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PUBLISHER Colin Hastings editorbigchilli@gmail.com MANAGING EDITOR Morgan Thanarojpradit morganbigchilli@gmail.com EDITOR Nina Hastings ninabigchilli@gmail.com SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai sendtorose@gmail.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti thanabigchilli@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 Drew McCreadie, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler, Kelly Harvey, James Stoves

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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_Aug16.indd 1

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Insight News

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

With the future of its embassy in doubt, the UK’s senior diplomat in Thailand H.E. Brian Davidson could be

The Last Ambassador to occupy the iconic Residence on Bangkok’s Wireless Road By Colin Hastings

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OR the next four years, a rare and beautiful house of undoubted historical significance, located on some of the most desirable and expensive real estates in Bangkok, will be occupied by Britain’s new Ambassador to Thailand, Brian Davidson. That’s the plan. Whether or not this actually transpires is entirely in the hands of Britain’s Treasury and its Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London’s Whitehall. Right now, the future of the 90-yearold house, along with its lush and wonderfully serene gardens and the other buildings that make up the British Embassy compound on Wireless Road, is in limbo. And although it’s been widely reported this green oasis in the heart of the city is up for sale for an eye-watering 18 billion baht, the Ambassador himself is in some doubt about its fate. “Nothing has been decided,” he declares in an exclusive interview with The BigChilli. “The Treasury and the FCO hold global reviews of the estates every two or three years, and now they’re

now looking at how we’re using this compound. It’s normal in every post.” The sale of the British Embassy is a hot topic in Bangkok. Expats are outraged that their country’s muchloved mission is on the chopping block, especially after the indignity of seeing the front section of the compound being sold off to make way for a department store and hotel a few years ago. Many Thais are also astonished at the British government’s apparent decision to vacate its “crown jewel” in the capital, saying it will adversely affect the UK’s standing in Thailand on many levels.

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I don’t believe the sale of the embassy compound is a fait accompli. Brian, new to the job and still feeling his way in its complexities, is aware of the controversy swirling around the future of the British Embassy. “It’s the elephant in the room,” he admits with a telling note of sadness. “But I don’t believe the sale is a fait accompli.” The Ambassador is no stranger to controversy. In 2014, while serving as Consul General in Shanghai, Brian raised eyebrows in China when he married his husband, Scott Chang, in one of the first same-sex marriages

Brian and Scott, marriage at the British Embassy in Beijing

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at the British Embassy in Beijing. Overseeing the ceremony was the British Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood. Although gay unions are not legal in China, the couple’s marriage led to them being lauded as gay icons in China after Brian posted pictures of his wedding on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. His accompanying comment: “I am very proud that the law in the UK today affords me the same rights as any other British national to be married to whomever I love,” was reported some 30,000 times. In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper, Brian said he was astonished by the response. “It was completely unexpected.” Every British Ambassador to Thailand brings his own style and individuality to the job. Brian is no exception. Tall, slim and softly spoken, he is determined to do things differently in so many ways. For instance, the dayto-day running of the embassy is to be “less formal and stuffy” than in the past. And he’s encouraging staff to dispense with ties and jackets except, of course, when meeting senior Thais and important overseas guests. Otherwise, there’s no reason to be suited and booted. “That’s the way it is in the UK these days. With suits and ties, people are less inclined to open up,” declares the 52-yearold Ambassador, dressed accordingly in an open neck shirt and fashionable slacks. Brian also hopes to bring this less formal approach to events at the embassy. This was evident recently when he hosted ‘Democracy Day,’ which featured a ‘Speakers’ Corner’ in the style of the famous Hyde Park debating forum. “It’s partly my house so I want to give it a bit of a personal touch.”


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Insight News Within this same building are the Ambassador’s office and private quarters, where Brian and Scott are now raising their five-month-old baby son, Eliot, who was born by surrogacy in California. Such close proximity allows Brian to nip upstairs to see Eliot and “give him a cuddle.” Brian’s own story began in Holywood, Northern Ireland, where he was born to an Irish mother and Scottish father. After gaining a BA (Honours) in Law at Cambridge University, he joined the FCO in 1985.

H

e has extensive experience in Asia, having started his career in Beijing (19881992), then as Consul General in Guangzhou and then Shanghai between 2006 and 2015. Other overseas posts have included Lithuania and Australia. While in the UK, Brian worked for the Cabinet Office as an analyst on international terrorism. It coincided with a particularly turbulent time - the Lockerbie bombing, as well as unrest in the Middle East and Afghanistan. “I had to absorb information and material from everywhere, and every week I had to write a paper for No. 10 (Downing Street). It was a bit like being back at university. During the first Iraq crisis, I worked nights to brief London and the US on what happening over there. It was an amazing time for me.” For a short period, Brian was seconded to the private sector, working for International Financial Services London as deputy chief executive. This brought him into contact with stockbrokers, bankers, shippers and successive Lord Mayors. More importantly, it allowed him to learn about managing and leading people in a different environment from the FCO and its ethos of “bright, motivated and highly intelligent workers.” He rejoined the FCO after being offered the “perfect job” back in China, where he had already spent four years and would then spend a further nine years before his posting to Thailand. Brian’s major responsibilities as Ambassador here remain largely the same as his predecessors – looking out for British tourists and citizens, reviewing the local political landscape, and improving trade and investment. For the latter, the embassy employs a team of 12 specialists in its UK Trade & Investment section, which increasingly taps into regional teams in places like Singapore for more

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efficient provision of information and support. Here in Bangkok, the structure works closely with the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand. The Ambassador is fully behind a new business initiative announced last July. Called the Thai-UK Business Leadership Council, its aim is to pull together senior business leaders from both countries so they can find creative ways to build new and innovative partnerships, as well as encourage both governments to foster trade and investment in each other’s market. Traditionally problematic issues like the Foreign Business Act and other key blockages to doing business in Thailand are likely to figure prominently in discussions.

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Ambassador: 98% of all visas to the UK are approved. The first meeting of the council will be held this month. The UK Minister for Trade, Mark Garnier MP, will attend, along with Thai Deputy Minister for Commerce Suwit Maesincee. As for Brexit, the impact on Thailand is likely to be positive, suggests the Ambassador. “UK needs to look more outside of Europe. We’re strong and solid, and increasingly looking to Southeast Asia, with Thailand as a hub. This country is key to the growth of ASEAN.” Even though some of the embassy’s services such as the issuing of passports have shifted online, its Bangkok consular section is the UK largest and busiest outside of Spain. Visa application for Thai nationals has been streamlined, according to the Ambassador, who claims that 98% of all visas to the UK are approved. However, he wasn’t able to say

how many are rejected once or perhaps several times before final approval. Brian’s declared intent to stamp his own personality on the embassy also extends to adjusting Thailand’s “outdated” view of the UK. “There’s a lot more to modern Britain – our science, our cutting-edge technology, education, creativity, multi-ethnicity, cultural diversity and investment opportunities. We want to work with Thai people and companies to be part of multi-level UK.” He has also planned to bring an extra dimension, which he calls ‘values’, to his range of responsibilities as an Ambassador. “I would like to see more support for the development of civil society in Thailand while demonstrating

the values inherent in the British way of life. “This is not a solution, merely support” he stresses. ‘Values’ are clearly an aspect of his job that means much to Brian. “I am personally keen to show what the UK can offer and drive forward issues such as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender). We can use these to project the UK as a modern, dynamic, outward-looking country that should be your partner of choice.” Brian first visited Thailand as a tourist in 1987 and has returned many times since. His brother, who lives in Singapore, is married to a Thai lady and they have three children. Before moving into the embassy compound, Brian and Scott lived in an apartment in Soi Suan Phlu, an area of Bangkok they both got to know and like. “We often ate at the streets carts and enjoyed our gin and tonics in the area’s bars and cafes,” he said. These days, the couples dining arrangements at the British Embassy are somewhat more sophisticated. But for how much longer is anyone’s guess.


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. Awards exist in order to acknowledge excellence in performance, process and creativity, to compare against peers, to highlight best practice and to reward supporting staff. By participating in TIBA you will raise your profile, grow your networks and develop new commercial opportunities. A team of independent judges will review the nominations and select the winners in each of the categories. All nationalities of company and individual are welcome to enter whether they are nominated or self-nominated. Nominations are open to any company registered in Thailand regardless of size or affiliations. For more information see:

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NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards

2016

Entrepreneur: Les Walsh

Event organiser and avid golfer

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ES Walsh is an entrepreneurial executive from Canada who has made Asia his home for more than three decades, including the past 23 years in Thailand. With his wife Kulthilda, he has raised two sons here. Although Les has enjoyed success in a diverse array of industries including trade and investment, retirement communities, product development, event management, marketing and music, he’s probably best known in Thailand for organising some of this country’s leading golf tournaments. With this background, Les is a veritable fountain of knowledge on what it’s like and what it takes to run a business in Thailand. ‘‘Entrepreneurs here face unique challenges, not least of which is a financial system that is weighted against non-Thais trying to build a small to medium sized business,’’ he said. ‘‘The non-Thai is generally required to run a business from cash flow, backed up by his savings.

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‘‘This has actually created the unique and dynamic Bangkok expat culture, where business is conducted as it was in our grandparents’ day, based on trust and sealed with a handshake and a promise. Because Bangkok is not the choice for regional offices, there are actually very few Hong Kong-style expats here and you tend to be recognised by your reputation rather than your business card. “Most of the business people I know run their own business or run the local operation of a brand name with whom they are affiliated after their own company appeared on the radar outside Thailand. ‘‘The common denominator is that most of them started from humble beginnings and all relied on each other for support, encouragement, information, contacts, intelligence and money from time to time. There is virtually nobody that I know who has been here for a reasonable period of time that has not at some point been flat on his ass and been bailed out by friends. “Most are willing to lend a hand because they have all been there, and it has created a unique social/business ecosystem where your reputation is all-important. You are never not working, and bad behaviour is never an option, particularly when you think nobody’s watching,’’ said Les. Many people know him from his musical activities and he’s an avid golfer. The charity golf events he organises include Father Joe’s, Rotary Bangkok South, Raja’s Fashions and many others. Obviously, the man likes to keep busy. ‘‘I’ve been involved in a number of wonderful and peculiar activities that have kept life here for the last 23 years very interesting,’’ said Les. ‘‘However, I can say with all honesty that I owe whatever success I have had to the support of my very close friends and my family.’’


NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards

2016

Entrepreneur: Hudson Walsh, Huddy’s Detailing

Passion for detail drives Hudson’s supercar business

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T the age of 21, most luk-krung (mixed Thai-Western) kids are up to their necks in studies at university, buried in the library and striving along an academic path toward a bright future. For Hudson Walsh, the owner of Huddy’s Detailing, it’s been quite a different road. With almost five years of work experience under his belt, he can be found almost every day in a garage in Thonburi detailing some of the most exotic and expensive vehicles in Thailand. Hooked on cars from an early age and unhappy with high school, he started detailing cars at an early age in Bangkok, building up experience and expertise along the way. After returning to Thailand from a summer break at his father’s family home in Canada, he re-connected with Mike Bocek, a second generation auto racer who had run a supercar service centre in Pattaya. The two had worked there together on a number of vehicles, and as luck would have it

Bocek had just relocated to Thonburi and needed a helping hand. It was a perfect opportunity for Huddy, who became involved in all aspects of running Mike’s Supercars, which services MacLaren, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Bentley, and even some antique cars. His lack of a business degree is more than made up for by a burning passion for the business and a drive to learn everything he can at every step along the way. This includes studying engineering online at night as a ‘hobby’. His real passion, however, is detailing the spectacular vehicles, and he is known to be a stickler for the fine points. For example, he spent 25 hours working meticulously on a Bentley to make certain that it shone like a mirror inside and out. In another case, he removed the 500,000 baht headlamps from a McLaren so he could get inside to clean them up, a job the McLaren staff had refused to even attempt. With the mechanical side of the business under Mike’s

supervision and running smoothly, Huddy set up his own operation alongside the supercar centre focusing strictly on detailing cars for Mike’s customers and other car owners. Not all his jobs are supercars; he loves working with any owner who takes great pride in their car and shares his passion for making it look as good as possible. Toward this end, he recently began importing the prestigious AMMO NYC line of products from the United States. “AMMO makes its products by hand in a small facility,” said Huddy. “The owner is fanatic about the quality of his products and his procedures for application. I really like his approach and his passion and I’m trying to do the same. I take a real old-school approach to doing the job right. I select the best products and I take as long as I need to get it right. And I don’t rip people off.” If the customer doesn’t want to go to Thonburi, he will travel to them. This young entrepreneur is driven to one day own a supercar of his own, but until that day, he says, “I get to work with these cars that I have always dreamed about - how good is that?” http://huddysdetailing/wixsite.com huddysdetailing@gmail.com, 063 363 3662 TheBigChilli

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NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards

2016

Entrepreneur: Mark Jobling, BOUNCE

Jumping on the BOUNCE bandwagon with Mark Jobling By Maxmilian Wechsler

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ARK Jobling enjoyed great financial success with investments in the power generation industry, but it wasn’t until he became involved with BOUNCEinc and founded a new home for the innovative recreational enterprise in Thailand that his dreams finally came together. And it’s especially gratifying this happened in a country for which Mark, chairman of BOUNCE, has a deep affection and a long connection to. The first BOUNCE in Thailand and the largest in Asia opened at The Street on Ratchadaphisek last December. During this interview, held at the company’s new 2,000 sq m venue on the 4th floor of EmQuartier, a group of youngsters were having fun trying out the trampolines in the modern, safe and wellequipped facility. Guests at the official grand opening of the EmQuartier facility the day before included the Australian Ambassador Paul Robilliard, who said: “Australia’s popular form of ‘sportainment’ has expanded into Thailand, and the past year has shown that this type of sports is quite a hit here as well.” In his remarks, Somporn Naksuetrong, CEO of BOUNCEinc (Thailand), agreed that the concept had “gained traction unexpectedly quickly.”

About Mark Mark was born in Australia, as was BOUNCE, and despite all his travels he’s retained a pleasant Aussie accent. “I grew up in a typical middle-class Melbourne family. Our home was in the suburbs and everybody knew each other. My parents both worked in education in Melbourne. “I played cricket and football from primary all through secondary school,” Mark said. After high school, he earned a degree in economics and another in law and took a job as a commercial lawyer for one of Australia’s largest firms, Mallesons Stephens Jaques. At the age of 28, he accepted a six-month assignment in Hong Kong, his first time overseas, and he’s travelled extensively ever since. Mark says he absorbed some essential beliefs from his parents and from growing up in the close neighbourhood environment about the importance of individuals and relationships. He stressed the significance of what he called his “people-first” approach. “I have always found the right people and I really attribute the success I have had to always being able 16

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to put together a great team. It all comes down to relationships in business and being trustworthy. People rely on you by the agreements you make and the things you say you are going to do. “I would say that along with forming good relationships, luck in timing has been another essential ingredient in everything I have done. In every investment made by my teams we always knew we were on the right track and believed we were making the best decisions, but luck and good timing have definitely played a part as well,” Mark said. A case in point is Mark’s investment career, particularly in the energy industry. As managing director for Southeast Asia and Taiwan for CLP Holdings from 2003-2011, he oversaw a number of initiatives that ultimately led to solid successes. He founded or played a major role in OneEnergy Limited, Green Light Energy Holdings and Edge Electronics. In 2011 he founded Waverly Sky Group, which oversees investments in a diverse range of companies including Asian startups and energy technology firms.


performance, followed by performances from Filipino singers and bands. Chao Phraya Princess serves a luxurious international buffet with Filipino performers entertaining diners. Couples can experience a special romantic candle-lit dinner for two while floating down the sparkling river. The bi-level White Orchid Cruise was specifically designed to be spacious and graceful. The upper floor has a commanding view of the river and shoreline and can accommodate up to 600 passengers. Apsara Cruise took its inspiration from the ancient rice carriers that used to navigate the Chao Phraya. Smaller than most dinner cruise boats with room for 64 passengers, it promises a grand, intimate night on the water, perfect for romance. Launching soon is the newest and most modern addition to the River City Bangkok Shopping Centre and Pier is the Supanniga Cruise, a brand-new 40-seat dinner cruise that will

soon grace the Chao Phraya River on November 1. Offering exciting two cruise trips per day starting with an Evening Champagne Taittinger Cruise from 4.45pm-5.45pm, enjoying the beautiful sunset on Chao Phraya River with refreshing drinks and savouries or enjoy a 2-hour Dinner Champagne Taittinger Cruise with 6-course home-cooked Thai menus and champagne while soaking in the beautiful Bangkok sunset from 6.15pm-8.30pm. For more general and booking information for these luxurious and extravagant cruises departing from River City Bangkok Shopping Centre and Pier, contact Tel.02 237 0077 ext. 0 or visit rivercitybangkok.com

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Insight

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N a hectic world where internet technology and mobile devices have become indispensable components of both private and professional life, more and more business people and entrepreneurs are working on-the-go. However, there are times when a well-equipped and well-staffed headquarters is absolutely essential for performing the basic, not so glamorous, day-to-day tasks required for managing a business. Without a home base running an efficient operation becomes very difficult, amounting to many lost hours. This is where serviced offices come into play. Meticulous Offices offers a low-

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The new era of serviced offices in Bangkok has arrived

cost, efficient office space stocked with dependable office equipment. A number of business services are also provided or arranged by Meticulous Offices. It’s the perfect choice for startups and new-on-the-scene expats alike. Expertly designed and built to be modern, simple yet elegant, Meticulous Offices provides a first-rate office facility ready for business from the word go. Meticulous Offices is a subsidiary of NCL Estates, whose core business is to buy, build or renovate properties and then rent them out. Aware of a trend that is seeing Bangkok take its place alongside Singapore as a major business centre within ASEAN, Meticulous Offices is designed to reach out to international businesses that are interested in setting up regional offices in Bangkok. “We want to create an environment where business people can come to work at ease, not having to worry about the mundane office tasks so they can concentrate on building and growing their businesses,” says Kenny Nawani, CEO of Meticulous Offices. Fully furnished with wooden office desks and accessories, serviced offices range in size from 16 sq m to 21 sq m, with some offices enjoying magnificent panoramic views from an upper floor. All offices are provided with free amenities including wiFi, Internet LAN, air conditioner, photocopy machine and electricity. Offices have a break room and

pantry with a hot/cold water machine, fully stocked with tea and coffee free of charge. Reception and cleaning services are provided on weekdays. The office is accessible 24/7 via key card for those wanting to work in the quiet of the night or on the weekend. Also available upon reservation are spacious conference rooms fully equipped with projectors and cables to connect with laptops. The business services provided or arranged by Meticulous Offices include accounting, messenger, work permit and visa application services. For more information on these services, inquire through the contacts provided below. Meticulous Offices is an important component of NCL’s overall strategy to offer business people of all stripes and nationalities not only modern and competitive office facilities, but also elegant and affordable accommodation, great hospitality and culinary experiences, tourism and entertainment promotions, and more. NCL is already on the scene to open the door for the wave of international companies wishing to set up regional offices in the Bangkok Metropolitan area. Meticulous Offices is conveniently located on Ekkamai Road, only a few minutes away from the BTS Sky Train. For more information, contact 02 668 3219-4, meticulousoffices.com.


Insight

LINGUIST AND SELF-PROCLAIMED GLOBAL COMMUNICATION NODE, STUART JAY RAJ, REVEALS ALL ABOUT HIS FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS, BEST HOLIDAY, AND HIS KNOWLEDGE OF 34 LANGUAGES. FULL NAME: STUART JAY RAJ. NICKNAME: JAY. AGE: 41. BORN: SYDNEY. WORK: REGIONAL BUSINESS FACILITATOR / CONSULTANT FOR BIG COMPANIES, GOVERNMENTS, AND NGO’s. COMPANY: CEO OF KOGNISENS. FAMILY: DAD IS FIJIAN-INDIAN, MOTHER AUSTRALIAN. ALSO HAD AN INDONESIANCHINESE SURROGATE FAMILY. CHILDREN: TWO KIDS IN AUSTRALIA. MARITAL SITUATION: ENGAGED. EDUCATION: DEGREE IN COGNITIVE AND APPLIED LINGUISTICS, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY, AUSTRALIA. HOW LONG IN THAILAND: 21 YEARS. SPECIAL TALENTS: FLUENT IN 16 LANGUAGES, PLUS GOOD COMMAND OF ANOTHER 18 LANGUAGES, JAZZ PIANO, COMPUTER CODING. ANYTHING ELSE: AUTHOR OF CRACKING THAI FUNDAMENTALS. BEST FRIEND: GAM, MY FIANCEE. FAVOURITE RESTAURANT: INDUS FOR INDIAN, CHUAN WEI FANG FOR SICHUAN. BEST HOLIDAY: LI JIANG IN YUNAN PROVINCE, CHINA. MILESTONE: MY SON, 11, AND DAUGHTER, 12. HIGH POINT: WITH GAM, HELPING TO GET UP TO 180 INDONESIAN VICTIMS OF SMUGGLING SYNDICATES RELEASED FROM MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON. SELF-IMAGE: GLOBAL COMMUNICATION NODE. DON’T MENTION: WON’T MENTION. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE: JONAH HILL.

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Profile


Travel

Camping is such a great escape – just don’t worry about the creepy-crawlies Get in touch with nature at a resort not far from Bangkok which provides ‘first’ and ‘business’ class tents in a spectacular setting By David James

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AMPING doesn’t exactly spring to mind when thinking of outdoor activities in Thailand. What with its hot, sticky climate, bugs, mosquitoes and even the possibility of snakes, it’s got a certain downside. And yet, spending a few nights under canvas in the great outdoors is rapidly gaining in popularity, with camp sites popping up all over the country, especially in

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the northern highlands which experience almost European weather from November to January.   But you don’t have to travel hundreds of kilometres to enjoy camping. Just one hour’s drive from Bangkok’s concrete jungle is a campsite located in a spectacular national park, complete with lush forests (particularly in the rainy season), mountains, lakes and waterfalls. There’s the added attraction of one of Thailand’s better zoos.


