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Phuket History: Recalling a Thai-Malaysian legacy

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket History: Recalling a Thai-Malaysian legacy | The Thaiger

PHUKET: One of the most famous historical figures in the history of Phuket and this region, is the late Khaw Sim Bee Na Ranong, better known on Phuket as Praya Rassada. He was the high commissioner of Phuket and the Southwestern region of Siam from 1900 to 1913. He was assassinated 100 years ago in May, 1913.

To commemorate his death, a regional historical symposium and business forum was recently held in Penang. The event was entitled ‘Khaw Sim Bee Na Ranong and shared history of Malaysia – Thailand relations’.

The event was held at Penang’s famous old Eastern and Oriental Hotel and was organized by the Penang Heritage Trust in conjunction with The Thailand-Malaysia Business Forum. The Phuket Governor and several other Governors from Thailand’s southwestern provinces attended.

Speakers at the event included the current Thai Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na Ranong; the Thai Ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency, Krit Kaichitti; the president of the Penang Heritage Trust, Ms Khoo Salma Nausition, as well as several professors, writers and family members of the Sultan of Keddah, and of the Khaw and Na Ranong families, from both Malaysia and Thailand.

The speaker representing Phuket was Mr Colin Mackay, the author of the recently published book A History of Phuket and the Surrounding Region.

The large and influential Khaw (in Malaysia) or Na Ranong Family (in Thailand) are the descendants of Khaw Soo Cheang, a poor Hokkien Chinese emigrant from Fujian province China, who arrived in the new British free port of Penang in 1822. Around 1824 he moved north to settle in Phang Nga and then Ranong, which was then a backward but developing frontier mining region.

He married a local Siamese girl and became a successful mine owner, and in 1854 he was appointed governor of Ranong province and given the princely title of Phraya Na Ranong (Baron of Ranong) by the Siamese King. He proved himself to be an able and efficient governor, building new roads, a courthouse and jail, creating fairer mining laws, and more importantly, paying his taxes to Bangkok on time.

He judiciously arranged marriages between his many offspring from his several wives, both Siamese and Chinese, into the other influential political and business families in the region at the time, such as the Hokkien Tan Clan families in Phuket who controlled much of the region’s tin mines, and other wealthy Hokkien business families in Penang. He also had a child married into the powerful, Persian-rooted Bunnang family in Bangkok, who at the time ran the government department for Southern Siam.

Due to these connections, the Na Ranong family prospered in the late 19th century and also grew politically powerful. By the late 19th century, Khaw Soo Cheang’s sons were in position as Governors of most of the provinces of Southwestern Siam.

The most remarkable son was his youngest – Khaw Sim Bee, whose efficient governorship of Lang Suan, near Chumporn garnered him a promotion to become the governor of the more important Trang province. In Trang, he did a good job at developing the province, building infrastructure and controlling the previously rampant banditry, as well as bringing the first rubber trees into Siam.

In 1900, Bangkok created Monthon Phuket (or greater Phuket county) this was a new super-province which incorporated all the surrounding southwestern Siamese provinces from Trang to Ranong into one big province under the administration of Phuket. Khaw Sim Bee was appointed the high commissioner of the whole tin-rich region south west of Siam and himself given the lordly title of Praya Rassada.

Although he was a short stumpy man standing just 1.7 meters tall, he was of strong character, entrepreneurial, clever and powerful. Under him the Na Ranong family, in cahoots with the local Tan family bosses on Phuket were able to dominate and monopolize the most lucrative businesses in Phuket at the time, namely: Opium, tin smelting, shipping, tin mining, logging, property and insurance.

Praya Rassada worked hard to improve and beautify Phuket Town, which until then was a squalid, ramshackle frontier mining Town. Phuket town itself was laid out along Thalang road and at a ‘T’ angle along what was then the river front of Klong Bang Yai.

He oversaw the construction of many of the fine old buildings in the government quarter of Rassada, such as the Sala Klang the provincial seat of government, the governor’s house, the new court house and jail. He and other rich local Hokkiens in Phuket used mainly Penang-based architects to develop many of the fancy shop houses and some of the fine mansions in old Phuket Town, in a style similar to that of George Town on Penang island.

