Social distancing, vaccination inoculations, face masks, hand cleansing, testing for the virus. All these actions have become routine, an all-to-familiar part of our daily lives due to the global spread of the Covid-19 Corona virus. These measures have success to a greater or lesser extent, but the variants that keep springing up seem to keep us all on the back foot. However, there is another way we can try to counteract the adverse effects of the virus, and we can do it ourselves.

Our diet. After all, we are what we eat. A heathy food regimen – and ingesting things that are good for us – has been proven to boost the body’s own defences by promoting a robust immune system. Now could be just the right time to look at how our diet might be able to help us in our fight against this insidious disease.

You do not necessarily need to make a lifestyle change – such as becoming a vegan or a vegetarian – to train your bodies immune system to be the best it can be, and we will be taking a look at every option available to us. Including the use of conventional and traditional medicines or herbal supplements, in this quest to help our bodies help themselves. 

First off I talked to a personal trainer, qualified nutritionist, and yoga instructor I have previously interviewed, Steve Pilot. Steve told me he became a vegan a decade ago, and was surprised to discover that a plant based diet can provide more than enough protein to maintain and even increase musculature. But can a plant based diet give any benefits to the human immune system, particularly during the ongoing challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, I wondered. Steve is a committed vegan and a fitness professional, but before he answered my questions he told me that there is no magic bullet, and that he, or indeed anyone, can fall prey to Covid-19. There is, as yet, no guaranteed way of ensuring you do not become infected.

Steve told us about his views on diet and health; “A balanced vegan diet is the most suitable for all age groups, from the very young up to those in their eighties, pregnant ladies, or even the infirm. With a vegan diet that includes cauliflower, pumpkin and chickpeas this will go a long way to boosting the body’s own immune system. For Covid-19 a good way to power up the body’s defences is with an infusion of turmeric and black pepper, mixed with the juice from a lemon to make it taste good. This is a potent little tonic, and it contains a ton of antioxidants. Also consider raspberries, goji berries, strawberries, and blueberries, these are super fruits that also contain a high percentage of antioxidants. A diet high in antioxidants reduces the risk of many diseases. including heart ailments and some cancers, as well as respiratory illnesses, which are one of the primary features of the Covid infection. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals from the body cells and prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidation within the body. Vitamins are an essential part of a vegan diet. But eat fresh fruits and vegetables to obtain the best benefit, don’t go for the supplements found in pharmacies. However, essential vitamins not found in a vegan diet are vitamin D3, K2, and B12, so a vegan should look to be taking these supplements to maintain the best level of health and fitness. Studies are continuing, but preliminary results are showing that the Covid-19 virus doesn’t appear to find a vegan body a very hospitable home. So if you have been thinking about a lifestyle change now might be the perfect time.”

The second specialist that I talked to was Dr. Erik Fleischman, a medical professional from the States, who has been a resident of Thailand for many years.

I asked him a few questions: 

Are there any foods you could recommend that might help our body to deal with the effects of Covid-19, and is there anything we should avoid? He replied ​“The most important thing is to avoid food or drink with sugar in it. Viruses, as well as bacteria and fungi all rely on simple sugars to fuel themselves, feed and grow. Foods with a high sugar content decay the immune response and make a sweet environment for pathogens in the body to thrive.”

Which medicines for treatment would you recommend, for example – Favipravir, Ivermectin, or any of several others that you are aware of? “Anecdotally, I believe that of all the ‘home’ remedies, Ivermectin has the most hope of being an effective treatment medication. Nothing striking, but hopefully it can help to lessen the length of an illness and accompanying symptoms. Remdesivir is having significant successes, and the monoclonal antibody Regeneron is definitely a lifesaver for those at risk of severe infection with Covid-19.”

Are there any vitamins we should take, and why? Should we take electrolytes? “I suggest Vitamin C, 2000-3000mg per day, Vitamin D3 3000-5000 units per day, and Zinc 15mg per day, along with a good high B complex. These will all help to support the immune system’s fight against viruses. Electrolytes are good when you are dehydrated, but general hydration when you are sick is even more important.

Hydration and vitamins are important, so are 100% fruit juices a recommendation, or only plain water? “As I said previously, good hydration is important during any illness, but I’d stay away from fruit juices, the sugar content is way too high. I’d recommend warm water with lemon juice squeezed into it. This can add electrolytes and at the same time can sooth the throat, and a warm, strong ginger tea is good for the kidneys and the throat.”

Are there any OTC medicines that might be a help? “Take Ibuprofen and Paracetamol for pain, and over the counter medications such as cough syrup if there is a cough. Like any flu, Covid takes time to ease, control, and eradicate the symptoms.”

Thank you for your time, Dr Erik. “You’re more than welcome. Good luck to you and all your readers.”

The Mayo Clinic in the U.S. are world leaders in the development of new drug treatments. A spokesman from them said that although there is only one drug currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat coronavirus many medications are being tested. The FDA has approved the antiviral drug Remdesivir to treat Covid-19 in adults and children who are aged 12 and older. Remdesivir is an option for people who are hospitalised with Covid-19. Its administered intravenously by medical staff at a hospital, under strict supervision by doctors trained in virology. The FDA has granted an emergency use authorisation for the rheumatoid arthritis drug Baricitinib to treat Covid-19. Baricitinib is given in tablet form, and seems to be effective by reducing inflammation and having antiviral activity. The FDA suggests Baricitinib could be used in patients who are in hospital with Covid, and are on mechanical ventilators, or being given supplemental oxygen.

Researchers are also studying other potential treatments for Covid-19, including Favipiravir and Merimepodib. The corticosteroid Dexamethasone is another anti-inflammatory drug that researchers are studying to treat or prevent organ dysfunction and lung injury due to inflammation. Studies have found that it reduces the risk of death by about 30% for people on ventilators and by 20% for patients receiving extra oxygen. Doctors have warned, though, that Dexamethasone and other corticosteroids may be harmful if given for less severe Covid-19 infection.

Researchers are continuing to study the use of a type of immune based therapy. The FDA has granted emergency use authorisation for treatment by convalescent plasma therapy. Convalescent plasma is blood donated by people who have recovered from Covid-19. It is high in antibodies and may be used to treat people in a hospital who are early in their illness, or who have weakened immune systems. In the U.S. and other countries around the world research is continuing in its quest to find a way to deal with the virus during the pandemic.

Natural treatments

In Thailand the herbs to go under the microscope have been green chiretta (fah talai jone, or Andrographis Paniculata) and fingerroot (Chinese ginger, Boesenbergia Rotunda), DPM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said recently. The Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTTAM) has reported that green chiretta is effective in suppressing the Covid virus and hindering it from replicating. In July 2021 the Thai government approved the use of fah talai jone after a trial on prison inmates, in which 99% of 11,800 subjects with mild symptoms reportedly recovered. The government is hopeful that wider availability of the herb will help relieve pressure on the public health system.

