Editor’s Blog Chinese flood overseas – good or bad? IT is estimated that the number of Chinese nationals with the means and intentions to travel overseas in the near future could top an astonishing 400 million people a year. For this to happen, Chinese aviation authorities are going to have to dispatch one heck of a lot of aircraft – equivalent to more than 2,000 Jumbo jets every day! No wonder the Chinese government is building international airports on home soil at a dizzying pace, and thereby living up to its boast that all of its citizens will eventually be within reasonable commuting distance of an airport. It’s not even certain that there are sufficient aircraft at the moment to carry such a load. But the Chinese aren’t leaving others to build new aircraft; they’re doing it themselves. The largest commercial airliner designed and built in China for many years is expected to begin services in 2018. This enormous and unprecedented torrent of tourists from one source is clearly going to have enormous consequences across the world. Countries are likely to be affected both culturally and economically by the Chinese flood. Most will welcome the financial benefits, even though some critics have noted that a good deal of the money spent by Chinese tourists eventually finds its way back to China. Others are wary of the cultural influence, especially small nations that can be easily dominated by successive waves of foreign tourists. For now, Thailand seems happy to accept the recent surge in Chinese tourists, especially as the recently applied 2,000 baht visa fee on arrival will yield a financial windfall. In 2005, a mere 776,792 of China’s citizens visited Thailand. By 2012, that figure had increased to 2.7 million visitors, putting Chinese arrivals way ahead of all other nationalities. Only three years later, their number had ballooned to 7.9 million, which accounts for more than a quarter of the total number of tourists. Incredibly, 2016 will register yet another increase. Reports of impolite and unsocial behaviour are now commonplace, but Thais in general continue to believe in their resilience to foreign influences and are happy with the massive Chinese presence here. Meanwhile, Laos – neighbour to both Thailand and China – has a special challenge, not from the air but by rail. A high speed train service from Kunming in southern China to the Laos capital of Vientiane is expected to significantly boost the number of Chinese visitors to this landlocked country of just seven million when it opens in 2020. En route, trains will stop at Luang Prabang, the tiny ancient capital of Laos. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang’s delicate infrastructure is already experiencing the pressures of mass tourism, including overcrowding and increasing wear and tear on old buildings. Although authorities say they are prepared for a big increase in tourists, many fear for the town’s wellbeing. In the end, sadly, money and profit will dictate what’s good for a country and its inbound tourism industry. New airline clampdown on carry-on luggage SOME European airlines are handing out instant fees on Bangkok-bound passengers trying to board with carry-on luggage deemed by airport staff to be “too big.” These extra charges can be as much as 2,000 baht, or equivalent in other currencies, and passengers have no recourse, according to recent reports from people returning to Thailand after their summer break in Europe. “Airport staff are very arbitrary in how they decide on which bags are too big, and how much they charge,” said one exasperated Thai businessman, a frequent flyer between Europe and Asia. “I asked them what they would do if I had no money or credit card to pay the fine – and they said they’d confiscate the bag and its contents. “I had already checked in and the staff seemed to be alright with my carry-on luggage – and then, just before boarding, these officials turned up from nowhere to tell me my bag was too big. “They didn’t seem interested in its weight, just its size “It’s all very stupid because airline passengers are encouraged to buy many duty-free items before boarding.” 6
PUBLISHER Colin Hastings firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR Adam Purcell email@example.com EDITOR Nina Hastings firstname.lastname@example.org ASSISTANT EDITOR Chutinanta Boonyamarn email@example.com SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti email@example.com Sakuna Nupinrum firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNTING MANAGER Saranya Choeyjanya email@example.com ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Janjira Silapapairson firstname.lastname@example.org ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakkanawat PHOTOGRAPHY JL & AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Anette Pollner, Johanna DeKoning, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler Priya Lodha, Kelly Harvey
No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission from The BigChilli Co., Ltd. The opinions and views of the writers are not necessarily the views of the publishers. All details are deemed correct at the time of print, the publisher, the editor, employees and contributors can not be held responsible for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions that may occur. The editor reserves the right to accept, reject or amend any submitted artwork, photographs, illustrations and manuscripts. The BigChilli welcomes unsolicited contributions but assumes no responsibility for the safe-keeping or return of such materials damaged or lost in transit.
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Editor’s Blog In a separate issue, it’s alleged that the worst airlines when it comes to extorting excess baggage fees are Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and Qantas Airline, according to travel website eturbonews. com. The website quotes fees charged for a second bag on economy class: • Emirates: London – Melbourne, £1,193 for 25 kg • Cathay Pacific: London – Dubai, £1,058 for 23 kg • Qatar Airways: London – Tokyo, £966 for 23 kg • Qantas: London – Melbourne, £810 for 25 kg The least expensive airline is Etihad Airways: London – Abu Dhabi, £92 for 23 kg. Massive riverside development gets a touch of gold THE riddle of how shoppers, hotel guests and condominium owners will reach one of Bangkok’s most luxurious property developments, Icon Siam, now under construction on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River, opposite the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, has been solved. The 50 billion riverside shopping mall and condominium project will be served by the recently proposed BTS Gold Line, which will be linked to the Thonburi station. The three-kilometer route is expected to open in 2017. Located on busy Charoen Nakhon road, Icon Siam is described as the country’s largest community mall with 525,000 sq m shopping mall and two residential towers of 52 and 70 storeys. The project will open in 2017. Initially, the BTS Gold Line will extend from the old Thonburi station with two stops: Icon Siam and Thaksin Hospital. Two more stations along Somdet Chao Phraya road will be added later. Icon Siam is a joint project involving Siam Piwat, Magnolia Quality Development, and Charoen Pokphand Group. Takashimaya will be the project’s anchor department store. Condominium prices range from 12-125 million baht (230.000 – 360.000 baht per sq metre). Thai food vendors won’t win stars IT’S good to see Singapore food stalls winning Michelin stars for their culinary excellence. Will Thailand earn similar recognition? After all, Thai food is reckoned to be a world-beater, and some of the best is served at the country’s ubiquitous street vendors. The answer is surely no, given the lack of hygiene exercised by our street vendors. Regular diners ignore the dirty rags used to wipe tables and the washing of plates and utensils in buckets without running water. But for sure, the Michelin judges won’t miss such failures.
This issue in
Denmark is again the world’s happiest country according to UN’s Happiness Report 2016. Find out why on page 109.
The number of years the Singapore International School of Bangkok has been offering its unique curricula. Page 86.
Now in its 17th year, the World Gourmet Festival at Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel features some of the world’s best chefs. Page 48.
Enjoy up to 90 percent discount on out of season stock at this bargain hunter’s wonderland on Silom Road. Page 20.
The year the lifeless body of legendary movie star David Carradine was discovered in a Bangkok hotel room closet. Page 74.
The amount of baht donated by Karma Klique to Duang Prateep Foundation. Page 44. 8
Find your way in business in Thailand with Bangkok Expat Experts BEE members: • Tom Bishop, Travel and Medical Tourism, DTC Travel • John Pickard, IT – hardware, networking and related subjects, JP COMPUTING • Travis Bennett, Websites for your business, STUDIO DIGITA • David Wilson, Property, both rental and purchasing, GOLDEN GATE ASIA
■ FOREIGNERS new to Thailand and wanting to settle here often find this country and its bureaucracy extremely confusing. From getting the appropriate visa and work permit to setting up a company, paying taxes and simply getting everything as right as possible, it is a minefield. Some of the best advice comes from a fellow foreigner who has already established a foothold on all things Thai. Better still, get advice from several foreigners who know the ropes. This is where Bangkok Expat Experts (BEE) comes in really handy. Comprising eight expatriates with almost 150 years’ experience of living and doing business in Thailand between them, BEE offers free advice on the most pressing subjects and key areas of life here. Explains one of the founder
members, Tom Bishop: “The industries covered are varied and cover a lot of what people need – whether they are already established here or newcomers. There are so many ‘experts’ in Bangkok, but we aim to clarify things for people and keep it simple. “We are expanding our network by appearing on other websites and Facebook pages from popular social venues in Bangkok.” The group meets every Wednesday from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at the Queen Bee, in Sukhumvit Soi 26, opposite the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. The Bangkok Expat Experts will be at the 18th Annual Living in Bangkok Fair to be held at Bumrungrad Hospital, from 9am to 5pm on Saturday, September 10.
• Colin Lawson, Renovation and custom built furniture, RIGHT ANGLE DESIGN • John Newsome, Accounting, Auditing, Payroll and Insurance, FCA THAILAND • Gayvalin Bartlett, Visas, Work Permits, Company Registrations and more, PB LEGAL SERVICES • Shane Torr, Recruitment, GUMMY BEAR RECRUITMENT COMPANY For more info visit facebook. com/bangkokexpatexperts
& 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 Thailandâ€™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:
NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards
Business: Gateway Equipment Limited
Roy’s golf business is a family affair
ATEWAY Equipment Limited was formed by Roy Barrett and his two eldest children, Lisa and Philip, just six years ago and today it is the major supplier of equipment to golf courses in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The company employs over sixty staff with the head office in Bangkok and a branch office in Nakorn Ratchasima. Recently it also established a subsidiary in Vietnam. The quite remarkable growth of Gateway Equipment from just three people six years ago to Thailand’s leading supplier of turf maintenance equipment, irrigation systems and golf cars to Thailand’s nearly three hundred golf courses is but the latest chapter in Roy’s life in Thailand.
UK-born Roy qualified as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse (now Price Waterhouse Coopers) in 1970 and was sent to Thailand to join the Bangkok office as part of PW’s International Exchange Programme. At the end of this six month’s secondment, Roy returned to London but soon came back to the Bangkok office and over the next twenty five years had a career in industry working for the Thai subsidiaries of a UK-based engineering company and one of UK’s largest trading companies. In the 1980s he became a board member of Bangkok Patana School, where his children, Lisa and Philip were students, and this led to his interest in education and the establishment of the St. Andrews group of international schools. Roy was one of the founders of the first school, which was a small ‘early years’ school in Sukhumvit Soi 107. There are now five St. Andrews schools and last year Roy was one of the founders of Hua Hin International School, which has been a great success. Roy says that his part in the establishment of the St. Andrews schools and the Hua Hin school are by far his most fulfilling and satisfying achievements. These schools will go on for many years, and thousands of children will obtain a great education, make life-long friends and have enduring memories of their school years. Returning to Gateway Equipment, Roy attributes the company’s success to a focus on customer service. While there are close to three hundred golf courses in Thailand it is still a relatively small industry where everyone knows everyone else and it soon becomes known whether a supplier can be relied on. Gateway Equipment represents a number of major brands in Thailand and neighbouring countries. These include John Deere turf maintenance machinery, Rain Bird irrigation systems, Trojan batteries and Yamaha golf cars. The company has won a number of awards for outstanding performance, including John Deere Asian Distributor of the Year for three consecutive years. It is very much a family business with Lisa as marketing director and Philip as sales and service director. Lisa has considerable experience in marketing having worked with large multinational consumer product companies and Philip spent nearly eight years in the golf industry before joining Gateway Equipment. The branch in Nakorn Ratchasima is the regional dealer of John Deere agricultural tractors selling directly to farmers, and also represents Rain Bird agricultural irrigation systems.
NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards
Entrepreneur: Joe Sloane, Sloane’s Artisan
From British sausages to a full range of ethical meat products
HE five-storey shop-house that is Sloane’s Artisan meat factory off Sanphawut Road is filled with the glorious aroma of hand-made sausages, salami, hams and other meat products. It’s a mouthwatering sensation. Visitors to the sparkling clean factory founded by British-born Joe Sloane in Bangkok’s Bangna district are given the same white cap that every employee must wear. The cheery attitude of those employees stems from the good wages, working hours, working conditions and treatment they receive. On the day of the interview, everyone was out the door by 4.30pm, including Joe. Joe, who moved to Thailand in 2007 with his British wife, is a very amenable, hard-working chap who knows his business well. This is reflected in the remarkable success of Sloane’s Artisan, and the best is almost certainly yet to come.
