Tag - bangkok travel agent

Khao San Road in Spanish

Khaosan Road, una pequena calle donde se juntan todos los caminos. Dicen que todos los caminos van a Roma, pero en el siglo XXI, se podrna decir que todos los caminos van a Khaosan. Este pequeno callejnn situado el la parte Oeste de Bangkok, Tailandia, se ha convertido en el cruce por excelencia de los viajeros de Asia y del mundo entero.

Hace 20 anos era solo un albergue que brindaba alojamiento barato para los primeros mochileros. Y a travns de los anos ha evolucionado hasta llegar a convertirse en una de las calles mas frecuentadas de todo el mundo. Y ha crecido hasta propagarse a las calles y barrios adyacentes. Se puede decir, sin temor a equivocarse, que es el Estado Mayor de los viajeros.

Khaosan Rd. es indudablemente el mejor lugar en Bangkok para descansar despuns de un largo viaje por Viet Nam, Laos o Cambodia. Desde aqun, uno puede prepararse para el prnximo destino. Sea cual fuere, en la misma calle se pueden encontrar todas las opciones de viaje (desde las mas baratas), no importa si Ud. quiere ir a Malasia, Filipinas, la India, Espana o Argentina. O si quiere viajar a una de las maravillosas islas de Tailandia, sea Ko Samui o Ko Chang, para bucear entre los arrecifes coralinos. Pero no olvide pasarse unos dnas en Khaosan Rd. En pocos lugares podrn encontrar tal afluencia de culturas y viajeros de todo el mundo. Durante el dna puede ir de compras por Khaosan Rd y los alrededores, y de seguro encontrara lo que esta buscando (y a buen precio).

Souvenirs tailandeses manufacturados y todo tipo de productos tradicionales, joyerna, tiendas de mnsica, ropa y calzado de cualquier tamano y para toda estacinn, tatuajes, peinados, masaje, etc., etc… Tambinn puede encontrar a minutos de distancia a pie muchas de las principales atracciones culturales de Bangkok. Como el Museo Nacional (The National Museum), el Gran Palacio (The Grand Palace), la Galerna Nacional de Arte (The National Art Gallery), la Montana de Oro (The Golden Mountain), asn como innumerables templos budistas celebres por su arquitectura. Asimismo, es muy sencillo trasladarse desde Khaosan Rd en bus hasta cualquier parte de Bangkok. Igual puede utilizar los numerosos botes que circulan a travns del rno Chao Phraya, que se encuentra a solo 10 minutos de Khaosan.

nTiene hambren Solo tiene que caminar dos pasos. En el nrea puede encontrar literalmente cientos de opciones para satisfacer su apetito y bolsillo. Desde, por supuesto,todo tipo de delicias tailandesas, pasando por la comida china, hindn, malaya, vietnamita, coreana hasta los platos nrabes, mejicanos y europeos y bueno, los consabidos McDonalds, Subway y Pizza Hut.

Pero la vida nunca se detiene en Khaosan. El lugar esta lleno de bares, restaurantes y clubes donde por la noche puede encontrar todo lo que necesite. Lo mismo puede bailar una salsa o un reggae, que tomarse una cerveza bien frna mientras conversa con nuevos amigos de todo el mundo, e intercambiar historias y experiencias de viaje. La juventud tailandesa tampoco falta en Khaosan, muchos prefieren pasar su tiempo libre acn. Podrn estar al tanto de la vida cultural moderna de Tailandia tambinn y sumergirse en la diversidad repleta de nuevas experiencias, emociones y amistades.

Y si pasa en abril por acn, le tocara mojarse si sale a las calles durante la celebracinn del Festival de Songkran. En esos dnas Khaosan Rd. se convierte en un campo de batalla con todo el mundo tirnndose agua mutuamente, celebrando el Nuevo Ano tailandns. Asn que traiga un impermeable. Y la gente regresa siempre a Khaosan Rd. Ano tras ano. Por que no hay otro lugar como este. Es unico e irrepetible. Un destino obligado para todos.

 

Guiding Jumbo

“You’ll have to jump, she won’t listen to me,” came the inspired words of the mahout. I was somewhat dubious of clearing the space between the rickety platform and the leathery back. The giant eye looked me up and down, and then gave me a mischievous wink. I figured it was only a matter of time before the platform would collapse, so I took my chances. This was my first experience with elephant rides, over a decade ago. Today, visitors to Thailand are no longer required to content themselves as pachyderm passengers with no control.

Beyond those flirty eyelashes are intelligent creatures with their own thoughts, memories and even a sense of humour. These old souls form a unique bond with the mahouts that guide them – and this world is now accessible to visitors of the National Elephant Institute (formerly known as the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre), a division of the Forestry Industry Organization, in Lampang. Working with these clever creatures is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most tourists.

Homestays and mahout training courses help people to get closer to elephants and learn more about the mahouts’ way of life. The homestay programme has been going for approximately five years and has become especially popular with foreign visitors. “There are about 100 participants each month coming from the UK, Australia, America and other far away destinations,” says Wilawan Intawong, Homestay Coordinator. Visitors can choose to stay from just one day, up to three days and two nights.

The institute tries to provide each customer with their own elephant for the duration of the programme, however, sometimes guests must share if there is a large group. “There are only 10 elephants in the homestay programme at this time,” says Intawong. “We only use the best trained elephants to ensure the safety of our customers.” The 50 or so elephants at the institute are raised ‘semi-wild’: they work at the centre during the day and are returned to sleep and feed in the jungle at night.

Homestay guests sleep in one of three rustic homestay bungalows, each with three bedrooms – one for the mahout and two for guests to share. The open-air common area and kitchen come together to form an ideal space where the group can cook with the mahout and everyone can get to know each other in the evenings. “We have many guests who say the accommodation is too comfortable,” chuckles Intawong. “They are looking for a rougher experience – but they all have a good time anyway.” Other activities include: watching the mahouts as they make woodcarvings of elephants, visiting the Elephant Hospital, learning how to make elephant dung paper, and participating in the elephant show. “Many homestay participants become repeat customers in following years,” says Intawong, testifying to the quality of the programme.

A slightly different, but equally exciting programme is provided by the Mahout Training School, which was established to train real mahouts – not just tourists. Today, the centre receives significant interest in mahout training from visitors, who can take part in programmes lasting from one day to one month. Mahout trainees sleep at the school and in the jungle with their elephants. The school allows those interested in experiencing the life of mahouts and elephants firsthand to do so in a natural but relatively safe environment. Guests not only learn how to ride an elephant but also how to care for it. One of the most important aspects of the course is learning elephant behaviours and commands used by the mahouts. Mahout trainees learn actual commands in Thai so they can communicate with their charges. Intawong says “It takes about three days to learn all the commands, but putting them into practice might take longer.”

“There are typically two mahouts to each elephant,” says Intawong. The word for ‘mahout’ in Thai is kwaan, and there is a kwaan kaaw (neck mahout) and kwaan theen (foot mahout). She explains, “This dates back from the logging days, when there was one mahout on the elephant’s neck to guide it and another by its feet to coordinate the movement of the timber.”

