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INVESTORS IN LM AND OTHER FAILED FUNDS NOW HAVE A CHANCE TO RECOVER SOME MONEY Expats and others who invested in any of the six following funds: Axiom Legal Financing, LM Managed Performance, All other LM funds, Premier New Earth, Premier Eco Resources, Kijani via FPI or RS /OMI are invited to join an upcoming class action in Isle of Man. The organisers say that such investors “have nothing to lose but everything to gain” by joining this initiative – and at no risk to themselves. A small group working on this initiative for last six years have teamed up with a top lawyer and leading QC in London, who have prepared a statement of claim which has been registered in the IOM courts offers a the group a 60 % chance of winning the action. Other developments: •A top IOM lawyer has been recruited to handle the case. •Litigation Funding of several million pounds has been obtained to run the case as well as insurance to cover any adverse costs so that there’s no cost to any investor joining the group. • A committee has been formed of four like-minded investors; the chairperson is Niall Coburn of Coburn Corporate investigations (CCI) who has been working on the case. There are currently 90+ investors in the group with total losses of approximately eight million pounds. This needs to be increased to 60 million pounds as soon as possible for the Litigation Funder to put up the £3-4m to make the project worthwhile as well as to spread the fees involved over more investors. The total conservative loss of these six funds is around £1 billion. Investors in any of the six funds mentioned above via Friends Provident or Royal Scandia /OMI can join the group. Those who invested directly are ineligible. Commented a spokesman for the group: “After almost seven years, investors now have a chance to recover around 50-60% of their original investments at no cost to themselves.”





The BigChilli Co., Ltd., 8/2 FMA Group Building, 3 floor, room 301, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500.




thebigchillimagazine@ gmail.com


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



No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission from The BigChilli Co., Ltd. The opinions and views of the writers are not necessarily the views of the publishers. All details are deemed correct at the time of print, the publisher, the editor, employees and contributors can not be held responsible for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions that may occur. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or amend any submitted artwork, photographs, illustrations and manuscripts. The BigChilli 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, 3rd floor, room 301, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500. ☎ 02 635 5085, ☎ 081 358 1814 Fax: 02 635 5086 :thebigchillimagazine@gmail.com :thebigchilli.com


Bangkok Overload It might be quiet now, but Bangkok faces a traffic nightmare in the next few years with the opening of seven giant projects competing for space on our roads


nce the current turmoil and shutdown are over and things get back to normal, Bangkok will still have to face the same old problem – horrendous traffic jams. Only trouble is, they will almost certainly be even worse. Much worse. Why? Because over the next four or five years Bangkok is unrolling a number of enormous mixed-use, high-rise developments that are almost mini cities in their own right. These will attract far more vehicles and people into major areas of the inner city, causing more bottlenecks and traffic queues than ever. 6


Magnificent Seven • ONE BANGKOK, Wireless and Rama IV – Giant project, home to 500 companies and 50,000 workers, five hotels, 450 stores, condos and 450m tower. • DUSIT CENTRAL PARK, Rama IV – Hotel, department store, condo. • BANGKOK MALL, Sukhumvit and Bang Na Trat highway – Asia’s biggest shopping mall and areana for 16,000. • EmSphere, Sukhumvit – Entertainment centre, arena for 7,000. • SINDHORN VILLAGE, Soi Langsuan – Hotels, condos and retail. • SILOM PARK, Silom – Office and retail. • THE ParkQ, Rama IV – Parft of the QSNCC, with offices and retail.




And it’s not only roads that will be feeling the strain; the mass transit system will be under massive additional pressure as well. Two of the planned projects – EmSphere and Bangkok Mall - include huge arenas for music and sporting events involving thousands of spectators, many of whom are likely to use the BTS Skytrain system. Dozens of smaller projects will be completed by 2024, adding to the overload. Getting about Bangkok by car, taxi or bus won’t be easy. 8



Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit

Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit has launched the Staycation Package from now until June 30, 2020, with rates starting from THB 4,200 ++ per night for two persons. Relax by the pool or in the spa during the day and enjoy the evening with spectacular 360-degree Bangkok views at the award-winning Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar. Exclusive package includes; • Daily buffet breakfast at 57th Street • Complimentary 3-course Thai set dinner at 57th Street • Complimentary two signature cocktails at Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar • Spa credit valued at THB 500 net • Guaranteed late check-out until 4:00 pm • 20% discount on food & beverage, spa & laundry Terms and conditions apply. For more information and reservation, please visit www.bangkokmarriott.com

Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok introduces New Serviced Residences

Sindhorn Midtown is still operating and accommodating both hotel guests and long-staying guests at our serviced residence tower. In addition, we are now offer special rate at only THB 45,000 net per month for our studio unit. Sindhorn Midtown has easy access to both Sukhumvit and Silom, and a fiveminute walk from BTS Skytrain station.  For more information, please contact 02-796-8888 or commercial@sindhornmidtown.com Website: sindhornmidtown.com Facebook: Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok TheBigChilli



R-Haan Delivers Iron Star Chef 2Go - a dynamic collab between 2 renowned chefs

â– R-Haan recently rolled out a comprehensive food delivery program that is driven by passion and with a meticulous quality control plan that is in lock-step with the current situation we are facing globally. R-Haan and Chef Pom

Chinese Cuisine By Todd teamed up cohesively to roll out lunch and dinner delivery sets - with a compelling difference. What sets this initiative apart is the meticulous quality control plan put in place swiftly. From the acceptance of ingredients, to the treatment and washing before cooking right down to the final step of food delivery, every precaution is taken and every extra mile required is executed. 10


translated as Rice Soaked in Cool Water. Other Thai classics making a foray into this menu includes Kanom Jeen Nam Prik Rice Noodles with Spicy Shrimp & Coconut. Prices start from an affordable 250 Baht. Browse more pictures or information on their social media pages. In R-Haan, daily temperature checks of every kitchen staff is taken before every shift. Personal hygiene is the utmost priority. All kitchen equipment are sanitized deeply and thoroughly, in sync with industrial standards. R-Haan even handles the food delivery with their own team. A dedicated delivery truck is on standby daily. Chef Chumpol Jangprai sees to this strict regiment of protocols for the safety of his team and their respected and beloved clients. As we are in the heat of the summer months, R-Haan has just unveiled their newest Summer Samrub menu. This extensive and exquisite 8-course set menu is now available for delivery under this joint delivery initiative. Priced at 1712 Baht, every item from starter to the sweet ending notes, will be carefully packed for a gourmet experience at home. The refreshing summer menu, which incorporates carefully selected ingredients, begins with an amuse-bouche of Sing Buri Triple Cooked Sun Dried River Fish Mixed with Sugar and Deep Fried Shallots served with Watermelon and savory MA HOR: Fresh “Hom Suwan” Pineapple Morsel topped with Minced Pork and Peanut. Followed by delectable appetizers: 30 Days Dry Aged Buriram Angus Beef grilled with Salt, Fish Sauce, Black Pepper and “Hua Rua” Bird’s Eye Chili Sauce, Traditional Siam Ruby Pomelo Salad from Nakhon Si Thammarat, Fish Noodle Pad Thai wrapped with Gotu Kola Leaf and 18 Months Fermented Fish and Thai Herbs

Baked with Cheese served with Homemade Prawn Crackers. And that is just a start! Best to order it once and experience it for yourself... For readers who prefer ordering special and individual dishes, a Royal Summer Ala Carte menu is also made available, exclusively for delivery. Here’s the opportunity to sample some ala carte dishes from a 2-Star Michelin establishment! The main highlight will be the seasonal Khao Chae - literally

On the Chinese front, Chef Pom Chinese Cuisine By Todd is offering 3 distinctive menus. The Chef Pom Lunch Set is priced at 799 Baht and it serves 2 people. The Individual Set Menu is 1590 Baht and the Family Delight is 5,500 Baht. To order and to communicate directly with the restaurant teams, please add them on Line @ ironstarchef2go https://bit.ly/ironstarchef2go TheBigChilli


FoodPanda Centara Grand at Central World Centara Grand at Central World has launched its new Centara Signature – ‘Take Away Menus’ delivered to your doorstep from now on. Price: THB 188 net for one meal box including a free bottle of water Delivery: Free delivery within 1 kilometer radius (THB 20 per any additional kilometer) (Minimum order of two food boxes) Operating time: 07.00 – 19.30 hrs. (daily) Contact number: 02-100-1234 Ext: 5988 Line :@centaragrandcgcw (or click https://lin.ee/92Mqvcz) Centara Health Check: With every food order we provide a reference card of the Chef who prepared the food to illustrate that she/he is perfectly healthy and that she/he has not travelled outside of Thailand since 31 December 2019. Centara Delivery Team: We have set-up a dedicated team of individuals who are only in charge of the guest’s food delivery. All employees’ body temperature is checked before coming to work every day. In addition we have a record of their travel history to ensure they have not visited any risk countries. They were all thoroughly trained on relevant COVID-19 practices. All of our kitchens & food preparation areas, kitchen utensils & pans are cleaned and sanitized frequently throughout the day.

Send us your home delivery service for free promotion in the BigChilli at editorbigchilli@gmail.com 12


Garrett Popcorn Shops has partnered with Foodpanda to deliver fresh Garrett Popcorn to your doorstep Using the Foodpanda app or foodpanda.co.th, Garrett fans can now order their favorite signature flavours including CaramelCrisp, CheeseCorn, Almond CaramelCrisp, Macadamia CaramelCrisp, Buttery, Plain and the famous Chicago Mix. Garrett Popcorn Shops in Thailand are located at: • Garrett Popcorn Siam Paragon Shop (Tel: 02-610-7766) • Garrett Popcorn Central Plaza Lardprao (Tel: 02-937-1211) • Garrett Popcorn Don Mueang International Airport (Tel: 02-5043704) • Garrett Popcorn Don Mueang International Airport Terminal 2 (Tel : 02-504-3546) For more information, visit: https://garrettpopcorn. com or visit Garrett® channels in Thailand  including Facebook (@ GarrettPopcornTH), Instagram (@ GarrettPopcorn_Thailand) and  www.garrettpopcornshops.co.th

Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok ‘Tr.EAT’ is now on LINE MAN and foodpanda featuring guests’ favorite dishes and drinks. Sindhorn Midtown has a menu of healthy and delicious options to enjoy at home or office. Menu selections include Pad Kra Prao Khai Dao, Nasi Lemak, Kanom Pakkad, Pad Ka Prao Pizza, Chicken Burger with Tamarind Mayo and more. Drinks selection includes lemon ginger and basil iced tea, Thai tea banana smoothie, passion fruit coffee – _mocktails also available. For more information, please contact 02-796-8888 or commercial@sindhornmidtown.com Website: sindhornmidtown.com Facebook: Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok

OneSiam Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery and ICONSIAM have launched: ‘Call & Pick Up’ service for Viz members to shop for grocery items at Gourmet Market, Siam Paragon Food Hall and  Dear Tummy supermarket at ICONSIAM.  Viz members can call 063- 205-7989, 063-142-4856 or 083-097-4622 ‘Eat at Home’ is a take-away and food delivery service that combines over 50 restaurants at Siam Paragon, Gourmet Garden, Paragon Food Hall and ICONSIAM. Customers can order via leading food delivery applications or make direct call to the restaurants then enjoy delicious delivery to their doors. ‘OneSiam Chat & Shop’ is a centralized online shopping service. Shoppers can now enjoy allin-one live chat service assisted by our shopping advocates at every touchpoint from product inquiries, ordering, payment and delivery.

Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit has a take-away deal at 57th Street Restaurant until April 30, 2020. Enjoy a 35% discount on a-la-carte menu items featuring a variety of Thai, Indian and international dishes from 57th Street. 57th Street is open for take-away from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm. For further information and orders, please call 02797-0000 or email to diningbangkok@ marriott.com

Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok has a new delivery menu with a delectable choice of tasty appetizers, healthy salads and soups, mains, desserts, plus Thai and international favourites. Simply check out the menu and place your order through our LINE Official Account @ChatriumRiverside or LINE Store https://shop.line.me/@ chatriumriverside.  Delivery is free within 5 km, just THB 60 from 5-10 km and only THB 100 over 10 km all across Bangkok. For more information, please contact Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok at 0 2307 8888 ext. 19231924 or email: riverbarge.chrb@ chatrium.com, www.chatrium.com



Conrad Bangkok Conrad Bangkok now offers four Signature Family Set Menus showcasing the skills of our four international culinary experts: Simone Poser, Andy Fung, Kenji Shindo and Boonserm Thanavibull. Conrad Bangkok’s Takeaway Service is available daily, between 11:00-21:00 hrs. Please kindly place your orders at least three hours in advance when ordering Signature Family Set Menus. Simply place your order online at RelishBangkok.com or by calling 02690-9370 or 02-690-9379, and then pick it up from our lobby, directly connected to the All Seasons Complex. For more information about Conrad Bangkok, please call +66 (0) 2690 9299 or email bkkci.info@conradhotels.com. Facebook: www.facebook.com/conradbangkokhotel Instagram: www.instagram.com/conradbangkokhotel

Kantary House Hotel, Bangkok Kantary House Hotel, Bangkok presents a food delivery service using premium ingredients with many choices of popular dishes such as Spaghetti, Stir-Fried Beef and Basil with Rice, Fried Rice with Shrimp Paste, Japanese Set Menu with Grilled Salmon or Saba Fish. For free delivery with a minimum spend of 300 Baht and within 1 kilometre of the hotel. The delivery is available within Ramkhamhaeng area from 06.00 - 21.00 hrs. until 30th April 2020.   For food delivery and more information, please contact Kantary House Hotel, Bangkok (Ramkhamhaeng Area) on: Tel. 02-374-5544. Website: www.kantarycollection.com/ kantaryhouse-bangkok 14


Okura Bangkok Master Chef Shigeru Hagiwara at Yamazato, The Okura Prestige Bangkok’s Michelin Plate Japanese restaurant, is laying on authentic tastes of Japan in early summer with special Gozen lunch platters and a multi-course Kaiseki dinner featuring seasonal ingredients such as royal fern, sweet fish and pike eel. Also known as Hamo in Japan, pike eel is considered a summer treat, particularly in the Kansai region where it is popular for its flavour and nutritious energy-giving properties. The first Early Summer Gozen platter includes a starter of simmered conger eel, shrimp, mushroom and okra with sesame cream sauce. The seafood theme continues with a soup of scallop dumpling, shimeji mushroom and green vegetables with a touch of citrus yuzu. The second platter features a simmered dish of eggplant, taro, pumpkin, sweet fish, okra and carrot with a touch of yuzu, and a rice dish with crabmeat served with salmon roe, traditional pickles and miso soup. In addition to pike eel tempura, noodles and sashimi dishes, stars of the Kaiseki dinner is a grilled dish of Spanish mackerel with tomato miso sauce and pork belly roll with baby corn, dried cassis, paprika and pickled myouga. Early Summer Gozen lunch platters and the Kaiseki dinner are available at Yamazato from 1 - 28 June 2020, lunch 11:30 - 14:30, dinner: 18:00 22:30. Priced at Baht 1,600++ for Gozen lunch and Baht 4,700++ for Kaiseki dinner. Yamazato Restaurant is located on the 24th floor of The Okura Prestige Bangkok. For information and reservations, please contact 02 687 9000 or email yamazato@okurabangkok. com or book on our website www.okurabangkok. com



Siam Paragon’s summer delicacies now delivered to your door If summer heat is wearing you off from quarantine cooking or if you are out of creative ideas for your next meal, Siam Paragon recommends distancing from meal-prep exhaustion with home delivery and take-away delicacies that features flavorsome summer menus from its leading restaurants across the G Floor. Available daily, from 11.00 – 20.00 hrs. This summer, enrich your quarantine or work-home-home experience with food delivery and take-away delicacies from more than 50 leading restaurants at Siam Paragon’s Gourmet Garden and Paragon Food Hall. Simply order via food delivery applications or call the restaurants. In addition, enjoy over 50% discount. All for your health safety. For more information, please call 02-610-8000

Brix Dessert Bar The much-loved dessert bar offers refreshing summer desserts like ‘Mayongchid x Somchun Bingsu,’ a delicate shaved-iced made with a mixture of local fruits including Mayongchid and traditional Thai dessert Som Chun. Try ‘Beignets,’ a French-style donut inspired by the soft and buttery Brioche, served with Hokkaido Milk Cream. Only THB159. Chocolate fans can also order Chocolate Hokkaido Milk Cream at THB169 one day in advance. Open: 10.00 – 18.00 hrs Tel: 095-474-4468 or 0-212-9483 Food delivery options: LINE MAN, Get Food

Chilli Thai Taste authentic Thai flavor with ‘Lotus Petal Wrap’ (THB150). Delicate fresh lotus petals are served in bite-size with aromatic herbs, roasted shredded coconut complimented with delicious dipping. Also, ‘Beetroot Som Tum’ (THB150), thin slices of hand-selected young and fresh beetroots are shocked in ice for extra crunch, then mixed in spicy Somtum sauce. Beat the summer heat with ‘Coconut ice cream and seven heavenly toppings.’ Smooth and rich ice cream made from young coconut juice and coconut milk is served with selections of traditional Thai toppings. Open: 11.00 – 20.00 hrs Tel: 0-212-94761 Food delivery option: LINE MAN

Suki Masa An authentic Japanese sukiyaki recipe dating back over 100 years now delivered to your door. Enjoy ‘Kansai Style Sukiyaki’ (THB450 – 1,500/ set) that highlights thinlysliced and flavorsome quality beef marinade in Warishita sauce cooked first in the pot, then soy sauce is added, accompanied by freshly beaten egg and ponzu sauce for dipping. “Shabu Shabu” set (THB450 – 1,500/ set) comes with signature Tonkotsu Collagen broth. Or try ‘Nabe Kimchi’ set (THB450 – 1,500/ set), a spicier option with prominent sour and spicy touch of kimchi topped with a beaten egg in the pot for balanced and wholesome flavor. ‘Seafood Nabe’ (THB600 -800/ set), adopts the same process with Shabu Shabu, but all ingredients are boiled at the same time in Nabe Shoyu or Nabe Warishita Soup. Open: 10.30 – 18.30 hrs Tel: 0-2129-4880, 061-392-9777 Food delivery options: Cash on delivery. Take-away takes 30 minutes as the order is cooked from Thonglor branch. Promotion: 10% Discount, a free Yakiniku Donburi or Buta Donburi for every THB2,000 order. 16


Harrods Tea Room

Red Diamond Coffee for true coffee aficionados. Enjoy “Twilight” (THB180), a blend of peach, orange and cold brew coffee, a truly refreshing sensation. ‘Virgin Dirty’ (THB160), chocolate milk is added to balance the strong and aromatic flavor of coffee with an additional chocolate sauce and a sprinkle of chocolate chips. ‘Ice Dutch Latte’ (THB140), taste the sensational flavor of cold brew coffee with quality milk. Open: 10.00 – 20.00 hrs Tel: 097-283-8676 Food delivery applications: LINE MAN, Get Food

This UK-originated restaurant presents ‘Diver Scallops & Mango Salad’ (THB390), fresh leafy greens are served with pan-seared scallops and sweet ripe mango and balsamic and lemon dressing; ‘Fruit Tart’ (THB165), a buttery, crispy and crumply English-style tart with Madagascan vanilla custard filling and seasonal fruit topping like fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Also on offer is thirstquenching ‘Peach Mango Fruit Tea’ (THB190) or peach and mango ‘Signature Fruit Tea,’ a blend of No.14 English Breakfast Ice Tea Ball and juicy diced peach. Open: 10.00 – 20.00 hrs Tel: 092-252-6753 Food delivery option: LINE MAN




Beautiful Restaurants

Chef Pom Chinese Cuisine By Todd

Chef Pom Chinese Cuisine By Todd is a confluence of Cantonese cooking style from Guangzhou and Hong Kong alongside innovative techniques from across China. Colourful dim-sum remakes and the timeless Peking Duck summon you in. So will the intricate Chinese decoration inside. Keep an eye out for their Chinese lanterns and shades of red. Call 02 294 3998 or browse https://www.chefpom. com to plan your dinner takeout and visit 18


In this monthly column, The BigChilli celebrates restaurants in Thailand that excel in their design as well as their cuisine. Dining in beautiful surroundings is regarded by many as a key element in their choice of restaurant for lunch or dinner. It sets and maintains the mood for a memorable dining experience — and is often the main reason for a return visit. The purpose of this photo feature is therefore to pay homage to those owners who have invested in creating a Beautiful Restaurant for the pleasure of Bangkok’s diners.




Elle Café

Elle Café celebrates wellness and beauty in all forms alongside French cuisine with a twist.  Each dish from Elle Café is carefully crafted with passion and love.The cafe's interior combines classy lightings, spherical ornaments and soft hues. The colour palette is warm and inviting plus pleasing to the eyes.  Elle Cafe is located in Iconsiam. Call  02 288 0725 for takeaway enquiries #ELLECafeThailand



Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Guest review by

Two decades of Beefsteak & Burgundy How an Aussie lunch ritual became a firm favourite with Bangkok gourmets

Tom Whitcraft


n the early 1950s some members of the wine industry in Adelaide commenced the cheerful habit of lunching on Fridays. Most would bring a bottle of wine masked in a paper bag for the comments of their peers. Comments were some times more hilarious than accurate. They met informally at the Imperial Hotel and, on 1st April, 1954, the first official meeting of The Foundation Club, later to become known as Beefsteak & Burgundy. Today, the organisation currently has nearly 200 chapters (155 in Australia and about 20 are in Asia). In 2002, a few friends led by Robert Jenkins decided to seek support from Adelaide HQ for Bangkok to form its own B&B 20


Winemaster Thomas Boedinger

Chapter. Those friends, including Peter Williams, Brad McElroy, and Graham Storah, were often to be found in The Blue Barbeque, Sukhumvit Soi 33 (sadly long since closed). Currently, President Tom Whitcraft, Winemaster Thomas Boedinger, and Foodmaster Thomas Nowak arrange a lunch to be held on each first Tuesday of the month unless an unavoidable incident such as Covid-19 causes a lunch to be skipped. 15 to 20 diners sit down to a set lunch normally featuring red meat and at least four different wines and held at a venue willing to waive corkage. Members pay an annual membership fee and special price; guests pay a little more. The Club provides the wine at cost and members take it in turn to compliment or very occasionally

Foodmaster Thomas Nowak

disparage the food and wine. Our favourite venues include Chesa (17 visits), Amari Watergate (12), Enoteca (also 12), and Artur (9) but the Club has also visited most of the five-star hotels in Bangkok including The Oriental, The Regent (now renamed Anantara Siam), Dusit Thani, The Peninsula, The Millennium Hilton, The Landmark, Grand Hyatt Erawan, Sofitel Bangkok and SO Bangkok. We have enjoyed many memorable lunches over the years but a few did fall below our expectations. Thai law makes libel a criminal offence so some past reports might have been considered either “economical with the truth” or offered “alternative facts”. For example:

Amari Watergate

- Our only meal in a Brazilian-style cafe with high ambient noise and poor seating arrangement was compensated only in part by the simultaneous staging of a rehearsal for models getting ready for a fashion show. - A restaurant supplier who arrived with his delivery of the promised lamb rack after we had finished the coffee. - A renowned Steakhouse so overcooked the prime rib that they invited us to return two weeks later to remedy the mistake at their expense with a new menu. - A meal in a local hotel where the Chef quit one day before our lunch and the smokers lit up cigars before the first course arrived. In fact it took some time for diners to fully respect the law invoked in 2005 and forsake smoking. On one occasion, member K. Wanit and keen cigar smoker (now sadly passed away) invited the Club to dine at Monkey’s, his restaurant. By mistake, we left copies of the menu still bearing notes for the Winemaster with

Our favourite venues include Chesa (17 visits), Amari Watergate (12), Enoteca (also 12), and Artur (9)

Park Society SO/Bangkok TheBigChilli


Landmark Rib Room & Bar


cigar-bearing K. Wanit. Our correspondent reported (in the absence of myself, the regular author and apparently deemed ‘headmaster’): “With a glass of Duval Leroy champagne in hand I sought out the menu. A few copies were finally provided and we learnt our fate. It was not the food that caught the member’s eye but the wine rations. Yes, finally we were told how much we could drink, and when we could drink it. Was this the headmaster’s revenge? Did he not trust us to drink in moderation? 22