Joe was born in London and studied catering at a local culinary school before following his love of travel and food to work across three continents. He first learned the basics of butchery and charcuterie while training under Albert Roux, the three Michelin starred Maître Cuisinier de France (Master Chef of France). 16
“I worked as a chef in some very high-end restaurants in London, but my wife and I both wanted to come to Asia to live and work. She was offered a teaching job in Thailand, and for me as a chef, my thinking was, ‘Well, I love Thai food like most people do. Let’s go, I can’t wait.’ “So we came with the original intention of staying a couple of years. After a while I got to know a few chefs and one of them who had been in Thailand for many years offered me the job of chef de cuisine at The Landmark Hotel’s Rib Room & Bar. “Later, I decided to open my own business. Actually I had already begun to make my own sausages before I left The Landmark. I found that that no one was producing high quality Britishstyle sausages in Thailand, although there was a very good French butchery at the time in Bangkok. I felt there was a big market for high-end British sausages here and I knew I could supply it. “My wife works as a teacher at Bangkok Patana School. It’s a British international school and it employs many Brits who were always saying they couldn’t find a good sausage here. So I started to make sausages in the kitchen of my house. When things got busier I converted another room into a little butchery. Then with the help of friends, one of whom is now my business partner, I started seeking out better quality farms to buy the meats from. “In the UK I was used to working with very excellent, very ethical and very good quality farms, but these weren’t so easy to find in Thailand. However, I did find them and now I work with six or seven very good pig and chicken farms. I also have good beef suppliers, but mainly I use pork. I don’t do lamb. I never found a lamb farmer I could be happy with.” As the business expanded Joe soon needed more room. “We found this shop house, which had been empty for 10 years, and my business partners and I spent a few months putting the kitchens together. We moved in January 2013. “We have a total of 20 employees with 12 working here in the kitchens. We also have drivers and four people working in our office in a small shop on Soi La Salle. We have one refrigerated truck and two motorcycles with big cooling boxes on the back. Generally, we start work at 8am and finish at 3.30 to 4pm. On
Saturday we work a half day, making preparations for orders and From the very beginning I have worked with farms that battle doing a big clean-up. Sunday is always a day off for everyone. against the corporate monopoly on chicken and pig farms in “I think that looking after your staff, which means paying Thailand. The good farms feed chickens with organic corn them and treating them well, pays dividends for the business. which is grown on the farm. One of the biggest stresses of running a business is a high “Secondly, the chickens have a lot of space to move around turnover and constantly having to train new staff. I am very instead of being cramped in a small area. They grow naturally pleased that the turnover here is very low. Most of my staff has and slowly. Chickens from one large company in Thailand take been with me for a few years. I have a very good team here. about 30 days to grow because of the drugs and what they do to They work very hard. I look after them and they look after me. them. At the farm in Chiang Rai it takes between 60 to 65 days. That’s how it should be.” Doubling the growing time means they are more expensive, but Joe and his team are in the process of moving into a larger, they also taste better. better equipped facility. “We need a bigger space. We acquired “There are two reasons I like to work with better farms: quite a large factory in the Bang Phlee area and we’re fitting it with One is from the humanitarian side – I don’t believe that any factory production kitchens. Basically we animal should suffer for us. The other will be in one area downstairs, while here thing is that happier pigs taste better. we are spread over five floors with no lift. It is as simple as that. It changes the “We have just started to produce a taste of the meat if a pig is stressed and range of new salami and other products suffers, especially when it is slaughtered. and in the new factory we will do this This has been shown scientifically.” on a larger scale. Although we will be The production methods at Sloane’s moving to a larger factory, we still plan Artisan are the other key to high quality. to keep to our roots and everything will “In producing our sausages we only use be still be made by hand, the extra space natural casings and our recipes avoid the just gives us more room and the ability to use of unnecessary chemicals, meaning get the additional certifications. no artificial colours or flavourings. The “Our biggest customers are big companies will basically throw a wholesalers, restaurants and hotels. We pig inside a machine with the other supply products to many outlets, from ingredients and sausage comes out on small cafes and coffee shops to five-star the other end. We don’t use big machines. hotels like Siam Kempinski and Okura Everything we do here is handmade. Prestige. We do the breakfast sausages “The same goes for the smoking It’s all about the quality for them. We are going into more top process. Unlike the big companies, we hotels that want better quality products closely monitor the smoker and control Just some of the delicious treats for their breakfasts, partly to distinguish the heat to be sure all the different on offer at Sloane’s Artisan themselves from the cheaper hotels. We also products are done properly. We have no Sausages: English Breakfast, Cumberland, do catering, mainly large jobs like sporting big machinery and as we grow we will Lincolnshire, Pork & Apple, Pork & Leek, Garlic & Tomato, Pork & Wholegrain Mustard, Toulouse, events, and a few weddings as well.” keep it like that.” Bratwurst, Chorizo, Butifarra. Cured items: Sloane’s Artisan products are sold at Joe’s company continues to branch out Smoked Ham, Paris Ham, Back Bacon, Streaky Gourmet Market outlets and Villa Market and is now supplying high quality cheeses Bacon, Corned Beef, Pastrami, Coppa. Terrines and Pâtés: Pâté Grand-mère, Chicken Liver branches in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Hua made in Thailand. “I am working with five Parfait, Ham Hock Terrine, Porchetta D Testa. Hin and, very soon, at a new outlet in Udon cheese makers who produce about 30 Local Cheese and Dairy: Vintage Cheddar, Thani, as well as Rimping Supermarkets different types of cheese. I distribute the Red Leicester, Lancashire, Stilton, Truffled Brie, in Chiang Mai. Meats, cheeses and cheeses wholesale to shops, hotels and Munster, Camembert, and much more. other goodies can also be purchased at so on all over Thailand. The cheeses are SLOANE’S shop on Soi La Salle (between Italian, British and French styles and they Sois 34-36) off Sukhumvit 105, opposite Bangkok Patana School, or are amazing in taste and cheaper than imports. Prices for some for home delivery through the online shop on their website. imports are crazy because of the tax. Some cost 3,000 or 4,000 baht per kilogram, while locally made is usually around 1,000 baht per The keys to quality kilogram. We are also selling various sauces.” Adapting to the Thai way oe said the success of his business comes down to supplying better quality products and also working At the close of the interview Joe briefly touched on what he’s with ethical farms – such farms are in the minority learned about doing business in Thailand. “Some things are here. “I insist that all of the farms I work with look easier here and some things are harder. I wouldn’t say doing after their animals properly. I don’t want cages and business here is better or worse than in the UK, but I will say it I don’t want them to be fed with drugs, and when is different. When I first came here I had to adapt the way I work they are slaughtered it needs to be done humanely – as a chef. A kitchen in London is all shouting and screaming, but this goes for all our meats. Many farms feed the animals with in Thailand you can’t work like that. This is kind of a good thing antibiotics and hormones. They give them the drugs to make really and I do agree with the more laid-back attitude. This is true sure they don’t get ill due to the bad conditions and this isn’t for doing business in general. You just have to adapt and look at healthy for the animals or the customers. things a bit differently than you would in Europe.” “I work with an amazing chicken farm in Chiang Rai. The chickens are raised free range and they are fed natural foods. www.sloanes.co.th
FOOD AND BEVERAGE SPECIALIST GIULIO SAVERINO, OWNER OF ABOUT EATERY ON SUKHUMVIT 21, TAKES GREAT JOY FROM SIMPLE YET CAREFULLY CRAFTED PLEASURES FULL NAME: GIULIO SAVERINO AGE: 47 WHERE BORN: TURIN, ITALY NICKNAMES: MISTER G WORK: SHAREHOLDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR AT ABOUT EATERY – THE FIRST ‘NATURAL WINE BAR’ IN THAILAND. PERSONALITY: HARDWORKING AND PASSIONATE ABOUT NATURAL WINE, CRAFT BEER AND SIMPLE FOOD. FAMILY: SINGLE. BORN ALONE, AND STILL ALONE. BEST FRIENDS: A FEW BUDDIES WHO I HAVE KNOWN FOR A VERY LONG TIME. YEARS IN THAILAND: 16 MILEPOSTS: I HAVE BEEN IN THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY NOW FOR 30 YEARS, AND I HAVE WORKED IN DIFFERENT CITIES SUCH AS LONDON, MOSCOW, MUSCAT, YANGON. WINE HAS ALWAYS PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN MY LIFE AND BUSINESS. LOW POINT: WHEN I MOVED OUT FROM MY PREVIOUS RESTAURANT. IT WAS A DIFFICULT TIME. I FELT LIKE I HAD TO START AGAIN FROM SCRATCH DON’T MENTION: WHAT YOU CAN’T SAY. REGRETS: I HAVE NO REGRETS. I DON’T BELIEVE IN LOOKING BACK SELF-IMAGE: POSITIVE AND REALISTIC. BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: IT IS NOT HOW MUCH WE HAVE, BUT HOW MUCH WE ENJOY.
FOR MORE INFO VISIT ABOUTEATERY.COM
Travel Dorsett Shepherds Bush – great hotel choice close to London’s top attractions
HANKS to London’s excellent public transport system, it’s no longer necessary to stay in the centre of the city to enjoy its many attractions. Increasingly, visitors are opting to stay in the outer suburbs where the hotels are noticeably less expensive and yet provide quality accommodation and services, as well as fast and easy access to London’s heart. Such a venue is Dorsett Shepherds Bush, an elegant 317room hotel occupying a Grade v11-listed building that overlooks one of London’s best known open spaces, Shepherds Bush Green. Behind its original façade is a thoroughly modern and stylish four-star property offering accommodation that’s perfect for both leisure and business travellers. In addition to a choice of rooms, the hotel has three meeting rooms; Pictures, an all-day dining restaurant; Shikumen, a Chinese specialty restaurant; Jin, a destination bar, and a spa located on the top floor overlooking the Green. A short walk from the hotel is Westfield London, a vast shopping centre featuring the trendiest boutiques and outlets for all the major designer brands as well as a host of world class restaurants. Dorsett Shepherds Bush, 58 Shepherds Bush Green, W12 8QE London, United Kingdom. +44 0203 262 1026. dorsetthotels.com/ london/shepherdsbush
Quintessentially and quirky – British events for ever ybody
Nearby are Shepherds Bush underground and over-ground stations, putting Notting Hill and Portobello Road, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park, the West End and all must-see attractions in central London within easy reach. The hotel is also: • 30 minutes drive from Heathrow Airport via M • 10 minutes by tube to Oxford Circus • 10 minutes by tube to Paddington Train Station • 5 minutes drive to the M and M 0 motorways • 5 minutes walk from Shepherds Bush stations The hotel is owned and managed by Dorsett Hospitality International, an Asia-based hotel group with operations in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chengdu, Wuhan, Jiangxi, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Labuan, Singapore and now in London. 32
EVERY year Britain hosts a long list of ama ing events. Many are annual occasions and mark the country’s rich history and culture, such as internationally acclaimed music, arts and literary festivals; others celebrate the lives of patron saints and famous figures like Robert Burns, William Shakespeare and even Harry Potter. Some highlight well known famous British products such as whisky while others focus on Britain’s great sporting heritage, including Wimbledon tennis, the Oxford Cambridge boat race, FA Cup and Premier League matches, international Test cricket, the Highland Games and the Grand National horse race. Across the country, visitors can enjoy spectacular street parades, magic and mime festivals, comedy shows, circuses and outdoor cabarets. Britain also stages some of the most beautiful annual flower shows in wonderful settings like Chelsea and Hampton Court. And then there are quirky events that Britain does so very well. Join the Maldon Mud Race, a mad scramble through a London estuary, or cheese rolling, with daredevils hurling down hills in pursuit of Gloucester cheeses, or take part in a pancake race wearing traditional out ts. Maybe you fancy your chances against a horse in the 22 mile Man versus Horse race held in Powys, Britain’s smallest town.
Why British Airways’ Club World is a class above the rest
F you’re planning to visit the UK, the most obvious airline to get you there is British Airways. It’s a simple choice for many reasons, starting with the fact that BA is one of only three airlines that flies non-stop between Bangkok and London’s Heathrow airport. And that means a fast, uninterrupted flight giving you more time to enjoy yourself in the UK. What else? With BA, a visit to the UK begins the moment you step on board the ultra-modern twin-engine Boeing 777200ER, one of the world’s most acclaimed passenger jets. The cabin crew, the polite service, the English language, the classic interior design and even the in-flight entertainment are all essentially British. The cuisine is mostly typically British too, though other options are available. What’s more, BA regularly posts great flight deals on its website. And with the high value of Thai baht against the pound at the moment, some of those deals are looking very attractive.
s the UK’s carrier of the United Kingdom since 1971, BA has years of experience transporting people across the globe. That in itself is a major source of comfort to many passengers. Stephen Humphreys, BA Head of Global Sales, has his own ideas for the airline’s popularity. “We have found through research that people choose British Airways for its reliability, consistency and familiarity. There’s also something about our ‘Britishness’ they seem to enjoy. “And from our home hub at Heathrow, we offer great connectivity with onward flights to destinations in the UK itself as well as to many major cities in Europe and farther afield.” Since October 2013, BA has used Heathrow’s Terminal 5 for its flights from Bangkok. It also switched from Boeing 747-400 to its current three-class Boeing 777-200ER operation. Departure times are extremely convenient, leaving Bangkok at 10.55 and arriving at Heathrow at 16.55, while the return flight leaves Heathrow at 15.05 and arrives in Bangkok at 9.20. Flights on this route feature BA’s new-look Club World, arguably the best business class of its kind in operation today. Incorporated in these super quiet cabins are new wider, more comfortable seats with individual privacy screens, more storage, and bigger TVs with access to over 100 movies and TV programmes.
