The BigChilli February 2021

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BANGKOK. LET’S LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

PUBLISHER Colin Hastings editorbigchilli@gmail.com EDITOR Nina Hastings ninabigchilli@gmail.com SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai sendtorose@gmail.com

Put aside for one moment all the gloom and uncertainty of Covid19 and think on the bright side – and how Bangkok is slowly but surely transforming into a more livable city. The changes often go unnoticed and unheralded, yet they are real enough, and they’re helping the Thai capital to continue its progression as a modern metropolis with facilities and lifestyle to match places like Hong Kong and Singapore. As we report in this issue of The BigChilli, central Bangkok hasn’t looked look so green in decades, thanks in part to the opening of several new public parks, including the expanded Benjakitti Forest project on land formerly occupied by factories making cigarettes. Elsewhere, a large plot once used for occasional horse race meetings is also being turned into a park. Other smaller public leisure areas are now dotted around the city. Because of stricter regulations, new building projects are now required to be more ‘green’. No better example is the recently opened Sindhorn Village adjacent to Lumpini Park. Architecturally stunning, its gardens, walkways and trees are a delight. In fact, it has set the bar for other similar city centre developments like the massive One Bangkok on Wireless Road to hopefully follow. Other welcome changes taking place include the rapid expansion of Bangkok’s mass transit system. Three heavy or monorail lines are already spreading out over the city and at least four others will begin operations soon, linking distant suburbs and giving them fast access to the central business district. Living in outlying areas and community to work is now wholly practicable and so much cheaper than going by car. Meanwhile, the massive Bang Sue station in northern Bangkok is due to open this coming October, taking over duties as the country’s major rail terminal from Hua Lamphong, which will become a transport museum. The biggest station in ASEAN, Bang Sue will be the feeder station for the coming era of high speed trains connecting the farthest corners of Thailand and countries beyond. Leaving Bangkok by car will be easier too. New highways are now under construction to Nakhon Ratchasima and Hua Hin, both of which currently suffer frequent traffic snarls. New roads to Sattahip and U Tapao international airport are already open. Work on improving our lives in the future continues even as we presently face a slew of Covid restrictions. In other words, it’s not all bad news. 2

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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

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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 :thebigchillimagazine@gmail.com :thebigchilli.com

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Bangkok’s notorious mass killer Charles Sobhraj shocks BBC audiences in The Serpent

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new eight-part crime drama called The Serpent has been shocking British TV audiences with its terrifying real-life story of Charles Sobhraj, a French-Vietnamese serial killer linked to over 20 murders of mostly young hippies across the world - including Thailand - during the 1970s Premiered on BBC One on New Year’s Day 2021, the miniseries has enjoyed wide critical acclaim. It was shot on location in Thailand, until the COVID-19 pandemic halted production, and then completed in Hertfordshire, England, in August last year. It follows the exploits of Sobhraj and his girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc who travelled across Thailand, Nepal and India in 1975 and 1976, carrying out a spree of deadly crimes on the Asian ‘Hippie Trail’. Thailand was the scene of his most ghastly deeds, committed during 1970s when Bangkok was a heady and quixotic haven for hippies and adventurers. Sobhraj and his accomplices lured a string of wealthy young western tourists to their deaths with a promise of drugs and the high life. The British production is the latest in a long line of movies, documentaries and books detailing the shrewd and demonically calculating Sobhraj. Sobhraj was nicknamed The Serpent due

to his skills at deception and evasion, but also earned the label The Bikini Killer on account of the clothes worn by some of his victims. The trailer for the BBC series opens with Sobhraj, played by French actor Tahar Rahim, at a pool party in Thailand packed with young westerners. With a chilling foreboding, he tells them: “Welcome to Kanit House.” This is the actual name of the Bangkok apartment block on Soi Saladeang where several of Sobhraj’s crimes were carried out. For veteran Bangkok-based journalist Ken Barrett, Kanit House holds a special yet dark memory, as he explains here:

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Terror of Bangkok expat who discovered she was living in killer's chamber of death in Bangkok

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By Ken Barrett

n 1981 I had been brought out from London to Bangkok by a local publisher, and hadn’t been here long before a British girl, Sarah, was recruited as the publisher’s marketing manager. She took an apartment in a 1950s block on Bangkok’s Saladaeng Road. The block, which was somewhat shabby but still respectable, stood on a corner site and consisted of two five-storey wings with a small swimming pool to the front. Sarah lived alone, and the moment she moved in she felt uneasy in the place. There was no reason she could identify, she told me; there was just something that wasn’t right. And there was the strange fact that the cleaners would not enter the apartment. Looking around the office one day for some reading material, Sarah found a book written by Richard Neville, entitled The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj, which had been published a couple of years previously. Taking it home to her apartment, she began reading. She reached the point, about halfway through the book, where Neville describes Sobhraj’s arrival in Bangkok. He had rented an apartment in Kanit House. That was the name of this apartment block. The apartment number was 504. This very same apartment. Neville had himself actually been to the apartment when researching for the book, and he described the place in detail, right down to the kitchenette with its padded vinyl bar, the liver coloured rubber floor tiling, and the bamboo furniture. He had also been

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meticulous in reconstructing the events that had taken place in the rooms in which she now lived. Lying on her bed late in the evening, Sarah read on about the doping and poisoning that had taken place in these rooms, and the young people who had been taken away and strangled or stabbed, and their bodies doused in petrol and set alight. She began to feel sick with horror. After a sleepless night, and this being the weekend, Sarah went down to the pool where she got talking to another Kanit House resident, an American former helicopter pilot and his Thai girlfriend. The pilot said that, yes, that had been Sobhraj’s apartment. His girlfriend said there was a ghost in the place, and she refused to go inside. That same day, Sarah fled the apartment, and arrived at the small house I had in nearby Soi Ruam Rudee, declaring in tears that she could not stay in the place for another night. My mae bahn made up a bed for her on the sofa, and she stayed the night. As luck would have it there was an empty house in my compound. She moved in the next day. I went with her to the apartment to help clear out her possessions. There was a balcony running the length of the building, with the apartment at the far end, and it seemed to be in permanent shade. Inside, there was a dankness; something gloomy. I certainly would not have wanted to stay there myself. Kanit House was still standing when I moved back to Bangkok in 1994, although by this time it was empty and shuttered. Soon after, it was pulled down. A smart condominium block called (and doubtless with no irony intended) The Legend now stands in its place.


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News Harold ‘Steve’ Stephens 1926-2021

Last of Asia’s great adventurers B

angkok-based Harold ‘Steve’ Stephens, who died last month aged 94, enjoyed an amazing life that took him to some of the world’s most beautiful places as well as some of the most dangerous. He loved to write about the people and characters he met, though few matched Steve’s own wealth of experiences. He has been described as “a friend of the old Asia with a unique approach to life, which he certainly lived to the full.” The following is an edited extract from the book Tales from the Tiger’s Den: An Oral History of Foreigners in the Far East 1920-2020 by Stuart Lloyd profiling 21 larger than life expat characters from all parts of Asia. Harold Stephens was Mr Perpetual Motion. It’s impossible to catalogue all of Steve’s (as he preferred to be called) great adventures. Sailing 200,000 km through the Pacific, rafting down the Amazon, joining Hillary’s team on an Everest climb, riding across Australia on a motorbike, circumnavigating the world in a LandCruiser. As a Marine watching on Okinawa he witnessed kamikaze attacks, he was a bodyguard for an ambassador in Paris, was friends with Jacqueline Onassis-Kennedy at university, and even appeared in Mutiny on the Bounty. Like a real-life Action Man figure, the peripatetic American travel writer and author, 81 at the time we first spoke in 2004, made me feel like I was standing still, such was his restless energy. As we chatted in his cavernous 12-bedroom home tucked away at the end of Soi Ari, Bangkok, it struck me he’s come a long way for a farm boy from Pennsylvania. Steve spent a “really tough” childhood hoeing corn and stacking hay, and skipping school as often as he could. “When I was thirteen or fourteen the house burnt down and I had to go and work in the coalmines with my father. At sixteen I went to work in the steel mills and the war was on. And then I just lied about my age and got into the Marines.” Steve was duly enrolled in Sorbonne University by the ambassador he was guarding. Then he met a Philadelphia girl, who was revolting against her 8

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I said to my ex-wife ‘I’m gonna disappear from everybody, my whole family and everything, and I’m gonna go make it as a writer’. She said, ‘I think Spain is the place. It’s cheap. Why don’t you go the long way? You always wanted to see Tahiti’.


0’, Far East 1920-202 of Asia. of Foreigners in the ry rts pa sto Hi all al m Or fro s An er ’s Den: expat character life n tha r ge ‘Tales from the Tig lar 21 uart Lloyd profiling a new book by St

wealthy family. “And on the spur of the moment we got married, against our families’ wishes.” They divorced in 1957. “So I said to my ex-wife, ‘I’m gonna disappear from everybody, my whole family and everything, and I’m gonna go make it as a writer’. She said, ‘I think Spain is the place. It’s cheap. Why don’t you go the long way? You always wanted to see Tahiti’.” So intrepid Steve sold everything he had – except for his Hermes typewriter and 100 paperback books – and picked up a ship to Tahiti. “What a lovely island, what a lovely people. But paradise can kill you. You kill yourself with the good life.” Fate had other things in store for Steve: “I went on a lumberman sailboat. They had five kids and needed a teacher so I shipped aboard doing all the crewing. He was looking for lost art, and he heard about Swiss artist, Theo Maier.” Maier had based himself in Bali from the mid1930s and was making a name for himself with his Gauguinesque style. But they reached Bali, only to find he had moved on to Thailand. “There TheBigChilli

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was nothing in Bali, really nothing.” Steve points to a wall in his house, where a few pieces hang. “Some of Theo’s pieces are selling for $100,000 dollars at Christies.” Steve moved on to Singapore by boat then headed for Bangkok by 2nd class non-air-conditioned train, arriving in Thailand for the first time in 1962. “Delightful; the best way to travel because you can have the windows open. And you reach outside, buy stuff, and listen to all the noises. There was a real hippie hotel, the Thai Song Greet, right next to the station. That cost twenty baht for a shared room, or fifty baht for a private.” 10

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The biggest hotel then was the Erawan. Steve rated that “nice, and they had a couple of nice new ones down on New Road: the Pacific Hotel was 120 baht for a room, high ceilings. The Oriental Hotel was really run down, a non-descript hotel, the only one on the river. I really loved Bangkok then. Totally different than it is now … there’s really nothing about it that’s the same.” Few buildings stood more than three storeys high. “Tuk tuks, broken down taxis and old cars every place. You always had your wealthy Thais with their big cars. They didn’t even have ferries on the river. And the way you got around was walked. You got awfully muddy


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and dirty walking down the streets.” He instantly liked the relaxed mood of the Thais. There were not many farangs, and certainly there were no signs in English, but Steve soon hooked up with a few like-minded journalists, working their way steadily through bottles of Singha beers on a hot day. “They had little stalls and restaurants on New Road that I’d go in, also Bang Rat was the place. It was all outdoor dining down there and if you spent 35 baht for a meal for everything you spent a lot. We’d go into the Oriental Hotel and beers were eight baht a bottle. So nothing was expensive.” Still, he had to make a living so he went along to meet the editor of The Bangkok Post, and sold stories to them about The Mutiny on the Bounty, among others. Around 1965, he became a correspondent for Thai Airways magazine and his words were regularly gracing Bangkok World. “I started the Nite Owl column before Bernard Trink did,” he says of the world-renowned expat nightlife column penned by the American from 1966 till 2003. “It was an exciting, fun place. Geez, ah man!” The excitement was fuelled by the large amount of GIs involved with the American War in Vietnam. It 12

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Steve embarked on building a boat in Singapore in 1971. Four years later he motored up and moored on the Chao Phraya River, “the same spot Conrad went,” just near the Oriental Hotel. “I had carpenters putting in all the teak, and Theo Maier did some exquisite carvings on the thing, it was absolutely beautiful.


