Editor’s Blog Rethink on MLMs after Herbalife fine? WITH so many so-called Multi-level marketing companies of its own, it’s going to be interesting to see how Thailand reacts to the recent news that Herbalife, one of the world’s biggest MLMs, has agreed to pay US$200 million to American consumers and change its business practices to settle a two-year federal investigation. Courts in Los Angeles charged that Herbalife’s compensation practices were unfair because distributors were rewarded more for recruiting others to join and purchase products than they were for selling products as a result of actual demand for them. Herbalife sells weight-loss shakes and nutritional products through independent salespeople, also known as members – in more than 80 countries, including Thailand. MLM is a controversial marketing strategy that compensates the sales force not only for sales they generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople they recruit. Other terms often used for MLM include pyramid selling, network marketing and referral marketing. It is illegal in mainland China. Critics say the products involved are not the incentive to join an MLM. “Otherwise people might have shown an interest in selling this particular product or service before in the real world. The product is the excuse to attempt to legitimate the real money-making engine. It’s the cover,” explained an observer. Bangkok’s top performance….on traffic issues IT will shock few to learn that on a list of the world’s worst cities for rush hour traffic, Bangkok is No. 1, ahead of Istanbul, Mexico City, Moscow, St Petersburg, Bucharest, LA and five Chinese cities. The rankings come from GPS manufacturer TomTom and reported by TV channel CNN. Bangkok does better in a survey on overall traffic congestion carried out by the oil company Castrol, which puts the city at No. 8 worst in the world. Indonesia’s capital Jakarta heads that list of horrors, followed by Istanbul, Mexico City, Surabaya (Indonesia), St Petersburg, Moscow, and Rome. Another TomTom survey on overall traffic congestion has placed Bangkok at No. 3, while the Thai capital does not appear at all on publisher Forbes’ list of congested cities. Instead, the magazine ranks Brussels and Antwerp as the biggest offenders, followed by Los Angeles, Milan, London, Paris, Honolulu, Rotterdam, Manchester and San Francisco. Yet another GPS navigation app called Waze has named Manila, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Jakarta at its top four traffic congested cities. Brexit and the end of a political class WHEN Britain recently decided to vote in favour of leaving the EU, the result came as a major surprise – even to some Brexit supporters. Among those shaking their heads in disbelief were politicians who had campaigned hard for the ‘Leave’ vote. Since then, rather shockingly, some have distanced themselves from the outcome, inviting considerable and thoroughly deserved criticism. Fair-minded sections of UK society saw the entire Brexit issue as a brilliant example of democracy in action, enabling people with normally small and often overlooked voices to be heard. Crucially, the Leave vote also clearly demonstrated a general disappointment and dissatisfaction with Britain’s political elite. For too long, they have ruled the UK without connecting properly with the wishes of the silent majority. Brexit was the undoing of many of this privileged class – and the fallout continues to this day, with lots of new faces challenging the old guard. In the US, which is heading towards its presidential election this November, there are similar rumblings. The favourite candidate, Hilary Clinton, is by no means sure of victory; her arch opponent Donald Trump has gained huge support against the odds. He has achieved this surprising position not because he is presidential material, but rather because he represents many people who feel that America’s political classes have either lost touch, or are simply uninterested, in their views and hopes for the future. 6
PUBLISHER Colin Hastings firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR Adam Purcell email@example.com EDITOR Nina Hastings firstname.lastname@example.org ASSISTANT EDITOR Chutinanta Boonyamarn email@example.com SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti email@example.com Sakuna Nupinrum firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNTING MANAGER Saranya Choeyjanya email@example.com ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Janjira Silapapairson firstname.lastname@example.org ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakkanawat PHOTOGRAPHY JL & AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Anette Pollner, Johanna DeKoning, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler Priya Lodha, Kelly Harvey
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Editor’s Blog It is also reported that a huge number of Americans do not want either candidate as their president and may well boycott the upcoming elections. If that happens, America could end up with a leader voted in by an alarmingly small percentage of eligible voters, which is neither desirable nor democratic. Meanwhile, back in the UK, a new documentary called ‘The Killing$ Of Tony Blair,’ which focuses on the former British Prime Minister’s alleged destruction of the Labour Party, the hundreds of thousands of civilians who died during the Iraq war, and Blair’s wellremunerated business interests since he left office in 2007, has the potential to further alienate the political classes. Its narrator and producer George Galloway, an admittedly controversial politician and broadcaster himself, calls Blair “a mere symptom of the west’s wider malaise – an economic system run by and for the super-rich.” Galloway has frequently called for Blair to be indicted for his role in the Iraq war. Now the French want their own EU referendum BRITAIN’S exit from the EU has been a popular topic on Bangkok’s cocktail circuit recently, with incredulous German expats asking (very politely) their British counterparts to explain their departure, and suggest it’s another devious British attempt to keep Europe weak, while Swiss expats say they’re not at all surprised by Brexit and even add their support for Britain’s decision. Some amongst the French community, however, are expressing their anger and frustration – not at Brexit, but at their government’s flat refusal to hold a referendum on their country’s future in the EU. Only far right opposition parties in France are promising a referendum, which given their policies is not an attractive prospect. Two-person cars are the only solution THAT their city appears regularly in surveys on the world’s most trafficcongested urban centres will surprise nobody in Bangkok. Let’s be honest, we all know the Thai capital has a major problem that needs to be fixed soon. Short across-town journeys by car, taxi or bus have become marathons, raising stress levels (we’re all feeling that), wasting time and huge amounts of money. Despite access to the Skytrain and MRT, many people still opt to go by road. They should be discouraged, of course, but how to do this remains a huge, maybe impossible challenge. Most certainly, car manufacturers should be brought in line by coming up with designs for small, two-person city vehicles that have their own dedicated lanes on all major city roads. This kind of initiative has to be global, which makes sense since most major cities these days suffer from the same dreadful traffic snarl-ups. The spectacle of endless queues of cars is becoming so commonplace, it’s being taken for granted. It shouldn’t be. QUOTE of the month: Former US President Harry S. Truman on noncommittal economists: “Give me a one-handed economist! All mine say,’’ On the one hand…but on the other.’”
This issue in
On March 6, 2009, Viktor Bout, the alleged Russian arms dealer, was arrested in Bangkok by American agents. Page 62.
French ambassador H.E. Gilles Garachon first came to Thailand in 1972, when he was just 16. Page 109.
The number of tastefully designed rooms and suites on offer at the new Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin. Page 54.
The year Wat Liab was hit by a stray bomb. The building was so badly damaged, it was deleted from the official list. Page 18.
The estimated number of Thai children who die each year due to motorcycle accidents. Page 68.
The year American expat Peter Wainman launched his laundry detergent made from pineapples . Page 16. 8
In case you missed…. • SINGAPORE had its first bank robbery in eight years recently when a Canadian man casually walked into a branch of Standard Chartered, handed over a note saying he was armed and wanted money. He left with S$29,000. The man, David James Roach, fled Singapore but was later arrested in Bangkok. Thai police say he will be “sent abroad” but did not elaborate.
Sansiri launches new community mall in Sukhumvit 77
• A MAN in Germany has been charged with murdering his Thai wife together with her two daughters from a previous marriage. Antonio Rubino, 53, allegedly killed Lamai Rubino, 37, Sukhontharat Romsabai, 19, and Sudarat Saenbutr at their home in Ravensburg. The couple, who were married in 2006, were reportedly having marital problems. Their fiveyear-old youngest daughter is unharmed.
The Dubliner out, Herrity’s in ■ LEADING real estate developer Sansiri PLC has teamed up with Winkreative, a global creative agency ran by media mogul and editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine, Tyler Brûlé, to launch Habito, a community retail and creative lifestyle hub on Sukhumvit 77. Located in Sansiri’s T77 Community in the heart of On Nut, the new space includes a co-working space dubbed HUBBATO; the Rajadamnern Singha Muay Thai Academy (RSM); a ‘Natural Living’ space inspired by Japanese architecture; and 15 restaurants – including highlights such as Chairman by Chefman, with its famous lava bun; David’s bakery, which bakes deliciously soft cookies; El Mariachi Tequaria, serving Mexican food; and Choi Choi, a Korean fried chicken bistro. A free shuttle bus service operates between Habito and On Nut BTS station. For more information visit facebook.com/habitomall
More Brits on the way ■ STAND by for a new wave of British tourists to Thailand. According to ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), demand among Brits for holidays in places like Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, has plummeted because of recent terrorist attacks in the region. Instead, nervous holidaymakers are switching to countries such as Spain and Thailand, says ABTA. Thailand’s popularity may also have something to do with some of the cheapest air fares in years. Malaysian Airlines, for example, has recently been offering return flights from Bangkok-London for only 18,000 baht.
■ BANGKOK will welcome a new Irish pub and guesthouse next month in the large premises which once housed The Dubliner on Sukhumvit 33/1, near Phrom Phong BTS. Taken over by the ‘h Group,’ which also owns Hanrahans on Sukhumvit Soi 4, in partnership with Nicholas Preston, owner of The Royal Oak (also in the same sub soi), the property is currently undergoing extensive renovations in preparation for a September 1 launch. Operating under the name Herrity’s, after h group’s Irish owner, Liam Herrity, the new pub will be set over two floors and will also feature an outdoor terrace. Eighteen suites located above the pub will offer large, modern accommodations suitable for solo travelers and families. Prices will range from B1,300 – B1,900 per night inclusive of breakfast. “People have joked and called this a vanity project because the pub has my name on it,” says Liam. “But we’re just proud of the authenticity. This is an Irish pub with an Irish name where you can actually meet the Irish owner. The h Group sponsor Irish sports teams and many Irish events in Bangkok. We’re passionate about showcasing and celebrating Irish culture here, and the new pub is an extension of that.” Alongside a wide selection of draught beers and ciders, wine and spirits, and bottled beers, Herrity’s will offer an extensive food menu of Western classics. “[The menu] will feature the same popular fare as what’s on offer at Hanrahans,” explains Liam. “So visitors can expect all the hearty classics like Irish stew, steak pie, and fish and chips. We’ll also introduce a new selection of Chinese food and Indian dishes, but cooked and presented in a western style. Think sweet and sour chicken just like you used to order from the takeaway back home.” Liam says Herrity’s will feature live music most nights of the week and will also hold regular quiz nights. Daily Happy Hours will offer selected drinks at “very reasonable prices.”
& 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.
NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards
Entrepreneur: Patrick Gauvain
Shrimp – Bangkok’s veteran advertising guru
E’S been called a hedonist, an eccentric, bon-vivant, artist and photographer, and even – at least in his younger days – a playboy on a grand scale. All are said, of course, with a great deal of affection and perhaps a little envy. But with more than 40 years of business experience in Thailand behind him, Patrick Gauvain can also rightly claim to be one of this country’s most durable and successful entrepreneurs. Arriving here in 1968, Patrick, or ‘Shrimp’ as most people have always called him because of his diminutive size, initially worked as a photographer for Pearl & Dean, a prominent advertising company at that time. It was his skill behind the lens that led to the publication of the famous ‘Shrimp Calendar’ featuring his photographic appreciation of a bevy of scantily-clad Thai beauties. This amazingly popular publication dovetailed with Patrick’s fast
and furious Bangkok lifestyle, which included fraternizing with visiting movie stars like Robert de Niro and Roman Polanski. He founded Shrimp Studios in 1976, operating initially as a graphic design and photographic studio but expanded into a full service agency in 1983 handling clients such as Amari Hotels & Resorts, The Peninsula Group, IHG, ShangriLa Hotel, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Volvo and Jim Thompson Thai Silk Co. Photographic assignments included Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Aeroflot, Thai Airways International and Air Siam. In 1989 BSB Worldwide (Backer, Spielvogel, Bates, a US-based agency owned by the Saatchi & Saatchi Group), acquired 46% of Shrimp Studios and rebranded the company as BSB Thailand. In 1991, Patrick resigned from BSB, sold his remaining shares and rebranded as Shrimp Asia and established a marketing communications, branding, and signage design firm. Today it is Thailand’s longest established branding, design and communications firm, focusing on brand engineering, whose aim is to assist in solving marketing problems with creative and innovative solutions. Its main focus is in the Asia Pacific, Middle East & North Africa regions (AMEA), and more recently in China and India, with specific emphasis on the hospitality and property sectors. During the past 20 years, the design and build of innovative signage systems has become a key component of the company’s overall business. Says Patrick, one of the British community’s most senior expatriates: “After living, breathing and sleeping – including a few nightmares – in this business 24/7 for the past 40 years, every day is still a new challenge and a new experience…whether it’s an internal conundrum, a difficult supplier or an individual who knows better than everyone else! “What is critical is keeping clients’ expectations balanced while ensuring that the team is in focus and prepared for any eventuality, and also continually developing exciting, differentiated and fresh new ideas – and have a bit of fun on the way. “Bottom line: If you don’t enjoy it…don’t do it.” For more info visit shrimp-asia.com
at Yannawa is sometimes mentioned in guidebooks, but across the river in Thonburi is a curious although unconnected echo of the junk chapel. Follow the lane that passes beside Taksin Hospital and the way leads between old timbered houses to a small canal, on the bank of which is Wat Thong Noppakhun, a temple of unknown age. In the compound is a Chinese sailing ship, built of concrete, smaller than the one at Wat Yannawa, and of a much later date. Painted cream and red, and with a bodhi tree as a mast, the vessel is a shrine and carries an inscription in Thai that commemorates the arrival of Buddhist monks from China and Japan. Behind the vessel, at the concrete rudder, is a small grave carrying an inscription in Chinese
such image of its kind in Thailand, and no one knows why Pichai selected this form. Walk northwards through Thonburi, to the green steel framework of the Memorial Bridge, and beside the approach road is a rather splendid iron fence painted in fire engine red, surrounding the compound of Wat Prayoon. Take a closer look, and the fence is fashioned in the shape of lances and arrows, its arched sections bristling with axes and swords. The fence was ordered from Britain in the time of Rama III, and it was originally intended for an area of the Royal Palace. When it arrived, however, the king decided he didn’t want it. That left the treasury minister, Dit Bunnag, with an awful lot of fence. Bunnag was building a temple of his own, and that explains how Wat Prayoon ended up having such a distinctly unBuddhist fence. Locals were
became close friends with the man who was to become Rama III, and when the king ascended the throne Rak Ronnaret was himself given great powers. These powers he abused with dangerous enthusiasm. He became a grave liability, and as he was too powerful to be dismissed, he was arrested and accused of threatening to dethrone the king. There could be only one end to the affair. On the morning of December 12, 1848, the prince was taken to Wat Sampeng, a velvet sack was placed over his head, his head was placed upon the black execution stone, and he was beaten to death with a sandalwood club. The Singapore Free Press & Mercantile Advertiser, which carried a lengthy account of the prince’s downfall, reported that his body was thrown into the river. The Rebel’s Execution Stone, as the block is known, seems to be
stating that it symbolises “a grave of tens of thousands of people,” and that it was placed there on the day of the Ching Ming festival in the 23rd year of the National Republic of China. This was 1934. Beyond this, the shrine is silent as to its purpose, although it seems most likely it honours the dead from the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, which began in 1931. Another oddity with no immediate explanation can be found at Wat Mon, on the bank of Klong Bangkok Yai. Built by a community of Mon in the latter stages of the Ayutthaya era, the temple was enlarged and renovated by one of the heroes of the Thonburi period, Phraya Pichai. Known to history as Dap Hak, or ‘Broken Sword,’ from a ferocious battle he had fought even though his blade had broken, Pichai wanted to atone for the killing by restoring the old temple. There is a chapel near the gate, and inside is a figure of the Buddha lying flat upon its back, wrapped in a gold sheet. The position symbolises the time immediately before cremation, but is rare in Buddhist iconography. It is believed to be the only
quick to dub the temple Wat Rua Lek, or Iron Fence Temple. Chinatown is an area rich in curious temples and shrines. Sampeng Lane runs through this district, and was the first thoroughfare to be built when Chinatown was founded. At the eastern end of the lane is the temple from which the thoroughfare derives its name, Wat Sampeng. Fierce Chinese guards are painted on the doors to the compound, and there are Chinese figures inside. Behind the chapel is a flat black stone engraved with auspicious symbols. Kroma Luang Rak Ronnaret was a prince, the fifteenth son of Rama I. He
treated with little respect: the last time I was there, the enclosure was acting as a repository for builders’ rubble. Sampeng Lane was Bangkok’s first red-light district, although the brothels were identifiable by a green light above the door. These were legal establishments, and vied with each other in the quality of their décor and the sophistication of their girls. The brothel owners prospered, and one, a Mrs Faeng, built a temple from her earnings. Named Wat Kanikapon, it can be found on Phlap Phla Chai Road, in the northern part of Chinatown. In homage to its origins, roses decorate the entrance
arch, the detailing around the window frames evokes the image of green curtains, and a wooden curtain is drawn aside at the front door. A bust of Mrs Faeng can be found in a niche behind the temple, although it’s not a very good one and looks like it has been made from a mould used for monk images, to the extent that the poor lady has to have a wig to hide her bald head.
One of the most intriguing temple tales relates to Wat Ratchaburana, which is at the foot of the Memorial Bridge, and which is also known as Wat Liab, after the Chinese merchant who built it. A distinctive prang dating from the Rama III era stands at the entrance but inside the compound is a structure even more curious; a three-storey Japanese temple, its design based on the Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. The temple is actually an ossuary, built in 1935 to house the ashes of Japanese citizens, and a Japanese monk is in permanent residence.
angkok’s main electricity generating station stood next to Wat Liab, and in the latter stages of World War II, with the Japanese army still occupying Thailand, it became a prime target for allied bombers. In April 1945 the temple itself was hit by a stray bomb and so badly damaged that it was deleted from the official list. Only the prang and, ironically, the Japanese ossuary survived. In June of that year, one of the most notorious Japanese military commanders, Colonel Tsuji Masanobu, arrived in Bangkok to help quell a likely uprising of the Thai army. When Emperor Hirohito surrendered on August 15, Tsuji found himself stranded. With war crimes to his credit that included participation in a massacre of Chinese in Singapore,
organising the Bataan Death March in the Philippines, and roasting and eating the liver of an executed American airman, Tsuji rightly concluded he would be of interest to the invading Allied forces. Tsuji removed his uniform and went to the bombed-out ruins of Wat Liab, where he was granted sanctuary. Disguising himself as a Buddhist monk, he hid in the ossuary until late October, when the Allied forces began to close in on him. On October 29, Tsuji had a rendezvous with members of Chiang Kai Shek’s Blue Shirt Society, who were operating out of an office on Surawong Road. A deal was done. Two days later, now disguised as a Chinese merchant and accompanied by two escorts, he boarded a train at Hua Lampong and made his way to Ubon. From there he crossed the Mekong in a canoe, and via Vientiane and Hanoi he made his way to Chungking. Tsuji finally arrived in Japan in 1948, where perhaps most curious of all he somehow managed to evade war crimes charges. Instead of being hanged, he became a politician. Ken Barrett is the author of 22 Walks in Bangkok: Exploring the City’s Back Lanes and Byways.
AFTER 50 YEARS IN THAILAND, THE DANISH OWNER OF HOTEL MERMAID BANGKOK ON SUKHUMVIT 29, JORGEN LUNDBAEK, STILL CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THE NATION’S SPICY FOOD FULL NAME: JORGEN CHRISTIAN LUNDBAEK. AGE: 71. WHERE BORN: ENEMAERKET, FYN, DENMARK. NICKNAME: CHAY CHANAR WORK: OWNER OF THE HOTEL MERMAID BANGKOK LTD & MERMAID MARITIME VIETNAM JSC. PERSONALITY: EASY-GOING. ALWAYS GET ALONG WITH STAFF AND FRIENDS. FAMILY: MY WIFE, ONE DAUGHTER, ONE SON, AND TWO GRANDDAUGHTERS. BEST FRIEND: I HAVE SEVERAL! YEARS IN THAILAND: I’VE BEEN PERMANENTLY IN THAILAND SINCE 2 NOVEMBER 1966 (50 YRS). WHY THAILAND: SINCE JULY 1960 I HAVE BEEN ALL OVER ASIA, INCLUDING JAPAN, KOREA, HONG KONG, PHILIPPINES, VIETNAM, INDONESIA AND THAILAND. AND THAILAND IS WITHOUT DOUBT THE BEST COUNTRY TO STAY IN. TRULY THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH! FAVOURITE PLACE IN BANGKOK: I HAVE TO SAY HOTEL MERMAID BANGKOK & OUR CAPTAIN’S PUB. I ALSO LOVE TO GO TO PLACES WITH LIVE MUSIC, LIKE SAXOPHONE PUB, AND TO THE MANY OTHER BARS ALONG SUKHUMVIT AND SOI THONGLOR. REGRETS: NO REGRETS. I HAVE A GOOD BUSINESS AND I AM VERY HAPPY. BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU LIKE OTHERS TO TREAT YOU. BEST MEAL EVER HAD: PAD KRAPOW NUA SAP, KAI TOD SUK SUK! (STIR-FRIED SPICY MINCED BEEF WITH A WELL-COOKED FRIED EGG.) I CAN EAT THIS EVERY DAY. I LIKE ALL KINDS OF THAI FOOD – ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S SPICY! MOVIE STAR BEST SUITED TO PLAY IN A FILM ABOUT MY LIFE: SINCE I AM STILL HERE, I THINK I WOULD BE THE BEST PERSON TO PLAY SUCH A FANTASTIC ROLE. HOWEVER, IF IT SHOULD BE ANOTHER PERSON, THEY MUST PLEASE REMEMBER I GO TO THE GYM AT LEAST FIVE OR SIX DAYS A WEEK, FOR TWO HOURS EACH TIME. I’M NOT SURE IT WILL BE EASY TO FIND SOMEONE WHO FANCIES DOING THAT!
FOR MORE INFO VISIT HOTELMERMAIDBANGKOK.COM
Food& Drink Bangkok’s hottest dining deals and news
It’s all about the ingredients Japanese Food Festival SEPTEMBER 9-18 AT ROYAL ORCHID SHERATON HOTEL AND TOWERS MIYAMOTO Tomohiko, head chef of Sheraton Hiroshima in Japan, is coming to Bangkok next month for a guest stint at Feast Restaurant, Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel And Towers. During his tenure he’ll cook a wide range of Japanese favourites – including appetizers, cold cuts, soups, main dishes and desserts – available as part of the restaurant’s extensive daily dinner buffet. Spend B2,000 or more and you’ll be entered into a lucky draw for two roundtrip tickets to Japan and a complimentary five nights hotel stay. 2 Charoen Krung Rd. Soi 30. 02 266 9214. royalorchidsheraton.com
17th World Gourmet Festival SEPTEMBER 19-25 AT ANANTARA SIAM BANGKOK HOTEL
BRINGING together some of the world’s best chefs, winemakers and food experts, this annual food festival features a sterling line-up of dinners, lunches and workshops, plus a World Gourmet Brunch that caps the event with a lavish, unrivalled spread of top notch cuisine. Testament of the festival’s culinary pedigree, many of its guest chefs come from Michelin starred restaurants. Among them this year are Chef Kanesaka (from the two Michelin starred Shinji by Kanesaka, Raffles Singapore); Chef Mauro Colagreco (from the two Michelin starred Mirazur in Menton, France), and Chef Anthony Genovese (from the two Michelin starred Il Pagliaccio in Rome, Italy). A full programme of events can be found on the festival’s website. 155 Ratchadamri Rd. 02 126 8866. worldgourmetfestivalasia.com 34
AVAILABLE NOW AT NICHE CHEF James Norman has ushered in a new dining concept at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok’s Niche Restaurant, where he now gives diners the option of selecting dishes prepared in an ‘Asian’ or ‘nonAsian’ style. Simply select one of the premium ingredients – think bluefin tuna, 48-hour braised smoked beef rib, New York strip (US prime cut beef), imported lobster – and Chef James will then prepare it to your preference. 991/9 Rama I Rd. 02 162 9000. kempinski.com/bangkok
New Seasonal Menus
AVAILABLE NOW AT J’AIME BY JEAN-MICHEL LORAIN
SEASONAL ingredients from Europe are being put to good use at J’aime this month, where head chef Amerigo Sesti and his culinary team will be preparing highlights such as Saffron-scented clam fish soup served with black ink toast and garlic rouille; Tuna tartar with marinated eggplant; and Pan-seared scallops served with Ibérico lomo. The five-course degustation menu starts at B2,399 inclusive of tea and coffee (add B1,600 for wine pairing). Available daily for lunch and dinner. 105/1 Soi Ngam Duphli. Sathorn Rd. 02 119 4899. jaime-bangkok.com
Gourmet The thrill of the hunt – at Gourmet Market Supermarket’s ‘You Hunt, We Cook’ concept brings foraging to the fore
(Left): Chef Prasert Junthes, Gourmet Specialist at The Mall Group. (Right): Mr Laurent Pousse, Assistant General Manager Fresh Delicatessen
FOOD shopping has been given an exciting new spin at Gourmet Market, Siam Paragon, where shoppers can now ‘hunt’ for their favourite ingredients and have them cooked to eat on site by an experienced chef. Simply fill your basket with your favourite meat and veggies, take it to the ‘You Hunt, We Cook’ dining counter, and the chefs will whip up a dish to suit your preferences. The total cost of the meal will be the price of the ingredients plus a B100 – B200 cooking fee. The concept is flexible and there is no set menu for main dishes, so you can be as creative as you like when selecting your ingredients. The most popular items, though, are familiar favourites like beef steak, pork chop, salmon steak, and king prawns. Side dishes such as roast potatoes, vegetable ratatouille, and spaghetti are also available starting from B60.
