They lost their livelihood, their home, the ability to walk or even a son or father. Whatever side they were on, the events that took place in Bangkok between March and May 2010 is forever marked in their minds and flesh. Here, they share memories from these violent, polarizing and unforgettable three months. By Monruedee Jansuttipan, Pinhathai Chunharas, Rattikarn Suwithayaphan, Kanyanun Sunglaw, Nuchanat Prathumswan and Sritala Dhanasarnsombut

Row 1 Picture: from left to right: protester, soldier, counter-protester, protester and French cameraman in Apr 2010

Row 2 Picture: from left to right: policeman, photographer, protesters and counter-protester in Apr 2010

Chaiwat Poompuang, 46, photographer at The Nation

Shot while taking photographs of the protests May 14, 2010.

What was your role in the protests?
I am a head photographer, so it was my job to assign work to other in-house photographers, decide where they should go and when they should be called back. Later, I started to go into the danger zone myself.
In what conditions were you shot?
I went to the Rangnam area on May 14. When I arrived I saw a guy lying on the ground who had been shot dead, and the protestors were trying to carry the body away. In the afternoon, protestors were burning tyres and at one point tried to drive a truck into the line of soldiers. Then the soldiers started firing at the protestors. I was in the line of fire, so I was trying to escape with my finger on the camera shutter the whole time. I got shot in my right thigh. The bone there was shattered. My colleagues begged the CRES to stop shooting, but I lay there for at least half an hour until medical personnel were able to help me.
How did the experience affect you?
The first couple of nights, I would wake up frightened because I was still in shock. I was in the hospital for two and a half months and had to have five separate surgeries to get all the bullet shrapnel out of my leg and repair my broken bones. I’ve been in physical therapy for the past year. I couldn’t do the work that I love. I also dramatically lost weight from 80 kilograms to 69 kilograms for my recovery.
How did you rebuild your life?
I am trying to think positive. Working as a field photographer, you’re sort of prepared for this possibility. I made up my mind on the first day that I got shot that no matter what happened I would accept it. It’s OK to recover 70-80%.
How do you think the country has changed?
It has changed so much, both the economy and society. I don’t know if things are getting better. There are so many color-groups, each working for their own benefit.
Do you think it was worth it?
Not for anyone involved. The economy was destroyed. I don’t see any achievement. It’s all about subverting the other side. Corruption is the issue but that issue should be dealt with through legal proceedings, not protests.
Was there any positive aspects?
It’s a lesson that there’s nothing to be gained from protests.
What is the key to the future?
We need to find an impartial mediator who can bring all parties to talk. But I think it’s quite hard because both side refuse to talk. Everybody always says they love the king, but they would have stopped fighting a long time ago [if that were true].
Will you accept the election results?
Yes I will. Everyone has to accept the election, otherwise the protests will never end.

Khattiya Sawasdipol, 30, daughter of Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol a.k.a Seh Deang.

Her father, the commander of the red shirts’ security forces, was shot dead May 13, 2010

What was your role in the protests?
I didn’t take part. My father let me live a normal life. But we always talked to each other on the phone when he was at the protests. Sometime I came to visit him. I didn’t want to bother him. I let him concentrate on what he was doing. But anyway, he never forbade me to go into the protest.
How did you react to his death?
It was so immediate and so quick. During the four days he was in the hospital, I kept praying for him to wake up. I was ready to take care of him in any condition he might be. And after he passed away, I could only console myself that he was now resting in peace. If he had survived, I don’t know how many difficulties he would have had to face. Some of the red shirt leaders were imprisoned and some fled. Maybe it’s better for us to be separated by death rather than by exile. I think I survived the ordeal because of the incredible support I got from people who loved my father.
How did you rebuild your life?
My father left many things for me to take care of. I learned to manage my time to do his work in addition to my daily work. When compared to my father, I am only a child, though. He had helped a lot of people so they respect and have consideration for him. I struggled and felt discouraged because everything changed so abruptly [in my life]. I had to face everything on my own without any protection from father. I think I’ve grown up a lot. I think things through very thoroughly. It’s different from the past when my father could help me solve problems.
You intend to carry on his work?
Yes, together with people around me. They went out of their way to risk their lives with my father, so I should too, within the scope of what a woman like me can do.
Did he die in vain?
I think my father would think his death is worthy. I am sad that he died but I am proud that he won all the red shirts’ hearts. They see his sacrifice. But I feel that he will have died for nothing if we cannot find and punish the one who killed him. You can’t negotiate about the dead. You can’t give anything to me to make me forget my father’s death. It’s impossible to forget a human life that easily. I believe that my father was a good man. He’d been a soldier all his life. I can’t accept the idea that we should close the case.
Were the protests worth it?
Solving problems with violence isn’t right. If the government or military had negotiated, would it have ended like this? I can say at this point that the protesters got nothing from this event. I don’t know what will happen next.
Any positive aspects?
The “no color” protesters or PAD should understand why the red shirts came to protest. They wanted justice. They came out to show what democracy is.

Jakkraphan Sangchan, 19, brother-in-law of Sgt. Patima Khunpimol

His brother-in-law, a soldier, is severely crippled since he was hit by a grenade on Apr 10, 2010

How did he get injured?
He was injured at Kokwua intersection by a grenade on Apr 10. He got brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. After being bed-ridden for a few months, he has started physical therapy.
What was his original condition?
He was unconscious. He couldn’t speak or move. All he could do was blink and open his eyes. Around December, he started to speak, but he could only mouth some words, without producing a sound. Now he can talk more, but it still hard to understand him. Now he can walk, too, holding himself up on handrails. I am happy to see him getting better. I never thought he would recover this much.
How about your family?
We all feel sad with what happened because he was so fit and healthy before he was wounded. Now he cannot talk that well and his brain hasn’t fully recovered. My sister cried a lot after what happened and she has been at the hospital looking after him ever since. The army gave her a job so sometimes she has to check in with them. I’m only here once in a while when she isn’t free.
How has life changed for you all?
My sister’s changed. She used to run a grocery in Suphanburi but she couldn’t do it anymore. She has to leave her shop and let her mother-in-law take care of it.
What do you think of the politics behind this conflict?
They don’t listen to each other. Nothing is getting better. I think some of the points that both colors made were valid, but some of it is useless. The mob is fine to show their opinions, but it shouldn’t create trouble for others. When people think differently, we just can’t tell them off. It’s their right to express opinions.
Do you think that the country could be united again?
I think it needs time. We don’t live in a dictatorship. I think we should be able to discuss what is best for the future. I want peace as soon as possible.

Weerayut Wiriyasajajitr, reporter at TPBS

Dodged bullets and grenades to report on the protests.

What was it like, doing your job during that period?
I reported on the protests at Panfa Bridge, Sala Daeng and Ratchaprasong. I was right behind the stage where the leaders spoke. I must admit that the red shirts cooperated with the press really well, permitting us to report in the area.
How bad did things gets?
Around mid-May, the protestors were very tense, especially when there was gunfire in the Sala Daeng area in front of Dusit Thani Hotel, with M79s going off almost every minute. I had to hide behind phone booths and mailboxes to get away from the shooting. Very early on May 19, I was in front of Chula Hospital and saw tanks coming in. We weren’t allowed to go inside after that due to the state of emergency.
How do you look back on that period?
I think that this incident has taught us a great lesson. We’re starting to understand that people are used as pawns by groups who try to gain political power and that sometimes protests aren’t justified.
So you think the protests should have been banned?
The act of protesting is a primary political right. Forming a movement to ask for something, like the dissolution, is legitimate. However, the public began to question the legitimacy of the Red Shirt movement because so much violence was involved. Government troops were wounded and died and so did some of the red shirts. Therefore, I think it was definitely not worthwhile.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming election?
I believe that the election will help heal the political conflict. It’s what gives the power back to people. However, the conflict won’t end here. No matter who wins, there is going to be another movement.

