Is Covid19 pushing Thailand toward a cashless society?
PUBLISHER Colin Hastings email@example.com EDITOR Nina Hastings firstname.lastname@example.org SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai email@example.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Thana Pongsaskulchoti firstname.lastname@example.org
ore and more people in Bangkok are using apps to pay for their purchases, even take-away food from street vendors who also find it a clean and safe way to collect money. It’s perhaps a sign that Thailand is gradually moving toward the worldwide trend towards a cashless society. Indeed, a recent study by Visa, the global payments technology company, suggests that almost half of all Thai consumers (45 per cent) are likely to avoid using cash once the Covid19 pandemic ends. Other behaviour that is likely to become a new normal post-Covid are wearing a mask (62 per cent) and avoiding crowds (43 per cent), says the study, which adds that the situation has also prompted many Thai consumers to explore different shopping channels. The most popular channels used for the first time during Covid are shopping on apps and websites (65 per cent), using direct delivery at home after ordering by phone from local shops (47 per cent), and shopping on social media channels (44 per cent). Once recovery gets underway, the top three activities Thai consumers are looking forward to are traveling within Thailand (35 per cent), travelling abroad to Covid-safe destinations (29 per cent) and taking small get-away trips in their own city (19 per cent). According to respondents, spending categories that experienced the largest reduction are international trips (63 per cent), going to cinemas or events (60 per cent), buying luxury items like bags, watches and jewelry (60 per cent), fine-dining (58 per cent), well-being treatment (57 per cent) and buying new clothes (54 per cent). Looking ahead, Thai consumers are preparing to resume spending on gadgets (16 per cent), groceries and personal care items (15 per cent), and going out to enjoy fine-dining and out of home entertainment (10 per cent). Less than one in ten plans to upgrade home appliances (9 per cent) and spend on fashion and clothing (8 per cent).
ACCOUNTING MANAGER Janjira Silapapairson email@example.com ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa PHOTOGRAPHY AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Robin Westley Martin Drew McCreadie, Maxmilian Wechsler Zoe Evans, Jessica Weber Ruth Gerson, Agneta de Bekassy
No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission from The BigChilli Co., Ltd. The opinions and views of the writers are not necessarily the views of the publishers. All details are deemed correct at the time of print, the publisher, the editor, employees and contributors can not be held responsible for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions that may occur. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or amend any submitted artwork, photographs, illustrations and manuscripts. The BigChilli welcomes unsolicited contributions but assumes no responsibility for the safe-keeping or return of such materials damaged or lost in transit.
The BigChilli Co., Ltd. 8/2 FMA Group Building, 4th Floor, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500. ☎ 02-635-5085, ☎ 081-358-1814 Fax: 02-635-5086 :firstname.lastname@example.org :thebigchilli.com
The BigChilli Co., Ltd. 8/2 FMA Group Building, 4 Floor, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500.
Accepting Applications for Early Years learn more on our website bit.ly/3t0mi6n RIVERSIDE
Leading the way in
EARLY YEARS 02 675 1888 email@example.com www.shrewsbury.ac.th/riverside @SHBriverside
2,074 Sqm Outdoor Learning Environment
Experienced QTS qualified teachers
EYFS Curriculum with Forest School Programme TheBigChilli 3
My sad farewell to Tatler, the ‘hiso’ magazine I launched 30 years ago By Colin Hastings
While lamenting the closure of Thailand Tatler, the publisher of BigChilli says that people still love printed magazines because of their permanence, unlike the fleeting and easily forgettable nature of social media
The first issue of Thailand Tatler, September 1991, and the BigChilli
he few media companies still involved in printing magazines will be saddened by the news that ‘society bible’ Thailand Tatler has closed for good, at least by its current license holder. The end of this fine publication has special poignancy for me as I was given the task of launching Thailand Tatler on behalf of the Bangkok Post, the original license holder, back in 1991 and went on to 4
run the magazine as its managing editor for the next seven years. It was a challenge I relished, particularly as Tatler was the first of many local versions of international magazines like Elle, Cleo and Vogue to enter the Thai market soon after. It was an exciting period for magazine publishers and we all expected it to last forever. Although I have no inside information about the
decision by its present franchisee to pull the plug on Tatler, I assume it is down to the same three factors that have caused the demise of so many magazines - the flight of advertising to social media, especially but not exclusively Facebook, the high cost of printing and the chronic economic slowdown caused by Covid19. Other factors such as changing tastes may have also impinged on the viability of such publications, but it is unquestionably those three reasons that are mostly behind the closure in recent years of so many once familiar titles. Indeed, the list of English language magazines that once packed local bookshops and graced countless coffee tables is long, and now a distant memory. Who remembers Caravan, Metro, Living in Thailand, Time Out, The Magazine, Farang, Look East, Travel & Leisure, Sport, Traversing the Orient, and AsiaLife? They’re not alone - The BigChilli also bid farewell to a number of its own publications, the demise of which we will cover in a future issue of this magazine. ll of these were home to some great editors, writers, designers and a host of creative minds, not to mention the many behindthe-scenes people such as printers, messengers, sales teams and office staff. Have they all found new employment in the online media revolution? I doubt it. Recalling Thailand Tatler’s launch three decades ago, I’m pleased to say we got our market bang on target from the outset. Readership was aimed squarely at the country’s emerging and newly enriched middle class – ‘hiso’ Thais - while our editorial coverage paid homage to the people who really ran the
With Thailand Tatler’s closure, the BigChilli may now be the country’s longest running English language magazine. The last man standing, so to speak.
kingdom. It was tailor-made for luxury brand advertising. Expats who got a look in were mostly diplomats, heads of international companies and, just for fun, a few eccentrics. Rank and file expats weren’t excluded; they just didn’t seem to fit in, and understandably so. During my seven years in charge of Tatler, I was always welcomed into those ‘hiso’ circles, and yet I never felt truly comfortable, so I appreciated the cultural gulf. And that’s how the BigChilli came about. We spotted a gaping hole in the magazine market – no publication at that time was reaching out to Thailand’s rapidly expanding community of ‘regular’ expats. Launched in late 1999 as a slightly irreverent monthly magazine with lots of gossip, edgy news, tongue-in-cheek articles, parties, profiles and restaurant reviews, BigChilli was quickly adopted by foreigners who didn’t identify with the local hiso scene. Quite soon we TheBigChilli
News knew had a winner on our hands, albeit a modest one in financial terms. Over the following years, the magazine naturally evolved, growing in size and stature, maturing and ultimately embracing all facets of expat living in Thailand, from serious business and legal issues, crime and in-depth interviews to travel, hotel and restaurant reviews, international schooling and medical matters. I think it’s fair to say that after 21 years, the BigChilli is very much part of the fabric of expat society in Thailand. An institution, if you like. Our brand is certainly very well established and duly respected. With the closure of Tatler, we may now be the country’s longest running English language magazine. The last man standing, so to speak. However, there’s no hiding the fact that the BigChilli faces the same challenges that have plagued many our competitors and eventually brought about their demise. ut as time goes by, it is becoming increasingly clear that many people still enjoy the touch, the feel and even the smell of a printed magazine. And that’s before they get to read the quality content inside. There is one other very important factor in
People still enjoy the touch, the feel and even the smell of a printed magazine. It has a permanent physical presence
believing that there’s still a future for the print media: its permanent physical presence. While online media platforms currently account for the bulk of advertising spend, there is a growing realization that it’s all rather fleeting. Even if an ad on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram manages to grab someone’s attention, its message often fails to register. The beauty of printed magazines is that they last, they hang around, not unusually for months and even years, and so do their clients’ advertisements. That’s why prestigious international companies like Rolex have always had a preference for advertising their watch brands in magazines, normally on the back cover. At the BigChilli, we are regularly approached by hotels, restaurants, schools and hospitals to have their story appear in the magazine. They recognize the power and influence of its permanence. Tellingly, they invariably ask for several dozen or more copies of the issue they
While online media platforms currently account for the bulk of advertising spend, there is a growing realization that it’s all rather fleeting. appear in so they can share the news with friends and associates. Magazines last, there’s no doubt about it. Of course the BigChilli has embraced the new media and our magazine appears very month on a variety of online platforms. Nevertheless, people still make a point of wanting to appear in the printed version of the magazine because they know that it won’t be forgotten in an instant. ver the past 21 years, we have learned a lot about our readers, their likes, their preferences, their hopes and their aspirations. It’s been immensely helpful in shaping the magazine and its future. We’ve also made mistakes, but one each has taught us something new.
