THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
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Phuket Exposed: Marie-Laure Fleury
Thursday 23 February 2012, 04:48PM
  General Manager of Boathouse     WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU MOVED HERE? I was Resort Manager at Trisara for the past two years before the Boathouse was acquired by the same owner. I then moved down to Kata as General Manager to oversee the renovation works, reopening and ongoing operation. Before that I was at The Sukhothai in Bangkok as EAM for three years. HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED ON THE ISLAND? We have been here for three years in June, and moved because there was a great opportunity for me at Trisara which I couldn’t refuse. It also seemed the perfect place to raise our two children – a bit of a paradise for them, pollution free, lovely quality of life, great schooling and great weather. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING HERE? The quality of life, the weather which is amazing for most of the year, and the number of friends and family members visiting which is even more than when we lived in Hong Kong. I could pretty much live my entire life surrounded by friends and family at home so for me this is perfect. We were a bit tired of living in huge cities, on top of skyscrapers and Phuket has been a wonderful change. WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? When was the last time that happened? With a full-time job and two kiddies, there is not a lot of time to relax. But when there is, a glass of wine with my hubby Bryce, listening to some cool music on the outdoor terrace of our house helps a lot, or if I have time to schedule this ahead of time perhaps a strong deep tissue massage.   WHAT HOBBIES OR SPORTS ARE YOU INTERESTED IN? I love hiking, which we were doing a lot of in Hong Kong but stopped when we moved to Thailand. Otherwise reading, jogging, listening to music, shopping, going to the movies, playing with the kids.   WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? Long walks in the forest, picking different things during different seasons, mushrooms, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, making jams when we were getting home, making a wooden house in a tree where we would spend all afternoon playing or making caramel in sea shells during a holiday in Brittany which tasted divine.   FAVOURITE FOOD OR DISH? The food my hubby cooks as he really is a master chef. His slow-cooked lamb shanks, for example, are really yummy. I love so many things it’s difficult to know where to start. I love oysters, foie gras, black and white truffle of course, Italian cuisine and of course Thai and Chinese food too… the list goes on and on. I really enjoy my eating.   WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO? A lot of French stuff such as JJ Goldman, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf and also James Blunt, Hunters and Collectors, opera singers, classical music, anything that touches me emotionally.   WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Remaining zen behind the wheel of their car as driving can be somewhat frustrating on the island. But the best way to go about it is to be cautious, smile, anticipate, and let it be.   WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU HERE? Driving back one night from Boathouse Wine and Grill to Cherngtalay, where we used to live, after 11pm and realising the petrol tank was empty. We took the coast road and didn’t know whether we would make it home as there are literally no petrol stations on the road all the way back that are open after 11pm – petrol stations everywhere seem to close at about 7pm – lesson learnt.   THE PERSON YOU ADMIRE THE MOST AND WHY? Being a mother of two now, my mum for having the strength to always work while raising her three children. For her patience, her constant dedicated time to us, for always nurturing our inner curiosity seed, for making us want to always go a bit further in everything we do. I hope I know how to teach my children those skills.   WHERE IN PHUKET WOULD YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE? Any beach on a gorgeous day at sunset with a rug laid on the sand, a chilled bottle of champagne and two glasses, to admire the sunset. Bryce did it once when we had just been here a few months and it was unforgettable.   IF YOU COULD COME BACK AS ANY OTHER PERSON WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? I would have loved to be a very talented artist, may it be a soprano singer or an actress/movie star, or a great instrument player. I would love to be part of the Cirque du Soleil team, for example, which moves me so much every time I see one of their shows. So perhaps not one person in particular but in the arts industry would be something very tempting.   FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE ISLAND, AND WHY? At home with Bryce and the kids, where I don’t spend enough of my time. With friends sharing a simple BBQ and a lovely glass of rose from the Luberon, our favourite region in France.  
