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Editorial This issue in


The BigChilli’s new look for a more interesting and informed New Year

“Hot and spicy as ever, but a change for the better” IN the 16 years since its launch, The BigChilli has undergone all kinds of changes and modifications, both visually and editorially. The aim has always been the same: to give our readers a more enjoyable, entertaining and informative magazine. Now, to mark the start of another New Year, we have given The BigChilli its biggest-ever overhaul, a radical and refreshing new design together with new columns and exciting feature articles that will maintain our position as Thailand’s best-read expat magazine. The first of these changes that you, the reader, will notice is our front cover masthead, which has been given a more modern look to capture this new mood and editorial direction. (It’s not the first time we changed the masthead. Over the years, it has been given a couple of small but subtle tweaks, which you can read about on page 8). The masthead may no longer contain the famous red chilli, but this familiar icon will continue to appear throughout the magazine to symbolize our determination to be a publication that is always spicy and memorable. Also, as always, The BigChilli will continue to provide readers with 100% local editorial content. Not for us stories imported from overseas. We believe that Thailand deserves a magazine that is original, authentic and relevant to this country and the people, foreigners as well as Thais, who live and work here – and not copied from, or influenced by external sources. For us, this individuality and independence are important, and we are proud to continue this tradition. So, as we enter 2016, the staff of The BigChilli wishes all our readers here in Thailand and around the world a Happy New Year and we hope you enjoy our new look magazine as much as we enjoy creating it for you.




The number of online shops included in our round up of Bangkok’s best online supermarkets and grocery stores. See page 58.


The number of years Billy Brunsdon, the manager of The Robin Hood Pub, has lived in Thailand. See page 16.


The age Rekha Kalra Kishnani was when she was told she had cancer. Read about her courageous comeback on page 72.


The cost in baht of an annual membership at the Lumpini Youth Center & Sports Club. Bargain. See page 12.


The prize money up for grabs at The Comedy Club Bangkok next month. Think you’ve got the gags to win the cash? See page 26.


Seconds of Summer, the worldfamous Aussie pop-rockers, will perform in Bangkok in March. See page 22.



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News Charting the changes


Cashing in your pension? A warning from the UK ■ ONE of the UK’s leading newspapers has warned savers in countries like Thailand who cash in their pensions to retire to be “extremely vigilant” of unscrupulous financial advisers. Many expats face extraordinarily high charges – as much as seven times more than savers in Britain – to have their money looked after, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The newspaper says that advisers are frequently taking 15 per cent of the fund in fees in the first year. “In the worst cases, savers are losing nearly every penny of their life savings to charges and commissions, some of which are not made clear to customers.” Companies involved in providing savings plans to expats include established firms like Old Mutual and Royal London. Adds the Telegraph: “Many of the advisers hired to sell these companies’ products also claim links to established, British firms, but are in fact barely regulated and can be relatively untrained.” Harriett Baldwin, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, is quoted as saying: “I’d urge anyone who is seeking financial advice abroad to be vigilant. In the UK we have created a tough regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, and given it strong powers to protect people from abusive practice, and we are working

tirelessly to shut down scams. “But people who are seeking financial advice in a foreign country won’t always have the same safeguards.” The newspaper says that changes to pension rules in April 2015 gave the over-55s access to their entire funds, which is likely to encourage more people to retire abroad. “By setting up operations overseas, financial firms can sell investments to British expats without being regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority,” notes the Telegraph. “Providers and salesmen can legitimately deduct large upfront commissions. Advisers can also operate without recognised investment qualifications.” The newspaper gave an example of a customer who had saved £350 a month into a bond with a 30-year term and wanted access to his money after five and a half years. Despite the policy being worth £5,900 the customer was told the cash-in value was just £51, with the rest being swallowed by charges. “In another case, deVere, which claims to the biggest financial adviser in the world, sold a British man living in Thailand a pension through insurance firm Royal London 360, for which the setup charges were £45,554 – or 12 per cent of his £378,675 fund.”

Logo Evolution

November 1999. The BigChilli is born. Spicy mak maak.

2002. Taller logo and full colour glossy paper. Hot stuff.

A bigger, bolder and more beautiful logo made its debut in 2003 and remained untouched until just last month. Staying power.

Sweet sixteen and it’s time for a change. We’ve lost the chilli, but we have more bite than ever. 8


Photographs by Jun Lin Does the BISL support any charities? The BISL has contributed to a variety of foundations and organizations. From supplying sporting equipment to both Ruamrudee International School (RIS) and International School of Bangkok (ISB) to working with Ban Dek Orphanage in Saraburi by building a library and study room. We also provided contributions for constructing houses for tsunami victims, along with donations to Burma flood relief, Father Ray Foundation for disadvantaged and abused children, and the Abundant Life

Foundation in Chonburi. Most recently, we provided cash support for Thai youths so they could participate at the Southeast Asia Youth Baseball and Softball Tournament (SEAYBST) held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Is the league continuing to grow? Yes, but it’s not without the support of team and league sponsors, such as this year’s M-Sport, Flow House Bangkok, BMW, Tilac, Bootleggers trading Co., and Drunken Leprechaun at Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok, Sukhumvit

15. We are always hunting for additional sponsors. Especially, those that can benefit from our membership of players who are mostly American, Canadian and Thais.

constantly communicating with our players and fans providing them with league updates, promotions from our sponsors and news regarding “what’s happening in Bangkok!”

How can people get involved ? Visit our website and give us a at our BISL fan page. We’re ternationalSoftballLeagueBisl

7s rugby at RBSC WITH interest in rugby at an all-time high following the recent World Cup, Bangkok is set to stage another of its ever-popular Sevens tournaments involving local teams, several overseas teams, women’s rugby and two junior groups. The Royal Bangkok Sports Club’s Sevens will be held over two days at the club’s main ground, Henri Dunant Road, Saturday, November 14 – Sunday, November 15, starting at 10am on both days.

Team participants: There will be four categories: 1. Club (open): Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Huma Vista, Royal Thai Air Force, Vientiane Lions, The Southerners, Bangkok Bangers, Front Row RFC, Royal Salangor Club, Chula Alumni, ABAC University, Bangkok Japanese RFC. 2. Women: Chulalongkorn University, The Bellies, Royal Thai Air Force and Laos 3. Youth age 17: Bangkok Patana, Pattaya Regent, Pre-cadets, NIST International School and The Barbarians 4. Youth age 11: Bangkok Patana, Pattaya Regent, Plearn Patana 1, Plearn Patana 2, Satit Kaset Supporters are welcome.

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Profile 16


Bangkok Comedy Various dates The Comedy Club Bangkok

RIB-tickling performances by famous international comedians Michael Teigen (Jan 15) and Jim Brewsky (Jan 29) are just two of the highlights at Bangkok’s first dedicated comedy venue this month. Sukhumvit 33/1 above The Royal Oak Pub (Phrom Phong BTS)

Thailand International Jazz Conference 2016 Jan 29 – 31 College of Music, Mahidol University

THE region’s top program for jazz performance and education will feature great jazz bands and artists from around the world. The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra will also team up with artists such as Jens Lindemann (trumpet), Cherryl Hayes (singer), and Jacob Dinesen (saxophone) for some special performances. Tickets range B800 – B3,000

Popkapi Through Jan 28 The Gallery (36th Floor), Pullman Bangkok Hotel G

MULTI-talented Thai artist Jakkrit Chewapanya, also known as Popkapi, is wellknown for depicting animals and people in a colourful, abstract way. And so it is with his vibrant collection of selfportraits, which express his light-hearted outlook on life. Silom Rd. Tel: 02 238 1991

BITEC Half Marathon Ultra and Trail Unseen: Koh Chang Feb 27 Wat Salak Petch School, Koh Chang

Feb 9 & 10 Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani

Jan 16 – Feb 21 Adler Subhashok Gallery

CREATED during his threeMADONNA’S 10th world tour month residency in Paris, France, Thai artist Attasit – and first ever performance in Thailand – spans all decades Pokpong’s new collection of 20 paintings feature Sino-Asian of the iconic superstar’s women depicted in a pop-art illustrious career, including style – think strong colored lips songs from her current that contrast porcelain-delicate album Rebel Heart, to classic skin. The series plays on the fan favourites like Material connotations of shadows and Girl and Holiday. Tickets range B2,000 – B16,000 light representing good, bad, evil and holiness. 160/3 Sukhumvit Soi 39 Tel: 02 662 0299

Jan 23 Lumpini Square, Rama IV Rd

Jan 14 – 16 Neilson Hays Library

195 Surawong Rd. Tel: 02 233 1731

Madonna Rebel Heart Tour

Arcadia – The Bangkok Takeover

Louise Truslow: A Retrospective

MARKING 20 years since she started painting, this Retrospective of British artist Louise Truslow features many works created over the past two decades and encompassing all of the media she now works in. Some of the works are from the artist’s private collection, and the latest paintings were exhibited at the Royal Overseas League in London during 2015.

Beyond a Shadow

Jan 31 Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre

ONE for serious athletes only, this challenging trail race offers a choice of 13km, 35km, and 66km routes.

THIS annual charity run features 18 race categories and over 300,000 baht in cash prizes. The course runs alongside Bagna-Trad Road, and starts and ends at BITEC.

THE international dance fest returns for its second Bangkok Takeover. Catch DJs ZOMBOY, BL3ND and MUST DIE blasting their beats from the spectacular Spider Stage – which is armed with LED screens, lasers, giant jets of CO2 and fire cannons that shoot flames 50ft high. Tickets: B2,500 and B5,000

The North Face 100

Bangkok International Rugby 10s

Jan 30 The Bonanza Resort Khao Yai

Feb 26 – 28 Bangkok Patana School Playing Fields

ATHLETES looking to push themselves to the limits will find they can do exactly that in this grueling event – a 100km trail run in the hills of Amphoe Pakchong. 100km duo, and 50km solo categories are also available.

THE ever popular tournament returns with 32 teams in the Open Men’s comp, 12 teams in the Old Boys division (Over 35 years old), an expanded social ladies touch tournament, and a youth tournament. Free entry for spectators.

For more hot events, and to submit your own, go to

TheBigChilli 23

“When I came here I felt the need to share this experience with Thai children and their parents, and also to present a vivid picture of the Czech national identity and what we stand for. And children´s books are very good tools for that. Generally speaking, a good book is one of the best guides for a child, and one that will last throughout his or her life. Books open the eyes and ears of children and help them to perceive the beauty of life around them. Books illuminate the universal human values of friendship, love, loyalty and humility, and at the same time to make a clear distinction between their undesirable opposites. And on top of all that, Czech children’s books are full of so much fun, adventure and joy!

“The exhibition has been a great success everywhere it has gone so far – Malaysia, China, Cambodia and now Thailand. After it closes here the exhibition will move on to Laos, and I believe it will be very well received there too. The response from visitors has been very positive. “After the exhibition is over at BACC I want to donate a part of the collection of illustrations and copies of the soft toys and films to a children’s hospital or orphanage in Thailand, to make a better environment for kids who are less fortunate. That’s another way the effect of the exhibition will remain long after it’s over.” Alongside arranging exhibitions, the Czech embassy takes part in the EU Film Festival in Bangkok, and also has a fine program jointly sponsored by Chulalongkorn University to present literature, films and historical perspectives during the Week of Czech Culture planned for February/March 2016. “We organize events like a painting and drawing workshop for Burmese children at the Mae La III refugee camp, and have a program to present Czech culture and history at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai,” said Dr Grepl. “The great response from the Thai public to all our events makes me so pleased and happy to be here. I feel that in my role as ambassador to Thailand I am in the right place at the right time.”



Expat Sport

Thai Polo & Equestrian Club: Perfect for family outings & horse riding World class polo and exciting equestrian events every month in Pattaya ■ POLO, the sport of kings that anybody can play and enjoy, is witnessing a remarkable resurgence in recent years here in Thailand. Its rise in popularity among players as well as spectators is due in no small measure to the efforts of Mr Harald Link, CEO of B. Grimm Group, and Mrs Nunthinee Tanner, co-owners of Thai Polo & Equestrian Club, who designed all the infrastructure of this stunning facility. This dynamic duo have created a magnificent centre of equestrianism on the outskirts of Pattaya that hosts all kinds of exciting events through the polo season, which runs from November to April. While major polo matches featuring top international players attract the biggest crowds, Thai Polo Club also stages regular events such as derby show jumping, multi-disciplined competitions encompassing dressage, cross-country and jumping, and the hugely popular endurance tests. Members of the public are welcome as spectators for any of the above events and shows. It’s a great place to relax and picnic in a beautiful setting. And there’s no entrance fee. Thai Polo Club opened in 2003 in response to Harald Link’s vision to revitalize the game by creating a world-

class polo club accessible from both Bangkok and Pattaya. The result is a magnificent facility that has made Thailand an international centre for polo and equestrianism in Southeast Asia. Players from all over the world regularly visit the Club to play in its prestigious tournaments, such as the Princess’s Cup Thai Polo Open every January and the Queen’s Cup Pink Polo for ladies.

In addition to its monthly tournaments, the Club is part of a unique polo league of Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean clubs, with each club taking turns to host a round-robin.   Offering a host of fun activities for the whole family, yet serious enough to be internationally recognised and registered with the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the Club is a huge asset for Thailand’s sports and equestrian lovers. With wooded hills as a backdrop, the club’s beautifully landscaped setting covers 800 acres and includes a full range of world-class equestrian facilities.   In addition to three full-sized polo fields and two practice fields, the club has a cross country course, endurance course, indoor and door arenas for show jumping, stabling for 250 horses, numerous paddocks, a horse hospital (which will soon take care of all horses on the Eastern Seaboard) and the renowned Rege Ludwig International Polo School, which attracts polo players from all over the world who want to improve their skills. Visitors can relax in the picturesque clubhouse, take a cooling dip in the salt-water swimming pool or enjoy the Chukka Bar, a re-creation of the famous polo bar at the Langham Hotel in London, complete with original polo photographs, trophies and sporting memorabilia. 32


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Great Wines of Italy showcase JAMES Suckling, CEO of and Wine Editor of Asia Tatler, introduced more than 200 of Italy’s very finest wines at a Grand Tasting event held at the Grand Ballroom of Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok. Alongside the wine, guests enjoyed a selection of specially imported cheeses, salamis and hams.