He introduced the first hospitals, schools, a cinema, an ice house and banking to the island. This was often done by forcing foreign companies who wanted mining concessions on the island to contribute towards the development of the Phuket Town as a condition of getting any business concession.

Praya Rassada and the Khaw family also started Tongkah Harbor Mining Co Ltd, and brought the first great steam dredgers to the island in 1907. Tongkah Harbor is still listed on the Thai and Malaysian stock exchanges today. Praya Rassada was a keen golfer, and even developed the island’s first golf course in what is now Surin Beach Park in 1912.

His rule and business control over the island and the region was, however, quite autocratic, monopolistic and at times corrupt. Indeed, his attempts to keep the encroaching foreign companies out of his family’s and associate’s sphere of influence in Phuket, almost caused the irritated British to invade and colonize Phuket to remove him in order to help open up and liberalize trade in the region.

In 1913 Praya Rassada was shot with a pistol at close range in a crowd on Trang pier by the local hospital dresser, who believed that he (Praya Rassada) was having an affair with his (the hospital dresser’s) younger and apparently most attractive wife. After the attack the seriously wounded Praya Rassada was taken on his private steam ship to the best hospital in Penang, where he and the other Khaw family members also kept their main houses, but he never recovered from the wound and died in May, 1913.

In the 19th century, wealthy men could take several wives as did Praya Rassada. The wealthy members of the Na Ranong or Khaw family have since intermarried and interbred and have now spread all over the region (and indeed the world) over the last 150 years. They have remained strongest in their main bases of Penang, Phuket and Ranong where the huge family grave can be seen beside the road to the Casino pier.

Today, family members such as Kittirat Na Ranong, who is the current Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Thailand, are evidence of the continued strength and influence of the family in the region, both in Thailand and Malaysia. So it was fitting that the 100th anniversary of Khaw Sim Bee’s death was used to both promote this symposium to advance historical knowledge in the region and further business ties between these two historically closely linked islands of Penang and Phuket.

A copy of Colin Mackays book ‘A History of Phuket and the Surrounding Region’ is available from the Phuket Gazette offices or any Seng Ho bookstore (click here for map).

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Phuket

Give your stretch marks a makeover – the tattoo solution

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Give your stretch marks a makeover – the tattoo solution | The Thaiger

Stretch marks, we’ve all seen them and many of us have a few. Both men and women can be affected. But Inked In Asia has a possible solution.

Stretch marks are a natural indication that your body is growing and changing. It can be said that it’s your body’s way of ‘celebrating’ your growth – many would disagree.

They are part of many people’s lives so why not turn them into works of art with a stretch mark tattoo. Stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of so let’s give them a tattoo make-over.

When elastin fibers and collagen tear during weight gain, pregnancy or even puberty, the skin’s color and texture is damaged forever. Stretch marks can fade from when they first appear, but they might leave behind mildly indented streaks that won’t return to the original smooth skin.

Some treatments and creams can help by improving the colour of the stretch marks or promoting collagen growth, but there is no true way to get rid of these unsightly blemishes. Trying to get damaged skin to fill out and return to its original colour is very difficult, even for the best dermatologist.

A new trend is the covering up stretch marks with tattoos. Now a normal ‘cover up tattoo’ consists of going over an existing tattoo with new ink, adding or completely changing the original tattoo.

But there’s another solution to those that want a more subtle approach which can be used to disguise some stretch marks.

The technique of matching the skins natural tone by mixing tattoo ink, is more of an art than a scientific process. People’s skin has a dynamic range of colours from reds, yellows, browns and greys and getting the exact tone needs expert evaluation and technique. The tattooing then begins, hiding and disguising stretch marks and giving confidence back to clients.

Click HERE to contact Inked In Asia’s Tattoo Studio to arrange a FREE consultation appointment and discuss your stretch mark tattoo make-over.

Give your stretch marks a makeover - the tattoo solution | News by The Thaiger

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Food Scene

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

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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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

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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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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