Steak sauces are an additional B60-B70. You can also buy wine or beer in store to enjoy with your meal. You can expect a 300g Baked pork chop Milanese to cost around B650, while Grilled Tasmanian salmon, tiger prawns and scallops served with spaghetti in a spicy tomato sauce will set you back around B1,500. Why should you try this concept instead of going to a restaurant?
“The great thing about this is that you get to enjoy top quality food at a very reasonable price, and you can choose exactly what you want to eat,” says Mr Laurent Pousse, Assistant General Manager, Fresh Delicatessen at The Mall Group Co., Ltd. “It’s also a lot of fun, and a great way to learn about ingredients and how to cook them.” While at present the ‘You Hunt, We Cook’ concept is only available at Siam Paragon, plans are already afoot to open counters at supermarkets in the Mall in Bangkapi and at EmQuartier. Outside of Bangkok, counters are slated to open at Blue Port Mall in Hua Hin, and The Mall Korat. The “You Hunt, We Cook” counter at Gourmet Market, Siam Paragon, opens daily from 10am-10pm. It seats 15 and is first come, first served. No bookings available. For more information visit gourmetmarketthailand.com
Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus
Cocktails with personality COCKTAIL fans were out in force for the launch of Renaissance Bangkok’s new cocktail promotion at R Bar, which gives customers the chance to make their own unique cocktails. The same promotion is now held the first Thursday of each month, from 6.30pm-9pm. Cocktails start from B225++ (ladies get their first cocktail free).
Coffee meets art at Latitude 13°39’ LE Méridien Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Golf Resort & Spa joined forces with Illy Coffee to host a special event at Latitude 13°39’ to showcase the venue’s commitment to coffee culture. The event featured a ‘Latte Art showdown’ by the hotel’s master barista together with Illy’s Universita Del Caffe barista trainer. Guests were able to express their true inner barista skills with a DIY Latte Art session. For more info about the hotel, visit lemeridiensuvarnabhumi.com. 38
Congee Hong Kong-style tasting CHAOPHYA Park Hotel Bangkok, led by GM Marcel Sawyere, invited a group of VIPs to a special dinner at the hotel’s Khao Tom restaurant which showcased its Hong Kong-style congee – a delicious rice porridge served with a wide range of tasty side dishes.
Exclusive workshop for coffee lovers DARREN White, managing director of GFA Corporation (Thailand) o., td., the official o erator of offee World, organized â€˜Exclusive CW House Blend Tasting and Workshop 2016â€™ at Coffee World, Gateway Ekamai. Among the VIPs were Valachai Lekavanija, Prawpreya Choomsai na ayuthaya, and Nuchanart Raveesangsoon.
Pasta Showcase at Attico ITALIAN Chef Roberto Parentela of Attico Restaurant, Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok, lifted the lid on a few of his culinary secrets by inviting a group of Bangkok foodies to learn how to make his signature pasta dishes from scratch. Read our review of the restaurant online at bit.ly/1TTcEtt. TheBigChilli
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Wo rds C H U T I N A N TA B O O N YA MA R N
Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok’s signature Thai restaurant celebrates thirty years of service with a makeover
N A CITY WHERE restaurants often come and go with alarming speed, Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok’s signature Thai restaurant has certainly stood the test of time, recently celebrating its 30th anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, Suan Bua recently underwent an extensive renovation and the results are striking indeed. The revamped space now features a contemporary Thai design offset by floor-to-ceiling windows which look out onto the hotel’s lush garden. Guests can opt to dine indoor, semioutdoor on the terrace, or completely outdoor right next to the garden. The restaurant’s menu, which was also tweaked during the downtime,
features dishes from all regions of the kingdom, ranging from spicy southern curries to piquant northeastern soups and milder northern fare. All food is prepared using the finest local and imported ingredients, as evident in signature dishes such as Wagyu beef flank soup with sweet potato (B350++); and Gang Massaman Nong Gae (B690++), New Zealand lamb shank braised for six hours, served in a massaman curry with purple and yellow sweet potato. Other highlights include Goong Sa Rong (B310++), fried shrimps wrapped in Phuket noodles; Spicy and crispy 1695 Phaholyothin Rd. (Ladprao MRT). 02 541 1234 ext 4151 centarahotelsresorts.com/cglb
morning glory salad (B290++); Minced chicken in shrimp paste dip served with vegetables (B290++); and Goong Maenam Yang Rad Hoylai Phad Prik Khing (B590++), grilled river prawns with spicy clam meat. Heading up the restaurant’s kitchen is Chef Santiphap Petchwao, who has over 17 years of experience in the trade. Many of his dishes are made using recipes that date back to the Ayutthaya period, some 100 years ago. When it comes to authenticity, well, it doesn’t get more bona fide than this – a great place to take visitors from out of town. Open daily from 11.30am-2.30pm and 6pm-10.30pm. Reservations are recommended.
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Wo rds H A R VEY W E AT H E R I L L
Blend Bistro & Wine Bar
Condensing 30 years of culinary experience into a onepage menu of classic French, Italian and Thai dishes
EATU RING A U NIQ U E blend of classic dishes from F rance, I taly and Thailand, and owned and operated by well-seasoned chef Laurent Scire – who counts Michelin-starred restaurants among his former workplaces – Blend Bistro & Wine Bar is all about top quality comfort food and tasty tapas served at reasonable prices in a welcoming, stylish environment. Located opposite Sukhumvit Soi 22 in a narrow building with polished concrete walls, black leather furniture, and hanging vintage bulbs, the restaurant takes everything Chef Laurent has learned over the past 30 years – both in terms of food and service – and presents it with panache. D ining takes place at well-dressed tables but there’s nothing fussy or pretentious about this place. Many customers arrive simply to enj oy a reasonably priced beer or wine at the first-floor counter bar, or out on the terrace; or simply to enj oy one of
Blend’s many tempting promotions, such as Tapas and one glass of sangria for B250++, or a set four-course dinner menu, each course served with wine, available every F riday night for j ust B1,000++ per person. Assisting Laurent in the kitchen is head chef Banj oed ‘ Ben’ Mulsing, who, like Laurent, also has many years of experience in the trade. Laurent’s wife, Mint, a talented cook, was also instrumental in developing the restaurant’s Thai dishes. These dishes occupy the corner of a one-page menu that also features salads, I talian pasta, Tapas, classic F rench dishes, seafood, and desserts. Signature dishes include New Zealand lamb shank, slowly braised with penne gratin (B595++); Blanquette de veau – F rench veal ragout (B590++), and Spicy handmade I talian pork sausages with mashed potato and salad B lend B istro & W ine B ar, 533 S u k hu mv it Rd., (opposite S u k hu mv it S oi 22). 02 258 8 8 08 . B lend- bistro- bk k .com
(B289+ +). Also recommended are Soft shell crab salad (B290++); Tasmanian salmon with cherry tomatoes, capers and basil (B490+ +); Massaman curry with K urobota pork tenderloin (B390++); Australian beef carpaccio (B320++); and the Blend signature selection – a large platter of classic cold cuts and cheeses (B590++). Tapas is available for lunch and dinner, including F rogs legs ‘ Provencal’ style (B280+ +), Calamari and prawn tempura (B250++), and D uck rillettes (B180+ +). F resh oysters are shipped in twice a week from F rance and the U SA (starting from B360++ for three). Blend has a very good wine list, with labels from I taly, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, U SA and Argentina. Bottles range in price from B950++ to B5,200++. All classic cocktails are j ust B290++. Local beers start at j ust B95++, imported bottles at B180+ +, and wine by the glass at B180+ +.
Wo rds H A R VEY W E AT H E R I L L
Popular bar lives up to its name by offering an extensive selection of international beers
L IF E IS TO O SHO RT TO drin bad reads one motto, affi ed to the wall at eer ollection, a den of international beers and east-meets-west cuisine at illage hopping all, u hum it nd the words certainly ring true here he barâ€™s globe-spanning drin s menu features renowned and respected beers and ciders from ngland, pain, cotland, elgium, apan, ustralia, ew ealand, taly, merica, enmar and ermany, as well as a selection of uni ue beer coc tails and tangy beer sorbets the latter of which are flashfro en tableside in a metal canister topped with li uid nitrogen anging in price from for a irin chiban ager apan to for a eretic orment ar eligian- tyle le , the menu of imported bottled beers includes highlights such as olgate
emptress hocolate orter ustralia , eihenstephaner riginal ermany , and tone f you prefer your beer on tap, options include eine en per pint , sahi per pint , itachino hite le for ml , and rewdog un per pint o accompany all the malt and hops, eer ollection offers an e tensi e menu of reasonably priced fusion cuisine featuring salads, pastas, pi as, seafood, hai curries and Gab Glem beer food , most of which has been gi en a modern spin opular choices include D eep f ie sea bass et with an o salsa , Khao soy Angel B eer C ollection, K V illage S hopping Mall, S u k hu mv it 26. O pen daily 4pm- 1.30am. 092 551 208 8 . f acebook .com/beercollectionbk k
Hair chicken / or pork with sof t cartilage (B24 9++/ B269++), Spicy signature seaweed salad (B219++), and F resh Norwegian salmon served rolled in shot glasses with a spicy Northeastern- style sauce (B199++). F or dessert, the aforementioned beer sorbet (B250++) comes in fla ours such as lemon, apple, and raspberry, and is a great way to end a meal or continue your boo y fun shots of od a can be added upon re uest eer ollection bu es to life with the after-wor crowd most nights of the wee and is in ariably busiest on wee ends, when punters can really let their hair down dding to the atmosphere are the barâ€™s house bands, which play co ers of international and local hits e ery ed, hurs and un from pmpm, and ri- at from pmpm
Guest review by Designed by Priya Lodha
Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy
New chef, new manager, same great food and service
HIS was our second visit to Sensi and much has changed in the intervening period. The kitchen is now under the leadership of Chef Marco, ex-Enoteca and an old friend, and the restaurant has an ItalianAmerican GM, Mike, at the helm. The service, however, has not changed and is still very good, and there were plenty of flavoursome dishes to enjoy. We were also joined by two gourmands from a sister B&B Chapter, Beijing, who were on a whirlwind tour of five Asian Chapters. Proceedings started rather promptly with some tasty and unique canapés and Girlan Pinot Bianco Plattenriegl (Trentino Alto Adige, Italy). Our wine spokesman, Fritz Mayer, and others did not feel this was an exceptional wine, and Fritz was confident that better examples of this vintage could be found. Shrimp tartare served with tomato coulis, gnocchi, parmesan fondue, and roasted bread with
lemon oil started proceedings. Our visitor from Beijing, Hans Bokesch, had been press-ganged into the role of Food Spokesman and gave a good account of himself. The shrimp was served carpaccio style and the overall dish was very nice and succulent. Thomas Boedinger had chosen Montenidoli Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2013 (Tuscany) to accompany this and this wine received limited praise from Fritz, but more from other diners. The next dish, Pork belly salad ser ved with pickles, Lauris sauce and white beans, was for several diners, including Hans, the highlight of the menu. The pork melted in the mouth and the sauce was light and tasty. The wine selected to pair with this was Feudo Maccari Mahâris 2008 (Sicily). This is a blend of Nero d’Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah grapes, with an ABV of 14.5%, lots of tannins and a powerful red. In fact, Fritz believed that this could have been served in place of the Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2010 which had been
planned to follow. The Maharis had a nice after-taste, was soft on the palate with a very long finish and a kick of clove, chocolate and cassis. Overall it was a much richer wine and therefore perhaps would have been better matched with the striploin. Marco next introduced Gnocchi Gorgonzola with walnut purée. Personally, I always enjoy gnocchi and this was truly excellent – although several diners did wish that more of the excellent purée had been served, even at the expense of less gnocchi. The main dish featured180 day aged Striploin ser ved with onion compote and veal jus. The striploin made rather firm eating and consequently did not win too many compliments, but the onion compote went a long way to compensate for this; overall, Hans was pleased to say this was an excellent alternative to potatoes. The accompanying Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2010 (Tuscany) had received 96 from both Parker and Suckling and described as possessing “full body and a chewy texture.” A critic had commented: “This needed three plus hours to open.” It certainly did not take us three hours to drink! Tasty morsels of Cheese with honey and balsamic condiments then came to the table, followed by Fondant Au Chocolat, which was very rich and perhaps verging on decadent (Dictionary definition: “Marked by or providing unrestrained gratification”). To top off what had been a most pleasant meal, John Handley and Jake Meerman generously made available bottles of Camus and Laphroaig to celebrate their July birthdays. *As is normal practice, all wines were chosen by the club. 1040 Narathiwat Soi 17 Yak 5, Sathorn. 02 117 1618. sensibangkok.com
TRU BLU 54
Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin Stylish accommodation and superior service – right by the beach
LL going to plan, Radisson Blu’s latest addition to its bourgeoning portfolio of properties will be ready to welcome guests by the time you read this. And judging by the sneak preview we had last month, we’re confident it will be gorgeous both inside and out. Promising the perfect combination of iconic design, contemporary comfort and convenience together with the brand’s internationally renowned ‘Yes I Can!’ service philosophy, the new resort features 118 tastefully designed rooms and suites decorated with local fabrics and earth tones. Each room comes equipped with free high-speed, wireless internet, and a wide range of modern conveniences. Twenty-two of the suites offer direct pool access; others have private balconies providing views of the resort’s lush gardens and out towards the Gulf of Thailand. Three free-form swimming pools, a fully-equipped fitness centre, the signature Spa Esc, and a collection of modern, versatile meeting and events spaces ensure the hotel is well-equipped to meet the needs
Meet the GM: Preet Inder Singh Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin’s founding General Manager brings rich international experience to his role • I have always enjoyed meeting and interacting with new people, which is one of the things that drew me to a career in hospitality. I have been lucky enough to experience a diverse range of cultures and experiences through my work. I still enjoy the challenge to learn about new cultures, and I particularly enjoy sharing the best aspects of a destination with people from around the world.
