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Editorial Tone down advertisements that promote reckless driving PICK-up trucks and motorcycles are the staple form of transport for Thailand’s working class. All too often, unfortunately, they are also often driven dangerously, too fast and without due care. But then, that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s watched the TV ads promoting the sale of these vehicles. Trucks and motorbikes are portrayed as the ultimate mean machines for macho men. They have to be driven at full throttle, wild and aggressively. And if you own one, then you do the same. It’s a very convincing message. There are no rules or controls when it comes to advertising trucks and motorbikes, which is somewhat strange. Others products such as cigarettes and alcohol face complete ad bans or strict censorship. They’re bad for people’s health. But so too are vehicles that are driven too fast and without consideration for others. If the government is serious about reducing accidents and deaths on Thailand’s roads, then it should insist that ads for trucks and motorcycles are toned down to discourage those macho urges. Or, like cigarettes and alcohol, face an almost total ban.

Unwelcome wanton violence

THE thugs who beat up two British pensioners and their son in Hua Hin recently have done massive damage to Thailand’s image as a friendly tourist destination. Not surprisingly, the victims of this brutish attack say they will never visit the kingdom again. Who can blame them? Unfortunately, this kind of incident is happening more frequently nowadays. Indeed, hardly a week goes by when a report, usually accompanied by distressing CCTV images, of street violence involving foreigners does not appear on social media. It’s rarely disclosed what caused the flare-up, and it is not fair to apportion blame or responsibility without knowing all the facts. But it has to be admitted that fights are often one-sided. And that causes much anger and outrage. Most Thais are genuinely peace-loving people. Unprovoked violence is still rare. Confrontations are best avoided. And by doing so, they keep the peace. Foreigners do not always understand this Thai approach to social cohesion. Generally, they are more ready to confront someone and in doing so issue a challenge when it would be far better to simply walk away. One’s pride might be dented but not one’s body. This message has to be somehow communicated to non-Thais. At this moment, we do not know all the facts about the Hua Hin case, so it’s not fair to comment. However, if the culprits eventually admit they had gone out on the town to deliberately attack foreigners without cause, then this country has turned a very unwelcome corner, and it is the tourism industry on which this country is now so dependent that will suffer most. Wanton violence has to be stopped.

Last orders for phones

THERE’S only thing worse than people continually using their mobiles to take photos of themselves and their food while in a restaurant. And that’s someone talking on their mobile at full pitch, oblivious to other diners. Around the world, restaurants are increasingly taking measures to restrict mobile phone usage, not only for the benefit of other customers, but also to speed up turnover (which has declined because of incessant photo-taking) by either banning them altogether or introducing ‘no phone zones.’ It’s now time for restaurants in Thailand to adopt similar rules. It won’t be easy or welcome in this mobile phone-crazy country, but it would most definitely improve everyone’s dining experience. Life in Bangkok would also be improved if… • Texting while walking was made illegal (it’s on the cards in a number of countries). • Plastic bags were either banned or strictly controlled (dozens of countries have already imposed restrictions or outright bans). • Police used drones to monitor traffic (they can’t always see that certain roads are blocked while others are relatively empty). • More yellow boxes were painted on key junctions to prevent easily avoidable congestion (Klong Toey is a great example of cars and trucks constantly blocking the way). • No parking on important side streets (Sukhumvit Soi 11). • Motorcycles were banned from the sidewalks.

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This issue in

NUMBERS

2

When you’re stumbling in from the club at 2am, Bangkok’s bakers are just heading to work. Here we salute them. Page 60.

18

The number of months The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Thailand has worked in the kingdom. Page 105.

27

Asia’s largest Mixed Martial Arts promotion, ONE Championship, makes its Bangkok debut on May 27. Page 30.

80

The discount, in percent, you can expect to find at many shops during the Amazing Grand Sale 2016. Page 34.

170

The number of years of history and tradition that Brighton College is bringing to Bangkok. And it just keeps getting better. Page 82.

7.9M

The number of Chinese tourists that visited Thailand last year. Page 70.


PUBLISHER Colin Hastings editorbigchilli@gmail.com MANAGING EDITOR Adam Purcell adambigchilli@gmail.com EDITOR Nina Hastings ninabigchilli@gmail.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Chutinanta Boonyamarn nanbigchilli@gmail.com SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai sendtorose@gmail.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti thanabigchilli@gmail.com Sakuna Nupinrum nokbigchilli@gmail.com ACCOUNTING MANAGER Saranya Choeyjanya fatcatbigchilli@gmail.com ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Janjira Silapapairson janbigchilli@gmail.com ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakkanawat PHOTOGRAPHY JL & AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Angela Farlam, Anette Pollner, Johanna DeKoning, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler

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

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

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THE

& 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.

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NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards

2016

From junior hotelier to major international hotel operator

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N just eight years, Jonathan Wigley has become a major player in the highly competitive international hotel industry. Absolute Hotel Services Group (AHS), the company he founded in 2008, is already one of the fastest growing hospitality management/ branding companies in Asia. Through its brands, which include U Hotels & Resorts, Eastin Grand Hotels, Eastin Hotels & Residences, and Eastin Easy, AHS controls more than 7,500 ‘keys’ in almost 70 hotels worldwide.   Headquartered in Bangkok, with regional offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, India and Europe with more expansions planned, AHS covers the luxury to economy segments of the hotel industry. Jonathan, a UK-born graduate of Ecole Les Roches,

Switzerland in 1989, has spent all his working life in Asia, starting with junior positions with Omni Hotels, Hong Kong, 1990-1993. He then joined Omni Saigon Hotel from 1993-1996, before relocating to Bangkok as resident manager of the Delta Grand Pacific. For the next five years, he held senior positions at The Landmark Bangkok and then joined Minor International in charge of operations and sales from 2003-2007. After a one-year stint as managing director of Invision Hospitality, he set up AHS, an affiliate company of BTS Group Holding Public, one of Thailand’s largest public listed companies with a diverse portfolio covering mass transit, property development, construction management, media, food & beverage and services. Still in his 40s, Jonathon remains bullish about his company’s future, which will include the addition of several major European hotels to AHS’s portfolio.

Former hotel chef who launched his own gourmet meals

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FTER 20 years of running the kitchens of top hotels in Bangkok and around the world, Austrian-born Erwin Eberharter decided two years ago to go it alone and launch Thailand’s first ready-to-eat fine dining meal range under his own brand ‘Chef Erwin. Fresh and Delicious.’ The former corporate executive chef of Dusit International and executive chef of the Dusit Thani, operates his own kitchens in Bangkok which initially produced a range of eight non-frozen but chilled dishes (four main and four pasta),  including Prime 14

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Salmon Mediterrane, Lamb Stew a La Navarin, Chicken Coq au Vin, Truffle Linguini Venetia, and Penne Regate Roma. Erwin recently expanded his product range with the addition of four soups (three vegetarian and one beef) and five new items, including Roasted Pork Steak, Beef Cheeks and Roasted Pork Fillet.   Drawing on his experience in major hotels, Erwin imports key ingredients from overseas via leading food suppliers such as lamb from Australia, chilled salmon from Norway, real saffron and virgin oil from Spain, tomatoes, Parmigiano cheese and truffle paste from Italy, potatoes from Europe, pumpkin seed oil from Austria, dried porchini mushrooms from France, cooking cream from Ireland, and artisan semolina from Italy.   “Excellent raw products are the key to our healthy and tasty chilled gourmet meals. Combined with our refined cooking process and creativity, we can produce fine dining restaurant meals that are available chilled to take home, rather than frozen, and therefore superior in nutrition.”   Chef Erwin’s meals are ready for consumption in just four minutes from a microwave oven.   The brand is operated by Fine Food & Two Chefs, a company Erwin founded in 2014.  finefood-twochefs.com


Travel

Hotel of the month

Spectacular new Royal Suite puts the Oriental back on top ■ IT may have been out of the limelight for a while due to internal upgrades and a slew of attention-grabbing new hotel openings, but there’s no question the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is now firmly back in focus with a typically grand and stylish flourish. The reason for this resurgence is a recently completed multi-million dollar renovation of the historic Authors’ and Garden Wings, which has returned Thailand’s oldest and most iconic hotel to the pedestal it occupied for many decades. A comprehensive redesign of this

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famous riverside property’s original 140-year-old building and adjoining wing will leave guests and rivals in no doubt that the Oriental is back at its most beguiling. Thanks to a major room reconfiguration, the legendary Authors’ Wing now boasts the spectacular Grand Royal Suite, one of the largest and most beautiful facilities of its kind in Thailand. Occupying all 600 sq m of the wing’s first floor, the Grand Royal Suite has a private elevator and incorporates the onebedroom, 315 sq m Royal Suite as well as the adjoining two-bedroom Ambassador >>


Insight

PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN MELISSA HAS ONE OF THE MOST CAPTIVATING VOICES IN TOWN. SHE JUST WISHES SHE NEVER GAVE UP ON PIANO.

