This weekend’s Culture One might be known as an electronic music festival, but there will also be plenty for the indie kids, courtesy of the Popscene stage, which features eight live acts headlined by quirky UK rockers, and former Mercury Prize nominees, Young Knives. We caught up with lead singer Henry Dartnell to find out more about their distinctive sound, magical sounding hometown and why the tweed suits are staying at home.

How would you describe your sound?
We sound like a big horn, or a sick puppy, or maybe some stale bread. It’s loud, cute but smells of vomit, it fills you up but it’s also difficult to swallow.

Is your hometown Ashby De La Zouch a real place?
Yes, it is. It’s a market town near Leicester, UK. It is quite nice, maybe a little too nice.

Do you think it’s difficult being in an indie band these days?
No, it’s not difficult at all; that’s the whole point. People who work in factories or as politicians or farmers, they have difficult jobs. Being in a band is well easy.

What’s your expectation of your first Bangkok gig?
I think it’s going to be great. I can’t wait.

You’re playing a mainly electronic music festival; how do you think the ravers will take to your tunes?
Some will love it, some will really like the change, some others will not like it so much, some may hate it—but not so many I hope.

What’s your favorite festival experience and why?
I enjoyed one at Glastonbury when I lost all of my clothes and had to do the show in an outfit made out of plastic bags. I was dreading it but people really dug my look.

How do you think your tweed suits will stand up to the Bangkok heat?
They’ll probably stay at home because it would be stupid to wear a dense wool material in this climate. We might wear something a little more casual.

You had an album out last year; what’s next for Young Knives?
We are recording our next record called Sick Octave. It is a very industrial record with a bit more of a collage feel to it. It’s quite different to our other records. It will be out in the new year.


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A former home brewer back in the US, Aaron Grieser missed the taste of independently brewed beer so much that he ditched his job as a corporate lawyer and, together with fellow craft beer lover Brian Bartusch, set up Beervana. This new importer promises to introduce Bangkok to the handmade American craft beers that are all the rage in the States.

What is craft beer?
I like to think that craft beer is art. It’s brewed by independent brewers, working on a small scale and making beer using natural ingredients, often sourced locally near the brewery. There are now nearly 2,000 breweries pumping out all manner of craft beers across America.

What makes craft beer so different?
No two craft beers are alike. Craft brewers sometimes use radical techniques to create their own novel and distinctive flavors. The difference between craft and commercial beers is like the difference between listening to your favorite band on your iPhone and standing in the front row at their concert. There’s just a much broader spectrum of flavor. Craft beer engages you in a way that’s more akin to single malts or wine—yet it’s much more down to earth.

How did you select the beers?
That’s the best part! We are curators. Our job is to travel the world and handpick the best, most exciting craft beers. It’s a dream job. We look for the best examples of each beer style, that are innovative and that evoke characteristics of the locality where they’re brewed. For example, Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Ale is brewed with Oregon hazelnuts. We want people to realize that beer can be special and can be enjoyed in the same way as wine. We’re doing a big push around beer and food pairings. The first pairing dinner will be a pop up with Tim Butler from Eat Me at Opposite on Oct 12/13. We are also starting a craft beer club whose members will get the newest and most innovative beers delivered monthly to their doorsteps.

Was it hard to ship in the beers?
It’s a logistical labyrinth because we make sure our beers are temperature controlled at every step, from the brewery dock to the table here in Bangkok. Our beers are typically non-pasteurized and non-filtered, so they are a lot fresher, but also a lot more sensitive. But it’s completely worth it because it makes that much of a difference. Once people taste it, they’ll see.

Beervana will be launching their range of craft beers at Brew Beers & Ciders (Seenspace, Thonglor Soi 13, 02-185-2336) on Oct 3. They will then distribute to around twenty bars and restaurants in Bangkok. For more information, visit


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How to pick a dish to suit your favorite beer.

There was a time when the choice of beers in Thailand was pretty much limited to local lager or local lager. Thankfully, that’s changing fast, with a whole raft of exotic brews from stouts and ambics to ales and pilsners pouring into Bangkok. Much like wines, these different beers offer very different flavors, and as such, work best when enjoyed with different types of dishes. So what better excuse to crack open a few than our handy guide to pairing food with beer.


Richer and more complex in texture than lager, it has more hops and other added ingredients, which lends it more bitterness and often a slightly fruitier taste. Ale is also best served at a warmer temperature than lager to enhance its aromatic complexity.
Best to pair with: The additional hoppiness or bitterness of ales can slightly impair the taste buds but does help cut through the grease of deep-fried dishes. While they can work quite well with some less-spicy Thai dishes, they really shine when combined with seafood or dishes that have high levels of acidity created by the addition of lemon or vinegar.
Our choice: Match London Pride (B220) from Brew Beers and Ciders with fish and chips (B230) from next door Fat’r Gutz (02-185-2373. Open daily 5pm-2am).


Perhaps the most popular and prevalent types of beers to be found in our fair city. Lagers are usually quite light and refreshing, with a slightly bitter aftertaste, while the carbonation means they are good at cleansing the palate.
Best paired with: The light body of the lager and the cleansing quality of the bubbles means these types of beer best complement rich or spicy food and usually make a good match for Thai dishes.
Our choice: Beerlao (B95) with some deep fried chicken (B75) and tam sua Sakon Nakhon (B65) at Somtam Der.

Wheat Beer

Wheat beers like the Bangkok favorite Belgium Hoegaarden manage to be both aromatic and refreshing. They often carry hints of citrus and coriander, with a strong yeasty aftertaste making them quite delicate flavor-wise.
Best to pair with: Belgian wheat beers go great with lightly grilled seafood or chicken recipes or dishes that feature light sauces.
Our choice: Moules frites (B350) and Hoegaarden (B220) at HOBS.


