Rak Sud Teen

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

As long-term fans of the Panthamitr Film-dubbing team, we had high hopes when we learned that their head was going to make his directorial debut, Rak Sud Teen. With their hilarious reputation for dubbing Chinese films, we had high hopes that Paripan Watcharanon, would do a better job of making us laugh out loud than the normal poor offerings from TV comedians turned directors. Overall, we feel that he’s done OK for a first effort.

Opening Date: 
Wed, 2012-03-14
Monruedee Jansuttipan

Bangkok is a city blessed with neighborhoods dedicated to a single craft or product, from teak furniture to football jerseys. Can they compete with the growing mall invasion and retain their customer base?


Located in the northern part of the city and dubbed “The Road of Wood,” this little soi is packed with shop after shop selling small, sculpted pieces and gorgeous teak furniture.

Daeng Meeyod, 63, Daeng Kan Chang owner

When did you open shop?
Nearly 30 years ago. I learned how to make chairs from my older brother who has the shop next door. His shop was the first furniture store in this soi. The other shops popped up about 15-20 years ago after other craftsmen learned our techniques.
Is the competition a problem?
Not at all. We have a rule to let customers pick the shop. We even share work sometimes when we can’t deliver a big furniture order on time.
How do you stand out?
Our work is all handmade, very detailed and made to the highest standards. We’re actually the most expensive, but we’re the best. Our customers are furniture companies who bring our work to sell at fairs or to export.
Who will take over after you?
We don’t know. Our children all work elsewhere.
Daeng Kan Chang. 107 Soi Prachanaruemit, Krungthep-Nonthaburi Rd, 02-586-7856, 081-868-3660.

Rattana Komrattanapanya, 33, Kom Kan Chang owner

Have you always worked here?
No, I just came back to help my parents five years ago. I used to work as a salesperson, but my parents needed someone to take care of the shop as they got older.
Have you ever considered doing something else?
Not really. My parents opened this shop 20 years ago, doing built-in furniture. But that wasn’t doing too well, so we decided to change our display two years ago to things like vintage-looking mirrors or cute mailboxes. It’s now much better. People ask about the show items and sometimes they end up ordering built-in furniture, too.
How’s business?
The hardest part is finding the workers. It’s hard to find skilled workers for the most delicate, one-of-a-kind jobs that some customers order.
Kom Kan Chang. 327 Soi Prachanaruemit, Krungthep-Nonthaburi Rd, 086-049-6688, 089-208-3286.

Sutthiwan Pholyama, 30, craftswoman at Aphichat Carving

How long have you been working here?
About 10 years. I used to work at 7-Eleven but I quit after I got married. My husband who is a wood carver asked me to work with his boss who owns this carving shop. I had to practice carving for many years and now I can work on some small pieces. We sell everything from small decorative items to giant teak doors.
Is it hard work for a woman?
Not for me. I love this job. I’m independent. I just wait for the order and work at the shop, but my bosses they’re not at the shop all the time. They will come from Ayutthaya to deliver stuff and take orders. They are also kind and not picky. I can go home any time I want.
How much do you earn?
I started at B3,500 but now I can earn B8,000–B10,000 a month as my skills have improved.
Aphichat Carving Shop. 881 Soi Prachanaruemit, Krungthep-Nonthaburi Rd, 02-587-1489, 081-920-2925.

National Stadium

With shop after shop selling seemingly indentical football jerseys and trophies, the area behind Chulalongkorn University and Rajamnagkla National Stadium is a football fanatic’s idea of heaven.

Ekkachai Jarueksilp, 40, Yod Yium Sport Inter owner

How old is your shop?
About 60 years. My parents opened this store to sell football shoes under our own brand “Yod Yium,” as well as selling international makes like Adidas or Nike. We were the third Thai football boot brand. But as you know, Thai people value inter brands more than local ones, so we had to stop our production to focus on selling those.
Does the Thai Premier League (TPL) help business?
Of course. Kids need to buy new shoes to practice to make a good junior team, while more adults than ever are playing football as a hobby. .
How’s business?
Our lease is up for renewal this year, so we don’t know when Chulalongkorn is going to take the land back. It’s kind of sad that developers tear down old communities instead of trying to preserve them.
Yod Yium Sport Inter. 833 Chula Soi 2, Rama 1 Rd. (next to National Stadium), 02-214-2213, 02-612-3560.