The seat easily converts into a bed that allows passengers to lie completely flat, but also features a ‘z’ position, supporting the knees and back in a seated recline. The deep recline angle is perfect for snoozing and lounging and ideal for watching the in-flight entertainment or reading. Besides a comprehensive menu with lots of food and drink choices, Club passengers also can help themselves to a wide range of hot and chilled savoury snacks, sweet items and beverages between the meal services. Online check-in is available 24 hours before flight departure, while requests for special meals can be made online 48 hours in advance. Club World passengers have access to their own lounges in both Bangkok and London. In Heathrow’s Terminal 5, BA’s Galleries Club lounges feature all the amenities that you would expect to find in a quality business class amenity. It’s certainly very impressive, with a generous spread of hot and cold food, self-serve tea and coffee, an open bar, showers, and plenty of different areas for lounging. There is also a quiet area, a cinema room, and a business center with a printer for passengers who want to work, play or
rest. A large selection of magazines and newspapers is provided. Specially reserved for Club World and first class passengers is the Elemis Spa, a fantastic facility offering a long list of treatments for those looking to recharge before and after that long haul flight. These 15-minute, complimentary treatments include facials, power back, neck and shoulder massage, skin recharge, eye reviver, and nail polish. Flying to the UK couldn’t be more pleasant. For more information visit britishairways.com
In the spotlight Photos by Benjamin Suomela
Karma Klique Music lovers who party with a purpose
By Kelly Harvey
N a modern world driven by money, power and profligacy it’s hard to believe that parties fueled by quality music and boozy drinks could be a source of good karma. But giving back to the community by partying and having fun is precisely the aim of Karma Klique: to ‘party with a purpose.’ Established by a group of music enthusiasts who wanted to channel their passion for tunes into charitable events that could drive positive social change, Karma Klique is a collective unlike any other. Hosting DJs from Thailand, England, Germany, and Italy, the group kicked off its operations in April this year with ‘Karma
Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus
Canadian tastes to the fore GOURMET Market at The Emporium, The EmQuartier and Siam Paragon Department Store hosted the fifth annual Taste of Canada food festival featuring all kinds of world-class products and ingredients from Canada. Held in collaboration with the Canadian Embassy, the festival also featured cooking demonstrations, including a fascinating look at the best way to fillet and cook True North Canadian Salmon.
PING’s third anniversary PING’s Thai Teochew Seafood Restaurant at Pathumwan Princess Hotel recently celebrated its third anniversary with a novel and exclusive Glenmorangie Whisky Pairing Dinner. Presided over by H.E. Mrs Chua Siew San, the Republic of Singapore’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, the event highlighted a sumptuous five-course dinner, each course paired with five whiskies from revered Scottish distillery, Glenmorangie. TheBigChilli
Wo rds H A R VEY W E AT H E R I L L
Fine dining with an Asian twist at Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside Hotel
O dOuBT aBOuT iT. Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside is one of the best value five-star hotels in Bangkok. Not just for accommodation – but also for dining. Take Eurasian Grill. Secreted away at the far end of the hotel lobby in a quiet, exclusive room furnished with well-dressed tables, elegant, highback chairs, and a centerpiece crystal chandelier, this serene, refined venue may lack the ready vibrancy of a more casual grill room, but there’s still plenty of vitality in its food – a lip-smacking blend of Asian and European dishes made using top quality ingredients. And all affordable, too. The restaurant's carefully considered, one-page á la carte menu, designed by Chef John and overseen by new Executive Chef Bass (now embarking on his second tenure at the hotel after spending the last eight years working for renowned international restaurants around the kingdom) revolves around meticulous preparation
and deft cooking. Think Lobster bisque served with seared Hokkaido scallop topped with caviar (B210++); Braised beef cheek in red wine sauce served with mashed potato and young sautéed vegetables (B550++); and, from the grill, a choice of Striploin or tenderloin from Hakata Wagyu beef (starts from B1,350++). Quality over quantity prevails. The same philosophy carries over into two special four-course set menus, including the Asian Culinary Experience and the award-winning Chef’s Signature Thai Menu. The former features highlights such as Pan fried foie gras with pomelo salad and tamarind sauce, Spicy lemongrass soup with river prawns, and Coconut panna cotta with mango sorbet enhanced with palm sugar caramel; the latter, delectable treats like Spicy shredded and salted pork salad served with fried spicy minced 2074 Charoenkrung Rd. Open daily 6pm-10pm, 02 688 1000. ramadaplazamenamriverside.com Facebook.com/EurasianGrillrestaurant
chicken; Spicy shrimp wonton soup (a real tongue zinger!); Braised beef massaman curry served with grain fried rice; and Pumpkin custard and butterfly pea and lemon juice. Each set menu is great value for money at just B750++ per person. “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine,” reads a quote printed at the top of the menu. A handpicked selection of fine international labels ensures there’s always fine weather here, including a good Australian Cab Sav and Chardonnay both starting at just B200++ per glass. The Thai-inspired cocktails, priced B260++ each, are also well worth checking out. Our favourite: Chilli Shock – Galliano infused flaming chilli peppers on a mix of bourbon, cherry brandy and apple juice. The best way to reach the hotel, if you’re not driving, is to take the hotel’s free shuttle boat from Saphan Taksin pier (leaves every 30 mins). Travelling upriver while enjoying a gentle breeze is a real pleasure, and the perfect prelude to any meal.
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Wo rds H A R VEY W E AT H E R I L L
Celebrating the rich history of French cuisine in style
S A SA always akin to a story well told. F ascinating yarns spun around luscious ingredients, years-old recipes, and considerate cooking. And all with the same delectabl e conclusion – a delicious lunch or dinner. That C afé Parisien at G lasshouse@ S indhorn (W ireless Rd.) has captivating tales to tell is pretty much a given. The br asserie’s kitchen is led by r enowned F rench chef H erve F rerard, formerly of L e Beaulieu, and he’s a master at br inging F rench culinary traditions to life. At C afé Parisien this translates into a series of classic F rench dishes cooked with premium imported ingredients and presented with H erve’s trademark flair. Think of it as authentic rench comfort food dressed up for the ba ll – a hearty selection of br aised meats and slow-cooked veggies loaded with rich, wholesome flavours. S ignature dishes include Baked
endive with savoy ham bé chamel sauce (B550++), Baked crispy duck leg con t salardaise potato (B990+ +); and Slow cooked pork belly atte potatoes and Pommery mustard (B550++). The pork, cooked for at least 20 hours, is especially impressive – a genuine melt-in-the-mouth treat. And we loved how the crispy duck skin gave way to succulent, gamey meat. Another must try is the Scal l ops uenelles mushroom du elle antua sauce (B9 9 0++), a L yon specialty featuring ground and seasoned scallops (wonderfully soft topped with a crayfish butter sauce and diced seasonal mushrooms. F or dessert, don’t miss the Carameli ed millefeuille ha elnut pastry and vanil l a ice cream (B240+ +), and Cl assic rum baba biscuit vanilla Chiboust cream (B240+ +). The former is sweet and Caf é P arisien, Glasshouse@ S indhorn on W ireless Road. 02 65 0 9 9 9 3 . Facebook.com/caf eparisienbkk
viscous without be ing cloying; and the rum-soaked ba ba bi scuit ba lances booz e and syrup to tasty effect. As you’d expect from a restaurant located within G lasshouse@ S indhorn, C afé Parisien is encased within a large glass room that’s light and airy by da y (a great option for a bus iness or casual lunch), and illuminated just right at night (perfect for a date). A set lunch, priced at just B690+ + (for soup or salad; entré e and dessert) is availabl e daily. D itto two special five-course lunch and dinner menus dubbe d ‘ The Parisien’ and ‘ The Connoisseur,’ priced B1,900+ + and B2,500++ respectively. S et lunch menu changes every month. F or a dining experience to rememb er, b ook for a group of b etween 6-18 diners and you can secure the Chef Tabl e experience. C onducted in a private mezzanine room, this sees C hef erve create a four or five course menu b ased on your preferences, and starts from just B3,500++ per person.
Wo rds C H U T I N A N TA B O O N YA MA R N
Chinese food, Hong Kong style, at K Village on Sukhumvit 26
OR aN auTHEN TiC taste of ong ong this new family-friendly restaurant at illage shopping mall is just the ticket. The restaurant occupies a casual, functional dining space on the mall’s second floor and is redolent with ong ong’s most celebrated dishes. Tossed noodles, steamed rice rolls, barbecued pork, goose and chicken – Golden Bowl proudly serves the lot. Crystal o, the ong ong partner of the restaurant, was there to great us and treat us to a feast. hat you get in ong ong you can find here, she told us. e’ve done everything we can to make the dining experience as authentic as possible –
from importing stoves which we use to concoct our famous congee, to bringing in ingredients for our mei fun noodles and sauces – which people sometimes overlook. The abal one & Prawn Bal l s Congee (B per bowl B per pot is served piping hot from the stove and is a smooth and silky treat. The F resh Shrimps Wonton in Soup (B is e ually as tasty, and we just loved the Crispy roast pork bel l y (B and assorted roast meat pl atter (B . The latter featured a succulent serving of steamed chicken, roast goose and Golden B ow l, K V illage S hopping M all, 2nd floor, 95 Sukhumvit 26. 02 661 3888. kvillagebangkok.com/portfolio/golden-bowl
BB pork the former, a flavourful and generous slab of top uality pork belly. ther highlights include Stir F ried F l at N oodl es with Beef Sl ices (B350); Steamed R ice R ol l s with dried Shrimp and Spring Onions (B18 0); Steamed R ice R ol l s with Pa Tong G oh (B and Crystal’s signature F ried R ice with G aroupa and sal ted sh with ginger (B – a perfect balance of flavours and textures. Alongside its a la carte menu, Golden Bowl offers a choice of set lunch menus ranging in price from B -B (available every onday to riday from am- pm . opular drink choices include Col d Hong K ong Mil k Tea (B and Col d Lemon Tea (B .
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Every WEDNESDAY 7h00 - 9h30 pm Cheese, Cold Cuts & Wine Buffet @ 990 THB net
EVERYDAY 6h00 – 8h00 pm: COCKTAIL FEVER 220 THB net / Glass Buy 1 get 1
“French & Italian” For Booking: call 02.000.4238 or Email us: winedepotbkk @ gmail.com Strip AD_Wine depot_Sep16.indd 1
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Chez Papé French Bistro
An authentic piece of France in the heart of Bangkok
R OM iTS LOCaTiON on Sukhumvit Soi , this delightfully Gallic and completely authentic rench Bistro has been serving the very best in simply-cooked, traditional rench cuisine to its loyal band of customers for the last five years, whether they be expats living in Thailand, the local Thai community, or tourists and business people just passing through for a few days. ery much a small piece of rance in the heart of Bangkok, Chez ap ’s d cor lovingly recreates those typical rench Bistros you could find anywhere from Calais in the north to arseille in the south. Think blackand-white che uered floor tiles and marble-top tables set on cast iron bases, as well as walls plastered with uirky anti uities and pictures of everything rench, from street signs and famous landmarks to old comedians, sports stars and other celebrities. But it’s not just the pleasant and
relaxing atmosphere that is authentically rench, the menu is packed full of traditional rench dishes – a delightful selection of classic sauces, warm bread, great seafood and meat dishes all topped off with a range of yummy home-made desserts. Add to that a range of weekly menu specials prepared by arisian native Chef Benjamin, and an everchanging two-course set lunch menu, and you have all the makings of an authentic, old-style rench Bistro difficult to find anywhere else in Bangkok. Since its inception, Chez ap has always tried to raise its food in terms of flavour combinations and presentation to a level altogether more impressive than expected from a Bistro, whilst still keeping it traditional and the prices sensible. This means there’s not just the expected dishes like F oie gras, Snail s, F rogs l egs and freshly Chez P apé , S ukhumvit S oi 11 ( in a small sub-soi close to Cheap Charlie’ s) . Open daily 11.3 0am – 2pm and 5 pm – 11pm. 02 25 5 249 2. chezpape.com
imported Oysters availabl e, bu t a raft of (sometimes rare to find provincial dishes covering all areas of the rench landscape and rench cooking styles. This is no surprise with Chez ap owner ierre ic Brun coming from yon, the cultural home of rench gastronomy and a place where food is at the heart of everything they do. ierre brings a wealth of experience in the food and beverage industry and is always at the forefront of the Bistro’s friendly service, welcoming guests and being available to offer recommendations on both the menu and the ideal wines to complement your meal from the Bistro’s extensive international wine list. espite all the ups, downs and challenges of life in Thailand since , Chez ap is still thriving, and on onday ctober it will celebrate its fifth birthday in style with an evening event for customers old and new. ull details are available on its acebook page Chez ape renchBistro.