FULL NAME MELISSA JOHANNA HIRUNWINYOO. NÉE DUGGAN. AGE 34. WHERE BORN CAERPHILLY, SOUTH WALES, UK. NICKNAMES MALI, LISS, MEL. WORK I’VE BEEN A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN IN THAILAND FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS. I HAVE MY OWN BAND, LADY & THE TRAMPS. PERSONALITY BUBBLY, LOYAL BUT NOT TO BE MESSED WITH. FAMILY MY HUSBAND, EKK, A FELLOW MUSICIAN/ RECORD PRODUCER; AND MY STEPSON, JUSTIN, A STUDENT IN BANGKOK. BEST FRIENDS SACHLI SALARPOUR, WHO HAS SUPPORTED ME THROUGH THICK AND THIN; AND CRISTI KING, A RAY OF SUNSHINE IN MY LIFE. YEARS IN THAILAND 17. MILE-POSTS MY PARENTS RETURNED TO THE UK IN 2006 AND I DECIDED TO STAY HERE TO TRY AND MAKE MY OWN WAY. LOW POINT NOT SEEING ENOUGH OF MY NIECE AND NEPHEW, HOLLY AND TOM, AND THE REST OF MY WELSH FAMILY. DON’T MENTION BANGKOK TRAFFIC. SOMETIMES WE HAVE THREE GIGS A NIGHT AND IT’S FINGERS CROSSED IF WE WILL GET THERE ON TIME. REGRETS GIVING UP PIANO LESSONS AT 14. SELF-IMAGE QUE SERA SERA (WHATEVER WILL BE WILL BE). FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT LADY & THE TRAMPS AND THE BAND’S UPCOMING GIGS, VISIT FACEBOOK: LADYANDTHETRAMPS

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WINE BAR & BISTRO Open Everyday 11h30 / 23h30 -----------------------------------------------------Tapas, Pasta, Pizza, Grill, BBQ, Salads, Cheese, Cold Cuts…

Everyday Set Lunch 3 courses 390 THB net Everyday Happy Hours 18h-20h00: Buy 1 get 1 Cocktail, Wine Glass (*) “Wednesdays Ladies” Come 4 ladies: Buy 1 Pizza get 1 bottle of Wine (*) “Saturdays Friends” Come 4: Buy 1 Pizza get 1 bottle of Wine (*) ----------------------------------------------------------(*) glass or bottle of red / white / sparkling Wine of the Month Customer complain:

Park 22 Sukhumvit Soi 22, Opposite Imperial Queen Park Hotel Tel: 02.000.4238 FB: Wine Depot Bangkok E: winedepotbkk @ gmail.com


submission and one knockout under his belt. The 32-year-old, who made a name for himself at Japan’s world-famous Korakuen Hall competing as the Shooto featherweight champion, will be fighting outside of his native Japan for the first time. The event, which will be held on May 27 at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani, will also feature a second World Championship title bout – Marat

“Cobra” Gafurov of Russia, the reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion – and an absolute force to be reckoned with on the ground (nine out of his 13 victories have come by submission) – will defend his belt against Kazunori Yokota of Japan, who sports a stellar record of 25 wins and just five defeats. Among the many other high profile fighters on the card are Russia’s Timofey Nastyukhin, who will go up against one of the biggest names in Asian MMA, striking specialist Rob Lisita of Campbelltown, Australia; and 29-year-old Leandro Ataides of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who will return to the ONE Cage following a harrowing knockout loss to Aleksei Butorin in 2015 to take on Polish mixed martial artist Marcin Prachnio (see the full fight card at onefc.com). Alongside the fights, the event will also feature a performance be popular Thai bands Big Ass and Bodyslam. Tickets are available to purchase at at thaiticketmajor.com and range in price from B300 – B12,000.

ONE

Championship in focus ONE Championship is the largest sports media property in Asian history. Headquartered in Singapore, the world’s most exciting mixed martial arts organization hosts the best Asian mixed martial artists and world champions, all signed to exclusive contracts, on the largest media broadcast in Asia. ONE Championship™ has partnered with FOX and STAR Sports for a 10-year cable television deal with a coverage that spans 70+ countries across the world. onefc.com, facebook.com/ ONEFCMMA

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CentralWorld Bangkok THIS huge one-stop lifestyle destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment boasts over 650 shops representing leading Thai designers and international fashion brands. You can also enjoy superior eats and drinks at the trendy two-storey hangout, Groove. Register for The 1 Card International at the information counter to qualify for between 5-70 percent discount at participating shops and restaurants. www.centralworld.co.th (Siam and Chidlom BTS stations)

The EmDistrict

Siam Center ART, fashion, and technology combine to create a distinctive shopping experience at this trendy mall right next to Siam BTS station. Highlights of the international brands include Sephora, Tag Heuer, Superdry, Pull & Bear, Victoria’s Secret, DKNY Jeans, and Estée Lauder.

EXPECT nothing less than a world-class shopping experience at this luxury commercial hub comprising three distinctive buildings in Phrom Phong – The Emporium, The EmQuartier and The EmSphere. Over 20 billion baht was spent bringing this project to life, and it shows in the wealth of bars, restaurants, shops, and fun activities spread between the three buildings. Definitely spoilt for choice. www.emquartier.co.th (Phrom Phong BTS station)

www.siamcenter.co.th (Siam BTS station)

Terminal 21 EACH floor has a different international theme at this popular shopping mall right next to Asok BTS and Sukhumvit MRT stations. But wherever you shop – ‘London,’ Istanbul,’ ‘San Francisco,’ ‘Paris,’ or ‘Rome’ – you can expect to find all kinds of fashionable clothes and accessories from local designers and international brands. Special product showcases during the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2016 include the Sneaker Showcase (June 10-19), Fresh Farm in Town (July 15-20), Shoes & Bags Parade (July 22-31), Mum Fest (August 9-14), and Sense of Spa (August 19-28). www.terminal21.co.th (Asok BTS and Sukhumvit MRT stations)

River City BANGKOK’S anchor of arts and antiques has just completed extensive renovations and is now back on the scene bigger and better than ever before. The first Saturday of each month you can try to find the deal of a lifetime at the internationally recognised Riverside Auction House. Visit any other day and you’ll still find plenty of other tempting items on sale at the many shops within the main mall. The shops and restaurants which overlook the river are well worth a visit, too, and you can even arrange to enjoy your dinner while cruising down the Chao Phraya. www.rivercity.co.th

OTHER MALLS taking part include Amarin Plaza, Erawan Bangkok, Gaysorn President Tower Arcade, Robinson, Asiatique The Riverfront, The Mall, Siam Center, Jewelry Trade Center, Fashion Island, The Promenade, MBK Center, and Mega Bangna.

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Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

Wining and dining at Pisa A NIGHT of fine wine and fabulous food was enjoyed by a large group of VIPs at Loop Italian Restaurant, Pathumwan Princess Hotel Bangkok, which marked the opening of its new private dining room, Pisa, with a special dinner event featuring a ‘Taste of Tuscany’ by Chef Roberto Panariello.

A taste of Australian Wagyu at Tables A LARGE group of foodies made their way to Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok’s superb European-style grill restaurant for the launch of its new menu featuring premium wagyu beef from Australia. On the night, Tables’ head chef Kevin Kristensen was on hand to explain more about the beef and why it’s some of the best he’s worked with. All the diners in attendance certainly agreed – the meal was delicious. 40

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Serving up

Tobias Schwarzendorfer The Executive Chef of Babette’s The Steakhouse Bangkok talks about culinary trends, influential chefs, and how to cook the perfect steak

• My cooking philosophy is really more of a cooking attitude: No pain no gain. Be focused on what are you doing. Handle every single product with care. Be creative and have a lot of fun. • The chefs who have influenced me the most include Antoine Westermann, a three Michelin Star chef with lots of experience w o wa en o a ofi e ienna e an do a ae wo a w o I wo ed a on ide a e a e o e e owed e a o of i and a ea o o i e endin e a i f and a a in a ien en ef w o now n i own e a an and He e on a o o a e e oo I a e e e e w o a ea a o o ean A ian i ine • My favourite cookbooks are Alain Ducasse’s Culinary Encyclopedia, which provides a synthesis of the chef ’s thirty years of culinary e e i e in in o e e e i e and o o and Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, which comes in six volumes o e in a o of e ni e and i e en i e a fo an one w o wan o ea n o e a o oo in • As a general rule I like easy food, not complicated. en I wa in A ia I of en en o ed na in a a A ian e ee food fea in i ed a a e wi ead and o e a i e And don fo e e o d ee I e T ai ee food a we a a and fa in a ni e a o e e • I like Austrian, French, Mexican, Italian and, from now on, also Thai cuisine. I anno favourite because every single country has some outstanding dishes. • My favourite dish is from Austria. I a ed wie e o wi oa ed o a oe I o ine a o of a o and e e crunchy potatoes, and sour cornichons.

e and ai a e a e of i I i e

oo e on one

a en i a e dae fe nd ae e e of and i i e i a a e i ed and i

i ine a

ied eef and onion in a wee onion an a

• My signature dish is Scallops in textures with cauliflower cream, beetroot gel and walnut. T in o and wee ao o ined wi diffe en e e wi o o e owe in e a e of e a o e e on i e and i e e di a i wee ne f o e ee oo and wa n i o ide e on a a i owe i e e e ween o and wee • Biggest culinary myth? T e e i no oof a e e a ian i e ea ie and on e an eo e w o fo ow an o ni o o die eo e w o oo e a e e a ian ife e i a a o oo e o e e i e and no do in a o d a ei ea i e o in T e e in a o fa o in o one on e i o if o a e a e e a ian i o i e a o w o e ife e i ea ie d e o o e oi e oo no because you don’t eat meat. • The best way how to cook a steak is how you like to eat it. fo e eeae o e w i a e o e i a e o oo no o e an edi a e o e a e eef i e ow oo in e o en i e e edi a e we done Tende oin a on a e a i of e eef i e fe o an oo i f o a e o we done and Han e ea do no oo o e an edi ae fa o i e i a i e e ea oo ed edi a e e ed wi ea a ained a e e i on a d en f ie and a ide a ad • I think the next big culinary trends will revolve around South American food. A a o nd T i e i an Indian ine e and a ane e e a an food f o o n ie a a i e and o o I i a a e of i e efo e o A e i an food e o e o e fa o and o a • If I weren’t a chef I would definitely be a firefighter e a e I en o problems in the community.