Sudjai Srilakulpanich, 51, Big Sport owner

When did you open this shop?
About 10 years ago, I quit my job as a cashier. Our grannies were moving out from here, so I decided to buy it from them and open a small business as a part-time job. I knew nothing about sports, but my customers taught me everything. They will update us about what team is hot, so I will make shirts to match the demand.
Is the competition good or bad for business?
I think it’s good for us. Our reputation brings people here. They can choose the shop that they like. For us, we always get jobs from old clients because we sell cheap and we’re honest about the quality. If there are flawed-products in the pack of shirts, we won’t charge them.
Has the TPL brought in more business?
Not really, because our clients are the same people. Those who like TPL teams are also fans of foreign football teams.
831 Chula Soi 2, Rama 1 Rd. (next to National Stadium), 02-214-1011, 081-695-4498.

Kanchanee Malakanok, Parrot Sporting owner

When did you open this shop?
We opened this shop 30 years ago to sell sportswear. Everyone knows about this area and that we sell sports stuff here. This is where people go when looking for anything related to sports.
How do you compete with malls?
Price. We sell football boots for less than other places. And service, as we have lots of staff to take care of customers.
Is the TPL good for business?
Of course. They always come to buy jerseys from the top football club before the start of the season. But when sales really go up is when we have big football events like the World Cup or European Championships.
How’s business?
We don’t know what our future will be. Chulalongkorn didn’t tell us their plan for this neighborhood. The National Stadium area will be less colorful if it doesn’t have shops like ours.
Parrot Sporting Goods. 847/4 Rama 1 Rd. (next to National Stadium), 02-214-1305, 02-612-3443.

Mahachai Road

This neighborhood, founded nearly a hundred years ago, is located next to what was one of the first prisons of the Rattanakosin Era. It used to be a dense and busy market famed for cloth and baskets made by inmates in the prison. But after the prison moved, business slowed down. Today, there are only three shops left, but they still attract people who want to buy some unique gifts that you can’t find in luxury malls.

Dararat Yingpaitool, 55, Suriya Panich owner.

How old is your shop?
More than 50 years old. My parents opened it to sell baskets and rattan furniture. I started taking care of it about 20-30 years ago after my parents got too old. I had to quit my job as a teacher.
How’s business?
It’s not as good as it used to be. And it was even worse during the floods last year. People weren’t buying, the factory wasn’t producing. But we can survive as long as we don’t spend too much money. The time when we are always busy is New Year, with all the hampers. I’m also worried that the land owner will take the land back because of some new projects, like the MRT or BTS extensions.
Who are your customers?
They are mostly individual home-owners. We don’t get big orders like those from hotels or businesses.
Suriya Panich shop. 380-382 Mahachai Rd., 02-222-5763.

Sunanta Silapattakul, 61, Yuphadee Wanich owner.

How old is your shop?
About 60 years old. My grandfather originally opened it to sell pakaoma [traditional Thai cloth] which was so popular back then. He also knew how to make rattan furniture, and when others saw it, they wanted to buy it, too. So he then decided to start producing it.
Did he teach you?
Yes, I still do some products myself. This is our strong-point as well, because we can do any custom design customers want.
How is business?
It’s hard to find rattan these days.Growing it does not make money like some other industrial crops, such as rubber trees. We now import it from neighboring countries like Indonesia.
Who will take over the shop?
Our children all have good careers in companies. So I’m not sure who will take care over.
Yuphadee Wanich shop. 388,390 Mahachai Rd., 02-221-2411, 02-224-9340.

Charoenrat Road

This bustling road near Wongwianyai is a secret weapon for many young designers seeking affordable-but-quality leather and cloth to create their new collections.

Hathaitip Techatrisorn, 26, M-Plus Shop owner

How long have you worked here?
Just three years. My parents already own a shoe factory, so they always import leather from all over the world, mostly from China. They figured it might be good if we had our own shop. They got me this place, and I quit my job. The first year was tough, but people are starting to know us.
How do you stand out?
Most of our products are imported, so we have items that can’t be found elsewhere, even around here. We have ostrich skin, really high-grade cow hide. And I can guarantee we’re the cheapest.
Who are your customers?
Mostly shop owners or sometimes foreigners who produce shoes or bags.
M-Plus Shop. 220 Charoenrath Road. 02-438-6355.

