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GET THE DINNER YOU DESERVE From the rooop at Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel, glittering views of Bangkok will be spread before you as you settle into one of Bangkok’s most alluring nightlife destinations. You and friends can sit, sip and sample delicacies from the imaginative cocktail list and equally temping pan-Asian menu. Let the stars continue on their courses as you enjoy yours, complemented by some good old-fashioned service and an atmosphere of nighttime glamour.

567 Ratchaprarop Road, Makkasan, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400 Thailand www.centarahotelsresorts.com/cwb E : cwb@chr.co.th T : +66 (0) 2 625 1234


Bangkok’s newest mall and its impact on Sukhumvit

Dying breed of expat

THERE’S no question the newly opened EmQuartier shopping mall owned by the Mall Group is a world-class development, impressive in size, architecture, interior design and showmanship. It’s also extremely ingenious in the way the three buildings that comprise Bangkok’s latest mall merge with the modernized BTS Phrom Phong station and Emporium, the long-time shoppers’ favourite immediately opposite, to create a mezzanine floor of luxury and glamour above an increasingly miserable Sukhumvit Road below. In the few weeks since opening, the complex has drawn big crowds who, let’s face it, already know a thing or two about shopping centres from living in a city ‘blessed’ with more than its fair share of such enterprises. Most visitors are giving EmQuartier the thumbs up, even if it’s more for the mall’s entertaining laser shows, fashion parades, high decibel music, and delightful outdoor gardens than the products on sale within.  For a while, the place lifts many of these people above the ordinary into a bright and wonderful world like some fabulous fantasy movie. The jury is out, of course, on the success of the shops and restaurants; it’s much too early to judge. EmQuartier can be confusing to the first-timer and hungry customers may have to queue for just three lifts to take them to the 44 restaurants located in the Helix dining area on the upper floors. But visually, in terms of a retail venue, EmQuartier is a winner. Looking ahead, its impact on local traffic and other shopping malls in this part of Bangkok is going to be immense on many levels. Sukhumvit is already one of the city’s busiest roads, and the traffic jams can only get worse henceforth. Side roads will also witness a big increase in traffic and congestion on an almost constant basis, which will probably affect land and property values as the area becomes less desirable. The BTS is already seeing a big upsurge in people using the Phrom Phong station, and with the Skytrain system soon to expand into Bangkok’s southern suburbs, it will get even busier. EmQuartier’s impact on the retail scene is also likely to be significant; it’s certain to win over many of the customers who in the past would have travelled to the inner city Siam Paragon. In between these two giant retailers is the increasingly isolated and mostly empty Central Embassy. And that’s not all. On a massive plot of land just down the road, the Mall Group is currently planning its EmSphere, another huge commercial project to open sometime before 2020. Although no details of the venture are available, most bets are on a vast low-rise entertainment district with restaurants, bars, special attractions for children and some upmarket retail space. It’s exciting times for Sukhumvit. Just getting there is going to be the problem.  

FIVE years ago, The BigChilli suggested the days of the ‘expat package’ were numbered. We were right, according to a number of search companies who say that the lucrative contracts that would normally include generous tax-free salaries, housing allowance, flights back home every year and children’s schooling are now extremely rare. Only major corporations are willing to meet such high costs on short-term deals. A few of the perks, perhaps surprisingly, are enjoyed by a small number of senior teachers. For most expats, though, salaries are often lower than for locals offering the same abilities and expertise. Companies generally prefer to recruit more expensive locals over foreigners for their communication skills. But that’s not the only reason. According to one executive search company, foreigners new to Thailand are too easily sidetracked by the country’s boundless attractions. Avoiding them clearly requires special skills.

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Time for airlines to dump ‘cattle class’

LONG haul air travel remains one of the world’s best bargains. Forty years ago, a return flight in economy class from London to Bangkok cost approximately £250. Today, during certain periods, that same journey can be had for as little as £450. It’s difficult, even impossible, to think of any other product or service that has only doubled in cost in four decades. Certainly not hotel rooms, food and beverages, and other forms of transportation. Airlines have done this mostly by using more fuel efficient aircraft, cutting out all kinds of frills and increasing the number of seats in economy class. Long gone are the days when flying was regarded as special and glamorous. All those extra seats have made it a thorough unenjoyable experience, with less leg and arm room fraying nerves, restricting sleep and triggering arguments between passengers. Airlines know all about this, of course. And they’re doing nothing about it, except making it even worse in some cases by introducing rows of FIVE seats. The result they’re clearly hoping for is to make the economy class so uncomfortable that people will opt for seats either in the more expensive premium economy class or the even more welcoming business class. The overall aim, of course, is to improve earnings per flight. Airlines face extraordinarily tough competition, and they can’t be faulted for trying to improve revenue. But it’s time to dump the cattle class and focus on offering better conditions in the premium section of the aircraft. The flying public would surely not mind paying higher prices, especially if the airlines pointed out that the cost of air travel is still a terrific bargain.


Strip AD_Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit_July15.pdf

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PUBLISHER Colin Hastings editorbigchilli@gmail.com MANAGING EDITOR Adam Purcell adambigchilli@gmail.com EDITOR Nina Hastings ninabigchilli@gmail.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Chutinanta Boonyamarn nanbigchilli@gmail.com SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai sendtorose@gmail.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti thanabigchilli@gmail.com Sakuna Nupinrum nokbigchilli@gmail.com ACCOUNTING MANAGER Saranya Choeyjanya fatcatbigchilli@gmail.com ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Janjira Silapapairson janbigchilli@gmail.com ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakkanawat PHOTOGRAPHY Mini Bike Gang, WJ CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Anette Pollner, Johanna DeKoning, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler, Chantawan Mueanngern INTERNS: Phoebe Farley, Shir Ariyawuthipan, Megan Heather-Maher, Emily Mitchell-Storey

TheBigChilliMag

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

The BigChilli Company Ltd., 1/7 5th Fl. Room 504, Siboonrueng Bldg. 2, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 ☎ 02 233 1774-6, 02 266 7141 Fax: 02 235 0174 :thebigchillimagazine@gmail.com :thebigchilli.com

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Expat

News

Bangkok’s Mass Transit Future ■ BY the year 2029, the MRTA and BMA’s combined rail mass transit projects will – all going to plan – have resulted in the colourful splodge of spaghetti you see strewn across these pages. For prospective property buyers and investors it’s a mouthwatering prospect – just think of the money to be made snapping up property now before stations arrive and rapidly multiply the value of the land. Sure, some negatives loom large, such as how is the already overburdened system going to deal with the huge influx of passengers from all corners of the city? But with almost 15 years to get things right, here’s hoping that Bangkok will finally have a public transport system that rivals those in London, New York and Hong Kong. First on the agenda: Launching a travel card, similar to London’s Oyster, which allows for travel across all trains and buses. And can we please ditch the double-payment on the BTS for anyone who lives beyond On Nut?

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Expat

Property

Kingdom Property launches 20-year visa stay and overseas loan facility for Southpoint Pattaya Condominium

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OUTHPOINT Pattaya, the flagship condominium project of Kingdom Property, has paved the way into the Thailand market for expatriate and overseas buyers by offering 20-year visas and international loan facilities though exclusive partnerships with Thailand Elite Card and ICBC (Thai) bank. The unique offer sees Kingdom Property team up with Thailand Authority of Thailand-managed Thailand Elite Card to provide overseas buyers of Southpoint Pattaya with rights to secure a 20-year visa to stay in Thailand, with fast track immigration and passport control processing among a number of benefits.   Future owners at Southpoint can simply pay a reservation fee and submit their application form to Thailand Elite for processing within 14 days. Upon approval, they will obtain their Thailand Elite privileges immediately.   Once the project is complete next year, they are required to present a copy of their title deed to ensure the ongoing renewal of their visa.   In addition, the ICBC (Thai) Foreigner Housing Loan programme offers all non-resident customers of its Singapore branch SGD denominated loans, with the maximum loan limited to 50% of the condominium value or the equivalent of THB7.5 million. Customers need to be between 21-65 years old with the loan period set to between three to 10 years.   First year interest payments start at 5.25%, moving to 5.75% in the second year with an average of 6.5% for subsequent years.   Kingdom Property Chief Executive Officer Nigel Cornick commented: “These programmes provide a seamless answer to those investors who want to stay in Thailand and borrow money to invest.”   The 20-year Thailand Elite Membership also includes assistance with a driver’s license, Duty Free shopping benefits and discounts at partner hotels, restaurants and shopping malls.

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Located on Pratumnak Hill, Southpoint Pattaya features unit sizes starting at 30sqm for studios, one-bedroom units ranging from 41sqm to 87sqm and two-bedroom units ranging from 61sqm to 97sqm. The condominium includes a dedicated sky deck with an infinity edge lap pool and fitness centre. It also has a landscaped family zone featuring a children’s pool and playground.   Key questions answered:   What are the terms of the 20-year Thailand Elite visas? · Four consecutive 5-year multiple entry visas with extendable one-year length of stay per each entry · No need to apply for the re-entry permit before leaving the country · Every time a member arrives in Thailand by air, the immigration office at the airport will stamp a one-year permit to stay into their passport automatically. If the member stays for one year consecutively without leaving the country then he/she needs to apply for a stay extension.   Does the Thailand Elite visa allow foreigners to work in Thailand? No, the Thailand Elite visa is classified as a tourist visa.   Where can Thailand Elite members have their visa arranged?

The five-year Thailand Elite visa can be arranged: 1. Upon arrival, at Suvarnabhumi, Phuket or Chiang Mai International airports. 2. If the member is already staying in Thailand, they can apply for the visa only at Cheangwattana Immigration Office and our staff can accompany the member to assist with the process. 3. At the Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate in the members’ home country. Can Thailand Elite members transfer their membership? Yes, a one-time transfer to a third party for the property program is permitted but membership and ownership of the property must be transferred together. The transfer fee is 20% of prevailing rate inclusive of VAT.   Can additional Thailand Elite memberships be included with the purchase of the condominium? Yes, a maximum of two memberships per unit applies at an additional charge of THB 500,000. The second member must appear as a co-owner on the SPA and title deed.   Can I obtain additional Memberships for my family? The minimum age requirement for membership is 20 years old. Therefore, a spouse or child that meets this requirement can be a co-buyer of the unit and pay the additional THB 500,000 charge in accordance with the other conditions stated above. www.southpointpattaya.com


Feature

A life of passion and glamour through music He is one of Thailand’s most accomplished musicians whose goal is to spread his enthusiasm to the widest possible audience through his music business, collaborations with international schools, solo performances and the band he shares with his two beautiful sisters. Maxmilian Wechsler chats to the multi-talented Dr Paye

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Gourmet

Restaurant news & deals | Serving Up | Recipe | Reviews

Time for brunch!

This meaty treat is just one of the tasty options on offer at Anantara Bangkok Riverside's new Mai Tai Brunch Page 31

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Gourmet Bangkok’s hottest dining deals and news

By Emily Mitchell-Storey & Megan Heather-Maher

Oriental Residence Bangkok: Every weekend, Café Claire is offering a luxurious French brunch featuring a wide range of seafood and hangover-busting drinks. 11am-4pm.

110 Wireless Rd. 02 125 9000 :oriental-residence.com

Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit: A delightfully decadent Sunday awaits at Voila!, where you can indulge in all kinds of international fare and imported seafood alongside free-flow Champagne. And don’t miss a trip to the cheese room. B2,200 with free-flow soft drinks and juice; B3,750 with free-flow Chandon, wines and cocktails; and B4,750 if you’d also like free-flow Moët & Chandon Champagne. Half price for kids aged between 6-12. 12pm-3pm.

189 Sukhumvit Rd. 02 126 9999 :sofitel-bangkok-sukhumvit.com

Buffet feasts

New weekend brunches too good to miss Siam@Siam Design Hotel & Spa: Every Sunday, enjoy fine

Le Méridien Bangkok: Latest Recipe’s

international Sunday brunch buffet is loaded with cold cuts, curries and traditional European and Asian favourites. B1,350++ per person. Add B450++ for free-flow alcohol.

40/5 Surawong Rd. 02 232 8888 :lemeridienbangkokpatpong.com

French and Spanish cuisine at La Vue restaurant. The ‘French Occitane Iberiaiv Experience’ offers a wide range of dishes at B1,150 per person. 865 Rama 1 Rd. 02 217 3070 :siamatsiam.com

Avani Atrium Bangkok: Every Saturday through July 31, Public All-Day-Dining restaurant will offer its international buffet at B750++ per person. As well as a big spread of international cuisines, the buffet will also feature Teppanyaki grills operated by the talented chefs from Benihana Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant. 6.30pm-10.30pm. 1880 New Petchburi Rd. 02 718 2000-1 :avanihotels.com

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o al hi She aton otel o e :

In partnership with Thai AirAsia the hotel is offering international Sunday brunch – with an ASEAN twist (think a special section devoted to food from the region). Alongside taking advantage of a ‘Come 4 Pay 3’ promotion, diners also have the chance to win four round trip tickets to Ho Chi Minh City, plus a stay at Le Méridien Saigon for four persons. Brunch is B1,780 per person. Deal ends July 26. 11.30am-3pm. haroen rung Rd Soi 0 0 2266 9214 :roy alorchidsheraton.com

Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa:

Feast on gourmet international cuisine and enjoy cocktails by renowned mixologist Ron Ramirez at Trader Vic’s superb Sunday Brunch. Adults can learn the 1944 classic Mai Tai recipe to earn a certificate, while children can play in the supervised Kids’ Corner. B1,999++ per person (includes free-flow Mai Tai cocktails, soft drinks, and juices). Live music adds to the laid-back ambience. 11am-3pm.

