Editor’s Blog Finally, the Governor lives up to his promise of a greener Bangkok. Interviewed by The BigChilli five years ago, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra promised that the people of this fair city could look forward to the opening of a number of new parks. In recent months, it seems that Mr Sukhumbhand may be finally good to his word. ¶ To everybody’s delight, the 130-rai Benjakitti Park on Rachadapisek Road is being expanded to more than double its size to include the buildings and land occupied by the Thai Tobacco Monopoly. This is, of course, long overdue. Calls for this government-owned factory to move upcountry were made years ago. Making cigarettes in central Bangkok made absolutely no sense. Tree-planting is under way and concrete is being carted off. Mr Sukhumbhand is also backing a campaign to turn a large piece of land in the Makkasan area owned by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) into a new public park. Unfortunately he’s apparently not making too much progress as the debt-laden SRT wants to develop the 498-rai plot commercially. The governor is now seeking a compromise that will see part of the area developed as a green zone. ¶ On a more positive note, Chulalongkorn University is transforming a 29-rai land plot of land on its campus near Siam Square into a community park in commemoration of its centenary anniversary. It was previously used for commercial purposes. The park will include 10,000 sq m of recreational areas, ponds, a bike lane, footpaths and a rain garden. There are also reports that a new public space called Pathumvanarak Park is due to open shortly. The plot, owned by the Crown Property Bureau (CPB), is located next to CentralWorld in Pratunam. Meanwhile, a new walkway is currently under construction on Rajdamri Road that will connect Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam on Phetchburi Road with the existing walkway between Siam and Chidlom BTS stations. ¶ Anyway, thanks to the Bangkok Governor for helping to make Bangkok a greener city. This month’s BigChilli ‘Let’s Improve Bangkok’ campaign: We propose a pedestrian-only covered walkway to be built over the Sathorn Road klong, connecting the MRT station at Lumpini with the Chong Nongsi BTS station on Narathiwas Road. Designed in the style of an airport terminal, the walkway would feature escalators and paths, with bridges linked to major office blocks and hotels en route. New future for Silom. Huge changes to the character of Silom Road are expected when demolition of the Sivadon Building and its annex, the Siboonrueng Building on Convent Road – home of The BigChilli for 15 years – begin in earnest sometime in 2017. ¶ The new project, to be built by Minor International and financially supported by major US investors, will become a prestigious multi-storey office with substantial retail space. Surprisingly, given that the Minor group is one of Thailand’s major hotel companies, with Anantara, Marriott, Four Seasons and St. Regis brands in its portfolio, the building will not apparently include a hotel. ¶ With both BTS Skytrain and MRT stations nearby, the project will command premium rental rates. Some of the world’s biggest companies are expected to take up the retail area. Google is one of those apparently being targeted. ¶ The project owners are exploring the possibility of expanding Convent Road due in part to the heavy traffic caused by parents collecting their children from neighbouring St Joseph’s Convent School. ¶ Meanwhile, the vendors that currently operate in the area have been told they will have to relocate once demolition begins. Their low-cost food stalls are a major attraction for office workers and tourists day and night. ¶ Also given notice to quit are popular Convent Road outlets like Molly Malone’s pub, Starbucks and Zen. ¶ Silom Road was once the capital’s premier business thoroughfare, especially after the Bangkok Bank opened its head office there some 30 years ago. In recent times Silom has lost some of its allure to other business areas, such as Rama 3, Rachadapisek and Ploenchit. ¶ The new project is expected to recapture some of Silom’s former glory. Exceptions to the alcohol ban? When the government brought in its tough new laws forbidding the sale of alcohol near schools and universities, some outlets clearly not targeting or encouraging >> 6
PUBLISHER Colin Hastings email@example.com MANAGING EDITOR Adam Purcell firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Nina Hastings email@example.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Chutinanta Boonyamarn firstname.lastname@example.org SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai email@example.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti firstname.lastname@example.org Sakuna Nupinrum email@example.com ACCOUNTING MANAGER Saranya Choeyjanya firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Janjira Silapapairson email@example.com ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakkanawat PHOTOGRAPHY JL & AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angela Farlam, Anette Pollner, Johanna DeKoning, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler
No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission from The BigChilli Co., Ltd. The opinions and views of the writers are not necessarily the views of the publishers. All details are deemed correct at the time of print, the publisher, the editor, employees and contributors can not be held responsible for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions that may occur. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or amend any submitted artwork, photographs, illustrations and manuscripts. The BigChilli welcomes unsolicited contributions but assumes no responsibility for the safe-keeping or return of such materials damaged or lost in transit.
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Editor’s Blog young drinkers were ignored. But this ruling is being applied to a new restaurant venture in the Silom-Convent area of Bangkok, which has been refused a licence to sell alcohol because of its proximity to one of the city’s largest schools. So, it will be interesting to see whether the same rules are applied when the new office and retail building planned for the corner of Silom and Convent Roads (see page 6), which will no doubt feature restaurants and bars, opens in three years’ time. Tough times for pubs. Some of Bangkok’s favourite expat watering holes are facing challenging times. Check Inn, the music-themed bar on Sukhumvit between Soi 5 and 7, has been given one month’s notice to quit, while Irish pub The Dubliner has closed. It has been reportedly acquired by the owners of a nearby rival pub. It’s better news for Hemingway’s bar and restaurant on Sukhumvit soi 14 which has been given another reprieve, having been told that it would have to move in a year’s time to make way for a new Japanese-owned hotel. But it’s the shutters for nearby Forge, a small upstairs pub that failed to make the grade since opening last year. The owner’s other business, The Black Swan on Sukhumvit soi 19, continues to operate successfully. Look for the fine print on dining deals. Diners looking for good deals are being warned to read the small print on emails being circulated to potential customers. Failing to do so could lead to disputes and higher than expected bills. This happened recently at a five-star hotel near Ploenchit when a group of diners took up an email offering 50% discount on its buffets, and booked for a leisurely Sunday lunch. ¶ When the bill came, the discount given was just 20%. When asked to explain the difference, the staff said the higher discount did not apply to the hotel’s Sunday brunch. With evidence of the 50% discount offer on their mobiles, the group naturally remonstrated. Until, that is, the staff pointed out that a quick scroll down the email message would reveal, in small print, the Sunday exclusion. ¶ To be fair, after considerable debate, the hotel eventually granted the 50% discount, with a warning that customers should always read every detail about its offers. Vintage year for fruit wine. Wine importers are reporting that locally mixed “fruit” wines are now responsible for at least 50% of the local wine market. Usually comprising 70% grape juice and various fruit juices such as mulberry, plus added enhancers, fruit wine is significantly cheaper than all-grape wine because of lower tax rates. ¶ Its presence is scorned by experts who say it is not authentic and should not be sold as if it is genuine wine in bottles with labels designed to confuse drinkers. The only indication of its origin is a small description sign on the back of the bottle denoting it as ‘Fruit Wine.’ Its growing market share, say importers, is because many restaurants and hotels offer fruit wine as their house wine. ¶ “Consumers are generally unaware, or don’t care,” explained one importer. “They just like the cheap price. So it’s no wonder restaurants and hotels complain they have problems selling their more expensive, but genuine wine.”
This issue in
The date, in July, when The BigChilli Cook Off will be held at NIST International School. Time to get practicing! Page 27.
Bangkok’s hottest bars will join forces from June 6-12 to celebrate one of the world’s most famous cocktails – Negroni! Page 62.
The number of years CWL Lighting has operated in Thailand. Learn more about the company and its operations on page 14.
The number of Dutch companies operating in Thailand comes in at over 300, according to the Dutch ambassador. Page 107.
The year CoffeeWORKS was established in Thailand. Grab yourself a latte and sink into this story. Page 16.
The year the international ‘terrorist’ known as Hambali was arrested in Thailand. Page 68.
Monorail to boost Thonglor property prices New route will serve Bangkok’s busy residential and entertainment district ■ TRENDY Thonglor, one of Bangkok’s prime real estate areas and a major entertainment district, may see further steep increases in land values thanks to the construction of a monorail connecting this often congested street on Sukhumvit to other parts of the city. The transport project, known as the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority’s (BMA) Grey Line Monorail Phase 1, is planned to link up with the BTS Skytrain system at Thonglor and terminate at Watcharapol station at Ramintra Road. Along its 16.3 km route, the monorail will interchange with three other mass transit projects, known as the ‘coloured lines,’ which will give several outlying
residential districts much easier access and faster commute time to Thonglor and reinvigorate its various attractions. On Thonglor, which often suffers from heavy traffic jams, stations will open on Soi 10 and 25, where many of the street’s most popular restaurants, bars and nightclubs are located. Additional Grey Line extensions, known as Phases II and III, which will link Thonglor with southern neighborhoods, are also planned. However, these routes are still undecided, according to The BigChilli’s resident expert Geoffrey Carter*, who adds that they include the option of replacing the bus operated BRT (Map courtesy of Geoffrey Carter)
(Bangkok Rapid Transit) as part of the extension which may go eventually to Tha Phra in Thonburi. Says Geoffrey: “BTS Group is keen to bid for this project under PPP Gross Cost basis and would be financed from their general infrastructure fund. It is expected that bidding will take place in the second half of this year, after the EIA has been approved. It is targeted to open in 2019. “The Grey Line monorail will run from BTS Thonglor (Sukhumvit Line) with stations at Thonglor 10, Thonglor 25, Petchaburi - Sun Wichai Station (Interchange with SRT Red Line). “Then on to Rama IX, Nawas, to Chalong Ratch (Interchange Yellow Line). Onwards to Lad Prao Soi 87, Yothin Pattana, and Kaset Nawamin (Interchange with Orange Line). Finally onwards to Muan Chan, then Wat Charapol (Terminus and Interchange with Pink Line). “According to the BMA, the aim of the monorail is to support the growth of residential areas around Pradit Manutham Road and to reduce the current travel time between Watcharpol and Thonglor from one hour to only 30 minutes. It is also designed as a feeder and connection between the Green Line, SRT Red Line, Orange Line, Yellow Line and Pink Lines. “The trains will initially consist of three cars running at up to 80kms/hr and eventually may consist of eight cars. The system is designed to handle initially 10,000 passengers per hour per direction rising to 48,000pass/hr/direction. The design is currently based on 340,000 passengers/day for Phase I. “The line will run through areas of strategic residential and commercial developments. In addition to its U-City land bank at Thonglor, BTS has a land bank at Kaset Nawamin as well as Park Ramindra Condo at Watcharapol. “Going on past experience, property prices should rise at least by 10 to 20 percent over and above the percentage increase in prices during the monorail construction period. “However, there still are questions as to the issue of interchanges with other systems due to posturing between BMA versus other agencies including MRTA and the SRT. “BTS Group would be the operator most likely to be able to solve these problems. But even the connection with the BTS Skytrain remains another issue on how to build the interconnections between the two stations with minimum amount of land expropriation to keep within the BMA’s financial constraints.” *Geoffrey Carter – Society of Professional Engineers Thailand
& proudly announce THE
Thailand International Business Awards 2016 BUILDING on the success of the Expat Entrepreneur Awards 2014, the BigChilli is joining forces with the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) to launch a new initiative aimed at recognising Thailand’s most successful and dynamic businesses and entrepreneurs. The inaugural Thailand International Business Awards will feature a range of categories to reflect the wide diversity of businesses operating in this country. These will include one category specifically designed for small and medium enterprises under the banner ‘Expat Entrepreneurs.’ Nominations will be open to any company registered in Thailand regardless of size or affiliations. A team of independent judges will review the nominations and select the winners in each of the categories. This prestigious event will culminate in an Awards Gala Dinner mid-2016. Raise your company’s profile, build contacts, create new business opportunities and tell the world about your achievements through the Thailand International Business Awards 2016.
NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards
Entrepreneur: Ian Potter
Lighting up Bangkok
AN Potter, the founder of CWL Lighting, will soon mark the company’s 20th year in Thailand. Over that period, UK-born Ian has seen his enterprise grow from a design and equipment supply company in Phuket to a Bangkok studio providing lighting design services to the hospitality sector across Asia Pacific. In its early Phuket days, CWL worked in hi-end residential properties, usually individually designed second homes, often for the rich and famous. Many of these properties are world class, using architects and interior designers from all parts of the globe. The finished products together with their tropical landscape gardens and ocean views would be hard to beat anywhere in the world. “The decision to move to Bangkok was made in 2012 and implemented shortly after,” explained Ian, who first arrived in Asia 28 years ago to work in Hong Kong with Jardine Matheson in their intelligent building division. “Bangkok with its central Asia Pacific location, excellent connections to the region’s capitals and favourable operating
costs has enabled us to be closer to the decision makers, designers and influencers in the region. As a result, our clients now include the Hilton group, Intercontinental, Indigo and Holiday Inn Brands from IHG, together with properties from the Dusit and Accor portfolios and boutique Hotels from Aman. “Our team comprises lighting designers, business development with the necessary admin, and drawing support. We also have a number of long-standing associates we work with in related disciplines when needed. Between us we have over 100 years of experience with lighting and electrical systems in buildings. “Lighting design requires a balanced mix of creativity, sensible functionality and practical implementation of the available technology. “Recent years have seen the development of LED lighting which gives us, as designers, the ability to practically, and cost effectively, put light where years ago it was not possible. If one looks at Google Images of ‘Hotel lobbies 2005’ and compares the results with ‘Hotel lobbies 2015,’ it’s clear to see the lighting is very different. As a leading designer, the company needs to keep on top of these developments by visiting international exhibitions and seminars. “Modern designs have been spearheaded by leading interior design companies, many of which we have been privileged to work with over the years including PIA, P49, HBA, Aedas and Jaya to mention a few, all of whom are aware of the benefits to their designs this technology brings. Further benefits of using the latest technology are the lower operating costs – from energy usage, lower heat gain and much reduced maintenance – and the overall less harmful effects on the environment. “By using good design and the latest technology for light sources and controls, exciting lighting need not carry a premium cost, particularly for an owner or operator. The best time to engage a lighting design company is when the interior design concepts are firming up, we can then work together with the ID in developing the lighting portion of the design and optimising the product selection. “With regional tourism growing and the need for hotels, entertainment and an infrastructure to support it, we can certainly say the future for lighting is bright.” www.cwl-lighting.com
NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards
Entrepreneur: Dale Lee
Working wonders with coffee
F you’ve ever enjoyed a cup of coffee in Bangkok, there’s a good chance the beans that make it so delicious come from a company called CoffeeWORKS. In business since 1995, with several blameless setbacks over the years that would have forced other companies to shut up shop, CoffeeWORKS is today one of the top three suppliers of coffee and related equipment in Thailand. Its 800-plus customers include a long list of major corporations with coffeethirsty staff, many of the country’s best known hotels as well as specialist coffee
shops, cafes and chain outlets. Among them are Dean & Deluca, W Hotel, McCafe outlets at McDonald’s Thailand, and Bluecup Coffee by S&P. The man behind CoffeeWORKS is Dale Lee, an American from Michigan who has spent his entire professional life working with coffee. After learning the trade in his home state of Ohio as a “commercial brewer technician” and in sales, Lee moved to Los Angeles which in 1989 was on the cusp of a consumer revolution that saw a boom in specialist coffee shops such as Starbucks. It was a steep but valuable learning curve for the young American. Five years later during a trip to Bangkok to meet up with an old school friend, equities analyst Andrew Stotz, Lee spoke about the West Coast coffee phenomenon. The pair decided that Thailand, then widely touted as an “Asian economic tiger” was ripe for a similar boom and together decided to set up a joint coffee roasting business. “Although coffee shops didn’t exist in Thailand back then, we believed the coffee shop model would quickly spread. However, we did not want to get in the actual operation of coffee shops and decided instead that roasting and distribution of coffee beans was a more sustainable option for us,” explained Lee.
With some personal savings, loans from parents and school friends, Lee and Stotz launched CoffeeWORKS. It was, admits Lee, a “garage start-up” with only a handful of customers. To expand, they approached big companies about installing coffee machines to provide “a better coffee experience” for staff and visitors, replacing the tired custom of serving dull instant coffee and tasteless creamers. The tactic worked, but only for a short while. “When the Asian financial crash happened, one of the first victims was the company coffee machine. It was a dark time for us, and we only just survived.” Indeed, it took another five years for the company to become a sustainable business. By this time, CoffeeWORKS had grown into a major supplier of coffee beans to all kinds of coffeerelated businesses. These days, it imports coffee beans from 12 different countries, including Tanzania, Brazil and Kenya, all of which attract a punishing 90% import duty. Other suppliers covered by the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) such as Indonesia and Laos face a much lower (5%) import duty, though the “red tape” imposed even on these nations can prove arduous. CoffeeWORKS is also a strong supporter of coffee growers in northern Thailand. Beginning 10 years ago in partnership with the largest coffee growing NGO in northern Thailand called Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP), CoffeeWORKS began funding ethnic minority Lisu hill-tribe coffee farmers
in Chiang Mai to produce natural pulped (known as honey processed) coffee in order to improve the quality of their output. Honey processed coffees were long ago perfected in the major coffee growing regions of the world such as Brazil. ITDP and Mr Lee speculated that this processing method could help northern Thailand hill tribe coffee farmers improve their coffee crops as well. The results have been spectacular, with Thai coffee beans that are not only on a par with the world’s best, but also fetch higher prices. “It’s now a long-term sustainable business for hill-tribe farmers as honey processed coffee production knowledge has now spread to other northern Thai farmer groups and is beginning to supply many of the small Bangkok boutique coffee roasters starting here in recent years. “Moreover, this improved processing method has paid the coffee farmers over 70% higher prices than the world market price for comparatively graded washed coffees,” declares Lee proudly. The company’s initiative has been recognized by the American Chamber of Commerce with a CSR Excellence Award for the “funding and development of a high quality Thai Arabica coffee.” Its ultra-modern 150 sq m CoffeeWORKS Experience Center on Sukhumvit Soi 26 incorporates an R&D department, and training centre for baristas and buyers of coffee-making machines. In addition to a roasting plant in Samut Prakan, CoffeeWorks has technical offices in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Samui. Others are planned for Hua Hin and Pattaya. Currently the company employs 75 staff. The company’s 2015 revenue was 135 million baht. Fresh roasted coffee generates 65% of that income, while the remaining 35% comes from supplying imported commercial coffee machines. Lee, 51, describes himself as an “unashamed workaholic and devout bachelor” who intends to spend the rest of his life in Thailand. www.coffeeworks.co.th TheBigChilli
Prime Resolution offers smart solutions for better business New company uses advanced technology to help companies boost productivity
F you’re a Thailand-based business looking to harness technology to improve your company’s workflow and future-proof your trade then you’re in luck – a new company called Prime Resolution has just opened offering smart solutions for both enterprises/ corporates and SMEs (in both public and private sectors) who want to enhance their competitiveness and facilitate their work systems – all via some nifty tech and applications. It’s a sound investment for any entrepreneur or business owner, and essential in today’s fast-paced, interconnected commercial landscape. To find out more about Prime Resolution and its services we spoke to the company’s managing director, Mr Jedsada Pasavorawit. Here’s what he had to say. What ser vices does Prime Resolution offer? Our services can be divided into four main categories – Big Data; Networking; Cloud; and Security. This means that our services cater to various industries, such as banking and FSI, telecommunications, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing and government offices. How does the technology you offer boost business? Every organization needs technology to enhance its profitability and productivity. If staff can work better and faster, they can serve more customers. While technology
in the past has been mainly used by businesses for security purposes (which is also important), today Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions are becoming increasingly popular and are a sound investment for any business. Not only do ICT solutions reduce costs, but they also help facilitate system management, and make everything faster and more systematic. It is a form of cost optimization. The solutions that our company provides cater to that need. They include information acquisition, fast and convenient notification in case of trouble, and resources management. These can be done by using applications which help users to work more effectively, and services no longer have to rely solely on a data center, which might not be stable. Such services will help reduce operation time and costs. How do you plan to grow your business? We have several business partners who will help our business to grow. We have vendors who own technology and strategies that are in line with what we are looking for. Our partnership is based on trust and collaboration. Our system integrators/resellers are an important part of our business. No matter how good our solution is, we can’t grow without trust from our system integrators/resellers. Additionally, we have signed partnership agreements with six companies and set up marketing agents in Thailand as well as in AEC countries such as Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia. These offices will handle system integrators and resellers, and also improve sale capacity. The six partner companies (product owners) include: Artifact Technology Co., Ltd., ASG Software Solutions, Netka System, APC by Schneider Electric, Simplivity Corporation, and SMART-Sense Industrial Design. For more information Tel: 02 176 7499 or visit www.prime-resolutions.com
PHOTOS BY BEN ZANDER MOLLER
SPINNING INTIMATE YARNS OVER CATCHY MELODIES, BANGKOKBASED MUSICIAN JOHN WILL SAIL IS ONE OF THE HOTTEST NEW ACTS ON THE CIRCUIT. JUST DON’T ASK HIM TO SPEAK CHINESE… AGE 33 WHERE BORN AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND. WORK MUSICIAN AND PARTNER IN A RECORD LABEL, SUMMER SUN RECORDS. PERSONALITY OPEN, HONEST AND LOYAL, BUT A BIT OF A DOUCHE SOMETIMES. FAMILY THEY ALL LIVE IN AUSTRALIA BUT MY THREE LITTLE BROTHERS DESERVE A MENTION FOR BEING RAD. BEST FRIENDS KAYS, NATHANIEL, NIALL, BEER, ADAM H, BRIGGSY AND GERRY. YEARS IN THAILAND EIGHT MILE-POSTS FINALLY GETTING PAID TO TRAVEL AND PLAY MUSIC LOW POINT THOSE TIMES YOU FEEL ALONE AND SURROUNDED AT THE SAME TIME. DON’T MENTION MY GAP YEAR. REGRETS IN SCHOOL DRAWING RUDE CARTOONS IN CHINESE CLASS INSTEAD OF ACTUALLY LEARNING CHINESE. SELF-IMAGE ROCK ON THE OUTSIDE WITH A SOFT CENTRE. BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED LOOK TO THE FUTURE, THERE ARE NO REGRETS IN THAT DIRECTION.
Profile DOWNLOAD JOHN’S MUSIC AT JOHNWILLSAIL.BANDCAMP.COM
Contemporary accommodation in a great location a short stroll from the beach
VERWHELMED BY the sheer number of accommodation options available in Pattaya? Here’s a simple solution: stay at the
Adelphi. Modern, well-operated and located within walking distance of the town’s famous beach, restaurants and nightlife, this three-star hotel has everything you need for a relaxed and enjoyable stay – at excellent value for money. Standing alone in its own grounds, just far enough from the bustle of the
streets, Adelphi Pattaya offers a serene escape from the city hubbub and provides just the right amount of on-site facilities to ensure that you don’t even need to leave the resort to have a good time. From the rooftop swimming pool with pool bar (perfect for sundowners), to the well-equipped fitness centre, and signature restaurant serving food from morning ‘til night, good service comes as standard and all guests are made to feel at home. 24
The accommodation consists of 78 rooms in four sizes – Deluxe (30 sq m), Deluxe with Balcony (34 sq m), Adelphi Premier (40 sq m), and the luxurious Duplex Suite (85 sq m spread over two floors with a separate bedroom and kitchen). All rooms boast free hi-speed internet access and in-room comforts such as hairdryer, tea and coffee-making facilities, refrigerator, room safe and IDD phone. For food, a trip to the aforementioned signature restaurant, The Café Grande, always serves up some tasty rewards. Following international
390/14 Moo 9 Pattaya Sai 3 Rd., Soi Chalamprakiat 21, Nongprue Banglamung, Pattaya Central. 033 673 451. adelphipattaya.com
buffet breakfast in the morning, the restaurant serves Asian and international refreshments, snacks, and light meals throughout the day, and a selection of international and Asian cuisine at night. Signature dishes include Pork tenderloin steak with roast vegetables and rice; and Salmon salad, Thai style, which has a lovely spicy kick.
For best available rates book your room via adelphipattaya.com (the hotel guarantees the lowest rate per night when you book directly).
Bangkok Self Storage: A SAFE HAVEN for belongings big or small Convenient and secure, Bangkok Self Storage offers high quality storage solutions for every budget
STABLISHED in 2005, Bangkok Self Storage offers an invaluable service for anyone who wants to free up space in their homes or offices, or store items while they move house or travel. The company serves both the corporate and consumer markets, and unlike traditional storage and warehousing, which may have limited access, long term contracts and added fees, access to storage at Bangkok Self Storage is flexible and free. You can pay by the month and come and go as often as you like, and as long as you like, seven days a week. Security at Bangkok Self Storage is a priority. Any storage unit you hire can only be accessed by you – you’ll be the only authorized key holder, although you can nominate further key holders if you wish. The company also has its own security measures in place, such as closed circuit cameras, digital code access and alarms, and can
Mr Blake Dinkin from Black Ivory Coffee Co., Ltd. is another happy customer, and has used the storage service for more than 3 years. also arrange insurance for your possessions. A wide variety of storage solutions are available, so no matter if you are looking to store a single suitcase or the contents of your house, you’ll find a storage space to suit your needs. What’s more, Bangkok Self Storage’s friendly pricing policy means that the longer you store something, the less you have to pay.