Banfi Wine Dinner at Attico FEATURING six of the finest vintages from Banfi, Italy, paired with a special menu of rustic Italian cuisine, Attico Cucina Italiana’s “one-evening-only” set dinner was a great success. You can read our review of the restaurant (which is located at the Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok) online at

All in good taste at SEED THE Water Library Hospitality Group’s barn-style hub of rustic, hearty dining on Sukhumvit 39, launched its new four-course set menu by inviting a select group of VIP guests to experience the dishes, each made with sustainable, simple ingredients from mostly local organic farmers and artisan producers. For more info about the restaurant visit



Bon Bon

REPLACING what used to be Mr Jones’ Orphanage at the front of the always bustling Seenspace restaurant and bar complex, Thonglor Soi 13, Bon Bon is billed as Bangkok’s ‘first adult playground.’ Dodgy goings on a la Soi Cowboy? Not at all! The fun here revolves around innovative food (creative Mexican) and unique frozen cocktails (made using liquid nitrogen) all served up in a quirky interior that blends steampunk style with modern

comfort. An adjoining ice bar, meanwhile, serves free-flowing vodka shots for groups of five people at B300 (with a ten minutes time limit). Menu highlights include Smoked pulled pork burger; and Organic kale, pear and walnut salad. S een S pac e, T h ong lor S oi 13, f ac eb ook .c om/ B onB onA sia

El Toro House of Meat

SPECIALISING in prime cuts of beef from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and wagyu from their own farm, this new restaurant on Sukhumvit 29 is a handy spot to enjoy a good value steak. Ditching the usual steakhouse vibe in favour of a more casual atmosphere, the venue still takes its meat seriously and has a talented team in an open kitchen who prepare steaks perfectly to preference. The venue also boasts its own butcher’s shop where you can select your meat to eat

New on the

scene Restaurant & Bar openings in Bangkok

on premises, or to take home. A selection of thin-crust pizzas are also available. Australian beef starts at B790 for 200g. 519 S uk h umv it S oi 29 , 02 6 6 2 28 8 0, f ac eb ook .c om/ eltoroh ouseof meat.

La Roca Gastro Bar

WITH its wide range of Spanish tapas, gourmet burgers, cold cuts, salads, sandwiches, all-day breakfasts, Thai dishes and steaks, this vibrant new gastro bar has a dish to please almost every taste. Every Wednesday night is Paella night, featuring a serving of Chef Fernando’s Paella alongside four glasses of wine for only B399. A special lunch menu featuring a selection of Spanish and Thai dishes is available every Mon-Friday, noon-3pm, priced at just B99 inclusive of a healthy soft drink. Highlights of the regular a la carte menu include the signature Goat cheese salad (B385), Blue cheese beef burger (B295), and Special chicken la Roca (served with potatoes and ratatouille and finished in the oven with cheddar cheese. B290). 575 S uk h umv it Rd., ( S oi 33) K long T oey Nua, 02 6 6 2 38 38 , f ac eb ook .c om/ L a- RO C A



Eurasian Grill

AFTER undergoing extensive renovations, Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside Hotel’s Eurasian Grill has now re-opened offering a brand new a la carte menu featuring a modern take on French bistro favourites, plus the chef’s signature ‘Thai’ award-winning four-course set menu (B599). Highlights of the former include Lobster bisque (B210), Seared Hokkaido scallop (B510), and Grilled Hakata Wagyu tenderloin (B1,450); the latter, Spicy shrimp wonton soup, and Massaman curry served with grain fried rice. Read our full review on page 44. 2074 C h aroenk rung Rd., 02 6 8 8 1000, ramadaplaza menamriv erside.c om

Pizza Massilia Restaurant Ruam Rudee

AFTER wowing diners with their on-wheels pizza truck regularly parked on Soi Sala Daeng, Silom Rd., Italian chef Luca Appino (Bottega di Luca) and French restaurateur Frederic Meyer (Issaya Siamese Club and Namsaah) have now opened a Gourmet Pizzeria on Soi Ruam Rudee. Using only the best artisan products from Italy and France (such as DOCG Burrata, DOCG Mozzarela, Piennolo tomatoes from Vesuvio, and organic flours from Italy) their pizzas are nothing short of amazing – even more so when you factor in that the dough goes through a unique 72 hour fermentation process before being baked – in a wood-fired oven, of course. Highlights include Truffle Mortadella

Pizza, Italian Fassone Beef Carpaccio and Sea Urchin. Chef Luca also cooks up Mediterranean Seabass en Papilotte, Tomates Farcies (a traditional recipe from Marseille) and a wide range of pasta dishes. 15/ 1 S oi Ruam Rudee, 02 6 51 509 1- 2, piz z amassilia.c om

The Mexican

INSPIRED by Mexico’s annual El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival, The Mexican on Sukhumvit Soi 2 is now open serving authentic Mexican cuisine (burritos, nachos, tacos) alongside some of the country’s finest Agavi tequila and mezcal. Take a peek at the website below and you'll find a full menu plus details of all the restaurant's tempting promotions. th emex ic anb k k .c om

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Dining out

Guest review by

Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Enoteca Italiana

The BB&B Dining Group caps the year with an impressive Italian feast


OR our Christmas lunch we once again returned to Enoteca Italiana (Sukhumvit Soi 27), which is owned by our old friend Nicola. Thomas Nowak from Chesa sponsored Egg Nog, essentially a very drinkable custard, to add a festive touch to the event, and there was also Gibele Zibibbo 2013 IGT (Carlo Pellegrino, Sicily) to accompany tasty snacks, served al fresco.   Wikipedia tells us that the phrase al fresco is borrowed from Italian for “in the cool [air],” but to find this most guests quickly gravitated to the dining room – outside temperatures soared to 38 degrees! For this last lunch of the year, Thomas Nowak (Food master) and Thomas Boedinger (Wine master) were on hand to deliver their comments. Thomas B. found the Zibibbo possibly the best wine of the day; pleasantly dry and fresh. The appetizer was gazpacho which I enjoyed. Onion cooked in salt filled with Cotechino pork sausage was our first course. The salt and even the onion was not very obvious, but the filling proved to be yet another one of Enoteca’s tasty surprises (“Nice and rich,” said Thomas N.) and a good match for the Zibibbo. Tortelloni filled with mascarpone and tomatoes paste, vanilla oil, pork cheek powder came next, along with instructions from Nicola on how to consume each tasty parcel in one bite. I followed these and found a huge pleasing burst of flavour as each was punctured. To accompany this, Nicola had selected Nero D’Avola Sedara 2010 IGT, which most diners liked and Thomas B. declared as the best red wine of the day.

There was a decent pause to allow folks to mingle before Risotto with goat cheese, hazelnut paste, lemon and thyme arrived. Thomas N. is a great fan of risotto (and it seems of hazelnuts) and this was an exceptional example, cooked al dente with no single flavour dominating the dish. This was paired with Rubrato Irpinia Aglianico 2013 Doc. Feudi San Gregorio. Thomas B. thought it might have been served warmer and was still too young (the abundant tannins and high acidity of Aglianico-based wines make them perfect candidates for extended

ageing). Other drinkers thought it was the best wine of the day, and had empty glasses to prove their point. The main dish of the day was Roasted Venison with vegetables and potato. This received high praise from Thomas N., and the venison – nice and gamey with a little salt added – was cooked to perfection.  Accompanying this, we sipped Masseria Li Veli Orion Primitivo Salento IGT 2012 (from Puglia, ‘the heel of the boot’, S.Italy, with ABV 14%). Describing this wine, one critic said: “Dense ruby red with a purplish rim, it is immediately intense on the nose with marked aromas of ripe and fleshy red fruits, notably cherries; a welldefined acid streak which makes it fresh and pleasing,” though Thomas B. was not quite as generous with his praise. We were on the final laps. Two very ripe and tasty cheeses were at hand (Verzin di Beppino Ocelli and Testun al Barolo) which were thoroughly enjoyed, followed by Chocolate fondant (a really decadent piece of confectionery with dark chocolate from Venezuela croccant plus praline ice cream).   As we have done on several other first Tuesdays of December, we celebrated upcoming birthdays of Daniel and Pieter with the raising of glasses generously filled by Daniel. Finally, coffee was served and there just remained the pleasant duty of thanking Alex, Chef Marco, and Nicola and other members of the team for their labours. As Thomas the Food said at the conclusion of his remarks, we certainly hope to be invited to return in 2016. Enoteca Italiana Bangkok, Sukhumvit Soi 27 Tel: 02 258 4386



Dining out

Wo rds C H U T I N A N TA B OON YA M A R N P h o t o s JA R A N L A K K A N AWAT

Sunday Brunch at Atelier


Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit continues to offer one of the best value feasts in town

ULLMAN BANGKOK Grande Sukhumvit’s signature all-day dining restaurant has some pretty big shoes to fill. In its former guise as the flagship restaurant of the Grand Millennium Sukhumvit (which was rebranded mid 2015), it offered some of the best-value feasts in town – especially on Sundays, when it teamed its spread of international cuisines with free-flow drinks in a lively atmosphere embraced by families and bon vivants alike. Longtime fans of that sumptuous Sunday experience have nothing to fear, though. With a few tweaks made to the restaurant’s layout, and the buffet line extended to feature even more 42


international dishes (including favourites from Spain and India), the Sunday Brunch is now better than ever – and still excellent value for money at just B1,400++ per person inclusive of soft drinks and juices, with free flow wines and beers available for an extra, mere B500++ per person. From introductory treats such as sushi and sashimi prepared a la minute, to caviar, king crabs, tiger prawns, Fine de Claire oysters and more crustaceans on ice, the impressive seafood selection provides a great way to start a meal. Ditto the salad selection and enticing 30 S uk h umv it 21 ( B T S A sok e) , 02 204 416 1, f b s@ pullmanb ang k ok g randesuk h umv it.c om pullmanb ang k ok g randesuk h umv it.c om

Spanish tapas. Don’t fill up too fast though: the lavish spread is teeming with gourmet highlights. A few of our favourites include Pan-seared foie gras, Tender lamb chops, Roasted prime rib, Roasted lamb leg, Salmon cooked in salt crust, Indian kebabs, and Peking duck in pancakes – most of which are prepared a la minute in the open kitchen, and all made using high quality ingredients. Rounding out the experience is a wide selection of hearty European casseroles and local curries, plus a dessert counter stacked with delicious cakes and chocolates, fresh tropical fruits, and 15 different cheeses. And don’t miss the Warm chocolate lava cake – always a great way to wrap up a feast.

Dining out

Wo rds C H U T I N A N TA B O O N YA MA R N

Eurasian Fine Dining

Back on the scene with a brand new look, Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside Hotel’s popular grill room is well worth a visit


AMADA PLAZA Bangkok Menam Riverside Hotel has always been a great spot to enjoy a meal by the river. Top notch service and high quality food makes sure of that. As for the atmosphere – well, the tranquil banks of the Chao Phraya feel far removed from the din of the city center. And it’s lovely. Dining inside the hotel is equally as impressive. After undergoing extensive renovations, the hotel’s Eurasian Fine Dining has now re-opened next to the lobby and offers a brand new a la carte menu featuring a modern take on French bistro favourites, plus the chef’s awardwinning signature ‘Thai’ set menu. The restaurant’s carefully considered one-page menu is divided between appetizers, soups, seafood, meats, and desserts, and each category lists no more than five dishes. Slim pickings? Not



at all – the chefs, led by Executive Chef Anurak Khoononyang, simply focus on quality over quantity, and the results are delicious. Lobster bisque (B210), artfully poured from a teapot onto Hokkaido scallop topped with caviar, is a good introduction of what’s on offer. Ditto the Seared Hokkaido scallop (B510), which comes with white onion, smoked bacon foam, green pea puree, crispy bacon crumble and risotto ball (B510). For mains, the Grilled Hakata Wagyu tenderloin (served with pan fried foie gras with spinach, porcini cannelloni, roasted potato and port wine reduction sauce. B1,450) is a must for carnivores – rich and moreish with every bite. The melt-in-the-mouth Braised beef cheek in red wine sauce (B550) served with mash 2074 C h aroenk rung Rd. O pen daily 6 pm- 10pm, 02 6 8 8 100, ramadaplaza menamriv erside.c om

potato and sautéed young vegetables butter is also delicious. If you fancy some Thai dishes, do not miss the chef ’s award-winning signature Thai four-course set menu. Reasonably priced at just B599, this features Spicy shredded and salted pork salad and fried spicy minced chicken; Spicy shrimp wonton soup; succulent Braised beef Massaman curry served with grain fried rice; and tasty Pumpkin custard served with butterfly pea and lemon juice. As for the a la carte dessert selection, the signature Lemongrass crème brûlée served with mango sorbet (B160) is light and refreshing and well worth a try. And don’t miss the signature cocktails – especially the Chao Phraya Martini, a concoction of cool citrus vodka spiced with ginger and cooled by a touch of Kaffir lime leaf (B260).

Dining out

Wo rds C H U T I N A N TA B OON YA M A R N P h o t o s JA R A N L A K K A N AWAT

Uno Mas

You’ll have a smashing time in more ways than one at Centara Grand at CentralWorld’s new Spanish restaurant


TUNNING CITY VIEWS, a menu that celebrates Spanish and Mediterranean cuisines, and a wine tower featuring over 2,000 bottles are the big draws at this vibrant new restaurant at Centara Grand at CentralWorld. Occupying the whole of the hotel’s 54th floor (which formerly housed Fifty Five Steakhouse – shuttered, stripped, and completely renovated for this new project), Uno Mas is divided into three distinct ‘zones,’ each offering a unique dining and drinking experience and designed to reflect modern Moorish architecture (think terracotta hues and powder-blue accents). A great place to start is The Wine Cellar, a relaxing wine lounge with an eight-metre wine tower stocked with some of the world’s finest vintages. Pick a bottle that’s out of reach, and staff in a harness (known as a ‘Wine Angel’) will whizz up a wire to collect it.