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elcome to Khao Keow Es-ta-te camping resort. It’s an ideal place for singles and families looking for something different from the usual weekend stay in a hotel and for those wishing to recreate happy childhoods and summers spent in tents.   It has to be said, though, that Es-ta-te is somewhat different and a tad more luxurious than the kind of sites found in Europe, US and Australia. For a start, you don’t pitch your own tent. Instead, the resort features a choice of three semi-permanent tent types.   These range in size from the basic economy class 14 sq m tent, which is very cosy and big enough for two guests; the 35 sq m business class tent comprising two bedrooms connected by a balcony and living area; and the 120 sq m tent – camping’s equivalent of an airline’s first class section with TV, stereo, water heater, luxurious bathtub and toilets.   Having your own toilet is rather handy as every other camper has to head to the communal toilets, which are certainly well-maintained but lack a degree of privacy; curtains are used instead of proper doors to conceal one’s presence in a cubicle! Besides that, a trek to the loo in the middle of the night or during a downpour isn’t everybody’s idea of fun.

  You don’t do your own cooking either. Es-ta-te has its own restaurant serving breakfast and a BBQ dinner. There are plenty of other choices on the menu. Separate function rooms are available for conferences and seminars.   So, in the absence of many of the elements of traditional camping, what’s there for guest to do? Well, Es-ta-te is located within Khao Kheow Open Zoo, home to an impressive number of wild animals, including

members of the big cat family, elephants, rhinos, hippos, bears, zebras, koalas, ant eaters, giraffes and all kinds of monkeys and birds. Most exist in cages, unfortunately, though they are well maintained and reasonably spacious. Occasionally, you do get to see unusual bird species flying overhead and some of the deers roam free – even in the main camping area. Many of the inmates can be observed after-dark during the zoo’s night safari. This is held only when there are sufficient numbers.

Mountain bikers can enjoy a number of cycling routes within Khao Keow. None are especially steep, so it’s an activity for all ages. Apart from the convenience of neighbouring Khao Keow Country Club, golfers-who-camp are within easy distance of other courses at Bang Phra, Laem Chabang and Burapa. But the real joy of camping at Es-ta-te is an escape from the big city and a return to nature. The resort is surrounded by beautiful, unspoiled scenery that changes in character and sounds as night and darkness take over from daylight. So don’t think about those creepy-crawlies – get on with enjoying a fun way of life in this rather special place. www.estateresort.com

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AT least 32 teams – half of them women, including one from Iran – have already signed up for the Bangkok International Rugby Sevens Tournament, now in its 22nd year. The popular annual rugby tournament also features eight local men’s teams and eight from overseas. The action takes place over two days at the Bangkok Patana School on November 12 and 13, 2016. Tournament Director, David Adamson, commented, “This is shaping to be the biggest and best Bangkok Sevens ever, with team numbers up, international referees in place and some great sponsors.” With women’s teams coming from seven different countries – Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore, Japan and Iran - the Bangkok Sevens is now the biggest women’s tournament in Southeast Asia. The men’s international group promises much, with the Thai National team, as well two Australian entries, Sunnybank and the all-Aborigine side Pindarri Dreaming competing for honours. Other top contenders include the New Zealand Legends from Otago and Hartlepool Rovers FC from England, who could spring a few surprises. Making a welcome return to the tournament after a threeyear absence is Olymp Rugby from Kazakhstan. Additional local interest comes from the Bangkok Bangers who have entered both a Colts and a women’s (The Belles)in the competition.

Platinum sponsor of this year’s tournament is Hart Innovations from Hartlepool in northeast England, whose founder, Alby Pattison, attended last year’s tournament and enjoyed it so much he vowed to return and bring a team with him. That team is Hartlepool Rovers FC, an amalgam of the seven clubs that play their rugby in the town of the same name. Tournament organiser David Adamson, a former rugby league player, coach and Sevens tournament organiser from New Zealand, has been involved with Thai rugby for 10 years through his company NZRugby Resources, which has placed coaches in many of the smaller rugby nations. The company also takes Asian players to New Zealand for immersion rugby for 120 days. To boost women’s rugby in the region, the tournament organisers provide accommodation transportation and playercoaches. Notes David: “Women’s rugby globally is growing at a remarkable rate but in Asia the growth curve is even sharper. We want our tournament to be the biggest women’s tournament in Asia – we are the already the biggest women’s sevens tournament in SE Asia. The quality of play improves every year. “The three owners of the Bangkok Sevens have funded the differential between sponsor income and actual costs since inception as we believe in the tournament and sevens rugby in Thailand and Asia. We have proven to return and new sponsors that we can deliver a quality tournament.”

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Dining out

Café Parisien

Celebrating French cuisine’s greatest hits, with a modern twist

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F yOu ClOSe yOur eyeS you can almost believe that the tree-lined boulevard out front is the Champs-Elysée rather than Wireless Road. Living up to its name Café Parisien offers the finest in French décor, ambience, and most importantly, expertly prepared and classically French dishes. Only premium-imported ingredients are chosen for a hearty selection of braised meats and slow-cooked vegetables loaded with rich, wholesome flavours. Drawing from history and yearsold recipes, Café Parisien serves up French cuisine’s most beloved dishes with a modern flair. Quintessentially authentic French comfort food, but dressed up for a royal affair. Signature dishes Having just released a new menu, Café Parisien is celebrating the rich history

of French cuisine in style. And with a new menu comes new must-try dishes, including: Boiled beef with seasonal vegetables (B850++); Chicken Gratin Dauphinois (B950++); Traditional Beef Bourguignon with celeriac puree (B750++); Slow-cooked Veal Blanquette served with potato, leek and pilaf rice (B950++); Bouillabaisse Marseillaise served with garlic bread changes every month. For groups of 6-18 guests, book a private mezzanine room on the upper floor to secure the Chef Table experience; watch as the chef creates a four or five course menu based on your preferences.

and rouille sauce (B890++); and Fricasse of baby chicken with tarragon sauce and pilaf rice (B950++). A set lunch, priced at just B690++ (for soup or salad; entrée and dessert) is available daily, as are two special five-course lunch and dinner menus entitled ‘The Parisien’ and ‘The Conosoisseur’, priced at B1,900++ and B2,500++ respectively. Set lunch menu Café Parisien, Glasshouse@Sindhorn on Wireless Road. 02 650 9993. Facebook.com/cafeparisienbkk

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Atmosphere With the avant-garde steel and glass architectural design of Glasshouse@ Sindhorn, you’ll find that by day Café Parisien is light and airy – a perfect combination for a casual or business lunch – and by night the dimmed lighting gives the restaurant just right for a romantic meal. Opening hours Open daily from 11.30am–2pm and 6pm–10pm. Parking Ample and convenient parking is available at Glasshous@Sindhorn.


Dining out

Rang Mahal

Dining fit for a king at the Rembrandt Hotel’s award-winning Indian restaurant

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rADI TI ON Ally R ang M ahal , meaning the ‘ pal ace of col ours’ , was a pl ace of pl easure and banq ueting for I nd ian kings, where onl y the best of I ndi an cuisines, wines and music were provid ed . E pitomising the grande ur and l avish l ifestyl e of the I ndi an M aharaj as, R ang M ahal at T he R embrand t H otel B angkok stays true to its name in every way.

With chefs flown in from ndia using recipes that are thousands of years ol d, a uthenticity is at the very core of R ang M ahal . D ishes range from across N orth I ndi a and i ncl ude hal aal items, di shes mad e without onion and garl ic, as wel l as choices of home cooked food mad e with l ess oil and masal a. R ang M ahal offers two menus: an a l a carte menu served d ail y d uring d inner hours; and a weekl y S und ay brunch buffet. 54

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T he a l a carte menu incl ud es a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian d ishes, as wel l as three set menus ( ranging from B 9 9 5 + + - B 1,2 9 5 + + ) that al l ow guests to try a variety of ndian flavours. T he S unda y brunch al so offers an extensive and w ide variety of di shes incl udi ng: I ndi an appetizers, continental sal ads , a l ive I ndi an kebab station, a carving station, I ndi an street food, several S outh I ndi an di shes, curries and breads , I ndi an and i nternational de sserts with egg-free options, as wel l as I ndi an dr inks and fresh j uices. P riced a t B 850+ + per person with kids bel ow the age of 6 eating for free and ki ds aged 6-12 c harged a t hal f price. Rang M ahal, T he Rembrandt H ot el B ang kok, 1 9 Sukhumv it Soi 1 8 . 02 261 7 1 00 ex t 7 532. rembrandt bkk.com For ex clusiv e priv at e booking s during lunch hours on w eek day s cont act Rang M ahal at rang mahal@rembrandt bkk.com

Signature dishes R ang M ahal has several signature d ishes that have proved to be perennial favourites with guests, incl ud ing: K athi K ebab; Salt Crusted W hole Sea Bass; Pao Bhaj i; Masala Dosa; Murgh Tikka Masala; rogan J osh K ashmiri; Daal rang Mahal; Gulab J amun; Sweet lassi; Salted lassi; and of course, Masala Chai Tea. Atmosphere From the moment you wal k in you are immersed i n tradi tion. T he l avish dé cor takes you on a j ourney to I ndi a with intricate J harokha, or window s, and c hoice tapestries interspersed al ong the wal l s. T o ad d to its beauty and d ecad ence, the ful l -l ength wind ows offer ex uisite city views from 26 floors up. L ive I nd ian music is pl ayed from 12 pm2 .3 0 pm on S und ays and 7 pm-11pm during dinner hours, filling the restaurant with ebul l ience and high spirit. Parking V al et and pr ivate parking is avail abl e. P arking is free of charge for guests visiting any of the hotel ’ s restaurants or attendi ng any of the events. Dress code N o short pants, sl eevel ess t-shirts, vests, slippers or flip flops allowed dur ing di nner but trousers are kept at reception for guests wearing short pants. C asual dr ess is al l owed dur ing S unda y brunch. Opening hours D inner is served da il y from 6pm11.30pm . T he S unda y brunch buffet is avail abl e from 11am-2.30pm .


Dining out PizzaZo Bistro – 6th September 2016

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E were recommended to visit PizzaZo by a few of our club members who can often be found seeking new venues for Saturday lunch and it proved to be an excellent suggestion. The restaurant is located in a former private house in Sukhumvit Soi 16 with its own parking and a spacious well maintained garden. Owner and our host, “New”

this was Weingut Hoch Grüner Veltliner 'Hollenburger' 2014 (Austria), which Thomas Boedinger had forecast might be a contentious choice. In fact it was possibly the best wine of the lunch, with minerality and spicy hints of ginger. The Veltliner was sipped as the crab was followed by a colourful presentation of Hokkaido Scallop on a bed of pureed rocket flavoured with Balsamic vinegar. Another

Shuashard Vongsawad, took a very active part in overseeing service and nothing seemed too much trouble for him and his team. The proceedings got off to a cracking start with Campari Soda 'on the house' and a new (for us) sparkling wine, Pinon Vouvray Brut, from the heart of Champagne territory. John Handley, wine spokesman, had obviously done his homework. We also found a huge plate of delicious cold cuts accompanied by olives and bread from which to nibble. The menu was extensive (seven courses), the servings generous, and service excellent throughout. First course was a Crab Meat Salad – moist crab meat and the sauce augmented by curry powder. Our food spokesman, Jake Meerman, commended this both for the chunkiness of the crab and the flavour of the dressing.  Accompanying

good matching by Thomas! Next, coming from halfway around the world (Oregon, USA), Evening Lands Willamette Pinot Noir 2013 was paired with a tasty mushroom soup, and again adjudged to be excellent. The Pinot earned praise from John, despite his finding a relative lack of body to the wine. The first of the main dishes was Capellini Aglio E Olio (Angel Hair Pasta) with Grilled Salmon. I spent a little time in the kitchen with the Chef, fire extinguisher at the ready, to watch the salmon being cooked to perfection. Jake, normally averse to eating salmon, was very impressed with the end result (the piquancy of the pasta added an extra dimension to the dish) and so were the rest of us; the Pinot proved to be a surprisingly good match for the salmon. Passion Fruit Sorbet provided a welcome interlude for the Beef Cheek which followed. The beef was excellent as was the

