store in Thailand in the heart of ICONSIAM. Welcoming guests to experience its coffee in Thailand for the very first time. ªIn recent years, Thailand's coffee scene has exploded across the country and become entwined in the everyday way of life,º said Kenneth Shoji, founder of % Arabica. ªWe are thrilled to introduce our brand's craftsmanship, high-quality specialty coffee, mindful service and the 24


Japanese sense of beauty to Thailand.º Designed by Tokyo-based No.10 of Nomurakougeisha, the 250 square-metre store is notable for its clean, minimalist interior and illuminated floor which works with the mall's existing glamourous atmosphere. % Arabica offers a concise coffee menu showcasing the world's best beans. Customers are invited to choose between the % Arabica blend or a Single Origin offering.

The Bangkok menu offers Espresso based coffees (espresso, espresso macchiato, Americano, coffee latte, and the brand's unique Spanish latte).   ICONSIAM:1F 299 Charoen Nakhon Rd, Khlong Ton Sai, Khlong San, Bangkok https://arabica.coffee Facebook: Arabica Thailand Instagram:Arabica.Thailand



MARTIN'S English Caf� ■ A trip back to England in 2019, pre-Covid. A walking tour around the historic Royal City of Bath. A traditional Afternoon Tea. Scones and cakes. Ice-cream. Luxury. But all too soon our sojourn was over, and my daughter Sara and I returned to our home in Bangkok. It was only a short time later, over a Christmas dinner, that we found ourselves thinking about our time back in the UK. We decided we didn't want to have to wait until our next trip (who knows when that might be possible) to enjoy once again the unique ambiance of an English caf� atmosphere. We wanted to have that experience in Bangkok, and we set about making that vision become a reality. Sara found a great location in the popular Ari district, we signed contracts in January, and excitedly began the process of creating our caf�, from scratch, from a blank canvas. And then the coronavirus hit. Our original opening date was April 1st, but that proved to be a no no, due to the lockdown. Hotels, restaurants, pubs, and cafe's, all had to shut their doors to customers. The delay, however, did grant us more time to get the place ready, which we definitely needed. A lot of the equipment we had ordered to fit out the  cafe was sourced from China, the epicentre of the outbreak, and nothing was being shipped out to  customers around the world. China, though, being the first to experience the outbreak, and the first to shutdown, was also the first to start opening up, and we received our orders in late April. It was all go again, and we used the extra time we had been given to refine the decor, inside and out. The Thai government notified the hospitality industry that hotels and restaurants could reopen on June June Ist. On the big day we nervously opened the doors of MARTIN'S English Caf�, and waited for our first customers. We were lucky. The first two to come through the door in the 26


morning were popular bloggers, and by the afternoon people were arriving who might have seen their posts. The following days saw a steady flow of customers arriving to take photos of themselves, the food and the cafe, as well as journos from magazines and more bloggers. The customers appear to like the venue, and the cakes and drinks. The USP (unique selling point) of the place is threefold; great decor and location; homemade typically English

cakes and pastries, including cool drinks and premium ice-cream; a mix-tape of retro English music to listen to, combined with the current UK Top 40 toonz. And once there you can sit and chat with your friends in the cool aircon seating inside, or relax at the handmade tables and matching armchairs outside. MARTIN'S English Caf� is on both Facebook and Instagram. - Robin Westley Martin




YUMMY! Your new source of protein



Thailand’s creepy crawly delicacies go upmarket

Crispy roasted mini crickets and silkworms with different flavors are now being stocked in the country’s supermarkets

Nutritious, crunchy and tasty, at least for some, edible insects may be the answer to feeding the world’s growing population with protein TheBigChilli



Ms Chompu has sold uncooked edible insects in Klong Toey market for many years


By Maxmilian Wechsler ome find them delicious, others revolting, but whatever your taste in edible insects they’re here to stay.

Insects have been a food source around the world for thousands of years. And while entomophagy – the practice of eating insects – is uncommon in Western countries, it continues to have its devotees in many parts of Africa, South and Central America and Asia. It’s said there are about 2,000 species of insects around the world that can be safely consumed. Insect snacks are popular in Cambodia, China and Vietnam. In Thailand, locals eat about 150 types of insect, including crickets, silkworms and dung beetles are readily available at markets or from street vendors. They are popular not only for their nutritional content, but also their crunchy texture and taste. Foreigners walking past a cart filled with trays of various sorts of fried insects often find it hard to resist pausing to take a closer look, and perhaps wonder what it would be like to pop one of the strange delicacies in their mouth. The more adventurous may be offered a free sample by the seller. Some websites give the perception that insects are 30


only eaten by bargirls from the North and Northeast of Thailand, but according to a number of sellers this is absolutely incorrect. Their customers include middle and upper class Thais as well as migrant workers from neighboring countries. While many Thais love to eat insects, there are quite a few others who won’t touch them because they think they are unhygienic and carry disease. “But if you can convince someone to try one – and this goes for foreigners as well as locals – they usually stop complaining,” said one street seller on lower Sukhumvit Road. She said before the Covid-19 lockdown many of her customers were regulars, mostly employed by hotels, bars and other entertainment places in the area. She explained that she normally sends friends to buy uncooked insects at Klong Toey wholesale market and they are kept refrigerated until time to fry them. “Someone else fries the insects for me, but some sellers do it themselves. Almost all of the street vendors in Bangkok buy insects at Klong Toey market.” Before the lockdown street vendors were selling edible insects mainly during the night until early morning at various entertainment districts and markets. Between the curfew and lack of tourists almost all insect sellers are now shut down, but the vendor was confident that when the situation returns to normal people will again want to satisfy their more unusual appetites and allow her to make a living.

Some websites give the perception that insects are only eaten by bargirls from the North and Northeast of Thailand, but according to many sellers this is absolutely incorrect. Their customers include middle and upper class Thais as well as migrant workers from neighboring countries.

The biggest wholesale insect market in Thailand is Talard Rong Kluea, in Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo province on the Cambodian border. Its many stalls contain just about every kind of edible insect found in this part of the world, all uncooked. A Cambodian woman who has been making an early morning border crossing to sell at the market for many years said that only insects delivered live to the market sell at a good price. She said that about 90% of the insects sold at the market come from Cambodia and the rest from Thailand, and that insects from Cambodia are not caught with the use of poison as some people claim because if the insects are dead the price is much, much lower, and most people wouldn’t buy them at any price. Others disputed her claim, however, asking how big quantities of insects could be delivered to the market if no poison was used.

The bugs to die for Some of the most popular edible insects in Thailand:

• Red ants (mot daeng) • Red ant eggs (kai mod daeng) • Grasshoppers (takatan) • Silkworms (nhon mhai) • Bamboo worms (rod duan) • Crickets (jing reed)

• Mini (small) crickets (jing reed khai) • Scorpions (meng pawng) • Sago grups (tua duang) • House crickets (mae sading) • Giant water bugs (meng da na) Where to find edible insects In Bangkok, insect food can easily be found in several locations throughout the city, including Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy, along lower Sukhumvit Road, around Pahurat textile market near Chinatown, Patpong and Banglamphu near Phra Athit Pier. Besides making a purchase of ready-to-eat insects wrapped in brown paper right on the street, you are also welcome to visit ‘Insects in the Backyard’, Thailand’s first proclaimed edible insect restaurant at the upscale Changhui Art Hub on Sirindhorn Road in Bang Phlat district. A look at the website shows some very positive marks from customers. Lesser known spots to buy edible insects include Bang Yai market in Nothaburi province, where in the evening a lone vendor with a cart can sometimes be found, and at various temples during fairs and meritmaking ceremonies. Outside Bangkok insect food is easy to find in Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi and other provinces. Of course, because of Covid-19 restrictions the hours of selling are limited. TheBigChilli



Some of the delicacies on offer at Ms Chompu's stall in Klong Toey market

Klong Toey market – longtime source of edible insects ■ Not much has changed at Klong Toey market on Rama IV Road since I last visited about 10 years ago, except that prices for everything have increased. The huge market has a wide variety of fresh produce, poultry and fish on offer. Customers ranging from women buying for individual households to restaurant and food shop owners haggle for the best deal. The atmosphere can be described as organized chaos. Inside the maze of narrow passages and lanes shoppers must give way to merchants pushing trolleys loaded with goods, motorcycle taxis, and from time to time a pick-up truck whose sides clear the stalls with only an inch or two to spare. It’s likely that numerous city codes are being violated but no one seems much concerned about that. Before I found a large edible insects wholesaler under a roof at a section locals call ‘Lao market’, I had to pass by cages with live chickens and ducks waiting for slaughter and containers with different types of fish awaiting for the same fate. I found it more than a little distasteful. I finally found Ms Chompu, who has been selling 12 kinds of dead and uncooked insects at the market for many years. She was very busy when I arrived at 1pm, 32


selling insects by the kilo to Thai customers while conversing on a mobile. In between customers she weighed and packed insects into plastic bags ready for pick-up by her customers. She talked to other vendors in a language similar to Thai, probably Lao. Ms Chompu didn’t have much time for me but she did answer a couple questions. She said she gets most of her insects from a place in Aranyaprathet district, most probably Talard Rong Kluea, at prices ranging from 90 to 350 baht per kilogram depending on the type of insect. She normally doesn’t sell less than one kg but she made an exception for me and sold 500 grams of four different kinds of insects. After taking photos of my purchases at home I gave them to my Laotian maid. Another seller of edible insects in Klong Toey market has a shop some distance from Lao market. I was directed there by one of several vendors I asked. There was nothing on display in the shop, but it seemed obvious the seller didn’t lack for customers. She opened a large plastic container full of bags of dead, uncooked silkworms packed in ice and asked if I wanted to buy a bag. When I said no she closed the container and abruptly left.