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News was centred on Petchaburi Road. “There’s not even a bar there today.” New Road, too, had its Starlight Bar. “And they had 300 girls in there. But they were kinda first class call girls. And they had Thais on one side and Chinese on the other. And they’d dance, one of the last taxi dances. And they wouldn’t bug you.” Visiting troop entertainers pushed business to the hotels. “The Oriental used to have the Bamboo Bar in the old wing, not the one that’s there now. They would have first class entertainers. All over town they would have really, really good floorshows. We’d go and meet the entertainers, write about them. This would be their warm-up then they’d go to Vietnam but they made vast fortunes. They’d get

They had little stalls and restaurants on New Road that I’d go in, also Bang Rat was the place. It was all outdoor dining down there and if you spent 35 baht for a meal for everything you spent a lot. We’d go into the Oriental Hotel and beers were eight baht a bottle. So nothing was expensive. 14

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$400 a show and they could do three or four shows a night!” Then a funny thing happened. “The Bangkok Post sent me as a travel writer to a war,” he laughs at his incredulous posting to Vietnam. “I did travel stories. I could go anyplace and do anything, and I really went into the thick of it. It turned me off of the war though, it was terrible.” Water was his favourite element. He embarked on building a boat in Singapore in 1971. Four years later he motored up and moored on the Chao Phraya River, “the same spot Conrad went,” just near the Oriental Hotel. “I had carpenters putting in all the teak, and Theo Maier did some exquisite carvings on the thing, it was absolutely beautiful. I had those chain plates on the outside, with dead eyes -- it looked like an old pirate boat. “Very few people know about the river. That river is the pulse beat of this city.” He married Michelle, a Filipina with Thai citizenship who wrote for The Bangkok Post, and they produced three boys. “It was great for them, climbing the rigging. I’d do charters down in Phuket and they were always in the water.” I put it to him that he moves in relatively lofty circles in Bangkok compared to how it might have been States-side. “Writing for The Bangkok Post helped me. My wife and I literally met anybody of importance to come through Bangkok. And The Oriental, my friend down there, Ponsri, the PR Director, would invite us for lunch almost every day and you’d go in because a movie star like JR Ewing is in town, or a writer’s in town. I remember meeting James Clavell, he was a great guy.” Steve did a lot of talks for visitors at The Oriental when Kurt Wachtveitl “was just a young man.” (Kurt was GM from 1967 till 2009.) “One day I was standing out there by the pool and this lady with three children walked by. And she went down to the water. I was in a suit, I must’ve been trying to impress somebody. Then they started screaming: ‘He’s drowning! He’s drowning!’ I could see bubbles. I kicked off my shoes, and dove into the water, and I felt these arms reach out and grab me and sink into my neck. And I came up and there was this ape! The hotel had two great big gibbons and they were on chains and one got loose and fell in the water. I thought it was a little kid. I finally make it to the shore and climb up. I got all cut up by the barnacles. I get to Ponsri’s office where she took my shoes and coat, and she says: ‘Don’t bleed all over my floor!’” I have some burning questions about Jim Thompson, perhaps Bangkok’s most famous resident who kick-started the failing Thai silk industry then disappeared in mysterious circumstances in the Cameron Highlands in 1967.

I knew Jim Thompson….I went down to the jungles the day after he disappeared. I know everybody involved with that because they became my friends. Connie, General Black, the whole gang. I kept piecing the story, writing the story. I mean years and years and years of work on that. It is so delicate … “OK, I knew Jim Thompson,” says Steve slowly, deliberately. “I went down to the jungles, the day after he disappeared. I know everybody involved with that because they became my friends. Connie, General Black, the whole gang. I kept piecing the story, writing the story. I mean years and years and years of work on that. It is so delicate …” Just then Michelle walks in and asks his dinner plans. Usually every Thursday night he has four or five journalists come over, writers like Steve Van Beek and Dean Barrett, and they cook spaghetti, chilli or barbecue. “Bangkok is as exciting as you want to make it,” he maintains. “I always liked coming back to Bangkok. You see whole mixtures of societies walking around together here. And, believe it or not, it’s relatively safe. I can’t walk around in San Francisco or Los Angeles, geez.” Print and eBook versions of Tales from the Tiger’s Den: An Oral History of Foreigners in the Far East 1920-2020 are available on Amazon now. Stuart Lloyd has published 15 books – including Bamboozled and The Missing Years -- that have sold over 100,000 copies. He has been called ‘The Perfect Storyteller’ by The Telegraph UK. Stuart has lived in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Thailand for 25 years. Follow him on twitter @RealStuLloyd and facebook/ StuLloydStorytelling TheBigChilli

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EPISODE II NOW ON

YouTube

PUBLISHER Colin Hastings editorbigchilli@gmail.com EDITOR Nina Hastings ninabigchilli@gmail.com SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai sendtorose@gmail.com

The BigChilli wishes all our friends, followers and supporters of the magazine and TV show a very HAPPY XMAS & NEW YEAR 2021 View wT The BigChilli TV T on htttp co om https://youtube.com iin eaase contact For more information, please editorbigchilli@gmail.com editorb aill.com 4

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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

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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 thebigchillimagazine@gmail.com thebigchilli.com

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

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Work on Bangk Park moves q

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kok’s new Forest quickly ahead More open space for the public on the former Tobacco Monopoly land

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he second and most dramatic phase in the expansion of Benjakitti Park in central Bangkok is quickly taking shape on land formerly occupied by the Thai Tobacco

Monopoly. Landscaping of the 170-rai area, which includes lots of water features and man-made hills, is being supervised by the Royal Thai Army. Known as the Benjakitti Forest Park 2, it features many of the mature trees that shaded the factories in the Tobacco Monopoly grounds. Right now, during construction, this vast project resembles a lunar landscape, with its numerous varying contours. TheBigChilli

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Lunar landscape of Benjakitti Forest Park during construction last month

But its natural look will be in stark contrast to the first phase which is much more formal, with most of its recently planted trees arranged in neat rows. Species from every province in Thailand are represented. This latter 61-rai park is already proving popular with cyclists, who are no longer permitted on the original lakeside park. It also boasts a concrete path for joggers. TheBigChilli

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News Benjakitti Forest Park 3 is expected to open to the public early 2022. It is believed that the third 89-rai phase will feature museums, solar panels and a tower to serve as a Bangkok landmark. No date has been given for its completion. The Tobacco Monopoly, which once owned the entire 450-rai plot, moved its headquarters to Rojana Industrial Park in Ayutthaya back in 1991. In 1992, 130 rai of the land was turned into the current Benjakitti

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Park, most of which is the lake. The total area is considerably bigger than Lumpini Park, which covers some 360 rai. Elsewhere in Bangkok, the Royal Turf Club on Phitsanulok Road, is to be converted into a public park devoted to the memory of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, it has been reported.

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BITS & BITES “Year of the Ox” with Culinary Specials at Pagoda Chinese Restaurant UNO MAS delivers Seafood on Ice & Champagne Packages across Bangkok

Experience the Spanish and Mediterranean delights normally served up at UNO MAS’ rooftop restaurant in the comfort of your own home. Freshly-imported delicacies include Canadian lobster (1 piece per person), Alaskan king crab, black tiger prawns, slipper lobster, New Zealand mussels, and smoked salmon. The brunch also includes fresh-baked baguettes with butter as well as an assortment of petits fours. Brunch package for 2 people plus a 0.75-liter bottle of G.H. Mumm Grand Cordon Champagne: THB 7,999 (net) Brunch for 4 people plus a 1.5-liter magnum bottle of G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne: THB 15,555 (net) Find out more about UNO MAS below: Website: www.unomasbangkok.com Facebook: UNO MAS Instagram: Unomas_Bangkok

Guests at Pagoda Chinese Restaurant, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, can choose from the finest imported salmon and fresh abalone, with small servings for 2-4 guests or large portions for groups of 5-10 people. Prices from THB 1,228++ to THB 2,888++ Alternatively, guests can discover a selection of exquisite à la carte dishes, crafted especially for this occasion. Join us on Chinese New Year’s day for a live lion and dragon dance. Starting at hotel’s entrance at 9.20 hrs on Friday 12 February 2021, this parade will wind its way through the hotel, entertaining every guest. Great joy, happiness and prosperity will be served for lunch (11.00-14.30 hrs) and dinner (17.30-21.30 hrs) at Pagoda Chinese Restaurant, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, from 2 to 21 February 2021. For more information and reservations, please Call 02 059 5999 or email restaurant-reservations.bkkqp@ marriotthotels.com Website: www.bangkokmarriottmarquisqueenspark.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/PagodaChineseRestaurant/ Line official account: @pagoda

Exclusive Take-away Deal at Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit Receive 35% off on a-la-carte menu items at 57th Street Restaurant and 25% off on a-la-carte menu at The District. Our chefs are ready to serve you from our kitchen to your home. Savor our succulent dishes with a variety of Thai, Indian and international menu from 57th Street as well as premium steaks and seafood from The District. Discover our impeccable menu at http://bit.ly/BKKMS_ TakeAwayMenuJan2021

For further information and orders, please call 02797-0000 or email to diningbangkok@marriott.com 24

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Enjoy ALATi’s Med tastes at home COAST’S cosmopolitan creations at Centara HuaHin Highlights from the daily à la carte choices at COAST Beach Club & Bistro at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin include Tuna Ceviche Tostadas made with fresh, sushi-grade tuna for unmatched clarity of flavour, Heirloom tomato salad with Burrata drizzled with a sweet and savory aged balsamic vinaigrette, Pan-seared fillet of sea bass and Australian Black Angus tenderloin steak (250g). The á la carte selection also comes with special pizza varieties of all kinds – all from the bistro's homemade pizza dough recipe. Every day for lunch and dinner from 10:00 to 22:30 hours Prices start from Baht 140++. Call +66 (0) 3251 2021.

Afternoon Tea at Blunos

Afternoon Tea by the swimming pool at Blunos features finely cut sandwiches with classic fillings together with freshly baked Orange and Cranberry scones with Devonshire Clotted Cream and homemade Strawberry jam. Served daily from 14.00-17.00 hrs at THB 899 net for two persons.

Tel +66 2 210 8100 or fbadmin@eastingrandsathorn.com or visit our website www.eastingrandsathorn.com 26

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Executive Chef Carlo Valenziano at ALATi, Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, has created five set menus designed to evoke gastronomic memories from the Mediterranean region, each cooked to order and available as a takeaway or for delivery via LINE MAN and Foodpanda application. Enjoy a trip to France, Spain, Italy, Turkey and a Green & Health Trip for THB 990 net per set. Call +662 162 9000 between 12:00 and 20:00 hrs or email: dining.siambangkok@kempinski.com

Sireeampan Boutique Resort & Spa offers unique bespoke experience with ‘Luxury Heritage Staycation’

Sireeampan Boutique Resort & Spa, luxury boutique resort where local Lanna heritage meets with modern luxury in Chiang Mai, is offering a special promotion ‘Luxury Heritage Staycation’ package that includes high-end, luxurious bespoke experiences in the heart of the Thailand’s spiritual capital. Starting from 65,000 baht net per night, guests from 2 up to 22 persons can indulge in an unforgettable getaway with the Luxury Heritage Staycation package. Enjoy seamless, thoughtful services that include flexible check-in and check-out time that allow you to stay up to 36 hours, private transfer to and from Chiang Mai International Airport, anytime and anywhere daily breakfast prepared and served to you by your personal chef, complimentary wi-fi access, complimentary minibar replenished daily (exclusive of alcoholic beverages) and strict 15 measures to prevent COVID-19 throughout your stay. For a more memorable experience, indulge in a 75,000-baht net per night offer that includes extra perks, including complimentary spa treatments up to 8 hours in total at our award-winning spa and private barbecue dinner inclusive of free flow soft drinks. Reservations can be made from 20 December 2020 onward for stay until 30 April 2021. Contact +66 (0) 53 327 777, email info@sireeampan.com or Facebook.com/ sireeampanchiangmai, www.sireeampan.com


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Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok

Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok

‘Celebrate Love of Giving’ room offers (1–28 February 2021) Thai nationals and expatriate residents in Thailand can enjoy luxurious room packages from THB 4,888 net per room per night with an early check-in and check-out from 9:00am until 9:00pm for 36 hours and a hotel credit of THB 2,000 net per room to use at all of the hotel's operated services or a one-time threecourse Mediterranean set lunch or dinner at ALATi for two persons. In addition, with staycation bookings for stays from Monday to Thursday, you will enjoy a one-time Executive Room and Suites privileges for two persons per room per night. Visit kempinski.com/en/bangkok/siam-hotel/specialoffers/ttogether-celebrate-love-of-giving/ or email

Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok

Afternoon Tea, Love's Delights 1-28 February 2021 Available every day in February from 14:00 to 17:00 at the Lobby Lounge: · THB 1,900++ per set (serves up to two persons), including a coffee and tea selection. · THB 2,900++ per set (serves up to two persons), including Moët & Chandon Rosé mini-bottle. Perfect Valentine’s Dinner at Flourish 14 February 2021 Valentine’s Dinner at Flourish is available only on 14 28

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reservations.siambangkok@kempinski.com or call +66 02 162 9000 for more details. Valid from 1 to 28 February 2021. Afternoon Tea at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok ‘Solo Harp Love Melodies Edition’ (1–28 February 2021) Experience the romantic ‘Afternoon Tea at Kempinski – Solo Harp Love Melodies Edition’ with a tasty 50 shades of red sweet and savoury delicacies, featuring Chef Franck Istel’s favourite bites. THB 990++ per person. Every Wednesday to Sunday, be entertained by Ms. Wang, the solo harpist, performing melodious harp music. For more information or to make a reservation, contact the Hanuman Bar on +662 162 9000 or email dining.siambangkok@kempinski.com.

