The BigChilli November 2020

Page 1

PUBLISHER Colin Hastings EDITOR Nina Hastings

Introducing The BigChilli TV, an exciting new media platform showcasing the many facets of life in Thailand, especially from an expat point of view. A collaboration between The BigChilli, Thailand’s leading magazine for expats, and veteran travel expert and video ďŹ lmmaker enthusiast David Barrett, this unique venture focuses on prominent personalities and business executives based in Thailand, travel and tourism, dining, the local social scene, music updates and news from the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT). View The BigChilli TV on For more information, please contact FB: thebigchilli 4


SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Thana Pongsaskulchoti ACCOUNTING MANAGER Janjira Silapapairson ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa PHOTOGRAPHY AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Drew McCreadie, Maxmilian Wechsler Zoe Evans, Jessica Weber and Ruth Gerson



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

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

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


EMAIL TWEET thebigchillimagazine@


News FOR many decades, Bangkok Post’s Bernard Trink amused and outraged readers with his weekly Nite Owl column. His passing last month closed a chapter on Bangkok’s entertainment scene. Reproduced here is a story that appeared in the January 2000 edition of The BigChilli. RIP Trink. More about Trink page 46






Why a groundbreaking Thai-based business may simply be complete folly Q As a long-time Bangkok resident, Bangkok Snow Removal founder Tim Cornwall was always amazed at the variety of business, restaurants, products, and services available in the City of Angels. Following ten years’ intensive study on services available, he determined that one service sector remains unfulfilled - snow removal. Unfortunately, after an extensive campaign to provide clients in Bangkok with snow removal protection, it was obvious that such a service was not yet a service required here. Not to be deterred and as a Canadian with extensive snow experience from a city that regularly enjoys four to five meters annually, BSR Founder knows very well how a light snowfall can turn even the dullest urban landscape into a wonderland of bright, clean, crisp colours offset by pure-white snow. With these visions in mind, he has commissioned Thai and non-Thai artists to paint typical Bangkok scenes to share the potential beauty Bangkok could experience, should it ever snow. And while Bangkok Snow Removal continues to offer snow removal services, despite no incoming calls, Tim’s emphasis has migrated - until the first snow arrives - to providing some of the kingdom’s most unique, thought-provoking and colorful greeting cards, post cards and this year, an 18-month calendar stretching from 01 January 2021 through to 30 June 2021. For more information, contact Tim at or visit his website to see how his artists imagine Bangkok in the snow. TheBigChilli


News By Little Wandering Wren

How to acquire a private car driving licence in Thailand

I wanted a Thai driving licence, less for driving, more to prove I am a Thai local whilst travelling. I wouldn’t say I married badly, but the American lady at the Thai driving test centre did better. With a military husband everything was organised for her by the US Embassy. She was ordering her first latte of the day by 9.20 am with a shiny new licence. Little old moi meanwhile was schlepping the streets in search of new footwear having failed to be properly attired. They don’t make it easy to get a Thai driving licence. It took weeks of my own military style manoeuvres to arrive with: 10


• Proof of Residency certificate: obtained by submitting our rental agreement to the Department of Immigration. This took about two weeks. • Five Diseases certificate: THB 650 from Bumrungrad Hospital. (I still have no clue what these are). • Current Driver Licence. • Passport with visa and photocopies. You might not have to prove you can actually drive a car to pass this test but a double degree in logistics and international relations helps! With no appointments available within four months, I took my chances for one of the 50 walk-in testing slots available daily from 8 am.

There is no social distancing, we’re squashed together. I did have a wry smile, noting we may be free of five diseases, but I’m hoping that there is nothing more sinister lurking amongst my fellow wanna be Thai drivers. I watch a 20-minute video, in Thai and then in English about the upcoming four driving tests: • Colour Blind: naming colours seen on screen - Red, Green or Yellow. Don’t get cocky and yell out amber! I arrived at 7.20 am to find a shaded waiting area with social distancing stickers. At 7.50 am three ladies with boxes of paper arrived; 8 am a man with a megaphone gives out instructions and waves us forward. I was chuffed to be given Foreigner Number 2 ticket. To any Brit this is a real bingo moment. However, in the lift scrum to the second floor, my number 2 card was swapped for a number 6 card! After another check of the already checked paperwork at the third floor, I failed the closed shoes test. Honestly! People normally fail on speeding or not indicating properly … The lady on the door smiles sympathetically and tells me there is a market close by, but sod that for a hot game of soldiers. Our car is wedged in the parking lot so tightly that I’m tempted to just take the smart black work shoes off our driver but instead yell ‘Does anyone know how to park around here?’ No need to answer! Eventually, I return with new Big C shoes and am given my fourth queue number 278. It’s 10.20 am.

• Computer Dexterity: moving one line to be parallel to a fixed line on a computer screen - no idea what that was about! • Brake Reflex: You hit the brake when a green light turns red, within designated good reaction time. • Peripheral Vision: Someone stands behind you waving circles of traffic colours for you to identify the correct colour. I passed! Next a safety video with blurry English subtitles. Eventually I end up back in the room where I started. I have my photos taken, pay THB 205 and receive my licence exactly five hours after arrival. Lesson: To obtain a Thai driving licence you need patience, stamina and a good pair of shoes! Receiving my licence felt quite emotional, it was another step in my deepening connection with Thailand and it felt good. Little Wandering Wren is a Bangkok Blogger. More can be found at and on Instagram and Twitter @littlewanderingwren TheBigChilli




Gianni Favro After 25 years in the same location, well known Italian restaurant Gianni’s moved earlier this year into new premises in the Athenee Tower on Wireless Road. Despite the disruption of relocating, plus the challenges of this Covid era, Gianni’s has not only remained as popular as ever, but is about to expand with its new terrace dining area. The chef behind Gianni Ristorante, one of Bangkok’s oldest Italian restaurants, tells The BigChilli about his life and times, and why he believes that simplicity is the key to creating memorable food. Name: Gianni Favro. Age: 58. Born: Italy. Education: Still learning. Family: Two brothers, Mum and Dad, all in Italy. Also one son, aged 16, here in Thailand, who attends NIST. Profession: Chef and restaurateur. First job: Car mechanic. But not for long. Why cooking as a career? My father bought a small restaurant and I liked it. What brought you to Thailand? I was working as a chef in a ski resort in Italy and came here in 1989 as I was interested to do an internship at the Oriental Hotel. Then the Heritage Club in Bangkok contacted me to help with an Italian food promotion, which I did before returning to Italy. Not long after, the Heritage Club invited me back to work there full time for the next two years. Then? After that, I opened Vito’s on Ruam Rudee for the owner Pravit Purananda. I stayed there for two years before heading to Hong Kong for a consultancy job that lasted seven months. Later, in 1996, premises on Soi Ton Son in Bangkok became available and I and my then business partner opened Gianni Ristorante. 12


We remained in that location until December 31, 2019. How does the new Gianni’s compare to the old one? Today we’re located in Athenee Tower, Wireless Road, and for now we’re a couple of tables smaller than the old Gianni’s but once the terrace outside is covered and air-conditioned, we’ll be bigger. And your staff? All the staff moved with us to the new premises. Do you have any other business interests? Not anymore. I used to sell pizza slices in a major department store, but that ended a long time ago. What influenced your life and career? I loved to travel and believed that cooking would give me the freedom to work anywhere. Best and worst early work experiences? I had an argument with my dad and left for Germany. But that introduced me to other kitchens and gave me a view of the real world. So those together were both a bad and good experience. What’s the best meal you’ve ever cooked? The one I cooked last night in the restaurant. What’s the best meal you’ve ever been ser ved? One that my mother cooked for me. I’ve eaten in Michelin three-star restaurants, but I can’t remember




what I had, but I do remember what my mum cooked for me – a simple but delicious dish of eggs with tomato sauce, and risotto. What’s your cooking philosophy? Simplicity. Search for the best ingredients and don’t spoil them. There are too many strange and fancy things being made these days. Keep it simple. I’m lucky to come from a country with a cooking culture and tradition, so I don’t have to go far for inspiration. What’s Gianni’s customer mix? 70% Thais and 30% expats. And how’s business in these Covid-19 days? Nearly the same as pre-Covid days, I’m happy to say. Do you have a signature dish? No, I don’t believe in them. How often do you change the menu? We have an a la carte menu together with ‘seasonal specials’ such as dishes with white truffles, for example, and asparagus in season. And we have a lot of suggestions from the kitchens. Any ingredient particularly difficult to work with? No. Just know them all, and respect them all. Thai rice or Italian rice – which is better? They’re different. Thai is for steaming, Italian is for simmering. How do you keep in touch with food trends? When it was possible to travel, I’d go to Italy and maybe attend a food exhibition. Of course, it’s also easy to keep in touch through the Internet. What do you consider your greatest achievement? To have my own restaurant, keeping busy and being successful. Which celebrities or famous people have you cooked for? I keep that confidential. We have two private rooms here for VIPs. Who would you most like to cook for? My father, as I used to when they could travel here. 14


What do you like to cook for yourself? Eggs, with black pepper and good bread. What’s your favorite dish when you eat elsewhere? ‘Yum Pla Duk Food’ – Crispy catfish with green mango salad. Many Thai dishes are actually quite simple, just like many Italian dishes. What’s next? Partial retirement, eventually. Having worked since the age of 14, I’ve probably worked twice as many hours as most people do in a lifetime. But I feel blessed to have found cooking – I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Do you have time off? Yes, Sunday. Any hobbies? Sailing. When I had my boat at Ocean Marina, Pattaya, I loved to go sailing on the weekend. It would clear my head. Right now I’m in my fifth year of building my own catamaran. I also like cycling and have a BMW 1200 cc motorbike. Every year, I organize a ten-day motorbike tour of northern Thailand with about a dozen friends from here and Europe to raise funds for the ‘Children of the Forest’ charity. What’s your favorite restaurant, apart from your own? Preecha Seafood in Pattaya. What’s the high point of your life? Opening my own restaurant. And low point? Deciding to build my own boat. It’s been very expensive. Who’s your favorite chef? Gualtiero Marchesi was my inspirational chef when I started, in modern days Massimo Bottura Your favorite cook book? I like very much to read old cooking books, the regional cuisine of Italy from Marchesi one of my favorite.


Enjoy lots of great deals in luxury properties Great staycation at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn

The Cape’s ‘Absolute Suite’ Cape Panwa Hotel, Phuket, one of the top five-star hotels in Southern Thailand, is offering special rates on its 530 sqm Cape Absolute Suite, a two-storey penthouse with 360-degree views over the Andaman Sea. Featuring two bedrooms, separate living room and dining room with stunning views, a private spa facility, large solid wooden sundecks, a full-sized infinity pool on the rooftop including a private elevator, limousine service to the town centre (book in advance) and an inhouse golf cart service, the Cape Absolute Suite room is available from THB 40,000 net per night including breakfast for four. Book now until the 27 December 2020. (For the period of stay from 1 November - 27 December 2020. Contact Cape Panwa Hotel, Phuket, Tel: +66 (0) 7639 1123 or visit

Centara Grand’s staycation deal Running from now until 20 December 2020, Centara Grand at CentralWorld is offering its ‘Ultimate Staycation’ in Bangkok for less than ever. As well as soaking up the luxury of spacious rooms with stunning panoramic views of central Bangkok, guests also receive all kinds of welcome extras. With all bookings, receive: THB 2,020 daily hotel credit to purchase food, beverages, or spa treatments. THB 1,000 Central Department Store gift voucher for bookings from Sunday to Thursday Free early check-ins from 9.00 hrs. and late checkouts to 21.00 hrs. for bookings from Sunday to Thursday. Free daily breakfast for double occupancy Free Wi-Fi access Visit Tel. 02-100-6255 or email *These offers are limited to Thais or foreigners with a work permit. 16


From now until 31 March 2021, Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok is offering its ‘Premier Staycation’ with accommodation starting at THB 2,699 for a Superior Room, THB 2,999 for a Superior Sky Room and THB 3,899 for an Executive Deluxe Room. This special promotion is available to all Thai citizens and expatriates living in Thailand, and includes breakfast for two persons and one child (not over 16 years old), 50% discount at The Glass House, Blunos & Swizzles restaurants, THB 1,000 food & beverage credit per night for all outlets (except Chef Man) and a choice between an early check-in at 10.00 hrs along with a late checkout until 16.00 hrs or 24-hour use of room. Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok features a full range of facilities and services for the comfort and convenience of our guests, including our 14th floor infinity swimming pool with spectacular sweeping views over the towering skyline, a fully equipped fitness centre, free Wi-Fi access and a free extra bed for children under 16 years old. The hotel is located in the heart of Bangkok with direct access to the Surasak BTS station, which makes visiting Bangkok’s most popular and famous attractions a breeze. Tel +66 2 210 8100 or or visit www.

The New Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok debut offers Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok has introduced its luxuriously spacious 285 rooms and suites, including the lavish three-bedroom Sindhorn Royal Suite. Special rates are available for bookings until the end of this year. Set in Sindhorn Village adjacent to Lumphini Park, Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok has its own tropical gardens and lush green pathways. The lead-in guestroom category, the Grand Deluxe Room, is the largest in this category in Bangkok, at 66 sq m. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the rooms with natural light and provide views of the city, park and gardens. Each room has its own private balcony seating. The décor of the rooms uses natural colours to create a bright and welcoming ambience.



The Gems Mining Pool Villas Pattaya sets its opening in this November To celebrate its opening, the Gems Mining Pool Villas Pattaya resort offers an introductory promotion with complimentary benefits including breakfast, cocktail/ mocktail, discount at spa and restaurant, and free access to the wellness centre. The nightly rates at this African gems mining-inspired resort are priced at THB 3,178 for Topaz Jacuzzi (93 sqm), THB 4,943 for Emerald One-Bedroom Pool Villa (100 sqm), THB 10,005 for Sapphire Two-Bedroom Pool Villa (140 sqm) and 15,066 Baht for Ruby Three-Bedroom Pool Villa (207 sqm). Prices are inclusive of service charge and VAT. Benefits for booking two nights or longer include complimentary lunch or dinner for Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby villas, while guests will receive a free upgrade to Emerald One-Bedroom Pool Villa when booking Topaz Jacuzzi for stays on weekdays. The promotion can be booked from now until 15 December 2020 and stays from 14 November 2020 until 28 February 2021. visit Enter promo code INTRO.