It’s both a responsibility and burden being the last man standing. Tatler’s demise is indeed sad. But we are determined to carry on. More importantly, we may have reached the turning point for the good fortunes of print media. The BigChilli is still here after all these years, so we must have been doing something right. Enjoy this month’s magazine. TheBigChilli
s ’ y Porloy st
By Robin Westley Martin
From the rice fields of Isaan to fame as a filmmaker, the long struggle of a country girl who overcame cancer to put her family and career back on track
he year 2020 was the year that the scourge of Covid began to affect all our lives, to a greater or lesser degree. I myself lost a childhood friend, and it was a major contributing factor in the closure of my café business in Bangkok. The pandemic, then, created difficulties for everyone, but for some there was worse yet to come. One such was Naruemon (Ploy) Chaingam, who was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer at the same time as the Covid pandemic was gathering steam around the globe. This is her story – a story of courage and determination. The Northeast of Thailand, known as Isaan, is the poorest part of Thailand, and its economy is largely agriculture-based. This is where Ploy was born, in Sisaket, a province bordering Cambodia. Ploy was an
observant and inquisitive child who took a deep interest in what was going on around her. From an early age she knew that a life in the rice fields was not to be her destiny. Ploy is now a confident 40-year-old woman who has two teenage boys, aged fourteen and fifteen, and she has juxtaposed being a caring single mom (since 2010, when her children were three and four years old) with a successful career in journalism and documentary film-making. She learnt to speak English by herself (her spoken English is better than some Thai politicians I have interviewed) and Ploy is well-known - and respected - by the foreign media community in Thailand. So let’s find out a little more about what makes Ploy tick:
The moment the diagnosis was made it felt like a death sentence. Cancer at 40 with two kids still dependent on their mom …
Robin: When did you first become interested in journalism and film work, and what was it about making documentaries that drew your attention? Ploy: Growing up in a poor farming village in Isaan you see the real Thailand, the grassroots. It felt a long way from the Bangkok I saw on TV, let alone the rest of the world. But what things I was able to find out (long before smartphones and Google search) gave me a hunger to learn more about my country and further afield. I guess my passion for telling stories comes from an early understanding of the challenges; the against-theodds successes, and the complex social issues affecting people from the area I was raised up in. Poor education, limited work options, and moms and dads leaving their kids behind to be looked after by their grandparents, as they left the villages to become migrant workers. I've been fortunate to explore some of these themes of inequality in my pieces covering Thailand, Laos, and the wider Southeast Asian region. Since a very young age writing was a friend to me, that I embraced. I won high school competitions and I dreamt of becoming a TV news anchor. I would later go on to study journalism and mass communication at university. I was gradually pulled into documentary. Maybe I have always had some of those investigative skills since I was a kid: the patience to observe, feel and tell stories. I was 23 when I got my fist gig writing a TV script just after leaving university. It's been a long, hard road since then but I feel really lucky to have met some extraordinary people while doing my work, and I got to hear their stories first-hand. But I never made it as a TV anchor!
Robin: Were, or are, any of your family journalists or filmmakers? Ploy: My brother has a small production house and my sister-in-law was a Thai TV reporter. We are kind of a media family and it's something I hope my kids might continue with one day. Through the friends I have made, and my family members, I have been in a very supportive environment to nurture my work in media and journalism. There's a great network in Bangkok of Thais and expats with high-level skills and an openness to absorb new ideas and develop fresh ways to put your story across. Bangkok really should be the heart of the media industry in Southeast Asia, there are so many skilled people here. My brother is a production machine – he never stops! I've learned a lot from his work on TVCs, television programmes, documentaries and music videos. I think that a mishmash of all this has fed into me, and created my particular style Robin: Which university did you attend, and what inspired you while you were there? Ploy: I went to Thammasat University. Thammasat has long been the home of Thailand's radical thinkers, fighting for democracy and human rights as well as freedom of speech. From an Isaan rice-farming community to a Bangkok university wasn't as common back when I was a teenager, and I was so proud to be there. Over time I learnt about the struggle to report unbiased critical stories in Thailand. It broke my faith in journalism a little, and my idealism about it. But it also made me determined to create a space for myself as an independent filmmaker for an international market … not instead of, but as well as the mainstream media in my own country. TheBigChilli
Robin: When you started your career was there any documentary film maker who had impressed you, who made you want to follow in their footsteps. Ploy: I've always looked to my Southeast Asian colleagues for inspiration, such as Pailin Wedel from Thailand, Chan Lida from Cambodia, Banuk Amante and Martika Ramirez Escobar from The Philippines, and especially my old friend Anyxay from Laos. I lived in Laos for nine years and his film 'At the Horizon’ affected me deeply. After seeing that piece I became enthused by the possibilities and opportunities that filmmaking might be able to give me. I (we) work in a region where we risk jail or intimidation by the law for simply trying to show the truth of an issue. We also work with little funding or resources … so getting your documentary finished, and out there, is always extra special. Things are changing slowly as Southeast Asia becomes a large market in its own right, with stories that travel well outside the region. I think the new streaming channels will be able to help more voices from our area gain international exposure – especially minority groups, across the board, and women. On a personal note, I have to give a mention to Yves Jeanneau who sadly died in 2019, aged only 69. He was a French documentary maker and producer who established (30 years ago) the ‘Sunny Side of the Doc’ industry festival, and brought Asian Side of the Doc – and also the world’s documentary market – to Bangkok in 2016. Yves taught me the value and technique of putting a camera onto stories in the hope of making small but important changes to our world. He gave me the confidence that I could compete on an even footing on the international scene, against more experienced people with access to better resources. I hope he would be proud of my progress. Robin: How do you decide upon projects you wish to go forward with? Ploy: From idea to commission to finished film making a documentary is a long process. It's not easy and needs a lot of determination, research, working out which permits will be needed, etc … and luck, too! I try to decide upon projects that will help me grow as a filmmaker. Projects that will challenge me to meet little-known people and tell a story that isn't easy to reach or hear. For example, I took on an investigation into the world's most wanted passport forger, and found a way to interview him in a Thai jail. Against the masses of bureaucracy, and in a country that does not look favourably upon its journalists. That taught me that nothing is impossible. 10
I'm always trying to learn from senior people in my industry and take on bigger challenges. It doesn’t necessarily mean bigger budgets, because sometimes the challenge is in the format, the access, or producing with a large crew, with members from different countries. You learn from each film and I don't think that ever stops. Robin: When your tumour diagnosis was made how did you initially feel … apart from the shock, did it make you determined to do all you can to continue as best you can? Ploy: For me, the moment the diagnosis was made it felt like a death sentence. Cancer at 40 with two kids still dependent on their mom … all during the Covid-19 pandemic when work has dried up … it felt like the end. Suddenly you have these massive challenges, both physical and mental. You have to find a way to survive the initial treatment, and chemo hit me hard … believe me, losing my prized long hair wasn’t at all nice. And then having to navigate through the clogged waterways of the Thai hospital system, which burns money so quickly. All the while struggling to get a new diagnosis after numerous nights in hospitals, and the endless biopsies and scans. I started off in private hospitals, but that soon ate up all my savings, and I transferred to a government hospital for treatment. And never let it be said that the care there cannot compare with that in a private facility, because it does! The doctors and nurses in Ramathibodi were caring, knowledgeable and skillful. I used my research skills, and educated myself on my condition (aggressive large b-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) and prepared my body and mind to go through the tough times that would be coming. All of which would have been impossible without the help of my friends, my family … and my dogs!