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• When I’m not busy cooking I i e o o o wi and oin o e and I o e e ea and e ea

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f iend fo food and d in

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Cooking and teaching from the heart: Rapeepat ‘A’ Boriboon How Dusit Thani Hotel School’s Executive Thai Chef imparts the recipe for culinary success

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HEF Rapeepat ‘A’ Boriboon is a man on a mission. Armed with authentic Thai recipes, top quality ingredients, oodles of experience, and a real passion for his craft, his goal is to impart his knowledge to a new generation of Thai chefs who will go on to open their own restaurants in Bangkok and beyond. Their remit? Maintain authenticity, respect ingredients, and, in Chef A’s own words, “cook with love.” The last one, of course, is tricky – love is most likely the last thing on any chef's mind when faced with a dining room packed with over 100 hungry guests – but Chef A’s enthusiasm is so infectious, and his lessons so thorough and inspiring, that anyone who learns from him no doubt develops a deep affection for cooking that not even the busiest of dinner services can diminish. It helps, of course, that Chef A imparts all of his wisdom in a facility as well equipped as the brand new Dusit Thani Hotel School (which is owned and operated by Dusit International and located just behind Siam Paragon in the heart of the city), where he leads the “Traditional Thai Food and Thai Desserts” course – a 60-hour course which sees groups of up to 14 students learn how to make 30 Thai dishes and 15 Thai desserts, carve vegetables and fruits into works of art, and how to successfully manage a restaurant and kitchen. In short, everything one needs to know before embarking on a career as a chef – and maybe even opening a restaurant. “When I was a young man I wish I had the opportunity to join a culinary school like this,” says Chef A, wistfully. “Instead I

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had to start as a pot washer, and then work my way up slowly. As a boy I would constantly pester chefs into teaching me how to cook. I was so persistent they couldn't say no!” Chef A got his first big break some 20 years ago when he was awarded a chance to join a Thai cooking course arranged by the Skill Development Institute of Ubon Ratchathani, his hometown. This included three months of training at the renowned Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, where he further honed his skills under the watchful eyes of the hotel's executive Thai chef. From here, he then embarked upon a career that has taken him to the kitchens of several top restaurants in Bangkok, and now to his latest role which, he says, embraces another big passion in his life – teaching. “Being able to pass on my experience to anyone who wants to become a chef is a dream come true,” he says. “Especially as we focus on much more than simply just cooking – we also discuss the history of each dish we make, talk about regional influences, and examine how Thai food has evolved to become the world-renowned cuisine it is today. “I may be biased, but the course we offer is exceptional value for money, especially when you consider that each student who completes the course receives a Certificate of Achievement accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education. With this in hand, they’re then ready to become professional chefs. Think of it as an inexpensive fast-track to a fabulous career.” More details about the “Traditional Thai Food and Thai Desserts” course can be found online at bit.ly/1UMIw8F. Apply today on Tel: 081 805 0581 or email: sirawin.pd@dusit.com


Dining out

Wo rds C HUT INA NTA B O O N YAM AR N

ATTICO

Italian restaurant’s new set lunch menus are great value for money starting at just B650++ for two courses

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ROM iTs lOFTy position on the 28th floor of Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok, Attico commands breathtaking views of Bangkok, and, with its high ceilings, open kitchen, and artsy arrangement of chopped wood, rustic furniture and colourful crockery, offers plenty of visual nourishment inside, too. There’s plenty of substance to go with the style. The food menu takes its cue from the kind of homely fare served up in small towns all around italy (think homemade pastas, slow-cooked meats, lovingly crafted fish dishes, and a range of thin-crust pizzas). And while Tuscany classics are best represented, there are also a few regional and seasonal specials to choose from. With italian chef Roberto Parentela at the helm,

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authenticity prevails. The restaurant’s new set lunch menus – priced B650++ per person for two courses, B775++ per person for three courses – are great value for money, especially as they also include Attico’s premium antipasti buffet, featuring imported charcuterie as well as fresh breads, pizza, and a la carte salad choices such as Caprese (with fresh buffalo mozzarella, plum tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and balsamic dressing); and Insalata di burrata (creamy burrata cheese served with wild rocket leaves, fresh basil, and cherry tomatoes marinated in balsamic dressing). 489 Sukhumvit Rd. Tel: 02 302 3333 www.radissonblu.com/plazahotel-bangkok

For mains, eight options are on offer and the selection changes each week. On our last visit highlights included Pan roasted fillet of red snapper with cherry tomatoes and taggiasche olives, Roasted chicken cacciatore style with capsicums lemon and rosemary; and Australian beef tagliata served with wild rocket and cherry tomatoes. Anyone who opts for the threecourse menu can then select from a tempting array of classic desserts, including, amongst others, a light and tangy Lime and mint ‘Macedonia’ fruit salad, and a wonderfully creamy Tiramisu. The lunch set menu is available Monday – Friday, from noon-2.30pm. Well worth a visit!


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Dining out

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

Shui Xin

S

Authentic Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine at excellent value for money

iTTiN G at a large round table in the N ovotel Bangkok Bangna’s elegant shui X in restaurant, you can’t help but feel special. Waiters approach like ninj as – silent, swift and precise. Traditional C hinese music tinkles in the background and soothes the senses and a spotlight ea s do n into the center of the table highlighting whatever you’ve ordered. it’s a culinary show where the food is the star. For C hinese food, shui X in is the real deal. since its opening 21 years ago, yo ll find no hai hinese fusion, no westernization of dishes, and no greasy imitations. What you will find is a s per selection of a thentic szechuan and C antonese dishes prepared by C hef somporn sumritnork and his talented team by using only the finest ingredients As with most C hinese restaurants, the most popular choice here is the

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P ek ing d u ck (B699+ + with pancakes). And it’s a triumph. The huge platter of crispy duck skin looks particularly good glistening golden brown under the spotlight, and when you wrap it in a pancake with hoisin sauce and pop the parcel in your mouth, you’ll likely groan with delight. Also scoring top marks is the S tir- f ried scal l op with b l ack pepper , hose ig icy fla es dissolve in the mouth with an expl osion of flavo r and e loved the Marinated elly fish Thai style (B250++), and S tir- f ried tof u with chive s and b ean sprou t (B180+ +). The restaurant’s menu is designed to cater to the C hinese way of dining – that is to groups of diners sharing rather than individuals eating alone. And for 333 Srinakarin Road, N ongbon, P ravet. O pen daily f or lunch 1 1 .30am to 2.30pm, and dinner f rom 6 pm1 0pm. 02 36 6 05 05 . novotelbangkokbangna.com

most dishes on the menu you will see three prices listed. small feeds one to three persons edi feeds fo r to si and large feeds si to ten f course, the more people you go, the better the value. There are numerous choices in vario s categories s ch as fish, por , poultry and beef, plus your usual rice, egg noodles, and rice noodle selections (try the S tir- f ried crispy noodl e with either seaf ood, p ork or b eef gr avy s au ce. B220++). There’s also a separate menu listing more than 30 D im sum items. These are very popular with lunchtime diners but are good at any time of the day. starting at only B60 for two items, they’re great value, too. While shui X in may be a bit of a drive out of town, anyone looking for authentic C hinese food at very reasona le prices sho ld definitely seek it out.