Most stouts will offer up a sweet initial hit before leaving you with a super bitter aftertaste. Many stouts have a complex series of flavors that can include hints of nut, coffee or chocolate.
Best to pair with: The complexity of stouts means they really work best with hearty dishes that have robust flavors: strong cheeses, rich meat dishes and oysters.
Our choice: Match Guinness (B350) with the fresh oysters (B90 each) at Witch’s Oyster Bar.

Fruit Beer/Lambic

Very full-flavored, these light beers can be either very sweet or perversely quite sour. They can be treated as a good digestif to end a big meal.
Best to pair with: Not surprisingly, these tart affairs go well with desserts, and particularly light fruity dishes like cheesecakes or soufflés. However, if they are particularly aromatic then they can also work well with rich chocolate dishes.
Our choice: A bottle of Framboise (raspberry or cherry, B330) or a St. Louis (peach, B260) with the blueberry cheesecake (B190) at BeerVault.

Where to Drink Beers in Bangkok

Brew Beers and Ciders

Seenspace, Thonglor Soi 13, 02-185-2366. Open daily 4pm-2am

Somtam Der

5/5 Soi Saladaeng, Silom Rd., 02-632-4499, 084-764-4291. Open daily 11am-10pm. BTS Sala Daeng

Witch’s Oyster Bar

Ruamrudee Village, Room 20/20-21, Ploenchit Rd., 02-255-5355. Open daily 11-1am.


Penny’s Balcony, Soi Thong Lor Soi 16, 02-392-3513. Open daily 11-1am.


Four Points by Sheraton, Sukhumvit Soi 15, 02-309-3000. Open daily 11-1am.


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Singapore might well "come alive" for F1 weekend later this month, but we can't blame you if you're bored to death of the whole thing by now. So why not use the weekend tactically and get out of town? Here's a whole stack of ideas for the perfect citybreak, with not one checkered flag in sight.


Bangin Bangsar
New neighborhoods come and go in rapidly expanding KL, but despite the rise of upscale rival Solaris Mont Kiara, we still find ourselves drawn back to grungy Bangsar. Partly it’s for the leafy streets, partly for the laid-back residential vibe and partly for the two-story shophouses that double as family homes. Add to that the sheer (and ever-changing) range of food, drink and young designer boutiques on offer, this area feels more like a hip suburb in Sydney than an enclave of KL.


Antipodean Cafe
20 Jalan Telawi 2, +603 2282-0411.
This modern Kiwi/Australian-style cafe uses the very best coffee blends produced by Indonesian-based franchise Merdeka Coffee. They back it up with a solid menu of brunch/breakfast classics in a simple café setting. The buzz does mean it can be hard to get a seat.

69-G Jalan Telawi 3, +603 2287-5507.
Half coffee specialist, half upmarket mamak (the Malay equivalent of a street-side 24-hour diner), Chawan has a devoted crowd who come for the impressive range of coffee and affordable traditional Malay menu. For a light snack, try the Keropok Lekor, a popular doughy finger food. To wash it down, order kopi hang tuah, Penang’s regional rocket fuel.

El Meson Espanol
61-63 Jalan Telawi 3, +603 2282-8290,
A bar vibe, thanks to a vibrant color scheme and quirky touches, make this place a good spot to enjoy the decent wine menu while snacking on small plates and hearty Spanish classics like rabbit stew and Iberico cheeks.

F by Buffalo Kitchens
69-1 Jalan Telawi Tiga, +603 2201-9307.
Head up the graffiti-covered wooden stairs to find this very contemporary French/Italian eatery, with an eco-touch (they use recycled furniture and flooring). They make all their own sauces and have a very impressive wine list. We love the large open kitchen and the great vantage point offered by the al fresco balcony.

Les Deux Garcons
36 Jalan Telawi, +603 2284-7833,
If you’re into exquisite-looking patisseries then this is the place to go. Only open a couple of months, the wonderfully understated little store has a very chic atmosphere and a beautiful selection of desserts, such as its best-selling macaroons.

The Social@Bangsar
57-59 Jalan Telawi 3, +603 2282-2260,
Favoured for its al fresco seating out on the terrace and laid-back ambiance, this local hot spot is at its best on lazy Sunday mornings and after work. It has a good choice of imported beers and an Asian/international mix of gastropub-style grub.

Plan B
Bangsar Village 1, G5, Ground Floor No. 1, Jalan Telawi,
Currently the hippest spot in the hood, Plan B is a modern coffee shop cum bar and deli. Good bistro-style food, big sofas, a nice outdoor terrace and a seasonal selection of single-origin beans make this a top spot to hang out at.

Nirawa Banana Leaf
43 Jalan Telawi 3, +603-2287-8445.
A nondescript shophouse where hungry punters enjoying the authentic Indian and Penang-style fare always overflow into the street. Don’t miss the dishes served on banana leaves (fried fish, crab, chicken and more) which are eaten with hands and come with additional refills.


Ben’s General Food Store
Bangsar Village 1, Ground Floor, Jalan Telawi. +603 2284-8790,
While the classy all-white bistro, with its fresh pastas and salads, is well worth a visit, we really love the food and drink store next door. From Wagyu beef and imported pasta to fresh olives and St. Agur blue cheese, this place is all about the best in imported and organic food.

CZipLee Book Store
No. 1 & 3 Jalan Telawi 3,
In Bangsar since 1968, this bookstore recently moved out of its lovely original building to a larger premise just up the street. It’s still packed with a huge range of titles, especially non-fiction stuff like travel and cooking. The selection of stationery is just as impressive.

