PHUKET: If you’re passing through Cherng Talay, heading down to Surin or Bangtao beaches, you’d have to be blind not to notice the startling yellow and pink building on the left hand side of the road – opposite Tesco Lotus.
This is Gitano Restaurant & Love, the latest incarnation of the innovative couple, Miguel Kirjon and Lin Prachakrich. Miguel and Lin, here in Phuket for 17 years, have had other Gitano branches before, in Phuket Town, Patong and Pa Klok. They are presently planning one in the Boat Lagoon, but this particular Gitano creation perhaps best personifies their runaway creative impulses.
Is the inside décor less conservative than the ‘look at me’, almost shocking exterior? Er, not much.
The same yellow and pink theme runs throughout. There are trippy, glazed ceramic floorings, 3D acrylic paintings (sporting what appear to be boobies), hand-painted lampshades, brightly colored furniture, a central aquarium, and over in the corner a semi-partitioned kids’ play area, complete with the Disney Channel on a large LCD TV, books and games.
Oh, and a naked mannequin’s torso stuck to the toilet door, thrown in for good luck. It sort of comes as a surprise that the wait staff doesn’t turn up on rollerblades, wearing fluorescent Darth Vader outfits with flashing helmets, but hey – that’s life.
Still, Gitano makes a welcome difference from the somewhat predictably average Phuket eatery where rocking the boat is the last thing on the designer’s mind. Here, you can feel inebriated without a drink having passed your lips and that – when you stop and think about it – can only be a good thing.
But what about the food at Gitano? This is Lin’s domain and she balances a one-page Mexican-tinged menu against several pages of photo-illustrated Thai dishes.
Anyone who has dined over in Patong knows that a dreaded photo menu means gulping down the aperitifs and heading for the next, photo-menu-less restaurant. But, Miguel’s pics pull the trick off smoother than olive oil on aluminum roll-out paper.
We opt for a balance of Thai and Mexican dishes, starting with a pretty neat chile con carne with a great enchilada pollo complemented by a panaeng gai grob – crispy chicken in a clever mélange of what tastes like penang and massaman curry.
It has to be mentioned that attention to detail is paramount here. The square white plates and quality wine glasses are conducive to making the evening feel special, even though Gitano has no pretensions to fine dining, and the plate on which my grilled white snapper, mango salad and fried potatoes is served could easily carry a full round of Guinness pints in a backstreet Dublin pub.
That said, even though the other dishes were prepared to perfection, the snapper was slightly overdone with the unusual result that I paid more attention to the delicious salad and tasty potatoes.
Prices range from reasonable (a lunchtime set menu with a glass of iced lemon tea for 95 baht) to extravagant (a Billecourt Salmon Brut Reserve NV Champagne at 4,990 baht), with a lot of dishes floating around the 170-200 baht region.
But what this place does more than anything is cater to families with its amusing and cool design, kids’ facilities and youthful outlook. It’s the mixture of almost childish euphoria, coupled with eclectic art and original creativity that makes Gitano Restaurant & Love stand out as a great place for fun-loving families and people looking for a great place to eat in a decidedly wacky atmosphere. Oh, and the food’s pretty good too.
Gitano Restaurant & Love are open daily from 11am to 10pm.
Tel: 081-892 2419 or visit gitanolove.com.
— Sam Wilkinson
‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people
On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.
From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.
The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.
One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.
There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.
This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.
This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.
21% of Thai teenagers are gambling
PHOTO: Gambling, local style, Rai Et, north-east Thailand – Pinterest
Early in October the Thai Health Promotion Foundation met to discuss the gambling situation in Thailand in 2019. Also present were the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related groups.
The meeting was set up after a report revealed that more than half (57%) of the Thai population, or 30.42 million people, gamble. The director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University shared the report, which was based on data from a survey of 44,050 people across 77 provinces.
The figure is an increase of 1.49 million people from 2017. While most Thai gamblers are of working age, 2.4% of the total were aged between 15-18 years. This means that 21% of that age group are gambling.
According to California’s Council on Problem Gambling, youth, like everyone else, gamble for many reasons, including entertainment; socialisation; competition; loneliness, and boredom; to get rich quick; to impress others; be the centre of attention; make new friends, and because winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence.
“The California Council on Problem Gambling lists depression as one reason youth turn to gambling, noting that depression can just as easily be an effect as a cause. This is especially important to note in a country like Thailand.”
In an article in The ASEAN Post, it was noted that in December 2017, Thailand’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) reported that an estimated one million teenagers are believed to suffer from depression, many of whom go untreated, with two million more are at risk, making upward of three million among a population of eight million teens then.
The DMH said that stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.
“It is clear from studies that depression and gambling go hand-in-hand: the unfortunate case in Thailand is that it is affecting children too.”
SOURCE: The ASEAN Post
Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare
A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.
She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.
She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.
Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.
“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”
This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.
The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.
The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.
SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum
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