Robin: What have the doctors said about your prognosis? Ploy: For now I am very lucky, the chemo, which lasted five or six months, seems to have worked and I am right now 'cancer free'. But there is a long way to go before I can say I am cured. It is still a life of medical appointments, worries over the latest scans and how to pay for whatever treatment I might need next. But I do yoga and meditation to help me remember to treasure what I have. Robin: How much of a struggle was it to continue working whilst still being treated, what project or projects were you working on? Ploy: During my time of indisposition I was lucky to find a commission to make a documentary about human trafficking in the fishing industry for Vice / HBO. The good days were being out filming in fields and on boats and learning about the terrible abuses and the amazing people fighting them. I didn’t even know if I would last until the end of the filming, but I thought that I would be leaving something good behind me. The bad days were just after a session of chemo with nausea attacks mid-shoot and tremendous exhaustion. But all in all my TheBigChilli
work allowed me to shift my focus from self-pity towards my passion. Robin: How did you get through this harrowing time, what forced you to carry on … your children, your friends, your desire to create more work? Ploy: Through my research I had learnt that my Stage 2 lymphoma was actually the good news … it could have been a lot worse. It could be cured with hard work from myself and my doctors. My boys are my purpose. They are 14 and 15 and although life is not always a bed of roses with two pubescent boys full of raging hormones, they still very much need their mom! I have learned that people are incredibly kind. I am also lucky I have some work – I'm currently doing a documentary on my experiences of cancer as a woman in Thailand – and I have faith that I have been given a second chance at a long and productive life. Robin: Now you have come out of the other side how do you feel … stronger, grateful, happy, exhausted … Ploy: I am extraordinarily grateful that I have been looked after by many good hands … the doctors, financial support from friends and family, without which I wouldn’t be here talking to you now. But the whole time I was focused on fighting my battle I thought there should have been some mental health support provided by 12
the hospitals. In Thailand there just isn’t anything like that. It's a real support and information gap at the most difficult and important time in a person’s life. It is fundamentally only a medical process and you go through it alone. When I finished my treatment I was exhausted and emotionally drained. I needed a counselor, I needed information on how to emotionally recover from the shock, the post-traumatic stress,
During my conversations with Ploy I learned that she is still looking for extra funding in order to complete her documentary. It’s a story that needs to be seen. If you want to help, please contact Ploy, at narumon.ch.ploy@gmail. com or see https://www.fatstonefilms.com/
and how to live my life again. There is very little of this form of assistance in my country and that's something I want to help change … by including these issues in my documentary. Robin: Apart from overcoming your cancer, and having children, what is your outstanding achievement in your life … which piece of work that you have produced are you most proud of? Ploy: I will always be proud of the passport forger story. To reach an Iranian criminal with links to a global organised crime group, in a Thai jail, was the hardest access I have ever faced. It took months of negotiations and research to get there and it was a very complex story. Channel News Asia commissioned it and it was syndicated to Al-Jazeera and other channels. I'm also really happy with my latest work for HBO / Vice on ‘Modern Day Slavery in the Thai Fishing Industry’. Robin: Now that you are again on the upward
spiral what projects do you have planned for the future? Ploy: This year I have been invited to sit on juries for industry events like the International Bangkok Documentary Festival and One World Media Awards. And for the first time in my career I am making a personal documentary, about my journey through the cancer treatment, from the initial diagnosis all the way through it until now. With universal truths on womanhood, trauma, love and health. We're going to experiment with formats to tell a textured story that I hope will be part of a conversation in Thailand (and beyond) on how we respond to a lifechanging illness. I have a story to tell, and I want to use my skills as a documentary filmmaker to tell it to the world. It won’t be an easy watch for myself, or the viewers … but I hope that it will give the people who see it just that … hope. TheBigChilli
Weding packages from only 75,000 baht 14
BITS & BITES Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok’s longstay deals
Starting from THB 29,900 net per month, residents can get settled in cozy rooms that are minimal in style but well-equipped with kitchenette, widescreen TV, inroom air purifier and high-speed Wi-fi internet. The monthly stay also includes extra benefits that can be personalized to each resident’s preference such as breakfast, housekeeping service, water and electricity supply, car parking, and special 20% discounts on food at all outlets and laundry service (excluding dry-cleaning service). Besides the comfort of their private rooms, residents will be able to enjoy the Working Space area on the lobby floor of the Hotel Tower and exclusive 20% discount on food, including a variety of dishes from Tr.EAT by Saneh Jaan.
Sindhorn Midtown, 68 Langsuan Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok. Contact 02-796-8888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok’s delivery service from kitchen to doorstep
Order from Loukjaan by Saneh Jaan, the younger generation of the celebrated Thai restaurant Saneh Jaan, whose menu features signature dishes from the original using heirloom recipes together with new creations. All use nutritious and organic ingredients from local Thai farmers, and homemade sauces, pastes and dips. Also available are best-selling bakery items such as Kempinski’s signature sourdough baked onsite daily.
Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, 80 Soi Tonson, Lumphini, · Bangkok 10330. Tel +66 2 095 9999 M +66 8 1969 3636 16
City getaway at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok
Get Away this summer for a ‘Siamcation’ and unwind in a luxurious city resort at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. Book now for stays up to 30 June 2021 from THB 7,555 net per room per night. All guestrooms have a view over the lush green tropical garden and swimming pools. Each guestroom minibar is replenished once daily with complimentary snacks and drinks. The 32-hour Siamcation includes: • Breakfast for 2 adults and up to 2 children up to 12 years in existing bedding • THB 3,000 hotel credit per room or suite per night to use for redeeming hotel services on regular price offers • Early check-in at 10:00 hrs and late check-out until 18:00 hrs • Executive Lounge privileges, including an afternoon teatime from 14:00 to 16:00 hrs and evening cocktails from 17:00 to 19:00 hrs. • Kempinski giveaway, including a bottle of Siam Kempinski Cabernet Sauvignon red wine and sweet treat Monday-to-Thursday Extra Inclusion: • Additional THB 1,000 hotel credit per room or suite per night to use for redeeming hotel services on regular price offers Contact www.kempinski.com/en/bangkok/siam-hotel/ special-offers/ or contact the Reservations Department on +662 162 9000 or email reservations.siambangkok@ kempinski.com.
‘Pasta Perfetto’ at Coast in Hua Hin
COAST Beach Club & Bistro at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin has unveiled its latest promotion- ‘Pasta Perfetto’ – a new menu featuring a delicious range of pasta dishes, each prepared in true Italian style with only the best and freshest ingredients. Highlights include Mushroom Florentine tagliatelle - a comfort creamy pasta dish inspired by the region of Florence, and Creamy Tuscan chicken penne - a classic pasta favourite that showcases all the flavour of the coast of Tuscany. Squid-ink linguine with buttery lobster likewise makes the perfect dish to serve, boasting the bounty of the Gulf of Naples, while the bistro’s Roman-style Spaghetti Alla Carbonara is a great choice. Tel +66 (0) 3251 2021
Asset World Corporation launches Wellness Escape
Wellness Escape features an all-inclusive package with tailor-made nutritional meals and variety of wellness activities: choice of spa treatment, personal training fitness or yoga instructor together with exclusive plus discounts and privileges from leading wellness centers: 20% discount on Vital life Scientific Wellness Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital, 10% discount on full day and half day wellness at Chiva-Som, exclusive treatments and packages discount at Samitivej Hospital. The Wellness Escape package starts runs until October 31, 2021, from THB 9,999++ when making reservation and checking in at 12 participating hotels under AWC. They include The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok, Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, The Okura Prestige Bangkok, Banyan Tree Samui, Banyan Tree Krabi, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse, Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa Nai Yang Beach, Sheraton Samui Resort, Le Méridien Chiang Mai, Meliá Koh Samui, Thailand. https://bit.ly/3fAUsKK and https://www.facebook.com/ AssetWorldCorporation/ or Tel 065 978 0287, 062 553 2954 and 084 137 3839 Email: email@example.com 18
Freshly Baked Croissants at Zing Bakery
Originating from Austria (and not France, contrary to popular belief), there’s nothing like starting off the morning with a freshly baked croissant – which you can now pick up from Zing Bakery every day from 7.00am. Located in the heart of Bangkok at Centara Grand at CentralWorld, these tasty snacks come courtesy of Zing’s Executive Pastry Chef Thawat, who trained in Europe. Chef Thawat and his team serve the croissants light and fluffy with a range of both sweet and savoury fillings. They include French Butter Croissant; Almond Croissant; Chocolate Croissant; Pistachio Croissant; Raspberry Croissant; and Cream Cheese Chocolate Croissant Order a hot or iced cappuccino, latte, espresso or tea for a set price of just THB 190 net (07.00 hrs. – 19.00 hrs.).
Contact: www.centarahotelsresorts.com/centaragrand/cgcw Facebook: Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld
Rosewood Bangkok “on the move” dishes
Enjoy easy order and convenient pick-up of the Rosewood Bangkok’s culinary delights right at the hotel’s doorstep, daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Specially curated treats to enjoy at home or office include artisanal cakes, freshly baked breads and delectable pastries paired with signature kombucha and specialty coffees. Chef Florian Couteau’s Artisanal Cake selections -- traditional French classics like Saint Honoré and Paris-Brest to White Chocolate Mousse & Raspberry Crémeux, Jasmsine Tea Chocolate Cake and more are 2lb. creations perfect for office parties and family occasions. Fresh bread and pastry options are also available at Rosewood Bangkok On The Move, including croissants, mini kraftkorns, gluten-free muffins, multigrain, dark chocolate cookies and apple cinnamon crumble tarts to praline choux and more. Prices from THB70 to THB168.
Tel 662 080 0088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://bit.ly/2021RWBKKOnTheMove.