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La Piazza Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
Sukhumvit 24’s newest neighbourhood hangout offers homely Italian eats at great value for money
TaLiaN EX PaT aN TON iO Armenio may be be st known for his eponymous upmarket restaurant on S ukhumvit 31, but his latest venture, on S ukhumvit 24, s hows he is no stranger to casual dining. S hunning well-dressed tabl es and fine glassware in favour of a more homely approach, L a Piazza takes its cue from the kind of family dinners Antonio enjoyed when he was a youngster. And the venue, inspired b y I taly’s renowned town squares – known as P ia z z a s , vib rant hub s of wining, dining and socializing – sets itself up as the ideal meeting place for residents of the surrounding neighb ourhood and b eyond. Set over two floors and decked out with floor-to-ceiling windows, a terracotta-tiled floor, mock-brick walls, and an open kitchen showcasing a woodfired pizza oven, the restaurant has more
style and charm than its ‘ casual-dining’ lab el may suggest. Most of the staff were trained at Antonio’s, so superior service comes as standard, and the whole operation runs swiftly and slickly thanks to Antonio’s wife, Bel, who is always on hand to tend to diners’ needs. ree from the shackles of fine dining, Antonio has clearly had a ba ll creating his menu. Among his generous selection of soups, salads, appetizers, pastas, risottos, wood-fired pizzas, main dishes, and desserts, there are rustic favourites like Chicken Parmagiana (B490+ +); and hearty feasts perfect for sharing, such as Bl ack angus Tomahawk 20 d ays grain fed (Australia. B300 per 100 grams). The F iorentina (light, creamy pasta cooked with mushrooms, garlic, cheese L a P iazza I talian Restaurant and P izzeria, 5 0/4 S ukhumvit 24. V alet parking available f rom 6pm. 02 661 05 88-89 . lapiazzabangkok.com
and spinach. B300++) showcases Antonio’s talent for creating a well ba lanced sauce, while the authentic diavol a piz z a (tomato, mozzarella, bl ack olives and spicy salami. B300++) highlights how a thin, stoneba ked crust always results in the tastiest pie. Chocol ate Panna Cotta (B250++); Tiramisu (B220++); and Crè me brû l é e (B250++) all prove that one should always leave room for dessert. L a Piazza’s handpicked wine list features respected labe ls from Australia, F rance and, of course, I taly. Bottles range in price from B1,600++ to B3,400+ +. W ine by t he glass starts at B220++. C ocktails start at B250++. L avazza coffee and specialty teas start from B80+ +. F ood delivery is availabl e be tween S ukhumvit S ois 23-39 a nd 18- 26 for just B50. Orders can be placed over the phone. * V eg et a r ia n a nd g l ut en fr ee d is h es a r e a v a il a b l e
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Centara Watergate Hotel Bangkok’s International Buffet Restaurant offers weekend feasting at great value for money
OCaTEd iN THE heart of Bangkok’s famed Pratunam shopping district, C entara W atergate H otel Bangkok’s popular all-daydining restaurant serves as a great stopoff after a well-earned spending spree. W ith lashings of international fare on offer, the restaurant’s new W eekend Buffet (availabl e every F riday and S aturday night from 6.30pm-10.30pm) is a veritabl e feast. G reat value at just B1,200++ per person inclusive of soft drinks, it features seafood selections like prawns, oysters, mussels, squid, salmon and Alaskan K ing C rab; cold
cuts, cheeses, soups and salads; and a wide range of classic western and Asian delicacies. H ighlights of the latter include noodles and Phad Thai prepared to order ‘ street-style.’ F ans of European dishes, meanwhile, will find plenty of mouthwatering flavours in Chef’s S ignature’ dishes like Roasted L amb, S paghetti Bolognese and Beef steak, all made using high quality ingredients. Rounding out the experience is 5 67 Ratchaprarop Rd. T el: 02 625 123 4. centarahotelsresorts.com/centara/cw b
a selection of hearty F rench-style casseroles, plus a dessert counter stacked with delicious homemade cakes, fresh tropical fruits, ice creams and traditional Thai desserts. D on’t miss the C rê pe S uzette prepared to your preference – always a great way to wrap up a feast. ocated on the hotel’s ninth floor in a light and airy space next the hotel’s pool, C afé 9 of fers bot h indoor and outdoor seating and successfully straddles the line be tween formal and trendy. An á la carte menu is availabl e every S unday to Thursday.
Guest review by Designed by Priya Lodha
Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy
Meaty treats aplenty at this popular restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 45
HIS was our third visit to Quince, just 20m away from bustling Sukhumvit Road, and one year plus three days from Chef Cameron Barker’s start of his tour of duty. Our band of 18 diners filled the entire length of the dining table and, uncharacteristically, all arrived on time in some semblance of order. In fact, we commenced with Oysters Kilpatrick ahead of normal starting time, which probably was a first! With the tasty sweet Irish oysters came the first of the wines, André Jacquart Blanc de Blancs 1er Vertus Brut NV (Côte des Blancs, France) which proved to be very enjoyable. Not too bubbly as we were reminded by Wine Spokesman, Daniel Arn, who professed not to be a big fan of Champagne but nevertheless found it in his favour.
With opening remarks completed, there followed Yellowfin tuna Carpaccio, marinated with orange and beetroot juice and augmented by pickled beetroot and capers which earned praise from eloquent Food Spokesman John MacTaggart. The accompanying wine, a second Chardonnay, La Cadette Bourgogne Vézelay 2014 (Bourgogne Vézelay, France) was a good match for the Tuna and earned further praise from Daniel (good acidity, lightly oaked, very drinkable), though, as he told us, the region is better known for red wines. Next came a dish described in the menu as Truffle gnocchi but primarily consisted of milk-fed lamb in a tasty mushroom sauce. Light on the truffle, and with the pan-fried gnocchi served in small pieces, this proved to be popular with John and a majority of the diners. The accompanying wine, Nervi Gattinara 2011 (Piedmonte, Italy) – 100% Nebbiolo with an ABV of 13.5% - I found exceptional and, as said by Daniel, could be drunk all day. Full marks are due to Wine Garage who had recommended all of the wines served on the day. Argentinean rib-eye Tagliata,
cooked medium rare, with cauliflower gratin and steamed green vegetables comprised the main dish of the day. The beef had been cooked to perfection on a bed of charcoal that had been fired up at 9.30am, was served on hot plates, and was thoroughly enjoyed even by those diners who, when presented with rare meat, protest they are not “vampires.” Hacienda Monasterio Crianza 2011 (Ribera del Duero, Spain. ABV: 15.0%) accompanied this. The wine is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot, and Daniel went at some length to extoll the virtues of the wine, and its origins. There followed Cherries Jubilee (fresh cherries, vanilla ice cream, and spiced rum) and, closely thereafter, a Selection of washed rind cheeses from Nakhon Sawan which Cameron had allowed to mature for an extra month after its delivery. Along with Domaine Pinon Vouvray Moelleux 2014 (Loire Valley, France), which proved to be a very nice demi-sec Chenin Blanc, Tom and Andrew generously added to the menu a little Stilton, and bottles of port (Kopke 10 years) and cognac. All of these were greatly appreciated by the Club. By now, it was past 4pm so only a few of the staff were left at hand to receive our thanks for the professional efforts and for the customary collection of gratuities. Thanks are also due to Chef Cameron and to the Quince management (Kim Wachtveitl) for accommodating the gang. Sukhumvit Soi 45. 02 662 4478. quincebangkok.com
PUKKA news for fans of British celebrity chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver. In the fourth quarter of this year, Jamie’s renowned eponymous Italian dining concept, developed in partnership with his mentor, Gennaro Contaldo, is set to open at the newly renovated Siam Discovery Bangkok. Expect a homey dining atmosphere and a bustling kitchen cooking rustic treats like Tagliatelle Bolognese, Margherita,
The New Decanter Chicken Al Mattone, and many other classic Italian favourites – all at reasonable prices. Expect more info in a future issue of The BigChilli.
S iam D iscovery B angkok. siamdiscovery.co.th
AFTER undergoing extensive renovations Decanter at The St. Regis Bangkok is now re-open featuring Thailand’s first ever Johnnie Walker Blue Label Room together with an elegant Wine Lounge and Dining Room. The refined, exclusive bar is perfect for all informal, social and corporate events. Become a member and enjoy exclusive privileges such as your very own Johnnie Walker Private Cabinet, invitations to Members Only parties and events, whisky education sessions with Johnnie Walker ambassadors, and even the opportunity to host your own parties at the venue. This month, Decanter will host the Cava Tasting Reception and French Grand Cru Dinner featuring Château Pichon Longueville Baron. Full details are available on the website listed below. S t. Regis B angkok H otel, Ratchadamri Rd. ( Ratchadamri B T S S tation) . Strip AD_Blend_Sep16.pdf 1 8/31/16 1:05 PM 02 207 7777. stregisbangkok.com
LIVE sports and hearty international eats are the hallmarks of Amari Watergate Bangkok’s new bar. Signature dishes such as Jumbo tacos, classic Fish & chips, Lamb chops, Tapas, New York strip steak and Chocolate lava provide plenty of fuel for watching all the sporting action, beamed live from across the world onto well-placed screens in a comfortable atmosphere akin to an English inner city pub. Every night from 5pm-8pm all ladies get two free drinks. A mari W atergate H otel B angkok, P etchburi Rd. 02 65 3 9 000. A mari.com
The Flying Ribs
AT Flying Ribs the mission is simple: To serve delicious home-style cooking in a renovated old house that has been there since Silom was still a canal. Every dish contains only the best ingredients, including some vegetables and herbs grown in the restaurant’s back garden, and, as you can guess from the name, the restaurant takes pride in its spare ribs. Other highlights include the fresh pasta and home-made pizza. 66 B ehind D uangtip B uilding. B etw een S ilom S oi 4 and S oi T haniya. 02 23 6 3 23 5 . bit. ly/2bL U ET H
Eyes opened wide by plight of urban refugees Sixteen-year-old Bangkok Patana School student Erin Arnold recounts her life-changing experience in the slums
T’S often said that expat kids in Bangkok live in a bubble. That we lead a life of glamour and privilege, cushioned from the adversities of the real world. But I didn’t truly understand what that meant – until my own bubble burst. Last year, I traded the air-conditioned comfort of my teenage expatriate lifestyle for a glimpse into the life of an urban refugee. I was accompanied by my cousin Lauren, who wants to be a doctor. Although Bangkok may be famous for its neon-lit nightlife, glittering temples and opulent malls, tucked away behind this facade is a tougher, more heart-breaking world. It is estimated that Thailand is facing an influx of over 110,000 refugees each year who escape their countries of origin in search of safety and freedom. I found all this out and more when I volunteered for 10 days with two Bangkok-based charities: In Search of Sanuk, which directly provides food, shelter, and educational support for survivors of torture and trauma, including refugees; and The Courageous Kitchen, a non-
profit organization inspiring community leadership through the power of food. During my time with the charities I was stationed at a safe house near the city’s Klong Toey slum. Here I met refugees from Africa, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, many of whom were kind enough to share with me their intimate stories of bravery and unbelievable hardship. It sounds strange to say, but discovering that it was just a short journey from my own house to the safe house was one of the most striking moments. I’d passed that soi several times in the bus on my way to school, but I’d never taken the time to
really look out of the window. I’d lived in Thailand for six years, but there was something about the area that was different from my own. No boutique cafés, attentive guards and luxury shopping centers. Instead there were flies dotted everywhere, a dirty canal and acrid fumes. Upon arriving at the safe house, I was greeted warmly by the refugee families. I was told they had witnessed their pastor being shot in their home country and, fearing for their lives, had fled to Bangkok. Several young children ran towards me and clung to my knees with an affection rather unexpected of five yearolds greeting a stranger. I was taken aback by their loving and happy smiles, given the indescribably tough circumstances which they have endured. For the first, but not last time, I wondered: if I were in their position, could I have shown the same
innocent friendliness and joy? First impressions of the safe house were overwhelming. Grabbing my hand, a child who introduced herself as Lek led me through the door. The kitchen was our first stop on my whirlwind tour. The surfaces were laden with years of grime, whilst cockroaches scuttled across the floor into the shadows. (Later in the week I would be asked to scrub the place clean, but luckily I didn’t know that then!) Positioned right next to the sink sat the toilet, its pipes running just a little too close to the oven for my liking. Smiling politely, I was taken to the bedrooms, which to my surprise were cleaner and tidier than my own! Although void of much furniture, the bedroom was spotless; a mismatched collection of blankets and mats stored neatly into a corner. Afterwards I was guided into a living area, smaller than my own bedroom, teeming with around 20 people, old and young. The excitement was over a birthday cake, ablaze with four candles. I heard in hushed whispers this was to celebrate the 40th birthday of one the ladies of the safe house. Acting on the signal of a young boy who waved his hands up and down, we turned off the single bulb in the room and crouched as near to the ground as we could get, before calling out “Surprise!”