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Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

mash and not to forget the carrot and more than fulfilled the promise of the restaurant’s Facebook entry. With this, Thomas had selected Chianti Classico Riserva Badia a Passignano 2009 DOCG (Italy). John told us that the winery has been in the same family hands for more than 700 years. Wine Spectator had scored this wine 92/100 and suggested “The rich palate, with supple and balanced tannins, is vibrant and fully expressive of Sangiovese’’, and John found it to be an excellent choice to round off an impressive selection of wines made by Thomas Boedinger this month. Crispy Chocolate with Vanilla Ice Cream came next, served in a quirky stemmed glass, but there was nothing quirky about the dish; it was enjoyed by those with a sweet tooth and some remaining appetite (that meant most of us). And to follow, several tasty Italian cheeses (Gorgonzola, Blue, Parmesan and a soft Brie-like cheese) accompanied by olives and honey. Overall, Jake said he was greatly impressed with the meal – deeming it ‘wonderful’. John MacTaggart was planning a celebration of his birthday later in the month, but possibly did not expect the party to start several days early. Johnnie Walker Blue Label appeared from John and this was sipped with the diners’ choice of coffee or tea. And finally the time came to say thank you to New and his team in customary fashion. We very much hope to return as individual diners in the near future and as a Club in the New Year. As usual, all the wines were selected by the Club.  188 Sukhumvit Soi 16. 02 663 8500. pizzazobistro.com.


Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

Celebrating Grey Goose ‘Secret Journeys’ MARKING the success of the 'SECRET JOURNEYS' campaign, Grey Goose Vodka executives Jeremy Briscoe and Kasinsook Maklamthong hosted an exclusive dinner party under the concept “French Dialogue,” transforming the Ballroom at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok into an opulent royal French court reminiscent of King Louis XV circa 1715. A-list celebrities were on hand for festivities that included the unveiling of six reinvented vintage cocktails by Grey Goose mixologists and a 'modern French Rococo' mini fashion set featuring Kusuma Chaodon, a Thai model who made it big in the Big Apple.

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ZEN Unveils New Menu ZEN Japanese restaurant invited celebrity and media guests to join a special event called 'ZEN RECHARGING' at the Japanese restaurant chain’s Siam Centre branch to unveil a brand new menu featuring over 200 new dishes. Guests also participated in the 'Salmon Rice Bowl,' an enjoyable cooking workshop led by Japanese Master Chef Haruaki Matsuoka.

New Modern Tea Experience with Starbucks STARBUCKS Coffee Thailand launched the new Starbucks Teavana Handcrafted Beverages and Full Leaf Tea Sachets as a new and exciting product range in Thailand. A boost to the non-coffee drinking community to enjoy an interesting range of unique, handcrafted hot and iced tea the way only Starbucks can. The innovative collection birthed from an in-depth exploration of culinary trends, premium ingredients and creativity. Starting from Sep 20, the new Starbucks Teavana Handcrafted Beverages will be available at 275 stores nationwide.

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Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

Baristas battle it out TWENTY baristas competed for the prestigious 'Centara Barista Championship 2016 Award' and prize money at Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok. Sangsuk Khamant was the overall winner and recipient of the ‘Best Signature Drink’ award, with Atsadang Muensida the first runner-up, and Siripapha Cherchusakunchai the second runner-up.

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Ladurée Salon de Thé opens in Bangkok HOSTED by Mr David der, resident adur e aris, t e renowned culinary franchise from France e d t e fi ia aun its first adur e Sa n de Thé in Thailand at its new premises at Siam Paragon.

Thailand’s 17th World Gourmet Festival ANANTARA Siam Bangkok hosted an impressive line-up of nine leading international chefs for the annual World Gourmet Festival. Among the chefs were Chef Kanesaka Shinji (from the two Michelin starred S in i anesa a in a es, Sin ap re , Chef Mauro Colagreco (from the two i e in starred ira ur in ent n, ran e , and Chef Anthony Genovese (from the two i e in starred a ia i in e, ta 68

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Feature

Chartered, Soviet-designed Ilyushin IL-76 cargo seized at Don Mueang Airport

Suspects from left: Ilyas Issakov, 56, Alexandr Zrybnev, 53, both from Kazakhstan, Mikhail Petukhou, 54, from Belarus, Viktor Abdukkayev, 58, Vitaliy Shumkov, 54, both also from Kazakhstan

Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The circuitous 24,000km route to the plane’s alleged final destination – Iran – also defied logic. Several diplomats said Iran could easily source the weapons from former Soviet countries rather than deal with the recently sanctioned North Korea.     A few days after the story broke Wayne Madsen, an investigative reporter who specializes in intelligence and security matters, ran a story headlined, “North Korean Arms Transport Plane Part of CIA Sting Operation” on his blog, the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR). According to the story, “WMR’s Asian intelligence sources strongly suspect that an Ilyushin-76 cargo plane seized in Bangkok on December 12 transporting 40 tons of North Korean weapons was a CIA sting operation designed to obtain, using a ‘front’ airline and regular arms smuggling route, the latest North Korean weaponry available for purchase on the black market. “The plane’s onward destinations from Bangkok were reportedly Colombo, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. Our sources believe that the CIA knew the plane was planning to pick up weapons in North Korea and may have even chartered the aircraft and arranged a deal to purchase the North Korean weapons through shadowy front companies to both embarrass the North Koreans and discover what was being sold on the global weapons black market.” The headline of another article written by Simon Montlake and published by The Christian Science Monitor on December 14 asked, “Why did pilots stop for fuel in Thailand?” Under a sub-headline that read, “Suspicions that flight was a set-up,” Montlake wrote, “Observers say it’s unclear why the crew would make multiple refueling stops if they were carrying illicit cargo. Moreover, Thailand has a history of cooperating with the US on high-profile interdictions, making it a risky stopover for a

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plane carrying 35 tons of North Korean weapons.” Paul Quaglia, director of PSA Asia, a security consultancy in Bangkok and a retired CIA official, had this to say, “I think the whole thing was stage-managed from start to finish.” He added that the crew may have been part of the set-up and was likely to have been quietly deported once the fuss died down, which is in fact what happened. “The fact that the flight refueled at a military-run airport in Bangkok, a hub for US intelligence gathering, suggests a degree of complicity in a seizure that will humiliate North Korea’s leadership,” said Mr Quaglia. “It’s a little bit hard to swallow that they just stopped for gas.” Here’s an excerpt from yet another skeptical piece by Daniel Michaels and Margaret Coker, “Arms Seized by Thailand Were Iran-Bound,” published by The Wall Street Journal on December 21, “Arms-trafficking specialists have puzzled over the stop in Bangkok, an airport heavily policed because of the drug trade.”   The article quoted Peter Danssaert, an arms-trade researcher at International Peace Information Service (IPIS) based in Belgium, as saying, “This is not an unusual flight plan for general cargo, but if it’s for an arms flight, it doesn’t make any sense.”   IPIS and TransArms, a US-based group that calls itself a research centre for the logistics of arms transfers, raised more questions in a December 2010 report titled  “From Deceit to Discovery: The Strange Flight of 4L-AWA” and a later one in October 2013 called: “Ambushed in Bangkok?  The UN Panel on North Korea and the case of the IL-76 ‘4L-AWA’.”  

Conflicting dates

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  uring the course of the investigation it came to light that the plane carrying the arms arrived on Friday, December 11, a day earlier than originally reported by Thai authorities. Witnesses said the five-man crew spent a night at a hotel near the airport and were accompanied by what appeared to be Thai security staff.   But according to a senior police officer speaking on condition of anonymity, his department was informed by “the Americans” on December 9 that an IL-76 would arrive at Don Mueang the next day to refuel. The plane did land on Thursday, December 10 and undercover police posing as airport staff searched the plane and found nothing. The plane then refueled and departed, apparently for Pyongyang.   “At this stage, no other Thai security or law enforcement agency had been told about the operation,” said the officer. “This information was known only to some of the most trusted people.” He added that the plane was tracked on radar in Thai air space to verify its movements. The officer also said the IL-76 carrying the arms touched down at Don Mueang at midday on Friday, December 11. “It was boarded by the police, customs, immigration and air force personnel,” he said. “The crew of five men, four Kazakhs and a Belarusian, left the airport with officers and checked in at Ebina House, a three-star hotel located near the airport,” he said. If the officer is correct it implies that two different IL-76 airplanes landed at Don Mueang on two consecutive days and were searched for arms, or that the first plane for some reason returned to Bangkok to refuel and had taken on a cargo of arms in the meantime.


Expat Women

Therese Beauvais and her team back to put more smiles on Fight Night By Ruth Gerson

This month sees ‘Fight Night!’ back in action. It’s an immensely popular annual charity event involving the local expat community as well as major Thai and foreign sponsors with the aim of raising funds for Operation Smile. The lady behind this wonderful initiative is Therese Beauvais who, together with her husband Kevin and a team of loyal assistants, have contributed millions of baht to an exceptional cause

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ROM one service industry to another and then from a successful business concern to a charity may sound like an unlikely path, but this is the course USborn Therese Beauvais’s life has taken in Thailand. Therese arrived here in 1997 with hotelier husband, fellow American Kevin, who had a successful career with the Marriott group, where in fact they both worked and met. This same company later sent Kevin overseas to eventually run the five-star JW Marriott Hotel in Bangkok. After six years as the country manager with Marriott, Kevin joined the Minor Group in 2003 where he ran the hospitality division for two years. It seemed like the natural progression that

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several properties in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam under both GLOW and soon to launch MAI HOUSE brands. In the years prior to establishing their business, Therese worked for the Marriott group sourcing artefacts for the various Marriott hotels’ boutiques and gift shops in the region. This enabled her to travel all over the country and get to know it better. It was through the Marriott that Therese found out about and in time got deeply involved with the organisation that has been helping thousands of children Operation Smile! The unique vision of Operation Smile! is that “every child suffering from cleft lip or cleft palate deserves exceptional surgical care.” And that is what they do; they provide this life-transforming surgery. A cleft is a gap in either the lip Kevin would strike out on his own, which he eventually did, but not before taking time off to think and play, travel and spend time with family, while planning his next move. Upon his return to Thailand in 2007, Kevin opened his own company with Therese at his side, naming it InVision Hospitality. They created their own hotel brand called GLOW Hotels and Resorts. It seemed like a perfect time to start a business, but who was to know that the following year the world would suffer one the most severe economic setbacks in modern times. “Fear cripples you during an unsure economy,” says Therese, but apparently the Beauvais’ did not give into fear and stood their ground to emerge stronger than ever. Today they manage


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School Report

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ake sure you regularly update your CV! Another way to gain work experience (and have fun!) is to take a job during the long summer holidays from July to September. Any work experience is useful because potential future employers are looking for well-rounded, open-minded and wellbalanced people, so if you have worked successfully as a waiter in a busy hotel or restaurant it means you likely have good interpersonal skills, are willing to work hard, have a good sense of humour, and are able to be part of a team. Some UK degrees offer the chance of a year studying at a university in another country, maybe in Europe or the USA. So, if you are doing a degree in international studies, you might have the chance to study in, for example, in Paris for a year, a truly international experience. The UK is also well-placed for students to explore the varied cultures and history of Europe. In contrast, the USA, Canada and Australia are relatively isolated and thus have less diversity in travel options. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the UK offers a far longer historical background for students to explore, something which I hope will make students become keener to encourage the preservation of old buildings and traditional environments in Thailand.