Pantry Magic
49 Jalan Telawi Tiga, +603 2201-1578,
Ok, we know that there are branches around Asia but they’re not in a beautiful terraced shop house with its own quaint country kitchen vibe. Inside, you can browse a huge range of high-end kitchen ware from copper pans to retro scales. The store also run occasional cooking classes if you want to learn how to use the stuff.

46/46-1 Jalan Telawi 5, +603 2283-5811,
The KL branch of a chain out of HK, Juice is a long-term resident in the Bangsar community where it serves up urban fashion and sportswear by the likes of Nike, Converse and CLOT in an uber-cool showroom.

Blueberry Boutique
8 Jalan Tewi 4, +603 2283-1663
This tiny little store is easy to miss, but it’s worth hunting out, for fans of distinct vintage styles with a cute girly touch and lots of bright colors. It stocks a wide range of womenswear, from retro skirts and tailored dresses to shoes and bags.

Om Art
4G Jalan Telawi, +603 2201-9588
Another new arrival, this gallery space has been open for a little over six months. It has a specific focus on Chinese art featuring both local and Taiwanese artists.

Where to stay

Founded and designed by one of KL’s most renowned landscape artist Seksan, boutique guesthouse Sekeping Tenggiri is the hippest accommodation in Bangsar. Each room is individually conceptualized out of the original 1970’s bungalow, which has vertical gardens, a swimming pool and exposed brick walls for that touch of nostalgia. There is even an art gallery located within, featuring works of contemporary Malaysian and Thai artists to add to the arty vibe. RM200 ($80) upwards.
48 Jalan Tenggiri, +603 7207-5977. Call or log on to book.

South Korea

Seoul Secrets
South Korea’s capital is a hard nut to crack, travel-wise. For visitors, it can be difficult to gain insider-level intel on the city’s ultra-hip world of trendy cafés, boutiques and artsy spaces—not to mention hard-to-find restaurants with untranslated menus. With these nifty suggestions, you can explore town just that little bit more like a local.


Bukchon Kalguksu
84 Sogyeok-dong, Jongro-gu, +82 2739-6334.
The specialty here is wang mandoo guk—literally, giant dumpling soup. At the front of the restaurant, a team of veteran chefs with hands like lightning stuff, fold and crease doughy pockets of goodness.

Bulzip Samgyeopsal
817-28 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, +82 2 3452-7273,
Enjoy some top-notch soju and BBQ pork belly at this lively watering hole.

Daedo Sikdang
150-7 Samseong 1-dong, Gangnam-gu, +82 2 5612-2834.
Fill up on authentic Korean steak, barbecued simply with garlic and cabbage on a burner right at the center of the table. The high-quality rib-eye (from cows raised in Korea, of course) is the star of the show. It isn’t cheap. But it’s delicious—even more so when the waiter makes kkakdugi (white-radish kimchi) fried rice in the same pan used to cook the beef.

Kkanbu Chicken
809-6 Yeoksam-song, Gangnam-gu, +82 2557-6460,
Stop by for the quintessential Korean late-night meal of fried chicken, fries and beer.

Sigol Babsang
549-9 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, +82 2546-1567.
A restaurant serving traditional Korean fare just off of Garosu-gil, a trendy street that by day is great for shopping, people-watching and latte-sipping. Relax atop cushions on a raised platform against walls lined with old newspapers and feast on bulgogi, kimchi pancakes, bean-paste soup, egg soufflé (less weird and more yummy than it sounds) and an army of banchan (little side dishes).

75-1 Taeyoung Building #102, Insa-dong, Jongro-gu.
This small restaurant serves up delicious ddeokbokki, a favorite spicy street food made of sliced rice cakes, noodles and egg.


Hongdae Weekend Market
564-35 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, +82 2325-8553.
Amid throngs of students and creative types, local artisans sell crafty goods from cutesy jewelry to hand-drawn postcards to sophisticated leather credit-card holders.


APM Luxe
199-17 Sindang-dong, Jung-gu, +82 2 2231-0936.
This place sells the type of clothes and accessories stocked by boutiques across Seoul, except at bargain prices.

B1-B2/F, 1303-22 Seocho 4-dong, Seocho-gu, +82 2 1544-1900,
Stock up on artsy Korean stationery at this top-notch bookstore.

170 Gwanhoon-dong, Jongro-gu, +82 2 2732-6427,
This teahouse and store is part of a 33-year-old brand that harvests its leaves from fields on Jeju, a much-loved island off the country’s south shore.

Where to stay

Located at the secluded Mount Namsan, Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul has only 16 rooms and 16 suites so you’re sure to have plenty of privacy. Each room also has its own indoor relaxation pool. Plus, their Banyan Tree Spa boasts unique-to-this-location Korean treatments. KRW600,000 ($663) upwards.
San 5-5, Jang Chung-Dong 2-Ga Jung-Gu, +82 2 2250-8000. Book at


Brand New Bangkok
So you’ve been to Bangkok several times. But the food scene is now going through a bit of a revival—new openings such as Smith and Quince have brought industrial décor and the rustic/nose-to-tail trend to the city’s tables, not to mention the handful of elegant Isaan restaurants that just popped up. And let’s not forget the happening neighborhoods in Bangkok tucked deep into the side streets or sois, with exciting art spaces and funky shops at Sukhumvit Road. Be surprised at what you can find here.


Sukhumvit Soi 45, +66 2662-4478,
Quince’s Aussie chef Jess Barnes serves fresh, simple and well-executed dishes with Mediterranean influences and an eye to sustainability. The décor here is country-classic’industrial wood and steel with plenty of ceiling space.

