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Editorial Thailand makes it tough for Airbnb THAI authorities have made it clear that Airbnb – the incredibly successful online accommodation provider – is not going to have the same easy ride in Thailand that it enjoys in many other countries. Set up as recently as 2007, Airbnb has grown phenomenally and now outstrips most established hotel chains in the number of rooms it offers around the world. While some countries have welcomed Airbnb, whose room rates are often much lower than for similar accommodation in hotels, Thailand is determined to minimize its growth in the kingdom. Opponents include the Thai Hotels Association (THA), which has called for legal action to be taken against people offering accommodation through Airbnb. Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanaavrangkul has responded by saying that those profiting by illegally renting out accommodation to tourists would be curbed by the imposition of the same taxes that legitimate hotels are required to pay. Catching offenders is now much easier after the Immigration Bureau made it a legal requirement for anybody who allows a foreign national to stay on their property to lodge their names and other details with the authorities. Failing to do so can result in severe penalties. The THA also argues that property owners who use Airbnb are in violation of the Hotel Act, as they do not have a proper hotel licence. The Airbnb crackdown will go some way toward solving the issue of illegal hotels in Thailand. In popular tourist destinations like Phuket, it is said that more than three of every four hotels are operating illegally. With total arrivals in Thailand expected to set new records this year, the proper control of hotels is absolutely essential.

British embassy’s undignified end?

QUEEN Victoria would not have been amused. There’s no doubt about it. Her majestic presence in Bangkok may come to an undignified end when the British Embassy closes its doors for the last time and her statue is stored away for safekeeping. That’s the very likely scenario later this year when the UK government concludes a deal to sell the embassy grounds for development. Although the current ambassador, Mr Mark Kent, has said such a deal is “under review,” few among a thoroughly outraged British community believe their government ministers will have a change of heart. So, after many decades on its present site, and having already suffered the indignity some six years ago of seeing a substantial part of its grounds sold to the Central group, the British delegation in Thailand may end up in some characterless office block too small to accommodate Queen Victoria’s statue.

The challenge of so many Chinese

THE astonishing increase in Chinese visitors to Thailand has been widely applauded by the country’s tourism industry. In 2005, we welcomed 776,792 tourists from China, regarded at the time as a huge achievement. Ten years later, that figure had ballooned to a massive 7,934,791 visitors, making China easily the biggest source of tourists. Another big increase is expected this year. While the travel industry in general will benefit enormously from this huge influx, the impact of so many tourists on the nation’s resources, infrastructure and environment should be taken into account. This is a challenge few are currently considering.

100% local content For stories you won’t read anywhere else 6


This issue in



The date, in June, when Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice will perform in Bangkok. See page 23.


The first 10 readers to apply to Dusit Thani Hotel School’s new Thai cooking course get 20% discount. See page 20.


The number of hours Thai police officers are expected to be on call each day. Put simply, it’s far from being an easy job. See page 74.


Build a burger 30cm or taller at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers (Gateway, Ekamai) and you’ll get to eat for free. See page 52.


The date the Republic of Peru’s ambassador to Thailand was born. Read about his fascinating career on page 105.


The number of Chinese tourists that visited Thailand last year. Page 8.

PUBLISHER Colin Hastings MANAGING EDITOR Adam Purcell EDITOR Nina Hastings ASSISTANT EDITOR Chutinanta Boonyamarn SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti Sakuna Nupinrum ACCOUNTING MANAGER Saranya Choeyjanya ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Janjira Silapapairson ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakkanawat PHOTOGRAPHY JL & AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angela Farlam, Anette Pollner, Johanna DeKoning, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler



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 Company Ltd., 1/7 5th Fl. Room 504, Siboonrueng Bldg. 2, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 ☎ 02 233 1774-6, 02 266 7141 Fax: 02 235 0174 Strip AD_Operation Smile_Jan15_M4.indd 1

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British Embassy for sale Ambassador says future of iconic building and grounds is “under review” by the UK government ■ NEWS that the UK government may sell off the rest of the British Embassy in Bangkok has been met with shock and anger by the local British community. “This is an utter disgrace,” commented one British expatriate. “An insult to Thailand,” said another. “We were outraged when the front of the embassy was sold off a few years back. That was bad enough. But now we are looking at the complete demolition of this wonderful compound. This is a real tragedy, and very, very sad,” fumed another Brit. “The British government will be selling off Buckingham Palace next.” The compound on Wireless Road is famous for its iconic buildings, including the ambassador’s historic residence,

tropical gardens, huge trees and ponds, and a statue of Queen Victoria which had to be relocated when front section of the embassy was sold to the Central Group. This area is now occupied by Central Embassy. Many long-term British expatriates have recalled the numerous garden parties and events such as the Ploenchit Fair that were held in the embassy compound. Only last month it was the location of the British Chamber of Commerce’s highly successful Life & Style Garden Party. Queen Elizabeth visited the embassy on at least two occasions. “This won’t be possible if the embassy is torn down and relocated to a smaller compound or, worse, some

Silom and Convent building to be demolished



characterless office block,” said a British businessman who has lived in Bangkok for three decades. “The UK’s prestige in Thailand will be at an all-time low.” Asked about the sell-off plan, British Ambassador Mark Kent told The BigChilli: “There is a review due to take place with a decision sometime this year.” Mr Kent, who ends his term as ambassador here this month, is reported to have said that it is not too late to save the embassy. Brits based in Bangkok are now calling for a petition to stop the sale. Added Mr Kent prior to his next posting as British Ambassador to Argentina: “The Residence is indeed beautiful and imposing and I shall miss it.”

■ THE Sivadon Building, one of the oldest office blocks on Silom Road, will be torn down in the next 18 months to make way for a shopping centre and new office space. Current tenants of this huge property and the adjoining Siboonrueng Building have already been informed. Apart from dozens of individual companies, tenants include shops, restaurants and a pub set along Silom and Convent roads. The demolition of Sivadon will change the character of the area, which is known for its numerous vendors that occupy the sidewalks here. These stalls will also have to move.



Profile 18



AVE you ever dreamed of opening your own restaurant and/or becoming a professional chef? The brand new Dusit Thani Hotel School is for you. This superb facility, owned and operated by Dusit International and located just behind the Siam Paragon in the heart of the city, has been specially designed to offer everything a fledgling chef could need to bolster their skill set. The school offers courses in pastry, western, and Thai cuisines, and each course is conducted by a well-seasoned chef who happens to be an excellent teacher too. One of the definite highlights of the school is its “Traditional Thai Food and Thai Desserts” course. Led by Chef Rapeepat ‘A’ Boriboon, an affable Thai chef with over 20 years' experience in the trade, this 60-hour course (conducted every Monday to Friday over four weeks, or over 10 consecutive Saturdays) sees groups of up to 14 students learn how to make 30 Thai dishes and 15 Thai desserts, carve vegetables and fruits into works of art, and how to successfully manage a restaurant and kitchen. In short, it covers everything you need to know before embarking on a career as a chef – and maybe even opening your own restaurant. “The focus of our course is on authentic Thai food,” says Chef A. “And it’s not simply a case of learning how to make great food. Students also learn the history behind every dish they make. We discuss regional influences, and explore how Thai food has evolved to become the world-renowned cuisine it is today. “We teach students how to use knives and cooking utensils correctly, cooking methods are explained in detail, and we really hit home the importance of using good quality ingredients. We

also show how certain ingredients can be substituted without ruining the flavour of a dish (which is good for foreign students who may struggle to find all of the usual ingredients in their home countries). “Upon successful completion of the course, each student receives a Certificate of Achievement accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education. With this in hand, they’re then ready to become professional chefs.” The first “Traditional Thai Food and Thai Desserts” course officialy launched on February 29 and its first batch of students, a group of eight, will graduate on March 25. Coming from all corners of the Kingdom, and ranging in age from 20 to 61, the students all jumped at the opportunity to join the course at Dusit Thani Hotel School which, as Chef A proudly states, “is one of the best value culinary institutes currently operating in Thailand.” One of the youngest students set to graduate is Rapita 'Punky' Neitzsch, a bubbly half-German, half-Thai 22-year-old who plans to open her own Bangkokbased food truck together with her mum. Punky was introduced to the course by her father, an experienced German chef who owns a company exporting Thai ingredients to Europe, and she is delighted that he encouraged her to sign up. “I used to be a terrible cook,” she laughs, “and would burn everything I ever tried to make. But since joining this course I’ve been able to go home, make Massaman curry paste from scratch, and treat my parents to a dinner that actually tastes good. It’s a real confidence booster, and I’m so happy I can now cook like a professional. “Chef A is a great instructor and I feel like I’ve made some great friends here on the course. It’s like one big family, really. In fact, I often come to the school earlier than scheduled so I can

help Chef A set up the kitchen and hang out with other people on the course. “My dad’s been a chef for many years and has quite a lot of awards at home. I hope, one day, to win a rosette or two of my own. Thanks to this course, this definitely now feels possible!” The oldest student to attend the first course, at 61, is Chulaluck Suebsantiwongse. Cheeky and vivacious, she’s definitely the joker of the group, but she still takes her cooking seriously. Chulaluck worked for many years for Thai International, so she’s well-versed in the ins-and-outs of the service industry. She readily admits, however, that, before attending the course, her culinary skills were seriously lacking. “My lack of knowledge dawned on me the moment I agreed to help a friend who is about to open a Thai seafood restaurant in Krabi,” she says. “‘Oh dear,’ I thought. ‘I’m going to look like an idiot.’ So I thought it would be a good idea for me to go back to school. Strange at my age, definitely, but it has been a brilliant experience so far, and I’ve learned a lot. The course really does equip you with all the skills you need to open and run your own restaurant – definitely worth every baht.” Among the other students set to graduate from the school are siblings Eakaporn and Sukanya Duangthung, both in their 20s, who will go on to work at a restaurant owned by a family friend; Nichuda Sasananda, a self-professed foodie who joined the course simply to learn more about Thai cuisine and how to make tastier dishes for herself and her family; and Chonlasit Ratchasisorn, from Khon Kaen, who has impressed Chef A so much that he’s been offered a full-time job as chef assistant. “When I saw the information about the course in a magazine, I knew it was a sign I had to come to Bangkok and give it a try,” says Chonlasit. “It’s definitely the best decision I’ve ever made. To be offered a job here is amazing; and I’d definitely recommend the course to anyone who wants to become a professional chef – it really does work. A sound investment for your future!” TheBigChilli



Turning 30 in style – Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside Hotel Ahead of the luxury riverside property’s 30th anniversary, German GM Klaus Sennik reflects on the hotel’s past, present and future, and explains why people are key to its success What do you think is the secret of the property’s success? A combination of factors, really. It helps that we have always moved with the times and always kept pace with the demands of our local and international guests. We understand that while different nationalities look for different types of experiences, they all expect to receive the highest standards of Thai hospitality when they come to Bangkok. We have 30 years of experience in providing these standards at every touchpoint in our hotel. What do you personally like most about the property? A hotel is nothing without the staff and guests. It is PEOPLE who give a hotel character and atmosphere. We have staff that have worked here for over 20 years. They love the location, they love our guests and they appreciate our caring owners who have done so much to maintain the ‘Menam’ reputation over the past 30 years. So, my answer is that I most like the people who make this hotel a fantastic success year after year. But I must confess that I also like our riverside location. I am never bored by the view. Every day, life begins again on the Chao Phraya River and I am very proud to be the General Manager of such an iconic hotel. During the past three decades the hotel has received numerous awards. Which awards are you most proud of and why? We are proud of any award that recognizes our high standards and our never-ending commitment to customer service. I am proud of every award that our hotel has received – but I am particular proud of our Thailand Tourism Standards received from the Tourism Authority of Thailand in 2015. CSR is also a big part of the hotel’s DNA. What programs



are you currently involved in? As a member of the global Wyndham Hotels & Resorts organization we are committed to the ‘Wyndham Green’ philosophy and objectives. We work hard every day to enhance our credentials as an environmentallyfriendly hotel. We have made a substantial investment in equipment and management policies designed to reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint. Our on-site ‘green’ measures include reductions in energy consumption, improvements to our water management system and we have also invested in a new waste management and recycling plant. Our CSR activities also embrace the support of many local charities and good causes. We recently visited Mahamek Home for Boys to hand over food and equipment donated generously by our owners. We also take part in regular river cleaning projects. Do you have any special events planned to celebrate the hotel’s anniversar y? We are planning a big 30th anniversary party in September. Until the big party, however, each month we will have special promotions for guests to enjoy, ranging from room packages to dining deals. Full details will be listed on our website. Finally, do you have any big plans for the property over the next couple of years? You can never truly complete renovations of a hotel – it’s an ongoing process. We’re always tweaking our services and making improvements to our rooms, restaurants and spa. Towards the end of the year we plan to finish and open a serviced residence, as well as create some beautiful gardens in front of the hotel.

Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

Spanish Food Fiesta DOUBLETREE by Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok invited foodies to enjoy a sneak preview of its “Spanish Food Fiesta,” which will be held at DeeLite Bar & Restaurant until April 9. The Spanish food fiesta boasts a fabulous selection of authentic, traditional dishes from Spain including paella, Catalan-style fisherman’s soup, seafood and some very tempting Spanish desserts (all for just B1,250).

Cooking with spice MASTER Chef Rapeepat ‘A’ Boriboon, head chef instructor of the Department of Thai Gastronomy, Dusit Thani Hotel School, hosted a Special Workshop for SHOM (Spouses of Heads of Mission), namely Mrs. Juri Sekiguchi-Drofenik, Austria; Mrs. Isabelle Garachon, France; Mrs. Galina Matsoukatova, Greece; Mrs. Krisztina Szabo, Hungary; Mrs. Rupa Bishnoi, India, and Mrs. Akiko El Housni, Morocco. All of them tremendously enjoyed making pork neck spicy salad, banana blossom spicy salad and glass noodle spicy salad. Then, they all had lunch tasting their very own delicious dishes and received Certificates of Achievement. 36


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Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

Chef Gilles Reinhardt at Pullman Bangkok King Power PULLMAN Bangkok King Power’s General Manager Mr. Marc Begassat hosted a marvelous e clusive five-course set dinner by French Guest Chef Gilles Reinhardt from Paul Bocuse’s three Michelin Starred restaurant, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges in Lyon, France, at Wine Pub and Déjà Vu.

Anantara Siam welcomes new GM ANANTARA Siam Bangkok Hotel held a cocktail reception to bid farewell to outgoing General Manager, Titiya Chooto, and to introduce new General Manager, Patrick Both.



Exclusive wine dinner at Pirate Chambre G ENTERPRISE & Co. Company Limited, led by CEO Khun Na Chanok Ratandaros, invited a select group of VIP guests to experience the ‘Pirate G Wine Dinner’ at Pirate Chambre Bangkok. Featuring some delicious new dishes paired with fabulous wines, the meal was a resounding success.

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Dining out

Wo rds H A R VEY W E AT H E R I L L



Mexican cuisine is given a modern spin at this trendy restaurant at Groove@CentralWorld

ONTRARY TO popular belief, Mexican cuisine isn’t all just cheese-stuffed tacos and burritos bigger than one’s head. Hundreds of varieties of chilli peppers, scores of fresh ingredients, and regional recipes passed down over generations make sure of that. Visit Méjico, on the second floor of trendy drinking and dining destination Groove@CentralWorld, and you can discover some of the tastiest dishes Mexico has to offer, all made using market-fresh ingredients and presented with modern flair. Ensuring the authenticity of the restaurant’s offerings are its manager and chef, Dayna Valtierra Ayala, and head chef Martín Alonso Garro Campos – both Mexican nationals – who channel their knowledge of their native cuisine into a menu that’s both comprehensive and very different to what’s offered elsewhere in Bangkok. No corners are cut in ensuring every flavour from every wholesome



ingredient shines through. From marinating meats overnight, to smoking and slow cooking, to using only the finest local vegetables and chillis imported direct from Mexico, a lot of effort goes into each dish, and this is evident in every lip-smacking bite. A great introduction to the restaurant’s bold, fresh tastes is the Salmon ceviche (B245++), a citrusy, scrumptious and slightly spicy treat, which, with its additional mix of onion, orange and cilantro, has a pleasing blend of textures, too. Also good to start is the Guacamole (B235++), a thoroughly moreish mix of avocado, serrano chilli, lime juice and chopped onion which comes with crispy plantain chips. 'Smashed' tableside with a pestle and mortar, this dish really hits home just how fresh the ingredients are. For mains, don’t miss the Braised pork taco (two per serving. B185++), Méjico, 2nd Floor of Groove@CentralWorld. Open daily 11am-Midnight. 02 252 6660.

which delights with its melt-in-themouth meat and flavours of star anise, tomato, chilli, and the culinary firepower of ginger scallion oil; Achiote chicken (285++), a colourful and refreshing dish that features chicken breast slow-roasted Yucatán style and seared in a ginger, honey and lemon achiote paste, served with mango salsa, cous cous and candied almonds; and the signature Beef short rib (B695++), braised for hours and served with smoky chipotle BBQ sauce and pickled onion. If, after all that, you still have room for dessert, the signature Churros fondue (B185++) is a real treat – featuring Mexican cinnamonspiced doughnuts, seasonal fruit, and a heated pot of melted chocolate and caramel. As for drinks, Méjico offers the largest selection of 100 percent Blue Agave tequilas available in Bangkok (over 190!) and serves up a great range of lip-smacking margaritas (start at B250++) – a real fiesta in a glass.

Dining out

Wo rds H A R VEY W E AT H E R I L L

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers


Hunger-busting patties are the order of the day at this Hawaiian burger franchise

H E WO RD S SM AL L , medium and lar ge don’ t exi st in the lexi con of T eddy’ s B igger B ur ger s ( T B B ) . W hen it comes to meat be tween a bun, t her e’ s simpl y a choice of B ig, B igger , and B iggest. F or tunately t his doesn’ t tr anslate into qua ntity ove r qua lity . A dher ing to the pr incipl es establ ished at the first BB, which opened at the foot of D iamond H ead, H awaii, in 198, e ach br anch of this f r anchise spe cializ es in subs tantial pa tties made f r om 10 percent ground chuck (no fillers or bi nder s) – a ll char br oiled to or der . M or e qui ck s er vi ce than f ast f ood, T B B is all about maki ng its bur ger s wor th the wait. T his means you c an expe ct your or der to actually l ook and taste as good as the tempt ing pi ctur es on the menu suggest. A nd each bur ger comes pa cke d with high qua lity i ngr edients and a gener ous



dollop of T B B ’ s secr et sauce – a bi t like T housand I sland dr essing but mor e sweet and tangy . A t pr esent ther e ar e two br anches of T B B ope n in B angkok – one at G ateway E ka mai ( G r ound F loor ) and one at C entr al P laz a P inkl ao ( G r ound F loor ) . B oth of f er the same menu of signatur e T B B bur ger s, shake s and sodas, pl us other popul ar choices like cr ispy f r ies ( B 5) , mushr oom and cor n soups ( B 12 0) , salads ( B 160/ B 240) , chicke n wings ( B 1 10) and chicke n and por k bur ger s ( B 185) . T he be st of f er ings, however, definitely revolve around the be ef ( impo r ted f r om A ustr alia) . H ighlights include Teddy’ s Origi nal Burge r ( 5oz f or B 240) , topp ed with lettuce, onion, tomato, pi ckl e and spe cial sauce; H aw aiian burge r ( 5oz . Gatew ay E k amai / Central P laz a P ink lao. Open daily 10am-9 .15pm. Faceb ook / T eddysB u rgersT H L ine: @T eddysB u rgersT H

B 20) , toppe d with lettuce, onion, tomato, pi ckl e, gr illed pi neappl e and ter iya ki sauce; and the M onster D ouble Burge r ( 10oz f or B 360 ), which has the same fillings as the O r iginal B ur ger pl us an ext r a pa tty . Y ou can add additional toppi ngs to each b ur ger star ting at j ust B 2 0 . A nd if y ou’ r e f eeling ex tr a hungr y , y ou can alway s b oost the siz e of y our b ur ger – simp ly add B 6 0 to up gr ade to a 7 oz p atty , or B 1 0 0 f or 9 oz . O p t f or the M onster D oub le B ur ger with the latter , and y ou hav e y our self one mighty f east. S pe aki ng of mighty f easts: U ntil A p r il 8 y ou can also attemp t the Tow er Your Burg er Challeng e. S imp ly b uild the b iggest b ur ger y ou can, and, if it r eaches 3 0 cm in height and doesn’ t top p le in 3 0 seconds, y ou get to eat f or f r ee ( if y ou f ail y ou p ay B 9 9 0 . Y ou can, of cour se, alway s shar e with f r iends) .

Dining out

Guest review by

Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Café Parisien

The BB&B dining group enjoys an afternoon of fine French flavours


HIS was our first call on Chef Hervé Frerard since Le Beaulieu in 2013. Sadly, we missed the man himself as he had been called to preside over a separate function elsewhere but his staff performed their usual magic and turned out a great lunch.   As on several other occasions we started with a Prosecco, this time Follador Silver Extra Dry (Veneto, Italy) which we found to be most enjoyable; the canapés were also appreciated.

The layout of the restaurant required us to be divided between two tables of which the smaller was decidedly the noisier. Our lunch commenced with Slow-cooked organic egg 63 degrees, smoked haddock purée and trout caviar. This was extremely good, not overpowered by the haddock or the truffle flavouring and nicely complemented by Martinborough Te Tera 2014 Sauvignon Blanc (North Island, NZ), a tasty zesty wine. A second fish course followed, Baked Chilean seabass fillet on artichoke purée and Noilly Beurre Blanc. This was just as good as the first dish, and a surprise came with it – Tulloch Vineyard Selection 2011



Shiraz (Hunter Valley, NSW).   Several conservatives chose to stick with the Sauvignon Blanc but those who ventured on found the Shiraz to be a great match for the fillet of seabass. The Shiraz, coming from the family winery of our former Winemaster, proved to be a pleasant, light-to medium-bodied wine, and a product commended by veteran critic Luigi Vercotti.   The fish fillet – “tremendous” according to our food spokesman, Mark Guthrie – was beautifully cooked, crisp on the outside and firm within, and served with a tasty Noilly Prat sauce. There was an interlude before the arrival of Grilled pepper steak fillet, mashed Ratte potato (not ratty potato, but a small potato variety with a unique nutty taste and smooth, buttery texture – a favourite of French chefs) and Merlot red wine sauce. The steak was cooked to perfection with a peppery crust; the accompanying sauce was a little too strong in flavour for some, but calls for more meat and mash were promptly answered by the SousChef and her team. Mark really enjoyed the carrot, we heard, and so did I. With this came the best wine of the day, Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (California), which also produced calls for more. Natalie MacLean’s description of “terrific balance, depth and length with a dry finish” was endorsed by wine spokesman Sr Luigi.  Winemaster Thomas

Boedinger continues to receive praise for his recent wine selections! The dwindling rays of the sun had a couple of diners scurrying for cool and shade; the rest of us thoroughly enjoyed the Baked hazelnut millefeuille, and homemade vanilla ice cream, which were both delicious. There followed Assorted cheeses from the Royal Project in Chiang Rai, and French baguette. Throughout the lunch we received servings of this excellent freshly baked bread, and Hervé’s selection of cheese satisfied all. Two birthdays were recognised with a round of liqueurs in the Cigar Lounge but only after we had heaped praise on the Café Parisien team for their contribution to our enjoyment. The Chef himself, Hervé, finally arrived to receive a further round of thanks and most of us eventually tottered home well satisfied. Thanon Witthayu 132 Sindhorn Tower. 02 650 9993.