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Dining out

Guest review by

Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

Taberna Jamon Jamon

The BB&B dining club enjoys a taste of Spain on Sukhumvit Soi 20

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E made our first visit to Jamon Jamon last month where we enjoyed a mountain of food and wine, and some fabulous live flamenco dancing.  Our host, Miguel Gonzalez, began with what he described as ‘a glass of sangria with small tapas selection,’ which turned out to be almost a meal in itself, featuring calamari, chorizo, and a Spanish tortilla. To supplement this, we also sipped Niepoort Diálogo Branco 2013 (Portugal) – a blend of several grape varieties from the banks of the Douro – and found it not to be to everyone’s taste. Dining proper (with 20 in attendance) commenced with Jamon Iberico: Lomo, Chorizo and Salchichon served with Telmo Rodriguez Gaba do XiL Godello 2013, a textbook, un-oaked white Godello from Galicia. Wine spokesman, Dick Stone, found this a much more agreeable wine. Khun Lalita, a Thai flamenco dancer who had studied and graduated in Seville before returning home, then performed a number of traditional

Spanish dances, receiving well deserved praise for her presentation. Escalibada with anchovies came next, commended by our Food Spokesman, John MacTaggart. A thoroughly traditional dish, featuring lightly roasted vegetables and tasty anchovies, this pleased most of the group, and was served with Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (California), definitely a great wine – ‘the flavour profile is a gentle Bartlett pear with a melange of other fruits including peach, pineapple, banana, along with hints of mild vanilla oak and butter.’ This was followed by Seafood paella, Miguel’s signature dish. Very filling, this featured all the shellfish one might expect to see, topped with a large scallop. The rice was al dente and flavoured with a stock prepared by Miguel himself. Spanish cooking at its best. To accompany a dish of Roast suckling pig, Terra d’Uro Seleccion 2008 (Spain) had been selected by the Wine Master and carefully decanted a full three hours before serving. Even then, the tannins were still very evident and the wine had a very long and very persistent finish, drying the palate – different but not totally appreciated by one or two of our gourmands.

The roast pig, which we noted must have been been very well fed during its short life, almost fell apart at the touch of the knife. The celeriac and pomegranate seeds were a nice accompaniment to the pork (someone suggested that a sour passion fruit might have been an equally suitable alternative to the apple sauce). No sooner said than done, White chocolate cream with passion fruit arrived. This was a very rich dish but Lealtanza Reserva 2008 (Rioja, Spain) came to the rescue. Dick told us that this had been carefully swirled, nosed and sipped by Gourmand ‘Gone’ before receiving the nod of approval not only from Daniel but also others.

In conclusion, we were served Spanish cheeses – Curado, Torta and Cabrales (Blue) – all of which were appreciated. As John reminded us, ‘great food, good company, and ambiance’ were all present. In total we had been in our seats for more than four hours so I am sure the staff were looking forward to a break before the evening service. However, this could not be done before thanking the team for their unstinting efforts on our behalf. Thank you, Miguel, K. Lalita, and the rest of the team for your excellent service. Taberna Jamon Jamon, 9/1 Sukhumvit Soi 20. 02 663 4466. jamonthai.com

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La Piazza Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria

LA Piazza, commonly known as “The Square,” is an open public area found in most cities or towns throughout Italy – the perfect meeting place. It’s with this in mind that this new restaurant hopes to establish itself as the dining social hub of Sukhumvit 24. And it certainly has all the right ingredients

– a lovely setting in a renovated house, traditional Italian comfort food, fine wines, and a wood-fired oven for the real taste of an authentic Italian pizza. Menu highlights include homemade lasagna (B350++); Stewed beef cheeks (B690++); Salmon fillet (B590++); and Italian sausage pizza (B300++)

5 0/4 Sukhumvit 24. 02 6 6 1 05 88-89. O pen Tues-Sun 1 1 am-2.30pm; 5 .30pm-1 1 pm.

New on the

scene

About Eatery

THIS lovely new venture on Sukhumvit 21 gets back to basics in style with a menu of organic wines, craft beers, artisan spirits, and a menu of Mediterranean comfort food (think tapas, pasta, salads, grilled meat and seafood) focusing on quality, simple ingredients. Certified sommelier Giulio Saverino, former manager of Giusto Restaurant, has handpicked a special selection of wines that pair wonderfully with the fine selection of cheeses and

Hot new restaurants, bars & cafes in Bangkok

Kiss the Tiramisu

KISS the Tiramisu, a popular dessert restaurant chain from Seoul, South Korea, has now opened its first takeaway ice cream shop in Bangkok, on Siam Square Soi 3. This small branch is devoted to ‘tiramisu’ ice cream (B159) served in luxury wine cups, topped with mascarpone cheese, broken cookies, ground coffee, cocoa powder and milk chocolate. Everything is made with natural ingredients (strictly no chemicals or preservatives) and it all tastes delicious. The shop opens daily Noon-9.30pm. A second branch, with more ice cream flavours, will open soon (location TBA). f acebook.com/kissthetiramisuthailand

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charcuterie on offer, and he’s always on hand to explain more about them. Fascinating stuff, too. Food menu highlights include Nduja (spicy pork sausage on rustic baguette. B180++); Mediterranean Branzino (Oven steamed sea bass with white wine, yellow split pea puree, cherry tomato, capers, spring onion. B920++); and Beetroot ravioli (B350++). G floor, Ocean Tower I2, Sukhumvit 21. Open Mon-Fri, 11.30am-2.30pm; 5pm-Midnight; Sat, 5pm--1am. 02 665 2772. abouteatery .com

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In your opinion what are some of the challenges in international education today? With the conflicting demands and pressures today’s children face, it is fundamental that they are given an opportunity to enjoy their childhood. At Brighton College we focus on creativity and inspiration to allow our pupils to develop a love of learning for its own sake. Through getting to know all of our pupils as unique individuals, rather than looking to create stereotypes, we help each and every child to become the very best version of themselves they can possibly be.

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nother challenge is that we don’t know what the global economy of the future will be demanding of graduates. To ensure that our pupils are best prepared for entrance into the world’s leading universities and the most challenging professions we ensure that they all secure mastery of a wide range of skills that fully equip them for life beyond the classroom. This is one of the reasons why we teach Mandarin from our Pre-Prep School. We want our pupils to be literate and numerate, as would be expected, but also to be articulate, to construct an argument and to debate; to lead, innovate and be entrepreneurs; to be creative and technologically literate and to have the confidence to inspire an audience. What initially attracted Brighton College in the UK to look at Bangkok for their third international school? The Headmaster of Brighton College in the UK, Richard Cairns, was instrumental in looking at Thailand, and Brighton College Bangkok will be the first member of our family of schools to be located in Southeast Asia. The first two successful overseas openings were in the United Arab Emirates. Bangkok was identified as a city with a large demand for international education from both expatriate and Thai families, looking to benefit from our status as the UK’s leading co-educational school. As a brand new school, what can Brighton College Bangkok offer to prospective families in Bangkok? As a father of school-aged children myself, I am acutely aware of what

parents are looking for when choosing the right school for their child. Children at Brighton College Bangkok will be given the opportunity to be taught by inspiring teachers in a nurturing environment where every child is cared for and valued. This in turn allows pupils to achieve the highest standards of academic achievement. Our small class sizes and low pupil/teacher ratio means that we can truly offer child-centred teaching and learning. Our curriculum is tailored to go well beyond the confines of the English National Curriculum, and offers abundant opportunities for children to develop their thinking and skills in ways which are unique to them, whether that be through the academic curriculum or our extensive extracurricular activities programme. Brighton College Bangkok pupils will develop into considerate and empathetic individuals as we will place much value on the qualities of honesty, determination, respect and kindness. We want to ensure that children not only achieve academically but are thoughtful, caring citizens who have the utmost respect for their peers, themselves and the world around them. How has the Brighton College family of schools become so successful both in the UK and overseas? I believe there are a number of reasons for our success. Brighton College has over 170 years of tradition and history but it is not weighed down by this. It is constantly looking to evolve and improve and it feels fresh not stuffy. Whilst

proud of its heritage it is also ambitious, aspirational and forward thinking. The quality of Brighton College teachers ensures that excellence is the norm, and combining this high expectation with traditional academic rigour, innovative approaches to learning, and a broad and balanced curriculum results in the highest academic standards. The Brighton College pursuit of academic excellence is known across the world and will be no different in Bangkok.

Brighton College Bangkok in focus BRIGHTON College Bangkok will open its PrePrep School for pupils aged from two to nine in September 2016, located in the Srinakarin-Rama 9 area of Bangkok. The Prep and Senior Schools, for pupils aged between nine and 18 years old, will open the following year in September 2017. For more information please visit www.brightoncollegebangkok.com. To make an appointment to visit the pre-opening team, Head of Admissions, Kim MeadenKendrick, can be contacted on +66 (0) 2-136-7898 or by email at admissions@brightoncollegebangkok.com.

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Is it really going to make any difference to how I look or feel? Yes. Walking will also increase your muscle tone, boost metabolism, ease stress, raise energy levels and improve sleep, which all together can also help you lose weight.

Will walking prevent illness? Regular walking can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, osteoporosis and arthritis. It can help you to deal with anxiety and stress, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. New research from studies conducted in Britain shows that anyone can turn back the clock three years by getting some exercise, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift.

But I hate exercise! Walking doesn’t need to feel like exercise. It can just be part of your daily routine. You could stop driving to the local shop and walk there instead. If you use the MRT or BTS, get off one stop early and walk. Or take a walk in your lunch hour: half an hour’s walk after a meal cuts the amount of fat your body stores by using it to fuel your exercise. Use the evening hours for a stroll in the nearest park instead of playing with the remote control sitting on your couch. The beauty of walking is you can do it anytime, anywhere. You don’t need any equipment and you already know how to do it. Best of all, it’s free.