High Society snacks The marketing of edible insects has been taken to a whole new level by a company that packages and sells them under the logo ‘Hiso’. According to press reports, Hiso products are sold at 7-Eleven stores, Tesco Lotus, Family Mart and major supermarket chains. However, after visiting 32 7-Eleven outlets in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani provinces at the beginning of June, I was able to find just one five-gram pack of BBQ Flavor Silkworms selling for five baht at a store in Nonthaburi. Most 7-Eleven staff were familiar with the Hiso brand, but said they were out of stock. According to several employees Hiso products are a popular snack to munch on while drinking beer and whiskey. Clearly Hiso needs to ramp up production; with 11,700 7-Eleven outlets in Thailand as of March this year, there is a fortune to be made. After visiting several supermarkets I finally found Hiso insects at a Big C on Rama IV Road. They had 15gr packs of BBQ Flavor Silkworms and 15gr Original Flavor Small Crickets selling for 27 baht each. The Hiso website shows four different flavors of silkworms and four flavors of crickets.

A word of caution Some years ago the Thai Ministr y of Public Health warned that people with allergies or asthma should avoid eating edible insects because they may contain high levels of histamine, a nitrogenous compound that elicits an allergic response. A serious allergic reaction could even result in death. A doctor at the ministr y said insects also may be contaminated with pesticides. The Health Thai Promotion Foundation also warned some years ago that people who have allergies should avoid eating silkworms and wasp grubs because they may result in fatal allergic reactions. Pregnant women and people with bone problems could be at risk because chitin and chitosan in insects’ exoskeletons can hinder calcium absorption. Insects are rich in nutrients and rarely cause any problems if they are grilled or fried by countr y people or used in traditional salads and soups. But if vendors use low quality oil and repeatedly reuse the oil it could make their customers ill. TheBigChilli







Longtime American expat Al Eberhardt is one of Bangkok’s great characters, well known in town as a man of many amazing parts, including entrepreneur, novelist, dancer, runner, retired businessman, urban philosopher, raconteur and co-founder of a high tech electronic project that eventually gave birth to 5G. He’s also a master of the art of zero wastage on his favorite cigars. Read on….. TheBigChilli



Name: Alfred Eberhardt Age: 81. Born: St. Louis, US. Religion: Catholic, with Buddhist leanings. Family: One sister, three brothers in the US. I’m the oldest. Education: Bachelor of Science, St. Louis University, 1961. Also commissioned USAF 2nd LT (JET Pilot trainee qualified). I attained the rank of Captain on active duty at four years, eight months. Status: Single. Fundamentally I am a loner and couldn’t have such an exciting life any other way. How long in Thailand? 53 years. What brought you here? Some people come overland to Thailand. I came overship. Asia was the place to be, all my USAF buddies were here. Before that? I was on active duty with the USAF 1962-1966, with a further seven years as a reserve in Asia. I was working in Hong Kong 1968-69 as a 29-year-old USAF reserve captain during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. First job in Thailand? Within one week of arriving here, I had set up Letter-Ads, a direct mail marketing company. 36


Today? I’m retired, having closed Letter-Ads 12 years ago. Where do you live? Sukhumvit 49 in a small condo. What’s keeping you here? The US is considered the greatest country on earth; Thailand is the most wonderful great people, excellent food and girls, of course. It’s the lighthouse of Asia. What have been the high points in your life in Thailand? It’s been one big great time. I’ve never really had to work hard – my all-female staff took care of everything. Low points? When I was 115kgs. Then I spent time in a temple and got down to 83kgs, my weight today. Also about that time, I also took a hiatus from drinking beer. Something else more recent – my girlfriend left me for ‘a younger guy.’ I asked her how old is he. She said 75. Has Bangkok changed much over the decades? Every city has its problems, the pollution, traffic, the number of high-rises and Bangkok is no different. The women don’t change, though. What do you miss? The ‘old days’ have gone. Forget about them. The new old days start today. I don’t care to talk about the ‘good old days.’ All my old mates from the Vietnam era have gone and so have Patpong and the wonderful Napoleon bar. Now you are retired, how do you pass the days? I’m up at 6.30 am, have breakfast and then do my ‘long breathing ‘exercises – inhaling 4-7 seconds, and then exhaling for 1215 seconds, three breaths a minute. Then I go for a long walk before more ‘long breathing.’ It’s saved my life. I’m as healthy and fit as when I was 45. I can dance all night long. Between 6-8pm I usually go out for a beer, then back home for bed at 9pm. Where do you hang out? Bistro 33, Robin Hood, Royal Oak and Buddy’s.

Do you still smoke cigars down to the last few millimeters? Yes, with the help of a toothpick. Anything else keeps you busy? Since 1956 I’ve been working on a theory to neutralize gravity for practical earth and cosmic exploration applications. The theory is tiled SWAS (Sphere within a Sphere). I’m also heavily involved in investigating Graham Phillip Bloy, a brilliant English inventor who I worked with to initiate an electronic project titled METME ((Maximum Efficient Transfer of Modulated Energy, forerunner of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT) and 5G. He discovered METME by chance here in Bangkok, and after realizing its enormous potential, we linked up with the US Embassy here and the CIA in the US, which provided all the back-up equipment, people and testing. We also raised US$3 million from private investors. What happened next? Six years into the METME project in Bangkok with US Embassy support, it was decided to move the project to my home town of St. Louis, Missouri, and for the next four years greatly enhanced development was performed at the CIA lab AEL (American Engineering Laboratory) in Washington D.C. At the ten-year point, Graham decided to venture out on his own and allegedly sold the US government secret project proceeds to the ‘big boys’ like AT&T, IBM, INTEL and especially Cisco Systems. Now here’s a major point. Cisco Systems’ IOT income is financially vastly greater than the US annual

budget. It could reduce the our national debt and fund Phase 4 of the infrastructure project in ten years as it is a majority owned and developed CIA effort of some three decades. We’re talking of trillions and trillions of dollars here. So you’ll end up a millionaire? Probably not, even though I reckon my involvement is worth 30% of the project’s worth. I feel somewhat cheated but I’m not giving up. Think positive, I say. Who’s your best friend here? I have many buddies and girlfriends. Has the American community changed? It’s not like the military days – now most who come here are involved in commerce. Also not many backpackers. Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met here? Ajarn Po at Wat Suan Mokkh, Surat Thani, in southern Thailand, Bangkok lawyer David Lyman, corporate security wizard USAF Capt Wallace Gowin and, the most interesting of all, Graham Phillip Bloy. What else should we know about you? I was the first lifetime member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) and board member 1982-83. For many years I was distance runner and serious about martial arts. I love dancing and can mimic Michael Jackson’s dance moves pretty well, considering my age. I was also co-author of three novels – ‘Tiger in the Mountains,’ ‘Without US’ and ‘Liberty or Lenin.’ TheBigChilli



of The BigChilli

MORE FACES FROM THE PAST 9 From our Social pages 2000-201



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MORE FACES FROM THE PAST 9 From our Social pages 2000-201



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MORE FACES FROM THE PAST 9 From our Social pages 2000-201




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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 home‌sometimes a professional opinion really helps to put things into perspective. Calling our concrete therapists from New Counseling Ser vice (NCS) to the rescue for some solid advice! Do you have a question for one of our counsellors? We will never print your real name, you can ask anything anonymously! Just send your problem to: info@ncsbkk.com or message @ ncsbangkok on IG, FB, or Line.



Dear NCS, This may seem a bit strange, but I’m writing because my wife wants too much sex. Since the lockdown started, she insists on having sex every day, sometimes twice a day. We hardly ever talk anymore, and she gets angry when I say I am too tired or not in the mood. My guy friends all insist that I’m lucky and I shouldn’t complain, but I really miss the connection with my wife and I wish sometimes we could just “Netflix” without the “chill,” if you know what I mean. -Frustrated husband Dear Frustrated, ■ It’s certainly not strange for couples to have different expectations around sex and for this to become an issue over time. I wonder how long the sex has been an issue in your relationship and whether this has always been the case or whether it’s changed in recent times. But probably the more fundamental issue is that you hardly talk anymore and have lost the connection with your wife. It sounds like you’re saying the sex issue has created this disconnection, because the constant demand for sex has caused you to feel overwhelmed and frustrated, and your wife’s perception that you’re denying her what she wants is causing her to feel annoyed and unsatisfied. Most likely, this will require some communication to resolve, which is unlikely to happen unless the connection between you is reestablished. I assume your wife is also aware of this disconnect between you? Is she concerned about it? And if so, are you both willing to do what’s needed to resolve things between you? She might think the connection will be fixed by more sex, but clearly that won’t work for you and she needs to understand and respect this. Likewise, you need to acknowledge her sexual needs are important to her and be willing to help find

some ways to meet these that work for both of you. Open and honest communication between the two of you will be key to understanding what you both need and finding a way to improve the relationship again. Some compromise will likely be required on both sides. Once you can both agree to work on your relationship together, set aside some dedicated time to discuss how to proceed. Establish some ground rules about listening to each other openly and uncritically, ensuring both of you are allowed the chance to talk and discuss concerns safely, and taking a break if things become unhelpful. Here are a few suggestions to get these discussions going: Counsellor David Ogden

Photo by Verity Tan

• How do you want your relationship to improve? How can you reconnect on an emotional level, not just on a sexual level? What has worked for you in the past as a couple to improve connection? What do you appreciate most about each other? • Maybe plan some dates together where the key is to simply enjoy each other’s company and do things you both enjoy, to help reconnect. • The sex issue will need to be addressed – maybe explore some more creative ways to help your wife get her sexual desires met but in a way that’s less demanding on you. Be willing to experiment and try some new things that might work OK for both of you. • If you struggle to resolve these issues by yourselves, are you willing to get some professional help? Your relationship is obviously important to you and like all marriages will need some work to maintain, especially the way things are for you right now. If you are both willing to work on this, you can certainly make it work but it will require both of you to be honest with each other, accept each other’s needs, and be willing to compromise a bit. Remember there is help available with all this if needed. Dave Counsellor TheBigChilli