Clearly not, and on some dishes we were restricted to a mere 0.5 of a standard glass per head. Our rations appeared to equate to five glasses of wine. Who goes to lunch and drinks only five glasses of wine, even if it is preceded by two glasses of champagne and the appendix is 2.5 shots of some dubious vodka? Clearly the headmaster who thought he was maintaining control in absentia although the pre-lunch smoke out at the bar would have suggested otherwise.“ But thankfully, these missed

opportunities to excel were rare. I will never forget one meal at Cy’an in 2008: “Dining proper commenced with Chilled Cucumber and Dill Soup (with pickled oysters and avocado). Houghton’s White Burgundy 2006 (Australia) was chosen for this and the following dish – Crudo of Kingfish with tomatoes, olives, and samphire. Both dishes drew praise from food spokesperson, Henny Beeber. A Swiss Du Sierre 2004 Pinot Noir was the first of two red wines to be served. “This proved to be a good match for Tea Smoked Sweetbread and Red Claw Crayfish (plus orange, fennel and spicy red pepper dressing). The second dish served with the Pinot Noir was Olive Oil Poached Harpuka (a member of the Grouper family) with a broad bean salad and Jerusalem artichoke. The main course arrived – 500 day Wagyu Beef, grilled over coal, with caramelized endive, crisp jambon and Bordelaise sauce. The serving was of just the right size, and the cooking, I have to declare, superb. “The wine chosen by Peter

Williams was 2004 Catena Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina), a recent arrival in Bangkok and a very acceptable accompaniment to the beef. The feast ended with Pont L'Eveque accompanied by poached quince and two beautifully presented desserts. We sipped Black Sambuca as we reached an end to the proceedings some time after 4:00pm. [Chef] Daniel Moran made a fleeting appearance to much applause. Every dish had displayed imagination and flair, and he and Amanda Gale justly deserved the praise heaped upon them.” Similarly, Executive Chef Phillipe




Gaudal has made it possible for us to dine on wonderful cuts of beef at Landmark’s Rib Room & Bar for four years in a row. In 2019 we reported: “Preceded by a sherbet with marinated cherries, pride of

place went to Phillipe’s Vintage “Réserva” roasted prime rib, his style roasted potato, ‘Tian Provençale’, beef jus, served medium rare and as tasty and succulent as many have ever tasted. John [MacTaggart] praised TheBigChilli



Belga 24




Mandarin Oriental Le Normandie

Le Bouchon TheBigChilli


every aspect of the dish, even down to the onion, potatoes and the 21-day-old garlic marinade which provided the garnish. “To match this, we found 2014 Orma (Italy), a “Super Tuscan”. Still a little young and therefore a little acidic, Brendon [Winter] commended the wine which he found to be an excellent match for the beef.” Chesa has topped the list of favourite restaurants since the Club was started. From an account of the 2011 lunch: “No expense seemed to have been spared when it came to the first course proper: Balik Salmon, hand-carried by Rene to Thailand for our enjoyment. Balik is synonymous with the traditional salmon smoking method as practised at the court of the Russian tsars. Today, the Swiss manufactory smokes and refines selected salmon cuts according to the secret recipe of the last purveyor of the imperial court. And to go with this: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, (Marlborough, NZ), the current favourite of wine critics around the world and also winning praise from Jock Tulloch. “Foodie Mark Guthrie found the 26


Slow Roasted Lamb Leg with Creamy Polenta, Vegetables and Gravy.” Occasionally, we stray from red meat and European cuisine. Back in 2007, we visited Tsunami (Japanese) though the modest size of the servings did not encourage a reprise. We have also tried with success Rang Mahal and Indus (Indian) and Le Dalat (Vietnamese). Of late our President has suggested a visit to a N Korean venue (but that might be because of the reputedly stunning waitresses rather than the grub). But who know? Our Club may yet be renamed Kimchi & Soju if the girls are truly beautiful. One cannot complete this account without mention of Artur, to be found in Soi Tonson for more

Cy’an Tea Smoked Sweetbread & Crayfish

Warm Goat Cheese wrapped with Smoked Ham on Avocado Mango Salad an excellent dish and the Boletus Mushroom Cappuccino enhanced with Cinnamon was delicious. Indeed the only complaint was that the spoons could not fit inside the cups. Jock had praised the accompanying Pinot Noir (despite it coming from NZ) but ran out of superlatives when it came to describing the Chapoutier Crozes Hermitage Syrah 2006 (France) generously contributed to the lunch by Harald Sauer. With this great Syrah came

than 10 years. Artur Kluczewski’s Côte de Boeuf is a dish always eagerly anticipated and his delivery of the beef from trencher to plate a joy to behold. And Enoteca has long been a favourite venue, often in December, with imaginative cuisine and immaculate service. One currently hopes that the pandemic will end as quickly as it arrived and that we will not have long to await the 210th lunch, and the arrival of number 263 diner to bring the total of meals we have enjoyed to more than 3,600 since 2002. Bon appetit!


What people said Mao Zedong asked Le Duan: “How big is Laos?” The Vietnamese answered: “Almost eighty thousand square miles, with a population of two million.” “My God,” said Mao. “They have so much land and so few people. Yunnan is about the same size but has forty million. If we could send fifteen or twenty million over there to live, wouldn’t that be a good idea?” As reported by historian Max Hastings in his new book ‘Vietnam. An Epic History of a Tragic War’ 28


Memorable quotes from celebs, politicians and the rest of us

“A successful man is a man who makes more money than his wife spends. And a successful woman is a woman who can find such a man.” Bienvenida Buck “I have become "My life is an open book. an accidental With illustrations." celebrity. And Hugh Hefner, on his truly it wasn’t life hard to do.” Monica “I’m not being in a band Lewinski T with anyone who sounds "They misunderestimated me." George Bush, on himself

like Elton John.” Noel Gallagher of Oasis, talking about his brother Liam

"He looks like a girl." Marlon Brando, on Leonardo DiCaprio

“I just want one day off when I can go swimming and eat ice cream and look at rainbows.” Mariah Carey, before entering rehab “I have never seen a nightingale in Berkeley Square.” Dame Vera Lyn, who sang “A Nightingale in Berkeley Square.’

“I think a ban is rather silly.” A black parent on a proposal to ban ‘Baa, Baa, Black Sheep’ as racially offensive "If sex is such a natural phenomenon, how come there are so many books on how to do it?" Bette Midler, on sex “One was big and one was small. I scared them away with my stick.” Three-year-old Cameron Munro, describing the dinosaurs he encountered on his night alone in the woods. “It keeps people quiet, like religion used to.” Actress Helen Mirren talking about football

“Let’s concentrate on spin, not substance.” Tony Blair makes a slip of the tongue during his time as Prime Minister

“I’m not being in a band with anyone who sounds like Elton John.” Noel Gallagher of Oasis, talking about his brother Liam TheBigChilli



Thailand’s other little

■ Just a few short months ago, hardly anybody had heard of coronavirus, let alone COVID-19. That’s no longer the case, of course. Today, this nasty virus is recognized around the world as a mass killer. Here in Thailand, thankfully, we’ve been spared the worst effects of the disease with a relatively small number of deaths (50+) compared to the US (61,656) and Spain (24,000) – and counting. For now at least, CVID-19 is less deadly than Thailand’s long list of other killer diseases - cancer, malaria, dengue, hepatitis, measles, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, leptospirosis, seasonal flu and HIV. But there’s another disease that few people know about – and yet it’s responsible for up to 2,800 30


deaths a year. Called melioidosis, it’s the country’s third most-deadly infectious disease after AIDS and tuberculosis. The number of fatalities could be even higher, according to some reports, because of a lack of information about the disease. Endemic to Thailand's northeast, particularly among farming communities, melioidosis is caused by a soil and water-dwelling bacteria found in tropical regions of the world. Some 40% of those infected die from the disease. But without proper diagnosis and antibiotics given on time, the mortality rate climbs to 90 percent. Symptoms range from mild such as fever, skin changes, pneumonia and abscesses to severe with inflammation of the brain and

joints. Dangerously low blood pressure can cause death. Personto-person or animal-to-human transmission is extremely rare. Symptoms of the disease vary considerably from patient to patient, which make diagnosis difficult. "Most of (those infected) die without knowing that they die of melioidosis. They die quickly," said Dr Limmathurotsakul Limmathurotsakul, the head of microbiology department at MORU Faculty of Tropical Medicine in Bangkok, in an interview with Al Jazeera. "When public awareness (of the disease) is zero, do you think any doctor will write on the death certificate that you die of this disease?" During the Vietnam War,

known killer disease

melioidosis was dubbed the 'Vietnam Time Bomb' because soldiers infected through contact with the soil and water often didn't develop symptoms until after they had arrived back home. The US Center for Disease

Control and Prevention classifies melioidosis as a microorganism that could be used as a ‘bioterrorism agent.’ placing it in the same category as anthrax. Although it has never been used in bioterrorism, this classification

gives insight into its dangers to humans. The number one cause of death among Thais is cancer-related diseases, followed by heart disease and strokes.

Last year’s forgotten epidemic In June, 2019, the Department of Disease Control announced a dengue haemorrhagic fever epidemic as there had been 28,785 patients during the first five months of the year, 43 of whom died. The figures were twice the five-year average, said Dr Preecha Prempree, deputy director-general of the department, who attributed the epidemic to failure to control mosquito larvae. By September, the number of patients nationwide with dengue haemorrhagic fever had increased to

52,670, with 69 fatalities. During the same period, Bangkok had treated 5,899 patients with five fatalities. The figures were lower than those in the same period in 2018, but higher than average over the past five years. Controls were subsequently put into place by the Public Health Ministry in conjunction with seven state agencies to seriously control mosquito larvae., focusing on communities, temples, schools and hospitals.




Life after the Virus Non one expects a return to normal once the current crisis ends. Indeed, it’s generally accepted that life in Thailand will be significantly different in the short and even the long term. Some aspects will never be the same again. So what’s in store for us in this ‘new world’?

Here are the BigChilli’s predictions: • More people will work from home and in isolation. Many person-toperson meetings will be replaced by video calls. • An increase in online education, as well as fun activities like piano lessons, dancing and yoga. • The mask will become a wardrobe staple.


• Nightlife areas like Patpong, Nana and Soi Cowboy will struggle to re-establish themselves. • The expected recession will see a significant fall in the price of property, especially condos. The car market will be flooded with secondhand vehicles at bargain prices. • Online shopping will become even more popular.

• Businesses will shift to smaller, flexible office space, or co-working sections, leading to a glut of office space, especially in prime buildings.

• People will spend less on clothes. Lavishing the cash on luxury items will be drastically reduced.

• Domestic tourism and family travel will boom, with kids being the decision makers.

• Shopping centres will change in format with restaurants replacing many shops.

• Many independent mid-market restaurants will not reopen. Online F&B will grow rapidly in popularity.

• An increase in home cooking, growing vegetables and even brewing beer.


• People will be far more cautious in their spending habits, and save more of their income, if possible.

• An increase in video consultations with doctors, replacing personal visits.

• Families will spend more time together at home; online games will be even more popular.

• An increase in e-sports that create games of football, rugby and baseball, as well as F1 car races.

• Less physical contact will mean fewer touch screens and an expansion of voice and machine vision interfaces that recognize faces and gestures. Video conferencing and webinars will increase but some face-to-face meetings and conferences will happen.

• Less trust in mainstream media (MSM), more attention to independent websites and citizen journalists. • More government surveillance. • Beginning of the end of paper money.

Travel Industry predictions from Andrew Wood: • Online Travel Agents (OTAs) will lose their stranglehold on hotel bookings and their huge 25% commissions. Hotels will take firmer control of room inventory — having best available rates only on their websites for direct bookings and their own social media platforms. • Travel Agents regrettably will see even further business declines in their business volumes post Corvid-19. Potential travellers will continue to DIY

digitally as they are becoming increasingly computer proficient and savvy surfers. • Green travel and care of the environment will see record volume growth as the travelling public now ‘get-it’ after the effects of a virus that stopped the world in its tracks. • As domestic and family travel grows, 5-star hotel occupancies will decline. Mid-range hotels will see the fastest growth.

About the author: Andrew was born in Yorkshire England, a 40-year professional hotelier, who is currently President of Skal International Bangkok and guest lecturer at various universities in Thailand including Assumption University's Hospitality School and the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo.