How can I make sure I am doing enough? A walking program on your cell phone, a pedometer, or a fitness gadget like Fitbit can help you to measure your walking steps. They are not a 100% accurate and can be manipulated but they give you a good idea about how many steps you walk a day. Download a free copy of the newest Harvard Medical School Report on walking for free at lifestylefoodclinic.com/bigchili-resources (password bigchili). 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

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

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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.

Am I eating my way into trouble? I am confused and a little bit scared. Let me explain: I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’ve always been a little bit chubby. I didn’t really mind, maybe it was my mum’s cooking, or some other reason, but I thought it didn’t interfere much with my life since I’ve had two long-term girlfriends who never said there was anything wrong with me and I was generally quite healthy. But since coming to Thailand, I started to look around me in a different way and, maybe coincidentally, I also started to lose weight. And you wouldn’t believe what that meant! The thinner I got, the more positive re-enforcement I got from ever yone. Girls in general (I am single again), but also friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers complimented me on my appearance. And then, when I put on some weight again, the response was ver y negative. Now I don’t actually like the way I look anymore. I count calories with ever y meal, and I spend long hours at the gym. And mostly it works. But when it doesn’t… When I put on a pound, I don’t eat for a day, or two. But I do think about food all the time and research the ‘thinnest’ way to eat. Recently, I saw an article online about eating disorders and – wow – that article could describe me. Except: I am male. What is wrong with me? Lucas, 23, from the US Dear Lucas, Thank you for this very brave letter. And to answer your last question first: yes, men can have eating disorders as well as women. Right now, 5 to 15% of people with eating disorders are men, but unfortunately the numbers are rising. Admitting to suffering from an eating disorder and seeking help is difficult for everyone. There is a lot of stigma around it, and that stigma is very real for men. So putting your thoughts down in writing and seeking advice is a brave and very promising first step. From the symptoms you describe above, my guess is that you are worried that you might be developing anorexia – extreme control of food intake, including constant calorie counting and research, alarm at gaining any weight whatsoever, and being very focused on body image. Anorexia nervosa, to give it its full clinical name, is a very serious health issue and if you feel that you are in any danger of developing it, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to seek help. And, sooner rather than later. You mention two of the factors in starting to go down this road: being overweight in the past (particularly as a teenager) and a strong response to societal judgments around body shape and body image (both positive and negative). You also seem to make a connection between body shape and being attractive. Another symptom is an extreme fear of being or becoming fat. All these factors can be contributing factors in anorexia nervosa, but it is usually a much more complex picture. The good news is that there are many treatment options for anorexia nervosa, and there is a lot of experience in the medical and psychological communities in working with it. The bad news is that it is very difficult to deal with anorexia nervosa by yourself. From your short letter I have no idea if you fulfil the criteria for this mental health issue or if you are experiencing something a little less drastic. But I would urge you and anyone else who reads this and can recognize themselves in it to get an assessment from a mental health professional and/or a medical doctor. Don’t be afraid of the outcome, there are many different forms of treatment that can be tailored to your specific personality and circumstances. Once again, I think you are very brave and I hope you will get the help you need and deserve.


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Sister-in-law too much to handle My sister-in-law is driving me mad. She is always giving me unwanted advice about my children’s education, what they should eat, how they should live, and how I should discipline them. She is ver y argumentative. She is also making remarks about me not working. I am a full-time mother. My husband is running his own company and we are both happy with this arrangement. We live comfortably. My sister-in-law hates her job and has financial struggles because she overspends and has debts. She is criticising me but I feel she is irresponsible, especially as she lets her parents pay for her bills when she is short of cash. I would like to shout at her, but for the sake of others I keep quiet. We are a close-knit family and it would be devastating if we would end up not seeing each other again. Our parents would ver y much grieve about this. Should I tell my sister-in-law how I feel, or carr y on being quiet? Help! Preeti, 31, from India

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

Dear Preeti, I hear your frustration, but I also sense that you know what is going on here. Your sister in law envies you – your life and your lifestyle – and as we know, envy is a highly corrosive and destructive emotion. By picking fights with you she (unconsciously) tries to triumph over you in order to compensate for the fact that, in reality, you seem to be winning over her at everything. Most likely your sister-in-law is very unhappy. This is why shouting at her is almost pointless, not the least because you are potentially running the risk of providing her with another line of attack. Shouting and being angry may give you a brief moment of satisfaction, a feeling of having asserted yourself, but on the other hand you will have lowered yourself to her sad, aggressive level. You are worth more than that! Be kind to yourself. Writing this email is already a step to letting off steam. Try to find a way of expressing your irritation in private so you can grow a thicker skin around her in person. If possible, talk to your husband about your situation. Tell him that you are not asking him to resolve the problem, but that you need to share you feelings with him so that you both can deal more wisely with his sister. Her financial problems and how her parents help her out again and again are not really your problem and certainly not your responsibility. Her parents have the right to make their own decisions as long as it doesn’t interfere with your personal bank account or life. You can have your ideas about it, but this is a decision your in-laws have to deal with and most probably you will not be able to change them anyway. Of course, when your sister-in-law is argumentative in your own home you can let her know firmly and politely that you cannot accept this ill-mannered behaviour. It would be wise to also talk with your husband beforehand about your plan to set boundaries, and ask him how he perceives his sister in your home. You could also ask your husband to support you when you explain to her that it is not acceptable for her to pick fights in your home. Keep in mind that your sister-in-law is not attacking you personally, but how she perceives you and what you represent in her own life (most likely feeling disadvantaged or failing). By seeing it this way you may be able to feel compassion with her and you can emotionally distance yourself from her attacks.

Contact details: ncs-counseling.com, anette.p@ncs-counseling.com Tel: 02 279 8503, or send your problems to: thebigchillimagazine@gmail.com

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Social Last month’s best events in pictures

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AMWET SONGKRAN POOL PARTY

FOUR Points by Sheraton Bangkok’s Poolside rooftop bar and restaurant, amBar, celebrated Songkran with a fun-packed pool party featuring innovative cocktails, lots of tasty nibbles, and DJs spinning tunes from afternoon till night. The next pool party – BLOC Party - Disco VS Hip Hip – will be held on Saturday May 7. Full details at facebook.com/AmBarBangkok.

COOL BY THE POOL

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MARRIOTT Executive Apartments Sathorn Vista celebrated its 7th anniversary by hosting an exclusive poolside party featuring live performances, fun activities, plenty of food and drinks, and a DJ spinning tunes till late into the night.

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Social|Last Month’s Best Events

GREY GOOSE SUMMER SOIRÉE

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REVELLERS decked in white beat back the heat in the most delightful of ways by sipping cocktails at Grey Goose’s exclusive summer party, held at the Em District Pop Up Beach, Quatier Avenue, The EmQuartier. Live performances and cocktail demonstrations added to the fun.

THE MYSTIQUE AT CENTARA WATERGATE

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ART lovers were out in force for the opening of The Mystique, a new exhibition of sculptures by renowned Bangkok artist and conservationist Childchanok Senanunsakul, at Centara Watergate Pavillion Hotel Bangkok. Part of the proceeds of the exhibition will be donated to The Greater Cut project, which produces wigs for cancer patients undergoing Chemotherapy.

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A NIGHT IN LITTLE ITALY

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RESERVA Wine Bar by L’Opera on Sukhumvit Soi 39 launched its new tapas menu by hosting ‘A night in Little Italy’ featuring vocalist and superstar tenor Mathieu Sempéré with special appearances by Yves Baron and Romain Fitoussi on guitar.

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Social|Last Month’s Best Events

MUGENDAI HONTEN HOMECOMING PARTY

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MUGENDAI Honten Japanese restaurant celebrated the opening of its second branch in Bangkok (its first is at The Helix Quartier, EmQuartier) on Thonglor Soi 10 with an exclusive party attended by many VIP guests. At the event Mugendai’s owners also introduced the restaurant’s new sister café, MUNCH, which is located at the same premises. More information about both venues can be found at bit.ly/1SUaZCZ.

RIVER CITY SHOWCASE

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IN preparation of its grand opening this July, River City Bangkok held a special sneak preview party where it showcased its new contemporary design and renewed focus on arts and antiques.

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DIPLOMATS Meet the people uniting nations

H.E. Kirill Barsky The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Thailand talks about his work and life

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Diplomat: H.E. Kirill Barsky

From Russia with a critical eye on the world

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Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

n a wide-ranging inter view, the Russian Ambassador talks about militar y cooperation, helicopter sales, Russia’s special relationship with Israel, western journalists and his dream of welcoming Vladimir Putin to Thailand in the near future.

