January 2010


Social Networking and Gay Travel

Obviously we are company that understands the power of the internet. Twenty years ago the World Wide Web was a novelty and a distraction. Compared to fast, visually-stimulating content we have today,  the Internet was quite crude back then. Most people were not able to visualize how useful the Internet might eventually be and what an enormous impact it would have on the daily lives of billions of people. We all use the Internet for different things. You may be someone who no longer needs a dictionary, thesaurus or world atlas, who downloads movies, finds restaurants, makes free international phone calls, shops for everything from groceries to airline tickets to a new car, does his banking, or maybe even finds new friends.

The Internet's biggest impact on society has been ability to brig people together. The greatest example of this is the growing number of "social networking" websites that have appeared in the past three years. You are probably in the minority if you are not using at least one of them, like Twitter, Linked-In and FaceBook. Other sites attract users who want to meet people with special interests or purposes who want to meet like-minded people, whether it be business contacts or a date.

TwitterWe are on Face Book!PlaxoIt comes as no surprise that a new gay travel networking site appeared only months ago but now has thousands of members (though not quite as many as Club Sanook). GTN has members around the globe who are able to select other members as friends, and  create and join groups that for people who share interests in destinations or activities. You can join free. (Even Miss Fu is a member... in fact, the only known photo of her is on her personal profile page.) You will find us there  as well as the sites shown on the right. If you belong to any of these sites, please let us know you are following us or have joined one of our groups.

Meet "Mr. Perfect"

Eak and ToddGraduaton DayIn our last newsletter we mentioned an impending new addition to our staff. Please meet Eak (pronounced "ake"). He's very bright, a fast learner and very easy on the eyes. He is a little bit shy, so please encourage him if you stop by or happen to contact us by email. As you can see, he is getting great training from Todd.

Meanwhile, our indispensible Todd has just passed his second anniversary with us. Last weekend he received his diploma and is now officially an MBA. The next box of business cards will show a new title since he has been promoted to Assistant Managing Director. (Todd is the second from the left in this happy graduation photo.

Photo Contest #4! Photo Contest #4

Our Members take some of the best travel photos we have ever seen. We are celebrating everyone's creativity once again with our fourth annual (well, almost) photo contest. Around 450 photos were entered in the last contest. Everyone who enters wins Purple Bonus Points and all Club Sanook Members get to vote for their favorites at the end of the contest. You can read more on Purple Dragon's website, and also view all of the entries from the three previous contests.

Mr. Gay ChinaSound Off on China

The publicity photo we received for the first Mr. Gay China pageant in Beijing two weeks ago really got our attention. Woof! Just an hour before the show was to start, eight police officers shut the it down, saying that it was not because the pageant was gay, but because producers "did not follow the proper procedures."

China is in the news quite a bit these days and their government seems not to want any friends. Many blame China for turning December's Global Warming Summit in Copenhagen into a debacle, a complete waste of time and money. Google seems set to pull out of China because of the interference of officials. Yahoo has been accused of allowing the government to spy on its citizens. And the hit movie Avatar has been pulled from theatres China by censors, fearing the film would inspire public rebellion.  We have been told that China already puts down about 70,000 riots every year. Clearly Mr. Gay China might have cause a riot of sorts all by himself.

We realize that nothing lasts forever and we continuously reevaluate the destinations we offer, so we would like our Members to answer the question: "Would China's human rights issues influence your decision to travel there?" We invite you to take our anonymous poll, which also allows you to leave comments. You will find it HERE.

Almost But Not Quite. . . .

Ever feel like you are one of those people who never manage to finish anything? It has been like that with us this year. However, we are making progress with some of the new things we have teased you with during 2009. Our Singapore pages are (mostly) finished and online. And our three new Bhutan packages are in various stages of completion. If you have visited Bhutan and have photos we can borrow until Douglas has a chance to go there and take his own, please let us know. We are already handling Bhutan reservations.