Dhanin Chearavanont, Chairman of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group, and one of Thailand’s richest businessmen, said that he has set aside about 100 rai (16 hectares) of CP Group’s land in Saraburi Province to grow fah talai jone. The herb is used to make an anti-inflammatory drug to treat coronavirus patients, and the company will also build a factory to turn the herb into capsules, and provide them to the public for free.

Vitamins, minerals and probiotics can help maintain a healthy immune system. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has informed that while natural remedies can have a positive impact on health that they are not a medically proven treatment for fighting Covid. But although no food or supplement has yet proved to be able to cure or prevent Covid, a healthy immune system and proper nutrition are fundamental in keeping us fit during these difficult times. They could be a precious defence, alongside social distancing, hand washing and vaccines. Vaccines against the virus which are now entering their second generation, and are designed to cope with the emerging variants.

Plants have been used for centuries in almost all cultures across the world as natural remedies to treat chronic infections, including viral diseases. More than 2,500 years ago, the father of western medicine, Hippocrates, said: “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” The introduction of important medicinal food plants into the general public’s daily diet could be an easily achievable game changer in the fight against viruses and diseases, strengthening and improving people’s natural immune systems, and aiding general health.

I have found, after researching extensively, that there are a few fruits, vegetables and herbs that might help tackle Covid-19. Pomegranate peel extracts could help inhibit viral internalisation, when the virus enters the body looking for a host cell. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina found pomegranate polyphenols extracted from peels of pomegranate fruit can play a role in inhibiting coronavirus infection. The extracts have previously been shown to have beneficial effects for other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, inflammatory diseases and even some types of cancer. Most importantly, they have shown significant antiviral activities against viruses other than Covid, preventing influenza virus entry and RNA transcription. They could be an aid in treatment or prevention of Covid-19.

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The idea that ginger can boost energy levels and the immune system and relieve the symptoms of other diseases, such as a cold, is rooted in its actual medicinal properties. Ginger has been used for centuries not only as a spice, but also as a herbal medicine to relieve pain, nausea and vomiting.

Dandelion, a plant that grows naturally in meadows and fields, is one of the many plants scientists are testing for potential use in the fight against Covid. A study conducted by scientists in Freiburg, Germany has found evidence that the common dandelion is able to block interaction between the spike S1 protein and the human ACE2 cell surface receptor (the protein on the surface of many cells the virus attaches itself to). Another study looks at data coming from Sweden and the UK, both consumers of dandelion as a food. It is thought possible that the plant can prove to be useful against Covid. Although we still know very little about the effects of dandelion on health, it is also being looked at for potential use against prostate and breast cancers.

Curcumin is a natural compound found in the spice turmeric, and is another promising herb scientists are looking at. A study published in the Journal of General Virology found that curcumin can prevent infection from transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), a coronavirus that infects pigs. Curcumin has also been shown to inhibit the replication of viruses including dengue fever, hepatitis B, and the Zika virus. In the context of Covid, it is thought that curcumin can hinder cellular entry and replication of the virus, but once again more evidence is needed.

A balanced diet that includes vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and K, together with micronutrients such as sodium, zinc, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphorus may help maintain general wellbeing and strengthen the immune system, thereby decreasing the chance of infection. There is ample evidence to suggest that vitamin D might help to protect against getting contaminated from developing serious symptoms of Covid. Vitamin D may ensure protection against it in two different ways; firstly, it helps to boost our bodies’ natural defences against viruses and bacteria, and secondly it has the capability to prevent an overwhelming immune system attack upon our own bodies, which has in some cases been seen to attack healthy tissue in the lungs. The suggested dietary dosage of vitamin D is 600 International Units. A deficiency of vitamins and minerals in our bodies leads to a reduced performance of our immune system, opening the door to the unwelcome guest that is Covid-19.

After my interviews and research, I believe that we will overcome this hellish disease that has caused so many deaths, emotional pain, and has resulted in so many livelihoods to be lost.

We will win… “The only way is up, baby!”

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As Bangkok is not the safest, or most pleasant place to reside in lockdown I made the decision 3 months ago to move to my weekend retreat in Hua Hin, two and three quarter hours south, south west and 190kms out of Bangkok.

I had lived and worked in one of the Duang Prateep Foundation’s lovely homes in a private Mooban near On Nut BTS for three years and the house was furnished but it is amazing how much ‘stuff’ you accrue along the way. So I called in the professionals in the form of Asian Tigers/Transpo International to effect the move for me.

They were ultra effective and made an appointment for me to video what I had – ‘oh it’s not that much’ I said confidently and I am moving to a small condo in Hua Hin. Little did I know.

Their surveyor determined what I would need and the date was set. The team would be with me by 9am on the 25th and deliver to Hua Hin on the 26th August. At 8.40am people started to arrive by motorbike. An older man – the supervisor, the packer and then eight young men all in their bright yellow uniform were all on site before 9am – I was impressed!

I walked the supervisor through the three storey house where I had spent the previous day packing clothes, towels, bed linen and whatever else I could into black sacks. Then the boys got to work, suddenly the place was a hive of activity. They worked at a frenetic pace… everything, and I mean everything, (even Tupperware boxes) was individually wrapped and then packed carefully into the hundred plus boxes they had assembled.

By lunchtime the top two floors were nearly empty. What came apart had been disassembled and boxes were being heaved downstairs by young chaps young enough to be my grandchildren… gosh I realised how old I was! The supervisor was detailing each package by which room it came from and what the contents were. The key packer was skilled at his task and everything was wrapped in white paper and then packed with care. These guys knew what they were doing – I did my best to keep up but in the end just tried to keep out of the way! By 5.30pm everything was gone and the house was suddenly empty bar the landlords furniture.

The lorry that they had booked could not get into our Mooban as the electric and telephone wires were assessed to be too low so they bought a smaller vehicle in to shuttle the boxes outside to the main Soi. I left Bangkok frazzled with a SUV full of packages and drove to Hua Hin.

They were supposed to deliver between 9 and 11am but again were there at 8.30am. The lorry was huge and packed to the gunnels. Luckily I had booked a storeroom on the ground floor as by 10.30am they were gone again! I was had a storeroom full of brown boxes with the tiger logo.

I have spent the last week unpacking boxes and so far, so good, no breakages but they even had that covered and advised me to take out insurance to cover any breakages. I did as was advised.

I can’t recommend these guys highly enough. They were ultra efficient, polite, had sufficient numbers plus to make the move easier and certainly took the stress out of moving for me.

Send an email to [email protected] and tell him Nick sent you!

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Born and raised in the Philippines, Gladwin Pantastico, 40, was surrounded by musicians in his family. Yet, he discovered his love of classical music at just 12 years old. By the time he was doing his music degree in a Filipino conservatory, he had taught classical music for five years in several schools in the Philippines.

