SEEKING an exotic refuge, serial entrepreneur and real-estate guru Andres Pira, chose the tropical paradise of Phuket as his recluse. Beautiful beaches and the impeccable Thai hospitality have proven too good to resist. And within the Land of Smiles, the story of a once homeless man who became a billionaire unfolds. This is the journey of a low-key 35-year-old billionaire, Andres Pira, founder of 19 companies, with 249 employees and plenty of advice to give.
Originally from Stockholm, Sweden, Andres has always dreamt of living in a sunny abode. He was unhappy and his life was going nowhere. In an unfortunate turn of events, his grandfather died and left him $2,000 inheritance which he used to buy a flight ticket to Asia. After arriving in Thailand at the age of 20, he never left.
Thailand hasn’t been easy on Andres. With no contacts, jobs, or knowledge of Thai language, he quickly ran out of funds and became homeless. Too embarrassed to request help from his family, he slept his life away on the beach of Phuket and was down to his last $100. Desperate and hungry, he asked a friend for help. That friend answered, “I won’t give you any money, but I’ll give you a book that might help.” A little upset from the response, on an empty-stomach Andres read the book ‘The Secret’. From that moment on, his life completely changed thanks to ‘The Law of Attraction’.
He landed a job handing out brochures for a real estate developer. Within one year, he was promoted to a sales agent, sales manager, and finally sales director. Within three years, he excelled in real estate sales and harvested several property investors who believed in his vision and ambitions. This led to his first investor funded property development.
In June 2017, Blue Horizon Developments, Phuket-based Developer, was named ‘Top Thai Property Developer’ and ‘New Hotel Construction & Design’ by Asia Pacific Property Awards 2017-2018.
In July 2017, Blue Horizon Developments collected three awards,
‘Best Developer’, ‘Best Mixed-Use Development’, and ‘Best Mid-range Condo Development Phuket’ for their B850 million Grand
Himalai Project at the inaugural awards ceremony by Thailand Property and Dot Property Group. Blue Horizon’s group of the
portfolio includes award-winning The Beach Front, Skylight Villas, Signature Villas, and Himalai Oceanfront Condominium. Andres Pira and his group of companies are worth approximately B1.8 Billion.
What do you want to say to other expats who come to Thailand?
Using The Law of Attraction, The Secret, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, my determination to achieve became endless. I’m not any different to anyone else. If someone else can do it, you can too. What do you possibly have to lose when you’re only changing the way you see, want, or think?
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Establishing Blue Horizon Development and having an awesome team. We’re building Phuket’s biggest resort yet, a 774-unit Heaven resort. It’s an exciting project!
Tell us about your book, ‘From Homeless to Billionaire – The 18 Secrets of Attracting Great Wealth and Becoming a Money Magnet’
I had an event with one of my leading mentors and a contributor to my upcoming self-help publication, Dr Joe Vitale – The Secret & The Law of Attraction Expert. I’ve been poor, and now I am financially comfortable. The only difference between rich and poor is the mindset. So I thought, who better to learn from than a homeless person that became a billionaire by using the techniques and mindset of the wealthy?
Follow Andres at his official website: www.andrespira.com
The oldest planetarium in Southeast Asia
By Morgan Thanarojpradit
BEGAN as an education centre for children and the general public, Bangkok Science Museum and Planetarium opened its doors in 1964, and it is the oldest planetarium in Thailand and the whole of Southeast Asia.
Operated by the Department of Non-Formal Education of the Ministry of Education, this museum received a renovation in 2016 and now features an array of programmes as well as 360-visuals, built-in fisheye lens and surround sound. Outside areas feature an interactive museum and planetarium with many exciting activities, exhibits, models, multimedia presentations and fascinating objects.
The planetarium dome is 20.60 m in diameter, 13 m high, and can hold up to 450 seats. The planetarium uses a Mark IV Zeiss projector which was the first installation of a large planetarium projector in Southeast Asia.
The exhibitions on the ground include the world of energy, robot technology, the human body and pre-historic era. Many of the exhibits feature modern media, and some include tests and experiments. There is a variety of activity days available for students and the general public. Highlights are an interactive pirate ship, play supermarket and the world of insects, while the semi-dome planetarium is probably the most popular.
Although it cannot compare with the latest science museums in Europe, it still is an excellent place for families looking for informative and fun activities.
The admission fee is B30 per adult and B20 per child or student. English language shows are every Tuesday at 10am and cost an additional B30 per child and B50 per adult.