Supaporn Jiranuthi, 60, Thailikit owner

How long have you worked here?
30 years so far. I first sold only leather, but it wasn’t going well, as more shops opened in the area. So I decided to add bag accessories, like handles and other decorations. It’s better now but it isn’t great.
Who are your customers?
Mostly housewives or hobbyists who love to make their own stuff, like bags or purses. They will come to buy materials and go home to stitch it then come back again to find accessories and handles which we will attach for them. It’s part of our service.
Why do they pick you?
I don’t know. It might be our honest service. I know what they should buy to get the result they want.
Thailikit. 221 Charoenrat Road. 02-438-5315, 081-205-1907.

Winthasit Pornpimolchoke, 39, Wattanaporn Panich owner

How did you start this business?
I inherited this shop from my parents who opened it 20 years ago as they owned a leather bag factory. Our shop kept growing until they had to open more branches in the same area. We now have five shops that my siblings are taking care of it.
What makes you stand out?
We’re probably the biggest seller. We have any type of leather you want: cow, goat, sheep or pig. And our prices are reasonable, starting from B12 for 10 sq centimeters.
How is business?
We should do more to promote this area as the leather market. Not many people know about it.
Wattanaporn Panich. 213 Charoenrat Road. 02-438-3351, 02-438-5591.



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As they get set to rock Bangkok on their L'Arc-en-Ciel World Tour 2012 live in Bangkok on March 7, one of the biggest J-Rock bands of all-time open up about their life in music in the past two decades.

What do you feel about L’Arc-en-Ciel as you celebrate your 20th anniversary?
Well we’ve grown up a lot. If you compared us to a man, he has reached his legal age now, so we can legally watch porn already. I mean L'Arc-en-Ciel is like a real man now.

How do you think you continue to be at the top after all this time?
Don’t exchange your private email with anyone! Maybe it’s because of our way of working. Everyone in the band can create one of our songs. When one of us has a song in mind, the others will help and develop it. This way of working means our work is always fresh.

You have millions of fan around the world, yet many don’t even understand Japanese?
It’s true that not all of them understand our lyrics. On the flip-side it makes me so impressed that our music inspires many of them many of them to study Japanese and try to understand our songs.

Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
I always take things that happen around me. If you go back to listen my old songs you will see me in that moment, what I touched or what I was thinking then. The lyrics portray the growth of my thoughts into everything around me.

You always do big gigs these days; do you ever miss the chance to put on a more intimate concert?
We do occasionally do small gigs, though not as often as the large-scale concerts. But I don’t think that one is better than the other. Big concerts are great as lots of people can come and have fun together while a small gig can bring more intimate feelings. We still want to do both.

You always wear extravaganza costumes at every concert, how do you come up with the ideas?
I will talk to the designer about my concept then they will cut the new outfit for me wear.
Hyde: In the big concerts, if we dressed normally it would be too boring. Each of us has our own personalities and imagine what we want to be. We just make it more flamboyant for our outfits to be more attractive.

Why do you guys take the butterfly as the main concept for your new album?
We feel the moment that chrysalis transforms itself into a butterfly is such a cool moment. L’Arc-en-Ciel takes 20 years to turn into a butterfly as well.

How much have all members changed during the past two decades?
Ken: I have more of a beard.
Tetsuya: My name.
Hyde: My hair is shorter.
Yukihiro: I finally became a member of this band.

Any message for your Thai fans?
I plan to throw bananas as I always do but the Thai bananas are too small. I will try to find some big ones to throw.
Ken: I was quite surprised to see that the Thai fans are so passionate when they welcomed us at the airport. It was totally different from the Thai people that we see on the streets of Bangkok who are so soft and kind. I will wait to see if the same hotness of Thai fans will happen at the concert or not.


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Legendary singer and National Artist, Setha Sirachaya, 68, is releasing his new, and possibly last, album, Chak Wan Nan...Teung Wannee Pror Mee Khun, ahead of a tour with his band The Impossibles. Here, he opens up about his early life of poverty and his eternal love for music.

I became a singer because I was poor. My father and uncle used to be actors, but they weren’t famous.

I had to quit school and start to earn a living. The only way I knew how to make money was by being a singer.

I started singing everywhere I could. I even went to Ubon Ratchathani to sing at a U.S. Army camp during the Vietnam War.

When I came back to Bangkok, my friends and I didn’t get lots of gigs, as there were too many musicians and too few clubs in town.

We decided to form a band called Joint Reaction, and went to a competition hosted by the Musical Association of Thailand under the patronage of His Majesty the King and we won. We got so many shows after that.

We decided to change our name to The Impossibles with the hope that it would bring us luck. We borrowed the name from a cartoon series where the hero is a musician. And also, we just wanted the impossible to be possible.