nfortunately, it turned out that the surprise was on us. Overwhelmed with emotion, the lady collapsed and fainted, falling in a crumpled heap at our feet! The room was thrown into chaos, and I (recalling what little I remembered about First Aid from school) attempted to put her in recovery position. Fortunately, she quickly came round, overwhelmed with gratitude, telling us that it was the first birthday cake she’d received in many years. Later that evening, after eating noodles while sat cross-legged on a bamboo mat, Lek and some other kids led me up the stairs and onto the rooftop of her house. This perilous journey involved a precarious climb up a swaying ladder and through a hole in the corrugated iron roof. Once I made it to the roof unscathed, I was able to truly take in the vibrant chaos of Bangkok like I’d never seen it before. Neon lights flickered into life as the sun sank behind the skyline. Somewhere out there was my own home. The next day we took the children for a swim at the local pool, and anyone could
tell how much they loved this rare treat. After selecting their desired swimsuit out of a dozen kindly donated options, they catapulted into the pool with big splashes. While sitting by the pool, I was introduced to a 21-year-old refugee who had escaped war in Congo at the tender age of 13. He told me how he had witnessed a relative being shot dead and had fled over the border, and how he was left to fend for himself in the streets. It seemed wrong somehow, to be dangling our legs lazily into the pool whilst he recalled such sensitive memories with a sad calmness. He told me how, when aged 16, he had bribed a pilot to let him stow away in the underbelly of a cargo plane, its destination Bangkok. He told me how he had turned up on the doorstep of a church with no money, no family, and how the church and an associated charity took him in. They showed him compassion and gave him hope. As he spoke, I watched the children play in the pool, and wondered what sad stories each could tell. I was to spend ten days with them and each day I learned more and more about their lives. It struck me that we all live in bubbles, living beside each other, but separated. The big difference of course, is that I am privileged to get a glimpse into their world, but they will struggle to get any of the advantages of mine. However, there is a lot we can do. Later I tried to teach them some English. But it was hard work and
that’s another story! Thank you so much Dwight Turner and Christy Innouvong from Search for Sanuk and The Courageous Kitchen. You are truly people that walk your talk and are making an amazing difference! Thanks also to Samutprakarn International Ladies Club (SILC) members for donating the swimsuits. For more info visit insearchofsanuk.com
The LifeCo Phuket – Natural Healing in a Phuket Paradise Miles away from the urban jungle, stress and chaos, The LifeCo Phuket is an ideal destination for those who seek serenity and rejuvenation
N an environment that promises mental and physical comfort, the new LifeCo Phuket Well-Being Center is now welcoming guests who not only appreciate the benefits of healthy living, but also aspire to a better lifestyle. The center addresses the growing need for preventing and coping with modern lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, depression, and many other ailments. Tucked away in lush greenery and pure serenity, The LifeCo Phuket WellBeing Center is close to the white sands and blue water of Nai Thon, the island’s most beautiful beach. The center is designed to offer the most natural solutions in fighting stress, protection from diseases, and supporting well-being and well-ageing. This is all part of a tried and tested 360-degree health
approach which includes pampering and beauty treatments, as well as spiritual therapies, all in the same complex. The LifeCo Phuket Well-Being Center operates in cooperation with a partnered clinic for an Integrative Healing Program. Guests are attended to by doctors from our clinic, where we help to design the right support and additional healing programs based on your situation and life-change journey.
for a period of at least two days. But seven days are recommended for an effective purification. There are six key nutrition programs guests can follow depending on their health objectives, such as weight loss, de-stressing, anti-ageing. Juice Fasting-Detox Programs • Master Detox Program • Green Juice Detox Programs • Green Salad Detox Program
Detox & Cleansing In today’s modern world, we are exposed to polluted air, stress, processed foods, additives and many other factors that can cause the accumulation of toxins in our bodies. The LifeCo Center offers you the most effective cleansing detox programs available. The programs must be implemented
Healthy Nutrition Programs • Anti Aging Healthy Nutrition Programs • Low Calorie Healthy Nutrition Program • etogenic Healthy Nutrition Program Ser vices & treatments included in all our Detox Therapy Programs are: • Accommodation • Daily nutrition these programs are
chosen according to the individual’s needs). • Detox Master Detox, Green Juice Detox or Green Salad Detox) • Free ow of detox soup, herbal teas and alkaline water throughout the day • 1 session 15 mins doctor consultation • 2 sessions 15 mins each body composition analysis • Daily sonic world vibration therapy – 30 mins
• Daily morning walk • Educational sessions covering different topics on healthy lifestyle • The LifeCo gift set Well-Ageing Well-ageing therapies provide personalized solutions and treatments according to a guest’s health and body structure. After the doctor and dietician measure and evaluate your health status,
• Complementary holistic healing for cancer • Anti ageing therapies • Liver cleansing • Bio identical hormone therapy • Stress reduction • Chelation therapy • Customi ed programs with natural therapies • Mental wellness support Facilities and activities • Bicycles available • Raw vegan cuisine with healthy and delicious menus • Free transportation to beach club • Whole plant based live food workshops and education • Tours to local natural attractions and Phuket tourist centres Vegan Half Board The LifeCo Center also offers Half Board for guests wishing to sample the resort and enjoy two raw vegan meals daily. This leaves plenty of time to enjoy the other delights of Phuket’s natural paradise, whilst providing an introduction to the resort and the wellness lifestyle.
• Daily biophoton therapy – 25 mins • Magneto therapy – 15 mins when needed) • Daily use of “Angel Water colon cleansing without the aid of a nurse) • Morning yoga and meditation group sessions • Use of the spa area infrared sauna, steam room, trampoline and inversion table) • Daily use of the outdoor pools and fitness room
programs are prepared and implemented which not only increase well-being but also maintain it in the future. At the end of the program, you will feel more energetic, self-confident, peaceful and healthier. Key Ser vices • Nutrition orientated programs • Detox cleansing programs • Healthy nutrition programs workshops • Weight loss programs • Clinic integrated healing programs
Wellness Programs Each program serves a different purpose. In The LifeCo Center there is always a solution for every need. You can always consult our detox experts to create the best program combination. Are you ready to cleanse your body, soak up the sun, and make the most of your detox vacation Join us to build a better and healthier life at The LifeCo Phuket Well-Being Center. 75 Moo 3 Tambon Sa Koo Thalang District, Phuket. 076 328 467, 098 015 9196. thelifeco.com
KIS students in the spotlight
KIS International School has announced that its class of 2016 achieved academic results significantly higher than the average pass rate worldwide. The school’s 32 graduating students all participated in the full International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programme and all of them passed, receiving the prestigious IB Diploma. As in previous years, the average score that KIS students were awarded well exceeded the world average score. The average of KIS students was 34 points, compared to the world average of 30 points. This has placed the school in the top 25% of the world for the last five years. The graduates have now moved on to the next chapter in their lives, heading off to great universities all around the world to study in the fields of marine biology, business, economics, psychology, architecture, aeronautical engineering, medicine and many more. www.kis.ac.th
Last Night of the Proms returns next month
SHREWSBURY International School hosts its 10th annual Last Night of the Proms event on Thursday October 27, promising another evening of top quality entertainment and hospitality. Celebrating 122 years of British Proms heritage and more than a decade of exceptional music-making at Shrewsbury, the musical programme combines contemporary classics from stage and screen alongside traditional Proms favourites. Hosted in our world-class auditorium,
the concert will feature performances from Shrewsbury’s Senior Choirs and renowned Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Director of Music, Ken Haggarty, and returning guest conductor, John Moore (Shrewsbury School, UK). The event starts at 5.45pm with a preconcert drinks reception followed by a quality buffet dinner of fine international cuisine, and capped with a post-concert fireworks display finale, all to be enjoyed in Shrewsbury’s unique riverside setting. The guest list includes business leaders from leading national and international companies, and representatives from a range of embassies and social and professional organisations. Event sponsors include Four Seasons and Raimon Land, who will be showcasing details of some of their latest exciting developments. For tickets, please email: tickets@ shrewsbury.ac.th or call 02 675 1888 ext 1108 / 1113.
Shrewsbury appoints new Principal AFTER an extensive global search, The Board of Governors at Shrewsbury International School Bangkok has appointed Mr Christopher Seal as the school’s new Principal from August 2017. Mr Seal is currently the Deputy Head (Pastoral) of the prestigious Millfield School in Somerset, UK. He succeeds Mr Stephen Holroyd who, after 13 years of service, becomes Chief Executive Officer of Shrewsbury International (Asia). This company will have extensive responsibilities across all of Shrewsbury’s international schools in Southeast Asia. Mr Seal is 43 years old and is married
to Sam, who is currently a teacher at Millfield Prep School. They have two children, Molly (14) and Amy (12), both of whom will be joining Shrewsbury International School as senior school students in 2017. Mr Seal has a BA in English, Physical Education and Sports Science from Loughborough University and a PGCE in Physical Education and History from the same university. He has enjoyed a distinguished sporting career playing Minor Counties Cricket for Suffolk between 1997 and 2005.
Through a broad-based and unique multi-lingual curriculum, SISB offers effective learning environments, opportunities and challenges to foster students as lifelong learners and future leaders. With more than 1,500 students of over 30 nationalities, and strong teaching and support staff hailing from over 20 countries, the SISB community is inspired by a global outlook and enriched by cultural diversity SISB Pracha Uthit is the first International School in Thailand to be formally appointed by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) as the official examination centre for the Singapore International Primary School Examination (iPSLE). The school is also an approved centre certified by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) to conduct IGCSE, AS and A Levels examinations. SISB Pracha Uthit is certified by the Ministry of Education of China as a Hanban centre to conduct Chinese proficiency tests for students, and is fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) as well as the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC). Recognised by The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Scheme, SISB is an Independent Operator for the world’s leading youth achievement award programme. “SISB continues in its effort to provide a quality education to its students from nursery to kindergarten and subsequently right up to the advanced level,” says the Head of School, Victor Giam. “Other than
residences, and a performing arts centre housing a 500-seater concert hall, music rooms, art rooms and a recording studio. “This will thus free up the rooms in the existing buildings for the primary section where the student population is also increasing,” explains Mr Giam.
classroom lessons, students are provided with various experiential learning such as enrichment programmes and extracurricular activities within and outside the school, including overseas learning journeys to develop sound values, life skills, leadership skills, confidence, resilience, teamwork, cultural awareness and compassion for the less fortunate.” SISB’s Ekkamai campus continues to provide nursery to primary 2 education while the Pracha Uthit campus provides nursery education right up to Year 13 (UK Cambridge Advanced Level). Suvarnabhumi campus provides nursery to primary education. To meet the demands of an ever increasing student population, SISB recently expanded its Pracha Uthit campus to provide state-of-the-art facilities to its students. These facilities include: an ultra-modern academic block set over six floors, a two-storey sports hall, a swimming pool, two boarding
SISB has established its reputation as a trusted brand for quality education in Thailand and continues to grow as an organisation dedicated to providing a world class education. For more information visit www.sisb.ac.th
Meet the boarding master: Stewart Ross SISB’s Head of Boarding explains the benefits of living on campus • As Head of Boarding at SISB’s Pracha Uthit campus my role is to ensure that our boarding programme provides students with a home away from home environment that is challenging, culturally enriching and supportive. Students are accepted into our two Boarding Houses from Primary 3 to Year 13. The wide age range helps to promote the House ethos of Service and Leadership by encouraging older students to look out for others in the lower year groups, thereby creating a House with a warm caring atmosphere within which all students can thrive.
