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Editor’s Blog Media credibility in the spotlight THE credibility of the media industry (and don’t forget, it is a business) has fallen to an all-time low following two of the most significant political events in recent time – Brexit and the US Presidential elections. Both were riddled with deliberately misleading stories, half-truths and downright lies, all peddled by people and organizations claiming to be legitimate members of the media. One webmaster in the US notorious for pumping out fake news has even claimed that he had so many followers, or ‘believers’, that he was responsible for influencing the outcome of the election in Donald Trump’s favour. It almost didn’t matter what he sent out, people actually swallowed his stories word for word. There are plenty of reasons to believe that all political parties in the US and the UK used the media, particularly the social media, to promote their causes. Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged the presence of fake news on Facebook and says his company will do more to tackle what is a growing problem. Yet he also insists the spread of hoax stories on the social network did not affect the result of the US election, claiming that 99% of what people see is authentic. Are the big media companies any better? Not at all. The likes of CNN and other major broadcasters have been found guilty of skewed and even blatantly incorrect reporting during these two elections. It’s the same with newspapers, many of which made it clear which side they were backing – often running as many stories bashing what they view as the opposition as those supporting their preferred candidates. This is not new, of course. The media has always acted this way, with newspapers among others showing obvious bias to an audience that will support it financially through sales and advertising.  So, how is the public supposed to know whether the news they’re getting is true or false? Frankly, there’s no easy solution. With so many websites claiming to be impartial and accurate, which they’re often not, consumers are left to fend for themselves when looking for the truth. What’s left then? Well, only common sense and a cool head, holding back on outlandish theories until additional corroboration can be found. And rejecting any story that is not supported by direct quotes from people in a position to comment and make a judgment. The media’s credibility is at stake here, and for all our sake, every major organisation can’t afford to be caught out again. Pattaya moves on up THERE is a growing sense that Pattaya Bay is heading for better times. This is due in part to increasing property prices which are forcing cheap and unsightly first-generation buildings off the main Beach Road to make way for more upmarket ventures. The authorities are also making serious noises about demolishing the shops, bars and restaurants that have been illegally built into the ocean. Their intent to clean up Pattaya was also recently underlined when, with the help of the army, cleared all the speedboats and mooring that were cluttering up Bali Hi at the southern end of the Bay. This sizeable area is apparently where the new Pattaya to Hua Hin ferry service will be based.  However, what’s good for Pattaya Bay may not be as good for others. Most of the hundreds of speedboats kicked off Bali Hi have been moved to Jomtien, which is upsetting locals who do not >>



PUBLISHER Colin Hastings MANAGING EDITOR Morgan Thanarojpradit EDITOR Nina Hastings SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Rojjana Rungrattwatchai ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Thana Pongsaskulchoti ACCOUNTING MANAGER Saranya Choeyjanya ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Janjira Silapapairson ART & PRODUCTION Arthawit Pundrikapa, Jaran Lakkanawat PHOTOGRAPHY JL & AP CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Drew McCreadie, Judith Coulson, Maxmilian Wechsler, Kelly Harvey, James Stoves



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

The BigChilli Company Ltd., 1/7 5th Fl. Room 504, Siboonrueng Bldg. 2, Convent Road, Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 ☎ 02 233 1774-6, 02 266 7141 Fax: 02 235 0174 Strip AD_Operation Smile_Aug16.indd 1

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Editor’s Blog care for their presence and the workers who still use these vessels to make a living. Local yachtsmen and leisure boat owners also take a dim view of the speedboats as they now race across their path from Jomtien to Pattaya in order to pick up passengers for the crossing to Ko Larn. It’s a case of a problem being solved by pushing it elsewhere. Who gets proceeds from British embassy sale? MEMBERS of the British community in Bangkok are wondering whether proceeds from the sale of the British Embassy are being diverted to London to pay for the renovation of Buckingham Palace. Stop Bangkok’s expansion ISN’T it time to decentralise Thailand by building an entirely new city in the near-empty central plains? Transport links, including rail, are well established between Bangkok and the North, and there are plenty of small airports that could easily upgraded to take bigger aircraft. Government offices and ministries can be relocated here, with employees being offered inexpensive housing on low-cost land. Without such a scheme, Bangkok will simply continue to expand into what’s left of the countryside. More Thai restaurants for overseas visitors In this issue, we asked our readers to tell us about Thai restaurants they recommend to their overseas visitors. On page 70 we have compiled a list of 20 such venues. Here are some Thai restaurants you and your friends are going to love.

• Sanguan Sri Restaurant – Witthayu Road 02 251 9378 • The Deck – Arun Residence 02 221 9158 • Taling Pling – Sukhumvit Soi 34 02 258 5308 • Pirate Chamber – Maneeya Building 3rd Floor 02 252 5131 • Som Tum Nua – Siam Square Soi 5 02 251 4880 • Phakakrong – Narathiwas Soi 15-17 02 286 0863 • Yokyor Marina – Somdej Chaopraya 1 02 683 0565 • Somboon Seafood – 169/70 Surawong Road 02 233 3104 • Tah Long – Tree on 3 02 302 2557

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Tah Long

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‘Some Americans will protest, but for the next four years we will have a new president who will take the US forward according to his mandate’ US Ambassador Glyn T. Davies took up his post in Bangkok on October 2, 2015 to take charge of one of the biggest US embassies in the world. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview at his residence, the career diplomat who joined the State Department in 1980 discussed his very interesting childhood as the son of an American diplomat, the special relationship between the United States and Thailand, and the election of President-elect Donald Trump. Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER


ANY people around the world watched with surprise and some even with disbelief as Donald Trump staged his highly unorthodox election campaign and came out victorious. US Ambassador Glyn T. Davies views the outcome with suitable diplomacy, saying that the most important aspect of the election was that it demonstrated how American democracy works. “We spend 18 months engaged in a passionate national conversation about the future of the United States and, in the end, the President is selected. The voting was close, about 50-50, but Donald Trump was elected, and at noon on January 20, 2017, he will become the 45th president of the United States.”   “The election is the culmination of the national conversation among Americans at all levels about every aspect of our future – economic, social, foreign policy, security, and so on. In the wake of our election, there will be some Americans who will protest, who will continue to exercise their right to free speech, but for



the next four years we will have a new president and he will take the country forward according to his mandate.” “Donald Trump will choose his Cabinet members, the Senate of the United States will evaluate them and vote on them, and the new US government will be formed. What is important about our system is that those Americans who are disappointed because their candidate did not win know that the conversation goes on. They will evaluate Donald Trump when he is the President of the United States and they will be free to talk about it. Then, in a couple of years, the wheels will spin up again for the next presidential campaign.” “As President Obama has said, the office of the president brings changes in the individual who is elected. When you step into the Oval Office as the President of the United States, it has an effect on you because of the responsibilities involved. President Obama says he is not the same man who came into the presidency eight years ago, and this was his way of describing the significant effect the office has on the person who takes up the role.”



regional issues and the other half are focused on our bilateral relationship with Thailand.” “Why do we have such a big embassy in Bangkok? It’s because of the history between our two countries. We established the embassy here in 1946 at the end of World War Two. Thailand is a treaty ally. We have strong military-to-military relations and what is the most Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransisco Statue of Liberty, New York City important about Bangkok and Ambassador Davies decided early on that he liked the Thailand is that it is right in the centre of Southeast Asia.” diplomatic lifestyle, and like his father, wanted to serve his “What’s more, this is a country where the people are skilled country, see the world, and understand its people. “I joined and talented, and so if you are a US government department and the US Department of State in 1980 because my father was a looking for a place to base your operations in Asia, you immediately diplomat. I always joke that it showed my lack of imagination, turn to Bangkok. This is a big, modern city that works. Bangkok but a lot of children naturally follow their parents into diplomatic has good airline connections to all of Asia and everything else you service, just as children of career soldiers, business people, and need to run a big, modern, regional operation.” even journalists often take after their parents.” The Ambassador grew up mostly in Washington, D.C. but aside from Afghanistan and Calcutta, his family also lived in Moscow and Warsaw. Later, when he joined the Foreign Service, he was posted to Australia, Central Africa, France, and the United Kingdom. “We spoke French in Central Africa, so we had a head start when we later went on to France. Given those postings, French is the only language I speak reasonably well besides English,” he said.  