There are no women mahouts at TECC, and in fact, Intawong has never seen a female mahout at all. She says, “Being a mahout is like being married to the elephant, and this makes it difficult, if not impossible, to have a [human] family.” Mahouts form a deep bond with their elephants, spending the majority of their lives with them. When the elephants are chained in the jungle at night and one of them cries out, that elephant’s mahout can distinguish its voice from all the others and will go to its aid.

A mahout at the centre for 20 years, 55-year-old Pbun is now working with his third elephant since the age of 15, when he first started training to be a mahout at another village. He says, “I wake up at 5am every day to collect my elephant Tantawan (‘Sunflower’ in Thai) from the jungle and then bathe her.” Tantawan, along with many other elephants at the centre, has the important task of giving rides to tourists and other visitors. She works a few times a day, taking turns with the other elephants and finishing at 3.30pm to head back to the jungle. Mahouts at the centre only get four days off per month to go back to their hometowns. “Being a mahout is fun, but it takes a lot of dedication and true love of your elephant,” says Pbun.

Thai Elephant Conservation Center
KM 28-29 Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway
Hangchat District, Lampang 52190

Tel. 054-247-875

Email

By Chantana Jasper

Khao San Road in Italian

Certo, leggendo semplicemente il nome potrebbe sembrare una via o una strada come tante altre: potrebbe essere adornata da eleganti vetrine, ingiallita dallo scorrere del tempo o allietata da viali alberati. Potrebbe trovarsi ad Hong Kong, Londra o Berlino, forse in una tranquilla provincia del sud dell’Inghilterra. Ma non è così.

Khao San Road è una strada con una propria identità ed una propria storia che la rendono diversa da qualsiasi altra via. Anzi, definirla strada è certamente riduttivo, perché in fondo Khao San è un piccolo mondo con i propri attori, è la terra delle mille culture e delle molteplici nazionalità, dove tutti sono benvenuti.

Khao San Road è unica e si trova nel cuore di Bangkok.

Alex Garland la definisce come il passaggio obbligato per tutti coloro che sono appena giunti in Thailandia o che si apprestano a lasciare la terra del sorriso: per molti, in fondo, è davvero così, perché a Khao San non si vive, si transita.

Può affascinarti, puoi detestarla o esserne infastidito, ma non puoi ignorarla.

Al primo impatto Khao San Road ti stordisce: le mille luci, gli odori forti, la moltitudine di persone attraverso cui riesci a stento a muoverti, le bancarelle stracolme di ogni bene, i soldi che passano veloci di mano in mano, le guesthouse e i locali che ti invitano ad ogni passo. Si stabilisce un rapporto, non necessariamente dagli aspetti positivi od esaltanti, perché le contraddizioni sono parte di Khao San.

Poi inizi ad avere confidenza con quell’ambiente così particolare e forse inizi anche a sentirti a tuo agio, quasi fossi a casa tua o comunque in un luogo amico.

Ma come nasce questa Mecca dei viaggiatori? Nel 1982, nel bicentenario della fondazione ufficiale di Bangkok, il governo Thai lanciò una serie di iniziative per festeggiare la ricorrenza, attirando nella capitale migliaia di turisti stranieri.

Molti viaggiatori, che non potevano permettersi il lusso di una stanza d’albergo, convinsero gli abitanti di Khao San Road ad affittare le proprie stanze, tanto per avere un piccolo guadagno extra. Il business delle guesthouse generò in brevissimo tempo dei profitti impensabili fino a poco prima. Nel girò di pochi anni fiorirono centinaia di guesthouse, ristoranti e negozietti di souvenir.

Dal lento brulicare delle prime ore del mattino fino al rapido e vorticoso crescendo che porta in strada migliaia di viaggiatori, Khao San rimane immobile eppure sempre in movimento. Tutti se andranno, l’abbandoneranno carichi di sacchetti di plastica ricolmi di magliette e costumi, uno zaino sulle spalle e pochi soldi, ma altri giungeranno e molti torneranno, perché Khao San, come la Thailandia, non si dimentica, rimane con noi come una sensazione o un ricordo vago che ogni tanto riaffora e, solo per un istante, ci fa viaggiare nel tempo.

Meditation in Bangkok

Meditation in Bangkok
Meditation in Bangkok
Meditation in Bangkok
Meditation in Bangkok
Meditation in Bangkok
Meditation in Bangkok
Meditation in Bangkok
Meditation in Bangkok
Meditation in Bangkok

There’s no doubt about it, Thailand is a genuine draw for the spiritually inclined. Every year, thousands of people visit the kingdom to step away from the material and gain an insight into themselves and the world around them. While many “spiritual tourists” might envisage gaining enlightenment through fasting and sitting cross-legged under the torrents of one of Thailand’s many crystal-clear waterfalls, few might consider a trip to Bangkok’s main business/entertainment area a step down a spiritual path. And that just might be a shame… because it just might be what they are looking for.

Sukhumvit Road in the center of Bangkok is more recognized as street of excess than a place of retreat. It’s where people work hard, play hard and enjoy the bounty of riding the back of one of Asia’s more successful tigers. Yet, like elsewhere in the capital, pockets of spiritual resistance exist providing a ongoing reminder of just what is important in life. Fortunately, for visitors and expats wishing to learn more about the spiritual elements that forge this kingdom’s unique identity, there are people around that are willing and able to offer tutelage and guidance in a language many foreigners understand – plain English.

I recently visited a one-day meditation workshop held at Ariyasom Villa Boutique Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 1 in Bangkok. Unlike many of the hotels in the area, Ariyasom is genuinely fetching – built in 1942 as a family home it is still owned by the family that built it, and they really have made the most out of everything they’ve got. The hotel grounds are not huge, yet their design gives the impression of a vast area that you can wonder through and get lost in. Ariyasom’s gardens offer various nooks and crannies that you can walk around and find yourself a bit of personal space – probably one of the reasons this is an ideal location for a mediation workshop.

As a Brit, and a northerner at that, I haven’t made too many sorties into the world of the spiritual. Although it’s got a few Thai restaurants and Chinese takeaways, there aren’t that many temples or the like in mid-Cheshire. So, although I didn’t know what to expect from this workshop, I did, to some extent, expect to be a fish out of water. It was then very reassuring then to find out that Pandit Bhikkhu, owner of Littlebang and one of the organizers of the workshop, was in fact not Thai like I thought, but from Altrincham, a small town only a few miles from my home. In addition, David Lees, the broadminded owner of Ariyasom, proved to be a foreigner from Mere, which is even closer to my home than Altrincham! At that point in time, the three of us standing there was probably the only incidence of three Cheshire Cats being in the same room at the same time in the whole of Southeast Asia… well, at least I thought so.

Aside from its splendor, Ariyasom has even more surprises. Whereas most hotels in the area push restaurants and “discos” into every spare inch available, Ariyasom offers a spacious, dedicated meditation area replete with a bedroom for visiting monks… That certainly is a first for me.

“My wife is Thai and has been involved in meditation for a number of years,” suggested David Lees. “In fact she runs a blog about meditation. We rebuilt Ariyasom with meditation in mind. With a dedicated facility it’s easy for us to run events on a regular basis. There’s a decent-sized community of English-speaking Buddhists in Bangkok, and we help cater for them. Our events also extend to visitors to Thailand looking to learn more about Thai-style meditation. We get a good mix of people and I think people enjoy our workshops and benefit from them.”

