The BigChilli March 2021

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BITS & BITES Centara’s Staycation Deal – Valid Until 30 June 2021 Centara Grand at Central World’s ‘The Place to Be’ package runs from now until 30 June 2021 and includes: THB 1,400 daily hotel credit to purchase food, beverages, or spa Early check-ins and late checkouts to 21.00 hrs. Complimentary Wi-Fi access and complimentary stay for children less than 12 years of age sharing parents’ room. NOTE: Unlimited lunchtime Dim Sum for THB 850++ at Dynasty, Centara Grand at CentralWorld. Tel.+66(0)2 100 6255.

Dine at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn and receive one-night stay free Enjoy a meal at Blunos or The Glass House restaurants at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn, and for every THB 3,999 (net) per bill, receive a complimentary one-night stay in a Superior Room for two persons (excluding breakfast) or buffet at The Glass House or afternoon tea set of your choice. Available from now until 31 August 2021. Tel +66 2 210 8100 or or visit our website

Marriott Surawongse’s ‘Be Our Guest’ dining and accommodation deal Enjoy accommodation, breakfast and dinner from THB 2,999++ at Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse. )LULђ[Z PUJS\KL :WHJPV\Z +LS\_L 9VVT HUK Suite (1, 2 Bedrooms), buffet breakfast and dinner at the award-winning Yào Rooftop Bar or Praya Kitchen. Available until 31 March 2021. Tel. 02 088 56666

Sindhorn Midtown’s anniversary deal Enjoy 24-hour stay in a Highline Premier on OPNOLY ѓVVYZ VM :PUKOVYU 4PK[V^U H[ VUS` THB1,111++ per night (room only). ;OL +V\ISL :\P[L +V\ISL /HWWPULZZ promotion offers an additional free night when book a One-Bedroom Suite for only THB 4,411++. The promotion includes 24hour stay service, daily breakfast for two WLYZVUZ HUK VUL [PTL MYLL TPUPIHY (]HPSHISL \U[PS +LJLTILY Sindhorn Midtown is located at 68 Langsuan Road, Lumpini Bangkok. Tel 02-796-8888 or visit

PUBLISHER Colin Hastings EDITOR Nina Hastings SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Thana Pongsaskulchoti ACCOUNTING MANAGER Janjira Silapapairson 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 welcomes unsolicited contributions but assumes no responsibility for the safe-keeping or return of such materials damaged or lost in transit.

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

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Enjoy the divine cooking of Bangkok’s foremost chef, only at the Montien Hotel Surawong

Welcome to Phar-Ram 1V Bistro by Chef Herve – the coolest day-and-night café and bistro in Bangkok A sensational new dining venue that changes from a cosy Europeanstyle café and deli by day into a chic wine bar at night serving exquisite French cuisine prepared by highly acclaimed Master Chef Herve Frerard has been unveiled at the Montien Hotel Bangkok Surawong. Called Phar Ram IV Bistro by Chef Herve, this exciting newcomer to Bangkok’s vibrant restaurant scene presents a unique dual dining concept that is destined to become a must go-to wine, dine and get together venue in the increasingly popular Surawong area of Bangkok.

Brilliantly conceptualized by leading designers P49, The Bistro by Chef Herve exudes a relaxed ambiance that’s ideal for all occasions, from breakfast and quick or long lunches to afternoon teas, happy hour drinks and fun-filled evenings. Accessible from both Rama 4 and Surawong roads, this elegant restaurant is just one of the many highlights in the new-look Montien Hotel Surawong, a legendary property now undergoing a spectacular multi-million baht renovation program known as ‘Revival of the Original.’ TheBigChilli


changes its mood and becomes a very different kind of venue – a cozy chill-out bar for after-work Happy Hours drinks or a long evening of good food, fun and laughter. The drinks menu features some of the best wines available in Thailand, plus two varieties of chilled draft beer, top-rated Scottish malt whiskies, sake, gins and a long list of cocktails, The Dinner menu, inspired and individually prepared by Chef Herve, is Mediterranean in character, and reflects his wonderful creativity, with sensible pricing for every dish. Start with a choice of “Wine Friendly Dishes’ like Traditional Pork Rillette and Farmer Terrine, Campagne Bread, then move on to a selection of delicious starters, including Vegetable Ratatouille, Slow-Cooked Egg; Crispy Campagne Bread, Italian Burrata Cheese with Organic Heirloom Tomato; or Chef Herve’s famous Gratinated French Onion Soup, with Comté Cheese Bread. The Pastas and Main Dishes are a master class in culinary The restaurant’s ‘Grab and Go’ or ‘Stay and Enjoy’ daytime menu features a tantalizing array of authentic French croissants and a choice delicious sandwiches, all freshly made by Chef Herve himself. These include the famous Rueben as well as homemade pastrami, Swiss cheese with Fries, Cuban Sandwich, Pork and Ham with mustard and Fries, and Australian Wagyu Beef Burger with Fries. Other favorite deli products include Organic and Traditional salads with Slow Roasted Chicken Fillet, and Smoked Salmon Salad. For those with a sweet tooth, the house-made desserts are simply sensational - Burnt Cheese Cake with Strawberry Coulis, Passion Fruit Pannacotta and much more. Available around the clock are the restaurant’s freshly made coffee, imported teas, juices and cold drinks, including the resident Mixologist’s special ‘Energy Fuel’ – an invigorating cocktail of exotic fruits and vegetables. With the setting sun, The Bistro by Chef Herve 6


I’m passionate about food and I’m putting my heart and soul into this project. Cooking is an act of love"- Chef Herve

¶2QH IRU 7ZR· DW 3KDU 5DP 9 %LVWUR From now until March 31, enjoy a selection of superb wines from New Zealand, Italy and Chile, as well as draught beer, cocktails and spirits, including gin, vodka, whisky and Tequila. Buy one, get two.

excellence. They include amazing creations like Parpadelle with Anchovies, Tomatoes, Capers and Kalamata Olives; Linguine Rustichella with White Prawns and Calabria Sausage; and Seabass Fillet, Cauliflower Puree, Champignon Mushroom Espuma, and Caper Butter. And it would be hard to find a tastier or more skillfully prepared Australian Lamb Rack or Tajima Wagyu Beef Fillet than Chef Herve’s awesome creations. For a sweet finale to a great meal, try one of his desserts, such as Japanese Style Caramel Custard; Madagascar Vanilla Crème Brûlée; and Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Phar-Ram 1V Bistro by Chef Herve. The Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok, 54 Thanon Surawong, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500. Tel: 02 233 7060; TheBigChilli




‘Joe’ Henry Marketing communications expert

Name: Joseph Henry Nickname: Joe Born: May 3, 1967, in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Family: All my family lives in Vancouver, Canada. I was in a long-term relationship with a Thai lady, however we did not have children, so I’ve no family here in Bangkok. Where do you live? I live in the Thonglor area of Bangkok. Profession: I am a Corporate and Marketing Communications expert with 25 years of experience in Asia. What is your present position? (Work, and name of company): CEO and Co-Founder of Vivaldi Public Relations 8


What does your company do?: Vivaldi is primarily in the business of consulting on reputation management strategies for companies organizations and major events through public communications channels like the media, online and social channels too. Any other business interests?: Right now, Vivaldi is developing new business services that will meet market demands requiring creativity, digital content, and influence in Thailand and internationally in the coming years. In this time of crisis we are seeing opportunities! First job – and why?: Through some friends, I had the splendidly good fortune to meet Khun Suddhitham Chirathivat, who at that time was the CEO of Central Pattana on my first visit to Thailand. It was not long after that he offered me a Marketing Manager position at Central Pattana. Without hesitation, I jumped at

the opportunity to move over to Bangkok. Early influences: My Father started his first successful business when I was six years old. I helped do simple odd jobs on his real estate restoration projects. Dad taught me about doing honest hard work to make money. From 8 years old onward, all I ever wanted to do was be a business owner. How long in Thailand?: I have been in Thailand since 1996, with a couple of years back in Hong Kong and Canada mixed into that. Where did you work before Thailand?: The first real job I landed was as a journalist and anchorman at TVB Network the biggest English TV Channel in Hong Kong. After graduation, I wanted to travel in Asia for a year, when I quite suddenly scouted by TVB and shortly afterward offered a very cool job. The opportunity to live and work in Asia as an expat was a much better way forward than being a backpacker. What brought you here?: After working at TVB network in Hong Kong, I went around the region to Singapore, Manila, then Bangkok to assess what type of marketing job opportunities were out there. I had some excellent offers in Singapore and liked it there, yet still, I fell in love with Thailand. How did your career progress? : While working for Central Pattana, I gained excellent experience and quickly built an impressive influencer network of business and social contacts in Bangkok. Yet, I yearned for more entrepreneurial challenges. In 1998, together with a partner, I jumped into the TheBigChilli



world of technology to start a era enterprise with an e-commerce enabling software for small and medium-size retail businesses. We moved to Canada’s Technology Triangle on Ontario where we built a successful business model, attracted investors, and became listed on the NASDAQ OTC market. Regretfully, we got caught up in the year 2000 market crash and did not survive. The exhilaration of believing that you will change the world was an experience that I will forever cherish. After recovering from that intense period of my life, I got offered a director level position in leading PR agencies overseeing Strategy, Business Development, and Client Services for clients like Nokia, H&P, Alcatel and Fed Ex. In 2004, I co-founded Vivaldi PR with my friend, well-known businessman Jobe Nakchareon. Your best-ever work assignment? The best work assignment was when Vivaldi PR got appointed as the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta’s official PR agency. Vivaldi has been blessed to have the privilege to work on a worldrenowned event that honors His Majesty the King. We’ve been the agency of record for 15 years, have become good friends with many in of the great people and around the organization. Vivaldi has won multiple 10


international sports industry awards for our outstanding work for the Regatta. Least enjoyable work project? Sometimes, in our business, you can get caught up in a client’s internal toxic infighting. Working in that climate is not much fun. Apart from your business, what else keeps you here?: Besides owning a few properties, a great company, the hot weather, the trail running scene, and many great friends here, Thailand has simply become my home. Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met?: I’ve met many interesting people over the years. One that stands out for me was the singer Alicia Keys. Most irritating?: I had one client hire my company for an event. It was very successful! He immediately started headhunting my staff, demanded our complete media database, and even threatened to withhold payment. Luckily, we’ve only ever worked with one such person. Do you keep up with the political situation in Thailand – and if so, how? I keep up with it only in the sense of how it impacts work or business. Favorite social medium? I am quite active on Facebook, Instagram, and Linked-in with about 20 thousand combined followers on all three. Each has different characteristics that I like. Facebook is a highly shareable platform that helps amplify personal and business content. Instagram is a good platform that showcases great photos and videos, and Linked-in stands out for its business networking. Will Thailand’s travel industr y eventually back from Covid19 and when is that likely to happen? Yes, most definitely. Have you ever met a person anywhere in the world that doesn’t rave about



Profile how amazing Thailand is? Decades of goodwill among travelers and the rapid development of ASEAN, China, and India will guarantee that. It’s going to come back in a big way by 2023. Any predictions about life after Covid 19? There will be many changes which we can see now. Virtual meetings, remote working, Vaccine passports and I hope a much greater focus in hygiene. Candidly speaking, I am a bit of a germaphobe. Having alcohols gels everywhere is wonderful for me. Any major setbacks or disappointments in your life / career? Two significant business setbacks in my career standout. The first was when my tech startup fell about one year behind in product development, delaying launch until just before the bubble burst. The second was when a major property my business partner and I had legitimately won in an auction was somehow nullified. Just a months later, that loophole used by the bank involved was closed by the Legal Execution Department. It would have been a windfall. How good is your address book? My address book now is Facebook, Linked-in, and Line. It’s better than ever.