Enjoy Red Sky’s seasonal asparagus dishes
Red Sky’s new Seasonal White Asparagus menu has arrived – with a range of delicious, fresh and healthy dishes available from now until the end of May in Bangkok. Created by Chef de Cuisine, Christian Ham, this vitamin-packed vegetable can be enjoyed in a number of ways, such as the poached asparagus with light citrus sabayon; silky asparagus soup with truffle poached organic duck egg; pan-seared foie gras and asparagus with red wine sauce and hazelnut salad; or boiled asparagus with macadamia nut and balsamic dressing. Dishes start from THB 750. Tel. 02-100-6255 or email us at email@example.com
Spa packages on ‘Coconut Island’
Unlimited dim sums at Dynasty
Dynasty restaurant located on the 24th floor of Centara Grand at CentralWorld is offering endless dim sum selections for just THB 850++. The three-hour lunch serving runs daily from 11.30 hrs. – 14.30 hrs., with Dynasty’s master Thai and Chinese chefs presenting a mix of classic dim sum, as well as creative fusion twists. Baked, steamed or deep-fried, only the finest meat, seafood and veg go into making everything on Dynasty’s menu. Highlights include Steamed snow fish with black bean sauce; Deep-fried fish spring rolls; Steamed snow fish with black bean sauce; and Deepfried Alaskan king crab wrapped The restaurant also offers a wide menu of a la carte dishes, available during our lunch services every day. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +66(0)2 100 6255. 20
Santiburi Koh Samui, the five-star retreat on Samui’s stunning north shore, is embracing the natural essence of Thailand’s ‘Coconut Island’ with a series of organic spa therapies and culinary offerings that showcase the diverse qualities of the coconut – and give back to the local community. With more than three million palm trees, coconut production is a major source of income for the island. The spa packages include: The Samui Gorgeous Package (150 mins, THB 3,990 net); the Samui Coco Bliss Package (105 mins, THB 1,590 net); and the Samui Secret Massage (75 mins, THB 1,590 net). “We are very happy to work hand-in-hand with local farmers and villagers, not only through our responsible sourcing and purchasing programmes, but also with regular CSR activities. Santiburi Koh Samui is proud to be part of the Coconut Island community,” said Alexandre Frenkel, the resort’s General Manager. Santiburi Koh Samui is currently offering attractive rates from THB 3,900 on a wide range of suites and villas, plus an impressive array of extras. Tel 077 425 031, use the LINE ID @santiburisamui, or email email@example.com.
New on the scene
Signature Bangkok at VIE Hotel
ignature Bangkok is an innovative, modern dining experience highlighting light, expressive French cuisine complemented by edible flowers. Headed by Executive Chef Thierry Drapeau, whose landmark restaurant in the Loire Valley held 2-Michelin star status for nine years, Signature Bangkok offers both lunch and dinner service featuring a 3- and 5-course Chef’s Menu with biodynamic wine pairings. Located on the 11th floor of the 5-star luxury VIE Hotel Bangkok with panoramic views of Bangkok’s exciting skyline, delivering a unique experience that is rare, relaxed and approachable. Michelin-calibre French cuisine paired with “floral cuisine” is the cornerstone of Signature Bangkok’s
culinary philosophy. Seasonal menus tell the story of each ingredient, highlighting terroir, or sense of place, and guide guests in connecting with nature and culture through gastronomy. Signature Bangkok’s “floral cuisine” relies on the delicate flavours of fresh flowers and herbs to season and to add aromatics to the meal. The finest and freshest ingredients are sourced locally and imported directly from farmers and artisanal purveyors. An organic vegan menu available and approached with equal rigor and attention to ingredients and detail. Signature Bangkok engages guests in the dining experience. During the meal, the opening of a velvet curtain reveals the entire culinary team preparing the meal in an open kitchen. Guests begin their culinary journey in Signature Bangkok’s plush, velvet draped and live piano lounge exclusively for dinner where guests are greeted with expertly prepared aperitifs and sparkling wine paired with canapés. In a graceful, contemporary dining room overlooking Bangkok’s spectacular skyline, the main meal unfolds with a choice of a 3- and 5-course Chef’s Menu, with organic vegan options available. Ninety-five percent of Signature Bangkok’s wines are biodynamic, making this one of the best collections in the city. Menus are paired with wines, although the Signature Bangkok’s Master Sommelier is available to assist guests in selecting a bottle to enjoy with the meal. Chef Thierry Drapeau, who leads the culinary team, was formerly the founder and Chef de Cuisine of the 2-Michelin star Thierry Drapeau Logis de Chabotterie in Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon, Loire Valley. Serving only 30 guests per lunch and dinner Reservations required. Tel 02 309 3939 or email firstname.lastname@example.org TheBigChilli
Two mates and a Talk Show Robin Westley Martin in front and behind the camera at Bangkok Chit Chat
angkok Chit Chat, a YouTube and Facebook channel talk show that focuses on interesting people and topics in Bangkok and beyond is the offspring of two enterprising expats, Andrew Sloan, and Andy Francis. Both have 30-plus years of experience living and doing business in Thailand, and being known as ‘guys around town’. I first became friends with Andrew over 30 years ago when he was the advertising and marketing director for Business in Thailand, where I was the news editor and writer. I have also known Andy Francis for the same length of time – albeit vicariously – through his work as a DJ on several radio stations, and also as the DJ at some of the venues and functions around town that I attended. Recently, since the birth of Bangkok Chit Chat, I have renewed my friendship with Andrew, and have formed an amity with Andy. All three of us have a lot in common, and we all do our best to see the bright side of life.
Andy Francis 22
Andrew – the owner of Clip Cube Media, an agency focused on digital media and online brand management – thought that there was a place for a not-too-serious discussion show that himself and his friends would find entertaining. When his buddy Andy Francis, a well-known media personality, also expressed his interest in the project, the formation of Bangkok Chit Chat began in earnest. Andrew already had the premises, and he wanted to make an impact with his new venture, so no halfmeasures were taken. In mid-2018 he began building a studio, and equipping it with cameras, green screen, lighting, sound-proofing, studio sets, and computer editing software. The whole shebang cost about 750,000 baht, but would have cost rather more had Andrew not been hands-on during the construction. The stage was set, and in early 2019 they were ready to roll … Bangok’s very own homegrown TV interviewers were about to hit the airwaves. Andrew Sloan and Andy Francis complement each other well:
all guests do, entered the compound through the sliding doors from the street. Right in front of the entrance to the studio a table, sofa, and chairs were ready for him to make himself comfortable on, and to enjoy coffee and biscuits pre-shoot. Andrew and Andy went over how it would work, before they headed into the studio. This informal little precis to the filming they go through with all their guests often gives them some points The BigChilli's publisher Colin Hastings was a guest of the two Andys. they hadn’t thought of during Andrew has the business background and is able to their research, they assure me. The studio itself is research well the subjects they have choose to invite head-to-toe green, with a dining table at its centre, to the studio, and Andy, with his background in the and dining chairs set around it. Everyone makes entertainment industry is able to add another slant to themselves comfortable, the tech guy mikes everyone the proceedings. up, sets the lighting and camera equipment ready for hey choose their subjects together, and … ACTION! when their invitation has been accepted None of the guys being interviewed are coached on they start their work on the research, and what to say, and the questions Andrew and Andy put what questions they need to ask their guest to them are not divulged beforehand. This makes for interviewees. It’s all very informal, and the banter greater spontaneity, and sometimes things come out goes back and forth between them and their guests. that have not even yet hit the mainstream media. This is not to say that it is a comedy exercise, as some The interviews, after post production, usually come of the topics cover important matters. in at about twenty to thirty minutes, but sometimes, But the premise of the show is not to compete with with guys such as Barry Upton, there is such a wealth the serious TV networks, rather to provide an entertaining of material that they go on for longer. Barry’s came insight into some of the issues affecting Thailand, and in at 50 minutes’ runtime, and he said he could have Bangkok in particular. Their guests are often wellgone on all day. known by the local community, and experts in their angkok Chit Chat is a show that has no field, through their involvement in business, boundaries and they will cover just about entertainment, the hotel and travel industry, or the media. every subject except politics, which is not There is a large pool of prospective interview really such a good idea in Thailand. guests for these budding Graham Norton’s to choose People and topics featured have included The Soi from, as two million (or more) foreigners have made Dogs Foundation, with John Dalley, MBE; a look Thailand their home. The actual figures are difficult to at the Thai prison system, with Gail Bailey, MBE; a ascertain, but from such a number there is no risk of chat with one of Canada’s top stand-up comedians, Chit Chat ever running out of entertaining people to Brian Aylward; reports on places in Thailand, such as invite onto its programming. They have also had some Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and Pattaya with the views of high-profile Thai personalioties on the show, so no prominent expats from those locales; Covid, and how favouritism there! it has affected Thailand; Thai traditional tattoos; Thai As a former guest myself, I know how they work food and where to find the best of it; plus many more together as a team, but I wanted to see how the whole topics and interesting people that you might want to thing works as an observer from the outside. So I meet, even if only on-screen. went along to see them do an interview with Barry Bangkok Chit Chat is waiting for you – as their Upton, UK musician, ex-Brotherhood of Man, founder guest of the week – at the press of a button. Just do of Steps, a mega-successful band from the 80s, record a quick search for Bangkok Chit Chat on Google or producer, songwriter, and radio DJ in Pattaya, where Facebook. A pound to a penny you will soon be one of he now lives. the many fans that tune in every week to see what’s On arrival at the business premises Barry, as new on their menu. Happy surfing!