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EU funding has meant that some European universities have been able to provide full (or very significant) funding, an understandable attraction. But a major problem with this can be that, whilst English is the studying language, communication and adapting to living outside the study environment can be quite stressful. Aside from studying, UK universities offer wonderful chances for you to develop outside interests. All universities have active student unions, but there are also clubs and societies to join (and if there is nothing that interests you, then start your own club!!). Trips, visits, holidays, etc., are regularly organised, so you may have the chance to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa or just go to see a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre! The Thai Society at the University of Warwick is famous for its ‘Thai Night’ which gives everyone a chance to experience some Thai food, music, dancing and even a ‘ladyboy’ show! The UK has received criticism from some quarters for making study visa applications more difficult in recent years. Very few Thai students have visa applications refused, and most

refusals are due to not having provided the correct financial information (and when this has been provided, they have received their visa). The UK wants genuine international students, but it does not want people who are using a student visa as a means of entering the UK with no intention to study. Quite simply, if you are a genuine student then you will be most welcome. For actually doing the visa application and getting visa advice, then it helps to talk to people who are experts in dealing with these things, which is where Consortium UK and I can help. In the UK, university tuition (study) fees are higher for international students than for Home/EU students. Accommodation fees are the same for all students. When applying for a student visa, a student starting a three (or four/ five) year bachelor’s degree will need to provide evidence of funding to cover first-year tuition fees and nine months’ maintenance (living) expenses (currently 1,015 pounds per month). For example, if tuition fee is 18,000 pounds, you need to provide bank account details that show funds of a minimum of 27,135 pounds (18,000 + 9,135).


School Report Being happy while you are studying is very important. Everyone is likely to be homesick from time to time (but you may also be 'sick of home', as one student once said to me!), but that is normal; there are highs and lows in most things. However (and this is really important), if you ever have a problem then ASK FOR HELP. Someone will be there for you if you need it and all universities have these people available; just ask...

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xford and Cambridge are among the best universities in the world and are arguably the most famous. They get the absolute cream of the top students, and obviously if you think you have a chance to study at either then get your UCAS application in before 15th October! However, just being at such a prestigious university does not guarantee success or enjoyment. You are going to be among the elite of university academia and that may or may not be comfortable for you. Also, do remember that some of the famous lecturers and other academics may not always be available. The UK is fortunate to have a state/ government checked university system that ensures very good quality, even at universities that do not have the prestige of Oxford and Cambridge. There is a very high-quality range of other universities that do not quite match the prestige and rankings of Oxford and Cambridge but are almost as good (maybe better in some areas), such as Warwick, Imperial,

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LSE, Durham, St Andrews, Bath, etc. University rankings can be confusing and misleading and it may be that a lower-ranked university is more suitable for you. Oxford and Cambridge tend to be more ‘traditional’ in the sense of the classic arts and sciences, whereas some other universities may have more specialist and diverse subject areas. One of the best ways to choose suitable universities is to visit them. What

looks wonderful on the website or in the prospectus but it may not be suitable for you. In that case, you do not want to apply, get accepted and then be unhappy when you see it for the first time when you arrive. All universities have open days, but if you cannot go on those days then contact the university (or ask me) to arrange a personal visit. So, I would recommend a combined holiday to the UK with a quick tour of some universities that interest you. One of the things that I've enjoy from assisting so many Thai students over the years is seeing them return from the UK and use what they have gained to further their own careers and businesses here. Education in the UK has typically given them the chance to be more creative individually, develop their own ideas and this reflects on Thai society in general. The UK is recognised and respected as the founder of so many things You decide! The person who makes the final decision on what and where to study should be the student, NOT the parents.

UK education and its links with Thailand – a general overview: Thailand and the UK are linked in many ways. Both have long and interesting histories with royal families leading the way. Other native English speaking countries just do not have the same historical links that Thailand has with the UK, and a student from Thailand, just like those first sent there by King Chulalongkorn, will gain from the many fine institutions that make up the UK education system. The UK education system is a combination of the best traditions and modern life. Some UK universities and schools are among the oldest in the world; others are some of the newest and most forward-thinking – there is no better example of this than the University of Warwick, which has achieved so much in just 50 years. UK educational institutions provide globally recognised qualifications of the highest academic and practical standards. Many international businesses and professional organisations, whose head offices are often outside Britain, have direct links with UK universities because of their continued excellence. There is no better example of a successful Thai person who has benefitted from a UK education than twice-Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, who studied at Dulwich College and the University of Oxford. Justin Moseley, MD, Consortium UK. Agent of the Year 2013/14 – University of Bath School of Management www.consortiumuk.net Justin is a UK national born in Stratfordupon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare (which is very near Warwick), and he has lived and worked in Thailand in the education sector since 1992. He has been responsible for representing UK universities in Thailand since 2002. He is an active member of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand www.bccthai.com, and regularly visits the universities in the UK and contributes to university conferences and has excellent contacts with academic and administration staff. He is constantly trying to influence ways to make the student visa application process easier. He can be contacted via the Consortium UK website and office at justin@consortiumuk.net


School Report

Shrewsbury’s congratulates its shining stars

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HREWSBURY International School wants to say ‘‘well done’’ to all students, teachers and parents who contributed to the outstanding 2016 public examination results.  With an incredible 45% of IGCSE students achieving the top A* grade, it’s another year of recordbreaking public examination results. In fact, this percentage is seven times

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higher than the general UK average, which saw an overall decline in top grades this year.  At A level, 35% of students achieved A* grades, four times the UK average. Shrewsbury even comes out on top of many of the bestperforming independent schools in the UK. This strong showing helps to underline the school’s reputation as a regional and global leader in academic

excellence. These results mean that the 2016 graduating class of Shrewsbury International School will be making their way at top universities all around the world. The 18 IGCSE students who achieved 10 or more A* grades include Primil Horsin, Hosana Tagomori, star athlete Jenjira Thien and drama scholar Yasmin Nguyen, with 11 A* grades, as well as Chavanil Chanpakorn with 12 A* grades. Moreover, seven graduates will receive honorary scholarships from top international universities including Yale and Cambridge. The receipients include Pichan Tangtrakulwong, Soe Htet Khaing, Puriwat Sophonariyanan, Panchalay Chalermkraivuth, Devesh Agrawal, Chayanis Techalertumpai and Voranaree Kijkool.    Mr Stephen Holroyd, Principal of Shrewsbury International School said, “I was thrilled when the Shrewsbury exam results came out – but not surprised.  As enrollment grows, the improving results would seem to buck the trend - but the culture of care taken with each individual student facing these lifechanging examinations is the secret to their success.  Such a high percentage of A* grades is a phenomenal achievement and one that creates extraordinary opportunities for our graduates.  Likewise, the very strong showing from our continuing students as they enter Shrewsbury Sixth Form provides them with a very secure educational platform.’’


School Report

A-levels, a breadth of education, and beyond By Jon Wingfield, Deputy Head of Senior School, Brighton College Bangkok

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ARENTS certainly want their children to have a love of learning and to be inspired and motivated by their teachers, yet we all know that in today’s educational arena schools are judged by their results, especially when it comes to A-levels. At Brighton, we aim for inspiration and concrete results by prioritising wellbeing over intensive academic drilling and placing faith in the exceptional quality of our teachers. Brighton College Bangkok is secure in the knowledge that it has a tried-andtested formula for excellence, and the proof is in the League Table-topping results achieved by happy, well-rounded and widely-skilled young adults. The 39 offers extended to our students from Oxford and Cambridge may steal the headlines; they also vindicate, in our opinion, the decision to choose A-levels over IB. A-levels draw criticism from some quarters that they force pupils to over-specialise too soon and make decisions about their futures before they are ready. However, evidence suggests that this criticism is unfounded. Brighton College believes academic

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success should never come at the expense of a breadth of education. In the Brighton College family of schools – which includes Brighton College UK and the two Brighton Colleges in Abu Dhabi - pupils follow the same innovative curriculum, culminating in the sitting of A-level examinations. They all achieve similarly superb results, but the pupils’ post-Brighton College destinations are as diverse as the individual students themselves. There are good reasons why studying A-levels can open such diverse doors. They are academically

challenging, and, as such, have almost universal credibility. Just as important, if not more so, the curriculum is based on the development of key transferable skills. Pupils are recognised for their ability to think critically and to problemsolve, for using, rather than only gathering, knowledge. Universities, and ultimately, employers will tell you that their challenge is not to find school leavers who know everything already but to find those who are intellectually curious, versatile and adaptable to differing situations. At Brighton, we start honing these thinking skills in pupils as young as nine. Moreover, we believe a high-quality curriculum should be balanced with a strong pastoral system and an enriching array of cocurricular opportunities. This will help to create people, not robots, who are not merely well qualified, but internationallyminded, curious, ambitious, kind, and, above all, happy!


Insight

How foreign companies can benefit from Thailand’s industrial alliance By Maxmilian Wechsler

With 10,000 members, Federation of Thai Industries has much to offer businesses facing all kinds of challenges

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OING business in Thailand can be extremely confusing for foreign companies, so it’s always good to come across an organization like the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) which can help overcome many of the challenges.   Originally set up in 1967 under a different name, FTI now has some 10,000 members, both Thai and foreign, operating in the industrial sector who can benefit from a long list of benefits and services. These range from the issuing of GV1 barcodes to assistance with customs and compliance with government regulations.   FTI can also issue the APEC Business Travel Card, which allows Thai people to travel to Australia and New Zealand without first obtaining a visa.   Chairman of FTI is Chen Namchaisiri, whose is also a member of the National Reform Council and holds high-level executive posts in a number of private companies and government institutions and committees.   Speaking at his office at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on New Ratchadapisek Road in central Bangkok,  Mr Chen explained that the FTI is a non-profit private sector administrative juristic entity set up to serve as a representative for all businesses operating in the industrial sector in Thailand. Its main duties are promoting and supporting industry in a sustainable manner.   Thailand first began to see significant industrial development in the late 1950s, and by the mid-sixties traditional private enterprises like textiles were increasingly industrialized. By 1967 there was an obvious need for an industry-oriented

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Chen Namchaisiri, Chairman Federation of Thai Industries

organization and in November of that year 27 prominent industrialists founded the Association of Thai Industries.   The organization played a key role in stimulating industrial development in the Kingdom and gained a high level of respect in both government and private sectors. Its name was changed in December 1987 when Parliament passed the Federation of Thai Industries Act, backed by Royal Decree, and the FTI came under the aegis of the Ministry of Industry.   “However, the FTI is a private organization,” said Mr Chen. “We are totally independent. We advise the government through a number of channels, one being the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking. We have about 250 employees in our office in Bangkok and many more across the country. We have altogether