1/8 Sukhumvit Soi 49, +66 2261-0515/6.
Located in what used to be a former furniture warehouse, this serves a meat-heavy menu that celebrates less popular cuts and locally sourced produce. Expect dishes like tuna, braised pig tail and foie gras torchon with rosemary, citrus and peas, and verjus-glazed pork belly.

Somtam Der
5/5 Saladaeng Rd., +66 2632-4499.
A stone’s throw from the city’s main gayborhood on Silom Road, this restaurant cranks out rare variations of somtam (papaya salad), such as the somtam sua Sakon Nakhon, which comes with freshwater crab and keratin beans, and the somtam pla tu khao man, which includes mackerel and is served with a side of rice cooked in coconut milk. We’re also excited by their martinis: made by infusing vodka with lemongrass or roselle, they pack quite a punch.

Thai Lao Yeh
14/29, Sukhumvit Soi 45, +66 2 2592-8713.
Sample some authentic regional cuisine, such as classic Isaan, Northern and Laotian dishes, at Cabochon Hotel’s in-house restaurant.

The Local
32-32/1 Sukhumvit Soi 23, +66 2 6643-3601.
Chef and co-owner Can Markawat focuses on authentic local dishes and regional products cooked according to hard-to-find recipes. Tuck into a gaeng run juan (beef in spicy herbal soup) from the Rama Vera or try out the pla paak nam (seafood in red curry paste), a recipe taken from Siam’s first cookbook, Mae Krua Hua Pa. They’re all served in a beautiful hundred-year-old house whose individual rooms take their inspiration from various regions.

Water Library Thonglor
G/F, The Grass, Thonglor Soi 12, +66 2 7149-2923,
For B6,600 ($264), you get to enjoy a set 12-course menu that changes with the seasons but always includes plenty of imported delicacies and modern/molecular touches. Downstairs, mixologist Mirko Gardellino’s personalized cocktails and the sexy, darkly-lit wine bar give you the perfect excuse need to stick around after dinner.


2194 Charoenkrung Rd., +66 2108-4488,
It’s touristy (although packed with locals), it’s brand new (but strangely nostalgic) and despite its riverside location, it pretty much replaces the much missed Suan Lum Night Bazaar that used to be by Lumpini. With a panoramic waterfront and a 100-year old refurbished sawmill, it includes over 1,500 boutiques stocked with souvenirs, fashion, bars and restaurants. The gigantic venue is also home to the Joe Louis Puppet Theater and the transgender extravaganza Calypso Bangkok.

Casa Pagoda
4 Sukhumvit Soi 45, +66 2258-1917,
For retro furnishings, look no further than elegant home décor boutique Casa Pagoda. The 6000 sq. meter space packs country-style furniture and vintage products ranging from glass soda water dispensers to hemp rugs.

Talad Rot Fai
Kampaengpetch Rd., +66 8 1920-3972.
For something a little bit grittier, Talad Rot Fai (the train market) packs cheap vintage finds ranging from USA license plates to old Thai ads. It’s also just a cool place to hang out and grab a beer, thanks to the collection of hip kids who gather here to pick up old radios, parts for their ’70s automobiles or retro furniture from the converted old warehouse.

ZudRangMa Records
7/1 Sukhumvit Soi 51, +66 08 8891-1314,
This vinyl record store delivers a heady mix of Isaan country music, such as Luk Thung and Molam. Here, you can also find world music ranging from Jamaican and African to soul and reggae.


Rock Around Asia
5/3 Sukhumvit Soi 45, +66 2662-7604,
At this art gallery, you can shop for travel photography, local pop art and sculptures. There’s also an open-air rooftop cinema promoting classics, indie productions and documentaries. They even organize cooking classes and “off the beaten track” walks around Bangkok.

27/1 Sukhumvit Soi 51, +66 2662-6330,
Drop by this renovated mid-20th century-style shophouse, which plays host to stimulating art, music and dining events.

WTF Gallery & Café
7 Sukhumvit Soi 51, +66 2662-6246,
Arty souls looking for a low-key, retro hangout would like this hybrid bar, where gigs, art exhibitions and poetry nights take place and stiff cocktails are served.

Where to stay

Located by Chao Phraya river, The Siam is a 39-room luxury Bangkok riverside resort where traditional Siamese architecture meets Art Deco style. The hotel is packed to the rafters with an impressive collection of antiques belonging to local celebrity Krissada Sukosol Clapp, while the elegant teak pavilions used for in-house restaurant Chon were originally sourced by Thai silk king Jim Thompson. B16,300 ($654) upwards.


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With the European Championships kicking off this weekend, we ask can Thailand ever hope to challenge at an international tournament?

We all know that Thai football has never been healthier, right? Last season, over 1.3 million people went to watch a live Thai Premier League (TPL) game, with crowds averaging around 4,500 people a match. Every game was screened live by Truesport and NBT thanks to an investment of B135 million while sponsors have continued to flood into the game. SCG, one of the latest to get on the bandwagon, paid out a massive B600 million to attain a 30% stake in Muangthong United this season.

So what’s the reality, is the money coming into the game being spent wisely? Are there plans in place to develop the level of Thai football at both league and international levels? It seems that beneath the smooth surface, there are enough serious issues to get local fans worried.“It’s true that the TPL is very popular these days. It’s not real, though,” explains Komkrit Napalai, a long-time fan and media officer at TPL team Osotsospa M150 Saraburi FC. “People get excited because of the whole media hype around it. But if the existing problems continue, the popularity will eventually fade.”

Playing politics?

Those problems include the current precarious financial situation surrounding the clubs—an issue that has been brought into sharp focus recently by a very public clash between Buriram’s owner and former politician Newin Chidchob and the head of the Thai FA, the equally controversial Worawi Makudi. The main sticking point is over TV rights, a potentially lucrative source of income for the clubs, with Newin questioning the President of the Thai Premier League Dr Vichit Yamboonreung about where this money has gone.