Soul sisters By Agneta de Bekassy

Born in Thailand, raised in Sweden and now best friends in Bangkok working for the Swedish embassy


his is the story about two women, both born in Thailand, who spent most of their formative years overseas, returning here to live about the same time, a decade ago. They met while working together at the Swedish embassy in Bangkok and quickly formed a close and special relationship that extends to another level, as both ladies have family backgrounds that connect each of them to distant parts of the world. Meet Katarina Svensson and Pang Varaporn Premsot. With so much in common, not only through their jobs but also upbringing and the fact they both have two children, it’s no surprise that they enjoy each other’s company and spend considerable time together. And when that happens, which is often, their thoughts and idiosyncrasies have a curious way of overlapping. There are, of course, subtle differences in their personal life and aspirations, so comparing notes is always interesting. Pang was born in Bangkok at Siriraj Hospital and aged four moved with her mom to Sweden. She grew up in Tyresö, just outside Stockholm - and that’s where her mother still lives at and where Pang and her family go to visit her mom. In the past, Pang only saw her father once a year when she and 34


her mom came on holiday to Thailand. “Now that I’m living in Thailand, I meet my dad more frequently. He lives in Surat Thani.” Pang’s ‘soul sister’ Katarina was born in a small village outside Lampang, in northern Thailand. She was only three months when she arrived in Sweden, having been adopted by Swedish parents. Growing up in Hedemora, a small town in the county of Dalarna, Katarina was always aware of the reasons for her adoption. “My biological parents were poor and

Looking back at her life in Sweden, Katarina remembers feeling very secure. “I grew up in a relatively big family, with four of us kids, all adopted. My father is a professor and my mom a nurse. I have always been a bit curious and adventurous, so after school in Hedemora, I went to the US as an exchange student. I was only 16. After that, I returned to school in Sweden and then moved to Stockholm. “Hedemora is such a small city, and I wanted to see more of the

With so much in common, not only through their jobs but also upbringing and the fact they both have two children, it’s no surprise that they enjoy each other’s company and spend considerable time together being the eighth child in the family, they were not able to keep their baby girl,” says Katarina. “I always had some photos of my biological family and I could write to them.” In her early twenties, ever curious Katarina wanted to find out about her family in Thailand, and discovered that her father and four brothers were still alive. “Since our first meeting, we have had an on and off contact,” she says.

world. In Stockholm, I started to work in the media while also studying to become a marketing economist. “I met my future husband Lars on Gotland, the biggest island in Sweden and a very popular summer destination. We moved to Singapore in 2002, where initially I worked for MTV Asia and later at the Swedish Embassy. “In 2010 we transferred to

Beautiful soul sisters Pang & Katarina

Bangkok because of my husband’s job. He was part of the team that launched IKEA, the furniture and home accessories store, here in Thailand back in 2011.” Today, the couple have two children, both born in Singapore. Says Katarina: “I started to work at the Swedish Embassy in 2012, but at that time Pang and I were in separate sections and we didn’t have that much to do with each other. In 2017 we started to work in the same team. After that, we became close friends.” In her younger years Pang dreamed about becoming a lawyer or flight attendant; later on she wanted to become a TV host travelling the world and trying out different cuisines. To this day, she loves to travel and to eat. For a few years, Pang split her time equally between Sweden and Thailand as she wanted to spend more time with her grandparents and family here. She was also fed up with the cold seasons in Sweden

and was finding this Scandinavian country “too small – like a duck pond,” she says. “Everybody knew where you were and what you did. If you went out, you knew exactly who you were going to see at each place.” So, in 2003, she moved to Thailand fulltime. She met her Thai husband

Our job i s fun and no d ay same. Wo is the rking with Kat ari makes m na y job the ver y bes t during the filming of the TV series ‘30 degrees in February’ in Phuket in 2011. Pang had taken three months’ leave from her normal job in order to work as a translator,

and it was during the making of the film that she and her husband-tobe, who was on the set as a sound technician, fell in love. Today, they are proud parents of two sons, Anwar (5) and Akin (4). At home, the family speaks Thai, since it’s the first language of her husband and nanny. “I must confess,” confides Pang. “I rarely speak Swedish with my kids. It’s so easy to forget when times are a bit stressed. My kids used to watch Pippi Långstrump on TV in Swedish, though, and I sometimes read to them in Swedish. They get English at school. At the embassy, both work on communications, with Pang focusing on cultural issues and Katarina on trade. “Communications are a daily task, updating Facebook, our Home page, Instagram and sometimes twitter,’ says Pang. “Other than that I plan several events, such as the Nordic Film festival, events for students or inviting a ‘reading TheBigChilli


Profile Pang with her kids

ambassador’ from Sweden to talk about children’s literature. I also have regular meetings with EU and all member countries. “Our job is fun and no day is the same. Working with Katarina makes my job the very best.” What do Pang’s kids think about Sweden? Will the family one day move back to Sweden? “My kids just love Sweden, and meeting their cousin is a huge happening. They also love to see their uncle and grandma. When the kids are older and we think about security, maybe moving back will occupy my mind.” Apart from office hours, Pang and Katarina see each other during free time as well. “We go for lunch together and sometimes after work. On Fridays, we may have a prolonged lunch as we finish work early. In fact, I spend more time with Katarina than with my husband in terms of working hours of both myself and my husband. “In some ways, we feel like sisters. We know almost everything about each other, we know what the other one of us is thinking and how she will answer questions and act. This makes life so much easier. I think we are closer than biological sisters. We do enjoy the same things in life.” What about hobbies? “I love eating and I always enjoy a good glass of wine,” says Pang. “I also love to dance and travel.” If Pang could choose anyone in the world to dine with, who would it be? “Jennifer Lopez,” she replies without hesitation. If she could chose an outfit for this occasion, from whom would it be? This answer also comes just as quickly: “Stella McCartney”. Close buddy and colleague Katarina joined the Swedish Embassy in 2012, but at that time she and Pang were in separate 36


Family Svensson in front of the Christmas tree

Pang and Katrina are both board members of SWEA Bangkok (Swedish Women Educational Association).

sections and didn’t see much of each other. Then in 2017, they started to work in the same team. One of Katarina’s greatest frustrations living in Thailand is the assumption that because she is Thai by parentage, she can speak Thai fluently. “Most people don’t believe me when I say that I only can speak ‘nit noi’ Thai, and they keep on talking to me in Thai. Our daughters go to an International school and their

main language, which they feel most comfortable with, is English of course. At home we only speak Swedish and they are both fluent in writing and speaking Swedish.” Katarina finds her job at the embassy very satisfying. “Working on trade issues and communication is a very rewarding and interesting, with the possibility of supporting Swedish companies in Thailand and to promote the country of Sweden. Having the

Pang with her Swedish medaille

Pang & Katarina

opportunity to work with a close friend like Pang is a huge bonus. We really do cooperate together and it works out very well. During the Corona virus outbreak, we have to operate in separate teams, but it still works out perfectly well, though we do miss seeing each other.” What do her children think about Sweden? Have they ever talked about moving to Sweden?

“We have a summer house there, not far from Hedemora, by the river Dalälven. The children spend long summers and even Christmas there. They both like it a lot in Sweden, but they haven’t experienced living there full time or going to school in Sweden. Our eldest daughter who is almost absolutely loves Sweden and would like to live there and attend university. Our younger daughter, who is 13, is much more of a ‘world

citizen’ and not so interested in Sweden. She still has no idea where she will study and live in the future.” How often do Katarina and Pang see each other in their spare time? “Usually we meet up a lot,” says Katarina. “Both of us used to be board members of SWEA Bangkok (Swedish Women Educational Association) for two years. We also exercise together and sometimes we go for an ‘After Work’ meet-up. Family-wise we don’t get together very often as our children are not the same ages.” Do they feel like real sisters? “Oh yes, we do. We are very close friends, work all day together and often chat during evenings. We think and feel the same way and often we finish each other’s sentences. We mostly write the same things while chatting, we think and probably behave like twins. We both have our biological siblings in Sweden, so here we only have each other, except the near family members.” If Katarina could choose anyone in the world to dine with, who would it be? “As I just love to laugh, I would probably choose a strong woman who I think is fun and who I can laugh with – someone like Ellen DeGeneres.” What about an outfit for a special occasion, which designer would she choose? “I’m a quite casual person and I have no real favorite designer, so maybe I would go for a Swedish designer like Filippa K. Then I can also promote Sweden.” Last word with Pang. Apart from the current coronavirus lockdown, what else does she find frustrating about life in Bangkok? “Must be that Katarina and I can’t go on holiday at the same time. One of us must stay at the embassy and work.” TheBigChilli



There are 193 countries in the world and Rick Gazarian has visited 142 of them. And he’s determined to see them all Temporarily grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangkok-based American Rick Gazarian aka ‘Global Gaz’ is ready to complete his bucket list of places to see. What makes him tick, how did he get started on his quest and why he keeps going. Scott Murray finds out. Tell us something of yourself I was born in Boston, went to university at Boston College, and worked for many years in financial services both in Boston and Chicago. This came to an end in 2008 during the Great Recession when I was laid off. To celebrate I embarked on an eleven-month trip around the globe. During this trip, I knew I did not want to go back to corporate life. When I got back to the US, I made travel a much bigger part of my life and also started my own business. Today, as a travel blogger I am sharing content about must-see places, unique experiences, and off the beaten path locations as I try to travel to every country in the world. Why did you first come to Thailand and why have you stayed? First time I traveled to Thailand was in 2005 when I spent four weeks exploring Bangkok and some of the islands. But in 2012, I came for several months to volunteer and avoid the Chicago winter. I had read a book about Father Joe Maier, an American priest, who moved to Klong Toey in the 1970s. I was inspired after reading that book and decided I wanted to volunteer at the Mercy Centre, which I did for two years 38


and taught English a couple of days a week at two kindergartens.

me on trips to promote their companies and create content.



How did the global travel itch get to you? I caught the travel fever multiple times, whether it was when I traveled to Hong Kong as a kid with my family, trips all over the US when working for corporate America, or two extended global trips between job changes. But, it was really in 2009, when I did a global trip and began counting countries. In the back of my mind, I had decided that I would travel to every country in the world. And as I traveled that year, I visited 17 new countries. Since I was starting to count countries this acted as a catalyst to visit some countries that most people would not visit on a typical year abroad such as Syria, Yemen, and East Timor. How do you pay the bills? I have two ways. After getting laid off, I started my own real estate business in Chicago. I set it up in such a way that I can manage it remotely. I am also a travel blogger/content creator. I generate some money with my travel business. But I have also partnered with some companies, like G Adventures and Untamed Borders. These companies send

What was the last countr y you visited before the COVID-19 crisis? I had just started a month-long trip in West Africa. I had arrived in Senegal when there were only a couple of cases of Covid. I spent the week exploring the country, and then crossed into Gambia. After reading the tea leaves and noting how quickly borders were closing, I decided I needed to cancel my trip. I purchased a ticket for the next morning, left Gambia, and arrived in Bangkok on the 17th of March. I have been self-sheltering since then in my apartment. I was really disappointed to cancel my trip, but in the big scheme of things, it is just a tiny inconvenience. I will be back again to visit the remaining four countries from that road trip. https://globalgaz.com/boy-interrupted-travel-in-the-time-of-covid/

What was the 100th countr y you visited and any reason for choosing that particular countr y? Yes, there was some thought put into my 100th country. I wanted it to be a bit out- of-the-box and memorable. I boarded a flight out

Sunset in Kabul. TheBigChilli


Travel Riding the Iron Train in Mauritania a 16 hour jouney in the desert in an open carriage.

Driving a rickshaw 2000 km across India from Mumbai to Chennai.

of Dubai, and a couple hours later I touched down in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan. I spent five nights exploring the northern part of Iraq. It was a bit surreal, since my visit coincided with some of the fiercest fighting with ISIS. Erbil was a mere 80km from Mosul, on the front line. I would see soldiers ambling around town with their AK-47s, as I munched on a chicken shawarma. https://globalgaz.com/100th-country-kurdistan-iraq/

What are the most fascinating places you’ve? I have been so lucky and so fortunate to have traveled to some of the places I have been to. I will share several incredible experiences. I was able to visit Grand Mosque of Djenne in Mali. This is the largest mud structure in the world located in an unstable area of Mali. I arrived at sunset and was able to explore the mosque in solitude. I was also able to visit 40




Travel the Golden Temple in Amritsar in India. This had been on the bucket list for a while, and it did not disappoint - a truly beautiful place. I had a recent visit to Afghanistan, and it was a fascinating country; a great mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. I was able to watch their national sport, Buzkashi. This game is played on horse like polo, but the ball is a dead goat. https://globalgaz.com/visiting-thegreat-mosque-of-djenne-mali/ https://globalgaz.com/what-youneed-to-know-when-visiting-thegolden-temple/ https://globalgaz.com/watching-buzkashi-in-afghanistan/

Name some of your favourite destinations - places you’d go back to in a heartbeat? Armenia. I have been there every year since 2003, and I am always looking forward to my annual

Meeting some of the locals at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan.