11 institutes under the FTI. They have offices in this building and also outside. Next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of our organization and we are organizing a number of activities for this.   “Any foreign company, small or big, can join provided it is in the industrial sector. We have, for example, many Japanese companies as members. The primary requirement to join the FTI is that the company must be certified as an industrial concern by the Ministry of Industry and have a permit from the ministry to operate. The permit application is separate from the certification or registration process. The cost of joining the FTI is not high. The annual fee depends on the size of the business; the highest fee is about 20,000 baht and the lowest is 600 baht for those who are not connected to an industrial factory or trade association.   “Once in, members are entitled to a wide variety of benefits and services. For example, we can issue a certificate of origin for their products when they export, or provide a GS1 barcode for their products. GS1 is the global system designed to provide a common language for retailers, manufacturers and suppliers all over the world to share information about their products. FTI membership allows companies to apply for permits to use the national barcode system and be recognized worldwide. This is done through our GS1 Institute.      “The FTI also encompasses other divisions like the Institute for Industrial Energy, which has many programs to help members reduce energy consumption and the Water Institute to help manage water usage. The Industrial Environment Institute helps companies deal with environmental


issues and provides assistance with recycling resources. The Institute for Agricultural Industry promotes the upgrading of agricultural practices and better connections between agricultural products and industrial concerns that deal in this area. All these institutes work for the benefit of our members.       “We also help members with customs and revenue issues and other matters. We can assist company representatives obtain Gold Card membership status and the APEC Business Travel Card. We are one of three private organizations who can issue the travel cards to our members. Cardholders don’t have to apply for a visa when they travel for business purposes to one of the more than 20 countries in which the card is valid, including Australia and New Zealand. This is very convenient for Thai people, who otherwise need a visa to travel to these two countries.    “The FTI has a chapter in all Thai provinces except two. One of these is Mae Hong Son, which doesn’t have much industry and is looked after by our Chiang Mai chapter. The other is Bueng Kan, the 76th province established in 2011. We are working with the provincial governor to set up an FTI chapter there.       “We have regular meetings with foreign chambers of commerce, Japanese, American and European nations. We have also a number of business councils set up to deal with business concerns of companies from various countries in ASEAN, Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea and other countries. 

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s I have explained, it’s very easy for foreign companies to qualify for membership in the FTI, and I strongly urge all company representatives who are interested in doing so to come to our office at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center,” said Mr Chen, who can speak Mandarin, some Cantonese and English.   “The FTI has 45 different clubs for various industrial sectors. For example, we have a club for manufacturers of air conditioners, automotive spare parts, furniture, textiles and garments as well as for those in the chemicals, petro-chemicals and power generation sectors. Moreover, we have clubs for medical devices, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and so on.   “We have staff dedicated to assisting each of the clubs and they are able to

deal with matters that concern industries in any of the 45 categories,” Mr Chen said, who gave the example of a company in the furniture industry that wants to sell its products to IKEA. To do this they need a certificate stating that the raw materials or natural resources they are using - in this case the wood - has been obtained legally and in accordance with good environmental practices.   ‘‘Sometimes it is not so easy for a company to get this sort of certification. So they submit a request for us to take the matter up with the government organization that deals with the raw material or natural resource, in this case the Royal Forestry Department.   “Or take companies that manufacture electrical appliances. They need proof that their products meet industrial standards,

so they submit a request to us to discuss the issue with the Department of Standards at the Ministry of Industry. We then lay out a strategy to get the required certification. Each of the 45 categories has its own set of issues and problems.   “Sometimes there are problems between companies in different industrial clubs. For example: between a company that produces pulp and paper and one in the printing sector. The pulp and paper group might want to impose antidumping measures because there’s a lot of cheap paper coming from overseas, but the printer opposes the dumping duty because it raises costs.     “There are lots of problems concerning the tax structure. If the government wants to reduce import taxes on a raw material, companies in Thailand that manufacture the raw material will oppose it by saying they need protection and can’t compete in the international market. These problems happen all the time.

  “Of course, I don’t deal with every problem personally.  Every case goes before the Executive Committee. It is usually up to the secretary-general to decide how to proceed. I have close to 40 vice-chairmen working under me, and they all have deputies.   

Regulator y Guillotine

  “Most of the problems our members ask us to help them with deal with government regulations. They are so many regulations, and because new products and new businesses spring up every day they may not be covered by existing regulations. Our members come to us and ask for advice on how to comply with regulations and sometimes ask for help in obtaining a relaxation of the rules. We are not lawyers, but we have channels to negotiate with the government.   “We have a committee we call the Regulatory Guillotine whose purpose is to try to cut out unnecessary and outdated laws and regulations. Some regulations are based on a way of doing things that has become primitive, like regulations requiring the use of fax. I would say that fax machines are going to be considered obsolete very soon, like the telex. Old regulations are an obstacle to the development of the country. We consider it a part of our duties to take a role in updating regulations and laws.   “The business environment is changing very quickly, and this is especially true of the industrial sector. In addition to compliance with the myriad regulations, there are so many other things that corporate executives must follow in order to be competitive. We make it much easier for our members stay informed, and the organization also provides a platform for meeting and discussing issues with colleagues.    “We publish a monthly newsletter in English and Thai called Industrial Focus. It contains interesting features and in-depth information, as well as the latest news on the economic situation and FTI activities. We also send out and continuously update an FTI e-Newsletter by Online media. Therefore I think it is a wise move for any industrial concern in Thailand, whether Thai or foreign, to join the FTI,” concluded Mr Chen, who has been awarded several royal decorations, including Member (Fifth Class) of the Most Excellent Order of the White Elephant and Companion (Fourth Class) of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn.

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HARD ROCK CELEBRATES FREDDIE’S 70TH BIRTHDAY

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NOW in its sixth year, Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok celebrated ‘Freddie For A Day’ on September 5. The fundraising initiative of the Mercury Phoenix Trust encourages friends and fans around the world to spend the day dressed as Freddie Mercury on what would have been the legend’s birthday. A percentage of the profit from food, beverage and the moustache sales was donated to Mercury Phoenix Trust to fight against AIDS and HIV.

‘AMWET POOL PARTY AT AMBAR

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AMBAR hosted its amWET Pool Party series in partenership with the Full Metal Dojo team last month. Guest were treated to an open bar from 2pm-3pm with B150 beers all night long. DJ Groove, Tall Shasha and Tek Harrington took care of entertainment all night long.

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Social|Last Month’s Best Events

IBIS’ EIGHTH ANNIVERSARY BASH

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T stars came out for ibis ote Thai and s th anniversary ce ebration, presided by oussef homri, xecutive enera Manager of Mercure and ibis ra an ote s Thai and mong the shining ce ebrities in attendance ere Poo Priya uando mai, arospan vasti a yudhya, atchaya rairue , upinda angsub ana and Pha inee eenutaphong

50TH ANNIVERSARY AT B&B ITALIA

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CELEBRATING its 50th anniversary, eafy o , td , the officia importer and distributor of B&B ta ia products in Thai and Managing irector, Mr upatat ipintsoi and enera Manager, adipo hutra u hosted an extravagant event here top ce ebrities inc uding M Trinuch irivadhanabha di, ha ermchai Mahagitsiri, en Techaubo , i a i a, Pra asit apasanun Phornprapha, Tira an Pangsrivongse, r isapho hansiri, anice atta u , M irian Thienthong, hanavat ahatanasa u , a itri ochanapru , ano ros ongsadadt uvansarang a in attendance


BIG BAD BBQ BASH AT THE AUSTRALIAN PUB

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ustra ian Pub, u humvit oi , ce ebrated its th anniversary ith the uests en oyed p enty of de icious , free o drin s and ive music by The eventh ense

NIGHT OF DINNER AND BLUES

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b ues fans cro ded the rand Pavi ion s a ub at entara atergate Pavi ion ote ang o on aturday ep for a high y anticipated and ong a aited a b ues night ith Ped s and in concert, n the mood for a

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‘PARADOXES’ REDEFINES URBAN ART

the ta ented rench artist, ostar, a ery ofite ango u humvit p ayed host to the aunch of ostar s ne and inspiring art exhibition, Paradoxes is or gives urban art a ne definition ith dynamic imageries and thought provo ing phrases isit a ery to vie the intriguing exhibition from no unti ec

DOUBLE TREE HILTON SUKHUMVIT TURNS THREE

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T and management of i ton u humvit ang o oub eTree by i ton u humvit gathered at ong rueang, the hote s canteen, to ce ebrate three years of gro ing success specia menu as unvei ed for the event a ong ith fun games, great pri es and a fabu ous birthday ca e

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Social|Last Month’s Best Events

SABADO LATIN PARTY AT REMBRANDT HOTEL BANGKOK

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REMBRANDT Hotel Bangkok hosted a ‘Sabado Latine Party’ at its famous Mexicano restaurant on Saturday Sep 24. Entertaining the crowd with great salsa music were DJ Luis and the Maria Café band. The guests also enjoyed a one-hour salsa dancing lesson.

LIVE-PAINTING SHOWS AT SHANGRI-LA HOTEL

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THE fascinating and energetic live-painting performance, “The Revitalisation of Romanticism” by Las Vegas performer Brad Wilkinson, offered guests with a one-of-a-kind dynamic live-painting of different Thai beauty queen or celebrity each evening during Sep 11-25 at the Shangri-La Hotel.

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Around town

‘RIMOWA X ART’ AT SIAM DISCOVERY L’ORÉAL THAILAND PRESENTS AWARDS TO FEMALE RESEARCHERS T support from the Thai ationa ommission for , r a Thai and a arded three outstanding Thai fema e researchers ith or omen in cience acco ades r a or omen in cience fe o ship programme as estab ished in and to date the programme has offered fe o ships to more than , fema e scientists and researchers from countries or d ide The r a or omen in cience fe o ship programme as set up in Thai and in and offers grants across three categories ife cience, Materia s cience, and hemistry

SHOW DC SOON TO OPEN THE MALL OF KOREA T T by Ma f orea M is set to open in haturathit ama by ovember The M is considered the argest To n outside of orea offering a ide variety of trendy ashion, ood and ifesty e on , s m space

nternationa , importer and distributor of fine imo a uggage in Thai and, organised a uni ue art exhibition to announce the grand opening of imo a s ne branch at iam iscovery The exhibition featured or s by acc aimed Thai i ustrator Pasinee ongdecha u , and in a ive art event used severa imo a designs as her canvas to create or s inspired by her o n trave experiences The fruits of this uni ue artistic co aboration are on disp ay and avai ab e for purchase at imo a s ne iam iscovery store

THAI JINTAN LAUNCHES B100M PRODUCT CAMPAIGN

T intan he d a specia event as part of an extensive promotion campaign for t o ne innovative products from apan, ude i uid Toothpaste and ude apsu e ugar ree reath Mints The event as attended by a number of top ce ebrities and business eaders TheBigChilli 121


Around town Social|Last Month’s Best Events

KANCHANABURI TRIATHLON CHALLENGE of anchanaburi province, a omboonto, and the xecutive epresenting T gency o , td , u rita ram announced the upcoming Triath on ha enge anchanaburi hich attracts over , oca and internationa triath etes The company a so hosted the ha enge anchanaburi ifesty e ports xpo at entra or d hich brought together various distributors of triath on brand name products as e as triath on experts to provide va uab e tips and tric s on training and other essentia no edge on the competition The cha enge is schedu ed for ct in anchanaburi and offers pri es tota ing to mi ion