Third biggest embassy in the world


mbassador Davies didn’t say much about his own distinguished career; his resume speaks for itself. He did say that serving in the Foreign Service for 36 years, he has had many jobs and served in a lot of places. He was more loquacious when asked about the recent US presidential election. “I joined the Foreign Service under President Reagan. I met him once, and I have met all US presidents since, and served under a variety of Republican and Democrat administrations.”   Asked how many people work at the Bangkok embassy, Mr Davies said, “Depending on how you count them, the best number to use is about two thousand people. Most of them are Thai citizens and the rest are Americans. I would say that we have about 800 Americans working here. We also have a small but dynamic Consulate General in Chiang Mai, and a few other Americans stationed around Thailand in specialised roles, like with the Drug Enforcement Agency and Peace Corps. Embassy staff work in several different locations around Bangkok. This is a very big embassy. It might be the third biggest embassy in the world, but there are different ways to measure the size of the embassy. Our embassy in Bangkok is the largest US embassy apart from our very large missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is our largest embassy in Asia.   “We have about 50 different US federal departments here. We have the Health and Human Services Department which oversees offices like the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have offices under the State, Commerce, Justice, Defense and other departments represented here, and so on. About half of the people who work at the embassy are focused on

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“For all these reasons, over the years our embassy has grown to its present size. We very much value our relationship with the Royal Thai government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because they help us facilitate our ability to do this very important job that supports our interests and theirs as well.” Ambassador Davies praised the senior department heads at the embassy. “Our new Deputy Chief of Mission, Pete Haymond, has extensive experience in Thailand, extending back decades. Our other senior leaders of our Commercial, Law Enforcement, Defense, Health, and AID agencies are experienced and very capable.” “The embassy is a big and important operation and overseeing it is a significant responsibility. I devote much of my time to ensuring that the embassy is working well together and all are going in the same direction. In any organisation where a lot of people are



Insight involved, there are always challenges, but I must say after being in Thailand for over a year, that there haven’t been that many. This is because of all of the good people we have working here.” “A big part of the work of the embassy is looking after the very large number of Americans in the country. This includes a large expat community and about 850,000 American tourists a year. It’s difficult to say exactly how many Thais visit the United States, but we issued nearly 60,000 visas out of this embassy in 2015. There are over 7,000 Thai students in US colleges and universities.”

The special US-Thai relationship

“During the Vietnam War, 50,000 Americans in uniform walked the streets of Bangkok, Pattaya, and other places. The soldiers left when the war ended, but America stayed on in a more important way. In terms of the alliance, friendship and political links that we formed, the United States never left Thailand. In those years, something very important happened. Thailand’s position in the world rose. US investment in Thailand has also risen steadily since those days. The American Chamber of Bilateral cooperation Commerce in Thailand has 800 member companies. They are   not all American companies but all have a strong nexus to both “We have very strong relationship with Thailand, and one of the Thailand and the United States.    reasons we have a big embassy is because we do so much together.   “In the second half of the 20th century, many good things One of the areas of cooperation that is of great benefit to Thailand, happened. The United States was once a donor nation providing the United States, and the whole word, is the health relationship. I assistance to Thailand. Now Thailand no longer needs wasn’t completely aware of the extent of this bilateral cooperation assistance. It is an industrialised, middle-income economic on health issues before coming back. The CDC has a big presence power. So the relationship changed in the late 1990s. The United here, as does the Armed Forces Research States and Thailand became partners in all the Institute of Medical Science. It has been here important issues affecting Thailand.” for over 60 years.”  “Some people talk about a kind of modern “The United States and Thailand have great game of world powers competing worked together on medical challenges for The United States for dominance in Thailand. I think this is a three generations and have achieved some ridiculous way of looking at things. Thailand wants to position great results and breakthroughs, such as has always been fiercely independent and free when Thailand announced the elimination of itself as a country and I believe it always will be. We all know the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother- that brings benefits that ‘Thai’ means ‘free’, and no country has to-child in the country. This was a great done more to support that freedom throughout to the globalised accomplishment for Thailand and for Thai history than the United States. That was doctors and researchers. We are proud of the world. The world certainly true in 19th century, it was true in fact that our medical cooperation played a is coming together the 20th century, and it will be true in the 21st role. The vaccination that prevents Japanese century. Thailand is a strong sovereign state whether we want encephalitis also came from cooperation and the United States has pledged to support it to or not. between Thai and US researchers and its freedom and independence. We look on medical professionals. Very good research with pride as Thailand builds strong ties with is being done on malaria, and more recently on the Zika virus. the nations of the world, including China and Russia, but we More than 20 percent of the people at the embassy are involved very much hope that our 200-year-old alliance will continue to in health-related work which helps ordinary people live better grow and strengthen. I think it will, because it has benefited and lives, and we are proud of that as an example of cooperation continues to benefit both Thailand and the United States.” between the United States and Thailand.”   “Of course, another very big area of cooperation is in security. The ASEAN alliance This includes military-to-military cooperation, and not just Cobra   Gold, which is the largest multi-lateral military exercise in Asia. “We are very supportive of ASEAN, and President Obama has But there are 80 other joint Thai-US activities and exercises in worked hard to show this support. He was the first president to the course of the year. We are working together to maintain appoint an ambassador to ASEAN in Jakarta. President Obama security and peace in this part of the world.” was also the first American president to invite ASEAN leaders to “Our law enforcement relationship is also quite impressive. the United States for a summit, which was held earlier this year.   We are working to protect wildlife and stop human traffickers, “We support ASEAN because we believe that, as the regional as well as more common criminals who take advantage of grouping grows and becomes stronger economically and globalization to pursue illegal activities in Southeast Asia. We strategically, this in turn helps ASEAN member-states to grow work very closely with the Thai authorities including the Royal and to become stronger economically as well as politically. Thai Police and Department of Special Investigation. We hope that the voice of ASEAN will be listened to more by “Economic cooperation is quite extensive. The United States countries around the world. If you look at Asia today, ASEAN is is the third largest trading partner of Thailand after China and probably the multi-lateral grouping with the most positive track Japan. US companies have invested almost US$50 billion in this record and this has been true for decades. Southeast Asia is now country. Ford Motor Company sold its first car in Thailand a the most important part of Asia. It is the ‘young’ part of Asia; it century ago. When US companies come here they come to stay. is growing economically, it is a crossroads of global trade and We invest in people. American technology, combined with the it is very wealthy in terms of resources. It has been a source talent of the Thai people, is a partnership which has created a of stability for the region. That’s why the United States under quarter-million quality jobs currently for Thais. Across a wide President Obama has given very careful attention to building spectrum of activities, the United States and Thailand work strong ties with ASEAN, and I am convinced that this will be the together in ways that also benefit ASEAN and the world. case under President Trump as well.”  

, ‘




· Ambassador Glyn T. Davies was nominated by President Obama on April 14, 2015, confirmed by the Senate on August 5, and sworn in on September 14, 2015. · He previously served as the Special Representative of the US Secretary of State for North Korea Policy from January 2012 to November 2014. He was responsible for coordinating US involvement in the Six-Party Talks process, as well as all other aspects of US security, political, economic, human rights, and humanitarian assistance policy regarding North Korea. · A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Davies also served as the Permanent Representative of the United States to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Office in Vienna from June 2009 until November 2011. He was charged with advancing US interests in countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons, terrorism, organized crime, and corruption, while promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. · Other senior-level diplomatic assignments

include: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from August 2007 to June 2009; Acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour in 2005; Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs from 2004 to 2005; Political Director of the U.S. Presidency of the G-8 (with the rank of Ambassador) from 2003 to 2004; Deputy Chief of Mission (with the rank of Minister) at the US Embassy in London, United Kingdom from 1999-2003; Executive Secretary of the White House National Security Council Staff from 1997 to 1999; Deputy Spokesman and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs from 1995 to 1997; and Director of the State Department Operations Center from 1992 to 1994. · Ambassador Davies served as Deputy Political Counselor at the American Embassy in Paris and in the European Bureau’s Office of European Security and Political Affairs, working primarily on NATO nuclear and disarmament issues. He was a Special Assistant to Secretary of State George Shultz and served his first five years in the Foreign Service at the American Consulate General in Melbourne, Australia and the American Embassy in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Congo).


he Ambassador said he isn’t worried about the rise of the BRICS (Brazil, Russian, India, China and South Africa) grouping or any effect it might have on the dominance of the US dollar. “What is important is that nations peacefully and diplomatically arrange themselves in all kinds of different groupings. This is important to knock down barriers between countries. What we are for is more economic opportunity and interchange among nations. My job here is not to try to expand or protect the dominance of the US dollar.” “This is not the 20th Century; the Cold War is over. It is a multipolar world and we want the ten countries of ASEAN with a combined population of 650 million people to continue to work together and to become stronger and more united in terms of their outlook. For one thing, this means that the United States will have stronger markets for our goods.”