Attractive staycation at the Peninsula Bangkok The Peninsula Bangkok has launched a new staycation called ‘We Meet Again’ that invites guests to enjoy special room rates, along with an array of attractive offers. The package includes: • Room rate starting from THB 7,777++ per room per night • A 50% discount on the second room or second night • Daily international breakfast at the River Café & Terrace • A round-trip transfer from your residence in Bangkok or airport to the hotel • The Peninsula Time (24-hour flexible check-in and check-out benefits) • THB 500 resort credit to enjoy at hotel’s restaurants, bars and The Peninsula Spa • THB 800 gift certificate for your next visit • A choice of The Seven of Loves of The Peninsula Bangkok experiences The ‘We Meet Again’ offer is available for booking from 1 November to 31 March 2021. Terms and conditions apply. Visit or email 18


The Peri Hotel opens in two key destinations Standard International, the parent company of The Standard Hotels, has launched a new brand, The Peri Hotel, in Hua Hin and Khao Yai. The first two The Peri Hotels are conversions and renovations of Sansiri’s previous ESCAPE Hotels in the two popular resorts. The Peri Hotel Hua Hin features pre-loved wooden floorboards that were once part of fishermen’s boats. A traditional mess hall ‘Chow Mong’ (meaning fishermen), is where friends and families come to enjoy a wholesome and hearty meal together. The Peri Hotel Khao Yai offers lush mountainous views, nature-inspired interiors with tribal patterns and animal prints. Chow Barn (meaning villager) is a specialty restaurant where guests are invited into the wilderness to enjoy rustic cooking methods that bring out the true taste of natural open fire recipes, all under its E-sarn Soul Café concept. The Peri Hotel Hua Hin and The Peri Hotel Khao Yai are offering special opening rates starting from 2,280 THB per night (discounted from 4,500 THB) if booked before 30 November 2020 and stays before 28 February 2021. Visit Facebook page at Instagram: Line Official: @theperihotel

Vana Belle Resort offers Samui beachside romance package Get away with the special person in your life, and together enjoy the Romance Escape package from Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, directly on the beach at Chaweng Noi, Samui. The package includes complimentary one-way transfer between the airport and the resort, daily breakfast for two at Kiree, a first-class, daily three-course dinner for two, cocktails for two once a day during your stay, and a 30-minute massage of your choice. A minimum of a three-night stay is required to qualify for Romance Escape privileges. Prices start from THB10,000++ per night for Jungle one-bedroom suite (normal price is THB 16,000++/night or THB 18,832 net/ night). Romance Escape is available every day of the week between now and 7 January 2021. Terms and conditions apply. Contact 077-915-555, E-mail: or visit

BITS & BITES Centara Bangkok’s Red Sky delight

25 Degrees Burger Bar serves up its seasonal Turkey Burger Inspired by popular American holidays, Halloween HUK ;OHURZNP]PUN [OL [LHT H[ +LNYLLZ )HY H[ [OL 7\SSTHU /V[LS )HUNRVR OH]L [HRLU LSLTLU[Z MYVT IV[O VJJHZPVUZ [V ZLY]L [OL ;HSR ;\YRL` [V Me Burger. Featuring a juicy turkey patty, the burger is Z[HJRLK ^P[OgOVUL` NSHaLK IHJVU gNHYSPJ OLYI HPVSPgHUKgOV\ZL THKL JYHUILYY` ZH\JL WS\Z freshly baked brioche buns. Only THB 350++.

Red Sky has introduced its new lobster-themed lunch and dinner named ‘La Vie en Rouge’ created by Chef de Cuisine Christian Ham. Highlights include lobster bisque; Maine lobster with H [Y\MѓL HUK H]VJHKV LT\SZPVU" NYH[PUH[LK SVIZ[LY Thermidor and a Main lobster spaghetti dish. 5-course: THB 2,355++ per person 6-course: THB 2,955++ per person Opening hours: 11.30 - 24.00 hrs. Tel. 02-100-6255 or email

Tel. 02 352 4192, email or visit

Banyan Tree unveils new resort in Krabi

Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel *OPULZL ,_LJ\[P]L *OLM *OV^ >HP 4HU PZ MLH[\YPUN OPZ PUUV]H[P]L *HU[VULZL J\PZPUL H[ :OHUN 7HSHJL VU Friday to Sunday for lunch from 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and Friday to Saturday for dinner from 6.30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Signature dishes include Baked Lobster in Superior Stock, Roasted Rack of Lamb with Hawthorn and 7PULHWWSL :H\JL HUK :[PY -YPLK 2HNVZOPTH >HN`\ )LLM ^P[O :SPJLK .HYSPJ ZLY]LK PU .VSKLU )HZRL[ g Tel. 0 2236 9952 and 0 2236 7777 or e-mail 20


)HU`HU ;YLL 2YHIP H RL` S\_\Y` YLZVY[ VWLULK its doors last month at little-known Tubkaek )LHJO H TPU\[L KYP]L MYVT 2YHIP 0U[LYUH[PVUHS (PYWVY[ g3H\UJOLK I`g)HU`HU ;YLL .YV\W [OPZ Ñ’]L Z[HY OV[LS PZ V^ULK I` ;OHPSHUK IHZLKg(ZZL[ >VYSK *VYWVYH[PVUg (>* gg -HJPSP[PLZ H[ )HU`HU ;YLL 2YHIP PUJS\KL [^V YLZ[H\YHU[Z HUK H ILHJO IHY H RPKZϦ JS\I H Ñ’[ULZZ centre, a meeting centre and a rainforest-themed spa. )HU`HU ;YLL 2YHIP VMMLYZ LPNO[ Z\P[L HUK ]PSSH [`WLZ The most modest accommodation type, at 99 sqm, PZ [OL +LS\_L 7VVS :\P[L g;OL SHYNLZ[ PZ [OL THQLZ[PJ ZL]LU ILKYVVT 7YLZPKLU[PHS =PSSH ^OPJO ZP[Z KPYLJ[S` PU front of the beach. (SS Z\P[LZ HUK ]PSSHZ OH]L WYP]H[L ZHS[^H[LY WVVSZ HUK water features. 7YPVY [V HYYP]HS LHJO N\LZ[ PZ HZZPNULK H )HU`HU Tree Host - similar to a dedicated butler – HUK YLJLP]LZ H 7VY[PLY :THY[WOVUL ^P[O \USPTP[LK PU[LYUH[PVUHS JHSSZ HUK KH[H g [V JVU[HJ[ [OLPY OVZ[ One of the most dramatic features will be the three ‘Bird’s Nest’ tables perched among the trees around [OL YLZVY[ϦZ LSL]H[LK ZPNUH[\YL YLZ[H\YHU[ :HMMYVU >P[O H S\ZO Q\UNSL ZJLUL HZ IHJRKYVW HUK H ZLH ]PZ[H VM 2YHIPϦZ ^VYSK MHTV\Z SPTLZ[VUL ^VUKLYZ H[ sunset, this romantic dining spot will make for some memorable Instagram moments. Visit

Special Crab Meat Menu at YÃ o Rooftop Bar

Champagne Brunch at UNO MAS ,UQV` [OL \WJVTPUN <56 4(: Ï¥+VTPUNV -HI\SZVϦ :\UKH` IY\UJOLZ ZL[ MVY 5V]LTILY HUK +LJLTILY VU [OL Ñ’YZ[ :\UKH` VM L]LY` TVU[O Take a seat on the semi-alfresco deck or inside the spacious airconditioned dining room for unlimited buffet helpings, including premium imported seafood, a tapas station, cold cut selections of premium hams and cooked-to-order signature dishes taken from the restaurant’s menu. Among the other highlights are Iberico ham, four types of fresh oysters, (SHZRHU RPUN JYHI 4HPUL HUK 7O\RL[ SVIZ[LYZ Q\TIV WYH^UZ HUK V[OLY delicious cold cuts to be enjoyed with a range of breads and condiments. 7S\Z \USPTP[LK [VW \WZ VM WYLTP\T 4HNU\T . / 4\TT *VYKVU Rouge Champagne as well as soft drinks. From 11.30 - 14.30 and is priced at THB 3,555++ per person. Tel. 02-100-6255 or email or visit

;OYV\NOV\[ 5V]LTILY @§V Rooftop Bar offers a selection of premium crab meat dishes prepared by Chinese Head Chef Bruce Hui. ;OL TLU\ VɈLYLK PUJS\KLZ! • Shu Mai with Crab Meat and :OYPTW [VWWLK ^P[O )SHJR ;Y\MÑ“L HUK :HSTVU *H]PHY ϯ +LLW MYPLK *YHI HUK *OLLZL *HRL ZLY]LK ^P[O :aLJO\HU *OPSP Sauce • Soft Shell Crab, Foie Gras and )SHJR ;Y\MÑ“L ^P[O *OHYJVHS )\UZ • Steamed Crab Meat and Chicken +\TWSPUN • Baked Crab Shell stuffed with Sticky Rice and Shredded Coconut ϯ )HRLK ;VHZ[ ^P[O ;^V 2PUKZ VM Crab Meat Sauce ϯ +LLW MYPLK *YHI 4LH[ ^P[O .YLLU *OP]LZ +\TWSPUNZ • Crab Shaped Sweet Mung bean Cake Yà o Rooftop Bar is located on 32nd Floor of Bangkok Marriott Hotel The Surawongse. Open daily from 17.00 hrs – 01.00 hrs.(Last order for food is 9pm). Tel. 02-088-5666 or visit www.



Gin & Jazz is back 4HYR `V\Y JHSLUKHY HUKgKYLZZ PU ^OP[L H[ )LHJO :VJPL[` :6 :Vђ[LS /\H /PUgVU :H[\YKH` 5V]LTILY 2020. ,UQV` NPU JVJR[HPSZ MYVTgH ^VYSK JSHZZgTP_VSVNPZ[gHUK [OL OV[LS bartender’s specialties or create your own gin and tonic cocktail. 7YPJL Z[HY[Z MYVT ;/) UL[ Includes a beachside performance QHaa IHUK -YVT WT Ϣ WT

angkok Marriott 4HYX\PZ 8\LLUόZ 7HYR has launched the largest three-masted ]LZZLS PU ;OHPSHUK HU LSLNHU[ tall ship named Sirimahannop, which has been transformed PU[V H S\_\YPV\Z KPUPUN HUK L]LU[ destination. The boat will showcase Asiatique ;OL 9P]LYMYVU[όZ ZWPYP[ HUK OPZ[VY` VM Thailand on the bank of the Chao 7OYH`H 9P]LY [OL OLHY[ HUK ZV\S VM Bangkok. (ZPH[PX\L ;OL 9P]LYMYVU[ I` (ZZL[ >VYSK *VYWVYH[PVU 7\ISPJ *VTWHU` 3PTP[LK (>* PZ VUL VM [OL JHWP[HSόZ YP]LYZPKL SHUKTHYRZ ;OL TPSSPVU IHO[ m Sirimahannop is permanently docked at the pier of Asiatique ;OL 9P]LYMYVU[ HUK THUHNLK I` Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s 7HYR 0[ PZ KLZ[PULK [V ILJVTL H world class attraction for locals and tourists. Sirimahannop is a replica of H 9V`HS ;OHP UH]` ZOPW \ZLK I` K\YPUN [OL YLPNU VM 2PUN 9HTH = ;OL ]LZZLS WSH`LK HU important role in transporting teak wood and other goods to be sold in Europe, and coal on its return to Bangkok. It was also one of six ships that protected the Thai JHWP[HS MYVT PU]HZPVU PU [OL -YHUJV :PHTLZL >HY PU Asiatique is located in an area [OH[ VUJL ѓV\YPZOLK HZ ;OHPSHUKόZ ђYZ[ PU[LYUH[PVUHS WPLY IHJR PU [OL days when other countries in Asia were under threat from European nations. 2PUN *O\SHSVUNRVYUόZ ]PZPVU LSL]H[LK ;OHPSHUKόZ Z[H[\Z PU [OL global community, nurturing its YLSH[PVUZOPW ^P[O +LUTHYR HUK SH[LY HSSV^PUN [OL ]LZZLSόZ MVYTLY captain, Hans Niels Andersen, to establish the famous East Asiatic Trading Company to trade teakwood between Thailand and Europe. Today Sirimahannop is ready to transport guests back to a bygone


Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park launches Sirimahannop, a beautiful tall ship and dining venue era of Thai history with its elegant dÊcor, historic photographs and L]LY`KH` \[LUZPSZ [OH[ ZOV^JHZL life of former times. 7LYTHULU[S` KVJRLK H[ (ZPH[PX\L ;OL 9P]LYMYVU[ [OL WVW\SHY YL[HPS and lifestyle complex by the Chao 7OYH`H 9P]LY :PYPTHOHUUVW JHU accommodate up to 300 guests HJYVZZ [^V SL]LSZ! [OL <WWLY +LJR HUK 3V^LY +LJR ;OL <WWLY +LJR PZ H ]LU\L where up to 200 guests can wine and dine al fresco with breathtaking ]PL^Z The Bridge is for small groups of up to six guests who can LUQV` [OYLL MV\Y VY ђ]L JV\YZL TLU\Z (K]HUJLK YLZLY]H[PVUZ HYL required. ;OL 3V^LY +LJR PZ MVY L]LU[Z gatherings, parties, wedding YLJLW[PVUZ HUK TVYL ;^V WYP]H[L rooms can each cater for up to six people. ϊ>L HYL L_JP[LK [V ^LSJVTL [OL world aboard Sirimahannop,� said

Simon Bell, General Manager of Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s 7HYR “This traditional tall ship will take a journey back in time to the reign VM 2PUN *O\SHSVUNRVYU VUL VM the most illustrious periods in Thai OPZ[VY` ;OPZ YLNHS ]LZZLS ^PSS ZL[ [OL ZJLUL MVY \UMVYNL[[HISL L]LUPUNZ HUK VUL VM H RPUK L]LU[Z ^P[O world-class cuisine and drinks, while also shining a light on the 2PUNKVTĎŚZ YPJO THYP[PTL OLYP[HNL ĎŞ Operation hours are 16:0024:00 Monday-Friday, 12:0024:00 on Saturday, Sunday and W\ISPJ OVSPKH`Z 7LYTHULU[S` docked at Asiatique The 9P]LYMYVU[ :PYPTHOHUUVW PZ LHZPS` HJJLZZPISL I` YVHK HUK YP]LY including complimentary shuttle IVH[ ZLY]PJLZ MYVT [OL WPLY UL_[ to Saphan Taksin BTS skytrain station. Tel.+66 (0) 2 059 5999 or email TheBigChilli


Guest review by Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Impressive Madison

t’s nearly five years since we were last at Madison. There we found lots of new faces but heaps of good food (and wine). Proceedings began in the courtyard where Executive Chef Jan van Dyk greeted us in person and we quickly started to sup an acceptingly dry Follador Pas Dos Blue Prosecco NV (Veneto, Italy) and dig in to a profusion of tasty canapés where the foie gras proved to be everyone’s favourite. Promptly at 1:00pm, we found in the Madison’s private room Scallop Carpaccio served with Avocado, Yuzu, Apple, and Celery, a very refreshing start to the six-course meal.


With it, Thomas Boedinger, our Wine Spokesman, had selected Zarate Albariño Tras da Viña 2017 (Spain) to accompany this and the following dish. The wine met with almost universal praise accurately summed up by an importer as “A total stunner of an Albariño, this is a highly textural, mineral wine with a gravelly granitic mouth feel overlaid with apple florals and grapefruit zing. Aromatics and texture are beautifully matched: pretty jasmine, elderflower, granny smith, green citric zest, zippy acidity, clean riverstone minerality, a touch of lanolin creaminess and a delicate bitter herb crunch to finish”. Food spokesman Norman Green professed he was 24




not normally a fish person but could say both scallop and the perfectly cooked Snow Fish with Piccalilli, Carrot, and Saffron flavoured sauce went a long way to overcoming his prejudices and of course was perfectly matched with more Zarate Albariño. There followed Iberico Pork Cheek and Truffle, Black Garlic, Artichoke, Baby Paksoy and Onion Jus which proved to be tasty though a few found the sauce a little overpowering. It came well matched with Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir 2015 (Oregon, USA) which was refreshingly different and did not attract protests but instead 93 points from Wine Spectator: “Subtly powerful and rich, with expressive black cherry and spicy cinnamon aromas and layered plum and liquorice flavours that build toward refined tannins”. Thomas hailed it as his wine of the lunch. “Right up there!” Australian Wagyu Rib-eye with Cabbage, Potato, Almonds and Beef Jus completed the line-up of savoury dishes; the beef was served medium rare with a little salt and the accompaniments well chosen for many. It came with Agricola Punica Barrua Isola Nuraghi IGT 2015 (Sardinia, Italy) which was a first for many of us and coming with a personal recommendation from our President Tom. He had not let us down; we found “on the nose elegant aromas of spices, wild herbs and mature red fruits. On the palate, the wine is soft and elegant, a unique blend of sage, myrtle, rosemary, vanilla flavours and fine tannins. Notes of red fruits, 26


pepper and liquorice add an interesting spiciness before a harmonious and persistent finish”. Caramelia Chocolate, Passionfruit, Hazelnut, and Coffee were the ingredients of the dessert and just as tasty and appropriate as the previous dishes had been. Finally, a Cheese Selection that I thought was excellent, served buffet style so that those with appetite remaining could indulge themselves, and enhanced by a Tawny Port generously donated by Pieter van Roon dispelling any notion that “going Dutch” might involve financial penalty. It was very fitting therefore that Pieter was called upon to thank on our behalf the large very professional team led by Chef Jan.