Do forgive the poor signage. Some buildings can be challenging to find but feel free to ask the staff who are more than happy to direct you to the right place.
Tuesday - Sunday from 9am - 4.30pm and closes on Monday.
How to get there
Take the BTS Skytrain to Ekkamai BTS Station. Take Exit No 2, turn around and walk toward the Ekkamai Bus Terminal. The Bangkok Science Museum and Planetarium will be on the left.
Bangkok Science Museum and Planetarium. 928 Sukhumvit Road, Phra Khanong, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110. 02 391 0544. www.facebook.com/ScienceCenterForEducation
While many foreign restaurateurs in this part of the world struggle to even pay rent and salaries, Dany Himi has successfully launched one El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse after another and has plans to open more in the near future. His six restaurants in Vietnam and four in Thailand employ around 500 people. The BigChilli asked him for an interview to try and unravel his secret of success.
By Maxmilian Wechsler
Mr Himi said he doesn’t follow any life motto or philosophy. His plans are to continue to develop his restaurant chain with particular focus on Vietnam and Thailand and the optional development within new countries. “This year we are opening a new location on the coast of Vietnam, in Da Nang, as well as in Ho Chi Minh City. An additional location in Koh Samui will open later this year and we are always having an additional location in Bangkok in mind.
“Southeast Asia is a very interesting and also exciting part of this world. I have lived and made business in many developing countries throughout my life and have learned to not only enjoy it, but to face challenges with thoughtfulness and patience. Developing countries, emerging markets, means to never stand still, but to be very patience at the same time.”
WE are constantly exposed to toxins in our everyday lives. Toxicity refers to the degree to which a substance can harm our bodies. “The effects of a toxin are dose-dependent and specific to the person. These effects can vary from headache, nausea to more severe symptoms like shocks, coma and death.”, said Dr Nawin Jittat, a physician at Vitallife Wellness Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital.
Toxin and children
We are constantly exposed to toxins in our everyday lives, children and infants are especially exposed to more chemicals due to their size both in terms of exposure and speed. They are more vulnerable because vital organs are still developing and incapable to fully detoxify.
Toxins have the adverse health effects and potential to cause disease, more importantly, brain development in children. Researchers found that children who are affected by toxicity suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, poor school performance and risk of autism.
The signs that parents need to look out for children that may be caused by toxicity are nausea, dizziness, skin irritation and breakouts, sweating, headache, difficulties in breathing and unexplained pain. Parents needs to seek medical attention immediately.
Toxicity and Pregnancy
Reproductive toxicity refers to the adverse effects of chemicals on sexual function and fertility in adult males and females.
Most research and studies focus on the occupational or environmental hazards of chemical exposure, including alcohol consumption and smoking. The most commonly found chemicals is Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used in the production of various plastic products.
The development of the offspring can be influenced by the chemicals effects in the mother. Research shows that there are more than 200 toxins found in the newborn’s umbilical cord.
Below are a few examples of chemicals with strong connection to neurodevelopment in children.
Alberto, now retired, explains a key element in their strategy: “With our photo library, we could offer films and slides for all kinds of situations and topics. For example, if a client wanted a photo of a girl on a beach, we could supply them at a known cost. If they took a picture themselves, it would probably end up costing a lot more – the models, travel and other expenses, and they’d still not be sure of the outcome. What if it rained or was cloudy, or if their team argued?
“We could give them what they wanted and charge 10-15,000 baht a photo – sometimes even 20,000 baht – and it would still be a third or even less than doing the photo shoot by themselves.”
After 13 months of “wheeling and dealing, and not being much of a soldier”, he quit the army and headed back to Asia, arriving in Thailand in the mid-70s. Initially, he lodged at the Fortuna Hotel in Sukhumvit, which was popular with Air America pilots. “I remember a bunch of them telling
me they were waiting to be paid for their last flight, but I’m sure the money never got to them.”
Photo libraries in the UK had begun offering royalty-free distribution, and their rates were well below ours. Their people came here and told me that we were living a bubble in Thailand – the Internet had arrived, and we had to be part of it.
“There was no longer any need for film; I saw it coming. So when I saw my market collapsing, I had time to prepare. As there wasn’t much hope
of turning things around, in 2005 I quickly closed Photobank.
“These days, you can buy a good photo for $10. I’d never sell mine for that amount.”