February 2021 from 18:00 to 21:00 · THB 5,900++ per couple for five-course meal only. Romantic Rooftop Valentine’s Dinner 14 February 2021 Romantic Rooftop Valentine’s Dinner at the garden is available only on 14 February 2021 from 18:00 to 21:00 (limited seating, reservations recommended): · THB 7,900++ per couple for five-course meal only. · THB 9,900++ per couple includes complimentary bottle of champagne. For more information or to make a reservation for any of these culinary options, call +66 2 095 9999 or email fb.sindhorn@kempinski.com.


Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok

Romantic fun this Valentine’s Day at Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok

Bring the love of your life to a romantic buffet dinner this Valentine’s Day at River Barge Restaurant, where our expert team of chefs have prepared a fabulous variety of their finest dishes. The Valentine’s Day Dinner Buffet on Sunday 14th February 2021 is priced at THB 1,690 net per person including a glass of sparkling beverage and a rose. Or for something extra special treat your loved one to our fabulous Valentine’s Package at THB 5,800 net including Buffet Dinner for 2 persons and a 1-night stay in a gorgeous Grand Room River View with breakfast.

Celebrate Montien’s birthday with a suite deal that’s perfect for Valentine’s We’re celebrating the Birthday of the Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok with an incredible deal when booking one of our luxurious suites that includes all kinds of amazing perks + one free night, making it perfect for Valentine’s couples. Called ‘Montien Memories,’ the package features a 56 sqm Premier Deluxe suite with bathtub and California king bed, welcome drink, butler service, Valentine flowers, and breakfast set served in-room or in a designated restaurant. Plus early check-in from 8am and up to 32-hour use of your room. What’s more, guests receive F&B credit worth THB 2,500 net for any meal in a hotel outlet of your choice. The perks don’t end there. For every booking on this promotion, there’s a complimentary voucher for a one night stay in a Premier Room. Celebrate Valentine’s and the Montien Birthday with the exclusive ‘Montien Memories’ package. Only THB 5,500. Booking period: now until 15 February 2021 Staying period: now until 28 February 2021 *Complimentary room voucher valid until 30 April 2021. Call 02 233 7060 info@montienbangkok.com

For more information or reservations, please call River Barge Restaurant, Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok at 0 2307 8888 or e-mail riverbarge.chrb@chatrium.com

New Spa in Krabi launched

As part of Banyan Tree Krabi’s Grand Opening rollout, guests are offered a 50% discount on their first treatment at the spa, and 30% off a second treatment. The offer, available to hotel guests only, applies to any website bookings between now and 30 April but is valid for stays at the resort until 30 September 2021. TheBigChilli

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Valentine Dates

Valentine’s romantic treat at Phar Ram IV Bistro, Montien Hotel

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ove is in the air at Bangkok’s newest and most exciting French eatery – Phar Ram IV Bistro at the Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok, where a truly romantic Valentine’s celebration awaits you. Treat your loved one to a heavenly a la carte dinner specially prepared for the occasion by highly acclaimed French Chef Herve Frerard, and served in the elegant 30

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setting of this charismatic bistro. Among the gourmet dishes on the menu for that special night are Fine de Claire oysters, Foie Gras Terrine with Parisian brioche, Baked Lobster Thermidor and Roasted Australian Tenderloin. Mouthwatering desserts include Chocolate & Raspberries Pavlova and Japanese Caramel Custard Cream. And to accompany this feast is a choice of alcoholic beverage

packages that include free flow beer, Prosecco and white wine from Italy, all priced at only THB 800++ Individual dishes range in price from as little as THB 180++ to THB 1,450 ++. Come at 5pm and you’ll be served a Valentine’s welcome drink. Valentine’s dinner at Phar Ram IV Bistro, Sunday 14 February, 2021. Call 02 233 7060 info@montienbangkok.com


Enjoy

Valentine s

& Chinese New Year TheBigChilli

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Business

Meet Mr KC Pattaya By Deborah Bundityanond

As one Pattaya’s most enduring expat, Cees ‘KC’ Cuijpers has seen it all, from fine and fast food restaurants to real estate, networking events and major fund raiser for charity 32

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ow exactly do we pronounce your name?” was my first question to Cees as I am sure that the many different versions he hears must infuriate him. But no, he is really quite chilled about it. He tells me that phonetically “Case” is the correct pronunciation but due to the problems many people have had with it, he is more than happy to answer to his nickname of KC. “So how long have you been in Pattaya and why?” I am also curious to know. Well, Cees arrived in 1997 to open a restaurant on Pattaya Beach road called Samsara - a Buddhist term referring to the endless cycle (birth, death, and rebirth). For those of you who were in Pattaya back then you may well remember it as a rather beautiful, upmarket restaurant with a mezzanine floor, valet parking and a French/Thai fusion menu. Having come from a hospitality background Cees was careful to oversee every detail and at that time had to travel back and forth to Bangkok each week sourcing everything from plate ware and cutlery to all the glass, lighting, and interior decorations. Two years on, however, Pizza Hut made an offer that could not be refused. They were desperate to make the site 34

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their Pattaya Outlet and so Samsara closed, and the Pizza Hut branch took its place. Guessing my next question would be - how he then found himself working in property rather than hospitality - Cees explained that during his time at Samsara restaurant many guests were impressed by the flair he had shown in the design of the restaurant. When Samsara closed, he was frequently asked for redesign & remodeling advice for both commercial as well as residential properties. Before long he had a team together for turnkey contracting. Then in 2003 he was asked to join Town & Country Property Real Estate Agency and that is probably how most people know him. When the original founders decided they would like to be bought out he and his Belgium business partner Herman van Gucht became the sole proprietors of Town & Country Property. Apart from property – Cees showed a soft-spot for networking. That is, networking with charity in mind. One of the first networking events Cees recalls took place in 2009 where a daytime golf-outing at the Plutaluang Navy Golf Course was followed by a brilliant networking event in the grounds of The Village (Corner of Sukhumvit road and Soi Chaiyapruk 1) where a Town & Country Property


Complex Condominium, a short walking distance from the beach. By coincidence, it was the very same condo complex that he had stayed in during his very first holiday in Pattaya - there is that Samsara circle again. Fast forward to 2018 and the 24th of November when a much yearned for Movers and Shakers Red Carpet Gala was brought to The Holiday Inn by The Palm Bay Group. This was Cees back to his organizing, entertaining best… Roughly 60+ networking events are under his belt and some four million Baht was donated for charities. And this year? This year has been a network disaster – COVID 19 kept the worlds in its grip. But there is a silver-lining. On Friday, March 5, 2021, Movers & Shakers will organize a true comeback Gala in the Grand Ballroom of Amari Pattaya, in conjunction with the BCCT and NTCC chambers of commerce. This is promising to be a true highlight with a guest-star performance K Koh Mr. Saxman, probably the grooviest saxophone performer in Thailand! And how about business during 2020? “Well so far, we have been doing well. A lot of people don’t realize what is happening with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and the money being pumped into the area with huge, multinational investments and new jobs for both Thais and expats. “During the COVID-recession we saw both bargain hunters on the market as well as affluent clients buying top-luxury properties. branch-office was situated. There were 450 guests; lots of entertainment and a fashion show by Phuket Mermaids and although the torrential rain that fell that evening did nothing to dampen the party spirits. It made Cees vow, however, that it would be his last “outside” networking event he would organize. So thereafter he organized the Movers & Shakers events held both in Pattaya and Bangkok undercover and mostly in luxurious five-star hotel venues. All these events took plenty of time and effort for Cees to promote. It was the infancy of Facebook and he made sure to take full use of it being renowned for persistently getting the message out and ensuring an excellent turnout at all his events. n the years following, many developers such as Heights Holdings, Kingdom Property, Tulip Group, Riviera Group, and many more were lining up to sponsor these evenings and the property market in Pattaya was booming. Groups of colleagues and friends were also going to Bangkok for the monthly M&S networking events there - often making a weekend of it… These were The Good Old Days! Meanwhile his real-estate company Town & Country Property moved on and found themselves stylish new offices on the ground floor of Jomtien

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This all leads into the Town & Countr y Property strengths: Corporate & executive rentals, high-end properties, resales, and property investments.” Cees puts his personal success in finding good investments for his clients down to 18 years of hard work, giving good and fair advice (no BS) and gaining introductions the best possible way by word of mouth from satisfied customers. “You need to be persistent and focused. Many brokers diversify into other areas, but I prefer to stay with what I am good at and also keep proactive. Only quality and good service will sustain”. Certainly, with his handpicked team many who has been with him for 10+ years, sharing the same ethos, there seems little doubt about that. And what about your hometown Pattaya? “Pattaya is my professional playground – Bangkok’s little sister. The ‘look and feel’ of my city has matured a lot over the years I have been living here. For those unfamiliar with Pattaya: Come and get your feet wet – and see for yourself.” TheBigChilli

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Scenes from KC's famous Movers & Shakers parties. More coming soon


EPISODE II NOW ON

YouTube YouTube NOW ON

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Profile

Arnaud Carre Profile

Seven years ago, Arnaud Carre was down on his luck, out of a job and not knowing where the next meal was coming from. It was a particularly bitter experience for the French butcher, and he doesn’t mind admitting it, especially after a glittering career in several of the world’s top restaurants. Today, he is the partner in one of the most distinctive and successful restaurant brands in Thailand, Arno’s. With 18 outlets around the countr y, and more planned here and overseas, his company is rightly perceived as a superstar among local restaurants owners. Arnaud’s fortunes were transformed after a chance meeting with a Thai businessman who shared his passion for steak. Together they opened a butcher’s shop in Bangkok and then set about educating Thai consumers on why quality beef should become a regular part of their diet. Despite a not unexpected downturn in business because of Covid19, Arno’s Group, as the company is known, remains a formidable force in Thailand’s exciting restaurant and catering industr y. And Arnaud can feel proud of his achievement. 38

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Arnaud Carre Owner, butcher and head chef of Arno’s Group. Born: Brittany, France. Age: 57. Educated: Brittany, by my father who comes from a long lineage of professional chefs, four generations to be exact. I’m the fifth. Family: Father and a sister in France, Thai wife in Bangkok. Profession: Entrepreneur in the restaurant business. Residence: Nang Linchi, Bangkok. Company: Arno’s Group, divided into five different categories – factory, for central distribution; Arno’s Butcher and Eatery; Arno’s Burgers; Arno Thai by Arno’s; and Arno’s delivery service. Personal working hours: For four years I worked from 9am to 11pm, seven days a week. Nowadays, I work less, five or six days. Actually I love my job so it’s never work to me.