What’s your favorite restaurant in Bangkok? My favorite is Bourbon Street, with its menu full of comfort food like my Mom made at home back in Canada. Any other favorite hang-out places? Living in Thonglor, just three minutes walk to the Commons and J Avenue with all the cafes and restaurants, I’m spoiled for options. Hobbies and exercise? I am very passionate about Trail Running and travel out of Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, and Chonburi 2-3 weekends a month. My achievements in trail running were recently recognized by the Columbia Outdoor Sportswear brand which invited me to become part of the Columbia Trail Running Team; I will be representing Thailand at the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc,the de-facto World Championship held in Chamonix, Switzerland, later this year! Favorite weekend destination? Chiang Mai is the best place for trail running adventures. When pollution is a problem, I go south to Krabi or Phuket. Is Bangkok a better place to live and visit today compared to when you first arrived? When I first arrived in Bangkok, the city was going through growing pains with harmful pollution, traffic jams, and massive construction. It seems like we are in the exact same situation now again, just with a lot more shopping malls and condo towers. I genuinely wish there were vision and oversight here. I suppose we can always hope for more. What could Bangkok do better? Bangkok’s development of much enlarged Benjakitti Park is a good start. A few more massive sized parks, keeping motorbikes off sidewalks, and serious pollution controls would ensure its place as one of the world’s greatest cities. Biggest myth or rumor about Bangkok / Thailand? The biggest myth about Bangkok is that it is cheap here. That might be so for a budget tourist, but for an expat, cars, mobile phones, appliances, quality health insurance, education, and many things are more expensive here than back at home. Can you imagine living anywhere else? Yes, I could for sure, at least for six-months annually, if the pollution stays oppressively unhealthy and unchecked. It is genuinely ruining the quality of life here. What’s next for you? Business-wise , it will be the regional expansion and sports-wise and personally, it will be to finally become a trail running champion!


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Cover Story



By Joseph Henry

Trail Running hero Dad and his amazing daughters How Bangkok baker and single father Manfred Waibl uses his passion for sport to overcome enormous family challenges

Q We mostly see our heroes as great athletes, billionaire entrepreneurs or international celebs. But sometimes you come across ordinary people who are amazing role models, doing heroic deeds - without reward or fanfare. During a recent mountain Trail run, I met a father whose unconditional love for his two young daughters is truly inspirational, allowing them to dream big, and to never let a serious challenge stop them from achieving their goals. He's Manfred Waibl, 45, a single father from Innsbruck, Austria, who is passing on his passion for sport, especially Trail running, to help his children overcome enormous odds. “I've lived in Thailand for 15 years. Before coming here, I was on a 10-year work assignment in Hong Kong. My passion other than sport is artisan bakery and retail management. Currently I am heading the Central Food Retail Bakeries at Central Food Hall and the Training Department in our Retail Academy. Making bread is truly rewarding, from its creation to receiving customer appreciation. From hiking mountains to Trail running I started Trail running very young, about ten years old. About that time, I played in the national badminton squad, and we used to train in the forests behind the sports center for cross training. I remember signing up for a local Trail race and came first in my age group. I was awarded a giant trophy and was immediately hooked. All my family is into mountain sports, and we hiked over the mountains as far back as I can remember. My younger brother is still my Trail running buddy when at home. He knows the best routes. TheBigChilli


Cover Story I started real competitive Trail running during my time in Hong Kong to help balance a hectic work life schedule. Hong Kong is the ultimate Trail running destination in Asia. Within 20 minutes of the city you can find lots of trailheads, from easy rolling paths to very technical rocky mountain trails. I moved to Thailand in 2006. There were very few Trail races back then, even so they attracted 60-100 runners. Adventure dashes were very popular at that time, where you would trail run first, then mountain bike and usually finish off with a swim through a lake – great fun! A few years later, that same organizer decided to hold a Trail Race. It was the starting bell for an unstoppable movement in Thailand. Now you have races every weekend with events that you need to sign up many months in advance to secure a place. Races even have been recognized by world class athletes, and Thailand, with its beautiful mountains, has now the opportunity to become Asia's hotspot for this booming sport! But what is most important is the community of runners here in Thailand. Many friendships have been made, and every runner has improved through the years through encouragement from fellow runners. A great example is the Bangkok Runners Group. Everyone is very welcoming and supportive on and off the trail. When my life took a difficult turn six years ago, the camaraderie from that very group helped me stay afloat, which I am very grateful for today. Superhero father? A superhero is an overstatement. I have two daughters, Vanessa, 11 years old, and Valentina, eight, who I raise as a single father with a live-in nanny for additional support. It's a challenging role to be a father and busy executive, but also very rewarding with lots of love. Vanessa, my oldest, is the same as her dad, fully into sports. She is a striker on Lions FC Girls Football Club, did a few years of gymnastics, and plays badminton. Vanessa recently became a Trail runner after hiking for a couple of years on weekends in the hills surrounding Bangkok, mostly in Chonburi. She recently came first in a 10km Trail Race in the 12-15 age group, when she was just 11. She is an outstanding skier and might aim for Thailand's very first Olympic Winter medal in the future. When Valentina was born, doctors immediately told us that something was not okay with her. After a lot of tests and hospital visits in the first month, we got the news that she has cerebral palsy and might never be able to walk or speak. She was also fighting epileptic seizures. When she was two years old, her mother 16


When Valentina was born, we got the news that she had cerebral palsy and might never be able to walk or speak. She was also fighting epileptic seizures. When she was two years old, her mother decided to leave our family and start a new life

decided to leave our family and start a new life. That was a big blow! But instead of putting our heads in the sand, we tried everything possible to create the life she deserves. Endless therapy sessions and daily exercise at home, mostly swimming and joint massages, helped her tremendously. Over the years, she has improved, and now she can walk a few steps, eat by herself, and even started to speak a few sentences. She is loved by so many and likes to play with other kids. She is a real sunshine! Trail races with both daughters My inspiration comes from Mother Nature. I wanted to allow Valentina to feel the outdoors and not be strapped in a wheelchair. I firmly believe that breathing in the fresh air and seeing wildlife has helped her development. When she was three years old, during our vacation in Austria, I carried her to her first mountain summit and let her touch the snow; she loved it so much. I had already run over 200 races in my life, so I thought now it's time to give back and let my girls feel the race vibe. Those memories will stay forever. Special daughters Both are very loving and peaceful individuals, very respectful to their friends, and keen to learn new things. Vanessa is also very independent. Since the



Cover Story



age of six, she flies alone between Thailand and Austria as an unaccompanied minor to spend time with her grandparents in the summer and winter. We are a TEAM! We do as much as possible together! Running together Running together is always fun, even though it has become more strenuous recently as Valentina has gained a lot of weight – she’s 24kg now. But I will carry her as long my back allows me to do so. Vanessa is usually always in front; with the extra weight I can't follow her. The running community is very supportive; lots of people cheer and like to take selfies with us. It's also good weight training for me. Favorite moments running with my girls That just happened recently over New Year when we were on a northern Thailand seven-day road trip. On our last day, we stopped in Sukhothai and decided to climb Khao Luang in Ramkhamhaeng National

Reaching the exposed peak was spectacular in so many ways. The views were fantastic, blue skies, and the temperature was a splendid 12 C. All three of us thanked God for giving us the strength to do all this together and shared a few tears TheBigChilli


Cover Story



Park - 12km on a very steep mountainous terrain. Reaching the exposed peak was spectacular in so many ways. The views were fantastic, blue skies, and the temperature was a splendid 12 C. All three of us thanked God for giving us the strength to do all this together and shared a few tears. Nothing is impossible! Advice for parents who also want to participate in sports with their children Nature is the best classroom; you can learn so much in one day. We are blessed to live in Thailand, which has never-ending flora and fauna - monkeys, snakes, butterflies, birds, and plants. We have seen many of nature's creations and learned from them all. As for participating, start early with some short hikes; even it's only 1-2 km, kids can discover a lot. The ideal age would be five years and up. You will see that kids like to run on forest trails, and exercise stimulates the brain. Let them join a ‘3km Fun Run’,which most organizers put together for families. It's exciting to mingle with the pro athletes too. Let the kids take risks and get them away from online games and TV. But mostly, it's up to the motivation of parents to support them going into the great outdoors. I organize kids' hikes from time to time within a onehour drive from Bangkok, so every parent is welcome to join. See you out on the Trails!’’ TheBigChilli







23 TheBigChilli


Text and photos by Geoff Morrison - Instagram #siamscenes

Interview with a 5,000-yearold Water Buffalo Considered the backbone of Asia, buffalos have a five millennia partnership with mankind, bolstering society with their sheer strength, labour, meat, horns, hides, milk and butterfat. But their numbers are in decline 24


5000 Year Old Swamp Water Buffalo




Buffalo Island Coral -Thalee Noi

e all know buffaloes can’t talk. But few creatures have more stories to tell than this 5,000-year-old “backbone” of Asia. Thailand’s culture, beliefs and customs evolved as a “rice civilization” and Thai people have been seamlessly fused with water buffaloes in all aspects of farming since ancient times. On a recent trip to Thalee Noi (small sea) shared with some 45,000 resident and migratory birds, mangroves, marshes, mongoose and crab eating macaques, I was mesmerized by the swamp water buffalo. Here, a small water borne herd glided past our longtail boat, nurturing their young, gracefully embodying a sense of strength,




endurance, resilience, and calm we could all use these days. Inspired and intrigued, I took a closer look. If water buffalos could speak, they would reflect on five millennia of partnership with mankind, from Neolithic days in the Yangtze River delta, bolstering society with their sheer strength, labour, meat, horns, hides, milk and butterfat. The global water buffalo population is now about 172 million, with 96 percent of them in Asia, comprising 22 ‘River’ and 16 ‘Swamp’ varieties. In Thailand, however, there is a recent and alarming population decline. In 1987 there were about six million swamp water buffaloes, with numbers dropping to

