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Phuket Books: Yoknapatawpha on the Hudson

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Books: Yoknapatawpha on the Hudson | The Thaiger

PHUKET: William Faulkner’s novels take place in Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi. William Kennedy’s novels take place in Albany, New York. His Albany Cycle of eight novels include two of the very best in American literature: Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game (1978) and Ironweed (1983) which was made into a movie for which both Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep received Oscar nominations.

A recurring character in these novels is the newspaperman Daniel Quinn, William Kennedy’s alter ego. In his youth Kennedy had worked for a newspaper in Puerto Rico with a young man named Hunter Thompson and later covered the Castro revolution in Cuba. He eventually settled back in Albany where he found fertile ground for newspaper exposés about the colorfully corrupt Irish-American political machine.

At 83, Kennedy had drawn a similar narrative arc for Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes (Viking, New York, 2011, 328 pp). The novel opens in 1936 when eight-year-old Daniel Quinn is awakened by strange music in his Albany house: it’s Bing Crosby and the local jazz piano player named Cody Mason.

The novel then jumps to 1957 in Havana when the reporter Daniel Quinn is pushing 30 and screws up the courage to approach Ernest Hemingway at the Floridita bar. In comes Renata Suarez Otero, young, beautiful and rich, a student revolutionary against the Batista dictatorship. She is escorted by her brother in law, a shady newspaper publisher. He promptly gives Quinn a job. Quinn is infatuated by Renata whose boyfriend is soon killed in an assault on Batista’s palace. Quinn joins her in flight to the jungle, to secret Santaria rites and a meeting with Fidel Castro.

Hemingway is well drawn. Of him, Quinn writes: “Since he moved to the Finca in 1939 it had become a place where the grand and the great among writers, generals, movie stars, journalists, baseball players, sailors, drinkers, and women queued on the front steps to talk, swim, party, flirt with or just shimmer in the waves of mythic glow that emanated from this maestro of the word, the hunt, the deep sea, the saloon, the bull-ring, the wars, the self.”

Unfortunately, many of the Cuban characters speak in a form of bad Hemingway, including Fidel Castro. This section ends with the return of Quinn from his Castro interview and the mysterious disappearance of Renata.

Now the action moves 11 years into the future, 1968, on the day after Robert Kennedy has been shot. Quinn is working for an Albany newspaper and rather prosaically is married to Renata. We learn that she had been saved from a Cuban torture chamber by the rather improbable intercession of the voodoo Santaria god Changó. Meanwhile, the streets of Albany’s black neighborhood threaten to explode into riots at the death of Bobby Kennedy.

Much of this section is told through the comical misadventures of Quinn’s father George who wanders the streets in a fog of forgetful dementia. There is a wide cast of noble black characters who are fighting a corrupt City Hall and the battle lines are drawn starkly with Quinn and radical Dominican priest Matt Daugherty on the side of righteous community activists. They all rendezvous at a table for the last concert of jazz pianist Cody Mason. And here Kennedy kicks out the lyrical jams:

“There was a beauty in his ease, his sureness, no clunked notes tonight, and he switches keys and ups the tempo, just a little, and ba-boom goes that left hand, the power of it, he’s on a ride, six choruses and counting, feel that beat, beat, beat, that goddamn beat, this is stride on high, stride the way it’s supposed to be, brilliant invention, the poor guy can’t help himself, smothering the song with his gift, exploding it, and Quinn’s pulse is up and cantering, those left-handed arpeggios, the glissando that surprises and he notches the speed upward . . .”

The novel takes Quinn from childhood to young manhood to the cusp of middle age and all the while he is faithful to his better nature and the strivings of the people around him for dignity and freedom. Though the cartoon colors are often too garish, the narrative plunges on towards resolution, much as Cody Mason’s last song.

The book is available by request through all good bookshops in Phuket or online at Amazon.com.