of both leisure and business travelers. And visiting gourmands will find plenty to tempt them at the resort’s two restaurants and bars – The Exchange and The Ivy. For all-day dining, The Exchange presents international cuisine and an impressive dessert selection, plus organic Thai à-la-carte dishes with herbs and spices from the restaurant’s own garden. Grilled meats and seafood, meanwhile, are the hallmark of The Ivy, a beachfront grill and pool bar with private cabanas, sun loungers and a casual menu. You can also opt to enjoy light bites and refreshing drinks at The Lounge lobby bar.
• I have travelled and worked in locations all over the world from my native India to Switzerland and now Thailand. The rich experiences I have had in all these places are definitely a personal highlight for me. On the career side, I am proud to have been part of the team at some of the best hotels in the world. It was particularly gratifying when I was nominated for GM of the year in Asia Pacific for the year 2015, as this was a recognition of my efforts. • Hua Hin has long been favoured by Thai royalty as their preferred summer retreat and the location offers a perfect getaway from the bustling gateway city of Bangkok. Hua Hin enjoys a prime location overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, and the beach actually extends a lot further along the coast. It is known as Cha–Am Beach further north and Pranburi to the south. You can find eight golf courses within a 30-minute drive of Hua Hin town centre, which is more than any other location in Thailand. What’s more, the options for holiday activities are endless with everything from watersports and diving in the ocean to heritage buildings on land. • Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin combines iconic design, contemporary comfort and total convenience with the brand’s internationally renowned Yes I Can! service philosophy. World of Radisson service hallmarks create a memorable-stay experience in all of our 118 spacious, tastefully designed rooms and suites. “This Works” is our exclusive amenities range designed by international beauty expert Kathy Philips. We also provide a daily Super Breakfast featuring a wide selection of fresh organic foods presented in a clean, stylish market-style buffet complemented by great coffee and juices. Complimentary Wi-Fi and late check-out options add to the resort’s unique appeal.
Planning a wedding? Celebrate in style with a cocktail soiree for up to 240 guests at the resort’s largest event venue, The Aqua, which spans 200 square meters and features large windows to draw in the tropical surroundings. The hotel has a dedicated team of wedding and events planners to ensure that, whatever the occasion, you can expect a unique occasion tailored exactly to your needs. For best available room rates visit radissonblu.com/resort-hua-hin.
• The most challenging aspect of my job involves finding the right people with the right mindset to achieve perfection in a competitive hospitality market. Fortunately in Thailand the service culture is very strong, and at Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin we were able to train people to the highest international standards. • The motto I find most inspiring is: Persist, and perfection will follow. • When I’m not busy working, I enjoy playing sports, especially golf, and I love exploring new places and enjoying good food. Radisson Blu Resort Hua Hin, 1392 Petchkasem Rd., Cha-Am, Phetchaburi. 032 421 777. radissonblu.com/resort-hua-hin
Best Western Premier Amaranth Suvarnabhumi Airport By Priya Lodha
Mix business with pleasure in style at this new hotel, just 10km from the airport ■ BEST Western’s hotel in Bangkok may have been designed with visiting executives in mind – its close proximity to the airport and impressive range of meetings facilities are testament of that – but it’s not all fussy formalities here; the spacious, comfortable rooms, and a long list modern amenities, ensure it’s a hub of relaxation too. Ensuring guests can mix business
with pleasure in style are highlights such as Bua Chompoo, an all-day-dining restaurant open 24 hours a day and serving an assortment of buffets and a la carte menus; Red Brown, located in the main lobby, which operates as a coffee shop by day, and a trendy cocktail bar with live music by night; Pool Bar, offering gourmet snacks and refreshing cocktails right next to the outdoor pool; and Ma Spa, which provides signature massages such as Jet Lag Recovery and Traditional Thai Massage alongside many other treatments, all conducted by experienced therapists in a tranquil atmosphere. There’s also a sauna and fully-equipped fitness center to enjoy. The hotel’s accommodations are divided into four categories, including Deluxe, Premier Room, Premier Suites, and Amaranth Suites. All are centrally air conditioned and feature IDD telephone, a large work area with complimentary WiFi, separate Bathroom with Bath or Shower, LCD TV, in-room safe, in-room tea/coffee making facility, hair dryer and minibar. When it comes down to business,
the hotel’s Amaranth Ballroom ranges from a capacity of 450 (banquet or classroom style) to 600 theatre. Adjacent to the ballroom are break-up meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 30 in a classroom-style. All meeting rooms are equipped with WiFi and LAN internet access as well as the latest audiovisual equipment. Standard rates range in price from B2,800++ per night for a Deluxe Room, to B13,000++ per night for an Amaranth Suite. A free shuttle service is available to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Full details are available on the hotel’s website. 68 Moo 2 Kingkaew Rd., Rachatheva, Bangplee, Samutprakarn. 02 315 9393. amaranthhotel.com
Meet the GM: Clinton Lovell AVANI Atrium Bangkok Hotel’s General Manager Clinton Lovell boasts 20 years of experience with leading hotel brands. Recently recognised in global luxury hotel awards for his impressive leadership talents, the New Zealand native puts his success down to good old fashioned hard work and an unwavering passion for his trade • I’ve always wanted to be part of this glamorous business and associated with like-minded “worldly” people. My 21st birthday cake was a big hotel, as at that time I was dreaming and exploring how to be part of this exciting industry! • Hotel management is the perfect career choice for me as I live a life of exciting mobility – living and working in different cultures and countries – and I am constantly meeting fantastic passionate people who also share the same vision and thrills. • Highlights of my career so far include being awarded a Minor Hotels Award of Excellence in 2015 for the great job my team and I did in Bali (this was during my recent role as General Manager of the beautiful Anantara Seminyak Bali), and receiving a World Luxury Hotel award for Best General Manager Indonesia, also in 2015. Being publicly acknowledged for efforts in leadership and management are real highlights in one’s career! • I joined AVANI Atrium Bangkok in December 2015 and was honored to be selected to lead our company’s largest hotel located closest to our corporate office, which in many ways is pioneering our hot new upscale brand AVANI. It’s a great hotel, well located, recently refreshed, and always delivers a warm welcome. I believe in the wonderful features and benefits the hotel offers as well as the unbeatable value it represents. • One of my favourite aspects of the hotel is our Benihana Japanese Steakhouse. Benihana is pure happiness – a fun, lively restaurant where entertaining chefs deliver first class Japanese food. My kids just love it for special occasions, and I encourage all of our guests to visit and enjoy a night to remember!