Aged 22, when the classical music sector was still evolving in his home country, he realised that making a living out of it was a tough nut to crack. Keen to explore his boundaries, he ventured into the wide world and took his first overseas job offer in the Maldives, where he performed classical music for seven years.

But after some time, staying in the entertainment industry felt like a dead end to him; he wanted to “go back more academic,” and moved to Singapore, where he taught classical music for almost ten years. In 2013, he was designated as general manager of a music school in Singapore and led a team of internationally acclaimed music teachers.

Visiting friends in Phuket, he noticed the lack of music education on Thailand’s largest island – and that was the start of his lifelong journey in a destination better known for beaches, parties, and tourist life. 

His profile offers insight into the different approach to education and child development, the challenges of relocating, and ultimately, setting up a business in Thailand.

Why did you start a music school in Phuket?

“I recognised many children had a talent for music, but there weren’t enough music schools. I thought it was important to introduce western classical music to the young generation and enhance the quality of classical music education with qualified teachers from abroad.”

Gladwin set up his licensed “Phuket School of Music” in 2018 with his Thai partner. His school – registered with the Ministry of Education – has lived to tell the tale and grown despite Covid-19. He believes that foreign teachers and quality instruments are critical to his school’s success.

“It’s imperative to provide high quality instruments to the students because the very foundation for them is to train with responsive and tone sensitive instruments, allowing them to express themselves in performing. We offer programmes for the violin, piano, classical guitar, clarinet, saxophone, singing, and flute, immersing learners in the art of western classical music.”

Phuket School of Music boasts a 70 seat recital studio equipped with a Steinway designed Boston GP178 Performance Edition II, and music rooms furnished with Essex upright pianos by Steinway & Sons, enabling students to learn and perform with superior instruments.

“Speaking of quality instruments, I can safely say that about 95% of major concert halls worldwide use Steinway & Sons, and many institutions prefer to use Steinway designed pianos for their students. Steinway has become the preference of many great musicians.

His enthusiasm is palpable. He stands up, and strokes the grand piano affectionately. “The beauty of this piano is – we always think a piano is the key; that you get the sound you need. But in fact, the piano changes. When you play it softly, it sounds very sweet. When you play it harder, it responds to you. This grand piano can be fierce and bright, like the chiming of a bell. It’s a privilege for a pianist to know how to play a quality instrument,” he raves.

He says it allows the performer to express music with ultimate control of tone, dynamics, and articulation. “The response is very sensitive.”  

Are most of your students children?

“We have lots of young kids aged five to twelve, and there are a couple of teenagers and adults. There are no boundaries; we also teach three year olds.”

Even if a 70 year old signed up, he would accept them. “Music has no age limit; you can learn it at any point in life. But the best age to learn music is usually from age six to nine, so we encourage this generation to take the chance.”

Learning to play an instrument, Gladwin says, is like learning a language. “When you learn it at a young age, it stays with you as you get older.”

Children grow in the school over the years. “And especially nowadays” – he pauses, takes a deep breath – “it’s becoming more competitive; youngsters are getting more into music. Many kids are taking up music at an early age. It’s a privilege. I started late; I was twelve. They begin at four.” 

His father wanted Gladwin to pursue music and have his studio in the Philippines. “He wanted one part of the house to be a music studio, something like that,” he says and laughs heartily. But he never forced him; musical family members surrounded Gladwin. His uncle and cousins were all doing something with music. Eager to gain experience in different countries, he left the Philippines. He believes he learned from that.

For Gladwin, classical music is a lifestyle. “I want to make sure every student who learns here – it’s not just about learning to play a particular instrument – that we also build their character towards music, especially that of young kids.”

He wants the kids to lead the lifestyle of a musician. “It’s not just about the one hour per week that they’re here. When the students go home, it’s important for them to surround themselves with music. Whether it’s listening to music or talking about it, music has to be part of their lives. If they don’t do anything with music in their free time, it can be challenging for them to cope with their lessons. It has to be planted into their lifestyle. And that’s what we teach them.”

Has any of your students made it big?

“Some have joined competitions where they won first, second, and third prizes, but we are still a young school. We encourage kids to set their goals, whether for a performance or music exam – which we offer under the ABRSM – the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, a UK based examination board. And of course, the ABRSM is an excellent programme for all ages. When someone wants to get into university to develop music further, we set a strong foundation for them and help them prepare for auditions.”

What were the biggest challenges of setting up a music business in Thailand?

“I had to make sure moving here was feasible. Was the potential for a music business big enough? I noticed many expatriates want their kids to study at international schools in Phuket. There are also many local schools for sure. I realised every family wants their child to do something with music. And with this population that we have here in Phuket, I saw there was an opportunity.”

Scouting the area for a location, he found this place near Central Festival. “I felt it was the perfect location for the school. Having to start a school from scratch, with zero students, zero teachers, was demanding.”

“Business in Thailand” – he takes a deep breath – “to be honest, it’s a lot of paperwork. And to get to the right people who can show you how it’s done is a challenge.”

He explains you have to know how to develop a curriculum and submit it to the Ministry of Education, which needs to approve it. The school had to be licensed with his concept of employing expat teachers who need visas and work permits. “And qualified music teachers have to earn a decent income to sustain themselves here. We have to balance sustainable rates for the school and keeping them affordable for people.”

Another challenge is the language barrier. Some students aren’t able to communicate well in English, but they understand, somehow. And he has staff that helps him translate in the classes. But if a Thai doesn’t understand English at all, it isn’t child’s play. Some parents deliberately expose their children to this environment, so they learn English in the bargain. 

“Interestingly, it works for many students. Music is a language,” Gladwin says and laughs in a relieved manner.

Each kid responds differently in music, and creating individual solutions isn’t always easy. Some students have longer lessons, one hour or two hours per week, and if they’re preparing for an examination, concert, or any performance, even longer.

What was settling in like?

“I had to find a room, which is difficult if you don’t speak Thai. I was in Singapore for a long time; moving here after living in a fully developed city was a significant change.” He reflects. “Public transport is not as convenient here as in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, or Manila, where you have the skytrain or subway. You got to have your own car. Other than that, you get everything you need. It’s very liveable.”

When Gladwin moved to Phuket, he always ate at food courts. Big C, Central Festival. Then he discovered eateries like Gluay Nam Wa, a restaurant in Phuket town’s Samkong area. He prefers local dishes now and always eats out as he enjoys the variety of dining options in Phuket. “I stopped going to the malls after a year. You can eat at different places every day for a month and still find new meals and restaurants.”

He thinks Phuket town is a mini city and appreciates the excellent balance in life the island offers. There are many world class hotels, beautiful beaches, and friendly Thais. To be in the centre of the island helped him a lot as it gave him a sense of Phuket’s local lifestyle.

