Travel and Leisure

by Steve Rosse

Independently published, 246 pages, 2020. https:amazon.com

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

When any writer reaches national, even international, stature they name a geographic area, genre or whole subject after them. Examples are sufficient. Southwestern U.S. Navajo Lands are simply known as “Tony Hillerman Country.” Parts of England are known as “Jane Austin County.” The Cold War spy genre has been called “John Le Carre Land” for decades. Len Deighton, Frederick Forsyth and Joseph Conrad all have their names tagged in showing ownership of something major in the print world.

Now we will have to call Phuket Island “Steve Rosse Land.” (Not sure how the Thai government will react to that redesignation, hopefully they won’t mind.) Steve has penned another classic page turner with his latest work of written art, “Leaving Thailand – A Memoir.” It is a wistfully nostalgic, heartfelt, hilariously funny, and deeply insightful take of Steve’s untimely departure from the LOS 24 years ago. However, as no good deed goes unpunished, Steve will grace us with his presence shortly. Welcome back Steve! (About darn time!) Break a leg!

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by Zhou Daguan, edited and translated by Michael Smithies.

Siam Society, 2001, (4th revised edition). www.siamsociety.com

The Khmer Empire and Angkor Wat still holds a remarkable fascination for many people even today. After almost a millennium of the height of its power and glory its retains its influence on our imaginations. Thais borrowed some of the Khmer Empire’s cultural artifacts that can still be seen today, like classical Thai dance, dress. and some of the Thai alphabet. This book is a fascinating look at the great empire and how it operated. The Customs of Cambodia is a book written by Zhou Daguan, the Yuan dynasty Chinese official, who resided in Angkor between 1296 and 1297. His account has great historical significance as it is the only surviving first person written record of daily life in the Khmer Empire. The only other available written information is from temple wall inscriptions. The Chinese author was part of a diplomatic mission sent by Timur Khan, grandson of Kublai Khan in 1297 to the court of Indravarman III (reigned 1295–1308). A very enjoyable read..

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Sumalee Books, 202 pages, 2021. https://sumaleeboxinggym.com/

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

There is an old U.S. saying about New York City, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” We can add Phuket to that pithy phrase. Lynne Miller has done the business equivalent here by starting a Muay Thai (MT) gym, the same as climbing up Mount Everest by crawling backwards, upside down, without any equipment or oxygen and finally succeeding against impossible odds. MT is easily the most male dominated business in Thailand.

‘Fighting for Success’ is a completely riveting, mesmerising, cannot-put-it-down, Arnold-the-Terminator-delivered gut-punch exposé on how to do (or not do) business in Thailand. The book (and doing business here) is not for the faint of heart or the most cowardly lion. She immediately brings the whole MT business down to bare metal from paragraph one. I am reminded what Daniel Craig just told prospective aspirants about becoming actors: “Don’t do it!” ‘Fighting for Success’ sends the same message (or lesson) for would be expat MT entrepreneurs. The book is must read. As the British always say, “Not bad.”

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Next Chapter, 2021, 200 pages.  www.amazon.com

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

I once read ‘Henderson the Rain King,’ a Pulitzer Prize nominated effort by Saul Bellow. The story’s protagonist was visiting my old hometown of Danbury, Connecticut, USA, so I could easily visualise his geographical movements. But I quickly discarded it. First, it was death-by-boring. Second, I wanted the bitch slap the protagonist for being a silly, empty headed, clueless ninny. Third, if this was selected as one of the best books of the 20th century then there was something extremely wrong with the damn selection committee. No bloody way. I can write a better book than this.

Then along comes ‘Angkor Away’ by Steven Palmer. It immediately straps you in for a wild triple corkscrew rollercoaster ride of pure fun, grand adventure and spirited high jinks. I loved the witty, inventive narrative, lightning quick plot pace and sheer readability. A perfect example of why people walk into a book store and want something entertaining to high dive right into. This is that book. Enjoy. Five stars. Cannot wait for the sequels. As the British blandly say: “Not bad.”

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by Steve Rosse

Kindle edition, 191 pages, 2020. https:www.amazon.com

by Leonard H. Le Blanc III

Some people completely shun life. We call them hermits. Almost everyone else deals with life as best they can. But a few rare people are just like King Kong. They furiously beat their chests, loudly wailing about all the many indignities, injustices and incivilities that life afflicts upon them. That’s Steve Rosse. But just like King Kong, Steve frequently scales the literary Empire State Building for all to see, fighting off critics (or airplanes) and holding forth in print for his many fans on his take about (his) life.

Steve has done it once again. In climbing the Bangkok-based literary fictional heights with his latest effort, ‘Bangkok Buckaroo.’ A yippy-ki-yo-kai-yay, slap-leather-pard’ner-at-high-noon-on-main-street, rollicking detective noir page turner set in Bangkok’s famous Soi Cowboy with the usually attendant black hats, cattle rustlers, card sharps, faro dealers, stagecoach hold up desperadoes, pistoleros, and no-good-nicks. All done to his finely tuned ear for the richly endowed local expat dialogue with heavy doses of wit, simile and colour. Another winner here Steve. Now you can happily ride off into the sunset.

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From the curious and controversial to the heroic and hardy by Duncan Stern.