• One of the most challenging aspects of my job involves time management. My role is to lead and influence everyone at the hotel to all move in one direction to deliver amazing guest experiences and meet our commercial targets. I must manage and organize the many moving parts that make up our hotel to ensure each department, team leader and team member has clear priorities and flies in formation to deliver a coherent and memorable stay for each and every guest. All this requires many meetings, coaching sessions, administrative efforts, discussion with the stakeholders, and of course time with our esteemed guests while trying to be a good dad and husband. • Over the next five years the team and I will be fine tuning our services, improving our welcome and departure services, dining experiences and personalization. The hotel looks great at the moment, having recently been through a renovation of all of our rooms, restaurants and public areas, but we will also make some small upgrades to our meeting spaces and wellness facilities. • The best advice I’ve ever received is from my dad: “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.” I’m not perfect; I have tried to quit in the past. He was right. • The motto I find most inspiring is: ‘Brands don’t build people. People build brands.’ It’s the title of a chapter in the book written by our Chairman and Founder, Mr William E Heinecke. I love this. It speaks to me. • I have a beautiful wife and two boys aged three and 18 months old. I just love playing with them and seeing their excitement as they discover new experiences and new tastes! minorhotels.com/en/avani/atrium-bangkok
“While travelling around the country, I observed some ago in several schools in Udon Thani, a few of which have of AIP’s activities such as using billboards to promote the use become model schools in the province and region. of safety helmets. When Mikael and I came to Thailand in “We donate helmets that are made in Thailand because they late 2010, I was offered the position of AIP country director. I are manufactured according to local standards. Most kids here accepted and started in early 2011. like white helmets because they can paint cartoons and designs “The job of the country director is day-to-day on them. They have a positive attitude toward helmets now, and implementation of AIP programs. Now as country chairperson this is partly because we have different fun activities for them I am looking after overall policy and advocacy. I am in charge when we go to their schools. of maintaining communications with our high-level partners “We have another big program called Street Wise where in Thailand and abroad. AIP is a global organization. We we educate children on general road safety. We have produced currently focus our work in Southeast Asia and China with a curriculum we are experimenting with in six schools in offices in Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam. We also have Songkhla province. This is the second year of the program and representative offices in Tanzania and Uganda. In Thailand we it’s really quite sophisticated. Besides wearing helmets, we also have increased activities in recent years and have started new focus on crossing streets, making wise decisions while on or programs. around streets, reading street signs and so on. A lot of kids walk “The AIP’s mission is to provide traffic safety knowledge to school and it’s important that they know how to cross streets and skills in the developing world, with the goal of preventing safely and know what danger signs to look for. fatalities and injuries. The organization first began working “In developing the program we considered studies that look in Thailand in 2006. We concentrate our efforts on protecting at how children perceive and respond to the visual stimuli of young children by conducting the road. It’s not the same educational and awarenessas adults. So the program is raising activities in schools. based on sound research and Through these school-based it was developed with input programs we are empowering from schools, communities a new generation of safer, and provincial authorities, smarter road users to make including governors. intelligent decisions on the “We also train teachers. road. We aim for sustainable As of now we’ve trained change by combining more than 3,000 teachers in expertise and political schools that are participating motivation, with financial in the project in Songkhla, support from both private and which we see as a model public sectors. to put in place across “At our office in the country. We are also Bangkok we employ five educating about 10,000 full-time staff, and we also “About 2,000 kids die in Thailand parents. have consultants here. Our “Our people are every year due to motorcycle headquarters is in Vietnam, dispatched to schools in accidents, most of them because where we have units devoted Songkhla to work with of head injuries. About 1.3 million selected teachers, and to communication, evaluation, development and other these teachers train other kids travel by motorcycle to areas. We also have offices teachers. We are currently and from school and only seven in Cambodia and China, and implementing the project in percent of them wear helmets. when there’s a need we go to five schools in Singhanakhon other countries in the region, district and one big school including Bangladesh,” said in the city of Songkhla. All Ms Ratana. six are primary schools. Many of the kids are taken to school on “We have three different projects in operation now: Helmets motorcycles by their parents, and they influence the parents to for Kids (HFK), Street Wise, and The 7% Project. HFK is our wear helmets as well. We have to train the children and parents signature global program and it has been extremely successful. at the same time.” In Thailand HFK operates in schools to not only get children to 7% Solution wear helmets, but also to instil a safety culture. We start with helmet donations to children. After the helmets are distributed, hen asked about the quality of motorcycle we provide teacher training and non-classroom activities helmets sold in Thailand, Ms Ratana said throughout the year to raise awareness about wearing helmets consumers should look for a sticker showing and how to wear them correctly, and also on road safety in compliance with government-approved general. We also monitor helmet use by children,” Ms Ratana standards. She urges all riders to look for the pointed out. sticker the next time they change helmets. She pointed out “HFK has increased the practice of wearing helmets by kids that a major obstacle to protecting children on motorcycles is a by a tremendous amount. In some schools where the program shortage of small-sized helmets. is in place, 100 percent of children now wear helmets, and on “Now you can see more small helmets in the shops than in average it’s about 83 percent. We started the project four years
the past. This is largely because we have been trying very hard with our many partners to really push this issue forward. “About 2,000 kids die in Thailand every year due to motorcycle accidents, most of them because of head injuries. About 1.3 million kids travel by motorcycle to and from school and only seven percent of them wear helmets. That’s why we call our third program the 7% Project, which we are implementing with Save the Children. It has been very successful and it has gotten a lot of support in the traditional and social media. “This project to increase helmet awareness is at present only being implemented in Bangkok. This is the third year, and by next year we hope we will be able to demonstrate that it saves lives. We are doing this project only in Bangkok. In the first year we had only six schools in the experiment. We worked to expand
the program with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Office of Basic Education Commission (OBEC) and now we have about 300 schools. The plan is to extend the project to other provinces. s Ratana explained the four components of the 7% Project. “One, we educate – meaning we work in the schools with teachers, with curriculums and this kind of thing; two, we do a lot of connecting with the public through regular and social media; three, we work on innovative ways to make kids want to wear helmets. This might mean working with artists and musicians. The fourth component is working with the RTP on different levels.” Ms Ratana said that schools that participate in the 7% Project have seen helmet wearing by children increase from practically zero to around 30 percent. “In this project we don’t give helmets out for free. The parents have to realise how important helmets are and they have to buy them for their children.” She gave some basic guidelines for parents wishing to buy helmets for their children: 1) The helmet must fit the head, not too tight or loose; 2) the helmet must have a sturdy buckle and it must always be used, otherwise the helmet can fly off. The program teaches children how to clean and care for their helmets.
Partners in prevention
“We we are working with partners in private, government and civil society sectors as well as in the media. We work with Vespiario, a company that produces very good quality helmets which we donate to the schools. “Other big donors are Chevron, FIA (Federation International de l’Automobile) Foundation, UPS and WHO/ Bloomberg Foundation. We work with city and local governments and offices of provincial governors. At the national level important partners include the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Department of Land and Transport, organizations under Thai Health Foundation, and with Road Accident Victims Protection.” Ms Ratana said that AIP is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) in a project called the Legal Development Program, which advocates for changes to traffic laws and regulations, and also looking into enforcement. “The
Thailand a top choice for female travellers AN INCREASE IN ACTIVITIES AIMED SPECIFICALLY AT WOMEN HAS PUT THE KINGDOM ON THE MAP AS THE PERFECT PLACE FOR A GIRLS’ GETAWAY
HERE’S a wide range of reasons why tourists choose Thailand as their preferred holiday destination. Young backpackers visit the kingdom seeking independence and adventure; honeymooners and couples come knowing they’ll find a romantic location where they can enjoy each other’s company on moonlit beaches and in gorgeous hotels; gourmets love the food, and golfers adore the golf courses. Today, an increasing number of female travellers are visiting the kingdom, independently and in groups, discovering, much to their delight, that there are now many activities aimed specifically at them. Whether you are a female traveller seeking shopping or sports, relaxation or adventure, many tour operators now offer female-friendly experiences and understand that women often have different needs or expectations when they travel. So let’s take a look at some of the many activities available, whether you are just seeking a few hours away from the husband and kids, or are planning a two-week trip with your girlfriends.
WELLNESS & MEDITATION We all sometimes want to get away from the world and spend time collecting our thoughts, but if you’re a busy mother or executive, this need to de-stress and enjoy pampering is more acute than ever. Luckily, Thailand offers a range of health and spiritual retreats that are women-only. There are meditation retreats held in lovely parts of the country where you can learn a little of the Buddhist lifestyle and practice meditation with experts. These retreats can last several days and can really give you time to get in touch with your feelings as well as offer a real insight into the Thai way of life as you get up early for meditation sessions and attend talks on Buddhist teachings and practice. If you feel fine spiritually, but would like some bodily pampering, then consider one of Thailand’s many health spas and retreats. There are spas all over the country, of course, but for real indulgence, consider visiting one of the health resorts that can be found either by the beaches or in the hills of the North. Here you can enjoy full detoxification and wellness packages that boost all-round health. Spas like the famous Chiva Som in Hua Hin allow you to take full control of your health with cleansing spa cuisine, fitness, physiotherapy, weightloss techniques, and even holistic treatments to enjoy.
An Expat’s Journey: What are we searching for? Professional mind coach Angela Farlam explains why getting the best out of expat life starts with mastering your thoughts
AILY life is full of decisions. From small decisions like what to watch on TV, and what clothes to wear, to larger, more life changing decisions, like – should I really quit my job and run off to join the circus? There are also times we struggle to make any decisions at all. The struggle happens because of what we do on the inside. We ‘think.’ We can’t not think; we are human beings and we have been given this wonderful gift of thought, together with the gift of consciousness, which allows us to be aware of the fact that we are thinking. When we have trouble making a decision, it is our ‘thinking’ that gets in the way – ‘we might make the wrong decision and then what?’ But what if it wasn’t possible to make a wrong decision? What if the outcome of our decisions isn’t as important as the actual journeys – whether good or bad – that our decisions end up taking us on?
What was your reason for moving abroad? I am often asked why I left the UK and my answer, quite honestly, is ‘for the sunshine.’ I will admit that the reason seems shallow; I wish I had a more interesting and potent reason for what some people consider to be a momentous decision. The thing is, when I made my decision eleven years ago, I wasn’t thinking that the move would be forever – my reasoning was that it seemed like a great opportunity and if it didn’t work out, then we could always return to England. A popular term within the Australian expat community is ‘Ping-pong Brits.’ This refers to people who can’t settle into their new life in Australia, so return home only to find they are lost and soon plan on returning to Australia. Some people do this more than once, ‘pingponging’ back and forth. So is it any wonder people hesitate to take the plunge and make the decision to move abroad?
Happiness is all in the mind If you’re not sure what you’ve been thinking lately, and you’re unhappy with your expat existence, take a look around. What
you focus on increases, so whatever has been showing up over time is what you’ve been focusing on. Even if you say affirmations every day, and have certain goals you’d like to achieve, if what you want isn’t happening, then your recent behaviour should tell you what you’ve really been thinking. Awareness is the first step to allowing yourself to choose a new thought. Focus on what you want and start feeling how you’ll feel when you’ve got it. It sounds easy, but I guarantee almost every client who has a problem and I ask them, ‘What would your life be like if I could wave a magic wand and your life is just how you want it to be?’ The answer is always a list of what they don’t want! If I said to you now, ‘don’t think about a pink elephant,’ I bet I can guess what will appear in your mind!
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Goodbye supplements, hello whole foods: Essential ingredients for every kitchen Nutrition consultant Judith Coulson on how you can eat your way to a healthier you ■ SUPPLEMENTS are not intended to be a food substitute because they can not replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Depending on your situation and your eating habits, dietary supplements may not be worth the expense. Whole foods offer three main benefits over dietary supplements:
Greater nutrition Whole foods are complex, containing a variety of the micronutrients your body needs – not just one. An orange, for example, provides vitamin C plus some beta carotene, calcium and other nutrients. It’s likely these compounds work together to produce their beneficial effect.
Essential fiber Whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, provide dietary fiber. Most high-fiber foods are also packed with other essential nutrients. Fiber, as part of a healthy diet, can help prevent certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and it can also help manage constipation.
Protective substances Whole foods contain other substances important for good health. Fruits and vegetables, for example, contain naturally occurring substances called phytochemicals, which may help protect you against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Many are also good sources of antioxidants — substances that slow down oxidation, a natural process that leads to cell and tissue damage. Let’s look at the most common bought vitamins and how to get them from the natural way:
Vitamin A There are two main types of vitamin A.
One comes from animal sources of food. You need it to help you see at night, make red blood cells, and fight off infections. The other is in plant foods and can help prevent an eye problems (age-related macular degeneration). Eat orange veggies and fruits (like sweet potato and cantaloupe), spinach and other greens, dairy products, and seafood such as shrimp and salmon. Too much vitamin A can hurt your liver and should therefore not be consumed with a supplement if you are a normal healthy eater.
Vitamin B12 Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for our red blood cells, nerve function, and is integral for DNA synthesis in our cells. It’s brain food. Because the nutrient is found in animal foods, like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, vegans are more susceptible to B12 deficiency. B12 helps your body break down food for energy and is therefore
a good vitamin to eat before hitting the gym. Your body only needs micro amounts of vitamin B12, so supplements don’t make a difference if you eat a normal balanced diet.
Vitamin C It may not be the cure for the common cold (though it’s thought to help prevent more serious complications). But the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. Your body must have vitamin C to help your bones, skin, and muscles grow. You’ll get enough from guava, papaya, pineapple, mangoes, tomatoes, red cabbage, cantaloupe, leafy greens and herbs, chilli peppers and powder, and other fruits and veggies.
Calcium Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly. Some studies suggest that calcium, along with vitamin D and protein, have benefits beyond bone health, protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. The main calcium contenders are milk, yoghurt, and cheese, but dairy shouldn’t be the only dietary source to fill up on this nutrient. Leafy greens, kale, collard greens, broccoli, edamame, okra, bok choy, seafood, beans, seeds and legumes as well as fruits like oranges or figs also contain calcium.
Vitamin K Vitamin K is an essential nutrient necessary for responding to injuries; it regulates normal blood clotting. It assists the transport of calcium throughout the body and Vitamin K may also be helpful for bone health, reduce bone loss and decrease risk of bone fractures. A serving of leafy greens, like spinach, kale, or broccoli will give you more than enough vitamin K for the day. You can find vitamin K also in asparagus, pumpkin and many beans. People who take warfarin as a blood-thinner have to be careful about what they eat, because vitamin K reacts badly with the drug.
Iron Iron helps metabolize proteins and plays a role in the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells. When your iron levels are low, your body doesn’t make enough healthy red blood cells. And without them, you can’t get oxygen to your tissue. Women who are pregnant or have heavy menstrual cycles are at risk
Folic Acid For moms-to-be, it’s a must. Folic acid is a type of vitamin B that is normally found in foods such as dried beans, peas, lentils, oranges, whole-wheat products, liver, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. Folic acid helps your body produce and maintain new cells, and also helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer.