David and his wife obviously talk the talk and walk the walk. While other hotels in the area might squeeze every cent out of their visitors, arriving at 08:30 before the start of the meditation workshop, I was greeted by hot coffee, Pa Thong Ko (the deep fried doughnuts that are a traditional Thai breakfast) and juice – all free of charge. As the day progressed, hot coffee was on tap and a vegetarian lunch was provided, again, free of charge. At the end of the day a variety of Thai fruit was on offer. Alongside offering a huge air-conditioned room for the comfort of meditators, catering for around 30 people in this way was not likely to be a cheap affair.

The workshop itself was also free of charge, and like David said, attracted a mix of backpackers, tourists and well-healed expats, although as the bulk of people seem to know each other, the latter did appear to dominate. The workshop was, not surprisingly, insightful – the Vipassana meditation being taught is better known as “Insight Meditation”. The instruction was provided by Aussie Mike Sansom and German Helge Sansom. Both are trainers at Wat Kow Tahm (Mountain Cave Monastery) International Meditation Center on Koh Phangan in southern Thailand. Mike and Helge walked beginners and veterans alike through the techniques and methodology of Vipassana meditation and the instruction proved both accessible and pragmatic.

Basically, mediation offers the opportunity to reflect. We were told to sit, eyes closed and consider the in and out of our breathing. Directing my awareness towards my breathing proved both easy and difficult at the same time. Becoming aware of my breathing generated a stillness that was immediately accessible, but it was also very easy to drift off into a reverie of thought without really noticing where my mind was going. It’s was sometimes very hard to pull myself away from thoughts of bills, work, commitments, family, and curiously, the theme music to 1980’s British TV program, “Black Beauty” – quite where that came from I dread to think. Obviously some deep and dark place. However, as Mike pointed out, any awareness was beneficial, and as Helge suggested, making a mental note of the mental distractions put them in their place and allowed you to revert to concentrating on breathing. In fact, this for me was the most valuable thing I took away from the day… Just sitting quietly like this, acknowledging the thoughts that entered my head allowed me to really understand exactly what was on my mind. 
    
Later, we were introduced to walking meditation. Although I followed the instruction and understood the technique, the sight of people walking around and meditating at the same time was a little spooky I thought. The technique is intended to be used while you are in motion and with your eyes open. It requires full awareness of your body, its movement, and even the ground beneath your feet and the feeling pressure stepping on the ground creates. I honestly couldn’t do it in front of people, not for fear how I looked, but genuine fear of how others looked. To practice this I needed to find a bit of space well away from others, and fortunately this was possible at Ariyasom.

We were also introduced to guided meditation leading to compassion and understanding. Helge introduced the meditation using an everyday scenario: You are in a shop; the check out desk is slow and you are being inconvenienced. This causes anxiety and perhaps even rage. You might even be moved to complain. However, although these emotions appear to be driven by external events, they are, in fact, only your reaction to external events. Changing your perception, through an injection of compassion, will help alleviate YOUR anxiety. Perhaps the checkout girl is having a bad day; perhaps she has financial problems or other problems at home; perhaps even she has just found out she has lost her job and today is her last day. Each of these possible scenarios would account for today, and each, with compassion, would be fully understandable.

At the end of the day’s workshop, I can honestly say I felt very refreshed – a similar feeling to that you get after having a weekend away, and yet it was really only a few hours. I really did feel I had been given some tools that would help and enrich my daily life. I felt better for the workshop. Our introduction to compassion and understanding was though immediately put to the test. During the latter stages of the workshop, a freak thunderstorm dumped what appeared to be thousands of tons of water into Soi 1. Not surprisingly, given the downfall, the Soi was completely flooded… and just to be fair – this really is the exception rather than the rule in Bangkok these days.

Even if you are only Bangkok for a couple of days, likelihood is there will be something happening that will provide you with the type of experience I had on Sukhumvit Road. Key places at look for events have already been mentioned – the Littlebang website gives broad details on what’s happening in Bangkok while mind.matters.at.ariyasom will provide you with specific details of what’s happening at Ariyasom.

I really recommend that you get involved in something while you are here. At the very least, you’ll take home with you a greater understanding into what Thais find commonplace, and that in itself, will be much more of an understanding of Thailand than some take home with them.

Staff Writer

Cafe Democ – Back to the Source

Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Cafe Democ, near Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

Khao San Road is renowned as one of the best places for nightlife both in the Bangkok capital and elsewhere in the Kingdom of Thailand. Sitting alongside excellent restaurants and pubs, KSR’s clubs now rank parallel with Sukhumvit 11 haunts as some of THE places to visit when in town. Given the importance of the strip’s role in catering to global club officiados, the fact that Cafe Democ is seldom included in any foreign clubber’s itinerary remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

For those in the know, a trip to Cafe Democ is very much a trip to the source – to where it all began. Despite its unimposing architecture and presence (by Bangkok club standards anyway), Cafe Democ is the spiritual home of Bangkok’s club scene. Opened in 1999 and located on a corner of Democracy Monument (hence its name), Cafe Democ is no more than a 10-minute walk from Khao San Road and is where the seed of local DJ talent was nurtured into the vibrant scene that exists today.

As I sit outside the club with owner Mr. Apichart – or Tui to his friends – we talk against a backdrop of some killer homegrown Drums and Bass. “This is not really a club to me,” suggests Tui wistfully. “I also own club Culture, a big club in the center of town. That to me is a club – this (Cafe Democ) is my home! This is where I was brought up,” he enthuses.

Now in his 40s, Tui started life as a DJ at Diana’s in 1984, one of Bangkok’s leading clubs back in the day. There he pumped out Madonna, Michael Jackson, and any other commercial sound his undiscerning audience fancied. At the time the local talent for even this was limited, and UK companies would send DJs out to Thai venues to entertain the masses.

The DJs brought a smattering of club sounds that although established in the west, represented something of a revolution in Thailand. Rubbing shoulders with these DJs, Tui’s tastes changed, as did that of his audience. Slowly, seamlessly, pockets of resistance to commercial music emerged and along with it local DJs experimented. Thailand’s first real underground music scene was born.

“15 years ago Bangkok was the leading place for club music in Southeast Asia,” adds Tui. “DJs from places like Singapore and Hong Kong came over here to sample the scene. Unfortunately, as with other places in the world, in 90s the club scene became synonymous with drug culture. Drugs pretty much killed the underground. The police closed venues, and Bangkok became a bit of a wilderness. Hip Hop changed that.”

“Local artists like Joey Boy made Hip Hop respectable and brought it into the mainstream,” he continued. “Once there, the scene emerged again – it was a safe environment where people could experiment with sounds. Clubs and DJs started to flourish again, and Cafe Democ was there to help things along. Local DJs came here to play exactly what they wanted, with no commercial pressure. We brought over the occasional international act, but primarily, Cafe Democ was for local DJs”.

The scene grew to the extent that Cafe Democ DJs turned professional and a number of venues emerged to cater for the increased demand for club music. RCA flourished and places like Astra (now Club 808) went from strength to strength. Many of those venues though stuck to a more traditional format, catering for Bangkok’s party scene.