Phuket Exposed: Michael Paul Stephens
Friday 3 February 2012, 04:08PM
 Author, corporate coach and wellness practitioner       WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU MOVED HERE? I’ve been in Thailand for 18 years now, but before I moved to Phuket I lived in Pak Nam Pran, near Hua Hin in Prachuab Kiri Khan. I spent much of my time while I was there working on my first book, Provolution, as well as doing a little corporate consultancy and wellness work. HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED ON THE ISLAND? I have been on Phuket since moving here to open Six Senses Destination Spa in October 2007. My wife was pregnant with our first child at the time, and I moved down a couple of months before her. Our son was then born as a true Phuketian in January 2008. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIFE HERE? The beaches, sun and great food are obvious, but I also appreciate the blend of Thai and expatriate culture, which means that there is a diversity of options. The fact that Phuket is now becoming quite a regional hub with convenient flights to and from other major cities and capitals around the region is also cool. It makes living and working here very convenient.   WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Actually, what I do professionally is my relaxation, so I’m very lucky in that regard. I love writing, teaching, developing corporate programs and meditation. It’s quite a life. My non-guilty pleasure is watching movies, I suppose.   WHAT HOBBIES OR SPORTS ARE YOU INTERESTED IN? I have always followed football and been a fan of my home team Ipswich Town since I can remember. I write songs and play guitar as a hobby and love performing music live when I get the chance.   WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? It has to be the many years of Christmas Eve passing into Christmas Day and the tension and excitement that built up as a child. There was nothing like it. I was the youngest of six kids and we all had to wait until our parents were up at 6am before we all went down stairs together to see what Santa had brought. That excitement is absolutely synonymous with my childhood.   FAVOURITE FOOD OR DISH? I must admit that I am very, very English in this regard and would never pass up a Sunday Roast. I recently went back to the UK for the first time in six years and the generosity of my siblings and friends meant I had three roast dinners in 10 days. Yes, I put on weight. Yes, it was wonderful.   WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO? My favourite musician as a young man was, without a shadow of a doubt, Bob Dylan. These days I love Athlete, Coldplay, Keane and a whole lot of British indie.   WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Save lots of money! Phuket is seriously expensive for Thailand at least. And make sure you can drive without dying. The transportation infrastructure does not help mobility.   WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU HERE? Oh where do I start? The one my wife and I still giggle about is our anniversary dinner to an Indian restaurant on the island, which will remain nameless. The waiter was so eager to please and so intent on being professional that every time he would bring a beer to the table he would hold it up against his arm as if allowing us to approve the vintage of a fine wine. We nearly wet ourselves when he did exactly the same thing with a bottle of mineral water.   THE PERSON YOU ADMIRE THE MOST AND WHY? There are so many in the spiritual field like Thich Naht Hanh or the Dalai Lama simply for their incredible compassion and wisdom. But, while it may sound cheesy, I have to say my parents for achievement in the physical world. My wife and I have two children and my parents had six. I simply am in awe of how they did it, paid the bills, stayed sane and are still in love with each and every one of us. Incredible.   WHERE IN PHUKET WOULD YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE? Well, obviously Soi Bangla is first choice, with McDonalds a very close second. My wife just loves my romantic side. A close third would be Dining on the Rocks at Evason in Rawai. The rooftop restaurant is just fantastic on a clear night.  
EXPOSED: Dorinda Rose Berry
Thursday 19 January 2012, 11:50AM
Dorinda Rose Berry Owner of Roseberry New Age Center and Life Guide   WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU MOVED HERE? Setting up and managing spas in England. I began at The Sanctuary in Covent Garden, London, 25 years ago. I attended and studied healing, and all aspects of well-being. Before I came to Phuket it was all about spas in city environments. [Then] I visualised living on a warm sunny island and here I am. HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED ON THE ISLAND AND WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? I have lived here since 1994 .I originally came to set up the Banyan Tree Spa in Phuket. I was blessed with such an amazing project that just seemed to grow overnight. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING HERE? Nature, the beaches, the constant growth of vegetation, and the energy of the people of Thailand. I love the energy of Thai people and the great patience they have. Their ability to be so in the moment.   WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Quiet time. Meditation, settling down with a cup of tea and looking out at the trees. Massage and loads of it. Crystals healing my body as I nap.   WHAT HOBBIES OR SPORTS ARE YOU INTERESTED IN? I love yoga and daily walks on the beach. I love the gym and cycling.   WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? Holidays with the family.   FAVOURITE FOOD OR DISH? Tomatoes and all vegetables, especially roast vegetables.   WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO? I love music for inspiration, that’s soft and relaxing, like Deva Premal and Dewa Che.   WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Know that it takes time to settle in. Go to local markets and supermarkets to find things you need and want. Ask people who have lived here where to source what you need. Watch the sunset every night!   WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE LIVING ON THE ISLAND? The thing that comes to mind is coming home on New Year’s Eve 11 years ago, 15 minutes to midnight, dashing in to grab my bag, had a few drinks, on my way to meet friends for the countdown. As I walked in, there was vomit everywhere on the floor and my cats were pacing around the biggest, hugest snake I have ever seen, coiled on the floor. I took the dustpan and scooped up the snake, which weighed so much, threw it into the rice field and ran to the car, off to meet my friends.   WHERE IN PHUKET WOULD YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE? To the beach, to Lamsing or Promthep for the sunset...   FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE ISLAND, AND WHY? A beach with trees full of shade. I feel so relaxed and connected to the universe when I can lie down and look at the trees with the sun peeping through.  