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Dining out

Wo rds H A R VEY W E AT H E R I L L

Sunday Brunch on the River at FLOW

Millennium Hilton Bangkok’s weekend feast features a fabulous spread of international cuisines and wines


L AV I SH SP RE AD of gour met f ood and a spl endid r ive r side setting ar e j ust two of the highlights at the ‘ B r unch on the R ive r ’ expe r ience ser ve d up eve r y S unday a t F L O W . S howcasing ev er y thing the M illennium H ilton B angk ok has to of f er , the b r unch k ick s of f in sty le at 1 1 am with comp limentar y cock tails and canap é s ( and an amaz ing v iew) at the T hr eeS ix ty r oof top b ar , b ef or e mov ing, at noon, to the r iv er side at F L O W . U ntil 3pm you c an then f east on an ext ensive buf f et f eatur ing items f r om all of the hotel’ s signatur e r estaur ants, including F L O W , P r ime S teakhous e, and Y uan C hinese R estaur ant. H ighlights of the inter national selection include Goose leg confit,

glaz ed with lemon and pot ato cr eam; S low r oasted lamb l oin, eggpl ant and thym e emulsion; R oast pr ime r ib; ruffle fondue; and Italian soubise. F or A sian tastes, pop a long to the T hai station f or local f avour ites like Som tum poo nim ( spi cy pa pa ya salad with sof t shell cr ab) and Hor-mok goong mae nam ( iver prawn soufflé); and to Y uan’ s station f or C hinese delicacies such as J umbo s hr imp di m sum; and Wok-fried Chinese pancake filled with chive s. T he inter national br unch selection is made all the mor e impr essive with f r ee access to the pr iva te C heese R oom, wher e diner s can sampl e an amaz ing Millenniu m H ilton B angk ok . 123 Charoennak orn R d. 02 4 4 2 2000. b angk ok

va r iety of cheeses f r om all ar ound the wor ld, all ser ve d with f r eshly b ake d br ead and condiments. T her e’ s also a gr eat selection of wines too choose f r om – ove r 20 l abe ls – pl us all ki nds of delicious smoothies, j uices and que ncher s. F or an ext r a sweet touch, guests can stay unt il 4pm at T he L anter n, an ar ea dedicated to chocolate and desser ts, to enj oy C hef U r s’ signatur e selections as well as va r ious ki nds of cof f ee and tea. C hocolate G aller y signatur es include T eppa nya ki ice cream, Chocolate whisky truffle and f r esh str awbe r r ies; M er ingue and C hantilly . B r unch on the R ive r is pr iced B 2,20 pe r pe r son ( includes cof f ee, tea and j uices) ; or B 3,20 pe r pe r son with free flow wines.




& proudly announce THE

Thailand International Business Awards 2016 BUILDING on the success of the Expat Entrepreneur Awards 2014, the BigChilli is joining forces with the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) to launch a new initiative aimed at recognising Thailand’s most successful and dynamic businesses and entrepreneurs. The inaugural Thailand International Business Awards will feature a range of categories to reflect the wide diversity of businesses operating in this country. These will include one category specifically designed for small and medium enterprises under the banner ‘Expat Entrepreneurs.’ Nominations will be open to any company registered in Thailand regardless of size or affiliations. A team of independent judges will review the nominations and select the winners in each of the categories. This prestigious event will culminate in an Awards Gala Dinner mid-2016. Raise your company’s profile, build contacts, create new business opportunities and tell the world about your achievements through the Thailand International Business Awards 2016. Featured over the next few pages are just two of the nominees. More will appear in next month’s issue.



Nominee Thailand International Business Awards


Entrepreneur: Steve Mines, The London Pie

For the love of pies British pie maker Steve Mines explains why good ol’ fashioned Yorkshire grit is a key ingredient of his success


E set about building The London Pie (londonpiebangkok. com) from the ashes of The British Pie shop. No moping about and complaining; the wife and I just set about it, bought the bare essentials, and off we went again bootstrapping. The lesson learned here was how important it is to retain complete control over your business. Day one of The London Pie saw us with one table, one baking bowl, the household oven from our house in Phuket, and a burning desire to show a band of ex-investors what could be done with Yorkshire grit, Thai grit, something to prove, and a chip on my shoulder large enough to be seen from space on a good day. Great friends helped with start up money and advice, notably Patrick Cotter, my former boss in the Dive Industry and well renowned rugby organizer in Thailand. I’m eternally grateful to Asia West, Sean and Eric for believing in The London Pie and supplying us with quality produce, sound advice and, most importantly, a line of credit. Last but not least, my great friend and mentor Tim Roberts, a real rock during these times.



Most of the people who had bought pies from us in Phuket and Khao Lak (when we were known as The Shires Pie Company) had become friends down the years. So there was a ready market even before we had relocated the shop to Bangkok on Sathupradit. We really did sleep on the floor for the first few days and worked round the clock to ready the shop for opening. Our first customer in the shop was a lovely South African lady whom I photographed. By a strange quirk of fate, as I walked out of the shop two years later having sold it, the same lady came into the shop, so I again took a photo of us together and hastily left. This made her our first and last customer.   In the Registration office, we just came up with The London Pie for our company name as it rhymed and contained the one word we thought should be in it – London.   We thought we would change it later or trade under another name as and when we came up with one. Happy to say, the name really has taken hold and we’ll be sticking with it, and also the cheap and cheerful branding we cobbled together during those early days. Bootstrapping is good for the soul I’m told, but for family relationships, health, exercise and general well-being, it is not a design for life. Focus Our focus from the start was to be a pie shop and to function as such. We’ve never sold beer and have never actively targeted the beer bars and nightlife scene in Thailand. Instead, we’ve worked closely with schools, expat associations (most notably The British Women’s Group and the Australian New Zealand Women’s Group). I had noticed a few pie producers in Thailand but most seemed to be butcher’s shops with pies almost as a byproduct. There are also a number of bakeries or restaurants making pies on a smaller scale. We produce pies first and foremost and this is the direction of the business for the future. We are a true pie shop in the traditional sense and make over 40 different varieties in various sizes and tailored often to the needs of our customers. We have traded on word of mouth since we first started and this is my preference. Our growth is rock solid and the quality is never compromised. We use top quality raw materials and as with the iconic ’70s slogan “It’s the fish John West rejects, that make John West Salmon the best” in mind, we meticulously trim our meats and vegetables leaving out anything that is not 100%.     We’re not perfect, even coming from Yorkshire, but we do focus hard on this aspect of the business, much harder than we focus on selling and that’s for sure.

Eggs are bought every day and we maintain a good relationship with the small mom and pop shop. Wherever we have worked this past 10 years we have befriended the nearest shop and asked that the two – four trays of eggs we use every day are of the best quality.     Staff I could never have managed this without my wife of 11 years, Duang. She is not only the major shareholder, she also does the lion’s share of the work, including

keeping me in line. Our accountant/shareholder Bubble Bee is also vital in the role of keeping me in check and bombarding me with constant reminders of whom to meet, where to visit, what to pay, what to sign and a whole host of tasks that I “overlook.”  I’m not The Memory Man and that’s for sure, so I really appreciate this. As we lived in the same building for three years, we became like family, eating together, shopping, looking after each other’s children, sharing the cooking and chores and dining out when I remembered the monthly staff outing.   All staff are key staff, but we hired the first two people to walk down Sathupradit who looked like they may be in need of work. One is still with us. Her parents worked for the house next door as housekeeper and driver. Life is never dull and I have real affection for them all – even my pastry team who appear to have formed a boy band of late and sing all day and all night. We meet, strategise and perform tasks in as western a manner as is possible whilst sitting cross-legged on the floor eating chicken and sticky rice with our hands. No top down big boss style of management from me…The wife’s another matter though and she does occasionally let me have it – as does Bubble Bee, come to think of it.   This approach does bring forth ideas from the staff and this has always been my aim. Make them comfortable enough with me to participate in meetings with real ideas, knowing they are valued and that I am listening and keen to try things their way. Staff turnover? We’ve lost one in three years and that was mainly due to him being happier in Bangkok than Jomtien. I hear horrific tales of staff turnover and believe we have a strategy in place that gives us more stability than our opposition.   Locations The main outlet is The London Pie, Ekamai Soi 4/1, where Neil runs a fantastic café and takeaway service. Well-known to residents of that area and on Food Panda, Neil is currently seeking to expand the operation and this could lead to fresh pies being available in a busier area of Bangkok.

Our former bakery at Sathupradit Soi 19 is still operating as a sales outlet and our full range is available here (or via the facebook page which we share: A new kiosk-style bakery has opened in Jomtien. It is undergoing a soft opening, but I’m sure its location directly next to Big C Pattaya is going to keep them busy without advertising and blowing of trumpets.  Points of sale in Bangkok include Dean & Deluca, The Cube, Chong Nonsi; The Clubhouse, Soi 23; Checkers, Sukhumvit Soi 4; Bar Fire & Ice Minburi; the soon to re-open Drunken Duck on Ratchayothin; and behind St. Stephen’s International School.  Pies are also available through Sloane’s at Sukhumvit 105 (outside Bangkok Patana School) and through direct sales into schools and offices. In Jomtien, our factory is located on Soi Chayapreuk 2. In Pattaya, our pies are available at Celtic Kings, Soi 7; The Devonshire, Soi Lengkhee; Loangs Bistro, Jomtien Second Road (close to Soi 11); and Tropical Bar & Bees Knees, Soi Boonsampan.   Challenges The next expansion is going to be the big one. It is underway and most of the pieces of the jigsaw are in place. After 10 years of bootstrapping and word of mouth trading, we are probably going to have to go cap in hand and work with investors who can bring in the experience and money required to operate at that level and control a busy factory. I never thought I’d say that as we’ve enjoyed growing and are still fiercely independent, but the goal of 20 “outlets” is going to take money. It’s that simple. Keeping secret our upcoming range of new pies is also challenging as we sometimes have to unleash a couple of them onto regular customers. My wife, staff, fellow shareholders and backers have this view that only selling pies to people I like or find interesting may have to change. I enjoy the characters I meet and the life stories so much that this will be a real challenge, and I’ve a feeling I could be outvoted on this!    What would I do differently? Je ne regrette rien. It would be impossible to be in this position if we had done things differently. Without the last break up with the British Pie Shop, I could have been a prisoner to the money men and accountants who were sucking the life out of it anyway.  I love things as they are and have immense pride in twice building a company from the ground up. Some things money just can’t buy – pride, customer loyalty/friendship, and reputation being amongst them.    On the personal level, I’d maybe have settled for less in order to spend more time with my family and on my hobbies, but that is something I have worked to put right with my current move to Jomtien. We do now live in a beautiful part of the Eastern Seaboard and have a great, if raucous family life. TheBigChilli



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movie are here right now making another film, and we are helping them with it. “The Chinese are really coming here because they love the weather and the atmosphere is better than in Beijing. They can breathe easier and everything is more interesting for them. They love the locations, the quality of the art and design teams, and the food. This is the future of Bangkok and Thailand. We are going to see more and more Chinese tourists.   “Chinese filmmakers make movies here in Mandarin for Chinese distribution and when the films open in China millions of people flock to see them. This is the vast market I am targeting and it’s expanding rapidly.