Sukuman Kumrungroj, 49, bread shop owner in Bonkai

With bullets tearing through her home, she eventually fled Bonkai.

What was it like living inside the occupied zone?
On May 14, the protests got worse. Bullets hit my house and I nearly got shot. The protesters from Silom were forced by soldiers to move to here, with the use of tear gas. I had to cover my nose and mouth but it got even worse when they burned tires, threw grenades and fired weapons right in front of my house. It was a war zone, with shooting, grenades, screams. Even a man who was just standing there got shot dead. At night I could hear, “Bang! Bang!” every five minutes. I couldn’t sleep. My windows were broken. Some bullets went through my bedroom on the second floor. One of them zipped above my bed into the door. If I had sat up in my bed, I would definitely be dead. There are still bullet holes in my home, and when it rains, the water pours down through them. Protesters even threatened to set fire to an oil truck and then our houses. I couldn’t do anything but pray. I wasn’t so much afraid to die as I was to lose the house that I’d save up 20 years for. At last I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I fled to my relatives’ house. The police gave me some tips on leaving the zone: when we came out, we had to walk straight and avoid behaving suspiciously. And we had to smile at everybody even though we were scared to death.
How has your life changed?
My nerves were shot! If you didn’t live through it, you can’t imagine what it was like. I’ve become easily frightened. I jump every time something falls on the floor. Now, this area has become quiet. There are ruins and burned buildings which are not pleasant to look at. People are also afraid to come here.
Do you think the protests were worthwhile?
There’s only loss, especially innocent people. Some died simply for being voices that were opposed to the government. And when both sides attacked each other, it’s possible that a third party interfered, a group that preferred violence.
Did you get any support?
After the protestes, there was a big cleaning day when people came out. That day I sold a lot! Khun Air, the owner of Image Magazine, brought a lot of stars here, like Tono and Rith and also Thakolkeit (Boy), from the show The Star. They gave me B500 and picked up the tab for their people to order as many drinks as they wanted. They said it was a time to help each other. Support and help from family members has also been important for me.
What do you think will happen now?
Abhisit is still not good enough. If you’re going to be corrupt, but also do something for the people, that’s still better than to cheat and do nothing. I’m not sure the election will be clean or whether there will be an agenda behind it, but as long as our country is still like this, good people will not come to power.

Rapeeporn Patcharaperapong, 50, music shop owner in SIAM

Her record store was burned down during the protests.
Where were you during the protests?
I used to run Inter Music, selling CDs in the Siam Theater building. I’ve been selling CDs for 16 years. My shop was burned down in the incidents last year.
What was it like during the protest?
I was at my shop as usual when the protest was taking place around Ratchaprasong. The Rama 1 Road in front of Siam Square was closed, there were piles of tires and lots of amplifiers on the street. I kept my shop open but customers were afraid to come.
What was the scariest day?
When they burned down Siam Theater on May 19. I was at home because the soldiers forbade us to enter the area. The next day, I went to see my shop and took some photos. Everything was destroyed. I couldn’t sleep, so I came to sit in front of the Buddha image in my praying room at home and cried.
How has the incident changed your life?
Obviously, I’ve lost my business. I am a single mom with two kids. One of my children has leukemia another one had just been accepted at a private university. I couldn’t make ends meet. The government offered us a SME loan but I don’t think I can pay them any time soon. Luckily, I’d been saving some money and had insurance. If not, it would be even harder. I prayed and meditated and I’m better.
Do you understand the protesters?
Personally, I don’t like them and think they did it for the money. If there weren’t money, there wouldn’t be any political ideology. They came because somebody agitated them and made them believe in certain ideas. It was definitely not worthwhile. People died and suffered. Oh, except they got bailed out, right?
What kind of support did you get?
Yes, I was very lucky because so many people offered a hand. My child’s university waived the tuition fee for the year. Lots of companies provided vendors places to sell their products for free. Chulalongkorn University, the landowner, also helped a lot. Also, some of the record companies sent me stock on credit or even canceled my debts. A friend of mine who owns a clothes shop elsewhere gave me some shirts for free so I could also sell them in front of my CD booth. I was fortunate to have such good people helping.
Will you accept the election results no matter what?
This election won’t change anything.

Chai Srivikorn, president of Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA), director of Gaysorn Group, Co. Ltd

Represents businesses in Ratchaprasong.
How was business affected by the protests?

We closed the shop on the first week the protests began. Some red shirts smashed windows but we had taken out all the products from the displays. The office stayed open until the red shirts completely blocked the streets.
How did you cope with the effects of the protests?
We founded Prachatipathai Mai Lamerd [Democracy without Infringement] with academics, businessmen, street vendors. I pity the people affected by the protests. They don’t know what to do and whom they can go to. We set up this group to help them, to tell the government to listen to them and to realize how bad the damage to us is. For example, we negotiated with the government to give us a delay to pay our taxes 3-4 months.
Twelve months later, how do you see the protests?
Some people do not know what democracy is. They only say that we have rights, but they do not think of their responsibilities to others, to the people around them. Shops were burned. People were hurt. No one has taken responsibility, no one has apologized. I don’t just mean the protesters. The government itself helped very little, which I think is very sad.
What’s changed since the protests?
I feel like there is no one helping or fixing society. It’s not just the protests. Look at things like the internet, we can see that the younger generation is very different from the previous one. Today, people are more materialistic. I think the protests reflected how the country has changed. People think Bangkok is a peaceful city, that Thailand is the land of smiles. It isn’t anymore.

Rainer Stampfer, general manager of Four Seasons Hotels Thailand

His hotel had to shut down, jeopardizing some 600 jobs.
What was it like working so close to the protests?

In many ways, for me, it was the busiest and most involving days of that year. The toughest time was the last few weeks of our closure where the employees were unsure when we could open again. Even though we continued to pay salaries and stayed in close contact, no doubt some were worried they might lose their job not knowing when business could and would return. The moment we knew we could reopen our doors, however, everyone pulled together and, in retrospect, I believe it even strengthened our team.
How long did it take for normalcy to return?
I truly believe that the work atmosphere was back to “normal” almost instantly. To bring business back was a continuous process. We surely recovered quicker than we would have anticipated; and yet, to some extent we are still impacted by all the country has faced over the last three years.
Can you put a figure on the cost of the protests to your business?
Given that they coincided with a major financial crisis, it is almost impossible to precisely state the impact of one over the other. Altogether, however, we were put into a particularly difficult spot and are still working on convincing travellers from abroad that they are safe.
Do you feel that you are still suffering consequences from the protests?
We see regular commemorations of last year’s April-May events; whenever these take place in the Ratchadamri neighborhood, we see an impact on business.
What is the mood of everyone as the one year mark approaches?
In general, everyone seems to just want to go about their business and the one year mark is not a much discussed topic. But, given its impact on business, we can’t ignore [it] either but our team members, it seems, are tired of the continued issues out here.

Phansak Srithep, 44, activist

His son was shot dead during the protests.