EXPOSED: Jackie Perry
Friday 13 January 2012, 01:30PM
  Jackie Perry Honorary dog judge     WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU MOVED HERE? Much of the same, as I have been a housewife and mother of four children most of my life, but with heavy involvement in the world of dogs: breeding different breeds, showing them, and then travelling throughout the world judging shows. I write dog columns for different papers (including this one) and like to help those with a doggie problem. HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED ON THE ISLAND AND WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? Have been here now almost nine years, having lived in Asia most of my life: born in India, brought up in Singapore, got married there and subsequently moved around Malaysia, back to Singapore, then to Fiji and Cambodia with my husband. We decided when retirement time came to move to Phuket, which was a lovely quiet island. Time has changed that quite a lot but we still enjoy the weather and the easy living. TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE DOG COMMUNITY IN PHUKET. I really have done little here in Phuket although I did organise a dog show way back in 2003 which was quite a success; I have been asked many times to do another one. The Kennel Club of Thailand is interested to get the dog scene moving here and when I manage to be at home I will find the time to organise another one. I do judge shows fairly regularly in Bangkok and shall be doing my next one there in January. WHERE HAS YOUR DOG COMPETITION JUDGING TAKEN YOU AROUND THE WORLD? My dog judging has taken me to all the continents and most of the countries in the world over the past 35 years. It is a fascinating hobby which enables me to meet many new friends and catch up with old ones, as often there are around 10 to 20 judges doing one big show. I get to go to some fascinating places such as San Francisco and Wichita in the US, Canada, Scandinavia, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia and New Zealand. My favourite trip was perhaps to judge at the world’s Premier Show, Crufts in England. To be invited to judge at this the most prestigious show on earth is every dog judge’s dream.   HOW MANY PETS DO YOU OWN? I now have only two toy dogs: a 10-year-old Pekingese and a four-year- old Japanese Chin. I lost my three dobermanns which I brought to Phuket with me, the male from a cobra bite and the two females from old age. I did have one litter of puppies here and three of them were sent overseas wih the remaining six being homed locally. I have bred dobermanns, shih tzu, dalmatians, basset hounds and pekingese and have made champions in all those breeds throughout the world. WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO DOG OWNERS? To give them a good place to sleep, to feed them the best you can, and to be vigilant every day to any changes in their health. We can all become complacent and not notice when they lose weight or are not eating too well. This is usually a sign they need a trip to the vet to check them out. Give them some excercise daily, play with them and the rest is just to love them to the best of your ability as they surely will love you with all their might. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? Moving to Singapore, where my life really began. WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO? Both classical and the shows. I love Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music in particular. WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Come and stay here for at least three months before you make your final decision, to be quite sure you are going to fit in with the pace of life. When on holiday everything looks great, but it all can change when you actually have your everyday living to contend with and may prove not what you expected. WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE LIVING ON THE ISLAND? I think it would have to be at the dog show which I organised when one lady arrived into the showring with her poodle dressed in a pink ballet tutu and with a tiara on its head! She thought obviously that it was like a human beauty show where lovely clothes were judged along with the dog! WHERE IN PHUKET WOULD YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE? My goodness – I think at my age I can barely remember a first date! However, I would think perhaps to somewhere romantic and beautiful such as Mom Tri’s restaurant. FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE ISLAND, AND WHY? Nikita’s bar and restaurant on Rawai Beach as it is our home away from home where we can sit with a lovely breeze blowing all year round and enjoy a couple of beers and a meal with good friends.