What advice can you give to anyone wanting to move to Thailand, and Phuket in particular?

“It depends on what you want to do. You need to understand the culture, locals, and their lifestyle. How they tick and do things here might be very different from the way they handle things in your country. Many unexpected things might happen.”

He explains that if you want to settle in Phuket as a business person, you need to know the market and blend in.

Gladwin stresses it’s essential to follow your passion. When he moved to Phuket, people were skeptical about a classical music school on the island. “They were like, ‘There’s no market here for a classical concert.’” Gladwin ignored them and organised concerts in 2018 and 2019, and they were sold out.

“Before relocating, I was fully aware that the vast majority of companies targeted tourists. Phuket is and will always be a tourism hotspot. But I am not into that business.” He laughs convincingly and says there are many opportunities. “If you want your project to last, do what you love.”

Are you living your dream?

“Doing something that you love is a dream. But of course, we always try to expand our boundaries; life is an endless journey. For me, helping students grow and seeing them succeed is a dream. It’s a dream come true for them and for us.”

But rather than Holy Grail, for Gladwin, seeing the kids perform well in a concert and achieve high grades “is not just a dream, it’s a fulfilment.”

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After a career in software engineering, solar power and applied technology he started doing small technical projects to pass the time: Android apps, home automation, circuit boards and embedded software. He has an electric scooter which he constantly upgrades, 3D modelling and printing, cryptocurrencies and the like.

He launched a YouTube channel to document some of the above projects and offer his assistance to other people with their ideas and technology implementation.

His condo apartment is near to the existing single track train line that runs through Hua Hin from Bangkok all the way south to the border with Malaysia. It makes a hell of a noise and seems to be running noisy, smelly diesel engines from the early 70s.

He had read about the the Kunming–Singapore railway, increasingly called the Pan-Asia railway network – a network of railways, being planned or under construction, that would connect China, Singapore and all the countries of mainland SE Asia. The concept originated with British and French imperialists, who sought to link the railways they had built in southwest China, Indochina and Malaya, but international conflicts in the 20th century kept regional railways fragmented. The idea was formally revived in October 2006 when 18 Asian and Eurasian countries signed the Trans-Asian railway Network Agreement, which incorporated the Kunming–Singapore railway into the Trans-Asian railway network.

The proposed network consists of three main routes from Kunming, China to Bangkok, Thailand: the Eastern route via Vietnam and Cambodia; the Central route via Laos, and the Western route via Myanmar. The southern half of the network from Bangkok to Singapore has been operational since 1918. The central route is projected to be operational by the end of 2021, with the opening of the Yuxi–Mohan railway and Boten–Vientiane railway linking with the other operational segments of the route. This will formally connect Kunming and Singapore directly by rail. There have been plans for high speed railway constructions, though only one line (between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima) has since entered the construction phase. New high speed rail link connecting Thailand to China in the north and Malaysia and Singapore in the south and realised the importance of the project for commerce, tourism and linking SE Asia.

The Thai government have now scaled down the project to a dual track, mid speed system.

It will obviously cut travel time to from Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city where Bang Sue Station, the 21st century new train station that replaced Hua Lamphong in the city in half. Besides that it will have many other benefits. Thailand has a long and tragic history of railway crossing accidents and most of these will be eliminated, at least in and near the major towns.

Mike was curious how the various parts of the construction project were being done: the second track, the bridges, improved safety at level crossings, raised sections, new stations and it became the catalyst to buy one of the new amazing technology DJI drones to fly the train line and see the construction progress progressing.

His first train line flight video was in April 2021, and he has released a new video each month, focusing on different construction aspects and seeing the project unfold.

As he became more proficient with his drone he branched out to make videos of the beautiful scenic locations around Hua Hin and the surrounding areas.

The countless beaches with kite surfers, the many golf courses in Prachaup Khiri Khan, the surrounding mountains with their golden Buddhas, lakes with island temples, early morning paddle boarding and much more.

As he is returning to the US soon to visit his family for the birth of his first granddaughter, and to get vaccinated against Covid-19, he is currently studying for the American FAA Small Unmanned Aircraft System License. As a “Musketeer’ he is a fan of electric cars and technology he plans to purchase a new Tesla Model Y and take a two month road trip around America and Canada and he is sure to find some choice locations to fly his drone over there. 

Follow his progress if you find the attached videos of interest. Subscribe to his channel
and click the bell icon to be notified when each new drone flight is released.

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New book unveils the mystery behind the US invasion against Iraq

Prolific author Dr. Leonard H. Le Blanc III brings forth another revealing read that many would never have thought happened or that it’s still even ongoing. With an honest and an unrelenting mission to expose a glimmer of truth, “The Perfect US “Deep State” Operation reveals the real reason the US invaded Iraq during Gulf War II. This is the first part of the “Knew or should have known!” series.

It is the largest theft in American history. It is the largest cover up in American history. It is the biggest scandal and cover up in US Marine Corps history, the assassination of a stalwart Colonel who investigated the titanic thievery. It is the largest group of Americans to simultaneously betray their country since at least the US Civil War. It is also the biggest unsolved mystery in US history: Why did the US invade Iraq during Gulf War II? It is the greatest example of a perfect US “Deep State” operation that is still ongoing.

This book is available online and can be purchased at online bookstores.

About the Author

Dr. Leonard H. Le Blanc III is the Dean, Vice-President for Institutional Advancement and Professor of Social Sciences and Human Security at the American University of Sovereign Nations, a new online, US based university and also General Manager of SEATE Services. Additionally, he is a Contributing Editor of Expat Life in Thailand magazine. He has written and been a story contributor for TIME Magazine, Literary Editor for the Pattaya Trader magazine and authored four books on Amazon. He has also edited numerous books for the White Lotus Press. He holds nine academic degrees, has travelled extensively and lived all around the world and a retired US Naval Reserve officer. He currently lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Lena, daughter L.J. and son J.L.

The Perfect U.S. “Deep State” Operation by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

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Dr. Thomas Lodi, world renowned expert in integrative oncology, and his team are embarking on a mission to establish a kinder and gentler approach to cancer care here in Thailand.

It’s been 50 years since Richard Nixon officially declared “war on cancer”. However, in spite of trillions of dollars spent on cancer research, the statistics clearly show that we are losing the war.

Modern medicine has undoubtedly made incredible advances since this war began. Nevertheless, we cannot turn a blind eye to the rising number of cancer cases around the world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 in 2 people in Western countries such as the US and UK will get diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Globally the ratio is closer to 1 in 5, while approximately 1 in 6 deaths worldwide are cancer related. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) predicts that by 2030 worldwide cancer cases will increase by 69% compared to 2008 figures, while deaths are expected to rise by 72%.