Madison, Anantara Siam Bangkok, 155 Ratchadamri Rd, Lumphini Telephone: 02126 8866 Email: TheBigChilli


Feature Text and photos by Geoff Morrison

The last of Bangkok’s amazing Up-Lifting Bridges Saphan Hok is the last remaining of eight ‘tipping bridges’ dating back to the 19th century

Saphan Hok Lifting Bridge 28


Pi Kun Bridge towards Wat chabophit


t’s mid-autumn and relentless rain, political disruption and clouds of Covid are weighing heavy in the air. Hungry for mental escape and inspiration, I look towards the street. My quest? A fresh path, a hidden lane, a mystic voyage of the lens and sneakers before I tip over the edge. My starting point? Where else but ‘Saphan Hok’, Bangkok’s mysterious old lifting bridge. It’s 4:30 am, and the neighborhood tuk-tuk driver Mr Gai wearily fires up his engine for me. We ramble along Charoenakorn Rd. towards Khlong Kum Meuang Doem (Klong Lot), the old city moat. Near Saranrom Palace Park, the curious looking draw bridge appears. I settle in, open my eyes and lens and the journey begins. Over bridges and klongs, into temples and markets, my wonder world awakes. By 5 am the dark klong shimmers, catching the odd headlight and mirroring the tree lined streets and stars above. Rattanakosin Island seems to be floating in the dark, clinging on to the world with its white fairytale bridges. Klong Lot embraces the old city, like the defensive moats of ancient Ayutthaya. When completed by King Rama I, there were no roads and this new waterway provided Bangkok with a new artery of life. Transport, trade and communication flourished as the new capital’s need for a defensive moat slowly faded. Saphan Hok is the last remaining of eight ‘tipping

bridges’ in Bangkok. These Dutch innovations ‘lifted’ for passing boats and were introduced in the 19th century. The nearby Pii Kun bridge or Saphan Muu (Pig Bridge) was built in 1913 for Queen Phatcharinthra's 50th birthday. The four decorative ‘birthday candle’ posts symbolize the Queen's fourth Chinese Zodiac birth cycle. Rattanakosin bridges were designed and built by the best engineering teams of the time. Saphan Hok and Saphan Muu provide a unique pedestrian only experience, stitching the old city directly to Atsadaeng Rd and the city, temples and markets beyond. By 5:30 am, the towers of Wat Ratchabophit dominate a soft lit sky. Below rests one of the most auspicious sites in the Kingdom – the Thai Royal Family tombs. What an amazing place to immerse oneself in the spirits, stories and legends of Siam. Here lie Queen Consorts, Princesses, Princes – in fact 33 tombs of those closest to the temple founder King Chulalongkorn. The cemetery is also home to the Rangsi Vadhana Memorial, containing the ashes of Mahidol Adulyadej, Srinagarindra (The Princess Mother) and Galayani Vadhana, sister to King Rama IX. The Wat exhibits King Chulalongkorn’s passion for morphing European and Thai decorative arts, and includes a Christian church, glass mosaic chedis, gothic tomb spires and Khemer style stupas. The center axis of golden chedi’s are dedicated TheBigChilli


Feature Soi Phraya Si from Saphan Hok

Khlong Lot Wat Ratchabophit 30


Monks along khlong Lot Wat Rachabophit

Trok Mor Morning Market

Wood Shophouses on Soi Thesa TheBigChilli



Wat Rachabophit and the Royal Cemetary 32


Trok Mor Market

Shophouse along Khlong Lot Wat Rachabophit

Trok Mor Market

to the four Queen Consorts of King Rama V. Queen Sunanda Kumariratana, the young first wife to the King is remembered for her tragic drowning near Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, together with her two-year-old daughter and unborn child in 1880. To this day accounts vary on why the many onlookers did not dare to touch the queen, a capital offense, not even to save her and the child’s life. The Royal tombs evoke such stories, honouring and memorializing the past. They allow a direct connection with history and provide a meaningful garden of contemplation. It’s 7 am, and the scent of fresh Thai cooking is in the air. I wander up Khlong Lot Wat Rachabophit, a quiet waterside neighborhood beside the temple. Open doors offer glimpses into local family life, cooking, chatting and preparing for the day. The street vibe heats up as I arrive at Trok Mor Morning Market - the food empire of the Ratchabophit Phatthana Community. Here, within footsteps of Thailand’s most significant tourism destinations, is one of Bangkok's lesser known, but oldest and most vibrant fresh markets. Crumbling plaster shophouses open out to rickety tables of seafood, curries, stir fries and morning bakery. Fresh greens, herbs and spices, dried noodles, chicken, pork and fish peddlers line the bustling sois. Monks and musicians, carts and bikes ramble amongst the crowd for a meal, donation or deal. It’s a beautifully authentic, local experience. By 8 am the sun is up and my quest to escape beyond is well satisfied. I settle into a corner for a bowl of Tofu and Ginger Soup (Tohu huey naam king) and then grab a vintage Kaffae Boron to go. In a few short strides I have traversed time, people and places previously unknown to me. The smiles are warm, and all is perfect. One day soon I will return again to that mysterious, uplifting bridge. Geoff Morrison - Instagram #siamscenes TheBigChilli


Photography by Tadamasa Nagayama

SHL starts fifth season at Samrong Q The Siam Hockey League has switched venues, as its games for 2020-2021 season will be played at the Imperial Samrong arena on Olympic-size ice. The opening night of the season saw the defending champion Novotel Spitfires take on Aware in the first match while Mandalay played KCG in game two. Novotel with only two players returning from their champion squad (captain Mike Freeson and Jason Bitter) came out of the gate on fire and jumped into an early 3-0 first-period lead. Aware stormed back, however, and at the end of two stanzas of play the score stood 4-3 in Novotel’s favour. In the third period, Novotel dug in and emerged with a 7-4 victory as Novotel’s Ken Kindborn, the captain of the Thai national team, led the way earning the Rolling Stone Pizzza player-of-the-game award with two goals and two assists. Captain Mike Freeson chipped in with a goal and two helpers, and Tomas Stastny, the son of long-time NHL star Anton Stastny, made his SHL debut for Novotel and scored on a nice goal living up to his early billing. Captain Justin St Denis led the way for Aware scoring a hat-trick and an assist in a losing cause and Thai rookie Roger Promthong chipped in with a goal and two assists in his first an SHL contest (Roger won SH the prestigious Johnny th Oduya scholarship to play O in the SHL this season). Thai-American rookie Ben Kleineschay won his B first SHL start in net for fi Novotel facing 27 shots N while Russian keeper

Gabor “Rasputin” Toth took the loss for AWARE facing 27 shots. Game two saw national team stars Hideki Nagayama and Patrick Forstner substitute for Mandalay and KCG, respectively. But this game was never really in doubt as KCG jumped out to a 3-0 lead on two goals by Jesse Starosta and one by substitute Michael White before Mandalay’s Mitch Morrison finally scored and then KCG tallied once again with Winnie Luckanatinakorn to make it a 4-1 final in KCG’s favour. The game was marred by a fight between Thai stars Patrick Forstner and Yean Thannakrokiet, two players more known for their offensive prowess than their fisticuffs. Starosta with four points on the night (2G, 2A) was the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the game. KCG fired 25 shots on substitute Mandalay goalie Igor Sykora, while Mandalay shot 30 pucks at KCG keeper Leo Liao, who held Novotel to the SHL championship last year. SHL games take place at the arena on the fifth floor of Imperial Samrong every Sundays night at 9 and 10pm. Check out the weekly SHL podcasts sponsored by The BigChilli magazine at TheBigChilli


Expat Sport

Q It was a strong turnout this year’s annual England vs Scotland match at Bangkok Patana School, with many new and young players recruited for England, and a well-organized Scotland squad eager to retain the trophy. After a long restriction due to Covid, this match was clearly going to be a battle of two great nations. With new England manager Mark Potter and Jay Ding debuting for Scotland, extensive football tactics were guaranteed. Both sides started well, with great possession from the English and a dangerous attacks by the Scots. After continuous pressure the ball broke for Tom Bell to put the ball into the Scottish net, giving the English a one-nil lead. Scotland fought back with a few half chances and some great attacking play. Man of the match Carl Turner had a penalty shout against him but was judged as a great tackle. Fortunately for the English, Tommy Almond found empty space to latch onto a pass and with a well-placed lob, catching the goalkeeper flat, made it 2-0. The Scots turned on the pressure, and thanks to a missed clearance, pounced on by Niall Geraghty with a great strike, the deficit was reduced. Tommy Almond increased the English lead when he picked up a deflection to net the ball. Scotland again fought back just before half time with a towering header by veteran silverfox Shane O'Mahony from outside the box, beating an outstretched English goalkeeper, making it 3-2. 36




Expat Sport

Strong words from both managers at half time led to tactical changes on both teams. The Scottish started strong with some crunching tackles and crisp passing. This was all in vain when England won a penalty after a hand ball on the line. Tommy Almond, desperate for a hat trick, took the penalty but his shot was saved brilliantly by the Scottish goalkeeper so the scoreline stayed the same. With a big squad of players to choose from, the English increased the lead through Olly Durell to make it to 4/2. England's new, fresh and young players were hungry for the ball in the second half and despite a few injuries, made the Scottish defence work hard and ďŹ nally extended their lead to 5/2 by a well taken opportunity by Simon Murgatroyd. Now the pressure was on the Scottish to ďŹ ght back and even though they had some great opportunities, this gallant team conceded a goal from Tommy 38


Almond to make it 6-2, earning him a hat trick. Two quick goals followed from the senior with the ponytail, Mark Stevens (Rocket), making it 8-2. Still the Scottish team fought on bravely and received what they deserved when a tackle from the English goalkeeper, Tristan McCarthy, won them a penalty. Converted with minutes to go by Stuart Hill, this was the final goal of an all-action game. In fact, the score line did not reflect the game. Some lucky deflections from Andrew Evans and other Scottish players certainly helped to ease the way for the England team. Alex Forbes would be very pleased to know this annual fixture is still played in such a good spirit. - Daniel Poole TheBigChilli


Expat Women

Wat Sai in Singhburi, supported by banyan trees 40


Dragon staurcase leading up to Wat Tham Ban

Discover the inner beauty of Thailand By Ruth Gerson

With restrictions on overseas travel, it’s a great time to enjoy local attractions – and there’s plenty of them!

hailand, like the rest of the world, found itself in a distressing situation with people feeling hemmed because of the lockdown, causing many to experience ‘cabin fever.’ With restrictions easing a bit, the usual outlets for travel have altered drastically. Well-heeled Thais, who have customarily spent their vacations abroad, are now finding rigid borders that limit travel to their usual locations of fun and leisure.




Expat Women

Author at Barami coffe shop

Author at Barami coffe shop



Buddha at Wat Tha Suea

The Bridge on the River Kwae

But it’s not as bad as it sounds. Thailand is a wonderful place to be locked down in. There are many attractive destinations, with hotels offering bargain stays and airlines reducing fares. It is time to explore Thailand, without the throngs of foreign tourists that crowd the temples, beaches, and many other places. he country is much calmer and peaceful, and even the air quality shows positive signs. So it’s time to visit places that have either been on your ‘bucket list’ or ones newly discovered. Thailand’s destinations include both culture and nature, and these can be conveniently combined on short or long jaunts. It is liberating to hop into a car and venture out to the countryside, fill the lungs with fresh air and feast the eyes on alluring sights. Two places where I recently took a “break” in are Kanchanaburi and Chainat. Why Kanchanaburi? I longed to spend the night in a hotel on the banks of the Kwai River. I chose a small and pleasant establishment, the U Inchantree Kanchanaburi which is named after the famous lovers from one of Thailand’s most famous tales, ‘Khun Chang Khun Phaen’ - the woman being In and the man Chang. Their epic story took place in Kanchanaburi. The hotel did not disappoint. Located on a bend in the river with deep blue waters, quiet courtyards and serene atmosphere, it was ideal rest and recreation, and to explore the outlying areas of the city. The famous bridge could be viewed from the hotel, so it was only right to pay homage to this historical site. On the outskirts, numerous temples are perched on top of high hills, requiring an arduous ascent in the form of a pilgrimage. And in the true Buddhist spirit the edifices here represent Buddhist cultures from around Asia, replete with dragons, large mythical serpents, and impressive Buddha images. Wat Tham Suea, translated as the Temple of the Tiger’s Cave seems to be the most popular place, while a short drive away lies the temple of Wat Ban Tham, the Temple of the Village Cave. These karst mountains are dotted with caves, many of which have become places of worship. The new rage in Thailand are coffee shops. These have sprouted everywhere and try their best to outdo each other. Kanchanaburi is no exception, with one situated in the middle of rice fields, while another attractive shop is within the grounds of a Buddhist temple, on the edge of the hill overlooking magnificent


scenery, serving quality drinks in affordable prices. What could be better? On the drive back home, the route passes Chainat, yet another place on my ‘bucket list.’ Although it is just 200 km from Bangkok, it is off the beaten track. However, with Thailand’s excellent network of roads it is now easy to reach most places, so Chainat entered my ‘Post-Covid’ itinerary. As a day trip, it was only possible to visit a few sites, and as art and archaeology are close to my heart, I chose places of antiquity. First stop was on the road from Singhburi to Chainat, at Wat Sai, an Ayutthaya Period temple, a ruined edifice that is practically held together by banyan trees (Ton Sai in Thai, hence the name of the temple), a most picturesque and romantic place. Although it is open to the elements, there is an altar inside the temple with an impressive Buddha image, a living temple where people still come to worship. The two temples visited in Chainat are Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Kaeo, both of the early 14th century. As is customary in Buddhist temple compounds, edifices were added over the years, magnificent examples of architecture. Both places exude tranquility and it was truly enchanting to walk among the small chedis and remnants of the old temple structures. In one was a Buddha surrounded by columns that no longer support a roof. This was truly a spiritual journey into the past, soaking in the calm of the surroundings, and basking in the rural atmosphere and the lush greenery that seemed to be everywhere. A short outing to new and old places is highly recommended. It’s also good for the body as well as the soul. TheBigChilli



10 Questions About Fitness Training with Rob Cook at NewMoves After a recent medical check-up and with my bad numbers high and my good numbers low, I decided it was time to lose some of the excess kilos I had invested in over the past few years. On asking different friends, one name kept coming up - Rob Cook at NewMoves. Whether it was a friend recovering from a cancer nightmare to a friend’s wife trying to regain her pre-pregnancy weight and figure, they all recommended the same person. So as someone whose exposure to gyms is limited to two or three visits at most, I decided I needed to learn more about fitness training from Rob Cook and sent him ten questions. Here’s the exchange: What is fitness training? Simply put, fitness training includes various activities to enhance overall health and wellbeing. How does one qualify to be a trainer? There are a couple of worldwide-recognised educational institutes (such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine for which I work as a presenter and an educator of presenters). This training qualifies trainers as an internationally recognised trainer or coach. All trainers and coaches must keep their qualifications valid and complete continuing education every two years to remain qualified. Who are your clients? I work with a variety of clientele, ranging from professional and amateur athletes to injury rehabilitation, plus those who just want to look, move, and feel better. I would have to say my favourite clients are older adults. 44