“Needed a safe place to leave my bag for a couple of hours and was very happy to find Bangkok Self Storage. Great service.” – David Jackson (UK)
Other highlights at Bangkok Self Storage include: • The company can help in nearly every aspect of storage-from packaging supplies to advice on packing your space. • Each storage room is accessed from wide, well lit corridors designed for easy maneuverability even if you are storing on pallets.
“Bangkok Self Storage is so convenient and the service is great. Being able to access our items 24 hours per day is a real bonus for our business.” – K.Nusara from MDMC Holdings Co., Ltd. • All spaces are modern, clean and secure, and tall enough to store a large range of items.
“Bangkok Self Storage is fantastic! Very conveniently located, with helpful staff, and fair prices! Perfect for the backpacker who wants to store some baggage before or after their travels. If I have need to store my stuff again while in Bangkok I will surely come back! Highly recommended!” – Kylie Huitsing (USA)
• The company can accept mail and deliveries on behalf of commercial clients. • Storage for suitcases and backpacks starts at only B100 per item per week. • As long as the space you need is available, you can store your items right away without any hassles. There is no waiting time. You can even register and move-in on the same day. 3249 Rama 4 Rd. Open daily 8am – 6pm. 02 261 1516-7. bangkokselfstorage.com.
Do you cook the best chilli in Bangkok?
Show us at The BigChilli Cook-Off!
FUN day out for the whole family is guaranteed at the annual American Independence Day Picnic. Held this year at NIST International School on Saturday July 2, the event will feature a wide range of games and activities such as tug of war, egg toss, and pie eating contests, as well as live music, and a hungerbusting range of American food and drinks. A highlight of the event for foodies is The BigChilli Cook Off – a competition to find Bangkok’s best American-style chilli. Now in its ninth year, the event is organized by the I-Day committee which, having judged and cooked in Chili Appreciation Society international events, certainly knows its stuff. The event is open to anyone who believes they cook the best chilli in Bangkok. What makes the event so fun is the People’s Choice Awards going to the chili receiving the most votes from the public. Think you have the recipe and cooking skills to take part? Contact Dana Edward Caron “Head Chilli Head” at 081 837 6855 or email: dana@ roadhousebarbecue.com. You can also check out Dana's award-winning chilli recipe on page 50 of this issue. Best of luck!
Saturday July 2 at NIST International School For more info about the American Independence Day Picnic visit: amchamthailand.com
Meet the GM: Heidi Kleine-Moeller Bowled over by the beauty of Thailand, the General Manager of the Millennium Hilton Bangkok says moving to work here is the best decision she’s ever made • I joined this industr y right after school. Being able to work almost anywhere in the world was a big attraction, and experiencing new cultures first-hand has really been a big reward. This kind of experience can’t be taught or learned from a book. • I’ve had the opportunity to work in many different countries and territories, including, among them, the United States, Dubai, Nairobi and Johannesburg, and my native Germany. Each place presented its own unique challenges and highlights, so it’s difficult to pick a favourite. But two definitely stand out – Kenya and Thailand. • Working in Kenya was so different to anything I had ever seen, done and known before, in a positive and also in many negative and eyeopening ways. It was a humbling experience that taught me to appreciate very small things in life, and the beauty of life itself. • I joined the Millennium Hilton Bangkok in Februar y last year, and it has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The colourful culture, the kindness of Thai people, the way of life, and the beauty of this country has surpassed all expectations. And the best part is, I am just at the beginning of this new and wonderful journey. • Our hotel has one of the best locations in Bangkok. Our riverside setting not only offers amazing views of the city (especially breathtaking when seen at night from our famous rooftop bar), but also a tranquil atmosphere that feels far removed from the city din. Our location in the oldest part of Bangkok means that many of the city’s most famous attractions are only a short journey away, and getting to the malls and shopping centers is a breeze thanks to our transportation links.
Soon ICONSIAM, one of the city’s biggest malls, will even open right next to the hotel. • Apart from our unique 360 bar, our property has excellent meeting facilities and a wide range of restaurants to choose from. We are wellknown for our excellent services and excellent food quality and variety. But in the end it is our people who make all the difference, and with the exceptional team I have the pleasure working with, we deliver everything a guest could ever ask for. • Our goal as a leading fivestar hotel on the Chao Phraya River is not only to remain competitive, but to remain ahead of the competition. To further meet our guests’ evolving needs we constantly try to deliver exceptional experiences and passionate services. We started in May with our pool renovation, now being a new, fresh and very trendy product. Along with the soon-to-open ICONSIAM next door, we will be able to reposition our property in the market within the next coming years. We look forward to some very interesting years ahead. • The best advice I’ve ever received is: “Try to see the positive in every challenge or disappointment. Life is too short to be unhappy and waste your time with misery.” • What advice would I give to anyone hoping to be a GM in Thailand? Leave your own culture behind for a little while and be prepared to learn all over again. 123 Charoennakorn Rd., Klongsan. 02 442 2000. facebook.com/Hiltonbangkok. Bit.Ly/139rxjl
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Scrapbook Last monthâ€™s foodie functions in focus
Castel Wine Dinner at Blue Sky Bar & Dining CENTARA Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok recently hosted a luxurious wine dinner featuring a five-course set menu specially prepared by Executive Chef Eric Berrigaud to pair with fabulous wines from Castel, one of Franceâ€™s top winemakers. On hand to explain more about the wines on the night was special guest, Victoire Desvigne, Southeast Asia brand manager of Castel.
Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus
Diageo in the mix MIXOLGISTS and bar owners were out in force for Diageo Moet Hennessy (Thailand) Ltd’s World Class 2016 Thailand bartending competition, held at Groove at CentralWorld. After two days of competition, the judges selected 12 finalists who competed both against the clock – making at least six cocktails in eight minutes – and behind ‘pop-up’ bars, where they had to create their own signature drinks. At the end of the event four winners were selected – Mr Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn and Mr Kitibordee Chortubtim from Backstage Cocktail Bar; Ms Pinsuda Pongprom from Bamboo Bar (Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok), and Ms Pailin Sajjanit of Il Fumo – who will now go on to represent Thailand in Southeast Asia World Class Finals and Bar Show 2016 and World Class Global Finals 2016.
Wining and dining at Mexicano ZUCCARDI, one of Argentina’s most popular wineries, invited a group of VIP guests to a special wine dinner held at Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok’s renowned Mexicano restaurant. Featuring five courses of Mexican cuisine paired with Zuccardi wines, the event was big on atmosphere, full of flavour, and a great night was had by all. 44
Chez Papé’s pop up special FOR two nights last month Chez Papé French Bistro (Sukhumvit Soi 11) turned its kitchen over to guest French chefs Thibault Chiumenti and Jeremy Tourret, who combined their talents and creativity to create a sixcourse menu featuring highlights such as Poultry veloute, frog legs, parmesan espuma, garlic; Alaskan king crab; and some delicious duck breast. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming special events at chezpape.com.
Zonin 1821 Wine Tasting A NIGHT of fine Italian wines and bites was enjoyed by a large group of oenophiles at Bamboo Chic Bar, Le Méridien Bangkok, when it hosted its Zonin 1821 Wine Tasting night. Featuring premium wines from four different regions – Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Puglia, and Lombardia – the event was hosted by Zonin 1821’s Wine Specialist, Fraser Jones, and featured a lucky draw with some great prizes.
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New Zealand Food Connection 2016 NEW Zealand Trade & Enterprise’s annual Food Connection event was another resounding success, once again giving Thailand’s top food and beverage professionals an opportunity to taste more than 50 of New Zealand’s finest food products and wines, and meet many of the country’s key producers. The event was overseen by Ms Karen Campbell, New Zealand Trade Commissioner to Thailand, along with Chef Chumpol Jangprai, and H.E. Mr Ben King, New Zealand Ambassador to Thailand.
Mekiki No Ginji
Enjoy a taste of Okinawa at K Village, Sukhumvit 26
ERVING SOME Of tHE most reasonably priced sashimi in Bangkok (the restaurant’s name, roughly translated, means ‘sharp eye for choosing top quality ingredients’) Mekiki No Ginji is a well-worth a visit if you’re a fan of this much-loved Japanese cuisine. Part of a restaurant chain established in Okinawa, Japan, the Bangkok branches of this franchise (including the flagship venue, pictured on this page, at K Village on Sukhumvit 26, and a smaller venue on Thonglor Soi 5) incorporate all the same elements which have made the restaurant such a runaway success in its home country. From the striking blonde wooden interior complete with floating ‘pod’ seating, hanging lanterns, and an open kitchen, to the upbeat Japanese music (think traditional flutes accompanied by a modern beat), to the staff which greet every customer with a hearty Irasshaimase! (Welcome to the shop!),
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the restaurant provides a feast for all the senses – the perfect setting for gorging on baskets and bowls brimming with fresh seafood imported from Japan. Scrawled with Japanese, Thai and English text, the extensive menu available at the K Village branch can appear daunting at first, but rest assured the signature dishes are easy to find – including highlights such as Mekiki No Okemori (B399), featuring prawns, salmon, yellowtail, squid, salmon eggs, scallops and more prized fish all carefully sliced and arranged in a basket packed with ice; the Hairy crab set (B1,299) served with special rice and Miso soup; and Kaki uni sauce yaki (B249), featuring grilled oyster with special uni sauce served in a hot pan. There are also meat and vegetable dishes served sizzling hot on volcanic stones, such as Beef tenderloin yogan (B399), and Chicken yogan yaki (B299), as well as a selection of Mekiki No Ginji, K Village, Sukhumvit Soi 26. facebook.com/mekikinoginjibkk
succulent skewers (try the pork belly, and chicken liver. B99 for two pieces). Tempting promotions abound, ranging from daily specials like Grilled eggplant with Japanese yam and Shallot tempura (B180-B550), to a brand new lunch menu* featuring miso soup and a deep bowl which you can load with as much sashimi as you like (B200-B800). What’s more, every food order placed includes unlimited salad from the salad bar. Daily from 3pm you can enjoy three-hours of unlimited sake for B500. Or pay B750 for the premium package, which also includes Hoegaarden, Asahi and Singha. There's also a Happy-One-Hour promo with selected beers at B50 during your first hour of dining. For dessert, don’t miss the Matcha green tea jelly with red beans and vanilla ice cream – the perfect blend of sweet and bitter flavours. *The Thonglor branch of Mekiki No Ginji opens for dinner only.
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Enjoy excellent wines at great value at this bistro-style hangout on Sukhumvit 22
HAILAND’S complex tax system means there’s almost 400 percent import duty levied on wine, and as such, labels popular in the west usually sell for much higher a price here in the Land of Smiles. But there is one place in town where you can still expect to find great wines at good value – mainly because the owners don’t mind scrimping on profit to ensure their customers are having a great time. Located opposite the former Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel (soon to be a whopping new Marriott) on the ground-floor of the Park 22 complex, Wine Depot is an intimate hub of fine wines operated by the popular wine importing company of the same name. With glass walls on two sides, framed photos of famous winemakers, a few humorous posters (“Soup of the Day – Wine!,” reads one), furniture and décor made from wine pallets, and a central wine rack loaded with some fine French wines and excellent New
World selections, the venue operates as both a wine shop and tapas bar and, like any good neighbourhood hangout, is immediately welcoming – especially when you check the prices. “Our friends had been bugging us for ages to open a place where they can socialize and enjoy wine at good value,” says Wine Depot’s French owner, JeanChristophe, “and when this location came up we thought we’d give it a go. Our philosophy from the start has not been the pursuit of profit – we want to promote wine drinking culture in Bangkok. And we do this not only by offering good, affordable wines, but by also showing that wine doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s one of life’s greatest, simple pleasures. And here it’s all about fun.” In light of this philosophy, the third Thursday of every month Wine Depot hosts a wine and buffet night featuring 28 Sukhumvit 22 (opposite the former Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel). 02 000 4238. facebook.com/winedepotbangkok
free-flowing wines and high quality cheeses and cold cuts for a mere B800. The wine bottles showcased on the night normally sell for B1,000 each, so it’s great value for money. Due to popular demand, a similar concept will soon be offered on Saturday nights. Aside from the impressive selection of wines (with bottles ranging in price from B500 – B15,000; and wine by the glass starting at B150), Wine Depot also offers an extensive food menu loaded with tapas, cold cuts and cheese platters (try the combo, B550), thin crust pizzas (B220-B320), some delicious grilled meats (the Wagyu sirloin skewers we tried were impressive. B450), mussels, Thai dishes, soups, salads; and sandwiches. There are also some tempting desserts, including the decadent but lovely homemade Chocolate lava cake with ice cream (B190). More good news: All prices are net. Well worth checking out!