Early Dawn at Thalee Noi

The scenic journey to Thale Noi

700,000 by 2015. Rice harvest mechanization and higher prices for buffalo meat and hide in neighboring countries have exacerbated the lightning speed demise. Are we so willing to watch our ancestral companions vanish? On Day Two at Thalee Noi, we ask our longtail boat guide to return to the buffalo herd seen the day before. From Sripakpra Resort we embark on a 6 am swamp excursion. Bamboo Yors etch the dawn horizon as we venture up the Pak Pra river into the great 457 km2 freshwater basin, one of Thailand’s most bio-diverse ecosystems. Approaching a small tree shaded island, our engine is silenced as we drift towards a mucky hoofmarked rampart at the shore. There, within a drift-wood TheBigChilli



The Buffalo Keeper

Young Buff's Wallowing in the Mud

enclosure, a shimmering black mass of humps, bumps and horns peer out. lone buffalo keeper emerges from nowhere, push poling his wood boat across the shallows to release the sea-gate. He explains to us the herds wander about freely during the dry season and are moved back to land in the monsoons. He prefers to raise more male buffaloes than females and calves as they have a higher market value. A herd of 120 large water buffaloes could be worth as much as 20 million baht. Peacefully and gracefully the buffaloes migrate into the swamp. They are free to enjoy the cool water, abundant grass and plants and are said to be important

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for balancing the ecosystem. Grazing by buffaloes increases native plant and wildlife diversity and enhances the process of photosynthesis. Many birds accompany the herds feeding on resident insects and flies. Buffalo hooves are large with two flexible joints for easier muckwalking. They wallow and use their horns to “shovel” mud onto themselves to keep cool and deter insects. Families are close knit, often with 5-8 related cows and offspring grouping together, perhaps with a bull. Young males live in bachelor groups. The next day, on the way to Hat Yai, a buffalo “skin and skull” street shop catches us off guard. Is this a renewable/sustainable practice or touristic abuse of a culturally iconic creature - I wonder. In Hat Yai Municipal Market, I search unsuccessfully for some water buffalo milk or meat products. 72 million tones of buffalo milk are produced annually globally. It contains higher levels of protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus and lactose compared with cow milk. It is ideal for cheese and considered essential for a proper Neopolitan pizza.

The whey is used in Italian Ricotta, Mozzarella and Mascarpone. The milk products seem to have potential. My quest towards future proofing the water buffalo continues. ornsiri Farm in Prachin Buri's Ban Sang district is an inspiring story where the owner and breeder, Khun Phromphiriya, diversified his buffalo meat herd into milk production. The result is “Siam Buff Milk” labelled and sold under Kasetsart University’s KU brand. Sornsiri Farm produces approximately 50 kg of milk per day along with a host of other products such as milk pudding, yoghurt and soap. Suan Samphran, near Nakhon Pathom, is another innovative agricultural practice - a model organic farm promoting sustainable agriculture, recycling, organic fertilisers and pesticides. “Live in” water buffaloes provide manure for the crops. A mechanical tiller rests by the water buffalos stall - an apt reminder of changing times. Sa Kaeo’s Kasorn Kasivit Water Buffalo Agricultural





New Born Calf at Kosorn Kasavit copy

Kosorn Kasavit Water Buffalo Training School copy

Training School, established by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in 2008, focusses on preservation and training related to traditional rice/water buffalo farming. It offers intensive 10-day courses to tradition minded rice farmers. Farmers are incentivized to obtain buffaloes from the Royal Cattle and Buffalo Bank, set up by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and pay back at discounted prices or in exchange for the buffalo’s future offspring. Kasorn Kasivit respects and cultivates the symbiotic relationship between farmer and buffalo. With 40 buffaloes and 20 farmers in training, the scale of the eight rai operation is modest and focuses on results. Seven expert “hands-on” teachers were selected from over 200 applicants. The herd’s older buffalos, such as Khun Dokkoon, and Khun Rumpueng, are also “teachers” since they teach both buffalos and farmers. Rising stars include Khun Tapaotong, a beautiful white albino, and the five or so Rudolph-like calves born annually. Traditional rice-growing practice is taught alongside animal care, farm financial and operational management skills. Every year Sa Kaeo province holds

Skin and Skull Shop Thalee Noi 30


the Buffalo Su Kwan ceremony showing symbolic appreciation for water buffaloes, giving offerings to angels according to traditional beliefs. Changes in the traditional role of the water buffalo, and improved efficiencies in agricultural practice are inevitable. But equally important are the preserved cultural appreciation and commercial integration of this unique creature into Thailand’s future. As timetested water buffalo farming practices give way to the debt inducing, oil sputtering machinery ripping at the bank accounts of poor farmers, there are some small glimmers of hope for Thailand’s water buffalo. Without some quick attention, perhaps future interviews with the 5,000-year old-Water Buffalo will fall silent. Sources: Bangkok Post. (2017). Water Buffaloes Return to Wetlands. Bangkok Post. advanced/1193692/water-buffaloes-return-to-wetlands Bangkok Post. (2020). Cheers to Cheese, the Saviour of Thai Buffaloes. Bangkok Post. Hays, J. (2014). Water Buffaloes: Characteristics, Behavior and Human Uses | Facts and Details. asian/cat62/sub408/entry-2830.html Pakchuen, J. (2019). Saving the Water Buffaloes. Urban Affairs Magazine. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2020). Water buffalo | Mammal. Encyclopedia Britannica. animal/water-buffalo Tour on Thai. (2017). Kasorn Kasivit Water Buffalo Agricultural School. Tour on Thai. en/article/2298


“I thought I could trust my best friend, the financial adviser. I was wrong”

Quitting the UK for a new life in Thailand, an expat was in for a shock

sked three years ago to describe his life in Thailand, Londoner Derek L would probably have said “happy and secure.” After all, he had a Thai wife he adored, a nice house, a group of great friends and an active social life, plus regular income from apparently safe investments to fuel his enviable lifestyle. Then it all started to wrong. Today, this 60-year-old Brit rarely socializes and relies on a small but generous income from his wife, who works in an IT company, to pay for his extremely modest daily needs. Derek’s story began a decade or so ago when, like so many foreigners before him, visited Thailand for the first time on a business trip to SE Asia, was taken by the country’s many charms and returned on multiple visits. Back in London, meanwhile, he was going through a divorce.




News Along the way, he met someone special and decided to up sticks in the UK and settle down in Thailand with the lady he eventually married. After selling his house in London and sharing the proceeds with his ex-wife, Derek was left with a substantial amount of money, buoyed by savings and investments. It was certainly enough to fund an agreeable existence in Thailand. Slowly he built a circle of friends, mostly other expats with Thai wives, joined a few clubs and relished the year-round opportunities that this country’s tropical climate offered, including weekends at the beach and sports like veterans’ tennis and golf. ver time, Derek became particularly close to another Brit who shared many of his interests here in Thailand. Unwisely, says Derek today, he gradually revealed details of his financial standing with his buddy, who worked as an investment adviser focusing on the expat community. One of the services in his portfolio was medical insurance. Despite initial reservations, in case it interfered with their friendship, Derek sought his chum’s advice, given that health problems were becoming more likely at his age. A suitable policy was nevertheless arranged and Derek was happy with the cover, aware that certain commissions were involved. Unfortunately, Derek soon faced two serious health issues that required costly medical attention. Fortunately, or so he thought, the hospital bills would be covered by the insurance. The first one was repudiated, however, because it was deemed a continuous of an “old injury.” He fared better with the second bill, which was paid more or less in full. When the policy’s renewal came up, the premium had increased by exactly the same amount as the hospital bill for his previous ailment. Derek was suspicious and started to look into the background of the policy. He dug deep and reckons now that his friend had asked for “extra commission” on that policy renewal. Derek was less than pleased with someone he trusted “implicitly.” ut that was just the start of the dispute that eventually ended their friendship in great bitterness. On his friend’s advice, Derek had invested the biggest proportion of his wealth into a scheme that promised far greater rewards than the one of two per cent he was getting annually on his money in British banks. He was told to expect not less than eight per cent a year, to be paid quarterly, otherwise no deductions form the capital amount would apply. True to the adviser’s words, Derek received a very health payout at the end of the first quarter. His friend suggested he invest that money into a venture capital


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company that would give even higher returns. Having seen the positive outcome of the previous advice, Derek readily agreed. The alarm bells went off, but obviously not loud enough, when Derek was told to pay his investment into the private offshore account of his friend. Naturally curious about this development, he was informed by his great mate that ‘it’s easier that way.’ “I trusted his advice,” said Derek. Promises of quarterly reports on the investment did not materialize other than a single print-out bearing the name of his friend’s company. Understandably, Derek was growing increasingly unhappy with the situation, especially when his inquiries were met with comments like “things are looking better” and not to worry. Discovering later that the venture capital company did not exist on any stock exchange, Derek started to challenge the financial adviser - only to be accused of intimidation. At the end of his tether, Derek approached the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the normal arbiter in such disputes, but was told there was nothing they could do. He then went to Economic Crimes Suppression unit of the Royal Thai police who proved more helpful, noting that the financial adviser was guilty on several accounts and had to return Derek’s original investment plus compound interest. One year on, Derek has not received his investment or any other payments. eanwhile, most of his money remained in the first fund his friend had recommended. Told he could withdraw funds at any time, Derek was horrified to learn that a percentage of his money was deducted with every withdrawal. To make matters worse, he also discovered that he was not being told what shares were being bought or sold in that fund and whether commissions of those transactions were going to his advisers. That he had been misled or duped by his one-time best mate was finally and painfully confirmed. Derek’s wealth today is a fraction of what it was three years. Admittedly, he managed at the outset to get enough of his investments to buy a small house and car. But the returns he had been led to believe simply never appeared, and he is left to wonder how much his now former “friend” benefited by his trust. Is there a moral to Derek’s story? A confidant and legal expert advises the following: “Where an exchange of money is concerned, even between close friends, close attention to all the details on contract is absolutely crucial. You can't trust anyone."




Feature By Robin Westley Martin

How ringmaster Jon Nutt is challenging the heavyweights of Mixed Martial Arts with his action-packed Full Metal Dojo shows



“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else” “The noblest art is that of making others happy” “Be cautious and bold”

These three quotes are ascribed to the ultimate showman P.T. Barnum, but they could just as easily have been uttered by Jon Nutt, Thailand’s very own incarnation of a quirky, yet savvy impresario. After a quick search on Google I discovered that in the 1600s John Nutt was a notorious English pirate, who had raided the west of England and Canada. Now his (maybe) descendant is taking no prisoners, as he raids the previously unassailable dominance of the established rulers of MMA, such as the UFC, and others. Jon Nutt is an imposing six-foot plus, and this frame is perfect for him as the ringmaster of his chosen profession of fight promoter. He is the founder and owner of Full Metal Dojo in Thailand and has gained an enthusiastic following in the Kingdom, while his fame is spreading further afield at an exponential rate, mostly due to Jon and his team’s expert use of social media … and the ever-important word of mouth from important ‘influencers’ whom Jon calls friends. Plus of course unbridled self-promotion, from which I expect nothing less from this larger-than-life character. It was Jon’s mother who first encouraged his interest in martial arts at the age of eight, so by the time he had left college he had participated in Greco-Roman wrestling, and trained in Brazilian ju-jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, and Shotokan karate, as well as regular boxing. After a relatively short career in contact sports, Jon became aware that he would probably never be a world champion fighter, and it was when he was handed a microphone for the first time, to comment on a boxing bout, that he realised almost immediately that this was what he was born to do. The Jon Nutt we know in Thailand, the showman, whose energy seems to know no bounds, was born that day. At my interview with Jon, I greeted him. “Hi Jon, How are you?”