Hobbies: Watching football, smoking cigars. Dieting. Favorite Bangkok restaurants: Philippe on Sukhumvit 39, and a Japanese restaurant called Koken – good quality, good price. And I love some Thai street vendors. Favorite drink: I’m passionate about whisky and cognac, and of course French wine. First job: Butcher/ cook in Lencieux, a town on the border of Brittany. Then: Spent the next 15 years in New York where I opened a butcherie called The French Butcher, and later worked at Les Halles, the famous French restaurant headed by executive chef, author, and television personality Anthony Bourdain, where I gained a reputation for my beef preparations. I also worked at the prestigious Gramercy Park Hotel on Second Avenue. Next: In New York, I met Alain Leroy, owner of the Indigo restaurant here in Bangkok, who became

a good friend. He invited me to help open the first dry-aged beef restaurant in Thailand. The idea was a venue that would bring people together to share a good affordable steak. The project didn’t work out so instead I became the general manager of Indigo in Convent Road for the next five years. I also took care of Indigo’s various butcherie outlets. When that ended, I took on a series of small poorly paid jobs, never knowing how I was going to eat the next day. It was a tough time. Fortunately, a friend of mine put me in touch with someone who would become my business partner right up to this day, Khun Supanit Chaiyawat, who wanted to open a butcher’s shop in Bangkok. We shared the view that there was an untapped market here in Thailand for experienced butchers, and we wanted to change the Thai mindset about beef and show it can be just as appetizing as pork or chicken. TheBigChilli

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Profile I looked for a suitable site at the right price, but nothing came up. Luckily, Khun Supanit had land he wasn’t using on Naradhiwat Road. It wasn’t in good condition, but we saw the potential and how it could be turned into a shop with a few tables for customers to taste the beef. We called it Arno’s Butcher and Eatery. It opened six years ago, a very ‘sabai-sabai’ kind of place, with little in the way of decoration, several display freezers where customers could choose their meats to be cooked their preferred way in what was then a tiny kitchen, and we had a ‘no corkage’ policy – one of the first places in Bangkok to do so. Word quickly spread about us and by the end of the third week, the restaurant was being regularly overbooked. We needed to expand the premises and build a bigger kitchen. Our customers were mostly Thais, from the middle to high class range, along with lots of actors and VIPs. When you start a new business, you always expect it to be successful, but we never dreamed of Arno’s taking off the way it did. It was amazing. By the end of 2016, together with an additional new partner, Dr Suripong Leunggvarinkul on board, we decided to open a burger restaurant and found a place nearby on Naradhiwat Soi 15. It wasn’t just for burgers 40

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– we added steaks, fish, lamb and vegetables. The restaurant was really popular.” Winning formula Having come up with a winning formula, Arnaud and his team went on to open more outlets on major roads throughout Bangkok, including Sunanplu, Wireless, Ratchaphreuk, Srinagarinda, Silom, Phra Athit, and four locations on Sukhumvit. The group has also opened three Arno Thai by Arno’s outlets in the city. Upcountry Arno’s can be found in Pattaya and Chiang Mai. Currently, the group’s central kitchen includes a butcher’s bakery and pastry shop. Its meats are both imported and from local suppliers. It has 300 staff, including one French chef for its riverside restaurant on Phra Athit. Three of its restaurants have recently introduced a range of pizza starting at 140 baht. Looking ahead, Arnaud wants to open a factory in Bangkok. Meanwhile plans to expand into Vietnam have been put on hold. “We’re thinking of China and we’d love to open in Hong Kong and Singapore.” Despite many requests, Arnaud is not franchising the brand. “It’s a very distinctive brand, with my name on it. So I’m responsible, ultimately, for the quality of a franchise.” The success of Arno’s has predictably attracted lookalike outlets. Lots of them. Arnaud is not fazed. “I don’t care about copycats. They need to be at least as big and as good as me, which they won’t be.”


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Expat Sport

SHL mid-season report card ■ The 2020-2021 Siam Hockey League was nine games in when Thailand unfortunately saw a resurgence of the Coronavirus. Like many sports leagues across the globe, the SHL is taking a break from action due to government restrictions. The league hopes to be back on the ice shortly, and SHL executive management is busily preparing for hockey's return. This hiatus gives us a good opportunity to do an early "mid-season" recap of the league so far. After a successful draft, players and fans have been witness to the most talented season the Siam Hockey League has ever had. In the standings, Novotel 42

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Spitfires hit the ground running, and haven't looked back. With a record of 7-1, Novotel is the class act of the league, and have only one loss on their otherwise unblemished record. KCG is doing their part to keep pace with Novotel with five wins, two losses and one overtime loss, only three points behind Novotel. New squad Siam Mandalqy is sitting in third place with seven points. Aware has had a rough start to the campaign and sits with one win and two points. Aware has looked strong for stretches of play, but an early season goaltending change threw them for a loop, and we


Photography by Tadamasa Nagayama

look for them to rebound as the playoffs draw closer. On the statistical side of the recap, Novotel is also setting the standard. As the hiatus began, the top four points leaders were all on Novotel. Thai National Team captain Ken Kindborn and Novotel captain Mike Freeson are tied for the league lead at 16. Newcomer Tomas Stastny is third with 14 points, and Thai National Team speedster Mangkorn Sukwiboon is fourth with nine. Tied with Mangkorn is fellow Thai National Team player Patrick Forstner, and KCG snipers Harrison Oztemel, Jese Starostra, and Jan Isaksson.

Between the pipes, last year's league MVP and multiple award winner Leo Liao sets the pace with a 2.25 goals against average. Rookie Novotel netminder Ben Kleineschay is second with a GAA of 2.83. The SHL would like to thank all players, refs, fans and staff for their continued support and understanding during this trying period in our history. Be assured that once we are able to, the SHL will be back on the ice and ready to entertain fans with the fastest sport in Thailand (Please check out the weekly SHL podcasts sponsored by the BigChilli magazine at www.siamhockeyleague.com.). TheBigChilli

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By Joseph Henry

Thailand a rising star in the tough but highly revered sport of trail running ■ The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) race and brand are at the pinnacle of the sport of Ultra Trail running. In terms of prestige and importance to the sport and the athletes involved, it is on par with higher-profile major events like the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the US Open Golf Tournament, and Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. The race, originating from Chamonix, Switzerland, is well-known and revered among Ultra Trail Runners worldwide. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing the cancelation of trail running events around the world, the UTMB Thailand event was the only UTMB branded event in the world in 2020. The Thailand trail scene is already vibrant and booming in popularity and the kingdom regularly hosts many excellent races. Within just a few weeks of the UTMB Thailand, there was the Ultra-Trail Chiang Rai, the Doi Nhok Trail, the CM6 Ultra, and the Pong Yaeng Trail. All first-class popular events in Thailand, and all within relatively close proximity of each other. In an extraordinary twist of fate, Thailand’s success in mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed it into the de-facto world capital of Ultra Trail running in 2020. Blessed with warm weather year-round, or at least not too cold, every weekend there are professionally well-organized events all over the country. It is also home to the foothills of the Himalayas in the north, giving numerous options for organizing an Ultra Chiang Mai, Thailand’s Northern capital is clearly the epicenter of it all.

10 reasons why Thailand is a New World Capital of Trail Running. 1. The trail running scene has been growing exponentially in the last seven years with tens of thousands of runners joining the movement resulting in many races to choose from. 2. Thailand by UTMB has set a new benchmark in the country and it has created an international appeal for trail running, ensuring the trail scene will grow in stature. 3. Thailand’s unique geography is perfect for trail running with an abundance of mountain ranges, national parks, and tropical islands. 4. The weather ranges from hot, wet and hot; and wet and cool, allowing events to be held all year round. Plus, training all year round is always possible. 5. You can take a “runcation” on a stunningly beautiful tropical island, in the northern mountain regions, or in rice paddy field in the central regions. 6. Trail running in Thailand offers unique cultural experiences including hill villages, fishing villages, temples, palaces, and an incredible array of delicious Thai food and so much more. 7. Thailand’s most reputable Ultra Trail organizers offer well executed, safe, and enjoyable race experiences. 8. The Thailand Ministry of Sport and Tourism and the Sport Authority of Thailand are enthusiastically supporting the growth of trail running in The Kingdom. 9. Thailand’s legendary hospitality, hotels, restaurants, Thai massages, beaches, and the plethora of beautiful destinations on offer are rated among the best in the world. Who wouldn't want a relaxing post-race massage while eating fresh fruit smoothies followed by unwinding on a white sandy beach? 10. Trail Running in Thailand is simply a great experience, one that will stay with you forever and have you coming back for more.

Do you think Thailand is the New World Capital of Ultra Trail Running? What would you change or add to this list?

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Heading for second place, my first UTMB run ended on a stretcher – but I didn’t mind Excited about the prospect of finishing well, Joseph Henry suddenly slipped and hurt his back, ending an otherwise perfect competition ■ When the opportunity came to enter UTMB Thailand I jumped at the chance, putting in the months of dedicated training needed to once again vie for my spot in UTMB, Chamonix. Equally important for me was the selection of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain and a protected national park treasure. Adorned with beautiful waters, dense jungles, wildlife, and hill tribe villages, Doi Inthanon, at 2,565 meters above sea level, is often called the “roof of Thailand". With race day fast approaching, I debated mentally dozens of times whether to go for the category podium or just run to finish, thus ensuring my path to UTMB, Chamonix. On the day before, I made up my mind. I would just go at my own pace and aim for a respectable finish. My decision made me feel relaxed and peaceful. After all, we were going to run through some of the most beautiful terrain anywhere in Thailand, with aid stations, food, soft drinks, ribbon markers, and medical support. I was truly enjoying the steep climbs, cool wet weather and the camaraderie with other runners. I think of it as an epic trail run with catering and support every 10kms. When race day finally arrived, I felt nervous excitement for the task ahead of me. Heavy rains had blanketed the mountain for nearly two straight days. As always, any doubts I had disappeared once the race started. My running and climbing pace was steady, sublime, and strong. However, with the heavy rains, the hills and mountain trails were slippery. As we passed the 2,000 meters ascent at Huay Pla Kub viewpoint, then down to the Telepo waterfall and

numerous other beautiful sights, I felt so alive and blessed to be a trail runner. I was focusing on taking it easy with finishing as my goal. Arriving at Aid station 4 (46 kms) I was in 36th place overall, 3rd in category and had potential for 2nd position well in-hand. Buoyed by my result I knew that I would easily make the cutoff time for Aid station 5 (A5). As the day began passing into night I was in my special zone, where everything feels just right. TheBigChilli

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On the way to A5, my climbing and pace was near perfect. I was getting excited about the prospect of finishing well. Then suddenly, nearing the end of the down side of the hill, I had multiple hard falls in steep slippery mud and hurt my back. With just a few kilometers to reach the Aid station my back was painful and my running gait awry. As I approached A5, I thought I should check in with medical staff for some pain killers and perhaps physio and continue on my way. After checking me thoroughly, the medical team suddenly put me onto a stretcher board and strapped down my body and hands. They loaded me into an ambulance and then drove me to a small rural hospital for an X-ray to see if my vertebrae bone was cracked. It all happened so fast that it seemed overly dramatic to me. I nearly vomited while laying strapped down in the back of the ambulance driving on the winding roads. The X-ray showed nothing broken, but a compressed disc and possible pinched nerve. The doctor recommended at least a week of rest to heal and an MRI scan to see if there was still any issues with the nerve. There’s no good reason to potentially damage a spinal nerve further, so with humility I accepted their decision.

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The remainder of the night was an interesting experience. The organizer sent a driver to bring me back to my hotel. He had worked and lived in Victoria, Canada so we had a great chat. When I got to my resort, I realized I had left my waist pouch at the aid station, so no key for my room. So, it's 2am and I called the manager for maybe 50mins. Getting a bit worried, I was considering the possibility of having to sleep outdoors until staff come for the morning shift. Finally, the manager called me back and had one of the staff to come to assist me. I got into my room by 3:30am and had a long hot shower. I fell asleep dreaming about how amazing life in Thailand is. It’s a beautiful country with incredible people. One thing for sure is that UTMB really takes health and safety seriously. Although my UTMB dream was smashed, I always prefer to focus on the positive side of things. Thai people are incredibly kind and helpful, always greeting you with friendliness and a ready smile. Every step of the way from the aid station team to the ambulance, nurses and doctors in the rural hospital, the van driver UTMB arranged to drive me to my hotel, and the hotel team all made me feel very welcome. Everyone involved made a huge difference and helped make a bad situation not feel so bad. I am very grateful for all of their help. I’ve got unfinished business. See you this year in Thailand by UTMB!