Potassium The health benefits of potassium include relief from stroke, blood pressure, heart and kidney disorders, anxiety and stress, as well as enhanced muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions, and nervous system. You may think of bananas, but green leafy veggies are an even better source of this mineral. It helps keep your blood pressure in a normal range, and it helps your kidneys work. Levels that are too low or too high could make your heart and nervous system shut down. You should also watch your salt, because your body needs the right balance of sodium and potassium. Snack on raw cantaloupe, carrots, and tomatoes as well as dark leafy greens, potatoes, squash, fish, avocados and mushrooms.
Vitamin D Like calcium, it keeps your bones strong and helps your nerves carry messages. It also plays a role in fighting germs. Time in the sun, 10 to 15 minutes a day, preferably early in the morning, is the best source. Add fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, eggs or mushrooms, to your diet. As Vitamin A, Vitamin D can be toxic if consumed in too high dosages
pressure and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. You’ll get magnesium from nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale; beans and lentils such as soybeans; avocado, and whole grains.
to have anemia, the medical name for when you don’t have enough iron in your blood. Keep up your levels with beans and lentils, occasionally some red meat, pork, poultry, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables like spinach, and seafood such as oysters. Even dark chocolate with at least 45% cacao has some!
Magnesium Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood
The health benefits of Zinc include proper functioning of the immune and digestive systems, control of diabetes, reduction of stress levels, energy metabolism and an increased rate of healing for acne, cuts, scrapes, and sores. Without it, you couldn’t taste and smell. It may help you keep your sight as you get older. You can get zinc from sesame or pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, egg yolks, cashews, garlic, green leafy vegetables, seafood such as oyster, crab, and lobster, and from beef, poultry and pork. As a perfectly healthy and active 40plus mother, I can assure you that you can feed yourself with every vitamin you need on a daily basis, with only a balanced, wholesome, unprocessed and mostly plant-based diet. (This can be different, if you already suffer from an issue or disease, or are recovering). If you are not sure how to boost your vitamin intake per day with your diet, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a complementary online consulting session.
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. http://lifestylefoodclinic.com/ http://corporate-wellness.asia TheBigChilli
A D V I C E Expat life getting you down? Professional counselors Anette and Johanna are here to help.
Gripped by fear of the unknown I DON’T understand my feelings since I came back from my holiday. It was a beautiful holiday, and in a beautiful place. At night, we could see the stars. Stars from horizon to horizon. Someone in our group explained what we saw: all the stars are different suns in our galaxy. Some have planets. All are very far away. And all the light that we see is in the past. I stayed up ver y late that night, when others had gone to sleep. I know I should have felt happy, surrounded by peaceful nature, but as I was looking out at the universe, I started to feel sad, and frightened. All these many stars and planets, and we will never reach them. In fact, my friend said, the galaxies are moving away from each other. The universe will end in disconnection. I don’t know why but contemplating this vast emptiness overwhelmed me. The longer I looked, the more I was gripped by a feeling of futility and hopelessness. What is it all for? What is the meaning of existence, if it all falls apart, not just here but on a cosmic scale? I am back from my holiday, but the feeling persists. I am questioning ever ything I do and see. I think about death a lot. What is happening to me? Conrad, 54, from the US Dear Conrad,
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.
Maybe the best words to describe what you are experiencing are ‘existential crisis.’ And it makes sense that you would experience this on a holiday, when you connect with nature around you, when you have time to listen and look and feel how it all resonates inside you. While we are living day to day, struggling to survive, engaged in the many small concerns on our to-do lists, we rarely have time and space to see the whole picture. And you are talking about the whole picture not just of our own lives, but of all our lives, and even beyond this planet, this solar system. And when we are confronted with the reality of where we are and by implication of who we are, most of us feel overwhelmed. The universe around us is still very mysterious. We have only been able to observe it more or less accurately for the last 100 years or so. There are still many unanswered questions. Our imagination is challenged by contemplating the night sky, and the cohesion of our world view, and our sense of self is challenged by the realization that we don’t know the rules or purpose of the universe, or even if there are any. Some people have a religious framework that gives them a structure to believe in. But even then, existential crises happen. Psychologically, we are not very well equipped to tolerate a vast reality that we cannot understand. The human mind is focused on telling stories, recognizing and repeating patterns, constructing sequences and narratives that are connected by cause and effect. We create a kind of ‘home’ in our own minds that feels comforting and familiar, and helps us navigate the vast uncharted territory around us. But of course, in a way, this is all an illusion. Just as our eyes don’t really see the world but send signals that get interpreted in our brain by our experience and expectations, we mostly avoid coming into contact with raw reality. And when we do, we don’t know how to respond. It is all too much for us. Therefore it also makes a lot of sense that you should be thinking of death. Death is the end of all structure, and of all narrative. Your existential crisis is very much about that. Most of the time, people quickly immerse themselves again in the trivial concerns of everyday life. The fact that you have not is a sign that you are at a point when you need to re-assess and perhaps re-shape your life. You won’t be able to fix the lack of meaning in the universe, but you can give your own existence more purpose and more positive dynamics. Where does your own life mirror your feelings about the stars? And maybe you are also ready for those really big issues. Religion, philosophy, and many art forms were created by people who felt exactly the way you do. Try to engage actively and creatively with those existential doubts. Write about them, sing about them. Discuss them and find your own personal meaning. In terms of psychological development, this is an important step, and nobody knows where it will lead. I see this as a good thing – maybe you will agree, maybe not.
Worn down by jealousy I’m struggling with an issue that I have no idea how to change. I constantly feel jealous of others. I envy them when I hear them talk about their successes, their trips, their family. I see that many people are more popular than me because of their looks; others seem to be more interesting to talk to and do get more attention and more acknowledgement. I feel it is unfair that others have it all while I work so hard and accomplish so little. When I think about this (a lot!), I become moody and sometimes depressed. I feel angry and want to lay in bed all day. It takes a lot of energy to keep going and I feel there is no point, really, as I never will receive the benefits I should receive. At the same time I feel so bad about having this anger towards others that seemingly do better than me. How do I get out of this negative cycle? Isabella, 33, from Spain
A • MS is the Clinical Director of NCS Counseling Center. She trained in the Netherlands and Australia.
Dear Isabella, First of all thank you for sending this letter. You are surely not the only person in the world struggling with the issue of jealousy and envy. I think it is a kind of forbidden topic. We ‘should’ be glad and happy when someone succeeds, shouldn’t we? In Germany they call jealousy “Gluecksschmerz,” which stands for that awful feeling that gnaws on us when we hear of the luck or successes of others, while we are craving for similar success. You write about experiencing two different emotions. One is jealousy. This often has to do with fear and is defined by three elements: Me, the Other, and What is at Stake (e.g. a boyfriend that could be snatched away). Envy has two elements: Me and the Other. I compare myself with the other and I feel ‘lesser than.’ Indeed, envy and jealousy can start to rule our life as very negative powers. But the emotions of jealousy and envy, like all emotions, are actually there to help us survive. They tell us that we want something and need to protect something. Thus we start reacting and it sets us to work. But jealousy and envy can also lead to a lot of suffering. Here are a few things that you can do: 1) Reflect on yourself. Is your jealousy or envy based on your self-perception? Do you have low self-esteem and think of others as more skilled and qualified? 2) Realize that our perception that the other person has it better or has more might not be true at all. (‘The grass is always greener on the other side.’) 3) Can you use your envy as an alarm signal and ask yourself ‘What do I want? What does this feeling want to tell me?’ This can stimulate you into productivity to address your own needs and wants. 4) Talk with the person you envy. Do this only when you think this person is willing and open to talk with you about it. Often when we share such a feeling it feels less heavy and sometimes even fades away. 5) What are all the positive and good things you have in your own personal life? ‘Count your Blessings.’ Accept that not all dreams can come true. Focus on what you do have or did achieve and appreciate yourself for all you accomplished. If you stay depressed and very low in energy you might want to consult a counsellor and/or investigate if you are depressed. Often depression changes our perception of our reality and you might need some professional help to address this. Thank you for writing to us and giving us the opportunity to address an issue many of us struggle with on our life journey.
Contact details: ncs-counseling.com, email@example.com Tel: 02 279 8503, or send your problems to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Last monthâ€™s best events in pictures
72 COURTYARD RAISES THE BAR
BILLED as an ‘anti-mall’ experience, new community hub 72 Courtyard on Soi Thonglor opened with a great party showcasing a wide range of food and drinks from its numerous entertainment concepts, including Rocket X, Lady Brett, U.N.C.L.E, Evil Man Blues, Touché Hombre, and more hip hangouts.
LEVELS MAKES IT FOUR
THE popular Levels nightclub on Sukhumvit Soi 11 celebrated its fourth anniversary in customary fashion with a huge party featuring an open bar and a sizzling line-up of DJs and dancers.
Social|Last Month’s Best Events
CELEBRATING ONE YEAR OF THE EM DISTRICT
BANGKOK’S hippest shopping enclave celebrated its first anniversary with a party at the Water Garden of the EMQuartier mall. Dubbed ‘The EM District 1st Anniversary Dining Extraordinaire,’ the celeb-studded event featured lots of delicious food and a performance by 60 miles.
LITTLE BAO OPENS ON THONGLOR
FOLLOWING three hugely successful years in Hong Kong, modern Chinese diner Little Bao has expanded into Thailand with a new venue at 72 Courtyard, Soi Thonglor. The casual, creative venue was opened in delicious fashion with a tasting party showcasing Little Bao’s most popular dishes.
FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE AT SOFITEL SUKHUMVIT
SOFITEL ang o Su humvit celebrated the international Fête de la Musique with a chic evening soirée at the hotel s S Gallery, where guests en oyed a night of live a music by Nini and the la a Band, and a new art e hibition, Oneness, by Sarawut Yasamut.
VENICE OF THE EAST
IN celebration of the th anniversary of the establishment of the attana osin ingdom, CentralWorld shopping center and the ang o Metropolitan Administration teamed up to transform the open space in front of CentralWorld into the enice of the East, complete with Thai fol performances and many stalls selling popular products from the city s riverside communities.
Social|Last Monthâ€™s Best Events
KAWS DEBUTS AT CENTRAL EMBASSY
IG L acclaimed artist AWS arrived in ango to inaugurate the global debut of his eight meter high sculpture AWS FF, and e hibit of his highly collectible art prints. The showcase was held at Central Embassy, and arranged in partnership with SIWILAI concept fashion store.
HOTEL ART FAIR 2016
AD Lib ang o otel, Su humvit Soi 1, showcased artwor s from over 0 galleries in a special event arranged by design consultancy company FA MG O .
XIAN FEAST AT INAZIA
CHEF Charles and Chef Alex from The Westin ian otel ew into Thailand last month for a guest stint at Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spaâ€™s InAzia Restaurant. During their tenure the duo took control of the kitchens to cook up signature Chinese dishes such as Biang Biang noodles, Chinese seafood hot & sour soup, and Fried mutton with cumin.
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Social|Last Month’s Best Events
FREE FLOW FUN AT BLEND
BLEND Bistro & Wine Bar pulled in a large crowd of revelers when it hosted a Free Flow Wine and Tapas event in association with Sibour Wine Company. Read our review of the restaurant on page 48.
MERRIMENT FRENCH STYLE
TRUE to tradition, Chez Papé French Bistro on Sukhumvit Soi 11 celebrated Bastille Day with a fabulous night of wining and dining all in the name of France.
SUPERSPORTS UNVEILS NEW LIVERPOOL KIT
LIVERPOOL FC’s new kit for the 2016-2017 season was unveiled in a launch ceremony held at Supersports agship branch in CentralWorld shopping mall.
SIAM@SIAM WINS PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
SIAM@SIAM Design Hotel Bangkok was named as one of the top 10 boutique hotels in Thailand at the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s ‘People’s Choice Awards.’ The event was held at Henri Dunant Hall, The Royal Bangkok Sports Club, where Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, presented the certificate to the hotel’s general manager, Mr Chris De Silva.