The issue has even led Newin to form the Thai Premier League Club Allies, an interest group of 18 TPL clubs who have joined together to put pressure on the Thai FA for clearer change and transparency in all areas of the game. Komkrit is one person who thinks the idea of the Allies is good: “They’ll brainstorm what they want, what needs to be fixed. They’ll have the negotiation power to gain benefits for all of the TPL.”

Of course, there are those who doubt Newin’s true motives, with many believing that this might even by the first move by the wily politician in a run for the head job at the Thai FA. Whatever, the real reasons, the formation of the Allies did highlight one major issue that’s facing Thai football, money, where’s it coming from and where it goes.

Money, Money, Money

Running a club is now a very expensive business, leading Thai players can earn up to B300,000 a month with foreign imports costing even more. In fact, Team Manager and International Director of current TPL champions Buriram FC, Tadthep Pitakpoolsin estimates it can cost around B50 million a year to run a successful TPL squad.

In successful leagues around the world, the lion’s share of the money comes from broadcasting rights. In Thailand, these rights are controlled by the Thai FA except it’s actually a little murkier than that. As Newin uncovered in a recent public meeting with TPL boss Dr Vichit, the responsibility of managing these rights and other financial matters had been handed over to Siamsport Syndicate. The media giant played a big role in making the TPL so popular, but their boss is chairman of Muangthong United, and they also have a fairly cozy relationship with FA Chairman Worawi. The fall out caused by Newin’s question last month forced Siamsport to step down from their role as the FA’s financial advisors, though the real question as to where the money has gone has not been completely answered. However, for

once, it’s not just a question of potential corruption but a basic matter of economics.
“In Thailand, each club only gets around B10 million from broadcasting rights and ticket sales. That means they have to find around B40-50 million from sponsorship,” explains Tadthep.

“Attaining 60-80% of revenue from sponsorship depends on finding powerful investors, and on permutations like whether you win the league or a cup. In just one year, everything can change. That’s not a sustainable model, it’s impossible to make a long-term plan for development,” he continues.

Thanya Wongnak, Manager of BEC Tero Sasana, agrees that the financial issue is a long-term threat to the game. “The budgets to compete and succeed in the TPL are high and keep getting higher. I worry that we are investing too much money to improve the clubs; we are stretching ourselves too thin.”

It’s clear that these problems might already be surfacing. In a bid to appeal to those all-important backers and attract much-needed finances, many clubs have been forced to relocate and change names, with both Esan United (formerly Sisaket FC) and Osotsopa (who recently moved to Saraburi) just the latest examples. Meanwhile, rumors have circulated that some TPL clubs, and especially one Bangkok-based team, have already been unable to pay players due to a lack of cash.

Always Walk Alone

Tadthep feels this is where the FA and the TPL authorities should be doing more. “They need to help us find more income and help control spending. They need to help clubs manage their finances to ensure that we don’t get into a cycle of boom and bust for clubs.”

Yet, TPL President Dr Vichit believes there is not much wrong with the current model. “I am a supporter of a full capitalist economy, so I don’t like too much interference. I think all we need to do is offer good guidelines, not try to control what people are doing.”

Osotsopa’s Komkrit is not surprised at this attitude from the governing bodies and feels it underlines a general malaise in the game at the highest level. “Each club has to learn and struggle for themselves. The FA and the TPL don’t do a single thing to help them.”

Going Global

Aside from the financial issues, this malaise is perhaps most keenly felt when considering the fortunes of the national team. Back in 1998, Thailand’s War Elephants, held a heady FIFA world ranking of 43; today they languish down at 141, sandwiched between Belize, with a population of just 300,000 and the tiny Eastern European state of Moldova (pop. 3.5 million).

“There’s a huge gap between the league and the national team,” says Tadthep, who questions why Thai players who compete at the highest level in Asian Cup competitions, like the Asian Champions League, then struggle when playing for the national squad. “Clearly something is wrong at the national camp.”

Perhaps surprisingly, considering his close ties with the FA, even Dr Vichit thinks it’s pretty clear where the issues with the national team lay: “If the FA had done a good job, then we wouldn’t have the problems we have at the moment. I don’t think they’ve done enough.”

Of course the Thai FA beg to differ and point out that the rise of the TPL has actually had a detrimental effect on the national team’s performance. “Now playing for your club is so important, the players they earn a lot of money. Maybe they see it as more important than playing for the national team,” argues the Thai FA’s General Secretary Ong-arj Kosinkar.

He also points out that the extra pressures created by a professional league mean the national team has much less time to prepare for important games and competitions. Where they used to have one, even two months, to prepare the team, the league schedule means clubs might only release their Thai players one week before a game. “It makes it more difficult, but it’s understandable. Clubs have a lot at stake, they want to win so it’s difficult to get their support on issues like this.”

This weekend sees the start of the European Championships in Ukraine and Poland. Spain, the current champions and World Cup holders, are the clear favorites. They’ve dominated international football for the past four years, with a team that has grown up together at both club and country levels. Their closest rivals will probably be Germany, another country that has focused on youth development and now boasts a squad of young but seasoned talents.

One man who knows more about promising youngsters than most is Hans Emser, who is the director of the highly respected Youth Academy at TPL team Bangkok Glass. For him the problem is clear: “The big handicap is there is no youth league in Thailand, it’s really difficult to develop without this in place.”

Emser has been a youth coach at German Bundesliga heavyweights Bayern Leverkeusen and at Dutch giants Ajax. He’s adamant that the old excuses about the smaller stature and lack of strength of Thai players are simply irrelevant. He runs the same physical tests on his youth team as those carried out by his former colleagues in Germany. “The results are the same, there is no difference between the players. But there is no competition here and that is the difference.”