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Expat Women By Agneta de Bekassy

Bangkok photographer Ralf and his Studio House by the klong

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ack in 2003, German photographer Ralf Tooten first arrived in Thailand to prepare for an exhibition called ‘The Eyes of Wisdom’ at the National Gallery, a collaborative event with the Goethe Institute. Seventeen years later, he’s still here, has his own photography production company, Tooten Photography, and is married to a beautiful Thai lady named Tao, who is an interior and lamp designer. Today you will find their individual studios, as well as their stunning home on Sukhumvit 49/14 in Bangkok, an urban neighborhood near the Saen Saeb Klong. The Studio House they reside in is a modern masterpiece made out of concrete and glass, designed by the talented Japanese/Thai architect/curator Khun Jun Sekino. It took several years to find the right location for their villa, and more time for it to be ready to move in to, but the wait was well worthwhile, say Ralf and Tao. The house is divided into two buildings connected by huge windows. Because the windows and terraces face north, they avoid the direct sun. The entire structure is covered with a kind of brick net, which gives the house a very special look and emphasizes its contrasting style compared to the old, colorful wooden houses on the same narrow road. Inside, the walls are covered with some of Ralf’s huge, colorful photographs. Ralf, who has a captivating smile and a delightful sense of humor, was born in the small village Homberg, at the lower Rhine area in Westphalia, Germany, close to the Dutch boarder. Not long after, Ralf’s family moved to Cologne, where Ralf finished high school and then enrolled in an apprenticeship program. Ralf knew he wanted to become a photographer in his late teens when he met a veteran architectural photographer and his assistant. The pair were still using a huge ancient camera which required the photographer to cover his head with a black cloth in order to see the screen and the object. “I was so 52

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impressed and interested in what I saw, I just had to talk to them.” “I learned that this photographer, as well as his wife who specialized in portraits, were both ‘masters’ of photography. They gave me the opportunity to study and practice photography under their guidance for the next three years. Those years were fantastic, and I had a really great time.” After completing his apprenticeship with Master photographer Clemens Hartzenbusch, Ralf had an

opportunity to work as a scene photographer during the shooting of the movie ‘The Tin Drum’ directed by Volker Schlöndorf and based on the award winning novel by the author Guenther Grass. “This was such an exceptional experience for me. I worked with many famous actors, professional camera men, well known make-up artists and so on.” The movie went on to be recognized at the Academy Award in Los Angeles. Asked was fascinates him about photography, Ralf TheBigChilli

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explains: “I’ve always been interested in the way it drives the photographer to his absolutely best physical and mental limits, always trying to reach the ultimate result. It’s also fascinating to meet so many interesting people all over the world and to discover exciting locations during the work. I feel that I’m very blessed to be able to spend my life as an active photographer.” His assignments over time have included working with models and photographing new collections. “I was very lucky to be the photographer for the American label Marisa Baratelli for several years. We were shooting their collections in the most exciting and beautiful locations - the Maldives, Bali and even here in Bangkok. The label was popular brand among diplomats in Thailand as most of its garments are made in the best Thai silk fabrics.” 54

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“I have also worked a lot for the hospitality industry. It has taken me, and still takes me, to many interesting places.” alf has also held a number of exhibitions during the years, including one for Pfizer USA. “I had to photograph and create an international awareness campaign for photo exhibitions around the world. We started in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the exhibition was held in a beautiful colonial museum. “My favorite exhibitions include two large events in the National Gallery of Thailand – ‘The Eyes of Wisdom’ in 2004, ‘The Bangkok Noir Installation” in 2011 and ‘The Bangkok Art Biennale Installations’ in 2018/19 managed by the Artist Director Khun Apinare Poshyananda and his curatorial team in downtown

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The entire structure is covered with a kind of brick net, which gives the house a very special look and emphasizes its contrasting style compared to the old, colorful wooden houses on the same narrow road.

Bangkok, at the BACC and on huge screens in Central World, as well as on many other screens within Bangkok.” Ralf married his beautiful and talented wife Tao, in Ribe, Denmark, in 2017. “There were so many documents required to enable us to wed in Germany, and as I was busy travelling for work, it was a simple solution to marry in Denmark. It’s not too from Hamburg, where many of my friends live, and it was a relatively small, but very nice wedding. “Tao is an interior and lamp designer, but also works as a stylist, which is good for me. She is a good example of a very creative Thai young person. She is from Bangkok and grew up in the area of Chinatown. During Covid she decided to create a jeans collection together with a friend who is a graphic designer. The collection was launched on social media: 210_jeans_ official. It was perfect timing as our new Studio House had just been completed in March 2020 and it’s such a fantastic place to be creative in. It really inspires you. Tao and her friend are also modeling for their collection and behind the camera is, of course, me.” Next up is to design a supportive bag and accessories collection, says Tao. TheBigChilli

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What does Ralf like about Thailand? “I really love the Thai people, the Buddhist faith, the spontaneous creativity among the people and last, but not least, the Thai food. Like most others, I really dislike the heavy traffic and the pollution.” Looking ahead, Ralf’s ‘dream’ project is to travel to Tibet. “I’ve already visited Tibet – ‘Roof of the World’ – four times, but I would love to return to the Himalaya Mountains and take more photos. This is something I could do day and night. Just to inhale the air at an altitude of 4000 meters, the clear sky, the sharpness, it is like a whole new dimension.” 56

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If Ralf could choose one person, dead or alive, to photograph who would it be? “Without doubt, the German photographer and legend Helmut Newton, who passed away in 2004, and a great loss to humanity. His works were, and still are, incredible. Apart from being one of the best photographers, he had a great sense of humor as well.” This amazingly talented couple are a pleasure to meet. And if you need a portrait, I can vouch that Ralf will capture all your best features. TheBigChilli

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Travel

‘Revival of the Original’ – The Montien's return

T

The Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok first opened its doors in 1967, marking the beginning of remarkable journey that has seen the hotel play a major role in the development and success of Thailand’s tourist industry for more than half a century. Today, following a stunning multimillion dollar refurbishment, the Montien is once again a brand new hotel - a modern interpretation of a classic that perfectly matches the old with the new. The finest elements of the original property have been beautifully brought back to life, with an exciting contemporary style that serves as a reminder of those halcyon days. Montien's 500 guestrooms and suites have all been ingeniously redesigned, combining timeless Thai style with a contemporary attitude. Each is generously spacious and comes with the comfort and technology to satisfy the demands of today's most savvy traveller, together with the assurance of outstanding service and the hotel’s famous hospitality. At the heart of the Montien is the spectacular Rajmontien Grand Ballroom, a breathtakingly beautiful facility designed exclusively for the hotel by highly regarded P49 Deesign & Associates. Equipped with the latest in LED technology from SAMSUNG, this newly upgraded venue can accommodate up to 800 guests. However, thanks to its highly flexible layout, the area can also be divided into four separate ballrooms for smaller events. Among its many technological highlights is an awesome single-piece LED wall measuring 5x8 meters as well as Thailand’s first and only 360-degree Video Wall display columns. These amazing LEDs offer customers an array of 58

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opportunities to showcase videos, product launches, webinars and video conferencing in rich and crystal clear natural colors on the verge of reality. Coupled with the Montien’s famous catering


services, including dishes from the hotel’s Michelin BIB Gourmand awards restaurant, the Grand Ballroom is ideal for all kinds of events and occasions, from weddings and social functions to conferences, conventions and corporate meetings. The hotel enjoys an unrivalled location in the beating heart of Silom, Bangkok’s main CBD area, close to many leading attractions, corporate HQs and the city’s two mass transit systems, making it a great choice for all kinds of functions. Access to other points of interest include the entertainment district of Sukhumvit, Chinatown, The Grand Palace and The Chao Praya River. Dining at the Montien begins at Ruenton, the hotel’s legendary Thai-Chinese restaurant. Since its top-to-toe refit and major rebranding last year, an ambitious project that included a major expansion into five sections, and the addition of several multi-functional private dining areas, Ruenton is once again the talk of the town thanks to its award-winning cuisine overseen by the hotel’s 20-year veteran Chef Amnuay Aneksuwan. A regular haunt for several generations of local diners, Ruenton has the distinction of being recognized by Michelin for its exceptional cuisine, especially its muchloved signature dishes like Hainanese Chicken Rice, Thai Fried Noodles, Crispy Mussels and Dim Sums. Now, after its spectacular refurbishment, this iconic restaurant has become the preferred dining venue for people of all ages and tastes, thanks to a new and inspired menu that bridges the generations. The hotel also boasts an exciting new wine bar called Phar Ram 1V that transforms a continental-style café and bistro by day into a chic wine bar with cool entertainment by night. All-day dining highlights include delicious local lunchtime favorites to ‘grab and go’ or stay and enjoy, along with a host of tasty European snacks, homemade sandwiches, chocolate croissants, toasted paninis, sourdough breads and bagels brimming with the finest Deli products. Also on the menu are some of the most creative pizzas and quiches in Bangkok, plus a choice of pâtés and rillettes, healthy salads, mouthwatering desserts and homemade Viennoiseries. The relaxed ambiance is also ideal for longer, laid-back lunches, with a menu to match,

including an Early Dinner menu inspired by famous French Chef Herve Frerard. Located on the ground floor of the Montien Hotel Surawong Bangkok between Rama 4 Road and Suriwongse Road, Phar-Ram 1V is a spectacular addition to the city’s wine and dining scene, by day and night. Accommodation: Room Types North Wing Deluxe King : 60 rooms At a comfortable 30 square meters, our Deluxe King features a large king bed and spacious bathroom with a selection of organic amenities. Deluxe twin : 153 rooms Premier King : 10 rooms At a generous 32 square meters, our Premier King features a large king bed and bathroom offering a soaking bathtub and organic amenities. Premier Twin : 72 rooms At a generous 32 square meters, our Premier Twin features two double beds and bathroom offering a soaking bathtub and organic amenities. Premier Deluxe California King : 16 rooms At a spacious 56 square metres, our Premier Deluxe California King features a California king bed with a relaxing sofa and writing desk, together with a soaking bathtub and organic amenities. Premier Deluxe Double-Double : 30 rooms At a magnificent 56 square meters, our Premier Deluxe Double-Double features two extra-large beds with a relaxing sofa and seating area, together with a soaking bathtub and organic amenities. Premier Deluxe Double-Triple : 2 rooms TheBigChilli

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Land & Homes

Quality three-bedroom house and swimming pool near Phoenix Golf Course

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Nearby facilities • Golf courses • Local Shops and Services • Supermarket • Close to local amenities • New motorway at Ocean Marina.

A

ttractive detached house on 300 square wah (1,200 sq m) of land with private swimming pool for sale in Baan Amphur, between Jomtien and Bangsaray, 15 minutes’ drive to Pattaya. Enjoying a quiet location near Phoenix Golf Course, this impressive 410 sq m meter house has been built to an exceptionally high standard with double skinned outer walls, imported floor tiles and wooden flooring. All windows and front door are Windsor pvc. It includes three bedrooms, three bathrooms plus an ensuite maid's room. It is offered for sale partially furnished. Also featured is a built-in European kitchen, an outside Thai kitchen, separate dining room, living room, home office and large storage room. The master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and fitted wardrobes. This house has a nice open plan feel to it. Located close to local shops, mini marts and is only three kilometers from Sukhumvit Road and the new motorway at Ocean Marina. Bht 9,750,000. Transfer and Stamp fees 50/50

Property Features • Thai Kitchen • Car Parking • Alarm System • European Kitchen • Home Office • Private Pool • Air Conditioning throughout. • Patio • Built in eye level oven and microwave • Maid's Room • Secluded gardens • Very quiet location. • Covered car parking place

Contact: 081 866 3597 (Colin) 081 868 1153 (Lek), 081 844 0175 (Ricky) TheBigChilli

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Concrete Therapy

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

Dear NCS, Valentine’s Day is coming up and I want to take my relationship to the next level. I’ve been with a wonderful girl for three months and I plan to ask her to marry me. The thing is, I’m not sure if it’s too soon. I haven’t even met her parents yet and I think that maybe the whole Covid thing is making me more impulsive, but I really believe she is “the one.” I just don’t want to scare her off and lose what we have. Do you think I should go ahead with my plan and ask her to marry me? I already got a ring with our names engraved in it. - I do

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■ Thanks for sharing your question and it’s special to hear about your feelings for this woman. Although I understand your eagerness to bring your relationship to the next level, it seems you have some lingering doubts about whether marriage is the next logical step. You wonder whether Covid is making you more impulsive and if this is indeed the case, can you think of any other steps in between dating and marriage that you might feel more certain about? You might ask yourself why you want to hurry into marriage at this time; are you afraid of losing your girlfriend to someone else and/or do you feel marriage would strengthen your bond? From my perspective as a psychologist and relationship counsellor, in general I would say 3 months is too soon. Of course, there are cases where


Counsellor Johanna de Koning

it has worked for people, but oftentimes in the first few months of a relationship we feel in love and the initial “chemistry” with the other person can make us feel very positive about everything in the relationship. Over time, this passionate, in love feeling may develop into loving the other

Photo by Verity Tan person for who they are, both their good characteristics and their weaknesses. There is a wise saying in Europe: “Let all the seasons pass your courtship” (courtship is an old word for dating), which implies that a relationship needs at least one year to get to know one another through different seasons of our life. In order to get to know the other person well and to check whether your values align, you may need to take more time. Dreaming about the future together is a great way to discuss your values and expectations regarding marriage. What are your hopes and dreams and what are your girlfriend’s hopes and dreams? Do you share the same

values on finances, family, cultural issues, and spirituality for example? You mentioned that you have not met her parents yet – maybe this would be an interesting “next level” step to take. This way, you give your relationship time to grow and develop by getting to know each other within family settings and among friends. You’ll both have the opportunity to become who you are, and friends and/or family can be an important part of that journey. For Valentine’s Day you might think about creating a special time to express your intentions of developing the relationship to the level of marriage and ask your girlfriend what her ideas are. You could create a romantic setting and play a game where you ask each other questions about different aspects of life and connect deeply in that way. This is a bit different than asking her to marry you –that would require a yes or no—but it would create the space to explore and dream about a future together. Best wishes to you in your relationship! Johanna Counsellor

Dear NCS, My question is psychology-related, so I thought you might have some good input. I'm organizing an online get-together with people from all over the world who need a bit of human connection. I put a shoutout on a forum and there are about 20 of us who will have a Zoom event where we just share what we've been going through lately and how we can support each other from afar. Do you have any good ice-breaker questions that can help us get to the deep stuff? Any other tips on how to lead the discussion to encourage people to share openly? Thanks! - Conversation Starter

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Concrete Therapy Counsellor David Ogden

Dear Conversation Starter, ■ That’s a great idea! There’s no doubt that a lot of people around the world have been somewhat cut off from their normal relationships in the last year or so, creating a real need for people to connect with and support each other in different ways. Many people have been significantly affected by COVID but haven’t always had the chance to discuss properly, so I’m not surprised there has been such interest in your event. I’m sure it will be very beneficial to those who attend. Regarding tips for the meeting, it would be good practice to ensure that each participant has a fairly 64

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Photo by Verity Tan

clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting and how it will be run. You’ve probably done this already, but it is still possible some people may attend the event with different ideas of its intent and how it will work, and some may even want to use this forum to push their own agenda. Ensuring that expectations are understood and agreed upon before the event can help avoid this. I would suggest asking that everyone agrees to respect what each person shares even if there is a difference of opinion, and that everyone commits to ensuring all participants have an equal opportunity to participate so that no one gets to dominate the discussion too much.