American influence in the world

“I believe that in the grand sweep of history, the influence of America has been very positive and healthy. In 1946-1947 you had less than three percent of the world’s people, Americans, creating 50 percent of the world’s wealth, goods and services. This was always ultimately unhealthy. So what did America set out to do? In Europe we installed the Marshall Plan and in north Asia we worked to develop strong relationships with Japan and the Republic of Korea and help these countries develop economically. We have also applied this approach in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand.”   “We sought to help these countries develop economically and strengthen themselves politically. We knew it didn’t make sense for the United States to be creating half of the world’s goods and services. We wanted markets for our goods and we wanted to benefit from multilateral trade as both exporters and importers. And we wanted friends and partners in the world, especially during the period of great struggle that we call the Cold War. That was also a very healthy thing for the world.” “Thank goodness that period of time is over and now we are in a multipolar world. There are new challenges and threats like

· Ambassador Davies earned a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 1979. He later earned a Master of Science, with distinction, in National Security Strategy from the National War College at Ft. McNair, Washington, D.C. He and his wife Jacqueline M. Davies, a lawyer, have two daughters and two granddaughters.

global warming and international terrorism, but there is much more opportunity for people because the world is connected. Young people have the world in their pockets. How amazing is that? A farmer can check the price of his crop on the world market. These are good things.” “The United States wants to position itself as a country that brings benefits to the globalised world. The world is coming together whether we want it to or not. We need to deal with the threats and we need partners to do that. Thailand is right in the center of a very dynamic part of the world and it is therefore very important for us.”      “The business of America is friendship and cooperation, and what we want is strong and positive relations with peaceful companions who also want to take advantage of the opportunities the new globalised world brings. We want to expand the pie, not to control it, so that everybody benefits.”  


In his free time, the Ambassador reads a lot, especially history, and gets regular exercise, but his favourite pastime is travel. “Jackie and I both love to travel. We’ve been all over the Kingdom, from Chiang Rai to Khon Kaen to Songkhla. We love Chiang Mai, what a wonderful city that is. We also love to get around Bangkok and see its hidden corners. We’ve been to Koh Chang twice. We like the natural splendours of Thailand, the beaches, the waterfalls and the natural parks.” In a more official capacity the ambassador has visited Rayong to get a look at the area’s dynamic industrial economic development, and regularly travels throughout the Kingdom to talk to governors, visit factories, schools and universities, and other individuals from all walks of Thai life. The Ambassador and his wife study the history of Thailand and ancient Ayutthaya, and they are taking Thai language classes together. The Ambassador doesn’t find the language easy, but says it is beautiful. “I love the sound of spoken Thai. It is a musical language, but when you start studying at the age of 58, it is a bit of a challenge. We continue to study every week and we keep learning bit by bit. The trick is to take in more than what slips away.”




& proudly announce THE

Thailand International Business Awards 2016 BUILDING on the success of the Expat Entrepreneur Awards 2014, the BigChilli is joining forces with the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) to launch a new initiative aimed at recognising Thailand’s most successful and dynamic businesses and entrepreneurs. Awards exist in order to acknowledge excellence in performance, process and creativity, to compare against peers, to highlight best practice and to reward supporting staff. By participating in TIBA you will raise your profile, grow your networks and develop new commercial opportunities. A team of independent judges will review the nominations and select the winners in each of the categories. All nationalities of company and individual are welcome to enter whether they are nominated or self-nominated. Nominations are open to any company registered in Thailand regardless of size or affiliations. For more information see: 16


NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards


Entrepreneur: Kate Jackson

Never too junior or senior for more company training


FTER 16 years in Thailand, British-born Kate Jackson is reinventing the education and training industry with her passion to help and develop others. Based on the principles of adult learning for the long-life learning sector, Kate founded her company Andragogy to offer tailor made communications training in business English, customer service, as well as leadership communication and presentation coaching for businesses of all shapes and sizes with learners ranging from C-suite executives to low-level staff. “We teach all types of employees and across all departments within an organisation. From presidents and vice-presidents to the bellboys of hotels and the illiterate workers.”   But Kate wasn’t always passionate when it came to teaching. After high school, she originally dismissed the idea of further education and instead came to Thailand to work as a volunteer. It was among the rural areas of the country where Kate was inspired to build a career in non-formal education and developed a passion to help and inspire others.   Upon returning to the UK, Kate attended university with the full intention of coming back to Asia to change the learning and development sector. Today, she holds an Honours Degree in Youth Work and Non-formal Education and a Master’s in



Education, is an accredited Institute of Learning and Management training provider and the director, lead consultant and trainer at Andragogy. “I have a wonderful team of five part-time trainers, who I also train personally, and together we go in and perform the required training for our clients.”   ‘Andragogy’ is the Greek word for the art and science of teaching adults, the principles of which include autonomy, relevance and timeliness; factors that Kate incorporates into every program. “Every client is different and has different needs. We first meet with the client and perform a needs analysis to establish what training is needed, who the learners will be, what are their brand values, and external and internal communication objectives. From there we develop our tailor made programmes. These can range from one-day workshops to oneyear training programmes.   Being based in Bangkok has also given Kate the opportunity to train learners of various nationalities, but predominantly teaches Thais. “Learners from Thailand and South East Asia often require a lot more hand holding and support in order to develop confidence and the opportunity to practice and master new skills such as customer service, complaints handling and offering alternatives, as is the culture that learners are often too shy to try new skills straight away.   “Yet this is embedded in our training, that we do use a confidence first approach. It is my passion to develop skills within the Thai workforce that provide them with a place in the global market.    “I founded Andragogy on the precepts that staff and individual development has a direct relation on community and business development. Andragogy was founded on the need to support Thai staff, to fill the communication and skills gaps that formal Thai education leaves behind.”   By linking her professional and personal passions Kate has caught the attention of several international companies and has worked for the likes of KPMG Thailand, Pfizer and Centara Hotels & Resorts before gaining clients such as Colgate Palmolive, Jaymart, Srichand, David Yurman, Tesco Credit Card Services, and Airbus Asia-Pacific.

NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards

Entrepreneur: Dennis Harte 2016 Dutch engineer whose electric tuk tuks are world-beaters gets green light to sell them in Thailand By Maxmilian Wechsler

Since 2010, Dennis Harte’s locally made vehicles have become an international phenomenon. Now Thais can finally enjoy their eco-friendly qualities




Gen Prayut and Dennis Harte

Thai Prime Minister General Prayut driving a TTF tuk tuk at an event in August of this year

TTF tuk tuks in Paris

D TheBigChilli


NomineeS Thailand International Business Awards









The Next Four Years Might Be A Comedy Golden Age By Drew McCreadie

■ FOR many, the election of Donald J. Trump was a disaster for the United States, perhaps even the world. His rhetoric during the election antagonized groups on both sides of the US political spectrum: i.e. the right-leaning Centre, and the right-leaning far-Right. While immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, LGBT, liberals, women, the educated, scientists, the press, and the poor all look to the future with trepidation, one group sees Donald Trump’s election as an out-and-out boon: namely, comedians! What could be better?! A foul-mouthed, sexist, shoot-from-the-hip, speaknow-think-later, rail-against-everyone, funny-hairdo-sporting, hot-younger-wifekeeping, creepy-relationship-with-hisdaughter-having, multi-bankruptcy-taxavoiding, small-handed, loud-mouthed New York billionaire as President is a comedian’s wet-dream! The next four years in political comedy will be hugely wonderful and fantastic! Or will it? Sometimes when the topic is already funny, it actually makes it harder for a comedian to get laughs, as there is 34


nowhere else to go, no further extreme to take the idea to. How could a comedian say anything more extreme and shocking than some of the things than WorldPresident-Elect Donald Trump has already said?! Where’s the most extreme and inappropriate place you can grab a woman? Donald Trump has already listed it! It is for this very reason that improv performers try to avoid audience suggestions such as “dildo” or “vibrator” when asking for “Something you can borrow from your neighbour.” When an audience member yells out ‘dildo’, the audience usually laughs… but that’s the problem. That’s the joke already. If someone had shouted out ‘vacuum’ (that’s a ‘Hoover’ for you Brits), then the comedians could go to the extreme by turning the vacuum into something sexual and dirty and get a laugh. The fact that Dildo-elect Donald Trump is so extreme already makes it harder to find the absurdity in what he says and does. And pointing out absurdity is a comedian’s job. Donald Trump’s election as POTUS is beyond absurd, albeit not fully unexpected. Many people voted for him as a reaction to the status quo, and as a vote against Hilary Lewinsky Sr. As he settles into office his rhetoric is likely to cool down, as he begins to realize he can’t just do whatever he wants (especially with a Republican majority that is not 100% behind him, and a Democratic minority that is 100% against him). If he starts acting a little less out-there, then comedians will be able to point out just how far out there he actually still is. It’s a fine line. You want people to act a bit crazy so you can make fun of them, but if someone is actually crazy you can’t

make fun of them because now they are ‘disabled’ and it is in bad taste. So enjoy the comedy now before we find out he’s really nuts, or he presses the big red button on the President’s desk.