AS a couple, they look impressive and by the end of the interview it was clear that this impression is no illusion. His Excellency Kirill Barsky PhD, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Thailand, sported a white diplomatic uniform with gold stars on the lapel while his wife, Olga Barskaya, wore an elegant multi-coloured dress. Olga participated in the first part of this second interview with the ambassador (The BigChilli first featured an interview with him in December 2014) and displayed a charming mix of intelligence, warmth, loyalty and independence, qualities which perfectly complement the style of her husband. Like him, she devoted quite a few years to working in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Please call me Olga,” she said in pleasantly accented English after the ambassador made the introduction. “Olga belongs to this region,” he said as they exchanged smiles. She explained: “I was born in Jakarta, where my father worked as a diplomat in the Soviet embassy. I spent the first eight years of my life in Indonesia, but I am a Russian citizen, as were my parents. We are all Muscovites.” Besides English, Bahasa Indonesia and, of course, Russian, she speaks French, which she polished while living in Geneva in mid 90s. “I met Kirill in 2000 in New York, where we both worked at the Russian Mission to the UN. We fell in love and got married. I can speak Bahasa but I can’t read or write the language. In fact, I learned it when my husband served at the Russian embassy in Jakarta as minister-counsellor from 2004 to 2008. Actually our daughter, Maria, was the best teacher when we were in Jakarta.” “She was just a little girl,” the ambassador added, “but she quickly became fluent in Bahasa and could communicate easily with our Indonesian nanny who couldn’t speak

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Russian or English. She acted as our interpreter.” “When we left Indonesia Maria was four, and we wanted her to be educated in Russia,” said Olga. “We lived for six years in Moscow before coming to Thailand. Kirill was a Special Envoy of the President of the Russian Federation and I had a good job also.” Both the ambassador and his wife take an active interest in the embassy school, where Maria now studies. “Our daughter stays most of the time at the school with the other children and they speak Russian. She can only speak a few Thai words,” said Olga. “The school is for children who speak Russian but it is not only for Russians,” the ambassador added. “We have kids from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and a couple of mixed Thai-Russian boys and girls. The son of the Greek ambassador is also attending the school. The school is located behind the embassy. It is a secondary school from the 1st to 9th grade. We have 65 pupils and 10 teachers who are either sent from Russia or hired locally. Some teachers are wives of diplomats and some belong to the Russian community in Thailand,” Mr Barsky said. “It is a very nice school with a vibrant curriculum, with lots of clubs, sports and cultural activities. We teach our students Taekwondo and gymnastics. We have a professional music teacher who is a singer and a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory. The children are absolutely happy even if a little bit tired. They all speak Russian but they are learning English too,” said Mr Barsky, with Olga adding that some are also learning Spanish.

Busy lady Olga spoke of her life in Thailand. “I am working at the consular division of our embassy here. We have so many Russian citizens who reside in Thailand and many tourists come here on holiday. They sometimes need assistance from the embassy. I have other things to keep me busy as well. I am a member of the diplomatic committee of the Young Women’s Christian Association, which is a charity organization. We organize events like the International Charity Bazaar that was held at Central World in November. I am also a member of the diplomatic committee of the Thai Red Cross Society.


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Photos on the following three pages are courtesy of the embassy of The Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Thailand.

H.E. Barsky and Mrs Barskaya with HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

global and regional issues to people-to-people contacts. Through high-level official meetings and practical cooperation between the business communities in our countries we have paved the way for the smooth and successful development of Russian-Thai relations in the years to come. This is the main achievement.” Elaborating on the high-level meetings, Mr Barsky made some interesting observations: “Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev visited Thailand in April 2015, and in mid-may this year Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is planning to visit Russia. The two prime ministers have already had bilateral meetings on the sidelines of international gatherings. We were also very happy to receive Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence General Prawit Wongsuwan and Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak in Russia last February. “Also in February was the visit of Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security

“Since I have been here we have organized several events including the annual Diplomatic Red Cross Bazaar held this year in March at Siam Paragon. We also organized a function called ‘Elegance of Giving.’ This was a charity afternoon tea in honour of Her Majesty the Queen’s 7th Cycle Birthday held at Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel on April 24 that included a fashion show. All proceeds went to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Craniofacial Center.” Mr Barsky said it might seem easy to be the wife of an ambassador because there are people around to help the family, but in fact Olga’s workload is very heavy. “My wife is working from morning to night doing this and that, organizing and coordinating. We have a pretty big embassy here, and Olga is also in charge of the social and cultural activities, the embassy school and so on. Maria is now 12 years old. She is becoming a young lady with a lot of questions and new interests, desires and friends. This is another heavy burden on the shoulders of my wife first and foremost,” said the ambassador. “No, the burden is not so heavy,” she said and they both laughed. “Well, I don’t cook at home. We have a chef sent from Russia and he does all the cooking for us, which is very helpful.”

‘Not wasting time’

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uring his first interview back in 2014, Mr Barsky laid out a list of his objectives as ambassador to Thailand. Asked to assess his progress, he said: “It is 18 months since I took my post and it feels like I have been here for ages. I can proudly say that we haven’t been wasting our time. I am very happy to say in summarizing my work that relations between Russia and Thailand have seen significant progress. Plans that were being discussed in late 2014 have already been partially implemented, but the main achievement is that the traditionally friendly relations between our two nations have been upgraded to the point that we’ve become close partners on a number of fronts. “We have managed to coordinate a joint vision encompassing all spheres of cooperation, from political dialogue, security and defense cooperation to trade and cultural exchanges to interaction on

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H.E. Barsky with Senior Statesman Prem Tinsulanonda

Council of the Russian Federation to Thailand. We hosted a very fruitful Joint Cooperation Committee meeting in Russia last July to discuss economic and trade cooperation, and in March First Deputy Minister for Economic Development of the Russian Federation Alexey Likhachev visited Thailand to make preparations for the Thai PM’s visit to Russia. “These are bits of the success story of the Thai-Russian political dialog which was resumed after Thailand’s period of instability, when we didn’t have many contacts on the political level. I am sure that more visits and meetings will follow, in-


the ASEAN Centre for Military Medicine which was opened by Defense Minister Prawit. This is a very remarkable center, established under the auspices of the ASEAN Defense Ministers-Plus Dialogue Partners (ADMM-Plus). The project was implemented by all 18 countries participating in this format, but Russia and Thailand played a special role in the establishment of the center as we jointly chaired the ADMM-Plus working group on military medicine. I was very proud to hear General Prawit extend a special thanks to the Russian Federation for its contributions to the establishment of the center. “This is just one example how we are working to enhance relations and cooperation between our two armies. Of course, the procurement of weapons is another avenue of cooperation Diplomatic responsibilities between our defense ministries. We are discussing many projects because Russia can provide any armaments or military sked about the uniform he was wearing and the equipment that the RTA desires. Russia is the second biggest three gold stars, the ambassador said: “We don’t exporter and producer of weapons and military equipment in have strict regulations in terms of wearing the the world and can satisfy the appetites of any party, including uniform. Usually it’s worn for official functions Thailand. We are very happy that Thailand is interested in like presenting credentials, hosting national day expanding cooperation with Russia in this regard. receptions and so on. Many Russian ambassa“Thailand is procuring Mi-17 transport helicopters from dors prefer to give interviews in uniform. In the Russian diploRussia and the first contract is already being filled. Now we are matic service we have ranks like in the army, and the ranks are in the process drafting new contracts on helicopters. I hope, different from the title when we are posted. this is only the beginning. In the years to My title is ambassador to Thailand because come we will see much more interaction in I am the chief envoy here, but in terms the area of defense. of rank I am an envoy first class, which is “We observe that the Thai government I have very good equivalent to lieutenant general. My next and the RTA are trying to diversify sources relations with the rank hopefully will be as a full ambassador, for the import of military equipment. This is which has the rank of a colonel general,” actually what many countries are doing now. Thai authorities. explained Mr Barsky, adding that female We are ready to be a reliable supplier for I have met with ambassadors also have uniforms. Thailand, and our Thai partners know we Police General Only three diplomats work at the always deliver on our promises.” Wuthi Liptapallop. Bangkok embassy’s consular section, plus The ambassador said his embassy is He is a very good four women hired from the families of the also actively promoting bilateral relations diplomatic and technical staff of the emthrough non-militaristic means. “We are partner and I am bassy. “We have one Thai lady who speaks to advance the image of Russia in very proud to have trying Russian helping us and we rely on our Thai Thailand through mass media. In the past 18 his friendship. drivers to deliver messages and do some months we have organized cultural events, technical work. Sometimes I must personally academic seminars, performances of the intervene in matters concerning Russian citizens. We are here to Russian opera and ballet, receptions, art exhibitions and so on. protect the rights and legitimate interests of Russian citizens but One important event was the exhibition of photographs taken by at the same time we cooperate closely with the Royal Thai Police Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev held in Bangkok from March (RTP) in locating and extraditing Russian citizens who have 23 to April 3. At least 20,000 visitors viewed the beautiful images committed crimes in Russia and are trying to find a safe haven in taken by the PM at the exhibition at Siam Paragon. It was a very Thailand. This is another aspect of our work. colourful collection and a very colourful event which displayed “I have very good relations with the Thai authorities. I have the talent of the Russian leader. met with Police General Wuthi Liptapallop. He is a very good “The event also had the very important purpose of demonpartner and I am very proud to have his friendship. We have strating the beauty of Russia to the Thai people. I believe it has established a hotline between the embassy’s consular section and encouraged Thais to take an interest in my country and possibly the RTP. We work directly with Pol Gen Wuthi and the officer unto visit. We may continue to use the photos to promote Russia in der him. Whenever an accident or incident occurs which involves Thailand. One project we have in mind is to present the photos Russian citizens we immediately get in touch with the RTP and in an album which will be made available to Thais who love the Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice and Department photography and are interested in knowing more about Russia.” of Special Investigations. It helps us to keep the situation under On Russia and Israel control and be aware of what is going on with our citizens and to help them when they are in trouble – or make trouble for those An acknowledged expert on international affairs, Mr Barsky criminals who come to Thailand from time to time.” spoke about Russian military support of Bashar Assad’s govThe ambassador said that defense cooperation is another ernment in Syria, and more specifically if this affects Russia’s integral part of the bilateral cooperation. “We are in favour of relationship with Israel. What he said might surprise some strengthening ties between the Russian Army and the Royal people. “The Russian Federation and Israel enjoy a special Thai Army (RTA). On April 7 I attended the inauguration of cluding more at the highest level. It is my dream to welcome the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to Thailand in the near future. When PM Prayuth received me at Government House in mid-January he told me that he wanted to invite Mr Putin to Thailand when he visits Moscow,” said Mr Barsky. “I want to say that Russia has no problems whatsoever with Thailand. Our relations are not overburdened with conflicts or misunderstandings. Indeed, it is a very rare situation in international relations when two counties that used to be parts of different military blocks during the Cold War are rediscovering each other as partners and coming to a common conclusion that there are no obstacles to hinder the successful development of bilateral relations.”