Exposed: Rick Gamble
Monday 9 January 2012, 09:32AM
  Rick Gamble Manager of Saltwater Dreaming surf shop, head surfboard waxer and surf instructor. WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU MOVED HERE? I was living on the north coast of New South Wales in Australia, and was a registered nurse working in accident emergency and studying psychology at university. I also had a business based around the construction industry. HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED ON THE ISLAND AND WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? I have been living here for 12 years now. I first came here to work and originally was teaching social psychology at Prince of Songkla University. I eventually started a family here and now consider Phuket as my home. TELL US ABOUT YOUR SURF SHOP AND SCHOOL. The Saltwater Dreaming Surf Shop started as a hobby in 2000, while I continued to work in the hotel industry. I have now been working full time at it for two years. The surf school gets really busy in the low season, we teach people from all over the world how to surf, we run kids’ days on the weekends and help to support the local surfers and community. In the surf shop we carry our own brand of surfboards, which are designed by me and John our shaper from New Zealand, the surfboards are tested by us and a few pro surfers as well as other accomplished surfers from Thailand and around the world. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING HERE? Most of my time these days is connected with the water and surfing. I like the warm waters and the sense of community among the local surfers and expats. I also like that it is a great place for my daughter to grow up away from the pressures we have in Australia. WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? I am probably one of the luckiest people in the world, I have been surfing all my life and so my job is what I do to relax. Just being in the water and around the ocean is definitely the best meditation for me. WHAT HOBBIES OR SPORTS ARE YOU INTERESTED IN? Apart from the obvious, my other pastime is making websites and educating people about the ocean, surfing and Phuket. Our main website saltwater-dreaming.comis centred around all of these. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? Walking along the streets of Sydney with the sea air and the smell of spring flowers. FAVOURITE FOOD OR DISH? I have many favourite dishes in Thailand, especially when my wife cooks them. Probably my all time favourite Thai dish that I never get bored of is the Phuket Kuyteow ruea (boat noodle soup). It has tender stewed beef and other interesting ingredients. There is a small restaurant located at the local market grounds in Cherng Thalay, which makes the best soup on the island. WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO? Reggae, blues, grunge rock, Australian rock music, anything that gets the toes tapping. WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Not everything that glitters is gold, but there are definitely some real hidden gems here. Especially when it comes to places to go and discover, like secluded beaches, pockets of rainforest and coral reefs. Just get out there away from the glitz and you will be surprised how beautiful the island is. WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE LIVING ON THE ISLAND? In 2004 we had really bad flooding in Phuket and on my way home on a motorbike, I went through what I thought was knee deep water, but as I found out later it was much deeper and when I got half way through, the water was over my head. I had to get off and push my motorbike home. Wasn’t funny then, but it is now. THE PERSON YOU ADMIRE THE MOST AND WHY? Twelve times world champion surfer Kelly Slater, of course. He is a great athlete, competitor and ambassador for surfing. People are now saying he is probably one of the best sportsmen ever, and I would have to agree. WHERE IN PHUKET WOULD YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE? I think my wife would have something to say about me going on a first date, ha ha ha. But if I could recommend to others I would say choose somewhere overlooking the sea. There are some great restaurants along the escarpment between Patong and Nakalay Bay which have fantastic views and great atmosphere. IF YOU COULD COME BACK AS ANY OTHER PERSON WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? Difficult question to answer, we all wish we were someone else at sometime, or had a little more of this and a little more or less of that. Life isn’t easy, whoever you are, and it takes work and commitment to do want you want to do. I am living my life happily with a beautiful daughter and wife and really wouldn’t change anything. So my answer is me and do it all over again. FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE ISLAND, AND WHY? Layan Beach. It is quiet, clean, never crowded and has beautiful sunsets. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE NIGHT OUT? Don’t really go out to speak of, but a few beers at Surin Beach with friends on a Saturday evening while watching the sunset is definitely something I enjoy.