Concrete Therapy

Dear NCS, I’m writing on behalf of me and my sister. We are mixed, our mum is Thai and our dad is English. The problem is, we don’t look alike…AT ALL. I look more western, whereas my sister looks more Thai. People constantly ask us if we are *really* related, they make rude comments and they often say I am ‘the pretty one.’ I find it so embarrassing and I feel really sorry for my sister who has low self-esteem because of this. What can I say to people who make uninvited comments? I love my sister to bits - how can I make her believe that she is a perfect mix too? -Mixed sisters, mixed feelings 46


Counsellor Johanna de Koning

Photo by Verity Tan Dear Mixed, ■ Thank you for reaching out on your sister’s behalf. It is very unfortunate that people think it’s OK to make comments about your comparative looks, and even worse, make rude comments about you and your sister. The love and support you have for your sister will mean a lot to her and go a long way to assuring her that she is fine the way she is. You might want to sit down and discuss with your sister how she would like to deal with these comments. She may appreciate you standing up for her in some way, or she might prefer to stand up for herself with your support, or she might prefer to ignore such comments completely and get some support from you afterwards. Ideally, if you can decide together how to deal with these situations then it will feel like you’re in this together and she will feel less alone. There are a few approaches you can take in dealing with the comments and it will depend on the circumstances as to which approach works best. Ignoring many of these comments might be appropriate, especially if they are ignorant comments in the first place. In this case you can talk

with your sister afterwards and reassure her that she doesn’t need to let other people’s ignorance affect her because they obviously don’t really know her or what she’s like. If you both make the decision to say something in response to some of the comments then it will be safest to avoid being aggressive, even if part of you might want that. Simply stating facts can often be effective in taking the sting out of someone’s comment, whether it was said in an ignorant or a mean way. Keeping it simple and to the point can be best; affirming the fact that yes, you are sisters and you don’t care what other people might think. Something like, “yes we are sisters and we are both fantastic people” could work, but please choose words that you are both comfortable with. That solidarity and unity between the two of you will hopefully help you feel closer to each other and allow your sister to feel stronger and more confident to cope with any such comments in the future. If your sister continues to struggle with low self-esteem, please feel free to reach out and we would be happy to provide strategies for this. Best wishes to you both. Johanna Counsellor TheBigChilli



Is this it?

With two heart attacks and a stroke behind him, an expat take a new look at his life and where he went wrong


was slumped out in a filthy, stained toilet cubicle in Singapore’s Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, drenched in sweat, struggling like mad not to black out. All I could think was, "Wow, is this it? Is this where my time on this Earth ends, in a pissstained toilet?” Thankfully I came round and discreetly staggered out of the food court, more concerned about embarrassment than my physical well-being. Forget your opinion of Lance Armstrong, of Tour de France fame and notoriety. He is the author of a book called 'It's Not About The Bike.’ 48


The book is not about winning the Tour de France, nor is not about his cheating skills. It’s all about the attitude you have to adopt to survive cancer, a stroke, heart attack or indeed a virus called COVID-19. In summary: you have to want to win, to survive, at any cost. I totally understand the philosophy; I am 50 years old and I am the veteran of two heart attacks and a stroke. In jest, I decided long ago that if all else fails, I would

bottle up my sperm and brand it as 'Invincible.' Rather like how I imagine childbirth, the first heart attack is always the most problematic and painful. After that, quite frankly, it is a walk in the park as long as you have made the conscious decision that you are going to survive. My father had the same attitude to leukemia, he used to say: “You with the sickle, eff off! I'm not going!" I have spent more than two decades working for one of

the most renowned American communications companies, covering initially the Middle East and Africa but, but more recently Asia. I rarely return to the UK, my home country. However, it was during one of the rare occasions that I was actually in sunny Manchester that the first attack occurred. Initially, no one spotted it, so no antibiotics and Ventolin for my lack of breathe, ill-health in general and weight gain. This went on for nearly

three weeks. Throughout it all, I endeavoured to ride a bike daily to try and prevent the unexplained weight gain. However, one day I woke up and I knew something was drastically wrong - excuse the wording, but my balls were the size of melons. Upon presenting myself to the doctor I said: “Are you still going to try and tell me that there's nothing wrong?� I suppose doctors who deal with such situations on a daily basis have quite thick skin and a

sense of humour. Before being diagnosed I was obviously tested, and the doctors were alarmed that my resting heart rate was over 200bps. The nurse thought the machine was broken, but the doctor who was looking over her shoulder assured her that it was not. She seemed almost terrified to push my bed to the critical unit, expecting that I might blow up. The doctor laughed at the nurse and said: "If I set up a wine box in the critical TheBigChilli


Health unit, and set you and the patient off running, I bet you he’d beat you to it!" hat followed was three fantastic weeks in the hands of the nurses and doctors from Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, part of the poorly underrated, but magnificent British NHS. I lived in the critical unit for those weeks, and quite frankly it's one of the best holidays I've ever had. I quite literally had my own army of highly qualified, and every patient's nurses. I loved every minute of it. I shudder to think how much this cost the British taxpayer. In the bathroom brushing my teeth one morning when the frantic movement of my arm set off the monitors in the control room. All three of my ‘angels’ rushed into the bathroom to find me wearing nothing but a toothbrush. Upon realizing that I was not dying anytime soon, one of them observed: “Yes, if you do anything else that involves this frantic movement of the arm, we will know about that too!" It transpired that the reason the doctors had failed to spot the heart attack or the heart failure for nearly three weeks was that it was caused by a condition called Myocarditis. When it attacked me it shut down half my heart, leaving me with an irregular heartbeat, even after having cardioversion (electric shock). My heart was beating at over 200 pbm because one half of it was closed down and the other half was having to pump furiously in compensation. In short, I went to Hong Kong on a business trip and contracted a tropical disease of some kind. I returned to Singapore, my home base, with a fever. I did not venture into work if for no other reason than for three days I was continuously drenched in sweat. It was then that I made my ill-fated adventure into the food court. On




the fourth day, I woke up feeling fine and returned to the office as if nothing had ever happened. In other words, I ignored it. The second incident was the stroke. Strokes and heart attacks are actually quite closely linked your brain obviously has to give instructions to your heart when it wants to accelerate, so you can run, and slow down so you can sleep. But they are obviously different kinds of pain. The main difference between a stroke and a heart attack is inconvenience. With a heart attack, all you have to do is survive - unless of course, you're stuck with a pacemaker. I was walking 9 km a day, three days after leaving the hospital from my last incident. With a stroke the chances are you might have to learn basic skills all over again - reading, talking and even spelling. This takes time, and that’s assuming you’ve decided that you want to survive, and you want to learn all those skills again from scratch. In my case, I had to

The ‘old days’ have gone. Forget about them. The new old days start today. I don’t care to talk about the ‘good old days.’ All my old mates from the Vietnam era have gone and so have Patpong and the wonderful Napoleon bar.

learn to speak and read. However, to this day I cannot spell. You have to adapt; as I write this article I am using Speech-to-Text software on my computer. I basically had to read children's books, mostly by David Walliams, out loud for as long as I could manage every day, for a month until I was able to have a semi-literate conversation once more. I woke one night before Christmas 2019 here in Thailand dying of thirst. I opened a can of 7UP and promptly dropped it, as unbeknownst to myself I was sort of semi-paralyzed in the right hand. The soda exploded all over the floor and I promptly slipped and crashed on the floor. It took every grain of energy I could muster to get myself up again, and back onto the bed where I blacked out. n the morning it just felt like a bad hangover, so I chose to walk it off. Upon reaching the restaurant I had been to the previous night, I tried to ask for a glass of water and the words fell out of my mouth like gibberish; I tried once more and it still came out as gobbledygook. Suffice to say the very kind owner of this establishment called an ambulance and I spent a couple of very lonely days in a public hospital. The doctor who could speak English came round for an hour a day. No other person in the hospital could speak any English, and I couldn't speak any Thai. I was unable to communicate in any way shape or form. I could not tell them my name or where I was staying or indeed most importantly whether I had insurance or not. Because I was unable to answer that last question, I was sent to a public hospital. On the first day, I managed one word, “hi.” On the second day, I managed two words, a 100% increase overnight - a big achievement at the time. Okay it was a little cramped, and we had an obvious communication


problem, but all in all, it was generally a happy atmosphere. The nurses were very patient with this man who could not communicate. I was also on my own; every other patient seemed to have family with them. In the British hospital, the overriding theme was peace and quiet. In the three weeks I was there, my mother was my only visitor for one hour a day. In the public hospital in Thailand, they encouraged the family to become involved to the extent that both patients on either side of me had at least two members of the family with them 24 hours a day. And those visitors chose voluntarily to do things like chop up my food, remove the tray or replace water, without any requests. ne of my neighbour's daughters slept underneath his bed with only a bottle of piss for company. Despite the heat, she always appeared from under the bed in the morning wearing a Bob Marley woolly hat. When she saw that I was awake she would give me a beautiful big smile and wave. It was a delightful way to start the day. One night I remember singing to myself in an attempt to get myself to talk enough to communicate with the doctors the following morning; suffice to say I failed. However, it was not the run-up to Christmas I had planned. Obviously I was not able to travel for some time to allow my bruised brain to heal a bit and fit into my skull once more. I obviously had to spend a month learning to communicate once more, so that I did not appear perpetually blind drunk! Of course, we all know what happened next - Corona 19. And Heart Attack 2 We have all had to adapt to some drastic circumstances over recent months.