“I’m amazing, every day,” was his reply. This was not bragging, it’s just Jon’s natural way, I soon realised. Jon is a force of nature who seems powered by a nuclear reactor, I knew I was going to enjoy my time spent with him. Hi enthusiasm is infectious and I soon learnt that Jon – who has lived full-time in Thailand since 2007 with his Thai partner and family – believes that Thai fighters are the future of MMA in the lower weight divisions. He says, “The best striking martial art is Muay Thai, hands down. Karate and Tae Kwon Do don’t compare. Give me three to five years and I can guarantee that you will see fighters from Thailand on the world stage, and some of them will be UFC champions.” Full Metal Dojo (FMD), Jon’s own company, promoting MMA action in Thailand is not one of the TheBigChilli



Don’t expect an ersatz Sunday afternoon’s laidback viewing. This is fullon live, tooth-grinding madness, and the action gallops at a breakneck pace. The whole spectacle – from beginning to end – is electrifying, and you might even be as exhausted as the fighters by the end of it. heavyweights (yet), and Jon knows this. But he says that pound for pound FMD is one of the best live-action shows around. He is not focusing on the fat cats who only hang around to be seen. His market is for the real lovers of boxing and MMA, and if you go to one of his shows you will not forget it in a hurry. rom the moment they go live, and the cameras focus in on Jon the action is nonstop. Jon kicks things off by belting out a thundering version of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’, or giving us a rendition of the Thai national anthem … in perfect Thai! The back-screen video is showing a montage of the stars of today’s card, the rock music is pounding away, the spotlights and lasers are pulsating, the ring girls are flanking the fighters as they make their way to the ring. At the centre of all this is Jon Nutt, standing in the middle of everything, picked out by the spotlights, ramping up the excitement. No first takes, second takes, this is all live. No script. No cue-cards or teleprompter. It’s all spontaneous. The words just come spilling out of Jon, and even he doesn’t realise what he has said, sometimes, until he has seen a replay after the event. “Oh sh###, did I really say that?” Don’t expect an ersatz Sunday afternoon’s laid-back viewing. This is full-on live, tooth-grinding madness,




and the action gallops at a breakneck pace. Probably not recommended viewing for grandmothers or kids. As the live audiences down their beers and other drinks throughout the show they are watching, they never seem to notice how fast the time has gone, as Jon suddenly announces the final fight of the night. The whole spectacle – from beginning to end – is electrifying, and you might even be as exhausted as the fighters by the end of it. Full Metal Dojo is perfect for Thailand, but is not the only venture that Jon is involved in. He is a clever businessman as well as being a mesmerising personality on stage. He is working on a more PG-13 friendly format, in the video games industry, the excitement will still be




there, but the X-rated expletives will be missing. Look out for the impending launch of Kumite 3000, an FMD spin-off and a hybrid concept merging MMA with video gaming, and organised as a team tournament of nations. With the popularity of WWE games this concept of Jon’s focusing on MMA could well be the next big thing. 38


And bringing us right up to the present comes ‘Fight Circus’. I am lucky to have been in at the beginning and was invited by Jon to join the enthusiastic crowds at the first two Fight Circuses, which have been filmed in front of audiences in Thailand, and live-streamed to enthusiastic viewers in the ‘States and other countries.

The fighters are males, females, Thais, Middle East, American, British, South African, South American, and more. Look out for Ali, the ‘King of Kebabs’, and the rotund ‘Taengmo’ (watermelon), who are popular fighters in both FMD and Fight Circus.

Fight Circus Vol III, Saturday morning, April 3rd, 2021: 10.00 am to 12.30 pm. At Illuzions nightclub, Patong Beach, Phuket. Live Streamed on Camsoda.

What you see is exactly what you get, there are no rehearsals, and the action you see is completely live. There is a ring or octagon in the centre of the nightclub that serves as the auditorium. There are banks of TV monitors, cameramen, fight announcers, professional judges, a bevy of gorgeous ring girls, fighters from Thailand and other foreign expats, or invited professionals. And then there is a posse of dwarves who could easily have come from the circuses you loved as kids. They are costumed as your favourite Super Heroes; Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Thor, et al … and they are all pint-sized powerhouses. They give great encouragement to the fighters, and do a great job of whipping up the excitement for the audience. he fighters are a mix … males, females, Thais, Middle East, American, British, South African, South American, and more. Look out for Ali, the ‘King of Kebabs’, and the rotund ‘Taengmo’ (watermelon), who are popular fighters in both FMD and Fight Circus. The matches usually cover


three rounds, where one round is professional boxing rules, one MMA, and one is Muay Thai. All matches have licensed referees, and medical teams from local hospitals are always there with their nurses and doctors at the ringside. The organisation partner streaming into the ‘States is Camsoda, and after the first Fight Circus was beamed it started to get noticed, with the second Fight Circus attracting a significant number of new subscribers. Jon told me about his plans for Fight Circus III, coming soon this year, “Fight Circus is going to be huge, worldwide. I’m going to ramp things right up with Volume IIIs, with jugglers, fire artists, clowns, stilt walkers, everything. The fighters will be warriors, the girls will be hot, the beers will be cold. And watch out for the ‘Siamese Twins’ matchup,” he said with a smirk. Intrigued, I asked him to tell me more, “Ahh, he said, come along and see, you don’t wanna miss Fight Circus Volume III.” I’ll be there! Will you? TheBigChilli


Expat Women By Ruth Gerson

Researching Thailand’s past is a passion for American economist Dr Acharn Jessica Years of study produces some unexpected news about female land ownership for this dedicated professor and enterpreneur

he local academia scene remains a vibrant sector attracting talented people from across the world to work here and enjoy Thailand’s long list of attractions. For Acharn Jessica (Vechbanyongratana), a young lady from the mountainous state of Colorado in the US who has taught at the Faculty of Economics at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok since 2010, life in Thailand has created all kinds of new opportunities, including authorship of a book and a small business. Working as an Assistant Professor in the university’s Faculty of Economics, Jessica has been able to indulge her passion for historical research, which has produced some surprising revelations about the history of land fertility and ownership in Thailand. Jessica’s connection with Thailand actually goes back to 1995 when she arrived here as a high school exchange student. Although she originally applied to study in Japan, Jessica found herself unexpectedly diverted to Thailand under the auspices of the Rotary International exchange program due to her flexibility and open mindedness, as there seems to have been a shortage of students who signed up for SE Asia. Jessica was enrolled at a high school in the far Thai southern city of Hatyai, and housed with




two families for the duration of the school year. It was certainly an effective way of learning Thai very quickly, complete with a southern vernacular, which she now chuckles about. The second time around Jessica arrived here in 2008 with her Thai husband whom she had met and married in the US. He had accepted an attractive employment in Thailand in the field of IT, while Jessica was completing her PhD degree in economics, with specialties in economic history and labor economics. Jessica feels blessed as she enjoys what she does. “I love teaching and working with students,” she says, adding that closest to her heart is the work of research which she calls “my dream job.” It opens so many interesting avenues in economics and other areas, which Jessica finds fascinating. Being fully employed by the university and raising two children, Jessica always looks around for new outlets for her curious mind and what seems limitless energy. A recent hobby, which has turned into a small business, is sewing and embroidery. Why sewing? Jessica says that she always wanted to sew and what better opportunity is than starting right away! About a year ago, she purchased a sewing machine looking for the challenge of something new and creative, and



Expat Women

when asked where she learned to sew she answers with a devilish smile, “From YouTube!” She calls her side business ‘Baby Steps by Dr. Jess,’ which focuses on making items for babies and young children. She began with personalized Christmas stockings that became so popular that it “snowballed” into something a bit more serious. ow over a year later Jessica offers unique items such as embroidered footprints made from a baby’s first footprint taken in the hospital. Other items she calls “memories” that include wall hangings, quilts, pillowcases, tote bags and reusable snack bags. The lockdown period of Covid facilitated Jessica’s burgeoning business. Importantly, it gave her an outlet from the long hours of teaching with the mounting work and escalating stress that comes with virtual instructions. Jessica digitalizes her designs on the computer and turns them into items of art. For marketing she uses a Facebook page as well as by word of mouth. It is working so far, and orders keep coming in. When asked what the highlight of her work is, Jessica says that it is research, her true passion, which has served her well. Research, according to her, is half of her university commitment, the other being teaching. Last year she published several articles on




Jessica located over 30,000 land deeds that took years of reading and studying. The documents dating back to the 1850s were written in the traditional Thai style book made of koi paper and folded accordion style. Those from the 1880s were documented on Chinese paper.

the economic history of Thailand in outlets such as the Journal of Economic History and Economic History Review, the most prestigious publications in the field, an achievement that reflects well on the university and herself. Jessica’s first article, titled, ‘Lands, Ladies and the Law’ tells about landownership from the 1850s to the 1880s, and notes that women held more than half of the land title deeds back then. It is something of a surprise revelation as the language addressing this subject is generally male oriented. Jessica found this astonishing information in the Department of Lands Museum. There she located over 30,000 land deeds that took years of reading and studying. In fact the project has lasted eight years and is still ongoing. The documents dating back to the 1850s were written in the traditional Thai style book made of koi paper and folded accordion style. Those from the 1880s were documented on Chinese paper. Jessica photographed the entire museum collection of deeds and other fragile documents, resulting in approximately 50,000 images. The museum holds copies of all the images, which she hopes will be used by other researchers in the future. Unlike in the West where economics is a male dominated area, in Thailand it has always been a subject attended to by women, particularly in handling finances. The study indicates that female owned land in the 19th century was more productive than maleowned or that of mixed gender ownership land. Another published article documents Bangkok’s canals, and how they contributed to increased productivity of Bangkok orchards in the 1880s, even though the canals were built for purposes such as defense and transporting people. New studies on land ownership focused on Bangkok and eight provinces in West-Central Thailand are scheduled to begin in February 2021. Jessica wrote her first book in cooperation with a colleague, Dr. Thanyaporn Chankrajang, from Chulalongkorn University, in 2017. Titled ‘A Brief Economic History of Land Rights in Thailand,’ it focuses on transitional land rights before Thailand adopted the Western

The study indicates that female owned land in the 19th century was more productive than maleowned or that of mixed gender ownership land. system of land rights. Her new book will deal with land rights after the adoption of the Western land rights system in 1901. The present mode of researching and teaching online is very demanding so Jessica looks forward to seeing her students again in person and to interact with them. As for the future, Jessica would like to expand her work interests. Currently she is training to become a life coach studying twice a week online from the US and will become a certified divorce coach to help expat families who often find themselves powerless in a foreign country. A life-long learner, this is just one-step in Jessica evergrowing interests and occupations. TheBigChilli


Expat Women Interview by Agneta de Bekassy

Thailand is home for New York sculptor Lesleigh er mother was a painter, her brother an architect and her sister a poet – so it comes as no surprise to discover that Lesleigh Goldberg has followed the family tradition and become an artist - a successful sculptor based in Bangkok. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Lesleigh went to the University of Pennsylvania where she took a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and a Master of Fine Arts, studying and focusing on sculpture.