How did you join the rally?
First I started out as a PAD protestor against Thaksin in 2008 but, later, I grew apart from them and joined the UDD. Today, I’m against the government but don’t want Thaksin back.
How did the protests affect your life?
Cher, my son, used to be one of the people who advocated for negotiation. Now he’s gone. To be frank, when I am at home, it’s difficult for me because the atmosphere is like the old days. It makes me nostalgic. I have my son’s photos all around me and it makes me grieve. So I try to turn my grief into action. Doing projects with other activists really distracts my mind from the loss of my son, like when we went on a march on the CentralWorld skywalk with placards saying, “People died here.” We want to tell the government that they cannot just ignore what happened. People asked me to protest on my son’s death anniversary. I said no. I want some peace on that day.
Did the protesters achieve their aims?
I think that the protesters did not get anything. We called for democracy but we got bullets. It’s hard to tell whether we won or not because it hasn’t ended yet. It took time for people to see the real significance of the October [1976] incident, too. We have to keep fighting for democracy. Protesting is not the solution, but it’s the starting point of negotiation. It makes the government listen to the people’s voice. I think protesting is a way to lead to democracy.
Will you accept the election results no matter what the result?
Sure, except if there’s evidence that there is cheating. But that should be dealt through a legal process, not by having soldiers use violence to force people to accept the result.

Worawut Harnitthikul, 36, shop owner

His shop was burned down on May 18.

Tell us about your shop?
Our shop, 2 INCH, was in the Siam Theater building and had been open for just 8-9 months when it was burned down.
Where were you when the shop was burned?
On the afternoon of May 18, the soldiers told us to get out of the area. I believe that the army knew what the protestors were going to do but they just didn’t tell us. Otherwise they wouldn’t have told us to go home. On May 19, I found out that the shop was burned down because my friends called me and I saw the theater burning on TV.
How has your life changed in the last 12 months?
I rented a shop at Lido and then finally came here, a semi-permanent shop Chula provided, near the Faculty of Dentistry. This new one is a lot smaller, only 4 square meters. The old one was 16 square meters. I had to order all new t-shirts. I lost a lot, both money and customers. Plus, this area used to be a parking lot, so it takes time for customers to know we are here. But it’s OK because Chula let us rent it for free, although that may change. If I continue to make just this much profit, I won’t really have enough money to afford the rent.
What’s your take on the protests?
Normally, I’m interested in politics. I always follow the news. I also considered myself a Red Shirt because I felt that some of our people were treated unfairly. But as a vendor, I was not happy with the protests because I couldn’t do my job. And I don’t think that the protest was worthwhile because I believe that the people’s duty is to vote. It’s not our duty to go out protesting. Let the MPs do their jobs. Everybody is losing here. The government lost their reputation. The protesters made the economy go down and they also lost their lives.
What should the government do?
The only way out is education. It’s the only thing that makes people know how to think for themselves. Education can make us equal.
What do you think the future holds for the country?
I think in the next 10-20 years, our country will still be a dinosaur, just like we are now.
Will you accept the election results no matter what?
I will. One man, one vote. That is democracy.

Apinya Khuncharoen, 45, street seller

Her home and fruit cart were destroyed.

What was your life like during the protests?
I was renting a room in a shop house and selling fruit on the sidewalk in Bonkai area. When the mob was driven here from Lumpini Park, I was forced to retreat to my room. I left my fruit cart on the sidewalk because I didn’t have any time to put it away and I didn’t think the protesters would do anything to it. From my room, I heard the sound of gunfire and bombs going off all night. The protesters also burned tires. The black smoke made it impossible to breathe and I couldn’t sleep. My face was black with ash. I could see tires piled so high everywhere and couldn’t help thinking. “Where in the world am I?” It looked like a war. I decided to leave the building because the water and power supply were cut off and the smoke was too much to bear. I packed only necessary clothes and things and went to my aunt’s house in Paknam.
When did you return?
I watched the news on the evening of May 16 and saw my room had burned down. I had heard that the red shirts were burning commercial buildings but I didn’t think they would go after houses. I learned that the red shirts were pouring gas over the row of shophouses, claiming that they had to because the men in black were up there. I just stood crying in front of a television. The fire truck couldn’t get through because the road was blocked. I didn’t expect this to happen at all. The protesters acted as though they were not Thai. All of my things were up there, my life, everything I’ve been saving. It’s all gone.
How did you survive?
The government gave me 60,000 baht but that was not enough. My cart was burned. All of the tools I had been using for 20 years were all gone. I had to start all over again. Right now the economy isn’t very good, so it’s hard to sell stuff, even fruit.
Did you get any support?
Yes. A lot people offered a hand. People from Lumpini Tower helped. Some of my regular customers lent me some money without any interest or deadline, saying that I can pay them when I make it back. I don’t know what I would do without their help.
How do you think the country has changed in the last 12 months?
I don’t think the country has changed much. People are still divided.
Do you understand the protesters?
I think most of them did it for money. They could afford to abandon their job for a month but if I didn’t work for a week, I would have nothing to eat
What still needs to change?
I think we need a better government, one that truly cares about people. Our tax money doesn’t seem to be put to good use. Our country is notorious for its corruption. What I’m asking politicians for is to not cheat so much.
Will you accept the election results?
I have to. But I don’t think the election will change anything. Politicians are going to choose their own people first just like it has always been. I want Thai people to love each other. Don’t let money tear us apart.

Suntiwong Inchan, 25, translator

A red shirt protester, he was shot in the face
How did you join the protests?

My parents were interested in this movement and I grew interested too. So my dad asked me to join him. Mostly, I protested at Democracy Monument.
When did you get shot?
On Apr 10, 2010, I went to Kok Wua intersection, near Democracy Monument. There were confrontations between protesters and the military. I thought there would only pushing and shoving as usual. After dark, things got more intense and fighting erupted. The army started firing at the protesters with both tear gas and rubber bullets. At one point, after washing my eyes from the tear gas I looked up and I was shot in my right eye. After the operation, the doctor told me that led to they had to take my eye out, otherwise it would have side-effects with the remaining one.
How did it affect your life?
I used to work as a reporter at Voice TV, translating international news, but I had to quit after working only three weeks. I’m in pain, I can’t look at a screen for more than 3-4 hours. I can’t lift anything heavy either, as high blood pressure would affect my eye. Also, I can’t estimate distances. I’ll grab for something and miss it.
How are you feeling today?
My attitude is better. I try to look to the future. What is lost is lost. You can’t keep these things when you die anyway. Others have even worse lives. I have to live on.
Will you accept the election results?
I will if it’s clear and clean.

In April 2010, we asked protesters and counter-protesters

Why are you protesting?

“I’m here to support my team and go against the other people across the street. I want peace. I want us to be more courteous. Right now, things are just crazy.”
- Apirak K., 23, law student, counter-protestor

“I want a new prime minister. I agree with the idea that Thailand should dissolve the parliament and try arranging a new election. Why don’t we try for a better choice?”
- Thussanee Nhampetch, 47, civil servant, redshirt

“We’re protesting against the violence. We would like to create a negotiation between the two sides.”
- Suchat Saetong, 30, admin system manager, counter-protester

“I wanted to join the red protestors to help dissolve the parliament. Also, the economy is really bad and it’s hard to earn a living. I want a better life for myself.”
- Jumnong Narin, 59, shopkeeper, redshirt


Deaths resulting from the protests, on both sides, from Mar-May 2010.


Wounded, during the same period.


Bullets withdrawn by the army from arsenals, in preparation for the crackdown.


Bullets not returned after the crackdown—either shot, lost or stolen.


Number of protesters on Mar 12, 2010.

B11.2 billion

Losses to retailers according to Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association.



