By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER
Her Excellency Ms Raushan Yesbulatova, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Kingdom of Thailand, was appointed to this position in July 2017. She is also Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP).
Ambassador Yesbulatova has been accredited as Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar on February 4 of this year. For more than three years Ambassador Yesbulatova has been one of the most active Ambassadors in Thailand working to bring both countries even closer – and she is succeeding in this endeavour.
Born and raised in Almaty, Her Excellency Ambassador Raushan Yesbulatova graduated from the Institute of National Economy, Almaty in 1988. She also studied Management and Tourism in Vienna, Austria and graduated in 1995.
“I love travelling, exploring new cultures, meeting new people, so tourism was a popular and natural choice for me. I have been in the diplomatic service since 1998. Between 2001-2005 I became the Second, First Secretary of Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, New York. From 2005-2006 I was Counsellor at the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the USA, and after that in 2006 I returned to the Permanent Mission as a Counsellor. After three years of service as Counsellor, I was appointed as the Consul General of Kazakhstan.
“My first acquaintance with Thailand happened in 1992 when I came here as a tourist. Thailand has left pleasant memories. After 25 years, I returned here as the Ambassador of Kazakhstan,” Ms Yesbulatova said.
Despite our best efforts, life in the big city can get pretty complicated, trying to juggle work, social life, personal problems—not to mention the never-ending stream of stressful traffic. We can talk to friends and family, but their involvement might be a little too close to home…sometimes a professional opinion really helps to put things into perspective. Calling our concrete therapists from New Counseling Service (NCS) to the rescue for some solid advice!
Do you have a question for one of our counsellors? We will never print your real name, you can ask anything anonymously. Just send your problem to: firstname.lastname@example.org or message @ncsbangkok on IG, FB, or Line.
Whenever I go out with my friends, they often joke about OCD. For example, if a tile is out of place on the floor or their clothing is wrinkled, they’ll say “OMG, I’m so OCD!” and we all laugh. It’s a running joke and while I don’t really mind, what they don’t know is that I actually have OCD. Every day, I struggle with how many times to turn the lights on and off, I have trouble walking normally because of the compulsions in my mind telling me to avoid certain spots or to create specific patterns. This is a very real thing for me, but I’m taking medication and doing therapy to be able to seem ‘normal’ when I’m in public, at least for a few hours. I’m thinking about telling my friends that I have OCD, but I have no idea how to explain it to them or where they can find more detailed info about this disorder. I don’t know where to start. Can you help me? Thank you!
How the UN is helping to combat the changing tactics of the region's crime gangs
Interview with Jeremy Douglas, Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for Southeast Asia and the Pacific
By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER
• Changes in the drug market the past few years have impacted Thailand as organized crime groups have increased production and diversified into powerful and valuable drugs like crystal methamphetamine and ketamine.
• The expansion of the drug trade has meant a corresponding expansion of money laundering and other related crimes, leading to an explosion of the prison population.
• The region needs to ask itself why the drug trade continues to expand here, who is behind it or benefiting from it and how they use the region to expand it.
• Thailand is a logistics hub for the Mekong region and a lot of the drugs trafficked into the country are for transit to Malaysia or to places like Australia, New Zealand, Japan or Korea.
• There are a lot of aligned but different businesses that go hand-in-hand with the drug trade, for example casinos which are often in border areas and the trade in chemicals used to produce synthetic drugs.
Besides criminal justice and drug-related matters, his office is focused on non-traditional security threats and issues related to the rule of law and public health. Mr Douglas is also the UNODC liaison to China, Korea, Japan and Mongolia and to regional organisations including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). He is based at the UNODC’s regional office at the UN building in Bangkok.
First on the scene: Thailand's road rescuers
Unlike many countries, in Thailand volunteer teams are often at the scene of traffic accidents or crimes with casualties before fully equipped ambulances arrive.
With sirens blaring and lights flashing, Bangkok’s rescuers racing through traffic to a road accident or other emergencies and take injured people to hospitals and corpses to temples for funeral. Different rescue organizations operate in Bangkok and in the provinces. They are usually first on the scene of disaster and come in a variety of vehicles. The rescuers collect corpses and also treat injured people on the spot and take them to the hospital.
In the past, clashes between different rescue groups, then called ‘body snatchers’ were common, and this caused the rescuers to receive a lot of bad publicity from local and foreign media. The situation has changed, however, and rescue teams are now well trained and equipped for any emergency.
By MAXMILIAN WECHSLER
Every day TV stations in Thailand serve up a shocking reminder of how dangerous driving in this country can be with extensive coverage of road accidents in all their gruesome detail.
While it is not clear whether the news channels present the carnage as entertainment or warning to the motorists, there’s no doubt that the relevant authorities need to force motorists to obey traffic laws starting with a drastic increase in the punishment of offenders.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report from 2018 put the death toll per 100,000 people at 32.7, making Thai roads the deadliest in Southeast Asia.
Only seven other nations - six in Africa and one in Latin America - had worse numbers than Thailand: Liberia (35.9); Saint Lucia (35.4); Burundi and Zimbabwe (34.7); Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela (33.7); Central African Republic (33.6).