visas and various permits and facilitating film crews in finding the right “My brother Edward was locations, security teams, building sets, lighting equipment rentals and killed in the Bali bombing so on. I only employ three full-time in 2002. Eventually, I want staff, but when we are working on to make a movie about what a film we may have hundreds or so happened to him. I don’t employees. “We are one of maybe ten believe anyone has really companies in Thailand that told us the whole truth about actively serve the international the bombing and the arrest film industry. Since I formed the of the alleged mastermind in company in Bangkok, we have Ayutthaya who is currently made 14 films, basically one per year,” Tom said. held by the Americans in   “Thailand is an excellent place to Guantanamo prison in Cuba. make movies and it always has been. I don’t believe they told us in It offers very good value for money the news reports what really even if there aren’t any government happened. I know there’s incentives yet. For example, building sets, which takes a lot of labor, is something they are hiding.” much more competitive and cheaper than in Europe or even China. Now we have an influx of Chinese movie producers coming to film here There are more and more cinemas opening up in China and because it is better value for their money. The craftsmanship is that means they need more films to watch,” said Tom, adding better here than anywhere else.      that Chinese filmmakers and crews are coming not only from   “We can transform Thailand into another country if needed. Mainland China but also Taiwan and Hong Kong.  We can duplicate a street in Paris, Vienna or London in Bangkok,   or we can make Khao Yai look like Austria or Italy. The skill level Tied up in red tape of the workers here is very good, and that’s why Thailand is   almost like the center of Southeast Asia in terms of filmmaking. “We arrange everything, including getting visas from the Royal   Thai embassy in Beijing. But unfortunately we have had so Tilting toward China many problems with the Thai government since the bombing   at the Erawan Shrine in August last year. Chinese nationals are “We used to work primarily with a Hollywood company called put under special scrutiny. If they apply for a Non-Immigrant B Millennium Films. We did four movies for them, but now we are visa to work here and plan to be in Thailand for more than three changing our strategy. We want to work more with emerging months they have to go through the National Security Agency. markets and China is definitely in this category. We have a good This entails a comprehensive checking process which takes weeks. reputation in handling Chinese productions because we have   “The problem is that there are no laws or government good translators and we have the right team. We hope to have mechanisms in place to support the film industry in Thailand as more repeat customers from China. there are in many places. There’s too much red tape. We always   “Right now we are doing a film for big company in China run into problems with Immigration, the Labor department, called Wanda Media. They own cinemas, theme parks and Customs and other government agencies. they recently bought the Legendary Entertainment studio in   “In fact the immigration laws are getting tighter, which Hollywood. They are making a film in Thailand right now with really makes it difficult for foreigners to work here. For a work the same actors from the movie Lost in Thailand. That was a permit you must submit mountains of paperwork, including huge hit in China and it’s one of the reasons why we have so education certificates. Some technicians don’t have a degree. many Chinese tourists here now. The leading actors from that We need to get visas for technicians and we need Mandarin



speakers to work here, and it is very hard to get permits for them. We are trying to change this now and I am hoping that before there’s an election this government will change at least some of the rules that make it very difficult for businesses like ours to invite foreign companies to film in Thailand. “Under Article 44 of the Interim Charter, the prime minister has the power to push for reforms. Hopefully the government will realize the tremendous amount of money being invested in the country by foreign filmmakers. Just last year my company handled a big Hollywood action film called Mechanic: Resurrection that was made here with famous actors like Jason Statham, Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Alba. The production costs were US$30 or US$40 million and around US$10 million

was for local staff, working facilities, permits and so on. It is really a big business for Thailand. By the way, the film is coming out in August of this year. “The James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun filmed here in the ’70s is still bringing revenue into Thailand. It turned Phang Nga into a tourist attraction. Many years after the movie was made people still want to visit ‘James Bond Island.’ There are a lot of reasons why the government should support the film sector. But presently we have such problems dealing with the government that it makes our clients worry.”  

Competitive edge

“Filmmakers usually find us through word of mouth. We do very little advertising,” said Tom. “This business is very competitive, and it is important to keep a focus on the personalities involved. It’s about relationships. The Chinese want to work with me and with our company because we keep them happy. It is very important for us to always be aware that they are guests in our country. I always try to make them feel welcome here, even if the government sometimes does not.”     t also helps that Tom is a native speaker of English, the international language, and is also fluent in Thai. This allows him to function well as a coordinator. “Filmmakers like the fact that they can converse with the co-producer and that he speaks the local language. It makes it much easier for them to do business. Some foreign coordinators come here to work and find it very difficult because they don’t speak Thai.   “We don’t do massive productions because it involves even more red tape. The productions we are doing now run about US$10 million, kind of mid-range movies. We occasionally do commercials and some work for TV. We did three seasons of reality show Survivor, and we also do music videos, like the one for El Nin-Yo by Tata Young.


“When I am not too busy working on films for other people I like to develop my own ideas. The films I make myself are quite artistic. The Last Executioner won a big award in Thailand. My films win me awards and prestige but they don’t make a lot of money. They are financed locally by Channel 7 or True Vision or private investors. You have to find wealthy people who are willing to support you because there’s no government support.”  

Future plans

It turns out that Tom has Siamese “blue blood” running through his veins. “My grandfather was the son of Phraya Nitisatra Baisal, who worked for the palace during the reign of

King Rama VII,” said Tom. “He was Minister of Justice. My first cousin – my mother’s sister son – was former MP and Governor of Bangkok Apirak Kosayiodhin.” Tom plans to film a big historical film set in Ayutthaya in the 17th century which revolves around the French decision to try to Christianize Siam and make it their colony in the East. “The French King Louis XIV sent Jesuits missionaries here and also Count Claude de Forbin, the commander of the French navy who became the first governor of Bangkok. He was later replaced by another Frenchman, Chevalier de Beauregard. Through the movie I want to show the resilience of the Siamese people and how they managed to resist colonization all those years.   “That’s why Thailand is in my opinion one of the more interesting countries in the region and has such a deep cultural history because it remained free of colonization and kept its own character. People here are very much attached to their history and you can see it in the dances, artworks, woodworks, carpentry, temples and so on. All these things are very much a part of the Thai identity and they haven’t been corrupted by foreign powers. The charm of Thailand is derived from old Siam. This is going to be an international movie and it will feature French as well as Thai actors.   “Apart from that, my plan is to stay based in Thailand and to continue working on international productions that come to Thailand and also make my own films. At 41, I am not so young. I have three children and I feel it’s necessary to send them to good schools. Two of them are now at Harrow International, which is a top school and very expensive. That’s one reason I have to keep working and making money.”




Why it's not easy being a Thai police officer

Thai police often come in for massive criticism, but investigate a bit deeper and it turns out they work long hours doing a difficult job in dangerous circumstances for scant reward. All they want is a little appreciation from the public


CARCELY a day goes by that doesn’t see allegations of corruption, laziness, incompetence or other criticism levelled by the media at the Royal Thai Police (RTP), especially in local and international English-language outlets. While Thai-language newspapers, television, magazines and websites are somewhat more balanced, the overall negative coverage contributes to a prevailing opinion that Thai police have a soft job and are mainly occupied with feathering their own nests. But anyone who takes the time to sit down and talk to some of them soon realizes this is unfair. No other government agency has to contend with anything like the barrage of negative press that descends on the police on an almost daily basis. We are constantly reminded of bribe-taking by police, but it’s worth remembering that for the average cop this amounts to small sums from motorists in lieu of a traffic ticket. And often it is the motorists who are most eager to make a cash deal on the spot to avoid the inconvenience of  having their driving license confiscated and going to the police station to pay a fine.   Contrast this to corruption in the private sector. Graft perpetrated by big corporations is believed to siphon off hundreds of millions of baht from the country’s GDP. We hear precious little in the media about so-called white collar crimes like insider trading, fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion. Corruption in sports on a tremendous scale is also overlooked. Reports of match fixing, doping, gambling and other illegal activities plague sports all around the world, but in general the athletes remain admired and emulated. While some criticism of the police is certainly valid, there is little appreciation of the risks they take and the long, hard hours they work. A police officer’s job places him or her in the center of surroundings and situations that most people would do anything to avoid. Whenever there is a robbery, assault, shooting, bombing or other violent crime people always look first to the police to find the perpetrators and restore order. They are also on the scene of traffic accidents and disasters such as fires and floods, and they are called on to settle family disputes and even to remove snakes from residences. But stories that look deeply into the lives and working conditions of ordinary police officers rarely appear in the media unless it is to report on a tragic event like the alleged suicide of Police Captain Tawee Meunrak. The policeman attached to Thung Song Hong police station is believed to have shot himself on January

Police Colonel Dr Pullop Aramhla 74


By Maxmilian Wechsler

Police accommodation behind Pakkred police station in Nonthaburi

29 because of work-related stress. Before people take aim from the comfort and safety of their homes at the men and women patrolling Thailand’s meanest streets, they should pause to consider whether their criticism is really warranted. Police live with the knowledge that every time they put on their uniforms they may be killed or injured in the act of chasing or arresting criminals. Adding to the pressure are rising crime rates brought on by tough economic times which also make the perpetrators more desperate. What’s more, in many cases criminals are well armed and willing to resist and fight the police. One former senior police officer attached to the Pathum Thani provincial police said that these days drug traffickers and other hard-core criminals often bring out not only handguns but assault rifles in their confrontations with police. Contacts with law-abiding citizens can take a toll as well. Police are on the scene at the thousands of grisly traffic accidents that occur each year in Thailand. They draw up reports and sometimes take photos of injured and deceased motorists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. They also take charge of the grim business of investigating suicides and overseeing the collection of the bodies.  At the end of a day filled with such activities, they still have to attend to paperwork and other assorted duties. This means they almost invariably work long hours, and without overtime. There is no increase in pay rate for working nights, weekends or holidays, and a police officer must be prepared to answer the call of duty at any time, 24/7. How many factory and office workers, not to mention company executives or journalists, would take a job like that?

The view from Bang Phli police station It takes 30 to 40 minutes to drive from the center of Bangkok to the Bang Phli police station in Samut Prakan province, where Police Colonel Dr Pullop Aramhla, the station's Superintendent, gave an extensive and candid interview. He also allowed an interview with rank-and-file police and granted unlimited access to a modern, well-equipped police station, which has signs in

both Thai and English and is divided into five sections: Investigation, Inquiry, Patrol, Traffic, and Administration. Speaking good English, Pol Col Pullop was extremely frank during a long conversation in his modest second floor office. “We cover 150 square kilometers with about 200,000 people, including about 60,000 migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos who are employed at the many factories in the area,” said the superintendent, who has a doctorate in Philosophy. “The station has 140 policemen and 10 policewomen, and this is not enough. We are understaffed, and therefore everyone assigned here, including me, has to work hard and long hours to fulfill our responsibilities as expected by the public and the RTP. I have been here for

Police flats next to Pathum Thani Provincial Police Headquarters

16 months and before that I was attached to the Samut Prakan Provincial Police Division headquarters for three years. Sixteen months is not long enough to accomplish what I want to do, which is to educate the law enforcement professionals here and bring crime under control in the district. “If there’s nothing too urgent I go to bed at 12.30am and wake up at 5.30am. I have almost no free time. Every morning I monitor traffic, which is very heavy in the early morning hours because there are so many trucks on the roads. At around 10am I have to look over and sign many documents. At 1pm I check on various places like banks. We don’t station police in banks because we don’t have enough staff. A big part of the job is breaking up brawls. First it’s students, starting around 4pm, and later, after 7pm, mostly factory workers. In the nighttime we are called to a lot of traffic accidents mainly involving motorcycles. There’s always something happening. “Around three times a week I attend meetings at Samut Prakan Police Division headquarters. There are many meeting at this station also, for example on action plans to apprehend suspects. As superintendent I am responsible for every police officer here. My mobile is on 24/7. Sometimes I get a call at 2am to come



Feature to the scene of a deadly accident. It is non-stop work, and not just for me. Anyone who puts on an RTP uniform has a difficult and dangerous job. Unfortunately, all too often criminals make a choice to take out a gun and start shooting to try and avoid arrest. “We don’t have set working hours like employees of a private company. We can’t say ‘it’s 4.30pm and I’m going home.’ Our hours depend on the number of cases and overall security situation in the district. And since there are always so many cases coming at us the reality is that we are subject to be called to report for duty at any time, with no extra pay, for weekends or public holidays,” said Pol Col Pullop, adding that police pay the same income tax rate as people who work in the private sector. “There are three eight-hour shifts with patrols that must each be staffed by 50 police. Policewomen are mostly attached to the administrative section as there are a great many documents to process every day. But sometimes they accompany the men on patrols. In some investigations we use policewomen for undercover work because they are better suited in certain situations. If there’s a big crime or incident in our area we have to call everybody out, men and women,” said Pol Col Pullop.