LOOP ITALIAN RESTAURANT RECOGNISED FOR AUTHENTICITY
AT this year’s edition of the annual Ospitalità Italiana – The Authentic Italian Table – event, held at the Crowne Plaza in Bangkok, Pathumwan Princess Hotel’s Loop Italian restaurant was presented with a plaque in recognition of its quality, Italian ingredients used in original recipes prepared by an Italian chef. Promoted by the Italian Institute for Research in Tourism, Ospitalità Italiana is an annual complimentary and voluntary certification process that promotes and enhances Italian restaurants worldwide. This year’s event was attended by guest of honor Francesco Saverio, Italian Ambassador to Thailand, and several prominent Embassy officials. On behalf of Loop, renowned Chef Roberto Panariello was presented with the award by Fabio De Cillis of the Italian Trade Commission.
DAK GALBI OPENS 11TH BRANCH DAK Galbi Korean Restaurant chain celebrated the opening of its 11th branch in Bangkok with a showcase of dishes at the new premises (located at Terminal 21 Shopping Center, adjacent to Asok BTS). The restaurant offers a wide range of meats and vegetables stirfried in Galbi and Bulgogi sauces imported from Korea. For more info visit facebook.com/DakGalbiThailand.
Around town Social|Last Month’s Best Events
CMO GROUP CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY
CMO Group celebrated its 30th anniversary with an event entitled ‘30th year CMO Group – The Endless Evolution’ at Siam Paragon. During the event, the company showcased its face mapping technology, The Mask.
AP THAILAND’S AP ACADEMY WINS PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS
AP (Thailand) Public Company Limited, a leading property developer and innovator of living space design, received the 2016 ‘Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA)’ Investment in People Award at a ceremony held at Resorts World THE new board of directors for the Ro- Sentosa in Singapore. The award was tary Club of Bangkok South for 2016-17 presented by Mr Tan Sri Dr Fong was installed at the annual dinner on June Chan Onn, Chairman of Enterprise 25 at the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel. Asia, to Mr Pumipat Sinacharoen, Details of RBSC fund raising and charity Chief eople Officer and Director projects were presented to guests during of AP Academy. The academy offers the evening. comprehensive real estate courses dedicated to producing quality people in and outside the organisation.
NEW DIRECTORS FOR RBSC
THE PRIDE OF THAILAND SEEKS INSPIRING STORIES
‘THE Pride of Thailand: Fill Our Nation With ride was officially launched as a national Public-Private Collaboration initiative aimed at inviting all Thais across the country to join in researching, collecting, recording and sharing “pride-of-our-nation” stories. The submitted stories will be recorded in www. theprideofthailand.com as a national digital treasure. The launch event, held at Fashion Hall, Siam Paragon, was attended by more than 100 honorary guests from all sectors and different fields of professions. 108
EMIRATES SIGNS MOU TO BOOST TOURISM
MR Badr Abbas, Senior Vice President, Emirates Airline Commercial Operations for the Far East, and Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Deputy Governor for International Marketing Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas of Tourism Authority of Thailand, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will see a collaboration that aims to mutually increase tourism and awareness of Thailand through Emirates’ global network of destinations.
DIPLOMATS p Meet the people uniting nations
H.E. Gilles Garachon
The French ambassador talks about his country's long and interesting history with Thailand
Diplomat: His Excellency Gilles Garachon
A welcome return for the French Ambassador
Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER
HE French Republic has a long and interesting history with the Kingdom of Thailand, and this can also be said of the current ambassador, His Excellency Gilles Garachon, who officially began his term on October 22, 2015. Mr Garachon has returned many times since visiting in 1972 while still a teenager. From 1999 to 2003 he served as Political Counselor at the French embassy. Now he lives with his wife Isabelle and two sons, Arthur, 15, and Valentin, 17, both born in Thailand, in the house given to the French mission by King Mongkut (Rama IV) in 1857. The magnificent residence on Rue de Brest (Soi 36, Charoen Krung Road) adjoins a plot of land that enclosed the original French embassy in Bangkok. A new embassy building was christened on the site in 2014.
Background “I was born in 1955 in Paris. I didn’t want to be a diplomat; I wanted to be a historian. I realised my dream, graduating with a double major in history and archeology with a specific focus on North India and Southeast Asia. I discovered, however, that I didn’t love history as much as I thought because it focuses on the past. I wanted to be involved in the present and the making of history. That’s why I then chose a career in diplomacy. My background in Asian archeology helped me to specialise in Asia,” Mr Garachon said. “I came to Thailand for the first time in 1972. I was 16 years old, on a tour of Hong Kong and Thailand. Thailand was a great discovery for me. When I saw this country I knew I would be back. I went to Bangkok and to Pattaya. I can remember an American aircraft carrier docked there. It was an amazing sight and atmosphere there then. I remember the American MPs, all very tall and strong, and the Navy men in white uniforms. Pattaya was really only one street at that time and it was not polluted. You could go to the nearby islands. It was beautiful. It was like I got the Thailand virus during my first visit. It was a good virus, a kind of addiction to Thailand. “After that I returned many times. In the late '70s I joined an archaeology program at the University of Rangoon,
but I was pretty much based in Thailand. I spent a lot of time in Bangkok. At that time Burma was very much a closed country, so if you wanted to go shopping or even go to a supermarket you had to go to Thailand which was the gateway to Burma. “In Rangoon I studied the Burmese language and was appointed by the French embassy to teach French at Alliance Française for two years. It was about that time that I decided to become a diplomat. I taught at our very small embassy in Rangoon where I could watch the diplomats doing their job. It seemed to me that diplomacy was more interesting than archaeology. “I was 25 years old. I entered a course of study with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and finished it five years later. I joined the MFA and started my diplomatic career in 1987. I have been very fortunate to have been posted to many interesting cities in Asia such as New Delhi, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Manila and of course Bangkok. “My last assignment before taking this post was in Manila, where I also served as ambassador. I love the Philippines. It was very nice there and a very good posting. I have also held three assignments at the MFA in Paris: The first in our Africa department; the second in the cultural and cooperation department in charge of Asia; and the third in the human resources department.” Mr Garachon requested to be posted in Thailand: “There’s a list of postings available for ambassadors to choose their preferred assignments. We have the right to choose three locations. I chose only one. I and my whole family wanted to come back to Thailand. It is where our two sons were born during my first assignment here, and it was like a chance to come back home. “All four of us love Thailand and we all really wanted to come back. This was a family decision, not me imposing it on them. In fact, when I told the family there was a real possibility we would go back to Thailand, everyone was screaming ‘yeah, yeah.’ But the problem was that the official decision from the ministry took four months. During that time I knew there was a good possibility but it wasn’t a sure thing. So during those four months I was a little bit worried that my family might be disappointed. We were all relieved when we found out I got the job, and now we are very happy here at this historic residence on Rue de Brest. “When I worked at the embassy during my first assignment here I attended a lot of parties and other
Most of the time I use an embassy limousine but I sometimes take a taxi. Once and only once I took a motorcycle taxi. Fortunately the Saphan Taksin BTS station is very close by. I can walk there; it’s a great way to beat the traffic.”
A centuries-old alliance
riendly ties between France and old Siam were first established in 1685, in the time of King Narai. King Louis XIV sent a delegation to meet with His Majesty in Lopburi. “At the time the capital was Ayutthaya but the King was apparently housed for the summer in Lopburi. The French ambassador met King Narai in Lopburi and brought a Thai ambassador back to France to meet with Louis XIV in Versailles. It was a most important diplomatic visit, but after King Narai left the throne diplomatic relations stagnated for a while. “Officially, diplomatic relations really started in 1856 when King Mongkut and Emperor Napoleon III signed a treaty,” said the ambassador. “In 1857 King Mongkut gave us this very house with the plot of land because he wanted France to have an embassy here. The King also gave land to the Portuguese, British, Americans and Russians for the same purpose. “A reception for a Siamese delegation sent by King Rama IV was organised on June 27, 1861 at the Chateau of Fontainebleau. At the sumptuous ceremony the famous Golden Letter from King Mongkut was handed over to Emperor Napoleon III by the three Siamese ambassadors. The scene is depicted in an impressive painting by French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme. “This letter is considered to be a national treasure and it will be displayed in an exhibition dedicated to “L’art de la Paix” (The art of peacemaking) as of October 17, 2016 at the Petit Palais Museum in Paris. This is being arranged in collaboration with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, which the MFA was renamed to in 2014. I would suggest that any of your readers who have the chance to be in Paris this autumn should go and see this unique exhibition full of secrets and treasures of diplomacy. “So you can see we have a very long and fascinating history with Thailand, and this very house is symbolic of that
relationship. We have never moved from the site given to us by King Mongkut as some countries have. We will celebrate the 160th anniversary of diplomatic ties at our beautiful garden here on the bank of the Chao Phraya River this coming December. Bilateral relations between France and Thailand have been strong for a long time and my team and I are working hard to strengthen them further.” The ambassador said France is bound by the June 2014 decision of the European Foreign Affairs Council to suspend all bilateral visits at the ministerial level until further notice, but added that “nothing prevents us in the time being from engaging with the Thai authorities in the process of a progressive return to democracy, with general elections in 2017 as announced by the National Council for Peace and Order.”
Commercial compatibility “France is an important partner of Thailand, keeping her rank in 2015 as the 16th biggest supplier of the Kingdom and 23rd biggest buyer. We export to Thailand products in every sector. The most expensive are the Airbus planes. There are some oil activities with Total and we export a lot of cosmetics and other luxury products made by companies like L’Oréal, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. We make Michelin tires in Thailand as well. “A French
Wind turbines in the Corbières
Vineyards in Le Felen, Aveyron
The world's highest bridge (343 m at the top of the pylons)
construction company, Bouygues, is building the new 77-storey MahaNakhon tower in Bangkok. French automobiles are making a comeback and you see some Peugeot passenger cars on the roads here. Renault has merged with Nissan, so they are also very present in Thailand. Unfortunately Citroën cars are not sold here anymore. “Products we import from Thailand include computer equipment, fabrics, manufacturing equipment, paper, and foodstuffs like shrimps, fish and fruits. “As for culture and tourism, my country has always enjoyed a
positive image among all age groups in Thailand. The FrenchThai cultural festival known as ‘La Fête’ is a landmark of the Bangkok cultural scene, and it’s been given a new look. Its programs have been extended throughout the year. French universities have excellent exchange and research programs with universities like Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Kasetsart and Silpakorn. “We are very lucky to have benefited from an inclination of the Thai public to want to learn French. This has come about in large part thanks to the special relation the Royal Family has with the French language. We maintain support of French language teachers with the aim of making French language proficiency in Thailand a dynamic reality. Finally, we are exploring new ways to expand relations including cooperation in the areas of heritage and gastronomy.”
French mission in Thailand “The first head of the French Embassy to hold the position of ambassador took office in Bangkok in 1949. Taking into account the personnel working on the premises of the diplomatic campus, and the agents working in related French agencies based outside the diplomatic campus, I would say we employ around 150 people in all, of which about 75 are Thai staff,” Mr Garachon said. “The new embassy building took two years to build and was completed in 2014. I saw the plans, and when I arrived after its completion I was much impressed by the beauty of the building. The designers were French and a Thai company did a great job on the construction. It is quite an efficient and economical design. The whole team is inside one building, whereas before they were divided between three different locations. Everybody is kept busy and every mission is fulfilled, and what I like most is that everything is done with a good spirit. This is very important. “According to the official Thai statistics, around 700,000 French people visited in 2015. I hope that we will soon reach 800,000,” said the ambassador. “The number of tourists has steadily increased during the last decade and we also have a large more-or-less permanent French community here. More than 12,000 French nationals are officially registered with the consular section, but the number is obviously much more as Thailand is considered to be a country with fairly good living conditions for foreigners. We estimate there are 45,000 to 50,000 French nationals living in Thailand.” Mr Garachon said that with such a large community of French expats there were naturally sometimes problems, but no particular problem area stands out. “Our consular section is very busy. We have honorary consuls in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hua Hin and are considering the appointment of another in Khon Kaen,” said the ambassador, adding that between 50,000 and 60,000
Reception at the French Residence in honor of Mr Apichart Chinwanno
Thais apply for visas to enter France every year and roughly 80,000 Thais visit France, some of whom first go through other Schengen countries.
sked about the overall security situation in France after the brutal terrorist attacks on November 13 last year, Ambassador Garachon said: “Security measures have been reinforced and the situation is under control. Additional measures are taken when France is organising specific world events. “For instance, for the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament which took place in ten cities all over France from June 10 to July 10, the French government mobilised over 90,000 security personnel, mainly from the police and ‘gendarmerie’ forces to ensure security for foreigners and French nationals. We did a lot to make the tournament as secure as possible. There has to be a balance. The security was at a maximum level but at the same time we tried not to make it too visible.”