What should people do before starting a fitness program? Choose a qualified coach with a reputable reputation. Find a facility you feel comfortable in and that welcomes you. Do things you like as health and fitness does not have to become a mundane chore. Focus on activities that are fun and enjoyable to engage in Why take up a fitness programme? Clients come in as many just want to feel better, improve their health and well-being which can include the ability to move easier and pain free. Some people come in to learn a new skill or to improve existing skills as it is a hobby they enjoy. What results can they expect? Results are completely determined by the client, but one result we promise is a client will feel and get better. The reasons why clients come to see us will lead to a personalized session structure and outline which in turn will enable their results. How long does it take a client to benefit from sessions? Noticeable benefits are based on a large number of factors, including current physical condition,

actual goal and willingness to work and maintain a level of consistency required to facilitate change on any level. We have clients who come to us with painful movement or restrictive movement and see and feel results from the ďŹ rst session. What is a session like? To make it more effective and to ensure success, all sessions are personal, intimate, adaptive, engaging, challenging, different and most importantly, enjoyable. How much per session? NewMoves has three tiers of trainers/coaches with the choice to enjoy a single session or sign up for 40 sessions. Prices for each tier range based on the coach one trains with: Personal, Elite or Master. Why did you get into this business? I always wanted to work with the human body and help people, but never wanted to work in hospitals. Fitness became the avenue I pursued - a career in which I could still work with the human body and improve the quality of people’s lives. TheBigChilli



By Dominic Faulder

Trink’s proud boast –his Nite Owl columns were either loved or hated, and always controversial



The recent passing of Bangkok Post columnist Bernard Trink sparked all kinds of memories of the man who probably did more than anybody else to promote the bars of Patpong in their heyday. The following interview ‘An evening with Trink’ which first appeared in Living in Thailand magazine in 1983 provides a unique insight into one of this country’s most controversial media personalities


inding out what makes Bernard Trink tick is no easy matter, not least because he works such irregular hours, often staying up all night at his desk to complete his columns. When finally contacted, he mentioned that this would not be the first time he had acceded to such a request. Unfortunately, with the exception of a Swedish film crew, previous interviewers had for the most part been “incompetents” in his view. Regarding the tape recorder with a certain distaste as we finally got under way, he remarked that we had very different ways of doing an interview. He certainly disapproved of being asked to outline his life story briefly in fifteen minutes, something he avoids because it allows people to “ramble”. An hour and forty minutes later, barely had we reached Thailand and the batteries gave out. Trink, I felt, had been vindicated but was kind enough not to take any malicious pleasure in my having to resort to pen and paper. Trink, unlike many of his interview subjects, needs little introduction. As entertainment editor of the Bangkok World he is one of the few foreign journalists working for the domestic press to elicit any real reaction from a generally apathetic, non-responsive English-reading public. “I think, without any question, I am the most controversial writer certainly on the Bangkok World and possibly the Bangkok Post,” he says. “Not necessarily all my readers are fans, but you get some people who hate you and still can’t resist buying.” Trink has met his fair share of lovers and haters. An American once described him to his face as “Bangkok’s buffoon”, something he “certainly did not find flattering”. At the opposite extreme, another American arrived in his office heavily burdened with cuttings. “He could quote me almost as if it was chapter and verse from the Bible. It was almost frightening his ability to depend on what I said.” Trink is unapologetic and serious as he talks about his work as a critic: “It is solely my opinion. I am not saying I represent the majority. It’s based on education, intelligence, experience, a desire to be fair and the realisation that I am writing for my readers. They are my concern.”

As he freely acknowledges the response is not always enviable: “My name is up on the walls of half the washrooms in town. I touch something in each of these people.” When queried about what that ‘something’ might be, he is uncertain. “I touch people deeply — maybe it’s because I write so deeply about things in myself,” he ventures. Whatever might underlie such reactions, he believes that most of his readers give his columns better than a cursory glance: “They’re not something you chuck on the bottom of a bird cage.” ‘Bernard Trink’ is not a pseudonym. “Who'd ever want a pen name like that?” he chuckles. He was born in New York in 1931, which makes him “a Great Depression baby”. He grew up keenly aware of the hardship of the period. Although his father, employed as a tailor, was never without work, he learned the value of money at an early age. Blessed with a good memory for names and dates, his interest in history was precocious, to say the least: “I remember quite vividly the years in which Hitler came to power,” he says (President Paul von Hindenburg died in 1934). He also recalls the Japanese attacks on the Chinese mainland and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935). At school, he pursued his studies “always with the idea of being a history professor — I wanted to teach history at college level”. A parallel passion was the cinema, often pursued at the expense of his school work. “I never got very good marks in school - I passed - perhaps because I went to as many movies as I did, even on nights before important examinations.” Despite this, he made it to the City College of New York, majoring in history and graduated at the age of 20. He was soon drafted into the US army, underwent basic training in Virginia in combat construction engineering, mainly bridge building, which “never proved useful to me”. He was dispatched to Korea where his initial job was with ordnance keeping track of shells for 105mm howitzers. Eventually he was transferred to information work. “And here I think they finally got around to using some of my skills,” he comments, conceding that it was essentially propaganda, “but not in the Goebbels sense of making up all sorts of lies”. TheBigChilli



As the TI&E (troop information and education) man, his job was to explain to American GIs and South Korean troops “exactly what this fighting against the communists was all about”. By and large he was left to his own initiative: “I used all my knowledge plus a great deal of books I read on my own ... having nothing to do with what the American government wanted. There were no lies in anything I said essentially because no one sent down any information to convey.” This independent line didn’t get him into trouble, 48


but it didn’t get him promoted either: “I was, shall we say, an ordinary soldier.” His special position spared him direct involvement in the fighting and other normal soldierly duties such as mounting guard. This isn’t, however, to say that he was detached from the realities of war: “Anything that happened at the front, a mere three miles away, we immediately heard and felt and if necessary participated in.” His final months in the army were spent in “of all places, West Point”. Although only a private, he was responsible for lecturing officer cadets “on what

the Americans were doing in Korea plus what the conditions were like”. is conscription finished, Trink was happy to leave the army. “I did not care much for the regimentation of army life - it was certainly never anything I considered as a career – remember, I still wanted to be a history professor.” He was then accepted for a master’s degree at Columbia University studying modern European history, specifically the period between the world wars. He was entitled to a place at Columbia under what is


known as the GI Bill of Rights, which “meant in effect that the government was paying for my tuition”. In the third year, money began to run short and he looked around for suitable work. “I decided on something for which I'd never been trained,” he recalls. “Why don’t I try helping people by becoming a social worker? It struck me that there were a lot of poor people in New York.” fter some brief training, he qualified as a ‘social investigator’ and was given a caseload of 91 - normally, it was only around 60. “Our essential job was to




Feature find out whether these people had other sources of income.” Much of the work involved trying to trace errant husbands and checking up on prospective welfare claimants by contacting previous employers, neighbours and so forth. s he now reflects, “My general attitude was very much influenced by this job.” He realised, for example, that helping people was more important than giving sympathy. In fact, he believes the work made him “rather hard” from that point of view. Case types tended to recur with depressing predictability. An example he cites was the number of single women who kept having children by different men. As it struck him at the time: “Now she has found the secret of life - you can stay on welfare by keeping on being pregnant.” He went over to nights at Columbia so he could do his social work in the daytime. His studies were not faring well and although he completed his thesis more than once, it was never accepted. “I would say the professors were just keeping to an extremely high standard that they wouldn’t lower, and I could not give all the time that was required,” he explains philosophically. His life as a New York social worker lasted about four years. Then, around 1959 with annual leave due, a friend offered him a round trip ticket to Europe that he himself was unable to use. It was a charter flight and the friend, who was about to marry, was keen to sell. “You could say I was getting it at double discount,” Trink recalls. He arrived in Paris and promptly ran into the language barrier. “The French are very funny people. If you don’t speak French perfectly, they pretend they don’t understand you at all,” he says. Undeterred, he struggled on with English and set about seeing more of the country by train. Although he only had a month, wanderlust led him over the borders. As he explains, “I went from France to neighbouring countries, and then I thought, ‘Why not neighbouring countries’?” In this way, he visited Holland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Austria and Sweden. “I was by no means hurrying, but as I was going through them I realised at some point - I think it was in Athens - that there was a helluva lot I wanted to see and I couldn’t see it in one month.” Unwilling to wait another year, he decided to forget about the charter flight home. As he recalls, “I was sitting on top of the Acropolis and I wrote a letter to the Department of Welfare saying, ‘From the seat of democracy I am declaring myself free from your organisation’.” History does not record the reaction to this improbable epistle; the department nevertheless forwarded money from his pension fund which finally




caught up with him in Helsinki via American Express. He spent the better part of a year in Western Europe and then decided to see Eastern Europe, after crossing from Finland into Russia and working his way down through Poland, East Germany, Romania, Hungary, and eventually coming out through Turkey. The only country he missed along the way was Albania. “They simply would not let me in,” he recalls. He continued his travels through the Middle East and into Pakistan then India, supporting himself by teaching English. In Bombay (Mumbai), The Indian Express provided him with the first chance to write stories about his travels. They paid poorly, but as he points out, “When you reach Bombay and you have very little, not very much is a lot.” Helping to allay some of the expense of travel, he'd “learnt the trick of picking up names along the way”. In this way, he was often able to stay in people’s homes. “It was inexpensive and got me a first-hand knowledge of how these people lived.” e also lectured about his travels, mainly to students. They were eager to learn and pressed questions upon him. He never asked for money but often received payment in kind: “People who'd arranged the lectures - usually student leaders - would take me down to the local bazaar where they had Western clothes,” he recalls. Illness struck: “Yellow jaundice - I did turn yellow, particularly my eyes,” he recalls. He nevertheless made it to Calcutta (Kolkata), “quite a city”, then East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and from there to Rangoon (Yangon) by sea. It was about 1962 and an interesting time politically in Burma (Myanmar). But as Trink recalls, “I found most of the countries I was in had interesting times at the time I was there.” In Turkey, for example, he had seen the government fall. All along the way from France he was indebted to people for their generosity: “I met people who usually helped me go one country further,” he recalls. Burma was no exception and a group of people “all chipped in and got me a Union of Burma Airways ticket to Bangkok”. In Bangkok, he stayed at the YMCA before being taken in by some Thais. He taught English privately and found the country appealing. Nevertheless, he “still had an itchy foot” and headed south for Malaya (Malaysia). Whilst staying at a Sikh temple in Penang, he got involved in selling cod liver oil pills from Australia. “I was trafficking — I surely was,” he laughs, recalling the “genuine health pills” for which he himself developed something of a taste. The occupation was quite common among foreigners at the time. He arrived in Singapore to find it already fairly well set up from the cod liver oil pill point of view, so


embarked upon a Messageries Maritimes merchant ship bound for Saigon. After three weeks in Vietnam, he continued to Hong Kong where he was to have his first fulltime job with a newspaper. He heard that the South China Morning Post was in need of proofreaders. “I didn’t know what a proof-reader was but I went down to the newspaper and said, ‘Whatever it is, maybe I can do it’.” He stayed three months and then decided to proceed to Japan. Teaching English once more, he heard that The Yomiuri Shimbun, a newspaper which also produced an English version, might be in need of a film critic. The opportunity was too good to miss. As he explains of his lifelong passion, “Wherever I went. I saw movies, and this became something of a joke amongst the people who knew me. Their idea of seeing a country was visiting the temples and bazaars. I agreed except that I always wanted to see the movies of that country as well. As I say, it was a joke.” The main obstacle confronting him was that he did not speak Japanese. At the suggestion of the paper he found a girlfriend who was able to give him a simultaneous translation in the cinema, a technique which he still occasionally uses with Thai films “except that’s my wife.” He was occasionally “miffed” by delays at the Yomiuri, which tended to publish his contributions, including theatre reviews, slightly tardily. So he moved to the Asahi Evening News and later The Mainichi, both of which were much more prompt. After two years in Japan he ran into trouble with his correspondence list. “Shall we say they started heating up,” he recalls. The list was, in part, composed of women he had met on his travels. “I was corresponding with one girl in Denmark, one girl in Austria, one girl in India; and I had met a girl in Thailand who was one of my students. So, shall we say, she was, eh, added to my list of correspondents.” he time had come for a decision. “It’s all right having girlfriends and playing around but it’s time to get married.” He chose Aree, the girl from Thailand, and sent her money for the fare to Japan. After their marriage, Aree became pregnant with their first son, Jody. They decided to return to Thailand to set up home before the child was born. Trink followed his wife back to Thailand and immediately set about finding work in the two areas in which he was experienced: reviewing films and teaching. He approached Darrel Berrigan, editor of the Bangkok World, who took little time in appointing him entertainment editor, the paper’s first. The good news was that he was on a salary, the bad news was that it was only 500 baht a month. The Nite Owl column already existed, but Trink was the first to take it regularly in hand.


Berrigan barely lived to see the fruits of all this: “Actually he was murdered, I would say within about six months,” recalls Trink of the brutal demise of the Bangkok World’s American founder. s the newspaper consolidated itself, Trink’s salary increased and the need to subsidise his income from teaching at places like AUA diminished. He continued, however, to teach cinema at Chulalongkorn University for some five years, enjoying particularly the free hand he was given in the choice of syllabus. Trink has been with the Bangkok World since 1965; there are few longer serving staffers amongst his colleagues. The paper itself is much changed but Trink and alter-ego Nite Owl have endured. Another alias, Friar Tuck, has however long since hung up his robes: a figure of less than monkish appetites, he was seldom averse to the occasional dish or eight: “I found that I didn’t have to gorge myself to eat them provided I could have three to four hours (the average length of my Friar Tuck meals) in which to do it,” he wrote in July 1973. The column was followed by ‘Dinner with Bernard Trink’, which combined interviewing a guest with bracketed asides on the food under review: (“He dug into the Pechugas de pollo al Jerez, finishing the breasts of chicken in sherry. I did equal justice to the Filet Chateaubriand para dos. We were both impressed.”) [Dining with Chatri Chalerm Yukol, Dec. 8th 1977] Interviews were later done in the encounter format ‘An evening with Trink’. In the six years it has been running, over 300 people have been interviewed, mainly from the field of entertainment. He has quizzed stars like Robert Mitchum, but does not on the whole go for big names. “Everyone has a story,” he maintains. Trink’s Bangkok is not TAT’s. “The fact is that nightlife is a key part of Bangkok,” he says. “The authorities don’t like this because it spoils the Thai image of klongs, temples and all these things, which are certainly very nice.” On bars, he sums up his view in a nutshell: “Since they are there, make them as good as possible.” He does not see himself as moralist: “I am not vain enough to think of myself as Bangkok’s conscience.” Delicate sensibilities may find his apparent appetite for the minutiae of the city’s nightlife distasteful, trivial, seedy, even offensive. Trink is nevertheless on the whole the camera and not the subject. Idiosyncratic of style, loved and loathed, Trink is at least seldom cursed with indifference. Resisting the temptation to find out his philosophy of life, I asked whether he saw himself as something of a cult personality. “A personality certainly, but which cult?” he pondered.