• Realising that our students and their families have a variety of needs with regards to accommodation, we offer both Weekly (Monday to Friday) and Full Boarding (seven day) options. Located within the newly expanded Secondary Campus of the school, the two Boarding Houses provide a modern, comfortable and safe environment for our students who choose to board with us. • Having spent my formative school years at boarding schools in England and the United States, I feel that I >>
School Report • ith the ull Boarding programme, care is taken to balance the pursuit of academic excellence with providing our students opportunities to take part in fun activities with their peers that they would not normally experience in their daily lives. Therefore, a typical weekend could include wake boarding at the nearby watersports facilities, golf, Thai boxing training, a trip to the shopping mall to see a movie or a trekking trip to a national park. • SISB’s strong academic foundations help prepare our students academically when applying to universities and colleges worldwide. The boarding programme helps to extend that education to enhance their leadership skills, selfconfidence, resilience, and self-reliance.
>> understand what it is like to be both a regular boarder as well as an international student in boarding. Both groups of students bring with them different emotional needs, expectations and cultural adjustment requirements. Meeting these needs is the main challenge that my boarding staff and I have to cater to in the early part of the academic year. Success, you might say, would be to have created a harmonious, happy and challenging living environment that complements and enriches both a boarder’s school and homelife. • he fact that hai culture is vibrant e ible and highly adaptive adds a very special dimension to a boarding experience in this country compared to one in the West. Our regular day students represent many regions of the world, and whilst we aim to reflect this international flavour in our Boarding Houses there will still be an underlying Thai foundation of friendliness, respect, fun, and a family atmosphere. All of these qualities combine to help create a boarding culture that is first and foremost international within the framework of one of the most accommodating, unique and attractive cultures in the world. • ur ne state of the art Boarding Houses within a selfcontained Secondary campus allow our boarders, whether they are in Secondary or Primary, to have use of the new sports facilities, which include a six floor sports block, sports field and swimming pool. A typical schedule for a weekly boarder would consist of opportunities to participate in Extra-Curricular Activities (ECAs) at the end of the day in both sport and the arts. After their ECAs, boarders would have dinner and then attend Study Hall when they would be required to do their homework.
• Studies conducted by he American Boarding School’s Association (TABS) have shown that a child who has been a boarder is considerably better prepared to succeed at University compared to a day student. When a student attends University some of the main stressors that they have to deal with are: living away from home, maintaining their own living area, adhering to a schedule without parental guidance, homesickness and living with other students 24 hours a day. The advantage that ex-boarders have is that they have already experienced and dealt with these issues, often years ago, and are therefore better able to focus on their academic studies than their non-boarding counterparts. • Studies conducted by ABs have found that boarders are able to devote at least twice as much time to their academic studies than their day student counterpart. This is due to the more stringent adherence to Study Hall opportunities and inhouse support. • urrently only the SISB Pracha Uthit campus has boarding but we do have plans to expand to other campuses as the need arises. Parents are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of a boarding experience for their children and we are committed to providing them with this opportunity. • Having overseen the establishment of the sailing programme, both in the Primary and Secondary sections of our school, I shall be aiming to offer our newly trained sailors the opportunity to compete against students from other international schools in Thailand and the ASEAN Region. Our newly established International Award Programme, which helps guide students in arranging their own jungle treks, kayaking trips and sailing expeditions, will certainly support our students in becoming the well rounded global citizens of the future.
Ste art Ross in focus
ITH over 20 years of experience in international education, Stewart Ross began his teaching career in London and moved to Thailand in 1997 when he was offered a position with Redeemer International School (RIS) in Bangkok. Prior to joining SISB, Stewart was a School Counsellor and Teacher at Harrow International School, Bangkok, where he was greatly involved in the Boarding and Outward Bound Programmes. He has also served in Counselling and Teaching positions in International School Bangkok (ISB). Stewart holds a Master of Education from State University New York, Buffalo, USA; Post Graduate Certificate in Education from University of Surrey, Froebel College, England, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in United States Studies with a Major in US Literature from University of Essex, England. Since 2005 he has been a member of the American School Counsellor Association and Bangkok Counsellors Forum.
Keen, green and clean: Ascot International School An oasis of learning in Ramkhamhaeng
S Bangkok continues to expand, the trinity of schools, hospitals and malls follows in its wake. Ascot International School (AIS), on Ramkhamhaeng, has skipped this trend and has waited for Bangkok to catch up with it. Established 20 years ago on soi 118 Ramkhamhaeng, in moobarn Pruksachart and very close to Sammakorn, AIS offers an English medium international education for students between the ages of 2 – 18. The school has grown sustainably, rather than a “build it then fill it” approach, and this has allowed the school’s welcoming family atmosphere to be maintained. A visit is essential to get the feel of the campus. With easy access to Kanchanaphisek ring road, Ramkhamhaeng and only 30 minutes from downtown Sukhumvit, the first impression is of a calm green oasis. The sound of children playing punctuates this calm at break and lunchtime, and during lessons the buzz of group work and discussions echoes down the hallways.
As a fully accredited CIS (Council of International Schools) International School, with accreditation from WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), AIS delivers a rigorous and comprehensive education that is on par with schools around the world. Local accreditation agencies have ensured that AIS submits to domestic requirements in addition to international ones. In February 2016 the school became an IB (International Baccalaureate) World School, and received glowing praise from the IB visiting team for the quality of teaching, the support of parents and the governing body. The IB team also remarked on the enthusiasm and confidence of students across the school. The school is an independent entity and is free to make decisions based on the needs of the school community, not dictated by a head office overseas or a consortium of schools. The size of the school ensures students feel safe and welcomed, and allows for interactions across the curriculum and year groups. Boutique is an overused word but is the only one available to describe the school’s niche in the well-populated landscape of
international schools in Bangkok. Learning outside the classroom, and the development of skills in addition to knowledge are at the heart of the curriculum. Fieldtrips and visits add relevance to learning and the campus is used to extend the physical and social dimensions of learning. Study areas are installed around the school, on landings and lobbies. Outdoor learning areas include an open-air classroom shaded by a pergola, and a school garden where plants can be propagated by students to support their science lessons and to add to the landscape. Vertical gardens and hydroponic projects are planned for the coming years which will connect students more with the world around them and offer many cross curricular learning opportunities. The school follows the National Curriculum for England and Wales from EY up to the end of key stage 3. Students then take the IGCSEs in years 10 and 11. In year 12 and 13, students study the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP), a rigorous yet broad based curriculum, which allows students to develop academically. In addition, there is a
Essential foods for boosting fertility Nutrition consultant Judith Coulson explains why a healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy diet â– IN the last 10 years several of my friends and colleagues experienced difficulties in getting pregnant or being able to sustain a pregnancy. Doing some research about this, Iâ€™ve discovered there is a lot of literature available showing that fertility rates are going down in developed countries. The same results are also found in Thailand. There are several socioeconomic factors listed that lead to a change of family structures and therefore fertility
rates in Thailand, but two key areas which all papers include are lifestyle and eating habits. New norms in how we treat and nourish our bodies are leading to a lower sperm count and quality for men, and hormonal changes leading to ovulation off-kilter for women. All the studies I looked at named four main issues with modern diet and lifestyle habits that can massively lower the chances of becoming pregnant:
92 percent more likely infertile than people on low glycemic-load diet. Conclusion: Eat whole grain, low glycemic load carbohydrates
1. The quality of carbohydrates More than any other nutrient, carbohydrates determine your blood-sugar and insulin levels. When these rise too high, they disrupt the finely tuned balance of hormones needed for reproduction. The ensuing hormonal changes throw ovulation off-kilter. Looking at the glycemic load of foods, a measure that conveys information about both the amount of carbohydrate in the diet and how quickly it is turned to blood sugar, people on a high glycemic-load diet were
2. The quality of fat Trans fats are a powerful deterrent to ovulation and conception. Eating less of this artificial fat can improve fertility. Simultaneously adding more healthful unsaturated fats to your diet, whenever possible, can boost your chances of getting pregnant. Across the board studies showed, the more trans fats in the diet, the greater the likelihood of developing ovulatory infertility. An effect could be seen even at daily trans
A D V I C E Expat life getting you down? Professional counselors Anette and Johanna are here to help.
Proud but jealous of my kids My problem is a little bit embarrassing, particularly for a man of my age. I am writing in anonymously because I really don’t want anyone to know, but this is troubling me more and more. The issue is this: I am envious of my own kids. I know I shouldn’t be. But if I am really honest, that’s what it boils down to. I have a good job (although it is a bit boring and doesn’t fill me with passion) and I’ve done alright in life. I’m not complaining. But both my children, now in their early twenties, have and have already had so many opportunities that I never had. One of them is studying at a famous university and already been offered a really well paying, interesting job, and the other one is following her dream and working as a singer/actress. She’s been on TV back home and seems to be set on a career doing what she loves. They’ve also both had a chance to travel extensively, while I was almost 30 before I even left Europe! I am proud of them and I love them, of course. But deep down I wish I had had the same opportunities, and I feel that I missed out in life. I had talents and dreams, too. Am I a bad person? I don’t feel I can share these feelings with anyone, not even my wife. Tony, 52, from the UK
A • Anette Pollner Adv. Dipl. Couns., is one of seven international counsellors at NCS Counseling Center in Saphan Kwai. She trained in London and the US and worked as a staff counsellor at Bart’s Hospital in London.
Dear Tony, This is a very brave thing to admit, even anonymously! Parents are supposed to always put their kids first, and envy of your own children is definitely not socially acceptable. But… As you yourself say, you had talents and dreams, too, but you weren’t able to follow them in the same way. I think there are two different things going on here: One is that your children have these opportunities, at least partly, because you supported them and nurtured them. You opened up the world for your kids in ways in which it was not opened up for you. Maybe, without realizing it, you did this also because you wished it had happened for you. Maybe you also feel happy about that, in spite of your unwanted negative emotions. Whatever they achieve, you laid the foundations for that. So when you are proud of them, be also a little bit proud of yourself. The other issue is that, while you are a good father, you are also just a person, like everyone else. Your life is important, too, all on its own, and it’s the only life you have. And while it is wonderful to find joy in the happiness of others, you also need to find fulfilment for yourself. And you are also at an age where you become aware of the fact that life is not endless. Opportunities are not endless. It is true that you have missed out on some things, maybe even things that could have shaped your life in a much more satisfying way. Some of your talents and dreams have not become reality, and some of them never will. It is very natural to feel sadness – in a way, you are grieving a big loss. And you seem less than happy in the job you do now. Maybe your envy is covering up for that sadness. After all, it’s not your kids who limited your life. Many other factors contributed to that, and maybe still do. Maybe now is a good time to explore your past, grieve losses and try to understand yourself on a deeper level. And: while some dreams will not come true any more, you can still make some changes in your life that will bring you closer to what you really want. Look at your kids: they are going for it. They are now in their twenties and don’t depend on you in the same way they did when they were younger. Why don’t you learn from them? Your life is not over yet. If you take this opportunity to re-invent yourself, you will almost certainly feel less envious and more focused on being both a good father and a unique human being who deserves a chance for personal happiness.
Q A • MS is the Clinical Director of NCS Counseling Center. She trained in the Netherlands and Australia.
Troubled by boyfriend’s relationship with his ex-wife After many years of being single, I am now dating a nice man. We’ve been seeing each other for about a year now. In many aspects he is a kind and decent person. He is divorced and has a son. And he still has a good relationship with his exwife. They phone each other often and once month he takes her out for dinner. He says he wants a good connection with her because of his son and I do understand this, but I find it difficult to accept that he needs to go out with her in the evening and go for dinner so regularly. So I suggested that maybe I could join them sometimes, so that I could get to know the mother of his child. But he doesn’t seem to be ver y eager to make that happen. And so, over time, I’ve started to feel quite uncomfortable with his dinners with his ex-wife. Of course I don’t mind that they are in contact with each other – this is necessar y for bringing up their child together. But I do mind that I am left out. Is this reasonable? How should I deal with this situation? Mina, 31, from Sweden Dear Mina, A friendship with an ex-partner is possible and it’s well worth maintaining it, if all parties are in agreement and are comfortable with it. But your situation doesn’t sound like this. You feel excluded. You want to be your partner’s “number 1” and somehow you don’t seem to have this feeling. Instead, you feel insecure because of his intensive relationship with his ex-wife. I wonder whether his ex-wife has a new relationship? Is this new person also excluded from the get-togethers? How often does your boyfriend take you on a date and how often do you have a special dinner together? How much does he share with you about the conversations he has with his ex-wife? If the reason for the dinners with his ex-wife is to keep up a good connection, could this not be achieved in a less “special” way? A way that makes you feel safe in your relationship with him and that still would make it possible for him to participate as much as possible in the parenting of his son? What happens when the son visits his father (your boyfriend)? How much are you then part of their life together? I do think it would be beneficial for the child, if all the three (or maybe four) grown-ups in the blended family knew each other and were on good terms with each other. Could you start an open conversation with your boyfriend, starting with the positive aspects of his focus on being a good parent? And maybe this issue goes even deeper. Are you and your partner open about sharing feelings and thoughts with each other about his past relationship? Do you both dare to express your fears, concerns and wishes? Can you tell him what you need in your relationship with him right now and how he can fulfill this for you? And what about him? Can he ask and tell you his dreams and ideas for the future and what he hopes for in his relationship with you? Could it be that what bothers you the most is the fact that there is an aura of secrecy around his “dinner dates” with his ex? Is it that secrecy that causes your feelings of being excluded and separates you? If your boyfriend wants to build a close, deep and safe relationship with you, I expect he will be open to talk with you about your feelings, and about his feelings. For the future of this blended family, you need to find a solution that you all can be happy with.