We became so successful. We only had two albums in 1972 and 1973 but we went on tour in many places around the world, like Hawaii and Europe.

Everyone was a hippy back then but I never took drugs. I don’t know why. Maybe I just wasn’t interested or I was just too exhausted from our tight touring schedule.

We finally decided to dissolve our band while we were playing in Sweden in 1976. We all needed to go in different directions. For me, I was getting more acting jobs, too.

I never get bored singing the same old songs. If I felt bored with my songs, why should others listen to them? If you don’t love what you’re doing, who will love it?
I’m taking singing classes because I feel that the new artists are so talented. I had never taken any singing classes so I wanted to improve. I don’t want my work to sound outdated.

Being gifted isn’t enough anymore. Everyone needs a promoter to push them to be a star.

I started studying for my degree five years ago. I love studying but I didn’t have a chance before because I was poor. I’m now studying to get a doctorate degree. I’ve chosen to study political science because I love it. It’s all about management.

The secret of my long happy marriage is virtue and morality. And if we feel a big fight coming, we stay away from each other until we’re both calm. It just gives us time to think about the problem and how to avoid it in the future.

I was crushed when my wife [Aranya Numwong]had a stroke and brain hemorrhage last year. She always gets check-ups. It made me realize how vulnerable we all are. You never know that someone right next to you could fall to the ground at any time.

Being together is the most valuable thing for me. I’m so lucky that she’s much better now.

I stay in shape by jogging every morning.

I haven’t had a “worst moment” in my life. The problems I faced, I knew I could solve.

Taking care of others is a part of living in society. If you have something to give, just give.

I think my new album Chak Wan Nan...Teung Wannee Pror Mee Khun [From Those Days to These Days, Because of You] might be my last. I don’t know how long I will live, but I will sing until I can’t do it any longer.

I have a back-up plan. I’ve just bought a rubber tree farm to be my income if I can’t work as a singer anymore.

I am so happy whenever I sing in concert. I make fans happy, too, but me, I am beyond happy.

If I could perform a song with any group, it would be The Beatles. Our band was famous when The Beatles ruled the world. Their songs are everlasting.

My daughter is the most precious thing to me. My wife and I would do anything for her. I quit smoking 28 years ago for her.

If you don’t love what you do, you will never be successful. Put your efforts into getting what you really want. Life is short, you better hurry.


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Kamolpet Putthaworakhun, 16, shot from anonymity in a small town in Trang province to having nearly 10 million total views on her YouTube channel and more than 120,000 likes on her Facebook page after posting clips of herself singing online. She talks about being approached by Dome Pakorn Lum and her future dreams.

What inspired you to start singing?
I just love singing and I’m always happy when I sing. I do admire singer-and-composer Wan [Thanakrit Panichawit]. The way he writes songs is so special; he talks about love so naturally.

Why did you start uploading your clips on YouTube?
It wasn’t originally my idea, it came from my older brother. He always said that I sing beautifully and have a sweet voice, so he just wanted to upload some video clips to show his friends that I really sing well. I didn’t agree at first because I was too shy, but he kept on at me until I said yes. The first clips that I uploaded last year are songs that I wrote. But the one that gained attention from everyone was when I covered Jesse J’s “Price Tag” with my brother playing acoustic guitar. It blew me away when we saw the views go from a few hundred to 20,000 in a couple days. It’s now nearly 1.5 million views. My parents were even more surprised because they didn’t think that I sang that well.

How do you feel about your unexpected popularity?
It’s unbelievable. We never expected it to go this far. When we see how much people love it, we just can’t stop making new clips to upload. I’m overjoyed when I read comments like “I feel so refreshed after hearing your voice.” I am really grateful.

How did Dome [Pakorn Lum] approach you?
His assistant got in touch. It’s such a surprise. He’s a super star! He wants to work with me because he really likes my voice. We finally did his song “Kid Tueng” and released it on YouTube. We’re also doing another project together as well.

What do you do when you’re not singing?
I am studying in grade 10 in Trang province but now I am planning to move to study in Bangkok. It’s more convenient for me to study and work as a singer at events like wedding receptions or parties. I will live with my brother who is studying at KMUTT Ladkrabang.

Do you ever think about entering some reality TV competition?
No, I don’t like being on stage, it’s too much pressure for me. I don’t like to compete with others, even if it’s just a competition at school. I just love to sing where people hire me to sing.