DCO Books, 2019, 179 pages. www.dco.co.th

For any serious expat who decides to stay long term, they quickly discover the country has an immensely rich history, a vibrant culture, diverse geography, delicious (if spicy) cuisine, an endless selection of social activities plus things to keep you constantly amused or engaged – from bar hopping, diving, hiking, parasailing, visiting ancient monuments and temples to tramping on jungle treks, riding an elephant, touring or just relaxing in serene tranquility. Thailand is a delight for most.

The late Duncan Stern, a noteworthy local prolific author and long time resident, had added to the reading enjoyment of those with an interesting recital of Thailand’s long history. Through a summary of interesting historical events both inside and outside the Kingdom, he has penned a book of historical vignettes that is sure to delight anyone interested in the fascinating history of Thailand. He draws on a wide variety of historical sources to glean the most interesting small slices of Thai history. A most fascinating read. 5 stars. 

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Japanese Military Transport on Thai Railways during World War II by Ichiro Kakizaki.

White Lotus Press, 2019, 303 pages. www.seateservices.online

All WWII buffs, most Thais, those who survived the terrible ordeal, and hardcore cinema buffs all know about ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, ‘The Death Railway’. Based on Pierre Boulle’s 1952 book and an epic 1957 film by David Lean, both are classics.

 

Ichiro Kakizaki has rendered noteworthy service to Thailand’s history by detailing the almost unknown tale of the four year struggle between the Japanese military and Thai government officials in constantly wrestling over control of the Royal Thai Railway System. The Japanese commandeered almost all of Thailand’s rolling stock from the first day to use for military purposes. The Thais fought a constant battle to regain the railroads for their own civilian use. Highly detailed and well researched, the book does credible service in pinpointing where all the Japanese garrisons were located, plus where and when the railways were used. The tremendous struggle went right down to the war’s last day. For all WWII and Thai history buffs plus railway enthusiasts.

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The Nora Bird Dance of Southern Thailand and Dancing for the Gods, Vol. 2: 

The endangered spirit lineage of Nora Dance in Southern Thailand by Marlane Guelden.

White Lotus Books, 2018 & 2019, 425 pages & 424 pages. www.seateservices.online

These books are the first comprehensive look at the Nora Bird Dance of Southern Thailand. The author uses many years of cultural anthropological research along with many Thai academic sources and texts that have never been translated in English. She tells a compelling story about the struggle between ancient customs and traditions pitted against encroaching modernity. The Nora Bird Dance is famous for its loud, colourful dance drama and spirit possession. It is an exploration of the ancient Nora (Manora) Buddhist community.

Marlane Guelden does credible service in exploring the real back story of the Nora Bird Dance: the capitalist motives, spirit mediums in their communications with the spirit world and gender tensions. Additionally she digs into the history, ancient and Buddhist traditions and background of the whole very fascinating culture. For anyone interested in ethnic dance, Southern Thai culture and ancient rituals.

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by Andrew Hicks

Monsoon Books, Ltd. Pte., 296 pages, 2011. https://amazon.com

I was in graduate school here in Bangkok one fine day a decade ago. We had a special guest lecturer, a Thai man educated in England most of his life, then lived overseas after. His speech (or lamentation) was all on how Thais should be more like “foreigners” (read: westerners). Thais were inefficient, not well organised, always running late, the list of faults went on. I should have said then “Thais have developed their society over several millennium to deal with problems as they see them to make the society work as a whole. In my mind the way Thai society operates is what makes it charming, even exotic”.

Andrew Hicks has written a charming personal take on his experience with Thai society. He was written a very accurately observed, insightfully astute effort on interacting closely with Thais. He is most perceptive on his take of the ups and downs in living in the LOS. A most enjoyable read.

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The Movenpick Siam Hotel in Na Jomtien is roughly 10 miles and 15 minutes outside Pattaya but the refined luxury that you are met with is one of the finest hotels in the area. 

It has always been a favourite of mine before Movenpick became part of Accor. But In my impression it has got even better in the last year or so. Dmitry Chernyshev who has worked for the passionate owners now for over 8 years has made a marked impact and obviously has the confidence of his shareholders as they have obviously invested in the hotel and this experienced GM has trained the staff to a higher level than ever before.

From the minute you turn off the Sukhumvit Road you feel the pressures of the outside world subside. You drive up the steep driveway to the circle outside the lobby and the concierge converge taking your luggage and whisking your car away.

I was surprised on check in on a Tuesday early afternoon as it was really busy but I was soon efficiently checked in. My luggage arrived soon after. I pulled back the curtains in the impeccably clean, well equipped room to behold what I had come for – the most stunning view over the Gulf of Thailand and eagerly awaited the sun setting later that afternoon.

The room on the 28th floor was beautifully furnished in the normal Accor style. The bathroom boasting a large circular bath and a twin power and rain shower. Everything was perfect. I had booked the exclusivity of the of the members lounge on the 3rd floor and left my worries behind me to seek afternoon tea. The staff were attentive but not intrusive attractively attired in Accor uniforms with slashes of red, blue and white on a beige background.

This hotel is well and truly open for business and ready for domestic and international travellers alike. It has a family hotel and as I walked round the huge swimming pool with large children’s waterpark it was lovely to see parents minding their children laughing and shrieking with delight at what was before them. I intended to swim but made do with watching the little ones having so much fun. A lovely short stay in what is a stunning hotel. I didn’t even get the chance to use the spa which the owners have handed to the specialists Siam Wellness – they are sure to have added that touch of class.

I was sad to leave hope that my photographs inspire you…

For reservation, please contact
Tel : +66 33 078 888
Website : all.accor.com
Line : @movenpickpattaya
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