“The simple fact is you need competition, matches over 7-8 months. Without this it’s very difficult to move from the youth team to the main team. The absence is a big, big handicap.”

There might be some light on the horizon, with Dr Vichit revealing that the TPL are currently investigating the possibility of setting up a reserve league next season similar to that found in English football. This new league would at least offer a competitive arena for young players to develop. All the managers and coaches we spoke to agreed that this would be a major step forward.

“You can’t create good players at 26. Players have to be developed from a young age,” says Buriram’s Tadthep.

The Next Play

But as everyone we spoke to also points out, the clubs and even the league can’t do this alone, such major grassroots changes need to come from the FA. “They need to become more professional” says Thanya, “They need to implement a better structure for the whole game, not just at the top levels.” The Thai FA would clearly argue that they’re doing their best, and Ong-arj does point to successes in international tournaments at the U12, U14 and U16 levels as signs that their network of youth coaches and scouts is starting to work. He also explains that, just like the clubs, the FA is still very young. “Maybe in the next few years we’ll be better, more professional. In Europe, in England, they’ve been professionals for around one hundred years. In Thailand, we were established 3-4 years ago, so we haven’t had enough time to develop properly.”

But Komkrit isn’t holding his breath, “The people who really want to improve Thai football don’t have the power or the authority to do so. Those working in the FA and the TPL don’t really know and understand football.“

Tadthep is less pessimistic, but agrees that it needs a lot of work and investment not just from the Thai FA but also the government. “The FA have a lot of good knowledge and human resources, they know how to develop football but they need financial support, perhaps from the government.”

That might actually be coming, with Yingluck Shinawatra recently announcing that the government is planning to invest B1 billion in grassroots sport, albeit with a large amount of support being generated from the private sector. If their latest populist policy comes into practice, then it may help national teams of the future have a realistic chance of becoming a force again at the international level.

As Tadthep points out, “If North Korea can qualify for a World Cup, why can’t we? We have the pitches and the players, we just need to use all these resources better.”

The other thing that is clearly needed is time. To succeed in 2020, coaches need to start work today with Thailand’s 12, 13 and 14-year-old players. There also needs to be a competitive structure in place for them to learn the mental strength and discipline to succeed. “Thailand can be competitive again if the league is strong. But we need more time,” says an optimistic Thanya.

Unfortunately, perhaps the biggest question mark of all is whether there will still be a strong league in the foreseeable future. As Komkrit argues, survival won’t be down to the authorities or the clubs, but the fans. “But if the authorities don’t help Thai football progress to a better level, people will lose faith. And that would be the end of Thai football.”

Then overtaking Belize in the world rankings would be the least of our problems.

Four young players all tipped to be Thailand’s next big thing

Name: Chanathip Songkrasin

Age: 16
Position: Midfield
Skill: Small, quick and with great technical skill and style, he’s been touted as Thailand’s answer to Lionel Messi and already made his debut for the national team this year.
Club: BEC Tero Sasana

Name: Sakda Fai-in

Age: 19
Position: Defence
Skill: Despite his young age, he’s made a name for himself thanks to his strength and stamina at the back for Osotsopa this season.
Club: Osotspa M-150 Saraburi

Name: Anawin Jujeen

Age: 25
Position: Midfield/Forward
Skill: With great technique and fast feet, Anawin has been playing the game at the highest level for the past five seasons and has made four appearances for the national team.
Club: Bangkok Glass

Name: Saratch Yooyen

Age: 20
Position: Midfield
Skill: The young midfielder first got notice at Phuket FC before being snapped up by Muangthong. Known for his speed, trickery on the ball, powerful shot and his dead ball ability, he’s a particular threat when breaking from deep.
Club: Muangthong United

Bangkok’s Thai Premier League stadiums undergo a transformation


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TPL 2012 Season Kicks Off this Weekend

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Thai Premier League
Nick Measures

So after a very brief break thanks to the much delayed end to last season, the TPL roars back into town kicking off in earnest this week. Despite plenty of transfer activity and new rules regarding foriegn players its hard to look past Buriram as the title favorites. Still, last year's runners up, Chonburi will take heart from their thrilling penalty win over Newin's northern club in the Kor Royal cup last weekend., while here in Bangkok Muang Thong United will certainly have cause for optimism after a big cash injection from SCG.

Six imported brews to expand your beer horizons.


History: Produced by the Van Diest brewery just outside of Ghent in Belgium, Fruli is an intense strawberry flavored white fruit beer. It won a gold medal at the International Beer Competition in 2004, and was named World’s Best Fruit Beer at the World Beer Awards in 2009.
Appearance: It has very dark, coppery-red hue, with a pretty small head and not too many bubbles.
Smell: Not suprisingly, it has a very strong strawberry aroma, but it’s not exactly the scent of a freshly-plucked strawberry. There’s definitely a hint of vanilla, too, which makes us think of sweet Italian sodas and perfume.
Mouth feel: Initially pretty fizzy, almost sherbety on the tongue, it quickly fades to a nice smooth finish.
Taste: It’surprisingly light, despite the strong strawberry smell. The fruity tones are quickly overtaken by a strong vanilla flavor, but there’s definitely a final rather sweet, candy after taste, however it’s not too cloying.
Overall: This really is for those who aren’t big fans of the normal hoppy/bitter tastes of regular beers. If you like Italian soda, then you’ll love this beer, but like an Italian soda, we’re not sure that we would be able to drink a lot in one go, because it is quite sweet.
Lowdown: B220, 33cl, 4.1%.
Get it at: Available at all branches of House of Beers (HOBs), which has grown to four branches around town. Try the newest at new community mall Nawamin Festival Walk.