Plan your dream home in a 180-acre private estate in the hills overlooking the unspoiled beach resort of Bangsaray. Only a 90-minute drive from Bangkok, and just 25 minutes from Sattahip and Pattaya. A choice of superb one-rai plots available from 4 million baht. Enjoy the peace, seclusion and privacy of a home surrounded by nature. Call Benjamin: 081 866 3597 for information.
Mature trees shade the estate’s roads TheBigChilli
Property Bangsaray Beach, a short drive away
Gorgeous ‘flame trees’ light up the property 26
Buraran’s beautiful lakes and mature trees
Balinese style houses at Buraran
Wooded hills flank the property TheBigChilli
Climbing Alaska’s sacred mountain
Bangkok-based Robert Tyler recalls how close he and his team came to conquering Denali, formerly Mt McKinley, the highest mountain in North America
The simple fact is this: when you go to Alaska, you get your ass kicked.
ot for the first time, climber Matthew Twight’s words came to mind. With crampons fixed firmly in the snow, our team crouched in defiance of the electric storm that hummed around us. Josh, our youngest climber, cradled his damaged hand. He had been injured by an electric shock when unclipping his metal carabiner from the conductive nylon rope that threatened to shock the whole team. I threw my metal axe to the side and waited for instructions from Chad, our talisman and lead guide. In the deteriorating visibility I discerned a radio abandoned in the snow; one of the many metallic items discarded by the team after the first shock. Would I feel the lightening rod that killed me or would the lights just mercifully go
out? The anticipation was sickening. We were 200 metres from the summit of the highest mountain in North America. At 6190 metres, Denali was the dominant peak of the austere and impenetrable Alaska Range. Three weeks earlier, we had been nine jetlagged strangers sitting in a circle in a bland Anchorage travel lodge. Like practitioners of meditation, each climber took turns to share their intention; why they were choosing to subject themselves to three weeks of extreme physical exertion, sleep deprivation from 24/7 daylight, the constant threat of cold injuries, and the disjointing effects of high altitude. I hadn’t been ready to explain that I sought restoration following a turbulent series of life events. There are things you share with a room full of strangers, and things you don’t.
Denali, a spiritual sanctuary for indigenous Alaskans, presents a unique set of challenges for climbers TheBigChilli
Denali, formerly Mt McKinley, is a sacred mountain. A spiritual sanctuary for indigenous Alaskans, it remains undefiled by roads, infrastructure and connectivity of any kind. For climbers, this mountain ethic of total selfreliance presents a unique set of challenges: your pack and sled must contain sustenance for a minimum of three weeks, and whatever goes in must be dragged out. This includes feces, which are discharged - usually when squatting in the vestibule of your tent - into a screw-top plastic container. The importance of good bathroom manners in close quarters reinforces the Alaskan adage, “On Denali you need a good camper; not a good climber.” ur adventurous delivery into the heart of the Alaska Range was by two Twin Otter aircraft; stylish aviation antiques configured with skis for glacier landings. Ominously, the pilots had delayed our departure in a last-minute gear switch between aircraft to match the passenger manifest. The sobering explanation given was that if a plane crashed, survivors could salvage their personal gear for the hike out. From the skies we wistfully watched civilisation slip away, finally crossing that frontier separating months of preparation and dreaming from the true start of an
expedition. It is an imaginary boundary that when crossed always announces itself as nervous energy in my stomach. We bade farewell to the Talkeetna river and inconceivably vast Alaskan forest as we passed over a dizzying network of rugged, snow-filled valleys. As we pushed deeper towards the lesser peaks of the range, our human faculties struggled to perceive the exponential increase in scale and grandeur of the topography around us. Our plane’s tiny shadow was soon dwarfed by giant glaciers that crumpled and collapsed into desolation. From my seat in the cockpit, I watched anthracite saw-tooth ridges from prehistory pass just metres from our wing tips. The plane arched and barely cleared a bower of hanging ice as we dived down with a thud on the powdered glacier below. Denali is unique amongst the Seven Summits in that porterage is not available. You are your Sherpa, and your first two weeks are spent dragging sleds of fuel and rations up crevassed glaciers to higher camps. After caching gear in great snow holes for future use, the team returns to reap the benefit of accelerated recovery that comes with sleeping at lower altitudes. We were all surprised how quickly the mountain claimed the first of our team. A serious case of exhaustion required a complex medical evacuation made possible only by an available helicopter and a rare weather window. It felt mercenary to salvage necessities from our team member’s abandoned pack. When doing so I discovered a number of fatal luxuries that would surely have exceeded the recommended 25kg. It was then that Denali’s infamously treacherous weather confined us to our tents for three days. As temperatures dropped and winds increased, a frantic hour was spent carving out and stacking blocks of snow for protection. The hiatus was amiably spent rapport-building until Peter, an experienced Scandinavian climber, made the irreversible
Ascending to higher camps meant greater exposure to scything winds that would frostbite unprotected fingers in seconds.
On clear days we found ourselves coating the insides of our nostrils with sunscreen due to the reflectivity of the snow.
mistake of mentioning his girlfriend to the assembly of all-male tent occupants. Opening the tent flap to expel the thick vapours of unbridled masculinity was made impossible by the -40°C gusts outside. scending to higher camps meant greater exposure to scything winds that would frostbite unprotected fingers in seconds. Gear reserved for extreme conditions was now being pulled from the bottom of our packs. On clear days we found ourselves coating the insides of our nostrils with sunscreen due to the reflectivity of the
snow. Neglecting small details could now have dramatic consequences. One morning the team woke to find our ground sheet coated in a thin layer of yellow ice. There was no way to hide that I hadn’t fixed the cap on my pee bottle properly. To conserve energy, the incident was shrugged off and judgement suspended till lower altitudes. Just five remaining climbers from our original nine were nearing the last day of food rations when a weather window appeared for a summit attempt. An earlier attempt had been abandoned following a dramatic weather change while traversing the Autobahn, a section
Just five remaining climbers from our original nine were nearing the last day of food rations when a weather window appeared for a summit attempt. We knew it was now or never.
that has claimed more lives on Denali than any. We knew it was now or never. Our two rope teams made good of their experience, preparation and teamwork by moving up the mountain in a glorious fashion. We enjoyed blue skies and 360-degree views into the great Alaskan beyond; this was the climbing we had come so far and trained so hard for. We were 200 metres from the summit when we heard peals of thunder from the thermal rivers of weather barreling up the valleys below. The weather had turned thicker and the thunder had grown closer when Chad
heard over the radio that a climber further down the mountain had suffered an electric shock. Moments later, Chad convulsed and threw off his metal picketlined pack. He too was hit by a strong shock. Josh was next. It is difficult to recall how long we waited on the mountainside before we got the frantic call to descend. Sensing imminent danger, we fumbled to ready our gear, some of which had become static, and gingerly reconnected our metal carabiners to the conductive rope. Our progress down the ridge was slowed by Josh’s injured hand, and only when safely in our sleeping bags that night did we finally feel outside the mountain’s dark shadow. The three-day walkout gave us time to reconcile the conflicting emotions of relief and disappointment we all shared. If any feelings of failure lingered, these later evaporated leaving only profound gratitude for experiencing such an extraordinary place. This sense of privilege only grows with the passing of time; cherished memories of what it was to have existed and survived, even for a short time, inside the frozen bell jar of one of nature’s last Edens. TheBigChilli
‘After 40 years in Thailand, I still love the place, but it’s often a foreign country to me now’
Thailand lost one of its most colourful characters recently when Malcolm Schaverien, better known under his pen name Harlan Wolff, passed away a few weeks before his 60th birthday. Resident in Thailand since 1977, Malcolm enjoyed a chequered career, working variously as a bar owner, art collector, security agent, private investigator, restaurant proprietor and most famously as the author of Bangkok Rules. Five years ago, The BigChilli interviewed Malcolm about the changes he had witnessed in Bangkok since arriving here more than four decades earlier. We are pleased to re-run that much liked interview.