Keeping Bangkok’s Italian food lovers happy for more than 30 years
N a city renowned for the fickleness of its diners and the fast turnover of its restaurants, L’Opera on Sukhumvit 39 is something of a rarity. For more than 30 years, this amiable Italian eatery has proved an enduringly popular choice with generations of expats and Thais who love its consistency and reliability. From the unusual layout offering customers four different but very pleasant dining areas on different levels, to the high quality of its Italian cuisine and the dedication of its staff, several of whom have been with the restaurant since its opening, L’Opera is a Bangkok legend. And it’s that reliability, knowing for sure that dining here is always an enjoyable experience, along with the kitchen’s willingness to customize dishes to individual preferences, which brings people back to its tables. In charge is General Manager Bjorn Sidfelt whose responsibilities include overseeing the kitchen. It's also his job to ensure that fresh imported produce like asparagus from France and Italy, as well as mushrooms, chanterelle and truffles, according to
season, are incorporated into as many dishes as possible. The starters, for example, change every two weeks to accommodate product availability. Bjorn is keen to highlight the restaurant's imported Fassone beef, known as the “Kobe of Italy,” the only product of its kind to be recognized by the US Heart Association for its low cholesterol. A 1.4 kg serving is enough for three or four people. He has also added some very appealing dishes to a comprehensive menu, including his own recommendation – a culinary journey featuring seven dishes comprising three appetizers, two pastas, a main course, dessert and coffee for a very reasonable B1,480 (minimum two persons). L’Opera’s menu is actually divided into at least 12 sections, each with an amazingly large selection of individual and some sharing dishes. The antipasti include mouth-watering items like mozzarella caprese, carpaccio di pesce, scallops, foie gras, roasted veal and much more. L’Opera Italian Restaurant & Reserva Wine Bar, Sukhumvit Soi 39. 02 258 5606. lopera-bangkok.com
Generous salads and tasty soups endowed with Italian flair are sensibly priced from B200 to B460. No less than 16 pasta dishes are available, including three different risottos. Pizza lovers have an incredible 17 different home-made varieties to choose from, with prices only B280 to B390. You’ll find fresh barramundi, snow fish, sea bass, Norwegian salmon and tiger prawns in the seafood section. If you prefer grills, the restaurant offers a mixed grill of lamb, Italian sausage, beef and pork tenderloin, and baby chicken for just B780. All the other meats are from Australia. L’Opera has a set lunch at B360, which includes a salad buffet and main course (choice of pasta or pizza), or a business set lunch with dessert, coffee and tea at B440. Wines start from B350 per glass or B1,500 for a bottle. The restaurant also has a master wine list from the adjoining Reserva Wine Bar with over 300 outstanding labels for the real connoisseur. Bjorn, who has a long hotel background in Bangkok and Myanmar, is a helpful but discreet presence in this legendary restaurant.
The Twist Bar & Bistro and Eat Well Café
Well Hotel’s signature restaurants offer a scrumptious spin on healthy eating
ATING healthy doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to only munching on fruits, salad and boiled vegetables. Really, it’s all about finding the right balance and eating smart. And when done right,
healthy food can be downright delicious. Take Well Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 20. This brand new property has been designed from the ground floor up to blend leisure with wellness in style. From the Executive Suites equipped with exercise bikes, to the excellent spa and well-equipped fitness centre, the hotel has everything a guest needs to keep their mind and body in tip-top condition while enjoying a vacation or staycation in the City of Angels. This philosophy translates superbly to the hotel’s two signature restaurants, The Twist Bar & Bistro and Eat Well Cafe, whose menus have been developed in partnership with Dr. Somboon Roongphornchai (M.D., Well Hotel Bangkok, 10 Sukhumvit 20 Rd. 02 127 5995. WellHotelBangkok.com
ABAAM, ACASP) to ensure each dish packs plenty of nutritional punch. And thanks to the expertise of talented French chef Gregory Caplot, each wholesome dish is loaded with lip-smacking flavours too. If only all healthy food could taste this good. Both restaurants occupy the same light and airy, spacious dining room at the front of the hotel (where you can also sit on a terrace overlooking the street), which means you have the pleasure of being able to select from each of the restaurant’s extensive menus. Twist Bar & Bistro takes its influences from European bistros and offers a range of soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, burgers, grilled meats and seafood, with highlights such as Parisienne witloof salad (B350++); Grilled
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Australian beef Brochettes (B720++); Countryside Sandwich (B330++); Pesto and sea prawn fettuccine (390++); and Oven baked New Zealand mussels (B290++). Vegetables are crisp and full of flavour; the beef, seasoned to scrumptious effect, confirms its high quality in both texture and taste; the countryside sandwich, with its topping of bacon, fried egg and sautéed potatoes, is the culinary equivalent of a warm hug (proper comfort food); and we couldn't get enough ot the subtly spiced fettucine, which lingered lovingly on the palate. The dishes available from Eat Well Café are just as tasty. Think innovative, healthy takes on Thai classics, with highlights such as Quinoa, mango and salad (B280++), Tom yum 6/2/16 prawn 9:31 AM
goong citrus and Thai herb soup with prawns (B270++), and Chicken herbal rolls green curry served with roti or brown rice (B310++). Each restaurant also offers a special ‘Food Therapy’ menu featuring tempting options like the Computer Vision Syndrome Set (recommended for anyone who spends long hours staring at a computer screen), which packs plenty of nutrients and vitamins in its serving of goji berry, carrot and tomato soup; followed by Beef steak salad with arugula, witloof, romaine leaves, broccoli, cherry tomato, walnuts, quinoa, and boiled egg, served with blue cheese cereal bread tartine and red wine herbal vinaigrette (B720++) Daily happy hours at both restaurants (5pm-8pm) offer selected drinks at buy-one-get-one-free; every Mon-Sat a two-course lunch set with coffee or tea is priced B250; and every Sat-Sun from noon-close there’s 25 percent discount on all food and soft drinks. Complimentary WiFi is provided.
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“The journey started with my first watercolour exhibition in May 1986. These were realistic paintings that captured the rust and mildew textures of the slums. Later I was more inspired by nature, especially seascapes. My first oil paintings were exhibited in August 1988 at a well-known gallery in Jakarta, right before my husband Peter and I left for Thailand.” From the outset of her artistic career her vibrant use of colours has drawn high praise. “Colour pervades my imagination no matter how hard I may try to mute my palette. Over time my art has become bolder and at the same time simpler,” said Elizabeth. “In the portrayals of women that I am best known for, I have moved toward an ever more primitive style, with the feminine shapes bending and flowing as the faces became more totemic.” “I would describe my style as modern figurative and distinctly colourful. My works are quite recognisable. I play along a fine line of sensuality and eroticism, without getting sexual. I like to capture the deeper and more hidden emotions of eroticism, which are not always connected to sexuality,” Elizabeth said. “I always listen to my heart for inspiration. It may not be intentional, but artists often seem to be painting their own reflections.”
remarked that Thailand can be challenging for foreigners, and even many long-time expats feel that they never really belong. “But my children were born here and I feel this is my home. And my work has been very well accepted also in the local art scene, which I am very happy about. “Bangkok is a vibrant city that has inspired many artists. The Thai culture is very rich, and even though Thailand is not the subject of my art I think being here for twenty-eight years has unconsciously influenced my work. I was delighted when I was invited to show a couple of my works at an exhibition called ‘Thai Trends from Localism to Internationalism’ at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. For me this meant that I was accepted in the Thai art scene. “Some of my paintings and sculptures have been auctioned for various charity causes, and I had the great honour to meet Her Majesty the Queen when I donated two large paintings to the Queen Sirikit Breast Cancer Centre. “The Thai mentality has taught me to stay calm in stressful times so that I can find a balance between being a creative artist and a dedicated mother and wife in the vibrant but hectic social life of Bangkok.”
Captivating the curator It was Didier Hamel, the Director and Curator of Duta Fine Arts Foundation in Jakarta, who “discovered” Elizabeth. He wrote about the experience in an essay titled “Elizabeth Romhild – ‘Oriental Sensuality’: “I remember very well when this young lady came by the Duta Gallery one sunny afternoon back in 1988 with some works to show me. Most of these depicted landscapes, some done in Jakarta and its surroundings, and others in Bali. These were in fact her first oil paintings. “It is always an embarrassing moment for a curator to give a frank and honest appraisal to an artist at such an early and tender stage. In these paintings there were some positive aspects and others not so appealing. Elizabeth and I decided immediately to work together and analyze each painting in detail. “We selected the best paintings, which were mostly seascapes, and decided to do her first solo exhibition in August 1988. The paintings exhibited gave a good feeling but were not yet truly very exciting. But the central and most important point is that this exhibition was the first real step of her artistic career. “When Elizabeth moved to Thailand she regularly sent me photos of her new paintings, and I was delightfully surprised: she had left behind her landscapes and gone onward to create her own visions. A true artist gradually emerged! It was remarkable that Elizabeth almost immediately came to be in true communion with her work. Around 1998 her compositions really reached their zenith. “For me, these compositions fully express the vision of an oriental dream…What I personally find most interesting in her work is the blending of sensibility conveyed with spontaneity, a real feeling of passion appealing to a kind of spiritual eroticism. The stunning colours and shapes successfully transmit an authentic and warm sensuality.” Finding inspiration in Thailand “My husband Peter’s company transferred him to Thailand in October 1988,” said Elizabeth. “After our two children were born and Peter started a new job here we decided to stay. We’ve lived more than 30 years in Southeast Asia now, and I have been working and developing my art the whole time.” Elizabeth speaks Armenian, Danish, English and Farsi fluently, but said her Thai is still somewhat “basic.” She
Turning to her new project, she said: “I had for some time considered putting my ideas and style to use in designing various products. Initially I was considering fabric, but then an acquaintance, who was working for Royal Copenhagen, suggested porcelain. Early last year I had the opportunity to work with Patra Porcelain in Bangkok, and after many meetings, going through all my hand-drawn designs and ensuring that the colours came out as I envisioned, we came up with the initial three series: Piano, La Boheme and Impromptu. In fact they are inspired by my portrayals of women. “After a successful launch in Thailand the intention is to expand the portfolio and design new series. I am also looking at the international market – Japan, other parts of Asia and even the United States and Europe. I do the creative work and designs and of course the promotion as I have many connections in Thailand, whereas all the purchase, sales and administration is handled by a local distributor.” Elizabeth’s artwork and designs will soon be on display in shops at ‘Another Story’ at EmQuartier, the ‘Living’ section in Emporium and Siam Paragon, and at ‘Maison Artinian’ at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, where fine jewellery from distinguished international Artinian jewellery house will also be available.
Fluent without fear: Why learning a new language starts with mastering your thoughts
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela
MERICAN-born linguist Noam Chomsky believes that we are born with a predisposition to learn language. Chomsky believes that language is innate, that the human brain comes into the world with a pre-determined set of rules of how language works. Environment and learning are involved, but the foundation for language comes from the womb. When we’re first born, for example, we have no idea about anything – we have no identity and have no awareness of having a body – but we quickly learn the difference between comfortable and uncomfortable (especially through the sensations of hunger, and coldness from having a damp soggy nappy), and we begin to utter sounds which lead to reactions that ultimately make us feel better – being fed, having a nappy changed, etc. So we begin to learn, experience, take on beliefs and values, and form a version of reality. Often to our detriment, though, somewhere around the age of four, we then learn to pay attention to our thoughts and start adding meanings to situations and events. It is also usually around this time that we begin to take on fears that can stay with us for many years (which we covered in detail last month. Read online at: bit.ly/27xD8L8). The number one fear I have learned through my work as a hypnotherapist, for example, is that of public speaking. This was born the day I had to stand up and speak in front of my class at school, and I felt foolish and embarrassed. These thoughts then stayed with me well into adulthood. What’s important to remember in many situations in life is that each of us creates our own reality in our minds. What we see isn’t really what we see – instead we distort, delete and generalise to create our own version of reality.
For example, if we were sat at a pavement café drinking coffee and we witnessed an accident right in front of us, despite the fact of us both seeing the same event occur, our witness statements would be different because we both would have been paying attention to different aspects of what happened. (For a great example check out Daniel Simons & Christopher Chabris’ selective attention test on YouTube). With us all seeing a different version of the world, then, it’s a wonder that any of us really understand each other at all – even when we do speak the same languages.
Different realities I remember many years ago being at a Catholic Mass in the UK. I hadn’t been to a service since leaving school, but as I was about to be married in the church, and wanted to keep the priest happy, I obliged by turning up on Sunday mornings. Something had changed in my absence, though. At some point during the middle of the first Mass I attended, everyone turned around, shook hands, and said: ‘Pleased to meet you.’