12 March: Red shirts set up camp on Ratchadamnoen Klang Road

16 March: Protesters splash their own blood at Government House and Democrat Party office

30 March: A round of talks with the government ends in deadlock


3 April: Red shirts occupy Ratchaprasong

7 April: Abhisit orders state of emergency in Bangkok

8 April: Troops suspend the People Channel

10 April: Troops fail to clear protesters out of Phan Fah bridge: 25 people killed and hundreds injured in the Khok Wua intersection shoot-out

22 April: M-79 grenade blasts kill one and injures 85 in Silom

28 April: Soldier shot dead in clashes at National Monument

29 April: Red shirts search Chulalongkorn Hospital claiming soldiers might be hiding in the building


13 May: Seh Deang assassinated while giving an interview to a New York Times reporter

16 May: Arson attacks around Bonkai area

13–17 May: 36 killed in the crackdown around Phan Fah Bridge and Ratchaprasong intersection

19 May, the Thai Army storms the protester’s camp resulting in 6 deaths as arsonists among the protesters set fire to numerous buildings in Bangkok and the Red shirt cadre surrenders.


Leave a Comment

Famed forensic scientist Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand joined the CRES in April 2010, becoming a key figure in the protests and their aftermath. One year later, she opens up about her thoughts on dharma, politics and her own path. 

The king has been my inspiration, since i was a kid. My parents taught me that if you see anything wrong, you can’t just let it go. You have to make it right.

At medical school I knew I couldn’t work within strict rules. I had to find a way to work independently. If I’m good at my job, I should have the right to be independent, right? Luckily, I mentioned this to a professor who told me my character was best suited for forensic medicine.

This job is about searching. I had no idea how much I would love it. Every time I touched putrid organs I thought, “Wow, this is what went on with that person.”

This job is also about bringing justice to the deceased. My analysis often reaches different conclusions from that of relatives or the police.

Death makes you reflect on what you wish to accomplish before you die. I learned that from the first dead body I saw.

When I moved from Phitsanulok to Bangkok, I discovered the difference between rural and metropolitan police. Police in the provinces don’t practice deception like the police in Bangkok.
As a professor, I took on my first high profile case, the murder of Jenjira, a medical student. The police relied on the suspect’s testimony, saying the girl had been killed at a hotel. I found evidence to the contrary, and the murderer later admitted he had killed her at her home.

This was my first conflict with the police, who thought that I just wanted to be famous. It goes on to this day. No National Police Chief has accepted me. But this case paved the way to create the Central Institute of Forensic Science Thailand.

I believe that dharma will protect me if I do the right thing. A monk told me, “This is not the thing that you want to do but you were destined to do it, so do your best.”

Hangthong Thammawattana’s murder was the case that affected me the most. I was sued for billions of baht and received threats, like, “Do you want to die like Hangthong?” I wasn’t afraid. My dad taught me to never fear when what you’re doing is the right thing.

My toughest cases are the ones related to the Southern insurgency. I feel pity for our nation. This massive budget pumped into the South could have ended the conflict in the first three years if we had a smart leader paying attention to this problem.

I see light at the end of the tunnel for the South, but don’t know when it will end. So many people benefit from this problem, both government officials and insurgents. It can only be solved by the justice system.

A year after the violence at the Red Shirt protests, I still blame the poor education in Thailand. It has taught people to cling to materialism and entertainment, not morality.
The investigation to find who is responsible for the violence at the protest is just a soap opera.
Politics are a business in Thailand. It’s hard to find a politician who puts people first.

Society is being destroyed by a lack of clear rules. But let’s not be too negative. Nothing bad lasts forever.

Don’t try to change politicians and elections. Money shows mercy to no one. It just makes people more stupid.

I wake up at 4:30am every day, or 4am if I am in the Southern provinces, which is usually two days a week. After I wake up I will pray to make myself calm, or refresh my mind with books.

My favorite hobby is writing. I think it keeps my mind sharp. I can’t write well if I’m in a bad mood.

If weren’t a doctor, I’d love to be a teacher. I want to teach kids to be like me, teach them to be strong and resist the vicious things in life.

Others might love sex or alcohol but I love to dress.
I have to pick my clothes in the evening. Otherwise I would end up going to work late because I can’t make a decision.

I am only strict with my daughter in the sense that she has to be a good person. I feel content that she’s interested in dharma because it will guide her to the right path.

All three institutes—nation, religion, monarchy—are have been sullied. But I am ready to make this country good again. I’m just waiting for more good people so that we can do it together.


Leave a Comment

From shy boy to lead singer, Thawatchpon Wongboonsiri, a.k.a. Muey Scrubb, tells us how it has taken ten years for Scrubb to headline their own concert (May 14).

I don’t have a nickname. My family just calls me Virat, which was my name before I changed it to Thawatchpon. They still call me Virat today. When I have kids, I definitely plan to give them nicknames.

I was a shy boy in class and even got teased by friends who called me “buff” (buffalo). Muey is the name that my high school friends gave me. I don’t really know why.

I became a singer accidentally while watching my friends’ band rehearse in a studio. The singer didn’t show so I just took over.

Our teacher forbade us to play at the school festival, but we brought all our equipment and started playing on the field anyway. He tried to stop us but our friends formed a circle around us to keep him away. We were allowed to play after that.

I didn’t know much about the arts because I studied math and science in high school, but I managed to get into Silapakorn University. I wanted to get into a university that had a cool music environment.

My classmates and I liked to go check out ghost houses around town. It first started out as a bicycle gang, then we moved onto motorcycles and finally cars.

After one visit, everyone got into an accident. I am still not sure if it was a coincidence or not. Still, we never saw anything.

Ball [Torpong Chantabupha] was my senior and was chairman of the music club. I begged him to teach me about music. We became close friends and started doing music together as Scrubb.

Eventually we wanted other people to hear our songs. So after graduation we looked for a label that would sign us.

We made our own tape to sell at record shops, posted our songs on websites and sent demos to record labels. We got a job at GMM as sound editors, but still no album.

The turning point was giving Ted-Yutthana Boon-aom, a Fat Radio executive, our self-funded tape. They played it on-air right away. We also played for free at Fat Festival and people in the audience asked for our CD. Then we signed with Black Sheep records.

Our first album was experimental. We mixed everything together. We couldn’t believe we got a chance to do a second album.

We got bored playing our first single “Tuk Yang,” at every show. But, we later realized that we just can’t be fed up with it. Fans love to hear their favorite songs. Now after ten years, we’re still trying to balance what the fans want and what we want.

I have great memories of music festivals. Once in Hua Hin, people were standing in the sea to watch us as the tide was coming in.

I use my everyday life to communicate with people through my songs. It’s like a diary.

Anything can make me feel down, from fighting with my girlfriend to issues with my family. They want me to take over the family business. I still can’t figure out how to bring it together with my music.

I go to bed very late. It’s a good time to do things like write songs, listen to music or surf the net. I just watched Dae Jang Geum on Youtube because I was curious why people are so crazy about this series. Turns out, I love it!

I have started growing a goatee because I admire Yokee Playboy. I won’t keep it forever but I would feel weird if I didn’t have it on my face now.

I don’t like confrontation. If I get mad, I just walk away. Changing locations usually dissolves any bad feelings.

I would love to have an exhibition because I love to paint. But I don’t feel confident about showing my work. Many artists are better than me but don’t get the acceptance they deserve.

Bangkok is a hectic city but it’s full of opportunity. Everything is right here.

I would give more support to music and arts if I were governor. If we have more of these things, kids would be better at thinking for themselves and not just follow trends easily. We wouldn’t have the Krispy Kreme phenomenon if kids learned to be different.