Then there’s the semi-alfresco Tapas & Raw Bar, which features chunky tables arranged on an elevated wooden deck, as well as a large bar and display counter showcasing a mouthwatering spread of fresh oysters, lobsters, and more crustaceans from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The buzz of the tapas bar turns into a hum of dining delight out on the semialfresco Dining Deck, which boasts an open kitchen complete with special fire pits and a Josper oven grilling lamb, beef, chicken, seafood and Uno Mas’ signature whole roast Spanish suckling pig. Chef de Cuisine Joan Tanya Dot has over 15 years’ experience in the trade and his Spanish cuisine is top notch. Simple Tapas plates such as Wild porcini mushroom croquettes (B190++), and Gambas Pil Pil (Sizzling prawns in 9 9 9 / 9 9 Rama 1 Rd. O pen daily 4pm- 1am, 02 100 6 255, c entarah otelsresorts.c om/ c g c w

olive oil, cayenne chillies and garlic, served in a clay pot. B390++) impress both in quality and taste. Ditto the Tsarskaya oysters (B250++ per piece), and Selection of Joselito Cold cuts (B1,290++ per 30g), which are prepared to perfection. Seafood Paella, a sign of any Spanish restaurant’s mettle, is wonderful here – coming loaded with lobster, carabineros, prawns, clams, scallops and mussels (B2,790++) – and perfect for sharing. And the aforementioned half roasted suckling pig – or ‘Cochinillo’ Asado, as it’s known here – is cooked so tender that the chefs can carve it with a porcelain plate – which they do at your table before, in a theatrical flourish, smashing the plate on the floor. Rounding out the menu is a selection of desserts such as Warm churros (Spanish fried donuts) with Valrhona chocolate dipping sauce (B395++), and a long list of innovative cocktails. Exciting stuff.

Dining out


Water Library Chamchuri Fine dining at a reasonable price. Delightful

INCE OPENING ITS flagship venue seven years ago the Water Library restaurant group has gone on to open several lauded operations throughout the city, each bringing something different to the dining scene. From popular steakhouse The Capital (read our review online at bit. ly/1NGlXKR) and gastro pub 1881, to Sukhumvit Soi 39 hangout SEED, and the group’s eponymous French brasserie at Central Embassy, the brand has become synonymous with quality, and almost all reviews have gushed with praise. Purists will argue, though, that for a real taste of what makes Water Library so successful you must make a beeline for where the culinary magic all began – the second floor of Chamchuri Square, where an elegant dining room featuring an intricate blend of steel, glass and dark wood plays host daily to diplomats,


Wo rds C H U T I N A N TA B O O N YA MA R N


celebrities and discerning foodies who take their fine dining seriously. The fine dining credentials of Chef de Cuisine Mirco Keller are certainly impressive – his CV includes stints working at Tim Raue’s 2-Michelin starred restaurant, and one-Michelin starred names like Adlon Collection’s Ma Restaurant and Swissôtel Berlin’s Restaurant 44 – and this translates here into an excellent range of European dishes given subtle Asian twists. Innovative creations like Japanese king crab, dashi cream, spring onion, mustard seed; and Seared Chilean seabass, mushroom and bacon ragout, yuzu ponzu, are a good introduction to his cuisine – bold-yet-simple flavours presented in exciting new ways. C h amc h uri S q uare. Rama 4 Rd. ( M RT S am Y an S tation) . O pen daily f or lunc h & dinner, 02 16 0 518 8 , 06 1 8 52 5411, w aterlib rary .c om/ c h amc h uri

And there are plenty of dishes to get excited about here. The trouble is knowing where to start. Thankfully, this month Chef Mirco is making that task a little easier. Until Jan 15 he is combining some of his best creations into a four-course special set menu, paired with fine New World wines, for the special price of just B1,650++ per person. Featuring highlights such as Yellow fin tuna, roasted duck, sauerkraut, cucumber, and Canadian scallop, white asparagus, carrot, sauce hollandaise; a choice of Scottish salmon, Jerusalem artichoke, sauce ravigote or melt-inthe-mouth Beef cheek, spinach, boudin noir, sichuan pepper sauce; and a delightfully decadent White chocolate, sesame, kumquat, and crispy rice flake desert to finish, the menu, put simply, is not to be missed. A real treat for lunch or dinner any day of the week.

Photo by Jaran Lakkanawat

CHINATOWN RISING With new MRT stations set to open by the end of the year, is Bangkok’s Chinatown set to become the city’s hottest entertainment district? Here, we present compelling evidence…


Words Chantawan Mueanngern

ENOWNED for its wooden shophouses, vibrant food stalls, gold shops, and red neon signs adorned with Chinese characters, Bangkok’s Chinatown (Samphanthawong district) never fails to wow visitors with its lively atmosphere and timeless charm. Rich in culture and tradition, and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, this bustling commercial district encompasses a large area that takes in Yaowarat Road (famous for its restaurants and street stalls), Charoen Krung Road, Mungkorn Road, Songwat Road, Songsawat Road and Chakkrawat Road. The district has thrived since the 18th century when King

Rama I shifted the capital to the eastern bank of the Chaopraya River, which in turn led the Chinese community to move to Sampheng Road. The establishment of temples and monasteries in this area, including Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, Thian Fah Foundation, Guang Dong Temple and Leng Buai Ia Shrine (which are still operating today), soon attracted more migrants to settle here too. Today, fuelled mainly by the MRT expansion (with new stations slated to open in late 2016/early 2017), Chinatown is going through a new era of revitalization, its old-world charm being enlivened with a range of modern and trendy bars, cafes, hotels and art galleries which respect the area’s heritage while leading it into a bright new future. Of these developments, Soi Nana (not to be confused with its less salubrious namesake on Sukhumvit) just off of Charoen Krung Road, is on the radar as one of the hippest areas in the district.




A small alley about 300 metres long, Soi Nana has recently welcomed several new bars and restaurants, a bustling café, and a couple of art galleries, and proves a welcome hangout away from the crowded areas of Sathorn, Silom and Sukhumvit. One of the very first projects that sparked the hip revival of Soi Nana is the Spanish tapas bar El Chiringuito. A no-nonsense eatery within an old shophouse decorated with wooden furniture, vintage posters, and chalkboards scrawled with a short list of tasty tapas and pizzas, this laid-back venue is owned and operated by Sudaporn Sae Ia, who spent six years living in Spain before opening her small restaurant two years ago. In keeping with the area’s charm, she’s hardly altered the property, but the flavours she offers are authentically Spanish – think Tortilla (B110), Croquetas (B180) and, to wash them down, Sangria (B130). El Chiringuito opens every Thursday to Sunday from 6pm till midnight. An adjoining guesthouse, meanwhile, offers basic accommodation for just B800 per night. Art enthusiasts should make a beeline for Cho Why, a three-storey multi-disciplinary art space located midway down Soi Nana, which hosts a diverse range of projects by artists from Bangkok and beyond. Captivated by the neighbourhood's genuine charm, the founders of Cho Why are passionate about maintaining it while also fostering creative and cultural



development. As such, they also offer a space for art gatherings, film screenings, photography discussions and workshops, performances, culinary pop-ups and rooftop parties. Full details are available at Following the opening of El Chiringuito and Cho Why, 23 Bar & Gallery opened its doors in April last year. This two-storey shophouse is owned by the former owner of Bar 23 on Sukhumvit 23, and like his previous venue offers late-night drinking at affordable prices (spirits and mixers start at B160; Singha and Leo at B100), all soundtracked by an indie and alternative rock playlist. The bar also showcases work by local artists and photographers, and is open every Tuesday to Sunday from 7pm-1am. Another great place to sit and enjoy a drink or two, or a Thai feast, if you’re hungry, is Tep Bar. Offering Thai tapas and yadong cocktails, Tep Bar celebrates Thai culture in a two-storey bar that looks like it’s been beamed direct from New York. While that might sound ghastly to anyone who hates international stamps on timeworn areas, it works – the atmosphere is vibrant, the food, cooked atop hot coals in an open kitchen fronted by glass, has all the heady, spicy flavours you could ask for, and the entertainment (basically musicians playing traditional Thai instruments), provides plenty of evidence that the venue is promoting local customs, rather than shunning them in favour of Stateside-style gentrification. The quality yadong (Thai white spirit fermented in mixed herbs and honey) is available as shots and cocktails. A taster set of three yadongs, half a shot each, is priced B350, while cocktails range from B250-B800. As for food, highlights include Deep-fried spicy minced pork ball (B120), Grilled turmeric chicken (B120) and Pad Thai with crab meat and claw (B350).

Clockwise, from top left: El Chiringuito occasionally hosts art exhibitions; Beyond this door, Bangkok's first ever gin bar; The atmosphere is always lively at Tep Bar; Local craft beers on tap at Let The Boy Die.




Soi Nana also has something to offer for all gin lovers now that Teens of Thailand, the first and only gin bar in Bangkok, has opened its doors. Hidden behind a wooden door in a blinkand-you’ll-miss-it narrow shophouse midway down the soi, this intimate bar is owned and run by Niks Anuman, who also runs bar consultancy agency, Vice Versa Cocktail, so you can rest assured quality cocktails come as standard. His short menu of premium gin cocktails changes daily, and starts around the B340 mark. The bar, whose interior has been stripped back to reveal its bar bones (and original wiring and coat hooks) opens every Wednesday to Sunday from 7pm to midnight.

Chinatown in focus FOR a fascinating insight into Chinatown’s rich history, and to get a real taste of how the area has developed and changed over the years, we highly recommend you pay a visit to the Yaowarat Heritage Centre. Here you will find information and dioramas detailing how the early Chinese immigrants came to Bangkok, their integration into Thai society, and how Bangkok’s Chinatown has developed into the thriving centre of commerce it is today. The museum, located on Tri Mit Road (a 5-minute walk from Soi Nana), is part of Wat Traimit and admission is just B100 (includes the heritage centre, the Golden Buddha Museum on the floor above, and the Temple of the Golden Buddha). Open daily, except Mondays, from 9am-5pm.



In the middle of the bars and restaurants on Soi Nana you’ll find the cute and lovely Nahim Cafe and Handcraft. Decorated with pastel colours, cartoon alpacas and adorable arts and crafts, Nahim originally began life as an arts and crafts business but now offers a wide range of food and drinks, including highlights such as the Veggie soup platter with alpaca-print wholewheat bread (B165), Nahim Coffee (B90), Cold brew tea (B85), and the Hot chocolate pot (B95). The cafe opens 11am-9pm on weekdays (except Wednesdays) and 9am-9pm on weekends.

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Market on wheels

Bangkok’s best online supermarkets & grocery stores Take the hassle out of shopping by having everything delivered direct to your door Food Glorious Food In a nutshell: Food Glorious Food is the retail arm of Choice Foods Thailand which has been importing and processing high quality produce now for over four decades. Choice Foods’ meat and food products are used by many of the top 5 Star Hotel and Restaurant groups in Bangkok, and thanks to Food Glorious Food, you can also buy these products to enjoy at home. Product range: Like Food Glorious Food’s store on Sukhumvit 71 (Soi Pridi Phanomyong 37), its online shop offers a large range of imported meats and other food items, such as Wagyu Beef, Saltbush



Lamb, Spanish Jamon, Fresh Vegetables, Antipasto, Olive Oil, and many more specialty products. Food Glorious Food also produces its own large range of butchery/deli items such as sausages, bacon, hams and burgers. Deliver y: Sukhumvit area, B100; Chidlom, Sathorn, Rama IV, Silom areas, approx. B150; and Nitchada Thani, B300. For all orders of B3,000 or over delivery is free. FGF accepts bank transfer or cash on delivery. Operating hours: Once you have placed your order online FGF will call

you to confirm the date, time slot of your delivery, and your method of payment. Deliveries will be made within 48 hours of confirmation (Mon-Sat), either in the morning delivery slot between 10am-2pm or in the afternoon between 2pm-6pm.

Quintessence In a nutshell: Quintessence has been supplying high quality French cheeses and deli products to hotels and restaurants in Bangkok since 2006. The company has an office and showroom on Sukhumvit Soi 21, and offers online shopping and home delivery. Product range: In one click, customers can access Quintessence’s wide range of tempting products, including 60 cheeses from France, with prices ranging from B115 per 60g of Crottinto to B635 per 250g of Pouligny St Pierre AOP. There are also jams, like Fruits saveurs Apricots half-confit (B360), gourmet butters, foie gras (ranges from B230 for 50g of Frozen

escalope of foie gras to B1,800 for 260g of Delpeyrat’s goose foie gras), duck magret, and more imported goods. Deliver y: Minimum order is B1,500. Payment can be made by cash on delivery, bank transfer (or via PayPal, for orders over B5,000) and the purchased items will be delivered within two days. Delivery to Bangkok downtown is charged at a flat rate of B60, while other districts are B100. Outside of Bangkok, delivery is B150. Operating hours: Open Mon-Fri 9am6pm. No delivery on Sat-Sun.

Radiance Wholefoods In a nutshell: Radiance Wholefoods is all about natural chemicalfree ingredients and wholesome foods. Expect to find everything from organic vegetables and teas to natural household products – all internationally certified by reputable organizations such as IFOAM, USDA and EU.

Tesco Lotus Shop Online In a nutshell: The online store of this international supermarket chain offers over 20,000 product lines all offered at the same price as in-store items, promotions included. Product range: Everything from fresh and frozen foods, to health and beauty products and home essentials.