Optimists point out that eighth place is an improvement over recent WHO reports that ranked Thailand No. 1 and No. 3.
With a network of mostly well maintained roads that stretch across 500,000 kms, including some 400,000 km in rural areas, Thailand is an attractive proposition for motorists, truckers and motorcyclists. Maybe this is what tempts people to go into debt with a car loan – even in places like
Bangkok where the roads are more like parking lots much of the time.
Almost anyone can manage payments on a small motorcycle, although in recent years bigger, faster and much more expensive bikes have become common. Motorcycles are a great way to beat traffic, but unfortunately they leave the riders much more vulnerable if something goes wrong.
Police say the main factors contributing to road accidents are drunk driving and a general disregard for safety precautions, causing drivers to commit errors in judgment such as driving too fast, making illegal turns, overtaking in unsafe situations and speeding through traffic lights seconds after they turn red.
The fourth installment of our 10-part series describing newsworthy events in Thailand over the past 50 years begins with the year 1982.
1982 saw the opening of Central Plaza Lat Phrao shopping complex. The Thai Trade Union Congress was founded and Thammasat University appointed Professor Nongyao Chaise as its first female rector. The Communications Authority of Thailand announced the arrival of a new postal system.
• Thousands of Thai soldiers, police and rangers supported by planes and helicopters converged on the base of drug lord Khun Sa, dubbed the ‘Opium King’, at Ban Hin Taek in Chiang Rai province. The raid followed intelligence reports that a 200-mule opium caravan was sighted near the
Thai-Burma border. It was the largest operation to date against the drug lord backed by Shan United Army.
• The old Sunday market near Sanam Luang was replaced by a new weekend market near Chatuchak Park despite numerous protests by vendors against the relocation. The move had been planned since 1978 but was delayed by the protests. In the end a total of 979 vendors moved to the new location and began selling the same goods they had sold at Sanam Luang. Chatuchak Market director Witoonphant Wannachamrae said that the new market was much cleaner than the muddy mess at Sanam Luang.
• In its first prisoner-exchange treaty with another country, Thailand agreed to swap inmates with the United States. The repatriated American prisoners would continue to serve sentences handed down by the Thai courts in the US and be eligible for parole or amnesty as granted by the US judicial system. As for Thai prisoners repatriated from the US, it was reported that they could be freed under an amnesty programme.
By Ruth Gerson
The desire to be an artist runs deep and constant. This holds true of Ximena Sheldon, a charming Colombian lady born into an artistic family in Bogota, who has spent her life fulfilling that desire – despite leading a peripatetic existence in many different countries, including Thailand, her adopted home.
Counting among her ancestors a famous painter and national artist, Ximena tells how she has had a special relationship with visual arts since an early age. As a child and teenager, Ximena treated her love for art as a hobby, which was to change in time.
After graduating early from high school, she spent one year at Tortington Park School in Arundel, UK, where she learned drawing and painting, followed by a year in Switzerland at Montreux with the focus on interior design. She then returned to Bogota and tried her hand working at a large international company, but soon realized that it was not her calling.
Searching for a career that would be closer to her heart, Ximena enrolled in the newly introduced curriculum at the Institute of Art Education in Bogota, studying techniques of art education, with the aim of working with young children.
However, art seemed to continue to have a strong pull on her, and Ximena took action to satisfy it by taking lessons in the afternoons following university classes. Her teacher was David Manzur, an internationally known Colombian artist, whose work hangs in museums next to that of Botero.
“He was the best teacher you can imagine,” says Ximena. ”His strong personality in painting influenced my style.” She adds that Manzur believed that drawing is the basis to all art, and Ximena practiced with him for seven years, exhibiting her art along with his work in Colombia, and in Washington DC. At that time she also had a solo exhibition in Bogota.
In Sri Lanka, Ximena decided to try her hand in the local art of batik. She says that it is beautiful but very hard work. This satisfied her curiosity, as she always wanted to know how people created their art in whatever country they lived in. The life in the island nation was just one more piece of the mosaic that has become Ximena’s life and art. In this way, she continued to absorb and learn from various sources creating her own art, which continues to evolve.
Next destination was Hong Kong, a place that Ximena fell in love with immediately, with its diversity of people and art. “You can’t run away from art,” she declares with a smile. In Hong Kong Ximena began brush painting. Being passionate all her life about art, she seemed to find a special corner in her heart for this seemingly enchanted place.
When the news came that they were moving again, Ximena cried for one whole week. Feeling somewhat guilty in interrupting his wife’s life once again, Douglas bought her a Chinese silk rug, which she quickly named “the crying rug.”
Then came Thailand. The year was 1984. This time Ximena was in luck, the family remained in one place for the following fifteen years. Compared to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, Bangkok seemed slow paced. Searching for her common denominator, which was art, Ximena wanted to enroll at Silpakorn University and study art. This was not possible, however, as all classes were held in the Thai language, which Ximena was not familiar with.