Love is a good inspiration. It gives us a goal. It can help us discover things about ourselves that we never knew we had inside. Interview by Monruedee Jansuttipan and Rattikarn Suwithayaphan


Leave a Comment

Arena 10 has become the go-to place for award-winning ramen. In search of the perfect bowl, we do the leg work for you in our handy guide.

Looking for the Best Ramen Restaurants in Bangkok? Look here.



This chain was established in Tokyo, Japan more than 50 years ago by the God of Ramen, Kazuo Yamagishi, inventor of tsukemen, also known as dipping ramen in Japan (or morisoba). Thanks to the success of Taishoken, tsukemen has now become one of the most popular versions of ramen in Japan. This shop also has a sibling at K-Village called Ganso Tsukemen Yamagishi whose name came from a ramen chef who learned the recipe directly from Yamagishi.
Champion Bowl: Tsukemen tonkatsu shoyu (B260) is served in a set of two bowls. One comes with shiny yellow noodles while the other is a fragrant bowl of thick, dark soup with big chunks of pork and a hard boiled-egg. If you want some extra heat, they also do a spicy version served with chili, pork and miso.
Our take: A bit like a saltier palo ramen at first, but the dense and thick stew adds so much texture and depth to the dish, our noodles were all gone before we knew it.


Open in Tokyo in 2003 and one of the most famous ramen shops in Japan, Tsujita’s secret weapon is its slow-cooked pork and chicken bones mixed with fish, vegetable and other ingredients. Simmered for at least 12 hours until it becomes brown, thick and covered with a layer of shiny oil, it is then served in tsukenmen (dipping ramen) style. Are you a newbie? They have their own way of eating ramen printed as easy to follow instructions on the wall.
Champion Bowl: Using their ordering machine, get a bowl of nidaime tsukemen (B260). The tsukemen comes with two bowls, hot thick soup and ramen noodles with a slice of lime and paper-thin seaweed on top. The gravy-like soup is packed with slices of grilled pork (chashu) which go perfectly with the chewy noodles. Don’t put the lime juice in right away. As they suggest, the best way to taste it is to add it when you’re halfway through. It refreshes your taste buds, cuts the fat, and the lime doesn’t get cooked. Their hanjuku egg is also great!
Our take: We love our soup fatty so we don’t really need the limey gimmick to enjoy this great broth.

Shodai Keisuke

Another Tokyo original, this black soup is cooked from fish mixed with seven types of miso (fermented soya beans). It owes its unique color to the bamboo charcoal used in its preparation, an ingredient believed to have detoxifying properties. We also learned that Shodai Kesuke’s chef, Keisuke Takeda, is a celebrity chef who originally trained in French cooking but grew famous with his innovative ramen and Japanese recipes.
Champion Bowl: The tontoro chashu kuro kwami (B280) is a black, dense, shiny broth—impressive—topped with a slice of hard-boiled egg and chashu, seaweed and saffron. They also have instructions on how to best enjoy your black ramen: start with the yellow ramen noodles, then add more peppers and chili as you progress through the bowl. The chef also recommends you finish the soup with a bowl of rice.
Our take: Big as a washbowl, to finish the soup with rice you’d have to be starving. A fantastic ramen overall, both for aroma and taste. You’ll soon forget the slightly creepy color.


Kibi’s ultimate selling point is that its chicken soup contains natural collagen. A soup that makes your skin look better? What great marketing! Before the soup becomes this thick and rich, the chef has to simmer some 60 kilograms of chicken bones for two days. The result, a delicious golden-colored soup.
Champion Bowl: Paitung ramen (B290) is topped with grilled-pork and chicken, a hard-boiled egg, bamboo shoots and saffron.
Our take: Though the toppings are nice, the soup is so rich and the color so appealing, it’s gotta be what the doctor ordered: a chicken soup a day. While a soup this fatty might require a spin on the treadmill, it’s definitely worth it. Don’t miss out on their fresh iced uji (shaved-ice with red beans, B90).

Gokumiso Ramen

This is a collaboration of two popular ramen places: Sukeya and Ginya. Sukeya is famed for its tonkatsu ramen served in a dense pork bone soup while Ginya’s miso ramen achieves a perfect mix of spices and miso according to the grandma’s original recipe from Nagano, Japan’s miso capital.
Champion Bowl: Based on a concentrated miso soup mixed with spices, gokumiso ramen (B180) is served topped with stired-fried pork with spices and chili oil, a slice of pork, bean sprouts and corns.
Our take: The bowl is perfect for ramen lovers who love spices, as the soup, when mixed with stir-fried pork, gives a smell which is a bit like Indian cooking and goes well with the thick noodles. Don’t like spices? Give it a pass.


Another Tokyo import, this fish soup uses dried herrings and Vietnamese salt they claim is the world’s best. There’s also shoyu and braised pork bone for a full umami flavor.
Champion Bowl: The Setagaya Ramen (B270) comes in two styles, shuyu or salt soup. Toppings include grilled pork, bamboo shoot, seaweed and two slices of boiled egg—or add chopped onions for a sweeter, more fragrant broth.
Our take: Despite the pleasing red color and all the hype regarding the exotic ingredients, this soup is a bit of a disappointment. Salty but non-fatty, it’s a sad, diet ramen. Still, their boiled egg is better than others.

Ramen Champion, Arena 10, Thonglor Soi 10. Open Sun-Thu 11am-midnight, Fri-Sat 11am-3am


NEW> Chabuton

Recently, you might have seen a bunch of people waiting in front of a small ramen place next to Lido Theatre at Siam Square. They’re queuing for Chabuton, the brainchild of 2002 TV Champion Award-winning Yasuji Morizumi, a former French cuisine chef who has combines his Gallic culinary background with Japanese traditional noodles. Yasuji now owns more than 20 ramen restaurants in Japan and the US.
The bowl: The tonkatsu ramen (B130, B175) is the original hit. You will be served a bowl of noodles in concentrated pork-bone soup that’s been cooked for more than 15 hours, topped with Japanese bunching onions and slices of special grilled pork.
Our take: It’s not just that we had to wait for half an hour in the queue that has us saying this soup is delicious. The noodles are less exciting but the pork, with its grilled scent, is superb.
Siam Square, next to Lido Theatre, 02-635-7930. Open Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm

NEW> Ramen Planet Mutsumiya

Celebrity jewelry designer Suriyon Sri-Orathaikul takes a break from diamonds to import authentic pork-bone-soup ramen from Hokkaido. Ramen Planet Mutsumiya, founded in 1996, is the creation of chef Take Rokosuke who is famed as a ramen Iron Chef with his authentic-Hokkaido Mutsumiya-style ramen. Sat next to the popular Bonchon Fried Chicken, this ramen place is decked out in a simple Japanese simple style using dark wood.
The bowl: Their tonkatsu ramen (B170) is a perfect combination of yellow noodles, bean sprouts, Japanese onions and a big slice of grilled pork.
Our take:  We found that the soup of the tonkatsu ramen, though pretty dense, is a bit too sweet for our palate. To correct that, either add a splash of shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) or just get the black tongkatsu ramen, which has shoyu in it—ah, now you’ve got a delicious broth.
2/F, Seen Space, 251/1 Thonglor Soi 13, 02-185-2373. Open daily 11am-11pm

Classic Ramen Spots

Ramen Tei. Four branches. Try 11/1 Soi Thaniya, Surawong Rd., 02-234-4326. Open daily 11am-midnight
Yamagoya. Four branches. Try 98-102 Surawongs Rd., 02-185-3790-7. Open daily 10am-1pm
Grand Ramen. 25/18-19 Sukhumvit 55 (Soi Thong Lor), 02-714-1020. Open daily 11am-11pm
Bankara Ramen. The Manor, 32/1 Sukhumvit Soi 39, 02-662-5162-3. Open daily 11am-11pm
Ganso Tsukemen Yamagishi. 2/F Zone A K-Village Sukhumvit Soi 26, 02-661-2931. Open daily 11.30am-10pm
Ringer Hut. 2/F Zone B K-Village Sukhumvit Soi 26, 02-665-6470. Open daily 11am-10pm


Leave a Comment

An internet sensation among fans of male erotica, photographer Airry Haruehan opens up about life behind the camera and why he prefers to shoot men over women, a trait that earned him a feature in Thailand’s Attitude magazine’s very first issue.