257/1-3 Charoennakorn Rd. (Free shuttle boat from Saphan Taksin BTS) 02 4 76 0022 :bangkokriverdining.com

u it hani Bangkok: 22 Kitchen & Bar’s new Sunday Brunch concept, Brunch O’Clock, offers a great way to beat back a hangover – by continuing the party. Tuck into gourmet a la carte dishes (start at B150++ per dish) such as Breakfast Burritos, Gangster Eggs Benedict, Steak Frites, Country Style Fried Chicken,

Centara Grand at CentralWorld: Sunday Brunch at Red Sky restaurant features mountains of imported seafood, and, better yet, free-flow Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne. Great value at B3,955++ per person. Cheeses, soups and grilled meats round out the premium selections. 11.30am-1pm. 99 Rama 1 Rd. 02 100 6255 :centarahotelsresorts.com/en/centaragrand ha oal an oo ill Mixology: Charcoal’s all-you-can-eat

Exotic Sunday Brunch is priced a reasonable B625++ per person (half price for kids) and comes with a complimentary glass of champagne (not for the kids, of course). What’s more, this family-friendly event features live music, a magician, and a buy-one-get-one-free promotion on selected drinks. 11am-3pm. raser Suites Sukhumvit 5th oor Soi 089 307 1111 :charcoalbkk.com

Sukhumvit Rd.

P s s s t! F or a b ru nch w ith a d if f erence, check ou t p age 4 0 .

and much more, and fuel the fun till late in the afternoon with free-flow sparkling wines (B950++ per person). Cocktail pitchers are also available. 10.30am-3pm. 94 6 Rama I V Rd. 02 200 9000 ex t. 234 5 :dusit.com/ dtbk

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Craft Silom

THE second branch of Craft in Bangkok (the first is on Sukhumvit Soi 23) has opened on Soi Surasak (981 Silom Rd), in the same building that houses Whisgars and the Minus 13 Ice Lounge. Alongside a menu for traditional bar snacks, the new venue offers 20 draught popular, niche and avant-garde beers and ales, as well as bottled beers from Beervana, Hopsession, Mikkeller, and more importers of craft beers. :f acebook.com/ C RA F T B A NG K O K

ABC

SITUATED on the third floor of 9:53 Community Mall, Thonglor Soi 9, this hidden café is decorated with a simple yet sophisticated interior design theme. The menu embraces the concept of wholesome fusion food and comprises salads, wraps, pasta, soups, various main courses, and desserts. Highlights include ABC Duck (B420), Duck confit, slow-cooked for eight hours for crispy skin and succulent meat, served with prune risotto and sautéed spinach; and Weekend Wrap (B280), a warm tortilla filled with grilled Rosemary chicken, lettuce, sweetcorn, sautéed mushrooms, and grilled asparagus. The specialty coffees served at ABC are grown and processed at the owner’s own coffee plantation, Omkoi Estate, in Chiangmai. T hong lor Soi 9. O p en daily 11am-10p m 02-2620876 :f acebook.com/ abc.eatery

New on the

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uff

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OWNED and operated by the same team behind hip hangout Hyde & Seek on Soi Ruamrudee, Scruffy Apron brings western comfort food and premium quality drinks to the buzzing dining center of EmQuartier’s The Helix building (6th floor). The restaurant features Victorian market-style décor with departmentalized cooking stations specializing in various types of cuisines – such as freshly made paella and pasta, house-cured charcuterie, fresh seafood, bakery and cheese, dessert bar, etc. – while craft beers, fine wines, and creative cocktails round out the experience.

Restaurant & Bar openings in Bangkok

m uartier th oor he eli uilding. pen on- hurs 0. 0am-10p m; F ri-Sun 10.30am-11p m. 02 003 6262/ 3 :f acebook.com/ scruf f y ap ron

The Drunken Leprechaun

AFTER opening with a fun-packed party in Phuket’s Patong Beach last month, The Drunken Leprechaun is now coming to Bangkok with a branch on Sukhumvit 15 (at the Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok). Slated to open on July 2, the bar will offer a wide variety of Irish beers and food served in a fun and laid-back atmosphere. Daily Happy Hours will be held from 4pm-8pm with special prices on selected beers, wines and spirits. F our Points by Sheraton B ang kok, Sukhumvit 15 02 309 3126 :f ourp ointsbang koksukhumvit.com

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Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

Gilles Reinhardt at Pullman PULLMAN Bangkok King Power celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the 3 Michelin Stars of Paul Bocuse’s L’Auberge Du Pont de Collonges restaurant in France by flying in Chef Gilles Reinhardt to take control of the kitchens at Wine Pub. Offering a choice of three, four and five-course set menus, the latter of which included ‘Black Truffle Soup V.G.E’ – one of the highlights of Paul Bocuse’s establishment – Chef Gilles wowed all diners with his French nouvelle cuisine.

Stonefish Wine Dinner DYNASTY Chinese Restaurant at Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok held an exclusive six-course wine dinner featuring premium selections from Australian winemaker Stonefish International. Hosted by Anirut Posakrisna, chairman of Wine Dee Dee Company Limited, the event was presided over by Supatra Chirathivat, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibilities of Centara Hotels and Resorts, together with Marco Metge, general manager of Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok, and Peter Papanikitas, managing director of Stonefish International.

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Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

Mexico meets Chile at the Rembrandt REMBRANDT Hotel’s awardwinning Señor Pico Modern Mexican Restaurant celebrated its most recent successes by hosting a flavourpacked wine dinner featuring its signature dishes paired with six of the finest wines from Vi a Luis Felipe Edwards, Chile’s leading family-owned winery. The spicy flavours, delightful textures, and rich aromas for which the restaurant is famed proved a perfect match for the wines, and a great night was had by all.

Greg Malouf shines at Tables RENOWNED chef Greg Malouf, formerly of the Michelin-starred Petersham Nurseries Cafe in England, and currently head chef the highly acclaimed Clé Restaurant in Dubai, arrived in Bangkok last month to present his modern Middle Eastern cuisine at Tables Grill, Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok. His guest tenure was launched in superb fashion with a cocktail party attended by many of the city’s leading chefs, and featured cooking demonstrations, belly dances, and delicious servings of Greg Malouf ’s signature creations alongside Stonefish wines from Australia.

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Dining out

Wo rds H A R V E Y W H I T E

Chandon Sunday Brunch at J’AIME by Jean-Michel Lorain

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Gourmet cuisine and free-flow Champagne result in an exquisite dining experience

LET’S get this straight. Sunday Brunch at J’AIME by Jean Michel Lorain is not your run of the mill affair. No buffet, no din, no waiting in line at live cooking stations. Instead, all the food is brought directly to you at your table – starting with an exquisite selection of small plates and cold cuts, homemade breads and pastries, and Caesar salad, followed by an unlimited choice of mains, and then a selection of signature desserts. But what else would you expect from a restaurant that has Michelin star links (its founder, Jean-Michel Lorain, is owner and chef of the renowned La Côte Saint Jacques restaurant in Joigny, France), and a contemporary ‘upside down design,’ than to turn the usual brunch concept on its head? Upon arriving at U Sathorn Bangkok Hotel you know you’re in for something special. Set within 2.5 rai of land in a peaceful plot on Sathorn Soi 1, the five-star property exudes the ambience of a beachside resort, and

the walk from the car park to the lobby alone is almost enough to fool you into thinking you’ve travelled many miles from the bustle of Sathorn just five minutes up the road. Then you have the restaurant itself, beautifully appointed with plush furniture and contemporary fixtures and fittings, and run like clockwork by Jean-Michel’s daughter, Maître d’ Marine Lorain. Needless to say, high quality service comes as standard. The concept of the restaurant, similar to Jean-Michel’s award-winning operation in France, is to combine the very best in both innovative and classic French cuisine with the cosseting service of the shared Asian table, and it works a dream. Particularly for the Sunday brunch, and its selection of unlimited mains, which gives you the chance to try a number of dishes before submitting to hunger-busting defeat. Quality over quantity is the philosophy here, and each dish on

U Sathorn B ang kok, 105/ 1 Soi Ng am D up hli, Sathorn

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the menu is created using the finest ingredients available – many imported from France. So after you’ve devoured introductory treats such as Homemade duck rillettes, Jean Michel Lorain quail and foie gras tourte, Cod mousse on toast with sun-dried tomatoes, and the delightful Smoked haddock and warm potato salad, you can sink your teeth into exquisite a la carte options like Braised beef cheeks with a carrot fantasy and red wine sauce, Grilled half lobster à L’américaine, and Pan-seared snapper with ratatouille, potato confit and thyme – all cooked to Michelin starstyle perfection by Chef Amerigo Sesti, who trained with Chef Jean Michel in France. Rounding out the experience is a serving of four miniature desserts: Lemon meringue tart, Pistachio and raspberry cream, Fruit salad, and Crêpes and chocolate sauce. Great value at B3,999 per person with free flow Chandon.

02 119 4 899 :j aime-bang kok.com


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Dining out

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L’Appart

Homely dining with a touch of class at Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit

THE concept goes something like this: A wealthy French expat has gone away on business and, during his absence, has left his trendy Penthouse Suite in the care of his nephew, a twentysomething entrepreneur with a taste for the finer things in life – good food, fine wine, premium cocktails, and crackling conversation inspired by art, design and literature. He wants to impress his friends – and, here, that means you. Located atop the Hotel Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit, L’Appart certainly lives up to its aspirations – as soon as you exit the elevator you’ll feel like you’re in an upmarket Parisian apartment. A long corridor opens into a bar and balcony (with sweeping views of Asok) on one side; an open kitchen with adjoining dining room on the other. And between these: nooks and crannies with couches and bookshelves, and private tables perfect for romantic dining. Want to be in the heart of the action? Sit at a table in the open kitchen where a brigade of chefs, led by Chef de Cuisine Jerome Deconinck, lovingly tend to otel Sofitel angkok Sukhumvit

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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

caramelized apple and mashed parsnip. Fish dishes are also available, ranging from B900-B2,000++. The selection of desserts includes a choice of homemade ice creams and sorbets plus a superb Dark chocolate lava cake (B350), which oozes its sweet goodness upon first crack. After you’ve devoured these you can then lounge in the bar area sampling a wide range of premium wines and spirits, including signature cocktails inspired by French and Thai cuisine (our pick: The French Passion, which packs a sour punch courtesy of the fruit). With a live DJ spinning atmospheric beats from 8pm, it’s a great place to spend a whole evening with friends. Dinner at L’Appart is served daily from 7pm-10.30pm (the bar stays open till 1am). A new menu featuring Tapas for sharing – called Les Bouchées Du Chef (starts at B250 per dish) – is also available, and this is served from 5pmmidnight. Also make sure to ask for the special menus featuring dishes made with seasonal produce. Impressive.

steaming pots and pans and serve up all kinds of mouthwatering creations – mainly modern interpretations of traditional French favourites carefully crafted to delight the eye as well as the palate. Highlights abound, with starters such as Foie gras duo, roasted figs and combawa essence from the Royal Projects (B1,100) and Tuna tartar, mango and passion fruit condiment, spicy guacamole cream (B450++) packing rich, full flavours that linger on the tongue. Burgundy snails ravioli, garlic espuma, parsley foam and croutons (B550) is also recommended – the escargot has the consistency of a slow-cooked mushroom and pairs brilliantly with the delicate flavours of the accompanying foam and espuma. For mains, don’t miss the Slow cooked chicken breast stuffed with Roquefort cheese and walnuts (B900++), which comes served in a porcelain casserole dish alongside garden vegetables from the Royal Projects. Also popular is the Pork belly glazed with maple syrup (B820++) served with

Sukhumvit Road Soi

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:sofitel-bangkok-sukhumvit.com


Dining out

Guest review by

Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Lenzi Tuscan Kitchen

Authentic Italian flavours find favour with the discerning palates of the BB&B dining group