Rewards don’t match the risks

he government provides apartments for police officers and their families, but only around 10 percent are able to live in the building adjacent to the station. There are other rent-free residences within a 10 kilometer-radius of the station – the reach of police radio transmitters. The rent is free at these residences except for electricity and water. The government apartments consist

of one or two rooms and are allocated according to rank and whether family members are in residence. Those who chose to stay in other accommodations must pay the cost themselves.  Most rent-free police flats located close to police stations are mostly decades old and quite run down, but some are relatively new. Overall, though, they are from ideal; the rooms are small and basic while the premises can be crowded and noisy.  Police must buy their own motorcycles if they are needed for the job. Those who live away from the station must have some form of private transportation so they can respond quickly in an emergency. The cost of the basic equipment like uniforms, decorations, handguns, transceivers, handcuffs, hats and belts also comes out of their own pockets. A good handgun is expensive and costs around 70,000 baht. Some police don’t have a gun because they just can’t afford it. Handguns can be purchased by installment through the police cooperative, however.  “Police and their family members are entitled to a free medical care, medicine and whatever treatment is necessary but only in government hospitals,” said Pol Col Pullop. The superintendent explained that if someone commits a major crime in his district and runs away to Chiang Mai, for example, police stationed at Bang Phli are responsible for apprehending the criminal. “We have to follow them, and this could mean The reality is contacting relatives wherever they may live. The government gives us some budget for this type of that we are circumstance which includes transportation, acsubject to commodation and food, but often it is not enough. be called to In such cases we have to use money budgeted for report for duty essential purposes in order to succeed with the at any time, investigation and arrest the suspect. “The government’s budget allocation for fuel with no extra for our 20 police cars and motorcycles is often not pay, for enough either. Usually the budget for petrol runs weekends out sometimes after the 20th of the month, so we or public have to find the money elsewhere. Often I pay from my own pocket.” holidays.

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The Traffic Control Center at the Bang Phli station




breaks the law I will arrest them, period.” The young officer said that his uniform and accessories cost him altogether about 4,000 Pol Col Pullop showed me around Bang Phli baht. “The silver stars on my shoulder cost station’s modern Traffic Control Center. me 250 baht each, and I have four. Guns are “Dispatchers are on duty around the clock expensive and some policemen don’t feel and upon receiving a call they radio to one of they can afford to buy a good one, but my our patrol teams, who promptly proceed to philosophy is that this is a dangerous occuthe scene. The control center is equipped with pation and a reliable handgun is a necessity. 16 colour monitors that receive feeds from However, those attached to the adminisstrategically placed CCTV cameras and show trative section don’t necessarily need a gun.” how traffic is flowing in the area. Everything He echoed his superior’s comments is recorded. The center also has nine large about problems with migrant workers television screens mounted on the wall and adding to their workload. “We have tens of tuned to different Thai TV news channels.”    thousands of workers from neighbouring He then explained the procedure for countries, especially Myanmar and Cambopatrols sent to traffic accidents: “After dia, working in factories in and around Bang arriving at the scene of an accident, the THE Royal Thai Police (RTP) has Phli. They are willing to work for 300 baht patrolmen take photos of the crash site, draw authority in all of Thailand’s 76 provinces, which are divided a day or less and some are undocumented. a map of the scene and talk to witnesses. into nine regions. In all, there are These enter Thailand illegally. Some are The same police team must make a report roughly 230,000 police men and smuggled through Mae Sot or Kanchanabuback at the station and contact the families of women under the RTP throughout ri. Some are registered to work in a certain victims. Then they go to the hospital to see Thailand, based at 1,465 police job but they do some other kind of work. the victims and help make identifications if stations including almost 100 in the Bangkok Metropolitan area.   This is also illegal. there are deaths. In some cases vehicles are Bang Phli police station “When migrant workers fight we are impounded for forensic examination. A lot has jurisdiction over a combined called to break them up and sometimes we of documents have to be written up and the residential and industrial area. It is make arrests, and sometimes when we arrive patrolmen are assisted in this by our adminone of 14 under the Samut Prakan there are dead bodies that must be taken istrative personnel. Sometimes the case goes Provincial Police Division. Together with four neighbouring provinces care of. In my experience not many migrant to the prosecutor and to court and the police in Greater Bangkok – Nakhon workers take narcotics, maybe because they who took the call must also appear in court.    Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum can’t afford it. They prefer to drink alcohol.” “The number of cases that must be Thani and Samut Sakhon – it forms Bang Phli has cells for prisoners who investigated differs from station to station, Provincial Police Region 1, whose can be kept there for up to 48 hours. “After of course,” said the superintendent. “In a headquarters are on Wiphawadi Rangsit Road. that we send the suspect to the court in relatively quiet district it might be 500 per Samut Prakan. In a big case, the court can year, while a district in Pattaya might see order detention up to 84 days before a trial. 5,000. We must respond to about 2,000 cases We have to bring suspects to the court whenever their cases per year and around five serious cases every day. Fifty percent are being considered. We have a prison car with a police driver of all cases we handle involve narcotics, especially methamphetand guards who accompany suspects to the criminal court, or amine tablets (yaba) and crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’). The juvenile court if the suspect is under 18 years.” second most common problem is fighting. These involve mainly One policeman asked what foreigners in Thailand think migrant workers from neighbouring countries who have had about the police. When told of the general perception, none of too much to drink. These situations are lethal sometimes. the officers seemed at all surprised. A police colonel in charge “Most nights we receive two, three or even more calls about of investigations asked for this message to be passed on: “All migrant workers causing a disturbance to our emergency 191 and policemen and policewomen assigned to Bang Phli police staBang Phli police station number (02 337 3377) with requests for tion would like to tell foreigners and the Thai public that we are assistance. There’s no problem with communication in these situworking very hard to ensure safety for the public. I am sure that ations. Most migrant workers can speak some English and so can this is the case all over Thailand. we. We usually have enough manpower to attend to all emergen“Often when we are sleeping or trying to relax a call comes cies but sometimes they pile up and people who need help have in and we have to go to work.” to wait,” said Pol Col Pullop, adding that the third most common His emotional declaration and the enthusiastic approval problem is theft and the fourth is serious traffic accidents. given by his colleagues were unexpected. The camaraderie and esprit de corps among them are clearly very strong. More police perspective One young policeman remarked on an apparent paradox: “It’s funny, you know. The public always criticizes us, the job is One of the station’s young police officers explained that after dangerous, the hours are long and the rewards are small, but graduating from the Royal Police Cadet Academy he was atwhenever there’s a recruiting program there are always more tached to another police station in Bangkok before being transthan 10,000 applicants wanting to join us.’ ferred to Bang Phli about a year ago. Asked why he joined the The BigChilli wishes to thank Police Colonel Dr Pullop RTP, he answered: “I want to serve my people and my country.” Aramhla, Superintendent of the Bang Phli police station, and He insisted that he won’t accept bribes from anyone, no matter several officers under his command for providing insight into how much money is offered, and he follows the law no matter their daily lives. how big or influential any suspect thinks they are. “If someone

RTP in focus




Belly fat be gone! Nutrition consultant Judith Coulson explains how to combat middle-age spread ■ ‘MIDDLE-age spread’ is a widely discussed concern these days. As people go through their 30s and 40s, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase around the middle for both men and women. For many years people accepted these changes as an inevitable fact of aging. But today more and more evidence suggests that as our waistline grows, so do our health risks. Abdominal, or visceral fat lies deep within the abdominal cavity and pads the spaces between our abdominal organs. The amount of visceral fat has a great influence on a variety of health problems including metabolic disturbances, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, and arousal dysfunctions. Subcutaneous fat, the kind you can grasp with your hand and we like to call love handles, lies on top of our muscles and is a lot less dangerous.

Are you pear-shaped or apple-shaped? Fat accumulated in the lower body (the pear shape) is subcutaneous, while fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape) is largely visceral. Where fat ends up is influenced by several factors, including hormone levels, stress, food and lifestyle choices. The good news is that visceral fat can be easily reduced with exercise and diet,



with the additional benefits of greater well-being and a stronger immune system. Subcutaneous fat located at the waist, on the other hand, can be frustratingly difficult to budge, but it’s generally not considered as much of a health threat. Research suggests that fat cells, particularly abdominal fat cells, are biologically active. It’s appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health. Although scientists are still deciphering the roles of

individual hormones, it’s becoming clear that excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and functioning of these hormones. (To see a video showing the effects of visceral fat on your hormones, visit: big-chili-resources). Exercise and a healthy diet can help you get rid of belly fat. Action should be taken if your belly fat exceeds the following: 35 in. (88 cm) for women; and more than 40 in. (102 cm) for men

line with the guidelines of the Cancer Research Institute, the Center of Chronic Disease Prevention, as well as the World Health Organization’s recommendations to reduce the global chronic disease burden.

Belly fat buster: Eat more fiber

Belly fat buster: Know your portion sizes I recommend following the “Healthy Plate” concept from the Harvard School of Public Health ( nutritionsource/healthyeating-plate). Many government guidelines are based on more than just disease prevention and health promotion. Very often they cater to economic and agriculture interests too. The Harvard School of Public Health is in

Nutrition fiber found in many plant-based foods help reduce not just belly fat but many other chronic diseases. Good sources of fiber include fruits like apples, dried fruits, all kinds of vegetables, oatmeal, lentils, and legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas and whole grains. Fiber rich whole foods are also nutrient dense and can improve your overall well-being, digestion

and immune system. Find some fiber rich dishes here:

avocados, nuts, seeds, cold pressed plant based oils and oily fish can help you lose belly fat.

Belly fat buster: Know your fats

Belly fat buster: Exercise

No more than 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fat. But not all fats are equal. Saturated fats

from animal products, and trans fats found in many processed and baked goods, should not make up more than 10 percent of your daily diet. Fried foods (doughnuts, fries, chips), stick margarine, and cookies should not make up more than 10 percent of your weekly diet. Combined with a balanced healthy diet, unsaturated fats as found in

If you’re healthy but not very active, starting an aerobic exercise program could decrease your belly fat by 5 percent in the first two months. Regular exercise also lowers bad cholesterol and any other chronic disease symptoms. Choose an activity that boosts your heart rate, such as cycling, running, swimming, dancing or walking briskly, and aim for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. To speed up your weight loss efforts, start a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) body weight program for as short as 15 to 30 minutes a day at home or in one of the many fitness facilities that offer HIIT training daily. Find some links to HIIT programs at:

Judith Coulson is a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist and Nutrition Professional working with individuals, executive teams, schools and companies based in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

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A D V I C E Expat life getting you down? Professional counselors Anette and Johanna are here to help.




Worried about worrying too much I suffer from anxiety a lot of the time. So many things come up in my mind to worr y me, like conflicts at work, disagreements with my wife and son, how to meet all my financial obligations. But I also worr y a lot about little things like being late, not getting all the paper work together for presentations, forgetting appointments and not being able to focus. Lately I’ve noticed that I’m getting ner vous more and more easily. I start to sweat and my heart beats really fast. Sometimes I feel a bit dizzy. I think these could be the beginnings of a panic attack. I certainly don’t want that. And I certainly don’t want to get sick. I have heard from a colleague about a technique called mindfulness and I’ve researched it a bit online. It’s supposed to be ver y effective with anxiety and even with panic attacks. What can you tell me about it and do you think it would work for me? Mike, 37, from the US

A • Anette Pollner Adv. Dipl. Couns., is one of seven international counsellors at NCS Counseling Center in Saphan Kwai. She trained in London and the US and worked as a staff counsellor at Bart’s Hospital in London.