PHUKET EXPOSED: Sue Ultmann
Tuesday 3 January 2012, 02:48PM
Sue Ultmann Executive Assistant Manager and Director of Marketing and Communications for Baan Rim Pa Restaurant Group   HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED ON THE ISLAND AND WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? My husband Tom and I came to Phuket in 1998 for three months after living and working in other parts of Asia, we loved it and decided to base ourselves here and basically forgot to leave. We both did other contracts both overseas and in Thailand, but kept Phuket as our base. Almost eight years ago we bought our house in Rawai and made Phuket home. WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU MOVED HERE? Tom was a hotel GM, which took him to different places in Asia including Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines. I was fortunate enough be able to freelance for several international travel publications around Asia and helped launch the now famous Bangkok magazine The Big Chilli, mainly on the advertising and marketing side. So where he went I went and I still jumped on planes and travelled for work. Just over 10 years ago I joined Baan Rim Pa to handle the sales, marketing and P.R. and have been there ever since. WHAT IS BEST THING ABOUT LIVING HERE? I would have to say the weather plays a big part. I hate the cold. Let’s be honest, people come from all over the world for a couple of weeks holiday and some of us are fortunate enough to make our home. Phuket is now an international hub and you can jump on a plane and get to many places quickly and cheaply. It really is a pretty good place to live. WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? When I get home from work there is nothing nicer than sitting in our pool with a glass of wine and chatting with Tom about the day’s events. Must admit, we do like to chill out in front of “his” big screen TV. We also enjoy eating in local restaurants and I cook quite a lot. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? Christmas Day with the family, singing and dancing with my Dad, who is now 85 and lives in Phuket, though his dancing days are over. I loved spending school holidays with my Nana Vera who was one of the sweetest people I ever met. FAVOURITE FOOD OR DISH? Anything that’s bad for me. I would love to be able to eat rich chocolate cake, expensive chocolates and creamy sauces. But, I am pretty careful with my diet and rarely eat those things. Probably my favourite cuisine is Italian, but I enjoy food in general. We are pretty lucky in Thailand we have a huge variety of great restaurants, not to mention Thai food. WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Never put your money in someone else’s name. Don’t buy a bar or a restaurant unless you know what you are doing. Be respectful to people in authority as you are only a guest in this country. These are common sense and things you would do at home. It’s no different here. WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE LIVING ON THE ISLAND? I’ll never forget my 50th birthday when I went to play golf early in the morning and Tom had flown my son in as a surprise. John was waiting at the golf course and when I saw him I screamed loudly and jumped into his arms wrapping my legs around his waist. The caddies who new me well, all came running to see what had happened. At first they were shocked to see me in the position I was with this young guy! Another amusing instance was when I did not have time to go to my usual hairdresser so decided to race into one at Jungceylon. Quick colour I thought! Five hours later and six attempts at different colours including bright yellow which then became a rather bright pink and orange mixture, I came out looking semi-normal. THE PERSON YOU ADMIRE THE MOST AND WHY? I admire a lot of people for different reasons, some famous some not. I admire my husband for putting up with me for 24 years. I admire people who make a difference in the world and who do it from their heart, not for recognition. There are many of them. FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE ISLAND, AND WHY? That’s easy... my home. Because it’s my oasis.  