Contact details: ncs-counseling.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 02 279 8503, or send your problems to: email@example.com
Social Last monthâ€™s best events in pictures
UNDER ARMOUR CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVERSARY
UNDER Armour (UA), a leading manufacturer of innovative sportswear, celebrated its first year of operations in Thailand last month. The brand offers a wide range of products and apparel in various sport categories, and is wellknown for its running shoe, the Bandit 2, which has been engineered with innovative seamless heel technology that delivers zero distraction while running. UA operates in Mega Bangna, Zpell @ Future Park, Siam Paragon, Emporium and The Emquartier.
EMPIRE SNEAKER LAB STRIDES INTO TOWN
YOU can finally keep your sneakers in tip-top condition thanks to the arrival of Empire Sneaker LAB, at Dilok Flagship Store, Chula Soi 12. The LAB, which offers both cleaning and custom print design services, opened last month with a sneaker design workshop attended by sneaker collectors from Bangkok and beyond. The shop is mainly stocked with products from Solitaire, a renowned German brand with over 80 years of experience in the footwear care service.
ROYAL CELEBRATIONS AT THE EM DISTRICT
SANSIRI OPENS HABITO COMMUNITY MALL IN ON NUT
LEADING real estate developer Sansiri PLC organized a party to celebrate the launch of HABITO, a community retail and creative lifestyle hub on Sukhumvit 77. Developed in partnership with global creative agency Winkreative, and located in Sansiri’s T77 Community in the heart of On Nut, the new mall includes a co-working space; a Muay Thai Academy; a ‘Natural Living’ space inspired by Japanese architecture; 15 restaurants, and more. A free shuttle bus service operates between Habito and On Nut BTS station. For more information visit facebook.com/habitomall.
IN honour of the 84th Birthday Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and Mother’s Day on August 12, The Model Farm Project and The Support Foundation (both under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty), teamed up with The SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand and The EM District (The Emporium and The EmQuartier) to hold “The EM District Roy Rak Kwam Pookpan Sarn Fan Jark Mae Luang.” The event featured a special exhibition, related workshops, and many shops selling products from The Model Farm Project and The Support Foundation. Thanpuying Pharani Mahanonda, HM Queen Sirikit’s Deputy Private Secretary, presided over the opening ceremony.
Around town Social|Last Month’s Best Events
FIRST TOUR OF SOMERSET EKAMAI BANGKOK
CAPITALAND’S wholly-owned serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), held an exclusive ‘Hard Hat Tour’ of its first mixed use development in Thailand, Somerset Ekamai Bangkok. Around 15 guests, including media, travel agents and corporate clients, were the first group to experience the progress being made in this newly-built project. The first phase of the project, which features 81 pet-friendly apartments for corporate lease and a multi-functional conference centre, opened on August 25. The second phase, which will feature 1 serviced residencies and 51 urban community rooms, will be completed this November. More info at www.the-ascott.com.
ALL IN GOOD TASTE AT RATCHAPRASONG MERCEDES-BENZ LAUNCHES FOUR ‘DREAM CAR’ MODELS
MERCEDES-BENZ (Thailand) Limited hosted ‘Star Fest 2 1 ’ at CentralWorld where it launched four new models in the Dream Car category the new SLC AMG Dynamic, a dynamic roadster; the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43, a two-seater compact roadster by AMG; the new generation SL 400, a refreshed version of the legendary roadster; and the new S 5 Cabriolet, an “S-Class Style” four-seater roadster. Prices start from 3,990,000 baht. 108
THE Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA) teamed up with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to launch a gourmet campaign dubbed “Taste it all 2 1 Ratchaprasong The Royal Delights.” Specially arranged to underline the district’s stance as a lifestyle hub of Bangkok, part of the campaign (which runs through Sept 30) will see selected hotels and restaurants in the area all serve signature menus made using premium ingredients from The Royal Project. enues taking part include InterContinental Bangkok, Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam, Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel, The St. Regis Bangkok, and 182 Tea Lounge by Ronnefeldt. For more info visit: www. heartofbangkok.com or www.facebook. com/HeartOfBangkok.
DIPLOMATS Meet the people uniting nations
His Excellency Mikael Hemnity Winther
Ambassador of the world’s ‘happiest nation' explains what it takes to make people happy Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER
Dean of Bangkok’s Diplomatic Corps has some interesting advice as he looks back on six years’ representing Denmark in Thailand
ENMARK’S popular motorcycle-riding and guitarplaying ambassador Mikael Hemnity Winther completed his posting to Thailand last month and will take up a new assignment in Bangladesh. The BigChilli had the privilege of chatting with this widely respected diplomat and former dean of the Bangkok diplomatic corps at his embassy before he left. Below are excerpts from that conversation. “I began my term as Danish ambassador to Thailand on January 1, 2011 and quickly realized that the job automatically brings enormous respect from government officials and others in positions of authority. They are very willing to advise and brief you. But in order for me to be sure that I understood the country, I knew I had to do something different. I couldn’t only move in Hi-So circles. Not that I don’t enjoy that sort of thing, but to perform my duties effectively I needed to know what was really going on in the country. “A part of this was going out on the motorcycle wearing a black T-shirt where nobody knew who I was. I go out on my own to be anonymous because then ordinary people
will talk to you. Obviously, I am not sitting there asking ‘what Rewards and challenges do you think about this and that’; I am sensing the people’s mood,” explained Mr Winther. o serve in Thailand for almost six years has “Another big thing has been music. When I go out to been incredibly rewarding. It really has been the play music I come in contact with Thai musicians and Thai best experience of my life. The reason – and I audiences. These people come to entertainment spots to am not just sweet-talking here – is that Thailand have a good time and they don’t care who I am. When I play is a wonderful country with wonderful people. guitar they like it; they are not concerned about me being an However, it can’t be denied that there are a lot of ambassador or something else. It’s the same when I go out challenges facing the country now. Overall I am impressed with on the motorbike. Why should people care who I am? Doing the optimism and resilience of the Thai people and I feel sure these types of things I get to be a little more in touch with they will overcome the challenges and make it through this other parts of the society, so I understand more when I make difficult period. reports about what is going on in the country. “The most challenging time for me personally was “Then I meet with NGOs and I meet with university the military coup in 2014. The country now doesn’t have students. I try to get as many speaking assignments at Thai a democratically elected government. The EU and the universities as I can, so I can get feedback from the students government of Denmark has pointed out that we would like not just from the teachers. I always encourage the students to see the Thai people more involved in decision making to speak. They are shy, of course, but I really try to get the processes involving the future of the country. We have also opinions of young people. Otherwise you don’t get the full pointed out that human rights and freedom of the press in picture of the country. Thailand should be protected. So we have been very strongly “Many times the official views and supporting the way back to democracy opinions differ from those of ordinary and encouraging the government to people. This is true also in my own keep to its ‘road map’ and as quickly as country and for myself. When I talk to possible hold democratic elections. That’s There’s a strong my colleagues inside diplomatic circles something we have been busy monitoring or outside it, I have the privilege to be correlation between at the Danish embassy. able to express my personal opinion “I always try to share the experiences trust and lack of on all matters as long as it is clear that of my country when I am talking to Thais, corruption. You know I don’t talk as a representative of my especially regarding the democratic that if your neighbour, processes, social issues and human rights country and my government. Naturally, who may be rich in my work I promote the official line in my own country. I also try to share the from Denmark, but as a Danish diplomat and powerful, does experiences of Thailand when talking to I can certainly have my own opinion my countrymen. something wrong, even about my own government. “The decisions of the EU with regard then he will go to “As the Danish ambassador I to contacts with the Thai government do court and receive the not prevent us from maintaining highhave the right to talk freely in private and even completely disagree with same punishment as level political contacts. It gives us some my government in private. But, on limitations but we can still have a close anybody else. the other hand, I work for the Danish dialogue. That is important to maintain Trust makes people government and I have a clear good relations and work together. feel happy. responsibility to promote its policies. “Another important task that I have
is that my embassy must respond to the needs of the very large number of Danes in Thailand that are here most of the year. There are more than 100 Danish companies here, and we try to help as much as we can, in particular in dealing with government agencies, identifying partners and/or helping finding market opportunities. “We also have around 170,000 Danish tourists coming here every year and some of them need assistance from the embassy. So we have a lot of very serious work to do to keep them happy, but most of these tasks – including providing good service – is what makes the job very interesting. Fortunately I have managed to find time to really enjoy this beautiful country and its great people,” Mr Winther said.
The Danish formula for happiness
enmark has quite consistently been ranked as the happiest country in the world, meaning that if you ask Danish people to what extent they are happy with their lives, they consistently rank themselves higher than in other countries,” said the ambassador. “There are a lot of indices used to compare different countries, how they perform economically as a whole or per capita for example. But in the recent years there’s been an increasing focus on people’s welfare and how happy they are. We are talking about happiness in a broad sense, not happy like ‘ha, ha, ha,’ but do they feel they have a good life? “The issue is, of course, how do you measure happiness? Happiness is subjective, so instead trying to measure it from the outside the measurement is made by personal interviews. You have various indicators on what constitutes happiness. It can be an immediate feeling or emotion you have, like if the girl you like calls you up and says she loves you. You feel very happy at that moment, but happiness can also be a more lasting state of well-being. It could be that your life is fulfilling, that you feel safe, that you think you have a good social network of friends, and you are not afraid of becoming ill because you know that you can get good hospital care. You have work that stimulates you and provides you with a good income. “The funny thing is that we always hear that old cliché, ‘money doesn’t make you happy.’ But money does make you happy to a certain extent. When you have a certain amount of money you have some freedom and safety and you can choose to go and entertain yourself and you can travel. These things make you happy. But you just need that certain amount. Having much more money doesn’t make you much happier. “These are some of the criteria that define happiness. People around the world are interested in knowing what it is that makes Danish people so happy. There’s an acceptance that this is a measurement of the quality of life in a country and not its relative prosperity. It is interesting to me that the present government of Thailand proclaimed that the reason they made the coup was to return happiness to the Thai people.
Since Denmark ranks so high on the happiness scale I thought it was appropriate that I share my experiences with the Thai people on what it is that makes Danish people feel happy. “So I contacted the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark. They are actually researching happiness. We at the embassy asked the director of the institute to come to Thailand, and also to Malaysia and Singapore. The institute did a presentation in these three countries on happiness, and we invited a group of interested Thai and foreign people. It was held at my residence. We didn’t invite a lot of people because we wanted to have an intimate atmosphere and we also wanted Thai participants to be able to speak freely. There are restrictions in Thailand now on speech and writing, but they were safe in my residence. “A major criterion for happiness that we can easily see in Denmark is freedom to do what you like. This might be pursuing a sexual interest that you like. You could be gay, you could be transgender you could be whatever you want and have the same rights as people with other sexual preferences. In Denmark you can write anything you like in the newspapers, as long as you don’t slander other people. You can express your opinion, you can disagree with and criticize the government and you can talk about something that makes you angry in Denmark. You can trust that the authorities are not corrupt and trust that if you go to court you will get fair treatment whether or not you have money or power. That also constitutes happiness because it makes you feel safe. That creates trust in society and trust among the people makes individuals feel happy. You trust your neighbour.
“I want to show you two pictures (see above and next page). In the first one, some parents in Denmark have left their baby in a cradle outside a café while they have a coffee inside because they trust that nobody will come and kidnap their baby. The second photo was taken in the Danish countryside, where a farmer sells vegetables and flowers out on the street. It’s like a little street shop. The interesting thing is that no one is servicing the shop. The prices are written on the board and when people stop to buy something they take what they want
Denmark is yet again the happiest nation in the world Happiness
Denmark is again the world’s happiest country according to UN’s Happiness Report 2016. The survey measured trust, freedom, healthcare and generosity, among others.