T

HIS was our first visit to Chef Francesco Lenzi’s Tuscan Kitchen and one definitely hopes it will not be our last. Tucked away in Soi Ruamrudee 2 (in the road opposite the towers of All Seasons Place), the restaurant is set over two floors, the second of which boasts a spacious private room that comfortably houses around 20 diners. In keeping with the restaurant’s Italian origins, we had chosen mostly Italian wines starting with a perennial favourite of the Club, Follador Gold Prosecco (Veneto). With it came Crostini with chicken liver pâté, a tasty offering. When all had been seated, Carl Gulliver, the friendly Maître d’ and Manager, introduced the ingredients of our starter, Taglieri del Lenzi, ham and cheese mostly sourced from Lenzi’s Tuscany farm, which were truly excellent. Our Food Spokesman, Alex Fisken, promised he will return to the restaurant very soon just to dine on the fine selection of the home-cured hams. This dish was well matched with Cantina Tramin Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (South-Tyrol) which proved to be very refreshing and a nice change from our normal chosen NZ wineries. Baby Octopus slow cooked in spicy tomato sauce came next. For me, this was the best dish of the day and could not be faulted. Alex also complimented the plate but thought more spice might have enhanced it further. Most of us had opted to continue with the Sauvignon Blanc (a good pairing) but a few moved

on to sip Terlan Montigl Pinot Noir 2012 (Trentino-Alto Adige). Our wine spokesman of the day was underwhelmed by the Pinot but the rest of us thought this was an excellent wine conferring ‘a delightful balance between ripe fruit and a delicate tannin structure.’ After a pause dining continued with Traditional Tuscan ravioli (Tordelli) stuffed with different meats, butter and sage. One or two diners thought that the ravioli was a little dry (but Francesco reminded us this was as just called for by the original ancient recipe) and this did not prevent all from enjoying and finishing the dish.   The main course featured Duck breast in orange sauce Tuscan style,

served with spinach. The duck had been cooked medium rare (perfect for both Alex and me) and the skin had been seasoned with a little salt to crisp it (not to everyone’s taste but it worked very well for us). The accompanying sauce was excellent. The Lancaster Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (USA) was found to live up to the winemaker’s 44

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claims (‘Black berries, cherries, coffee and vanilla that are finely strung together by a distinct minerality that seemed to come straight from the soil, complementing the tannin and giving way to a long, beautiful finish.’) and proved to be a good match for the duck and later with the cheese. Some of the cheese had again come from Tuscany and included Pecorino, Parmesan and Taleggio, and we added some Humbolt Fog goat cheese. There was just enough room left for us to finish with an excellent homemade Tiramisu. Our veteran food critic and officer of the Club, Luigi Vercotti, celebrated his upcoming birthday with glasses of exquisite Alexander Exquisite Grappa (Italy) that he had generously donated to the Club and, completing his West Coast expedition in fine style, Roy treated us to yet more strong stuff, this time Calisaya liqueur. Named after its primary ingredient, cinchona calisaya, the bark of the cinchona tree which was imported to Italy from Peru in the 1600s because of its medicinal properties, this Oregon-made product also contains Seville oranges, agave nectar, and a secret blend of botanical infusions. Chef Francesco was still close at hand to receive our thanks and it was well after 3pm before we finally assembled upstairs for the group photo and to thank Carl and the staff who had made the meal such an undoubted success. Lenzi Tuscan Kitchen, 69/1-2 Ruam Rudi 2, Wireless Rd (a tuk-tuk shuttle to Ploenchit BTS Station is available) 02 001 0116 :lenzibangkok.com


Gourmet FRESH & LOCAL

K Village Farmers' Market

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Your one-stop shop for wholesome food and village products in the heart of Bangkok

BRINGING together farmers, artisans, butchers and chefs from Bangkok and beyond, the monthly K Village Farmers' Market at K Village, Sukhumvit 26, offers a great shopping experience where health-conscious, environmentally-aware consumers can buy products directly from the people who make them. No middlemen, no large companies, just small-scale producers and bubbly entrepreneurs offering top quality local products at great value for money. Held in partnership with the Thailand Farmers' Market organization (facebook. com/Thailand-Farmers Market), most products at the K Village Farmers' Market are natural, clean, and chemical free. Farmers who grow organic fruits and veggies are exempted from the usual vendor fees (fees obtained from other vendors are

donated to local charities), so their products abound at the market, and the good news is that they're all certified by both domestic and international organisations, such as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). You can stock your larder with rice from Mojarice Earth Safe, fruits and vegetables from Green Earth Farm, and naturally sweetened sun-dried bananas from Suan Poe Peang. Other highlights include Sloane’s organic sausages in natural casings made from 100 percent pig intestines, and Mille Stelle’s homemade

K V illag e, Sukhumvit 26 ( B T S Phrom Phong , M RT Q ueen Sirikit National C onventional C entre)

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burrata and mozzarella cheese. Not only can you find delicious food at the market, but also other natural items such as homemade soaps, hair products, rice bran oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, chia seeds and other skincare products. Handmade products such as canvas bags, wooden kitchen utensils, leather goods and ceramics are also available. And if you’re a fan of indoor gardening, you'll find plants such as bonsais and cacti vying for your attention, as well as natural fertilisers like earthworms and worm tea. Ensuring parents and their kids can

enjoy wholesome family fun between shopping, the market has a special section featuring a host of games and activities, arts and craft workshops, a small petting zoo, and even pony rides. K Village Farmers’ Market takes place the second weekend of each month, and this month's event will be held on July 11-12 from 9am-5pm. 02 258 919 - 213 f acebook.com/ kvillag ebkk, :kvillag ebang kok.com


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Welsh Lamb. Prepared over centuries. Cooked in minutes. Welsh Lamb has taken hundreds of years to prepare. Our craggy slopes, glacial hillsides and unique climate produce deliciously sweet grass, which produces deliciously sweet Welsh Lamb – it’s just one of the reasons why we’ve been awarded PGI status. But whilst Welsh Lamb may have taken thousands of years to prepare, it takes far less time to cook. Juicy Welsh Lamb chops, delicious meatballs or sizzling stir-fry can all be prepared in just 20 minutes or less, but how long you take to enjoy them is entirely up to you.

To find out more about PGI, or for more news, recipes and information, visit eatwelshlamb.com


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Siam Park City ■ PART water park, part theme park, Siam City is packed with rides and rollercoasters for adrenaline junkies of all ages. Build up a sweat dashing between hair-raising rides like the Vortex and Grand Canyon Express, then head to the water park to cool down in thrilling style by zipping down the Speed Slide into the Wave Pool. A great day out for the whole family. 203 Suan Siam Rd. Day pass is 30 US Dollars (roughly B1,000) for unlimited rides). Separate theme park and water park tickets are available. Tel: 02 919 7200 www.siamparkcity.com/en/main.php

Escape Hunt ■ ARE you and your kids a big fan of mysteries? Do you all enjoy a new challenge? If yes, a visit to this ‘ultimate live escape game’ is a must. Divided into teams of between two-five people you’ll voyage back 100 years or 50 years in time and play the part of a famous London detective solving mysteries set in an old house.

Escape Hunt offers three unique games set in four indoor rooms and two virtual “rooms” nearby, so there’s plenty to keep you returning for more. B1,800-B3,000 for two-five people. Interchange 21 Building, Sukhumvit Soi 21. Open daily 9.30am-8.30pm Tel: 02 611 2828 www.bangkok.escapehunt.com

Blu-O Rhythm & Bowl ■ THERE are numerous spots for bowling in Bangkok but Blu O Bowling, at Siam Paragon, is bowling with a Bangkok twist – think a DJ spinning tunes, and bowling balls equipped with flashing lights – so it always has a good atmosphere. The price ranges from B100 to B140 per game. With a cinema located just next door, you can also team your ten pin action with a movie. 5th floor of the Siam Paragon mall. Open daily 11amMidnight Tel: 02 129 4625 www.majorbowlhit.com

EasyKart ■ KART racing is a great way to get the adrenaline pumping. Sweeping corners, hairpin bends, exhilarating straights – the Easy Kart track in RCA has ’em all. With a choice of 160 cc. (40km/h) and 270 cc. (70km/h) karts for racers aged 12 up, and even 100 cc. (25km/h) karts for kids aged 7-13,

Suan Rot Fai Park ■ IT’s often hard to find a peaceful place to sit and think in bustling Bangkok, but Suan Rot Fai Park is the ideal location to do so. Located to the north of Chatuchak Weekend Market, this magnificent green space also has a 3 km track that weaves throughout the park allowing for relaxing walks, bike rides and other activities amongst nature. Bike rental is just B20 per day – a bargain. You can also rent kayaks and paddle boats for B40 each, hit golf balls on the driving range (B80 per 50 balls), and view all kinds of creepy (and not so creepy) crawlies in the butterfly garden and insectarium (open Tues-Sun 8.30am-4.30pm). Kamphaeng Phet 3 Rd. (Mo Chit BTS, or Chatuchak Park MRT). Open daily 6am-9pm.

EasyKart offers a fun challenge for beginners and advanced racers alike. Each race is eight minutes long. Packages range between B550 to B850, depending on the kart size. RCA Plaza. Open daily 1pm-midnight Tel: 02 203 1205 www.easykart.net

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School Report

Harrow

“Boarding is an amazing lifestyle” Jessica, a boarder at Harrow International School Bangkok, explains how she thrives so well in her boarding school life ■ LOOKING back on when I first started as a boarder at Harrow Bangkok, there were times when I experienced cultural differences and language limitations deep in my bones. I was 14 and everything was new to me; I had never been in a 24/7 English speaking environment, nor had I lived outside South Korea. Three years on, I can say that my experiences at Harrow Bangkok, especially in boarding, have been some of the best in my life. So much so, I am becoming a weekly boarder from next year as my family is moving to Thailand. I was given a choice to leave boarding, but I decided not to since I truly love my life here. Many friends of mine who don’t board often ask me what boarding life is

like – and I always say that it is great. The Boarding House has made me gain much more independence, significantly enhanced my English speaking skills and helped me get along well with friends and teachers. More realistically, I can get engaged with many more school activities and concentrate on my academic life with the help of teachers’ strong support instead of sitting in a car stuck in traffic jams every day. If anyone is hesitating to join boarding due to any reason, I would strongly recommend this amazing lifestyle. Joining Harrow Bangkok is like joining a family. I am writing this article from the school’s Development office – which is where I am doing my work experience. Every student in Year 11

has finished their exams and is taking their work experience placements. There was no question of where I wanted to take my placement – right here in Harrow Bangkok! www.harrowschool.ac.th

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School Report

Traill

Why should students invest in the Super Curriculum? Illustrating passion in a subject beyond what’s taught in the classroom paves the way to success at university and beyond ■ALL good international schools offer an extended curriculum. This is given various different titles, but basically refers to activities and opportunities additional to classroom lessons. The Super Curriculum refers to the studies which students undertake, usually in their own time and of their own volition, in the subjects which they have been studying at school. Going beyond the school curriculum by immersing themselves in their subject, typically by extending their reading, helps a student to show their passion, make intellectual progress, and make connections between different subjects. This is vital for when students come to apply to higher education colleges. Although this is encouraged most vigorously with older students, this does not have to be exclusively for them. Developing a Super Curriculum can be very rewarding for the more able student at any age. Indeed the drive to develop this Super Curriculum is often an indicator

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that a particular student may be especially gifted. Universities will often publish reading lists to promote this. But reading lists is only one of the many ways in which a student can find out more. Often there are thought provoking TED talks, magazine articles and discussions that are showcased in programmes such as In our Time, and specialist podcasts. Whatever the source is, universities look for students who have used that information to make intellectual progress.

Students need to demonstrate that they are beginning to develop the ability to harvest ideas and knowledge from various sources and to be able to build a bigger picture of the subject, the current understanding and the new innovations and directions that it is travelling in. They need to be aware of the current concerns or controversies, and ramifications in their chosen interest area or field of study. Nowadays, many students are earning high grades in their A-Levels or IBDP and so it is becoming more difficult to use this criterion alone for selection into universities. Universities are increasingly interested in applicants illustrating their passion for their elected course and, to a large extent, this is illustrated by the depth that they have developed their Super Curriculum. – Mr Gordon Espley-Jones, School Principal www.traillschool.ac.th


School Report

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury hosts primary Fobisia Games 2015 Competition’s brand new format features fully inclusive games for all ■ AS Shrewsbury bid farewell to our six teams at the games-ending gala dinner on Sunday May 17 we were able to look back and reflect on a fantastic three days of friendship, competition and achievement. Eyes were weary and bodies ached but the performances and efforts displayed by all six teams (SHB, BPS, GIS, TTS, KLASS and DCS) at the Primary FOBISIA Group A1 Games 2015 demonstrated the true spirit

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of the ‘Friendly Games.’ Personal best times and distance records were broken and games were won and lost but more importantly 240 students from across Asia came together and made new friendships. Whether it was in the pool, track or on the field we were thoroughly impressed with the standard of athleticism, performance and sportsmanship from all schools and teams. Competing in extremely hot conditions throughout the three days, no squad exemplified the spirit of the Games better than Shrewsbury’s 40 young athletes, and their efforts were rewarded with a gold medal in the Tee Ball plate championships. Meanwhile, the team from Kuala Lumpur’s Alice Smith School had perhaps the most successful championship, with victories in 4 of the 10 team disciplines. This was the first year that we piloted a new format which allowed greater participation with access for only Year 5 and Year 6 students. Using differentiated games programmes and more events in the swimming and

athletics really helped to deliver a fully inclusive games for all. Co-hosted at Bangkok’s Bang Mod stadium and Bangkok Patana School, the event presented a massive logistic challenge for Shrewsbury’s Sports and Activities department. However, precision planning and a massive amount of teamwork helped to deliver another seamless event, just three months after the inaugural FOBISIA age group swimming championships at Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury would like to thank all participating schools for their great spirit throughout the games and also to the 400 parents who travelled across South East Asia to support and cheer on their teams. www.shrewsbury.ac.th


School Report

Bromsgrove

Saving lives every day at Bromsgrove International School Students inspired to achieve better grades through an innovative programme that rewards achievements in a meaningful way

■ AT Bromsgrove International School Thailand, we pride ourselves on our international ethos, which permeates a school full of young global citizens. Just as the late, great, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Wangari Maathai tried to inspire a generation of ‘hummingbirds,’ extinguishing a metaphorical forest fire drop by drop, and Mahatma Gandhi famously called on us all to “be the change,” so Bromsgrove students make a difference every single day. The Bromsgrovian Learner Profile Inspired by the International Baccalaureate’s Learner Profile, we developed our own blueprint for effective global citizenship, a recipe of attributes we seek to instill in every student. We aim for them to show kindness, curiosity and positivity, and be risk-takers and team-players, determined, reflective and independent. And every time a student shows strength in any of these attributes, they are rewarded with what we call a ‘Polio Point.’ Through a ground-breaking partnership with vivomiles, one of the world’s premier school rewards platforms, our students are given their ‘Polio Points’ via an intuitive and realtime app, so that everyone can track their own progress.