Clearly, curfews and restricted movement serve a purpose which we can all agree has been very successful in Thailand. However, they also provide challenges which we all have to learn how to cope with. In my case I discovered that the hospital I needed to go to for my medication from the stroke wasn’t easy to get to; a number of checkpoints separated us. The obvious answer was to get a pharmacist to supply the necessary medication. However, this became problematic when it was discovered that only one hospital supplies the drug. After two or three days without the medication, I set off to get through the barricades. At the very first checkpoint, the police lady took my sweaty panicking demeanour to mean Covid-19. Thus I returned to the chemist shop. Later at the hospital, I took the whole situation as an inconvenience, even after they electrocuted me twice. The poor nurses must have thought me the most ungrateful man alive when I told them I was bored, I'd had enough and started getting dressed to go home. Yet again I was adopting the Lance Armstrong policy of refusing to go down without a fight! t was only after the senior doctor informed me that I was simply not going home that I relented and allowed myself to be taken to the Private Hospital where I was able to communicate and say the magic words, "ys I have insurance." Once again I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was quite happy for the doctor and the nurses to get on with saving my life whilst I enjoyed round-the-clock BBC, three fantastic meals a day and twobed baths a day provided by two beautiful nurses. Who could ask for more? In the meantime, please get on with saving my life. Obviously, on a serious note,


I cannot expect to get lucky on a regular basis, I will not win every battle. Three times I have refused to go, but there comes as a point when you have to change everything. Like‌.today. Yes, health insurance costs money, but you get what you pay for, and that can be no denying that the doctor who looked after me was incredibly experienced and also had access to the finest and most up-to-date equipment. I would very much like to make it to at least 70, preferably in good health. So the moral of the stor y: 1. It doesn't matter what anyone else says, like a modern car your body will tell you when it is not happy; even doctors make mistakes. When you know in your heart of hearts that you are seriously ill, ignoring it will not make it go away. 2. Toxic people will not help your lifespan. It doesn't matter who they are, they cannot be real friends, colleagues, family or even your partner. If they make you feel toxic, get rid of them. 3. As an expat, convincing yourself that you only had a couple of drinks last night when the reality is a couple of drinks, followed by two bottles of wine, will not work for very long. Many expats will say that I am stating the obvious. Many expats are in denial. 4. Rather like being able to tell when you are ill, it only takes a glance at the chubby cheeks in the mirror to know that you are overweight. Get off your ass and start working. It is a very simple equation; do more exercise than you shove chocolate in your mouth. - Ian Wilde TheBigChilli


Expat Women

Things Women S About Endomet

What Is Endometriosis? Endometrium is the tissue that makes up the uterine lining. Endometriosis is a condition in which this tissue is present on other organs inside your body. It is usually found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the surface of the uterus, and bladder wall. Displaced tissue continues to act as it normally would – thickens, 52


breaks down, and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. As this tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped and the surrounding tissues can become irritated developing scar tissues and adhesions. Causes Retrograde menstruation is one of the causes of endometriosis.

Menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity. These displaced endometrial cells are deposited in unusual locations. These lesions are commonly found in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, lining of pelvic cavity, and cervix. The displaced tissue can also be found on lining of the bladder and the bowel wall.

Should Know triosis • Adenomyosis – Endometrial tissue grows into the uterus muscle damaging the uterine wall. There are 2 types of adenomyosis. The first type grows in one particular site of the uterus and the second type spreads throughout the uterus.

Signs And Symptoms • Painful periods – Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before your period and extend several days into your period • Spotting or no periods • Pelvic pain before, during, and after menstruation • Pain with bowel movements • Pain with intercourse • Infertility Diagnosis • Patient history and physical examination • Pelvic exam and laboratory investigations • Ultrasonography by a gynecologist • MRI if needed

Common Locations Endometriosis is commonly found on: • Ovaries (also called chocolate cysts) – caused by retrograde menstruation. The contents of the cyst are black, tarry, and thick. The cyst will get bigger when stimulated by menstrual hormones.

Treatment Treatment of endometriosis depends on the severity of the symptoms and whether the patient intends to become pregnant. • Medications – nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help ease painful menstrual cramps • Hormone therapy – Oral contraceptive pills, contraceptive injections, and vaginal rings help control the hormones responsible for the buildup of endometrial tissue

• Surgery – Laparoscopic surgery is less invasive. The surgical wound will be only small cuts (less than 6 cm). The surgical treatment also includes minilaparotomy myomectomy and abdominal myomectomy. Patients with previous abdominal surgery or abdominal adhesions are suitable candidates for laparoscopic surgery, as this treatment option can reduce complications and risks. Chocolate Cyst And Infertility Patients with chocolate cyst can still get pregnant and the symptoms of the condition will get better during the pregnancy, as the hormone level will decrease until 3-6 months after delivery. When a chocolate cyst is not stimulated by menstrual hormones, it might shrink and go away on its own. However, there is a risk of it recurring. Endometriosis is hereditary. Women with a family history of endometriosis are more likely to have daughters who suffer from the disease too. Therefore, it is important to have an annual pelvic examination. In addition, if you experience any abnormal symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately. For more information, please contact Women's Health Center Daily 07.00 a.m. – 08.00 p.m. Tel 02 310 3005, 02 755 1005 Hotline 1719 info@bangkokhospital.com TheBigChilli



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FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY On paper, as prime minister of a military government, Prayuth (Chan-o-cha) had as much dictatorial power and immunity under Section 44 of the interim constitution of 2014 as Sarit Thanarat had under Section 17 of the interim constitution of 1959, but he did not invoke Section 44 to execute anyone. Sarit ordered the summary execution of five suspected arsonists, one suspected heroin producer, one suspected messianic leader and four suspected communists - eleven people in total, five of whom he adjudged guilty of political offences. Under the preceding Phibun (Songkhram) regime, members of parliament were killed extra-judicially. In 1949 four pro-Pridi MPs from Isaan who had been arrested for alleged treason were assassinated by their police escort; in 1952 an anti-Phibun MP from Isaan was murdered in police custody; and in 1954 another MP was found murdered after he alleged the police chief was corrupt. The post-coup government of 2006-07 and the military government since 2014 could not - and showed no signs of wanting to - deal with political opponents in the cavalier manner of Sarit or Phibun and their henchman.

THAILAND History, Politics and the Rule of Law By JAMES WISE Published by Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte. 2019



The BigChilli

Modern History of Thailand TheBigChilli





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A journey through the past: Thailand 1972-1976

By Maxmilian Wechsler

This is the second installment of a 10-part series of articles that describe important events in Thailand over the past 50 years. The first part, published in June, covered 1967-1971.  1972

was the year when Chulabhorn Dam, named after Princess Chulabhorn Walailak, was opened in Chaiyaphun province. The year also saw the birth of Bangkok Hospital by top medical professionals and the founding of Thai Presidents Foods PCL, makers of the internationally 58


recognized ‘MAMA” noodles brand. Other major news stories included: January • Taxi drivers, restaurant and bar owners, food vendors and others relying on revenue from Bangkok nightlife criticized new regulations

that came into force imposing a midnight closing hour for entertainment venues, including nightclubs. The National Executive Council also announced restrictions on opening hours for restaurants, cinemas and other entertainment spots. Alcohol sales were banned between 2pm and 5pm. Februar y • Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Princess Anne arrived on a six-day visit. They were met by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulaydej, Queen Sirikit and Princess Sirindhorn at the Chao

Phraya River Rajvoradit landing. The visiting royals also met with Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn and other government officials, and made excursions to Chulalongkorn University, various Buddhist temples and Christ Church on Convent Road. They also travelled to Chiang Rai to observe and meet with Meo and Hmong hill tribes. • Thai military assisted by US special forces killed 300 communist insurgents to gain control of the Phu Hin Long Kla area of Loei province. It was the biggest military operation against the insurgents up to that time. Thai First Army Division was dispatched from Bangkok assisted by more than 500 American military advisers and special forces. The operation was conducted in the wake of a rising threat to Thai sovereignty as Vietnamese and Laotian guerrillas had begun assisting and training the Thai insurgents. March • President of India Vaharagiri Venkata Giri and his wife Saraswati Bai arrived for an official visit of Thailand during which they met Their Majesties the King and Queen, PM Thanom and other officials.

closed in 1970. The government announced that the planes would be used in bombing missions over North Vietnam. The re-opening of the base resulted in an increase of 3,000 US military personnel in Thailand, bringing the total to 32,000. June • Doctors at Ramathibodi hospital in Bangkok performed the first sex change operation in Thailand. The patient, Lek Hokkam, threatened to commit suicide if doctors refused to perform the operation. Doctors proclaimed the operation a success after surgery. • Hat Yai International Airport was opened, making it possible for international travelers to avoid Bangkok if they wished.

• The founder of Air Siam, Prince Varananda Dhavaj resigned as Chairman and CEO. The Prince founded what was then Varan Air-Siam on Sep 15, 1965 and was said to be ‘dead broke’ in 1972. The problems arose the year before when Air Siam sident re P ) h started a Bangkokarc 1972 (M i Venkata Gir ir g a h Los Angeles route. Vara The Prince said: “People thought I was competing with the government-owned airline”, referring to Thai Airways International which later bought Air Siam.

1972 (May) USAF F4 Ph antom

May • Takhli air base in Nakhon Sawan province was reopened in order to provide facilities for about 80 US F4 Phantom fighter-bombers there. The base was used by the US for the first time in 1961 and

September • New regulations were adopted to regulate foreign businesses and workers, with more restrictions applied on the type of industries in which they were allowed involvement. The government said the new regulations were designed to increase employment opportunities for Thai nationals and reduce foreign influence over Thai companies. The new regulations stipulated,

among other things, that legal and architectural firms had to be Thai majority-owned within two years. November • Anti-Japanese sentiment was running high in Thailand, with students leading activities against Japanese interests in the country. The National Student Council and Boy Scouts began pasting posters throughout Bangkok and Chiang Mai demanding a boycott of Japanese products. The National Student Centre accused Japan of using business tricks to cheat Thailand and make it an ‘economic slave’. Police seized machetes and other weapons from Nonthaburi Engineering School students who planned to demonstrate at the Japanese-owned Thai Daimaru department store. December • On December 28 Prince Vajiralongkorn was invested as Crown Prince in a ceremony attended by nobles, diplomats, religious leaders, politicians and military officers at Ananta Smakorn Throne Hall.