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relationship indeed. Up to 30 percent of Israel’s population are Russian immigrants or their offspring. There are old and new immigrants. Some came before or just after World War II, and others in the 1970s when a decision was made to allow Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union. Some came from third countries after they left the Soviet Union for different reasons. “Today about a third of the population of Israel can speak Russian fluently, and even second and third generation offspring of Russian immigrants continue to speak Russian.

been a profession for brave people who think independently and wish to defend the truth without fear of reprisals. This courage is something that has been undermined in recent history. I hope that journalists everywhere will recommit to high standards and not try to paint certain countries and people in black because of the global trend or because they are paid to do it. I hope they will be able to tell the difference between good and bad, between evil and noble principles. “In the western media no one is held accountable for the false news and lies that are broadcast on CNN, BBC, NBC, Fox News and other international news agencies and in big newspapers. It is first come, first served. You say something before others without making an effort to confirm the information or make an analysis of what is happening. Then the news is spread, repeated and re-printed by other major news agencies that don’t bother to check if it is incorrect information or deliberate lies. After a while everything is forgotten, but the impression remains. “I can’t defend all Russian media because there are good and bad journalists in every country, but at least Russian journalists are trying to be on the side of truth. What really frustrates Russian people – not only journalists, the general public as well – is that the western mass media ignore very obvious facts and put things upside down. This is really disgusting! H.E. Barsky with PM Prayuth Chan-ocha “We know that we have many problems in my country and these problems are well known to the government and to “There are many other reasons the public. We are openly discussing we wish to maintain a strong relationthese problems. Just read Russian ship with Israel. Among them are our newspapers or watch Russian TV. We shared memories of the Holocaust and have no taboos in Russia. If you don’t other bitter lessons of World War II. like President Putin you can criticize Russians and Israelis are among the him through mass media. We want most determined adherents to the prinjournalists and also politicians in cipal that the atrocities and suffering the West to do as we do and openly of the war must not be forgotten. Cerdiscuss the problems that exist and tainly Russia is among the nations that reflect on the realities we are facing fought most fiercely against Nazism, in the right light, instead of trying to and today along with Israel we are in make white black and black white.” H.E. Barsky with FM Don Pramudwinai the forefront in the fight against the glorification of Nazism Impressions of Thailand and new forms of Nazi ideology. “Fighting terrorism is another area that provides a Asked if he had changed his opinions about Thailand after platform for our strong cooperation and we hold the same living and working here for 18 months, Mr Barsky said he positions on many aspects of counterterrorism. We coordinate had, but only in one respect: “I never thought that Thais very closely with Israel’s security and law enforcement agenwould be so friendly to Russians. I felt that Thais are amicacies. Israel is one of the parties of the Middle East conflict and ble and very polite and kind to all foreigners, but I suspected Russia is a member of the international Quartet of countries that many might have a negative impression of Russian working together to find a solution to the conflict. So of course tourists because there are so many, and there are invariably a we have to work closely with Israel in this matter.” few who act badly. Two years ago 1.6 million Russian tourists visited Thailand. Last year there was a decline for various Media in crisis reasons, but it was still a lot. With such great numbers of tourists it’s impossible to avoid unpleasant situations entirely, n the previous interview with the ambassador, he had like accidents and incidents which involve Russian tourists. much to say about global media and what he believes “But what I have found is that Thai people are very is its bias against Russia. What does he think today? friendly to my countrymen. They don’t believe that Rus“There is a degradation of journalism; journalists sian tourists in general make trouble and they cherish the have become hostages of big politics and this is, of tradition of friendship between our peoples that goes back course, a reflection of what is happening in internato the special relationship forged between King Rama V and tional relations and world politics now. But it is also a maniEmperor Nicholas II. I was very surprised to learn that Thais festation of another problem: journalists being corrupted and both young and old know the story of how Russia acted as a willing to go along with whatever their governments instruct guarantor of the independence of Siam in the late 19th and them to say or impose on them. early 20th centuries, and they are very grateful. This has “In fact, this is very sad because journalism has always been the biggest surprise in my 18 months here.”

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Hua Hin

Songkran celebrations at Centara Grand CENTARA Grand Beach Resort and Villas Hua Hin celebrated Songkran in sumptuous fashion this year with a day full of special activities. Highlights included an alms giving ceremony in the morning, and an impressive Thai dinner buffet featuring a Thai orchestra performance, a Miss Songkran Beauty contest (won this year by the lovely Ms Nongyao Suatong from the hotel’s Public Relations Department), and traditional Thai puppet shows performed by the renowned Joe Louis troupe.

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Monsoon Midnights Special places in Bangkok, as experienced by the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group Dear reader, Welcome to ‘Monsoon Midnights’, a short story by the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group. The storytellers of the BWWG come from all over the world but they all have a special place in this city, somewhere surprising, obscure and unexpected, as yet undiscovered. Follow us to these hidden places right here, month after month. The first volume of Monsoon Midnights (18 stories by 12 authors with beautiful illustrations by the BigChilli graphics team) is available on Amazon: amzn.to/1N5V2YX NIGHTFALL OVER BANGKOK

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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 slim and delicate. It sails smoothly across the night, the colour of finely honed old silver. Elegant and refined, it doesn’t overwhelm the landscape of our city sky but sets off the sparkle of a thousand stars. Well, maybe more like a million stars, and these are only the stars we can see. Other millions we can only hear, catching their resonance with our big round telescope ears. There are more, out there, deeper in the sky, burning and dancing and throwing light across the chasms of dark matter (which no one has seen, at least so far). But we are not satisfied with those jewels in the sky. For one thing, if we want to see them, we have to look up. Which means, take a break from all those activities that force our eyes to the ground, on our hands and feet, on each other’s faces, on oncoming traffic… And then, of course, those night sky jewels are not ours. We can look but cannot touch. We can claim them with names but these are not their real names. Just illusions to help us manage the grandeur. We don’t like that. Or, at least, not all the time. We want more, we want less. We want something luminous and intense, but also something small that we can own. And take home. Is there even such a thing? A tiny star you can hold in your hands? ‘Oh yes’, says this month’s storyteller, Bhavna Khemlani, ‘oh yes, they are right here, though not quite yet in the form that we know them in.’ She waves to me from the side of the big eight lane highway that brings in cars from the airport to the city core, day and night, rain and monstrous sun, under the moon, under the clouds, under the stars.