What was your childhood like?
My house was surrounded with paintings. My father is an art teacher, and my mother teaches English. Though they’re both from Bangkok, they went to live in Nakhon Ratchasima because they were fed up with urban life. They visit Bangkok once a year.

How did you start taking photos?
Actually, I knew nothing about photography, except I used my school’s film camera for the student newspaper. I seriously took photos when I studied at the Faculty of Communication Arts at Chulalongkorn University. I started taking photos of my friends. The first was Chaam, Onwarin Osathanond, Miss Thailand Universe 2006.

Why did you shift to mostly nude male models?
There are a lot of reasons. Being a man myself, working with men is more comfortable. As for the nudity. I’ve always had problems with stylists. They do it for the money, but I do it because I like to.

You do it for free?
Yes, 80% of the time. It’s my personal challenge. I like to make an ordinary person look like a superstar and I want to change people’s thoughts. Now male models approach me to take their photos, but I don’t do it for all of them. For some, I feel they have no selling point or are too famous already.

How do you know how to present each person?
It’s hard to explain. It depends. Partly, it comes from the conversation we have, where I learn more about his character and attitude. We have to trust each other, and the photos will be better.
Why do you think your work is getting so widely-known?
I post every piece online, through websites like Portfolio or other social media. I studied at at Chula’s Communication Arts faculty, so naturally I’m among the insiders of the entertainment circle. Word of mouth has helped.

What is your most successful project?
It has all started from Stephen Sohn, Korean-American friend of a friend. It was almost like God’s will. I saw his picture on a friend’s camera, and I asked Stephen to come to Thailand in 2008. After our shoot, many Asian countries buzzed about him for a while. Now he’s an economist in America.What’s your day job?
I am a media specialist for a PR company. I am a representative of brands like Unilever, Thailand’s Got Talent and a few others.

What’s your next plan?
I’m starting a big project with Attitude this year. Usually, though, I don’t accept heavy-commitment projects and I don’t take photos for money. It’s my happiness to influence people through photography.


Leave a Comment

The massive internet sensation from TV show Thailand’s Got Talent, Nunthita “Bell” Kampiranond, 27, tells us about her life and how she managed to seduce—and surprise—audiences with her gorgeous looks and soulful voice.

BK: Tell us about your life.
I was born in Nakhon Ratchasima. My dad was a soldier and my mom was a nursing assistant. I have seven aunts and two sisters. I felt like I was a woman since I was young. But I never exposed my femininity until I graduated. Before that, I kept pretending to be a well-behaved boy.

BK: Why did you have to hide it?
I didn’t know what to do. My father was really disappointed that I am like this. His family are all soldiers and he expected me to be a solidier too. He even beat me when I was in fourth grade to force me back to being a boy. I also was bullied at school, boys abused me, calling me e-tud [faggot] or katoey.

BK: When did you start singing?
I’ve loved to sing since I was a kid. I always participated in singing contests. I even won best performance at a national singing contest.

BK: What did you do after graduating?
I couldn’t continue college because my family didn’t have enough money. I became a singer at a pub called Dok Mai Coffee where I gained a reputation for singing in both male and female voices. It’s a selling point. That was the time that I started being myself too. I also work as a DJ and creative at G’s Radio 96.0 FM in Nakhon Ratchasima. I make a living and give money to my family. It’s been eight years now. My father feels better about me too.

BK: Why did you decide to participate in Thailand’s Got Talent?
Anucha “Chi” Lanprasert, a scout talent who pushed Nathan Oman, told me to try. He planned it that I should dupe the audience with my girly voice then surprise them with my male tones.

BK: How do you feel about becoming a big hit worldwide now?
I am so happy. I never expected it would be huge like this. I want to thank all the fans who support me. A fan in America even created an official website and sent me an iPod Touch with the quote “Thanks for being who you are. You make me smile,” etched on it. I am also proud that I am Thai. Thais see my talent whether I am a man or woman.

BK: Have you had sex-change surgery?
Not yet. But I definitely will.

BK: Do you have a boyfriend?
Yes, I do. He’s now worried that I will be too famous and meet somebody else.

BK: Any funny experiences because of your looks?
There was a guy who came to listen to my music and chatted to me at the pub for a couple months. Once I told him that I would participate in the Miss Tiffany contest, he was in shock. He just thought that I was just a girl who had deep voice.

BK: What is your biggest dream?
I just want to sing my own songs in front of thousands of people. That’s all I want.


Leave a Comment

Singer/songwriter Jeab Wattana Weerayawattana talks about quitting high school to pursue her love of music and how her passion for travel has led to new inspiration and a new show, Footsteps, Dreams, People, Music on TPBS.

I was just a country girl in Khon Kaen, but I knew from an early age that I wanted to work in the music industry.

At 15, I decided not to waste my time studying in high school anymore. I wanted to go to a music academy instead. I studied at Siam Kolakarn. They were recruiting music students to become future music teachers so I got a job straight after finishing the course.

There was gossip that I was pregnant because I didn’t finish high school.

I was the youngest in my music classes. The other stude­nts were professional musicians who played music for a living at night. It was the most difficult moment in my life. Lots of pressure.
While other music students got to hang out, I was alone practicing the piano.

Once I started teaching, my life was so happy. I would go to stay at the beach in the week and work at weekends.

I don’t feel I missed out on anything by skipping normal teenage experiences to become a working person. I was proud that I could live on my own while my old friends were still studying in high school or at university.

I taught piano classes for nine years then I felt I wanted to be a song writer. I wrote a song called “Ter Hen Thong Fa Nun Mai” which was later sung by T-Bone and was massive. Then I had my own album Turquoise in 1997.

After the music industry flopped, I wanted to do things that I had never done before, like travel.

My journeys gave me inspiration to collect things, not just for songs and albums. It also comes out as books and videos. Now I even get to host a TV program on TPBS called Footsteps, Dreams, People, Music.

My husband and I love to travel to less developed regions and countries like India or Nepal. Places like these are often expensive compared to more tourist friendly countries.

Places like Hong Kong or Singapore don’t attract me. I felt like there is nothing to see.

I regret I didn’t start to travel earlier. If I could have travelled at a young age I would have even more inspiration to do things.

I totally support backpackers. It’s better than drinking in pubs after work. People should broaden their viewpoint through travel.

Group tour isn’t real travel. It’s just a large group of people who eat and spend time together. They don’t really touch life out there on the street. Well, it’s still better than those who don’t travel at all.

If you travel a lot you learn to see the value of your homeland. Everything here is better than in other countries. If we had better governments, we would be so prosperous.

Why are we always fighting? We have diamonds in our hands but we ruin it all by ourselves.