DTAC PARTY FOR BLUE MEMBERS

GAMBOL LAUNCHES BOLD CAMPAIGN FOR PARALYMPIANS

T foot ear brand ambo he d a festive gathering to ic off its o d as ne campaign in support of Thai and s Para ympians T hosted a star studded imp y eyond party at The event coincided ith the Para ympic ames in io de aneiroove entra or d to announce the unvei ing of ro, ra i , here Thai ath etes made a strong sho ing To raise ne ifesty e privi eges ue Member customers Prive- a areness and funds for Thai and s Para ympians and their efforts, iges inc ude great dining dea s at top roove restauambo has set up a aceboo page through hich imited edirants as e as specia entertainment and shopping tion T shirts designed by graphic designer and artist u it uanpromotions mong the ce ebrities in attendance ere ha ate can be purchased or more information visit Peeranee ongthai, attavut Trivisvavet, acha ungfaceboo com bo dasone an u and iti a ang atthanaphaibun 122

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DIPLOMATS Meet the people uniting nations

H.E. Saida Muna Tasneem The Ambassador of the People's Republic of Bangladesh talks about her work and life in Thailand

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Diplomat: Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem,  Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Linking two nations with remarkable similarities

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Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER

ER Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the Kingdom of Thailand, says a big part of her mission here is to revive ancient linkages and cultural fraternity between the two nations.   In a recent interview with The BigChilli at the embassy on Ekkamai Road Soi 30, she pointed out that while Bangladesh is proud to be a majority Muslim country, the territory it occupies was part of the cradle of an ancient Buddhist civilization, and Sanskrit and Pali form the basis for both national languages. “This is what I am focusing on; I am trying to stimulate greater cultural and economic connectivity,” said Ambassador Tasneem.   “It has almost been forgotten that Bangladesh fought a war of liberation to become a secular people’s republic. I want to showcase that Bangladesh is a secular country and is tolerant of all religions. Do not define us narrowly just as a ‘Muslim country’ ignoring at the same time that this is the only nation that shed blood for language, democracy, human rights and a secular state in 1971.   “We are proud to be a Muslim majority country, but we are first a people’s republic where democratic practices, secularism, tolerance and progressive values and aspirations are all very important. The younger generation especially wants to see a progressive Bangladesh take its place in the international community. About 65 percent of young Bangladeshis speak English, and like everywhere else, they are connected to the world through the internet,” Ms Tasneem said.   “I am very pleased that nearly seven hundred people came to Bangladesh’s 45th anniversary Independence and National Day reception held in Bangkok on March 28. There were many distinguished Thais and foreigners in attendance.”  

Born to ser ve

  Ms Tasneem was born into a family with a tradition of civil servants in Dhaka when Bangladesh was still East Pakistan. “My grandad was a senior civil servant of erstwhile East Pakistan and my father was Permanent Secretary of the Government of Bangladesh. Growing up in a humble civil

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service background, I spent some years outside what is now Bangladesh.   “In 1971, Bangladesh declared independence under Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whom we are proud to call the ‘Father of the Nation.’ Immediately my father who was serving in the central government in West Pakistan, declared his allegiance to an independent Bangladesh and was punished for it but managed to escape persecution to return to independent Bangladesh Government.   “Later, in 1975 we moved to Lebanon, where my father completed his Masters and started his PhD degree at the American University of Beirut. I enjoyed attending a British Primary school on the university campus. We returned to Dhaka in 1979, when Beirut city was no longer safe for foreigners.   “I graduated high school in Dhaka from a wonderful missionary college called Holy Cross School and College. Our teachers were mostly American Christian missionaries. It was very progressive as far as its curricula are concerned, but discipline was very strict and that molded my character to a great extent. Later, I graduated in Chemical Engineering from the prestigious Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in Dhaka.   “At that time I didn’t have any intention of becoming a civil servant, but pursued a career as an industrial planning engineer at the Bangladesh Chemical Industry Corporation in 1990. It was my father who inspired me to take the civil service exam and also guided me to join the Foreign Service given my merit position. So that’s what I did in 1993.” Since then it has been a great experience representing my country in foreign countries, including in England (London) and in the US (New York).  

A warm welcome in Thailand  

Described as a workaholic by a colleague in the Bangkok diplomatic corps, Ambassador Tasneem is also ambassador to Cambodia and Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the UN ESCAP. Before taking up her current post on December 2, 2014 she held high-level positions representing her country in United Nations forums in Europe and New York. When the opportunity arose to head her country’s diplomatic mission to Thailand she gladly seized the opportunity giving up on European choices.   “I had visited Thailand often over the years and very much wanted to come here as ambassador. I had the option of serving in Europe again, but I preferred to be close to


home, and in a tropical country. I didn’t want to go back to a cold part of the Indian civilization and are ethnically identical to climate. Moreover, I wanted a multilateral station that I found in the Indian state of West Bengal, with its capital in Kolkata. ESCAP. It was an excellent choice. I am very happy here.  We speak the same language.   “It has now been 18 months since I took up my post, and I can   “Actually we have more in common with Thailand, at say that to visit here and to work here are totally different. When least culturally, than with Pakistan in terms of language, new I came I didn’t have any idea about certain things, especially the year and food. The majority in both countries were Muslims cultural similarities between our two countries. I learned that the but Bangladesh had more non-Muslims. What’s more, after Thai and Bengali languages are both based on Sanskrit and Pali. becoming a part of Pakistan we were culturally, economically Actually Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirinthorn has and socially oppressed. We felt like second-class citizens. always taken keen interest in Sanskrit. She studied the language at   “Under the charismatic leadership of Bangabandhu Chulalongkorn University and she still studies. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh declared   “It is amazing how around 70 percent of Thai words originated independence on 26 March 1971, and for nine months the from Sanskrit, which is the vernacular of Bengali language. For common people of Bangladesh fought a war of liberation example, the name of the airport, ‘Suvarnabhumi,’ is 200 percent against the occupation forces of Pakistan until we liberated Bengali. ‘Suvarna’ means ‘gold’ or ‘golden’ and ‘bhumi’ means our nation on 16 December 1971. ‘land’ so together it is the ‘golden land’. That doesn’t mean it’s   “When Bangladesh was born, we were deeply motivated been easy for me to pick up Thai, however, as Thai pronunciation by Bengali nationalism and secular values, both being of the same Sanskrit word is colloquially intonated. repressed during 1947-1971. We didn’t want to be an Islamic   “I also realized that April 13/14, which marks the New republic; we wanted to be a secular people’s republic. We Year in Thailand, is the same for Bengali New Year. There are didn’t want a military autocracy; we wanted democracy. similarities in national dress as well. Our The four pillars of our constitution are: women traditionally wear the sari, which Democracy, secularism, nationalism and I am wearing now. Thai women may have social equality. It’s unfortunate for our worn it in ancient times but which is now a nation that in 1975 Father of the Nation, Around 70 percent of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, modified and shorter version of a sari. But Thai words originated was brutally assassinated and the maybe the biggest cultural tie we have is the Buddhist religion. country underwent challenging times, from Sanskrit, which   “Ancient Bangladesh was the first including military rules until democracy is the vernacular of Buddhist nation state in 3rd century BC restored in the 1990s. ” Bengali language. The was and Bengali Buddhists may have migrated   “Even though the annual per capita name of the airport, towards Thailand bringing along all these income of our nation of 160 million common cultures. The embassy organized Suvarnabhumi, is people today is around US$1,300, we are a prayer chanting by about 500 Buddhist the 44th largest economy of the world Bengali – ‘Suvarna’ Bhikkus from Bangladesh who are terms of GDP. With a phenomenal means gold or golden, in studying in Thailand, on 9 December 2015 sustained 6.5% GDP growth over the and ‘bhumi’ means for His Majesty King Bhumibol’s health last decade (which in this year is land – so together it on the occasion of his 88th birthday. They projected at 7.1), Bangladesh is making did so under the leadership of chief monks is the ‘golden land’. transformative progress in growth from both our countries. and development. In 2015 the World   “This program was widely publicized Bank declared Bangladesh a lower on Thai national TV reminding the two nations of our common middle income country. The country is led by visionary Buddhist heritage. I am working with Mahachula and Mahmankut Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, bracketed in Forbes top 12 universities to increase more academic exchanges with Buddhist influential women in 2015, and every citizen is reaping the studies in Bangladesh and seats for Bangladesh Buddhist Bhikkus benefit of her ‘Vision 2021’ to transform Bangladesh into a to enhance Buddhist connectivity,” Ms Tasneem said. middle income country on our 50th anniversary. It can be   challenging to achieve a higher status of development when he also pointed out that the similarities between you have a population of 160 million. Thailand and Bangladesh can largely be explained by   “But Bangladeshi people are extremely hard-working. shared Asian values. “Thais are very courteous. They Almost 10 million Bangladeshis are working abroad with honour their parents and have strong family values. excellent reputations, mostly in the Arabian Gulf countries This certainly applies to the people of Bangladesh and in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Japan and South Korea. also. Thailand has always been a proud nation and so They are mostly working in the industrial, agricultural, is Bangladesh. We didn’t want to be dominated, and that’s why construction and service sectors. we waged a war for independence.”   “Women have long taken leadership roles in   Bangladesh. I am the first female ambassador to Thailand, but for the past 26 years our prime ministers have been Origin of Bangladesh women. We are a secular nation and we respect all religions.   At different times of the year we celebrate magnificent “When the British left India in 1947 the subcontinent was Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian festivals. In the divided into India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, of which words of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: ‘Religion belongs to Bangladesh became a part because of its Muslim majority,” said each individual; but their festivities are for all.’ Ms Tasneem. “But Bangladesh is far away both geographically   “One of the greatest strengths of our nation is freedom and culturally from Pakistan; we the Bengalis have always been

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of speech and opinion, pluralism and diversity. Our prime minister is a strong believer in the freedom of media and she has privatized and given licenses to more than 30 TV channels. We have about 400 newspapers, many in English.”  