Concrete Therapy

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

Dear NCS, I am a man in my early fifties and I have never been married nor had a serious, long-term relationship. I have a healthy social life and good selfesteem – all in all, I am happy with myself and my circumstances. Because I have been single my whole life, people often assume that I am a “player” or an “eternal bachelor.” The truth is, I have never been interested in a sexual relationship with anyone. For as long as I can remember, whenever my peers talked about sex and romance, it really didn’t resonate with me, and I prefer to connect with people through friendship only. Yes, I do enjoy companionship and I quite enjoy romantic activities like taking a walk, even holding hands or hugging, but it is not sexual for me. Ideally, I would love to meet a close companion to spend the rest of my life with, but without the sexual expectation and pressure that comes with it. I realise that “the rest of my life” is getting shorter, and I am at a point in my life where I would like to commit to a special person. However, in my previous relationships, whenever the time came to discuss sex and my (non) needs in that department, my partners have shied away thinking that there was something wrong with me or that I was hiding repressed desires. Are there others out there like me? Is there something actually wrong with me even though I feel perfectly happy the way I am? - Happily Platonic 52


Dear Happily Platonic, Q It’s great to hear that you are happy with yourself and your life. There are people who never really get to achieve this, so you’re doing well in that sense. But it’s understandable you would also like a companion who can help fulfill the more emotional needs that friendships can’t quite provide. You describe having no interest in sex, which might not be that common but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it and you certainly don’t need to change or “fix” your lack of sexual desire. Everyone’s sexual drive is slightly different and while most people have a sex drive that would be around average, there are people who have much lower (or higher) levels of sexual desire. You might be in a minority but you’re certainly not alone. Like most things, this brings both benefits and challenges with it. In your case it sounds like one such challenge is that others assume that everyone experiences sexual attraction, causing some people to question your motives for being single. Another challenge could be that potential partners may worry that you don’t find them sexually attractive or think Counsellor David Ogden

Photo by Verity Tan

you’re more sexually attracted to other people. The term asexual is sometimes used to describe people who experience essentially no sexual desire. While I would never advocate self-applying a label that doesn’t feel comfortable for you, one benefit a term like this can offer is to help others understand you better. Have you considered being open with your close friends about this issue? Being more honest and up-front with people you trust might help to dispel some of the incorrect assumptions others have about you and possibly make it easier to find a partner who will understand and be more compatible with you. I imagine you would ideally like a relationship with someone whose sexual drive is similar to your own but finding a partner with whom you can enjoy only a romantic, non-sexual relationship will be a challenge (as you’re no doubt aware). A quick online search will reveal there are a lot of others similar to you who experience the same frustration. There may be websites or certain dating apps

that cater who people who are asexual, in case you’re interested in exploring that. Of course it’s possible to have a successful relationship with someone who’s a bit more sexual than you, and depending on how you feel about engaging in sex – whether you are quite averse to it, or just indifferent to it – this is something you could discuss and negotiate openly with a potential partner. It’s quite a common issue in relationships as many couples find they have differing sexual needs from each other and must find ways to compromise around this. In the meantime, focus on your friendships and appreciate these as much as you can. Good friendships can fulfil many of our needs for connection and validation while we wait to find someone who can fill that additional desire for romance and intimacy. And above all, enjoy your happiness and positive selfesteem and try not to allow any one issue in your life to detract too much from the many good things you’ve obviously got going for you. Dave Counsellor TheBigChilli


Concrete Therapy

Dear NCS, We are a family with two children in their early teens. We are financially getting by, but I wouldn’t say we are well-off. Our salaries cover the schooling of the children and the rent, but because of recent pay cuts due to Covid, we don’t have a lot of money left over at the end of the month. Our kids both have iPhones, which originally were meant to be used in case of emergency, but now they are glued to the screen non-stop. Last month, both of their phone bills combined cost us a staggering 8,000 Baht! Since we are foreigners in this country, our kids cannot get part time jobs. We feel we cannot keep up with their demands for money. Our kids’ friends at the international school seem to have much more money and can spend it the way they want. How can we work this out without giving our children the feeling they are not our first priority? - Stingy Parents



Dear Parents, Q Many families struggle with this issue. As parents we also don’t seem to understand our teenagers’ need to be connected. They see each other all day at school but as

soon as they get home they have to be on Tiktok and Instagram. Trying to limit their access to social media can lead to endless discussions. Your last sentence struck me. What makes you think that not giving in to your children’s demands means that they are not your first priority? Are the children telling you this or is it your own thinking based on your childhood or guilt feelings? Letting children know they are our first priority can be done in many ways, such as spending time with them, taking an interest in their online activities, having meals together as a family, good conversations, help with homework and guiding them into becoming responsible adults that know the limits of a budget. This will bring you to the topic of phone bills. Do your children know what is available each month and what your daily budget for the family is? Do they understand the value of money yet, and do they get a fixed amount of pocket money? If they exceed their data limit, who should foot the bill? Have a family discussion about how to solve this problem and let your kids suggest solutions. Try to come to agreements and help them to learn how to stick to them. If this does not succeed, ultimately you as parents are the final deciders. As parents, you need to have a clear and shared strategy. You can provide your teenagers with a set mobile data package each month and when the data limit has been reached, their internet time is up or they should switch to wifi. Discuss with them what kind of phone activity uses up most of their data, and agree on an amount of pocket money which can also be used to pay the bills. You should not bail them out. Let them realise that overspending means no pocket money next month. It would

Counsellor Johanna de Koning

Photo by Verity Tan be worthwhile to talk with them about their future and their budget when they go to college. Try not to take a judgmental or dismissive tone when discussing these issues, but show your teenagers that you trust them to be responsible for their own finances. Giving them fixed pocket money will also give you control over your finances. It teaches your teenagers responsibility and how to live together and share the limits of an income. This will prepare them for adulthood. Of course, other families have other rules (everything is allowed, so-and-so has unlimited data etc.) but take this with some humour and just mention that they were born into this family and this is how this family works. Tell them you love them, and for you that includes teaching your kids to manage their own finances responsibly and learning to live with limits in order to develop a healthy sense of independence. Johanna Counsellor TheBigChilli



Stranded by COVID-19 QUARANTINE – WHAT TO EXPECT Pay your way in five-star luxury, or let the government foot the bill in a down market hotel? By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

This is a stor y of two Thai citizens whose lives were put on hold because they were out of the countr y when COVID-19 forced sudden and drastic travel restrictions. Narong Vongsumitr, 83, couldn’t return to Thailand from New Zealand for many months because of new measures imposed so quickly there was no chance of heading back home or even leaving New Zealand. Alissa G., 40, moved to Japan with her family when her husband took a job there. The pandemic put a temporar y stop to regular trips to Thailand to see family and friends and look after business interests, but she was determined to get back as soon as she could. 56


arong and Alissa described for The BigChilli the complications caused by the unexpected denial of entry into the land of their birth as well as the procedures they were required to go through in their respective host countries before they were able to fly to Thailand. They describe the welcome home officially orchestrated at Suvarnabhumi International Airport and the subsequent twoweek quarantine they had to endure before being allowed to walk among their fellow Thais. Narong stayed at a reasonably good hotel in the center of Bangkok sponsored by the Thai government, while Alissa elected to pay for a luxurious riverside hotel. At the time she submitted her story to The Big Chilli Alissa was about halfway through the quarantine process.


Narong’s stor y As Foreign Affairs adviser to the spiritual leader of Thai Muslims, Aziz Phitakkumpon, the Chularajmontri (Sheikhul Islam) of Thailand, and Chairman of Foreign Relations for the Foundation of Islamic Centre of Thailand, Narong has been looking after the interests of Thai Muslims for decades. “I left Bangkok by Thai International on November 14, 2019, to visit my older daughter, her Thai husband and their daughter in Auckland, New Zealand. I had no idea that instead of returning after six months I would be forced to remain there until September 23 of this year because of COVID-19. “From May to September – winter in the southern hemisphere – the weather was cold and it rained a lot. I felt uncomfortable and cold. “When New Zealand went into lockdown, we could no longer

Narong Vongsumitr TheBigChilli


Feature go to restaurants or even meet with people. Everything was subject to restrictions and almost everything was closed. Only ten people at a time were allowed into a supermarket to buy food; when they came out another ten were let in. Needless to say, I couldn’t return to Bangkok. “For most of the time my daughter was in touch with the Thai embassy in Wellington on my behalf. We followed their instructions and were very happy with their service. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Thai International. From June they were constantly promising but then postponing flights from Auckland to bring Thai citizens stranded in New Zealand back home. “Finally on September 23 the flight took off. The Thai charter



flight could accept only 230 passengers out of more than 500 Thai nationals who wanted to return home. The plane could seat 350 people, but social distancing cut the number to 230. I was one of the lucky ones, but I found that I couldn’t use my original two-way ticket which I paid 55,000 baht for. I had to buy a one-way ticket for

We got three meals per day rice and chicken for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes we got small p pieces of pineapple fruit like pine or banana, and an sometimes also als Thai desserts. I couldn’t order any other food and an I ate hotel whatever the h gave me.

NZD1,800 (about 38,000 baht). I haven’t asked for a refund as yet and I am not sure if I will ever get one. “The six-month visa I received upon arrival at the Auckland airport in November 2019 was automatically extended for another five months due to the crisis. The extension expired on September 25, 2020. Luckily I flew out two days before. “However, before being allowed to fly back home, I had to take a COVID-19 test at a government office in Auckland, which was paid by the New Zealand government. The negative result came two days later and then I went to a hospital for an examination to get the Fit to Fly certificate. The examination cost me NZD100 (about 2,100 baht). “I submitted all the documents plus my new one-way ticket to the Thai embassy as they had requested. Actually, my daughter sent copies of all relevant documents and the airline ticket electronically. “On the day of departure to Bangkok on September 23, many staff members from the Thai embassy were on hand at the Auckland airport to assist Thai nationals boarding the Thai International charter flight. There were many empty seats due to social distancing. When we landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport the same day I was very happy, just like everyone else on the plane. We were met by Thai officials and doctors, most of them wearing full-body protective gear. They examined our documents and took our temperatures, and then we proceeded to Immigration and Customs. “The Thai officials at the airport had a list of the arriving passengers and they asked us each if we wanted to go to a private hotel or a govern-sponsored hotel for the two-week quarantine. A hotel of my choice would cost me

60,000 baht so I chose one paid for by the government. Then I and 96 other people were put on buses and provided with a police escort to one hotel in Bangkok where I spent 14 days in quarantine. “After we arrived at the hotel everyone was taken to their own room. We never saw each other again. Our meals were served in a plastic box and put outside the door on a chair. Staff rang the bell to let us know, and by the time I opened the door there was no one to be seen in the hall. After I finished eating I took the plastic box, placed it in a plastic bag and put it back on the chair outside the room. Then I went back in my room and closed the door. I never saw anyone. “We got three meals per day. It was rice and chicken for breakfast, rice with chicken for lunch and the same for dinner. Chicken every time! Sometimes we got small pieces of fruit like pineapple or banana, and sometimes also Thai desserts. I couldn’t order any other food and I ate whatever the hotel gave me. “However, I was able to order some small personal items like soap or fruits by calling the reception. I left money on the chair outside the door and someone would bring my order, put it on the chair and take the money. I was provided 16 bottles of water for 14 days inside the room but could order more if needed, which I did. During the two weeks no one came to clean the room or change the bed sheets. I used the same three towels in the bathroom for the whole quarantine period. “I couldn’t open the window or go outside. After 10 days I was allowed to go downstairs in the hotel for a COVID-19 test. I was informed of the negative result the next day. Three days before going home I took a second COVID test, which was again negative. I left the hotel for home on October 8.

No one came to clean the room or change the bed sheets. I used the same three towels in the bathroom for the whole quarantine period. I couldn’t open the window or go outside.

“During two weeks of quarantine I spent my time looking out the window of my room, watching television and sleeping. It was boring and I must say that the time inside the hotel room was not a pleasant experience for me. “Not being able to breathe fresh air and communicate face-to-face with other human beings for 14 days was harder than you might imagine, and I hope I never have to experience anything like that again. Fortunately in this day and age we are able to communicate via mobile phones.

“Since leaving the quarantine I have been very busy clearing many outstanding matters, in particular seeing doctors for all kinds of health problems like fixing my teeth. The medical care in New Zealand is free for the locals but expensive for non-natives. “I am very happy to be back, and my family here, which includes my younger daughter and son, are also very happy. I will resume my duties for Sheikhul Islam and other responsibilities soon.” • Mr Narong is also an Ambassador for Peace for the Universal Peace Federation and highly respected by members of the Bangkok diplomatic corps. In addition, he has built a successful career in finance and served as an adviser to the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2004-2006 and honorary adviser to the President of the National Assembly from 2009-2012. TheBigChilli



Alissa’s experience

ur family moved to Japan last summer for my husband’s work. We try to come back to Bangkok to visit family every few months, but when COVID hit it made traveling almost non-existent. Luckily, when I heard from a friend who works at the Thai embassy in Tokyo that they were opening slots in October for Thais to travel back to Thailand, I quickly put my name down.


“There was a series of things required before the embassy would consider your application: “Step 1: We were sent a form to fill out and one of the things they asked was the reason for returning to Thailand. We were given a few choices of dates we wanted to fly back on (four days per month). I had to send a copy of my Thai passport. “Step 2: Once the embassy received this, they ask you to buy a plane ticket through JAL or ANA and to sign a consent form that you will quarantine for 14 days and abide by the rules once you enter Thailand. “Step 3: After that process was approved, the embassy asked us to print out and prepare documents prior to our travel date which included the TM5 immigration form, confirmation of hotel booking and a Fit to Fly certificate. “Thais traveling back to Thailand weren’t required to get a PCR test done but we were required to get a Fit to Fly medical certificate issued 72 hours prior to the flight. “The whole process of gathering all the documents and booking the hotel was quite straightforward and easy. 60


“As for my hotel choice, I had many friends traveling back to Bangkok and stayed at various quarantine hotels so they shared their experiences with me. I looked through the ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) list of hotels to check and compare packages each hotel was offering. Most of the hotels offered similar deals and were competitive in prices, so I picked a well-known hotel by the river because of the river views and balcony that I could access anytime during my stay.

“The flight from Haneda to Bangkok was full, with mostly Thai passengers. Once we disembarked the plane, there was an army of airport staff waiting on the jetway all dressed from head to toe in PPE gear, telling passengers to walk in one line. All the airport staff wore goggles, masks, face shields, hair nets, gloves and gowns. “We were ushered to an area that was separated into two sides; right side for passengers who prebooked their accommodation and the left side for those who didn’t.

If you didn’t book anything, you were given options to choose from a list of government-subsidized quarantine hotels or private ones. “Our temperatures were checked and the staff asked to check our documents (Fit to Fly certificate, boarding pass, hotel booking). We were asked to go to a counter so they could examine these documents. While we waited, a staff member checked our temperatures again, but this time using a tympanic thermometer to measure the temperature inside your ear. “Mine read 37.3C so I was asked to sit on a chair in another area where there was an industrial fan used to cool people down; one staff member said the slightly high reading could have been caused by the walk from the plane. I was there for about five minutes before my temperature was rechecked and luckily it had gone down. I was escorted to immigration and then to pick my luggage up. Once outside, someone from the hotel greeted me, all dressed in PPE gear as well. “I would say from the time of arrival until leaving the airport the whole process took less than one hour. (Side note: “Make sure when booking your hotel to check that the limousine transporting you to the hotel is for you only. Luckily

I’ve been having Thai food so haven’t been disappointed so far. Room service is also available but with an additional cost. The hotel package comes with four days of housekeeping and you can pay for laundry service.