Or so I had thought. What people in the congregation had actually said when they had joined hands was ‘peace be with you.’ This was pointed out with much delight several weeks later by a friend who had accompanied me to the church – and who couldn’t control their laughter – when they heard me utter what I thought was the correct thing to say.
School Report Shrewsbury presents Colours of Spring concert
ON Wednesday May 18, HRH Princess Soamsawali graced Shrewsbury International School with her presence in attending a special performance of the Colours of Spring Concert. Fifty-six Shrewsbury students performed piano and string pieces before the crowd of 400 in the school’s Khunying Sumanee Memorial Hall, showcasing a repertoire which included H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s original compositions as well as classical pieces from the likes of Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff. A charitable donation of 600,000 Baht, presented to the Princess at the beginning of the performance, will help to support The Friend in Need Volunteers Association of the Thai Red Cross and other causes chosen by the Princess herself.
Harrow offers sixth form scholarship HARROW Bangkok is offering a 100 percent scholarship – dubbed a ‘Golden Ticket’ – for academic achievers who wish to join the school’s renowned Sixth Form programme. Interested students can request an application form by email (email@example.com). Closing date for applications is June 30.
Summer School at Bromsgrove Beyond Giving: The NIST Microcredit Bank
POVERTY and the cycle it perpetuates through generations represent an age-old problem that many view as a constant in life. A group of students and teachers at NIST don’t believe that a solution is so unfathomable, and they are tackling the issue head-on through the NIST Microcredit Bank (NMB). Based on the work of Mohammed Yunus, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering work in microfinance, and created as a student-run service group with the aim of supporting all members of the NIST community, the NMB offers debt relief, business loans and scholarships for the children of the school’s support staff. 2016 is the fourth year that the NMB has provided scholarships to children of support staff, and also represents the largest number granted thus far: 33 in total. Though basic schooling for all children in Thailand is free in principle, extraneous costs even in small public schools put it out of reach of thousands of families, particularly those with multiple children. In the words of the microcredit bank members, “It is unacceptable to be students of an academic institution that permits those who support our education to struggle to afford an education for their own”. They view caring for all members of the NIST community as a fundamental responsibility, one that will ultimately allow families to be enriched through education.
BROMSGROVE International School Thailand will open its Early Years Summer School from June 30 - August 1. Catering for children aged 2-8 who want to improve their English, the school will offer exciting and engaging activities, developing language through reading and play in the school’s outstanding facility on Ramkhamhaeng. Meanwhile, the Summer Intensive English and Adventure Camp is aimed at children aged 9-15. This camp will offer intensive English lessons as well as lessons in Science, ICT, Art and Drama, all on Bromsgrove’s state-of-the-art Suwinthawong campus. In addition, participants will enjoy a variety of exciting trips around the Bangkok area. Three-week and five-week programmes are available. For more info visit bromsgrove.ac.th
Shrewsbury students receive offers from the world’s best universities • 91 students secure 350 university offers worldwide • Over 160 offers from World's Top 100 Universities • 4 Oxbridge Offers and 4 Ivy League offers
TUDENTS from Shrewsbury International School have achieved amazing success in the global race for Higher Education places, securing top offers from some of the world’s most selective universities. Over 350 offers have been received so far, including 160 offers from universities and colleges ranked within the Times Higher Education’s World Top 100, and 80 offers from the top 50 ranked institutions. In the UK, prestigious Oxford, Cambridge and Russell Group universities, and London-based Imperial College, London School of Economics (LSE) and King’s College all feature prominently. With their all-star lists of influential alumni, and topping many international rankings, Yale, Berkeley, Chicago, UCLA, Duke, Brown and Williams stand out as some of the best-known American-based
destinations. Whilst USA and UK universities remain the most popular choices, Shrewsbury’s class of 2016 have also secured offers that could see them studying in Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Ireland and Italy later this year. Indeed, with offers from over 150 different institutions, the larger picture is one of incredible variety, both in terms of the range of destinations, and the fields of study that Shrewsbury students will pursue. Around one quarter of students will continue into medical or engineering related disciplines. An increasing number of students are now also choosing more flexible majors that allow them to explore a wider range of academic interests. The credentials of individual students are also underlined by successful scholarship applications this year, including awards at Chapman, Santa Clara, Clark, San Diego,
Linfield and Boston University. Nuey Suphantarida, who has received a full-tuition scholarship to study Policy Management at Keio University in Tokyo, accredits much of her scholarship success to the support and preparation provided by Shrewsbury staff. “The teachers here did not push me to go to the US or the UK; they were very supportive about how broad I could go,” she explains. “Reading the World [Shrewsbury’s critical thinking, research and presentation programme] really helped me…I had written a thesis for it which I was able to submit as part of my university application process.” Another key success factor is the support and expertise provided by Shrewsbury’s Higher Education team, who work to support each and every application, and whose year-round effort to maintain and establish new connections with universities around the world gives students an incredible head start in finding universities and courses which are the best fit for them. Following another tour of UK universities in February, the team has spent recent weeks linking up with University Counselors and Shrewsbury alumni at universities along the length of America’s West Coast, gathering information that will assuredly lead to another successful set of applications in 2017. shrewsbury.ac.th
Harrow Bangkok celebrates its stunning first ever charity masked ball GLAMOROUS gowns, Venetian masks, ice sculptures and James Bond look-alikes graced the JW Marriott as the Harrow Bangkok community came together for the Schoolâ€™s first ever charity masked ball. An entertaining evening of glitz and intrigue was enjoyed by 260 parents, staff and alumni, complete with a Champagne reception, four-course dinner and dancing. This black tie event was an opportunity to follow the rich traditions of European masked balls â€“ elaborate dances for the highest in society, renowned for their decadence, sumptuous costumes and dazzling masks. The ballroom came alive for the charity auction, which helped raise an astonishing 510,000 baht for the Mobile Education Partnerships. This money will go a long way in helping to build the future of migrant communities, especially the children, in the Mae Sot region. A first-class raffle, which included a wealth of luxury prizes, added to the excitement of the evening, as did the door prize of two return British Airways flights to London.
Compelling reasons to make time for family dinners Nutrition consultant Judith Coulson explains the health and wellness benefits of eating together at the same table ■ WHEN parents and children have busy schedules, “family dinners” can be difficult to arrange. But are you aware of the benefits that come with regularly eating together at the table? Commuting hours, soccer practices, dance rehearsals, play dates, and other scheduling conflicts make family mealtime seem like an unachievable task. Suddenly, we’re feeding our kids breakfast bars on the way to school, sneaking 100-calorie packs at our desks at work, and grabbing dinner from the vendor on the way. Research suggests that having dinner together as a family at least four times a week has positive effects on child development. Family dinners have
been linked to a lower risk of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and an increased chance of professional and academic success. If you’re currently finding it difficult to get your family together for a meal at the dinner table, here’s a little inspiration:
Conversation and Communication Eating dinner together as a family provides the opportunity for conversation. This lets parents teach healthy communication without distractions from smartphones, televisions, computers, and mobile devices. By engaging your children in conversation, you teach them how to listen and provide them with a chance to
express their own opinions. This allows your children to have an active voice within the family. Conversations at the dinner table expand the vocabulary and reading ability of children, regardless of socioeconomic status. Family dinners allow every family member to discuss his or her day and share any exciting news. Use the following tips to encourage conversation: • Discuss your child’s day: Express an interest in your child’s daily life. Avoid just focussing on what they have learned and how well they did in class. Keep the conversation positive and encouraging. Let your child talk and ask questions instead of offering an opinion.
• Discuss current events: Bring up news stories that are appropriate for your child’s age. Ask them what they think about a current event and accept their view as equal to yours. Encourage a non-violent discussion style, let each other speak and finish a sentence before interrupting. Make it a rule that on your family table there is no space for naming, shaming or swear words. • Conversations with teenagers: As a mother of two teenagers I know that the use of swear words is a part of teenage language these days. However, if parents keep firm with not allowing swear words, naming or shaming in conversations at home, and keep on pointing out if they are used anyway, over time you can achieve a home language without them.
Developmental Benefits The sense of security and togetherness provided by family meals helps nurture children into healthy, well-rounded adults. Frequent family dinners have a positive impact on children’s values, motivation, personal identity, and self-esteem. Children who eat dinner with their family are more likely to understand, acknowledge, and follow the boundaries and expectations set by their parents. A decrease in high-risk behaviours is related to the amount of time spent with family, especially during family dinners. To make the most of your family mealtime, consider following: • Turn off television, radio, and mobile devices during dinner Ask all family members to turn off their mobile phones over dinner or leave them in the bedrooms. It is important that parents lead by example in this case and don’t think that their own mobile messages are more important than their kids’ social media conversations. All of us are able to survive without a mobile phone for 30 minutes a day. • Have family meals at least four or five times a week Couples or families will benefit more from family meals if they occur more frequently during the week. Sit together and compare your schedules to make sure you get at least one meal together as a family. This might mean that all of you will need to compromise on time spent otherwise and make a conscious effort for the benefit of the team.
• Preparing, conversing, and cleaning up together Preparing and cleaning up a family dinner is as important as the dinner itself. Make a plan with your family on who will prepare the food and clean up the kitchen. This time can be used as a oneto-one time with just one of your children or your wife/husband, to share thoughts and information that are less likely shared with the whole family.
Family dinners can be a stress reliever Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed. Good time management, planning ahead for meals, and making a weekly meal and shopping plan can help reduce the stress that comes with preparing the meals.
Children who eat dinner with their family are more likely to understand, acknowledge, and follow the boundaries and expectations set by their parents. Nutritional Benefits Eating dinner together as a family also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a model for children to carry with them into adulthood. Studies show family dinners can increase the intake of fruits and vegetables, protein, calcium, and vitamins. Here are some mealtime suggestions: • Healthy meals mean healthy kids We are (become) what we eat. This has never been more true than today. To enhance and nourish your children’s (and your) physical, mental, emotional and inspirational development, a healthy and balanced diet is key. You may not be able to control what your family members eat when they are
in school or at work, but with adopting a healthy family meal policy at home, you can make a long lasting impact on the present and future health and wellbeing of your family members. • Cook as a family and include ever yone in the preparation process Young children especially like to be included in the food preparation process. Having kids in the kitchen likely will increase the mess and the time you need to cook. But at the same time it is a valuable experience for your children and will increase their enthusiasm to try and eat all kinds of foods. Especially the ones they cooked themselves. • Have “theme” cuisine nights such as Italian, Mexican, or Pirate Foods Make cooking a fun affair and introduce diversity. Cooking something you have never cooked before can be exciting for the whole family and might not always turn out edible. But that is the fun of it and can create a memorable evening your kids will keep talking about. (Make sure you have a spare pack of spaghetti just in case).
Lead by example My vision as a mother always was (and still is) for my children to develop into healthy, smart and independent young adults. With that in mind every choice I made with them or for them, was according to my best knowledge at the time. For me, it was always important to make sure my children are aware und understand that their bodies and brains are their most valuable resources to achieve anything they set their mind to in life. And therefore need to be trained, developed and nourished. With a busy schedule, or as a working parent, we are sometimes tempted to cut corners, take the easy way out or just simply don’t pay enough attention to details. And before we realize it, we adopt habits and rituals we know are less than optimal and not how we intended to lead by example. The good news is that change is always possible; it might take some extra effort, but it will be worthwhile in the long run.
Judith Coulson is a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist and Nutrition Professional working with individuals, executive teams, schools and companies based in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. lifestylefoodclinic.com/ corporate-wellness.asia
A D V I C E Expat life getting you down? Professional counselors Anette and Johanna are here to help.
Q A • Anette Pollner Adv. Dipl. Couns., is one of seven international counsellors at NCS Counseling Center in Saphan Kwai. She trained in London and the US and worked as a staff counsellor at Bart’s Hospital in London.