We should clear out all the old politicians to make the country better. They’re so greedy. What’s wrong with these people! Don’t your children live here?

People keep forgetting that we have only one earth. Why aren’t we kind to each other? I want to see my children grow old when I am dead and I am looking back down on them from heaven.

Everybody deserves to die old. We shouldn’t die because of conflicts.

My song writing inspiration is still love, but my perspective on love has changed as I’ve got older.

I think people growing old is good, as long as we experience a lot and teach or give back to the next generation. I just had a charity concert called “Tam Boon Wang Pol” to help build an art room for hill tribe children. The concert cost nothing because everyone did it for free, so every baht raised will go to children.

It’s like God created my family for me. My husband, producer Nimit “Kob” Jittranont, and I have similar ideas on everything. For example, choosing a school for our kids. We focus on learning a lesson rather than educating. If they don’t know who they are, they won’t survive.

Being a simple person and being happy is difficult. My principle is just trying to love yourself every time you look in the mirror.


Leave a Comment

Varut “Knot” Pitaksorayutt, a singer/songwriter from LOVEIS, tells us about what it’s like to pursue a master’s degree, work at the Electricty Generating Authority of Thailand and release hit singles, all at the same time.

BK: How did you get your start in music?
I’ve always loved music since I was young. My passion was handed down to me by my father, who loves to play guitar and sing. I started playing guitar when I was seven, and I became interested in songwriting too. I also play the drums and bass.

BK: How did you get involved in the music industry?
I studied with Suweera Boonrod a.k.a “Q” from Flure. We also used to play together in a band. After Q had signed a record deal, he introduced me to Suki Sukosol and Boyd Kosiyabong. I got lucky and started writing songs for them and that turned into another band called Lolita. The band didn’t work out, so I decided to pursue a solo career. Now I have two singles out: “Rueng Jing Kong Took” Wan and “Pan Hua”.

BK: What is the hardest thing about being a solo artist?
Being a producer in addition to everything else is the hardest part because I have to be open to new things that I sometimes don’t even like. I may like one thing, but people may like another sound. I always have to keep that in mind.

BK: Apart from music, what else have you been doing?
My ultimate dream is to become a pilot. I took the Thai Airways entrance exam, but unfortunately got eliminated during the final round. Another opportunity arose and I went and worked in an advertising agency as an account executive. At the present moment I’m working for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and I recently got accepted for a master’s degree at Thammasat. I love doing a little bit of everything. Life is just so much more colorful that way.

BK: You have many interests, what’s your current goal?
To be a successful artist who makes music that people like is probably my main goal. I get a great feeling when I hear people singing along to my songs.

BK: Have you gotten any feedback from your fans?
They’re all extremely nice. I try to listen to the same music that my fans do. When I toured, there was an incident where two girls reached out to touch my hand while I was playing, and I accidentally hit one of them with my guitar! I still feel bad about that. I


Leave a Comment

Looking for a fun day-trip? Try these 100-year-old markets for great food, great characters and a bit of fresh air.



140 km / 2 hrs
Open daily, around 8am-5pm

Set on the banks of the Ta Chin River, Samchuk is one of the country’s most famous and authentic markets. The riverside site has been a trading spot for people living along the Ta Chin since the 18-19th centuries before roads made river travel obsolete. But in 2000, the community gathered and decided to revitalize the old market while preserving its original atmosphere. It turned out to be Samchuk’s largest development plan, taking nine years to complete. The market is now an award-winning example of old market revitalization that’s been copied by numerous markets across the country.
Highlights: Visit Khun Chamnong Jeenaruk Musuem to learn the history of the market through the lifestyle of a local noble who lived during the 1910-70s, before getting some black coffee at Raan Cafe Ta Ruea Song next to the entrance from the pier. Slightly odder is Baan Coke, a mini Coca-Cola museum displaying a vast collection of Coke-related products ranging from glasses to vintage ads. As for food, the old market serves up a variety of fare but you should try the noodles with supersized fish balls.
Bonus: A few more minutes of driving takes you to Buffalo Villages ( where you can check out the life of this animal beloved to Thai farmers. Travel further into Singaburi province, which is even closer than Amphur Muang, for the famous Mae La pla pao (grilled snake fish) places along Mae La River and one of Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha statues at Wat Phra Non Chaksi.

Kao Hong

97 km / 1.30 hr
Open daily 8am-5pm

If Samchuk is packed with hungry weekenders, Kao Hong is its quiet counterpart. Started with nine shophouses built by a Thai-Chinese rice tycoon as his trading headquarters on the banks of the Ta Chin River, the market was later expanded to three times the size and roughly divided into three zones: central, lower and the upper markets, where the rows of wooden shophouses are.
Highlights: We can guarantee veteran photographers and precious posers alike will fall prey to the old buildings’ charms, as there are numerous spots with an opportunity for good photos. Shop houses decked out with vintage furniture are also open for photo shoots for free—they don’t even care if you shop or not. Why so relaxed you ask? Because the rental fee is so cheap, locals tell us. At the center of the market there’s a four-story tower that locals would use as a fort to watch out for intruders in the old days.
Bonus: As the location is not far from Suphanburi town center, this is a chance to explore one of Thailand’s cleanest and tidiest cities with tourist landmarks like the Banharn-Chamsai Tower where you can get the elevated panorama of the entire city and the Dragon Descendants Museum (Open Wed-Mon, 10am-4pm. Entry B299 for Thais, B499 for foreigners) where you can explore the long history of Chinese families and communities in Thailand.


Chet Samian

92 km / 1.30 hr
Open Fri-Sun, 3-7pm. Art performances every last weekend.

These past couple of years, the status of the Chet Samian community and its local market have been elevated to a truly “cool” old market destination easily reached from Bangkok. It’s mostly thanks to the promotion of Patravadi Theatre’s Suan Silp Baan Din project and its founder, the Silpathorn award-winning Manop Meejamras, whose family is originally from this district. Compared to other markets, Chet Samien is really tiny: there are around 20 shophouses facing each other on the street that leads to the river. The super quiet market on weekdays turns into a bustling market every Sat-Sun with the influx of Bangkokians, and the last weekend of every month, sees performaces from Suan Silp Baan Din.
They have this amazing chicken that they bake in a jar over burning coal, so that the chicken has a delicious smoky flavor. But the true highlights are art performances curated by Manop Meejamras. For your first visit, drop by at Chet Samian Local Museum for a collection of old photos and artifacts covering the history of the community before strolling around the stalls and shophouses. A small riverside stage sits at the end of the market’s street. This is not only where you watch all the performances but it’s also a spot to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Bonus: As Chet Samian is located in Potharam district, a walk around Potharam Market (15km away) will complete your vintage Ratchaburi itinerary. Around five time larger than Chet Samian, Potharam Market features restaurants, old movie theatres, galleries and Chinese temples.


Khlong suan

80 km / 1 hour
Open daily, around 8am-5pm

Just 30 minutes away by motorway (exit at Ladkrabang), this place is a foodie paradise within reach of urban mortals. From the entrance, Khlong Suan is packed with food stalls selling every old recipe under the Siamese sun, like the rare kanom dok jok, a fried dessert in the shape of flower. Situated on Pravetburirom canal, this old community harking back to the King Rama V era used to be the top shopping spot for people who traveled along the canal linking Bangkok and Chacherngsao. Though it’s divided along provincial lines—Samut Prakarn and Chacherngsao—Khlong Suan is famous for its laid back living, harmonious Chinese and Muslim communities and great coffee shops.
Highlight: Funny how places with good quality of life always have the best coffee shops. The must-visit is Pae Li. This coffee house is particularly popular for its grandpa, who has appeared in every media outlet out there. Even though he’s in his 80s, he still serves every drink and smiles to any camera approaching him.
Bonus: Along the way to Khlong Suan, you will pass stalls selling the famous pla salid (deep fried fish) from Bang Bor which is the best and the biggest pla salid-producing area in Thailand.