What is your biggest dream?
I want to be a singer, of course, but I know it’s a fleeting career. I can do it only for a limited amount of time in my life so I need to find a long-term career that I can always earn a living from. I want to be an accountant because I really like math. I want to be an accountant first, then I will chase my dream of being a singer.

Youtube Channel:



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Trying to revive his shattered career, Rattapoom “Film” Tokhongsab, 27, returns as a leading actor in the flood-related movie, Rak-Aow-Yu. He opens up about his life after a paternity scandal with actress Annie Brook and why he thinks hitting rock bottom was actually a blessing.

My life became a mess because I rose to stardom quickly. Everything I’ve done was popular. It inflated my ego, made me think that I was the best. I didn’t listen to more experienced people in the industry.

The baby scandal in 2010 hit me really hard. It’s like I fell from the top of a mountain and into hell. I didn’t know what to do or how to recover. [Actress Annie Brook claimed he fathered her child but she refused a paternity test.]

I went to the UK to live on my own for three months. I tried to live differently and gain other life experiences. I started washing dishes in a Thai restaurant and took English classes.

I was a nobody there. I was not Film Rattapoom, the singer. It was the simple and happy life that I had never had.

It made me realize how hard it is to earn money. I earn money easily as a singer. It also made me appreciate my career in entertainment.

I promised myself I would be better if I ever got a chance at a comeback.

I am lucky. The time that I’ve had to wait [to come back] was shorter than I thought it would be. But I had to get things right and fair for everyone.

I’m pretty sure my life won’t be as bad as it used to be. And I am so grateful that I have my friends and parents.

Now I can speak with pride to those who are in pain. I can say I have faced problems and I got through them, therefore, so can you.

People don’t realize when they live happily most of the time. When they face troubles, they tend to focus on the bad instead of the positive.

I’m trying to broaden my knowledge. I am getting older. I can’t just jump on stage and dance for teenagers anymore.

I’m now learning about behind-the-scenes jobs, like being a producer or a director. I also helped write the script and co-direct my new movie, Rak-Aow-Yu.

I had the idea of making a flood-related movie when I was a volunteer during the floods. I saw people full of hope. People were coming together to help each other. I thought that it would be great if we could spread this idea that we can survive a crisis by being united.

Poj Arnon was crazy enough to help me shoot this movie when the water was everywhere. We didn’t have electricity. We didn’t have a monitor to check. Sometime cars drove so fast that our crew almost dropped camera equipment into the water. That’s why I’m so proud of it.

People deal with problems based on their attitude. Those who are always anxious are always the ones who sit and suffer. Those who are positive always find happiness, even when facing trouble. I am trying to balance both sides in me.

I won’t see myself as a successful person until I can make a certain amount of money. My parents don’t live comfortably yet. Helping them is my priority from now on.

I’m still afraid about coming back to work as a public figure. I don’t know if audiences will accept me yet. I would love to do a travel show because I love travel. I also have my tour company, Chill Out, which is still going well.

I am not afraid of falling in love but I just feel I am not ready yet. I’m still learning how to trust people. The scandal taught me to be careful about the people I let into my life. It now helps me weed out those who are not my real friends.

If I can be with someone in the future, she must be someone smart and mature enough to understand how to live with a busy guy. Some girls never understand how to live with those who don’t have much time for them.

I am thankful the 2010 scandal happened to me. It’s the most valuable experience I’ve ever had. It showed me what a fool I was.


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It Gets Better

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

The on-going legal fight over the release of Insects in the Backyard hasn’t stopped its director, Thanwarin Sukhaphisit and Am Fine studio from moving on with a new project, It Gets Better. Another transgender love story, this film, too, is poised to be controversial. But, unlike her last disputed flick, Thanwarin shows chooses to show less shocking portraits of sexuality and sexual confusion in these three love stories about transgender females falling in love.

Opening Date: 
Wed, 2012-02-29
Monruedee Jansuttipan

Pinyo Trisuriyadharma, founder of Openbooks publishing and host of TV shows, has gained a reputation in recent years for his plain-spoken take on political issues. Here, he shares his feelings about the Thai media and his new talk show that will air next month.

I didn’t like business school at Chulalongkorn University after I got in. I spent most of my time at home reading books, on history or philosophy, then went to take the exams when they called.

Reading lots of books made me hate capitalism. I hate the way that it seeks wealth incessantly and never takes responsibility for anything. I promised myself that I wouldn’t work that way.