Hanging with the locals in Mindat, Burma for Chin State Day.

visit. I am ethnically Armenian, so I have a strong connection there. I have stayed as long as four months at a time, and I have spent six months volunteering there over two different stints. Yerevan, the capital, is a highly walkable cosmopolitan city with tons of great cafes and restaurants. And the country is perfect for road trips. In the same day, you can visit a 1000-year-old monastery, drink wine at the vineyards, and have khorovats (local BBQ) in a lush valley for dinner. https://globalgaz.com/yazidis-in-armenia/

Any places you would never go back to under any circumstances? There is only one country that would make that list – the small Pacific island named Vanuatu. I had a great itinerary planned for this country, including a visit to a live volcano. But, on the plane ride over I started to feel sick and ended up visiting a hospital. And immediately after that, I left 42



Meeting a mujahideen at the Jihad Musuem in Herat, Afghanistan.

Vanuatu to fly to Bangkok for more medical care. I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece on my visit, questioning whether my visit to Vanuatu even counted. I had only seen my hotel, the hospital and the airport during my visit. Somehow my post ended up in some Vanuatu Facebook groups. I ended up joining the group, and scores of people were cursing me, threatening to kill me, and even promising to throw me into the Mt. Yassur, the active volcano. In my post, I had criticized the lack of hygiene at the hospital, and the locals did not take kindly to my feedback. I had originally planned on revisiting this island, but after all of the threats I have decided not to. https://globalgaz.com/have-i-reallybeen-to-vanuatu/

What's still on your bucket list – places you yearn to visit? There are 193 countries in the world according to the UN. I have 44


visited 142 of them. So, my bucket list is the next 51 countries. But, I also have a very long bucket list beyond visiting all of the countries. This could be an entire article in its own right. I am looking forward to visiting Djibouti, a country found on the horn of Africa. I am dying to visit Lac Abbe, a remote area with an amazing surreal landscape. Also high on my list is Mada'in Saleh in Saudi Arabia. This is a similar complex to Petra in Jordan except with barely any tourists. Another visit I am looking forward to is Papua New Guinea. In many ways, this is an unexplored country. I was supposed to be there in May, but that trip obviously was canceled. What about lighter moments on your travels? Years ago, I bought a car in Budapest and drove it to Yerevan in a 17-day rally over 7,000 km. Many countries are very

concerned that you will enter their country with a car but end up selling it without paying taxes. So, when I drove into Armenia, they provided me with paperwork which required me to leave the country in 14 days with my car. Armenia was the last country of my road trip and my plan was to sell the car there. But, after a week collaborating with some local friends, no one could determine the appropriate paperwork. With time running out, I drove my car to Georgia. I exited Armenia and received the proper exit paperwork for Armenia. Between the two countries, was a 300 metre no man’s land. I left my car in that area and walked back into Armenia, car-less. https://globalgaz.com/threw-awaycar-mans-land/

What about dangerous places? I have traveled to challenging countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, and Mali. The US State

Teaching school for the day in Kathmandu.

Department ranks them as Level 4, which is “Do Not Travel�. In general, I have been very fortunate without any major safety incidents when traveling. In Hargeisa, Somalia, most people were really quite welcoming. But, twice locals threatened me, once with a hammer and another with a drill. Other locals intervened and calmed them down. I visited a local market as well, and literally ran out after the merchants became hostile. My offense: I was holding a camera. Not taking photos, but just holding the camera. https://globalgaz.com/somaliland-an-overview/

In Cambodia, I drove a tuk-tuk for about 1,600 km in a rally. On a bad dirt road, I flipped the tuk-tuk and it ran over me. I got banged up quite a bit. I ended up getting

Playing dominoes in Asmara, Eritrea, well more watching than playing.

stitches at a local clinic while sitting on the outside deck with a dog roaming about. The stitches didn’t take, and I had to get restitched a second time when I eventually got back to Bangkok. https://globalgaz.com/hit-the-roadcambodia/

Are most of your trips solo, or do you ever hook up with fellow global travelers? Over the years, I have traveled in every conceivable fashion. I have done everything from solo trips to group trips with strangers. I have traveled with friends and TheBigChilli





The Grand Mosque in Djenne, Mali.

other friends who are traveling to every country in the world. I have traveled to some countries where I have friends who live there or met friends of friends. And I also travel with my wife to many countries as well. I find traveling solo to be an effective method of travel. Being selfish allows you to cover more ground and to see what you really want to see. Any advice for wannabe global travelers? Sure. First, simply get out there. Make a plan, go online, book a trip. Don’t procrastinate and don’t make excuses. Other thoughts - you should try volunteering. Volunteering allows you to create genuine friendships and have deeper, authentic experiences while traveling overseas. How do you think the COVID crisis will affect travel longterm, especially to remote spots? I am hoping for the best but concerned about the worst. Travelers have been so fortunate over the past years. Visas are getting easier and easier to get. Flights have multiplied, providing for so many cheap options. And the internet provides you with all the information you need to make your plans. The barriers to travel in most cases have been greatly reduced. I am concerned that possibly in the near future, there will be a trend of borders becoming more difficult to cross. I assume there will many airlines shutting their doors due to this economic collapse. I can also imagine less flight options and higher prices. There might also be unrealistic health requirements when entering a country. So, there might be a trend to less globalization and less travel in the future. (For more go to globalgaz.com). TheBigChilli



Hazards of renting a car overseas ■ Renting a car during an overseas trip can bring both pleasure and financial pain, as many expats in Thailand have learned to their cost. While problems can arise with all rental companies, Europcar seems to have attracted an unusually large number of complaints. One Phuket-based expat who booked a car on his arrival in the UK through Europcar was outraged to find out later back in Thailand that the company had added several hundred pounds to his Singapore credit card bill. No explanation for the additional cost was provided. Naturally, he contacted Europcar but his emails to them were simply ignored. Back in the UK, his sister 48


phoned the company on numerous occasions and even visited the rental office where “she banged on the reception desk” and threatened to give the story to a cousin who worked for the Guardian newspaper. The credit card company HSBC also got involved but didn’t get anywhere, said the expat, though the bank did eventually reimburse his account with the full amount after six months. “My belief is that it was a scam. They saw that I paid with HSBC Singapore credit card, and thought I wouldn’t notice. “I think it was the threat to tell the newspapers that changed their mind.” Another expat based in Bangkok booked a car via Europcar’s

website for use in the UK, paying with a Thai credit card. On his return to Thailand, he also discovered additional charges on his credit card. “Europcar had taken it upon themselves to charge my card another hundred pounds or so – but didn’t give any explanation for the extras. “Naturally I contacted Europcar and asked for details of the charges. The reply was infuriating. They not only told me I would have to pay a search fee to provide such information, but to make matters worse, they said I’d also have to pay if my query, or complaint, was wrong. “So, I don’t know whether these costs were due to a traffic infringement, damage to the car that Europcar claims to have been overlooked on final inspection or because the vehicle I had pre-booked was not available so a better quality substitute car had been provided without telling me of the higher charge. “Anyway, I won’t be using Europcar again.”

Thailand’s Original Expat Magazine

Keeping the International Community in touch with all the latest social, travel and business news*. Visit our website www.thebigchilli.com We’re also Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. TheBigChilli




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Rich families

As their fortunes fall, wealthiest Thais asked to help others survive the pandemic By Maxmilian Wechsler On April 18 Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha announced he was taking the highly unusual step of directly asking the 20 wealthiest Thais to come to the aid of their less fortunate countr ymen who are struggling to sur vive a tidal wave of unemployment and small business closings brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The prime minister said the government alone cannot solve the health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic, so other sectors should join what he called ‘Team Thailand’. The Prime Minister’s Office quickly issued a follow-up statement saying the government wasn’t ‘begging for money’ from the top .001 percent, but rather asking for cooperation in fighting the coronavirus outbreak and reviving the economy. To be sure, even before the prime minister’s request some of the super-rich were making much-appreciated donations toward the anti-virus effort (see box), but it’s hard to see how significant assistance in propping up the economy can come without a much stiffer price tag. Maybe we’ll get to see what lies underneath all the ad campaigns designed to show off the social conscience of Thailand’s captains of industr y.


ronically, the request for aid comes at a time when many of the country’s wealthiest are reporting a sharp drop in net worth as compared to the previous year, a decline which the pandemic can’t help but exacerbate. The annual 2020 list of ‘Thailand’s 50 Richest’ released by Forbes on April 3 recorded a decrease in net worth of US$28 billion to a total of $132 billion from the 2019 list. The release of Forbes’ 2020 list was underreported in Thai media, perhaps because of non-stop coverage of the COVID-19 situation in Thailand and abroad. Among the country’s extravagantly rich, mostly Thai-Chinese families, six stand above the rest in terms of the enormous power and influence they 52


exert on the lives of their close to 70 million country residents in the realms of politics, economics, media, entertainment, sports and other sectors. A tale of the dwindling mega-fortunes of these six families isn’t likely to evoke much sympathy at a time when millions of Thais are poised on the brink of abject poverty, but it might help to shine a light on the true state of the Thai economy and prospects for a complete economic recovery. The Chearavanont, Yoovidhya, Sirivadhanabakdi, Chirathivat, Srivaddhanaprabha and Bhirombhakdi families are ranked one, two, three, four, six and fifteen respectively on the 2020 list of ‘Thailand’s 50 Richest’. Their combined net worth is $73 billion, down $20 billion from 2019.

The Chearavanont brothers of Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group continue to top Forbes list although their net worth dipped by $2.2 billion, to $27.3 billion. Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman

Next on the list is Chalerm Yoovidhya, who, along with his family co-owns energy drink brand Red Bull (under TCP Group), the only one of the six whose net worth actually increased, by $300 million to $20.02 billion over last year, when Chalerm was ranked third on Forbes’ list.

Chalerm Yoovidhya

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s Thai Beverage PCL (better known as ThaiBev) net worth plunged from $16.2 billion to $10.5 billion to drop to third richest.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, founder and chairman

The Chirathivat family, which owns Central Group, saw their fortune slashed from $21 billion to $9.5 billion, dropping to number four. Tos Chirathivat, chairman and CEO

The net worth of Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, chairman and CEO of King Power, declined from $4.7 billion to $3.8 billion, but he remains sixth on the list. Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha

Santi Bhirombhakdi of Boon Rawd Brewery fame saw his net worth fall from $2.25 billion to $1.86 billion, putting him at number fifteen. Santi Bhirombhakdi, president and CEO

It is almost certain that since the March 13 cutoff date of Forbes’ list the fortunes of •almost all of the country’s wealthiest citizens followed the same downward slope as pretty much everyone else in the country. Bangkok was ordered into lockdown on March 26 and a nationwide curfew was ordered on April 3. Other measures put in effect by the central government, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and provincial governors have also had a chilling effect on the economy.



Rich families

How contributions from Thailand’s richest families are helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 Chearavanont brothers • (March 4) Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul received a promise of support for the government in the COVID-19 fight from Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF). The company announced CPF’s ‘Food from the Heart’program, whereby various food products are delivered to individuals suspected of having the disease as well as the staff of public hospitals across the country. • (March 10) Ms Chooratn and other CPF executives presented food products to the Royal Thai Navy to use in its quarantine operations. Navy spokesman Vice Admiral Sirisawad was on hand to accept the donation. • (March 18) CPF’s Chief Financial Officer Paisan Chirakitcharern, Mr Sujarit Mayalarp, Executive Vice President, and the company’s managements delivered food supplies as a part of “CPF’s food from the heart against COVID-19” project to staffs of Bamrat Naradun Hospital. The products were received by the Deputy Director-General of the National Department of Disease Control (DDC) Dr Kaewjarus, Dr Patanavanichanan, Senior Adviser at Ministry of Public Health, and managements of the hospital. • (March 20) CPF announced it had made deliveries of food products to about 40 public hospitals nationwide and was continuing food assistance to people under watch for COVID-19 infection. In addition, the company had teamed up with True Corporation to provide 30-day SIM cards to those affected by the virus. • (March 13) Mr Jiumjaiswanglerg, CPF Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Ms Chooratn, Senior Vice President, handed over quality food products to medical staff at Police General Hospital. The food products were received by Director of the hospital, Pol Lt Gen Dr Nitiwarangkult. • (March 13) Mr Boondoungprasert handed over food products for Siriraj Hospital’s staffs. Asst Prof. Vamvanit, Director of Siriraj Hospital, was the hospital representative at the handover ceremony. Mr Boondoungprasert said the company appreciates the dedication of all medical staffs in their fight against COVID-19. Currently, it supplying foods to 20,000 individuals suspected of having COVID-19. 54


• (March 25) CPF Executive Committee Chairman Sripratak, and Executive Director Janthanakul donated 5.7 million baht to Ramathibodi Foundation, under the royal patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to procure medical equipment and necessary supplies. The donation was received by Dr Simaroj, Assistant Dean for Medicine at Ramathibodi Hospital, at CP Tower Silom. • (March 26) CP Executive Vice President Mayalarp announced that all CP Freshmart retail outlets would put in place preventive measures to combat COVID-19 and ensure the health and safety of staff and customers. • (March 30) CPF announced the continuation of its ‘Food from the Heart’ project and said food products had been delivered to 70 public hospitals at no charge as an expression of gratitude to the frontline workers in the COVID-19 fight. In addition, CP Freshmart had been delivering quality food products to medical staffs on a daily basis since March 4, 2020 and the campaign was supplying food to people returning from overseas who were self-quarantining.

outbreak and remarked that the ministry will continue to support “CPF's food from the heart against COVID-19” project, which currently providing quality food products to medical workers of more than 70 hospitals across the country to help alleviate the workload burden on them. • (April 8) CPF announced that its ‘Food from the Heart’ program had reached out to 88 public hospitals nationwide since March 1. Moreover, the company has supported food supplies to over 20,000 people returning from abroad to 14 days self-quarantine.