“Cafe Democ is no Route 66,”suggested Tui, talking about a famous RCA club where patrons dance around small tables to top 30 US tunes alongside more commercial local sounds. “There’s a genuine sub-culture around these days. This sub-culture has had to be resilient. It’s faced ‘Social Order’ issues that placed curfews on clubbers, political uncertainty, and of course bouts of economic downturn. Despite all of this, the scene remains healthy and you can experience it at Cafe Democ.”

These days Cafe De Moc serves up an eclectic assortment of sounds – Electro, Mash Up, Drums and Bass, and despite its proximity to KSR, caters to a predominantly Thai crowd (often based out of Thammasat University) and a few expats who speak a smattering of Thai. Things warm up around 23:30, but before that people sit around and enjoy the great local food Cafe De Moc offers its punters.

“We don’t have the marketing budget,” suggested Tui when asked why Cafe De Moc doesn’t compete with some of the brasher places on KSR. “Nowadays foreigners only stay on Khao San for a couple of days and then they are off. It’s not like before when they used to stay up to a couple of months and really get to know the area, including this place (Cafe De Moc).”

Cafe De Moc does though have a small but loyal foreign clientele. DJ Curmi (?) from Brighton, UK was there the night we visited. He wasn’t playing; he was just hanging out. “I love this place,” he confided. “This is where it all started and it’s still going strong. I come here every time I am in Thailand. It’s not like one of the big Sukhimvit clubs – it’s very intimate”.

Cafe De Moc opens nightly until about 1:30 in the morning. If you are looking for a slice of the local scene, it’s well worthy of a visit. It’s usually free to get in and there’s a solid line up of acts.

Check out the much less than pretentious Cafe De Moc website to see what’s on offer.

Check out the toilets for excellent graffiti!

cafe-democ_map

Look Daddy – a Shopping Mall!

Although Buddy Lodge is certainly not a shopping mall, with local building restrictions, it’s as close as you will get on Khao San. Venturing into the building, there’s a general sense of this being a world within a world. Everything you can find on Khao San is there – the silver shops, accommodation, the bar – but it’s all a notch up market and there’s a very distinct feel of smooth professionalism about the place. There seems to be a problem with parking though – there’s a number of classic motorcycles abandoned throughout the building. (more…)

British Prisoners in Thailand

British Prisoners in ThailandWe contacted the British Embassy in Bangkok to find out more for people looking for relatives and loved ones who they think might be in prison in Thailand and asked them for information for people who are interested in visiting British prisoners while they are visiting Thailand.

Here is our email: 

Mr. James

I am the founder of www.khaosanroad.com – a website dedicated to budget travel in Thailand and the Khao San Road area of Bangkok. We regularly receive emails from people with queries regarding foreign prisoners in Bangkok and Thailand, especially British prisoners. The queries are varied but often follow one of a couple of themes:

1)  People looking for information on how they can visit foreign prisoners when they are in Thailand, and
2)  People looking for relatives who they believe might actually be in prison in Thailand.

For the former point, we have some information gathered from visitors who have been through the process of visiting prisoners, but the information always leads to the same point – people must get a list of current prisoners from the relevant embassy. In addition, the information we provide is far from comprehensive.

For the latter point, very little seems to be available on the Internet about how people can go about finding out if one of their relatives is in prison in Thailand, and again, the trial leads to the British and other embassies.

I was therefore wondering to what extent the British Embassy in Thailand might be able to officially comment in these two issues in a fashion that might be published on www.khaosanroad.com.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Very best regards

John Hughes

Here is the British Embassy’s reply:

Dear John,

Many thanks for your e-mail. There are a number of the British nationals who are in prison in Thailand, who have indicated that they are willing to receive visitors. The major difficulty is that the visiting times in the prisons vary according to which room number the prisoner is in. It is best for anyone who wishes to go on a visit, and is serious about their visit, to contact us for more detailed information. When can they tell them who they can visit and exactly what the visiting days and times are. But what I am keen to avoid are frivolous enquiries from people who do not follow through with the visit.

The Royal Thai Police are required to notify the Embassy of the arrest of any British national in Thailand. Anyone who believes that a relative has been arrested or is in prison should contact us, unless they are in the UK. In the UK they contact the Thailand Desk of the Consular Directorate in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Telephone 0207 008 0105. But, for data protection reasons, we can only confirm the details of anyone who has been arrested or is in prison if they consent.

I hope that this information helps.

Yours sincerely,

Neill James
Vice-Consul British Embassy, Bangkok 1031
Wireless Road
Lumpini
Pathumwan
Bangkok
10330

So, there you have it – contact the British Embassy in Bangkok if you are looking for someone who might be in prison AND if you want to visit British prisoners. However, in the latter case, make sure you are serious about the visit.

Nima Chandler of Nancy Chandler Maps

Nima Chandler of Nancy Chandler Maps: Khao San Road Map
Nima Chandler of Nancy Chandler Maps: Khao San Road Map

One thing there is no shortage of in Thailand is maps… Big ones, small ones, pocket sized ones. You know the sort of thing… They are often a pointless exercise that contribute nothing to the quality of your visit… The immediately disposable giveaways probably most functional in the rainy season as an alternative to the umbrella you didn’t think you’d need to bring. Usually found at your guesthouse reception, these maps feature places you already know about or wouldn’t really want to visit. Invariably, they carry countless adverts for “Rahiv’s and Sanjay’s Bespoke Tailoring Shop”, restaurants offering the best Pork Knuckle this side of Baden-Werttemberg (or even Lower Saxony), and diving lessons from the local Swedish diving school (why are there so many in Thailand?). They contribute nothing to the quality of your visit… unless of course you are talking about Nancy Chandler Maps.

Created by Nancy Chandler Graphics, and turning the genre on its head, Nancy Chandler Maps are no throw away irrelevancies, but items visitors to Thailand cherish and actively seek out to purchase. Advert free and uninfluenced by ‘tea money’, they act as a surrogate guidebook, which they often rival for pertinent information. Nancy Chandler Maps are not only useful, but they are the sort of thing people take home as souvenirs. This month saw the organization cross into KhaoSanRoad.com territory with a detailed map of “Khao San Road & Old Bangkok”. Before the Bloods and Crips kicked off a turf war, we sat down for a powwow with Nima Chandler, who researched the map.

Here’s the result:

KSR: Nima – thanks for meeting us like this. First of all, why don’t you give us an overview of Nancy Chandler Graphics and its history?

Nima Chandler: My mother Nancy Chandler founded the company in 1974 when she produced the first detailed map of Bangkok, initially meant to be for expatriates. Handrawn and handletttered, it included special little craft outlets, the only western supermarket, English langauge bookshops and the like about town, while also trying to make some sense of the chaos that were the Sunday Market (then at Sanam Luang near Khao San) and Chinatown. All much the same as was what we do today, although Bangkok has grown immensely since then.
 
KSR: So, you’ve lived in Thailand all your life?
 
Nima Chandler: It has been home since I was one, the chaos of the city something I thrive on. Visiting the US, I am always amazed at the lack of street food vendors, loud music, mega malls around every corner… It’s much too quiet and sane for me there.
 
KSR: And you have maps for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Suan Lum Night Bazaar… how do you research your maps?
 