Product range: Alongside organic eggs, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, cereals and flour, Radiance Wholefoods also has niche, health-oriented products such as wheat germ, quinoa, teff seeds, cacao nibs and bee pollen. They also offer homemade jam supplied by Patricia’s Homemade, pickles and kombucha, essential oils, baby products and natural skincare products. Currently the company is expanding its nuts/seeds, dried fruit, and healthy snack range; and will have a range of raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, guilt-free snacks that change each month. Deliver y: You can pick your online order up free of charge at the Radiance Wholefoods store on Sukhumvit 22, or arrange to have it delivered for a small fee (starts at B50 for Klongtoey, Wattana and Ekkamai, and B200 for the Vipawadee area). Some products may require advance ordering. For payment, you can pay cash on delivery, transfer money or use PayPal.

Deliver y: Tesco Lotus Shop Online offers next day delivery and accepts credit card payment as well as cash upon delivery. Once you have placed an order, you you can add or delete items from your list until 11pm the night before delivery. Delivery charge varies depending on location.

Operating Hours: Mon-Fri from 9am-5.30pm. Fresh produce like fruits and vegetables are delivered Tue-Fri. Order deadline for Tues and Wed delivery is Mon noon, while deadline for Thurs and Fri is Wed noon.

Operating hours: You can choose delivery slots from 10am – 10pm. Orders can be placed up to three weeks in advance.



Feature Tops Shop Online In a nutshell: One of the largest supermarket chains in Thailand (it currently runs 147 branches nationwide with 92 stores in Bangkok and 55 stores located in upcountry) Tops unsurprisingly offers one of the most comprehensive and reasonably priced online shopping experiences. Product range: With its vast selection of fresh produce, organic products, meat and seafood, ready-to-eat meals, fine wine, health and beauty products, Tops Shop Online boasts over 10,000 local and international premium quality items to choose from. Best of all, any promotions offered in Tops’ physical supermarkets are also available online.

Deliver y: Tops Shop Online accepts credit card payment online, credit card payment on delivery, and cash payment on delivery. Delivery is offered at a flat rate of B80; or free for orders over B1,500. All orders are delivered within 24 hours. Operating hours: All orders completed before 1pm will be delivered within the same day between 3.30pm – 9.30pm. All orders completed after 1pm will be delivered the following day between noon – 9.30pm.

Delishop In a nutshell: Delishop specializes in hard to find organic wholesome foods, organic ingredients and local produce – all offered at reasonable prices. Product range: Divided into six categories – Groceries (pastas, soups, vegetables, nuts and crackers), Beverages (mineral water, soda, wine, champagne, beer and aperitifs), Breakfast (cereals, jam, fruit puree and hot drinks), Sweet Corner (biscuits, candies, chocolate, dessert and baking), Seasoning (oils, herbs and spices), and Dairy Corner (milk, butter, yogurt and cheese). Deliver y: Delishop offers online payment via PayPal or a credit card. You can also choose to pay cash on delivery. Delivery is charged at a flat rate of B80 for all areas and is free for orders above B1,200. You can also choose to pick up your order at Delishop’s collection point (or warehouse), free of charge. Operating Hours: Generally, for the following six districts in Bangkok – Bangkapi, Huai Kwang, Pathumwan, Klong Toey, Wattana and Sathorn – Delishop delivers the same day (6pm onwards) when orders are placed before noon. Orders placed after noon, and before 4pm, will be delivered the following morning; and after 4pm, the following afternoon. Live in Hua Hin? Delishop has a collection point at Mirabelle. Place an order on Wednesday before 4pm and you’ll be able to collect your items on the Friday.



Feature a number of provinces and major cities in China like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Kunming. At the same time we are expanding through collaborations with firms from other Asian Economic Community (AEC) member-countries.” Mr Somphob said the firm places a lot of emphasis on research and development. “Anyone involved with business law should build their expertise through training, education and reading reports, newsletters and other materials. We make it a point to be up to date on new legal developments, like new laws, amendments to laws and so on. Every month we conduct inhouse training for our staff.”

“Currently we have 25 staff members that includes 15 lawyers and ten other staff. We have five partners, including myself, in charge of five departments: corporate and commercial, taxation, real estate, litigation and IP. We have been in business for 23 years have hundreds of loyal clients. “From the start it was my intention to set up the firm for long-term success. This means discouraging talented staff from moving on after they get valuable experience, and the way we do that is to promote senior staff to the level of partner. For example, after the head of our immigration department had been with us for a number of years she was made a partner. This is also the case for the heads of our tax, commercial and litigation departments. The partners are like shareholders, we all share in the profits. This kind of arrangement is beneficial for all departments, which each have their own lawyers and other staff.”

Assistance with IP issues, from trademarks and copyrights to patents and e-commerce

“Politicians usually study law, so a law degree puts me on an equal footing dealing with them.”


aving known Mr Somphob for over 20 years, I can say that I have always found him to be both a remarkably humble person and a remarkably astute lawyer. His perfect command of English and deep knowledge of the Thai legal code and system – not only pertaining to business law – are qualities that make clients comfortable and inspire confidence. Mr Somphob was born in Bangkok in 1962 and raised in Nakhon Pathom province. His early years and family background were fairly average. While in high school he was undecided on a career path, but after reflecting on the many injustices at the hands of government officials that he had witnessed against farmers, including his own family, he decided to become a lawyer. “I wanted to defend farmers against abuse,” Mr Somphob said. “Also, I learned that politicians usually study law, so I reasoned that a law degree would put me on an equal footing if I had to deal with them.” After Mr Somphob finished his studies at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law in 1987, he practiced briefly with a local firm before joining Baker & McKenzie in 1990. “While I was working for Baker & McKenzie, I was also planning the move to open my own legal firm. In 1993 business was booming and I felt it was the right time.



“During the past ten years many new firms have opened up, creating a lot of competition. Therefore I started thinking about more specialized areas for the firm to branch out. The result is that we have moved away from general law practice to an Intellectual Property practice. We cover all areas of IP – trademarks, copyrights, patents, design, technology, franchising, and e-commerce. We launched our website for registration of trademarks ( about ten years ago and created a new digital platform (www.tmthonline. com). We actively recruit lawyers who specialize in IP matters. “The Trademark Protection Group of Thailand was created under my supervision. In the coming years we will place even more emphasis on IP Ecosystem. We are involved in creating institutions to train professionals in IP matters, with support from the government and private sector. Thailand badly needs more IP professionals,” said Mr Somphob. “In North America and Europe, IP work has been an important part of the practice of law for a long time, but in Asia we are just getting started. We want to be the leader of this field in Thailand and we have expanded to cover not only other parts of Asia, but also North America, Europe, and Africa. In fact, anyone who wants to register a trademark, copyright, patent, industrial design or geographical indication in any country around the world can come to us. If you need registration services, we will be happy to do it from here,” Mr Somphob said. “Moreover, we can help our clients in disputes that occur in other countries, and this saves them a lot of time and money. It is very expensive to travel abroad and pay high fees for lawyers, for example in the United States. That’s why I am travelling to many countries to meet with law firms we are associated with, or sister firms. We can also go with clients to any country where they have a problem and coordinate action with a sister firm. “Despite our determined expansion into IP law, we are still keeping the old practices like corporate, taxation, immigration, litigation and property. We will also focus also on building our client base with small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in

“Foreign investors should know that the registered capital of a new company must be at least two million baht, fully paid up, and that a business is required to employ at least four Thai staff for every foreign employee." Thailand and elsewhere, and develop a global digital platform for IP law issues.”


r Somphob also revealed an ambitious project to expand into the Chinese market. “I plan to create a new Chinese legal practice group department within the firm to take advantage of strategic initiatives recently declared by Chinese President Xi Jinping,” he said.

Advice to foreign investors

“We welcome every foreigner who wants to talk about business plans or problems. It’s free of charge the first visit. Before starting a business in Thailand, foreign investors should be shown the bigger picture and know the intricacies of setting up a company. They should know about the tax structure and how to comply with tax matters, and if they come to work here or plan on employing foreigners they should know the requirements and conditions imposed by the government before a work permit is granted. “For example, they should know that the registered capital of a new company must be at least two million baht, fully paid up, and that a business is required to employ at least four Thai staff for every foreign employee.  “Foreign investors need to understand clearly the rules on foreign ownership of businesses in Thailand. The government allows foreigners to invest 100 percent in some businesses, mostly in the manufacturing sector, but in the service sector foreigners are required to invest jointly with a Thai partner. “Foreign investors should be aware of the dangers of trying to skirt this requirement by creating a ‘nominee.’ It has been common practice in the past for foreigners who don’t have an actual Thai partner to allocate shares of a company to a Thai person simply for the appearance of complying with the law. “In such a case the Thai is called a nominee, and this is strictly illegal and can even lead to criminal prosecution. The government is much stricter on this point than in the past,” Mr Somphob warned. “Therefore, when a foreign investor comes here to do business they must check clearly whether or not they are allowed have a controlling interest in that type of business. If not, at least 51 percent must be controlled – genuinely and not just on paper – by a Thai partner or partners. “It is also extremely important for foreign investors to understand the regulations on taxation in Thailand. If you do business here and make a profit then you have to pay corporate income tax, which is now about 23 percent. There is also a ten percent dividend tax. “When the company is formed it must register with the government to arrange for collecting the value added tax [VAT], which is now seven percent. This is a tax on all products sold

or services provided. The VAT must be paid monthly to the government, within 15 days of the first day of the following month,” said Mr Somphob, adding that foreigners in Thailand mainly invest in service oriented businesses like e-commerce and digital marketing or distribution and manufacture of healthcare products and devices.  

Mediating disputes

“We see a lot of cases involving disputes among shareholders. The amount of time it takes to resolve a dispute depends on how complicated the case is. Company business disputes are normally not so complex and can be amicably solved among the shareholders. “Sometimes disputes are between a foreigner and his Thai spouse. I call these family disputes and I have handled many such cases. Usually they can be resolved fairly easily, but they can sometimes be difficult. When children are involved I urge both parties to think about what is best for them. “Of course, we also see disputes between foreigners and Thai partners who are not family members. Again, these cases are not usually difficult to resolve. Both sides generally understand that it will be expensive and time consuming to resolve the issue through the legal system, so they are willing to let their lawyers negotiate to solve the problem. ”  

Final word

Mr Somphob said that that the number of law graduates from Thai universities has climbed steadily in recent years, but he cautioned that many graduates are not qualified to do the job. “Many universities in Bangkok and the provinces have set up law schools, but graduates of these schools generally aren’t able to practice in reputable law firms like ours. “A major problem lies in ability to communicate, especially in English. This is important for anyone wishing to be competitive in today’s global market, and it will only become more relevant in the future. There is also a need to develop expertise in areas like international economic law, and this takes some mentoring. “Unfortunately, in Thailand there aren’t enough people with the background and expertise to properly train new graduates. What’s more, we don’t have an organization that can connect new law graduates with the business community. If the new graduates want to start their own law practice it is very difficult to gain clients’ trust. “Not many big firms are hiring because the market for lawyers is saturated. There are so many firms around, big and small. Therefore, most new graduates are going into completely different lines of work, like opening a restaurant or other business.” TheBigChilli



& proudly announce THE

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



Feature Nominee Entrepreneur: Carsten Fischer

Thailand’s only pipe-maker


By Colin Hastings

P until the early 1960s, smoking a pipe was the must-do pastime of politicians, military types, philosophers, professors and even sportsmen. It was very cool, the sign of a deep thinker. Then pipe smoking’s popularity went into a rapid decline, a victim of its quaint, avuncular image and the anti-smoking lobby. But like most fads and fashions, pipes have gone the full circle and are making a comeback. Who says so? Carsten Fischer, a 56-year-old Dane who’s made Bangkok his home for the past 15 years. And he should know, for Carsten is this country’s only full-time pipemaker whose beautiful hand-crafted products are currently in demand around the world. In the tiny but efficient workshop he’s built in the garden of the house he shares with his Thai wife, a fortune teller and seller of selective mobile numbers, and their young daughter, Carsten beavers away hour after hour, often forgetting the time of day or night, skillfully creating an amazing array of pipes

to suit the individual preferences of this new and enthusiastic generation of smokers. In Thailand – his biggest market – buyers include architects, police and army officers, government officials and ordinary folks who have acquired a taste for pipe-smoking. Most of his overseas buyers are from Europe, especially Germany, as well as aficionados in Australia, Chile and Japan. “Demand is definitely increasing,” notes Carsten, whose dedication to his job is not merely a marvel but a virtual obsession. “I can go weeks without leaving the house, partly because of the number of orders I’ve received but also because I love what I’m doing.” Before coming to Thailand, Carsten was involved in the garments industry, his company adding screen prints and embroidery on jackets and T-shirts to sell mainly for promotional purposes and gifts. The work took him every month to Bangladesh, where he oversaw the factory operation. On the way back to Denmark, he would spend a couple of nights relaxing in Bangkok. After a decade or so, Carsten had tired of this long distance commuting and decided to sell off his company, opting to settle in Thailand “for a better life” rather than returning home. Three of Carsten’s Pipes in different states of production, and a block of wood from which he creates them