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What are Polio Points? For every four Polio Points a student receives, the school contributes US$1 towards the global eradication of Polio, the next frontier in the UN’s Millennium Development Goal to combat world diseases. As a global community, we are 99% of the way towards eradicating forever this crippling disease which preys mercilessly on the very poorest and youngest people on the planet. Through a unique partnership with UNICEF and the Global Poverty Project, each Polio Point earned by Bromsgrove students actually helps to save and transform the lives of children around the world. Making the Point “You do something amazing in school, you save a life. This sort of life-changing equation is irresistible to young people,” explains Matthew Savage, Deputy Head of School at Bromsgrove, who first launched this programme whilst Secondary Principal at the International School Brunei in 2012. Having watched it save over 10,000 lives in its first year in Brunei, he could not resist bringing the programme to Bromsgrove. “There has been a paradigm shift at the school since we introduced Polio Points,” he explains, “and we have children telling their parents not what test score they got but how many children’s lives they have saved.” The slogan of this trailblazing programme is ‘Make the Point,’ and, like the quickly trending hashtag, Bromsgrove students are seizing the opportunity to #makethepoint.

Changemakers and Global Citizens The difference at Bromsgrove is palpable. Before Polio Points, it was difficult, sometimes, to motivate every learner, and to incentivise their achievement in a meaningful and relevant way. In pursuit of the best thinking of Alfie Kohn and Carol Dweck, Polio Points rewards process rather than product, and Bromsgrove students are actively growing their global citizenship credentials in the process. It has also empowered them to realise that young people really can make a difference to the world, and that theirs could even be the generation which gets rid of Polio forever, just as their grandparents’ once rid the world of Smallpox. Spreading the Word Now a year into the programme, Bromsgrove is keen for other schools to come on board. If one school can make a difference, then many schools can do so even more. Already, schools across the world are seeing the potential of this unique programme and exploring how their students, too, can #makethepoint.’ Like all the most powerful and successful movements in history, this started with a small and simple idea, which, in the hands of individual young people, can now grow into a worldchanging force. And, at Bromsgrove, students, staff and parents alike are proud to have been there at the start; proud, yet again, to tread new ground in international education; proud to #makethepoint. To find out more about Bromsgrove International School Thailand, visit www. bromsgrove.ac.th or follow us on twitter at @wearebist. To find out more about Polio Points, visit www.makingthepoint.org, or follow it on twitter at @poliopoints.


Expat Women

Health

How to keep your liver healthy

By Judith Coulson

Booze isn’t the only menace preying on the wellbeing of your body’s detoxifying powerhouse – sugar, meds, and MSG all pose a threat too. Follow these handy tips to keep your liver in tip-top condition YOUR liver is a key player in your body’s digestive system. Everything you eat or drink, including medicine, passes through it. You need to treat it right so it can stay healthy and do its job. It’s an organ you can easily damage if you don’t take good care of it, and once it’s damaged, you cannot repair it. Your liver is about the size of a football and sits under your lower ribcage on the right side. It has several important things to do. It helps clean your blood by getting rid of harmful chemicals made by your body. It makes liquid called bile, which helps break down fat from food. And it also stores sugar called glucose, which gives you a quick energy boost when you need it. You probably know that too much alcohol on a regular basis and over a certain period of time can damage your liver, but what about too much sugar? Let’s have a look at habits that can easily harm your liver and cause irreparable damage to your health.

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Sugar

Too much sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth. It can harm your liver, too. The organ uses one type of sugar, called fructose, to create fat. Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup cause a fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease. Some studies show that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you’re not overweight. So make sure you limit foods with added sugars, like pastries and candy.

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

MSG enhances the flavour of many packaged and prepared foods, from chips to diet drinks. (You might see it listed on food labels as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein,” “yeast extract,” or “soy extract”). Still, some studies of animals suggest that the chemical may make the liver fatty and inflamed, which can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and liver cancer.

Some herbal supplements Just because the label says “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. One serious danger is kava kava, a herb that can relieve menopause symptoms and help you relax. Studies show it can prevent the liver from working, causing hepatitis and liver failure. Some countries have banned or restricted the herb, but it’s still available in the US. You should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you take any herbs on a regular basis.


Y O U R U L T I M A T E W H A T ’ S O N G U I D E F O R J U L Y 1 5

What’s on Art

Performance

Sport

Football

Movies & Albums

Books

Twisted Firestarters The Prodigy make their Bangkok debut next month. Page 83.

The Used

The lads from Utah are bringing their post-metal riffs to Bangkok Page 83

Live Circus

Acrobatic stunts aplenty in Cirque Du Soleil’s travelling show Page 83

Sound Box

Twenty One Pilots to headline this music fest at Muang Thai GMM Page 83Page 84 TheBigChilli 81


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In the spotlight

Concerts in July at Prince Mahidol Hall Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra’s (TPO) music program in July features the following concerts at its wonderful new venue in Nakhon Pathom

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Thailand International Composition Festival 2015

THE baton of Spanish-American conductor José-Luis Novo will lead the TPO through the orchestral works and concerti of composers Tania León, Mathew Rosenblum, Narong Prangcharoen and Zhou Long, alongside soloists Kenneth Coon (saxophone), Lisa Pegher (percussion), Tapalin Charoensook (cello) and Christopher Janwong McKiggan (piano). Starts at 4pm (pre-concert talk at 3.15pm). A must see for concert lovers of all ages. Tickets: B500 and B300 (B100 for students up to bachelor’s degree) www.thaiticketmajor.com

J uly 24 -25

Mahler & Villa Lobos

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Bohemian – Moravian Music Night

INTERESTED in a musical journey through a small but one of the most soulful areas of music in Europe? Under the baton of the Chief Conductor Gudni A. Emilsson, and together with the world renowned Czech Cellist Tomas Strasil, the TPO is all set to deliver a deeply emotional, atmospheric and diversified trip. Featuring Bohuslav Martinu: Cello Concerto No.1 H 196; Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.4 in G Major; and the World Premiere of Escaping, a composition by the American composer James J. Ogburn, the concert will be held on Fri July 17 at 7pm (pre-concert talk at 6.15pm), and Sat July 18 at 4pm (pre-concert talk at 3.15pm). Expect to be moved and awed in equal measure. Tickets: B500 and B300 (B100 for students up to bachelor’s degree) www.thaiticketmajor.com

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INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed guitarist Paul Cesarczyk joins Maestro Alfonso Scarano and the TPO in concerts which pair the intimate and impressionistic Guitar Concerto by Heitor Villa-Lobos with one of Gustav Mahler’s most popular and engaging symphonic creations, the inspiring Fifth Symphony. An accomplished guitarist in his own right, Villa-Lobos composed his last work for the instrument at the request of Andres Segovia, the most significant guitarist of the 20th century, and his Concerto is suffused with the delicate colours of French music and vibrant spirit of Brazilian folk song. Adagietto Mahler’s Fifth symphony, meanwhile, has achieved iconic status in the concert hall and beyond. Composed during the summers of 1901 and 1902 at a beautiful alpine lake in southern Austria, the Fifth explores the emotional and philosophical meanings of love and death as no composer has done before or since. July 24 at 7pm (pre-concert talk at 6.15pm), and Sat July 25 at 4pm (pre-concert talk at 3.15pm). Tickets: B500 and B300 (B100 for students up to bachelor’s degree) www.thaiticketmajor.com

Read more about these and upcoming performances at www.thailandphil.com


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Social|Last Month’s Be Best Events

CHILL OUT TUESDAY AT GREASE

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THE new Chilled Out Tuesday party at Ewya Rooftop Bar, Grease, Thonglor, kicked off in suitably fun fashion with a celeb-studded party featuring headlining sets by DJ Natasha Freake and George Lg (Paka Fr). Billed as “the Gentlemen’s Midweek Pit Stop,” the new event, presented by Grease and Hennessy, is held every Tuesday and features special drinks deals for the guys.

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A TASTE OF APEROL

ITALIAN premium spirits importer Italasia Trading (Thailand) hosted a cocktail party to promote Aperol, a light aperitif infused with spices and herbs for a refreshing taste. Held at Quartier Gallery, EmQuartier, the event featured an Aperol cocktail making workshop with local mixologist Niks Anuman-rajadhon, and was attended by restaurant and bar owners from Bangkok and beyond.

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GRAND ITALIAN WINE TASTING

OENOPHILES were out in force for Texica’s Grand Italian Wine Tasting, held after the finals of its Italian Wine Sommelier Competition, in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok. More than 40 wines from different regions of Italy were showcased at the event.

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SINGLES MINGLE AT AMBAR

ELEGIBLE bachelors and bachelorettes flocked to amBar Rooftop, Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok, Sukhumvit 15, for the bar’s first Single Fridays Party. Featuring creative cocktails, pass around snacks, and music by DJ Zoey and DJ Itchy from the UK, the event went down a treat.

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Social|Around town

WALTZ SHOWCASES PREMIUM EYEWEAR

W ision marked the launch of its fifth branch in Bangkok (Siam Paragon, 2/F) with a press conference showcasing its extensive range of luxury eyewear from the world’s leading brands. Highlights of the collection included Lotos’ Binary von Diamanten, whose frames feature 130 princess-cut diamonds, approximately 1.92 carat, set in 18k gold (B1,543,600) and the ultra-premium, limited edition Lotos Trillance, delicately crafted over six months and featuring 100 trilliant cut diamonds, approximately 3.33 carat, encrusted into 18k gold rims. The price? A cool B5,120,000. www.waltzvision.com

HONDA GOES GREEN LA MONDE LAUNCHES IN STYLE

W hai skincare brand a onde Skincare officially launched its products to the public with a group interview, product demonstrations, and a chat with celebrity guest Ja Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, who shared her beauty secrets. The event was held at The Sukosol Hotel. Targeting middle-aged consumers, La Monde’s Perfect Facial Series features Facial Serum, Facial Emulsion and Eye Serum. www.lamondeskincare.com

HONDA Automobile (Thailand) Co., Ltd. showcased the brand’s eco-friendly credentials at a special ceremony held at Honda’s Green Factory at Rojana Industrial Park in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. Having just received the “Green Label” (from the Thai Industrial Standards Institute and Thailand Environment Institute) for all Honda models manufactured in Thailand, Honda’s executives were keen to show off the factory’s manufacturing processes, which, in keeping with Honda’s ‘Blue Skies For Our Children’ philosophy, have been specially designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and limit water wastage.

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Social|Last Around Month’s town Best Events

PINKBERRY DEBUTS IN THAILAND

THAI celebs were out in force for the launch of the first Pinkberry frozen yoghurt shop in Thailand, at Bangkok’s Central Chidlom department store. Established in Los Angeles, USA, and now operating in 22 countries worldwide, Pinkberry prides itself on offering daily-made, quality frozen yogurt made using only premium ingredients. Pomegranate, Chocolate Hazelnut, Green Tea, Salted Caramel, and more tasty flavours went down a treat with local luminaries such as Teerapa Promphan, Amata Chittasenee, Patcharavipa Bodiratnangkura, and Siriporn Malasin.

FRUIT AND ORCHARD SHOWCASE IN SRIRACHA

KANTARY Bay Hotel, Sriracha General Manager Sudawadee Rerksujarit hosted a fun-filled tour of the Suphattra Land Fruit Orchard for the Japanese long-stay guests of Cape & Kantary Hotel’s Sriracha properties. The trip was held as part of Cape & Kantary Hotels’ Exclusive Moments Program, a series of trips and activities held for the Japanese long-stay guests to foster cross-cultural understanding and community building. The Japanese long-stay guests and staff of Cape Racha, Kantary Bay, Kameo House and Karavel House Hotels participated in this activity.