I never regret wasting my time at university studying something that I don’t like. I accumulated a different kind of knowledge that I saved to use in the future.

I chose to be a reporter in various media like Manager newspaper, GM Magazine and Asia Times. I worked for five years before launching my own magazine, Open

Magazine, and then my own publishing house, Openbooks, five years after that.
I began Openbooks publishing because I felt exhausted doing the magazine, which happened every month. I wanted to take things slower, like writing books.

Books can better express what you think, and they live for longer than a magazine. Your thoughts are always out there.

We don’t run our publishing business like marketing people. They have a profit goal to achieve, but we’ve already achieved our goals because we just do what we believe in.

There were friends of mine who asked me to be a host for their talk shows about two years ago. They all asked about the same time, so I thought it might be my destiny. I finally agreed to be a host for Tob Jode [Answer the Question] and Plien Prathet Thai [Changing Thailand].

I became a host during a time when our society was very divided and had high tensions. It’s like we were wandering through a sandstorm and couldn’t see. I tried to walk straight as much as I could, but I accept that sometimes there was dust in my eyes, too. Luckily I have thought-filters – like glasses protecting me from the dust.
I knew that I would be hated by people from both sides. It can’t be avoided. I couldn’t be angry and tried to understand that this phenomenon is the symptom of a sick society.

You can’t be the winner in an argument with unreasonable people.

I didn’t mind when people criticized me for interviewing controversial figures, like ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. I know that I do my job with a pure spirit. Every public figure has the right to talk to the media.

During times of conflict, we can’t let one side dominate the conversation.

Time is the most precious resource for TV. That’s why I always get straight to the point and ask direct questions, because I only have 20 minutes.

I am going to have another talk show that is going to be like 60 Minutes. It’s called Siam Wara [Siam Agenda]. It will air on Mar 21.

The media are so dramatic these days because we live in a country where lakorns [Thai soup operas] have the highest ratings every night.

Thai people should turn off the TV and do something else.

TV is like a hot plate. When you hold on to it too long, you will feel the heat; and it burns your hand sometimes.

I want to get back to writing books. TV has to be fast. It destroys our time and concentration on other jobs.

I am trying to find my balance and happiness. If you keep doing things that make you unhappy, you’re insane.

My ultimate life desire would be to just read books at home and be with my family. I try to spend time with my only daughter; we like to do things together.

Children are the smartest people. They are quick learners and open-minded. They embrace everyone. You can see that’s how they survive in a world of conflict. That’s why I choose to talk with my daughter, rather than teach her.

People who are my inspiration are all spiritual leaders, like Thich Nhat Hanh or the Dalai Lama. I understand that normal people will try hard to be rich or gain reputations, but these spiritual leaders all do the opposite.

Just loving the people who sit next to you is already enough to make society better.


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Sorasak “House” Chanmantana, 24, is making headlines as the replacement guitarist for Slur after Pae Arak quit the band. His Facebook fan page has more than 4,000 “likes,” and he is also managing his popular online shop Onion. (

Tell us about your background.
I fell in love with music in junior high school when my friend asked me to join an orchestra. I started playing the trumpet before I switched to guitar when I started to listen to rock and nu-metal music like Limp Bizkit. I finally went to study Music Industry Technology at Mahidol University.

How did you become the new member of Slur?
Bu Slur [Thanun Boonyathanapiwat] and I have known each other for a while, so he knew I could play guitar. During the flood, I met him in Chiang Mai, and he was looking for a new guitarist for Slur. He asked me to come in for an audition, and I got it.

Have you ever worked in the music scene before?
I have. I used to help producers for music labels like Lux Music or artists like Neuter Lover. But it never got a big break. I just helped them make their music, not my own.

Do you feel pressure replacing Pae?
Not really. I don’t think of it as replacing someone famous. I just joined the band as a guitarist, and they let me play the way I want to. We are a band, not a single person. All I have to do is practice alone as much as I can so I can play smoothly when we practice together. I also have to learn how to entertain audiences as one of the members of the team.

How is the feedback from fans?
It’s good. They have all been welcoming to me as a new member of the band. I just went to play at Fat Fest. I’ve never played in front of such a huge audience like that before. It was really fun and exciting.

Do you do something else apart from music?
I have an e-commerce business. It’s called Onion, and I sell fashion accessories. I opened it after I graduated from university because I wanted to do something to earn money so that I could chase my dream of becoming an artist. I decided to sell fashion accessories because I love fashion. Fashion and music always come together. I’ve learned a lot about fashion thanks to music.