Baffled by husband’s behaviour I have been married to my Thai husband for a few years. Ever ything seemed ok until – well, until our child was born. At first I didn’t really notice it because things were so different anyway and I was so occupied with the baby. But it must have started then. My husband, who had previously been quite laid back and easy-going, suddenly became ver y controlling. Ever ything had to be done his way, and he seemed to expect me to be some kind of obedient housewife! I also realized how important it was, to him, to create certain impressions with his work colleagues and his extended family. At first I tried to overlook it as ‘new father stress,’ but he became ver y demanding, and before I knew it we argued a lot. I tried to keep calm because of the baby, but he started to shout at me almost ever y day, and sometimes he smashed things in the condo. Now we are at the point where he doesn’t like me to go out without him, and where he tries to make me go to family occasions and work outings and play the ‘little wife.’ At home, he’s threatened me a few times with taking my daughter away if I don’t do what he says. He told me that the Thai law will give the Thai father always sole custody. I find it difficult to understand how this happened. I used to be an independent woman, and I used to earn more than he did. I am now working part time which has led to him not paying for our nanny anymore. What is going on? Imogen, 29, from the UK Dear Imogen, What a difficult place to be in! First, let me say, that you need to be safe. Whatever happens, you have a right to be safe in body and mind. Find a few good friends who you can trust and tell them the situation. Make sure there is someone you can call at any time, day or night. Your experience is, unfortunately, not at all uncommon, and has happened all over the world. But your situation is particularly precarious because you are a foreigner in a foreign country and you don’t have the same family and network support that your husband has here. It seems that the main issue is the ‘transformation’ of your partner into someone who wants to control you and wants to incorporate you into the image he is creating for the benefit of others. Could it be that this transformation is happening, at least partly, because your young family is now under more outside scrutiny and because it has all become a lot more serious, at least in his eyes? As long as you were just a laid-back couple, your husband may have felt a lot less pressure to conform. Now he seems to try to play a very old-fashioned role of the ‘master of the house.’ But what is alarming is the fact that you don’t seem to be able to talk to each other without arguing, and the fact that your husband is shouting, is violent towards objects, and that he is now threatening you about your child. It seems that the violence and threats are escalating, and your relationship is now becoming abusive. This is not good for you, and it is certainly not good for your child. Children are very sensitive to atmosphere. Maybe there is still a way to repair your marriage. Your husband may not fully realize what he is doing and he may have pushed himself into a corner from where he doesn’t know how to negotiate with you. My advice is to see an experienced couples counselor as soon as possible, and in your case someone who has experience with intercultural relationships. It is very important that you find someone your husband can trust – perhaps a Thai counselor would be best. At the same time, bear in mind that the safety and well-being of your child is the most important consideration here. I hope very much that you will be able to repair your relationship and give your child the best possible start in life. Once again, I think you are very brave and I hope you will get the help you need and deserve.
Q A • Johanna DeKoning MS is the Clinical Director of NCS Counseling Center. She trained in the Netherlands and Australia.
Blocked from seeing dying friend I am struggling with my emotions and I don’t know what to do. One of my ver y dear friends is ver y sick and will most likely pass away soon. I was able to visit him three times per week while he was in hospital but then he moved home because medically there was nothing more that could be done for him. Now he is being cared for by his wife. And here is the problem: she will not allow him to have visitors as “this is too heavy for him.” Phone calls are only answered by her and she will not pass the phone on to her husband. It feels as if she owns him. He is still conscious and can talk, but soon his illness will progress to another stage. I asked his wife to tell us what is happening with him, but we get ver y little information. I do want to respect her wishes but I wonder if this is what he wants himself. We were ver y good friends and I would like to say goodbye. I feel so sad about it all and I long to speak to him one more time during his final weeks or months on earth. My heart tells me I should just go and visit. Should I? Herman, 51, from Denmark Dear Herman, Our deepest sympathy for what you are going through. The issue you are writing about, and that you are struggling with, (sadly) happens all too often. It is always very hard to know what is wise and correct to do in this very delicate situation. On the one hand, of course, you want to respect the wish of the wife (although you do not know if this is your friend’s wish), but your doubts and the dynamics of your own mourning process make you want to visit him one last time. When you visited him in the hospital, did he talk about the fact that this is a terminal illness? Or did no one realize at that time how serious the situation was? In the course of my practice, I have had the opportunity to discuss this issue with several families that have dealt with the sickness and loss of a loved one. Some mentioned that the patient can be too tired to receive a visit of a friend and that the experience might be too painful and upsetting for them. Others mentioned that they did visit for one final time and discovered that the sick person was grateful for the chance to say goodbye, sometimes almost as if they were waiting and expecting this. You could write a letter to your friend and tell him all the things that you would still like to say to him. Also thank him for his friendship. That way, your friend can read the letter when he is strong enough and he can respond in his own time and in his own way. This can also help you to find closure with your own mourning process. Some relatives mentioned that they followed their heart and did visit and it was good for the patient as well as for them. So maybe you, too, should follow your heart and take the risk to visit and see what happens when you arrive. Just ask for a short moment to see him and, if he is still able to talk with you, you can ask if he would like you to visit again. This will give you indeed a final opportunity for a goodbye and closure. I wish you a lot of strength to deal with this loss.
Contact details: ncs-counseling.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 02 279 8503, or send your problems to: email@example.com
p Last monthâ€™s best events in pictures
AMWET POOL PARTY: DISCO VS HIP HOP
DISCO grooves and hip hop beats set the scene for a great day of partying at the May edition of amBar’s popular monthly pool party. Spinning the tunes on the day were DJs Octo, James Thackstone, and Patsan, as well as the International Bloc Party. For details of upcoming events see facebook.com/AmBarBangkok.
COMIC CON CELEBRATED
TRUE Visions Group Co., Ltd., and True Corporation Public Company Limited celebrated the success of the third annual Bangkok Comic Con by hosting a party at Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok for some of the biggest names in the region’s movie, animation and special effect industries. Among the big names – Hollywood star Caity Lotz; renowned international cosplayers (with more than 2 million followers) Nicole Marie Jean and Luffie; and Olivier from V-Project of Hong Kong.
Social|Last Month’s Best Events
STELLA ARTOIS THAILAND DRAUGHT MASTERS 2016
THE Thailand leg of the sixth “Stella Artois World Draught Masters” drew to a close in style with a celeb-studded final event at the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok. The bartenders selected to represent Thailand in the Regional Final 2016 in Kuala Lumpur were Ms Sutatip Lappicheatwattana (7th Street Bar & Bistro), Mr Sansern Chaitosa (Bar 722), and Mr Putthapoom Sahaysuk (HOBS Aree).
CINCO DE MAYO GOLD FIESTA
MÉJICO, the modern Mexican restaurant (and Thailand’s biggest tequila bar with over 200 types of rare tequilas), located at Groove@CentralWorld, celebrated its first anniversary with a great party featuring lots of eats and drinks and a vibrant atmosphere.
LEARNING MADE FUN AT TEAMLAB ISLANDS JAPAN’S renowned interactive digital exhibition and interactive theme park came to Thailand for the first time last month giving visitors the chance to play (and learn) at hands-on installations which blended art, science, and technology to exciting effect. Held at The Space, 3rd Floor, CentralWorld, the exhibition was presented by Singha Drinking Water, Scotch Kitz, and BEC-Tero Entertainment.
LANEIGE SHARES BEAUTY SECRETS
AMORE Pacific Thailand marked the arrival of the latest product by South Korean cosmetics brand Laneige – dubbed Laneige Water Bank Gel Cream, a moisturizing gel cream that contains beneficial skin-repairing and water-binding ingredients – by organizing a beauty workshop hosted by Thai actress Warattaya Nilkuha. The event was attended by celebrities such as Nutcha Horsajjakul, Silpsupa Apirukthanon, Pimm-payap Srikarnchana, Sirinpat Limpornkrittiwong, and many other big names.
FOXES RECEIVE HERO’S WELCOME IN BANGKOK
HOT on the heels of scooping its first top flight title in its 132-year history, and capturing the imagination of the sporting world in the process, Leicester City Football Club – A.K.A. the Foxes – celebrated its amazing achievement by coming to Thailand on a good-will trip hosted by owners Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (Leicester City Chairman) and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha (Leicester City Vice Chairman). Led by manager Claudio Ranieri, team captain Wes Morgan, Japanese striker Shinji Okazaki, striker Leonardo Ulloa, and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (son of goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel), the team was introduced at a celebratory press conference held at the Aksra Theatre at King Power’s Downtown Complex on Rangnam Road. The Srivaddhanaprabha family is also the owner of King Power Group, Thailand’s premier Duty Free operator.
TISSOT ANNOUNCES LIU YIFEI AS NEW PRODUCT AMBASSADOR
LUXURY Swiss watchmaking company Twissot held a special event to announce Chinese actress Liu Yifei as its new female global ambassador. The President of Tissot, Mr François Thiébaud, and Country Manager of Swatch Group China, Mrs Susan Chen, also joined the celebration with ambassadors Huang Xiaoming and Liu Yifei. TheBigChilli 105
Around town Social|Last Month’s Best Events
COOKING WITH CARNATION F&N Dairies (Thailand) Company Limited hosted a special cooking workshop at The Emquartier to showcase the wide variety of savory dishes that can be made using Carnation Evaporated Milk as a key ingredient. The event was attended by celebrity families and couples such as “Joy” Rinlanee Sripen and “Alek” Teeradetch Metawarayut (who made Super Sap Seafood Tom Yam with Milk), “Pin” Kejmanee and her son “Chaosamut” Chak Wattanasin (who made Milk-blanketed Pork Salad with Gravy), and “Porshe” Saran Sirilak and Chakrit Yamnam (who made Chicken Panaeng and Milk Pie). For more details about the recipes visit: facebook.com/Foodbyme.
ROBINSON RUNS FOR THE TREES
ROBINSON Department Store together with Suzuki Motor (Thailand) held a press conference to announce the upcoming “Robinson Suzuki Green Run” mini marathon, which will be held in 17 locations around Thailand on July 10 under the concept “Run for the Tree.” For every runner that takes part one tree will be planted in Kachanaburi Province. For more info visit facebook/Robinsondepartmentstore.
COTTON USA CELEBRATES COTTON DAY
COTTON USA celebrated the 2016 Cotton Day by launching its 2016 Collection of women’s and men’s apparel in collaboration with COTTON USA licensees Blue Corner and Khaki Bros. Both collections were presented in a fashion show led by Boy Pakorn Chatborirak, Mew Nittha Jirayungyern and Margie Rasri Balenciaga at Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Bangkok. Find more info at facebook.com/ COTTONUSA.Thailand.
FLASH PLUS 2 MAKES ITS DEBUT
ALCATEL’S latest Flash Plus smartphone was unveiled in snazzy fashion at a press conference held at Tales of Gold Mine Bangkok (Groove@CentralWorld). The conference was hosted by Mr Yogi Babria, Alcatel’s Director of Business Deveopment.
DIPLOMATS p Meet the people uniting nations
H.E. Karel Hartogh Ambassador brings the spirit of The Hague to Bangkok
Page 108 TheBigChilli 107
Diplomat/ H.E. Karel Hartogh
Ambassador brings the spirit of The Hague to Bangkok
Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER
HE Kingdom of the Netherlands consistently ranks in the top ten of happiest countries in the world. Fortunately that state of mind also extends to the country’s beautiful embassy in Bangkok, now occupied by Ambassador Karel Hartogh, who took up his post in July last year. The renovated ambassador’s residence and chancery and the spacious garden with its fine old trees and ponds contribute to the postcard imagery of the embassy compound. It is home to monitor lizards, squirrels, a great variety of birds and fish and other animals. But what really gives the place that air of playful intelligence the Dutch are known for is the “EU herd,” a collection of 29 life-size polyester cows painted in the colors of the EU and its 28 member states. The Netherlands was a founding member of the EU and by and large the Dutch people remain committed to its objectives and potential. The herd was adopted by the Netherlands when it headed the EU in 2004, and after a world tour that included Bangkok’s Benjasri Park the colourful cows were put to pasture in this refreshing green space on Wireless Road. “The cows have been here for a few years and they are much appreciated by the local staff. When I arrived I asked them if they wanted the cows removed, and they all said ‘absolutely not.’ Visitors also like them very much and they are now more or less part of the inventory of the embassy,” said Mr Hartogh.
Building on a long tradition
The Ambassador gave a brief run-down of the longstanding Thai-Dutch bilateral relationship: “The first Dutch settlement in Siam was established in Ayutthaya in 1634 but our traders established formal relations with Siam in 1604. They met with King Prasat Thong and got his permission to start a trading mission in Ayutthaya which gradually became a Dutch enclave. From there we branched out to other regions.