This month at The Comedy Club Bangkok STAND-UP COMEDY OPEN MIC IS BACK!

With a seasoned headliner alongside newcomers and Bangkok’s local comics. Fri, December 2 at 8pm. B250 in advance. B350 at the door. Includes a drink and drinks specials.


Audience suggestions to fuel the scenes in this hilarious show led by award-winning Canadian comedian Drew McCreadie. Fri, December 9 at 8pm. B350 in advance. B500 at the door. Includes a drink and drinks specials. The Comedy Club Bangkok, Sukhumvit 33/1 above The Royal Oak Pub (Phrom Phong BTS)

MIDA RESORT KANCHANABURI â– LOCATED amidst splendid rolling hills with a spectacular view of the River Kwai, Mida Resort Kanchanaburi is an exclusive boutique resort surrounded by nature. Only two hours from Bangkok, it is a perfect place for a quick getaway from the busy city. Offering luxurious 189 units including one and two bedroom poolside villas, Mida Resort is complimented by a wide range of facilities and services perfect

for memorable holiday experiences. This private boutique resort is the perfect place to unwind. The tranquil resort is situated off the Srinakarin Dam Highway near downtown Kanchanaburi, just a short distance away



from the Bridge over the River Kwai and the famous Erawan Waterfalls. Lined with contemporary Thai dĂŠcor, the hotel offers a variety of accommodation types including the Air Conditioned Tents, Superior, Deluxe, Grand Deluxe and Executive Suites, as well as One and Two Bedroom Pool Villas.

The recently completed building offers exclusive rooms and a brand new swimming pool surrounded by greenery offering the utmost privacy to guests.

The resort also offers business facilities such as conference rooms and convention rooms that can accommodate up to 500 people. Event organising services and outdoor wedding arrangment are also available per request. Dining choices include River Romance dining – a by-the-river dining area available only on the weekends. Guests can also enjoy the resort’s poolside bar or the all-day dining at M Café – serving Western dishes as well as authentic local dishes including spicy and flavourful Kang Pah and other well-known local fish menus. Many activities are available including cycling, rafting, swimming, and boutique spa and massage treatments. The resort is also surrounded by various famous waterfalls such as Erawan Waterfalls, Hua Mae Kamin Waterfalls, the Bridge

over the River Kwai, Safari Park & Elephant Camp, Chong Khao Khad, Don Rak Cemetary, Salak Phra Royal Project and more. Tour packages and recommendations can be requested from the hotel’s friendly concierge.

For more information or reservation, please contact 199 Moo 2, Ladya-Sri Sawad Road, Muang District, Kanchanaburi, 71190, Thailand. T el: 03 4 527 200 Fax : 03 4 527 210 E mai l: FB: Mida Resort Kanchanaburi L i ne: @midahotels




Meet the GM: Chris De Silva After 40 years in the hospitality industry and numerous awards in several countries, Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok’s General Manager Chris De Silva’s passion and determination for success is unmatchable; the Singapore native started his career a dishwasher and has since worked his way up working at every level and in every position • I’ve always been madly passionate about the hospitality industry. As the eldest child in my family I started working part-time after school to support my mom. Slowly I got promoted and at each step I tried to learn as much as I can. I’ve always been inquisitive and tried to follow the motto: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”

• In the next five years we want to be an F&B trendsetter. We want to be an iconic hotel with funky F&B and everyone will know this is the place to be. We recently finished a complete revamp so the hardware is good, now it’s time to improve the software. We want to focus on the unique touches to build a reputation so guests will go tell their friends and family.

• My first big break was in 2000 when I got a job as the Acting Food & Beverage Director at the Westin Taipei. It was also my greatest challenge because it was the biggest F&B hotel in Taipei with 12 restaurants and bars and 308 staff members. But it strengthened my knowledge and I became richer in experience.

• The best advice I ever received was on my first day of work in Australia. My boss told me, “Every time you interact with the staff, make sure they realise they are learning something from you.” I needed to impart my knowledge so that they knew as much as I knew.

• The highlight of career so far would definitely be winning the World Gourmet Summit Singapore Food & Beverage Manager of the Year 2012. It was extremely gratifying to be regarded as the best in Singapore because Singapore has so many restaurants and hotels that it’s extremely difficult to win this award. And after traveling and working in several different countries I was able to win this award in my home country. • Siam@Siam is not a hotel-hotel, it is a piece of art with unique touches. Every room is different and has a mixture of furniture. We are stylish, unique and go the extra mile to create memorable experiences. 48


• To be a GM you need to have a burning drive of ambition, be prepared to go through tough times, and never accept ‘No’ as an answer. Learn from every opportunity and keep working and improving yourself and sacrifice your time. Most importantly, guide your staff; there is no such thing as bad staff, only bad leaders. A GM should encourage, motivate, and inspire staff so that they become the best that we can be. • When I’m not working I love playing and watching soccer. I used to coach kids and often kick the ball around with my staff. But when I’m at home with my family, I am 100% with them.

Dining out


Red Sky

Fine dining amidst the stars

FFERING impressive 360 degree panoramic views from 55 floors above it’s no wonder Red Sky at Centara Grand at CentralWorld is known for being one of the finest rooftop bars and restaurants in Bangkok. Conveniently located in the centre of Bangkok with access from one of the most popular shopping malls, CentralWorld, this welcoming rooftop bar offers various delectable dishes prepared by a team of professional chefs. New to the team at Red Sky is Chef Alan Wesley Kwan who recently took over the kitchen and catering facilities and is presenting new and exciting menus.

tenderloin with foie gras, truffle, wild mushrooms and Madiera sauce; and finally to complete the hearty meal, Baked Alaska (B355++) – vanilla and raspberry ice cream under a baked meringue.

Signature dishes Start the evening off with the Red Sky Surf & Turf Tower for two (B5,955++) – an assortment of the freshest selection of seafood and prime quality Wagyu rib eye, lamb rack, grilled Maine lobster, giant Andaman prawns, Alaskan king crab, and the US scallops accompanied by delicious seasonal vegetables, potatoes, and flavourful dips and sauces; next the Nova Scotia Lobster Pasta (B1,955++) – black tagliolini with lobster in tomato broth, chili and basil; North Atlantic Salmon Tartar (B755++) – sliced fresh salmon and avocado with horseradish, chili and cucumber; Wagyu Beef Tenderloin “Rossini” (B2,155++) – Wagyu beef 999/99 Rama 1 Road. 02 100 6255. FB: RedSkyCentaraGrandCentralWorld IG: CentaraGrand_CentralWorld



Atmosphere The dusky hue restaurant is set in the circular tower with tables on the terrace overlooking the Bangkok skyline and offering panoramic views of Bangkok’s spellbinding sunsets and colourful night lights; you can’t help but feel like you’re sitting on top of the world. The service is flawless, the food is spectacular, and the view is breathtaking. Parking Ample parking is available in CentralWorld’s parking lot. Opening times Red Sky from 6pm-1am Red Sky Bar from 4pm-1am Happy hour at Red Sky Bar from 4pm-6pm New Year’s Eve Promotion Celebrate New Year at Red Sky with an 8-course Gala Dinner New Year’s Eve Extravaganza on Saturday, December 31, 2016.