1972 (December) Israeli embassy siege

• Many foreign leaders sent gifts and messages of congratulations. After the formal declaration the King poured lustral water on the Prince as monks chanted. • On the same day the investiture was in progress, four Arab gunmen armed with automatic weapons from the Black September terrorist group stormed the Israeli embassy in Bangkok and held six hostages. TheBigChilli



1973 (Octobe r) Upris


The terrorists demanded the release of 36 Arab and Palestinian hostages held in Israel and threatened to kill their hostages if their demands were not met. The terrorists set off explosives around the embassy complex, but after tense negotiations they agreed to end the siege. The hostages were released the next morning and the terrorists were allowed to depart for Egypt. • Dr Chamnah Yuwaboon was appointed first mayor of Greater Bangkok. A few weeks later Bangkok and Thonburi joined under a new administrative structure designated Krungthep Mahanakhon. The title of Bangkok administrative chief has since been changed to governor.

1973 saw the formation of

the present Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). Bangkok Land real estate company was founded and Central Chidlom department store opened its doors for the first time. Also in 1973, Thai film company Five Star Productions was founded and Rajabhat University was established in Kanchanaburi province. March • The stockpiling of rice by middlemen looking for bigger profits caused shortages of rice 60


1973 (May) Praphas

and big price increases. The government responded by purchasing 10% of rice destined for export and selling it at the market price at outlets under its control. The government effort was unsuccessful in pushing down the price of rice, however, and shortages brought hardship to many people, mainly in the North and Northeast. April • The 84-kilometre Thonburi-Pak Tho highway was opened linking Thonburi with Samut Prakan and Samut Songkhram provinces. The time needed to reach Hua Hin and points south was cut considerably. May • Army commander Praphas Charusathien was promoted to the rank of field marshal. Praphas held simultaneously the positions of deputy supreme commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, army commander-in-chief, commander of the Communist Suppression Operations Command, deputy prime minister, interior minister, director-general of the police department, deputy commander of the National Security Council, and president of the Boy Scouts.


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June • A group of Ramkhamhaeng University students organized a protest demanding resignation of the rector for expelling nine students for publishing a satirical magazine that mocked the government and military officials. Protests spread to other universities and more than 10,000 anti-government demonstrators gathered in Bangkok. The government agreed to reinstate the nine students, but they remained suspended. More protests followed, culminating in the resignation of the rector. • According to a survey by the Bangkok Post, “a sharp increase in tourists visiting from West Germany has brought more money to restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and beaches”. The newspaper said the number of German tourists had soared from 4,263 in 1963 to nearly 53,000 in 1972. • Doctors at Chulalongkorn Hospital successfully performed the country’s first transplant of a kidney provided by a living donor. Somchai Nuaisukul gave one of his healthy kidneys to his brother, Sampan, as both of his kidneys were heavily diseased. Thai surgeons had previously performed kidney transplants but never from a living donor.

August • A fire at luxurious Oriental hotel in Bangkok destroyed the lobby and several suites. The fire was apparently caused by a short circuit in an air conditioning unit. The fire caused an estimated five million baht in damage that included art treasures and antiques. Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze for more than two hours. September • The corpse of an alleged communist insurgent was displayed on an open truck throughout the provincial capital of Phatthalung with a sign warning the public that other guerrillas would meet the same fate. The body was that of Chamroen Muangcham, allegedly responsible for the killing of governmentbacked militia officers. He was shot dead in a battle between 20 guerrillas and a 70-man border patrol unit.

1973 (October)) Thanom 1973 (Octobe r) Narong Kittikac horn

October • Mass demonstrations erupted after 13 student leaders and activists were arrested for distribution of leaflets calling for the early promulgation of a constitution. When police couldn’t control thousands of demonstrators outside Chitralada Palace the military was called to disperse protesters and began firing into the crowd. Official figures list 77 students killed and 857 injured. The violence continued for several days with buildings on Ratchadamnoen Avenue set on fire. The mass

demonstrations led to the collapse of the Thanom regime. He fled to the US with family members. His son, Colonel Narong Kittikachorn, and father-in-law General Praphas Charusathien escaped to Taiwan with their families. Siam Center was opened with a great pomp. Buddhist monks blessed the opening ceremony with the Princess Mother and other distinguished guests in attendance. It was the biggest indoor shopping centre in Thailand at the time. November • Thousands of workers went on strike throughout the country demanding better pay, walking out of hospitals, banks, government offices, factories and other enterprises. The government lead by Prime Minister Sanya Dharmasakti said it was considering an increase in the minimum wage, which was set at 16 baht a day.




Sirikit, was opened and the Social Action Party was founded. It also saw the birth of Payap University, a private institution in Chiang Mai founded by the Church of Christ. Januar y • Around 5,000 people demonstrated outside the US embassy on Wireless Road demanding the recall of Ambassador William nuary) 1974 (Ja Kintner and a halt naka Kakuei Ta to all CIA operations in Thailand. The demonstration followed the revelation that a letter to the Thai government reportedly written by two communist insurgent leaders proposing a ceasefire had been forged by the CIA.

December • PM Sanya was • Japanese Prime Minister given emergency Kakuei Tanaka received a very powers as Thailand low-key welcome from Thai PM faced crisis after Sanya and other Thai officials 1973 (Decem oil- producing when he arrived at Don Muang ber) PM Sany a Gulf states airport. Thousands of students announced a doubling of price of waited outside the Erawan Hotel oil. The decree empowered the where he was lodged and shouted PM to regulate the production, at his car. The protest stemmed sale, transportation, possession from charges that Japan was economically exploiting Thailand. and importation of all types of fuel. In an attempt to save energy, business hours and services were June reduced in Bangkok, street lights • The month of June were dimmed and a curfew was saw the last flight of Air imposed on petrol station opening America, a passenger hours. The new regulations and cargo airline run caused protests from nighttime by the CIA which entertainment venues. was used for covert operations and missions in Laos and North Vietnam. Air America announced was the year when that it was ceasing operations Sirikit Dam, named after Queen in Thailand and that it would





1974 (June) Air America complex in Udon Thani

give over four billion baht worth of equipment to Thai Airways International. Air America had about 250 employees and was based in Udon Thani. • The government conceded to demands by thousands of textile workers all over Thailand and to increase the daily minimum wage to 20 baht. Strikers threatened violence after student leaders riled them up at Sanam Luang, where around 20,000 textile workers gathered. July • Tension between police and Thai-Chinese outside Plabplachai police station in Chinatown triggered three days of confrontation. Tanks guarded various ministries as security forces clashed with the rioters, some allegedly belonging to the Eagles and Dragon gangs. PM Sanya declared a state of emergency. Snipers fired from windows in Chinatown, bombs were thrown and vehicles commandeered. The clashes resulted in 33 deaths and 123 injuries. • The National Assembly voted to seize the assets of the ‘Three Tyrants’ – Thanom, Praphas and Narong. The value of the seized assets was estimated to be between 700 million and 1.4 billion baht. October • The Ministry of the Interior announced that hill tribe 62


people were not entitled to Thai citizenship amid complaints that around a half million of them living in 15 northern Thai provinces lacked access to education, health services and other rights. Around 100,000 people gathered at Sanam Luang where the King and Queen lit funeral pyres of those who died in the 1973 October uprising that led to the removal of Thanom. PM Sanya eulogized the fallen as Buddhist monks chanted in the background. November • Farmers from all over the country arrived in Bangkok to join a protest over the failure of the government to solve land ownership problems. The farmers were joined by student leaders as about 20,000 people demonstrated outside Government House. They called PM Sanya a tyrant and cabinet members ‘cheaters and liars’. • Thousands of prisoners rioted simultaneously at Bang Kwang and Lard Yao prisons after learning that the government has decided not to issue any amnesties that year. About 35 prisoners were injured when prison guards opened fire with machine guns. December • About 400 monks staged a protest at Sanam Luang against an order by the Ecclesiastical Council that banned them from participating in any political acts.


saw the formation of the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. The Human Development Foundation, also referred as Mercy Centre, was established and the Nong Khai refugee camp was built to accommodate the influx of Laotian refugees following the fall of Laos to communist insurgents.

Januar y • More than 1,000 students were sent home after 57 teachers at five primary schools in Yala province in southern Thailand quit, fearing they could be the target of kidnapping and other violence by Islamic separatists. The teachers said they would not return until better security was provided. • In the general election the Democrat Party won 72 seats in the 269 seat House of Representatives. Social Justice Party was second, winning 45 seats, and the Thai National Party came in third with 28 seats. More than 40 parties contested the election. Februar y • An earthquake centred under the Andaman Sea and measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale rocked Bangkok and nine other provinces. Thousands of panicked workers ran out of Bangkok office towers but no deaths, injuries or damage were reported. • In a demonstration organized by the National Students Centre of Thailand 8,000 people gathered in Sanam Luang to protest alleged human right violations by the Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC) in villages in Phattalung province. ISOC was assigned to suppress the communist insurgency. Student activists who travelled to Phattalung said they had evidence that 868 villagers had been killed in suppression activities in 1971-1972. Three days after the protest supervision of ISOC was transferred from the Army to the Interior Ministry. May • More than 10,000 people marched on the US embassy to protest theunauthorized use of U-tapao air base by the US military in an operation to free the

Mayaguez merchant ship seized by Khmer Rouge guerrillas. The students held up placards and shouted anti-American slogans. The Thai government demanded an apology from the US for flying over 1,000 Marines to U-tapao base without permission. The US later issued an apology for violating Thai sovereignty. • A bill allowing people to carry guns without a permit was passed overwhelmingly by Parliament in response to an alarming increase in crime.

the first woman in Thailand to be promoted to the rank of ambassador. She later became ambassador to Sri Lanka. November • Seven months after the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, Thailand renewed diplomatic relations with Cambodia during a five-day visit to Bangkok by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Ieng Sary.