• (April 10) Prime Minister’s Office Minister Mr Liptapallop, supervisor of the Consumer Protection Board, presided over MoU signing ceremony at Central by Centara Government Complex Hotel & Convention Centre to declare safety guidelines for food delivery, which were endorsed by CP Freshmart

Chalerm Yoovidhya & family

• (March 31) CPF’s feed mill in Khon Kaen donated eggs to unemployed locals, received by provincial governor Mr Jangtrakul, Khon Kaen police chief Pol Maj Gen Musikul and Mr Somjaiwong, chairman of the Khon Kaen Chamber of Commerce, at City Hall. • (April 2) Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on, as the Ministry’s representative, and CPF jointly handed over food supplies for Bang Khun Thian Hospital. He also praised the project for its effort to aid medical staffs during COVID-19

• The TCP Group announced it was joining efforts to help Thailand pull through the coronavirus crisis by providing face masks to medical staff at Chulalongkorn Hospital and other hospitals across the country. The company has set aside 120,000 masks for initial distribution to ease shortage and help the country during this time of crisis. TCP Chief Executive Officer Saravoot Yoovidhya said the intention was to ensure that medical institutes have adequate supplies so that personnel are protected while performing their duties and also TheBigChilli


Rich families help alleviate the shortage of masks among the general public. The masks are made of Perma’s anti-bacterial textile, which is produced with exclusive nano zinc oxide technology and highly durable. Tests conducted by the Thailand Textile Institute showed the fabric can be washed more than 100 times. • Durbell Co., Ltd., a TCP Group company and one of Thailand’s leading consumer goods distributors, implemented new intensive measures for consumer goods distribution.

• In collaboration with TCP Group, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital and the Red Cross Society, Durbell is delivering medical equipment including 100,000 Perma nano zinc face masks and 50 mobile disease testing booths, valued at 15 million baht, to major hospitals in Bangkok and provincial hospitals nationwide.

• (April 3) CEO Saravoot Yoovidhya together with Mr Srisuwankul, Managing Director of Roche Diagnostics (Thailand) Ltd., present the first automated analyzer in Thailand for screening the coronavirus, valued at 15 million baht, to King Chulalongkorn Memorial 56


Hospital Director Professor Wacharasindhu, M.D. at the microbiology laboratory of Bhumisiri Mangkhalanusorn Building. The analyzer enhances speed and precision of disease diagnosis, with the capacity to analyze 1,440 samples per day with an accuracy of up to 99.8%. The automated system also reduces the risk of infection among medical personnel. After the COVID-19 crisis is over, the analyzer can be used to diagnose other viruses, including HIV, hepatitis and others which might emerge in the future.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi

• (April 8) Thai Beverage PLC (ThaiBev) distributed delivered 1.9 thousand liters of alcohol to public health services in 76 provinces to fight COVID-19.

• (March 18) ThaiBev offered 20 gallons of alcohol sanitizing products to Mahidol University Faculty of Dentistry (MUFD). The presentation took place in the HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn 50th Anniversary Building. Thai Beverage PLC representatives were welcomed by a MUFD delegation



Rich families led by Asst. Prof. Lerdrit, Deputy Dean and Acting Deputy Dean for Academic Affairs and International Education, along with Asst. Prof.Dr Surarit, Deputy Dean for Research.

Chirathivat family

accessibility for consumers. Stephane Coum, CEO of Central Food Retail Group, said: “Convenience stores must always adapt. Our company is constantly improving ourselves, and we believe that in every crisis lies opportunity.” One new channel is automatic vending machines placed in front of stores which make it easier for customers to maintain safe distances.

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha & family

• (March 31) Central Food Hall is the first supermarket to implement disinfection robots, researched and certified by the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control. The robots will help disinfect the store and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The robots, operated by staff, are now used at Central Food Hall Central Chidlom as the first location, during non-opening hours. There are plans to introduce the UV-C Disinfection Robots at other Tops Market and Central Food Hall branches to ensure another level of safety for its employees and customers.

• (April 2) The Central Group donated 20 million baht in cash and 10 million baht worth of medical equipment/supplies to fight COVID-19. Moreover, Thai Watsadu, a division of Central Group of businesses, designed and developed a glass pod to cover hospital patients to reduce transmission of the virus. Central Restaurant Group (CRG) also donated foods, Centara Hotels and Resorts provided free accommodation, and Central Pattana made and delivered face shields to hospitals, while Tops donated N95 masks, face-shields, and sanitizing gel. • (April 10) Central Food Retail, which operates Family Mart and Tops Daily, a part of Central Retail, introducing new initiatives with an aim to improving 58


• (March 13) Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation, in an effort to boost the morale of healthcare professionals, presented a donation of 20 million baht to Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute. Institute director Dr Vachiraphan received the donation at King Power Rangnam. • (March 20) Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation President Mr Srivaddhanaprabha and the foundation committee also presented a 20 million baht donation to the Chakri Naruebodindra Medical Institute, under Mahidol University Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital. The donation was presented to Dr Piyamitr Sritara, Professor Mulpruek and Dr Boonkongchuen at King Power Rangnam.

• (March 24) Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation President, presented a five million baht donation to support healthcare operations across Thailand to Dr Wattanayingcharoen, Director-General of the Department of Disease Control, at the Government House. Also present was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul.

TheBigChilli 49

Reporter’s notebook

Great stories of the past FROM THE YEAR 2007

The King’s proud helper By Maxmilian Wechsler

Mr Sompol Panmanee



Sompol Panmanee, secretary-general of the Royal Development Projects Board, brings excellence and devotion to his work to help achieve King Bhumipol’s visions for the people. ■ “Behind every Royal Development Project lies His Majesty’s sufficiency economy philosophy, which calls for reason, moderation and self-immunity,” states Sompol Panmanee from the outset. “According to His Majesty, the development process should give importance to moderation – exercising reason, smoothness and flexibility, as well as caution. I have always followed His Majesty's teachings on sufficiency economy.” Sompol not only instructs and advises others about the sufficiency economy, but he also strictly abides by and pursues its principles, both on the job and in his private life. Looking around his office, located at the compound of the Office of the Prime Minister in Bangkok, you won’t see expensive decorations – only what is essential to perform his duties. “His Majesty is a multi-talented person who thinks systematically, studies everything for a long time and is very thorough until he gets the result,” said Sompol. He described the origins and functions of the RDPB and the ORDPB thus: “The Royal Thai Government recognised the importance and benefits of the RDPs in supporting and promoting the country's development, based upon the approaches outlined by His Majesty, and set up the RDPB as a special body in 1981. “The board, with the prime minister as the chairman, is responsible for supervising the operation of the projects undertaken by the concerned government agencies.” Sompol said that the RDPB acts as a central agency, with the primary functions of analysing and coordinating the planning and implementation of the projects with various official agencies. The organisation is also responsible for the implementation of RDPs

initiated by other members of the Royal Family. Sompol affirmed that His Majesty takes a personal interest in his subjects. “Recently, one farmer who was unable to get assistance from the concerned government agencies wrote to His Majesty requesting help with a project that could bring water from a nearby river to his farm, which had insufficient water for agricultural purposes. His Majesty then directed the request to the Irrigation Department and also directed the RDPB to address this particular problem. “All the Royal Development Projects, no matter how big or small, are equally important because each – whether in agriculture, environment, public health, occupational promotion, water resources, communications development, public welfare development and so on – has benefits for the people.” Sompol was following in his father’s footsteps when he joined the civil service to serve his country and its people, particularly the majority who earn their living from the land. He joined the Agriculture Ministry in 1976, after receiving a Master’s degree in Agriculture (Crops) from Texas A&M University, USA in 1975. He currently holds the position of secretary-general of the Royal Development Projects Board (RDPB). “My father was an officer at the Ministry of Agriculture. Agriculture is in my blood. I chose this career instead of doing business because being a government official is my way of showing gratitude to the country,” said Sompol, adding that the aim of a government agency should be not to make a profit but to help the people. Sompol pointed out that people of any occupation can help the country in one way or another, but he feels especially proud to be working to promote His Majesty’s

I am proud to be playing a part in the development of the country. Working for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the highest reward of my life.



Reporter’s notebook

projects because they make such a difference in the lives of so many people. “At the end of each day I feel proud to be playing a part in the development of the country. Working for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the highest reward of my life. “On several occasions when His Majesty visited people in the rural areas,” he continued, “I have had the great privilege and honour to accompany him, along with others. To walk along with the King is something very hard to describe. It is always a highly emotional event for me.” Sompol explained that his duties are to push forward and implement the Royal Development Projects (RDPs) according to the royal initiatives and to support the work of the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (ORDPB). This includes supervising all the officials and agencies concerned in the implementation of all RDPs throughout the kingdom. Approximately 200 persons are employed directly by the RDPB. Despite his top position at the RDPB, and a role as a member of the National Legislative Assembly, Sompol is a notably humble person. He possesses a comprehensive knowledge of many subjects, of which agriculture is his favourite. ORDPB employees and other officials in royal and government organisations speak highly of Mr Sompol’s character and his work ethic. “He sets an example for everyone and has our respect and trust,” said an official attached to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary. Other staff members remarked: “He is very efficient and diligent. He looks after his staff well and always gives suggestions and advice,” said one. Another added: “He is a kind and open-minded person with a strong personality. He is a pillar and example to us.” The atmosphere in the RDPB offices was extremely friendly, and the morale obvious. “We’re like a close family, working for His Majesty the King,” said a staff member proudly. In recognition of Sompol's work, His Majesty

One farmer who was unable to get assistance from the concerned government agencies wrote to His Majesty requesting help to bring water from a nearby river. His Majesty directed the request to the Irrigation Department and directed the RDPB to address this particular problem.



bestowed on him the royal decoration of the Knight Grand Commander (Second Class, higher grade) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao, on Coronation Day, May 5, 2007. Exercising reason

Sompol gave some insight into his way of thinking and his lifestyle: “As a government official, your status is more secure, although the income is not high compared with the private sector. But if your performance is good enough, there’s a chance of promotion. More importantly, I can enjoy a normal and self-sufficient lifestyle with minimal risk.” Displaying a characteristic optimism, Sompol stated that the RDPB has no real problems. There is ample government support, as would be expected for an organisation which is furthering the aims of His Majesty. In addition, he added, “Our staff is well qualified and carefully chosen. They are all very efficient. Only well educated, honest, reliable and dedicated persons are accepted. “I would like to say one last thing which is very important: I have already been given the highest recognition and honour. Along with everyone else at the RDPB, I am very happy to work for His Majesty the King.” Behind the stor y: It was an honor and privilege to be granted an interview with Sompol at the compound of the Office of the Prime Minister. One of his staff came to the main gate to greet me and escort me to his office. It was my first visit to this compound, and I have to say it’s quite impressive. After the interview Sompol gave me publications and other materials with details on the RDP projects and extended an invitation to visit two Royal Development Study Centres. I gladly accepted. Before leaving I was shown around the RDPB offices and met some of the staff.