Do you run it alone?
Yes. I run it alone because I have computer skills. I am now opening a real shop at Siam Square next month. And as I am now a guitarist of Slur and have many gigs, I have to find someone to look after it, both the shop and online.

Do you worry that being a part of a famous band will make you lose your own style of music?
I don’t. For now, I just play their music like they used to play. But in the future, I will try to put more of my style into Slur.


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Price hikes, more competition and passengers who don’t pay—drivers have taxi issues, too.

Recent protests by the city’s cabbies have once again put taxis, drivers and their rates at the top of conversations. We love to hate our cabbies: the ones that don’t use a meter, don’t go to the suburbs, stink, grumble or worse. But what about the guys behind the wheel? What are their lives like? Read on to find out.

Sawai Lakwangmol

Sawai, 53, arrived in Bangkok from Roi-Et nearly 30 years ago. He started off working as a waiter and construction worker. But wanting more independence and higher pay, he decided to get into taxi driving.
What is your daily routine?

I start at 6am from my home in Rangsit, Klong 4, drive until 8 or 9pm and then go home. My income is sufficient. The good thing I don’t have to rent a car, because I’m paying for it in installments of B18,000 a month. So if I can earn about B1,400-1,500 each day, I’m good. I keep B600 to pay for the car and B200-B230 for gas. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make that much every day.
What are some of the daily difficulties you face?
It used to be good in the old days when we didn’t have meters and were hired by the ride. The meter is only better if you can get lots of customers. But these days, the number of taxis has grown a lot. That makes it hard to find customers. Sometimes a group of taxis will bar us from taking customers from some places like department stores or hotels.
How bad is the gas price hike?
Not that bad. The price only went up 50 satang. We also get help from the government with an energy discount card that gets us a saving of about two baht per liter. But, if the price keeps going up, like to B14-16, it will become a problem.
What would improve your working conditions?
Social welfare like employees do. We have nothing to guarantee our health. If we get sick or have an accident, we will not have any income.
What annoys you about passengers?
The craziest ones are mostly those who don’t pay the fare. I just recently lost a B730 ride after a passenger tricked me by saying he would go to see his sister and return, but then he bailed.
What is the best thing about your job?
It’s really the freedom. I can start and stop work whenever I want. My only boss is my wife.
Do you find stuff in the back of your cab?
I’ve found at least six mobile phones and I have sent them all back. One phone owner even gave me B200 as a reward for driving back, but some paid me just for the fare. We have to think that it doesn’t belong to us. If I left something behind, I’d also want it back.

Arun Mattaya

Arun, 47, loved being a motorcycle taxi rider for more than 10 years. But when the economy crashed in 1997, there were no clients left for him to ply his trade. After a break of two years, Arun returned to Bangkok and decided to throw away his helmet and sit behind a steering wheel instead.
Why drive a cab?
Fuel became so expensive. Taxis run on gas and are much cheaper to run. And back then, the number of taxis was much lower than today, so we could make good money.
What are some of the everyday difficulties you face?
It’s hard to find passengers these days. One time, I had just B20 in my pocket. I had to sleep all day until I could go out and get a fare just to buy something to eat.
What is your daily routine?
I start my day at 6am and go to bed at 3am in the morning. I know it’s a long day of driving, but I have to pay rent on the car, which is B900 for the day. Overall I can keep about B300 a day. The business is good for the first half of the month. After the 15th, it really drops because people’s wages are running out.
What about passengers?
The worst is people who leave without paying. There was this one case where they told me to drive from Roi-Et to Rayong. But when I arrived in Nakhon Ratchsima, they told me to pull over on the highway and ran off into a sugarcane field.
And the the gas price hike?
I don’t feel any effect because it’s just a hike of 50 satang. But I don’t know what it will be like if the price gets as high as B14.
Do you ever stop for gas when you’ve got a client?
It depends on the situation. If I can’t make it to the destination, I will say at the start that I have to stop at the gas station to fuel up. It can also happen that you get stuck in traffic too long and start to run out of fuel. When I pull over at the gas station, I always stop the meter so the fare will not run during the time we are in the station. If your driver doesn’t do that, tell them to stop the meter.
What would make your life better?
It would be good if we could limit the number of taxis in town. There are too many. But, I know it’s unlikely they’ll do that. Too many people would be unemployed.
What would you do if you weren’t a cabby?
I don’t want to do anything else. I will drive until I can’t drive.