• An anti-Vietnamese mob went on a rampage in Nong Khai province a few days after communist Pathet Lao forces attacked Thai gunboats on the Mekong River. The mob attacked about 150 Vietnamese-run shops and homes. The Vietnamese were seen as communist sympathizers by the oj ukrit Pram (August) K mob.

August • The home of Prime Minister Kukrit Pramoj was ransacked by a mob of hundreds of people led by pistolwaving policemen. Police were angry at Kukrit because they thought the 1975 government was too lenient with leftists. The PM wasn’t at home during the attack. • Hundreds of right-wing vigilantes went on a rampage at Thammasat University, shooting handguns, throwing bombs, burning buildings, and intimidating students involved in political activities. Luckily most students had already been sent home as university administrators were tipped off that the vigilantes were coming. • The Phra Trat Phanom chedi collapsed after a freak storm. The chedi near the Thai-Lao border in Nakhon Phanom province was the oldest in Thailand. Some worshippers took this event as a bad omen and predicted war would break out between Laos and Thailand. October • Ampa Patharavanik became

December • Around 10,000 protesters marched through Pattani town to demand justice in the alleged killing of 18 Muslims by the military. Soldiers were put on alert and the National Security Council considered ordering a state of emergency. • The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration decided to stop battling against street vendors and actually embraced them as a part of the city’s culture. Bangkok Deputy Governor Opas Thammavanij declared: “We can’t stop hawkers from selling things on the roadsides, nor can we live without them.”


was the year when Pattaya became the second independent administrative area in Thailand (after Bangkok); Bangkok Mass Transit Authority

began operations; Phayathai Hospital and RS PLC entertainment company were founded. 1976 (Jan

uary) Patpo

ng fire

Januar y • A five-hour fire burned down almost half of the Patpong entertainment district in the centre of Bangkok. March • A hand grenade thrown into a crowd of about 5,000 anti-American protesters who gathered in Siam Square killed four students and injured 82 others. The protesters then went to the US embassy where student leader Thirayuth Boonmee accused the extreme right-wing paramilitary organization known as the Red Gaurs of throwing the grenade on orders from the CIA. April • A general election was held after the House of Representative was dissolved prematurely. The Democrat Party won 114 of 279 seats in the House, followed by Thai National Party with 56 seats and Social Action Party with 45 seats. Voter turnout was only 44% as 39 parties contested the election. TheBigChilli



1976 (O


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June • The King and Queen honored about 8,000 Village Scouts representing units from all over Thailand at a rally held in Lumpini Park. • American troops left U-tapao air base and Ramasun Station, ending US involvement in a decade-long war in Southeast Asia.


August • About 200 right-wing Red Gaurs and vocational students attempted to storm Thammasat University, where more than 5,000 students from Thammasat and Ramkhamhaeng universities were protesting the return of former strongman Praphas. Student guards tried block the intruders from entering the campus. While they tried to scale the campus fence machine gun fire erupted and a hand grenade exploded. Two people were killed and about 60 injured. Praphas had returned to Thailand from exile in Taiwan against the wishes of Prime Minister Seni Pramoj. Praphas told members of the government that he would stay and fight the charges against him.

passage of the 770 million baht allocated to the ISOC unless there was more transparency about what the money was to be used for. The committee questioned the necessity of ISOC involvement in containing the communist insurgency in light of recent positive developments between Thailand and neighbouring communist countries. ISOC coordinator General Saiyud Kerdphol said the money was necessary for salaries, intelligence gathering and propaganda.

• The Parliamentary budgetary committee threatened to block

September • Thanom returned arrived at Don


Muang airport from Singapore, and wearing a novice monk’s robe immediately entered the monkhood at Wat Bowonniwet in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district. PM Seni said there was nothing the government could do about Thanom’s return, and he resigned his post a few days later. October • Just before dawn on October 6, mobs of Red Gaurs and other rightwing extremists along with police and military units gathered outside Thammasat University and began shooting at students who were gathered inside to protest the


1976 (O

arrival of Thanom. Some students reportedly returned the fire. The right-wingers, police and military personnel entered the campus and began beating students. According to government figures 46 students were killed, 167 injured and 3,000 arrested. Some claim the death toll was much higher. At 6pm the state-run media announced the successful completion of a coup and the formation of a military council. • Supreme Court Judge Thanin Kraivixien was appointed prime minister on October 8, but the real power lay with the National


Administrative Reform Council, the group of military officers who staged the coup. December • EgyptAir flight 863 from Cairo crashed on approach to Don Muang airport killing all 52 aboard. The Boeing 707 hit an industrial complex and also killed 19 nightshift workers. The Public Prosecutor Department dropped charges against former military strongmen for suppressing the 1973 democracy uprising. The prosecutors said that there was no evidence against Thanom, Praphas and Narong.

• Heavily armed communist insurgents ambushed a Thai military convoy on a road near the Lao border in Nan province, killing 22 of 26 Thai soldiers. The communists fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the convoy. It was the biggest loss of life on the Thai government side in the 12-year-old conflict. The Army said the insurgents also suffered heavy losses. *Sources for this story include archives of UPI, AFP, the Bangkok Post, The Nation and Wikipedia.


es masat prot ober) Tham 1976 (Oct e campus th on up d are rounde




p Meet the people uniting nations

His Excellency Emilio de Miguel Calabia Diplomatic life in the time of Covid-19 for the Spanish ambassador



Diplomatic life in the time of Covid-19 for the Spanish ambassador Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

During a recent interview at his official residence, His Excellency Emilio de Miguel Calabia joked that he’s come to know the Spanish Embassy on Ratchadaphisek Road overlooking Benjakitti Park very well. That’s because he has served Spain in Thailand for a total of nine years in three different postings, and since September 2017 has been head of its mission here. It’s also fair to say he has come to know Thailand very well, and his affection for the country is obvious. Much of the interview was focused on the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions it has placed on the job of diplomacy. Mr Calabia said the crisis had affected his plans for 2020, but with the situation slowly getting back to normal he is looking forward to resuming a full schedule. Background “I was born in Madrid in 1965 and entered the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in 1990,” said the ambassador. “My father was a lawyer and my mother a housewife. I have two sisters. I am the first diplomat in the family. In the beginning of my career I went to different parts of the world like Cameroon in Africa, then Yugoslavia and Bolivia in South America. Then I discovered Southeast Asia. This is my third assignment in Thailand, following two different postings in the Philippines and in Singapore. In between foreign postings I also became a specialist in Southeast Asian affairs. I held the position of the Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and Pacific for four years. “I joined the MFA because I have always been very interested in travelling and knowing other cultures. As a diplomat you manage to know other countries in a way no normal tourist can. You are not just traveling; you are getting involved in the cultures of the countries where you live.

“During previous assignments at the Spanish embassy in Bangkok I’ve done consular, political and cultural work. I came to Thailand for the first time in 1996 and left in 1999. The second assignment here was from 2005 to 2008. I took my ambassador post in September 2017. This is my first ambassadorial assignment. I am concurrently also ambassador to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. I haven’t been able to travel to these countries, or anywhere else, in recent months because of Covid-19 restrictions, but normally I am traveling a lot. “The current period of staying in place has its advantages. I am not unhappy staying put. My life had become too stressful so it’s good to have the opportunity to stop for a while,” the ambassador admitted. He said that in April and May the main task of the embassy was to repatriate non-resident Spanish nationals back home. Now the pressure to get tourists home safe and sound has decreased enormously and the embassy can focus less on consular duties. “I’ve restarted diplomatic meetings. The economic TheBigChilli


and commercial aspects of the job are also regaining importance, which I like. “I am quite optimistic about the future. I think the world will rebound and here in Thailand they have managed Covid-19 very well. In this respect, I feel very safe. I am convinced that Thailand will be completely reopened by the end of the year. I am one of those who believe that maybe Covid-19 will just fade out, like what happened with SARS. You hear so many different things about how Covid-19 affects people. Some people with preconditions have died, and people who were healthy have died, but many others have been exposed and didn’t even realize it. There have been reports that blood type has an influence on how severely someone will be affected by the virus. Personally, I have the impression the virus is getting weaker.”

precedence for the foreseeable future. “Understandably, the relations between our two countries are now at a low pitch because of Covid. But we retain the same high level of mutual sympathy and regard. There are no major troubles between our countries, but as always we are looking for ways to increase bilateral ties. I’ve noticed that many people in Thailand do not have a proper knowledge of Spain. We would like to convey to our Thai friends that Spain is a very modern country with a high level of technology. We have a very rich and diverse culture. This is the image we wish to convey to Thailand. “We share some national characteristics which tend to bolster our relations. For example, both cultures are very family-oriented and our peoples are very sociable. However, there’s a lot of ground for improvement, and

Bilateral relations “As life returns little by little to normal I am increasingly focused on promoting bilateral relations between Spain and Thailand. I am scheduled for meetings at Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I’ve already begun meetings with Spanish businessmen,” said Mr de Miguel Calabia. Meetings have been conducted through video conferencing and for a while people-to-people contacts will be kept small. Cultural events are also in the works, but until the end of the year these should be approached through a virtual format, said the ambassador. “Spain opened its embassy in Bangkok in 1961. We employ 25 people, both Spanish officials and local staff. Spain and Thailand established diplomatic relations exactly 150 years ago. We had a program scheduled to celebrate the anniversary, but we will have to move it to a digital format. We originally planned to bring speakers to Thailand from Spain and conduct some activities jointly with the Siam Society, but whether we like it or not digital contacts will take

Alhambra fortress, Granada 68


I am quite optimistic about the future. I think the world will rebound and here in Thailand they have managed Covid-19 very well. In this respect, I feel very safe. I am convinced that Thailand will be completely reopened by the end of the year. I am one of those who believe that maybe Covid-19 will just fade out, like what happened with SARS.