Vedett Extra White

History: Brewed by the people behind the better-known Belgian beer Duvel, Vedett has only been around only since 2008. Ostensibly a white beer, the use of ingredients like orange peel in the brewing process, along with the fact that it is actually refermented in the bottle, gives it a distinctive zesty taste.
Appearance: It has a pale yellow, slightly wheaty and slightly cloudy appearance that is a little darker than Hoegaarden. It’s topped by a bright-white frothy head.
Smell: The aroma, while underscored by hints of citrus, herbs and wheat, is pretty subdued.
Mouth feel: Unlike other white beers, this has a remarkably light texture that doesn’t feel too carbonated.
Taste: There’s obviously the hint of orange, but also elements of coriander, wheat and grapefruit that combine to give it a slightly sour taste that feels very refreshing. It also doesn’t have that slightly medicinal flavor of stronger wheat beers
Overall: This is definitely an option for those who find Hoegaarden and other similar wheat powers too overpowering, this is both light and refreshing, making it a good option as we gear up for the hot summer months.
Lowdown: B200, 33cl, 4.7%.
Get it at: Head down to one of the newest champions of imported beers, The Pintsman, in Silom. They offer a relaxed contemporary pub vibe, some good drink deals before 7pm, live music and, most importantly, a choice of over 50 draught and bottled beers to try.


History: Another Belgian beer, Barbar is a light blond ale that is most notable for its use of honey in the brewing process. Based on a closely-guarded secret family recipe, it’s origins can be traced back to the old Viking drink called mid.
Appearance: It has an effervescent rich golden yellow with plenty of bubbles but a small, light creamy looking head.
Smell: The aroma is a malty, bitter burned caramel mixed with a underlying fruity scent.
Mouth Feel: The initial fizz quickly dissolves on the tongue, followed by a light body that is almost watery and cleansing.
Taste: There’s initially a slightly medicinal, bitter first hit but this softens to leave richer flavors like burned toffee and that hint of sweet honey.
Overall: Light like a standard lager, it benefits from having more depth than most local offerings. Be careful though, this one packs a deceptively powerful punch despite the sweetness of the honey.
Lowdown: B140, 33cl, 8%.
Get it at: If you’re a real aficionado then you can try the draft version (0.33cl, B40) of this at the newly-opened Wine Connection Tapas at the Rain Hill community mall. As well as an impressive wine list, they also have over ten intriguing draught and bottled beers from Belgium to sample.

Floreffe Abbey Beer Blonde

History: Apparently the abbey of Floreffe first got a brewery in the year 1250. This strong ale beer is still brewed using water from the abbey well and has candy sugar added during the boiling process to give it a rich aroma and bitter taste.
Appearance: With a dark caramel color, it is pretty cloudy thanks to the rich sediment (it’s meant to be there) that dances in the bubbles and helps give it a thick, rich and creamy head.
Smell: Very malty, with a hint of berries and a touch of citrus.
Mouth Feel: Medium-bodied and slightly prickly on the tongue, it ends on a dry note.
Taste: The first hit is a strong bouquet of fruits and warm, slightly bitter malt and molasses; but this quickly softens to leave you with a powerful liquorice finish.
Overall: Certainly not the most complex abbey beer from Belgian, it does at least have some intriguing elements, which make it a good starter for those looking to enter the world of monastery ales. It’s also not too potent, letting you enjoy its flavors and remember them the next day.
Lowdown: B140, 33cl, 6.3%
Get it at: Another to be enjoyed at Wine Connection: with its giant glass conservatory setup (there are trees growing through the glass roof) and industrial edge, this place gets super busy on weekends. Or if you want to savor the taste away from the crowds then pick up a bottle from their shop next door.

London Pride Porter

History: The Porter actually evolved in the 18th century from the practice of mixing stale ale with fresher brews to create a distinct type of ale. This version by the Chiswick-based brewer’s Fullers, who also produce the paler bitter London Pride, has won numerous gold medals at international competitions.
Appearance: Looks almost like a stout with its rich dark, purple-black color and very few bubbles, but does have a small creamy head that lasts for the whole drink.
Smell: Strong, bitter flavors softened by an almost chocolatey richness.
Mouth Feel: Mild at first, it has a velvety touch that fades into a long, slightly acidic, slightly dry finish.
Taste: Quite earthy and very rich, it has a bitter chocolate and coffee flavor but then ends on a distinctly liquorice aftertaste.
Overall: Very smooth, very enjoyable—this is for those who like the taste and feel of stouts, like Guinness, but don’t want quite the same heaviness or bitter aftertaste. Complex but delicious.
Lowdown: B260, 500ml, 5.4%
Get it at: Try it at the always busy Beer Brews and Cider, at Seenspace, which offers an impressive range of Belgian and German beers, as well as some rare ciders, too, in a contemporary slightly industrial-looking space. They also share the pleasant outdoor courtyard with Clouds which means you can enjoy your pint while sat out in the courtyard scoping out the Thonglor crowds.

Weihenstephaner Tradition

History: As the name suggests this is a beer brewed according to age-old traditional recipes, and, to add to the heritage, it’s made by one of the world’s oldest continuously operating breweries, Weihenstephan, which traces its history back to 768 A.D. A classic Bavarian Ale, it’s made for long winter nights while you chew on a pork knuckle.
Appearance: A rich, dark oak-colored brown that’s similar in appearance to well-brewed tea. It’s full of bubbles and has a small cream-colored head.
Smell: Quite a strong aroma of hops but there are also hints of blackberry as well.
Mouth Feel: Very mild with a slight tingle from the bubbles that transforms into a very silky finish.
Taste: A mix of rich sweet-caramel tones from the malts, underpinned by a slight sourness from the fruits. Very smooth, very well-balanced.
Overall: While this is officially a Dunkel (lager), the strong flavors, great balance and complex elements mean this actually tastes much closer to a bitter or English ale. One of our favorites and one to enjoy at length.
Lowdown: B220,500ml, 5.2%
Get it at: This beer has actually been around in Bangkok for quite a while but is thankfully now getting a wider distribution thanks to places like The Pinstman. If you prefer to drink alone then you can also pick up a bottle at your nearest Tops Supermarket.