LANEIGE SHARES BEAUTY TIPS

INNOVATIVE skincare brand Laneige organized an event entitled “Sleepless Beauty with Water Sleeping Mask” where it introduced its latest two products – Water Sleeping Mask and Lip Sleeping Mask – both of which have been specially designed to moisturize skin. The event was hosted by Mr Park Sam Jun, General Manager of Amorepacific (Thailand) Co., Ltd.

DUCATI CELEBRATES FESTA DELLA REPUBBLICA

DUCATI Thailand, importer of the famous Italian motorcycle, celebrated Italy’s Republic Day with a celeb-studded event at Quartier Gallery, The EmQuartier. During the party the company officially launched its new ‘Ducati Loyalty Program,’ which offers discounts and special deals in the Em District Urban Italiana. Among the VIP guests were Atchara Burarak, Poowadee Kunpalin, Nuchanat Raveesangsoon, Chindapa Boonyagorn, Parunyu Rojanawatitham, and Wongsakorn Poramathakorn.

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DIPLOMATS Meet the people uniting nations

His Excellency Victor Daniel Ramirez Peña

Page 108

As The BigChilli was going to print, CNN politics reported that the United States and Cuba were on the verge of announcing plans to “officially seal the renewal of diplomatic ties begun last year, announcing the reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana for the first time in more than half-a-century.”

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Diplomats

His Excellency Victor Daniel Ramirez Peña|Cuba

Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER Portrait photographs JARAN LAKKANAWAT

Life after the US embargo: How Cuba plans to retain its independence In a far-ranging interview, the Cuban Ambassador talks about his time in Libya and the killing of Gaddafi, Cuban boxing coaches in Thailand, the return of Guantánamo, the continuing US ban on Cuban cigars, revolutionary cancer vaccines and the significance of his country’s changing relationship with Washington

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WITH 40 years’ service in the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) under his belt, His Excellency Victor Daniel Ramirez Peña is one of the Bangkok diplomatic corps’ most experienced envoys. The Cuban ambassador to Thailand and Myanmar started his four-year term in 2012 and since then has devoted his efforts toward promoting the image and interests of his country in this part of the world. Mr Peña’s English is superb, spoken with a slight American accent. In a recent interview with The BigChilli he discussed a wide range of issues without the use of notes. He is proud of what his country has achieved in spite of the economic embargo imposed by the United States in 1962. He talked at length on this timely topic and answered convincingly a number of questions regarding Cuba’s changing relationship with the US. He also offered some interesting insights into his time as Cuban ambassador to Libya, where he witnessed firsthand the fall of Gaddafi. Since coming to Thailand, Mr Peña has been very visible at diplomatic, cultural and social functions in Bangkok and upcountry. For example, he has met with the Secretary General of the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) Dr Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthya; former speaker of parliament Honorary Somsak Kiatsuranont; and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Don Pramudwinai. Others notables include Bangkok Governor ML Sukhumbhand Paribatra; the Chairman of Siam Bioscience and member Board of Directors of the CPB, Dr Snoh Unakul; former leader of the Foreign Affairs Committee and President of the Thailand-Cuba Parliamentarians Friendship Group, Pikulkaew Krairiksh; and President of the Institute of Physical Education, Mr Sompong Chatavithee, an institution with which Cuba’s had a long and mutually fruitful relationship. Ambassador Peña has travelled to many provinces, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Sakon Nakhon, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Nan, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Krabi, Petchabun and Udon Thani. Lately, Mr Peña has been closely following and visiting a sophisticated pharmaceutical facility being erected by Siam Bioscience in close technical cooperation from Cuba. The

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signing of a cooperation agreement between Thai and Cuban medical companies in April 2014 is due to become the flagship of economic links between the two countries. The ambassador is always well dressed; he prefers Cuban-style shirts [Guayaberas] or nicely cut custom suits. His residence is decorated with paintings and photographs by Cuban artists. Notable during a photo shoot at the Cuban embassy located in Sukhumvit Soi 27 were photos of Fidel Castro and his brother and current President Raul Castro, which flank a portrait of the 19th century Cuban pro-independence national hero José Martí.

Background “I am Cuban by birth. I was born and brought up in the historical city of Bayamo in eastern Cuba, the only city to carry the title of National Monument because it was there where the war of independence started and the national anthem was born. I graduated in International Relations at Havana University in 1974. A year later I started working at the MFA. I also studied law, although I have never practised. “My father and mother were of poor origin in Cuba before the Revolution. I say ‘Cuba before the Revolution’ because even if there are people in my country with more or even less material goods to live on, such as a nice apartment or car, I personally consider that the educational opportunities and cultural values prevailing in many of these ‘poor’ areas enable them to enjoy ballet or opera in today’s Cuba, read books like few do around the world, discuss or participate in politics, hold a sound conversation on cinema, and so on, all of which is not characteristic of a poor elsewhere. “ “Poverty in material life is usually synonymous with poverty in mind. As a matter of fact, if you ask many of those Cuban poor: ‘Are you a poor?’ They would say: ‘No.’ But having said that, I would like to emphasize it’s a very personal view of this topic on which many, particularly a foreign visitor to Cuba, would most probably think otherwise.


“My mother couldn’t go beyond junior high school because there wasn’t enough money to pay for it, something that’s rare since 1959. My father worked at a law office as an assistant and after the Revolution he became an accountant at a government office. “I had every opportunity to get a good education. After graduation I joined the Diplomatic Academy and from there went straight to the MFA. “I am a career diplomat. Our system in the MFA stipulates that we spend four years abroad and two at home. In 40 years I have probably spent a little more than half abroad.”

Dangerous assignment Mr Peña was the Cuban ambassador to Libya before coming to Thailand. “My mission was cut short because of the tragic events there. “A no-fly zone was established over Libya by the big powers. It was passed through certain tricks and even lies in the UN Security Council and that allowed western powers to start bombing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s positions and troops to the point of practically annihilating them. It enabled the rebels to come from across the border and establish control. They killed Gaddafi and most of his family. “For Cuba it wasn’t possible to keep an embassy before a regime that had been imposed on blood and tears, at the expense of thousands of people mercilessly killed for the sake of eliminating one man. Cuba was the sole country to take that principled step. The effects of events there are unfortunately lingering to the extent that the country is devastated. “Being posted in Libya was an unforgettable experience. Having to serve your country in a war situation in which you never know if a bomb is going to explode over your head or a stray bullet will go into your heart is very demanding. But as a Cuban diplomat I would never withdraw from an assignment unless I am told to do so.

“It was dangerous for me and other embassy staff. Bombs were dropped in the middle of the night and we never knew what would happen. We were not hiding in bunkers; we were fulfilling our duty, which at the time was to keep our government informed amid the internal war and aggression that was taking place. “Fortunately the embassy wasn’t hit by any bombs. Some stray bullets went inside and at one point, me and one of my diplomats were caught in the middle of a cross fire while trying to ‘rescue’ a Cuban journalist from the hotel. On some occasions it was frightening going around the city, with the driver afraid to do his job and unable to reach the embassy. In fact, at one point my wife had to take over as ‘driver of the ambassador,’ but that was it. “When the rebels came into Tripoli, one of the things that happened was that the Cuban embassy was immediately ‘guarded’ on each side, probably under the presumption, without any grounds whatsoever, that Gaddafi or his family could have sought asylum in Cuba, as one European Foreign Office minister asserted in public at the peak of the psychological war that preceded the cooked-up Security Council resolution. “Previous to those events Cuba maintained a very good relationship with Libya and it was our view that changing the regime was an unwise, criminal act of aggression. I stayed in Libya and fulfilled my duties until the closure of the embassy. It was, however, from a professional viewpoint, an experience to remember, a lesson on diplomacy in times of war.”

Bilateral relations “Diplomatic relations between Cuba and Thailand were established on May 7, 1958, but there is a very curious and interesting letter written by King Chulalongkorn [Rama V] dated May 4, 1903. The Republic of Cuba had been established just one

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Diplomats

His Excellency Victor Daniel Ramirez Peña|Cuba

Colourful streets, lively dances, and world-class cigars - Cuba has a lot to offer tourists

Ambassador Peña in Thailand

year earlier, on May 20, 1902. The letter, written in Thai, is a response from King Chulalongkorn to a letter by the President of Cuba circulated to the heads of state of various countries, including Thailand. I discovered this letter by chance and I don’t believe historians had been aware of it before.” “The first Cuban embassy here was opened in 2004. I am only the third Cuban ambassador to the Kingdom. Thailand opened its consulate in Havana in 2003. The relationship between our two countries has always been smooth. In particular we have maintained a very cordial and productive political relationship in multilateral organizations like the United Nations, the Human Rights Counsel, and others. We have supported each other quite often. Cuba appreciates very highly the support of Thailand in its struggle against the US-backed economic blockade [embargo].”

LETTER FROM KING CHULALONGKORN TO THE PRESIDENT OF CUBA (NON OFFICIAL TRANSLATION) SOMDETCH PHRA PARAMINDR MAHA CHULALONKORN PHRA CHULA CHOM KLAO King of Siam, North and South and all of its dependencies, Laos, Malaysians, Kareans, &. &. &. o His Excellency Mr Tomas Estrada Palma, President of the Republic of Cuba, our good friend, health! By your letter dated January 29 Your Excellency has had the pleasure of informing that the Republic of Cuba was inaugurated on May 20,

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“South Asia is where I have been posted most of my diplomatic career, but although I was for a long time geographically close to Thailand, I never visited it until I took the job as ambassador here, on October 10, 2012. “My duties are pretty much the same as most of my colleagues in the diplomatic corps here, that is, to promote and strengthen bilateral relations with Thailand in all spheres feasible and, secondly but not less important, to shed as much light on my country as much as possible, taking into account the real lack of basic knowledge about events in Cuba or what Cuba is really like after more than half a century of ill-intentioned propaganda against my country by what I call the transnational media. “Cuba has a large, well-trained, hardworking diplomatic service but we do not exercise the ‘big power’ policy of interfering in the internal affairs of this or other countries, whether we agree or not with whatever is happening. “Economic relations between Thailand and Cuba are not on a grand scale, but we have imported rice, electronic goods, household equipment, computers and parts, tyres, office equipment, shoes and a number of other things. To Thailand we export our cigars, Havana Club rum, which is very famous, and some biopharmaceuticals, another area in which Cuba has attained a few successes, particularly in the production of therapeutic vaccines, sometimes unique, for the treatments of certain cancers. “Cubans have also exported sports coaches to Thailand, especially boxing coaches. This is very much appreciated by the

1902, and that Your Excellency has assumed charge and performed as chief of the Executive Power as conferred upon yourself by the Cuban Constitution. By offering our congratulations to Your Excellency and to the people of Cuba by this happy event, we are convinced it will bring about great advantages and growing prosperity to the Cuban nation, with which we shall always seek to maintain the closest relations of friendship. Entrusting Your Excellency to the protection of Supreme Power of the Universe, we reiterate to Your Excellency the certainty of our most sincere friendship. Good Friend, (M. R.) Chulalonkorn R. Given at Bangkok, on May 4, 1903


Thai population because a Cuban coach helped Thailand to win its first Olympic gold medal in 1996. “There’s a joint venture between a Thai company and the Cuban Centre for Molecular Immunology. We are in the process of transferring technology for the production of five or six products and there is a good scope for further enlargement of business.” Mr Peña’s duties in Bangkok keep him very busy, but he travels around the country as much as he can. “If you do not travel then you won’t be able to understand events, know the country and its people beyond its capital. There is a lot going on outside of Bangkok. I have been in a few regions of the country, but not to every province yet. Sometimes I travel officially and sometimes privately. “The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture often organize very useful trips to familiarize heads of mission with the various projects, for example His Majesty’s Development Projects and others. I try not to miss any.”