Sombat Wanghom

Sombat, 43, owned a transport business delivering goods for 7-Eleven, when he decided to ask for a bank loan to buy a taxi. When it was approved, he decided to leave the business to his wife and started driving.
What is your routine?
I don’t really get up early and drive all day like other drivers. I used to drive and take random customers, but now I will go out only when I get called. They will hire me to drive for them for about B500 to B800 each time. My clients are from old contacts that I used to drive from hotels or the airport. I can do this because I don’t have to pay rent. It’s my own car. All I have to do is pay installments of B17,000 a month. I’m nearly finished now. I sometimes take random customers, if I want to, after dropping off call-in clients.
What’s the worst a passenger’s done to you?
I once experienced an attempted-robbery at knifepoint, but I fought back. Luckily, they were just teenagers who wanted money for drugs—not professional thieves—so I could handle them.
What about the price hike?
It’s not a big problem for me now because it’s a really little hike. I’m not worried. And we can’t run away from the truth. The price has to rise no matter what.
What is the best thing about your job?
It’s fun! It’s like I can travel, too. If I didn’t have my taxi, I wouldn’t have been able to travel all over Thailand like I do today.
Do taxis sometimes take the long route to make more money?
The fact is, the driver has to ask the passenger every time which route they want to go. And normally, cabbies always want to send passengers off as fast as possible because they can earn more money from picking up more new passengers.

Yossapat Pholprash

Eight years ago, Chief Petty Officer 1st Class of Thai Navy Yossapat Pholprash, 44, decided to moonlight as a taxi driver to make ends meet. But it actually got him further into debt and, finally, his wife left him. But he insists his life is much better now because of his taxi job.
What is your routine?
I go to work at the navy base from 8.30am to 4pm, and then I will start driving from 5pm until midnight. It’s my own car, I pay installments of about B21,000 a month. I have to let other drivers rent it so I can meet the repayments. Other drivers will use it from 5am till 5pm. I charge B400 to rent it a day.
What’s the worst thing a passenger has ever done?
Well, mostly it’s those who run away without paying.
When it comes to better conditions for drivers, what would you like?
I want good car insurance for taxis. You know, insurance companies are really taking advantage of us. They’re reluctant to sell us first class car insurance if we are taxis. One even asked my friend to pay extra after an accident even though he already has first class insurance. I also want the government to create social welfare for drivers. I don’t have this problem because I am still in the Navy, but those who only drive a taxi, they really need it.
What is the best thing about your job?
It’s a really good income. I can have a car and use it to make money for me, too.
Why won’t some cabs turn on their meters?
They’re cheats! I never do that. You have a meter, so, use it. But if you agree with them on a set price at the start of a charter trip, that’s different. You have to pay what was agreed.

Pongsak Hongthong

When his export clothing business went downhill, Pongsak Hongthong, 61, asked friends what to do next. One of his former employees drove a taxi and suggested he give it a try. Pongsak closed his factory, got a cab and never looked back.
What happened with your business?
I used to have large orders from the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Yemen. But when their economies turned bad, I realized I had to shut it down instead of running up more debt.
What are your working hours?
My shift runs from 2pm to 2am. I rent this car for 24 hours and share it with my buddy, who drives the car after me. I rent it for B600 per day. Business is always good at the beginning of the month, when I can make B400-B500 each day. But the second half of the month, I can only make about B100-B300. It’s because people are saving their money until the next pay day.
Any crazies?
I just met a guy who didn’t give me a destination. He just said “drive” but, at one point, I told him to get out because there is no point in driving around. It’s a waste of my time.
What about the gas price hike?
I normally spend B500 for gas to drive the whole shift, which is about 370-400 kilometers. I use LPG, which is more expensive, but it’s better than NGV: more stations in Bangkok and less long-term maintenance. It has fewer problems than NGV. I think it’s the government’s fault. They urged taxis to use NGV but they don’t support them. Sometimes, taxis have to queue at least half an hour to fill up or there is no NGV at the station at all.
What do cab drivers want?
I want social welfare.
What is the best thing about your job?
I’m really independent. I used to be stressed when I couldn’t send an order on time, and how it was going to cost me a fine from my clients. Now all I have to do is just drive. No pressure!
Why do taxis sometimes refuse to go somewhere?
Those cabbies are greedy. I never turn down passengers no matter how far it is. I understand that passengers want to go home. The only time that I will refuse is when I am actually driving home, so I want passengers going in my direction.


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