Club Sanook Newsletter - August/September 2008


August/September 2008


Thank You, Our Fabulous Customers!

Many thanks to all of our friends who contributed to the relief efforts following the recent cyclone in Myanmar, and particularly to those who contributed to funds in our unofficial fund. (see story in the previous edition of Bulletin from Bangkok). We were able to spend several thousand dollars on drugs, medical supplies and medical equipment, which Bangkok Airways carried to Yangon at no cost. We were able to bypass the "official" channels of distribution controlled by the military by delivering these things to people in our own network there, who were able to expedite these things to the front lines, where they were needed immediately. The hero of this story is Todd in our office, who took the initiative to plan and execute this entire project on his own. He still has boxes of clothing and and some medical materials that would not be shipped by air. We hope the border crossing from Thailand into Southern Myanmar will open soon so that  he can get this stuff out of his living room. We have looked into building a new school somewhere, but it is unfortunately well beyond our means. however with a little help we can buy a motorized tilling machine to a village somewhere. Thousands of of working animals also died in the storm, leaving farmers unable to grow crops.

 More Photo Contest Prizes Added

Some of our industry partners have offered private contests as part of our third annual photo contest. Each prize has its own theme and prizes are offered by each sponsor. We think this is a really cool idea. Besides Purple Dragon's prizes winners get hotel stays in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, or other goodies. If you are not sure if you take good travel photos please visit our website to see what has already been entered. Even if you think your photos are lousy, what have you got to lose?


If you are one of our industry partners, there is still time to offer a Private Prize. Please contact us.

Disease du Jour: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Does your nose (or some other part of your body) look like a street map of Berlin? Itsy bitsy spider veins are not an uncommon malady for those of us over forty. Spider veins are dilated blood vessels close to the skin. Genetics may be a contributing factor and the condition is occasionally painful. Alcohol abuse, among many other things, can make the problem worse. There is no known prevention.

If you have this kind of condition one obvious solution is to cover the area with a thick layer cosmetics. While many male teenagers in Thailand love to improve on nature with foundation, powder and a bit of color on the lips, this solution may be culturally unacceptable where you live.

Better (and permanent) solutions are available. Medical techniques that use laser, intense pulse light, and high radio frequency therapy have been proven remarkably successful. A trained physician can determine which is the best option based on the size and depth of the veins and whether they contribute to or exist along with other scarring or skin pigmentation problems. The actual treatment takes only a few minutes and involves the doctor lightly pressing a device about the size of a lipstick tube against the skin and "zapping." it. There is no pain, no blood, and no anesthetic necessary.

These procedures are probably not covered by medical insurance and are terribly expensive in most of the world. However, treatment is comparative inexpensive in Thailand. One of the medical clinics we recommend even has offices in major shopping malls in Bangkok.  While the development of this incredible technology is too late to help W. C. Fields, you can buy yourself a lasting souvenir of Thailand in just about an hour. If you are ready to erase veins, spots, blemishes, scarring and other signs of age, you can read more in the health information on Purple Dragon's website.

Ninety-Three New Temples Discovered Near Angkor Wat

We received quite a bit of email following the story in our last edition of Bulletin From Bangkok about Koh Ker temple near Angkor Wat. Some were particularly fascinated by the possibility that beings of higher intelligence from another world might have come to earth long ago to influence human development. If so, they must have been gay since they left behind quite a bit of lovely jewelry and architecture.  To prove our point, we hope you will consider the photographs below of religious structures presumably built by three different ancient civilizations thousands of kilometers apart.


While this is not meant to be a test or a contest, you might enjoy guessing which is in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Mexico. (No peeking at the last newsletter for help.).  Thanks to Travelin' Bob for the photos.

S.O.S. Now!

Do not blame it all on the Arabs (or the other oil producing countries), or even on the Republicans or all of those gas-guzzlers on the road. And you can not blame the airlines for removing telephones and entertainment systems from their aircraft to reduce weight and save fuel. (Could meals and toilets be next?) Oil is hovering around $150 a barrel and dragging the world economy down to the bottom of the barrel. Airfares and related fuel surcharges are skyrocketing and many of the world's airlines are facing real hardship and possibly even bankruptcy.  If that happens you will have to travel to Southeast Asia on a sailing ship, which takes quite a bit of time and may not be very comfortable.