“I have been interested in art all my life, starting with drawing on walls and sidewalks, which wasn’t popular with my parents,” she remembers with a smile. From an early age, Lesleigh knew she wasn’t happy living in Colorado, where the only thing she appreciated was the Rocky Mountains. At seven she told all her childhood friends she had to get out of Colorado. Little did she know that this desire for change would

take her from New York, where she lived after her university graduation, and then to Paris, New Delhi and finally to Southeast Asia. “I always felt attracted to Asia and wanted to live here,” she says. After seven years in India, Lesleigh now lives in downtown Bangkok. “Life in New Delhi was intense 24/7. It was everything from the awesome to the horrific and everything in between. Finally it was time to move to a gentler place. I wanted to find out more about the other Asian countries. “I travelled around a lot, visiting most countries and decided on Thailand. Life in Thailand is easy compared to life in New Delhi. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to learn Thai and I’m frustrated at not being able to communicate better with Thai people. “My biggest shock in living in Bangkok is that there is no ‘book culture’. India has many great authors and books are sold everywhere. I miss that as well as the very rich historical culture that is seen there in abundance.

“This coming April I will have lived in Bangkok for seven years and feel it’s time to move on. The sea is calling, so I’m moving to Hua Hin. I’m excited at the prospect of a new adventure, and discovering a new place. I am also terrified since I have always lived in big cities. Onward I go….” esleigh has a small studio in her apartment on Sathorn, where she is working on an ongoing sculpture project she calls ‘Female Crucifix’ made in porcelain. “I am always a sculptor, though at the moment I’m trying to make photographs three- dimensional by layering/collaging canvas images.” When not working Lesleigh spends her time practicing yoga, Pilates and fast walking. She loves Nature and being outside. She enjoys reading and traveling, which for the past year has been impossible. Luckily she has a huge terrace where she can enjoy a good book while listening to the birds and watching the butterflies. “My terrace is like a green outdoor living room,” she says. She thinks it’s sad that so little of genuine old Thai architecture and houses have had to make space for ultra-modern high rise buildings. Asked what she dislikes the most about Bangkok, she replies, as do most people who live here: “The bad traffic and pollution, but despite that, I like the ease of life here.”




Expat Women

Lesleigh has an imposing CV with exhibitions in many museums in several countries; San Francisco County Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Crafts Museum of New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, Ohio, Tour De Cardineau, Isle Sur la Sorge, France Gallery Carole Brimmaud in Paris, Visual Arts Gallery in New Delhi, Adler and Pandora Gallery in Bangkok. Has any artist made a special impact on her? “Yes, right now Paula Rego and Pat Andrea are coming to mind, but of course there are many more.” Paula Rego is a Portuguese painter and graphic artist known for her surrealistic and expressionistic paintings who lives in England. Pat Andrea is a Dutch contemporary painter and sculptor who is seen as a representatives of the New Subjectivity. What’s her ideal place for an exhibition? “New York City,” says Lesleigh in an instant. “But when this Corona torment is over, I would like to make another exhibition in Bangkok. This is a woman with boundless energy and a constant flow of ideas. For sure, we will hear a lot more about her in the future. – Agneta de Bekassy 46



17 47

CLB at Kimpton Maa-Lai Cosmopolitan Ladies of Bangkok held their monthly gathering at Ms.Jigger lounge, Kimtpon Maa-Lai Hotel. Pictured here are Shakuntla Gurbani, Jindarat Jumsai Na Ayudhya, Hope Espenca Pilunthanakul,



;L[Z\RV >PSILYN :HYH .\aTHU (YSLUL 9HђX >PUKH Braun, Annabelle S Daokeaw, Agneta Bekassy De Bekas, Radha Rathke, Mukda Sorensen, and Ronelle Stoessel.

Thai Sailors Showcase Skills at Nationals By Stephen Marsh




Expat Sport



Q Hosted by the Royal Varuna Yacht Club and sponsored by Thailand-based Element 6 Evolution (E6), a newly appointed manufacturer of the onedesign class boats, the event featured light to medium winds alongside a strong tide, wind shifts and gusts. Competing for titles were sailors ranging in age from 10 to 80 years, hailing from four Thai sailing clubs and ten countries. The real thrill was in watching the next generation of top Thai sailors jockey for position on the podium, with Thailand’s Olympic sailors sidelined - two-time male Olympian and decade-long national champion Keerati Bualong now coaching the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand’s ILCA 4.7 fleet, and female Olympian Kamolwan Chanyim off the water due to temporary injury training for Tokyo 2020. In the ILCA Standard, serious contenders for future Olympic qualification Chusitt Punjamala and Arthit Romanyk did battle in each race, but Chusitt was able to finish in the lead in all but two races. The two have been training partners and respectful competitors on and off the water for most of the past year and both have their hopes on being able to do Thailand proud in a final Asian qualifying event for Tokyo 2020 later this spring, pending re-scheduling by World Sailing as Abu Dhabi was unable to proceed with its postponed championship due to Covid-19 restrictions. Pom Green, director of E6, sailed to an impressive third place.

In the ILCA Radial rig, Sophia Montgomery and Patcharee Sringam proved keen to take Kamolwan’s place on the podium going forward, finishing 1st and 2nd. Christopher Marsh also had an impressive performance, finishing 4th, with hopes of representing the kingdom at an ILCA Youth Worlds later this year. Adding to their challenge was the surprise appearance of Noppakao Poonpat, former Optimist world champion and a star of the Thai sailing, who took a break from her pharmacy to return to the sport. While she struggled the first two days, she found her form in the lighter wind on the last day, stealing a first and second place to finish 5th overall. TheBigChilli


Expat Sport

The ILCA 4.7 fleet was the event’s largest and most exciting to watch, with top youth sailors, some still in the Optimist class, enthusiastically testing their skills in the transition to the Laser class. After much jostling at the top among several sailors, Bowonnan Chanram managed to outsail world stars Panwa Boonag, who finished 2nd, and Weka Bhanubandh, who finished 10th after missing the first day of races due to school. Third place was snatched by Panwa’s sister Thorfun Boonnak. In the Masters and Grand Masters, battles were no less full of drama and bravado. International Optimist Dinghy Association President Kevin Whitcraft proved he’s not just all about prestigious posts, taking the Grand Master title from two others hot on his wake. In the Great Grand Masters, Marcel Dubbelman managed to beat the determined Richard Vine, founder of the Hua Hin Sailing Club in the ILCA Standard. Final special mentions go to U Thiha, sailing the ILCA Radial as a Great Grand Master, and the indomitable Charlie "The Fox" Zbinden, a local Legend who, at 80 years young, managed to show up several sailors a fraction of his age in his four races. The event, held in accordance with Thailand’s Covid-19 restrictions, saw touchpoints minimized, all registration and payments done online, and prize giving socially distanced, with the traditional full fleet photo done with masks worn by all. 52


e u n i t n o c s e r i f t Spi to dominate Photography by Tadamasa Nagayama

Q The 2021 portion of the Siam Hockey League (SHL) 2020-21campaign was delayed a month due to the second spike of the COVID-19 pandemic but once action started in early February a similar pattern emerged. Defending champion Novotel Spitfires won the first three games of the New Year. Novotel is led by Captain Mike Freeson, TheBigChilli


Expat Sport

Swiss star Tomas Stastny, Thai national team captain Ken Kindborn, and Thai-American goalie Ben Kleineschay - they just seem to find a way to win and the team is the favourite to take the championship this season. A mid-season transfer saw Patrick Forstner move from Siam Mandalay to replace the injured Jari Eerikainen on KCG. And it is these two teams that are fighting it out to take on Novotel for the title. Siam Mandalay’s charismatic Crash Line (Turner Johnson, Darius Konotopetz, & Mitch Morrison) is making life rough on their opponents because of their scoring prowess and tough physical play. The matches between KCG and Siam Mandalay have been dramatic cliffhangers all year as evidenced in their February 21st match. Down 4-1 to Siam Mandalay with less than six minutes to go, KCG, led by Jan Isaksson, roared back scoring four unanswered goals to win 5-4. At the other end of the standings, Justin St. Denis’ Aware squad is winless early in the New Year despite the acquisition of Thai nation al team star Kim Aarola. After eleven weeks of action, the Novotel Spitfires sit atop the SHL standings with a 10-10 record for 20 points. KCG sits in second spot with a 6-3-2 record for 14 points. Siam Mandalay, the only team to beat Novotel, is in third position with a 5-5-1 record for 11 points and Aware is in the cellar with a 1-10 record. The Novotel Spitfires still dominate the SHL race as Mike Freeson is in first spot with 20 points, Ken Kindborn is in second spot with 17 points and Tomas Stastny is in third place with 15 points. KCG teammates Jan Isaksson and Patrick Forstner are in fourth and fifth place with 12 and 11 points, respectively. SHL games take place at the arena on the fifth floor of Imperial Samrong every Sunday night at 9 and 10pm. Check out Dom Dumais’ weekly SHL podcasts sponsored by the BiGChilli magazine at www.siamhockeyleague. com. The games are also carried live at, thanks to producer Keith Mueller. 54


Concrete Therapy

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

Dear Fed Up,

Dear NCS, I’ve been dating a wonderful man for 4 years and we hope to get married next year. My problem is his ex. My fiancé and his ex are still good friends —which I don’t have a problem with— but she always finds excuses to take up his time. They have two kids together and his ex will find reasons to need his help to pick up the kids, check their homework, go to parent conferences, etc. even when it’s her turn to take care of them. In the custody agreement, the kids should spend one week with him, then one week with her. In practice, he is always helping out even when it’s not his turn with the kids. I trust my fiancé completely, I’m not worried about cheating, but I feel it’s unfair that his ex makes him do all of the work for their kids. She is not holding up her part of the custody agreement. My husband says he doesn’t mind because he loves his kids, but I think he needs to protect his boundaries more. What do you think, should I press this issue or just let him deal with it? -Fed Up Fiancé