Still to come: Nepal is still in development. When that has been conquered we will be open to suggestions about what and were to offer next. What's comes after that? How about Sri Lanka?

Speaking of finishing things, Douglas finally got around to updating his blog and he is already working on the next. He is probably the world's slowest blogger. That might be why we still do not have a page on our website for our Songkran trip to Luang Prabang. But if you are interested, email us and we will send you prices (they're low!)

Been There, Done That

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 every edition of Bulletin from Bangkok we offer a few suggestions and will eventually publish the compiled list on our website.

Something Fishy in Bangkok. Several Bangkok spas now make it possible for their customers to "feed the fish." This involves putting all or part of your body into a large aquarium filled with thousands of small fish. The tiny toothless fish nibble away dead skin cells painlessly. Certainly sounds like more fun than a stiff brush and a bar of soap.

DendrobiumWednesday at the Weekend Market. Most visitors do not know that Chatuchak, Bangkok's famed Weekend Market has a different life during the week. Mondays through Fridays "JJ" becomes one of the world's largest plant markets. If you enjoy horticulture or just want to see something sans tourists, head for Chatuchak early on any weekday morning to see millions of foliage plants, orchids, unusual fruit trees, roses, bamboo, bromeliads, and ferns of every size and description. Part of the market specializes on huge trees and other massive plants for landscapers. If you need a ten meter Travelers Palm, you will probably find two or three. You are sure to see plenty of plants that are rare and unusual. There is plenty of food to snack on while you are there, so skip breakfast and start early. Although most visitors cannot take plants home with them, this is an interesting low-cost daytime adventure.

January's Quiz

We promise to publish a fun quiz in every newsletter. All of the answers are on Purple Dragon's Website and they are easy to find. The optional bonus question takes a bit more effort but you do not have to answer that one unless you want to. All entries with all questions answered correctly will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card you can use for any Purple Dragon package. Give it to a friend if you like. Or enter monthly and you might collect them all! If you also answer the bonus question correctly you will be entered into a drawing for a grand prize.  We have not figured out what that is going to be yet, but you will probably like it.  You must be a Club Sanook Member to enter. Only one entry per person, please. You must enter before 28 February 2010. We will give all of the correct answers and name the winner in the next newsletter.

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Low Season Specials Already?

You might think we cannot say goodbye to 2009 quickly enough, but we are already planning for the upcoming traditional "low season" from April through September 2010. We have new offers arriving every day. Our special prices at the Metropole in Hanoi are really terrific and many  hotels are giving our guests free nights when they pay for two or three. Want to take a look? Take this short cut.

From the Trivia Basket

Club One Seven in Phuket  has added two new super deluxe rooms. Prices are not on our website, but you plan to stay at this delightful and homey hotel please enquire about cost and availability. We can't wait to sleep in one of them ourselves!

Thai Airways has filed a civil lawsuit against the leaders of the "yellow shirt" group that occupied Thailand's airports last year, forcing them to close. Thirty-six members of the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD) are named in the suit, including some big-name politicians. The airline is seeking 575 million baht (more than 15 million US dollars at December 2008 exchange rates).

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Chanthaburi, on Thailand's eastern coast, is celebrating its three hundredth birthday this month.  Believe it or not, a Christian community was established in Thailand in 1709, and has attracted religious refugees from throughout Asia for three centuries. The cathedral itself has been rebuilt several times, most recently in 1906.

New in Purple Dragon's World

iResidence SilomiResidence SilomOur newest hotel in Bangkok is iResidence Silom. Located on a quiet side street, it is still an easy walk to all of your favorite nightlife venues. Every room is a studio or suite, and some are huge. Larger rooms have kitchens. The hotel has a restaurant, pool and gym, and offers free WiFi for guests. what we like most about iResidence Silom is its deliciously low price.

Seeing Double?

If you received two or more emails regarding this issue of Bulletin from Bangkok, that means we have duplicate records in our Membership list. Please let Miss Fu know so that we do not clutter your In box with redundant email.

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