ext year is the year of the rooster and it marks my fortieth year in Thailand. The question that I am most asked these days is, what has changed? Well, quite a lot really. Me for a start, I’ve changed. When I look in the mirror now I see more of my father and grandfather than that skinny youth that stepped off the DC-8 from London. That was the day the door opened and I first pushed my way through the heavy air-curtain, down the steps and across the tarmac into a humid world full of the pungent smells of spice, garlic and chilli peppers that told me I had arrived at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport. 36
It was 1977 and I couldn’t wait for my new life to start. My first introduction to the mysterious East was the long airport road surrounded by open fields and only two lanes for the heavy traffic. Taxis didn’t have air-conditioning in those days and the doors were typically held closed with a bungee cord. Your taxi would reach the city after a very long game of chicken with the ten-wheel trucks and unless you were a recovering alcoholic you needed a drink immediately on arrival at your destination. So, what has changed most since I got here? The people were much friendlier for a start. I think my Thai friends were happier then, even though they
often lacked much. Thailand was called the Land of Smiles for a very good reason; nowhere in the world did people smile as much as they did in Thailand. It was contagious and really rather wonderful. The Thais were famously polite and the girls were generally very shy and getting one to go out with you was quite an accomplishment. Televisions were mostly black and white and there wasn’t an invisible Pokemon behind every noodle vendor. What on earth is a Pokemon anyway? I would ask somebody but they’ve all got their faces buried deep in their mobile phones. In my day, there was a three-year waiting list to get a telephone installed in your house, and then a two hour wait to make a ‘long distance’ call to Pattaya. Everything happens much faster now and sometimes it makes me quite dizzy. It’s a very Surawong Road, 1970s modern city today and I often find it hard to relax or construct a thought. I fear I have become that thing of legends - the grumpy old expatriate. I remember that the Bangkok skyline was relatively flat and there were trees and canals everywhere. Believe it or not, Bangkok used to be called the Venice of the East. There’s not much evidence to support that title now, even the treelined canal in the middle
Denali, a spiritual sanctuary for indigenous Alaskans, presents a unique set of challenges for climbers
of Sathorn Road is long gone and its wooden houses have been knocked down to make way for even more luxury hotels. Thailand was high on character and low on luxury in the 1970s. Only the houses of the rich had air-conditioning and then only in the bedrooms. The downstairs of the big houses had rattan furniture, large windows, and hanging ceiling fans. Kitchens were always outside the main house and everyone had a garden. I remember that every street had a pack of feral dogs and taking a stroll required never, never, never, showing even a hint of cowardice. The monsoons sent the dogs to shelter I know not where, and brought endless days of floods. Rolling up your trousers and carrying your shoes in your hand was the annual norm and we all did it. All international business communication was done by a telex machine at the front desk of your nearest grand hotel. It was 360 Baht to send a single paragraph (the cost of a good night out) and your message typically said, “If you don’t send money soon I won’t be able to afford to send you any more telexes.” Waiting for a TheBigChilli
In memoriam reply required daily visits to the hotel to check for your name amongst the entire business community’s pile of correspondence. When the reply eventually came and if you were lucky enough to receive good news it meant several journeys to the Bangkok Bank head office on Suapa Road in Chinatown. You had to go there in person and sit around for hours waiting for somebody to tell you your overseas transfer had arrived. All in all it was a rather pointless odyssey because the answer was always an aggressive no. This was a constant brush with poverty because the process of convincing them that somewhere in their building was a stack of money with your name on typically took six weeks, if you were lucky. It was as if the only way to get paid was to convince them you weren’t going to give up, and I never gave up. The expatriate community was small then and we all kept running into each other. The Vietnam War had just ended and the Bangkok food and drink scene was monopolised by the Americans and the French. Eggs over easy for breakfast and coq au vin for dinner washed down with dry martinis when you were flush, or fried rice with Mekong whiskey and Coke when the Bangkok Bank head office was dragging its feet. Everybody who was anybody would eventually show up at the Bamboo Bar at the Oriental Hotel and we all went to listen to the jazz band at the Napoleon, or Tony Aguilar playing the grand piano and crooning at the Balcony on New Road. Patpong was where everybody went in those days and where you got to hang out with Vietnam War veterans,
Rama 4 Road,1970s By - Peter Ward
Hua Lamphong, 1982 Image Source: Jan Smook
professional gamblers, remittance men, conmen, war correspondents and spooks. They were not hard to spot because they were the ones that weren’t wearing bikinis. The red light district was extremely bohemian and that small road that connects Silom and Suriwongse had airline offices, barbershops, restaurants, and even a bookshop back then. There was always an illegal card game somewhere on the strip and between the legitimate businesses and offices it was also quite naughty. The name Patpong was famous all over the world. The few tourists that showed up in those days were green with envy. It’s all rather sordid now and I have long stopped going there. Sadly, globalisation brought us more than cheddar cheese and draught Guinness. It also brought higher prices and debt. In my time I have seen
Siam Square, 1990s Image Source: Baylor 83
China Town, Bangkok, 1970s By Don Oppedijk
Thailand change from a cash society to a credit society and I have seen the smiles wane. The breakdown of communities and the scattering of the family is the goal of all authoritarian financial systems. They have succeeded in much of the world already and are continuing to expand their influence. In my four decades here I have seen Thailand go from a dozen family members living and eating together to people living lonely lives in shoeboxes without a safety net. Even the local family-owned shops and restaurants are gone, replaced by 7/11 stores and fast food outlets with minimum wage employees instead of self-employed members of the community. The loss of the local businesses in properties owned by the operators who lived upstairs, had a family car, and sent their children to good schools is an economic tragedy. There is no humanity in corporate monopolies whose purpose is the total removal of profits from the communities they feed off. Thailand’s neighborhoods are slowly dying from the parasites they host. Don’t get me wrong, modernisation has brought endless benefits to the people of Thailand too, but I do wish it had come with some of the charm and generosity of spirit that made me fall in love with Thailand and its people. This brave new world kills everything that gets in its way, and that doesn’t bode well. Complexity is in vogue and the simplicities of yesterday are too often mocked. I am not saying that things were better then, times were often hard, but we seemed much happier then, and the days felt longer and a lot less stressful. We are a modern society now and the telex has been replaced by handheld devices that make dreadful noises to remind us we have to react to every single piece of information,
and that we must do it right now. Charcoal burners and woks are being replaced by microwave ovens and the shophouse is living its final days in the shadow of a high-rise building hungry to gobble up the land beneath it. I am feeling nostalgic for the place that took me prisoner and captured my heart all those years ago. Do I still love Thailand? Yes I do, but it’s often a foreign country to me now. Patpong Road,1978 Image Source: Stickman Weekly
Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa’s fantastic “Memorable Staycation” offer Popular city-center landmark now better than ever after extensive renovations and updated facilities
Chay Had Beach Lounge
Premium Plus Ocean View Room
ilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa has long been a favorite with visitors to Thailand’s premier seaside destination. Whether they arrive from the other side of the world or make the short trip down from Bangkok for a weekend getaway, guests can look forward to an outstanding stay in an ever-popular hotel that enjoys an unrivaled city-center location. And there’s never been a better time to take a break at this beautiful hotel, thanks to its newly unveiled “Memorable Staycation” package. For the special rate of only THB 4,000 net per night, guests get to stay in a newly renovated room with ocean view, breakfast for two people, and THB 2,000 resort credit per night to be used for food, beverage, and spa treatments at the resort. This special offer is also eligible for Hilton Honors Points. In addition to major upgrades in the majority of the rooms and suites, the resort’s spacious lobby area has been redesigned, with lines and curves cleverly resembling ocean waves. This area also hosts the stylish new Deca coffee and dessert bar, with an expansive glass wall giving views of the resort’s renowned swimming pool and nearby seas. Nine renovated floors of the hotel now feature quality locally sourced furnishings focusing on traditional Thai art, and marble bathrooms with rain showers. Each of the 295 guest rooms and suites has private balconies and spectacular ocean views. The expanded Kids’ Club is now the largest indoor facility of its kind in Hua Hin and a place where families can relax and enjoy quality time together. Supervised play activities include slides, climbing wall and an arts and crafts zone where children can display their creativity. Lobby