Q When we date and connect with someone who has had a marriage before, we have to deal with their past. Even more so when the former couple have children together. In fact, you and the old relationship have to blend into the new circumstances. You write that your fiancé has a good relationship with his ex and you do not have a problem with it, but the extent of the help that is requested of your fiancé is posing a problem, because this assistance is requested even when his ex has the week of custody. You think he should set more boundaries and you conclude that his ex does not live up to the custody agreement. Even though your fiancé may not mind because he loves his children, it does not only affect him, because you are bothered by him being asked to step in so often. For this reason, you two do need to talk about it. TheBigChilli


Concrete Therapy Counsellor Johanna de Koning

Photo by Verity Tan

Before you raise the issue with your fiancé, take some time to clarify what you want from your relationship. Put on paper your expectations and dreams regarding your marriage. Write down

how you see your role as a stepmother and your boundaries regarding your fiancé’s interaction with his ex. Time given to the children (more so in the week that the kids are not with their father) is time taken away from the two of you together. How do you envision the week without the children to be filled? After having done this, agree on a specific time with your partner to give full attention to the topic. Ask your fiancé how he envisions the future with you, his ex and the children. What is your fiancé expecting regarding his children and your role as a

stepmother? Are you allowed to be part of raising the children? After having listened to his ideas, share your expectations and dreams regarding your marriage. Ask him whether he realizes how the current dynamic is affecting you? Together, try to find an agreement regarding the future. What are valid reasons for interruption of your time together without the children—what is acceptable or needed, and what is crossing a line? Maybe put it on paper and then both of you can communicate this to the children and the ex. The issue you raised in your question is not how he deals with his ex, the children and time, but how the two of you feel connected. By clarifying his role as a father, your position as his wife and how you live together in the new situation, you can set proper boundaries together in order to protect your relationship. I wish you wisdom in having this conversation(s) and finding a future together. Johanna Counsellor

Dear NCS, I am a 25 year old guy, but I’d rather stay anonymous. I moved to Bangkok a few months ago, went through quarantine, and settled into my new apartment. It has been a stressful transition. Before I continue, one thing you should know is that I grew up atheist, I don’t believe in spirits or an afterlife. However, for a while now, I’ve been hearing voices. I hear them whispering, and it’s not very positive stuff. Someone told me that Bangkok has a lot of spirits. But like I said, I have never believed or really been exposed to any of that stuff. I feel like I’m losing my mind. What am I hearing? -Stressed and confused Dear Stressed and confused, Q It’s very understandable this would seem weird to you if you haven’t experienced it before, but hearing voices is actually 56


more common for people than you might think and doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious problem. You said it’s been happening for a while, so I’m guessing that means since you

arrived in Bangkok? While I would not want to completely discount the possibility of spirits or ghosts, as you’re right when you say this is a common belief in Thailand, I think it’s more likely this is related

Counsellor David Ogden

to the stress of moving to a new country and settling into a new life here, especially if the voices weren’t there before you moved to Bangkok. Stress can affect us in many ways, and during periods of unusual stress (like the stressful transition you mentioned) we can experience symptoms we’ve never had before. It may be that the voices are just a symptom of your stress and anxiety, particularly if the voices are saying negative things about you or your situation. The good news is there are things you can do to help cope with the voices. Trying a combination of the following strategies at different times might work best, as some will be more appropriate when you’re home alone or when you’re outside

Photo by Verity Tan

in public. One thing that’s important to know is that you don’t need to believe or act on anything the voices might be saying. You wouldn’t simply believe or follow anything a complete stranger says to you, so take the same approach with these voices. You still get to choose how you live your life – the voices don’t control you. Some people find that talking back to voices helps keep them in check a bit. This may not work all the time, and might work best when you’re not around other people. Standing up to the voices and challenging what they say, especially if what they say is negative, can be helpful in feeling you have some power over the voices.

At other times you might prefer to try ignoring the voices. What can help with this is to be around other people and engage in conversation with them. You’ve just arrived in Bangkok so you may not have much of a social circle just yet, but finding opportunities to get out, meet people, and interact with colleagues, could have the double benefit of improving your social life here, but also help distract you from the voices. Listening to music or a podcast, playing games on your phone, or singing out loud (if privacy allows) might also help you to ignore the voices when you want to. The other suggestion I’d make is to find ways to decrease your stress where you can. How did you manage your stress before moving to Bangkok? A good balance of healthy eating and sleeping, regular exercise, relaxation and some fun, engaging activities in your life are generally the best ways to manage stress, so maybe think about what else might help you to improve your stress at this time. Thai people tend to believe that voices they hear could be lost souls reaching out for help. My understanding is they would usually go to a temple to make merit and pray for the lost soul, in the belief that this would help appease the lost soul and let it move on. It may not hurt to ask a Thai friend or colleague to help you do this in case it could help. However, if after trying some of the above ideas the voices continue to prove problematic for you, I would suggest meeting with a counselor or good psychiatrist to discuss it further. It’s possible this could be an indicator of some other mental health issue and discussing it with a professional to help determine whether or not this might be the case would be advisable. Dave Counsellor TheBigChilli



By Maxmilian Wechsler

The final installment of our 10-part series describing major news stories in Thailand in the last half century begins in 2012. The October issue covered 2007-2011.

2012 (January) Tarit Pengdith

a 2012 CentralPlaz Surat Thani

e 2012 (January) Blu c team Phoenix aerobati

2012 (January) PM Yingluck

2012 U Airlines

2012 Asia Atlantic Airlines

2012 R Airlines 2012 Chanchai Acadium

2012 is the year Asia Atlantic Airlines, R Airlines, New Gen Airway and U Airlines were founded. CentralPlaza opened its first shopping mall in the southern province of Surat Thani. Avani Hotels & Resorts was founded. Bangkokthonburi University inaugurated the Chanchai Acadium indoor sporting arena, which can seat



5,000 spectators, and Singha Stadium opened in Chiang Rai province, with capacity for 11,354 fans.

January • The Royal Thai Air Force formed its Blue Phoenix aerial aerobics team to mark the 100th anniversary of Thai aviation and gave their first public display on Children’s Day at


2012 New Gen Air

Don Muang Air Force Base. The team is based at Nakhon Pathom’s Kamphaeng Saen Air Force Base.

2012 (September) Vorayuth 'Boss' Yoovithaya

Located in Khlong Luang district of Pathum Thani province, it is the first institution in Thailand to provide an international, English-language course in medicine. Bumrungrad International Hospital cooperated with Thammasat University in setting up the medical school.

September 2012 (September)


Vorayuth 'Boss' Yo

They fly blue, white and red Pilatus PC-9 aircraft. • Director-General of the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) Tarit Pengdith unveiled plans for his department after the cabinet gave DSI authority to investigate nine more categories of crime, including human trafficking, computer crimes and crimes relating to foreign businesses in Thailand. Tarit said the DSI would target foreigners who were exploiting loopholes in the legal system to use Thai nominees to run businesses not open to foreigners under the 1999 Foreign Business Act. • Education Minister Worawat Auapinyakul said Muslim students were not violating the Education Ministry dress code by wearing headscarves or hijabs. His remarks were in response to a recent rally by a Muslim group to protest the suspension of two students at Wat Nong Chok School in Bangkok for wearing headscarves in class. • Rubber growers in the southern province of Songkhla set out to travel to the capital to join forces with other rubber growers from across the nation. The demonstrators called on the government to shore up rubber prices at 120 baht per kilogram. • Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urged the United States to revoke a terrorism warning immediately after the arrest of a suspected Hezbollah member linked to sabotage attempts in Bangkok. Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa quoted Ms Yingluck as saying the

warning, if prolonged, could damage the country. However, US Embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler said the terrorist warning for American citizens remained valid despite the arrest and the discovery of an apparent bomb factory in Bangkok. • On January 19 Thailand joined other UN member states in voicing official recognition of a Palestinian state. Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thailand’s recognition of Palestine had been ‘under consideration for some time’. The move was enthusiastically hailed by Palestinian leaders. In November 2013 the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of recognition.

February • The Department of Corrections announced it would seek about 3.5 billion baht from the 2013 budget to build a “super max” prison with hi-tech security systems for detaining major drug convicts, Justice Ministry spokesman Thirachai Wuthitham announced the plan at a press conference and said a meeting of prison chiefs and directors of narcotics suppression offices from throughout the country was scheduled to discuss measures to prevent inmates from dealing drugs in prisons.

August • Thammasat University’s Chulabhorn International College of Medicine became the twentyfirst medical school in Thailand.

• Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, third son of Red Bull tycoon Chalerm Yoovidhya, was arrested on September 3 on a hit-and-run charge. Police said Vorayuth admitted to investigators that he was driving the black Ferrari that collided with the motorcycle of 47-year-old Police Senior Sergeant-Major Klanprasert Wichian Klanprasert at about 5.30am on Sukhumvit Soi 47.

2012 (October) General Boonlert Kaewprasit

The policeman was dragged about 200 metres along the road, but the driver never stopped. Witnesses described the Ferrari and police found it parked at a mansion belonging to the Red Bull family on Sukhumvit 53. Vorayuth at first claimed his chauffeur was driving when the accident occurred, but later admitted he was at the wheel.

2012 (December) Suthep Thangsuban and Abhisit Vejjajiva

October • As the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) weakened, General Boonlert Kaewprasit emerged as leader of a new anti-government movement called Pitak Siam (Protect Siam). The group managed to attract 20,000 people to its inaugural gathering at the Royal Turf Club on October 28.



Feature December • The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) charged former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy Suthep Thangsuban with murder over the death of a taxi driver allegedly shot dead by soldiers during the political violence in Bangkok in May 2010. The DSI’s decision to press charges was influenced by a court ruling on September 17 the troops who killed Phan were acting on orders from state officials. If found guilty the two politicians could face the death penalty or life in prison.

2013 Chiang Mai Inte rnational Convention Centre

2013 saw the opening of Chiang Mai International Convention Centre. It is the largest venue of its kind in Thailand outside Bangkok. Warrix Sports manufacturing company was established and Boomerang Thailand TV channel was launched. Political tensions once again heated up and reached the boiling point late in the year as large protests in Bangkok called for the resignation of PM Yingluck, the sister of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

February • The Thai government agreed for the first time to hold peace talks with Muslim militants in the South in an apparent breakthrough towards ending the conflict. Senior Thai government officials signed an agreement on February 23 with members of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional in Kuala Lumpur calling for a “dialogue process” in the southern border provinces. The agreement was signed ahead of a meeting between PM Yingluck and her Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak.