In terms of some questions to get the discussion going, here are some possible suggestions: • What has been one positive and one negative aspect of the pandemic for you? This could be a good opening question to ask each person to briefly answer in turn, as it’s a relatively safe question to answer and would give everyone a chance to contribute early on. Asking for a positive thing also helps acknowledge that in even the most challenging situations, some positive aspects can be identified. • How have you been impacted by what’s been happening? A good general question that invites people to share a bit more deeply. Be aware that this could raise some tough situations that people have experienced, and some intense emotions with it. This could be very beneficial if it gives people the chance to share their experience and receive some validation in return, but it could also have the potential to shift the focus of the group discussion in a direction which may or may not be helpful. Be sure that you’re sensitive to people’s needs while also gently bringing the focus back to the larger purpose of the meeting if required. • What has helped you to cope? Everyone will have developed some ways to cope, so this will allow people to share ideas and strategies that could benefit others. • What have you learned about yourself through this experience? We often learn more from the difficult times in life than the easier times. This question may help people reflect on the pandemic in a slightly different and more positive way. I hope these questions might be a helpful guide for you and that the meeting goes well for you and the other people who attend. Dave Counsellor


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MY VIEW

Meet the Influencers helping TAT’s Elephant Care campaign. By Little Wandering Wren

James: https://www.instagram.com/jmspht/ 66

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T

he email was the most exciting of the although I’m old enough to be her mother, we bond year: ‘The Tourism Authority of Thailand amongst the spirit-trees when I offer to take her photo. (TAT) would like to invite you on a trip to Kate has all the moves. A quick flick of the hair, a Lampang and Chiang Mai to learn about back turn with an over the shoulder glance, and with the current situation on elephant care in Thailand, every click of the camera, a spontaneous and cute as well as how we are moving forward towards more pose. The camera loves Kate. sustainable solutions for elephant-based tourism in She generously offers to reciprocate and Thailand’. photograph me, and I try to copy her moves but I My response was immediate and positive. I was to look awkward and clunky! Kate, by day two, cleverly join a diverse group of influencers and journalists for upgrades herself to the video creator talents of an incredible three days’ learning from vets, elephant Christopher Lau of and the exquisite photography of welfare specialists and those working in elephant James. tourism and rehabilitation fields. Christopher and James have between them nearly Let me introduce you to vlogger Christopher, 100 K of followers and there is nothing they don’t photographer James and Insta Kate. Each has a know about getting a captivating photo, even with passion for storytelling and sharing their experiences enthusiastic elephants desperate for their first fix of in Thailand on their social media channels in their sugar cane for the day! creative and unique ways. The guys stood out at Don Mueang Airport for ‘Overall this trip was a mix of incredible moments, having all the right gear. Christopher with his ‘that differing views, eye-opening learning experiences ain't a cheap video camera’ - a Panasonic GH5 with a and life long memories. I was very happy to learn fluffy pro microphone on top, his DJI Mavic 2 Zoom how Thailand’s plans to change and better the lives of drone and a fittingly named Go Pro Hero 7 packed domestic elephants.’ – Kate ready for action. You couldn’t miss Instagram’s Go Where Kate Goes. James, the quieter reflective, photographer with his Amongst a sea of dark-haired women, Kate’s bright camera equipment, a Samsung S20+, Note20 and Fiji blond hair and curly xe3 camera. Photo credit: James : jmspht.com whirly eyelashes greet ‘I had an opportunity you across a crowded to spend a few days room, along with her with elephants in genuine Canadian girlChiang Mai. I have next-door smile. As learned a lot of things. we gather at Lampang For me, I understand Airport ready for a day that Thailand and of tourism, temples elephants are long and elephants, Kate is time partners. the only one in a floaty Elephants were used skirt, and with a split in fighting battles with in the side at that. enemies in the old This is the first time war, and in the logging I’ve been on a TAT trip Industry, therefore with an InstaQueen elephants become and I’m fascinated to the national animal of see her at work. Thailand. During the week ‘But when the time Kate works for an onchanges, everything line English language changes. school for children. ‘Foreigners love Her emerging to come to Thailand Insta stardom has because it is a materialised with beautiful country part-time effort and and they can have eye-catching photos, new experiences like encouraging others to riding an elephant. go where Kate goes. Therefore, those Kate is fun, and images become the TheBigChilli

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MY VIEW

Photo credit: Christopher Lau: seelautravel.com

must-do lists when you visit Thailand. However, now I think it is time to change those images and remove them from our tourism dreams’ – James Christopher incidentally tells me he doesn’t really like the term Influencer, despite averaging over 120k YouTube views per month. I think he’s being modest! He grew up in the US and now calls Thailand home. He has an assignment in Africa already banked, waiting for the pandemic to pass. He still recalls the tricky conversation with his Hong Kong Chinese Dad back in 2017 telling him he was going to can his career at LinkedIn to travel the world. Today he is a full-time YouTube travel blogger and content creator with over 50 videos on Thailand alone. His portfolio of previous work includes work at elephant sanctuaries, in Thailand and in Laos. You might think a pandemic and a newborn son might have slowed Christopher down? Far from it, he’s now in hot demand for family adventures. ‘Elephant riding has been a part of the Thai culture for hundreds of years, however, caring for and maintaining their well-being for the greater future is on Thailand’s radar. Do YOUR part, and please do research before you decide to ride or partake in any type of animal tourism. Just a little research might change your decision for a brighter future! ‘- Christopher James - ‘I’m just a guy who is passionate about photography’ - is Thai with an international 68

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upbringing. He too was educated in the US before taking off to study in Japan. He has been taking photos for four years and became serious when on a trip to Osaka his friend suggested he put some of his photos on Instagram. The world loves his photos, with nearly 35,000 followers. His clients have included MercedesBenz, Mandarin Oriental, Samsung and Air Asia to name a few. There is an air of excitement amongst us all. We know how fortunate we are to roam free in Thailand, something not lost on us when looking at the plight of domesticated elephants. We are also appreciative to have been offered this opportunity and feel the responsibility to share our experiences and what we learnt. It’s a complex situation, in Thailand elephants moved from the wild into warfare, into logging and into tourism. Wild elephant numbers are decreasing, as are their natural habitats. Elephant tourism has had its fair share of criticism over the years. Images of cruel training, inhumane conditions and sad elephants fill social media. The dilemma is that Thailand’s elephant tourism does pay for the upkeep of the 3600+ captive elephants, some of whom are now third or fourth generation ‘domesticated’ elephants. It’s a tough, tough world out there without the tourists’ baht for people and elephants. World Animal Protection is urging travellers to find tourism opportunities that priorities elephant welfare.


These photos were taken at the following elephant sanctuaries:

I reflect that TAT has a golden opportunity to develop an ongoing Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, Lampang working relationship A government-run centre and elephant hospital. with these Influencers www.thailandelephant.org who, let’s face it, would ‘Elephant tourism is wildly popular in Thailand be off travelling the and many come here just to see the elephants. It is world if the borders important we make sure we visit them ethically. It is were open. good to know that Thailand understands this and is There was a beginning the work to ensure healthy and happy lives beautiful, supportive for the elephants' - James @Jmspht camaraderie amongst all the Influencers Kanta Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai keen to obtain the A new dimension of seeing, feeling and touching the best images to raise elephants in the wild open space. awareness and discuss www.kantaelephantsanctuary.com elephant care issues ‘I chose this photo to show how intimate you can directly with their followers. They are articulate, be with the elephants at a sanctuary. I like that these interested and not afraid to speak up on the delicate sanctuaries allow you to interact closely but in a way issue of elephant tourism. that is respectful to elephants. It was so much fun ‘I learnt that it isn't easy releasing them into the feeding them’ - Go where Kate Goes wild. These elephants for centuries have been around people and it takes great Kate: https://www.instagram.com/gowherekategoes/ preparation to release them back to nature. This is a long process and will take time before we notice colossal changes, ones important to Thailand’- Go Where Kate Goes ‘Elephant riding is cultural, it will not disappear whilst there is the demand. However, your tourist money can help control elephant tourism and in this respect, we are all Influencers. Educate yourself, and select ethical elephant centres. Through this, we can hopefully drive out the bad and support those Patara Elephant Farm, Chiang Mai who have prioritised elephant welfare’- Christopher A rescue, recovery, reproduction and reintroduction See Lau Travel back to the wild centre for elephants with education and meaningful tourism sharing. Thanks to Kate @gowherekategoes, Christopher www.pataraelephantfarm.com Lau @seelautravel and James @jmspht for their ‘The mahouts at Patara really let the elephants walk contributions to this article. around and have some freedom. This photo clearly Little Wandering Wren is a Bangkok Blogger and shows how majestic elephants are. They are happily Content Creator bringing you her light-hearted birdsgrazing in the field and to me it shows them off more eye view of life in Thailand. More can be found at www.littlewanderingwren.com in a natural habitat’ - Go where Kate Goes TheBigChilli

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Feature

2007 (April) Thai PM Surayud (left) and Japanese PM Abe

2007 (June) Siripon Taweesuk

2007

ung (April) Cynthia Ma

2007 SkyStar

Journey through Thailand’s past: 2007 - 2011

By Maxmilian Wechsler

Highlighting major news reports over the past 50 years, the ninth installment of our 10-part series begins in 2007. The September issue covered 2002-2006.

2007

was the year the Chommanard Book Prize was awarded for the first time. The award, which recognizes women with literary talent, is sponsored by the Bangkok Bank and Praphasarn Publishing House. Thailand Advanced Institute of Science and TechnologyTokyo Institute of Technology was established. With support from the

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National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the Thai-Japanese project was designed to act as a focal point for academic research and collaboration among the NSTDA and partner universities, both domestic and abroad. 2007 also saw the birth of two airlines, Air Phoenix and SkyStar. Both airlines folded in 2009.


Universe 2005, announced their engagement at a press conference.

2007 Air Phoenix

May

2007 (May) PM Saryaud

2007 (April) General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin

January

• New Year’s Day began on a sad note as people learned that six bombs set in Bangkok and one in the adjacent province of Nonthaburi had exploded almost simultaneously at around 6.30pm on December 31. Two people were killed and 15 people were injured, including some foreigners. Police said it wasn’t clear who was responsible but ruled out southern separatists because of differences in bomb-making materials.

the announcement was delayed until it was certain that the 10-month-old girls had a good chance of survival. Sixty-one doctors participated in the extremely complicated procedure. • Police said they expected the number of illegal North Korean immigrants crossing the Mekong River by speedboat into Thailand would reach about 1,000 by the end of the year, up from 40 in 2003. The North Koreans first fled into China and were then smuggled to Laos before entering Thailand.

March

• The cabinet approved the signing of a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Japan March 27. Japan-Thailand Economic Civic organizations objected, charging that the militaryinstalled government was exceeding its authority under the interim constitution by entering into the FTA.