These projections are alarming and call for an effective approach to alleviate the potential suffering. If trends continue and we do not make major changes to how we treat and prevent cancer, the burden to healthcare systems will be significant. 

Globocan data shows that in Thailand alone there are over 500 new cancer cases and close to 350 cancer deaths every single day.

The problem will be even greater in SE Asia, where the incidence rate is rising more rapidly than other parts of the world. If we were to isolate a single cause for these alarming figures many experts agree that it is due to a Westernisation of lifestyle.

While modern medicine certainly helps to prolong lifespan and survive emergency situations, our current healthcare systems are clearly lacking in their ability to prevent disease and help those suffering from chronic illness reclaim health.

David Agus, head of University of Southern California’s Westside Cancer Center, explains: “the death rate in cancer in over 50 years hasn’t changed. We’ve made small wins, but in general, we haven’t made an impact at all in the war on cancer”.  

Most have heard the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’. With the alarming forecasts from the WHO, it begs the question, to curb the rising incidence of cancer do we need to improve measures to prevent cancer and reduce recurrence? 

Sadly, however, prevention may be too little too late for close to half a million people currently suffering with cancer in Thailand today. Therefore, the statistics also call for a more effective and gentler treatment approach that preserves quality of life.

It is this mission of alleviating suffering that has driven Dr. Thomas Lodi MD, MD(H) to spend his life studying cancer and developing a highly effective holistic approach to cancer care. With over 35 years of medical experience, he is now laying the foundations to an integrative cancer care revolution here in Thailand alongside his team of Thai doctors and healthcare professionals.

Dr. Lodi graduated from University of Hawaii School of Medicine in 1985 and is licensed as both an allopathic medical doctor (MD) and homeopathic medical doctor (MDH). Over the past 20 years Dr. Lodi has refined his scope of practice to integrative oncology – a holistic patient centred form of cancer care combining the best of conventional medicine with alternative therapies and lifestyle interventions. 

Throughout this journey Dr. Lodi has sought to raise awareness that cancer is primarily a lifestyle related metabolic condition and not a genetic disease. Instead of waging war on cancer, his kinder and gentler treatment methodology is centred around 3 fundamental pillars of healing:

  1. Stop making cancer:

Changing the body’s biochemistry to create an environment where cancer cells cannot grow or spread. 

  1. Target cancer:

Selectively targeting and eliminating cancer cells through non-toxic metabolic treatments without causing harm. 

  1. Enhance the immune system:

A weak immune system is restored through cutting edge immunotherapies and peptides.

Dr. Lodi is a pioneer in his field having established one of the very first integrative oncology centres in the world in New York in 2000. He then founded An Oasis of Healing in Arizona in 2006, which is still operating and has many success stories and patient testimonials. In 2012 Dr. Lodi moved to Thailand where he co-founded three of the most prominent cancer centres in the country. 

More recently, Dr. Lodi has established Oasis International Cancer Centers in Thailand with the aim of establishing the standard of excellence achieved in the USA here in Asia. Oasis International Cancer Centers are planned to open this year in Phuket and Bangkok. They will be Dr. Lodi’s flagship cancer treatment and training facilities for patients and healthcare professionals from around the world. 

He has a very clear vision and mission – to make Thailand a global hub for integrative oncology and lighten the burden of the greatest pandemic facing humanity today – cancer.


Tom Escott, Director of Outreach and Research, Oasis International. For further information, please contact: [email protected] or call 092-460-5000

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The New Year is often the time for a fresh beginning where we make goals to grow and improve ourselves. Popular new year resolutions usually centre around health, whether it’s to lose weight or to start exercise. Everyone starts the new year as hopeful as ever, motivated to make this year the best one yet. Gyms are full and buzzing with new members. You have to fight for a treadmill machine like your kid fights for a swing at Benjasiri Park. Do you know that the first 3 months are the busiest months of the year for any gym? The effect of the New Year resolution is real. But, do you also know that more than 50% of people who start a new exercise programme drop out within the first 6 months? I’m sitting in a coffee shop as I’m writing this article. It’s me and another guy sitting across from me. According to the statistics it’s me or him, or both of us will call it quits, drop out, and stop exercise by mid year. So, what does it take for us to not become a statistic? What is the saving grace that will help us push through the resistance when it’s much easier to do nothing? Here are the 3 tips I want to share with you.

  1. Don’t exercise

Yesterday, I ran into an old client in the playground. As we stood there talking, she told me she hasn’t been exercising just yoga and walking a lot. That sounds like exercise to me! What she told me really was that she hasn’t been doing HIIT and weightlifting like when she trained with me. Many people hate to “exercise”. The word “exercise” seems to conjure up images of putting ourselves through a painful experience doing whatever it is we hate doing. In this respect I must say I haven’t been “exercising” either. My “exercise” is swimming, half drowning, half gasping for air as I try to do my interpretation of freestyle – not fun. You don’t need to put yourself through something you hate to count it as exercise. Don’t battle with it. Make it your friend. Don’t “exercise” but pick whatever movement you enjoy and weave it into your life regularly.

  1. Be your own laboratory

I used to be one of those people who counted my daily calories and tracked how much protein I eat. I tried to eat 1,500 calories and 50 grammes of protein per day. I eventually stopped. Why? Because I was eating so much protein it was getting expensive and I was becoming neurotic tracking so many things.

Today, I eat normally. I wake up, have 2 pieces of buttered honey toast and a Kinto of basil seed iced tea. For lunch, I have rice with 2 kinds of main dishes, one meat based, one veggie based. Sometimes these dishes are home cooked or sometimes they are whatever I feel like from the street vendors like moo ping or spicy pork from a Korean shop next door. I enjoyed closing off my lunch and dinner with a sweet snack, my rule is no snack until midday, it’s arbitrary but it feels reasonable to me. Dinner is whatever leftovers we have in the fridge. Last night was rice, grilled chicken with kimchi.

Business growth concept on turquoise background flat lay. hand stacking wooden blocks.

I know research shows you need to eat a ton of protein to make and keep your muscles. Today, I don’t eat extra protein or supplements, and I can honestly say I can’t see any difference in my body eating 50g of protein per day or eating normally like this. So, keep an open mind, experiment and be your own laboratory. At the end of the day, you know yourself best, distill it down until you find an approach that works for you. This goes for everything in life not just nutrition.