“When Her Majesty Queen Beatrix visited Thailand in January 2004 she presented the Baan Hollanda Information Centre in old Ayutthaya as a gift to the Thai people. The museum archives the history of our bilateral relationship and it’s also a place where you can relax and have a cup of coffee. It’s interesting culturally and historically and it’s become very popular with Thais as well as Dutch tourists.” Mr Hartogh was born in Paris in 1956, the son of a diplomat. “My father was at that time working for the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). When he changed positions in 1959 the family moved back to the Netherlands, and I grew up in and around The Hague. My father ended his career as ambassador to NATO in Brussels in the ’70s. I joined the Dutch Foreign Ministry in 1985, and did a nine-year stint at the Ministry of Economic Affairs before going back to the Foreign Ministry to take up the position of Private Secretary to our Foreign Minister. “This is my first foreign posting, except for a brief stop last year in Islamabad. I served two months there to take care of the embassy following the tragic accident in May 2015 in which the Dutch Ambassador Marcel de Vink was severely injured. There was a helicopter crash and a number of diplomats were injured or killed. The ambassador was transported back to the Netherlands. “I was asked to look after the embassy in Islamabad because I had been director of the ministry’s Asia Desk and also because I knew Pakistan and the ambassador very well. Marcel was badly burned on both legs and is in the Netherlands working on his rehabilitation. I took care of embassy business and took charge of bringing Marcel’s personal belongings back to the Netherlands. “So I was in Islamabad from May to June 2015 before coming to Bangkok. It was my personal choice to come to Thailand,” said Mr Hartogh. “As director of the Asia Department I had the privilege of deciding where I would go – depending on availability of course. It was my explicit wish to come to Thailand for a couple of reasons. First, I know the country very well. I have been here many times and have a deep affection for Thailand. “I have been to Thailand many times as a tourist with my family and also on quite a number of business occasions.
The Ambassador with Prayut Chan-ocha on Feb 25
I have vivid memories of Queen Beatrix’ 2004 visit to mark 400 years of diplomatic relations with Thailand. I had the privilege of being in her delegation. Another time that I would like to mention, specifically because it was very moving for me, was after the December 2004 tsunami, when I accompanied the Dutch foreign minister on an official visit. “We went to Phi Phi Island and Khao Lak and talked to victims’ relatives and the Dutch team of experts involved in the identification of bodies. Our team was very dedicated and highly qualified. They worked for weeks on end to put names to the victims and help bring some closure to the families. We also visited our embassy in Bangkok and spoke to people who were there when it happened and saw terrible things. I visited Bangkok, Thailand and the region on many other occasions while I was deputy and then director of the Asia Desk.”
“My goals are to serve the people of the Netherlands well by taking care of their interests and concerns as far as consular affairs, promoting values that are dear to my country, and improving economic relations,” said Mr Hartogh. “We have expanded our economic team to boost trade and facilitate business ties. One of the interesting by-products of our longstanding friendship with Thailand is the presence of so many Dutch companies here. There are more than 300 and most are doing good business. Of course it can always be better. The economic situation in the Netherlands is improving and more and more companies are eager to find a way to the East. “When my time is up here in four years I hope to see the expansion of an already very good economic exchange, particularly in the fields of water management, agriculture and urbanization where the Dutch have so much to offer. We have quite a number of world renowned companies that are actively engaged in these areas. There are significant challenges in this country concerning flood protection, water storage and flow, improvement of harbors and so on. My country literally grew up with these challenges around us and no one is better at implementing the solutions. “I raised the issue with Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha when we met at Government House on February 25. He was very interested in taking advantage of our knowledge and experience in water management. Actually in recent years we have been pretty busy working with Thai authorities in many areas. I presented the PM with some reports to aid in the country’s master water management plan and told him we are working on water management in Myanmar together with the private sector, universities and the government. Together we have developed a comprehensive plan and we are all busy tackling the challenges facing Myanmar in terms of water management. 110
The Dutch landscape is stunning
“I told the prime minister that we want to take the same kind of proactive role in Thailand. He asked me what Thailand should be doing better. I told him that the country should be formulating a comprehensive plan for the long term and not just enacting short term solutions, and I said we would very much like to help with the management and coordination of such a plan. I also emphasized the importance of cooperation from all stakeholders. The prime minister expressed confidence in Thailand’s ability to devise and implement a proper water management strategy, but he also seemed very interested in learning from the Dutch experience and expertise. “We have also been talking to the new director general of the Port Authority of Thailand about ways to assist them in expanding the port. Moreover, the harbors in Thailand need to increase efficiency in order to compete with Singapore and other regional harbors. The Port Authority has great ambitious but they need to have a comprehensive plan, and we are trying to assist them.”
r Hartogh said the Dutch embassy has historically been one of the busiest in Thailand and in the last year they have stepped up activities even further. “First of all, I want to say how very pleased I am with the staff of the embassy. They are all highly competent. This has been a pleasant surprise, because even if you get your choice of assignments as I did, as an ambassador you never really know what you are in for until you arrive at the embassy. So I feel very fortunate. “We are putting a great deal of energy into economic diplomacy and consular affairs, two areas which are vital to our mission. I am also very keen to promote cross-cultural
Keizersgracht in Amsterdam
Peace Palace in Den Haag
events by organizing things like movie nights, exhibitions and alumni gatherings. We have also had a lively King’s Day celebration at the embassy. “Another important focus of the embassy is human trafficking in Southeast Asia. We have a Dutch Police Liaison Officer here at the embassy, responsible for initiating cooperation with the Thai authorities and authorities of neighboring countries with regard to several kinds of crime, such as money laundering, narcotics, child abuse, and child sex tourism. We are enjoying good cooperation with the Thai authorities as well as law enforcement agencies from other countries.” he ambassador and his staff are responsible for not only Thailand but also Laos, Cambodia and until very recently Myanmar. A Dutch embassy was inaugurated in Myanmar in January this year and will have its own ambassador from June. “We have stepped up our activities in Laos which is now the chair of ASEAN. I have been there four times in the past few months trying to boost trade relations and political cooperation. “Cambodia offers similar opportunities for improvement in trade and investment. Part of my job is to support Dutch companies and I travel very frequently in this regard. There are a surprising number of Dutch companies in the region,” said the ambassador, adding that the heavy workload in this field puts a burden on the embassy staff but they are managing quite well. “We have improved our working environment by making it more efficient and re-arranging responsibilities. Soon we will see an expansion in staff due to the increasing pressures, particularly in the consular and economic sections.” The consular section must address the needs of the large number of Dutch citizens who are in Thailand at any one time. “There are between 20,000 – 25,000 of our citizens living here and around 200,000 who visit the country annually. In recent months the number of Dutch tourists increased even further (at least 10 percent) due to i.a. (security-related) uncertainties in other parts of the world as far as tourism is concerned. Many Thais also travel to the Netherlands for a variety of reasons, such as for tourism purposes, to visit family residing there or for business. Many Thai entrepreneurs are based in the Netherlands. It is our duty to provide efficient and fair visa services for Thais who wish to travel to our country. “Due to some worries about the tourism conditions in Thailand we have stepped up cooperation with the Ministry of Sport and Tourism. I think that Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul has been instrumental in working out good
solutions in a number of areas. There have been quite a number of complaints from tourists about pricing and scams involving jet-skis and so forth, particularly in the Phuket area. I have met with the governor of Phuket several times along with colleagues from other countries to discuss these issues and we are seeing improvements. The Governor seems to be sincerely committed to improving tourism conditions in and around Phuket.”
Mr Hartogh also elaborated on the formidable Dutch economic presence here and the role the embassy plays in advancing business interests along with the philosophy of corporate social responsibility (CSR), which he said is “a part of our DNA.” “The concept of CSR is very dear to the Netherlands and to Dutch companies. CSR encompasses many things such as treating employees fairly and following proactive policies that emphasize social and environmental justice. CSR is a part of the business model of almost all Dutch companies, but this is still not systematically the case with Thai companies. So this is another Dutch value we want to share with Thailand and also Myanmar, Cambodia and all of ASEAN. We organized a seminar on CSR in Vientiane a few weeks ago. “CSR pays off for the companies as well as employees, the environment and value chain. For one thing, it enhances employee loyalty to the company. In Thailand what you see is a workforce that is constantly on the move to different factories, construction sites, shops and offices. If you invest more in the labor force and improve working conditions, people will hang around and you can educate and train them so that they increase their value to the company and work their way up. “There are some very successful Dutch businesses in this region practicing a high level of CSR. For example, one company in Vientiane in Laos (DVL, led by Dutchman Mr John Somers) in the garment sector pays better than the local competition, provides medical insurance and childcare and has a generous policy on paid leave. Everyone wants to work there, so productivity is high. What’s more, other companies in the area are taking note and making changes to the way they do business. “Shell, Unilever, Philips, Heineken are some of the big Dutch companies that have bases in Thailand. These well established companies are successfully doing business in Thailand, but the business environment for the medium and small enterprises interested in operating in Thailand is pretty difficult and complex. The government is in the process of throwing out some cumbersome regulations to attract more investment from abroad. The fundamentals are good and in the long term Thailand has the capacity and the potential to become a regional power. But there is a lot of work to be done, and for that matter the political situation has to improve,” Mr Hartogh said. The ambassador also mentioned that the embassy has purchased a tuk-tuk in Dutch orange, but unfortunately the TheBigChilli 111
diplomatic plates for it have not arrived nearly a year after the application was made. Coincidentally, a small enterprise run by Dutch entrepreneur Dennis Harte, who was interviewed for a past edition of The BigChilli, founded Tuk Tuk Factory, a company that assembles electric tuk-tuks in Thailand for sale around the world. Talking orange, Mr Hartogh pointed at new very innovative project called ‘Orange ASEAN’ through which the Netherlands intends to promote sustainable economic development in Thailand. It brings together students from the Netherlands and Thailand and other parts of the region to work on solutions to global challenges like waste management. “We invited a group of about 30 students and a mediator and gave them the assignment of finding solutions to handle the waste from a couple of local factories and it worked it out pretty well. They were all very intelligent people and they even managed to work out within less than three weeks some business models which could be put in place by entrepreneurs. “Waste management was not accidentally chosen as it poses a challenge to the Thai environment, and the awareness of its negative impacts on the environment is still limited in Thailand. It is striking to me that when you go to the supermarket you get almost one plastic bag for every item you buy. When you say just give me one bag the staff look surprised.”
around 250,000 tulips were blossoming in Buriram. The flowers blossom in about one and a half months and they are grown in open fields. I mentioned this to General Prayuth as well because it reflects another kind of Dutch innovative technology. In the past it would have been unthinkable for Dutch tulips to grow in this environment, but the renowned agricultural institute Wageningen University has managed to do it. ‘We are not only strong in water,’ I said to him. “I was joking with Ms Pornthip and told her we were supporting her in this endeavor even though she was actually competing with Holland because many Thai people come to see our tulips in Keukenhof Gardens, a city with a very famous flower garden that attracts huge numbers of tourists. Ms Pornthip is not selling the tulips in her garden. She is adding value to Buriram as a tourist destination, and I take a certain pride in that. “We are also in the process of organizing training sessions in Buriram for Dutch football. In January and February it is too cold to play football in Holland so we turn to different destinations for training. We’re looking into the possibility of arranging Dutch teams’ training with Thai teams in Buriram because the province has some good teams and devoted fans. We are talking about other joint ventures in the realm of sports as well.”
“In general I am very happy with the cooperation between diplomats in this city, especially between representatives of the European Union. We come together every now and then and talk about current events and share our experiences and information about things that may or may not be in the newspapers. Actually the Bangkok diplomatic community as a whole is very close. My embassy has good ties with the diplomats from many countries around the globe, so the stream of information is sufficient to get a clear picture of what is going on in this country. Ambassador Hartogh noted that the Netherlands is well known for championing international treaties and values that promote human and social rights. “The Hague is called the City of Peace and Justice because so many international institutions are based there. I intend to promote my country’s core values in Thailand and everywhere else I go during my term as ambassador. “I think that the Thai people are pretty much aware of what is going on even if they aren’t able to read about it in the papers. The political situation in Thailand is a vicious circle and it hasn’t changed much over the last 30 years. The basics of the political and social problems in Thailand are quite well known to the public. The question is how to solve these problems. It is important for me to add that Thai problems require Thai solutions. Trying to force our ideas on others is not the Dutch approach. The red line, as far as we are concerned, is that Thailand has to observe its international obligations, in all fields including human rights.”