April

• Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont signed the controversial Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement on April 3 in Tokyo. • Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok announced that for the first time ever, conjoined twins with a shared heart and liver had been successfully separated. The 12-hour operation was actually performed in February, but

• A Buddhist woman was set on fire as army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin began an inspection tour of the deep South. The woman was shot as she rode her motorcycle to work and then set ablaze while she was still alive. Upon learning that General Sonthi was in the area, about 300 outraged relatives of the woman took her burned body to the Yala provincial hall. • After an eight-month courtship, Thai tennis champion Paradorn Srichaphan and Natalie Glebova, the Russian-born Canadian Miss

• PM Surayud stood by a decision to sanction compulsory licensing of foreign medicines, despite backlash from Western countries and international pharmaceutical companies.

June

• The Aviation Department, reportedly acting on instructions from the International Civil Aviation Organization, instituted a ban on carrying liquids onboard planes departing from Thailand. Similar security measures had already been enacted in the United States and Europe. • Thai banks were instructed by the Asset Security Committee – an agency set up by the coup leadership to investigate corruption under the previous government to freeze more than 62 billion baht in bank accounts registered to ousted PM Thaksin, his wife and four other family members. • Female World Boxing Council light flyweight champion Siriporn Taweesuk, also known as ‘Black Rose’, was paroled from jail in Pathum Thani province after serving

on and Natalie

2007 (April) Parad

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Feature seven years of a ten-year sentence. The 24-year-old won the title in April in a match staged inside the prison compound.

July

and 41.37% against. Voter turnout was around 60%. King Bhumibol Adulyadej signed the constitution into law on August 24 and it came into force immediately.

• A multi-use sporting facility called His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary 2007 Sports Complex was opened in Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) province. The complex was built for the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, which coincided with His Majesty’s 80th birthday.

September

• Anti-government protesters who gathered outside the residence of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda on July 22 retreated after clashing for a third time with riot police. The United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters called on Prem, a former army chief and prime minister, to resign from the Privy Council. They accused him of pulling the strings behind the September 2006 coup. On July 26, the Criminal Court ordered police to arrest nine UDD leaders so they could be charged with illegal assembly, resisting authorities and using force to harm them.

• The first general election since the Council for National Security seized power in September 2006 was held on December 23. A number of political parties contested 480 seats in the House of Representatives, with 241 needed for a majority. The People Power party led by Samak Sundaravej, a close ally of ousted PM Thaksin, won 233 seats; the Democrat Party won 165 seats; and Nation Party took 37 seats. After declaring victory, Samak invited other parties to join People Party in running the country. Five parties accepted and a six-party coalition with 315 seats was formed.

• Thai-Nichi Institute of Technology, an industry-oriented private college, was established by the Technology Promotion Association (ThailandJapan). The institute is located on Pattanakarn Road in Bangkok.

December

January

• The nation mourned the passing of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, who died at the age of 84 after a long battle with abdominal cancer. The Royal Household Bureau issued a statement announcing that the Princess died at Siriraj Hospital with King Adulyadej by his sister’s side. Shortly after the announcement, tens of thousands of mourners dressed in black gathered around the hospital to pay last respects.

2008 (January) HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana

2008 Business Air

2008

2008 Bangkok Art and Cult

ural Centre

August • A national referendum on the new constitution was organized by the Election Commission and held on August 19. The vote was 56.69% for approval of the draft charter

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saw the opening of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre on Rama 1 Road and the founding of Bangkok Futsai Club. CentralPlaza shopping mall was opened on Chaeng Wattana Road in Nonthaburi. Business Air began operations at Suvarnabhumi Airport. In 2015 the carrier was rebranded as “Intira Airlines”. A snooker tournament known as Six-red World Championship, or SangSom 6 Red World Championship, was inaugurated in Bangkok. The matches are played with six red balls and six balls of other colors.

2008 CentralPlaza Chaengwattana

• On January 28, People Power leader Samak Sundaravej was elected prime minister by a vote of 310 to 163 in Parliament. 2008 (January) Samak Sundaravej He became the 25th Thai Prime Minister, serving until September 9, 2007.


February

• Former PM Thaksin returned to Thailand for the first time since his ouster. He was welcomed at Suvarnabhumi Airport by thousands of singing and dancing supporters. Thaksin prostrated himself upon arrival amid heavy security. About 500 police were deployed. “I want to stress that I don’t want to get involved in politics anymore,” said the former PM. • Two sons of Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, Wan and Duang, were again in the news. Wan was named assistant secretary to the public health minister and Duang was reinstated in the army. Wan had been arrested for assault, and Duang was discharged from the military in 2002 for his alleged role in the fatal shooting of a policeman at a Bangkok nightclub. Both sons were notorious for their allegedly hot tempers. • PM Samak created a firestorm during an interview with Al Jazzera English when he downplayed his role in the massacre of students at Thammasat University in 1976, when he was interior minister. He denied any link to the crackdown and also insisted that only one student was killed. The official figure is 46 deaths, but many people maintain that the real number was in the hundreds.

weapons to FARC before the trap was sprung in a conference room at the Sofitel hotel on Silom Road. • Director-general of the Rice Department Prasert Kosalwit said Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, faced a potential rice shortage because sky-rocketing prices in the world market were encouraging traders to increase their export volume. “A shortage of rice in the local market is very likely, especially in light of shortages in neighboring countries,” said Prasert. • Senate elections were held on March 2 for the first time under the new constitution. Voter turnout was 56%. Seventy-six candidates vied for a place in the 150-seat Senate, one for each province. Under the new constitution the remaining 74 senators were to be appointed by a selection panel headed by the Constitutional President.

April

Bout

March

• Alleged Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout was arrested in Bangkok in an undercover sting operation carried out by Thai police and undercover US Drug Enforcement Administration agents posing as FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas. The 41-yearold Bout, dubbed the “Merchant of Death,” was accused of selling

May

• Drivers were banned from using mobile phones except those equipped for hands-free service. Police said on May 8 that violators would first be warned, and after May 20 fines between 400 and 1,000 baht would be given.

June

• The longstanding Thai-Cambodian border dispute heated up anew after the Cambodian government announced that it planned to propose the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple on the Thai-Cambodian border be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Such a designation would effectively confirm the ancient temple was within Cambodian territory, a position rejected by Thai nationalists. The issue was a major point during a general Senate debate in which opposition senators attacked PM Samak and his government for supporting the Cambodian move.

August

2008 (August) US President Bush visit Thailand

2008 (March) Viktor

read: ‘The last chapter of 133 years of the Thai telegraph will be in the memory of Thais forever.

• Fifty-four migrant Burmese workers suffocated to death while being smuggled in a small seafood container from Song Island in Myanmar to Phuket. The ten-wheel truck carried a total of 121 workers. The driver of the truck escaped from the scene and the owner denied any involvement. The survivors were repatriated after being detained for illegal entry. • After 133 years the nation’s telegraphic service was terminated with a ceremony attended by thousands. The last message sent from the General Post Office, delivered to 40,000 select recipients,

• US President George W. Bush visited Thailand, in part to celebrate 175 years of bilateral relations between Thailand and the US. The US president also met with exiled Burmese dissidents and toured the Khlong Toey slum with Catholic priest Father Joe Maier. • Arrest warrants were issued for deposed PM Thaksin and his wife Potjaman after they jumped bail and left the country. The warrants were issued a few hours after Thaksin released a statement saying that he and his wife were in England and would not attend a scheduled court hearing. • On August 26 people from all over Thailand descended on Bangkok to join a massive protest against the government of PM Samak organized by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). Samak warned the protesters, numbering 100,000 according to

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Feature some estimates, to abide by the law, but they invaded Government House, three government ministries and the headquarters of the National Broadcasting Service. No serious effort was made to remove the protesters from Government House although minor clashes between the police and protesters occurred.

October

• Bangkok’s eighth gubernatorial election was held on October 5, and won by incumbent Governor Apirak Kosayothin (Democrat Party). Apirak took 45.93% of the vote in an election contested by 16 candidates to win a second consecutive four-year term.

September

• On September 2 violent clashes occurred between PAD and a progovernment UDD protesters, leaving one person dead and 43 injured. A state of emergency was declared in Bangkok.

November

• On November 25, PAD protesters blockaded Don Muang Airport, where the government had set up temporary offices, and also took over Suvarnabhumi Airport, leaving thousands of tourists stranded. The PAD was seeking the resignation of PM Somchai, who they called Thaksin’s proxy. Tourist Authority of Thailand Governor Siriporn Manoharn said the negative effects of the airport closures were greater than those of the tsunami that ravaged the country’s Andaman coastline on December 26, 2004.

2008 (October) Apirak Kosayothin

2008 (November) PA D blockade Suvarnabhumi Airpor t

2008 (September) Somchai Wongsawat

• On September 9, the Constitutional Court found PM Samak guilty of conflict of interest and disqualified him from holding the office of prime minister. The incident arose because Samak hosted two cooking shows on commercial TV stations. The nine judges were unanimous in their decision that Samak had violated Article 267 of the constitution, which states ministers may not accept payment from a private company while in office. • The Pheu Thai (For Thais) Party emerged as the third political party founded by former PM Thaksin on September 20, in anticipation of the dissolution of People’s Power Party (PPP). Sure enough, the Constitutional Court did dissolve PPP three months later. PPP was a replacement for Thaksin’s original Thai Rak Thai, which the Constitutional Court dissolved in May 2007 for violation of electoral laws. • Thaksin’s brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat was ratified by the National Assembly as the 26th Thai prime minister. His legitimacy was rejected by the PAD, who said he was Thaksin’s nominee.

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• On October 6, PAD protesters rallied outside the Parliament building while it was in session. PM Somchai, who was seeking approval of his policies from the assembled legislators, was forced to climb over the fence to escape the rowdy scene, while many MPs remained stranded inside. Clashes between the protesters and police left two dead and 300 injured, including 20 policemen. Eventually police used teargas and the military was deployed to disperse the crowd. • The Supreme Court sentenced Thaksin to two years in jail over the Ratchadaphisek land purchase deal, convicting him of abuse power in helping his wife purchase the land at a low price. Potjaman was acquitted because she didn’t hold a political post.

December

• On December 2 the Constitutional Court found the ruling PPP guilty of fraud in the 2007 elections, ending Somchai’s term as prime minister and banning all PPP members from politics for five years. PAD leaders, satisfied with the ruling, ordered their supporters to leave Suvarnabhumi Airport. On the same day, Chaovarat Chanweerakul became acting prime minister. • In an election to fill the power vacuum left by PPP’s dissolution, Democrat Party leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva won a majority of votes over Pracha Promnok (Pracharai Party) in the House of Representatives on December 15 and became the 27th prime minister of Thailand. Abhisit received 235 votes to Pracha’s 198 and took his post officially on December 17.


nation was already in a state of civil war, although the slaughter had yet to begin.

January

• The ninth Bangkok gubernatorial election was held on January 11 after the resignation of Apirak Kosayothin on November 13, 2008. 2008 (December) Abhisit Vejjajiva His resignation stemmed from an indictment by the National Counter Corruption Commission involving a saw the founding of Gift 6.6 billion baht contract to procure of Happiness Foundation charity fire-engines for the city. MR under the Royal patronage of King Sukhumbhand Paribatra (Democrat Bhumibol Adulyadej. The foundation Party) was elected as the new is dedicated to helping poor governor. children in Bangkok and throughout Thailand. The Cabin Chiang Mai • The government announced it drug and alcohol had blocked more rehabilitation facility than 2,300 websites in was also founded. 2008, the majority for CentralFestival allegedly offending shopping mall the monarchy. opened in Pattaya. The Democrat-led CentralPlaza opened government promised shopping mall and to intensify efforts entertainment to clamp down on 2009 CentralFestival Pattaya acts of lèse majesté, and appeared intent on widening its internet censorship capabilities. It 2009 Gift of Happiness Foundation allocated 45 million baht to set up a 24hour center to police the internet, and introduced heavier fines and prison terms for anyone judged to have insulted the King online. 2009 CentralPlaza Khon Kean

2009

complexes in Chonburi and Khon Kaen. The latter was the first Central Group mall to be opened in the Northeast. A private tropical botanical park known as Dokman Garden opened in Hang Dong district of Chiang Mai province. The inaugural Queens Cup Golf Tournament was held at the Santiburi Samui Country Club that year, and around 35 football clubs were founded. PM Abhisit faced rising public discontent with his government and near-constant rumours of an imminent military coup. Pro-Abhisit academic Chirmsak Pinthong wrote a thought-provoking article in Naew Nah newspaper in which he said the

March

• Lin Hui, a female panda on a 2009 (March) Lin Hui ten-year loan from China to the Chiang Mai Zoo, gave birth to Lin Ping, a cub weighing 200 grams. Lin Hui was artificially inseminated after zoo officials tried for years to mate her with a male panda with no success. Lin Ping was an instant superstar, with month more than 14,000 people showing up at the zoo to see the baby panda over a threeday period following her birth.