Luca’s death from cancer was traumatic. “It was terrible losing my very close friend after all those years. He was a big smoker – the last thing he’d do at night was smoke, and he’d wake up the next morning to continue smoking.”
Alberto has two sons, Stefano (23) and Lorenzo (16) from a past marriage. He visits Italy whenever he feels homesick “about once a year” but plans to stay in Thailand for the long-term. Most weekends are spent at the Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya, where Alberto has been a member and
regular sailor for many years.
These days, he only takes photos for friends and keeps busy otherwise with his website www.photobangkok.com
Football mad, football crazy and Liverpool fan in exile PETER HOCKLEY explains why he can’t get enough of one of Thailand’s top teams, nicknamed The Lions
I have been a fan of Thai Port Football Club, the ‘Lions’, for eight years now and will readily admit to a few crazy moments, often borderline fanaticism. I would be the first to leap the railings on to the pitch when we gained promotion back to the TPL in 2013 and, with tears of joy in my eyes, knelt to kiss the hallowed turf. My enthusiasm is demonstrated weekly, while I am proud to belong to a collective, both Thai and Farang, which has enriched and enlivened my residence in Bangkok beyond measure. To put it simply: as a lifelong football man, following Port
is amongst the best things I have ever done in my extended stay in Thailand.
Chainat, Ratchaburi, Saraburi, Suphanburi; with respect, not exactly names that leap from the pages of a glossy ‘Highlights of Thailand’ brochure, but they all have one thing in common: they are places I would probably never have visited had it not been for Thai Port. Whether by plane, train, bus, car or, occasionally motorbike, the Port Away Days have become stand-out moments of the season and the newly published fixture list is always eagerly scanned to seek out outstanding journeys to savour. This year, the seaside delight of Prachuap Khiri Khan is the newest to be added to the list.
There is, for the first time in years, justified optimism amongst Port fans that this could be an outstanding season indeed. Madame Pang has invested heavily in strengthening the squad, bringing in an impressive mixture of youth and experience, including, from Bangkok United, T1’s top goalscorer from last season, Dragan Boskovic; 2010 Korean AFC Champions League winner, Kim Sing-Hwan and promising young Thai International players such as Nurul Sriyankem and Kevin Deeromram. They have also been able to retain valued imports: captain David Rochela and midfielder Sergio Suarez, both from Spain.
At the time of writing, after six games, Port sit 3rd, equal on points with 2nd placed Sukhothai, and three behind perennial champions Buriram. Apart from Buriram, the top five has a distinctly ‘new’ look about it, with promoted Prachuap Khiri Khan and Nakhon Ratchasima in the early pace-setters. Long may it continue.
Port fans, Thai and Farang, eagerly await the next six months of action at the PAT and on the road.
You can follow Port’s fortunes on this excellent English website, quite probably the best of its kind in the country, featuring match previews, reports, news and opinions, player interviews and fan podcasts.
Thai Port FC is located in the Khlong Toei district, just off Sunthorn Kosa Road, with easy access from Khlong Toei, Queen Sirikit and Sukhumvit MRT stations, and Asok and Phrom Pong BTS stations.
The third installment of our 10-part series describing some important events in Thailand over the past 50 years begins with the year 1977. The March issue covered 1972-2976.
By Maxmilian Wechsler
1981 was the year the Bang Lang Dam in Bannata Sata district of Yala province was completed; Doi Suthep-Pui National Park in Chiang Mai province was established, along with at least a dozen more national parks throughout Thailand. The RTA continued to dismantle the CPT, seizing a huge arsenal that included 5,500 claymore mines and other explosives as well as medical equipment.
Sources for this story include archives of UPI, AFP, the Bangkok Post, The Nation and Wikipedia.
Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER
When Waldemar Dubaniowski was appointed Polish Ambassador to Thailand in June 2017 it was in some ways like coming home. In 2013 he wrapped up a very successful posting in Singapore, where he was elected dean of the diplomatic corps. After returning to Poland for a few years and working in the business sector, Mr Dubaniowski eagerly accepted a new appointment in Southeast Asia, this time based in Bangkok. While acknowledging some big differences between the two ASEAN neighbors, he fully expects that his time in Thailand will be equally rewarding and productive. He’s certainly made a good start on that.