I checked this first because the limousine the hotel prepared was allocated for four passengers flying on the same flight. So I paid 2,000 baht extra to get a private limousine.) “Because I wasn’t required to get a PCR test before my flight, I had to take the first COVID test when I arrived at the hotel – this didn’t include another two tests during my stay. When I tested negative on my second PCR test, I could book my relaxation time outside by the riverfront area. “The hotel sectioned the areas into two, one for those who have tested negative on the second PCR test and the other for those who’ve TheBigChilli



Breakfast in plastic container

Breakfast served on silverware 62


Now that I am nearing the end of my quarantine, I feel each day seems to go by faster. I would suggest to anyone thinking of traveling here to opt for a private hotel because it is worth every penny in exchange for a little comfort and service while you spend two weeks of your life stuck in a room with limited access.

Lunch served in plastic containers

Coffee during relaxation time

tested negative on the third test. And once you receive a negative result on the third test you can use the area by the pool (no swimming though), book lunch and dinner at the restaurant and use the limited spa services. “Most of the people use the relaxation time to walk around but I was very happy sitting by the bar drinking coffee and taking in the scenery. Alcohol consumption is prohibited by the Thai Ministry of Public Health. “During the first week, all my meals were served in disposable

containers with single use cutleries, but after the negative result from my second PCR test, everything was served in china and silverware. All the meals and the order form is accessed by scanning a QR code which provides different meal options for each day. “I’ve been having Thai food so haven’t been disappointed so far. Room service is also available but with an additional cost. Delivery of all sorts is contactless and things are left on a table outside your room. The hotel package comes with four days of housekeeping and you can pay for laundry service. “Now that I am nearing the end of my quarantine, I feel each day seems to go by faster. I would suggest to anyone thinking of traveling here to opt for a private hotel because it is worth every penny in exchange for a little comfort and service while you spend two weeks of your life stuck in a room with limited access. “Overall, so far, my stay has been quite pleasant because of the balcony, the view, the food and the service. On top of that, calls from family and friends and binging on Netflix have kept me very busy!” TheBigChilli



‡ Meet the people uniting nations

Her Excellency Mrs Samantha K. Jayasuriya



Thailand and Sri Lanka are ‘two Nations but one Family’ By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Sri Lanka, Her Excellency Mrs Samantha K. Jayasuriya, Ambassador of Sri Lanka, gave an interview to The BigChilli. Joining the Foreign Ministr y “I joined the Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1998, through an island-wide competitive exam. I didn’t have specific plans to be a diplomat. Having graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Peradeniya-Sri Lanka, with an Hons. degree in Agricultural Economics, I started my first career as an assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Agriculture. Having learnt about the open competitive exam gazetted by the government for recruiting cadets for the Sri Lanka Foreign Service, with few other colleagues, I too submitted an application, and it happened to be the last day of closing applications. I got through the exam and the structured interview, and entered the diplomatic service of 1998 intake. Since then, I have been working in the Foreign Ministry and Sri Lanka’s overseas missions in different capacities, and I feel privileged and honoured to have this opportunity to represent the interest of my country and people.” Ambassador in Thailand “I arrived in Thailand in August 2019, as the Ambassador-designate to Thailand, and it was my first time in Thailand. This is my first appointment as an Ambassador, having completed 22 years as a career diplomat for my country in various capacities, and I presented credentials to His Majesty the King Vajiralongkorn in October of this year. Given that the Head of Mission position is an appointment granted by the Head of State, the time limit is not explicitly indicated, but in the context of Sri Lanka Foreign Service, and past precedent, it is normally understood as three years, but depending on

circumstances and exigencies, this limit for tenure may be less or more. “I am also the non-resident Ambassador of Sri Lanka accredited for Lao PDR and the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). I am enjoying my work in both bilateral and multilateral spheres, and doing my utmost to fulfill the objectives set by the government for our Foreign Policy conduct, together with my small, yet very dedicated team in the mission.” COVID-19 pandemic “As the pandemic situation was escalating in the early part of this year, respecting government regulations and emergency directives, to ensure safety and security of staff as well as our visitors, the Embassy moved to work from home mode, and it was a novel and challenging experience for all of us. The Embassy officials dedicated 24/7 to redress the concerns of affected Sri Lankans in Thailand, Lao PDR and Cambodia. We continued to work from home for over a month, and then resumed a rotational work schedule in mid-May. “As the COVID situation has considerably improved in Thailand, thanks to the meticulous efforts of the government and all agencies involved, and the support of the public, we are now slowly getting adjusted to a ‘hybrid mode’ of work – a combination of virtual and physical meetings. It was really a trying time for me personally, as I had only about less than 3-4 normal months since assumption of duties to get established in the post, professionally and personally, but we were determined to give our best efforts to TheBigChilli


Executive Secretary of UNESCAP Armida Salsia Alisjahbana with. Ambassador Jayasuriya.

keep our focus on routine work and also on tourism and trade promotion activities, to practically possible limits, largely towards raising awareness, expanding our network of contacts and, recalibrating our planned activities for post COVID situation etc. “Our prime focus was to be resilient and stay committed to serve our citizens, and we are pleased to have arranged two repatriation flights to Sri Lanka from Bangkok in May and August 2020 respectively, and it was made possible due to the excellent collaboration and understanding between the Embassy of Thailand in Colombo, the support of the South Asia Department of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the COVID-19 Task Force in Sri Lanka, the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka and the IOM Regional Office in Bangkok. The embassy also facilitated repatriation of a group of 16 Sri Lankans stranded in Cambodia in August 2020 via Singapore, with the support of our High Commission in Singapore. Helping a young Sri Lankan couple to cross borders to Thailand to safely deliver their first baby during the lock down and strict border closure was an exceptionally satisfying humanitarian evacuation we handled. “Following the ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ web portal launched by the Foreign Ministry, the mission also 66


updated its data base of overseas Sri Lankans in our jurisdiction, and the mission officials virtually connected via zoom meetings, emails, WhatsApp groups with over 120 Sri Lankan students pursuing Masters and PhD studies in 14 Universities across Thailand, and facilitated the return of students who have successfully completed their studies. The Embassy also facilitated over 100 students from Wuhan Province, transiting via Bangkok airport, on their return to Sri Lanka. We are currently exploring all possible options to support a group of Sri Lankans in Lao PDR to return home, which is a job in progress. “We also participated in virtual forums, discussions and meetings with international and regional organizations, Export Development Board, Tourism Promotion Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture and other authorities in Capital, especially on the plans to boost tourism and export of Sri Lanka in the post COVID-19 context. We stay focus on supporting our exporters in finding suppliers of quality raw materials and buyers from Thailand and hope it will help them to bounce back stronger supporting our economy. “I was also able to meet a number of key political, religious and administrative personalities in Thailand over the last one year period renewing our close ties.”



Dambulla Golden Temple – the best preserved rock temple complex built in First Century BCE and with its wall painting and Buddha statues it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage.

Most memorable experiences “Thailand and Sri Lanka share many similarities, and the most indelible memory all through this period is the affection and friendship expressed to me and my country by the Thais of all walks of life. They all respectfully recall the deep rooted Theravada Buddhism and associated monastic traditions and socio-cultural exchanges with Sri Lanka. Each temple in Thailand bear testimony in one way or the other, for historical links with my country, and these relations date back to nearly 800 years. I feel very much at home in every sense, and that is my biggest positive impression of the ‘land of smiles’. Thai people are friendly, respectful and clam by nature, and when they make the ‘Wai’ by clasping hands and say “Sawadee ka/krub’, it gives the same feeling and meaning as how I would greet someone in my Sri Lankan way ‘Ayu-bo-wan’ which means ‘may you have long life’. It is interesting to see that this way of greeting became almost ‘universal’ as the most safest way to greet in this unprecedented situation. “Thailand places family at the center in its social architecture, and respecting parents and caring for them is close to my heart, as we Sri Lankans have very similar values. Although I am yet to personally experience a Songkran festival in Thailand, Sri Lankans celebrate the Sinhala-Hindu New Year on the 68


same days, April 13-14 every year, where we follow many customs centered around the Family. An issue that made me somewhat anxious during my first few weeks was the traffic in Bangkok city, but it is amazing how everyone respects each other and the amount of patience exhibited with no honking. However, I must say that Thailand is making rapid progress on improving connectivity, particularly through new rail roads and motorways and making efforts on issues related to air pollution very actively. “I have always been at ease in every meeting, formal or casual, and during conversations with all the high level political dignitaries here, as they have always made me feel welcome with their warm and friendly approach. We have had very candid discussions on strengthening the long standing political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries. It was indeed a great honour to present my letters of credence received from H.E. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to His Majesty the King Maha Vajiralongkorn, on October 24, as we mark 65 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Sri Lanka.” Diplomatic relations “On November 20, 2020, we mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between

The lush green tea gardens – home for the world famous Ceylon Tea.

Thailand and Sri Lanka, and wish to thank The Big Chilli for giving us this opportunity. Though the formal diplomatic relations were established in 1955, as I said before, the historical relationship between Thailand and Sri Lanka goes back for over 800 years, built up on Theravada Buddhism. “Buddhism was introduced to Thailand from India in the 3th century BC, however, as of 6th -7th century BC, when the Theravada Buddhism and monastic traditions were reintroduced to then Siam from Sri Lanka, which gave rise to the Lankawamsa or Lankavong sect, Buddhism rooted firmly and flourished in Thailand. Places like Nakhon Si Thamarat and the Ayutthya kingdom has many historical places linked to Sri Lanka. “Expressing the true meaning of ‘Kalyanamitra’, when the Buddhist monastic order declined in Sri Lanka during the colonial occupations, Thailand’s Phra Upali Thero from Ayutthya was sent to Lanka by King Mongkut (Rama IV), to help re-establish the higher ordination in Sri Lanka, on the invitation of the King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe of Lanka, which culminated in the establishment of the Siam Nikaya of Sri Lanka in the year 1752. “Thailand and Sri Lanka have exchanged high level visits which have further strengthened the relations between the two countries. Among the high-level visits, the earliest recorded was the visit of

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1897. In the year 1993 as Crown Prince, HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) also visited Sri Lanka. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and 25 member delegation visited Sri Lanka in August 2013, when the two countries were celebrating the 260th anniversary of the establishment of Siam Nikaya chapter in Sri Lanka. “His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha and his delegation paid an Official visit to Sri Lanka in July 2018. Sri Lankan presidents and prime ministers have also visited Thailand on several occasions. Both countries are envisaging to hold the 5th round of bilateral political consultations between the two Foreign Ministries in early 2021. Bilateral and trade relations between the two countries are governed by a number of MOUs and agreements and there is more potential to expand these ties. “As the current Chair of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, a seven member intra-regional forum of South Asia and South East Asia, Sri Lanka is working very closely with Thailand, which is going to take over from Sri Lanka in early next year. Under Sri Lanka’s leadership the Group got revitalized through a more focused substantive sectoral cooperation and institutional arrangements. “The exchanges of venerable priests during the TheBigChilli


Leopards resting – Yala National Sanctuary is one of the highest leopard densities in the world and an ideal place for Safaris.

Katin ceremonies and other religious events as well as for pilgrims, between the two countries have consistently remained strong, and many priests undertake studies in Thailand as well as in Sri Lanka. The Maha Chulalongkorn University and Sri Lanka International Buddhist Academy has close exchanges of Buddhist scholars. “In the context of COVID-19 pandemic, the Kandy Esala Pageant; one of Asia's most colourful cultural event associated with the Temple of Tooth Relic of Sri Lanka was webcasted with Thai narration by MCU TV and on social media for the first time in history, and it was viewed by 24k viewers in Thailand. I had the opportunity to join an interview with MCU TV on this occasion. “Given its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, with a techno savvy young workforce, Sri Lanka offers greater potential for investments, high end services, to become one of the world’s leading maritime hubs. As a country that has always respected and upheld democracy, Sri Lanka was able to successfully conduct the 2019 Presidential election even amidst COVID-19 challenges, following very stringent health procedures. This was followed by the general election in August 2020, where President Gotabaya Rajapaka and his government secured a resounding victory with 2/3 majority in the 225-member Parliament. “The political stability within the country is expected to pave the way to successfully implement 70


the National Policy ‘Vistas for Prosperity’, presented by the government to achieve sustainable economic growth and social development for all. Sri Lanka places its friendly relations based on ‘neighbourhood first’, and a ‘kalyana mithra’ relations for all, forging a peaceful and prosperous country and region.” Trade “As of date, exports from Sri Lanka to Thailand have been diversified and includes Gem and jewelry including famous Ceylon blue sapphires, sea food, electrical items, apparel, wheat flour, activated carbon, apparel, etc. “Main imported items from Thailand includes sugar, dried fish, motor vehicles, fabrics, fibres, natural rubber, petroleum oil, cement, etc. to the amount of 437 million in 2019, while there remains more potential including for the world-renowned Ceylon tea and Ceylon gems exports from Sri Lanka to Thailand. We have begun close consultation with several leading industries in Thailand to explore the potential of using the Ceylon graphene extracted from the high quality vein graphite mined in Sri Lanka, in cement and energy storage products. Fresh water fisheries products including the famous Sri Lankan mud crabs and giant fresh water prawns show good demand in Thailand. Thailand has advanced in value

Stilt fishing – traditional fishing that can be seen in the southern coast.

addition to agri-based produce and we have benefitted through the technical cooperation with Thailand on this important area. “Negotiations are being considered on a Bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Sri Lanka and Thailand and both countries have effected an MOU on Strategic Economic Partnership, where a good spread of 15 areas for technical cooperation has been agreed upon and we look forward to meet at the next Working Group Meeting as soon as the circumstances allow to do so. On the front of investments, while there has been investments in Sri Lanka by Thai investors, mainly in the areas of tourism and leisure, poultry production, infrastructure and services, more space are there to explore, particularly in the newly created industrial and port city zones.” Hobbies and final words “During an off time, I love listening to music, and experiment with pencil sketches and scribbling my free thoughts. Swimming is a new found family activity that I enjoy. “Diplomatic life in Thailand offers a good combination of bilateral and multilateral work. I was humbled by been unanimously elected by member

States to Chair the Seventh Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) the first virtual Conference in the UNESCAP history, held on May 20, 2020, on the theme ‘Accelerating action for and delivery of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific’. We also had the opportunity to Chair the Social Committee of the UNESCAP last month and the Working Group of the Commission on ‘review of Conference Structure’. Besides, different departments related to statistic, transport and sustainable development has been working closely with counterparts in Sri Lanka as a result of our initiatives. “Thanks to the Thai government’s sustained efforts to contain the spread of the virus, we participate in moderate level public events following health regulations, and the TAT hosted us on a wellness tourism fam tour to Hua Hin, which showcased the potential of combining health and travel to respond to the post COVID situation. It is my sincere expectation to enhance our diplomatic relations notwithstanding in this challenging times. I also wish to appreciate the contribution made by all the Sri Lankans in Thailand, including the Association of Sri Lankans and the Thai-Sri Lanka Business Council for joining with the Embassy in all our activities in furthering friendly relations.” TheBigChilli


About Sri Lanka Ambassador Jayasuriya said a few words about her homeland: “Sri Lanka is a tropical island paradise in the Indian Ocean, with a population of about 21 million. As the 13th Century explorer Marco Polo said ‘Sri Lanka is undoubtedly the finest Island of its size in the world’. Proving that, within a small territory of 65,000 sq kms, Sri Lanka has eight UNESCO Heritage sites-both natural and man-made, and it’s a bio diversity hot spot boasting of a range of most rare and exquisite fauna and flora, nature trails and attractions which can be experienced wherever you choose to be. “It takes only a span of few hours to see the giants on land and sea; the elephants and the blue whales. Being an island, many water sports are gaining increasing popularity among visitors. Sri Lanka has been endorsed as the world’s best travel destination by the Lonely Planet twice and acclaimed by various travel guides and magazines. Despite all hindrances, including the devastating Easter Sunday attacks in 2019, Sri Lanka ranked CNN Travel’s 20 best places to visit in 2020, crowned as number one warm weather destination by US Today, one of the ‘Top Destinations to Travel’ in February 2020 by Condé Nast Traveler Middle East, and also is among the top 15 best islands in the world. “Beyond the Buddhist trails, Sri Lanka is a dynamic spot for Adventure, leisure, wellness tourism as well as for wild life and eco-tourism and offers plenty of must see places and must experience activities. There are scores of most instagramable places in Sri Lanka. The ninearched bridge in Ella and Nuwara Eliya tea gardens are

Sri Lankan food. 72


in the bucket list of almost all visitors. The 1st Century frescoes of Sigiriya citadel and the ancient city of Kandy, where the sacred Temple of Tooth Relic is located are among the most popular destinations of Thai travellers. “Sri Lankan cuisines is rich in earthy flavour of aromatic spices and smooth textures, and BBC Good Food team has named Sri Lankan cuisine as the No.1 ‘trending cuisine in 2019’, on their list. The orange color king coconut is an exotic fresh drink that can quash thirst immediately. “Sri Lanka is also very popular among tourists of Hindu faith for the legendry Ramayana trails including the famous Seeta Amman Kovil, Ravana Waterfall etc, which may also interest the Thai visitors. Due to its colonial history, the country has many historical buildings with Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture, and the Galle Fort is a very vibrant example, which is a UNESCO Heritage site. Of course, there is a broad array of accommodation from star class hotels, to moderate and budget hotels, among which several Thai hospitality brands are also present in Sri Lanka.y

Sri Padha — the most sacred mountain in Sri Lanka. Surrounding peak wilderness is the catchment of the four main rivers of the country and a nature trail.