Dining out

Guest review by

Bangkok Beefsteak & Burgundy

No Idea Gastropub Delicious Kiwi delights on Sukhumvit 22



HE first Tuesday of the month heralded the gathering of our band of gourmands once more at No Idea Gastropub. We were given a warm welcome by Kiwi Dave Hallam, his wife and Chef K. Duangdern and enjoyed sampling the two aperitifs on offer, sparkling Charles Steiner Brut (Barossa Valley, SA) followed by Martinborough Te Tera Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (North Island, NZ). The first wine has made several

from winemaster Thomas Boedinger. Next came New Zealand “Inanga” Whitebait Fritters. I learned that five separate galaxiid species make up the NZ whitebait catch but that inanga makes up the majority and thus this fish is probably encountered more often than other members of the Galaxiidae family. The Chef had prepared them as fritters in an egg based batter; this results in a dish quite unlike the whitebait served in Europe but was acclaimed by Kiwi member Andrew

appearances at our lunches (perhaps grounds for a hint for the winemaster) but the second was a first appearance and earned deserved praise from the day’s wine spokesman, Graham Rudd. Food spokesman Luigi Vercotti started his remarks by declaring that we had enjoyed a wonderful meal with an adventurous menu and went on to point out that there had been no canapés or bread (until cheese) so no appetite had been wasted. Instead as a starter we had found a dish of Portobello mushrooms garnished with white truffle and salt; this is a favourite of mine and was also commended by Luigi. The Chef and her team had done their usual excellent job of promptly plating then serving the course. The accompanying wine, Contacto Alvarinho Amselmo Mendes 2013 (Portugal), proved to be yet another good choice

MacDowell (and of course others). Clos Cibonne Rosé Tentations 2015 (Côtes de Provence, France) drew the usual mixture of praise and protest for a Rosé with Graham strongly in favour. A generous serving of Ris d’agneau, asparagus tips, bacon, and pea puree followed. I half expected that a few diners would skip the course but was left frustrated; every plate of lamb sweetbreads was finished and enjoyed. As Luigi postulated, this was possibly because some diners thought they had just uncovered a new style of risotto. The Martinborough Pinot Noir 2011 (North Island, NZ), a light wine, proved to be best drunk with the food but again found was to be a good match for a tasty dish. The main course was 270 day Grain Fed pure Black Angus Tenderloin, and Avruga (the latter is a by-product of herring, with the texture of caviar),


accompanied by carrot, onion, and sauteed spinach. The Avruga was a great idea from Khun Duangdern and her team did a beautiful job of grilling the beef. Wine of the day was Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2010 (South Island, NZ) making this the third offering from NZ wineries. Graham “could have drunk it all day.” The winemaker says: “Bright crimson in colour, the wine has vibrant aromas and flavours suggest black cherries, blackberries, raspberries and mulberries. A spine of ripe tannins flows through the wine and helps draw out its lingering after-taste.” Saffron pears and a fabulous meringue were followed by NZ Cheeses (especially the blues that I thought were delicious) and Tulloch Vineyard Selection Shiraz 2011 (Hunter Valley, NSW) proved to be a good way of rounding off this month’s selection of wines. However, Thomas Boedinger was still to have the final word and generously shared with us two bottles of Japanese Malt Whisky presented in celebration of his more than 50 years of good living. This was a very good lunch and our special thanks were due and tendered to Dave, Chef Duangdern and the many helpers who had made this meal a great success. As usual, all the wines were selected by the Club. No Idea Gastropub 8/3-4 Sukhumvit 22. 02 663 6686.

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The art of preserving food THE Cured Chamber is establishing itself as the cured food hub in Bangkok offering over 70 percent cured food in their menu, including smoked salmon, cold cuts, cheeses, hams, sausages and other meat dishes. Smoked beverages made using techniques from Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are also available.



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Scrapbook Last month’s foodie functions in focus

An evening with Zaccagnini THE Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok hosted an evening of outstanding Zaccagnini wines paired with the culinary art of Italian Chef Vittorio Bertini at The Rembrandt’s Italian restaurant, Da Vinci. Guests were treated to a stellar sixcourse meal perfectly paired with five Zaccagnini wines.

VENUES sneak peak ESTEEMED guests and members of the media were treated to an exclusive preview and guided tour of the new concept-dining destination – VENUES. Chef Thomas Smith is the culinary mind behind VENUES – a collection of six restaurants and bars, all in one building that takes diners on a journey from the ground floor to the roof-top with flavours and influences from around the globe.



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Expat Women


WITH a strong reputation for designing versatile, on-trend shoes and accessories, Aldo has become known as an international leader in fashion footwear and accessorites in Thailand. This year Aldo celebrates its 10th anniversary by holding ‘Aldo 10 Years Anniversary Fashion Extravaganza’ at Siam Centre.


UNIQLO AND CHRISTOPHE LEMAIRE TO CREATE ‘UNIQLO U’ UNIQLO recently announced the launch of the new collection, ‘Uniqlo U’. This collection is special since it’s the first-time collaboration between Christophe Lemaire and Uniqlo Paris R&D Centre team. The ‘Uniqlo U’ embodies the LifeWare philosophy of creating the innovative high-quality clothing line that is universal in design and provides the kind of comfort that is perfect for everyone, everywhere.

A one-stop service centre for health and beauty, Apex Profound Beauty, highlighted its position as the leader of beauty innovations and internationally certified technology over the past two decades. Recently introduced is Sculpsure – a non-surgical fat removal laser treatment that takes only 25 minutes to remove as much as 24% of excess fat per session.


SWAROVSKI Opening Showcase Party recently hosted at Smoke & Mirrors in National Gallery Singapore at the start of the Singapore Fashion Week was a bold move to establish Singapore as the hub of fashion in the region. In partnership with SGFW, the event brought many influencers, media and guests from all over the region to celebrate this showcase party, adding the fashionable touch of Swarovski’s signature sparkle to the start of the Singapore Fashion Week festivities.



and anti-inflammatory agents. A handful of nuts for breakfast after a party are the ideal vitamin boost your body needs to deal with the waste of the night. A handful of nuts before a party can slow down the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream.

Beans, Lentils & Pulses Garbanzo, lentil, chickpeas, when it comes to beans, the options are almost endless. Mix them or pick your favourite for a gut healthy fibre boost. Rich in minerals and vitamins as well as ant carcinogenic phytochemicals, beans can improve your heart health as well as your digestive system.

you healthy longer. It’s best to eat your leafy greens raw or lightly steamed, boiling them can take out essential vitamins and nutrients.

Apple Cider Vinegar A drizzle of this on your salad can help level blood sugar after the highs and lows of bingeing. Vinegar can lower your glycemic index after a carb fest. But don’t overdo it, too much vinegar may bother your stomach.

Ginger Gas got you feeling bloated? Ginger helps relax the muscles in your digestive tract to get the gas out. Brew some ginger tea, spice up a salad with pickled ginger, or blend some into a smoothie to get your fix.

give you more energy and lift your spirits. Go for the whole fruit instead of juice to avoid extra sugar and to up your fibre.

Flaxseed It’s is an easy addition to foods you already eat, like oatmeal or smoothies. It doesn’t change food’s flavour, but can add fibre and ALA, a fatty acid that may improve your heart health. Opt for ground flax over flaxseed oil for full fibre benefits.

Salmon Fish like salmon delivers brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, but it also gives you a protein pick-me-up. Protein helps keep your blood sugar steady and may even help prevent sugar spikes after a carbheavy meal.

Water Eggs (free range organic)

A good way to get your body past a binge is to flush your system with water. It not only helps you digest food, it softens your stool so you can move things along. And if indigestion has your stomach in knots, try bringing in a few bubbles. Seltzer water may help ease your quease.

They pack a hearty nutritional punch. Eggs are full of protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, and folate and make a great light snack that is easy on a stressed stomach. Whip up an omelette with veggies to sneak in extra fibre. Don’t worry about the cholesterol in the yolk. Blood cholesterol and food cholesterol are not the same, unfortunately most doctors got that wrong for too many years.

I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season and a great start into a successful New Year.



Your body has a lot to work through after a binge. Spinach is full of vitamin B2, which helps metabolise fat. B vitamins also help fight disease and infection to help keep

They’re tart, tasty, and packed with vitamin C, which boosts your metabolism and helps digest fats. What’s more, there’s a chance that boosting your vitamin C can

Judith Coulson is a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist and Nutritionist working with individuals, executive teams, schools and companies based in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.



Expat Women

Vitallife leads the way in anti-ageing


S it celebrates 15 years as Thailand’s leading wellness center, Vitallife Corporation can look back at the way it has not only revolutionized people’s view of this increasingly important medical sector but also changed and improved countless lives.   Throughout that period, Vitallife, a subsidiary of Bumrungrad International Hospital, has dedicated itself to personal integrative health care with the aim of delaying the onset of age-related disease and decline.