Asked how he manages to look after four countries, Mr Dubaniowski replied that his Embassy isn’t a one-man show. “The embassy staff is very professional, well organized and prepared to do a lot of work. Some of our team members are especially focused on Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. I also travel from time to time to these countries. I try to keep in contact with other Ambassadors from the EU with responsibility for these countries. We exchange information, views and opinions. We also have a diplomat based in Yangon whose office serves as a consulate too.”
“This embassy was opened in a new and really prime location in the second part of 2016. It was designed by a Polish architect,” said Mr Dubaniowski. “Our guests are always impressed because the design is very nice. This is a very good location in our point of view because this building also houses the embassy of the EU of which Poland is one of the largest members. The embassies of Finland and Colombia and a number of other embassies are close by. Bangkok is a great city, but the unpredictability of transportation is a drawback. It makes it easier when you have so many embassies and venues nearby. Moreover, Athenee Tower is in a good strategic location to get around Bangkok.
The Ambassador said the most important role for the Embassy and for him as Ambassador is to promote trade by facilitating contacts between Polish businessmen and entrepreneurs and their Thai counterparts. Another very important duty is to look after Polish citizens in Thailand. “Sometimes we have to help them out, for example when they have accidents or health care issues. We may have to supply documents or provide other assistance. This is the responsibility of the consular section of the embassy and it is working quite effectively. The consular section is open every day but appointments are taken only three days a week because sometimes the officers need to travel to other places in Thailand to take care of issues.
“We have an Honorary Consulate in Phuket, with Mr Anuwat Burapachaisri in charge there. He has visited Poland and is very much into our culture. He is also a good photographer. He is well suited for the job. If any of our citizens have a problem in the South of Thailand we urge them to contact him.”
“We have quite a decent trade turnover with Thailand, around US$1.1 billion both ways. The major segment of trade is processed food that Thailand exports to Poland, like frozen seafood or fruits including mangos. We also import rubber. Poland exports to Thailand mainly chemicals and machinery. One Polish company that decided to invest in Thailand is manufacturing medical gloves. They are doing quite well and have decided to expand their activities. Polish companies are also involved in services, including IT. We have some very good IT people in Poland and some of our IT engineers are working in Thailand offering various services and they are doing very well.
“Interestingly, a Polish entrepreneur began making Polish sausages in Chiang Mai about three years ago. The company name is ‘Polish Smoked’ and it is gradually becoming a success. The sausages and meats made in Chiang Mai are of very good quality and are now available at Bangkok supermarkets.”
Mr Dubaniowski said it’s quite difficult to say how many Polish nationals reside in Thailand because they are not obliged to register themselves with the Embassy. “We estimate there’s between 400-500 Poles living in Thailand. As for tourists, in 2017 the number of Polish tourists exceeded 100,000 for the first time, and this is something I am really proud of. It is interesting that in the last couple of years the number of Polish tourists visiting Thailand has increased between 8-10 percent annually. And this is despite the fact we still don’t have direct flights from Poland to Thailand. I hope that during my term our Polish airline LOT will decide to reopen direct flights between our capitals. As it is, our tourists have to fly first to cities like Munich, Frankfurt or Paris and then take a connecting flight to Bangkok.”
Scene of alleged poaching by top Thai road-builder
By Colin Hastings
Meanwhile, opponents of the two-lane highway say it is a threat to the survival of precious species in one of the region’s largest intact forest
areas, connecting forests in Thailand and Myanmar.
The Western Forest complex in Thailand has the biggest population of wild tigers outside India and Nepal. It includes Kaeng Krachan National Park to the south, home to leopards, clouded leopards, black panthers as well as tigers.
“It’s one of the largest intact forest areas in Southeast Asia and what’s
really unique about it is not only the wildlife that lives there but also how it provides a very important connection between the forest in Thailand and the forest in Myanmar,” the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Hanna Helsingen told the ABC.
“This allows for species such as tigers and elephants to move on the landscape, to feed and mate, and disperse, which is critical for functioning ecosystems and the survival of these species.”
Twenty years ago, our sister travel magazine, Journeys in Asia (Vol1, No3), published a story about these natural wonders and pointed out the threats to their very existence.
What was said back then remains just as important and relevant today.
This is our story:
Near the border with Myanmar is a vast forest, pristine and magnificent, with the most spectacular waterfall in all of Southeast Asia, the incomparable Ti Lo Su. As painful as it is to acknowledge, the great forests of Southeast Asia are disappearing at a frightening rate. As recently as 70 years ago, for example, some 70% of Thailand was forested. Today it can barely muster a few pockets of its original character –
rainforest with incalculable value to the human race. One such remaining area is the magnificent Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary and adjoining Thungyai Naresuan and Huay Kha Khaeng forests close to the Burmese border.
