How long have you been the Ambassador to Thailand?
I arrived in Thailand in December 2016
Did you arrive to Thailand direct from your home country, or were you posted somewhere else before?
Before coming to Thailand I was working at the Belgian Royal Palace as Secretary General (previously known as Grand Chamberlain). When H M King Philippe of the Belgians succeeded his father King Albert in July 2013, the Royal Palace asked me to be part of the team of senior advisers who helped our King in the first years of his reign.
Where were you born and brought up?
I was born in Belgium and brought up in Liege, the largest city in Wallonia.
At which age did you decide you wanted to become a diplomat?
I loved to travel from a young age and I am passionate about foreign languages and cultures, especially from Asia. I am also very interested in history and fine arts, especially architecture. I studied law so and met a Belgian diplomat at the end of my studies who was so passionate about her work that she convinced me to take the diplomatic competitive exam.
Do you have more diplomats in your family?
I come from a medical family so I am the first to embrace this career.
How do you look at Thailand today, have you had many obstacles in your way since you arrived?
I have not faced any obstacles except for maybe the language, but I am working on it! The main challenge for me is to balance my time between the four countries I cover (Thailand of course, but also Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia).
Do you see any similarities between your country and Thailand?
The passion for food! Also what foreigners say about my fellow countrymen and about Thais, the kindness of the people.
Do you have children, what age, and where do they go to school?
We have a 19 year old son. He currently studies in Canada.
How do you look upon your work here? How does an average day look like?
There is not really anything like an average day! If I am in Bangkok, I wake up very early, have
a stroll in the large garden of the Belgian Residence, read the newspaper, walk to the office, have many meetings (internal and external) and most of the evenings are busy with social events!
As every Ambassador, I assume you have some goals you really would like to reach/fulfil before you leave Thailand?
I would be very proud if could convince more Thai students to study in our Belgian universities and more Belgians to come and study in Thailand. With my team we are committed to developing the Belgian Alumni club of Thailand. Furthermore, it would be an immense honour to welcome their Majesties the King and Queen if they were invited to an official visit to Thailand.The long-lasting friendship between our Royal Houses is one of the pillars of the Belgian Thailand friendship which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2018.
Have you been travelling around in Thailand?
Not enough for my tastes because I have four countries to follow but I have been to the North, to Isaan, to the South both professionally and privately with my family. Visiting Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet, the ancient royal capitals is probably what impressed us most, my wife and I. We also had a wonderful visit organised by Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz around Chiang Rai with HRH Princess Lea of Belgium when she came to Thailand in October. A lunch with members of the Aka community was one of the highlights of the visit.
Until now your favourite destination in Thailand?
Maybe the mountains around Chiang Rai. I am very into botanic and I love the diversity of the plants, crops and flowers
When you have a day off, what do you prefer to do? Do you have any special hobbies?
Taking care of the garden of the residence! I have worked a lot on it, with the help of specialists of Chulalongkorn University. I also read a lot and often go to the movies with my wife