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It takes me a while to get there – even the air over Bangkok gets stuck and stuffy. Even this late at night. But I’m making the effort. Wrapped up stars! Who wouldn’t want to see them. I get there and – nothing. Well, there’s cars and dust and suffocating heat. Melting roads. Unbreathable fumes. Grey laced toxic swirls obscure the darkness. ‘Right here’, says Bhavna the storyteller, pointing at a few extra dark vans, unmarked but reinforced against assault and triple locked. The windows show no drivers. ‘‘They’re inside,’ she says. ‘They need to be protected. Drivers, guards, locks, low impact crates, bubbles, tissue, foam. They are vulnerable but powerful.’ I look. Maybe there is something here, maybe something just beyond my senses. ‘Can you feel them?’ she says. ‘They resonate with the vibrations of the stars.’ I listen. I hear a fine, secret voice, born in eternal darkness. Yes, Bhavna is right. Let’s slip through the locked doors of the van and listen to the story…

Rose Quartz

By Bhavna Khemlani

I know I am pretty from the inside and it clearly shows! And I’m on my way. My travel plans have just been created for me by dedicated mineral miners. Obviously, I don’t speak verbally but my energy signals a message telepathically. I can listen, absorb and do believe that I am still considered the talisman for relationships. I have been living around you for centuries for my powers of physical beautification; facial masks of Rose Quartz have been recovered from Egyptian tombs, being honoured by the Tibetan


and Oriental cultures, and I continue to be one of the major carving transmitting a stimulating flow of energy that enables us to be stones around you. Sustaining compassion is my birth right! cleansed and understand our purpose in life. Just because I am one of the abundant minerals available on Let’s not forget that I am still stuck in the traffic jam as the Earth, everyone seems to want a part of me. I have just made starry night sky shines over us. Welcome to Bangkok! my way to the land of entrepreneurial pride. The life of feeling The traffic jam gives me enough time to filter my pondering wholesome will soon be deteriorated by manufacturers in Silom. cosmic thoughts. I am not here to fulfil anyone’s expectations; I have been literally dragged out of my haven to shine in other nevertheless, I have the pleasure to manage turbulence. Love people’s lives. So, I’ve got to anchor all my magic which is a is always the key. And I am Love! Don’t fall in the trap of being cosmic gift for you. delusional and take a step ahead to see the light at the end of the How far will this go? To what extent will I be the slave of tunnel. beautiful minds? I shall find out the mystery in time. I have these cloudy thoughts buzzing around. How I wish My friends and I have been stuck in this traffic jam for I could help lessen the traffic jam, but that surely is not in my hours and after the customs check at night we are ready to powers. Disappointing! For I am wrong; I can’t manage this encounter a new journey. We are bubble-wrapped and glowing turbulence. from within. For now, it’s me and my Rose family consisting Finally, we make our way into the fancy workshop. I am of different shapes and sizes. Let’s see who else is being one of the last pieces to leave. I see that my friends have been complimented for her worth. carefully placed and one of the designers quickly unwraps one of At this point in time, I am not sure how I could help and my soul sisters. what I need to look like. The Does it happen that quick! specifics are decided by the The impulse to co-create should HE Bangkok Women’s Writers Group, founded in 2001, designers, trendy and holistic be frightening but I am actually and led by Anette Pollner (who also writes the recurcustomers, owners, healers, and curious. Slowly each of us is ring ‘moon intro’ stories in this series in her famous spa resorts. I don’t feel helpless, brought out into the cool air, neo psychedelic style), is where creative women from all over but it would be nice if they’re not and now we are undressed and the world meet to workshop their writing in a supportive and too harsh on me. illuminated as if we were all in a inspiring environment. Many of our members are published What is happening?! pageant. and prize winning authors, but we are open to all women who Oh and not to forget, I am The beauty of me flows are passionate about writing, including complete beginners. often used for crystal healing. through every particle, even if The BWWG’s first publication (before ‘Monsoon Midnights the Hmmm… I do tend to absorb I am separated from my solid short story collection,’ available on Amazon) was a Thai English and clear a lot that needs to be foundations, because the love language bestseller, ‘Bangkok Blondes,’ and various pamphlets. released making people feel light in me diffuses in every part of We regularly give readings around town and have been part of and lovely. Then I am cleansed the radiant Quartz. What the international festivals and cultural exchanges. Please contact with sea salt occasionally or jewellers are not aware of is that I bkk_writers@yahoo.com for more information. given more attention when it’s enhance their creativity, especially This month’s storyteller is Bhavna Khemlani, a passionate Full Moon. while I am being polished and Lecturer/Author/Reiki Master Practitioner/NLP Practitioner. I love the Full Moon. perhaps moulded into fine pieces She is a member of the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators She and I play a blissful game of angel wings, hearts, crystal Association and sits on the Advisory Board of Whatabook balls, earrings, and placed into (WAB) Publishing House, Kolkata, India. Bhavna has published ornaments that amplify the three novels (The Wisher’s Well, Maples: Rejuvenating Cocktail vibration of compassion, love, and The Classroom: Ashley and her Mystical Tale) and her short calmness, and balance. I notice stories, poems, nonfiction stories, and flash fiction have been this as I see some well-crafted and published internationally. Bhavna integrates creativity in her readymade pieces already. teaching and encourages students to follow their heart. As I am juggled from one hand to the other and hear the designers talk about my worth, I remain calm and reflect an aura of comfort. Well, I try, because I’ve just seen that a toddler is eyeing me. Oh no, what does that look mean? Am I to be tossed back and forth into his mouth? I have no interest swimming in his saliva and then being spit out like a piece of candy he could not eat. I am not a toy but a stone he shall cherish some day in his life. What should I do? Okay, being the calm me I emit a vibration of serenity that distracts the toddler for the Coral. Poor her! Now it’s her calling and not mine. Bless her from toddler crisis. I ignore the snarky and overrated comments from young teenagers and continue to listen to what the designers have in store for me. It was decided that I was to be divided into three pieces, but now I hear that soon I will be separated into two. Physically, I may be divided but I can never be separated from my wholesome existence. I believe that the vibrations get stronger, and the escalating flow of elation is a blessing. I am

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Fiction moving towards the purpose of my existence. So I embrace the compliments of my worth. Let me say this with pride, ‘I kinda love it.’ Who wouldn’t love compliments? It nurtures my beauty. Oh, something has gotten my attention. I sense and I am embraced with this violet aura. Oh gosh, my soul sister, Amethyst, is here! She is revealing her violet aura to alert me of her presence. Here I was wondering a while ago who else would be here! It’s sister Amethyst. I bet she manages turbulence too. Both of us transcend and brighten up the room, surprising the jewellery designers and making them smile. One of the designers quickly comes up with the idea of combining Amethyst and I in a twin stone ring. We shall be surrounded with white gold, which will not only complement Amethyst’s intense royal purple, but also allow me to swirl the Violet Flame in, through, and around me – transforming and removing every electron of dissonant energy, and improving the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, of whoever wears us. Amethyst and I are radiant as we indulge in our own carnival of celebration while the maker floats into a seductive state of mind to create a magnificent piece to honour the entrepreneurial pride. The innocent anticipation of healing naturally flows around the entire workshop. A part of me has been united with Amethyst and another part of me has still to understand the transformation yet to come. I am no different than my other Rose Quartz family. We are well synchronized even if one is taken ahead to be crafted into fulfilling an idea. Or simply left to honour the natural way of posture, we just understand each other and our worth will never diminish. For a moment I enjoy being cuddled by the soft cotton wrap that is not completely sealed, and I can sense who else will be part of this carnival of creativity. Guess what! I am intoxicated with the miraculous powers of the ‘Blue Lace Agate.’ A few pieces are placed next to me. Blue Lace Agate’s gentle and calming stone engenders tranquility, harmonizing curious thoughts, hidden angers, and imbalance in the workshop. Together, we are able to sustain hope and manage any turbulence reaching higher Spiritual planes and activate the flow of communication. One of the designers takes a few pieces of Agate and decides that the other part of me shall be part of a unique Angelic candle holder which may increase a mark-up of profit in someone’s healing room or spa, or any other business which understands our worth. The separation from a solid foundation makes me slightly gloomy, but knowing that I have loads of work to do, and that the purpose of my journey was not to be hidden inside the Earth plane but to be found and used to illuminate people’s lives, makes me smile.

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ecause I am so flexible and my unconditional love radiates everywhere, I do have that power over anyone. It is always inspiring to be held around the wrists of pleasant people, nestled in the bosom of acceptance and gratitude. Sometimes people forget to revive my honour by simply making me into a showpiece, or a funky bracelet left on a wooden shelf or hanging on a plastic bracelet holder. When more bracelets are being placed over me, my presence seems to dull away somewhat with Angry Birds friendship bands and Minion bracelets. I feel giddy with suspense as I sense a strong connection with a potential client. My unity with Amethyst and Agate is surely sizzling when we hear the magic words. ‘I shall buy that one…oh, I would like that one as well.’ We have just been SOLD! The deep and magnetizing connection with this brown eyed petite young woman puts me into passionate flames. The touch of her soft hands and the aura illuminating around her has caused me to shine. She calls herself a light worker. And yes, she truly is one. I see our journey has begun already. The mineral in me sparkles from within and slowly all of us illuminate an aura in the night ready to be taken to our new beginning. Tantalizing and evoking a temptation isn’t it! How silly! The honour is mine. Would you like to guess who that young woman is? Would you like to know how she learned to hear the stories of the jewel sisters? Maybe you will meet her one day as you travel through this city of stars and dust. The moon sinks sleepily towards the horizon. It’s been a long night. The stars shine on, as they always do, surrounding our planet for as long as this universe can last. Sisters and cousins and very old aunties. We wave to them through our telescopes. Some say we will soon be able to hear the Big Bang, and that the first event in this universe was sound. I feel soft and sleepy, too. The stars will watch over me while I rest. And the moon will join us too, next month, when Monsoon Midnights returns. Anette Pollner, leader of the BWWG

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

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The BigChilli May 2016  

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