Among Health Care Service providers, Vitallife is ranked Number 3 in the world’s leading hospitals, while the Wall Street Journal has called the Center a “top pioneer in medical tourism.”   Since its establishment in 2001, Vitallife has delivered measurable ant-aging and health span improvements through four key areas - predictive, preventive, revitalizing and regenerative treatments.   Dr Pansak Sugkraroek, Vitallife’s Medical Director, says that doctors working in conventional medicine

Today, working under the slogan ‘Integrated Longevity Medicine,’ Vitallife is one of the largest and most sophisticated wellness centers globally, a proven pioneer in Asian Wellness specializing in quality care and outstanding service.   Its success is widely recognized. In 2007, Vitallife was accredited by the World Council for Clinical Accreditation, and earlier this year it became the first wellness center in the world with international recognition from DNV. GL’s International Accreditation Standard for Outpatient Specialist Centers.    DNV.GL is a globally respected quality accreditation organization renowned for integrity in certification, standards development and risk management in many sectors including healthcare. The standards are approved by the U.S. Government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.   The accreditation acknowledges Vitallife’s high standards and practices, as well as its world class facilities.

did not initially understand what his pioneering team of wellness experts was trying to achieve. “After explaining our concept and having seen for themselves the results, these doctors recognized our work and we are now working hand in hand with them. “Our goal is to stop or slow down the aging process. We don’t treat disease. Such cases are treated in BIH. We complement each other.   “Basically, through continuous commitment to research and



development, we want to prevent the preventable and delay the inevitable,” added Dr Pansak. Annual customer visits to Vitallife now total more than 13,000 per year. After Thai patients, the second biggest group are from China, United States, United Arab Emirates, Myanmar, Qatar, Bangladesh,

Oman, Vietnam and the Philippines. Vitallife is currently working on a rebranding campaign that will highlight 15 years of providing better health and integrated longevity medicine for an international client base.


p Last month’s best events in pictures



Social|Last Around Month’s town Best Events


AKARYN Hotel Group launched the new and luxurious Akyra Beach Club Phuket. Opening to welcome guests from December 1, the new and sophisticated ocean side destination is located on Natai beach in Phang-Nga province, only 20 minutes from Phuket International Airport.

RAISING THE BAR IN SE ASIA’S EDUCATION MARKET THE Brighton College International School Bangkok, the sister school of the UK’s top independent school that recently welcomed its founding Pre-Prep students is officially open. The Pre-Prep School for children between 2-9 years old is the first part of Brighton College Bangkok to open while the Prep and Senior School will start in September 2017. 98


Social|Last Around Month’s town Best Events


TO introduce interesting places in Japan, the Chubu Economic Federation (CHEF) and ISETAN a department store with authentic Japanese products and services – jointly organised ‘Shortyudo (Chubu & Hokuriku) Food and Tourism Fair 2016’ during November 17-29 at Gochiso Space in CentralWorld.


TATSUMI Japanese Cuisine brings the authentic Japanese culture to guests through seasonal menus and special limited off-the-menu items prepared by Chef Tanaka Shigeru and his team. Located on the 2nd oor or Pathumwan Princess Hotel, Bangkok, the restaurant recently celebrated its grand opening with a special eightcourse set menu presented with an artistic air. 100


Social|Last Around Month’s town Best Events


DURING November Natanel Gluska’s hosted his latest solo exhibition ‘One for the Bird’ at SAC Subhashok The Arts Centre. Chief Executive Officer of SAC Subhashok The Arts Centre Subhashok Angsuvarnsiri acted as the curator.


SHOWING the commitment to improve the growth of Phuket’s reputation as a world-class marine tourism hub, Central Pattana PCL (CPN) proudly announced the official sponsorship of the 30th Phuket King’s Cup Regatta in Phuket this year. In order to accommodate the lifestyles of tourists and residents alike, the event help generates a great deal of revenue for the local economy and served to benefit all Phuket’s hotels and restaurants as well. The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta 30th Anniversary will be held from 3-10 December 2016 at Kata Beach Resort and Spa, Phuket.


MR Rudolf Troestler, General Manager of Hilton Pattaya together with management team and hotel staff started the ‘Bunny for Charity’ project in order to raise funds to help build the playground and learning centre for brain development for disadvantaged infants and young children at Hippotherapy Centre, Sattahip Naval Base.



Diplomat: His Excellency Hazem Elsayed Badawy El Tahry

Egyptian Ambassador keeps diplomatic focus through turbulent times



IS Excellency Hazem Elsayed Badawy El Tahry began his term as ambassador to Thailand on March 30, 2015, as the latest step in a long and distinguished career in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Before he even sat down for this recent interview at his official residence, Ambassador El Tahry said in a subdued voice, “I wish to extend my deep condolences to the people of the Kingdom of Thailand on the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I have been sincerely touched by the behaviour and reaction of the Thai people to this sad event. You can really feel how much the people love the King who did so many good things for them. “I am also touched to see how closely the Thai people have come together regardless of their circumstances or religion. I have witnessed Muslims and Buddhists crying together over the loss of their King. There is a deep sadness over the country, but it is very encouraging to see the strong sense of community; it makes the country stronger when people come together like that.”   When asked how he has been able to survive in the diplomatic service of a country that has seen such profound change and turbulence, especially in recent years, Mr El Tahry replied, “This is a very important question which I really appreciate. It is not only me but all my colleagues at the MFA who are facing the same situation. We are all professionals, and this means our duty is to represent our country no matter what changes may come. Since the revolution of January 2011 the ruling regime has changed five times. Can you imagine it? “I have been able to concentrate on my work no matter who was the head of government, including former President Mohamed Morsi, because we at the ministry follow the principle that as professionals we don’t interfere in politics.   “We represent our country and we have to defend its interests, which should be the same regardless of who



is president. We don’t belong to any political party and indeed we are not allowed to belong to a political party. We accept that this is the way it is and we understand why it is important to have this type of policy. In other countries, government employees are likely to lose their jobs when there is a change in government or an election is lost, but in Egypt that’s not the way it is,” said the ambassador. He added, “After the upheavals of the past few years, Egypt is stable now. We have parliamentary and presidential elections and we have a new constitution in place.” Mr El Tahry said the normal term for ambassadors is four years, but diplomats can be moved from one mission to another at any time.

Career diplomat

Ambassador El Tahry was born in Cairo in April 1964 and joined the MFA in 1989 after completing his university studies. He was 25 years old. “I joined because I came from a diplomatic and media orientated family. My father was a diplomat in the Arab League and my uncle was diplomat at the MFA. My mother was a journalist working in the field of political information.” Since entering the MFA he has served in Berlin, Algiers, Damascus, Moscow, Sofia, Ottawa and Dubai, and held a number of important positions in Cairo.   The ambassador is multilingual, and having a talent for languages is a definite plus in his line of work. “I studied at a French school in Cairo and my French is better than my English. I also speak Russian and Bulgarian. I can learn any language pretty easy, except Thai,” he said, laughing. “I have tried but without much success. The problem is the tones.”   Nevertheless, he sees the appointment to Thailand as a high point in his career and makes no secret that he’s delighted to be here. “I came to Thailand for the first time when I was appointed its ambassador. I had intended to visit the country before, especially when I was working in Dubai, and even made airline reservations, but something always came up. So when I finally came here as ambassador I was a little bit uneasy at first.   “Culturally, Thailand is quite different from Egypt, and really from anyplace I had ever been assigned. But after a short time – and this is the secret of Thailand – I was touched by the culture and especially by the people. So

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many Egyptian friends who used to come here every three months or so tried to explain this secret to me, but I couldn’t understand before I came myself. Now I know: the secret is the people of Thailand who are so very nice and warm.”

Bilateral exchange


hailand and Egypt established diplomatic relations in 1954 and the embassies in Cairo and Bangkok were opened the same year. In the intervening 62 years our relations have always been good. In September of 2016 we started bilateral political consultations in Cairo. I think that in the near future we will have a bilateral committee at the MFA level in Bangkok, but as this is a special time for Thailand we don’t know when exactly this will happen.   “The Egyptian embassy in Bangkok has about 20 staff members, half of them Thai. Some have been with us for many years. The embassy driver has been with the embassy for 16 years and the servant at the residence 20 years. He remembers six ambassadors.   “I am also the Egyptian ambassador for Cambodia and I go there often. In 2016 Cambodia opened its only embassy on the whole African continent in Cairo. This is a very good development which is due to the efforts of my team and me

and those of the ambassador before me,” said Mr El Tahry. “Thailand and Egypt have good cooperation and strong ties in many areas. For example, direct flights by Egypt Air between Cairo and Bangkok facilitate the transport of people and goods. I am keen to increase the trade between our countries. Currently the volume of trade is about US $1.2 billion both ways. I think this is not enough and we should make more of an effort.   “Egypt exports to Thailand mainly spare parts for motor vehicles, seafood like tuna, clothing, electronics and pharmaceuticals. We have been producing pharmaceuticals in Egypt for a long time.   “There are few Egyptian companies in Thailand, and these are mainly tourist-orientated, as well as several Egyptian The Blue Hole off the coast of Egypt

f Philae

o Temple

Luxor Temple

restaurants. We work with the Thai-Egypt Chamber of Commerce, which conducts meetings for private business people and we try to help Egyptian businesses. For example, a business might ask our help in working with the Thai government to change regulations that are hurting the business. “Thailand of course is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. About 40,000 Egyptian tourists visited Thailand in 2015. I really appreciate how Ms Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, runs the ministry. She has really good ideas and she is very successful in her work. Sometimes I joke with her and ask her when she will come to Egypt to cooperate and exchange experiences in the field of tourism.   “Egypt is also a very important tourist destination because of its fabulous history and archaeological jewels. I don’t have the exact number of Thai tourists for 2015, but it is less than the number of Egyptians who travelled to Thailand.  We are issuing visas to Thais at the embassy,” said the ambassador.    “Our embassy looks after Egyptian citizens



Above: The White Desert Left: Temple of Hatshepsut

here and helps if they have any problems. Not many Egyptians are permanent residents here, but as I’ve said there are always lots of Egyptian tourists. Thailand is a popular destination for honeymooners. Many of them go to Phuket. The embassy also promotes Egyptian cultural events in Thailand. For example, we bring Egyptian folk dancing groups from time to time.”