Nima Chandler: We clip and file anything we read or see of interest year round. Come update time, we collate all notes before setting out to research specific areas, then either walking or driving up and down streets, keeping one eye open for things on the list, another eye open for things not on the list. One thing you’d never want to do is walk behind me in the Night Bazaar or Chatuchak Weekend Market as every stall gets a once-over before I head home with my notes to pick and choose what might be of interest to the visitor or expatriate.
 
KSR: It must be an ongoing task updating them?
 
Nima Chandler: In a city like Bangkok, it’s exciting. There’s always new places to visit, old places to toast for surviving, and closed places to keep an eye on to see what comes next. Each city map does take about 6 months to properly update, which is why we only do so every year and a half normally. Luckily I have help now, with my assistant Manapiti Ramasoot, who calls around to confirm hours and the like, while also taking on some of the on foot and road research as well.
 
KSR: …and now Khao San Road… what drew you to Khao San?
 
Nima Chandler: We added an inset map of Khao San to our Map of Bangkok back in 2003. I personally loved the color of the area, its vibrancy and energy, not to mention all the great bars, shopping and attractions of the area. (As my mother jokes, there weren’t many bars on her map at all until I joined her in the business. When I did, Khao San was not an area to be overlooked for all it had to offer nightlife lovers.) Since then, we’ve held several fun scavenger hunts in the area and I’ve co-hosted several wild hen’s nights and Khao San pub crawls for expatriates that rarely tour this part of town. Pictures would be provided, but my friends would not speak to me if I shared, sorry.
 
KSR: We have to say it’s a totally detailed little map – everything you need is there and it’s going to be really useful for people visiting the area. How long did it take to research?
 
Nima Chandler: Approximately 6 weeks. We had just updated our Map of Bangkok so our notes were pretty up to date before we focused on the area in more detail. We then spent 2 weeks of researching on foot in the area – I actually moved to a hotel on Phra Athit for the week – hunting down places we’d heard about but had yet to pinpoint for the map, after which it took another 2-3 weeks to map, index and double-check. Nancy meanwhile was working on all sorts of sketches to go with the map – of backpackers looking for hotels, shopping, drinking, etc – which sadly never made it onto the map for lack of space! Hopefully, we’ll be able to use them in another format in the future.
 
KSR: Most people who come to KSR leave and come back again after a couple of weeks and say “I hardly recognized the place”! Isn’t keeping your map of Khao San and the area relevant going to be a particular challenge given how quickly things change here?
 
Nima Chandler: Our website offers free updates online, something we started years ago with our other titles. Updated at least once a month, we highlight great new additions, mention places that have closed and things to keep an eye out for, as well as list upcoming events people might be interested in. In short, if we’ve heard about or seen any changes, they’ll be noted online at www.nancychandler.net.
 
KSR: Give yourself a plug – where can people buy your maps on KSR? What’s the current price?
 
Nima Chandler: Nancy Chandler’s Map of Khao San & Old Bangkok is available online at www.nancychandler.net and at bookshops in the Khao San Rd area (including Shaman, Sara Ban, Bookazine, Aporia, Moonlight and others). Our suggested retail price is B 125* in Thailand. For those overseas, our website offers the map at US$ 7.95* including delivery by airmail (we don’t believe in quoting one price then adding on huge delivery charges without notice when people go to check out).
 
KSR: Most of the maps you find around Thailand are merely excuses for advertising. But of course, you don’t accept advertising. So this means you recommend everywhere you mention?
 
Nima Chandler: No, we don’t recommend everything on the map – there’s too much on the map to do that. On our Bangkok and Chiang Mai maps, recommended places are highlighted in the directories that accompany the maps if not on the maps themselves. On the map of Khao San & Old Bangkok, our favorites are generally given a special mention on the map itself and within the directory. For our nightlife listings, however, we provide short descriptions, leaving the user to decide what kind of scene they are into. For example, we’re not particularly keen on hip hop ourselves, but if you are, you’ll find a place you’ll like on the map. You can read between the lines too, as in the case of one pub where we note “mind the drunken yobos” and another we describe as with “loud live band 9pm on, chill earlier”.
 
KSR: And you don’t take ‘tea money’?
 
Nima Chandler: No ‘tea money’, no free rooms, no free meals, no discounted drinks. We usually don’t mention who we are or what we’re doing either, unless contacting people by email.
 
KSR: So what are the ‘must do’ places on KSR right now?
 
Nima Chandler: Hmmm. What’s ‘in’ changes regularly and really depends on what kind of crowd you’re into – I love the streetside cocktail bars which are located in front of what will be a big new mall and hotel, in other words, a remnant of the past likely to disappear soon. Thais meanwhile are currently flocking to the streetside cafes and clubs on Rambuttri just north of Khao San which has a flavor all its own after dark. If I had to list five places that would ‘surprise’ the visitor to Khao San, they would include a visit to the restored mansion that houses Starbucks for a coffee, a browse for the most unusual title you can find at Shaman Books (there are some truly bizarre ones), a pre-party drink anytime from 6-8 pm at the rooftop Gazebo, dinner anywhere on the street, and then a few more drinks at the Roof Pub on Khao San (great oldies music and a buzzing crowd), the Old Phra Athit Pier on Phra Athit (a much quieter, almost refined ambience for the area) and/or the Ad Here blues bar on Samsen (for the non-claustrophobic).
 
KSR: And if you were writing a back of an envelope itinerary for someone staying on KSR, where are the key places they should visit in the area? I am sure Wat Phra Kaew must be on the list?
 
Nima Chandler: The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Po and Wat Arun are on everyone’s itineraries. Special suggestions we would make would include: Sunset drinks and/or dinner at The Deck of the Arun Residence, a wander down the back alleyways to the simple shack-like riverside cafes near Tha Phra Chan, maybe a wander through the crowds at the market in front of Siriraj Hospital on the other side of the river, for sure dinner in the Phraeng Phuton area at Chotechitr. If you’re vegetarian, we’d recommend May Kaidee’s and Rub Ar Roon. If you’re a student, we’d recommend a visit to Thammasat University’s bookshop and uni market. I could go on and on. In short, we recommend personalizing your visit, something we believe our detailed map enables people to do.
 
KSR: What about little novelties – markets, oddities… places people might not necessarily read about in a guide book but should visit while they are on KSR… got any suggestions?
 
Nima Chandler: Besides the many mentioned above, wander by the Sor Vorapin boxing gym when classes are in session – who knows, you might find yourself signing up for a few hours of training. The Lofty Bamboo crafts shop is our favorite relatively new outlet, with great little hill tribe textile baby shoes that jump off the shelves among other items. Sticking your head in Nittaya Curry’s shops for Thai kanom (sweets) and snacks can also be a unique experience…
 
KSR: So, what projects are coming up… what new maps can we look forward to?
 
Nima Chandler: Let’s see. I am supposed to be on holiday, resting up after updating the Bangkok map and releasing the Khao San & Old Bangkok map, but someone who shall not be named has us now toiling away on a map for this very website… As for other projects on the table, we’ll let you know when we’re ready to announce!
 
KSR: OK – well… good luck with all of that and let us know how things work out.
 
Nima Chandler: Will do.
 