50 km / 45 minutes
Open daily, around 8am-5pm

The old Bangplee market is one of the nine major markets in the eastern province. Originally named Sirisopon, Bangplee floating market is the only old market in Samrong to have survived both fires and new developments, still boasting the same architectural style it had when it was built 150 years ago. The wooden walkway stretching along the river at least 500 meters is still strong enough to handle thousands of tourist every day. Along the way you will find many old relics for sale, like antique bowls or lanterns. As it’s situated near Bangplee Yai Nai temple, there’s a focus on items for monks and temple but don’t underestimate the rest of the market because its many wooden shops are packed with plenty of delicious stuff.
Highlight: If you wake up too late, you’ll miss the famous, half-century-old gway tiaw moo which runs out as fast as 1pm. You can be comforted by kanom jeen Pa Mol where the lovely Mol and her daughter serve their delicious nam ya (curry soup)every weekend. Choose from kati, nam prik, curry and gaeng tai pla, all at B25. And don’t forget to treat yourself with kanom chan (layered pudding) Mae Boonsri, cooked daily according to the traditional recipe.
Bonus: Other than food and old junk, this is fortune teller central. Nearly one in every 10 shops of this community is in the business. But if you don’t believe in destiny, just walk to Bangplee Yai Nai temple to pay homage to Luang Por To, one of the famous Buddha statues in Thailand, and pray for some luck instead.


Ban Mai

80 km / 1.30 hour
Open daily, 8am-5pm (some shops only open on weekends)

Banmai Market, in Chacherngsao harks back to Rama 4. The market was created by Chinese immigrants who built their homes along the Bangpakong (Ta Chin) River long ago, and it slowly became the economic hub of Chacherngsao. It remains famous to this day, having served as a location for TV series and movies such as Yoo Gab Gong and Nang Nak.
Highlight: You can’t miss Ban Pa Nu, a riverside restaurant in Ban Mai, which specializes in pla chon lui suan and tom yam goong mae nam with ingredients coming from the Bangpakong river. For desert, venture over to Mae Wong’s for their stellar lod chong.
Bonus: Don’t forget to pay respect to the Luang Por Sothorn Buddha statue, legendary cousin of Luang Por To in Sumut Prakarn. You can also cruise along Bangpakong River to see the riverside communities. To visit these destinations, catch the boat from Luang Por Sothorn Temple to the Banmai market B100.


80 km / 1.30 hour
Open every weekend 9am-4pm

This market has only been in operation for about two years, but the Nuengkhat canal that it floats upon was originally dug by order of King Rama 5. He envisioned this canal to be a short-cut to Bangkok via the San Saeb canal. As the roadways developed, Nuengkhat canal was no longer needed and it was abandoned. Two years ago the mayor initiated the revival of the canal to be used as a market venue. Its pleasant design allows for an open feeling that will please market-goers who don’t like large crowds.
Highlight: Other than attracting visitors for their yummy hor mok pla chon (steamed fish with curry paste), Ban Ta Nai is a popular place because it is home to Miss Universe Pui-Pornthip Nakhirankanok’s grandmother. Fans flock here to take a picture with the elderly lady, who created her own original curry paste recipe. Make sure to sample various kinds of noodles such as guay tiew pak mor and guay tiew nam tok moo, as cheap as B10 per bowl, and Pae Sua’s guay tiew ped. If that doesn’t fill you up, then vendors in their boats line the canal selling all kinds of delicacies.
Bonus: Visit the all-pink, biggest reclining Ganesha statue in Thailand at Samanratanaram Temple or Wat Maikhunsaman in Chacherngsao. If you’re scared of rodents, watch out for the three giant mouse statues there.

Too lazy to drive? Check out these markets in the city.

THAT EXTRA MILE: Drive to Luang  Prabang


Leave a Comment

Post-op female Yollada “Nok” Suanyot, president of the TransFemale Association of Thailand, opens up about her maternal instinct and why her reality TV show offering free gender reassignment surgeries has currently been put on hold by Channel 9.

I was born in Nan province. My dad was a cop and my mom has a grocery shop in a market.

I don’t know when I first wanted to be a girl. It was just instinctual.

I used to have personality problems because I wanted to be a girl even though had a boy’s body. I tried so hard to be a girl, and my parents didn’t know how to handle it or raise me.

My dad was so upset about my behavior. He threw a combat boot at me when I was in sixth grade. My mom said that she couldn’t accept my behavior and that I should just pick a gender, that if I wanted to be a girl, I should act like a real one. I have acted like a normal girl since then because I didn’t want to grow up a freak.

I skipped the last two years of high school because I was able to get into Thammasat University’s Food Science Program when I was only 16. I wanted to move to Bangkok as soon as possible when I found out that sex change surgery was available here. I didn’t want my penis anymore.

I don’t think of surgery as a choice but rather as a solution. My body was wrong, and I never accepted that I was a man. I had to go back to being a woman.

I underwent psychological testing for a year, in preparation for the surgery. Many people can’t pass this long term test. I did and was finally able to have the operation. I had to ask my mom to sign a consent form for me, as I was a minor back then.

My mom asked me, “Are you sure?” I told her that if she didn’t sign it, I would do it anyway as soon as I became of legal age.

When I woke up, I felt that this was my true life. I finally became what I should be, a woman.

I didn’t have to suffer anymore. This is my right body.

I decided to participate in beauty competitions because I felt that I was a woman and should have the right to go to the beauty pageants. But I was caught in one competition after they learned that I was a man with a fake ID card.

I was arrested but I didn’t feel any guilt. I believe that the law is wrong and forced me to act illegally.

I want to be a mom. I want to have children just like most women do. But I don’t know how. If there were wombs for sale in the market, I would buy one.

I told my boyfriend right away that I am not a real woman and he was fine with it. He just said, “Which part of your body is not a woman?” He sees me as a woman so we have a heterosexual relationship, not homosexual. Besides, now that I have some exposure in the media, I couldn’t have hidden the fact anyway.

Now I have established a cable channel called theJewelry Channel to sell my jewelry line, Carat & Secret.

After establishing the TransFemale Association of Thailand, I created the Sister’s Hand project to help those who suffer like I once did, but don’t have money to have the surgery. It was really traumatizing for me to be in the wrong body for 16 years, but what about those who are still stuck?

[The reality series] Kon Khon Kon, which follows people undergoing the surgery for a year, was cancelled because the censors misunderstood GID (Gender Identity Disorder) and felt that the surgery is merely cosmetic.

They don’t understand that having GID really impacts our mind. The surgery is the only way to fix our bodies to match our minds. The program also intends to make people understand GID as well as help those who are still confused about what they are.

I don’t judge who is better. Everyone is equal. We’re not trying to create conflict with this show. We have only one world to live in together. We can’t move to live on another planet.

The hardest thing that people like me are facing is violence. It comes from family and from society. People see us as clowns and some abuse our rights as human beings.

Please stop treating us like this. Our life is already miserable because we can’t have the body that corresponds to our mind. Only understanding can help us.

I will continue this project to help those in need. If anyone wants to stop it they have to ban sex change surgery, too.


Leave a Comment