Teaching as a religious duty

The ambassador said that every year his government provides around 80 agricultural scholarships to Thai students and the two countries also exchange agricultural experts. Altogether there are about 3,500 Thais studying in different universities in Cairo.   “That’s why I am now pushing for an Arabic language institute in Thailand. Usually Thai students who go to Egypt take about one year to learn Arabic. I believe if the students learn here before going to study in Egypt it will greatly benefit them. The institute would be not only for Muslims but for anyone wishing to learn Arabic, including Thai Buddhists and citizens of other countries.”   s the Egyptian ambassador Mr El Tahri plays a big role in helping supply Egyptian teachers for Thai religious schools. “Egypt is one of the biggest and most important Islamic countries in the world, so we have a responsibility to teach Muslims everywhere, including in Thailand. But we exercise this responsibility in coordination with the government here,” said the ambassador. He added that he’s discussed Thailand in meetings with Grand Imam Sheik al-Azhar, who is an Egyptian and considered by some to be the highest authority of the Sunni Islamic tradition. Al-Azhar University in Cairo was founded more than 1,000 years ago and it is one of the oldest universities in the world. The university is home to distinguished faculties of engineering, medicine, languages and religion.   “The Grand Imam is very interested in Thailand. There are 17 Egyptian sheikhs throughout Thailand who teach religion, languages and other subjects. Before I came here I found out that the majority of them were living in Bangkok. They were


happy to be in Bangkok because it’s a good city, but this is not their purpose. Therefore, I sent more than half to the South because that’s where the majority of Thai Muslims are, and I also sent some to Chiang Mai. Some of course are still living and teaching in Bangkok. “When a Muslim school in Thailand asks for an Egyptian sheikh to come teach, we first look at how many students the school has. I won’t send a sheikh to a school with 10 students, but a school with 600 or 2,000 students has a good chance. Their salaries are paid by the Egyptian government and we ask the schools to find them a nice place to live. They teach mainly Arabic and religious studies.”  

About Egypt

The ambassador said that Egypt is culturally diverse, which is a reflection of its geographic location. “Egypt is African because we are on the continent of Africa. We are also Arabic and we are Mediterranean. We are Asian as well because Sinai is a part of Asia. We are a predominantly Islamic country but five to ten percent of the population is Christian.    “Different countries and groups have their own interpretations of Islam, but in fact there is only one Islam. Like other world religions, Islam is intended to bring peace. I don’t believe that any true religion would ask people to kill. When people hijack Islam and commit bad deeds this is politics, not religion. Sometimes when the economic or social situation is not so good and people feel alone and they don’t have anyone to lead them, someone with a wrong interpretation of Islam may sway them to go this way or the other.   “Islam has been the dominant religion in Egypt for more than one thousand years, but we are tolerant of other religions, including Christianity. Christians have been in Egypt even longer than Muslims, and if they were persecuted they couldn’t have survived so long. Of course, there are some problems, but I don’t believe Christians are abused. There are 80 Christian members of Parliament and about the same number of women. Our country belongs to all the people. This is what I really believe.”

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• 2012-present: Deputy Assistant Minister for Parliamentary Affairs • January 2014: Director of Egyptian Diplomatic Club • October 2013: Emissary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for submitting proposed amendments to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the current constitution of Egypt • October 2012: Member of Foreign Ministry delegation to the Constituent Assembly • July 2011: Deputy Director Department of Policy Planning and Crisis Management • January 2011: Representative of Foreign Ministry to the Crisis Management Working Group organized by the Egyptian army during 2011 • January 2010: Elected as member of Egyptian Diplomatic administration • 2005-2009: Consul of Egypt in Dubai and Northern Emirates (UAE) • 2003-2005: Bureau Chief Assistant Minister for Consular, Immigration, Refugees and People’s Assembly Affairs  • 2002-2003: First secretary and Deputy Chief of Mission Egyptian                                  Embassy in Ottawa • 2001-2002: Bureau Chief-Assistant Minister for Asian Affairs • 1999-2001: First Secretary Egyptian Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria • 1997-1999: Second Secretary Egyptian Embassy in Moscow • 1996-1997: Second Secretary (Charge d’ affaires) European and                                 Security Organization Division • 1992-1995: Third Secretary Egyptian Embassy in Damascus • 1991-1992: Attaché Egyptian Embassy in Algiers • 1989-1991:          Attaché Arab Division Foreign Ministry • 1990: Graduated from DSE Institute for junior diplomats in Berlin  • 1990: Graduated from Egyptian Diplomatic Institute

Life in Thailand


Mohammed Ali Mosque

r El Tahri has made it a point to see a lot of the country in the relatively short time he’s been here. “I have travelled all across Thailand. I have been to Phuket, Chiang Mai and Pattaya among other places. I have visited Royal Development Projects

in the North. “I appreciate that the MFA from time to time arranges trips for diplomats to get to know Thailand. They take us to places in the province like factories so we can learn about local products.  This is something special. I am very happy with how the Thai MFA deals with the diplomatic missions. We have good cooperation with them, but I have to say they are very strict in matters of protocol. I have served in many



Ambassador El Tahri and his Persian cat, Martin

countries but here it is completely different, especially when it comes to presenting diplomatic credentials.      “The diplomatic community in Thailand is very close. The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps is currently Ambassador Javier Becker of Chile. He has helped the diplomatic corps to know the protocol during the mourning period and so on. He is a very experienced diplomat and his wife is also very nice. I personally have many friends among the heads of diplomatic missions. However, I think some regions could be better represented. For example, the Arab world consists of 22 countries and only 10 are represented here. And there are only six African countries with embassies here: Egypt, Algeria, Kenya, Libya, Morocco and South Africa. This is not enough. I have heard that Mozambique will open a mission here.” In his free time Mr El Tahri’s favourite pastime is watching football, especially Arsenal FC. For exercise he likes going to the gym for a good workout and swimming in the sea. He enjoys his life and travels in Thailand and sometimes posts photos on Facebook so that friends around the world can see how lucky he is.   One aspect of Thailand he likes most is the food. “We have many Thai restaurants in Egypt but I didn’t go too often before coming here. But since I have arrived I have become a huge fan. It is so delicious but very spicy for us non-natives,” said Mr El Thari, who is also very fond of his two-year-old, blue-eyed male Persian cat named Martin. The friendly feline quietly observed us during our conversation.   At the close of the interview the ambassador said, “I must express once again my deep condolences to the people of Thailand. I am very appreciative of the way Thais accept diversity and live in peace. As for the problems in the South, I don’t want to interfere. I know that the Thai government is trying hard to find the right way and I wish them success.   “It is very important for Thai people to accept each other regardless of race or religion. I have found that communities in Thailand are strong and united. I wish Thailand prosperity and stability for the future and I believe that relations between Thailand and Egypt will continue to strengthen, especially after the bilateral commission in Bangkok becomes a reality.”

denying any involvement in the robbery. According to eyewitnesses, a hooded man entered the bank, jumped the counter and took 148,600 baht in cash from the drawer. He didn’t have a gun. The robbery took about five minutes and the robber didn’t say anything. After the robber left the bank he was chased by bank security staff and onlookers, who were able to subdue him. He doused them with pepper spray and managed to escape, but was caught again a short time later. Police found the black hood, sunglasses, and black gloves the robber was wearing in bushes nearby. uyier at first insisted he was merely “strolling around” and had nothing to do with the robbery, but after a strip search revealed 148,600 baht on his person he confessed. October 2011, Englishman in black: Michael Ludwig Wynn, 63, a retired nglishmen, was arrested in his at on ctober 10 five days after 5 5,000 baht in cash was stolen from the SCB Diamond Market branch in Somphet district of Chiang Mai. Wynn entered the bank on ctober 5 around 2pm while the bank’s security