US relations

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Asked about the issue on everyone’s mind these days, the lifting of the US embargo on Cuba, Mr Peña commented: “It has been a mutual understanding that has developed in recent times, particularly in the last one and a half years. There is a mutual will to go into a new stage of relationship, but it’s still in the negotiating process. “Since December 17, there has been a dramatic shift in the relationship between the US and Cuba, thanks to the decision taken by President Obama to try a different way with our country, since the embargo clearly has not had its desired effect – to stimulate regime change in Cuba. This was the purpose of the embargo when it was established in 1962, but it has failed. There is a growing sentiment among the US population at large, amongst Cubans, and amongst Cuban-Americans also that it is time for a change. Seventy percent of the American population supports the change and there have been proposals in Congress for the past several years to change some aspects of our relationship. “I think President Obama took all of these into account and we have to recognize that it was courageous on his part to take

this step forward. The fourth round of talks was concluded on May 22. Discussions related to the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies. Many issues have yet to be clarified. However, some measures have been adopted, and there have been unprecedented events like the visits by Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, and a group of members of Congress led by Nancy Pelosi. A number of cultural exchanges have also taken place.” Is the embargo likely to be lifted or eased in the near future? Ambassador Peña replied: “We have taken steps forward and we hope that they will lead in due course to the normalization of relations, but it is a difficult thing to make happen because the embargo is locked in. It is law and therefore Congress has to approve it; there are so many regulations and so many laws associated with it, even within budgets of some ministries like agriculture and transport, so it would be very difficult to suddenly lift it. But I believe it will have to take place sooner than later because we will continue to struggle against it for as long as it takes. “At this time there is no Cuban embassy in the US nor US embassy in Cuba, but there are what is called the US Interests Section in Havana and Cuban Interests Section in Washington D.C. These were established during President Carter’s term and they are attached to the Swiss embassies in both countries. The US embassy will be located at this place, a multi-storey building in downtown Havana which the US built before the revolution. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington D.C. will house the Cuban embassy. “The positive aspects of normalization are obvious. We are the third closest neighbour to the US after Canada and Mexico, only 90 miles away. I think it will benefit both countries. For us, you can imagine what it has been like for a small country, or a big one for that matter, to have had the US foot on your head all along more than half a century, in every possible field. So normalizing relations will be positive both for Cuba and for the US. “One example of the potential benefits for the US became evident when New York Governor Cuomo visited Cuba in April. He was accompanied by a group of pharmaceutical executives and experts who helped negotiate an agreement that will enable a Cuban-developed lung cancer vaccine to save American lives in the near future. God knows how many Americans could have been saved by the vaccine which we have had for a number of years.”

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His Excellency Victor Daniel Ramirez Peña|Cuba AMBASSADOR PEÑA IN FOCUS

Date of birth: September 24, 1952 Marital status: Married to Ibis Guanche Rodriguez. They have one daughter. Education: B.A. in International Relations, 1974; Bachelor of Law, University of Havana, 1982. Career: • 1975: Third Secretary, Asia and Oceania Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs • 1975-1978: Third Secretary, embassy of Cuba in India • 1978-1980: Second Secretary, embassy of Cuba in India • 1980-1982: Second Secretary, Asia and Oceania Division • 1982-1983: Charge d’Affaires a.i., embassy of Cuba in Sri Lanka • 1983-1991: First Secretary, Asia and Oceania Division • 1991-1995: Counselor, Deputy Chief of Mission, embassy of Cuba in India • 1997-1998: Deputy Director, Asia and Oceania Division • 1998-2001: Minister Counselor, Deputy Chief of Mission, embassy of Cuba in Brazil • 2001-2005: Ambassador to St Lucia • 2006-2009: Ambassador, Asia and Oceania Division • 2009-2011: Ambassador to Libya • 2012-2012: Ambassador, Asia and Oceania Division Apart from Spanish, his mother tongue, Ambassador Pena also speaks English, Portuguese and French. He has traveled on official missions to several countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Africa and received national and foreign decorations.

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UN resolutions

Mr Peña said the rationale for the embargo was that creating economic hardships for the Cuban population would alienate the government of Fidel Castro and cause the people to rise up against it. This never happened. Over the years the global community has chosen to ignore and criticize the embargo. “For around 20 years Cuba has consecutively presented a resolution before the UN General Assembly condemning the embargo because of its detrimental effects on the Cuban population. It is harmful to Cubans not only in economic terms, but in all areas, including health, as much as it harms other countries because of its extraterritorial effect (the US has been applying it to foreign companies that trade with Cuba, and pressing governments as well). “At the beginning the resolution passed, but not with an overwhelming vote. Over time, the US has become more and more isolated in regard to its stand on Cuba. Cuba gets 188 votes out of 192. Three small islands in the South Pacific abstain under pressure. “In fact, it is this resolution that gets the highest number of votes amongst all of the resolutions presented to the UN General Assembly as it counts on the largest participation of countries and the largest support. But the embargo isn’t lifted because the General Assembly resolutions are not binding. We will submit the resolution again this year because the embargo is not yet over. “The embargo applies to everything, including cigars. The news that Cuban cigars can now be freely brought into the US is

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not accurate. The change that has taken place is that US citizens authorized to travel to Cuba by US authorities are now allowed bring in up to US$100 worth of cigars, which are in high demand in the US because they have no equal. Cigars are expensive. The cheapest box of 25 pieces will cost around US$200 in Cuba. “Cuban cigars have been smuggled into the US in the past, but if you violate the regulations – and most people don’t know this – the fine is up to US$1 million for a company or US$250,000 for an individual, plus a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. This is valid even if the cigars are bought in a third country.” The ambassador explained that some US airlines are licensed by the US government to fly to Cuba. “When Governor Cuomo visited Cuba, some airline executives came with him. For a number of years only Cuban-Americans were allowed to fly to Cuba. It got more flexible depending on the US president of the time. With the thawing of relations, traffic is sure to increase dramatically between Havana and different American cities.”

Life after normalization Is Mr Peña concerned that his country will be dominated by major US companies once the embargo ends? While acknowledging that the American political/cultural/economic machine is the strongest in the world, he adds “As a matter of fact that hasn’t changed or influenced the way of life in many parts of world, even in our area, which is known as the US’s backyard. Cuba has a very strong culture, formed thanks to the input of various cultures, the strongest of which are the African, Spanish, and even Chinese. On the other hand there was a very strong American presence right from 1898 when we defeated the Spanish colonizers, until 1959. “American companies and institutions dominated the economy and heavily influenced society in general. But our culture wasn’t broken; it’s strong enough to survive, as reflected in our music, dances, and practically every sphere of life. Another


example of that can be ascertained by the fact that not many Cubans can speak English fluently, in spite of that influence. “Cuba is not an isolated country. More than 200 radio stations from the US can be received on the island, sometimes better than our own stations. There’s even one radio station and one TV station, unfortunately named after Cuba’s foremost hero, José Martí, broadcasting subversive propaganda 24/7, but we have managed to jam it [the TV station]. “Let me put it this way: I do not foresee that relations with the US will have to exert any dramatic change in what Cuba is like. On the other hand, we are indeed carrying out a number of changes, call it reforms if you like, but it is not because of the US or other foreign pressures but because the Cuban population is the one propelling those changes and the government in place is truly, truly answerable to the people who elect it. “Eventually relations between Cuba and the US will be normalized and we will have to adapt, but this applies to both sides. I want to stress one thing: Cuba is not a ‘banana republic!’ We have struggled and survived on our own, particularly since the 1990s, and we don’t owe anything to anybody. Therefore any changes that are made will be to the benefit of the Cuban people. This is the only motivation for the Cuban leadership, to improve the situation, economic or otherwise, of the population of Cuba.” Mr Peña stressed that the issue of non-interference in Cuba’s internal affairs is extremely important. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations governs the conduct of foreign diplomats as well as the functions of a diplomatic mission. It says no country should interfere in internal affairs of another country, and not to work with groups of people inside the country for the purpose of overthrowing the government. This principle is also set forth in the UN Charter. “In Panama, in April last year, President Obama said that the purpose of the USA’s policy on Cuba was not regime change,” said Mr Peña. “We hope that as we move forward in the process of normalizing relations, we will see a better correspondence between such statements and real life. But as of now the US government is still asking millions of dollars for programs aimed at bringing about a change in Cuba’s internal order.”

Long and complex process “The process of normalization of relations with the US will be a long and complex process which needs to be negotiated in mutual goodwill, with the desire to meet the satisfaction of both parties. There are bilateral problems whose roots go back more than half a century with some, such as the one concerning the illegally occupied territory of Guantánamo, for more than one century,” Mr Peña said. “In Cuba we have identified a preliminary list that we should start to discuss once the first phase is concluded – the restoration of relations and the opening of embassies – in order to move towards the normalization of relations. On our side we have raised issues such as the lifting of the blockade – called embargo in the US – along with the return of the Guantánamo naval base, and the cessation of illegal transmissions of radio and television Martí which are harmful to Cuba’s sovereignty. “On Cuba’s side we talked also of the subject of compensation to our country and our people for the damage caused by US policies implemented all for the past 54 years. The US for its part has advanced at least one of the items that they want to discuss in this second phase, that is, the compensation for the properties that were nationalized in Cuba at the beginning of the revolution. Therefore, we already have a range of well identified issues, at least to start.” During the photography session at the embassy, Ambassa-

dor Peña explained the significance of the photos of Fidel and Raul Castro and the portrait of José Martí in between them. “José Martí was the leader of the Cuban independence movement against Spanish colonialism in Cuba. When the first attempt by Fidel Castro and his friends to overthrow the bloody dictatorship of Dictator Fulgencio Batista failed in 1953, he was taken to jail. Asked who was behind the attack on Moncada Barracks, Castro said the mastermind was José Martí, who died in 1895. His ideas are very relevant to Cuba and to the whole of the Spanish speaking world. He was a politician, philosopher and writer. Modernism, in literature, was enshrined in him. “This picture shows the current president of Cuba, Raul Castro, when he was fighting in the mountains with Fidel. That’s why he is the president of Cuba, not because he is another Castro. “Fidel Castro is of course a legendary figure of Cuban history, and instantly recognized all over the world. When he started the revolution in 1953 with the attack on the military garrison he was put in jail and then went into exile (to Mexico) after the regime was pressed by the population. When he left Cuba in 1955, he foretold something that became famous: ‘If I leave, I will reach [Mexico]; if I reach, I will come back [to fight for Cuba’s final independence]; if I come back, I will succeed’ [defeat the dictatorship]. And he did all the three. That’s why he’s so greatly adored in Cuba and around the world.”

On a personal note

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Switching gears, from political to private, Mr Peña said at the end of the interview: “I have very little free time, but when I can I like to swim, work out and watch movies – not on television, I prefer cinemas because of the wide screens and good audio. I have been to some of the best movie theatres in Europe but I don’t think that you have anything to envy in Thailand. “My term as ambassador is four years. I have nearly two more years to go. The retirement age in Cuba is 60 for women and 65 for men, so I just have a few years to go. Then we will see. As in Europe and Japan, our population is not growing. New couples don’t want to have as many children. Life expectancy in Cuba is 78, one of the highest in the world. The population is getting older. “What I like the most in Thailand is something that characterizes Thais to the world – the Thai smile. Why the smile? Thais have a wonderful way of saying ‘no’ which you don’t find very often. In most of the world people are blunt at the time of saying ‘no.’ In Thailand the word has a different facet. “People are just nicer to a certain degree. Of course you do sometimes find rude Thais that demerit that peculiar feature, but fortunately they are an absolute minority in the ‘Land of Smiles.’ In any case, people are not all the same in any society. Another thing I really like about Thailand is the diversity of the land to the foreign eye. “If you ask me what I haven’t liked here so far, it would have to be the intricacies and complexities of Thai society and politics. As a diplomat this makes my life very difficult. A diplomat is supposed to understand in due time and course the ins and outs of a country in political, economic and other aspects, so that he or she can relate adequately and recapitulate events properly to home. “In Thailand there are codes of conduct that are unique; at least I haven’t seen them before in my experience abroad. So it has been difficult for me to decipher those codes and the gist of the country’s politics.” The ambassador said there are three big similarities between Cuba and Thailand: “The weather, freedom from foreign influence, and the sense of humour. The love of music also binds us, although we dance more and Thais sing more.”

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

Al Janna Beach Bar

Moroccan-inspired drinking and dining at Marrakesh Hua Hin

LOCATED a short stroll from the sands under a dome-topped gazebo and decorated in a modern Moroccan style, the Al Janna Beach Bar at Marrakesh Hua Hin Resort & Spa is a lovely spot to sink a few cocktails and while away an afternoon or evening with friends. Staking a claim for being the most exotic beach bar in Hua Hin, Al Janna takes its name from the Arabic word Jannah, which means ‘garden’ or ‘paradise,’ and with its lovingly maintained lawn, low-slung brass tables, oversized bean bags, and subdued lighting, it certainly delivers a unique and wonderfully laidback atmosphere that’s unlike anything else in town. When the sun is still high, you can sit back and enjoy the sea breeze while sipping Moroccan mint-infused tea and tucking into mango and sticky rice,

coconut cake, scones and fruit tarts, and more tasty treats, in the High Tea Set – great value at B550++. Come evening time, you can then choose to order food from the resort’s Al Hamra Restaurant, which specializes in Exotic Fusion Cuisine blending renowned flavours of East and West. And you don’t need to leave the comfort of the bar – the staff is more than happy to bring the dishes to you. The most popular options include the signature Al Janna Pizza (B450++), topped with mozzarella, basil, seafood and a spicy sauce; and the Salmon Oasis (B680++), featuring grilled salmon marinated with Moroccan spices, spinach ragout and couscous. But don’t miss the Moroccan chicken tajine (B550++), a classic slow-cooked Moroccan stew served in an earthenware pot with butter

M arrakesh H ua H in Resort & Sp a. 63/ 4 11 Petchkasem Road, H ua H in.