works completely alone. “I have no staff so I can say I produced every pipe myself. No other hand has featured in its creation.” The process starts with selecting a design. “We have over 180 to choose from, including traditional designs like the Poker, Full Bend and Billiard, and non-traditional ones like the Horn. “We also advise buyers on things like the size of the tobacco chamber, which is different in cold countries compared to hot countries. “When all that’s done, we draw the design on a computer. Then we select the wood block, prepare it and then draw the pipe’s design on the block itself.” In the kind of workshop that every boy wants when he grows up and every man wants so he can recall his youth, Carsten uses lathes, saws, grinders and sanders to produce the basic shape of the pipe. These can range from a short and stubby pipe to long, curvy and elegantly slim varieties. The shape of the tobacco chamber comes in a number of different shapes and sizes too. Umpteen other steps are then required to complete the Looking around for something to occupy his mind and time, shaping. At every step, Carsten studies his workmanship Carsten initially tried his hand at traditional pottery. After this closely, touching, stroking and feeling it for the perfect finish. proved too complicated and impractical, he switched his attention Finally, the pipe is sanded, stained, polished and waxed to to two of his great loves at that time – pipe smoking and wood. produce all kinds of textures. Later the logo and number are “I had been a pipe smoker for 40 years, and I had this engraved on the underside. Each pipe is unique passion for wood, so I put them together and and can take from eight to 25 hours to complete. came up with this idea to make pipes. Apart from actually making pipes, he also “I did a lot of research to find the right kind repairs broken pipes that owners apparently of machines, and after building my workshop I Pipe smokers can’t bear to be separated from. practised for an entire year by making wooden Carsten’s pipes are not cheap, ranging bowls from mango wood. Only then did I feel are a special in price from 5,000 to 28,000 baht. Apart from confident about making wooden pipes.” kind of person. buyers who visit his house and workshop, Today, he is thoroughly comfortable in his They’re relaxed, his VaVa pipes are sold exclusively through a chosen trade, a craftsman with an eye for detail happy people, ground floor shop in Seacon Square. and a passion for perfection. One of the biggest challenges facing pipe Like other pipe makers, Carsten mostly who enjoy life smokers in Thailand is sourcing supplies of uses pieces of imported root from a tree known and can sit quality pipe tobacco. “Half my emails are from as the Briar. Grown in Italy, Greece and France, for hours, people wanting to know where to buy tobacco. this wood is ideally suited for the job. Light no problem ‘Nowhere’ is always my reply,” says Carsten, to reddish brown in colour, it is beautifully who then admits he occasionally suggests that textured, extremely hard, heat-resistant and small quantities are usually available via the Internet. does not affect the aroma of pipe tobacco smoke. It is also used Although he no longer smokes a pipe himself for “health for making jewellery and knife handles. reasons,” he remains passionate about the pastime. “There’s “For the smoker, there’s no taste of the Briar root – unlike, something very romantic about pipe smoking – it’s almost a religion. say, olive wood, which would leave a taste of olive. It’s perfect “Pipe smokers are a special kind of person. They’re like for smoking pipes.” me, relaxed, happy people, who enjoy life and can sit for hours, Conjuring a handsome object like a pipe from a solid no problem. Smoking a pipe can’t be rushed.” block of wood is unimaginably complex. “It involves up to 200 individual procedures,” explains Carsten, who by choice

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Nominee Thailand International Business Awards


By Maxmilian Wechsler

Businessman: Julian Olds

The rugby star who built a successful construction company

■ JULIAN Olds started his Bangkok-based construction company DMC (Design, Construction, Management) Solutions in 2003 with a one million baht investment, four staff and 20 workers. Now he employs over 150 permanent staff, around 2,000 laborers and 600 sub-contract workers. The company’s average turnover is approximately 750 million baht annually. He told The BigChilli how he was able to achieve all of this in a relatively short time. “I was born in Bristol, England in 1968 but I grew up and went to school in Keynsham. My parents were poultry farmers, so my early memories are of hard work – caring for any sort of livestock is not conducive to holidays. My brother and I were brought up in the house my father built just before I was born. My mother still



economy took a big downturn in 1988, however, and things were difficult in the following years. “Actually, my real passion at that time was rugby. After several years with Keynsham, I was given an opportunity to play for Bath. In those days Bath was in its golden era, and I played for the club until 1992. “In 1992 the economy was still slow in the UK, particularly in the construction industry, and I thought about relocating overseas. I had worked in foreign cities between rugby seasons, like Seville for Expo ’92 and Paris for lives there today. It’s the Euro Disney, and I enjoyed only family home I have ever the different lifestyles and known and I always look working environments. So in forward to my annual trip April when an opportunity to home,” Julian said. work in Hong Kong came up, “But at sixteen all I I decided to take it. I stopped wanted to do was get out off in Bangkok en route into the world because I had and look for briefly visited the opportunities. city in 1990 while On the spur of for Bath At sixteen playing the moment I on an Australia all I wanted tour and I liked it decided to take a carpentry here. to do was apprenticeship at “To make a get out into Bath Technical long story short, the world College. The I never made it to and look for Hong Kong, and company that opportunities I never returned sponsored me for some reason to the UK to live. always assigned me to work My original intention was to with tough sub-contractors. get back for the rugby season It was rough at the time but I in September that year, but gained invaluable experience. nearly 24 years later, I am still “The day I completed my here. apprenticeship I became self“While employed by a employed, and within a year construction company called had a number of tradesmen Gammon, the managing working with me. The director suggested that I

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should get a professional qualification. So I studied for a master’s degree in construction management through a distant learning program offered by the University of Bath. That’s something I will never regret. The knowledge has been invaluable to me over the years. “After eleven years working for various firms in Thailand I established DCM Solutions in 2003 with some Thai colleagues whom I respected and trusted,” said Julian. “We started with nothing but grew extremely rapidly. I had scraped together a million baht and we built some low-cost housing for a small developer in Bangkok. The first year’s turnover was a mere five million baht, but before long we were building high-end homes at Windmill Golf Course in Bangna. “Next we got into the Phuket market, and within four years of starting the company our turnover was one billion baht and we had increased our paid-up capital to one hundred million baht. We had built a pretty solid company. We went on to gain ISO accreditation [both 9001 and 14001] and along the way built some impressive developments. Today DCM takes on all types of building projects, including hotels and resorts, commercial offices, shopping malls, condominiums and apartments. Our company motto is ‘Building on Reputation,’ and I think we do

that and continue to do so. “I think the British have it in their blood to travel and trade around the world, and I think we’re good at it,” said Julian. “While there have been some controversial events in history, I think in general we have had a positive influence, and that’s what I strive for. When you live in a foreign country, learning to understand the people and the culture is the first thing that should be done – before anything else in my opinion.

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“I was hopeless at foreign languages at school, but I made a big effort to learn to speak Thai and it was not all that difficult for me. Being able to communicate is important in business – especially the construction business, which is all about people. “I have to say that Thai people and Thai culture have influenced some changes in me personally. When I first came here I was driven and often overly aggressive in

executing plans in order to achieve my objectives. I was too emotional and I didn’t listen enough to others. The ‘Thai way’ has mentored me – now I channel my energy in a more considerate manner and I give people the opportunity to do things their way, or in combination with my ideas. “I have been married for twenty years to a wonderful Thai woman and we have two fantastic daughters. The eldest, who is sixteen, recently started a tennis scholarship at Millfield in England, and my youngest is trailblazing at Patana International in Bangna. My wife is human resources manager with DCM and also a director. “As for hobbies, I still follow rugby, but have not played for years. I represented Thailand playing in Korea in 1993. I love the outdoors and fly fishing is something I do when in England. I also love watching my two daughters

play sports. “As for the future, DCM will continue to build great developments and we are about to start a new joint venture company in Cambodia. It will be interesting to see the effect of the Asian Economic Community on the region. It should make doing business across borders easier. “I enjoy the life and business I have built in Thailand, but having said that, I have to add that construction contracting must be one of the hardest and most stressful occupations out there. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone to be honest. One day I would like to take a sabbatical to explore the great outdoors in a remote part of the world. “Apart from that, I am looking forward to seeing my daughters get married one day and being a grandfather.”

12/30/15 8:48 AM



Expat Women

Courageous Comeback By Reena Karim

Battling lymphoma and losing a child, Rekha Kalra Kishnani recounts her life’s toughest ordeal It was 2007: Rekha Kalra Kishnani still remembers the day at the doctor’s office, when she heard those three dreaded words, “you have cancer.” She was just 33 and pregnant with her second daughter, when those words changed her life. Rekha was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma – a form of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. Hers was aggressive and had grown to the size of a pomelo fruit inside her chest cavity within a short span of time. Once the diagnosis was made and the cancer confirmed, disbelief gave way to acceptance and Rekha’s priority immediately turned towards her unborn daughter. “It wasn’t about me,” she says. “It was about her, my Saira, and saving her life and doing what’s required urgently.” Within a week of the discovery, Rekha underwent an emergency C-section to give birth to her daughter (prematurely at 33 weeks). Immediately after she began chemotherapy, while Saira too, who was born with several health complications, was being treated. During this time Rekha did not only have to deal with her own struggles with cancer, but also watch her new born slowly slip away. After years of treatment, Rekha, now at 42, is in remission and recently gave birth to her second child. This mother of two healthy girls, aged 10 and one, recounts her ordeal, her loss, and why she chose not to keep her cancer in the dark. After the diagnosis was made, what were your fears? The first five days I broke down thinking why me? There were a lot of questions. Am I going to die? Am I going to get well? Who is going to look after my kids? But I think I pushed those thoughts at the back very quickly, because I made up my mind that I was going to do whatever it takes to become better. It went from ‘I have to’, to ‘I will.’ I started reading a lot of books, trying to get as informed as possible. There are, of course, days that I gave up hope, because after a few cycles of chemo the doctors say things like ‘oh it’s not working’, and that was discouraging. My end goal was to get better and I just kept focus on that.



“Saira, in her few months here was larger than life in that tiny body. Her love for me is so pure. I feel honoured at the sacrifice she made for me. She came to me to save my life.”


hat treatment did you undergo?

After having a C-section, I underwent 20 sessions of radiation. Once those were completed, I had to go through eight cycles of chemotherapy. This had to be repeated once every three weeks. A year later, for two years, I underwent what is known as maintenance therapy, which involved an intravenous drip for two years, once every six months. This ensured that to wipe out any remnants of lingering cancer cells in my body. Later, I had a massive surgery in 2010 because my right lung almost collapsed. What were some of the side effects?

of the other way around. My motivation was to get well because of my kids. Did this have an effect of your marriage? Yes, it did in some ways. It took us apart, but it also brought us closer. My husband doesn’t easily express his emotions so it was very hard for me to find out what was going through his head. I think his coping mechanism was to stay at work a lot. So he would be out of the house 12 hours a day. I think it was hard for him to see me going through this and our baby in the hospital. My eldest daughter Aria was two at the time, and didn’t quite understand what was going on. She saw her mother becoming bald. She was probably confused. I tried to make everything as normal as possible, but I am sure she wondered why is mom sleeping a lot, and not sitting or playing with me. I was agitated a lot. I think chemo really made me lose my patience a lot. I couldn’t help it. Why did you decide to be vocal about the cancer?

The treatment lowers the immunity drastically. I kept running in and out of the hospital a few times, even a sniffle could be bad for me. My body couldn’t fight it. My hair started falling out in chunks. It was really scary. At one point it looked very patchy, so I just shaved it all off. It was very liberating. I actually asked the doctor to give me medication to stimulate my diet, because I had no appetite. I had aches in all my joints. I had some mood alterations too. Every night I needed a sleeping pill to sleep. Tell us about Saira?

I was not secretive about it since day one, but I didn’t announce it either. If anyone asked, I told them. Aside from being concerned, people within the society were curious. There were a lot of misconceptions. There was an acquaintance who thought I got cancer because I smoke. People get heart attacks or strokes and don’t hide it, and in fact my lymphoma was not even lifestyle related, the way most diseases are, so I had nothing to be ashamed of. But there’s still a very big stigma around cancer. Did you ever get any help outside of your family?

Saira was born with a multitude of health complications. She had a lot of intestinal issues. She had to have surgery two days after she was born. She was in Bumrungrad Hospital for seven months, and then for two months at Ramathibodi. There were both good days and bad days. By Halloween, and I remember that so clearly, at around 5am I got a call from the hospital and they said her heart rate had slowed down. That was the day I realised she was not going to make it. My heart finally let her go. I died that day. She passed away in April. Saira, in her few months here was larger than life in that tiny body. Her love for me is so pure. I feel honoured at the sacrifice she made for me. She came to me to save my life. How did you find strength in these dark hours? I had a lot of family support, they were my silent strength. There were times when I broke down, but my husband would console me. I tried not to cry in front of my parents. I was the one who had to tell my parents that everything would be alright, instead

No, I didn’t get any help from a nutritionist or see a psychologist, because this is an area that Thailand really lacks in. Everything here is so closed off. At that time there was no support groups, no one to tell me what I should eat or not. I had to find everything myself through research online. If I had these external assistances I think it would have made my life a little bit easier. What have you taken away from this ordeal? I have learned to love myself. I have learned to be more fluid and flexible, to plan less and go with the flow. I have the need to be perfect, and I wasn’t allowing myself to be just me, and be loved for that. But now I realise that being true to myself is so liberating. This article first appeared in the October-November issue of Masala Magazine (



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



Q 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.

Life stuck in a rut For most of my life, I looked forward to ever y new day. Ever y new day brought a new challenge and surprises, big or small. Ever y day I encountered something different. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but for the last few years I’ve started to feel that life is the same ever y day. One of the reasons why I moved to Thailand was that I felt the need for a new environment, new challenges. But that has all faded now. My job is boring. Even when something nice happens (like the social events at the clubs I’ve joined; or when friends and relatives visit, or even when I go on a trip myself), I don’t feel much excitement. All I can think is ‘this, too, will soon be over.’ And then? Another empty day. I know I didn’t feel like this when I was younger. But I also know that others of my age are still ver y much engaged in their life. My problem is that I don’t know the purpose of all these days that come along, all more or less the same, and I feel nothing. Can you help? Larry, 57, from the US

Dear Larr y, I don’t say this very often, but I feel that you urgently should seek professional help. Of course it is not possible to make a diagnosis through a letter, but some of the things you mention could be aspects of a depression, and only a mental health professional can really assess what is going on and if you need professional treatment, and what kind. What troubles me is that you feel no sense of purpose and that your life is ‘empty.’ Of course this troubles you, too, I understand that. And you have tried to fix it by joining activities and leading an active social life. But as you have discovered, engagement in life comes from within. You say you are not really sure but could you try to investigate how you got to this point in your life? Even if it was a slow, gradual development, it must have started at a certain moment, and quite likely it was precipitated by certain events whose significance you maybe didn’t realize at the time. What was the transition of your general mood like? Was there a time when it fluctuated before it is now ‘down’ for most of the time? Also, is every day really completely the same or are there still a few moments sometimes when you feel a little bit lighter? Any small things that you look forward to, or any that you really don’t like? One thing that can happen as people get older is a loss of positive perspective, a sense of dissatisfaction. People sometimes look back on their lives and feel that they have not a lot to show for their efforts (not necessarily always only in terms of money) and they also sometimes feel that they have seen it all. But while it is true that the older you get, the more you are reminded of your limitations, the only way to experience life is by living in the present – which is true at any age. It seems to me that you have lost that connection to living in the present, immersed in the moment. Have you tried to connect to the immediate experiences like sensory input – the sounds, the smells, the taste and touch of the world around you? Every breath is a major event when you live fully in the present. Have you tried to learn meditation (Thailand is a great place for that)? Meditation is very much about living in the present and being connected to both yourself and the world immediately around you. What happened to your former passions and hobbies? How did you disconnect from them and is there anything that could still spark your interest? If none of this speaks to you, it might be a good idea to see a counselor and find out if you are perhaps going through some form of depression. Depression is very treatable and your life could improve quite a lot in a relatively short time. It seems that you would like to reconnect, since you had the courage and energy to write to us. People get better every day, and it is very smart to seek help.