Dear Mike, Thank you for your great letter. Yes, it does sound as if your habit of worrying about things large and small is beginning to affect your stress response in your autonomous nervous system. Your symptoms are a sign that your system is getting ready for ‘fight or flight,’ but the excess energy generated by this response has no outlet. And you haven’t found a good way to switch on your relaxation response. Mindfulness is indeed one of the most effective tools in helping you to find a new balance and it has two other advantages: mindfulness has no known side effects (since it is not a drug!) and once you know the basic techniques, you can use it anywhere and anytime. If you continue your research, you will easily find books and websites that can teach you those basic methods but here is a short summary: The core of mindfulness is living in the present moment. Worries and fear (‘anxiety’) take you out of the present – your mind is occupied with fear of a future that may never come. But life only exists in the present moment. So how to re-connect? Connect through your senses. Close your eyes if you can (that’s the easiest way because you have to connect to your other senses).’ What can you hear, what can you smell? It doesn’t matter what it is – bird song, traffic noise, the wind sweeping past your balcony, the background noise of an open office. The smell of fresh coffee, a jasmine flower from a neighbouring garden. Take that sensory input and let it connect you with the world around you. Life is happening right now. And the one thing that connects you most with the world around you (and your own self) is your breath. If you’ve had a panic attack, you may be worried about paying too much attention to your breath because it can become fast and shallow. Try to engage with it anyway. Don’t try to control your breathing, at least not at first. Just notice how your breath flows in and out. Your body is very reliable. Your breath keeps you alive all by itself. Little worried thoughts will come. They will try to tear you away from your engagement with the present moment. Notice them, say ‘hello worried thoughts,’ but don’t let them take over. You can always worry ten minutes later. Really, that will be soon enough. Don’t worry (!) if this doesn’t quite go to plan immediately. You’ve let yourself be ruled by your worries for a long time. It will take a while to break that bad habit, like any other. If you feel comfortable connecting to your senses and observing your breath, you can take the next step. Try the 5/5/7 method where you inhale for a count of 5, hold your breath for another count of 5 and then breathe out for a count of 7. Do this for as long as it is enjoyable (it’s also very healthy for your body!) and then return to your normal life. Repeat as often as you want. Obviously, this is just a short summary but at the same time it’s a start – why not try it right now? The most important thing to remember is that your worries are not in charge of running your life – you are!

Q A • MS is the Clinical Director of NCS Counseling Center. She trained in the Netherlands and Australia.

Daughter’s behaviour cause for concern Could my 13 year old teenage daughter be struggling with anxiety and depression? I don’t know how I can connect with her anymore. It seems she doesn’t want to talk with me. When she comes home from school, all she does is lock herself in her bedroom and listen to music. She still gets good grades, but I’ve noticed that she’s staying up later and later. At night I can hear her talking to friends, and I suspect she is chatting or playing online games. I am ver y concerned as she doesn’t tell me with whom she is chatting or what it is all about. If I ask her she gets ver y defensive and says I have to mind my own business. She is also ver y irritable with her siblings. When we have a family dinner or we go out together as a family, she doesn’t want to join us and says she has too much school work to do. It’s now becoming harder and harder to get her out of bed. I am concerned she is chatting with the wrong crowd and she isolates herself too much from us and her friends. What can I do? Mina 44, from Sweden Dear Mina, Most teenage daughters have a period in their life where they push their mother away and don’t want to confide in her anymore. This can be a part of becoming independent and becoming an adult. I do understand that this concerns you. Your daughter seems to withdraw completely by locking herself in her room all the time. I don’t know what your family rules were in the past, but it could be time to establish some new ones. Propose that you all eat a family meal together and after the meal your daughter can go to her room. (How does your daughter get her food right now? Does she just snack from the fridge?). Another topic could be locking her room and her computer usage. Are you ok with no online supervision for your children? What kind of rules would you want to have for that in your family? Find out what your kids’ suggestions are for this and work towards an agreement. A suggestion is ‘we leave our bedrooms unlocked, but it is decent to knock on the door before we enter.’ This rule is for everyone in the family and also applies to your kids when they want to enter your bedroom. This is an example of creating proper boundaries and helps a child develop their own space while teaching them how to live together with common rules. Do you check what time your children go to sleep? Have you shared your concerns with your daughter? What are your fears about her chats online? The last topic or rule you might want to discuss and apply is switching off internet access at a certain time. What are your ideas about an appropriate bedtime? Of course it is more difficult to control internet excess on mobile devices, but you could challenge your daughter (and other children) to come to an agreement with you about an internet curfew time and what the consequences are if they don’t keep their agreement with you, like having to hand in their devices. Also ask your daughter if she has any suggestions to improve family time together (do you all connect with each other over meals, for instance?) All the new ways of connecting with the outside world have not made it easier to really connect within a family. It is important to let your children know that you want to make these changes because you love them and want to have a caring relationship with them all.

Contact details:, Tel: 02 279 8503, or send your problems to:



Social Last month’s best events in pictures



Social|Last Month’s Best Events



FOUR Points by Sheraton Bangkok’s poolside rooftop bar, amBar, celebrated the first anniversary of its amWET Pool Party series by teaming up with Hooters to throw a fun-packed ‘Baywatch’ theme party. The bar’s next pool party will be held on April 13 (full details at



Bacardi (Thailand) Co., Ltd. hosted the grand final of its Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition at Neilson Hays Library. The event saw the nation’s top bartenders showcase their skills and creativity in whipping up their very own Bacardi ‘Legacy’ cocktail. Mitchell Kai Lum, from Vertigo Too, Banyan Tree Bangkok, took home the big prize as the Winner of the Thailand Grand Final with his unique concoction, Haole. He will now represent Thailand in the global round, competing against 35 other contestants at The Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition in San Francisco, US, from April 20 – 26.





WORLD-renowned artist Manuel Albarran, famous for his “metal couture” design for international models, singers, and performers, introduced his stunning club show its first time in sia at ONYX Bangkok. The performance featured professional dancers from the world’s clubbing capital, bi a, pain, who brought his outfits to life in spellbinding fashion.



havaravati rande otel akhon Pathom celebrated the opening of its new Sky Bar with a fabulous party featuring a great selection of local craft beers, a wide variety of tasty Thai dishes, and performances by Duan Hang Rangsit, Coffee Break Band, and Wan (from the The Voice, season three).



Social|Last Month’s Best Events



THE new Riedel Wine Bar and Cellar at Gayson shopping center officially opened its doors last month with a grand opening party showcasing everything the new venue has to offer including different wines by the glass, over labels of artisanal wines by the bottle, and a spacious, rustic setting that’s both classic yet modern. The new bar opens daily 11am-Midnight.



THE ninth annual Thailand International Balloon estival saw thirty pilots from around the world arrive in Chiang ai for a two day festival featuring balloon ights, spectacular night glow balloon shows with original music, dance performances, concerts, activities for the whole family, and delicious food from top hotels and restaurants in Chiang Mai.



DIPLOMATS Meet the people uniting nations

H.E. Félix Ricardo Americo Antonio Denegri Boza The Republic of Peru’s ambassador to Thailand talks about his work and life in the Land of Smiles

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Diplomat: H.E. Félix Ricardo Americo Antonio Denegri Boza

Ambassador promoting Peru’s diversity and style



is Excellency Félix Ricardo Americo Antonio Denegri Boza – he shortens his name card to Félix Denegri – is the Republic of Peru’s ambassador to Thailand. His residence is located in a quiet sub-soi off Sukhumvit 49, and as a setting for a candid interview it couldn’t be more ideal. The Peruvian theme of the spacious guest area includes large paintings and small statues of native animals like the Peruvian Caballo de Paso, a prized horse breed, and the llama, another truly beautiful herbivore that has become an iconic symbol of Peru and adorns the national flag. Mr Denegri brought most of the decorative effects from his own home in Lima to make him feel more at home on the other side of the world in Bangkok. This is Mr Denegri’s first posting in Asia, and when he was told by his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MFA] in 2013 that he was coming to Thailand his reaction was, in a word, ‘wonderful.’ The opportunity to get to know a new country and a different part of the world far outweighed any reservations about the move. “Actually the adjustment hasn’t been so hard because these days you have Skype, Line and so on, to communicate with people back home. I can read Peruvian newspapers the same day they are published, and basically the same programs are shown on cable TV here as in Peru.” He also sees similarities between Thailand and Peru. “We are both emerging economies, so in many ways the social and economic dynamics are comparable. Of course our climate is more diversified. There are glaciers in the high Andes and the cold Pacific current has a cooling effect on coastal cities like Lima, even though we are as close to the equator as Bangkok. However, in the Amazon basin which comprises at least two thirds of the country the climate is



similar to Thailand. “Like Thai people, Peruvians are by nature very polite and friendly, and like Bangkok, Lima is quite a large city. I was born in Lima in 1956, and at that time the population was about 1.2 million people. Now it is about nine million. It has similar dynamics as Bangkok. For instance, a large percentage of the country’s population lives in Lima, which is also the case for Bangkok. In Lima this trend is even more pronounced because it’s home to almost a third of Peru’s 30 million inhabitants, which is a bit excessive.”

Background Mr Denegri grew up and studied in Lima before going to Ontario, Canada to study at Trent University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1980. He then returned to Peru, enrolled at the Diplomatic Academy in 1981 and finished in 1983. The following year was eventful as he began his diplomatic career and got married. “My first post was in Bolivia, which borders Peru. Next I was assigned to the United Nations in New York. My other foreign postings have been in Argentina, Rome and now Bangkok. After my assignment is complete here I will go back to the MFA in Peru for three years.” Mr Denegri said there are many facets to diplomacy, but at a fundamental level there are basically two kinds: bilateral and multilateral. “The UN obviously is multilateral. I prefer bilateral because you can see concrete results much more quickly. There are 192 UN member states, and reaching an agreement among so many parties from different regions can be very difficult and time-consuming. It takes a great deal of negotiation and compromise. When you are only dealing with one other country the way forward is much clearer. “However, I really enjoyed my time in New York and it was very good experience taking part in negotiations and committees and defending the positions of my nation and region,” said the ambassador, adding that Latin America at that time didn’t have a regional organization comparable to the European Union or even ASEAN.

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CV OF H.E. FÉLIX DENEGRI Education • Bachelor of Arts, Trent University, Canada, 1980 • B.A. in International Relations, Diplomatic Academy of Peru, 1983. • Cycle of Improvement XXXII, Diplomatic Academy of Peru, 1993 • Master in Geopolitics of the New World, Italian Society for International Organizations, Italy, 2009 Diplomatic Service • Registered with Peruvian Foreign Service at the rank of Third Secretary of Chancellery, January 1984 • Promotions: Third Secretary, January 1986; Second Secretary, January 1989; First Secretary, January 1992; Counselor, January 1997; Minister Counselor, January 2001; Minister, January 2005; Ambassador,t January 2010 Positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 1984: Third Secretary of Chancellery of the Undersecretariat of Foreign Policy 1984: Third Secretary of Chancellery of the Department of Chile and Bolivia, Directorate of political and Diplomatic Affairs 1984: Third Secretary of Chancellery, Cabinet of the Minister 1986: Third Secretary, Cabinet of the Minister 1989: Second Secretary of the Directorate General for Coordination of the General Secretariat 1993: First Secretary of the Department of Bolivia, South America Division. 2000: Minister Counselor of the Directorate of Planning and Program Evaluation 2001: Minister Counselor of the Directorate General for Research and ituation Analysis 2002: Minister Counselor of the Directorate General for Security and Defense Affairs 2010: Ambassador; Director of Border Integration and Development; Responsible for the organization of the II Meeting of Peruvian Ambassadors 2012: Responsible for organization of the III Meeting of Peruvian Ambassadors Overseas Positions 1986: Third Secretary of the Embassy of Peru in Bolivia 1987: Second Secretary of the Embassy of Peru in Bolivia 1990: Second Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations in New York 1992: First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN 1995: First Secretary of the Embassy of Peru in Argentina 1997: Counselor of the Embassy of Peru in Argentina 2004: Minister Counselor, Consul General to the General Consulate of Peru in Milan, Italy 2007: Minister of the Embassy of Peru in the Republic of Italy and Permanent Representative of Peru to the International Organizations in Rome, Italy 2013: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Peru to the Kingdom of Thailand and Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic Commissions Participated as delegate and representative of Peru in numerous meetings and international conferences. Academia Professor at the University of Lima, Peru 1985: Lecturer in Contemporary Ideologies 1986: Lecturer in National Reality



The Bay of Lima


e noted that the Thai MFA has a department focusing on the Americas and the South Pacific. “I am well acquainted with many of the diplomats in this department. Some have worked in South America and others in North America or Australia.” All Peruvian diplomats serve a term of five years in a foreign country and are then required to spend three years at MFA headquarters in Lima. Mr Denegri, who is 59, has two and a half more years in Bangkok. As the retirement age for Peruvian diplomats is 70, he expects to have another ambassadorial assignment but has no idea where it might be.