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couscous; and the Pad Thai with soft shell crab (B380++). The Papaya salad with deep fried soft shell crab (B280++) and Grilled salmon teriyaki (B280++) are also worth a try. To wash down your food Al Janna offers a decent selection of wines, beers and spirits and also has 10 unique cocktails specially concocted to embrace the resort’s neo-Moroccan theme. Our faves include Arabian Night (a sweet and tangy cocktail blending Absolut Mandarin, Blue Curacao, orange juice, lime juice and syrup. B300++); Prince of Persia (Absolut Raspberry, Cointreau, Blue Curacao, lime juice, syrup. B300++), and If Tah Ya Sim Sim (which was inspired by the folktale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and features Green Cream De Menthe, Kahlua and coconut juice. B300++).

032 616 777 :marrakeshresortandsp a.com


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Zafran Authentic Indian Dining

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Mughlai favourites and an all-you-can-eat Saturday night buffet pack in the diners at this new restaurant in the heart of Hua Hin

SPECIALISING in traditional Mughlai cuisine from North India, this new restaurant on Damnoernkasem Road is owned and operated by the same team behind the popular Smor Spa Indian Beachside Restaurant, which was shuttered earlier in the year for all the right reasons – basically to capitalise on its thriving trade by moving to a new premises in a more convenient location. The results have paid off. The food, cooked by Chef Shaik Sajed, remains as authentic as it gets (think rich, thick and flavoursome curries served alongside steaming rice and homemade breads fresh from the tandoor oven; and tandoori meats cooked to tender, succulent perfection) and the setting, a whitewashed dining room decorated with local art, fronted by a small terrace overlooking

the Hua Hin Night Bazaar, is laid-back yet vibrant and well-suited to long, indulgent feasts with family and friends. Similar to Thai cuisine, the best way to enjoy a meal here is by ordering a few different dishes and sharing them with your dining companions (although a single curry and rice also goes down a treat, if you're dining on your own). A good introduction to what's on offer is the Tandoor Platter (B400), which comes loaded with a selection of the restaurant's meaty treats and, as such, is great value for money. Among the options: Fish tikka, chicken malai kebab, lamb sheek kebab, prawn motisagar, beef shammi kebab, and much more. Perfect for sharing. The Chicken samosas (B70 for three pieces), savoury pyramid pastries filled with chicken and served with a mint sauce and

4 / 14 -16 Soi H ua H in B az aar, D amnoernkasem Rd.

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tamarind chutney, are also a great way to start a meal, preparing the palate perfectly for the spice-infused journey to come. And what a journey it is. Curries such as Chicken tikka masala (B150), Fish Bhuna (B175), and Mutton rogan josh (B180) all arrive piping hot and packed full of flavour. Just perfect when teamed with a fluffy and warm Butter nan (B40) or a portion of Vegetable biryani (B120) – and even lovelier when washed down with a yoghurt-based Mango Lassi (B40). As you can see from the prices, great value comes as standard at Zafran. Visit on a Saturday night, and it's even better: from 7pm an All-You-Can-Eat Indian Dinner Buffet is on offer priced just B350 per person. The sumptuous spread even includes some Thai dishes, too. In short, well worth a try.

084 319 64 4 9 :f acebook.com/ Z af ranindianrestaurant


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Accommodation

Hua Hin Where to sleep The Cape Nidhra Hotel, Hua Hin ■ Located in the heart of Hua Hin right next to the beach, this luxury hotel combines comfort and convenience for the perfect escape. Each suite is well-furnished in stylish décor and each has its own private swimming pool. General facilities include a fitness center, a swimming pool, steam rooms, spa, library, and meeting functions. Rocks Restaurant serves up a wide range of international dishes and local favourites, while the beachside bar, and the cigar and whisky bar, mix up some excellent cocktails.

Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa ■ This imposing resort in the centre of Hua Hin is regarded as one of the best family hotels in the region. Accommodation features comfortable rooms and suites, providing guests with a living space that exhibits contemporary Thai design flair and good in-room amenities. There are also 11 Spa Suites available. The awardwinning White Lotus on the 17th floor of the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa offers sky-high dining at down to earth prices. 33 Naresdamri Road. Tel: 032 538 999

97/2 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin Tel: 032 516 600

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin ■ Set within 13 hectares of landscaped gardens, the property dates back to 1923 and is one of Southeast Asia’s most renowned hotels. The luxurious colonial-era beachfront resort features 207 beautifully appointed guestrooms and suites, each one offering comfort and convenience. The Pool Villas include four Deluxe Spa Villas with queen sized twin bed, lounging area, bathroom with rain shower, and oversized Jacuzzi bathtub. Refined dining is available at Sala Thai, Hagi, the Railway Restaurant, and Palm Terrace. Guests can unwind in the Elephant Bar. 1 Damnernkasem Road, Hua Hin. Tel: 032 512 021-38

Evason Hua Hin and Six Senses Spa ■ This resort-spa is situated at the heart of 20 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and faces the Gulf of Thailand. Pool villas and guest rooms are connected by a series of wooden walkways that meander between lush greenery. This is a retreat for those seeking time to relax and recharge. In The Restaurant guests can sip exotic cocktails, ice-cold beer or boutique wines while watching chefs cook and construct creative appetizers. The award-winning Earth Spa is one of the most visually striking in Thailand. 9/22 Moo 5 Paknampran Beach, Pranburi. Tel: 032 632 111 122

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Villa Maroc Resort Pranburi ■ Inspired by Morocco’s distinctive architecture, Villa Maroc combines Thai beachside living and service with some of the most luxurious furnishings from the North African Kingdom, making it a unique addition to Southeast Asia’s accommodation scene. The resort is located in Pranburi approximately 30 kilometers south of Hua Hin town. You can tuck into European, Middle Eastern and Thai cuisine at Casablanca, enjoy cocktails and shisha pipes at the Sisha Bar, relax in bliss at Sherazade Hammam & Spa, and much more. 165/3 Moo 3 Paknampran, Pranburi, Tel: 032 630 771 email: rsvn@villamarocresort.com

Baan Bayan

■ This fine resort features one of Hua Hin’s finest examples of early 1900’s architectural style. The beachfront resort has been faithfully restored to its former glory by the family who once lived there. Guests staying at Baan Bayan can experience the glory of a bygone era in its colonial style structure, yet without sacrificing the modern day comforts and amenities. It has 21 rooms comprising of three suites, 10 sea view rooms and 16 rooms with views of the courtyard or tropical garden. 119 Petchkasem Road. Tel: 032 533 544


Pa tt a ya

S o cial

Royal Varuna Yacht Club awards young sailors YOUNG sailors and their families were out in force for the inaugural Royal Varuna Yacht Club Youth Sailors Award Night, held at Royal Varuna Yacht Club on Saturday June 27. Arranged to recognize the youngsters’ progress over the past year, the event was hosted by Flag Vice Commodore, Mr Mark Hamill-Stewart, together with Rear Commodore, Mr Chris Dando, and featured a night of wining and dining and much merriment at Royal Varuna’s stunning club house. Guest speaker at the event was Kamolwan Chanyim, Gold Medalist at the recent SEA Games, sailing in Laser Radial Class.

Awards were given to both male and female sailors in a variety of categories, including the following: • Most Improved Beginner: Gabriel McCarten and Jade Gavin. • Coach’s Choice Award: Alex Frefel and Joanne Gavin. • Most Improved: Win and Sophia Montgomery. • Best Individual Performance: Intira Panpiboon (Som-o) and Aim Panot. • Best Team Sailor: Arthit Romanyk (Miki), who captained the Bangkok Preparatory Team to victory at the Fobisia Sailing Championships. • Royal Varuna Yacht Club Youth Sailor of the Year: Arthit Romanyk (Miki), who this year won the Admiral’s Cup and the Laser 4.7 National Championship. For more details about Royal Varuna Yacht Club and its Youth Sailing Programs, see www.varuna.org

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Pa ttay a Wh ere to sl eep

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Hilton Pattaya Hotel

Five-star accommodation in the heart of Pattaya Beach

SOARING 34 levels above CentralFestival Pattaya Beach (Asia’s largest beachfront shopping complex and lifestyle destination), in a prime location a short walk from the sands, Hilton Pattaya is the doyen of Pattaya’s beachfront hotels. This five-star property has it all: 302 contemporary guest rooms with private ocean-view balconies, an outdoor infinity pool, a fully equipped fitness centre, the superb eforea: spa at Hilton (read our review online at bit.ly/1GucaHs), and five unique restaurants and bars, including, among them, Edge, an all-day-dining restaurant hosting different themed

international buffets every day, and Horizon, a trendy rooftop bar boasting breathtaking views, premium cocktails, creative cuisine, and live DJs spinning atmospheric beats. What’s more, Hilton Pattaya is a great place to mix business with pleasure thanks to its extensive banqueting, ballroom and meeting spaces equipped with state-of-theart technology. The 635 sqm ballroom is particularly impressive, boasting a private balcony and an abundance of natural light, as well as stunning views of the beach. All guest rooms at Hilton Pattaya are equipped to meet the needs of both

H ilton Pattay a, 333/ 101 M oo 9, Nong Prue, B ang lamung , Pattay a

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leisure and business travelers, with high speed wireless internet coming as standard. The oh-so-comfortable beds are a particular highlight, as are the spacious bathrooms with separate rain showers. Beyond the stores, restaurants, bars and beaches, Pattaya’s attractions are just minutes away. Explore nearby Koh Larn Island, tee off at more than 20 championship golf courses, or simply lounge by the pool with a good book – and maybe a cheeky cocktail or two. For best available rates check www.pattaya.hilton.com.

038 253 000 :p attay a.hilton.com


Pa ttay a D ini ng Out

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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

Molten

Traditional tastes, modern presentation at Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort's signature restaurant

OPENED seven months ago, the fourstar Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort has quickly found favour with tourists and business travellers alike thanks to its warm and personal service, stylish design, and carefully considered range of amenities, including, amongst them, a fully-equipped meeting centre, a lagoonstyle pool with slides and a climbing wall (the kids love it), and its gem of a casual dining venue, Molten. Molten is the heart of the resort's culinary operations, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to resort residents and outside guests in an informal atmosphere adjacent to the resort's fifth-floor infinity swimming pool. No fine dining, no fuss, just simple, hearty food cooked using high quality ingredients and presented with a touch of flair. In charge of the kitchen is Patraphon 'Tony' Rareong, a talented Thai chef

whose past experience includes seven years spent working at popular grill restaurants in New York. He was also part of the opening team of the renowned Tables restaurant at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, and prior to taking on his current position, three months ago, worked as a consultant chef for Sansiri, at the property developer's Escape Khao Yai project. "My concept is to offer classic and original dishes, but with modern presentation," he says. "So we're all about good food at good value. And with international and Thai dishes on offer, we have a dish for everyone." He's not kidding. Molten's menu is divided between appetizers, soups, salads, steaks, burgers and sandwiches, homemade curries, fish, meat and poultry selections, pizza and pasta, wok fried delights, and desserts. And all are offered at prices that won't break the bank.

M ercure Pattay a O cean Resort, 4 63/ 100, M oo 9 Pattay a Second Rd., Nhong p rue B ang lamung

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The signature Classic Caesar Salad (B180) is a highlight, featuring sliced chicken breast, fresh bacon, and crisp romaine lettuce drizzled with a homemade sauce made from egg yolk, extra virgin olive oil, anchovies, garlic, Tabasco Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. We also loved the Pork Knuckle (B490), a monster of a portion, served on a chopping board alongside sweetcorn and fried potatoes, and whose crispy skin and tender meat is simply bursting with flavour. Other highlights include the Lamb Rack (B440), served with sautĂŠed potatoes and gravy; Pork chop (B280), served with mash and sautĂŠed veggies; and, for something more local, Phad Thai (B180), traditional wok-fried noodles with prawns, egg, chives, bean sprouts and peanuts. 038 769 688 :mercure.com


Royal Varuna Yacht Club

RYA Summer Sailing Courses

RYA Stage 3

For aspiring racers and club sailors who would like to improve their racing skills. Under the guidance of our RYA Racing Coaches students will learn the many aspects of sailboat racing to compete at local and national regattas.

To develop singlehanded sailing skills at a higher level, covering a variety of practical boat control skills such as the five essentials, man over board, coming along side and racing.

Advanced skills

RYA Stage 1-2

The first step for any junior to learn sailing, this course is a fantastic introduction by learning the basic controls boats while gaining water confidence and having fun.

Start Racing

Let your children discover the sport of sailing at the best place in Thailand! Our fully accredited RYA courses are fun and action packed, learning a truly unique activity that requires students to demonstrate technical skills and provides them with a physical challenge. You’ll be surprised how quickly your child will learn sailing when under guidance from one of our fully qualified and experienced RYA Instructors. Sailing is fun, safe, breeds self-confidence and a positive outdoor pursuit.

Learn new sailing skills such as handling a spinnaker and a series of maneuvers to promote ‘good sailing’. This course will cover the RYA sailing with spinnakers and seamanship syllabus using a variety of boats.