Royal model for successful farming By Maxmilian Wechsler

The ultimate objective of the six Royal Development Study Centres, established by His Majesty King Bhumipol to tackle agricultural problems on a regional basis, is for Thai farmers to become self-reliant and self-confident. ■ For years, Thim Kanasem had to watch his paddy and vegetable fields being ravaged by insects and disease. The poor quality of the soil added to the problem, making annual yields very low. His life changed for the better five years ago, when he sought help from the Khao Hin Sorn Royal Development Study Centre in Chachoengsao province. The officials there advised the 63-year-old farmer to use organic substances to improve the soil quality at his three-rai farm in Nong Hiang village – and it worked. His income is higher than ever before. Not only that, he has become something of a specialist himself in agricultural science. Thim is now a volunteer soil doctor and his land is

used as a Soil Development Learning Centre to help fellow farmers. “I developed my own organic compost and pesticide, and I also teach other farmers. I am very happy about what I am doing because it helps many farmers to improve their livelihood. And not only Thai farmers – soil experts from Cambodia have also visited me to learn whether the methods applied here could be used in their country,” said Thim. “I am grateful to His Majesty the King and the Royal Development Study Centre (RDSC) for what they have done for me and my family. I want to stay in this work forever.” Khao Hin Sorn is the first of RDSCs which were set TheBigChilli


Reporter’s notebook





up in all major regions of the country by His Majesty the King. The others are Khung Krabaen Bay and Huai Sai (Central region), Pikun Thong (South), Puparn (Northeast) and Huai Hong Khrai (North). Each one serves as a model for success to transfer its findings to the farmers in the respective areas, and also as a sort of “natural living museum” where people can go and see demonstrations of development methods and techniques in various fields in order to acquire knowledge, adopt new development methods and receive occupational training. The ultimate objective, according to Sompol Panmanee, Secretary-General of the Royal Development Projects Board (RDPB), is for the farmers to become self-reliant and self-confident. He explained that each 64


centre serves as a “one-stop” service. The idea for the RDSC originated more than five decades ago, a result of His Majesty's visits to rural areas throughout the country. Realising that each region has its own unique circumstances and problems, the King wisely chose to tackle those problems on a regional basis by establishing the various centres for study and experimentation. Each centre coordinates with government agencies on project planning and management. As Sompol said, the centres are “models of innovative administration and management.” Opened on August 8, 1979, Khao Hin Sorn is located about 100 kilometres southeast of Bangkok in Phanom Sarakham district of Chachoengsao province.

The centre’s director, Ms Suda Swuttanakoon, explained that before it was set up the forest in the region was mostly destroyed and the soil was badly deteriorated. “His Majesty saw the need to rehabilitate the soil, as it had become sandy due to continuous cultivation of field crops. Therefore the main activity of this centre is to restore soil fertility,” said Suda. The centre covers almost 1,900 rai and employs 269 workers. Thongsak Suphata, who lives in nearby Ban Rai Phan Din Thong village, near the centre, told how he has benefited from the royal project. “Since joining the centre in 1992, I have attended various training courses initiated by the Land Development Department and other organisations. I was introduced to methods to better manage water resources and cultivate fruit plants, and also to produce organic fertiliser, etc. This has enabled me to earn more income from my farm and also to reduce costs,” said the 57-year-old farmer. “I was approached by the centre and they advised me on various aspects of soil development and other subjects. Since then I have become an expert myself. The centre gave me suggestions on how to put the theories of the King into practice. I am very grateful to him,” added Thongsak. Stunning transformation About 800 kilometres north of Khao Hin Sorn and 50 kilometres east of Chiang Mai, situated in the area of Pa Khun Mae Kuang National Forest Reserve in Doi Saket district, farmers also speak of the success which the establishment of the Huai Hong Khrai centre has brought them. Director Pradab Kladkempetch noted that Huai

Hong Khrai, established on December 11, 1982, is the largest of the six RDCs, covering 8,500 rai and employing 450 workers. “When the centre was established, the area was deteriorated due to massive deforestation, forest fires and erosion,” Pradab said. He showed many photos of the area in 1982 which presented a stark contrast to the verdant landscape of today, as revealed by a drive through the thick and green forest. There are no problems with water either. It is a very beautiful and tranquil place. The centre is also well equipped with experts and facilities available to those wishing to learn agricultural principles or just coming for some quick advice. Wira Chinachai, 47, a model farmer who resides at Talad Keelek village, owns about 1.5 rai of land divided into a residential area and a plot for mushroom culture. “I joined the programme for mushroom culture organised by Huai Hong Khrai centre in 1994. I cultivate various kinds of mushrooms – shitake, lacquered, oyster and others. I have also joined other programmes, such as those for fish farming and bringing to market wild pigs and frogs to improve my income. “I sell mushrooms at the local market. The demand is very big now and there are actually shortages at this time – a lot of mushrooms grown in Thailand are exported to China. I also teach local farmers and farmers from other provinces about mushroom culture in classes held on my property,” said Wira. Experts at the centre suggested that she grow mushrooms in the first place and advised her on growing techniques. Before she grew orchids, rice and fruits, but had a hard time making ends meet. Now she earns a comfortable living, mostly from growing mushrooms. TheBigChilli


Reporter’s notebook

“I won’t expand the business. What I earn is enough for me and my family, who work with me. We are selfsufficient. I would like to encourage other farmers to grow mushrooms,” she continued. “The centre changed my life completely. I have more cash and less debt. I am most grateful to His Majesty.” Another model farmer, 44-year-old Manoon Thednam, lives close to the centre on his eight-rai farm and has a degree in Agricultural Business. “Since joining the project seven years ago my life has improved dramatically. Before I was growing only rice, corn or garlic every year, trapped in a monocropping mindset. Now I have started integrated farming. I cultivate a number of crops each year and also manage different stock animals. The integrated system of farming is better than mono-cropping, which is risky, because if one crop fails then you lose everything. With integrated farming you have many options. It has never failed me.” Like all the farmers who told of their experiences with the RDSC, Manoon wanted to express his deep gratitude to His Majesty. “The RDSC has given me and my family a new start. I have resolved to devote my time and energy to promoting the self-sufficiency economy, according to

His Majesty's teachings, to other people in Thailand. “I will receive anyone who wants to learn the integrated farming system,” he continued. He feels that, despite all the publicity it has received, a lot of people don't truly understand the philosophy behind the sufficiency economy. “The trick is to be self-reliant, depend on yourself, and make the most from your farm. Do it step by step and be patient. My farm is organic – I only use organic fertilisers. This cuts costs, as chemicals are expensive as well as dangerous. I am confident that my children will continue employing these concepts.” The RDSCs welcome visitors. Last year, about 145,000 visitors toured Khao Hin Sorn, and almost 170,000 people, including many foreigners, visited Huai Hong Khrai. They are invariably impressed by the beautiful green landscapes and well-maintained facilities that are a source of learning for prosperous and grateful Thai farmers, some of whom have become teachers themselves. This is the second of a four-part series on His Majesty the King’s efforts to help the poor and needy. The first article was published on June 17, 2007.

Behind the stor y: I drove from Bangkok to the RDSC in Khao Hin Sorn, where I was warmly welcomed there by the staff. They showed me around and gave me details on their work. I spent a very pleasant day at the RDSC and learned many things. A few days later I flew to Chinag Mai, where I was collected straight off the plane by RDSC staff and taken to the Huai Hong Khrai RDSC outside Chiang Mai city. I spent another whole day exploring this RDSC and talking to the staff, then flew back to Bangkok next day. The visits to Khao Hin Sorn and Huai Hong Khrai RDSCs left me with a new perspective on the work of His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej. Even now, 17 years later, I can still vividly remember what transpired during these two visits.



How the King’s upcountry visits led to the Royal Development Projects

By Maxmilian Wechsler

Since the early days of his reign, His Majesty King Bhumipol has visited numerous rural areas to see how people live. These visits inspired him to launch the Royal Development Projects (RDPs) to improve the lives of the people and promote the sustainable use of natural resources. The first RDP was initiated in 1951, when Tilapia mosambica fish were raised in the pond at the Ambhorn Villa. In 1953, the King distributed Tilapia fingerlings to villagers and district leaders throughout the country to provide an alternative source of protein for rural people. The first rural infrastructure development project began in 1952, when His Majesty donated bulldozers to the Naresuan Border Patrol Police unit to build a road from Hua Hin District to Huay Mongkol Village in Prachuap Khiri Khan province. The road has provided the villagers with

easy access to the city and allows them to bring their farm produce to provincial markets. Before he makes any proposal, His Majesty first studies the available data and talks to the people involved. He then consults with officials and academics before passing the initiative on to the government. His Majesty never simply issues instructions or gives orders. The impetus always comes from the local people who agree with the proposal and cooperate to see its success. According to Sompol Panmanee, secretarygeneral of the Royal Development Projects Board, His Majesty once

said that “a royal project is a royal opinion. If a royal opinion cannot be touched, it would mean that Thailand cannot progress.” In saying this, His Majesty intended to stress that his initiatives are meant to be further examined and tested by the government at its own discretion. His Majesty has no intention to compete with the government. His desire is to help the government work for the betterment of the country. “His Majesty truly deserves to be called the Developer King for his dedication to alleviating the people's hardships and improving their quality of life,” said Sompol. TheBigChilli



p Meet the people uniting nations

His Excellency Fernando Julio Antonio Quirรณs Campos Peruvian ambassador aims to promote exports and Thai investment in Peru



Peruvian ambassador aims to promote exports and Thai investment in Peru Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

His Excellency Fernando Julio Antonio Quirós Campos, Ambassador of the Republic of Peru to the Kingdom of Thailand, is a diplomat whose charm is as substantial as his title. Over the course of an enjoyable afternoon at his official residence in mid-March, the ambassador interspersed the inter view questions with interesting anecdotes about himself and his countr y. His delightful wife, María Ximena Ríos Hamann, offered us delicious snacks prepared by the embassy’s female Peruvian chef. At the outset of the interview Ambassador Quirós paid tribute to former Peruvian Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ambassador Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, who passed away in early March this year not long after his 100th birthday on January 20. “Javier Pérez de Cuéllar has been the most distinguished and universal Peruvian ambassador of all time. He joined the Peruvian diplomatic service in 1940 when he was 20 years old, and he was active until recently. He was a key figure in so many important moments in the history of the world and Peru. After completing his two brilliant terms as UNSG (1982-1991) he was first a presidential candidate and then Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru. The Diplomatic Academy in Lima is named after him. His passing is a big loss for Peru and for the world. “Shortly after his death I received a phone call from the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs in which he expressed the condolences of the Thai government. We opened a condolence book at the Peruvian Embassy and the United Nations also opened one at its headquarters in Bangkok. Many high ranking Thai officials, ambassadors and other dignitaries signed the books. A minute of silence was observed at ‘LHong 1919’ art gallery, on March 6th, during the opening of an exhibition of works by Peruvian painter Edson Chacon Huari. The event was attended by about 70 people, including a number of ambassadors.” Coping with the virus Mr Quirós began his assignment in Bangkok in May 2017, and is concurrently Ambassador to Myanmar and the Philippines. At the time of the interview in mid-March, the ambassador was naturally much concerned with the

coronavirus pandemic, particularly its effects on Peruvian citizens in Southeast Asia. “At this moment I can’t travel to the Philippines because of the coronavirus, but we are very fortunate to have in Manila an outstanding honorary consul general. He has been there for 20 years and is helping us a lot. There are a number of Peruvians in the Philippines and some are stranded in small islands. With the help of our honorary consul we are providing them support in extending their visas, finding ways back to Manila and collecting important information for them. “The Peruvian government is considering putting together a charter flight to bring them back home, but we need to combine this with similar efforts for our citizens in Thailand, Myanmar and Laos and, of course, in all countries in Southeast Asia to bring them all home.” At publishing time (April 30) Peru had recorded 33,931 confirmed cases of the virus, 943 deaths and 10,037 recovered patients. Ambassador’s background “I started university in 1978, studying law. My father is a lawyer and my grandfather was also a lawyer, so I was thinking of a traditional law practice. But when I first discovered international law, I was soon very attracted to the subject. One year before ending my laws studies, in 1982, two important events occurred that contributed to my decision to become a diplomat. One was the election of a Peruvian ambassador as secretary-general of the United Nations, and the other was the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom involving Malvinas (Falkland Islands). TheBigChilli


Ambassador Quirós with late General Prem Tinsulanonda, President of the Privy Council of Thailand, on August 30, 2017.