Ambassador to three countries “The first time I came to Thailand was when I took up my post in 2013, and in fact this was my first time in Asia. I was very happy to come here. Bangkok is a very cosmopolitan city so it is easy to feel comfortable here. People in general tend to be very nice, and there are so many people here from all over the world always coming and going so that you don’t feel out of place. “I am also ambassador to Laos and the Philippines. Cambodia is under our embassy in Malaysia and my government is still evaluating which embassy will take care of Myanmar. It may well be mine since we are so close,” said Mr Denegri. “I just presented my credentials in Vientiane in January and I visit the Philippines quite often. Last year I went five times for different reasons including the APEC Summit in November. Peruvian President Olanta Humala was also there. When I am in the Philippines I feel very comfortable and at home, almost as if I am not in Southeast Asia. The Filipino people and culture are very close to Latin America and they have an attitude towards life that is similar to ours. They are Catholics and there is a very noticeable Spanish influence. Many people still speak Spanish today. Some Filipinos look like Spaniards and their names are Spanish even if they don’t speak the language. “Around eight percent of Peru’s population is of Asian descent and we have long ties with the continent, mostly Northeast Asia. Chinese people started to migrate to Peru around 1855 and Japanese at the end of 19th century. Economic relations blossomed first with Japan and more recently with China and South Korea, which is now a very important trading partner. “However, for us Southeast Asia is a new frontier. In general the region is not very well known in Latin America, and vice-versa. So we have to work very hard to build a flourishing and mutually beneficial relationship. A big part of my job is introducing Peru to Thailand by reaching out to people in government, the private sector, institutions and universities. I also meet with


Machu Picchu

The Archbishop's Palace of Lima

ordinary citizens and I welcome opportunities like this interview to spread the word about Peru through the media. Another major goal of mine is to increase trade

between our two countries. “Peru is basically a producer of commodities and our main exports are minerals. We are essentially a mining country and we have been mining since the arrival of the Spaniards. We export minerals to Thailand, chiefly copper, zinc and gold. We also export agricultural and fishery products. “From Thailand we import computer components, washing machines, refrigerators and so on, but the main product we import is Toyota Hilux pickup trucks that are built here. Thailand specializes in these trucks and they are very popular in Peru and so are other models. “We used to have a car manufacturing industry in Peru in the 1970s. It was orientated to the national market but it never developed. At that time cars were very expensive to import and you had to wait a long time for delivery. Now cars produced in a number of countries including Thailand are plentiful and much cheaper.” The Peruvian Amazon

Tourism Mr Denegri said that around 4,000 Peruvians visited Thailand in 2015 and about the same number of Thais went to Peru. “That’s not much, so tourism is another area I’d Nazca Lines like to see expanded. Thai travelers to Peru don’t need a visa for stays up to 90 days. “Most Thais think of Peru as being too far away, and those who do make the trip are mostly people who travel a lot and want to discover new places. Many young people may want to go there, but more often Thai visitors are older, wealthier tourists. The plane fare to Peru is not cheap,” said the ambassador. Besides ancient architectural wonders like Machu Picchu and the Incan Citadel, the country boasts magnificent mountains, beaches and other natural attractions, historical sites, gastronomy and attractive cities apart from Lima. The geography is diverse and there is something for everyone. Peru is divided into four main regions: Coastal, desert, mountains and jungle in the Amazon basin. Lima is in both the coastal and desert regions.

Diplomatic relations “Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the initiation of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Peru. We opened the embassy in 1992 on the 16th floor of the Glas Haus Building on Sukhumvit. The Argentinean Embassy is on the same floor and it is nice to have them as neighbours. The embassy has two other diplomats from Peru besides me, and there are six Thai staff members. They all speak Spanish. My secretary has been with the embassy for 20 years and knows Peruvian diplomats very well, what is our style and how we are. Two more Thais are employed at my residence,” Mr Denegri said. “Bilateral relations are very good. President Olanta Humala visited Thailand in 2013 and during the APEC Summit in Manila he met with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha. I was present during the meeting and gave some input from the Peruvian perspective.”

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Cultural differences


“As I have said, our countries are both emerging economies and income per capita is about the same. Our two peoples also have a similar attitude towards life. However, there is one thing that distinguishes America - I mean Canada to Argentina and Chile - from the rest of the world: In America you don’t identify yourself by race but by history, language, values, attitudes and culture. I always like to say that in Peru nobody is a stranger. Anybody you see on the street could be a native Peruvian, whether their ethnic roots are African, Arab, Japanese, Chinese, European, indigenous or a mixture of all of the above. “If any of your readers go to Peru to live they won’t be looked upon as a stranger or outsider. There are many people from all over the world living in Peru. If someone comes from Germany or an African country and behaves differently from Peruvians and cannot speak Spanish, Peruvians will know this person is not a local. But they will still be able to assimilate easily if they wish. In the beginning they may feel like an outsider but before long they will become a part of the mix. Of course, they should try to learn Spanish.” Ambassador Denegri said another big difference between the two countries is geographical, in that Thailand is situated between the two great and populous nations of China and India. This means that in some ways it’s between two great cultures.

“The thing I like best by far is reading. I try to read a book per week. I also like to go to the cinema. For exercise I usually like to walk. So these are my three main activities in my spare time. I also like to watch international football like the Spanish and English leagues if it doesn’t come on too late. I don’t watch after midnight. “My wife is Maria Isabel Vargas Caballero. She likes it here very much but she spends some time in Peru so she can be with our family. Her mother will be 95 years old in June and my mother turns 93 this month, and naturally we worry about them. We also have two sons, 24 and 26, who are in Peru. My wife tries to spend most of her time in Thailand with me but when we go back to Peru she sometimes stays longer than me. “I travel to Peru once a year in December for Christmas. It is a very long flight and it teaches you to be patient. The time difference between Bangkok and Lima is 12 hours, so when I make a call to the MFA I usually do it around 9pm Bangkok time.” The ambassador said he now feels very comfortable in Thailand, but in the beginning there were a couple of things that were a little hard to take. “Besides being so far from home, the other thing was the hot weather here. I was perspiring a lot, especially when wearing a suit and necktie. When I don’t have appointments I wear something more informal. I plan to have a traditional Thai-style jacket made and take it back to Lima. “Now I am pretty much used to the weather and I don’t sweat as much. Actually temperatures are rising in Lima due to global warming. Before, the average temperature in winter was about 13C and 28C in summer. Now we average 15C in winter and about 29 degrees in summer. For us this is too much.”

About food


he diversity of the Peruvian people has resulted in a unique culinary fusion, he said. Given that its people have roots that stretch around the world, it’s not surprising that there are restaurants specializing Arequipa in Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French and many other cuisines, as well as traditional Peruvian dishes. “Some restaurants try to stay ‘pure’ and stick to the original recipes, but there’s also a lot of combination. For example, in Peru the fried rice we call chaufa came from Chinese chow fan. It is similar to the Chinese dish but has a distinct local flavor. No Peruvian says fried rice, it’s always called chaufa. “Peruvians are a little obsessed with gastronomy and we are proud of our cuisine, similar to Thais. One of the first things visitors are asked is, ‘Do you like Peruvian food?’ just as the automatic question here is ‘Do you like Thai food?’ “We eat a lot of rice but we cook it a bit differently than here, with salt, garlic and oil. This gives it a very good flavor. Also, as my Thai cook pointed out to me Peruvians prefer rice to be cooked ‘al dente,’ meaning it’s still a little firm and not too soft. For us rice is best when you can pick apart each and every grain with your fork. It must not be sticky. We eat rice every day for lunch and dinner and often mix it with corn or vegetables. “You can find a wide variety of foods in Bangkok also and there are some very good restaurants serving international cuisines, and now including Peruvian. The new Above Eleven serves what they call Peruvian-Japanese food, but it is basically Peruvian. Of course, dishes cooked outside your native country are never quite the same, but this is as close as possible. And there is also a new Peruvian restaurant called Blu36.”




Mr Denegri speaks English, Spanish and Italian, but he isn’t trying to learn Thai. “Why? There’s a saying in English that goes ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ Thai is a very hard language to learn and after I go back home I won’t use it again. Thai officials almost always speak good English, and English is the official language of ASEAN.” At the end of the interview the ambassador gave some advice to would-be diplomats. “I have made it a point in my career to observe other diplomats, especially when I was young the older ones, to see how they react to different situations. You can learn a lot that way. But the way you really learn is by doing. I believe there is one essential quality a diplomat must have, and that is adaptability. It also helps to have a sense of adventure.”

Around town

Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok IRISH eyes were certainly smiling at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn Bangkok on March 17 when a number of events were held at the hotel to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in honour of the patron saint of Ireland. Ambassadors from Austria, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, Hungary, Israel, Kenya, Portugal, United Kingdom, and, of course, Ireland, were present at the event, along with a host of distinguished guests who celebrated the day in the Surasak Ballroom. The celebration ended with the Irish-Thai Chamber of Commerce that held a “St. Patrick’s Day Shindig” which was enjoyed by one and all.

St. Patrick’s Emerald Ball 2016

HIS Excellency Brendan Rogers, Irish ambassador to Thailand, together with his wife Kevin Doris Rogers, recently presided over the St. Patrick’s Emerald Ball 2016 at the Watergate Ballroom, Amari Watergate Bangkok. The ball was organised by St Patrick’s Society Bangkok, through the leadership of Frank Berry, President of St Patrick’s Society Bangkok. TheBigChilli 111

Hua Hin Delectable Penfolds Wine Tasting Night SHERATON Hua Hin Resort & Pranburi Villas together with leading Australian Winery, Penfolds, presented the ‘Penfolds Wine Tasting Night by the Sea’ at both Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa and Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas. Hosted by Leonard Faust, Director of Culinary & Service, and Patrick Dowling, Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador – Asia, the event highlighted the winemaker’s popular Koonunga and Bin series, and featured scrumptious dishes like Foie Gras, Alaska Scallop, and Roasted honey and clove studded ham. Keep up to date with upcoming wine dinners at

Hyatt Regency welcomes new GM Hyatt Regency Hua Hin and THE BARAI, the luxury beachfront resort, organised a cocktail reception to bid farewell to its outgoing General Manager, Mr Sammy Carolus, as well as to introduce and give a warm welcome the new General Manager, Mr Christian Wurm. The event was presided over by the hotel’s owners, and attended by many hotel guests, VIP clients, media, and the management of Hyatt Hotels in Thailand.



Hua Hin Jazzy fun at Banyan The Resort BANYAN The Resort was packed with music lovers when it hosted a sneak preview of the ‘Hua Hin The Voice of Jazz’ concert, featuring a headlining performance by Biggles Big Band from the Netherlands.