May 2013, quiet American: Lloyd Dennis Hall, a 62-year-old American teacher, robbed Bangkok Bank Tesco Lotus Pongpetch branch in Nonthaburi on May 29. He queued quietly with other customers, wearing dark sunglasses, and when it was his turn he presented two female staff with a note written in English saying, “I have a gun and knife. Fill the bag with money. Quietly” After he was given reportedly about 380,000 baht he got away on a motorcycle driven by another person. Following a tip-off the police located his apartment, where he was arrested the next day hey found 50,000 baht still wrapped with Bangkok Bank bill straps. A shirt and crash helmet similar to what the robber was wearing were found in a rubbish bin outside his room and the motorcycle used in the robbery was found nearby. Hall was taken to the local police station and after several hours of uestioning finally confessed

Michael Ludwig Wynn and his loot

ctober 2015, uy awkes ustralian: Zacharin Cronin, 23, robbed a Thanachart Bank branch in Saphan Kwai district of Bangkok on October 19. Wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and goggles, the Australian shouted at the tellers, “Money”, while pointing a fake gun at them. He was able Harold Guyier caught in the act on a surveillance camera

police that he had spent all his money and planned to use his stolen loot to buy a plane ticket back to Australia.

Cronin re-enacting the robbery

guards were on their lunch break. He was wearing a black helmet and black clothing. Wielding a knife and gun, he forced the four bank employees to give him the cash. A Honda motorcycle Wynn used was seen on several CCTV cameras near the bank, giving police a strong lead. They followed him for several days before raiding his at Wynn immediately confessed to the robbery. The police found some cash, the helmet and shoes that corresponded to the video footage taken during his gateway on the day of the robbery.

to get out with 170,000 baht but bank staff activated an alarm. fter Cronin ed the bank he was pursued by an off-duty policeman who was in the bank as a customer and some bank security guards. They cornered Cronin in a dead-end soi and kept him under wraps until the police arrived. Cronin had apparently been observing the bank for two days before making a decision to stage the robbery that morning soon after the branch opened, when he figured that not too many people would be inside. He told the

June 2007, the one that got away: Despite an extensive manhunt, police never caught up to the Caucasian man who robbed the SCB branch in Karon breach Phuket province on June 28. He got away with 420,000 baht in cash. Witnesses said that a man with a short beard or stubble between 30 and 40 years old had been waiting outside the bank on a motorcycle before he entered wearing a mask e walked straight to the office of bank manager Thurdsak Chusap and held a gun to his head as he demanded cash and shouted other commands in Thai. The bank manager told the police even though the robber was wearing a mask it was clear to him that he was a foreigner who could speak some Thai. Bank employees said the robbery took about two minutes. Soon after the heist, Chalong district police began checking local guesthouses and businesses that rent motorcycles to try to track down the obviously well-organised criminal. Pol Maj-Gen Decha Budnampetch,

TheBigChilli 113

Feature For whatever reason, Royal Thai Police records contain scant information on bank robberies. Media reports were therefore used to put this BigChilli story together, but in some cases these accounts are conflicting and confusing; unanswered questions remain some 14 years after one of the most serious crimes ever committed by foreign criminals inside Thailand.     

of the gang, a Thai man called “Sura”, shot the policeman. He described Sura as 30-35 years old, and 175-180 cm tall with a dark complexion and long hair. It’s still not known whether Sura was a real or fictional character in the bloody drama; what is certain is that he was never captured. The four robbers raced from the bank through the rear door of the building, firing more shots as they ran. They jumped into a Black Friday  waiting pickup truck whose driver may have been Thai and sped off. Assistant Police Chief Pol Gen Amnuay Petchsiri later said that hortly after the Bank of Ayudhya opened for business police believed the gang consisted of five or possibly six people. in Pattaya on Friday, August 30, four masked men,   Pattaya police quickly mobilised and set up checkpoints two wielding handguns and one armed with a knife, throughout the city and in outlying areas. In spite of the manhunt, entered the bank through the rear entrance, slightly Cheremnykh apparently managed to locate and buy a speedboat injuring the bank security guard in the process. The called Four Winds 195 from a local man named Suthep Samut for robbers announced their presence with gunshots and ordered 570,000 baht. Suthep deposited the amount in cash at the Naklua staff to lie on the floor. One of them pointed a gun to the head of branch of the Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) in northern Pattaya. the bank’s finance manager, Vichien Manasin, and ordered him It’s assumed that this was part of the stolen money. in English to open the safe. After he complied the thieves took   On Saturday the Russians attempted to make an escape in about 2.4 million baht from the safe and put it in a large bag. the speedboat across the Gulf of Thailand, but they aroused Pol Sgt Maj Songkitti Maneechote was inside the bank when the suspicion of a fisherman who tipped off the police. Police the robbers made their entrance. He fired one shot from his and naval ships along with helicopters were dispatched revolver and was immediately attacked by Cheremnykh, who to the area. Marine police from Prachuap Khiri Khan and pinned the policeman to the floor and tried to wrestle the gun Chonburi provinces corralled the boat and captured Menlikeev, from him. In the struggle the gun went off and Cheremnykh was Cheremnykh and Kudoyarov after the speedboat boat ran out struck by a bullet in his right thigh. of fuel off the coast of Hua Hin district The Manager Online website of Prachuap Khiri Khan. Inside the boat reported that Pol Sgt Maj Songkitti police found a bag with 980,000 baht, was a bank customer who had gone passports, a map of Thailand and a photo there that morning to deposit money of Russian national Illiyes Karfarleen to pay a mortgage and had gotten together with the other three Russians. caught up in the robbery. Other media Karfarleen was holding an assault rifle in sources said he was on duty guarding the photo. the bank. Before the robbers fled the   Witnesses claimed that before the police scene, one of them shot the policeman boats closed in they saw a man’s body and in the head and took his .38 caliber a bag thrown overboard. Police speculated revolver. The lawman died on the spot. that the bag contained evidence of the A graphic photo taken after the robbery, including the murder weapon. robbery shows him lying on his back On September 1, the body of a foreign near the bank’s copy machine, a large man was found floating in the water off pool of blood around his head. Laem Charoen Beach in Rayong province. In his interrogation later, Initial reports said the police suspected Cheremnykh told investigators that it was the body of Karfarleen, the fourth From left to right: Renat Kudoyarov, Marat Menlikeev, Felix Cheremnykh and Illiyes during the struggle another member robber, but this was not confirmed. 


Karfarleen holding a rifle


A REVIEW of the annual crime statistics published by the Royal Thai Police fail to reveal much information on bank robberies committed in Thailand in recent years, including the total number of robberies. Therefore, media sources were used to put together the following report, which does not include cases of armoured, bank or money delivery truck heists, breaking into bank vaults after closing hours, currency exchange or currency trader crimes, or ATM machine breaches. 2016: Before the December issue of The TheBigChilli


BigChilli went to print on November 25, ten bank robberies had been reported in Thailand during 2016, all committed by Thai nationals. Three banks were robbed in Bangkok and the others in Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Lampang, Nan, Phetchburi, Phuket, and Udon Thani. 2015: Seven banks were robbed in 2015, one by an Australian man, Zacharin Cronin, and the rest by Thais. Two hold-ups were in Bangkok and there was one each in Chachongsao, Chiang Mai, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and, Singburi provinces. 2014: Six robberies were reported in 2014, all perpetrated by Thais. Two robberies occurred in Pathum Thai province, with one each in Chainat, Chiang Mai, Lampang and

Songkhla provinces. The bank robbery in Songkhla came to a tragic end. After the robbers stole an unspecified amount of money from Krung Thai Bank at Tambon Klong Ngae in Hat Yai district on February 17, police managed to catch up to them in Sadao district. During a gunfight Pol Sub-Lt Wanchat Chaipan was killed and so was one robber. A second suspect escaped into a rubber plantation. 2013: The year 2013 was a bumper year for bank robberies, with 19 hold-ups including one by an American national, Lloyd Dennis Hall, in Nonthaburi province. Only one occurred in Bangkok, while there were four in Chiang Mai, three in Pathum Thani province and two in Udon Thani province. Khon Kaen, Nakhon Phanom, Phitsanulok, Phuket, Samut

The BigChilli Dec 2016  

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

The BigChilli Dec 2016  

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