“Many of my professors and fellow students at university spent hours discussing the legal and political aspects of the controversy arguing about what had to be done and what was the right diplomatic solution to this historic problem that had been around for so many years. Participating as a young law student in this debate was a key element that finally pushed me to make the decision to become a diplomat. “In addition, given that Peru is a developing country with so many resources but also with so many needs, I thought that diplomacy was an interesting profession from which I could contribute to an efficient insertion of my country to the world. We need to make available whatever the world can bring to Peru, and also to bring what Peru has to offer to the world. “To join the Peruvian foreign service you first need to possess a university degree, and then be selected through a public contest to become a student of the Diplomatic Academy of Peru, where I studied from 1983-1985. After graduating from the academy in December 1985, I joined the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on January 1, 1986 as a Third Secretary of Chancellery. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe it has been already 34 years since I took my first assignment. “In our system, after you graduate from the diplomatic academy you need to work two years at the MFA in Lima. So I worked there in 1986 and 1987, and in 1988 I was posted to the permanent mission of Peru to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The first two years I was covering the ‘Uruguay Round’ negotiations at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and then I also attended several years the UN Human Rights Commission, the Conference on Disarmament and almost all the other international organisations based in Geneva. I returned to Lima in 1993 and worked at the Peruvian MFA covering multilateral political affairs. 70


“I got married in 1991 and our first daughter was born in Lima in 1994. In 1996, I was posted to the Peruvian embassy in Venezuela. That was a big change because after 10 years in multilateral affairs I finally took my first steps into bilateral diplomacy. Venezuela is a very important Latin American country, very similar in size and population to Peru but with a much bigger economy mostly thanks to its enormous oil resources. Back then it was much more prosperous than now. Migrants from almost every corner of Latin America wanted to go there to live and work because the standard quality of life was higher. We used to call it ‘Saudi Venezuela’. I served there from 1996 to 2001, and our two sons were born there. “I was Counselor, Head of the Economic and Trade Section of the Embassy, devoting most of my time to promote Peruvian business and exports to Venezuela. In those days, Venezuela became the first destination for our exports, excluding raw materials – manufactured goods, textiles, clothing, and other products. Many Peruvian exporters were coming at that time to Venezuela and I loved the job, knowing I was helping them and helping to promote Peru’s economy. “We went back to Lima in 2001 and, after few years working at the MFA, the Andean Community General Secretariat and the Ministry of Defense, I was posted to Washington D.C. and stayed there five years (2007-2012), the first two and a half years as consul general and then as Deputy Head of the Peruvian Embassy. It is no secret to anyone that since our independence in 1821, bilateral relations with the US have always been one of the main concerns and priorities of Peruvian foreign policy. So those were five very interesting years, both professionally and personally. We were there, for example, on that historical day when Barack Obama was sworn in as the first African American president of that country.”



Ambassador Quirós paid a courtesy call on General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand, at Government House in Bangkok on October 18, 2017.

country, career diplomats are assigned to other ministries to provide consistency in our foreign policy. I was directorgeneral for international relations at the ministry of defense working directly with the minister and responsible for coordinating all international security issues, including UN peacekeeping missions and various bilateral and multilateral talks. “I was appointed ambassador to Thailand by the Peruvian president in 2017, and I was extremely happy when I received the news because it was my preferred destination. My wife and I immediately celebrated after learning about the appointment.” Duties and bilateral relations

Ambassador Quirós with Chuan Leekpai, President of the National Assembly and Speaker of the House of Representatives on September 19, 2019.

Thailand calls The posting to Thailand is Mr Quirós’ first appointment outside Peru as ambassador since his promotion to the highest diplomatic rank on January 1, 2013 when he was 51 years old. “After being promoted, I stayed in Lima for three more years. During that time, I was first responsible for consular and migration issues at the MFA, and the last two and a half years I served at the ministry of defense. In our 72


“To be ambassador to three countries in Southeast Asia is a lot of work. My priorities in Thailand are to promote economic, trade and cooperation relations as well as human and cultural interactions. In our system, the term for a diplomatic posting is five years, so I have two more years to go. “This year we celebrate 55 years of diplomatic relations between Peru and Thailand. We opened our embassy in Bangkok in 1992. Before that, Thailand was overseen from our embassy in Delhi, India. “At the embassy here are three Peruvian diplomats and six local staff. It is a relatively small embassy. Consular issues are always very important but I must say that with just 100 Peruvians living in Thailand, it is easily manageable. For comparison, as consul-general of Peru in Washington D.C., I had under my jurisdiction 150,000 Peruvians. The total number of Peruvians in the US was then around 1.5 million. During my posting in the US, I

Ambassador Quirós making a speech during reception to celebrate the 196th anniversary of the independence of Peru. The event was held at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Hotel on July 27, 2017.

Ambassador Quirós and wife Ximena wearing Peruvian designs at the Thai Silk International Fashion Show held at the Royal Thai Navy Conventional Hall in Bangkok on November 23, 2019.

learned that in the 1850s a big group of Peruvians migrated to New Jersey. At the time it was a big center for textile manufacturing. Today there are around 400,000 Peruvians living between New Jersey and New York. “Peru is a mining country, and minerals are our number one export to Thailand – copper, tin and others. Secondly, we are exporting fruits. Over the years, Thailand has imported tons of Peruvian grapes and berries and starting last year, we began exporting avocados to Thailand. We are also exporting pota, a giant calamari (squid). Also last year we resumed exports of natural gas to this country. Thailand also imports from us small quantities of other products, including specialized textiles with our famous pima cotton. “On the other hand, we are buying a lot of automotive goods from Thailand, especially Toyota Hilux pickup trucks. There are many of these vehicles circulating in Peru and they are all made in Thailand. We also buy a lot of spare parts for different types of vehicles. The import of Toyota Hilux to Peru is absolutely profitable for both sides. We used to manufacture cars in the 1970s, but decided many years ago to stop production. Now we import cars from all over the world – Japan, China, Europe and America – but the Toyota Hilux remains a top seller. It is quite competitive in price and quality, and it is extremely durable. This is important in a mining country with huge mountains. “We also buy from Thailand air conditioning equipment,washing and drying machines, computers, computer parts and many rubber products, like gloves and surgical gloves. We import rice from Thailand to supplement what is grown in Peru, and we also buy tuna from Thailand to supplement what is caught by Peruvian fishing vessels in our own very rich Economic Exclusive Zone. “There’s a big trade imbalance in Thailand’s favor, about US$400 million to US$180 million. Therefore, one of the main goals of the embassy is to promote Peruvian exports and Thai investment in Peru. There are many areas where we are convinced Thai experience, knowledge and capital might be very well accepted in Peru, and one of these areas is tourism. Of course, Thailand is a much bigger TheBigChilli


Machu Picchu

player in this arena, attracting about 40 million tourists last year to Peru’s four to five million. Considering the distances, it’s not surprising that tourist numbers between our countries are small, but they are growing on both sides. In 2019, around 8,000 Peruvians visited Thailand and around 2,000 Thai nationals visited Peru. Only three years ago it was just half of that. “Peru has an incredible richness of tourist attractions. Many of these are historical gems like the splendid Machu Picchu built high up in the Andes by the Incas. We also have a 3,000 kilometer coast to the Pacific Ocean. It is true that the water is cold – and this is one of the secrets to our fishing wealth – but in the north of Peru there are beautiful sandy beaches with warmer waters. Maybe some Thai investors should come and have a look at these places. “Currently, the shortest way to Peru from Thailand is to fly from Bangkok to Amsterdam and then on to Lima. It is a 24 hour flight, plus two hours in transit. Maybe one day there will be direct flights between Bangkok and Lima, but today the 19,000 km distance is still a real challenge.”

is considered a Thai product, not Peruvian. “One area Thailand and Peru work very successfully together is South-South cooperation and this has been true for many years,” the ambassador said. South-South cooperation refers to the exchange of resources, technology and knowledge between developing countries in specific areas such as SMEs, agriculture, Credit: andbeyond.com aquaculture, tourism, sports, disaster risk management, alternative development, among others. “A big success in our bilateral cooperation has been the exchange of experiences and good practices in the field of ‘alternative development’, that’s the substitution of illicit crops for legal ones. We share our experiences and strategies. Instead of growing opium to make heroin in the case of Thailand or coca leaves to make cocaine in Peru, we produce coffee, pineapple, cacao, oil palm, heart of palm or any crop that can be grown in the same areas and generate a good income for farmers. This has been very successful in the Golden Triangle with the Royal Projects. It is not only agricultural alternatives that provide farmers with income.

Investment and cooperation opportunities “Peru is a huge country, more than twice the area of Thailand but half its population. There are many, many opportunities for investment in many areas like infrastructure, tourism, mining and natural gas. Like Thailand, Peru is a growing, open economy. We both have emerging middle classes with increasing buying power, and we are both trying to overcome the famous middle income trap. “An important objective of the Embassy is to promote Thai investment in Peru, but on the other hand, we also very much want to encourage more of a Peruvian presence in Thailand. One successful story is a Peruvian soft drink company that came to Chonburi province 16 years ago. They produce cola and 10 other beverages. The company was very successful in Peru in the eighties, in the nineties they expanded first to Venezuela and Mexico and then jumped to Thailand in 2006. I am not quite sure why the owners chose Thailand, but it was a good move. They are quite successful here, and exporting to Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. It 74


Mancora Piura

Credit: treehouselodge.com

There are other options for rural people to make good money, like tourism, handicrafts and so on. We have been working with Thailand for some years now. In Peru we have a big area in the north, the San Martin Region, which is almost totally free of coca bush cultivation.” Asked about high-level visitor exchanges, the ambassador was eager to talk about one in particular. “Last year in April, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn came to Peru. She stayed eight days. She visited Lima and then she went to the mountains, to Cusco and then on to the city of Puno, which sits on the edge of Lake Titicaca. This is an enormous lake 4,000 meters above sea level. Her Royal

Peruvian Andes

Highness was most impressed. When she came back she published a book with photos she’d taken and provided for an exhibition in the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre. I am sure that this has made a lot of Thai people to start thinking about visiting Peru. “I had the great privilege and pleasure of talking with HRH Princess Sirindhorn several times before her departure to Peru. I gave her books about my country and answered some of her very perceptive questions. Unfortunately I was unable to accompany Her Royal Highness to Peru, but I was at Suvarnabhumi airport when she departed and I also welcomed her back.” The ambassador said this was probably the most noteworthy of many wonderful experiences in Thailand. “Initially I wanted to come to Thailand because I thought that at this point of my career it was very important for me to have work experience in Asia, as I had spent my diplomatic life in Latin America, Europe, and the US. Little did I know how important it would also be in other ways.” Credit: temblor.net

CV of H.E. Fernando Julio Antonio Quirós Campos Studies • 1978-1983: Law, Catholic University of Peru. • 1983-1985: Diplomacy and International Relations, Peruvian Diplomatic Academy. • 1986-1987: Diploma of “Diplomatic Studies”, IUHEI, Geneva, Switzerland. • 1994: Peruvian Diplomatic Academy XXXIII’s Refreshing Cycle. • 2001: Strategic Management Course for Defense and Crisis Management, Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, NDU and Naval War College. Degrees • 1983: Bachelor of Law, Catholic University of Peru. • 1993: Masters in International Relations, with mention on International History and Politics, Graduate Institute of International Studies, IUHEI, Geneva, Switzerland. Titles • 1985: Career diplomat, Diplomatic Academy of Peru • 1985: B.A. in International Relations, Diplomatic Academy of Peru. • 1995: Attorney at Law, Catholic University of Peru. Positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs • 1986: Third Secretary of Chancellery at the General Direction for International Organizations and Conferences. • 1987: Third Secretary of Chancellery at the General Direction for Multilateral Affairs. • 1993: Second Secretary at the United Nations Office, General Direction for Political Affairs. • 1994: First Secretary at the United Nations Office, General Direction for Political Affairs. • 2001: Counsellor at the Binational Peru-Ecuador Plan for Border Development and Integration. • 2001: Counsellor at the General Direction for Research and Situation Analysis, Secretariat for Strategic Planning. • 2002: Minister-Counsellor at the Office of Economic and Trade Promotion.

• 2003: Minister-Counsellor, Special Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. • 2004: Minister-Counsellor, Chief of Staff of the Secretary General of the Andean Community (Lima, Peru). • 2006: Minister, Special Advisor to the Minister of Defense. • 2012: Minister, Advisor to the Director General for Peruvian Communities Abroad and Consul Affairs. • 2013: Ambassador, Director of National Protection and Assistance, Direction General for Peruvian Communities Abroad and Consular Affairs. • 2014: Ambassador, Director General for International Relations, Ministry of Defense. • 2016: Ambassador, Specialized Advisor to the Director General for Peruvian Communities Abroad and Consular Affairs. Positions abroad • 1988: Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN and other International. Organizations based in Geneva, Switzerland. • 1991: Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN and other International. Organizations based in Geneva, Switzerland. • 1996: First Secretary, Embassy of Peru in the Republic of Venezuela. • 1998: Counsellor, Head of the Economic and Commercial Section, Embassy of Peru in the Republic of Venezuela. • 2007: Minister, Consul General of Peru in Washington D.C., United States of America. • 2010: Minister, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Peru to the United States of America. • 2017: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Peru to the Kingdom of Thailand, and concurrent Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and the Republic of the Philippines. In addition to the achievements listed above, Ambassador Quirós has participated as a delegate and representative for Peru in numerous meetings and international conferences. TheBigChilli



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