Hua Hin gets sporty PROUD Real Estate together with True Group held a special event to officially open their joint multi-sports and recreational center, True Arena Hua Hin. Occupying 40 rai of land, the new center features 11 tournament ready tennis courts, two FIFA regulation football pitches, a 1,500 sq. m. fitness center, a multi-sports air conditioned gymnasium, and more. True Arena Hua Hin is now expected to host at least 40 professional tennis tournaments over the next year. Find more info at



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TheBigChilli 119


Monsoon Midnights Special places in Bangkok, as experienced by the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group Dear reader, Welcome to ‘Monsoon Midnights’, a short story by the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group. The storytellers of the BWWG come from all over the world but they all have a special place in this city, somewhere surprising, obscure and unexpected, as yet undiscovered. Follow us to these hidden places right here, month after month. The first volume of Monsoon Midnights (18 stories by 12 authors with beautiful illustrations by the BigChilli graphics team) is available on Amazon:


NIGHTFALL OVER BANGKOK: here are some very high places in Bangkok. Places where you can look out and see the city like an interactive map spread out beneath you. The least known hours in the 24 are those towards the end of darkness, but not yet close to dawn. Human energy is at its lowest point, night has lasted forever, and the sky is black. And black. And still black. This is the hour when most people die. This is the hour when sleep is deepest and most welcome. And yet, the streets of this city are always alive, if not always lively. Many have to get up at that hour of death and leave sleep behind, others have not gone to bed yet. The moon shines into these hours too, even if it is unseen by us. In the daytime, it is easy to guess people’s business. They are going to work, to school, to lunch, perhaps to a rendezvous, a thousand different errands, a family occasion… Later in the evening, people go out. To see friends, to a restaurant, to see a show, then back home, or someone’s home, or a hotel. To wind down, to relax, to sleep. But now? What is the goal they are walking towards? What have they left behind, so early, so late? I wonder as I follow them, silent, borne on a beam of moonlight that nobody sees. Those who walk here so early, so late, don’t look up much. They seem to be occupied with the images on the walls of their own minds. At last, I find the place that has called me tonight, this morning before dawn. It’s an ordinary soi, like thousands of others in this city, or it will be once the sun extinguishes the night and the moon disappears in the grey blue sky. Now, I can sense the shadows of a deep, mysterious past. This month’s storyteller, Morgan A. Pr yce, stands still behind a dusty city tree. There is no sign of it, of course, but locals



know this is a stop on the Songthaew route. A route that has run down this street since the canals were filled in. And before that, there was a boat that ran the same route. One by one, they arrive, their faces pale under the feebly blinking street lights, almost as if they had materialized out of the dying hour of the night. But not so. They are the living: lining up to wait. Lining up to line the benches of the Songthaew inside. Riding the dark sois to line up, eventually, inside offices and factories. They may not think about it much, but they are travelling the routes and lining up in places where others have lined up and lived before. Where are those others now? Where did they go? And is there any trace remaining, after they disappeared? Who knows. Who knows but there is a story, seeping through a fading mind. The story of a lost boy, whoever he may be…

The Boy in the Window By Morgan A. Pryce IN my defence: tiny as he was, he looked just like any odd ball of paper crammed into a hole. Must have looked past him for days, maybe months, without realising what he was. Until the morning I was headed to my office in downtown Silom and missed my Songthaew. Surely the driver saw me run and wave, but he just drove off and there was nothing I could do but stew and wait by the roadside for the next one. Without shelter from the rising sun and with nothing to do except count the 76 remaining leaves on the dying shrub by the telephone pole, or the 32 perfectly round drill holes in the 25” wooden board nailed to its

side, a greyish piece of paper stuffed into hole number 12. Here’s a challenge: go to the same bus stop for twenty years – day in day out, weekends included more often than not – and find something new and exciting. Forget electronic devices – the batteries died after you fell asleep around 2am after you had yet another go at turning red numbers into black. Finally, choose a time insanely early in the day, preferably before dawn, so there won’t be anyone around for a chat. You may find yourself looking at telephone poles and counting stuff, too. Of course, this was not the first time I noticed the little ball of paper the way you notice these things. Seeing but not really seeing. But now, tired, bored and annoyed, I looked a little closer and found something odd. Because, sticking out of its hole ever so slightly, this thing appeared to have a face and look right back at me, while the rest of his upper body was leaning sideways on his arm, as if it rested on a windowsill. Like someone who had turned to glance outside. Just then the next Songthaew arrived, and I got in, and that should have been it. Except that it wasn’t. All day, whenever I had a moment to myself, the memory of that little face in its tiny window kept nagging at me. Like some half-inch imp come to haunt my working day. A colleague drove me home that night because, as she put it: “You can’t be trusted with Bangkok traffic today.” It rained hard that night. The next morning I expected the paper to be nothing but pulp or, better still, not even there anymore, swept it away by the downpour. But there it was and there was the face, clearer than the day before, with a mop of curly hair over a face that was very much like the face of a little boy. I stepped closer. And he seemed to lean further out. Just a fraction, but I saw it clearly enough. I raised my hand towards his face and he shrank ever so slightly back. I all but jumped. Not only lifelike but ... alive?? What the friggeddy eff was going on here? Now before I go on let me make one thing perfectly clear: I have a very healthy dose of scepticism when it comes to the supernatural. Always did. But the feeling I got as I looked at the boy was uber-creepy. And yes, maybe I should have let it go, especially with the company so far down the crapper and me the one supposed to pull it back out. But that little boy stuck in his window... How I could possibly let him go? Easy. I couldn’t. So I began to ask around the neighbourhood, carefully, in case ... well, I know it sounds absurd, but I did not want to cause him any more trouble than he was already in. I needn’t have worried. Nobody knew about a missing boy. Every morning as I waited for my Songthaew, I would now stand in front of him, look at him, and ask, aloud when I was certain nobody was watching: Who are you? What are you doing there? There was never an answer. Of course not. Paper doesn’t answer back. I know that. I am not crazy.

But his face was gradually becoming more defined and I now was certain that I was looking at the face of a very young boy, five or six years old at the most. With a mop of golden hair and a shirt, a white shirt with a frilly collar that stood open at his pale chest. I was getting somewhere. The style of the shirt told me I would have to go further back in time with my inquiries. Much further than the neighbourhood would remember. I had seen such shirts. On pictures from the early to mid-nineteenth century. Just what had this boy gotten himself into? This was going to be a lot of work, work I really did not have time for. But in the morning, when I looked at the boy again, helpless and vulnerable in his tiny window, blue eyes imploring and tears streaking his poor little face, I was more determined than ever to solve this mystery and help him. After all, who knew how long we had? Any day, someone might see the paper but not the boy and keep themselves entertained by ripping him out of his window. And then what would happen to him? I barely slept those days, for fear I might not see him in the morning when I left, but no longer for work, where I had called in sick. Yes, the company was in trouble but it wouldn’t go bust if I took a few days off. Days I needed to check the newspapers for cases of missing persons. There were plenty, saved on microfiche. But no Western boys the age of the one I was looking for. I thought of my poor boy, waiting and looking out for help that never came. Was he aware of how much time had gone by? The cold season came and went and so did the Holidays. I went back to work, could not concentrate on everyone’s selfabsorbed crap, and in the evening I got myself an appointment with the doctor at the Little Clinic Round The Corner. He took one look at me and without further ado signed a paper for four more weeks of rest. And then, after weeks of dead ends, I finally discovered this, on the microfiched page three of the 1806 April 15th issue of the local “Blessed Spirit News”: Search abandoned for Thomas (6), son of Rhys and Rhianedd Evans of this Blessed Parish, last seen St. David’s Day in the fields between Khlong Ka-Cha Bridge and Ramkhamhaeng Road. If you have seen Thomas or have any information about him, send word to Father Jones, who will conduct a prayer service this coming Sunday April 21st ...


he Bangkok Women’s Writers Group, founded in 2001, and led by Anette Pollner (who also writes the recurring ‘moon intro’ stories in this series in her famous neo psychodelic style), is where creative women from all over the world meet to workshop their writing in a supportive and inspiring environment. Many of our members are published and prize winning authors, but we are open to all women who are passionate about writing, including complete beginners. The BWWG’s first publication (before ‘Monsoon Midnights the short story collection,’ available on Amazon) was a Thai English language bestseller, ‘Bangkok Blondes,’ and various pamphlets. We regularly give readings around town and have been part of international festivals and cultural exchanges. Please contact bkk_ for more information. This month’s storyteller is Morgan A. Pryce, author of many stories, including ‘The Naga,’ Scimitar Press, UK, 2014. She currently works on several novels at the same time. Morgan enjoys life in Bangkok as a nighttime fiction writer at large, daytime academic at Ramkhamhaeng TheBigChilli 65 University, and sometime blogger on WordPress.



hose lines were all I found, but at least now I had a name for the boy in the window: Thomas Evans. I went – no, I ran back to my bus stop. I could not wait to call the boy – my boy – by his name and let him know I had found him, that I knew his name, and that he was not forgotten. It was dark by the time I got there, and in the light of the spluttering street lamp he looked more alive than ever. I whispered Thomas, Thomas, I found you! I know who you are! Unfortunately, there was no one else around to see what happened next. I say “unfortunately,” because about an hour later, I could have used a witness to attest to my sanity at Huamark police station where I had gone to tell the authorities that they could close their records on Thomas Evans. But despite my protestations, they did not believe me. Instead, they took me to this hospital where they filled me up with pills that made me drowsy and sleep away goodness knows how many days. And now, every once in a while, someone comes by to try and convince me that what I saw wasn’t real. That I have a fixation on a hallucination, that my condition is bordering on psychosis brought on by work-related stress. Or something like that. I can never quite remember their mumbojumbo. At first, I tried to make them understand that what I had witnessed was real. That there had been a light and that Thomas had materialised and bowed and thanked me with a smile and said I can go home now, before he vanished. How could this not be real? The paper boy is gone now from his window, isn’t he? When he’d been stuck there for goodness knows how long? But these supposed professionals, they’re blind and deaf to facts and flat out refuse to believe me. I told them to look at the newspaper, the very newspaper article that to this day I can quote word for word, and they keep telling me that there is no newspaper of that name, never was, nor was there a Father Jones. They say there wasn’t even a Ramkhamhaeng Road or a bridge and the canal had no name until well over a century later.



It took me a while, those damned pills be thanked, but it finally dawned on me that someone up high is trying to drive me mad, or at least keep me out of the loop until they are done running the company into the ground. Which they will blame on me. Bastards. And while I’m locked up in here, they strut about and tell everyone how they’re just helping one of their own. I piss on that kind of help. Only, I don’t do it openly anymore. Yeah, I’ve learnt to nod and smile and keep my trap shut and tell them what they want to hear: that the boy was not real, that the article was not real, that none of it was real, how could it be, ridiculous. I smile and nod, and keep my trap shut. That’s what they want me to do. Keep my trap shut. Oh, I can keep my trap shut. Especially since I have a new ally now. He’s a fine young soldier who drops by every once in a while, all dressed up, especially for me. Calls me dad, too. Says I remind him of his father. Yesterday, he said he would get me out of there. I just need to hang in there a little longer and play along with “The Commander.” I rest my arm on the windowsill and look out of my window and gaze at the moon. I believe him. *** Time runs out. Time runs through the cracks in the walls, the floors, the old canals buried underneath the sois that look so ordinary in the dust of day. Time runs out in memory. I catch onto the last moon beam before my own substance is washed away, too, and escaped before the horizon comes aflame with dawn. Who knows what echoes will remain of us, in the world, inside the walls of our own minds? All I know is that the moon will rise once more, and will shine on us again, on ordinary sois and fading secrets of time, when Monsoon Midnights returns next month. Anette Pollner, leader of the BWWG

The first volume of Monsoon Midnights (18 stories by 12 authors with beautiful illustrations by the BigChilli graphics team) is available on Amazon: TheBigChilli


The BigChilli. April 2016  

Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. April 2016.

The BigChilli. April 2016  

Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. April 2016.