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

Obsessed with ‘stolen memories’ I am writing to you because I feel I am obsessed with the theft of my laptop. A couple of weeks ago I was in a coffee shop and met a friend at another table and forgot to take my laptop bag with me. Five minutes later, I realised the bag was gone. As well as being full of work, the laptop contains all my photographs and video clips of my two children. No one else would want to keep those, but for me they are ver y important. I had made some back-up DVDs but these were also in the laptop bag! I’m so upset and angr y. How could I be so stupid! I can’t get it out of my mind.My feelings fluctuate from anger to extreme sadness and I wonder how I can get over this. I am angr y with myself and my husband. We should have kept the back-up DVDs in a cupboard and not in the bag with the laptop! I have posted several notes in our apartment and supermarkets about the theft, hoping the thief would be willing to somehow return the DVDs. But until now...nothing. I wonder what I can do to get over this. Melissa, 41, from the Netherlands

Dear Melissa, You have been robbed of something that is very precious and that cannot be replaced. No wonder you feel upset, angry, and sad. These feelings occur when we are violated – in your case when a stranger took your things. Your loss is a visual record of your memories, records that you created and that cannot be created again, since the past will never return. How do you get over it? First of all you can start with “damage control” and see if you can find pictures or clips in other places, such as old cameras or disks. Approach all you friends and ask them whether you ever sent them pictures or clips from your family and if they still have them. You could also go through all your old emails and see what you can get back yourself. Post a Facebook message and ask all your friends to send you the pictures they have of you and/or your children. You will be surprised how many will react. Second: let go. Try to focus on what you receive from your friends and not on things you remember as ‘more’ important. Relive all your past moments when you receive them from others. Third is damage control regarding the future. It might be a good idea to store your pictures in the cloud. This is like storing your memories in a safe location away from your home. Lastly it might be wise to print several photos or have them compiled into “books” and printed. This retro way of keeping your memories is often the most tangible and safe way to keep your photos, as disks can get damaged, cloud storage companies can close down, and hard drives can break or get corrupted. Printed pictures will make it easier to make sure you have access to your pictures so that you can look at them whenever you want – unless, of course, you are unlucky enough to experience a fire in your house. I wish you luck with retrieving your memories through family and friends. I hope you can let go and accept that it is normal to feel upset, angry and sad at this loss and that these emotions will fade when you come to peace with this violation of your world. Contact details:,, Tel: 02 279 8503, or send your problems to:




p Last month’s best events in pictures





ADELPHI Forty-Nine, a new serviced residence on Sukhumvit Soi 49, celebrated its grand opening with a big party last month. Hosting the event, and on hand to talk about the new property, were its Management Executives Mr Theprit Chawla, Mr Vorathep Chawla, Mr Baldev Singh Chawla, Mr Abdelkader Benmoussa, Mr Sukhdev Singh Chawla, Ms Preeyanuj Chawla, and Ms Maneesa Chawla.

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Social|Last Month’s Best Events



ANANTARA Riverside Bangkok Resort marked the arrival of the festive season with a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony attended by a large group of VIP guests.



THE Embassy of the Argentina Republic in Bangkok, led by H.E. Ana Maria Ramirez, Ambassador of Argentina, together with the Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit Hotel and Mahidol University, celebrated “World Tango Day” with a night of socializing and dancing at the hotel’s inBlu Lounge.





NEW lifestyle centre Central Festival Eastville on Praditmanutham Road opened with a bang last month, with celebrities, models and young entertainment personalities joining the party, along with their furry friends to take advantage of the pet-friendly facilities. For more info about the mall and its facilities visit

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PREMIUM international vodka brand Grey Goose held an exclusive private party at Baba Pool Lounge, Sri Panwa Phuket, to launch the brand’s latest creation Grey Goose V Vodka Exceptionnelle. The event was hosted by Grey Goose’s Marketing Director, Isaac Vivek, and Brand Manager, Kasinsuk Maklamthong.



EL Toro House of Meat celebrated its grand opening last month with a night of free flowing drinks and generous servings of delicious beef from Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. The restaurant, located on Sukhumvit Soi 29, also has an onsite butcher’s shop. Check it out at facebook. com/eltorohouseofmeat.



Around town



THAI celebs and movie fans were out in force for the official launch of iflix, a new online streaming service offering unlimited access to thousands of hours of international TV shows and movies for just B100 per month. Find out more at

SHARING BUSINESS MAGIC WORLD OF CZECH ILLUSTRATORS KNOWLEDGE SUCCESSFUL businessman JakraFOR CHILDREN pan celebrated the launch of his A MULTI-LAYERED exhibition featuring 90 colourful and creative images by 20 Czech illustrators spanning the last 100 years, the Magic World of Czech Illustrators for Children was officially opened by H.E. V tezslav Grepl, the Czech Republic’s Ambassador to Thailand, alongside M.R. Sukhumbhand Paripatra, the Governor of Bangkok. The exhibition runs through Jan 17 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. See page 38 for more info.

latest creation, a cartoon about doing business called Call Me Mr. Billionaire, with a special event attended by Thai celebs such as Madame Tuang Ubolrat Chawteerapluk, Jarin Sumanont, Salinee Panyarachun, and many more VIPs. At the event Mr Jakrapan took to the stage for a humorous speech about financial management and provided some valuable insights for all in attendance.

L’OR AL (Thailand) Ltd., with support from the Thai National Commission for UNESCO, announced the six outstanding Thai female researchers who have been granted fellowships from L’Oréal Thailand’s ‘For Women in Science 2015’ programme. Now in its 13th consecutive year, the programme has so far granted 55 Thai female researchers fellowships while supporting their role in Thailand’s sustainable development in the science sectors. The six researchers to receive the award in 2015 were Assistant Professor Dr Watcharin Loilome from the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University; Associate Professor Dr Benjamas Cheirsilp from the Department of Industrial Biotechnology, Faculty of Agro-Industry, Prince of Songkla University; Associate Professor Dr Sirilux Poompradub from Department of Chemical Technology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University; Associate Professor Dr Siwaporn Meejoo Smith from the Center of Sustainable Energy and Green Materials, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University; Assistant Professor Dr Darunee Soorukram from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University; and Assistant Professor Dr Pattaraporn Kim from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University. TheBigChilli 101

Around town Social|Last Month’s Best Events



SHIRAYUKI Collagen, a skin-nourishing beauty product from Japan created exclusively for Thai consumers, was officially introduced to the Thai market at a launch event held at CentralWorld Plaza. The event, which featured a performance by Ice Saranya, was hosted by Thai celebs Great Warintorn, Pui Pimonwan, and Tisha Potchawan (G-Twenty).

AFTER undergoing extensive renovations the flagship branch of Japanese department store ISETAN (at CentralWorld, Bangkok) in Thailand revealed a brand new look and an even bigger range of quality products and services. As part of the change, the vast store has renamed its food floor ‘Washoku Gallery,’ where visitors can enjoy sushi, sashimi. Teppanyaki, Udon Noodles, and more Japanese favourites at the 88 Shukudo Nippon food court, as well as at restaurants such as Grill Manten-Boshi, Menya Musashi, and the members only Roppongi Suchi Komatsu. More info at


EUROWINGS, a Lufthansa Group company, made its debut last month and now offers low cost long-haul flights between Germany and Asia. The inaugural flight departed Cologne on 18 December 2015, and arrived in Phuket on 19 December. Flights from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi airport) to Cologne/Bonn now depart at 6.25am every Monday, while the airline’s flights from Phuket take off at 2.05pm every Tuesday and 6.35am every Saturday. The new routes were introduced in a press briefing conducted by Mr Christian Hein, Eurowings Senior Vice President, Sales; and Mr Dirk Grossmann, General Manager of Passenger Sales for Thailand & the Mekong Region.



DIPLOMATS p Meet the people uniting nations

H.E. Staffan Herrstรถm New Swedish Ambassador champions progressive global values Page 104

TheBigChilli 103

Diplomat: H.E. Staffan Herrström

New Swedish Ambassador champions progressive global values



IS Excellency Staffan Herrström is one of the latest additions to the Bangkok diplomatic corps, but he is no stranger to Southeast Asia, having previously served as Sweden’s ambassador to Vietnam. He has also worked in various government offices and agencies on foreign policy issues, including development. Mr Herrström says that a driving force for his entry into public service was a perceived need to address big global issues like poverty, human rights abuses and climate change, and it’s something he stills feel very strongly about. This determination to make a difference, along with his experience and shining personality, came across clearly in a recent conversation with The BigChilli at the Swedish embassy in Bangkok.  


Ambassador Herrström was born in January 1955 in Strängnäs, and grew up in Uppsala a city about 80 kilometers north of Stockholm. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with emphasis on the Russian language and East European Studies. The ambassador began a career in politics as secretary of the Swedish Liberal and Radical Youth in Uppsala in 1973 and held a number of important government posts, including State Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office.   In 1995 Mr Herrström began a 12-year assignment with the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), and in 2007 he went to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which immediately granted him the status of ambassador.       “Sida is a government agency working on behalf of the Swedish government, with its head office in Stockholm. Its



mission is to reduce poverty in the world. In other countries this type of organization would be a part of the MFA, but in our system it is a separate agency,” Mr Herrström explained. “It was not until 2007 when I was appointed ambassador to Tanzania that I became a diplomat in the true sense of the word, and I suppose you could say I am not a career diplomat. I didn’t approach the MFA with the goal of becoming a diplomat; I became a diplomat by way of my development background. After I left Tanzania I was appointed ambassador to Vietnam and later to Poland, which was my last position before coming here. My tenure in Thailand started on September 1, 2015 and I will be here at least three years, possibly four. In Sweden you are allowed to stay on the job until 67 years of age, so I have a few years left with the MFA and Sida. “I visited Bangkok for the first time ten years ago on a duty trip that was much too short. I am extremely happy now to have an opportunity to get to know this great country which is so close to the hearts of many Swedes. My job and that of the embassy is to promote and protect Swedish interests in Thailand, and to strengthen relations between our countries, including between companies, organizations and individuals.   “As ambassador my main goal is that when I leave Thailand, Sweden will be even better known and appreciated among Thais, and the relationship will soar in terms of friendship and commerce. I also hope that we will be the partner of a democratic Thailand.”  

Bilateral relations

“Thailand and Sweden established formal diplomatic relations in1883 and we opened our first embassy in Thailand in 1963. We have been at the present embassy in One Pacific Place on Sukhumvit Road for about 20 years. It is a good location, for one thing because it is close to the BTS, which I use often. The challenging aspect is that the embassy is divided – it’s on two separate floors, 20 and 11. So I have to work at making sure we are really cooperating as one team, and so far that’s been successful. I often find myself on the 11th floor.

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CV Of H.E. Staffan Herrström Education 1980: Bachelor of Arts (Russian, Eastern European Studies, Political Science University of Uppsala) 1973: High school (Katedralskolan, Uppsala) Positions 2011 – 2015: Ambassador of Sweden to Poland 2010 – 2011: Ambassador of Sweden to Vietnam 2007 – 2010: Ambassador of Sweden to Tanzania 2004 – 2007: Director, Department for Policy and Methodology (including responsibility for multilateral coordination from Autumn 2005), Deputy Director General, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) 2003: Acting Director General Sida 1995 – 2004: Director, Department for Europe, Deputy Director General of Sida 1991 – 1994: State Secretary, Prime Minister’s office (in charge of coordinating the Liberal Party under Deputy Prime Minister Bengt Westerberg) 1986 – 1991: Head of Office, Parliament Group for the Liberal Party 1983 – 1986: Journalist, Göteborgs-Posten (editorials) 1981 – 1982: Political adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Ola Ullsten 1976 – 1978: Secretary General, Swedish Liberal and Radical Youth 1973 – 1975: Secretary, Swedish Liberal and Radical Youth, Uppsala

cooperative regional development operations in Asia. The support we provide amounts to US$25 million per year, and one of its primary contributions is in strengthening and promoting environmental and human rights in Asia.      “As for bilateral trade and investment, Swedish interest in Thailand continues to be significant. Major Swedish brands are here and they should be here. There are approximately 70 Swedish companies represented in Thailand. Among them are many well-known global brands like Electrolux, Scania, H&M, Oriflame, Tetra Pak, Saab, Securitas, SKF and Volvo. Some of the companies operating here are partly owned by Swedish citizens and some are not.   “Some products are sold locally and some exported. I am confident that big multinational Swedish companies such as IKEA will continue to operate and invest in Thailand. I also hope that small and medium-size Swedish companies will see long-term opportunities in Thailand, and that Thai companies will continue to do business and invest in Sweden.”  