March • The Bangkok governor’s race was won by incumbent governor MR Sukumbhand Paribatra of the



Democrat Party. Twenty-five candidates contested the election. Sukumbhand won with 1,256,349 votes or 47.75% votes cast. Police 2013 (March) General Pongsapat MR Sukumbhand Paribatra Pongcharoen representing the Pheu Thai party came second with 1,077,899 votes or 40.97% of votes cast. Voter turnout was 63.98%. • On March 22, a fire at the Ban Mae Surin refugee camp in Mae Hong Son province reportedly killed 37 Karen refugees and destroyed hundreds of dwellings. The fire apparently started following a ‘cooking accident’.

Rayong province. A pipeline owned by state-owned oil company PTTGC burst while oil was being transferred from an undersea well to a tanker. Bad weather thwarted containment efforts, and on the night of July 28 oil began washing onshore at Ko Samet.

August • Boomerang Thailand TV was launched on August 13. A Thai version of the original American Boomerang TV, the channel primarily shows animated programming.

June • More than 1,000 farmers protested in Bangkok over the state’s failure to pay for rice bought under a subsidy scheme the government admitted it was struggling to fund. The unrest among farmers opened a new front against a government already facing off against the Bangkok-based protest movement. Protests blocking major Bangkok thoroughfares were mainly supported by middle-class urbanites who decried what they called corruption in the rice scheme. • PM Yingluck reshuffled her cabinet on June 30, the fifth time since her Pheu Thai-led coalition was installed. Changes were made to 18 cabinet posts. Among those sacked was Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who was taking heat for irregularities in the rice subsidy scheme.

July • Government and separatist spokespersons announced a ceasefire in the South for the month of Ramadan. The agreement was the first major development since February, when the two sides agreed to talks. Attacks in the region still occurred almost daily despite several rounds of talks in Malaysia. • An oil spill occurred on July 27 in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Ko Samet and Map Ta Phut in

2013 (November) n Suthep Thangsuba

November • On November 1 tens of thousands of anti-government protesters rallied in Bangkok against a proposed amnesty bill for political offences committed since 2006. Critics claimed it was designed to protect deposed PM Thaksin and allow him to return to Thailand from self-exile in Dubai without facing any punishment. • Anti-government protests in Bangkok drew ever larger crowds, and surrounded government and ministerial offices. On November 24 former Thai deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban resigned from the opposition Democrat Party to lead the protests aimed at dislodging Yingluck’s government.

2013 (November) Cla


• On November 30 pro-Yingluck redshirts rallied in Bangkok and clashed with anti-government demonstrators. Four people were killed and dozens injured.

2013 (December) Anti-government protesters

2013 (December) Bangkok clashed

December • Street clashes continued on December 1 and 2, but anti-Yingluck protesters in Bangkok failed in attempts to seize the prime minister’s office and police headquarters. • On December 3 police withdrew from their headquarters, enabling anti-government protesters to stage a politically symbolic occupation of the complex as well as the nearby prime minister’s office. • PM Yingluck refused to step down, and instead, on December 9, she announced early elections for February 2014. More than 100,000 anti-government protesters rallied in Bangkok streets demanding an end to the Shinawatra family’s influence in Thai politics. • On December 12 charges relating to the crackdown on redshirt protesters in 2010 were revived against Abhisit and Suthep. In August 2014 the Criminal Court ruled that it had no authority to handle the case, although it could be tried by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions. • The opposition Democrat Party announced that it would boycott the elections unless they were preceded by political reforms. • Violent street protests left one police officer dead and dozens of people injured on December 24.


was the year the Central Embassy shopping mall operated by

2014 Central Embassy

2014 Chang International Circuit

• Tensions increased in Bangkok after a grenade attack on January 18 left one anti-government protester dead and more than 30 injured. • Anti-government protesters gathered for three days of marches in Bangkok January 29-31. It was seen as a last-minute effort to disrupt the general election. Government supporters and protesters opened fire on each other on the streets of Bangkok, wounding at least nine people. 2013 (January) Ani-government protest

2014 Thai AirAsia X

2014 NokScoot

2014 (February) Anti-government

2014 Thai VietJet Air

Central Group opened in Bangkok. Thai AirAsia X, NokScoot and Thai Vietjet Air airlines were founded. The Buriram International Circuit known as Chang International Circuit was christened in Buriram.

January • On January 4 the Electoral Commission announced that the February elections would proceed as planned. • Anti-government protesters occupied key locations in Bangkok on January 14 in a bid to shut down the capital and force Yingluck’s resignation.

February • The early general election was held amid widespread antigovernment protests. The Election Commission announced that polling was disrupted in 69 out of 375 constituencies nationwide. PM Yingluck was expected to ultimately win, but an official result was withheld until a re-vote could be carried out in the provinces disrupted by protests. Meanwhile, Yingluck continued as caretaker prime minister.



Feature March • New elections were held on March 2 in five provinces where voting was disrupted by anti-government protests in February, but election re-runs planned for April in other provinces were suspended pending a court decision on whether the election results could be considered constitutionally valid. • On March 21 the Constitutional Court ruled that the February election was invalid because polls around the country were not all held on the same day, in violation of a constitutional clause. At this point Thailand had not had a functioning Parliament since December, and no end to the stalemate was in sight. • Caretaker PM Yingluck appeared before the National Anti-Corruption Commission on March 31 to defend herself against charges that could lead to her removal from office. She was charged with dereliction of duty in overseeing the government ricebuying scheme. The scheme ran up huge losses and left hundreds of thousands of farmers unpaid.

transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri in 2011, which her opponents said was designed to benefit Pheu Thai Party. • On May 7 the Constitutional Court delivered a guilty verdict, dismissing Yingluck 2014 (May) Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan

and nine of her ministers for abuse of power. In a televised 2014 (May) news conference Ms Yingluck after the verdict she dismissed said: “Throughout my time as prime minister I have given my all to my work for the benefit of my countrymen ... I have never committed any unlawful acts as I have been accused of doing.” Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan stepped into the prime minister’s role and said the caretaker government would press ahead with plans for a July 20 election.

April • Prince Mahidol Hall at Mahidol University in Nakhon Pathom province was inaugurated on April 14 by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. A performance was given by the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra. The hall, located at Mahidol University in Nakhon Pathom province. 2014 (April) Prince Mahidol Hall

• After talks between Yingluck and the Election Commission, it was announced on April 30 that a new general election was scheduled for July 20.

May • On May 6 caretaker PM Yingluck appeared before the Constitutional Court to answer charges of alleged abuse of power stemming from the



“was not a coup” and urged people not to panic and to go about their lives as normal. The Thai government said it was not consulted in advance of the military declaration, and added that acting PM Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was still the head of government. • On May 22, Royal Thai Army (RTA) forces led by General Prayuth Chan-o- cha, Commander of the RTA, officially launched a coup d’état against the caretaker government. In the evening General Prayuth announced on live television that the armed forces were assuming control of the nation’s administration to bring peace and order after six months of constant political crisis. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was established to govern the country. After dissolving the government and the Senate, the NCPO vested executive and legislative powers in General Prayuth and ordered the judicial branch to operate under its directives. It partially repealed the 2007 constitution, took control of the media and declared martial law and curfews nationwide. Political gatherings were banned and some politicians and anti-coup activists were arrested and detained.


2014 (May) Coup d'etat

• On May 8 former PM Yingluck was found guilty of negligence in the state rice-buying scheme. • On May 15 the Election Commission called for postponement of the July 20 election because of the escalating political unrest. The appeal came after three anti-government protestors were killed and 23 wounded in a gun and grenade attack on their protest site in Bangkok. • On May 20 it was announced by the military that martial law had been invoked “to restore peace and order for people from all sides”. The announcement stressed that this

• On July 22 His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej assented to and signed the 2014 interim constitution enacted by the NCPO. The interim constitution came into force on that day and replaced the 2007 constitution.

August • On August 21 General Prayuth was named Thailand’s 29th prime minister following a 191-0 vote in Parliament.

2014 (August) PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha

September • The first issue of Thai edition of the international monthly men’s magazine GQ 2014 was launched. The (September) issue had a triple foldine GQ magaz out cover, with pictures of eight well-known Thai men.

November • Parliament banned the trade of babies born through surrogate pregnancies in response to growing public opposition to the practice.

2015 (Se

Highness Princess Bajra Kitiyabha led thousands of cyclists in Bangkok in the “Bike for Mom” cycling event on August 16 to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 83rd birthday. Also on their bikes were General Prayuth, Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr, Supreme Court



i Park

2014 (December) Flo



2015 CentralPlaza Westgate

• Widespread flooding hit the South, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Many districts in Narathiwat, Songkhla and Yala provinces were declared disaster zones. As of December 30, 15 people were reportedly killed in the flooding.

an Shrine blast

2015 (August) Hindu Erew

2015 EMQuartier


witnessed the establishment of the Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival by the staff of Attitude Magazine, an LGBT-oriented weekly publication. CentralPlaza Westgate shopping plaza and complex opened in Nonthaburi, as did EmQuartier, a large upscale shopping mall opposite the Emporium on Sukhumvit Road.

April • On April 8 Thailand and Russia pledged to boost cooperation in a press conference chaired jointly by PM Prayuth and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. He was the first Russian premier to visit Thailand since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ten memorandums of understanding were signed during his visit. • His Majesty the King endorsed a request by PM Prayuth to revoke martial law throughout the country. The lifting of martial law paved the way for Prayuth to impose Section 44 of the interim constitution, which enabled the NCPO chief to exercise powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

August • His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Her Royal

2015 (August) Bike for Mom

2015 (April) PM Mevedev and PM Prayuth

President Direk Ingkaninant, Constitutional Court President Nurak Mapraneet, National Legislative Assembly Chairman Pornpetch Wichitcholachai, and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and a host of other high level government representatives. Hundreds of thousands more cyclists across the country took part in the event. • On August 17, a bomb rocked the Hindu Erawan Shrine near Ratchaprasong intersection in the center of Bangkok. As always during the day there was a large group of worshippers at the shrine. The blast killed 20 people and injured 125. The Royal Thai Police said three kilograms of TNT had been stuffed in a pipe and left under a bench in the outer area of the shrine. Surveillance footage showed a suspect leaving a backpack at the scene and walking off shortly before the explosion.

September • HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, accompanied by his daughter Princess Bajrakitiyabha,

presided over the opening ceremonies of Rajabhakdi Park in Hua Hin on September 26. The park is historically themed, honoring past Thai kings from the Sukhothai period to the current Chakri era. The park is located in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan province. King Bhumibol Adulyadej gave the historical park the name “Rajabhakti Park”, which means “the park that has been built with people’s loyalty to the monarchs”. One part of the park dominated by the statues of seven notable Thai kings. Each statue is made of bronze, with an average height of 13.9 meters.