PHUKET EXPOSED: Santa Claus
Friday 23 December 2011, 10:30AM
Jolly fellow with white beard and large girth stuffed into red suit. Need we say more? HOW ARE YOUR CHRISTMAS PREPARATIONS GOING AT THE SOUTH POLE THIS YEAR? South Pole? My place is at the North Pole! But things are going fine except for my head elf who is feeling a bit tired and emotional. A bit too much of the Christmas spirits a bit much but I am sure he’ll recover in time. HOW DO YOU SURVIVE THE HEAT IN PHUKET WHEN YOU’RE DRESSED IN YOUR SANTA SUIT? I’ve got these new solar-powered, climate-controlled long johns. And when I’m working indoors I can plug them into the mains power. They work great so long as no one trips over the power cord! ARE WHITE CHRISTMAS COCKTAILS OVERRATED? WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS DRINK? I have to admit I am not particularly fond of “White Christmas”, or eggnog in general. I much prefer the fruitier “Sex on the Beach”. But don't tell the Mums add Dads that. They might get the wrong idea about me. HOW DOES SANTA DELIVER THE PRESENTS TO CHILDREN IN PHUKET WHEN THEY HAVE NO FIREPLACES? Magic, my friend! Seriously, take a look at my picture. I could never come down a chimney anyway. Even if you had a really big chimney, I wouldn’t want to get my suit all covered in soot. I don’t know who started this myth about chimneys. But you know, people believe what they want to believe. WHAT SORT OF TREATS DO YOU LIKE THE CHILDREN OF PHUKET TO LEAVE OUT FOR YOU? Anything from Dad’s special cabinet will do. The cabinet with all those bottles in it. ARE YOU WORRIED THAT YOUR RED SUIT MAY GIVE THAIS THE WRONG IMPRESSION ABOUT YOUR POLITICS? Not at all. Santa is beyond politics. Besides, this is a suit, not a shirt. DO YOU HAVE ELVES TO HELP YOU IN PHUKET, OR BURMESE WORKERS? It will be elves this year. Last year I had a nightmare at immigration and ended up having to leave all my helpers there and hand over half of all my presents in lieu of some kind of fee I never understood… WHAT DO THE TUK-TUK AND TAXI DRIVERS SAY ABOUT YOU PARKING YOUR SLEIGH IN THEIR TERRITORY? Oh, I don’t have any problems because I had my sleigh manufactured by Harley Davidson... Respect! Plus Rudolf bites. Believe me, you don’t want to get bitten by a reindeer. Worse than a pit bull. WHY IS RUDOLPH’S NOSE REALLY SO RED? Poor Rudolph suffers from really bad eyesight. He’s always running nose-first into things. I’m thinking of having him go through that popular laser treatment while we are here. I saw they have a Christmas special. DO YOU EVER COME BACK TO PHUKET ON HOLIDAY ONCE YOUR CHRISTMAS WORK IS DONE? I do. But you won’t see me. With this belly I blend in nicely with the other tourists from cold countries. THANKS VERY MUCH FOR TAKING TIME OUT OF YOUR BUSY SCHEDULE TO TALK TO US. My pleasure. Now, have you been naughty or nice this year? Let me have a look in my bag… • Our thanks to Teddy Fagerstrom for the introduction to Santa
PHUKET EXPOSED: Paul Gibson
Friday 25 November 2011, 05:13PM
  Paul Gibson is the owner of the Yorkshire Hotel & Spa (yorkshireinn.com/patonghotel), in central Patong Beach, a 68-room hotel and leisure centre. He also owns and operates Phuket Catering, which is a high end external catering business, mainly providing for weddings, parties and charter boats.   WHAT WERE YOU DOING 35 YEARS AGO? I was the youngest PGA professional in the UK. After five years qualifying for the European tour, I realised that I was not good enough as a player and long-term saw no real future as a golf pro. I therefore applied for my amateur status again, and embarked on a career in the world of business. I started a golf club manufacturing and repair customising business, based in Leeds. This quickly snowballed and I was invited by The Royal & Ancient to repair and customise at the annual Open Championship. This brought me in close contact with many of the world’s top players,which resulted in me doing work and making clubs for many of them. I specialised in making persimmon (wooden) drivers. I had the pleasure and honour of meeting and working with some of the greats, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw and many more.   WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? I moved to Phuket seven years ago. The first reason was a bad divorce. The second was the land of the smiling face and the small bottom. I just love beautiful women.   WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING HERE? The humbleness of the people, the weather, the beaches and the smiling faces.   WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? I play golf, but to be truthful as I get older this sometimes becomes frustrating. My favourite for relaxation must be sitting on my 17th floor balcony over looking Patong bay with a glass of Chilean red wine and a crossword, which I normally do not finish as I cannot spell.   WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? Leaving school, which I hated. Also the first time I beat my dad at golf, who was a three handicap at the time.   FAVOURITE FOOD? Food and wine are what I live for. Favourite food has to be Spanish so a good paella has to be way up on the list, followed by a great fish casserole. Fruity new world red wines are my favourite.   WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO? Soul, blues, and jazz, but the new British singer-songwriter Adele has really caught my attention.   BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Stay away from Bangla, don’t get into a tuk-tuk, and take the time to see the whole island. I have been here seven years and am still finding hidden gems like Laem Singh beach. Living in Thailand has changed my life completely. In the UK, I had big houses, big cars and top holidays. Phuket has humbled me and changed my outlook on life. Now I have very few material things. I have realised that it is far better to give than receive. I now spend a lot of my time raising money for children. I sponsor various children through the Phuket Has Been Good To Us Foundation in Kamala, as well as helping a small orphanage in Cambodia with 50 children. If children in Thailand get a proper education and learn to speak English this impacts on their entire family.   FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU ON THE ISLAND? This happened shortly after my arrival in Phuket. I bought a house in Anapus golf villas in Kathu. Inside the development there is a large common grassed area, for children to play and parents to walk their dogs. The Thai manager erected a large sign and wrote on it: “Please do not let you dog Chit on the glass.”   THE PERSON YOU ADMIRE THE MOST AND WHY? Peter Hamilton, the co-developer of The Yamu on the east coast. He has helped me greatly and is a very kind and generous man. He one of a handful that have inspired me throughout life’s short journey.   WHERE IN PHUKET WOULD YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE? It depends who this would be, but a favorite place is the El Natural Restaurant in Phuket Town.   IF YOU COULD COME BACK AS ANY OTHER PERSON WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? Frank Sinatra as I love to live life to the full.   FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE ISLAND? Laem Singh beach next to Surin Beach. Why? It’s peaceful, quiet and I love Papa’s seafood restaurant.  
PHUKET EXPOSED: Paul Moorhouse
Friday 18 November 2011, 05:52PM
  Owner and founder of Andaman Tropical Development Co. Ltd Since 1999 Paul Moorhouse has been designing and developing ‘highend’gated communities of villas and apartments in the Laguna and Layan area, as well as restaurants, bars and stand alone ‘bespoke’ villas. He is now just about retired and planning to get plenty of rest over the next few years.   WHAT WERE YOU DOING 10 YEARS AGO? Up until June 1995 I was the Global Chief Operating Officer for TNT Ltd, a major, multinational logistics company, based in Singapore and Amsterdam. WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? I bought my first home here in 1994 but had been visiting since 1982, very different days then and a wonderful, totally unspoilt island. Somewhat different now in many, many ways… some better, some not! But still a wonderful place to live. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING HERE? I love the ease of doing most of the things I want to do like playing golf, going out on my boat and drinking and eating in some super bars and restaurants. Above all though I love the climate and most of the Thai ‘way of life’!   WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Swim, golf, go out on my boat, walk my dogs on the beach at Layan or Cape Panwa, ride my bike and enjoy the company of some good mates and my family over a few cold beers.   WHAT HOBBIES OR SPORTS ARE YOU INTERESTED IN? Apart from those I have already talked about I love watching International Rugby and the EPL, in fact just about any sport except beach football which I think is a joke! I also enjoy sitting and practising my new acoustic bass guitar.   WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? Playing football and cricket and going swimming in the nearby lakes with my young mates in Yorkshire during the long, hot school summer holidays, which seemed to go on forever!   FAVOURITE FOOD OR DISH? I love just about everything. Having lived in Asia for 28 years I adore Asian and particularly Chinese and Thai and also Japanese. I also love pie and mash or fish and chips with mushy peas. Quite frankly I’ll eat almost anything if it’s good and cooked properly.   WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO? I have 1450 different artists and 35,000 tracks on my iPod so I am into just about everything from Sinatra to Led Zeppelin and from Fairport Convention to Kasabian, but if push comes to shove I always resort to Paul Rodgers and Free, early ‘70s rock! Funnily enough though I love chill out and ambient beach grooves also.   WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Don’t expect everything to happen at once, and don’t expect Phuket to be a sunnier version of where you just came from! Take your time with everything and have an open mind to absorb what’s going on and how to enjoy it to the fullest.   WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE LIVING ON THE ISLAND? There are hundreds of things that have amused me over the last 20 years or so here, but the most amusing was arriving home drunk one night and breaking into my neighbours house because I thought my wife had locked me out of mine, which was next door! It wasn’t funny at the time though but I laughed about it after... when I had sobered up.   THE PERSON YOU ADMIRE THE MOST AND WHY? There are many people I admire tremendously but I guess Paul McCartney has to be up there for many reasons including changing my life and making millions of people very happy, all over the world, both with The Beatles and since. Top man, great singer/songwriter and a very accomplished musician.   WHERE IN PHUKET WOULD YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE? Joe’s Downstairs or the Reggae Bar at Layan Beach at 6pm on a beautiful evening. Stunning sunsets, great cocktails and the food’s damn good as well.   IF YOU COULD COME BACK AS ANY OTHER PERSON WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? It would definitely be a musician and would probably be either Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Nathan East or John Paul Jones, all tremendous players who literally live to play music.   FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE ISLAND, AND WHY? The beaches at Layan and the west side of Cape Panwa. They have beautiful sand, lovely breezes all year round, are nearly deserted and have wonderful views. Both remind me of ‘old’ Phuket as they are virtually unspoilt.   WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE NIGHT OUT? Not a big ‘night out’ person anymore but I do like a good meal in a top restaurant with good wine and good company of friends and preferably some live music. Failing that a walk down Soi Bangla about 11.30pm is always good for a laugh.  