— James Eckardt

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Food Scene

Thong Dee, the Kathu Brasserie loved by foodies and Phuket locals

The Thaiger

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Thong Dee, the Kathu Brasserie loved by foodies and Phuket locals | The Thaiger

The Thaiger was invited to a special ‘taster’ at one of our favourite restaurants on the island of Phuket, Thong Dee. As usual, the food spoke for itself – no fuss, classy, so so tasty, eclectic. The Thaiger was a guest of the hosts Patrik and Ponchan for the evening.

Thong Dee – The Kathu Brasserie, located in Kathu in a quiet soi less than 15 min drive from Patong or Phuket Town has become a popular go-to foodie destination, away from the hustle and bustle of Phuket. The atmosphere at Thong Dee is certainly friendly and relaxed but also chic and stylish. The restaurant offers open-air dining where locals and visitors comfortably sit and watch the tiny world of Kathu go by.

The restaurant is currently ranked #1 on TripAdvisor (April 2019), undoubtedly a favourite for foodies looking for quality in a breezy brasserie which doesn’t burn their wallets. But the journey to finding this perfect balance was certainly not a smooth one.

Established on the 25th December 2010, married couple Patrik Lundgren, from Sweden, and Phonchan Chiarram, originally from the Buriram province, opened “Thong Dee Restaurant & Bar”, literally meaning “Good Gold” in Thai, a colloquial expression that better translates as “Good Quality”.

Thong Dee began as only a dream for the two. Phonchan already owned her own bar at only 21 and Patrik always considered himself a devout foodie. He was the one to make the bold decision to become restaurateurs. With the help of Patrik’s mother, the couple, with their love for F&B and strong entrepreneurial spirit, made that dream into reality.

“I consider myself a genuine foodie and always had a huge passion for food. I rather have a big bill from a fabulous restaurant then a trendy nightclub” – Patrik

Phonchan never had any formal training as a Chef but with Patrik’s belief in her skills and Patrik’s mother’s training, Phonchan started in her own restaurant as the cook. Here she not only had the opportunity to develop her delicious family recipes but began experimenting with Western and European cuisine.

The menu opened with 80 % percent Thai food until Patrik realised it was an already over-saturated market. “We had to be different from that “green curry” you can eat anywhere in Phuket”. Over the next 6 years the restaurant went through huge changes, both in layout and in menu.

Through the first stages, they enlisted the talents of André, a young chef who worked in France & Scandinavia at Michelin fine dining establishments, most notably, at Restaurant Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen. It was from him that Phonchan learned the fundamentals of fine dining, such as mise en place and creating stocks and sauces.

He also taught me about the art of plating and classic dishes from French cuisine as well as fusion creations” – Phonchan

In 2016 they partnered up with an experienced Irish chef, from whom they learned about the strict operations of running a restaurant and creating a positive flow in the kitchen.

“He also taught me a lot form the European and English kitchen, such as the Sunday roasts, chicken liver parfait and desserts” – Phonchan.

The couple found their groove through their own culinary explorations, research and development combined with the knowledge of experienced chefs.

“…almost all of the dishes on our menu are different from how I learned from the start, both in Thai cuisine and European. I discovered in the world of cooking, all dishes can be made from the chef’s own interpretation.” – Phonchan

Patrik describes the cuisine at Thong Dee in detail as – European with French, English & Swedish influences in addition to authentic Thai dishes with premium main ingredients.

You will find Patrik at the front of house being the charismatic host, paying close attention to detail and customers’ every need. Thong Dee’s client’s range from local expat families and friends looking for a taste of home, and tourists looking for finer Thai food and good wines to match. Thong Dee has also become a favourite spot for local F&B industry management staff.

People flock from around the Island and even globally to experience Phonchan’s signature Thai duck dishes, even stews and Swedish meatballs. The also offer ever-changing weekly specials. Their Sunday Roast is also a drawcard, that attracts playful groups and families looking for a wide variety of succulent roast meats.

In the future, Thong Dee are considering to expand into Phuket Town, where the offering will be much more focused on classic European Brasserie cuisine, with starters, salads and steaks and a high value wine list and of course, the same friendly service in a stylish and relaxed atmosphere.

