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A glass of wheatgrass if you please

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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A glass of wheatgrass if you please | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Vitality, curative, nutrient-rich, detoxifying, energy – these are some of the most common connotations associated with the plant, Triticum aestivum, more commonly known as ‘wheatgrass’.

Another increasingly common association is cancer prevention.

“That’s what I like about it. Maybe it’s to do with my age,” says 68 year-old Frank Gunn, an American expat who has lived in Phuket for the last 22 years.

Frank’s Thai wife, Lumpoon, passed away from cancer less than two years ago. She was only 45 years old. It is in loving memory of her that Frank has named his gem of a coffee shop at the south end of the island “Lumpoon’s Second Cup Free”.

“Wheatgrass is most ideal for [people] 40 years and older. Before that, a healthy body can generally fight off most things,” Frank explains.

Here on Phuket, the herb is mostly associated with detoxification and rehabilitation programs, and isn’t the first thing you might think of when seeking a ‘casual conversation’. That is, up until now.

Frank drinks about three to four shots of wheatgrass weekly, which he believes is the optimal amount for himself.

Although, he does get regular daily wheatgrass customers. “That’s [taking daily shots] for those who’re really concerned about cancer and health.”

It may take some getting used to for first-timers, but the naturally sweet taste grows on you quickly.

As I knock back a complimentary shot with Frank, that sweetness he was talking about is realized: a unique yet familiar grassy sweetness mingling on the tips of my taste buds, before upturning the shot, emptying the glass of pure energy down to my tract.

Home-grown right here on the island, the wheatgrass was propagated at Frank’s hillside home near Nai Harn. Frank went on to reveal that an important factor in ensuring the healthy maturation of his wheatgrass, is the hillside sea breeze he gets, which he says effectively eliminates any threat of mold.

From seed to grass, the wheatgrass is good for two wholesome cuttings. Each tray can supply about two shots of pure green protein and Frank has four to six matured trays on hand at any given time.

His knowledge about this ultimate health supplement goes back decades.

As a Santana electric guitar solo climaxes in the background, Frank recalls his life in Northern California prior to 1993.

Originally from New York, and having lived and worked for a period in the salmon industry of Alaska, Frank went on to open and run a second-hand business for eight years in Santa Rosa, California.

He first came on holiday in Phuket in 1991, before finally moving to the island permanently with his wife Lumpoon, in 1993.

As the highlight of his new Phuket chapter, Frank opened an even more successful second hand business, the first of its kind on the island.

“A little bit of wheatgrass and Santana can go a long way,” he says, as he lowers the sound on the speakers.

“In my town in California, there was a Juice Shack,” he says as he recollects life in the Santa Rosa, just north of San Francisco and Oakland in the 1970s and 1980s.

“But if you look on Google now, there are about twenty of them in that area.

“On the left hand side, there was a coffee bar and on the right a juice bar,” he explains.

“So I always knew about the concept since back then, but ironically ended up learning more about it in Thailand,” he adds as a matter of fact.

After closing his second-hand shop to go into semi-retirement, Frank decided to fill in another ‘first’ niche in Phuket.

“It’s more than just health drinks and good coffee,” he insists, “It’s a good place to hang out in a relaxing atmosphere, have a conversation and exchange some good advice.”

Whether the conversation is about the crossover from eastern to western medicine, innovative ideas or just to reflect on the latest hustle and bustle that is rapidly overcoming our island, Lumpoon’s Second Cup Free is a nice place to stop in – the wheatgrass and coffee besides.

Asked about lessons he learned from his second-hand business, which he could apply to the coffee-shop business, Frank said: “I initially thought that a majority of my customers would be farang (westerners), but that wasn’t the case as 70 % of the people on this island are Thais.”

And, while his offering of premium coffee and naturally sweetened, nutrient rich wheatgrass are popular among health-conscious westerners, Frank is definitely not going to ignore the local Thai market’s potential.

“Just look at the local Amazon coffee shop – it’s full of Thais,” he points out.

Frank is planning to diversify and expand his offering with soups and sandwiches.

Meanwhile, wheatgrass, along with a selection of premium-grade coffees, cappuccinos, slow and fast blended juices, smoothies, and an array of freshly baked and hand prepared goodies are the current offering at “Lumpoon’s Second Cup Free”, located just 10 meters east of Chalong circle, en route to Karon-Kata, on the left hand side (click here for map).

— Steven Layne

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social.

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told.

The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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