Cuenca town

Ibiza island

that makes me sorry that all my plans for this year have had to be put somewhat on standby.” Mr de Miguel Calabia said that trade between Thailand and Spain has held up fairly well, but noted that international trade has fallen pretty much everywhere over the last three months. “In 2019 Spain exported to Thailand products valued at almost US$1 billion, and imported from Thailand products worth about $1.2 billion. We have a deficit with most countries in ASEAN. We import mainly seafood, vehicles and auto parts, machinery, tools and rubber. We export mainly machinery and tools, chemicals and cars. “There are about 40 Spanish companies operating in Thailand. The Spanish-Thai Chamber of Commerce was established just this year. Some major Spanish 70


Twenty years ago we would have one marriage of a Spanish-Thai couple every three or four months. Now there may be several in a single month.

companies in Thailand are Amadeus, in the tourism sector; Indra, a global technology company; and Roca, a toiletries manufacturer. “Our societies are getting closer and closer. About 1,200 Spanish nationals now reside in Thailand; twenty years ago it was less than 200. Twenty years ago we would have one marriage of a Spanish-Thai couple every three or four months. Now there may be several in a single month. Last year 200,000 Spanish tourists visited Thailand. I can’t tell you how many Thai citizens visited Spain because of the Schengen visas.”

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Cervantes birthplace museum, Madrid

Roman theatre in Mérida TheBigChilli



Mosque - Cathedral of Córdoba

Personal “I truly enjoy my career. As for hobbies, I especially like reading and writing, and also going to the gym. Before the Covid-19 I used to travel around Thailand on weekends, but since mid-March I’ve left Bangkok only twice for short periods. “I sometimes eat at Spanish restaurants along Sukhumvit. I have a Spanish chef at my residence. He is excellent. Here in Thailand people like the Spanish dish paella, which is like khao pad. They also like to eat Spanish cold cuts like ham. The Spanish breakfast dish known as churros is well known to many Thais. You should try it with chocolate. “Like most Thais, Spanish people love football and I’m no different. Many Spaniards are missing football. The Spanish League has many fans in Thailand; in fact it is second only to the English Premier League.” Mr de Miguel Calabia feels very much at home 72


in Thailand, and this is partly because he can speak and read Thai. “I can’t write in Thai because the orthography is very difficult. Besides Spanish I can speak English and French well, and long ago I studied Russian. I think if I studied again for one or two months I would recover it quite quickly. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Thai authorities. Since my arrival in 2017 they have been very supportive. We have had very good relations with the MFA and other Thai agencies. There are at least two diplomats at the MFA who speak Spanish well. One of these is the desk officer for Spain at the ministry. This makes things easier for us. Whenever I need something from the MFA, she is always the one I call. “Since I first came here many years ago I have always genuinely liked the Thai people. I find them very friendly, generous and compassionate, and they are respectful of others,” Mr de Miguel Calabia concluded the interview.

Puente de Alcántara (Toledo)

Aqueduc of Segovia

Curriculum Vitae of H.E. Emilio de Miguel Calabia Graduation Bachelor in Law, Spain. Professional experience • 1990: Head of Multilateral Affairs/Third Secretary, General Direction of Europe. • 1990 -1992: Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Spain in Yaoundé, Cameroon. • 1993-1994: First Secretary in the Embassy of Spain in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. • 1994 -1996: Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Spain in La Paz, Bolivia. • 1996 -1997: First Secretary, Embassy of Spain in Bangkok, Thailand. • 1997 -1999: Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Spain in Bangkok, Thailand. • 1999 -2000: Head of Cultural Services, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid, Spain. • 2000 2002: Advisor - Cabinet of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid, Spain. • 2002 -2005: Consul, Consulate General of Spain in Manila, the Philippines. • 2005 -2008: First Secretary, Embassy of Spain in

Bangkok, Thailand. • 2008 -2011: Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Spain in Singapore. • 2011 -2013: Technical Counsellor - Direction General for North, North America, Asia and the Pacific. Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid, Spain. • 2013 -2017: Deputy Director-General for Southeast Asia, the Pacific and the Philippines. • September 26, 2017: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Spain to the Kingdom of Thailand. • February 9, 2018: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Spain to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. • February 23, 2018: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Spain to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. • November 26, 2018: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Spain to the Kingdom of Cambodia. Current • Minister Plenipotentiary. Decorations • The Order of Isabel La Católica, Officer.



Reporter’s notebook

Great stories of the past FROM THE YEAR 2007

How a top cop recruits informants to help fight the international drug gangs By Maxmilian Wechsler

With his insider’s knowledge of the international drugs trade, Police Major General Amaresrit Wattanavibool has the kind of experience that could provide background material for books and movies about the criminal underworld.


fter investing 30 years of his life in the suppression of illicit drugs, resulting in several hundred major cases and over 1,000 arrests, Police Major General Amaresrit Wattanavibool is clearly one of the world’s most experienced policemen in the field. In Thailand, penalties for drug trafficking are severe. Those who slip up face the loss not only of high profits, but possibly even their lives. Therefore, bribe offers are not uncommon. By all accounts, Amaresrit has survived all the challenges to his honour, and is widely respected for his honesty and dedication. Ever since he first became an anti-narcotics cop back in 1976, the word on the streets has been: “Once Amaresrit gets you, there's no negotiation, no mercy and no deal. It is all over and you go to jail!” Proof of his excellence is in the numerous commendations presented to him by various foreign law enforcement agencies like the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), many of which are displayed in his office at the Narcotic Suppression Bureau (NSB) headquarters in Bangkok. His comprehensive insider’s view of the drug trade in Thailand and abroad, if published, would make

fascinating reading, a likely bestseller ahead of some famous authors of fiction. In fact, Amaresrit indicated during a three-hour interview that he is considering writing a book after his retirement in four years’ time. From what he said, he shouldn’t write a book but an encyclopedia. His reputation as a serious and rarely smiling police officer is due in large part to the harsh realities of his chosen profession. He has seen it all - from policemen killed or injured while on duty to addicts on the verge of death. But according to long-time friends and family members, Amaresrit is actually a very caring, sensitive and gentle person. He described how his career began: “After the Vietnam War many former American GIs came to Thailand to live. Some of them began to build heroin distribution networks from the Golden Triangle to the US. They were in contact with members of Khun Sa’s syndicate in the North, and were sending large heroin shipments to the US. At that time we were handling many cases with a direct American connection. “Back then, there was no police unit in Thailand directly responsible for handling international drug trafficking investigations. We sat down and discussed the problem with US embassy officials. They offered to

For a long time we had trafficking mainly to the US and Europe. But now the trend is changing, as many counties are involved in trafficking drugs from and through Thailand.



Pol Maj Gen Amaresrit Wattanavibool TheBigChilli


Reporter’s notebook

Headquarters of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Laksi district of Bangkok

sponsor a special police unit that would deal with the problem. That’s when the Metropolitan Narcotic Unit (MNU) was created. I transferred there from the Bang Sue police station in 1976.” The MNU operated out of a rented house located on Sukhumvit Road, Soi 15. The unit was swamped with cases from the beginning, but proved its effectiveness. This was partly due to support from the DEA, which was the first foreign agency to work with the Thai police in narcotic investigations, followed by the Australians. “Now there are about 20 countries that assign law enforcement people to work with us. We are working very closely with everyone. The foreign law enforcement agencies are usually attached to their embassies and have no authority to work as investigators (this must be approved by Thai officials). We exchange information, and if they have a case they want to investigate or want to conduct surveillance, we will do it and allow them to join us. We work as partners,” Amaresrit explained. He couldn’t name a single “biggest case”, saying rather that there have been many that might qualify, “especially international ones.” He elaborated on a recent operation codenamed Short Time: “With cooperation from the Australian Federal Police, DEA and law enforcement officials from New Zealand and other countries, we arrested two Hong Kong citizens, a New Zealander and his Thai wife in Phuket, and seized 40 kg of heroin. They smuggled the drug from the North and planned to send it on a yacht to Australia.” He has also been periodically assigned to tasks 76


other than narcotics suppression. For example, he has been involved in a collaborative effort with the US Secret Service to track down counterfeit US currency, and a large investigation involving the violation of intellectual property rights, such as pirated CDs. Changing trends Amaresrit talked about the evolution of the drug trade and its suppression since he first came to the MNU. After the Americans, the drug syndicates from Europe began to arrive here and build connections, he said. “For a long time we had trafficking mainly to the US and Europe. Not much was going to the rest of Asia. But now the trend is changing, as many counties are involved in trafficking drugs from and through Thailand.” In the past the syndicates usually hired people from Asian countries to be heroin couriers. “After we intercepted and arrested a number of these with a lot of heroin, more and more often the runners came from Eastern Europe. After we got wise to this, they started to hire people from West African countries,” said Amaresrit. He noted that Afghanistan is the biggest opium grower and heroin manufacturing country in the world, producing 80-90% of the world’s output, a lot of which enters Pakistan. “This may come as a shock to many people, but Pakistan has no connection with smuggling to Thailand. Now a West African syndicate imports Afghan heroin here,” Amaresrit claimed. He went on: “Myanmar and Laos account for about