Profile of H.E. Mrs Sumantha K. Jayasuriya Academic & Professional Qualifications • Masters in International Relations, International University of Japan, September 2003-July 2005: ADB and Japanese Government Scholarship Award, Distinction for the Research Thesis on “Impact of Third Party Involvement in Conflict Resolution: assessing the Norwegian experience in Sri Lankan Conflict”. • B.Sc. (Hons) in Agricultural Economics, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka-1997. • Diploma in Journalism - Government Media Institute of Sri Lanka. Professional Experience • September 2014-July 2019: Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka Permanent Mission to UN in Geneva. • August 2012-August 2014: Minister/ Deputy Chief of Mission of Sri Lanka Embassy in Brussels. • March 2010-July 2012: Director/UN & Multilateral Affairs Division of the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka. • August 2006-December 2009: Counselor /First Secretary of Sri Lanka Permanent Mission to UN in New York. • August 2005-July 2006: Deputy Director/UN & Multilateral Affairs Division of the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka. • April 2003-August 2003: Deputy Director/Public Communications of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. • February 2000-March 2003: Second Secretary/Third Secretary of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Stockholm. • July 1998-January 2000: Assistant Director/South Asia and SAARC of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. • 1997-1998: Assistant Lecturer, Department of

Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. • Have represented Sri Lanka in the three-member UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinians and Other Arabs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Special Committee on Israeli Practices) in 2008 and in 2014. • Have served as a member of the respective Sri Lanka delegations to the following treaty bodies reviews and made interventions at oral reviews and was involved in the preparation of Sri Lanka’s submissions to; ICCPR (2014), CERD, CAT and CMW (2016), and CEDAW (2017), ICESCR (2017), CRC (2018) and 3 rd Cycle of UPR in 2018. Others • Diplomatic Training at Bandaranaike Diplomatic Training Institute. • Alumna of the Near East and South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, USA. • Member of the International Relations Academic Council of the Graduate School of International Relations-IUJ, Japan. • Certificate - Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland Executive Course on Gender Studies. • Certificate - UN Department of Safety and Security, New York, USA - an online course on UN Basic Security Management in the field operations. • Freelance Journalist-Upali News Papers Ltd (Vidusara and Vathmana magazines). • Secondary Education in Biology- Devi Balika Maha Vidyalaya, Colombo, Sri Lanka.



The BigChilli

Modern History of Thailand 74


By Maxmilian Wechsler

The sixth leg of our 10-part trek through the major events shaping Thailand over the past 50 years starts out in 1992. The October issue covered 1987-1991. 1992

saw the creation of Queen Sirikit Park, a botanical garden in Chatuchak district of Bangkok, and Benchasiri Park on Sukhumvit Road, to commemorate the fifth cycle birthday anniversary Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. The Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, an academic institution under the Ministry of Culture, and the Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology at Thammasat University’s PathumThani campus, were also established. The now-annual Prince Mahidol Award for outstanding global achievements in medicine and public health was handed out for the first time. The Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) was founded as a government agency under the Ministry of Transport, and Walailak University was established in Nakhon Si Thammarat province.

200,000 baht for business owners. Suthee assured the public that all confusion over the VAT would pass within a few months. • After six years as governor of Bangkok, Palang Dharma Party (PDP) leader Chamlong Srimuang Queen Sirikit Park stepped down in order to run in Januar y the national election • The government began on March 22. collecting a seven percent valueChamlong stated added tax (VAT), replacing that he was ready to the business tax that had take up the position been levied for two decades. of prime minister The government threatened if it was the wish manufacturers and distributors 1992 (January) of the people and who attempted to take advantage Chamlong Srimuang nominated his of the VAT and immediately deputy, Krisda Arungwongse Na increase prices. Finance Minister Ayuthaya, as PDP candidate to Suthee Singhasaneh said that stand in the gubernatorial election. the Commerce Ministry was During his time as governor conducting a survey of the cost Chamlong reopened bidding for structures of consumer goods several city projects and allegedly and its findings would be used to saved the city 80 million baht. He single out dishonest traders for also successfully encouraged the legal action. Any mistakes in tax city’s technically illegal roadside invoices, intentional or otherwise, hawkers to stop selling goods carried punishments of up to seven on Wednesdays so that streets years in jail and fines of up to and pavements could be cleaned. TheBigChilli


Feature Chamlong’s administration also inked the initial agreement with the Thanayong Group, which undertook the construction of an elevated mass transit rail system through Bangkok’s business centre. • Laotian President Kaysone Phomvihane arrived for a 10day state visit accompanied by his foreign minister, deputy and military officers. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej said during a reception for Kaysone that his visit would lead to ‘a most positive result in the promotion of cordial friendship and good understanding between our two countries and their peoples so that they will prosper and flourish ever onwards’. Kaysone stayed four days in Bangkok before leaving for Chiang Mai, Phuket and eastern seaboard provinces. His trip was the first official visit by a Laotian leader to Thailand since the two countries signed a peace accord in 1979. • Bangkok motorists were slow to embrace the concept of bus lanes during the first day of enforcement. Some motorists either accidentally or intentionally violated the new law on the four major thoroughfares of Phahon Yothin, Phetkasem, Sukhumvit and Suk Sawat. The police claimed that nevertheless the new bus lines had proven immediately effective as judged by improved traffic flow. Bus lane violators escaped with only a warning from police on the first day of implementation. March 1992 (March) • High-ranking Abhisit Vijjajiva police officers defended the practice of killing hardened criminals ‘under permissible circumstances’, saying that if carefully applied this extreme approach would help 76


to reduce serious crime. There had been growing concern in some quarters that some killings described by the authorities as acts of self-defence were in fact extrajudicial police actions to eliminate professional criminals instead of bringing them to trial. In 1991 a total of 22 criminal suspects were killed under so-called permissible circumstances by the police in Bangkok, and allegedly there were more than 80 such incidents throughout the country. • General elections were held on March 22, the first since the National Peace Keeping Council overthrew the elected government of Chatichai Choonhawan in February 1991. A total of 15 parties participated, contesting 360 seats in the House of Representatives. The Justice Unity Party came out on top with 79 seats, followed by the Nation Party with 74 seats and the New Aspiration Party with 72 seats. A total of 19,216,466 voters cast their ballots, representing 59.2% of eligible voters. • Democrat Party candidate Abhisit Vejjajiva, 28, became the country’s youngest ever MP after winning a Bangkok constituency seat in the general election. The British-born, Eton- and Oxfordeducated Abhisit won constituency 6, made up of Sathon, Yannawa and Bang Kho Laem districts of Bangkok. April • PDP candidate Krisda Arunwongse Na Ayuthaya became Bangkok governor in an election in which only 23% of eligible voters cast ballots. Krisda thanked city residents for their support and pledged to carry on development projects initiated by the previous administration. He said the slum problem, community health and education were his priorities as governor. He also pledged that his administration would continue with

infrastructure projects aimed at solving Bangkok’s traffic gridlock. • After the failure of any party to win a working majority in the March general elections, an alliance of five pro-military parties appointed Supreme Commander General Suchinda Kraprayoon, leader of the 1991 military coup, to become prime minister. This was met with great opposition from students and political parties outside the military alliance. When Parliament convened on April 19, all members of the eral92 attire ) Black May opposition dressed in funeral 19 (May and wore black armbands. May • On the fourth day of the month now known as ‘Black May’ more than 60,000 people joined with opposition party members in a protest against Suchinda’s undemocratic rise to power. PDP leader Chamlong initiated a hunger strike ‘to the death’ to press the resignation of the PM. It was estimated that 200,000 people gathered at several sites at the height of the protest. In the following days chaos reigned on Bangkok streets as protesters and soldiers engaged in turf battles. A number of buildings were torched, including the Public Relations Department, and hundreds of protesters were arrested, including Chamlong. In all the violence resulted in 39 reported deaths and hundreds of injuries. Around 3,500 people were arrested. Most of the casualties were at the main protest sites near the Royal Hotel, Sanam Luang and Democracy Monument. Around 100 injured protesters were carried into the Royal Hotel where doctors converted the reception area and other corners of the hotel into temporary surgeries. On May 20, the King summoned Suchinda and Chamlong to Chitralada Palace and ordered them to end the clashes and find a compromise. Five

1992 Black May

tember) 1992 (Sep pai Chuan Leek

September • On September 13 general elections were held in which a total of 12 parties participated. The Democrat Party days later Suchinda resigned and won 79 of 360 seats in the House of Deputy Prime Minister Meechai Representatives; the Nation Party Ruchupan became acting prime won 77 seats; and the National minister. He was replaced on May Development Party won 60 seats. 24 by Anand Panyarachun. Jailed A total of 19,622,332 people voted protesters were released and the representing 61.6% of registered government passed an amendment voters. The resounding victory to the constitution requiring the of the Democrat Party catapulted prime minister to be an elected party leader Chuan Leekpai into official the role of prime minister. • The 41st Miss Universe pageant October was held on May 8 at the Queen • Interior Minister Chavalit Sirikit National Convention Center Yongchaiyuth said he would revive in Bangkok. Out of 78 contestants, the Green Northeast Project. The Michelle McLean of Namibia was environmental project was initiated crowned Miss Universe. She was the in the 1980s when General Chavalit first and so far the only Namibian was the army chief and cancelled woman to win the title. when Suchinda commanded the army. Chavalit June said project aimed at • Pumpuang Duangjan, irrigating the Northeast known as the queen was one of the best of luk thung (Thai government projects ever. country music), died of complications resulting November from the auto-immune • PM Chuan disease lupus. Pumpuang 1992 (June) jan ng ua D g announced to 350 high was born into a poor rural Pumpuan ranking military and police rank family in the Northeast officers and provincial governors and raised in Suphan Buri. gathered at Government House Hundreds of thousands of people in Bangkok that he wanted to attended the royally sponsored see an end to child prostitution funeral as the whole nation and child labour. “If there’s child mourned her death. prostitution, governors should bring the matter to the attention August of provincial police chiefs,” the • PM Anand ordered PM said, adding: “Problems in our the demotion of three country will be less if the ones who military officers have weapons and enforce the law allegedly responsible are not the source of problems.” for the brutal crackdown on the 1992 (August) December May pro-democracy Anand Panyarach un • It was announced that exports protests. Among had increased by almost 20% in them was ACM Kaset 1992 in spite of domestic problems Rojananin, who was relieved of his and instability. Early in the year the duties as supreme commander and export growth was predicted to be air force chief. Kaset and the other only 2%, but at year’s end the figure two officers claimed that Suchinda was put at 18%. ordered the crackdown.

• Chusri Meesommon, one of the country’s old-time great female comedians, died after a show at the age of 63. She had been making audiences laugh since the 1950s.

1993 witnessed the opening of Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden in Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai province. Asian University (formerly the University of Science and Technology), was founded in Chonburi. Central Group founded grocery and general merchandise retailer Big C. CentralPlaza Bang Na (also known as Central City Bang Na) was opened in Bang Na district of Bangkok, and CentralPlaza Ramindra was opened in Bang Khen district. Dusit Thani College, a private college specializing in hospitality management, was opened in Bangkok. The weekly Englishlanguage newspaper Phuket Gazette printed its first edition. Januar y • Ending a long tradition of males-only provincial governors, the Ministry of Interior appointed Charatsri Teeparat governor of Nakhon Nayok province. The 53-year-old Charatsri was formerly director of the Town and Country Planning Office. Februar y • A group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates including the Dalai Lama 1993 (February) Aung San Suu Kyi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu launched an international campaign from Thailand for the release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Herself a Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi was in her fourth year of house arrest. The group travelled to the Thai-Burmese border where they met with Burmese dissidents. TheBigChilli


Feature • A new law went into effect requiring all motorcyclists and pillion riders to wear helmets carrying an official seal of approval issued by the Industry Ministry. Motorcyclists wearing unapproved crash helmets risked a 500 baht fine. The new law sparked protests from motorcyclists who had bought expensive imported helmets before the seal requirement went into effect. • The Thai army set up a committee to investigate the purchase of 106 USmade Stingray tanks. A total of 44 vehicles developed technical problems, cracks in their gun turrets and other defects. Defence Minister Vijit Sookmark pointed out that the Stingray was a prototype that had never been used in combat. Critics suggested that the purchase could have been based on commissions rather than security needs, noting that Thailand was the only country in the world to buy the Stingray tanks.