*Prices June 2008
 
See the map of Khao San Road provided by Nancy Chandler Maps.

Chris Rodgers, Oh My Cod

Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Oh My Cod, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

What do you get if you add a drunken night out with your mates and a complete absence of a decent fish and chips in the immediate vicinity? The answer: Food for thought. We talk to Chris Rodgers about the journey that started as a two week trip to Thailand and ended up with him bringing a real English fish and chip shop to Khao San Road.

KSR.com: OK… Perhaps you can start by telling us your full name.

OMC: Chris Rodgers… with a ‘D’.

KSR.com: So… How long have you been in Thailand?

OMC: I’ve been here 12 years…

KSR.com: And what have you been doing for most of those 12 years?

OMC: I came here for 2 weeks 12 years ago… I was on my way to Indonesia and Australia from India, but I never managed to get down there. For the first 6 months I did the backpacker stuff; backpacking around Thailand. And then I got involved in the Thailand Times… I am a photographer and I was helping them out for a while. It was never enough to live on though, and then one day the company I used to work for in the UK called me because had a new contract at the airport here. They were working with a Thai company and asked if I could show them the ropes for 3 months. That lasted 10 years and I finished with them in November last year. We were dealing with all the major airlines. I finished that to start up this place.

KSR.com: Time to go out on your own?

OMC: Well, yeah.

KSR.com: You weren’t going to open your own airline, so you opened a chippy (fish and chip shop) instead?

OMC: That’s right – instead of “we’re flying tonight”, “we’re” frying tonight”.

KSR.com: That can be the interview headline…”From frying to flying!”

OMC: I wasn’t actually flying though; I was on the ground.

KSR.com: Still a great headline…

(Tense silence)

KSR.com: So… erm… The big question is, “is it a northern chippy, or a southern chippy?”

OMC: Middle… we are bridging the gap between north and south.

KSR.com: You can’t. It’s either north or south.

(A few more seconds of tense silence)

OMC: We’re south of Leeds and north of London.

KSR.com: So it’s a southern chippy?

(A few more seconds of tense silence)

KSR.Com: Where are you from in the UK?

OMC: Loughborough.

KSR.com: That’s London.

(More tense silence)

KSR.com: Do you sell ‘Savaloies’?

OMC: No, we don’t. But we do sell ‘Mushy Peas’…

KSR.com: OK… Northern chippy.

OMC: … and Deep Fried Mars Bars…

KSR.com: What?

OMC: Deep Fried Mars Bars.

KSR.com: Deep Fried Mars Bars?

OMC: It’s a Scottish delicacy.

KSR.com: I’ve never even seen one of them, let alone had one.

OMC: Every chippy in Scotland sells them so I thought “why don’t I put them on as a bit of a talking point”. I made some up for a group who came in here the other night. One of them said he liked it… he was from Denmark. The others said they were glad they’d had one, but they wouldn’t have one again.

KSR.com: Denmark?

OMC: Yeah…

(More tense silence)

KSR.com: OK… So you were working at the airport… what was the inspiration behind this place? What made you want to start a fish and chip shop on Khao San Road? Have you got chippies in your family or something like that?

OMC: No, not at all. I had to take a course in the UK to become a certified fryer…the British Federation of Fryers… There might be one more place on Phuket but I am definitely the only certified fryer in Bangkok. The inspiration? It was a drunken night on Khao San Road with some mates. We couldn’t be bothered to go down Sukhumvit to the chippy there; it’s a long way for a bag of chips. Two years later I was trying to find a suitable place for a chippy here, and eventually found this place… and it was going to be just a fish and chip shop originally, but it went more from that to a cafe where you can get a breakfast, pies, baked potatoes… that sort of thing. I used to live in this area and I did a bit more research – I knew it wasn’t a place to get a great British breakfast… You can get them on Sukhumvit and I thought “why not do them down here”. Sausages, fried bread, Black Pudding if you want it… The works.

KSR.com: So how long have you been open now?

OMC: We opened in 2006. We opened around Songkran so that was a hectic week…

KSR.com: Really? So you got straight in there selling straight off?

OMC: Yeah, it was the best way to do it, we managed to solve a lot of our problems straight away – if we hadn’t have got straight in there it might have taken longer.

KSR.com: Why do you think it was all so immediate?

OMC: A lot of our regulars are from this area, we’ve got a lot of people from Manager Magazine around the back… they come in at lunchtime… UNICEF as well – we have a few of those people…

KSR.com: So let’s get this straight – UNICEF spend my donation money of chips and mushy peas?

OMC: That’s right… I wanted to make a different sort of place for this area. You’ve got the nice surroundings… It’s…

KSR.com: (Interrupts) I guess its one of those things that, in this area, could be a hit or a miss, and obviously it’s been a hit. A lot of the people I talk to already know about you.

OMC: We did a lot of marketing in places like Ajarn.com, BK magazine, Untamed Travel…

KSR.com: …and the words got out pretty quickly about this great new place on Khao San Road.

OMC: I was amazed – I did a search on the internet and there were lots of posts about me… the Lonely Planet website… ThaiVisa… Stickman… the word’s getting around. What I am finding is that people staying here for 3 or 4 days aren’t just coming in once, we are seeing them a few times. We had one girl who came in here breakfast lunch and diner for three days in a row!

KSR.com: You have certainly got everybody’s interest… There’s a fascination with the idea of an English chippy on KSR. There’s a lot of American influence on the strip with bars, etc. but there are a lot of English people down here, and they stay here longer, so this place redresses the balance a bit.

OMC: That’s right…

KSR.com: So what is absolutely special about this place… apart from Fried Mars Bars?

OMC: We do a ‘Hangover Special’ which is quite popular. It works if you are still drunk as well, one girl told me last week. It’s a fried breakfast with a Bloody Mary… a decent sized Bloody Mary… You know.., the stuff that works when you are not feeling well.

KSR.com: That sounds illegal – lots of carbohydrates and a Bloody Mary?

OMC: Well, we’re off the main drag a bit so nobody can see… but really – it works. I am told anyway. I haven’t had time to get drunk to find out for myself.

KSR.com: That sound’s encouraging…

OMC: But we also do meals that you probably won’t find in other places, things like “Boiled Eggs with Soldiers”, which are selling like hot cakes. We are doing about 10 or 15 plates every day.

KSR.com: Who too?

OMC: The Indian tailors… They love them.

KSR.com: “Boiled Eggs with Soldiers?”

OMC: Yeah.

KSR.com: I thought that was strictly for the under 5s?

OMC: Yeah, it is, but everyone likes to go back.

KSR.com: Right…

OMC: Cheese on Toast… You see people who have been traveling for 6 months and they come here and have Cheese on Toast… you’d think they were in some sort of fancy French restaurant or something.

KSR.com: Well, it’s very exotic food in these parts; thousands of miles away from the United Kingdom… don’t look down your nose at Cheese on Toast.

OMC: We use proper cheese… imported… not those processed cheese slices.

KSR.com: Aren’t you a bit daunted at the prospect of moving into something like this with the rents so high around Khao San?

OMC: I think having been here so long I had a good idea of what I was getting into, and I didn’t start the place to become a millionaire… that’s not want I wanted… As long I can pay my rent I am happy.