10% of the opium grown worldwide, and heroin production in these countries has decreased dramatically in past years. This is extremely good news.” The NSB has a staff of about 1,200 men and women in Thailand, around 400 of them who are under his command. “I am in charge of Division 1, which covers Bangkok and provincial police regions one, two and three bordering Laos and Cambodia. We have also 20 policemen stationed at Suvarnabhumi International Airport,” said Amaresrit, adding that help from informers is vital. On this subject, Amaresrit remarked: “The traffickers constantly change their ways of smuggling drugs, so we need good intelligence and informants. To improve our capability to cope with the changing ways of the traffickers, we decided to launch a project called ‘Top Informant’ which aims to recruit informers. “The project was launched on December 1, 2006 and we have already had a very good response. Over 500 people have already applied,” Amaresrit said. He also said that they are looking for serious applicants, not people who “want to be James Bond,” adding that if someone knows a person selling small quantities of drugs, for example 10 methamphetamine (ya ba) tablets, they can contact the NSB’s special unit. He explained that informants can get rewards for their information according to government guidelines. “For example, if we seize one kg of ‘ice’ the reward is 100,000 baht. As for ya ba, the reward is three baht per tablet, with a maximum of one million baht; for heroin the reward is 20,000 baht per kg. We will also pay some expenses for the time the informant works for us,” he said. Amaresrit’s colleagues, both Thais and foreigners, speak highly of him. Frank Davies, a career diplomat from Australia who lives in Bangkok, was the first Australian official with whom Amaresrit worked. Davies recently recalled travelling to Bangkok to enlist the assistance of the MNU in a “matter of a mutual interest” when he was first secretary of the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the1970s. “That’s when I met Amaresrit, then a young police lieutenant. Over a number of years, including my time as First Secretary of the Australian Embassy

in Bangkok, I had the pleasure of working with him and his team on many, many occasions. They were all professional, dedicated and keen people. “Police Maj Gen Amaresrit was an inspiration not only to his unit but to the many foreign officers he worked with. He was an outstanding example of Thai law enforcement,” Davies concluded. Amaresrit noted that many people in Thailand complain about police corruption, but he said his department is not like that. “We are different. We have our own headquarters and work every day with the international law enforcement agencies. We have learned many things from them,” he said. “I don’t make arrests now, but sometimes when we have a big operation I control it from the operation room, and I’m involved in interrogation, especially of foreigners because I know how to deal with them,” he added. Amaresrit admitted that his devotion to duty has affected his private life and taken time away from his family. “I try to do my best and this requires a lot of time. I always think about my job when I’m at home. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable about my work because of the pressure. When I look back, I realise that I have missed out on a lot with my family and relatives,” he said. Aside from travel, for enjoyment Amaresrit likes to read and play sports - soccer, tennis and, more recently, golf, which has become his favourite. “I started to play golf only two years ago. I should have started much earlier because I would be a better golfer today,” said Amaresrit with a rare smile. Behind the stor y: Despite making hundreds of arrests, often involving some extremely dangerous cases, Pol Maj Gen Amaresrit rarely talked to the press about his life. Thus, to be granted an interview even after knowing each other 30 years was a milestone. He knew many secrets like who control drug trade in Thailand and outside, and who are the informers without whose help it would be more difficult to make seizures and arrests. Pol Maj Gen Amaresrit’s office was full of plagues and commendations as you can observe on the photos. TheBigChilli


Reporter’s notebook

Dog’s best friend By Maxmilian Wechsler

Police Lieutenant Colonel Chatchai Settheepanlarn requested a transfer to head the K9 unit of the Royal Thai Police because he feels it has great significance to the security of the country.


he old saying that dogs are man’s best friend couldn’t be more true than when applied to the Thai Police Dog (K9) unit. “Since it was established in 1954, the unit has played a major part in solving and preventing many important crimes throughout the country,” explains Police Lieutenant Colonel Chatchai Settheepanlarn, who is currently in charge of training. But despite its distinguished history, the unit has not received much recognition. “Not too many people know about us. I would like to make the K9 unit more known to the general public. Everyone should know how the dogs are beneficial to the country,” said Pol Lt Col Chatchai, who requested a transfer to the post in 2006. This was somewhat unusual, as not too many policemen actually want to work with dogs. “I’ve always loved animals, especially dogs. I wanted to improve and develop the police K9 unit because it has great significance to the security of the country. I like this job and enjoy the challenges,” added the officer, whose dream from childhood was to become a police officer. “I think that the police uniform is very sacred when worn. I feel that I am the guardian of the public peace, taking away anxieties and helping provide happiness for the people. I am very proud.” After I observed a regular morning training session at the K9 unit headquarters on Viphawadee-Rangsit Road in Bangkok and was given a tour of the main building, Chatchai began the interview with the basics: “Many people don’t know what the internationally recognised term K9 actually means. It is a play on the word ‘canine’, meaning dog. “Our unit is under the 191 Special Operations Division of the Royal Thai Police (RTP) Metropolitan Bureau.” The immense affection between the K9 officers and their four-legged “best friends” is apparent during the training exercises. One can’t help but feel sympathy for these men whose reputations are tarnished almost daily by stories of a minority of rogue policemen reported in the press. 78


Chatchai loves every one of his dogs, but the most favoured is a two-year-old German shepherd named Nuclear. Maybe the surname Bomb should be added as well, judging from the behaviour of this large and quite beautiful animal. “He is an attack dog,” Chatchai said. “The bottom line is that someone with bad intentions wouldn’t like to have any business with him.” It is quite amazing that such a dangerous looking animal would be so obedient to its master. Pol Lt Col Chatchai talked of his goals for the K9 unit. “I have a plan to bring the police dog unit up to a higher standard and make it more effective within the RTP, but I am still missing a number of necessary ingredients, like new training equipment to replace what is old and broken. “We need new pick-up trucks and containers to transport the dogs,” he continued. “The vehicles we have, due to their long service, allow water to enter when it rains.” In addition, special protective clothing that covers the whole body, manufactured abroad, is needed to train the dogs properly. Time, patience and devotion “Since being assigned to the K9 unit, I've initiated

Policemen training their dogs at K9 unit HQ on Viphawadee-Ransit Road in Bangkok

Pol Lt Col Chatchai Settheepanlarn with his favorite dog, Nuclear TheBigChilli


Reporter’s notebook

A police dog zeroes in on illegal drugs hidden under a car during a training session

two projects: Friends of Police K9s, and Stray Dogs Against Criminals,” said Pol Lt Col Chatchai. “The first project allows members of the public to bring their dogs here for training similar to that which our dogs receive. This is free of charge. After training, some of the dogs and their also well-trained owners may become K9 volunteers - “Silver Canines” – to help local police in searching for drugs and other jobs as requested. The second programme is to train stray dogs to help the police for various purposes, such as to apprehend suspects. Chatchai admitted, however, that to train these dogs is not easy. It requires a lot of time, patience and devotion, but, he insists, it can be done. He is also involved in publicising the benefits of the K9 unit to the general public. Asked how many dogs the unit has, the officer replied: “I can’t tell you that because it is secret. This information could benefit the criminals. What I can say is that the number of personnel and dogs in the unit is not sufficient, when considering our responsibility and the area of operation, which covers not only Bangkok but sometimes the whole country.” “Dogs are very useful for the owner who knows their value. They can be used in many roles. Sometimes they can save the lives of policemen, as in the three restive southern Thai provinces. If we had enough dogs, we wouldn’t lose as many lives as we 80


Machines can break down or can be ignored, but not the dogs. They are faithful and have perfect scent, 40 times more sensitive than humans. We train them so that they can distinguish every scent. These dogs can’t be tricked. do today. Police dogs help both in the prevention and suppression of crimes.” Pol Lt Col Chatchai said that dogs for training are normally obtained from dog farms, aged less than one year old but over four months. Only male dogs are used because females are “not so reliable.” A committee evaluates the dogs and chooses them for certain functions according to their characteristics. “For patrolling and crowd control, for instance, a dog must be brave in nature, agile, and not afraid

of loud noises. He must not be afraid of people, and not easily excited. He must possess a strong will to work and have a good sense of awareness so that he is fully alert while on duty. He must possess the characteristics of a fighter and be strong.” The dogs are trained for three months in basic courses and another three months or so in advanced courses. At about 18 months old, they will be assessed and tested. If they pass, they will enter service as Third Class K9s. They will be promoted to Second Class after three years in service and to First Class after another three years. After another two years on duty, they will retire at about nine years of age. German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are the two types of dogs used most. According to Pol Lt Col Chatchai, these are considered the two best breeds for the purpose all over the world, whether by police, military security companies. The German Shepherd a multi-purpose dog, capable of doing many jobs. They are the best for patrolling, crowd control and protection. As for Labradors, they have extremely sensitive smelling capabilities and are also very friendly with humans. To sniff out drugs, other breeds such as Beagles are sometimes used, and even Thai dogs are currently in the process of being trained. Each dog is specially trained for only one important area-to sniff for drugs or explosives, to help in crowd control and patrol duties, to help identify suspects, and so on. Pol Lt Col Chatchai said that no machine, no matter how sophisticated, can replace police dogs. “Machines can break down or can be ignored, but not the dogs. They are faithful and have perfect scent, 40 times more sensitive than humans. They are also very hard to cheat, for example by using pepper spray. We train them so that they can distinguish every scent. These dogs can’t be tricked.” Chatchai pointed out that if the drug is concealed in a person, the dog will not attack or bite but will sit beside or keep follow the suspect. “There’s a close bond between trainers and dogs. Usually, both stay together during the dog’s working life. The trainer must love the dog, be patient and sensitive of his feelings.” He said they don’t reward the dogs with food for especially good performance, as they are already wellfed and in general very well cared-for. But the unit chief said he would like to reward them by obtaining better equipment for them to play and learn. Pol Lt Col Chatchai said his unit stays very busy, working around the clock if needed. They get half a dozen requests per day for dogs from all over Thailand, and also participate in searches at airports, embassies and prisons.

Behind the stor y: It was quite surprising to see the main building of the K9 unit in a process of dilapidation, with water leaking in several places. I was told that the unit was lacking funds for repairs and essential items. Despite that, all police dog handlers continued to give the dogs the best care and training possible. Both trainers and dogs were ready for action 24/7. I witnessed a training session and was truly amazed at what these beautiful animals are capable of. Frankly, I felt pity for the police officers living in apartments at the K9 compound with their families. I wish people who criticize the police could see with their own eyes the dedication these officers display and the sacrifices they make in order to protect the public. Hopefully, the Royal Thai Police will assign more resources to this deserving unit. TheBigChilli


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The BigChilli July 2020