To a great extent oil costs are being manipulated artificially by speculators. (It should probably be noted that major airlines are among the biggest of these.) In other words, people who own no oil wells or refineries, and may never have actually seen a barrel of oil are making money by the barrel by finding ways to make you pay more for it.

If you want to do something positive to help this deteriorating situation we hope you will visit, which is sponsored by a group that wants to reform commodities trading by pressuring government. You can be sure that Republicans will not do anything positive to halt runaway prices. Even if you are not an American, you can learn things from this website and may even be inspired to contact your elected representatives at home.

Would a New Shirt Help?

Sometimes it seems like the world is falling to pieces be collapsing around us. No matter how bad things get, however, a brand new shirt always makes you feel just a little bit better, especially if it is absolutely free. Thailand is well known as great place to buy inexpensive custom-made clothing. Unfortunately, a trip to a tailor is often an unpleasant ordeal. The moment you arrive you are pounced upon by men with unusual accents and headwear whose job seems to be to squeeze every last baht out of your pocket. Ultimately, the quality is bad, pieces may be missing, and it turned out to be less than a bargain.

After ten years of enduring Bangkok tailors we happened on one that is actually different. The National Geographic put Tom's Fashion at the top of their list of ten best custom tailors in the world. Their four storey showroom has the best selection of fabrics you are likely to find anywhere in Thailand. They employ all of their own craftsmen (most tailor shops do not) and the workmanship is superb. The prices are low, so customers leave with a smile (and a free shirt). They will even provide transportation from your hotel and return.

Tom's Fashion has generously provided coupons for Club Sanook Members who would like a free made-to-measure shirt. No pressure. No strings attached. They think you will enjoy your experience enough to buy something else, but that is entirely up to you. If you would like a coupon, please stop by our office, or contact us by email and we will send you one.

New on Purple Dragon's Website

Purple Dragon's website is slowly getting a well-deserved face lift. In addition to ongoing design and content changes, several new programs are either already on our website or are about to be:

Way Beyond Luang Prabang. Last year we launched "Beyond Luang Prabang," which combined a visit to Luang Prabang with a stay in an eco-lodge along the Mekong River. Now you can

Elephantmania. Not on our website yet, although we are already offering to those who can not wait, is our "Live Like a Mahout" overnight program. You will learn the feeding and care of the great pachyderms, help give them their morning baths in a sparkling river near Luang Prabang, and get your "elephant drivers license" with the help of their full-time trainers. You will also get to see some spectacular countryside on afternoon rides, and stay in a luxury jungle lodge.

Thailand Leisurely. We are expanding on our series of packages that offer lower prices and longer stays with basic sightseeing. Our newest options are in Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. Krabi will be on the way soon.

New India Options. Our standard India programs focus on the places that most first-time visitors want to see. However, we have been offering plenty more on a custom basis for the last year. If you have been to India already or want to spend more time exploring some of India's more "authentic" destinations, we have have added a collection of suggested itineraries you can use as a a starting place when planning your own customized adventure of a lifetime.

We listen to what our customers have to say about hotel and this is the time of year we "clean house." So we say farewell to several hotels we have become tired of and replace them with places we think you will enjoy more.

The Quay, Phnom Penh. It was bound to happen somewhere, sometime, but little Phnom Penh is the home of the world's first carbon neutral hotel. It's stunning design and views of the Mekong River (which is just across the street), make this the hippest place to stay in Phnom Penh.

Doing It With a Group

Purple Dragon does not offer group tours. However, we operate groups for a number of other companies that specialize in small group tours. If you prefer to travel with new friends rather than solo, this is a great way to enjoy the great destinations and people that Purple Dragon offers.  In November you can join Hermes Tour's small group tour to Thailand. Their program will use top quality hotels and top quality planning and guides (ours!). Visit their website for details.