News White Lotus Rooftop Bar
Along with the updated executive lounge offering a host of exclusive privileges, the hotel has a wellequipped modern fitness and spacious sports center that includes outdoor tennis and indoor squash courts. Guests can enjoy a variety of dining options, including the famous White Lotus Restaurant & Sky Bar on the 17th floor serving all kinds of traditional and innovative Szechuan and Cantonese dishes. The outdoor seating offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand and surrounding mountains. Other dining options include Chay Had Restaurant and Lounge, an oceanfront restaurant and lounge, specializing in tantalizing seafood with a twist of Thaiand-regional flair. Dine al fresco at The Market, a beautiful outdoor terrace and enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean with Italian wood-fired pizzas and traditional antipasti. And admire Hua Hin’s dramatic coastline over a few cocktails or wine in the White Lotus Rooftop Bar. The nine treatment rooms at the resort’s spa features nine treatment rooms with panoramic windows for ocean and garden views, along with a Japanese bath and Jacuzzis. General Manager Philippos Arghirides acknowledges that recent times have been unlike any other, and that has meant additional considerations. Executive Lounge
“The past few months have been nothing if not momentous. That’s why a big part of our recent changes at Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa has included stringent hygiene procedures applied throughout the hotel,” he says. Mr. Arghirides adds that the procedures are all based on the Hilton CleanStay program of sanitization measures for a safe and hygienic environment in every space indoors and out. “So, given such commitment to guests’ well-being, combined with our unbeatable location and substantial facility enhancements, guests choosing us can be assured of a safe and thoroughly enjoyable stay.” ‘Memorable Staycation’ package terms and conditions: • Booking period: now until 31 May 2021 • Stay period: now until 31 October 2021 • The maximum number of people per room is 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 12. • Applicable for stays on weekdays and weekends • Additional Charge at 2,000 baht / night for stay on Public Holidays and long weekends. For more information and enquiries, please email email@example.com or call +66 (0) 32 538 990
Guest review by Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy
Excellent first time at Savelberg
his was our first visit to Savelberg and it proved to be an excellent choice of venue. I must begin by mentioning the excellent service led by Hostess K. Pui that we enjoyed from start to finish. We were accommodated in the restaurant’s private room which has ample space for more than 20 diners and is reached by elevator. Proceedings started with a Club favourite, Bellavista 'Alma' Cuvee Brut NV (Lombardy, Italy), which might best be described as a cost effective Italian response to champagne. It is attractively pale yellow in colour, with green reflections. Fine, elegant yet rounded and beautifully balanced, the grapes used are 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero and the bubbles are small and long-lasting. Wine spokesman (for the first time) Vernon Johnson shared with us of experiencing his first 44
sampling of wine, a Chateau Lafite, collected from a local drugstore without knowing its provenance or reputation but much enjoyed. He confessed not to be a fan of sparkling wines but this one had made a great start for the meal. Our first starter course was Beef Tartare, made from Simmentaler Beef (from Switzerland) served with a Mustard Tartar Sauce, Potato Sorbet and Cannelloni of Bacon. It was a very different Beef Tartare to my expectation and one heartily endorsed by Food Spokesman Mark Guthrie, who gave us a brief overview of the history and many common variations of this iconic dish. The second starter was a Monkﬁsh fillet served with a medley of Organic Tomato, Tarragon, Chive, Basil, Shallot and Parsley. It was an expertly prepared dish and the vegetables and herbs beautifully complemented the sweet taste and firm texture of
the Monkfish - which some have called “a poor man’s lobster”. Both starters were well paired with magnums of Claude Riffault Sancerre Les Boucauds 2018 (Loire, France), which for me was the wine of the lunch. Ageing of the Sauvignon Blanc lasts 7 to 8 months, when the wine was bottled before the arrival of summer. On the nose, the wine revealed aromas of white fleshed fruit and citrus and tastes including gooseberry, grapefruit, lime, and melon. Vernon
thought the pairing was good and an enjoyable fullbodied wine. Our main course was a Quail Roulade served with Fois Gras, Lentils, Carrot, Celery, and Sauce. It featured a portion of the succulent breast meat wrapped around a bit of Foie Gras, along with the richer and crispy thigh and leg portions, served with crispy lentils and vegetables with a quail jus. Thomas Boedinger had chosen Renieri Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (Tuscany, Italy) to accompany this. Suckling had rated this 98 but a more realistic score of 92 came from Parker: “The 2013 Brunello reveals dark colour intensity with bold aromas of black cherry and plum that taste grounded and integrated within the thick texture of the wine. This is a centred and balanced effort that delivers the power and the firm structure of the vintage.” It was much appreciated, not least by Vernon. Following the main, we enjoyed a Brie de Meaux stuffed with truffle and served with Figs, Guava, Apricot, Nut Bread and Apple Syrup. Mark was especially impressed with the spicy Nut Bread, whose cinnamon notes and nutty crunch were particularly nice with the rich cheese, truffle, and fruit flavours. TheBigChilli
Guest review by Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy
Savelberg Restaurant Thailand 136/1 Yen Akat 2, Khwaeng Chong Nonsi, Yan Nawa Bangkok 10120 Tel.+66 (0) 2252-8001 www.savelbergth.com 46
At some point during the cheese course, we migrated from the Brunello to Elvio Cogno Barolo Casina Nuova 2013 (Piemonte, Italy). An independent critic said “Bright red cherry, plum, sweet flowers, white pepper all give the Cascina Nuova its distinctive, bright profile. The tannins are naturally a bit raw at this early stage, but the Cascina Nuova is a superb entry-level wine with plenty of Ravera character”. Parker gave it 93 well deserved points. Vernon enjoyed this also but remarked it was a little dry for his taste. Michelin starred Chef Henk Savelberg’s signature dessert dish followed, which he has named a Forest Mushroom. Its presentation was spectacular, looking much like the iconic (and poisonous) Amanita muscaria that had sprouted from the forest floor, but the taste experience was heavenly. The dish features an extensive list of ingredients and techniques that confirm the craftsmanship displayed by the Chef, including: White Chocolate Glaze, Vanilla Mousse, Cherry, Yogurt Crispy, Yogurt Mousse, Pistachio Sponge Cake, Chocolate Crumble, Cherry Mousse, Cherry & Yuzu Gel, and Marshmallow. It was a feast for the eyes and the palate. We have to thank our sole guest, Hans van Born from the Thai-Dutch Chamber of Commerce, for a round of grappa that followed. Finally it was time to thank our hosts for a most enjoyable meal. Alan Rankin rose to the occasion to pass on our appreciation in customary style. The restaurant will move soon to Soi Yen Akat and we wish Henk and his team a successful move to their new pastures.
Advice for modern city-dwellers Despite our best efforts, life in the big city can get pretty complicated, tr ying to juggle work, social life, personal problems—not to mention the never-ending stream of stressful traffic. We can talk to friends and family, but their involvement might be a little too close to home…sometimes a professional opinion really helps to put things into perspective. Calling our concrete therapists from New Counseling Ser vice (NCS) to the rescue for some solid advice! Do you have a question for one of our counsellors? We will never print your real name, you can ask anything anonymously. Just send your problem to: firstname.lastname@example.org or message @ncsbangkok on IG, FB, or Line. Meet our new counsellor, Marin Takahashi. Marin holds a Master's degree in Counselling and has been training with NCS for several years. She provides counselling in English, Thai, and Japanese.
Dear NCS, Our son graduated high school in 2019. He planned to take a few months to travel and then go to college, when Covid hit. Since then, he has been sitting at home playing computer games and watching tv. He doesn't have a job and frankly, we feel like he has not taken any initiative to get control over his own life. He keeps talking about college, but given how our son has acted throughout Covid, we think it would really be wasted on him. We've told him this repeatedly, but it doesn't seem to be changing his attitude. What can we do to talk some sense into him?
- Tired of Excuses
■ Thank you for sharing your concerns. Given the circumstances, your worries as parents are very understandable. Your son is in a transition phase moving from high school to college, which can be a challenging time that may involve feelings of fear, confusion, and insecurity. In addition to that, the COVID-19 crisis has fundamentally changed many things, including your son’s plans. Stress and avoidance are commonly observed when facing an uncertain situation; as such, pressure may be the last thing he wants to feel at the moment. The fact that your son is still talking about college is a good sign that he is interested. If he does talk about TheBigChilli
Counsellor Marin Takahashi college again, it may be a good idea to explore his opinions on this topic. Attempting to engage your
son in a positive, curious manner as to what he is interested in, how he is doing, and asking him what he is looking forward to may lead to a better response; try to avoid tones that he may interpret as pressure at this point, and listen to his concerns and validate them as much as possible. In this respect, regardless of whether your son is engaging or dismissive of your involvement, it is important to let him know that you are there for him no matter what, and that you will accept him for who he is unconditionally.