October • Minister of Tourism Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said it was expected that tourist totals from China would reach seven million in 2015, compared to 4.63 million the year before. This was in spite of the deadly bombing in August at the Erawan Shrine, a site that is very popular with Chinese tourists. Minister Kobkarn attributed continuing high levels of arrivals from China to confidence in the RTP’s investigation of the



Feature bombing. At the time two people were being detained on suspicion of carrying out the attack, which the authorities believed stemmed from a crackdown on human traffickers.

December • Director of Thai Interpol Police Major General Apichart Suribunya said on December 8 that there was “no credible” threat of an attack by suspected members of Islamic State following a warning by the Russian intelligence service that 10 Syrians linked to Islamic State had entered the country. Nevertheless, Thai authorities stepped up security around potential targets in Pattaya and Phuket, where many Russians live.

2015 (December) Bike for Dad

• Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s ‘Bike for Dad’ event on December 11, the King’s birthday, was a tremendous success. The Crown Prince led a procession of 99,999 cyclists who joined a 29-kilometre bike ride in Bangkok. HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha and HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana also joined him in the event. The ride which started at the Royal Plaza in Dusit district and looped through many areas of the city. Well-wishers thronged roadsides to see the Prince leading the peloton, chanting “long live the King”. Hundreds of thousands of riders participated in similar events nationwide.

2016 is the year at least 35 new local football clubs were formed. Towards the end of the year, in October, a great sadness descended on the country when it was learned that King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, had died at the age of 88 after 70



years on the throne. The nation immediately went into mourning.

January • GDH film studio, a subsidiary of Thai entertainment conglomerate GMM Grammy, was founded on January 5 as successor to GMM Tai Hub Thailand’s most successful film studio of the previous decade which was dissolved in December 2015. GDH was said to stand for ‘Gross Domestic Happiness’.

April • Banharn Silpa-archa died at Siriraj Hospital on April 23 at the age of 83. One of Thailand’s best known and most influential politicians, Banharn was prime minister in 1995-6 and an 11-time Suphan Buri MP. He joined the Chart Thai Party in 1976, and led the party for many years until it was dissolved by the Constitutional Court in 2008. The Chartthaipattana Party was then formed to replace it. 2016 (April) Banharn Silpa-archa

2016 (August) Bombing aftermath

to be jointly elected by Senators and MPs was also approved. Opposition groups were barred from formally campaigning against either measure. • A string of bombings in several tourist towns in the far South killed four people and wounded dozens.


• The government said on September 1 that peace talks in Malaysia with Muslim separatists operating in the far South would resume, but no agreement would be signed unless the insurgents observed a ceasefire. • On September 9 Thailand and Malaysia agreed to boost security cooperation and consider building a border wall to combat transnational March crime and smuggling. PM Prayuth • The NCPO unveiled a draft told reporters after the meeting in constitution on March 29 to replace Kuala Lumpur that both countries the interim constitution. ‘‘face security issues including the fight June against terrorism, • On June 23 human trafficking and hundreds of migrants illegal smuggling, and from Myanmar gave we need to address these Nobel Peace Prize issues seriously.” laureate Aung San Suu Kyi a thunderous 2016 (June) Aung Sann Suu Kyi and PM Prayuth • The Ministry of Public welcome on her first Health launched a new visit to Thailand since National AIDS Strategy for 2017-2030 her National League for Democracy which provided a road map for ending swept to election victory in November. the AIDS epidemic as a public health During her visit Suu Kyi met with PM threat in Thailand by 2030. A recent Prayuth and they signed agreements UNAIDS report had found that annual aimed at protecting the estimated two new HIV infections dropped by 50% in to three million migrant workers from Thailand between 2010 and 2016, the Myanmar in Thailand. steepest decline for any country in the Asia and Pacific region. August • A referendum was held on August 7 October on the new constitution, which offered • On the afternoon of October only semi-democracy and tightened 13 it was announced His Majesty the hold of the military on the country Bhumibol Adulyadej had passed away indefinitely. The vote was 61.4% to 38.6% at the age of 88 after a long illness. in favor. A proposal for the next PM

A year-long period of mourning was subsequently announced so that the public could grieve for the monarch who had done so much to guide the nation and hold it together in times of trouble. Entertainment venues were temporarily closed altogether and all festivities outside, including the traditional New Year’s Eve countdown at CentralWorld, were prohibited. Please see the October 2017 issue of The BigChilli: His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, ‘Father of the Nation’. See: thebigchilli/docs/the_bigchilli_ october_2017

November • On November 7 Thailand’s rice committee announced new loan schemes worth 18 billion baht to help rice growers struggling with falling prices. The tumbling rice price sent the ruling junta scrambling to roll out rescue packages as the opposition tried to woo politically powerful rice farmers ahead of a general election that was expected in late 2017 but was later postponed.

manufacturing automotive and motorcycle batteries. The nation continued to grieve for its departed King. Most citizens chose to continue wearing mourning colors and public gatherings of all sorts were subdued. For the first time in memory streets were clear of water-throwing masses during Songkran. The funeral ceremony for King Rama IX was held in October.

January • The floods in southern Thailand that started in December 2016 and persisted throughout January were declared to be the worst in more than 30 years. Director-General of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department Chatchai Promlert said 1.7 million people had been affected, 85 people were confirmed dead and four still missing.


saw the Thai girl idol group BNK48 released its first recording to great success. BNK48 members formed the group to emulate the Japanese act known as AKB48. Due to heavy losses, the well-known3K Battery brand went out of business in mid-2017 after 30 years of

2017 BNK48

March • Police said they were pursuing more than 350 legal cases against Phra Dhammachayo and his Dhammakaya Temple. Deputy National Police Commissioner Police General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said on March 6 that of these cases, more than 10 had led to the issuance of new arrest warrants.


December • On December 1 Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn accepted the invitation of National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai to ascend the throne, and thus became King Rama X, the tenth monarch of the Chakri dynasty.

medical equipment in rooms where they expected to find the 72-yearold former abbot. They pledged to keep looking. Previous attempts to search the complex were thwarted when thousands of Phra Dhammajayo’s devotees turned up. The money-laundering charges were in connection with alleged embezzlement at the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative. AddThis Sharing Buttons Share to Facebook26Share to TwitterShare to LINEShare to Google+Share to Mo

2017 (January) Flo


February • Thailand was the world’s most congested country 2017 (February) in 2016, according to Phra Dha mmachayo a study released by i li i INRIX, a company thatt specializes in transportation analytics. The study said drivers in Thailand spent an average of 64.1 hours stuck in traffic during the year, followed by motorists in Colombia and Indonesia who spent an average of 47 hours. • Thai police po failed to apprehend Phra Dhammachayo, D an influe influential Buddhist leader want wanted for money-laundering wh who had reportedly hidden h himself behind the monastic w walls of Dhammachayo T Temple in Pathum Thani. After searching his sect’s vast headquarters, police said they found

• On April 6 H.M. King Rama X officially endorsed the promulgation of the country’s 20th constitution, setting the stage for a general election expected to be held by late 2018. • A message was posted on a Thai government website asking people to report sites that carried content which defamed the royal family, and g gave details on how to report such iincidents. • The private sector expressed support for the government’s plan to extend 99-year land leases to foreign investors. “If the government opens up the opportunity for foreign buyers to hold residential leases for up to 99 years, like Singapore and Malaysia do, it will boost residential demand as the country is the gateway to the ASEAN Economic Community,” said Thai Condominium Association president Prasert Taedullayasatit. • The Justice Ministry said it would seek the arrest of Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya after he failed to show up in court on April 27 to face charges stemming from the hitand-run collision that killed a police



Feature officer in 2012. It was the eighth time Vorayuth had missed legal proceedings that commenced in 2016. Vorayuth is charged with speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death. He was known to have spent much of the previous five years abroad, including in London and Singapore.

May • On May 5, the government revoked the passport of Vorayuth, who it was learned had left Thailand for Singapore on April 25, two days before he was due to report to prosecutors to be formally charged in court. 2017 (October) Funeral of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej

September • The government announced 73 billion baht in loans and handouts to help struggling rice farmers. The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry said it would provide 52 billion baht in handouts to farmers and 21 billion baht in loans that would be extended to 3.7 million households. The announcement came a week after former PM Yingluck fled the country ahead of a court verdict in a criminal negligence case over the rice subsidy scheme initiated by her government. 2017 (October) Panthongtae Sh ina



• On October 18 the h only l son off fugitive former PM Thaksin was formally charged with moneylaundering, said the Department of Special Investigations (DSI). Panthongtae Shinawatra was accused of receiving a 10 million baht check in 2004 that was related to an earlier corruption case involving fraudulent loans extended by the state-owned Krungthai Bank when his father was prime minister. The deputy spokesman of the DSI, Woranan Srilum, said Panthongtae had turned himself in on October 17 but had been released as no arrest warrant had been issued. • The royal funeral ceremony for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej took place in the last half of October. On October 14 the body of the late

king was carried in a motorcade from Siriraj Hospital to the Grand Palace. The procession left Gate 8 of the hospital around 4.30pm. As the cortege passed Arun Ammarin Road, Phra Pin Klao Bridge, and Ratchadamnoen Road, huge crowds of black-clad mourners, many openly sobbing, paid their last respects. Led by Somdej Phra Vanarata (Chun Brahmagutto), the abbot of Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, the motorcade entered the palace via Thewaphirom Gate. Upon arrival at the palace, the King’s body was given the bathing rite. • The actual cremation was held in late evening of October 26. Following cremation the King’s remains and ashes were taken to the Grand Palace and enshrined at the Chakri Maha Phasat Throne Hall, the Royal Cemetery at Wat Ratchabophit and Wat Bowonniwet Vihara Royal Temple. The official mourning period ended on midnight October 30, and the next day color returned to the streets of Bangkok.

November • Thailand’s defense technology agency announced plans to set up a joint center with China to produce and maintain state-of-the-art military equipment. There were also discussions about a Chinese naval center to serve submarines Thailand had ordered from China earlier in the year. It was the latest sign of the

strengthening Sino-Thai security relationship since the 2014 coup. Thailand has long been considered the US’s most steadfast ally in Southeast Asia.

December • IBF Muaythai, commissioned under the International Boxing Federation to regulate, control and supervise professional Muay Thai events worldwide, held its first convention in Bangkok on December 21-22. • The estimated figure for foreign tourists visiting Thailand during 2017 was released, a staggering, record-breaking 35 2017 ((December) million visitors. China PM Prayuth remained the number one source with 9.92 million, a +13.23% change year-on-year. The only nation to see a drop in visitors was Malaysia (-5.5%), while Russia posted the biggest year-on-year increase (+22.95%). • Ahead of an expected visit by a US envoy seeking to step up pressure on North Korea over its weapons program, PM Prayuth said no trade was taking place between Thailand and North Korea. Prayuth guaranteed that Thailand had abided by all UN resolutions on North Korea and dismissed reports of North Korean vessels in Thai waters.

*Sources for this story include archives of BBC, the Bangkok Post, The Nation, Reuters and Wikipedia. 66


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