Denmark has topped the list of least corrupted countries four years in a row, and in the most recent survey, Denmark scored 91 points out of 100 possible according to Transparency International in 2015.
Best nation to live in for women
According to a survey done by BAV consulting and Wharton School, Denmark is the best nation to live in for women. Gender equality, security and free high-quality healthcare and education were all cited as reasons.
Best nation to do business in
Forbes’ survey measures innovation, level of taxes and bureaucracy. Denmark has topped the list six times in the last 10 years.
No. 1 in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016 (No. 3 in 2015) No. 1 in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.
No. 1 in 2015
No. 1 in 2015 and 2014 Best nation to work in
The survey measures unemployment benefits, sick leave, maternity leave and vacation.
Democracy and Political freedom
According to Democracy Index
Measured after taxes and welfare benefits (Gini index)
Measured by human rights, freedom of religion, property rights, gender equality and cares for the environment.
Measured on freedom of speech, freedom of religion, rule of law and freedom of trade.
Measured on freedom of religion, same-sex relationship and the right to movement domestically and internationally.
No. 1 in 2015 No. 5 in 2015
No. 1 in 2012 and no. 3 in 2013 in the world No. 3 in 2015 in the world No. 4 in the world in 2015 No. 1 in the world in 2015
Freedom of speech No. 4 in 2016 in the world
No. 2 in 2016 in the world
Despite recent terror attacks in Europe and the migration crisis, Denmark manages to maintain a high level of peace and security according to Global Peace Index 2016
and put money in the box. They take change if needed from the same box, and then they leave, and this actually works. People don’t steal the flowers or vegetables; the trust this vendor shows to people is not abused. This is a very common situation in Denmark outside the cities. “A big part of happiness is trust among the people. You show trust to your neighbour and also to somebody you don’t know. This trust is mainly established by the government. The government doesn’t say, ‘You have to trust your neighbour’, but it sees to it that the police force and the legal system are trustworthy and not corrupt. Denmark is the least corrupt country in the world. “There’s a strong correlation between trust and lack of corruption. You know that if your neighbour, who may be rich and powerful, does something wrong, then he will go to court and receive the same punishment as anybody else. There’s a basic trust there and the trust makes people feel happy. When you start to trust the system, the institutions, the judges and the police then you also start to trust your neighbours because you know they cannot do anything to harm you that will go unpunished. “Happiness is a funny term related to many good feelings. Some are created by the individual. If you have good friends and people like you, you feel happy. But society and governments can also do a lot, and this is my point of view and message when I do these lectures or presentations. I try to share the experience of what the Danish government has been doing for many years to provide happiness for the people. It is not only about money; it is about creating an environment where people can feel happy. “Most Thai government officials recognize that the country has challenges. They will say that Thailand has some problems now because the country is polarized. There are two sides of the political spectrum and they don’t trust each other. Thai people may not agree with all the things we do in Denmark and I don’t want them to do the same things. I am not trying to say Thailand should do as Denmark
does. I am just trying to share experiences of what has worked for us, and part of this is government policy. “I want to make a point about taxes. Many people tease me and say, ‘Oh, how can you be so happy in Denmark when you pay some of the highest taxes in the world?’ Do you know what the answer from the Happiness Research Institute is? We are happy because we pay high taxes, not in spite of it. The reason is that the tax money creates good things for the public and this makes people happy. Things like free healthcare, free education, support when you are unemployed or become disabled and support for housing if you need it. The taxes also go for highways, trains, internet connections, research and so on. The key is that because there is little or no corruption people trust that their tax money will be spent on the public good. “I belong to an upper tax bracket. My income would be taxed at about 38-40 percent, but there are various deductions. In fact, Danes paid more taxes ten years ago. We have a very high VAT of 25 percent on all goods and service transactions. The government takes in a lot of money from VAT. We have high income taxes but we also have high incomes. Everyone would like to pay a lower tax but we pay without argument because we can see that society and the people are benefitting. The tax money is an investment. “We look at education in particular not as a benefit only but also as an investment in the people. More educated people produce a better society. Everyone is educated in Denmark and even the street sweeper can use a computer.”
Take on wealth inequality and debt
“Another positive effect of higher taxes is that it redistributes wealth somewhat,” said the ambassador. “I am always shocked that Thailand has the greatest wealth inequality in the whole of Asia. I assign a lot of the challenges that the country is facing to this very serious problem. “In recent years Denmark has ranked number one and number three in terms of wealth equality we don’t yet have the latest list. Wealth equality
What other ambassadors say about Mr Winther • Her Excellency Eat Sophea, the Kingdom of Cambodia: “Ambassador Mikael and his lovely wife Ratana really know how to bring smiles and a cheery face to everyone. There is no doubt that this remarkable couple has left a pleasant and memorable footprint in many people’s hearts.” • His Excellency Francisco Vaz Patto, Portugal: “Mikael and Ratanawadee have been friends as well as great role models for my partner Kevin and me. They welcomed us warmly to the Bangkok diplomatic community when we arrived almost a year ago. Mikael taught me a great deal about the political scene in Thailand and he has been instrumental in helping us achieve equal recognition for all spouses/ partners from the Thai government. We will miss their great spirit and all the wonderful work they’ve done for Thailand and for the diplomatic community in Bangkok!” • His Excellency Jesús Miguel Sanz, European Union: “Mikael is a much appreciated member of the EU group. He has been Ambassador for several years but he was here long before in a previous re-incarnation as a young (he still is) Danish diplomat. Mikael is naturally warm-hearted and kind. When I started my job as EU Ambassador (I chair the meetings of all European Union Ambassadors accredited to Thailand) he was of great help. He brought in his experience in the country and at the same time a very sharp, principled but also pragmatic vision, which has been very useful to all of us.” “I don’t need to mention his personal qualities that are well known in Bangkok but let me stress his kindness and openness. But above all, I would emphasize that he is good, empathetic versatile person and together with Ratana, they really contributed to make our life in Bangkok easier and interesting. I deeply wish all the best to both of them and I am sure Mikael will have a great opportunity to apply his impressive diplomatic skills in his new tenure. Thank you dear Ambassador and dear Dean!” • His Excellency Brendan Rogers, Republic of Ireland: “I have known Mikael and his lovely wife Ratanawadee since my own and my partner Ms Kevin Doris’ arrival at the end of 2014. As Dean of the Diplomatic Corps he extended a warm Céad Míle Fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes in our Irish language) to us. He has been an excellent Dean but also an excellent colleague within our European Union family. But Mikael has been much more than a colleague. He has been a great friend. Like him I have a great interest in music. Unlike him I do not have the musical talent that he possesses. But I have enjoyed seeing and hearing him play his beloved guitars (including a Fender Stratocaster) in many venues in Bangkok. His talent brings people together and his personality and that of Ratanawadee has ensured that they have built communities of friends throughout Thailand. They will be missed in this great city but I know that Bangkok’s loss is Dhaka’s gain. Good luck!” • His Excellency Dr Péter Jakab, Hungary: “We Hungarians love Danish cinema. When I first met Mikael I informed him about our enthusiasm when it comes to the dark humour and sometimes quite bleak atmosphere of Danish movies – not unfamiliar to the fans of black comedy or Monty Python ‒ but hardly was I aware that I found a real character right from this genre in him. Despite being the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency has retained this most natural, sometimes sarcastic but always sincere, open and friendly attitude which I truly admire. Believe me, it is not easy in our job to remain as “normal” a person as he is. Wherever he goes he is greeted with a smile and the ubiquitous question: “Where is your guitar?” and many times I heard him threatening his audience with extremely long speeches when in fact he always spoke briefly, honestly and indeed to the point. I wish him and his lovely wife Madame Ratana well and I am sure they will remain the same folksy people we knew here in Bangkok – our friends forever.” • His Excellency Enno Drofenik, Austria: “H.E. Mikael Henmiti Winther, has been my colleague and my dear neighbour on Sathorn Soi 1 throughout the last three years. We enjoyed many Saturday mornings drinking coffee, discussing politics and playing guitar. He is a smart and dedicated diplomat with a great sense of humour. He has left a strong mark here in Bangkok, and we will miss him.”
adds to happiness, because while all of us want to have a lot place. More should be required from the big companies of money we also want to feel sure that other people are ok. If who are selling things to the people. They should be more you are very rich in a place where most people are really poor transparent. These measures would go a long way toward you have to do a lot to protect your wealth because, as you keeping Thai people out of debt and creating happiness. can imagine, a lot of people will be resentful, angry or envious This is a point I want to convey very strongly.” of your wealth. If wealth is more evenly distributed, people Next stop Bangladesh feel happier. “Security is a broad term and among the most important am looking forward to my new assignment as criteria for happiness. Security means that nobody goes and ambassador in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The conditions beats you up or kills you on the street or in your house, but there will be completely different. Dhaka is a very it’s also very important in financial terms. Financial security crowded city and a difficult place to live. It’s no means having a favourable balance between your income secret that it is easier to live in Bangkok than in and assets and your debt or credit. Indebtedness adds to Dhaka. It is considered as a ‘hardship assignment’ unhappiness because, first of all, you are afraid of losing for diplomats, but I think it will be incredibly interesting your job. You are afraid you won’t be able to pay your bills because Denmark has a large development program there or mortgage and you are afraid your children won’t have an and we have had good relations with Bangladesh since it inheritance. Basically you are worried about everything. became independent in 1971. We have more than 60 Danish “Actually it is the government’s job to be very worried if companies in Bangladesh, mostly textile, pharmaceutical the people get into debt. I met with the Consumer Protection and logistics, like shipping. Agency in Thailand in late July and I said to them that in “Security is a concern there and I am a little bit worried my view the protection of consumers in Thailand could be about that. I have to be because I am the ambassador. I improved. First of all, there should be more transparency in will have to be putting things in place how banks and retailers advertise. If you to keep myself and my staff safe. I are presenting, for example, the price am a bit sad that this will restrict the of a refrigerator and you are offering a kind of freedom of movement that I finance scheme, it should be clear what In Thailand enjoy in Bangkok. I hope the situation the interest rate is. indebtedness is a will improve soon. I was in Baghdad “Some financial schemes are very before taking my post in Thailand, so complicated, and this makes it easy really big problem I have experienced the worst in terms to manipulate the customer. Buy the for many, many security. But I was on my own in refrigerator and pay 550 baht per month. citizens and a lot of of Baghdad. My wife will come to Dhaka This looks great, but what you don’t it comes down to and of course I am concerned about know is you will be paying on it for 10 ignorance of basic her safety. years because the writing in small letters “In fact, in the current security says that the interest rate is actually 18 household economics. climate I am concerned about all percent per year. More should be our embassy staff and the Danish “In Thailand, I think that there are required from the big people there. My first task will be to cases where the consumer often doesn’t companies who are assist in that situation, but I am quite get the full picture about what they are optimistic that we will come to a more buying. I have talked to the government selling things to normal environment. We can do all about initiating courses in what you the people. the interesting work there and we might call household economics. In will continue to do so under careful consideration of the fact some Danish manufacturers in Thailand are doing this situation. I am assigned there for only two years because of already. I can mention a certain big production company that the hardship designation, but if it is fun and interesting and has about 11,000 employees and they were very concerned I feel I am doing a good job then I may be there a third year. about the high debt burdens faced by their employees. “The Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand, Her “Every payday, loan sharks were waiting outside the Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, has given me wonderful factory gate and they approached the workers as they were advice. We have met together on many occasions. She does a coming out, saying things like, ‘You can borrow money from wonderful job here in Thailand to promote her country. When me to buy a pickup truck.’ So the company started household you look at the media images of Bangladesh you usually see economics courses for their staff. Anyone is welcome to natural disasters such as floods, but she is constantly pointing participate and learn how to manage money, how to borrow out that there is much to be encouraged about. money when necessary but at a good interest rate and so on. “For example, Bangladesh is a populous country of 160 They should be taught to avoid loan sharks, and when they million people, yet it enjoys six percent economic growth borrow from a bank to buy a pickup they should know exactly and is one of the few countries living up to its pledge to how much they are borrowing and how much the monthly meet the UN’s millennium development goals. This is a installments will be. Even in Denmark a lot of people don’t big accomplishment. Danish businesses there are doing understand these things and they become deeply indebted. well and Denmark and Bangladesh are working together to “In Thailand indebtedness is a really big problem for improve government institutions, the environment, business many, many citizens and a lot of it comes down to ignorance framework and so on. So I look at this assignment as a of basic household economics. Another factor is, as I challenging but extremely interesting opportunity.” mentioned before, that consumer protection is not fully in
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