If you find that all or most of your interaction with him involves topics about college and the future, it’s okay to take a break once in a while and plan to do something together as a family to bring feelings of joy and comfort in the environment. Building trust and connection may allow him some space to think over his choices, and small encouragements may motivate him in a positive manner. As mentioned previously, this is a transition phase for him, and it’s okay to trust him and understand that this isn’t something permanent. If you are concerned with the timeframe, you can both have a conversation and cooperatively set a realistic, attainable goal in terms of when and where to apply. However, if his attitude still does not seem to change after several more months and becomes increasingly concerning, I recommend seeking professional help. A career coach or a therapist may be able to provide additional guidance on how to navigate this together. Marin Takahashi
Dear NCS, Recently, I've been thinking a lot about how our brain changes over time, and I'm wondering whether age plays a factor. I don't know much about it, but I've noticed big changes in my thinking over the years. When I was a kid, I believed I was invincible. I was sure that I'd do something great one day, and I was always really good at coming up with creative solutions to problems that life threw at me. My mind was very sharp and active. Now, at age 42, I just can't think like I used to. I feel like my mind is sluggish and deteriorating. I certainly don't feel like I can accomplish anything I want - as evidenced by the fact that I've been working in a soul-crushing job for the past 10 years. Is this just a part of getting older? Should I accept that I'll never be that bright kid I once was? It all feels so...pointless. - Mind Matters 48
Counsellor David Ogden
Dear Mind Matters, ■ You’re correct when you say that you can’t think the same way you did when you were a kid. This happens to everyone and it’s actually a good thing in many ways. When we are young it’s normal for us to be adventurous, creative, and even a bit fearless in our thinking. This is a healthy part of our developmental process, as we are still very much learning about ourselves and the world. We need
Photo by Verity Tan
to explore different possibilities and discover what works for us. As we get older we take those earlier experiences and learn from them. One very significant thing we learn as we get older is that we are definitely not invincible, and that we need to do things to look after ourselves and others. Our thinking shifts in other ways also – we focus less on exploring new ways of doing things, and instead default more to the things that have worked well for us in the past, while
filtering out things that haven’t worked so well. Our thinking becomes more efficient but also a bit more rigid. This system is far from perfect of course, and we can end up developing some patterns of thought and behaviour that are less than ideal, meaning it’s always useful to reflect on our ways of thinking and behaving and recognise where we can improve how we deal with things. It can certainly be disappointing to feel that our life doesn’t have the same level of excitement and possibility that it had when we were younger, and I’m picking up that this is probably the case for you. Having a “soul-crushing job” for 10 years will no doubt affect your mental health and in particular your ability to think in creative and engaging ways. You probably don’t have the option to change your job to something more rewarding at the moment, in which case you could try finding something outside of work that will allow you to engage your brain in a more meaningful way. You may not be able to get back that sense of youthful invincibility, but you can certainly find some ways to help make your brain a bit sharper and more active than it is now. There’s a lot of research that shows using various parts of our brain regularly throughout our life helps ensure it functions at its best for longer. Things like learning a new skill, doing something artistic, researching a new topic, listening to music, meeting new people, reading books, playing games and solving puzzles all use different parts of our brain. Adding some of these activities into your life where possible should help stimulate your brain functioning which may also help overcome that feeling of pointlessness that you mentioned.
Dave Counsellor TheBigChilli
By Little Wandering Wren
Why you should not miss a Phuket Staycation! TheBigChilli
f you haven’t been to Phuket in recent months then come on down! There has never been a better time to visit. It is pristine and empty with fabulous resorts and hotels. However, with the returning tourist clock ticking don’t leave it too long. Phuket is readying itself as an Immunity Island to entice and welcome back international tourists. Phuket was developed as one of the world’s leading holiday destinations with visitors drawn to its wondrous beaches. What ruined Phuket for me in the past was that it became too popular, and as I live in Thailand, I’m not going to vacation with the masses. However, as Covid 19 transformed the world, it also changed Phuket and since Christmas my husband and I have swapped our Bangkok city living for the gentler, good for the soul Phuket way of life. As was our custom for the past year, we went on staycations every weekend. We now continued our Thailand Staycations in Phuket hotels in nearly twenty hotels. Look again Thailand, the island is truly special AND its people really need your help. Here’s why Phuket is so special: Accessibility: Phuket is just an hour’s flight from Bangkok, served by an international airport.
Geared for Foreigners: Phuket attracted the overseas crowds happy to pay top dollar for their two weeks of paradise, supported by multi-lingual workforce that provides good customer service. It is an easy destination now for all Thailand’s residents, especially Expats. World-Class hotels, restaurants & facilities To attract top foreign markets Phuket developed world-class facilities aiming their marketing at overseas visitors. Who knew Phuket’s resorts were so utterly gorgeous, not I. We were unaware of the beauty of the place and its top-notch hotels. It’s empty Phuket had 14.4 million tourists in 2019, of these over 10 million were international visitors, absent since early 2020. Due to the pandemic second wave, the Thai Government gave a directive to cancel all non-essential travel – and the domestic travel market dried up for Phuket. The beaches are empty, the sea warm, oh so blue and crystal clear, and the wildlife has returned. You can still enjoy the beaches for yourself this coming Songkran, before Phuket reopens for international tourists. Insane price bargains Without international tourists Phuket has reduced its prices drastically. You’d be mad to miss out. We’ve found great places on fine beaches once beyond our spending power are now within grasp for a splurge. The Island needs your Baht Since staying in Phuket I have been impressed by the incredible community spirit and struck by the island people coming together in difficult times, whether at the Phuket international women’s groups or other organisations’ activities. Some comments by Phuket islanders: Samantha Gayfer: the economic impact of COVID has been brutal on the island and now, almost a year after the hospitality industry has shut down we are seeing huge swathes of the population running out of options to feed themselves and their families especially on the outlying islands. Andrea Edwards: The Thai government has done an amazing job keeping Covid19 under control. However, for a place like Phuket and its surrounding areas tourism is the lifeblood. Without tourism, the impact has been horrendous. Take a drive through Karon, Kata and Patong and you'll see how empty and desolate the streets are. Your holiday helps! One way you can help is by booking a holiday or a weekend break. Every hotel you stay in, every meal that you eat, every bed that you sleep in, every massage that you enjoy and every taxi that you take provides much needed employment for someone. TheBigChilli
Can you enjoy a holiday in Phuket when so much is closed? Yes, you can but you need to check out everything in advance – is the resort recommended recently (guide books are now outdated check recent Google or Trip Advisor), and is it well-managed, the location, what facilities are open such as restaurants and the pools. Popular beaches with Phuket expats are Rawai or Nai Harn which remained buoyant and see more action. Phuket town that is often overlooked has much to offer culturally. Here are some staycation hotels that we have enjoyed: North Phuket (close to the Airport) Nai Yang Beach - The Slate is a fun, luxurious and 52
romantic resort with wow upon wow. Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Bill Bensley, with the stunning Michelin Plate awarded Black Ginger restaurant. Nai Yang Beach - Dewa, a beautifully run resort comprising of apartments, villas and suites with the nicest lush gardens we found on Phuket found alongside Sirinat National Park. Thalang - Trisara of utmost elegance with its own private jetty and beach and Michelin Star restaurant PRU. You will have an unforgettable time here. Naithon Beach - Pullman Arcadia stands out for our incredible view over the beach, wonderful food and fantastic staff. Phuket City: Woo Galler y & Boutique Hotel: loved this hotel & location, new rooms, breakfast is great. The owners’
passionate project lovingly restored the building, turning half of it into a museum. Casa Blanca: perfect for my solo trip, another great Phuket city location, new modern styled rooms. Memor y on On On: go for this if you love history, you won’t get a better location. Blue Monkey Boutique Hotel: fun & stylish, slightly out of the way but above a great cafe, good value. West Coast Surin Beach - The Chava Resort wonderful apartments with a magnificent wow of the pool area opposite the lovely Surin Beach. Good coffee and breakfast on site. Kamala Beach - Intercontinental A lovely room, beach, and great Sunday brunch. Try to stay beachside of the road if you can. Great activities program! Kamala beach was vibrant, most lively nighttime action outside Phuket Town. Kata Beach - The Boathouse a firm favourite right on Kata Beach, with our favourite Executive Chef on Phuket. TheBigChilli
Kata Beach - Kata Rocks life doesn’t get any better than a stay at Kata Rocks, fun, exclusive and forever in my heart. Southern Phuket Nai Harn Beach - Nai Harn hotel wins our award for the best value in a stunning location. Beautiful rooms overlooking our favourite beach. Rawai - Mangosteen Ayur vedic Resort & Spa A fabulous bungalow in pretty gardens with choice of wellness programs, Can thoroughly recommend the yoga! Cape Panwa - Cape Panwa Hotel stylish away from it all location, lovely pool area and serene small but exclusive beachfront. Ao Yon Beach - The Cove supporting a tiny hotel with only three rooms, quiet and remote, absolute beachfront with great bar and restaurant. I encourage you to look again at Phuket and support this island. We constantly find that Phuket is a cheaper, less crowded and more special option at the moment than our neighbouring Bangkok beaches in Hua Hin and Pattaya. We can be relaxing on the beach in Phuket in less time than it takes to drive to Hua Hin AND we get nicer resorts at much cheaper prices. We love this! Come to Phuket, it is not to be missed! 54
Little Wandering Wren is a TAT award-winning blogger and travel writer. She has conducted over 150 nights in Thailand hotels in the past 12 months and loves to share her ideas for great places to stay. More can be found on Instagram @littlewanderingwren or at www. littlewanderingwren.com
Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. May 2021.