KSR.com: And we certainly think you are going to do that. You’ve done really well at conveying an ‘English Experience’ – it does make you feel like you are back in the UK. Have you had any fights in here yet?

OMC: (Laughs) We had 5 soldiers who were on leave from Kosovo. They had come out here for some R&R. They asked me what was on the drinks menu and I only have beer – no shorts at present – but I do sell Bloody Mary. They asked me what was in a Bloody Mary and they just had 5 straight Vodkas. In the end they had 2 bottles of Vodka. 10 bottles of Singha, 4 Changs… one of them kicked a table over. But it was all done in the best possible taste. They were alright…

KSR.com: Sounds like any small English town on a Saturday night… excellent. And you need that sort of thing for the authentic English experience.

OMC: Exactly. (Laughs) No… to be honest we keep that element out. But we do show ‘Eastenders’ every Sunday, so if you really are missing the authentic English experience you should come down.

KSR.com: ‘Eastenders’?

OMC: Yeah.

KSR.com: The omnibus edition?

OMC: Yeah.

KSR.Com: OK Chris… That sort of raps things up for us. Thanks for your time and best of luck with everything you are doing.

OMC: Thanks – it’s been a pleasure.

Khao San Road Directory Listing

An Interview with Steve Burgess of Bangkok Natural Healing

healing_and_alternative_medicine_in_thailand_1
Healing and Alternative Medicine in Thailand
Healing and Alternative Medicine in Thailand
Healing and Alternative Medicine in Thailand
Healing and Alternative Medicine in Thailand

Reiki, energy healing, Chi Gong, Tai Chi, healing crystals – yeah, yeah, yeah‚… If you’ve been on the road for a while, you’ve heard it all before, usually from some dreadlocked neo-hippy clutching a Carlos Castaneda book he picked up in New Delhi. It’s part of the package, and for many, their understanding of the energy healing and alternative medicine is as substantive as their knowledge of why Che Guevara is printed on the front of their t-shirts. The result – the whole issue is often trivialized and marginalized…

Enter Steve Burgess. Steve landed in Thailand 3 years ago and immediately set up on Khao San Road working out a small, one-room shop. His passion for healing is only surpassed by his passion for standards. He is dedicated to the cause of proving scientifically that energy healing is beneficial, and he has worked with doctors and professors who are now beginning to champion his cause. Beyond this, Steve is committed to developing training courses in a range of healing arts that meet international standards and can stand the test of third-party scrutiny. Syllabus, curriculum, learning outcomes – these are not terms usually regarded part of ‘alternative’ vocabulary. From ‘esoteric’ to ‘pragmatic’ – meet Steve Burgess and it will go a long way towards demystifying the mysterious.

We talk to Steve about his time in Thailand, on Khao San Road, and what is in store for the future.

KSR.COM: Steve – great of you to meet us like this. Perhaps you can just introduce yourself for our visitors’ benefit and give them an overview of what it is exactly you do.

SB: Firstly, I have been here now 6 years. I came to Thailand to study Pranic healing, and as with most training, once you learn something you need to go and practice. I wanted to start doing treatments as I had studied many different healing arts. I started with a little shop on Khao San. As soon as I made the decision to open there, I was contacted by people in hospital who wanted treatments, and then people in other countries contacted me. I was also invited to teach and do treatments in Japan, which surprised me as that is where Reiki originated. Reiki is the main healing art I use and teach.

KSR.COM: You are from Australia. Many of the people I have met involved in these areas you are have been from safe middle-class backgrounds. Not really the case for you though, is it?

SB: Yes, I am an Ozzy ‚– a country boy. I have had quite a few changes in my life. The last big change was before I came to Thailand. I spent 5 years on 4,500 acres of cattle county. It was a bare block of ground, no house, no running water, no electric. I built sheds to live in and caught water to drink and for showers. I built an old style hot water system and then upgraded to an electric generator – using fire all the time was quite time consuming. Then we hit a massive drought – I had to move the cattle for them to survive. I never wanted to be in that situation again, to fight against the seasons is impossible. Earlier I had worked full time teaching Kung Fu and also worked in the Security Industry, mostly at night clubs and pubs. Oh, also spent 2 years in Brisbane at the National Actors Conservatory studying fight choreography and script writing. So, it is only my experience now that allows me to earn an income, and wow, sometimes that has been a challenge!

KSR.COM: So, from that type of background, what brought you to the healing arts?

SB: At the age of 16 I studied Kung Fu and at 21 I was teaching Kung-Fu full time. I was taught that if I was going to hurt someone, I should be able to fix them. I was taught about Acupressure, manipulation, herbs, moxibustion and massage. So, the Kung Fu training got me into the healing arts, in the beginning I never knew it was a part of it. As the years went by I had studied other areas of interest such as the Bowen Technique. With more interest in the Chinese meridian system, I went to Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong and went to Shaolin in China to study Chi-Gong.

KSR.COM: Let’s talk about Reiki for a moment – you are a Reiki Master and a Reiki channel. What exactly does that mean?

SB: Well, it really requires deep understanding and experience with the science of energy and how energy is related to our bodies. The word Reiki means ‚“Spirit Energy‚”, not ‚“Universal Energy‚”. This I discovered when the translator working with me in Taiwan said Reiki was ‚“Lyn Chi‚”. I understood ‚“Chi‚”, but asked her about ‚“Lyn‚”. She replied ‚“Lyn‚” means spirit. From that, I understood Reiki a little differently from my experiences of doing Reiki treatments and the development of the students I had taught.

A Reiki therapist has healing energy around them; Level 1 would normally have 2 to 4 of these Spirit, or healing energies with them all the time. When the therapist is doing a treatment the Spirits send energy through the therapists body, in through the Aura and Major Chakras, and the energy comes out of the therapist‚’s hands, or Minor Chakras, and into the client‚’s body. This spirit energy is what facilitates the treatment – and the outcomes are quite amazing.

Being a therapist the training consists of understanding the different energy bodies of our clients, such as the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. What makes Reiki different to other energy healing arts is how energy is drawn into the therapist‚’s body. Other methods require meditation practices, and then the therapist becomes depleted of energy, this is not the case with Reiki.

KSR.COM: How exactly does Reiki help people get over their ailments and diseases?

SB: OK – I will bring some facts into the picture here. Russians have used bio-reasoning equipment for the last 40 years, initially to monitor the health of their astronauts. In the USA (Rife) equipment has been developed that works on frequencies for healing. Every part of the body – organs, cells, etc. – can be measured by frequency. The 3DMRA in Taiwan, Rife in the USA, and other bio-reasoning programs are now being recognized by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

When performing a Reiki treatment, Spirit energy goes through the therapist’s body to change the polarity of congested molecules and, where necessary, remove the negative Ions from the physical body – this also cleans the energy around the body (Elixir) or Aura, Etheric Aura and Major chakras. With scientific equipment, the outcome of treatments can be verified. In simple terms, Reiki energy balances the Chakras and the client’s body detoxifies.

Energy sciences are found in many cultures – the foundations of Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, Chi Gong, and also Ayurvedic healing from India which dates back even further. Shamanic practices have been in most cultures around the world.