PHUKET EXPOSED: Sharon Biddell
Friday 11 November 2011, 04:37PM
  Founder and Director of SHE(Self Help and Empowerment) WHAT WERE YOU DOING 10 YEARS AGO? Myself, my husband Mark and our four children were volunteers working for Mercy Ships, a hospital ship that serves the poorest of the poor in West Africa. As a family we would live in an African community and host volunteer teams from overseas to build orphanages, schools, and medical clinics. Mark was head of the community development department, and I was the women’s programmes manager. I would put together programmes that would enable families to have a sustainable food and income resource so that they would not need to be dependent upon others for their survival and health. We worked with Mercy Ships for nearly seven years before coming to Thailand. WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? We have lived in Phuket for six years now. We originally came to help with building up communities after the tsunami hit Thailand, and then during our stay we visited Patong. We started asking the young women in the bars questions about what their work involved and we were shocked by their answers. Repeatedly we were told how they travelled from the poorer communities of northern Thailand so they could provide for their families. They could not get decent jobs as they were pulled out of school at a young age to help their parents work on the farms and so had very little education. In the end, via one way or another, they eventually ended up selling their bodies to Thai and foreign men. This was a sacrifice they were willing to make for their family’s welfare. TELL US ABOUT THE FOUNDATION. After hearing their stories, my husband and I then decided to offer women alternative employment making jewellery which we would then sell overseas to pay their salaries. We named our foundation SHE, which stands for Self Help and Empowerment and has now grown into giving free bakery lessons, English classes and hotel training. This is all part of our prevention programme. If an uneducated Thai woman travels to Phuket looking for work in the hotels, only to be told she needs a higher education or work experience, then instead of them being turned away and seeking work in bars, we tell hotels to send them to us. The women then receive free accommodation, food and hotel training and when ready, they are sent back to the hotel. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING HERE? Thai people and Thai food.   WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? Oil painting, I find it’s the only way to switch off from my busy family and work life.   FAVOURITE FOOD? UK-style fish and chips – because I can’t get it here I am yearning for it.   WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO? I like to listen to Paul Baloche he is a Christian song writer in the States.   WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET? Don’t expect anything to happen in a hurry, whether it’s setting up your home with things like internet and cable, or for your new environment to feel like home.   WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE LIVING ON THE ISLAND? Language learning. I spent my first week of language learning being sniggered at by staff at coffee shops as (unknown to me) I was asking for coffee with breast milk. I only found out when a Thai lady replied whilst squeezing her breast, “one squirt or two”?   IF YOU COULD COME BACK AS ANY OTHER PERSON WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? Myself as I am perfectly content with the hand that God has dealt me.   FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE ISLAND? The SHE centre in Kathu as it has my family there.   FAVOURITE NIGHT OUT? Date night with my husband at a nice restaurant.   WHERE YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE? Friendship Beach is a nice place to go on a date.   WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE YOUR FINAL MEAL? Fish and chips or chicken tikka masala and a naan.