Once again, Ximena had to recreate her own world of art in a new country. She began taking classes in watercolors with Suchart Yonthong, an established Thai artist. At that point, she did not appreciate working with watercolors, which she later came to love.
Several talented foreign women took lessons with her; some of them later became famous artists in their own right, such as Gay Patterson, Ginny Woolman, Nancy Chandler and others. Ximena enjoyed those lessons as she points out that she likes to see artists at work, their transfer of images that flow onto the paper, “You feel the moment.”
Ximena became very active in Bangkok’s art scene. She organized workshops bringing artists from neighboring countries, and organized exhibition in which her work was included. In the 1990s, she organized an international exhibition together with Khunying Kanitha in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit to mark International Women’s Day.
Other exhibitions followed, and many of her paintings were sold, now adorning walls in countries around the world. Never pausing, Ximena continued acquiring new skills and techniques, mastering watercolors, learning etching, calligraphy, papermaking and photography.
After long and fruitful fifteen years, it was time to move again, this time to the New York area. “I had to start again,” she states. This time she landed in a haven of art and her desire was to become a docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Interview followed interview, and then more, having her go through their rigorous drills. Armed with great passion, knowledge and experience in art and able to speak three language fluently, English, French and Spanish, worked in her favor.
Elated, Ximena was accepted to the docent program that lasted one year that was taught like a mini master’s degree, learning with the best people in the field. The regulations were strict, no one could miss a day, rain or shine, or even be one minute late. After passing the course, Ximena guided at the museum for seven years, while continuing her studies at the Art Students League of New York.
In 2014, Ximena came back to Thailand where her husband has his own business. Living in her comfortable home with an art studio, she continues to paint and exhibit her work, and has the privilege of passing down her art to the young generation of her grandchildren. Ximena now works in a new style of mixed techniques using acrylic, pastel and watercolors. She wants to continue learning and go on doing what she loves. Forever!
If you haven’t already got one or more, there’s a good chance you will have seriously considered getting a tattoo. Here’s some good advice from one of Bangkok’s best tattoo studios before taking the plunge and decorating your body for life
Tattoos were not popular when I was growing up in Canada, but after 15 years in Japan where the massive full-body tattoos popularized by a certain group there first shocked and then awed me, I have come to appreciate how beautiful these creations in ink can be. It’s also made me think it would be neat to get one.
But it did get me wondering why we see so many today, where to get one, if they’re safe, and what design will look great, not only today, but long into the future.
So, I went over to visit two friends at All Day Tattoo to learn more with ten questions in hand.
By Tim Cornwall
With a sister and brother-in-law who make handicrafts and then sell them at fairs in Canada, I always try to drop by handicraft fairs or markets here in Bangkok.
One of the best is Hope Fair, where I always pick up something new and interesting, while looking after my own booth. Normally I spend about the same amount on charity items as on some great food, from homemade bread to great jam, and Greek snacks to homemade salsa sauce.
With a break in the fairs during the Covid-19 lockdown, I was worried the fair might be gone for good, but happily, it is returning bigger and better than ever this month, September.
Wondering who was behind the fair, how it got started and who is involved, I met up with Aurelie Doye, one of the founders, with my list of eight questions to learn more.
When and how did the fairs start?
Hope Fair was started in late 2014 by two ladies from the French community, one of whom (Aurelie Doye) is still involved today. Originally held twice a year in the Sathorn area, its venue has moved to Sukhumvit to be closer to where most fair clients live and like to spend time. More regular events are planned for 2021.
The fair has grown in size and numbers over the years, and about 150 vendors are expected at the next fair at Avani Hotel outside On-But BTS station on September 24 and even more for the annual Christmas-themed fair in late November.
Why did the ladies get involved?
Noticing the generosity of others in the expat community and with previous experience in hosting events, the two organizers decided to start Hope Fair and donate to the Mercy Center.
However, the fair’s success comes from the support they receive from everyone involved, vendors, visitors, the hosting hotels, women’s groups and many more, all working together to make each fair a success.
BSL WFC gets the nod from local FA
For the first time, international girls living in the kingdom will be able to play top level football here, thanks to a change in the rules by the Football Association of Thailand that allows a foreign student team to participate in the National Thai Women League for season 2020/2021.
The change means that players from the Women’s Football Club (WFC) from the Bangkok Soccer League (BSL) will face regular competition in games against Thailand’s top teams, bringing enormous all-round benefits to the game. WFC will be the only ‘farang’ base team in the league.
BSL WFC aims to lead the way for young international and Thai students and experienced footballers in Thailand. The club offers both recreational and competitive football for ladies at all age groups. Its weekend program runs at Brighton College Bangkok, using a full size grass pitch.
BSL was founded more than 30 years ago as a voluntary organization that provided the opportunity for youth players from international and Thai schools in the greater Bangkok area to play football.
The league is committed to providing opportunities for all players to reach their highest potential in football and in life through teamwork, competition and individual achievement.
BSL WFC is the only competitive girls’ football club open to female youth football players of all nationalities. Most are international or international-Thai students living in Thailand with their families. The majority attend local international schools and play in the schools’ varsity teams.