  1. Add heat

When you are baking a cake, you have flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, butter. You mix them together, but this does not make a cake. It makes goop. You have to put it in the oven and add heat. The heat transforms the goop into cake. In a sense this is what a lasting lifestyle change is like. You have all these ingredients, the logical, rational reasons from your brain that tell you – “I need to make time for myself, eat better, exercise, and move more”, but to know them is not enough. You must add the heat and the energy of your heart. The heat is your feeling, your internal drive, and your emotional sense why something matters to you. What difference would it make to your life if you can lose this weight? “Sia”, one of my coaching clients, told me of her desire to lose weight. In her own words, she wanted to be able to “rock a bikini in her 40s”. As we peeled the layers back, it became clearer to Sia that her definition of rocking a bikini means a strong and lean body, an image she associated with health. As a nutritionist who is an advocate for health, she wants to live a life that’s true to herself and advice she gives to her clients. This was the heat, the fire that Sia discovered inside herself that day. She still wanted to lose weight, but she uncovered her internal drive to be in alignment and at one with herself. When you travel deeper inside yourself and when you’re able to go beyond where your logical mind thinks you should go, you will touch down onto something real. This is the heat that will allow you to burn through your excuses and keep going even when it’s easier to revert back to your old patterns.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that it’s harder to develop healthy habits if there’s a part of you that’s resisting the change. So, I invite you to find enjoyment in the way you move and eat, and meaningful reason that speaks to your heart. May this be the beginning of your lasting change.

Gale Ruttanaphon 

Fitness coach with Pre/Post Natal Specialisation, Corporate Speaker, Life Coach, Mother of two #Get confident in your own skin. Founder of My Mummy First and the creator of The Mummy Reboot, a holistic programme that helps mums lose weight, become stronger, healthier and confident in their own skin. 

More available on:

IG: MyMummyFirst

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International Schools – UK Universities – Year Abroad in Beijing – First Job in Bangkok

by Alice Osborne

Hi there, my name is Alice! I’m twenty -two years old and currently based in Bangkok. Not one for stereotypes, but definitely fit your perceived mould of a third culture kid – born in the UK but relocated to South East Asia at the age of two. I graduated from the University of Manchester in the summer of 2020 and now find myself starting a career in Bangkok with a blockchain company called SDLT. Exciting times!

To date, I have lived in a total of five countries: Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, and England. What I don’t tend to tell people upon first meeting them is that I’ve moved between these countries eleven times over the last twenty -two years and can’t even begin to recall the number of times I’ve relocated to a new house… my intuitive guess would be to treble that eleven! How many times people have asked whether my parents are in the military or are diplomats – of which they are neither – I have also lost count of. 

People can think what they like, but my parents didn’t come out to Asia twenty years ago as CEO’s or GM’s. They came as a loved -up, middle -aged British couple attracted to the region’s sensational potential. It was actually mum who drove dad to ‘go for it’ and pursue a career out here because ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. Had she not then my story would be quite a bit different! People can think what they like but I come from a conscientious family that have given me opportunity not money. Forever grateful to my mum and dad for providing this extraordinary start in life, which I have worked incredibly hard to maximise. 

Just sharing with you how life can be

The article you’re reading today has no intention of being perfect, it’s about how I feel today and my journey. I’m not a journalist or a publicistpublished author, just sharing with you how life can be. My hope is that students, young professionals, and parents can read it and get some value about how they live their life going forward. If you’re a parent, that could be something as simple as loving your children andor letting them grow into who they want to be. 

This piece explores my recent experiences with university in the UK, a year studying in China, working life in Bangkok, and also reflects broadly on my fifteen years in international education. 

Feeling like a stranger in my country of birth

Education is the most defining aspect of my life so far, having been immersed in it since starting out at Singapore’s Brighton Montessori at the age of three. Nineteen of my twenty -two years have been shaped by the schools and university that I’ve attended. People say that third culture kids are the citisenscitizens of everywhere and nowhere. It wasn’t until I went to the UK for university that I understood what was meant by the latter… 

Despite having spent the majority of my life in Asia, the feeling of being a stranger in my birth country was still surprising. It was the little things such as when native Brits would assume that I knew the staple TV show/musician/local pub they were referring to or casually used unfamiliar slang words. There were Western customs and normal ways of doing things that felt more unfamiliar to me than those in the foreign countries I had relocated to in the past. I preferred green tea to English breakfast for one. 

You learn to understand people from different backgrounds, adapt to situations, remove expectations, embrace new things. Fast forward four years and now the deep connection to Manchester and the feeling of longing to return is what surprises me! The down-to-earth people, vibrant city, and independent coffee shops are among the things I miss most. It was difficult to have this chapter cut short so abruptly when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Hope to go back when it’s safe so I can see my wonderful boyfriend who I miss A LOTa lot.

The proudest moment of my time in education was graduating (virtually) with a degree in Business Management and& Mandarin, with first class honours and distinction in spoken Chinese. The icing on the cake to end this chapter was receiving the university’s most prestigious extracurricular accolade, the Stellify Award. Receiving my certificates was still brilliant, regardless of the fact a DHL mailman handed it to me instead of the School Directorthe Head of School.

Sure, I had a fair share of culture shocks when returning to the UK. Even more so when moving to China on my own – more about that to follow. But as any of us international students appreciate; the feeling is only temporary. We know it won’t be too long until that familiar sense of belonging greets us like an old friend, making a new place feel like a second/third/fourth/fifth (you get the picture) home. 

A phenomenal year studying in Beijing 

The most demanding but inspiring experience to date was the year spent studying abroad in China. Going to Beijing was the first major personal decision and challenge to face completely solo. It has to be said that I thought my spoken Mandarin would be good having studied it for almost 6 years… But upon landing in Beijing Capital International Airport quickly realised that I could not speak Mandarin in a way intelligible to locals, nor could I understand their native accents. 

I enrolled on the 720 hour ‘Intensive Chinese Language Programme’ at Tsinghua University in Beijing, often referred to as the Oxford or Cambridge of Asia. The first month felt like it lasted a year. An unparalleled learning curve from a cultural and linguistic perspective. By the end of the two semesters, my command of the language had progressed substantially, and I was proud to pass level 5 of the HSK Chinese Proficiency test with a score of 261/300! There are 6 levels in total. 

At Tsinghua, the access to insightful panels, lectures and speeches given by highly esteemed professors and experts from around the world was phenomenal. In my second semester I sought an internship at the Global Communications Office to write articles about these current affairs lectures taking place on campus. It was a personal first, writing for enjoyment rather than for an educational requirement. I developed an attachment to accurately representing the opinions/arguments of the speaker, as well as a fondness for adjusting the style of writing and selecting appropriate content in order make the article accessible for a wider audience.

Overall, my time in China was incredible beyond expectation. Personal highlights include camping on the Great Wall, strolls around the Summer Palace, boating across Longqing Gorge, karaoke in Pingyao Ancient City, and pitstops to eat dumplings at 2am on the cycle back to campus. Even the daily 8am Chinese classes hold a special place in my heart! Especially when followed by Hainan chicken rice for lunch in the canteen and a yummy bubble tea. Not such fond feelings towards the minus 20 -degree extreme winter weather… The memory of renting bicycles for my parents to tour the campus on a minus 10 -degree freezing cold day does make me smile though. 