Still largely unknown to the outside world and unexplored, the vast forests that make up this wilderness have been recognised as a region of unique significance, extremely rich in plant and animal species. To its credit, the Thai government has done what it can to protect this sanctuary
for future generations, but it may not be enough. Recent disturbing reports of illegal logging have yet again underlined that man’s greed knows no bounds and the incredible treasures that exist within the forest are under constant threat.
There is also the tantalising prospect of being one of a privileged few to set eyes on the area’s major known attraction, Ti Lo Su, the most eye-catching waterfall in Southeast Asia. Astonishingly, these falls were only discovered by accident in 1987, when a low-flying helicopter passed over the jungle. Equally amazing is the fact that few photographs and precious little information on Ti Lo Su are available anywhere. Even the latest travel books and maps pay only scant attention to the wonders here.
In the past, the only way to get to Umphang was along the old dirt road from Mae Sot, which cut into the bandit country full of communist insurgents and rebel outposts of Myanmar. Even for local people, it was a passage to be avoided.
Today, a new road links peaceful Umphang to the rest of Thailand. With Bangkok some 660km to the southeast, it is far enough to discourage mass tourism, though there are domestic flights from the capital to Mae Sot near the Burmese border. Its status as a newly established wildlife sanctuary will hopefully ensure that a large portion of the area remains protected. Besides, only a few of visitors succeed in penetrating its depths.
The waters of the Mae Klong, which runs through the heart of the region, rise and fall depending on the season. From October to February, the river almost doubles in volume and turns into a fearsome force, making it ideal for white-water rafting, though many argue with some justification that such “eco-friendly” activities are against the real spirit of the wilderness.
This rich, lush environment is thick with wildlife. Its inhabitants include the brilliant blue martin fishers, which skim across the water like skipping stones, elegant eagles gliding and spiralling on the warm thermals, hornbills, langurs, tapirs, and the delightful drongo, a delicate bird with an impossibly long 30cm tail. Never far from one’s thoughts are the crocodiles that laze on the riverbanks. The real prize, however, is tigers. These jungles are one of the last refuges of this magnificent creature in Southeast Asia. Though extremely rare, tigers have been recently photographed, dispelling rumours that they had become extinct.
The Mae Klong is punctuated by some of the most awesome rapids in Thailand, and perhaps even in the whole of Southeast Asia. A boiling mass of raging water, it takes an expert hand to negotiate the rocks and boulders that lie so terrifyingly in wait. Some three kilometres south of Umphang is breathtaking Ti Lo Su or Falling Rain Waterfall. Set amongst jungle alive with the sound of cicadas droning like bagpipes, long-legged spiders with the green body and yellow spots, and groups of monkeys playing in the threes, Ti Lo So drops like silver rain over several tiers.
The Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary is connected with Thungyai Naresuan and Huay Kha Khaeng forests to the south. Together, they form a fragile area of rich biodiversity and the largest remaining forest in Thailand. The area’s protected status is primarily due to the sacrifice of one man, Seub Nakhasathien, who lived here before it became a sanctuary. When plans were announced to dam the Mae Klong and flood the valleys, Seub led the struggle to have the area declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. He rallied the local people but ran into opposition from business interests that stood to make a lot of money from the dam project. In desperation, and to demonstrate to the world the importance of the cause, Seub took his own life. The opposition backed down from the project, and the United Nations finally approved the forest’s designation as a World Heritage Site in 1989.
Those who venture farther are treated to the sight of some truly awesome rainforest either side of the Huai Klotho river. This is a haven for a huge variety of birds and animals. Thailand has 920 species of birds, almost twice as many as the whole of Europe, and they all seem to winter here. Just past the junction of the Huai Klotho and Mae Klong rivers is beautiful Ti Lo Re, a series of veil-like falls that trail in fine sheets all the way along the rock wall. Nearby are some more hot springs and a series of moss-covered edges climbing in steps for 100m up a sunless cliff.
There’s surely no better way of reaching the sanctuary than on the back of an elephant, a journey of at least four hours from Umphang. Within this area are park headquarters offering clean Thai style toilets and showers, kitchen for cooking and covered picnic tables.
To read The BigChilli April 2018 issue, please visit The BigChilli April issue