April

• Protesters stormed the ASEAN summit held at Royal Cliff Hotel in

Pattaya on April 11. Military helicopters whisked world leaders out of the hotel after anti-government red-shirt protesters forced their way through rows of armed soldiers stationed in front of the hotel. As the protesters occupied the hotel, PM Abhisit declared a state of emergency in Pattaya and in Chonburi. The summit was attended by leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries along with their counterparts from China, Australia, Japan, India, New Zealand and South Korea. 2009 (April) Protes ters storm ASEAN summit in Pattaya

2009 (April) Armed soldiers deployed in Bangkok

• Armed soldiers and riot police were deployed throughout Bangkok when a state of emergency was declared on April 14 after-red shirt’ protesters blocked major roads and demanded the resignation of the government. In the early morning troops swept through hot spots firing weapons into the air to disperse the protesters. According to some accounts, two people were killed and more than 100 injured during clashes. Later in the morning the rally leaders told everyone to go home to prevent more bloodshed. Arrest warrants were issued for protest leaders. • PAD leader Sonthi Limthongkul survived an assassination 2009 (April) attempt as he was Sondhi Limthongkul being driven to his ASTV satellite television studios. Police said gunmen in pickup trucks ambushed Sonthi’s car and sprayed

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Feature it with bullets from AK-47 and M-16 assault rifles, injuring him, his driver and an aide.

May

• The economy contracted by the largest percentage in a decade in the first quarter of 2009. Decreasing exports and sluggish domestic spending pushed Thailand into a recession. According to government numbers, GDP had shrunk 1.9% compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, and 7.1% year on. • On May 15 PM Abhisit presided over the ‘soft opening’ of the 2.2km extension of the BTS SkyTrain from Taksin Bridge across the Chao Phraya to Wong Wian Yai in Thonburi. • The tourism industry continued to suffer the effects of the global economic downturn and domestic political turmoil. Visitor arrival numbers were down as much as 50% in the first four months of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.

June

• PAD announced formation of the New Political Party (NPP). The party’s platform included the aim of ridding politics of corruption. NPP’s first leader was Somsak Kosaisuk, but it was expected that later on Sonthi Limthongkul would take the reins.

2010 Footbal Association of Thailand.

2009 (May) BTS SkyTrain on Taksin Bridge

2010

is the year is the Football Association of Thailand organized the Thai League Cup (2nd era) competition for Thai football clubs. It was a good year for football, with close to 30 new clubs formed throughout the country. Gaggan Restaurant run by celebrated chef Gaggan Anand was established in Bangkok, serving progressive Indian cuisine. Kan Air airline based in Chiang Mai, Siam Air

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with its hub at Don Muang Airport, and Sunny Airways with its hub at Suvarnabhumi Airport were all founded. Of the three, only Siam Air is still in operation. Flashfloods hit widespread areas of Thailand. Separate but related floods began in the Northeast and Central Thailand in early October due to abnormally late monsoon activity over the Bay of Bengal. The Chao Phraya overflowed its banks in many places and a tropical depression brought extremely heavy rainfall to the South and forced hundreds from their homes. Across the country the flood-related death toll was put at 232. Thai government figures revealed that floods affected nearly seven million people in more than 25,000 villages. The costs in terms of destruction of property and infrastructure were astronomic.

January

• Thailand Lacrosse Association (also known as TLA) was formed as the governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse clubs in Thailand. The association was a joint effort from Prantarit Nerngchamnong, Naputt Assakul, and Pinyot Pibulsongram, three Thais who played lacrosse during their school days in America.

security personnel were deployed. Abhisit also escalated efforts to monitor community radio stations, which were often used by rural residents to voice their discontent and by activists to organize protests. • On February 7, Abhisit’s personal spokesperson, Thepthai Senphong, vowed to use the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to crack down on ‘red shirt community radio stations’. • On the evening of February 15, police and soldiers established scores of checkpoints and organized special patrols in inner-city Bangkok as reports from government security agencies continued to play up fears of antigovernment rallies. On February 26 the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions was scheduled to deliver a verdict on whether the government had the right to seize 76 billion baht of former PM Thaksin’s assets that had been frozen years earlier. The government expected major UDD-led unrest immediately following the decision if it should go against Thaksin. 2010 Floods

2010 Gaggan restaurant

• In the period leading up to the February 26 verdict, the 2010 Sunny Airways government February told foreign • PM Abhisit enacted diplomats and 2010 Siam Air numerous security foreign chambers measures throughout February of commerce that the UDD would and March 2010 to suppress red“spark violence” and “intensify its shirt protests. For example, he agitation and step up protests in established 38 security centers in Bangkok and around the country the North and Northeast to facilitate in order to disrupt the work of the crackdowns against anti-government government and the judiciary.” groups. Around 5,000 army troops • Anarchy in Bangkok It would were deployed at 200 checkpoints take many pages to do justice to to prevent protesters from entering the tumultuous events that played Bangkok. In total, about 20,000


2010 (August) Paradi

se Park BRT

2010 (April) Unrest in Bangkok

out in the capital in April and May of 2010 and turned some of its most recognizable tourist attractions into virtual war zones. Below is a timeline of the most important events: • April 7: Estimates of militant anti-government protesters in Bangkok vary from 50,000 to 300,000. At this time the protest center was around Phan Fah Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Road not far from Democracy Monument, but the next day most of the protesters marched to Ratchaprasong intersection and set up camp in the heart of Bangkok’s most high-end shopping district. Abhisit declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and nearby provinces after anti-government demonstrators stormed the Parliament building. • April 10: Thai troops tried to clear Phan Fah Bridge but were unsuccessful after they met with armed resistance. The action resulted in a number of deaths, including one Japanese journalist and five soldiers, and many injuries. • April 12: Thai Election Commission recommended dissolution of the ruling Democrat Party, accusing it of accepting campaign donations from a private company and mishandling funds. The party vowed to fight the allegations. • April 16: Abhisit handed security operations over to the military after three red-shirt leaders escaped from a hotel surrounded by security forces. Protests spilled over into Lumpini Park and Silom Road. • April 22: Grenade attacks at protest sites killed one person and left dozens wounded. • May 3: The government offered to hold elections in November if the red-shirts would end their protest at Ratchaprasong. • May 12: The government said it would shut off power, cut supplies and seal off Ratchaprasong intersection after protesters disregarded an ultimatum from Abhisit to vacate he area.

2010 (May) Bangkok BRT

• May 13: Anti-government leader Major. General Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head while talking to reporters in Lumpini Park, sparking ever more intense clashes. Troops and armoured vehicles massed around Ratchaprasong, leading to speculation that a final crackdown was imminent. • May 19: Security forces surged into Ratchaprasong and Lumpini Park to clear the area. When it was all over scores of people were dead and hundreds more injured. Retreating protesters set a number of fires in the center of the city, including a large one at CentralWorld.

May

• On May 25 a Thai court issued an arrest warrant for Thaksin on terrorism charges connected to the protests. Thaksin’s attorney said the charges violated “logic, law and any claim of hopes for reconciliation.” • Bangkok BRT, a bus rapid transit system owned by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, opened its first route from Sathon Road to Ratchaphruek Road via Narathiwat Ratchanakharin and Rama III roads on May 29.

2010 (April-May) Unrest in Bangkok

opportunities in the suburbs of Bangkok, transforming the old Seri Center into Paradise Park at a cost of 3.2 billion baht. • Thailand resumed diplomatic relations with Cambodia after Phnom Penh announced that ousted PM Thaksin was stepping down as its economic advisor.

November

• Thailand extradited Russian national Viktor Bout to the United States to stand trial on charges of arms dealing, after months of legal wrangling. Russia said the move was a “glaring injustice” and politically motivated. (The BigChilli published an article about Viktor Bout in the August 2016 issue. See https:// issuu.com/thebigchilli/docs/the_ bigchilli_august_2016)

December

• On December 21 the Thai Cabinet agreed to lift the state of emergency declared in April for Bangkok and three surrounding provinces.

June

• On June 2 Abhisit survived noconfidence vote after accusations he endorsed excessive force against antigovernment protesters during the May 19 crackdown.

August

• Paradise Park shopping mall in Prawet district of Bangkok opened officially on August 24. Retail giants Siam Piwat and MBK joined in the project to take advantage of new

2011 Terminal 21

2011

saw the opening of CentralPlaza Chiang Rai, Central Plaza Grand Rama IX in Bangkok and CentralPlaza in Phitsanulok town. The 24-hour music and entertainment channel known as VERY TV began broadcasting. Terminal 21 shopping mall opened on Sukhumvit Road near

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May

2011 City Airways 2011 Thai Smile Airlines

Asoke intersection in Bangkok. City Airways and Thai Regional Airlines came on the scene but both carriers have since gone out of business. Thai Airways subsidiary Thai Smile Air also was founded and is still flying out of Suvarnabhumi Airport. Catastrophic floods began at the end of July and spread through North, Northeast and Central Thailand along the Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins. In October floodwaters inundated parts of Bangkok. The floods resulted in a total of 815 deaths and affected 13.6 million people. Of 76 Thai provinces, 65 were declared flood disaster zones, and over 20,000 square km of farmland was damaged. Thailand’s southern provinces also saw seasonal flash-flooding towards the end of the year, although not nearly as destructive as the floods in other areas.

2011 Floods

January

• Tensions rose as Cambodia charged two Thai citizens with spying after they were arrested for illegally crossing the disputed border.

February

• After an exchange of fire across the Thai-Cambodian border, the two countries agreed to allow Indonesian monitors access to the area to prevent further clashes.

April

• Eighteen people were left dead following armed clashes near the ancient Preah Vihear temple along the Thai-Cambodian border.

2011 CentralPlaza Phitsanulok.

• On May 9 the lower chamber of Parliament was dissolved, paving the way for new elections. Yingluck Shinawatra, younger sister of Thaksin, jumped into the race as a candidate to unseat Abhisit.

July

• A general election for 500 seats in the 24th House of Representatives was held on July 3. Pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party took 75% of the votes to win 265 seats, giving it a clear majority. The Democrat Party came in second with 159 seats and Bhumjathai Party followed with 34 seats. Abhisit conceded and congratulated Yingluck as “Thailand’s first female prime minister.”

August

• Yingluck was appointed as the 28th Thai prime minister, effective August 5. She held the position until 2011 (August) May 7, 2014, Yingluck Shinawa tra when she was ousted in a military coup.

2011 Thai Regional Airlines

November

• Flooding around Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa-In Industrial Estate forced some big manufacturing plants to shut down, including Western Digital plant, a major producer of hard drives for the global market. • Ousted former PM Thaksin asked the Thai government to withdraw a plan to seek a royal pardon for him as he was worried that it would make the situation worse for his sister Yingluck’s government. • Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap said on November 24 that local Facebook users risked violating the Computer Crimes Act unknowingly by pressing the “like” or “share” button in response to comments posted with anti-monarchy messages. Anyone doing so could be arrested on charges of violating the Computer Crime Act and committing lèse majesté because the law prohibits the dissemination of content deemed insulting to the monarchy.

December

• Foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul September said a new travel • The Hong Kong-based Asia document for Internet Coalition said of Thailand’s Thaksin could Computer Crimes Law: “By holding be a “New Year’s an intermediary liable for the actions 2011 (December) present”. The of its users, this case could set a Police General former PM dangerous precedent and have a Priewpan Damapong was reportedly significant long-term impact on spending most of his time in Dubai Thailand’s economy. Changing the after being handed a two-year jail way the Internet works in Thailand term in absentia for corruption. The by denying intermediaries the opposition Democrat Party said it protections they are granted in most was unsurprised by the move and countries around the world could have dismissed the foreign minister as a significant detrimental impact.’’ an inexperienced non-entity, whose appointment was aimed solely October at facilitating the ousted prime • The government introduced a minister’s return.· Police chief rice subsidy scheme with the aim Priewpan Damapong said that about of ensuring that farmers received 500 border patrol police would a guaranteed price for their rice be deployed in Bangkok to help crop. Critics said the scheme caused metropolitan police combat crime, government debt to soar, and the which was expected to rise with resulting increase in the price of Thai the receding of floodwaters and the rice caused the country to lose its release of about 30,000 prisoners who rank as the world’s number one rice had received a royal pardon. exporter.

*Sources for this story include archives of the Bangkok Post, The Nation and Wikipedia. 78

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