Big Swedish presence


r Herrström said that on average 350,000 Swedes visit Thailand every year and there are a large number of more or less permanent residents as well. “It is difficult to say exactly how many Swedes live in

Commissions in Sweden (some examples) 1991 – 1995: Member of the Board of Sida 1981 – 1983: Local councilor, Uppsala municipality 1979 – 1981: Deputy local councilor, Uppsala municipality

“We have altogether 60 staff under the Bangkok embassy if you include our section office in Myanmar. On top of that we are happy to have an office of Business Sweden here as well, providing important services to Swedish companies. We have about 35 Thai staff at the embassy, with the rest Swedes. “Besides Thailand and Myanmar, the embassy also looks after Laos and the Philippines. I haven’t yet been formally appointed as Swedish ambassador to any countries other than Thailand and Laos, but that’s in the process. It is important that we have a solid presence in Yangon, with five Swedish diplomats.   “A key task overall for the embassy is to promote values which the Swedish people hold dear and which are also universal values of human rights. Sweden now has a feminist government, strongly supportive of gender equality, and my impression is that there is quite an interest in Thailand in Sweden’s work in this area. This is something I would like to explore further. Openness, access to information and transparency are other issues we intend to focus on in Thailand.   “On the business front, Sweden and Swedish companies are strong on innovation, and there is a lot of interest in Thailand in innovative solutions that will enable the Thai economy to develop and grow. So this is another important area for cooperation. Finally, while in Thailand I want to emphasise sustainability and corporate social responsibility, which relate directly to the two crucial global issues of climate change and environmental protection.   “Our embassy in Thailand is the hub for Sweden’s



City Hall (by Björn Olin)

Thailand but I would say it’s in the tens of thousands. Given the number of Swedes in Thailand, the embassy has an important role in providing them assistance not just in Bangkok, but also other parts of Thailand through honorary consulates in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin.  “Swedish citizens face problems just like tourists from any other country, and since there are so many Swedes here there may be a lot of problems to deal with at any one time. They may be victims of accidents or theft, they may lose things, and of course a small number pass away while in Thailand. I have only been here for a few months, but as far as I can tell there are no major complaints from Swedish visitors about their Thai hosts, or vice versa. On the contrary, I think the fact that about 350,000 Swedish tourists visit here on a regular basis every year says a lot about the attraction Thailand has for Swedes and how comfortable they are here.   “A very significant number of Thais travel to Sweden as well, and many thousands of Thais have settled in Sweden.

Abisko national park (by Katja Kristoferson)

Summer Holiday (by Johan Willner)

Access to Nature (by Sofia Marcetic)

This makes immigration services another central activity for the embassy. The number of visa applications from Thai citizens continues to rise and this makes us very happy. During the first three quarters of this year the embassy received 10,000 applications. This is a record number. Both tourist and business visas are increasing, and it must be remembered that many Thais who visit Sweden obtain their visas from another Schengen country such as Denmark.”   

Sweden and the EU

“Sweden is a parliamentary democracy with almost ten million inhabitants, 16 percent of whom were born in another country. The head of state is King Carl Gustaf, but he exercises no political power. Since last year the country has been governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. We have a long history of freedom of the press, starting in the late 18th century, and the right to information through public access of official documents is a key element in our democracy. This feature significantly facilitates the scrutiny of the decision makers and public servants. Sweden has enjoyed peace for over 200 years and is strongly engaged in promoting peace, security, human rights and development. Our aid budget amounts to one percent of the GDP.     “Sweden is one of the largest countries in Europe, comparable in size to Thailand. It is characterized by its long coastline on

Information Technology (by Simon Paulin)

the Baltic and North seas, extensive forests and numerous lakes. Swedes are becoming more and more conscious of their environmental responsibilities, and over 50 percent of our energy now comes from renewables. Only about one percent of Sweden’s waste goes to a rubbish dump. Our economy is to a large extent based on innovative enterprises and free trade. Sweden is now number three in the Global Innovation Index. “Another important characteristic of our society is that social services are available equally to all citizens, financed through taxes. Obviously such a general welfare state is dependent on the broad-based participation of both men and women in the labor sector. Gender equality, although still not fully achieved, has significantly improved in recent decades. The employment rate for women has increased, and this has been greatly facilitated by the high quality and affordable day care now available for all children.   “Sweden has benefited tremendously politically and economically since joining the European Community in 1995, and the benefits are clearly evident for individuals. The creation of a single market with over a half billion inhabitants has been an enormous boost to the economy of Sweden and other countries as well. Sweden is a small country and we are heavily dependent on exports. The wealth of our nation has to a large extent been created through our ability to compete in the world market. The more the world market opens up the better

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On the personal side

Skiing in åre (by Henrik Trygg)

Parental Leave (by Martin Svalander)

for everyone, and not least for a small country. Now, instead of a market of ten million people our producers have a market of 500 million, which is a major change. “Second, we benefit politically because we have a bigger voice in the global arena through the EU. This is a voice that promotes not only the interests of the continent and the EU’s 28 member states, but also the values that drive the EU. These values can in many ways be traced back to our shared experiences of the devastating wars of the last century. The EU promotes peace and democracy all over the world, and certainly on the European continent, where democracy is now firmly entrenched. As a former ambassador to Poland, I perhaps have a special interest in that country’s history. Poland had a long legacy of being tormented by dictatorship and oppression and even being wiped off the map of Europe. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and its eventual membership in the EU, Poland has seen a renewal of democracy and freedom and the economy has grown tremendously. “Finally, on an individual level, whether Poles or Swedes, Croatians or Brits, we all have the opportunity to study and work where we wish on the European continent and to widen our horizons. We are all part of the European family; we can learn from each other and we benefit from learning from each other. That also means we become more capable as human beings. Thanks to the beneficial impacts of the EU in these three dimensions, Europe has successfully managed to wipe out the horrors that have tormented the continent for centuries in only a generation.”



“I am married to Karin Herrström, a teacher in biology, who is here with me and loves it here,” said Mr Herrström. “She works very closely with me in promoting Sweden in Thailand. We have two daughters, 20 and 24 years old. Both are studying at Stockholm University. “I find Bangkok a very friendly place where it is easy to rapidly feel at home as a foreigner, and I don’t say that to win points with your readers. That’s my honest impression. The four countries I have been ambassador to are so different from each other, as are their capitals, that it is difficult to compare them in an honest way. I can truly say I love them all, but for different reasons.   “The major challenge in Bangkok – and this is not unique to Bangkok – is the traffic jams. I am encouraged to see that the city has been able to put the BTS and the MRT systems in place and I look forward to their expansion. This is necessary not only to ease traffic but also to reduce greenhouse gases.   “I intend to travel outside Bangkok whenever time allows. You can never get to know a country in depth if you only stay in the capital. My first trip was to Hua Hin in November.” Mr Herrström is also already making an effort to learn the language. “Together with my two Swedish colleagues, my deputy and the head of the political section, I am taking three Thai language lessons a week, starting at the beginning,” he said. “We all feel that it is a nice experience. It is challenging but we are enjoying ourselves.” 


esides fluency in his native tongue and English, he is proficient in Polish, understands Russian since his university studies and has a basic knowledge of German and French. He has also briefly studied some Kiswahili and Vietnamese but he says very little is left.   “Since coming to Thailand, I have started to eat more fruit, especially in the morning, than ever before in my life. I eat a lot of pomelo, passion fruit, banana and papaya. It’s a little thing but it’s a major advantage of living in Bangkok. In general, I prefer combining many different styles of cuisine. I am very fond of Italian food. Obviously I am proud that Swedish cuisine has improved to the extent that our chefs are winning gold medals in international competitions like the Culinary Olympics.   “It has been fascinating for me to see how perceptions of Swedish food have changed in my lifetime. It was regarded as being rather dull when I was a kid in the 1960s, and now it is on the leading edge of global cooking. I am very fond of Swedish food and I think that we can promote it with pride in other countries, including Thailand. Of course, I understand why so many Swedes like to eat Thai food here and at home. I am also a big fan.”   Mr Herrström is an avid runner, although he isn’t finding as much time as he’d like to lace up his shoes. “It would be great to do at least a half marathon before I leave, and in the best of worlds I may even get in a whole marathon as I did in Warsaw this past April. Besides running, I spend a lot of my free time reading and listening to music.”

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6/30/15 11:33 AM

H u a Hin Revi ew

Wo rds H A R VEY W H I T E P h o t o s JA R A N L A K K A N AWAT

Oceanside Beach Club & Restaurant

Relax and dine in style at Putahracsa Hua Hin’s signature beachfront restaurant


O DOUBT ABOUT IT, Putahracsa Hua Hin is one of the city's finest boutique resorts. Modern, spotless, spacious, and superbly operated, it has everything a guest needs for a thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable stay. So it should come as no surprise, then, that the resort's Beach Club & Restaurant, Oceanside, serves up a great experience for both lunch and dinner. Open on all sides and offering uninterrupted views of the sea, the restaurant offers the choice to either eat and drink at formal dark wooden tables, or in the comfort of lounge-style white armchairs. Breezy and bright by day, funky and intimate at night (when the armchairs are illuminated and the tables are bathed in candlelight), it also has

plenty of substance to back up its style. Executive Chef Wittawat Sornsomrith’s carefully crafted menu features Thailand's best-loved dishes alongside a selection of Pacific Riminspired creations and barbecued premium meats served straight from the grill. So you could start with a spicy local favourite such as Papaya Salad (B250++), say, then follow up with an impressive slab of Australian beef tenderloin (B1,100++), or Salmon steak (B500++). Plenty of exciting ways to combine flavours, here. Recent additions to the menu, and highly recommended, are the Tian of seared Ahi Tuna (with cumin and spiced lentils, roasted artichoke hearts and marinated mushrooms. B340++), Tuna tartar (with wasabi and ginger, seaweed pickles. B340++), and Encrusted beef O c eanside opens ev ery S un- T h urs f rom 11am- 11pm, and F ri- S at f rom 11am- 1am. 22/ 6 5 Nah b K aeh at Rd. Hua Hin, 032 531 470 putah rac sa.c om



tournedos (mildly spiced cumin crust, sweet potato sticks, red madras sauce and balsamic reduction. B1,100++). The quality of the ingredients shines through in every flavour-packed bite, especially the beef tournedos, whose red madras sauce packs a pleasant punch. Being a Beach Club as well as a restaurant, Oceanside serves a decent selection of classic and signature cocktails (starting at B250) and has a great wine list too – starting at B320 by the glass; and ranging from B1,600 to B5,900 by the bottle. After lunch or dinner you can sink into a deep-seated oversized sofa and simply relax and lap up the atmosphere. Every Friday and Saturday night (6pm9pm) the Tiny Band performs soul classics; DJ Bond spins the best of groove, chill out and pop music every Saturday (9pm-11pm); and singer Pamela D showcases her amazing voice every Sunday (noon-3pm). Well worth a visit.

H u a Hin Revi ew

Wo rds H A R VEY W H I T E P h o t o s JA R A N L A K K A N AWAT

Electric Mango Steakhouse & Grill


Serving high quality Aussie steaks starting at just B499+

PERATING UNDER the slogan 'Great Steaks, Great Prices,' Electric Mango Steakhouse & Grill on Hua Hin Soi 112 certainly lives up to this promise making the short drive out of town well-worth the effort. Located overlooking the pool of the Electric Mango resort, a unique project featuring a lagoon-style pool,

cozy bungalows, an adventure playground, and private salas for drinking and dining, the restaurant is housed within a thatched wooden building open on all sides, and has a lovely laid-back atmosphere. There's plenty of buzz in the evenings, too, when Hua Hin's carnivores roll in looking for a meaty fix. The biggest attraction is The Mango Steak – a 300g rump steak served with corn on the cob and a choice of sides and sauces, plus a glass of white or red wine, for just B499+. But there are plenty of other meaty treats on offer, such as Australian striploin starting at B550+ for 200g, or Thai Charolais tenderloin at just B550 for 200g (although we suggest you go all out and order the hunger-busting 300g option for just B820+). In charge of the kitchen is Executive Chef Non, who prior to joining the restaurant in late 2014 helped run the culinary operations at the excellent, and E lec tric M ang o S teak h ouse & G rill, Hua Hin S oi 112 ( j ust past th e B any an G olf C lub ) , 08 6 175 1209



sadly now shuttered, Le Bistro French restaurant in Hua Hin. With many years spent honing his craft at local five-star hotels behind him, he's undoubtedly a wizard of the grill and can cook steaks perfectly to diners’ preferences. "We're passionate about quality and only use the finest cuts of meat," he says. "Whether you go for our Australian beef or Thai Charolais, you can be assured of great tastes – they really are the best value steaks in Hua Hin." While Electric Mango is first and foremost a steakhouse, its menu doesn't discriminate and is loaded with all kinds of tempting dishes, ranging from from a wide selection of soups and salads, cheese and cold cut platters, to signature burgers made with prime meat (B399+), a small selection of Thai dishes, and some rich desserts (try the Chocolate lava cake) – all offered at great value for money. The wine list is decent too, ranging from B950+ for Lion's Cape Brut, South Africa, to B9,400 Bollinger Special Cuvée. Wine by the glass, meanwhile, starts at B250+. The restaurant opens daily 6pmMidnight. Keep your eyes peeled for regular promotions listed on

H u a H in D i ni ng Out

Wo rds H A R VEY W H I T E P h o t o s JA R A N L A K K A N AWAT

La Paillote French Restaurant


Fresh oysters, fine wines, hearty French dishes – this popular expat hangout gets better with every visit

meanwhile, has been carefully crafted to offer all the French classics plus a range of dishes unique to the restaurant. There's even a selection of Thai dishes, such as Fried rice with chicken and green curry, and Massaman beef curry, but while they're certainly tasty, it's the French

OR JUST OVER TEN years this cozy bistro-style restaurant has been satiating diners' appetites with some of the best value French food to be found in Hua Hin – and the experience just keeps getting better. Owner and chef Gaston Pousset, a Belgian businessman with a passion for the finer things in life, never stops finding ways to improve his business. From making simple tweaks to his food and drinks menus (such as now offering over 70 excellent international wines ranging from B990 to B4,970 per bottle; plus 10

wines by the glass starting at only B165), to adding a new private air-conditioned dining room adjacent to the restaurant's popular terrace, his commitment to ensuring guests have a memorable experience – and always have plenty of reasons to return – is admirable. Visit any weekend from this month



onwards, for instance, and you'll be able to tuck into some of the finest French oysters available in Hua Hin. Flown in every Thursday night from Rungis, Paris, the oysters are shucked and served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, and range in price from B530 for six Fine de Claire Speciales No. 3, to B830 for six Gillardeau Speciales No.2. Soon, Gaston will also start importing live lobsters, available to select straight from a state-of-art aquarium that keeps the crustaceans at the perfect temperature. The regular a la carte menu, 174 Naresdamri Rd. Hua Hin, 032 521 025,

cuisine that's the star of the show here. Gaston likes to take a no-nonsense approach to cooking with a focus on rich, buttery flavours – think delicious comfort food served piping hot, and in hearty portions. Don't miss the Snails with garlic and parsley (B290), Sautéed Saint-Jaques sea scallops with saffron sauce (B380), and Duck confit with flambéed apples 'Calvados' (B430). And we love La Paillote's signature Roscoff rock lobster Thermidor, shelled and gratinated (B390), which comes bursting with rich, moreish flavours. As for dessert – the hearty Molten lava chocolate cake, served with vanilla ice cream, is a decadent treat, and the sweet-and-citrusy Crepes SuzetteNapoléon (B250) never fails to delight.