Brightening Buriram “We have been working with Pornthip Asdathorn to promote a Dutch-themed holiday camp, hotel and flower garden in Buriram province. Ms Pornthip has been importing tulip bulbs from the Netherlands and in the last few months
espite his busy schedule Mr Hartogh is clearly happy in his host country and in his residence on Wireless Road. “There are not many places around the world like this embassy. It is certainly unique within the diplomatic environment in Bangkok and I like to open it to the public as much as possible. That’s why we organize movie nights and other cultural events on the Embassy’s premises. We show Thai people around and tell them the history of the compound, which goes back way before our government bought the place in 1949. “All embassy staff feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to work here, and I am especially privileged because I also live in this wonderful environment. However, I am not happy with the koel birds (kavao in Thai). They start making noise every morning as early as 4am. I keep a pair of earplugs next to my bed; otherwise I wouldn’t get any sleep. But this is a manageable inconvenience. “One of my good friends is Danish Ambassador Mikael Hemniti Winther, who is now dean of the Bangkok diplomatic corps. We are always joking because our countries are regularly exchanging places in the various surveys of world’s happiest country. Both are consistently ranked in the top 10. I have a lot of laughs with Mikael and I am really sorry he’s leaving his post here soon. He is a great guy and he and his spouse have done a lot within the diplomatic community here. He’s also a great musician. “I am a big fan of jazz and blues and it really struck me when I arrived in Bangkok and found that there is so much good jazz and blues here. There are about 10 really good clubs and I frequently visit them with colleagues or friends. Apoteka in Sukhumvit Soi 11 is one of my favorites. “For exercise I do some running in Lumpini Park on Sundays, with some colleagues and Thai friends. I’ve also started to learn basic Thai. I call it ‘taxi Thai.’ It is fun and it serves a practical purpose as well.”
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Monsoon Midnights Special places in Bangkok, as experienced by the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group Dear reader, Welcome to ‘Monsoon Midnights’, a short story by the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group. The storytellers of the BWWG come from all over the world but they hey all have a special place in this city, somewhere surprising, obscure and unexpected, as yet undiscovered. ed. Follow us to these hidden places right here, month after month. The first volume of Monsoon Midnights (18 stories by 12 authors with beautiful illustrations by the BigChilli graphics team) is available on Amazon: amzn.to/1N5V2YX
NIGHTFALL OVER BANGKOK
here are some very high places in Bangkok. Places where you can look out and see the city like an interactive map spread out beneath you. Tonight, the moon is hazy, obscured by a myriad of flying dots. Are those dots flying in my own eyes? Is old age (and mine is an old age indeed) overlaying the illuminated grid of the city, the very face of the moon? Let me squeeze these eyes and blink them a few times. Will the dots go away? No. No, but… But when I look elsewhere, when I focus in on the wall of a high rise, on a piece of paper, on a leaf, on a hand, I can see that those flying dots are not flying dots. And neither are they in my eyes. I have mistaken them for something else. Or rather, someone else. What I saw, a filter in front of the moon, a layer of the toughest and the most delicate substance, covering the city air like the fluffiest, perpetually moving blanket, sticking to her skin in many bodies, was a glimpse into another world. An alien world, superimposed onto this. I saw them. In their awe inspiring, overpowering multitude. Creatures of the night. Creatures of the dusk and dawn to be precise, if they get their preference. But if they don’t get their preference, that is also fine. A lamp, a streetlight, a candle will do. A mobile phone, if in use. These creatures are formidable and will not be deterred. Like us, they are flexible. Like us, their reign spans the planet, except for a few islands cut off from evolution. Like ours, their numbers rise and fall, but mostly rise.
But who am I kidding, comparing us come-lately monkeys to the old rulers of the dawn and dusk? We might be jumping up, but they dominate. In this city alone, there are an estimated 12 billion of them. And they lead very eventful lives. Lives of adventure, daring, deadly competition, fighting, fleeing, attacking and retreating… Lives that follow the cycles of nature, whatever that nature offers. Lakes carved into the landscape by the fists of the ice age, swamps created in the delta of great rivers, wild forests that grew for centuries, as well as shallow canals dug at straight angles into the mud, puddles in road cracks, humming air cons and stylish swimming pools. Lives of purpose and of passion. And particularly if they happen to be female. These are the true warrior Amazons of the Bangkok night, risking all for the cause, for the people. It’s a daunting task but they are not discouraged. A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. Theirs is a different realm, but that doesn’t mean that our worlds don’t touch. On the contrary. They do touch, and in the most primal way. Every night. The flying dots before the moon cross the big divide, whether we like it or not. They have been called the murderers of the planet. And many other names. This month’s storyteller, Carol W. Stephens, knows all about them. Squeeze your eyes, blink them a few times, and let her lift the veil…(but close your mouth, just in case…).
HE Bangkok Women’s Writers Group, founded in 2001, and led by Anette Pollner (who also writes the recurring ‘moon intro’ stories in this series in her famous neo psychedelic style), is where creative women from all over the world meet to workshop their environwriting in a supportive and inspiring environ ment. Many of our members are published and prize winning authors, but we are open to all women who are passionate about writing, including complete beginners. The BWWG’s first publication (before ‘Monsoon Midnights the short story collection’, available on Amazon best right now) was a Thai English language bestpam seller, ‘Bangkok Blondes,’ and various pamphlets. We regularly give readings around town and have been part of international festivals and bkk_writ cultural exchanges. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. This month’s storyteller, Carol W. Stephens has been writing for a very long time and phens, is currently finishing her novel. One of Carol’s first jobs was working as an editorial assistant at U.S. News & World Report. She also has been a speech writer and the editor of several newsletters and enjoys writing about art.
Bangkok Bites By Carol W. Stephens My name is Mook. I live in Lumpini Park. I am a night worker sleeping until dusk, rising about the time the monitor lizards go to bed. Sometimes during the day, I stay on one of the paddle boats where it is very safe, but I thrive under the stars. Perhaps the most interesting thing about me is that I am one of those rare mosquitos that have my own taxi cab. Every evening I fly into the back seat, snuggle behind Khun Daeng’s pillows and ride about town. The good thing is that Khun Daeng always brings me back to the park so I can keep up with my friends and be near the lake. I hail from the Culex Clan. My family tree goes back to the Palaeolithic Era, which is quite a feat when you consider that our life span is only about a month or two. We don’t get on with the Dengue and Anopheles mosquitos. We consider them very crass. They will bite anyone. My genus has more discriminating taste. But speaking of the family tree, it is time to spawn some little ones. So I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and might like to find someone from out of town. It is always good to add some new elements to the gene pool. So we’ll see where Khun Daeng and I end up tonight. My friend Fah says I should leave this up to karma, but I feel a bit like Cinderella going to the ball and, if possible, I want to pick the prince. The first fare is at Rama IV where we pick up a backpacker. I like the backpacker, and he is off to a night club on Khao San Road. I look him up and down, but in the end I discard him. Too adventurous, I decide. At the night club we pick up an elderly American couple who want to go back to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. They may
be my answer to foreign blood. But I fear they are too staid, going home at 7.30pm. This town doesn’t even get going until 10. Unfortunately Khun Daeng doesn’t get a fare at the Oriental, so he turns off the road to get some moo ping from a favourite vendor. He takes his time gossiping and joking around, but it is out of my control so I eat a bit of watermelon. And as I gaze appreciatively at the lovely yantra on the ceiling that blesses and protects our cab, I fall asleep. Khun Daeng finally returns, cranks up the radio, and jerkily pulls out into traffic. It is a rude awakening, but at least we are moving again, and I like the Thai music that is playing. This time we are passing Chulalongkorn University. I love the students there, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am when we pull up alongside The British Council building. Perhaps I will get two for one -- an intellectual and a foreigner. Now I am really getting excited! A man gets in – maybe a professor – and I really like his looks. He is wearing a suit and tie, and high socks with his wing tip shoes. His hands are bare, but his collar is turned up leaving virtually very little bare neck and, as luck would have it, he is wearing a hat. All that is left to target are his hands and his face. I soon realize that the hands are out because Khun Daeng has become very chatty and is practicing his English. That would be fine by me except this particular passenger seems to like to talk using animated gestures as they laugh and converse. His waving hands have become a real obstacle course. Now my only chance of biting him is to get to his face. Most people don’t realize what precision biting a face entails for a mosquito. Because of the eyes, it is almost impossible not to be seen during facial assaults. It requires special training, like TheBigChilli
Fiction being a Green Beret. In fact, more mosquito casualties occur while trying to bite faces than any other part of the body. I’m tempted, but as he pays his fare I decide I will leave him to the experts. I’m getting a bit discouraged, but suddenly my luck seems to be changing. Now we are driving into one of the hospitals, and a doctor would do just fine. Sure enough a distinguished man gets in the cab. Maybe I have finally hit the jackpot! He smells nice, and the back of his neck is totally exposed. I do a couple test flights, and then I make a graceful landing and aim my proboscis gently into his unprotected epidermis. Holy Moly! His blood is delicious, like nothing I have ever tasted before. So rich! Dare I have seconds? But I find I am teetering a bit. Why am I suddenly feeling so light headed I wonder. And then, in what can only be a second later, I realize I am going to black out!!!!
wake up at Lumpini Park, still in my taxi cab. Khun Daeng is nowhere in sight, but several of my mosquito friends are swarming around me. I feel dizzy and I try to lift my head, but it falls backwards. My legs feel like twigs, even stretching them takes all my energy. But my friends are apparently elated, and I surmise that any sign of life from me is considered good. One of them brings me a bit of papaya and urges me to eat. Another has some pomegranate, truly one of my favourite fruits. And with all this attention I begin to come around. Still a nagging voice inside my head wonders if I’ll ever fly again. I try out my wings… “Now, now,” says my best friend Fah. “Stay put! Don’t do too much.” “What happened?” I ask groggily. “We don’t know,” says Fah, and a few other mosquitoes nod their agreement. “Do you remember anything?” “Well, yes,” I say slowly. “Khun Daeng was driving into Bumrungrad Hospital, and a doctor got into the car. He appealed to me so I made a meal of him. But then I must have passed out.” “I’ll say,” says Fah. “It’s a good thing you fell back on the window ledge into a pillow. You’ve been unconscious for two days and this is where we found you. Any other place in this cab and you surely would have been squished by a passenger. Chai here has been riding around with you at night to make sure you weren’t thrown down on the back seat.” She nods toward Chai, who truly is the most handsome mosquito in our clan and my mate. “Thank you,” I say to Chai. I always knew he had a thing for me but this totally proves it. How sweet! Chai buzzes modestly, and then redirects the conversation. “No problem,” he says. “But how do you stand driving with Khun Daeng? He’s a maniac, and last night he had a fender bender and at least two other close calls.” I’m not surprised, but just murmur: “You get used to it.” Really all this is a big effort. Plus I am still trying to figure things out, but fortunately Fah saves me the trouble. “Mook, you must rest. I believe what happened was your “so called doctor” was a newly released patient from the
hospital. He was probably on medication and when you bit him, you got drugged. I’m very alarmed. It makes perfect sense. But now I will have to get that blood out of my system. I certainly don’t want to beget a bunch of drug addicts! So I take a few days off to detox – time I can ill afford with the breeding cycle, but I have no choice. I always like it when Khun Daeng picks up people from Indian or French restaurants. Their blood reflects the food so I take care and only bite a few diners here and there, and in this way I am able to purify and strengthen myself. But I don’t want to give up on breeding, and now I’m on a deadline. If I don’t propagate tonight there will not be enough time left for me to properly foster my offspring. The first passenger we pick up is a lady carrying a cat. They are headed for a vet. I check them both out, but suddenly I smell DEET. It makes me so nauseous, it is all I can do to get back to the safety of my pillows. I’m getting discouraged. Am I meant to be childless? But when we stop by True Gym a sweaty athlete gets in the car. I check out his muscles and his perspiration is maddingly attractive. Lovely! I am already picturing the next set of body builders as part of my lineage and genealogy. So I circle a couple of times and am just coming by his ear when he raises his hand and swats me harder than I have ever been swatted before. It is like traveling at the speed of light. I panic; I have no control and am heading straight for the windshield. My life cycle unfolds before my eyes. This is decidedly the end when for some reason Khun Daeng leans to the side to adjust the radio, and I am propelled against his neck and miss the glass by a centimetre. Now in my total stupor, I inadvertently bite him. Khun Daeng was not what I was looking for. But I have no more energy for any more biting tonight. Khun Daeng will have to do. He is honest and hardworking and we do have a relationship… Fah says it is karma, and karma cannot be avoided. Plus he has saved my life so maybe it won’t really be stretching the truth to tell my children that they have the blood of a hero. *** We’ve stayed too long, listening to the stories of this ancient tribe of the flying dots. The moon has set, and we hardly noticed. Now, dawn is ready to lift the veil of light and all those intrepid Amazon warriors are setting out anew, ready to do what a girl’s got to do… I have to leave. Sorry. I will return to my place high above the city where mosquitoes don’t follow. They prefer to stay inside the thick cover zone, looking for action while I am looking for peace. I squeeze my eyes. I look. Yes, sunrise is near. The ladies need to make haste and retire until the veil falls again at dusk when the dots will fly far and wide. The moon will also rise again, tonight and next month, when Monsoon Midnights returns. Anette Pollner, leader of the BWWG
The first volume of Monsoon Midnights (18 stories by 12 authors with beautiful illustrations by the BigChilli graphics team) is available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1tj8fJr. TheBigChilli