It’s incredible to be able to make friends and have contacts across the globe. The opportunity to continuously learn and explore through new people, places, and cultures is something I truly cherish. With age have I’ve definitely realised how central language is to understand and communicate with people on a deeper level. Now that I plan to work in Bangkok for a while, the Thai lessons have begun!

Starting a career in Bangkok with my first full-time job

When COVID-19 spiked in March, I hopped on a plane back to Bangkok to be with my parents and finish university remotely. Made it just in time before the borders shut! Considering the turmoil plaguing the world and seeing the majority of my fellow graduates in the UK firmly unemployed, I feltfelt extremely fortunate to find a job in Asia. The timing was ideal as the business had just begun rapid expansion. The company is called SDLT and specialises in distributed ledger technology a.k.a. blockchain. 

Back in August at the start of the job as ‘Creative Media Publicist’, my technical knowledge wasn’t amazing. Six months down the line and I am becoming increasingly passionate about blockchain through regular research and related copywriting. Seems that I am realising its huge potential as leading businesses in of the post-COVID environment do so too! As creative lead at SDLT, I have been responsible for writing original technical articles, developing company branding and marketing materials, designing graphic and digital media about distributed ledger technology. Now that the domestic and international markets are ready for cutting -edge blockchain, work has been especially exciting with various press releases and networking events.

It’s been great to work in a dynamic, start -up environment within a team that is energetic and driven to the max. Flexible working habits which have become commonplace since COVID also mean I’m able to strike a great balance between professional and personal life. Many of my morning Tteams meetings on Teams have been happily spent at Luka Moto with an oat milk matcha latte in hand! Please reach out if anything I have’ve said strikes a chord with you, I’m always happy to meet for a matcha and a chat.

It’s already been such an outstanding journey to get to this point where my life as a working professional begins…!

Looking back on the academic rigour of international education

Reflecting on my time at school in Asia, the biggest lesson learnt thing I’ve learnt is that being academically strong does not make you immune to the educational rigour systemically embedded in international schools. 

In Singapore, I loved attending Tanglin and progressed to get excellent IGCSE grades during my eight years there. Teachers suggested that I would be suitable for the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) for post -secondary education rather than A -levels, the route initially in mind. Last minute my family decided to move us to Thailand, where IB was the only option at Bangkok Patana School. Although being an all -rounder with strong IGCSE grades (6 A*’s, 4 A’s), I found the academic transition very demanding. The support of outstanding parents, teachers, and friends made all the difference!

The IB came with its own challenges, heightened by being the new girl again for my last two years of school. I struggled with maths and physics, two subjects that I had previously excelled at. On reflection, I could hav’vee been smarter with subject choices; higher level physics, economics, and business with standard level maths’ maths, mandarin, and literature was quite the killer combination. Not only for Uuniversity applications but also my energy levels! 

Regardless of academic prowess, the IB taught me the importance of playing to your strengths and making balanced choices to avoid burnout. This has greatly benefitted my approach to university and work. During the two -year programme my brain held the largest quantity and diversity of information it has experienced to date, even university didn ’nott compare. The personal growth I experience throughout my time in education also went beyond intellectual development and academic success. I cCan’t believe I’m about to quote the ‘IB Learner Profile’, but it’s true. We do become inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open -minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective. 

Upon review it’s interesting to note that after leaving school, the greatest challenges I faced at university where not to do with the academics at all. Rather, they concerned cultural aspects of adjusting to independent life in the UK and studying abroad in China. 

Throughout my education journey, I never knew what profession I would like to go into in the future. All I knew was that my heart was in Asia, so wanted to specialise in Mandarin instead of choosing a specific career path as a lawyer, doctor, or urban planner. I had also loved studying business at school. The University of Manchester offered the course best suited to these requirements, and I went with it despite unconditional offers from higher -ranking institutions like Kings College London, whose programmes didn’t have the Mandarin component. I did seriously consider abandoning the Chinese portion of the degree to go to a more prestigious university but am so glad my parents advised me to stick with it!

Now it’s down to me!

It’s refreshing to look back and realise that the writing skills I have developed from a steady stream of academic essays can now be applied in my career. 

Reflecting on the work so far with SDLT, I have written good copy that includes two of their entire websites, original blockchain insights, press releases, social media marketing posts, and materials for clients. This has prompted several realisations that 1. mMy writing skills extend beyond academic writing, 2. I enjoy writing, and 3. Wwould really like to see where a career in this could go. 

So here I am writing my first personal perspective piece for Expat Life in Thailand! It’s not something I have done before and take my hat off to all the writers out there who use first person more than third. There’s considerable demand here in Thailand for quality English copy, whether that be magazine articles, blog posts, press releases, website content, social media posts, marketing brochures, you name it. 

So, my plans for 2021 are to explore the freelance potential in this arena, keep learning about blockchain, dabble in an online coding course, rent my own place in Bangkok, start a food blog, and perhaps train for a half marathon. I’m also working on honing my written Mandarin so I can incorporate it into upcoming writing endeavours as there’s no doubt China will feature heavily in my future. 

It’s been a challenging time as of late. I feel so fortunate to be close to my family, have stimulating work and great friends to explore the bustling city of Bangkok with. 

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Soi Dog Foundation warns the importance of global animal health is being overlooked in the fight against pandemics
To mark World Vet Day on April 24, Soi Dog Foundation has joined a number of international organisations in signing an open letter calling on governments and international agencies to invest in animal health and welfare in order to prevent another pandemic.
At least 75% of all new human infectious diseases emerge from animals, including the likes of Covid-19, SARS, Rabies and Ebola (UNEP). Looking ahead, it is vital that we take a One Health approach and recognise the complex relationship between humans, animals and the environment.
The letter, penned by the Action for Animal Health coalition, calls for an immediate injection of funding to map the gaps and train more veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals to standards established by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). By keeping animals healthy and remaining vigilant for new disease outbreaks, veterinarians play a critical role in preventing the next pandemic.
Action for Animal Health, which officially launches the week of May 24 to coincide with the OIE General Assembly, is a coalition of organisations working together to call on policymakers to invest in strengthening animal health systems. Key focuses include the need to increase and improve the global animal health workforce, increase the availability of veterinary medicines and vaccines, improve animal disease detection and surveillance, support community education and promote the One Health approach.
To find out more about the Action for Animal Health coalition and read the letter in full, please visit
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If Constantine Phaulkon is the most famous (or completely notorious, at least definitely the most controversial, depending on your viewpoint) “farang” to ever reside in the Kingdom (Roger Crutchley excepted), then Anna Leonowens easily qualifies as the most famous (or completely notorious, at least definitely the most controversial) woman to ever live in the Kingdom. Throughout her life she completely “re-invented” herself more times than Madonna and Kim Kardashian put together. But she always lived by the motto (as we always say in Hollywood): “There is no such thing as bad publicity (unless you are Woody Allen, Mel Gibson or Bill Cosby).” In retrospect, and by all accounts, she lived a most convoluted, sometimes fascinating, life that still, if somewhat surprisingly at this late date, negatively affects Thailand today. (This woman will simply not go away from Thai history! And no one can get rid of her!) It is also completely ironic to note that the one person who did more than anyone else to publicise the Kingdom of Thailand throughout world history did it all wrong: mainly by using gross misrepresentations, made up lies, wild exaggerations, total inventions and legal libel against the country just to make a living. But she achieved a backhanded immortality in doing so.