Many of these places change their available beers on a fairly regular basis or can run out of favorites. Make sure to check their websites or Facebook page for updates.
House Of Beers. Nawamin Festival Walk, 299 Prasertmanukit Rd. Sena Intersection Ladprao, 02-907-0934-5.
The Pintsman. B/F, United Center Building, 323 Silom Rd., 084-469-5511. Open daily 11-1am.
Beer, Brews and Ciders. Seen Space, Thonglor Soi 13. 02-185-2366. Open daily 4pm-2am.
Wine Connection. 1/F, Rainhill, Sukhumvit Soi 43. 02-261-7217. Open daily 10-1am.


GO LOCAL: Phuket Beer


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Chef Ian Kittichai has launched renowned restaurants around the world, recently launched his own Thai eatery, Issaya, in Bangkok, and is currently starring on the Thai version of Iron Chef. He takes time out from running his global empire to explain why culinary schools are a waste of time and how he used to hate cooking.

I came from a big family, and we all had certain roles we had to perform. My dad sold insurance, my sisters sold soy milk outside our grocery stall and I had to go with mom to the market.

After school I used to push a cart selling curry around the streets. Then I had to make belts for my uncle until midnight. We had to work 365 days a year.

I used to hate cooking as a child. I never had a chance to think about what I really wanted to do.

Helping our parents was the main thing. Wanting to do anything else wasn’t a consideration.

I went to study in England at 16. My mom borrowed the money to pay for me.

I got a job as a pot washer at the Waldorf Hotel. But I used to talk to the chef to practice my English. One day he asked me to help out in the kitchen.

I never wanted to be a chef; it was a financial decision. My first thought when I was offered the apprenticeship was how I didn’t need to take money from my mom anymore.

I wanted to be a success. Even though I didn’t know what that meant for a chef. I went to the bookstore and started reading cookbooks. I couldn’t understand the recipes but I read the chef’s biographies to see how they became successful.

My mom said I was stupid when I moved to New York. She couldn’t understand why I was leaving a good job, a TV show, a good life in Thailand.

I wanted to cook. When I was executive chef [at the Four Seasons], I wasn’t cooking, I was managing people. I knew that before I took the job but I wanted to cook my own food. Give me a stove and I’m happy.

New York was very difficult. Everything else has been easy.

I wanted to hang myself after the first six months in New York. Just pack my bag and come home. I thought I had failed.

In Europe, people are professional. They want to work, they want to learn. In New York, they come for money. If they can earn more money somewhere else, then they leave.

Frank Sinatra’s right. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.
There are two types of chefs. There are good chefs, and then there are

TV-personality chefs. They don’t want to have a restaurant; they want to be on TV.

I did TV shows because of money. I was not good; I never looked at the camera. People didn’t like some things I did, the ingredients I used, but I wanted to try and educate people, show them what they could do.

TV gives you free PR that you can’t buy. But if I had to give up my restaurants, then I wouldn’t do it. I love cooking. It’s my life, my job.

I like to challenge myself. That’s why I always try different things with my restaurants, that’s why I did Iron Chef. I like to be outside my comfort zone.

My wife protects me, in a good way. My wife really helps on the business side. I don’t want to deal with the money. I don’t care.

I push my children quite hard. I want them to understand, if you don’t work, you don’t get money. I would love them to cook, but I cannot force them.

I used to bottle things up in the kitchen. Then I would explode. But I’ve changed that. Now I’ve got a bad cop, my sous chef, who does the shouting for me. He’s madder than Gordon Ramsay.

I’m not a one-man show. I want to have ten restaurants, but you need a good team behind you.

It’s not easy, though. I’m dealing with people in Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, New York, Mumbai—the time differences make it complicated.

I always wanted to come back to Thailand, even though my family moved to Australia. I love it more than anywhere else. My wife says all Thai guys have to come back.

It’s hard to be successful, but you have to keep going, work hard.

No one wants to work hard anymore. Everyone wants to take shortcuts. People spend one million baht to go to cooking schools like Cordon Bleu. They finish and they open a restaurant.

There are a lot of cookie-cutter places in Bangkok. They all learned the same basic recipes.

I’m Thai; I always wanted to do a Thai restaurant here. I plan on having five restaurants in Bangkok.

Thai people are really picky. If you can cook Thai food in Thailand and people love it, then I think you’re the best chef in the world.

People say I’m new generation, but I think I’ve always kept my cooking traditional. I don’t want to change a green curry. I don’t want to make it an ice cream. I just want to make my own version.

You can’t think you will always be the best. So I visit new restaurants, in my time off. It’s like a working vacation.


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The Descendants

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

We usually run when we see a film described as a family drama. More often than not those two words result in movies dripping in sentimentality and clichés. Fortunately, The Descendants doesn’t fall into that saccharine camp. Instead, we get a movie that is funny and tender, tragic and heart-warming.
Much of the credit must go to the director Alexander Payne, the man behind runaway indie hit Sideways, but whereas we found that film slightly smug and (to be honest) a little dull, this latest offering is sensitive and intelligent.

Opening Date: 
Tue, 2012-02-14
Nick Measures