Leisure time “As a Frenchman, food is important to me. I can cook a little and my mother is a very good cook. One day if I have more time I will devote more energy to the culinary arts, but for now I am a connoisseur of good food. Of course I love French food, and I also love Thai food. At home we eat French and Thai cuisine and the embassy employs both a French chef and a Thai chef. “Bangkok is a kind of world capital for cuisine. You can find every kind of food here and it’s all delicious because Thai people are very good cooks. It is part of the culture. Thai people are very sophisticated when it comes to feelings, human relations and to cuisine. “When I have the opportunity I like to travel around Thailand and I have many favourite places. I love the seaside but usually I prefer to go to historical sites like Lopburi and Ayutthaya. I love the ancient Khmer architecture of Phimai in Sisaket province on the border with Cambodia and other places in Issan like Khon Kaen, and the Lanna influence around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. I still enjoy history but now it is a hobby. I feel very fortunate to have the job of ambassador because I love communicating with people, working with colleagues and discovering new people and cultures.” *This interview was conducted before the terrorist attack in Nice
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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: amzn.to/1N5V2YX Nightfall over Bangkok
There 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. And this is where I have had my perch. Watching what lives in the shadows. Hunting the stories of the night. And it is almost three years now since I shared my journeys here with you, dear readers. Month after month, our storytellers told the stories of our Monsoon Midnights. Of the night time city. Of many hidden and surprising places. Of the invisible Bangkok that you can only experience through the creative filter of their minds And of the moon. The Bangkok moon. I’ve always liked the moon, and its relationship to this city. But never, in all that time, have I told you my own story. Well, listen, dear readers, and anyone else who might be in the vicinity – tonight is a very special night. Tonight you will hear a story like no other. The story of the story hunter herself. Like everyone, I came from air. It was fun to float around, with not a care in the world, with no goal, no pain, no passion, no future. So what happened to me? What made me crystallise out of the air? What made me talk? What made me into a hunter of stories, and then into a story myself? Of course, it’s love.
Mr Moon By Anette Pollner
For a long time I have been listening to the stories of this land. Why not? I was air, blowing here and there.
For a long time, those stories were big and simple. Each lasted a long time. The moon shone on a delta of many rivers. Water was here, and flowers, and spiky mangroves. For a long time they lived here together. This river delta was theirs. Floods came and spread themselves out. Why not? The swamp was covered with a shallow layer of water for months. Water that came from the mountains in the north, from the plains further down. Water that flowed slowly and spread wherever it wanted to spread. The water made a big still mirror, reflecting clouds in the day and the moon at night. Every rainy season there were two big moons, one in the sky, one shimmering on the big sheet of water. Not many places where you can see that. Believe me, I’ve tried. Either there’s not enough water or the water is too turbulent. I looked up at the moon. I looked down into the mirror. I fell in love. The flowers drowned, red and yellow heads floating on the water like a big wedding bed. For the moon to sleep in. At night the flowers threw their own shadow over the submerged roots of those spiky crooked trees. Night after night, I contemplated your beauty, Mr Moon. I learned all the temperatures of your colour. Silver, ebony, cold white, ghost face, faint citrus, deep gold, blue shadow, and, sometimes, blood red. Maybe it was all that looking that really made me pull myself together. Invest in some really big eyes that see well at night. At night when you come to hang out with us, Mr Moon. Give a body to those eyes.
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 psychedelic 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 right now) 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 email@example.com for more information. This month’s storyteller is Anette Pollner, leader of the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group. ‘Monsoon Midnights’ was her idea and she loved working with all the BWWG authors during those glorious three years. Anette has won several novel and essay prizes. Her novels have been published in the UK by HarperCollins in and the US under various pseudonyms. Her stories and articles are published in the US and UK by Business Insider, Open Democracy, Cleis Press, Mergersandinquisitions, and MarieClaire UK. Anette has been interviewed by BBC UK, the Telegraph and the London Guardian. During her 15 years in London she studied and later taught creative writing at the City Lit and City University, as well as at the Arvon Foundation and the Groucho Club and was a regular reader at the London Poetry Society. Anette Pollner is featured in Thailand Tatler’s current top 300 list of non-Thais living in the country.
Then, when the winds came, when the rain drew brushstrokes on your face, when the thunder ripped the sky apart, I saw the bushes shudder. The little drowned petals became agitated and swirled around in gullies and crests raised by the wind. Your face became obscured, Mr Moon. Shadows tried to overrun the mirror. Something was going on that I missed. I grew ears. Now I could hear the storm. Another ocean. It raced up from the South, it threw itself into a fight, it took on all comers from East and West. Rumble in the jungle! Wild waves in the stratosphere as the jet streams settled down. All this wrestling on the pillows made the clouds burst. Rain spilled down. All those sounds: roaring, swishing, splattering, growling, rumbling, snarling, bellowing and, well, blowing… I couldn’t see your face in the mirror at all, Mr Moon. The rain hammered it apart. The petals spliced into tatters. Here and there a silver echo pierced my deep dark eyes. I had to look up. But all I could see were the bellies of clouds. I needed to fly higher. So I grew wings. That took some doing. You have no idea how hard it is to make wings from nothing but air. But I did it. I sucked it all in. I must have created a vacuum. Maybe some of those really big thunder crashes were me, trying to get traction. Because these wings were big, I tell you. Wide enough to stretch from one edge of the sky to the other. Using all my strength, the strength of the air, I pushed myself up. Traveling inside the clouds is no fun, you get yourself all moist but there’s nothing to show for it. It’s a bit like flying in a shower, if you’ve ever tried that. And my eyes were useless, everything was white. My ears were muffled. Tell you what, I’m no big fan of clouds. They’re lovely to look at of an evening, and they make
good dramatic stuffing if you’re watching a Big Bangkok Thunderstorm late at night from a perch high up, but close up – really, close up – they’re a bit of a wet blanket. With no one to dry you off. Still, those wings were worth it. Even the thickest cloud eventually rains off. And there you are, Mr Moon. In all your splendour. You know how people say ‘I could look at your face forever.’ Well, let them try. I challenge every one of them. To a marathon of looking. I know your face so well, Mr Moon. But I love to look on it afresh every night. And I love you in all seasons. And however much of it you show me, that’s alright with me. I’m not pushy. I’m not grabby. I just love to look at you, whenever you feel the time is right. And the fact that you have another side, a far, dark side, that I will never see however strong my wings, however much I try, well, that makes you even more fascinating to me. You are a man of mystery, Mr Moon. So while there was nothing to see, because, once again, you were hiding, I looked down again. What was this? While I had built my ears and wings, and my adoring eyes, something else had been happening down in the swamp. The mangroves were still there. Many more of them. Their roots reached everywhere, intermingling and strong. A second cover for the earth. Flowers and petals, yes of course. Strewn all about. Growing, falling, swimming. And those colours! Bright, even under the light of the stars. I didn’t dare think what those must look like in the day time! Purple, pink, neon yellow assaulting you everywhere like pinholes in your eyes. Well, my eyes. I’ll close them and wait for you, Mr Moon. You’ll touch them with mellowness. Others had arrived in the meantime. You know which ones. Those that move. Move under the broken water. Fish. Crabs. Shrimp. Turtles. Crocodiles. The lot. TheBigChilli
Fiction Move on and around the roots, the trees, the leaves. Lizards, spiders, monkeys, rats. Cockroaches, of course. This place is their living room. Bats. Birds. Where did they all come from? Let me find a perch. So much to see. So much to hear. Then came the stories. They have so many stories, those that move. Each of them has their own viewpoint on life. Complete, unique, important. A universe per head. Cockroach, bird, turtle. Crocodile. Doesn’t matter. Each has a story. Each wants to tell it. Of course. It’s the only story that counts, for each of them. And then those monkeys… Their stories called to me. I stretched my wings. Let the hunt begin! Maybe one night I’ll tell them to you, Mr Moon. One night, when I am full of stories, I will fly up and embrace your light. I will fly through those pesky clouds that fill my eyes with cotton, I will rise with the charge of lightning, I will spread my wings to escape gravity. I will find you. I will open my heart and tell you all our stories. But then when I looked again – did I mention these monkeys? In no time they had built themselves nests, and clever little tools, and branches from the mangrove trees on which to travel from one monkey outpost to another. Soon they were all over the delta. They chattered, they fought, they cooperated. They created a whole monkey realm. nd they had stories – Mr Moon, those monkeys had stories! Each of them had a whole bundle of viewpoints, and when they exchanged them with each other, those bundles multiplied and went wild, just like the monkeys themselves. But they were part of the mangrove swamp. They lived with the trees, with the rats, with the spiders. They lived with the droughts and with the water. Because, yes, there were years when the water filled the whole swamp again, like old times. When a smooth layer of liquid lacquer created that mirror of old, to reflect your face in, Mr Moon. When that happened, even the monkeys fell silent. They sat in the top of the mangrove trees, chewing on petals, they held their babies in their arms, and they watched the Moon floating on the water. Then, in a blink, when I closed my eyes another time to dream a long dream of you, Mr Moon, those monkeys had built a town. Boats. Then a city. Then streets and cars. More houses. They filled in the swamp. Monkeys can swim but they prefer to keep their toes dry. Before I closed my eyes they had no choice. They had to live in the delta, like everyone else. Now they make the world they want to live in. That’s the world I’ve been living in, too. For the last – oh, I don’t know how many years. Now the stories have shifted again. Each mind is still a universe. Important, unique, eternal. But now they tell those stories to each other in great complexity. They have developed voice and language, just to share their stories. To bridge the loneliness of those island minds. They write those stories down. They read them and tell them again. Filtered through a different mind. They make the
stories into plays, music, images. They send movies to each other on little phones. A world so full of stories. They remind me of those flower petals swirling on the water mirror. That mirror is long gone. Even when the waters come again, the mirror is broken into many pieces. They have built their stuff everywhere. Mine mine mine! Chatter chatter chatter… But there is magic in their stories. Storytellers have lured me to many locations in this city, some obscure and hard to find, some well known but revealing a different side to their nature in the night. The tellers have told their stories. New stories, old stories. Old stories made new by a different experience. New stories anchored in old times. Some going back to the time of the mangroves. Some even further. Stories told in the language of today were born in the minds of turtles and birds who lived and died hundreds of thousands of years ago. Some of their bones are still stuck in the swamp, deep down. Some of their stories are now told in school yards and vlogs. My own mind was filled with the sights and sounds of the night above this city. My memory soaked up stories. But my eyes always looked skywards. To you, Mr Moon. I have watched over this city many nights. I have seen her lights, her darkness, her vastness, her intimate details. I have heard the sounds of tiny creatures (yes those cockroaches still roam their living room), I have heard the roar of thunderstorms, of vintage trains and mighty planes. Millions of stories were told. Millions more still remain to be told. Many nights I set out to connect with another mind, to immerse myself in another universe-in-the-head. Many nights I returned to my high perch before sunrise. Many nights I was content. And now the time has come. The time has come. I am filled with stories. I am filled with millions of tiny reflections of your light, Mr Moon. I am filled with thousands of bright petals, floating on the waters of my memory. I stretch my wings. These wings are vast, as vast as the experiences I collected. All of them are important. From the fish to the monkey and back to the first root that stuck its fingers out of the water. These wings are delicate and soft. I stretch them out and I know – after this, I will not fly again. I have my cargo, and I have my flight plan filed with the wind. This is it. My Monsoon Midnight. Thank you city. Thank you night. I raise my head into the wind and my eyes up to the light. Then I jump into the air and rise, as fast as I can, as high as I can. The stories don’t weigh me down, they give me extra lift. I flap my wings a bit, just to show the clouds who’s boss. I rise higher, above the rain. I fly with the Monsoon itself. I’m coming, Mr Moon. I came from air. I will be air again. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing this journey with us. Thank you for reading and dreaming of your own stories. The moon, of course, will rise over this city again next month. But it will rise without us. Monsoon Midnights will not return. - 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: http://amzn.to/1tj8fJr. TheBigChilli