Anna Harriette Leonowens was born Ann Hariett Emma Edwards in 1831 in Ahmednagar, India. From her earliest childhood days to when she first showed up in Bangkok in 1862 as an English teacher for the Court of King Mongkut (King Rama IV) and afterwards, it would take whole volumes (or libraries) written by forensic genealogists and the most dedicated historians to cover all of it. The problem is Anna Leonowens quickly realised that because she was of Anglo-Indian ancestry, that if that fact were known to the local British inhabitants, it would gravely hinder her and her children’s future prospects in life. This was due to the very rigid British social caste rules and inflexible societal customs against mixed-ancestry people. So she put in a tremendous effort to completely disguise or hide her origins in an effort to simply live a decent life and ensure that she and her children had greater opportunities to succeed in the face of any social ostracisation.

Although Anna Leonowens is also enshrined in Hollywood film lore, she also can lay claim to being related to another Hollywood icon: Boris Karloff her great-nephew, the original Frankenstein monster actor and subsequent horror master of the genre. In 1845, her younger sister, Eliza, married James Millard in India. Their daughter, also named Eliza, married an Edward Pratt in 1864 in India. They later returned to London where they had a son born in 1887. His name was Edward. Edward Pratt, Jr. took the stage name Boris Karloff in 1912 and made cinema history in the 1930s by playing Frankenstein, The Mummy and other iconic screen characters for decades. He had a long, successful career in film, radio, TV and print media.

Anna married a British Army paymaster’s clerk named Thomas Leon Owens on Christmas Day 1849 in Poona, India. On their marriage certificate, Thomas merged his second and last names to ‘LeonOwens’ or later spelled ‘Leonowens’. In 1852, the couple emigrated to Perth, Australia with Anna’s uncle, W. V. Glasscott for work. Anna took up teaching. The couple stayed until 1857 when they abruptly left for Singapore then later moved to Penang. But her husband died in May 1859, so Anna returned to Singapore as an impoverished widow. She completely reinvented herself as a Welsh born widow of a British Army major and started teaching again by opening a school for children of British Army officers. Then stroke of fortune struck in 1862 when a job offer suddenly appeared to teach in Bangkok.

One might think that Anna Leonowens was King Mongkut’s (King Rama IV) first choice for an English tutor for his young wives and children. Actually she came along later in the process. In the late 1850s King Mongkut decreed that his young wives and young princesses should start to learn English. He was the first Thai monarch to speak English and he wanted his royal family to learn the language so he could converse with them. Three wives of British missionaries were then employed as teachers. However they only used Christian books printed in Thai and insisted their students read them, no doubt along with some heavy Christian proselytising in English thrown into the bargain. No other English or Thai textbooks were used. Finally King Mongkut ended the lessons, no doubt in some exasperation. Several years later he directed his counsel in Singapore to find a suitable English teacher. One lady was found and recommended as a qualified candidate, Anna Leonowens. King Mongkut was very specific in his letter of invitation to Anna Leonowens in he did not wish her to use religious texts or introduce religion into her English language lessons.

Anna sent her daughter to school in England and took her son, Louis, to Bangkok. She served as a teacher and later as a language secretary at the royal court for six years until 1867. From all reports she was unhappy both at court and in Bangkok. Although she was welcomed by the American missionaries in social circles in Thailand, the British socially ostracised her for whatever reason. Anna was in England on leave when King Mongkut suddenly died in 1868. The new monarch, King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V) sent her a warm letter of congratulations and thanked her for her services, she was not invited back.

In 1869, Anna was in New York City running a girl’s school. She wrote two highly erroneous, self-serving memoirs about her time at the royal court in 1870 entitled “The English Governess at the Siamese Court” and 1873 entitled “Romance of the Harem”. They were immediately literary sensations but also highly controversial as they were filled with wild fabrications and sheer inventions where she proclaimed she was a governess to the royal princes and princesses and there was a dungeon in the Grand Palace. But her literary lectures were very popular, so she began to run in good company with other literary luminaries on the lecture circuit. Her bank account fattened. In 1874 her son Louis had accumulated some debts, so he fled the U.S. for parts unknown. Since he and his mother grew estranged she did not see him for 19 years. In the summer of 1878 Anna was teaching Sanskrit at Amherst College in Massachusetts. That same year her daughter was wed to a Scottish banker in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Anna moved there and used that as her base of operations while she periodically globe trotted until 1897. In 1880 she was back in New York City teaching and in the public eye once again. In 1881 she went to Russia and other European countries. She kept up with a stream of travel articles and books. She was considered an Orientalist expert by then. She returned to Nova Scotia to live until 1888 and then moved to Germany with her daughter and her family to live until 1893. At one point she met King Chulalongkorn who upbraided her for her completely false written portrayal of his father, King Mongkut, in her two books. Anna replied that her portrait of his father was an honest one.

Cinematography. Vintage tape on the wooden table

En route to Canada she bumped into her son, Louis, who has returned to Thailand to seek his fortune. He was a successful teak trader and was named an officer of the Thai calvary. Since he was widower he dropped his two children off to his mother and returned to Thailand. Anna was back in Germany until 1901 with her granddaughter also named Anna. That year she moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada and lectured at McGill University until 1909. She died on 19 January 1915 and was interred in the Mount Royal Cemetery.

Anna Leonowens would have no doubt remained a minor historical footnote from the time of her death, but fate intervened once again. An author named Margaret Landon wrote a worldwide, best selling novel entitled “Anna and the King of Siam” in 1944. It was a fictionalised look at Anna Leonowens at the royal count with an abolitionist theme that proved to be a hit with American audiences at the time. That book became the basis of the 1946 dramatic movie “Anna and the King of Siam” starring Rex Harrison and Irene Dunne. This material proved to be irresistible for Rogers and Hammerstein who created the “King and I”, a long-running Broadway musical play in 1951. In 1956, the play was filmed with the same title that starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. The musical film version has proven to be both equally very enduring and completely wrong as far as the participants have been portrayed.

Anna Leonowens remains a minor historical figure, but she has had an outsized negative influence that unfortunately cannot be erased or forgotten.

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