Thong Dee, the Kathu Brasserie loved by foodies and Phuket locals | News by The Thaiger Thong Dee, the Kathu Brasserie loved by foodies and Phuket locals | News by The Thaiger Thong Dee, the Kathu Brasserie loved by foodies and Phuket locals | News by The Thaiger Thong Dee, the Kathu Brasserie loved by foodies and Phuket locals | News by The Thaiger Thong Dee, the Kathu Brasserie loved by foodies and Phuket locals | News by The Thaiger Thong Dee, the Kathu Brasserie loved by foodies and Phuket locals | News by The Thaiger

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Phuket

Reservations now open for ‘Twinpalms MontAzure’ with enticing promotions

The Thaiger

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Reservations now open for ‘Twinpalms MontAzure’ with enticing promotions | The Thaiger

Celebrate the grand opening of Phuket’s newest beachside hotel by booking now to snap up fantastic deals. Twinpalms MontAzure in Kamala is offering irresistible packages ideal for both short and long-haul getaways for those who book directly from their website.

Guests may choose to enjoy three nights and pay for just two and for those who are looking to book a longer holiday, stay for six nights and pay only three on all Penthouses and Suite types. Guests may book from now until November 30, 2019, for stays from July 1 to 19 December 2019.

The latest addition to the Twinpalms Hotels & Resorts portfolio is set directly on Kamala Beach, on Phuket’s popular west coast and will welcome its first guests in July 2019. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the boutique beach hotel offers beautifully appointed Penthouses and Private Pool Suites and a collection of stunning Suites.

Suites range in size from 70m2 to splendid Penthouses with private pools and sea views boasting large living spaces of up to 300m2. Guests will also enjoy using a lap pool or an infinity pool offering views of the Andaman sea.

Adding to the collection of fantastic places to be on Phuket, Twinpalms MontAzure will launch its beachside restaurant and lounge, ‘Shimmer’, with uninterrupted sea views. Shimmer restaurant will serve vibrant and tasty food with an Asian focus, delicious and creative cocktails, and a great wine list, all served with the customary gusto and flair expected from the Twinpalms brand.

Designed by Martin Palleros, following the original Twinpalms concept and style, of utilising Phuket’s beautiful landscape, Martin has allowed the design to maximise the sea views from most of the Suites and areas within the buildings, whilst also ensuring the preservation of the views of the mountainside from other perspectives.

Guests of Twinpalms MontAzure also have access by complimentary transport to the brand’s other dining and entertainment destinations, taking full advantage of the three beautiful beaches Twinpalms has a presence on.

HQ Beach Lounge, a few steps away on Kamala Beach, Catch Beach Club, Catch Junior and Palm Seaside, located on Bang Tao Beach and of course, the flagship resort, Twinpalms Phuket is just a few steps from Surin Beach.

Reservations now open for ‘Twinpalms MontAzure’ with enticing promotions | News by The Thaiger Reservations now open for ‘Twinpalms MontAzure’ with enticing promotions | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Third runway for Suvarnabhumi Airport

The Thaiger

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Third runway for Suvarnabhumi Airport | The Thaiger

The Thai cabinet yesterday approved the construction of a third runway at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as part of the country’s ambition to become the aviation hub of ASEAN.

The 21.7 billion baht project will increase the combined capacity of Suvarnabhumi international airport’s runways to 94 arrivals and departures per hour from the current 64, said Lt-Gen Weerachon Sukonthapatipak, deputy government spokesman.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (aka. BKK) was opened in 2006 as Bangkok’s second airport. Initially it replaced the tired Don Mueang Airport but Don Mueang was later revamped as a low-coast airport to service the growing traffic demands.

Meanwhile Suvarnabhumi Airport was, and still is, operating above its designed capacity. An earlier bid to build a third terminal has been mired in controversy and is currently shelved pending a new brief from Airports of Thailand with a new round of design bids called for in the future.

Third runway for Suvarnabhumi Airport | News by The Thaiger

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