Been There, Done That

Bangkok's Tub Tim "Penis Shrine"With increasing regularity people come into our office and announce that they have "already visited Bangkok three times and there is  noting left to see." Believe it or not there is more to the Big Mango than the Grand Palace, the Weekend Market and Babylon. Sure, there are places like Jim Thompson's House, Vimarnmek Mansion and Wat Po that are well-trampled by tourists. However, there is plenty more if you scratch below the surface. In future editions of Bulletin from Bangkok we will give you a few suggestions and publish the compiled list on our website.

One of our favorites (perhaps because it is one of the most unusual) is the Tub Tim Shrine. There a long folk tale about a woman named Tub Tim, which we will not burden you with. The shrine, which dates back about a century, is the place to go to solve fertility issues. Who needs a doctor if you fail to conceive or have major performance problems? In this obscure garden, people come to ask Tub Tim for help. They leave garlands of flowers, and animist statues of all descriptions. Most impressive are the hundres of palad kik, or carved penises, some taller than a basketball star, and some with penises of their own. Some very important people have had their Bangkok's Golden Mountwishes granted here, but you will not find this place on any bus tour itinerary.

From the Tub Tim Shrine you can easily travel by boat along one of the the longest canals in the world to the fortress walls that once protected Bangkok. From there it is an easy walk to the Golden Mount. One of the city's principal amulet markets is along the way, and a fascinating place to pick up an unusual gift or kitchy memento of your visit. You have probably noticed that Bangkok is pretty flat. However, there is one hill with a magnificent golden chedi (stupa) in the temple at the top. A walkway that winds around the hill to the top is lined with giant bells. The chedi itself is pretty impressive, and so is the view of the city from the top. This place is popular with Thai people, but you may see one or two intrepid foreigners there.  Since there is no tour bus parking, you will not have to fight a crowd.

You may have seen everything in Bangkok, but you probably have not yet seen Koh Kret (Kret Island) in the Chao Praya River, north of the capital. Since no cars are allowed, it is very peaceful during the week. You can walk all the way around the island in under and hour and see attractive scenery and quiet old temples. The Mon people who settled on the island have set up some of It's Candy! Really!Thailand's most unique ceramics workshops. This is the place to shop for elaborate terra cotta. On weekends the island is a favorite spot for Thai people who want to get away from the big city. The sleepy island comes alive as hundreds of visitors come to enjoy shopping, cheap food, and the desserts made here. Many of the traditional Thai sweets found here have disappeared practically everywhere else in the country.

If you have visited Bangkok more than twice and have not yet seen the show at Siam Niramit you are really missing something special. Take a cast of hundreds, the world's largest stage, a specacular Las Vegas style production, add a little Cirque du Soleil and throw in a dash of the Metropolitan Opera, and you have one of the most memorable cultural music and dance shows in Asia.  Tour the "villages" that surround the theatre, enjoy dinner and take in the show, and still be back to Silom before things get wild.

To learn more about any of these places please send us an email or stop by our office.

Bangkok Landmarks for Sale

Here is your chance to own a part of one of two legendary Bangkok businesses (although not ours). We hear the majority shareholder of Thelephone Pub wants to retire. It has long been one of Bangkok's most popular gay businesses. The owner of one of Bangkok's oldest and finest mens health retreats also wants to pursue other opportunities. Once the home of the Australian ambassador, the main building is surrounded by gardens. There is a full-sized restaurant with a large kitchen, studio apartment and living quarters for staff. There is also parking space for 20 cars and a very loyal clientele. The price is clearly a sacrifice and it would not take much for a new owner to take over immediately and make it even more grand than it already is. Bangkok really needs a world class spa for men, and this is the perfect place for it. If you want more information, please contact Douglas and he will put you in touch with either of these businesses.

Purple Dragon on Face Book 

Purple Dragon recently began to show its face on FaceBook. Search for "purpledragonbkk."  Please stop by and Like/follow us.

Seeing Double?

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