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Hua Hin Traditional celebrations at Banyan The Resort BANYAN The Resort proved to be a wonderful venue for celebrating Thailand’s annual Loy Krathong festival, as it marked the occasion with a splendid feast of delicious Thai cuisine alongside traditional dance performances and a Miss Noppamas pageant.

Big celebrations at Dusit Hua Hin turns 25 TO mark the completion of Dusit Thani Hua Hin’s remarkable Silver Reign, around 400 invited guests, made up of celebrities of stage and screen, politicians and regular patrons mingled and marvelled as the distinguished resort celebrated its 25th Anniversary in inimitable style at The Royal Dusit Hall. Guests enjoyed a fabulous five-course meal and a night of live seasonal shows, including a piano recital by the Yontrarak family, which featured a special eight hands rendition of Count Your Blessings. The night was then capped in splendid style with a fireworks display by the lagoon.



Pleasures of the East AIMING to be the new social destination for expats and tourists alike, East Rooftop Bar & Lounge (located at the rooftop of G Hua Hin Resort & Mall) celebrated its grand opening last month with a party showcasing everything the venue has to offer – a great atmosphere, good drinks, and live music and DJs. Keep up to date with the bar’s events at

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Five cheers for Hilton Pattaya THE management and staff of Hilton Pattaya celebrated the hotel’s fifth anniversary by organizing the “Hilton Race Walk Rally and Full Moon Thank You Party,” where guests and supporters of the hotel enjoyed a night of wining and dining, games and entertainment.

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12/25/15 10:37 AM

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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:


NIGHTFALL OVER BANGKOK here are some very high places in Bangkok. Places where you can look out and see the city like an interactive map spread out beneath you. I love to watch over this city. It is so full of life. So many things happen at the same time, all causing consequences in different directions. Trends arise and are contradicted. Actions cancel each other out. Some hope, some despair. Some run and some stay still. The moon waxes and wanes. Even the stars above can flare up and be extinguished in the blink of a human eye – far away supernovas eat their solar systems, dust clouds coagulate, galaxies are ripped apart until black matter is smeared all across the universe like an exploded bowl of rice porridge. I wonder whose breakfast we will be? There is no moon tonight – it flies incognito, absent from the visible sky. No idea why this phase is called the New Moon except perhaps that truly new things and ideas are invisible to most of us. Eyes that seek it will not find its light. The stars are veiled in the city smog. As I look down from my high vantage point, I see dark spots here and there, black holes in the grid. The power is out. It may be a long time until it returns… Birds are tired tonight. They sit and tuck their heads under their wings.



Flowers lie listless along exhausted stems. What has happened? I look but there is no common pattern. No disaster, no floods, no fires to give us a communal destiny. The city is vast, and the fortunes of its inhabitants complex and multifold. Some share the darkness of the absent moon, others see it as an opportunity. Most don’t even look up. The stars are outshone by the lights of the madly racing cars. The tiny screens of their phones offer entry into a shortsighted galaxy of trivial information. Stars may be light years away, the universe may be a dark but majestic beauty, but a celebrity has drowned in a toxic canal. Another one has taken his shirt off and invites a rating of up to five stars. Fingers tap. Eyes dart around for tiny answers. But I am drawn to the river tonight. Not the glamorous stretch with its international hotels, not the tourist place that can sparkle even in the darkest of nights through the power of their generators. No, I am drawn to a spot further north, and, to my surprise, to the other side, a side of the river that many Bangkokians never cross, except if driven by darkness and despair. Tonight’s storyteller, Anshika Sony, stands half hidden in the shadows of the pier. She has already crossed the river, and is inviting me to join her. She holds out her hand, and a darker shadow falls over the water. If I want to hear her story, I must join her now…

The Wake Up Call

By Anshika Sony

I gaze at the dark waves of the Chao Phraya River. It’s a calmer view at this hour. I haven’t experienced such leisure for a while. After all, a cop’s life is not an easy one. The coffee shop and the ticket booth place ‘Closed’ signs by their counter window. The final ferry slowly stops. A small crowd of people march into it. All except the turbaned man. He stands by the tip of the pier gazing aimlessly at the Chaopraya. Is he trying to commit suicide? Suspicious, I walk towards him. “What are you doing there gentleman? It’s dangerous!” I greet him with a warning. He looks at me. His eyes communicate intense sorrow. “Birth, aging, sickness and death are the inescapable realities of life. We all live in this land of impermanence”, he says. “Come here. What’s your name, dude?” “Satpal Singh Sodhi”, he answers as he walks towards me. “Nice. What do you do?” “I sell fabric at the Phaorat market, Uncle.” “How dare you call me that? I’m only 47!” I fume at his ignorance. “You are 17 years older than me!” I ignore this rude fact. The music from a nearby pub distracts us. “Do you care for a beer dude?” I ask him. He gives me a blank look. “I know a better place. Follow me!” he answers, and begins walking backwards towards Siriraj Hospital – the largest and most reputable government hospital in Thailand. I follow him slowly. What a place! I haven’t been to a hospital for a decade, though I have lived a rather unhealthy life. A chain smoker and an alcoholic. I gawk at the crazy crowd. Hundreds of people flock along the corridor with their documents and files. Even at this hour! And several hundreds more sick people lie on their beds – unconscious, resting or howling in pain. A horde of aging and sick people moaning 24/7. Their relatives stand beside them helplessly. Five doctors race against time to treat hundreds of patients. I don’t know how they do it – but they are national scholars and geniuses after all! Priority is given to emergency cases. An asthma attack patient is made to wait as his case isn’t as serious as the others’. He strives to breath like a waterless dying fish. Amidst the depression, chaos and agony the doctors appear unaffected. “I’m sorry to inform you that your mother has stage four colon cancer,” one of the doctors communicates ‘death’ with a blank face. The children and relatives scream in shock. A heartbreaking scene. Tears roll down my cheeks automatically. The doctor remains expressionless. I wonder if this occupation is all cold–blooded. They are probably immune to this s**t just as I am immune to thieves and criminals!

“Why the f**k did you bring me here? We could have relaxed and drank beer!” I yell at him. ‘Ok. Let’s go somewhere else” We leave the OPD building and cross the road and walk towards an adjacent corridor. A group of young women brings a smile to my face. “Check out the one with the cleavage dude,” I say playfully. “Aren’t you married?” he asks sarcastically. “So what does it have to do with her cleavage? Get a life dude!” He rolls his eyes and scowls. We reach an empty and quiet corridor. He leads me to the building that reads “Siriraj 100 years Building.” I follow him hesitantly, wondering what next? He stops at the elevator and presses floor 8. We enter it as it opens. The creaking sound of the elevator reminds me that it is probably as old as the building. Suddenly, I curse myself for getting involved with this griefstricken guy. How do I get out of this now? We pass a glass corridor outside the Maternity Ward. Hundreds of babies lie in their cradles – sleeping, crying or nibbling their mittens. The sign by the glass window reminds us that it is past visiting hours. However, the nurses are busy and don’t stop us. I can’t help holding my tears as I see the newborns. The twin babies in the corner remind me of the first time I held my twin daughters, Namthip and Malee in my arms. I will fight the world to raise them – I remember my words. The lies that I told myself those days. A corrupted cop, an alcoholic, a chain-smoker and a womanizer. The truth is I was never a good father nor was I a good husband or a good human being. A complete selfish non–family Thai man who is blessed with a conservative and forgiving wife and loving daughters. “I’m leaving.” I tell Satpal and walk away quickly. He follows me and eventually catches up. What the heck! We take the elevator back to the ground floor. Across, I see a park and a memorial of the great founder of Siriraj hospital. “Let’s pray”, Satpal offers. He kneels down before the memorial and communicates mentally to the image. “Birth, aging, sickness and death are the inescapable realities of life. We all live in this land of impermanence”, he preaches again. “Are you Buddhist?” I ask him as I hear him quoting the lines of Buddha repeatedly. “No. I’m Sikh but I was born in Thailand so I grew up with the Buddhist way of life and thinking. Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path,” he says. “My wife is at Asadang Building.” He points at the last building in the corner. I freeze as I hear him say that. It’s a well-known fact that it is only a miracle if you come out alive from there. Even the doctors call that building “The building for the dead.” ‘She’ll be fine,” I say without looking at him. “Only love lasts forever,” he whispers.


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 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 for more information. This month’s storyteller is educator, writer, and former headhunter Anshika Sony. Born and raised in Bangkok, Anshika has been working on short stories and on her debut novel set in the corporate world of modern India for some time. This is her first publication. TheBigChilli



“Come back,” I hear somebody saying. It wasn’t Satpal’s voice. He is still lost in his agony. “Come back!” I hear again. I look backwards. There is nobody. It’s getting darker. “Come back!” I tremble as I realize the sound is coming from my head. What the hell is happening? Did I catch some kind of deadly virus? Satpal gawks at me. His bulgy eyes and dark circles scare me to death. “Birth, aging, sickness and death are the inescapable realities of life. We all live in this land of impermanence. Only love Last forever.” He screams the lines. “Come back!” The voice repeats from my head. “We need to go!” Satpal yells. He leads to me to the Asadang building. “Where the f**k are you taking me now?” I scream. We enter a room, ‘The Intensive Care Unit.’ “Daddy, come back!” Namthip and Malee scream. My wife is crying. I see myself lying unconscious on the bed. A series of tubes in my neck, mouth and leg. Next to my bed is Satpal Singh Sodhi. Pale and motionless. A woman in a sari cries beside his lifeless body. He weeps as he sees his spiritless body and his heartbroken wife. “Tell her I said I love you, Lajjo. Only love lasts for forever. I need to go, Sombat,” he says with tears. “What? Are you dead? Am I dead?” I go berserk as I look at myself. Holy S**t! I am formless and invisible! “I got hit by a truck while riding a motorbike. I flew two meters above the ground and died in the ambulance. Acute brain injury. I should have worn a helmet” Satpal says regretfully. I try to recall what got me here. The last thing I remember was a severe pain in my chest at the dinner table. “You had a heart attack. I saw your family getting you to the ICU,” Satpal says. The electrocardiogram displays a flat line. “Quick! We are losing him!” the doctor shouts. The nurses and medical students look at each other nervously. My wife and children scream in horror. The doctor pumps a pair of defibrillator into my chest. I gawk at my irresponsive body. “Oh s**t!” The doctor screams. He pumps again. “Go back Sombat. It will be too late,” Satpal yells. “Buddha!” My wife breaks down. *** “Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!” I hear a loud scream. Slowly, I open my eyes. It’s peaceful, dark, a different environment. I see, hear and feel nothing. 66


What now? Heaven? Hell? Reincarnation? Where’s the damn tunnel? I struggle through the darkness. Slowly, light seeps in. I try to concentrate. “Khun Sombat,” my wife calls me with moist eyes. My daughters hug me. Finally, I feel my body. The pain and the numbness of certain organs remind me that I’m alive. I struggle to breathe from the tubes and pipes. Oh God, I almost died! I tremble as I hear these words in my head: “Birth, aging, sickness and death are the inescapable realities of life. We live in the land of impermanence.” What wise words! I have seen birth at the Maternity Ward, aging and sickness at the OPD department, and witnessed my own death at the ICU. A series of life lessons learnt in a day. I look to my left. “Satpal!” I call him. He smiles and evaporates into the air. His wife gawks at me in shock as she sees me waking up with her husband’s name. “Your husband told me to tell you something,” I whisper. “He says I love you, Lajjo. Only love lasts for forever.” I struggle to speak from the tubes. Our eyes meet and we’re both in tears. o words can describe this mad emotion! What is the universe trying to communicate? Why was I in denial about suffering and death all this while? What an immature old man I am! Did I think I would live forever? Or were women, corruption, alcohol and smoking my version of four noble truths? F**k this shallow life! I have lived in a fantasy world all this while. Suddenly, I feel I have woken up. I think a different thought. I feel a different feeling. An old soul, a new person. The beginning of my rebirth. I’m taking nothing from my past. Nothing… except Satpal Singh Sodhi!


*** Each of us is different. Each of us has a different fate, even if the universe itself (and all the atoms it contains, including those that temporarily swarm together to make the human form) is on a journey towards ubiquitous porridge. I shudder and break away from the ‘House of Death,’ from the rows of the newly born, eagerly seeing life. I, too, am alone under the sun, under the moon. Even if that moon doesn’t show its face. I know you are there! Alone we may be, but I know for sure that the moon over Bangkok will rise again when Monsoon Midnights returns with our next story in just a month’s time… Anette Pollner, leader of the BWWG

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


The BigChilli January 2016  

Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond with Thailand's best-read expat magazine. New Year! New Columns! New Look!

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