KSR.COM: I went to the opening of a restaurant on Khao San Road recently and there was a gentleman their promoting his resort in southern Thailand. His philosophy was that there is no such thing as medicine and that all medicines are in fact just poisons of different intensity. He was a firm advocate of anything but the western medical approach. Do you subscribe to this point of view? Does western medicine have any value as far as you are concerned?

SB: Everybody has choice in life; I only supply a service like others in the medical industry. Conventional medicine certainly has its place. Where do you go if your arm has been ripped off? You will not come to me. Although Reiki will help quicken the healing process when the arm is put back on, that type of injury requires surgery and western medicine.

I believe in what has been established by WHO (World Health Organization) and in most countries – Complimentary Alternative Medicine is beneficial. My view is to get the greatest benefit for my clients – that is what I am looking for. Everything has its place. We have to establish what caused a problem. If the cause of a problem is identified, healing is very quick.

KSR.COM: So – and forgive me for being so blunt – I have in the past heard Reiki described as ‘snake oil’. In a world of facts and figures and checks and balances, what evidence is there to prove that it’s not?

SB: When I was in Taiwan I was introduced to a director of a hospital dedicated to the use of natural healing on patients with stage 3 or 4 cancer. I suggested incorporating Reiki treatments into their program, and I was introduced to a professor at the Taiwan Community Development Association. I was asked to do a presentation on Reiki while the 3DMRA equipment was presented to doctors. The 3DMRA showed clearly Reiki treatments are powerful and detoxify the body to equivalent extents as acupuncture, and sometimes even greater extents. This evidence has been documented and is now undeniable. The 3DMRA is now being used in five hospitals and diagnoses illnesses up to 2-3 months before blood tests or X-rays are able to.

KSR.COM: And what are your personal experiences of the benefits of energy healing? What results have you seen?

SB: Starting with tension and hypertension, Reiki is very effective with both of these. Many students have emailed me to say thank you as they are now sleeping well. A stranger experience would be when a client arrived with an X-ray of a disease with a long, complicated name, which is considered incurable by conventional medicine. I did 2 Reiki treatments and taught the patient Reiki level 1. Later, I got an email from the patient saying he no longer had any pain. About 6 months later I received another email stating another X-ray had been done and the disease had gone. Another client lived in Bali and asked me to go there to do a treatment on the King of a village who had been sick for 3 weeks. No doctor or Shaman could deliver results. I was in Bali for 4 days, on the 4th day the village King was fine. I have now done over 4,000 Reiki treatments in 6 Countries – I don‚’t know why, it is just my life.

KSR.COM: So, when you first came to Thailand, you set up Bangkok Natural Healing on Khao San Road‚… Was it a good experience?

SB: Khao San was the best experience as the clients were from all parts of the world – some very interesting people with various healing methods they had trained in. Some had a very good understanding of Reiki. I met many people who believed Yoga was Reiki or meditation was Reiki – it was an experience to observe these differences of opinion. Some would stay on KSR for only 2-3 days and some would stay 2-3 weeks learning the courses I was teaching. It was a great place to be.

KSR.COM: I can imagine alternative treatments being popular on Khao San Road, but, of course, you have moved now, so the question comes to mind – are these treatments popular amongst Thais, or are you still dealing mainly with visitors?

SB: Thais know more about Palung Chukawan (Universal Energy) and Yo-Ray – both techniques draw in energy by using meditation, neither are Reiki. I am dealing mostly with expats and people who fly into Thailand just to learn, or to have a treatment. I guess word gets around. I have now submitted a 3 month training curriculum and a 1 year curriculum to the Ministry of Education to enable people to come to the school on a student study visa. This will also enable Thais to get a student loan to study.

KSR.COM: Alternative medicine, energy healing – in the past they have often been marginalized. And as you have said, you are now working with doctors and professors who are more in tune with western medical approaches. Why have these areas suddenly become more mainstream, do you think?

SB: I feel there is certainly a world trend and statistics show that 80% of people are inclined to seek Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments rather than conventional medicine. I feel many people are becoming aware of the side effects of the chemicals used in modern medicines. Australia is taking the approach that people working in the CAM industry are likely to identify illnesses and therapists likely to make health reports and recommendations to their clients. More people’s lives may be saved as illnesses are found earlier in their development. Therapists are to be given training meeting national qualification standards set by the government. There are 45 to 50 insurance companies that allow members to go to spas for treatments and claim it on their health insurance. As more research is being completed, we are becoming aware many CAM methods work more quickly on some serious illnesses than conventional medicine or treatments.

KSR.COM: You are heavily involved in preparing a range of training courses. Typically, who are your trainees and what do they do with what you have taught them?

SB: Trainees are generally locals and the courses boost their qualifications. They meet international standards in areas such as anatomy and physiology, client consultation and other subjects. With the courses under their belts, people can get jobs working in Spas in other counties. Other students seem to want to establish Spas in their home countries. I try to support them with a Spa concept and give as much guidance as I can.

KSR.COM: And you are running these courses at a resort south of Hua Hin. Tell us more about this. What are the objectives of the resort?

SB: Lumra Resort is quiet and it’s got a great beach. There are a limited number of rooms down there so it’s an excellent place to deliver programs such as Stress Management, Full Moon activities and Elite Energy Training programs. These programs have been tailored for specific outcomes and there are activities every month. Our objective is to make this resort a special place in the world, where people can have individual growth and soul touching experiences. All these programs leave a lasting impression on your life.

KSR.COM: You are also starting a Reiki Research Center and attempting to set up clinical trials. Why choose Thailand for this? Surely, it must be easier in the west?

SB: The Reiki Research Association was submitted a year ago and the registered certificate will be completed soon. I am lucky to have some good support from like minded people, some being doctors. The objective is to scientifically prove the outcomes of Reiki treatments. The research protocols will be to western standards such as CBC, and Viral Overload tests will be taken as part of the clinical observations – though not limited to only this. Bio-reasoning and the 3DMRA are planned to be implemented to monitor changes before blood tests.

In the west pharmaceutical companies get funding through governments and they have their patents on production lines. With alternative treatments and medicine, the funding is limited. The pharmaceutical companies want to own the rights – big business in a big industry. When the registration is completed we will be looking for financial support and assistance to run clinical trials starting with HIV; there’s a planned 3-month “live in” program on a mountain planned. What we are planning would be very difficult to do in another country. Interestingly associations and doctors in other countries are very interested in what we are trying to establish. I feel the results will help all health practitioners, from doctors to therapists. We will though need donations – some of the outgoings to run a 30 people live in program for 3 months will be close to one million baht.

KSR.COM: So you have your individual treatments, and your training, and your resort work and the Reiki Research Center – what’s the big picture here? Where do you want all this to be in, say, 5 years?

SB: Well, I am only here for one life and the best I feel I can do is establish a school where people can come and learn competent healing practices through training that meets Australian educational standards. I want to share my experience in Reiki with others, so others may grow. I want to develop a Spa concept for students wanting to do the same in their own countries. And I want to do research to prove what I and so many others are doing around the world with Reiki is genuinely beneficial, and I want to share the outcomes and information with the rest of the world.

KSR.COM: That’s great – thanks. Good luck with everything you are doing in the future.

SB: Thanks, John

Click here to contact Steve Burgess.