1993 (February) Stingray

• According to Mahidol University, 55 of the 2,087 people listed as missing after the May events were still unaccounted for. Their relatives called on the government to find and punish those responsible for their disappearance. Many people who were injured demanded compensation as well. • Urgent measures were initiated to stop the illegal entry of Burmese, Chinese and hill tribe people, many of whom were believed to be migrating to join Thailand’s prostitution industry. National Security Council Deputy Secretary- General Khachadpai Buruspatana said Thailand had 78


increased surveillance and interception units along the borders and imposed heavier penalties on illegal immigrants and those involved in bringing them into the country. Illegal immigrants reportedly numbered more than 100,000 at the time. April • The King inaugurated the new United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, expressing hope that it would be able to support the increasing roles and responsibilities of states in the Asia-Pacific region. At the opening United Nations’ Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali called on Thailand to persuade the Khmer Rouge to join in an electoral process to put an end to violence in Cambodia. • The cabinet approved an Interior Ministry amendment bill giving women the right to 90 days maternity leave with full pay. May • After a week of protests by farmers over low paddy prices, the government agreed to buy second-crop paddy at a higher rate. The farmers’ protests began in Kamphaeng Phet province and turned violent after police with batons charged hundreds of farmers armed with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails. One farmer was killed and several policemen were reportedly injured. The protests later spread to Bangkok. August • ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson gave a concert to a packed 1993 (August) Michael Jackson National Stadium crowd in Bangkok as part of his ‘Dangerous Tour’. It was one of the most anticipated concerts in Thai history. Jackson postponed a second concert

twice, citing dehydration. He was seen at various locations in the city, including Patpong, guarded by a large contingent of police and people in the entertainment industry. • Thirty-three schools were torched in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat provinces on August 1. Two days later a 34th school was burned down. Interior Minister Chavalit said he believed the attacks were politically motivated rather than the work of a separatist movement. PM Chuan disagreed, however, dismissing speculation that the arsons stemmed from political squabbles. September • One of Thailand’s most revered spiritual figures, Phra Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, 87, was cremated at Wat Suan 1993 (September) Phra Mok in Surat Thani province. BhikkuBuddhadasa Buddhasara was regarded as a modern reformer of Buddhism and was seen by his admirers as a shining light for practitioners of Buddhism in Thailand and abroad. November • More than 700 delegates including ministers and senior officials from 127 countries met at the UN regional headquarters in Bangkok to map out efforts to tackle the depletion of the ozone layer, which was widely regarded as one of the most serious environmental threats to the planet. r) 1993 (Decembe kachorn Manoon Roop December • Manoon Roopkachorn, a former “Young Turk” coup plotter, was acquitted by the Criminal Court of conspiring tto assassinate Queen Sirikit, former PM Prem Tinsulanond and former army chief General Arthit Kamlangek during the Queen’s Cup soccer match at National Stadium on October 20, 1982.

The prosecutor accused Manoon of collaborating with former communists and academics. • Thaicom 1 satellite was launched from French Guiana in South America. The launch was witnessed by Princess Sirindhorn, who described the launch as ‘an event to be recorded in Thailand’s telecommunication history’. The satellite relayed television and radio broadcasts and facilitated satellite phone communications, data communications networks and video conferences. • Sa Kaeo, Nong Bua Lamphu and Amnat Charoen became Thai provinces, bringing the total to 76. 1994 CentraPlaza, Udon Thani


was the year Seacon Square mall in Prawet district of Bangkok was christened by Princess Sirindhorn, and CentralPlaza Udon Thani (previously Charoensri Complex), was opened in Udon Thani. The Mahidol University College of Music was established under the leadership of Sugree Charoensook. Januar y • The police started enforcing the Automobile Accident Victims’ Protection Act by arresting motorists whose vehicles were not covered by third-party insurance. Motorists apprehended driving uninsured and without a green badge issued by an insurance company on the windscreen were liable to a fine of 10,000 to 50,000 baht. Februar y • Czech President Václav Havel

visited Thailand as a guest of the • Legal experts agreed to push for royal family. His was the first amendment of all laws concerning visit to Thailand by a leader of abortion to bring them more the Czech Republic. During his closely in line with changing public four-day-long stay Havel also met attitudes. Deputy Public Health with PM Chuan. They discussed Minister Udomslip Srisaengnam bilateral relations and political and said that at least 300,000 illegal economic cooperation. abortions were carried out each year, terminating • Deputy Foreign about 10% of pregnancies Minister Surin Pitsuwan in Thailand. Officials at hailed US President the Public Health Ministry Bill Clinton’s abolition conference disagreed of 30-year-old trade with legalizing abortion 1994 (February) sanctions against but suggested the laws be Václav Havel Vietnam. A Foreign amended to suit current Ministry statement said social conditions. the removal of the US embargo would not only July improve the atmosphere • The government increased between the US and its control over the operations Vietnam but also foster of non-]government 1994 (February) economic development organizations by requiring Surin Pitsuwan in Vietnam and the them to apply for permission Southeast Asian region as a whole. to stage all planned activities 30 days in advance. April • King Bhumibol, Queen Sirikit October and Princess Sirindhorn joined Lao • Telecommunications tycoon President Nouhak Phoumsavanh Thaksin Shinawatra was tipped and other dignitaries to open the for the Foreign Ministry post. Friendship Bridge across the The move was prompted by a Mekong River between Thailand cabinet reshuffle and marked and Laos. The 1,170 metre the first entry into politics for the structure was seen as a crucial chairman of Shinawatra Computer step by those who dreamed of and Telecommunications Group. creating an influential economic PDP leader Chamlong was said to community around the Mekong. have personally made overtures to Thaksin to take up the post June because he believed his business • The Interior Ministry agreed experience would prove useful in to allow entertainment venues to administering foreign policy for remain open until 3am. According the benefit of the economy and the to Deputy Interior Permanent poor. Secretary Benchakul Makarathas, the decision was made because • PM Chuan turned down US of increased demand for President Clinton’s request to entertainment and recreation. allow stationing of US ships with The previous regulation obliged military equipment in the Gulf of entertainment venues to close Thailand. The US wanted to pretheir doors at midnight, although position weapons, military spare bars, night clubs and discotheques parts and heavy equipment for use were permitted to remain open in the event of a crisis. “I feel sorry until 1am if the following day was a we cannot accept the proposal, but public holiday. Thailand will be glad to continue TheBigChilli


Feature regional security cooperation,” said Januar y • The name of a woman who Chuan in a prepared statement. donated 600 million baht to build Bangkok’s third Buddhist college December was finally revealed. She was • During his annual birthday Namthong Khunvisal, a career address to the nation, the King teacher who died in August 1994 at expanded on an environmentally age 97 after accumulating a fortune sustainable economic philosophy through wise investments. he called Trasadi Mai or ‘New Theory’. The King explained that Februar y the New Theory was a practical • The Thai government strongly plan to develop a system of defended the signing of a contract integrated, self-sufficient farms. to secure natural gas through a pipeline from Myanmar for • Thai-American domestic electricity generation, doctor Chatri Duangnet saying it would not help to prop moved to Thailand from up the military regime in Yangon. Philadelphia and started PM Chuan said that Thailand’s a motorcycle ambulance 1994 (De cember) Chatro Duagnet energy security was a separate service. He explained issue from the armed struggle that he got the idea for of Burmese minority groups. the service while wondering how emergency vehicles could cope March with heavy traffic situations in • Muslim community leaders Bangkok. The doctor persuaded said that some Thai students Bangkok General Hospital to equip y pp from the South who had studied two motorcycles with life support ent. in the Middle East and Pakistan equipment. were involved with domestic and 1995 Orient Thai international terrorist groups. is the year The students, most of them CentralMarina (formerly Central over 20 years old, left Thailand Center Pattaya) opened in Pattaya secretly through southern border and CentralPlaza Pinklao opened provinces to obtain passports in Bangkok. Fashion Island and scholarships to travel to shopping mall on Ramintra Road Arab countries and Pakistan. An was also opened, as was Future official from the office of the Chula Park on Viphavadi Rangsit Road Ratchamontri, spiritual leader of in PathumThani. Orient Thai Airlines Thai Muslims, refused to comment was founded and Stamford on the report but said more than International University was 1,500 Thais were believed to be established. Thai-Chinese studying in Islamic countries. International School was opened in Bang Phli Yai in May Samut Prakan province. • Rising star Thaksin made a Tinsulanon Stadium, named profit of around a billion baht 1995 Tata Young after former Prime Minister from the sale of two million Prem Tinsulanonda, opened in shares of his telecommunications Mueang Songkhla with capacity company. Thaksin informed the for 45,000 spectators. Fifteen-yearStock Exchange of Thailand of old Tata Young became an instant the deal which according to Korn sensation after her first album sold Chatikavanij, president of Jardine one million Fleming Thanakon Securities, was copies in five designed to enable him to pursue a months. political career.

1995 5


TheBigChilli 1995 Tinsulanon stadium

1995 (June)

Princess Mother June • Princess Motherr Sri Nagarindra passed away peacefully at Siriraj Hospital where she had been since June 3. She was 94 years old. The King, the Queen and other members of the royal family were present at the hospital when she died. July • Chart Thai Party leader Banharn Silpa-archa became the 21st prime minister of Thailand on July 13 after Chuan was 1995 (July) Banharn forced to call for new elections following the collapse of his Democrat-led coalition government on May 20. He stood to lose a no-confidence vote when Deputy Prime Minister and PDP head Chamlong announced his party would withdraw from the coalition amid a land-reform scandal implicating Democrat MPs. Elections were held on July 2 with 391 seats up for grabs in the House of Representatives. In all 12 parties participated. Thai National Party won 92 seats, followed by the Democrat and Aspiration parties, which took 86 and 57 seats respectively. A total of 23,462,746 people voted representing 62% of registered voters. Vote buying was said to reach new heights. August • The Public Health Ministry approved testing of a Thaideveloped HIV vaccine called Immunogen made from HIV virus fragments. Participants in the trials were HIV-infected Thais. September • The cabinet decided that MRTA’s 21kilometers electric train project connecting Bang Sue to Hua Lampong should be completely underground. The decision increased the estimated cost of civil works for the project from 40 billion to 60 billion baht.

• The World Muay Thai Council was formally inaugurated at a Bangkok conference attended by 78 member countries. The council was formed after the cabinet agreed in May to protect Muay Thai as a part of the Thai national heritage and attempt to regulate the sport which was enjoying increasing international popularity. October • Food vendors were required to meet new hygiene standards announced by the Public Health Ministry. A survey carried out in Bangkok on 9,000 vendors discovered that more than half of them sold food with above-limit levels of coliform bacteria, which is found in the fecal matter of warmblooded animals. The survey also found that 45 percent of vendors had detectable amounts of the diarrhea-causing bacteria on their hands. Cockroaches, rats and grime were also common sights at Bangkok roadside food stalls. December • The Southeast Asian NuclearWeapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), also called the Bangkok Treaty) formalised a moratorium on the development of nuclear weapons among the 10 ASEAN member-states. The proceedings opened in Bangkok on December 15 and prohibited signatories from the development, manufacture, acquisition, possession or any control over nuclear weapons. The treaty, which went into force in 1997, includes a protocol under which the five nuclear-weapon states recognized by the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons, namely China, the US, France, Russia and UK agreed to respect the Treaty and do not contribute to a violation of it by State parties. None of the nuclear-weapon states have signed this protocol.

• Chiang Mai hosted the 18th Southeast Asian Games. It was the first time the multi-sport event was hosted by a city that is not a national capital.

Man Called Intrepid (1993) and Tito (1994). • The Bangkok Post announced that an electronic version of its daily news edition would be available online. is the year • Protests that included the British farmers’ groups, students International and industrial workers put School was increased pressure on the 1996 British International School established government by vowing to in Phuket. Thai music support one another in pushing television Channel V was to solve their problems. The launched. The 59-storey protesters set up a commune Jewelry Trade Center on dubbed ‘Village of the Poor’ Silom Road in Bangkok in front of Government House was completed. Major and pledged not to return 1996 Jewelry Cineplex Group Public home until they had secured a Trade Center Company Limited, the largest commitment from the government operator of movie theatres in to address their problems. They Thailand, was founded. Thai demanded attention to land issues, League 1, known as T1, was compensation to villagers affected founded as a professional league by the construction of dams, labour for Football Thai Association conditions and toxic waste. clubs. Ubonrak Thonburi Hospital in Ubon Ratchathani province • Thousands upon thousands of began offering medical care to people from all walks of life, many residents of Ubon Ratchathani wearing mourning colours gathered and surrounding Thai provinces at Sanam Luang on March 10 to as well as Laotian and Cambodian pay last tribute to the Princess patients. Mother. About 1.4 million people presented sandalwood flowers at the March crematorium site and in 38 temples • The Thai government hosted the throughout Bangkok. Apart from the first Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) funeral procession, Bangkok streets bringing together for the first time were almost deserted. leaders of the 15 European Union countries and 10 ASEAN nations. May The summit focused mainly on • The Finance Ministry took over economic cooperation but also the Bangkok Bank of Commerce considered issues such as nuclear to save it from collapse. The disarmament and human rights ministry took the action after a abuses in East Timor. large volume of withdrawals by depositors. The drastic action was • A new book by the King was not unprecedented; in August 1984 launched as a part of the 50th the Finance Ministry took control anniversary celebration of his of Asia Trust Bank. accession to the throne. Titled Mahajanaka, the book is based on June a story from Phra Traipidok (the • Millions of people around the Buddhist Tree Cannons), with the country joined in a candle-light main theme being the virtue of ceremony to honour the 50th perseverance. It was the King’s third anniversary of King Bhumibol’s book, following his translations of A accession to the throne. Sanam




Feature Luang was completely full of people, many of whom had travelled from the provinces to witness the event. The King presided over the morning ceremony at the Golden Jubilee Pavilion on June 6. On June 5 the King became the world’s first recipient of the international Rice Award in recognition of his efforts to improve agricultural methods and quality of life for farmers in Thailand. • Thai and French researchers reported the discovery of the grandfather of all tyrannosaurs in Khon Kaen province. The meat-eating dinosaur named Siamotyrannus isanensis predated by 20 million years the previously oldest known tyrannosaur. • The government agreed to officially recognise some 700,000 illegal immigrant workers in 39 provinces in order to ease Thailand’s worsening labor shortage. The cabinet decided that aliens would be allowed legal employment for a period of up to two years while awaiting deportation. According to employer associations, the country was short about 1.36 million workers. • Former science and technology minister Bhichit Rattakul was elected governor of Bangkok. July • The government was warned by a panel of economists and academics that the Thai economy would face collapse if Banharn’s government continued administering the country. They criticized the government’s economic management on a number of fronts. One critic said the government ‘simply manages the economy on a day-to-day basis’. • Manufacturers and advertisers 82


said an estimated one million people in the city were suffering from allergy problems caused by air p pollution. 1996 (June) 50th anniversary 1996 (March) ka N November Mahajana • A total of 13 parties filed of durian-flavoured condoms candidates were fined after they ran for general an advertisement that elections held appeared in newspapers. on November The Consumer Protection 17. The New Committee ruled that the Aspiration advertisement was guilty Party won 125 of ‘encouraging sexual of 393 seats in misconduct in young 1996 (October) the House of people’. The King and Brisih Queen Representative, followed by the October Democrat Party with 123 seats. • During a The National Development Party five-day visit to came in third with 52 seats. Voter Thailand, Queen turnout was 62.4% with 24,070,750 Elizabeth II and p people casting their ballots. With Prince Philip ne) 1996 (Ju Bhichit Rattakul s support of five coalition parties, viewed the Royal N New Aspiration Party founder Barge Procession and leader General Chavalit was in Bangkok before travelling to appointed 22nd prime minister Ayutthaya. Thousands of people of Thailand by royal degree on lined the road along the way November 25. to get a glimpse of the royals. Accompanied by the King, the • US President Bill Clinton arrived Queen and other members of the for a state visit and spent 27 hours Thai royal family, the procession in the kingdom amid tight security. arrived at Siriyalai Mansion to view The president was welcomed upon the Loy Krathong ceremony. From arrival at Don Muang by then the mansion the royals proceeded Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn before to Wat Chaiwatthanaram to watch being taken to meet the King and a light and sound presentation other members of the royal family depicting the rise and fall of the as well as PM Banharn and other Kingdom of Ayutthaya. government officials. • According to the health • Protesting workers torched two department, air pollution in and Sanyo Universal Electric factory around Bangkok had buildings on Sukhumvit Soi 102 reached critical levels, with dust when their end year bonuses were particle content 50-100% above the cut. Damage to the factory was safety standard. Urban hospitals estimated at 300 million baht. The were reportedly dealing with twice Board of Investment ordered its as many patients with respiratory Tokyo office to apologize to the and digestive complaints. Dr Japanese parent company for the Prakrom Vuthipong, directorincident. general of the health department,

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

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.