Bilateral relations

  “The relationship between our two countries is deep-rooted and very warm. We support Thailand and Thailand supports us in many international forums where such support matters. Diplomatic duties It is our policy not to interfere in the internal affairs of another   country. What is happening in Thailand is an internal matter he embassy employs more than 20 staff,” said and Thais have to sort it out. As a friendly country from the Ms Tasneem, “and eight or nine are locals. My region, Bangladesh wants to see Thailand prosper sustainably secretary has been with the embassy for 17 as His Majesty has always aspired. years. I am hopeful we will have a new permanent   “We have had diplomatic relations with Thailand for 44 embassy building in the future. The location on years. Thailand was one of the first countries from the ASEAN Ekkamai is fine. Because of high congestions I to recognize Bangladesh after we won independence and the have no appetite to move over to the area around Wireless Road relationship has grown from strength to strength over the and lower Sukhumvit where most embassies are located, but years. Thailand opened its embassy in Bangladesh in 1974 and we do need a bigger embassy. The government is considering we opened our embassy in Bangkok a year later. buying a new building and I have recommended two locations.   “I am here to represent the people of Bangladesh and I   “The job of an ambassador is very challenging, and on top do everything I can to reflect the best of Bangladesh to the of this I am a woman, and a mother. I have three sons raised in Thais and enhance and deepen relations with the Kingdom multicultural environments. The of Thailand. We always oldest is in Bangladesh doing have the best wishes for business with his dad and the His Majesty and the people second is studying in the US. of Thailand. Last year was My youngest son is 14 years the 40th anniversary of our old and lives with me. He goes embassy in Thailand and I to Bangkok Patana School. He organized a prayer chanting started his education when I for His Majesty the King was posted in London and he by Bangladesh Buddhist not only prefers the British Bhikkhus in Thailand. system, but believes he is a Brit!   “His Majesty visited   “My daily routine is to Dhaka with Her Majesty wake up very early in the Queen Sirikit in1962. His morning. I am Muslim, so my Royal Highness Prince Maha day begins with early morning Chakri Vajiralongkorn visited prayers, and then I prepare my Bangladesh in 1992 and in son for school and love seeing 2002. Her Royal Highness him off to school. Afterwards Princess Maha Chakri I check my emails, read the Sirinthorn went to Bangladesh Photo: Courtesy of Bangladesh Embassy news, and most days spend in 2010 and 2011. The Thai some time in the garden and royal family, which is highly then get ready for work. I would go to my office at the embassy, regarded in Bangladesh has really been instrumental in but normally there are so many engagements to attend in promoting Bangladesh-Thai relations, which is something Bangkok that I find it difficult to finish paperwork during many people here don’t know. working hours and work late to catchup to a diplomatic   “There has always been friendship and mutual cultural reception in the evening.  appreciation between the peoples of Thailand and Bangladesh.   “The Thai government is very vibrant and proactive and This is manifest in the 115,000 visas issued at the Thai embassy every ministry organizes events designed to engage foreign in Dhaka last year. You can imagine how hard they are working diplomats. We get invited to a lot of opening ceremonies and during the peak seasons that include any long holiday in I have appointments at many ministries to discuss commerce, Bangladesh. This is the most popular tourist destination for trade, culture, tourism and so forth. I also get many invitations Bangladeshis after India. Many come for the excellent medical from other diplomatic missions, private dinners, ambassadors services and others for the beautiful beaches and spa resorts. and also local community events. There’s a very large diplomatic Some come just to shop or for meetings and conventions. community in Bangkok and I have made many good friends. It is “Unfortunately, only about 4,000 Thais visited Bangladesh really wonderful. We are very close and we meet often. in 2015, which is not too many. Most go to work at growing   “I am very grateful that so many ambassadors and five-star hotels, resorts and spas in Bangladesh, while others diplomats came to our National Day reception. Many go in connection with business investments by Thai companies. distinguished Thai people also came to the reception. In my One of my major tasks is to encourage more Thais to come to first year here I was mainly occupied with getting to know Bangladesh, for example to see our ancient Buddhist shrines colleagues in the diplomatic community, but in my second year and temples, especially the ancient one from our Buddhist era. my focus is much more on the Thai locals. I am reaching out   “There is already a direct air link between Bangkok and to promote Bangladesh to the Thai people, the elite as well as Dhaka, and I am also trying to get flights to and from Cox’s common people, academics and media.” Bazar in southeast of Bangladesh bordering Myanmar and  

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Chittagong. This is the area where most Buddhists live and there are many temples. There are also many ancient Buddhist temples in Chittagong and the Hill Tracts.”  

Trade and culture

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Why should trade between our two countries have to go through Singapore or Sri Lanka?”   The embassy organized a joint exposition of Thai and Bangladeshi artists at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in March. Ms Tasneem also brought in a 24-member cultural delegation from Bangladesh to sing and dance.  

  s Tasneem organized the first Bangladesh Personal Trade and Investment Expo, held at   Queen Sirikit National Convention “I am proud and conscious of my Bengali roots. I always wear Centre from May 30 until June 1. Fifty a sari to official functions and whenever I go out. I don’t do it Bangladeshi companies participated to be noticed, but because I love my national dress,” said the and the commerce ambassador. “Cultural identity is extremely ministers of Bangladesh and Thailand important to me and to all Bangladeshis. I jointly inaugurated. It was an opportunity do wear western clothes, but only around to show Thailand that Bangladesh is the house and while out shopping.” making big strides in manufacturing   Ms Tasneem can speak French, and exports. “We now manufacture Arabic and English and is currently world-class ready-made garments, trying to learn Thai. She has a youthful pharmaceuticals, leather products, look and in fact people sometimes glassware, bone china and ceramic ware comment that she seems young to be an and other high-value products.  ambassador. “I am not that young; I have   “However, there exists a huge trade been in the foreign service for 23 years,” imbalance between our countries in favour she said with a laugh. Her husband is a of Thailand. Our exports to Thailand businessman living in Dhaka who travels make up only about 10 percent of the to Thailand once a month. She has three approximately US$1 billion in bilateral sons and her youngest lives with her. trade. We import from Thailand mostly   “I like running for fitness, but now consumer goods like food items, clothes, I can’t really do it as often as I would cosmetics, toiletries, shoes and machinery. H.E. Saida Muna like. Reading is main my pastime, and We have a thriving ship-building industry Tasneem in focus I love historical books and biographies and build ships for Germany, Denmark and as they inspire me. I am addicted to • Before taking up her post as Ambassador other countries. Some of the parts used to to Thailand on December 2, 2014, Ms them. I am a history buff. Whenever build our ships are imported from Thailand Tasneem was Head/Director General of the I visit any place, I check out the areas while Bangladesh also imports fishing United Nations Wing of the Bangladesh where battles took place. If you want to trawlers from Thailand. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She also served understand Thai politics and the Thai   “Our main exports to Thailand have as Director General of the External Publicity people, you must know their history, as Wing of the Ministry. traditionally been jute and jute bags, historical influences define nations. which Thailand uses for rice storage. • Prior to 2009, Ms Tasneem served as Minister   “I read books on Khmer history But since 2014 there has been a change (Political and Press) at the Bangladesh High too, as Cambodia is also under my in policy and there is also duty imposed Commission in London and also as Deputy jurisdiction. I also like to read books on the bags. I am in discussions with Head of Mission and Counselor for the Banglaabout health and well-being. I love desh Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. the Thai Ministry of Commerce to   following European football and latest have it removed. I am also trying to • Ms Tasneem has served in various other music and movie releases with my son. promote our ready-made garments and capacities representing Bangladesh at the UN,   “I am a food buff too. One of my pharmaceuticals in Thai markets. and at South Asia, Southeast Asian Association hobbies is to eat out every weekend   “Bangladesh exports medicines for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bay of Bento try out new restaurants, and I gal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and to 120 countries; they are US FDA Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), and West particularly like French, Japanese approved, very high quality and Asia and Americas and Pacific Wing of the MFA. and Thai food. I am always looking affordably priced. I am trying to convince   for creative restaurants that locals the Government Pharmaceutical • Ms Tasneem joined the Bangladesh Foreign appreciate, and I always read The Organization to purchase medicines Service in 1993. Previously she worked as an BigChilli for recommendations. I have Industrial Planning Engineer at the Banglafrom us. As for ready-made garments, desh Chemical Industries Corporation Head been to almost all the top French Bangladesh produces more for the Office in Dhaka. restaurants in Bangkok and I have been lower-end of the market, while Thailand   to about 25 Japanese restaurants. produces for the higher-end. Bangladesh Education   “To find good, authentic Thai is the second biggest exporter of ready• Master of Science Degree in Public Policy restaurants I always talk to my Thai and Planning from the School of Oriental and made garments in the world after China. African Studies at the University of London. friends. I don’t like to entertain guests at   “I am also working to implement   my residence. I prefer mainly Thai five-star a direct shipping connection between • Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical hotel chains, because you get really great Chittagong port in Bangladesh and Engineering from the Bangladesh University service and Thai hospitality. Dusit Thani Ranong port. This should definitely of Engineering Technology, Dhaka. and Anantara are among my favourites.” enhance bilateral trade and investment.

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Hua Hin

J-JETRIN EXCLUSIVE CONCERT AT SHERATON HUA HIN ALL J-Jetrin fans indeed danced the night away on Sep 10 at the Chandelier, Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa. A meet and greet with the singer was followed by the dance-till-you-drop concert and was accompanied with free flowing drinks.

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Hua Hin

HYATT OPEN 2016 ENDS ON A HIGH NOTE AROUND 150 golf enthusiasts swarmed to the 7th annual Hyatt Hotels Open at Banyan Golf Club, Hua Hin. A major objective of the two-day tournament is to promote Hua Hin as a golf and wellness destination by the sea. The winner was once again Kok Keng Tan from Singapore, who received the traditional silver Claret Jug Trophy at the awards ceremony which also featured a charity dinner and auction.

Top Hua Hin Hotels Spread Safety Message LEADING hotels and resorts in Hua Hin held a joint event to promote safety among Thai schoolchildren and raise awareness about motorcycle safety. The hotels involved included Hyatt Regency Hua Hin, Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa, Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa, Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa, InterContinental Hua Hin, Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin, Dusit Thani Hua Hin, Chiva-Som International, Putahracsa Hua Hin, SO Sofitel Hua Hin, G Hua Hin Resort & Mall, Banyan The Resort Hua Hin, and Amari Hua Hin.

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Mates’ Rates Friends or Family visiting Thailand? Let them know about these deals

Aleenta Phuket Resort & Spa: Available now, enjoy a fully stocked in-room minibar, unlimited food and beverages served 24 hours a day and an exquisite spa treatment at the Ayurah Spa for B6,500++ per person (with alcohol) or B5,000++ per person (without alcohol). 02 514 8112, aleenta.com/phuket U Inchantree Kanchanaburi: Book now to stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast for two starting at B2,999 per night during Dec 1- March 31. Book directly through the hotel’s website for a minimum of two consecutive nights and receive a complimentary B500 food and beverage voucher per stay. 03 452 1584, ukanchanaburi.com GLOW Elixir Koh Yao Yai Resort: Until Oct 31, the ‘Holiday Dream Advance Purchase’ package offers a 40 percent discount on room bookings made 30 days in advance. Rates start at B2,520 per night, inclusive of breakfast for two. 087 808 3838, glowhotels.com

Hua Chang Heritage Hotel: Until March 31, the ‘Romantic Saver Package’ offers a four-night stay for two at B15,000. Package includes buffet breakfast for two, complimentary upgrade to spacious and luxury premier deluxe rooms, 15 percent discount at the Miss Siam restaurant, unlimited in-room Wifi access, and extended check out until 3 pm. 02 217 0777, huachangheritagehotel.com

CHI at Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok: Until Oct 31, enjoy a 75 minute customised body massage with a complimentary bottle of CHI’s signature massage oil for B3,200 per person. 02 236 777 ext 6861-6862, shangri-la.com/bangkok

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Koh Jum Beach Villas: Until Oct 31, enjoy complimentary wine tasting and 25 percent off standard wine rates with the ‘October Wine Fest’. Villas are priced at B6,480++ per villa per night and includes breakfast and in-room Wifi as well as in other areas of the resort.

Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort: Until Oct 31, receive ‘Buy One Get One Free’ from 6pm-9pm at Koh Poda swimup pool bar. Also enjoy the international buffet dinner at Maya Restaurant complemented by free flow soft drinks and juices for just B799++ per person. 07 562 7800, sofitel.com/Krabi

Metropole Bangkok: Until Dec 31, introductory rates at this brand new property are available from just B2,599++ per night. 02 204 4400, bit.ly/MetropoleBangkokbook

AVANI Riverside Bangkok Hotel: Until Oct 31, book any 60 or 90 minute spa treatment and receive a complimentary all-youcan-eat salad voucher at Skyline restaurant. Spa treatments start at B1,900++. 02 431 9100 ext 2420, avanihotels.com


THE BASE


The bigchilli october 2016