5 day (30 hour) courses for children aged 8 - 16 years 6,800 THB members 10,800 THB non-members 29 June - 3 July | 6 - 10 July | 20 - 24 July | 3 - 7 August

Email sailtraining@varuna.org or call 038-250-116 for more information and book places. Also, Advanced Racing Skills and Adult Sailing courses are available.

286 12 20150 286 Moo 12 Pratamanak R Road, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150 f ffice@ varuna.org W: www.varuna.org T: 038-250-116 E: office@


Final Word

Fiction

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: http://amzn.to/1tj8fJr.

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NIGHTFALL OVER BANGKOK: There are some very high places in Bangkok. Places where you can look out and see the city like an interactive map spread out beneath you. Over the city shines the moon, as it has since long before anyone was here. The moon has no emotion, but we endow it with our own. Is it watching over us? Is it protecting us while we fall into the unconscious realm of dreams? Is it cold or cool, distant or elegant, soft or feeble? We don’t know but it is there, part of our story while the city prepares for another night. How many people go to sleep happy? How many sit at a late night table, thinking of a life they don’t have? How many still walk the streets, looking for a place to bed down, for their bodies, for their minds? How many are walking towards their dreams, how many are running away from them? Tonight, the moon shines on a monster intersection, a place completely hostile to organic life. If Martians came down, or any other aliens arrived, and saw this intersection, they would assume that cars are the dominant life form in this city. It is shaped for their convenience. They are the masters in every way, their needs are catered to at the expense of all others. Huge flyovers and extra wide lanes squat over the land so that these cars can run in the straightest line possible, reaching their goals and crushing weaker species beneath their wheels. The cars shine brightly in the light of the moon, toddlers’ primal colours that no one else will wear, coated with dirt. Other cities have architectural cohesion, the buildings carefully designed to match and contrast so that an overall aesthetic form is revealed. Bangkok has no such philosophy, and so the cars don’t clash quite as much with the walls that line their streets. Everything is haphazard, there is no overarching structure, there is no common aesthetic. Merrily coloured metal from the

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toy box fits just as badly as the houses built to no particular design, standing next to mismatched neighbours, whose existence they ignore, both in architectural and in social terms. We are a city because we were caught out here together under the monsoon sky, not because we choose to live with each other. The cars don’t have neighbours anyway. They would like to have the streets to themselves and try their best to make it so. Predators at the top of our food chain. But in the shadow of the intersection, where dust from the cracked cement pillars of the overpass rains down every night, creating a unique microclimate, life has adapted into a new niche. And while the cars race by, oblivious of those obliged to swallow their fumes, people here walk the streets as well, looking for a place in the world, walking away from their fears and into their dreams. Some of these dreams are simple, yet so hard to achieve. They need a lot of persistence, a lot of steps to be walked in, just exactly so, every day, and never put a foot wrong or else you will be run over. Other dreams are slower to emerge. They trouble those who dream them. Dreams of this nature are the hardest to ignore, and almost impossible follow. The path is unclear, the dream can turn to smoke, and turn on the dreamer, and then shift its shape again and drift away. Tonight’s storyteller, Mariejoy San Buenaventura, is such a watcher of dreams. She knows the landscape here very well, both in the topography of the streets and in the winding pathways of their restless minds. Looking through her eyes at the moonlit scene, figures consolidate from the city dust. Let them tell us their own story...

Crossing

By Mariejoy San Buenaventura I find myself choosing the oddest hangout even for a homeless person: an island in the middle of Narathiwat Road, with stone ledges that hem in the canal flowing far below, a tiled square with playground equipment, and a small, still windmill. I sit on the tiles and stare up at the windmill arcing across the night sky,


hoping the sight might steady my vision so that I can write in my notebook. Instead I imagine the blades slicing and slicing, creating a column of air that brings no coolness. It seemed, once again, a good idea when I started. I would live the life of a hobo. For ten days this time. I would write notes on my sensations and experiences, and finally I would have enough material for a novel. At last I was brave and eccentric, a writer down to the marrow. But it has been a week; I am hungry and everything I see seems gossamery, and always, day or night, the doused-fire smell of the centre of Bangkok. I take out my palm-sized notebook and scribble a few lines about how exposed I feel, stranded in the middle of a road with buildings on both sides full of watchful windows. My handwriting has become illegible, like walls about to collapse. My scalp itches, and there are rashes on my forearms. It seemed such a good idea, a week ago, to leave my wallet, cell phone, house keys, and a change of clothes with my sister Lin. Lin’s eyes were full, but she said nothing. Before I hear Tor’s footsteps, his stench announces him. “Hey, Pob. Got anything to eat?” “No.” “Any money? Ten baht? I can buy a stick of barbecued pork. We’ll share it.” “You know you picked the last coin out of my pocket yesterday.” “I shared the sticky rice with you!” “Well, I don’t have any money anymore.” “You’re too shy to beg?” Yes. It is the most humiliating act I’ve ever had to do. I keep hoping no one I know will pass by. I endure hunger for as long as I can, and only then do I go begging, and only for short bursts of time. “I need to get some writing done.” “You’re weird.” I want to retort that he is the weird one, with his dreadlocks

and bare feet, but I consider my own bare feet – my flip-flops were stolen the other day as I slept – and the notebook and pencil trembling in my hands, and think better of it. Tor points to our left. “Look. A seafood restaurant. You know, sometimes I dream of fried fish.” He dreams of fried fish, while I am tortured by images of my last birthday, when I ate at a restaurant where you picked the freshest live seafood out of tanks and told the waiters how you wanted it prepared. “Keep that dream. It might sustain you.” “What?” “Never mind.” He lets me write in silence for a while. When he speaks again, his voice is so pensive that I turn to him, and am surprised to see a faraway look on his face, his knees folded in his arms. “My grandma used to fry fish every day. There’d be soup too.” “Is she still around, your grandma?” “No. That’s when things got messed up. I never knew my father, and mom took up with some guy who didn’t want me around, and he moved in after grandma died. I had to get out of there.” “Which part of the country do you come from?” “Lopburi.” “How is it like there?” “Lots of baboons.” In a few more days, I will return to my normal life and use Tor’s answers to create a fictional character. That’s me, the writer, fraternizing with a fellow tramp. Brave, eccentric. Bloodsucking. Is there a way I can convince myself that this is a tribute to him? Tor moves away to a cooler niche near some plants and stretches out to doze. Soon I hear his fast, shallow breathing. I write quietly for what feels like an hour, mostly imaginings on how he might have set out from his hometown to the capital. What he might have packed for the trip. From whom he might have borrowed bus fare. Did he say goodbye to his mother or did he slip out of their house one night? But also I write notes on his smell, the way his thin frame nearly disappears in the shadows, and how the street lights dwell on the curve of his neck. Enough, enough. I stuff the notebook and pencil into my pockets. With the help of my hands I rise slowly to my feet, and totter a little, overwhelmed with weakness. I descend the few steps to the road. At this late hour I expect the crossing to be safe, but out of nowhere a car approaches fast. It will hit me for sure. I am too feeble to turn back or run forward. I stretch my arms stiffly down, lower my head, and close my eyes. The car swerves away screeching. Another driver rendered insane by the lack of traffic. As I approach Silom soi six, the noise of the night market some meters ahead grows louder, along with an increasing glare of tube lights. I turn left into the soi and pass by a steak-and-beer house with a patio and a country singer, to the building just beyond it. The access door on the ground floor is gated shut. But there is a narrow stairwell beside it, lighted at the entrance by a fluorescent tube. I climb. The stairs are made of aluminium, with thin rods for banisters and walls of glass. Woven across the ceiling of each landing are webs guarded by black, unmoving spiders. The stairs do not seem to end. There are no windows. It is hard to breathe. I pause often to rest; the air stinks of cooked fish. I stop in front of a wooden door that has a peep hole and a light bulb switched on above it. There is a cat asleep before it, a beautiful cat, fur a mingling of white, grey, and gold, like a marble cake. I knock several times before the door is thrown wide open. The cat wakes and waddles away. Lin, in her pyjamas, glowers at me.

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Final Word

Fiction When I cross the road to Lin sets a bowl of soup and a he Bangkok Women’s Writers Group, founded in the windmill again, now with a plate of tilapia in front of me. 2001, and led by Anette Pollner (who also writes clear mind and steady legs, the She lets me eat in silence the recurring ‘moon intro’ stories in this series sky is a cool grey and the street while she sits with her arms in her famous neo psychedelic style), is where creative sweepers have started their work. folded across her chest. women from all over the world meet to workshop their I touch Tor on the shoulder to “I’m sorry, Lin. I know you writing in a supportive and inspiring environment. wake him. He watches me lay have work early tomorrow. I just Many of our members are published and prize winning out containers of rice, soup, and cannot stand it anymore. I need authors, but we are open to all women who are half the tilapia. He slurps soup proper food. Whose cat is that passionate about writing, including complete beginners. from the lid of a plastic bowl. I outside?” The BWWG’s first publication (before ‘Monsoon sit beside him and take out my “The neighbour’s. So, Midnights the short story collection,’ available now notebook and pencil. are you done with your stupid on Amazon) was a Thai English language bestseller, “Where did you get all this?” experiment?” ‘Bangkok Blondes,’ and various pamphlets. We regularly he asks with a full mouth. “No. I’m going back to the give readings around town and have been part of “My sister.” streets, for a few more days.” international festivals and cultural exchanges. Please “Thanks!” She shakes her head. “Look, contact bkk_writers@yahoo.com for more information. “No problem, Tor.” big brother, my boss needs to This month’s storyteller is Mariejoy San “What are you writing about?” hire an accountant. Do you want Buenaventura, usually a poet, who teaches poetry “About someone needing to me to give her your résumé?” and short story writing at Mahidol University climb a tall, winding stairway, “No!” International College and is the initiator and faculty airless, full of spiders. At the top, Lin recoils at my shouting. editor of ‘Hitherto: The MUIC Literary Journal’. She there’s a cat, a whimsical cat with “Sorry. But I’m serious about is currently working on her first novel. Her poetry a coat of many colours.” my writing.” has been published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, “Why a cat?” We have had this Touch: The Journal of Healing, The Anthology of New “My grandfather used to say, conversation before. How I spent England Writers, and the 2014 anthology from Nivasini take risks, but land on your feet a decade making organized Press, Family Matters. like a cat.” records of other people’s At that, Tor falls silent and expenses and earnings. A decade focuses on his food. allowing stories to ripen and “Tor, what do you think you’ll do next? Don’t you find this rot inside me because writing them down was not profitable. life boring?” Profitable. A word I hate. “Boring? Yes. But I tried construction work. It’s tough, “Still dreaming, as always,” Lin says from the corner of her tough. Maybe if I had a tuk tuk, I could drive tourists around.” mouth. “Do you think you’ll stay around this area? “What else have I got?” “Probably. Why?” “So dramatic.” “Nothing. But here’s a card with my phone number. And “You don’t know what it’s like to need to write. To have some coins. Call me if anything changes.” What I want to say is worlds inside you, worlds much more interesting than airI’d like to find him in case I use his story and owe him royalties. conditioned offices and swivel chairs and…and…health He pockets the card and the coins, and then gives me a insurance.” sideways glance. “You’ve cleaned up.” “Oh, so that’s what you think of me. Little Lin. No imagination. “My sister wouldn’t let me sit at her table without taking a Unartistic. Well, at least I don’t throw away the education that our shower first.” parents strived to pay for. I won’t be living in this crummy building Tor laughs. “Classy people. When was the last time I forever, you know. My savings are growing fast.” showered? I don’t remember.” “You just don’t understand.” Perhaps someday I will know him well enough to take him “I don’t, but I let you in and feed you when you starve to my place and let him use the shower. But that is too soon. yourself and make yourself sick by sleeping on sidewalks. I give you money when you can’t afford your Who knows where any path will lead? rent. I’ve had enough, Phi Pob. Go The cars race across the city on their overpass. But the roads back to Hat Yai, to mom and dad, lead only to more roads. if you want sympathy.” Every night the cars ride out, every morning they come She rises from the table and back. Everything is flattened for their convenience, but they are turns away. “Lock the door when you leave. I’m going back to sleep.” remarkably unadventurous rulers. The night withers away. I leave the intersection behind, “Can I pack some food for my cruising the dawn wind with a soft sadness. friend?” As I look back, cars and flyovers and un-neighbourly houses She shrugs. “Fine.” disappear into a ghostly pattern. They are not here for long. What I see now is what will last, beyond this night, beyond this year, beyond a life time. I see the moonlight on the faces of those who walk in the light of their hidden dreams.

T

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The first volume of Monsoon Midnights (18 stories by 12 authors with beautiful illustrations by the BigChilli graphics team) is available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1tj8fJr. TheBigChilli

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Profile for The BigChilli Co., Ltd.

The BigChilli July 2015  

For 15 years Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. July 2015.

The BigChilli July 2015  

For 15 years Thailand's best-read expat magazine. Find out what's hot in Bangkok and beyond. July 2015.