Club Sanook Newsletter - December 2005


June 2006
Moving On...

At one time or another in our lives most of us wonder what it might be like to change our name, put the past behind us, and all start over. The people who formerly operated Purple Dragon have done just that. In April the company morphed into “Purple Dragon Ltd.” While not quite as dramatic as sexual reassignment surgery, we are optimistic about a bright new future.

The end result of the unfortunate legal problems of two of our former senior management was that Purple Dragon was no longer able to continue in business. However, Douglas, one of the founding partners, has formed a new company called Purple Dragon that will follow in its footsteps. In addition to the same kinds of packages, Purple Dragon will expand what it offers, including the launch of several India programs and new China destinations. Douglas promises the same commitment to service and quality that Purple Dragon became well known for.

We are very excited about the opening of our two new satellite offices in Phuket and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), Cambodia. The Phuket office is inside Club One Seven Boutique Hotel in Patong. Club One Seven's manager, Daniel See, is a well-known community leader and was Purple Dragon’ Operations Manager in Phuket for the last year.

The Siem Reap office can be found at Figo, Siem Reap’s second gay bar and restaurant, which opened last November. Another Douglas brainchild, Figo ( also operates a two hectare organic vegetable garden and cut flower nursery on the outskirts of Siem Reap, which they have dubbed "Figo Farm."

Purple Dragon’s ambitious plans for the next two years include more Figo locations and continued diversification into hotels and other businesses in the hospitality industry. We are also considering applying their unique approach to tour packaging to new destinations outside of Asia.

Photo Contest Winners

We are grateful to everyone who joined our photo contest. We received several hundred photos from our members--all of them good, some of them fantastic.

Congratulations to our first prize winner, William Reyland. Second prizes go to Steve Oppenheim, Gordon Crofoot and Stephen Shephard.

You can see the winning photos here. To see all of the photos entered, click the link at the bottom of the winners' page. Here's our problem: One of our computers had an attack of temporary amnesia and we are not able to identify all of the photographers. If you see one of your own photos in the slide show and your name is not mentioned, please let us know so we can make sure you get appropriate credit.

Many thanks to our judges: Sujit Benarjee, Khim Bunlin, John Goss, Michael Howard, Robert McLeod, Roberto Pace, Nattaphat Ruaenwong, Daniel See, Tom Van Blarcom and Zhao Zhi Wei and our office staff.

New On Our Website

Everything on the Purple Dragon website is new. We have a bright new look with additional features to make navigating around the site easier.

Our Concierge service is new. Our concierge can help you with things like finding a serviced apartment in Bangkok, booking train travel, shopping for special gifts, restaurant and spa reservations, arranging for mobile phone for use during your visit, chartering a jet, or making sure the money you send for your friend's English lessons are actually spent on English lessons.

We have recently added several new packages:

Angkor Adventure. This is a new four-night Angkor Wat package that includes Beng Melea Temple, one of Angkor's most fantastic ruins. Until a few months ago it was hard to visit because there was no road.  DETAILS

Phuket Leisurely is the slow and easy way to enjoy Thailand's magical island on a budget for a week or more. The longer you stay, the lower the cost. Plenty of activities--from island trips to beach picnics, to nightlife adventures--can be arranged after you arrive. DETAILS

Sensual Samui has a new bumper crop of gay accommodation and nightlife. If you have given Samui a miss in the past, we hope will take another look at this oh-so-beautiful emerald island. DETAILS

On the Drawing Board. We are hard at work on several new packages that will appear on our website soon:

  Surf and Sauté: Learn to cook Thai food in Phuket
  Four new India packages, including an overnight stay in a restored fort in Rajasthan
  A "Phuket Adventure" package that includes sea caves and elephant rides
  A new "Ultimate Angkor" package, using Amansara, (see above)
  A new two-night Golden Triangle trip in Northern Thailand
  Guilin, home to spicy Chinese cuisine and some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet
  And how about South Africa, Australia or Cuba? Let us know what you think.

If you can't wait to see details on our website please contact us.

Where to Stay

We constantly fine-tune our programs and we listen closely to what our customers have to say about the hotels we use. Here are two hotels we have added to our packages. We know you will love them:

King Norodom Sihanouk's villa in Siem Reap was too small to accommodate the many glamorous celebrities who visited Angkor Wat in the sixties. So he built a marvelous "guest house" not far away. It suffered from neglect during the dark time of the Khmer Rouge. But in 2002 it became what many consider to be the best hotel in Cambodia. The plain, high walls that surround Amansara make you think you may be passing a jail. However, they conceal an oasis of peaceful luxury of low-rise Zen minimalist architecture, lush, manicured gardens, grand swimming pools, a spa, and twenty-four suites. (Twelve with private pools opened less than a year ago.) Amansara is heavenly. Your stay includes breakfast and either lunch or dinner, open bar in your suite and in the restaurant, house wine, a private tuk-tuk and driver, an Angkor Wat expedition at dawn and a ride from the airport in Sihanouk's vintage Benz limousine. Expensive? Of of course it is. But Jackie Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle stayed there. You deserve to stay there, too. 

Metropole Shanghai Hotel
We were more than a little surprised when we first visited the Metropole in Shanghai, our new "budget" hotel. We fell in love with the place. This grand seventy-odd year old structure is in the old "Jewish Quarter," just two blocks from The Bund. The lobby is elegant and the rooms are spacious and well decorated. We use the Metropole's deluxe rooms at our "value" (least expensive) price level. But if you feel like splurging for the "superior" level you will get an enormous suite. Most of the suites have expansive terraces overlooking the neighborhood's charming post-deco high-rises. You will want to host a cocktail party al fresco. You can find our Shanghai package here.

Thailand's Political Situation

You have probably seen news stories about demonstrations in Thailand to remove/retain the current prime minister, Taksin Shinawatra. While these often-noisy public gatherings have become a regular occurrence in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand, they take place well away from areas tourists normally visit. There has been no violence and there probably will not be any. Police have shown a great deal of restraint. Many people in Thailand are very passionate about this issue one way or another. We think it is an exciting opportunity to see democracy at work as Thai people exercise civil rights that people in many other countries take for granted. We do not feel unsafe here, and you should not either. The street demonstration phase is probably behind us anyway as the battle moves to the courts.

New Directions for Bangkok's Pride Celebration

This year something new and exciting is coming from from Bangkok's GLBT community. It's "Pride Festival - Bangkok."

That's the new name for this year's Pride events in Bangkok. The theme of the festival is ‘Bangkok Together 2006’ and the new goal is to bring everyone together to increase community participation of friends and families, and show the diversity of the GLBT Thai community.

The new name for the organizing group is Pride Festival Coalition (PFC) and its organizational structure will be more like other Thai organizations. This is a reflection of the fact that Thais are in the majority on the new executive committee and will assure the diversity of representation and appropriateness of planning and activities.

Organizers promise to make changes to the traditional in response to suggestions from the community. The new new dates (October 28 through November 5) include celebrations of both Halloween and Loy Krathong. The new directors say they are open to suggestions.

Current Club Sanook Goodies

Almost everything is new at Club Sanook. The club's website now has a small bookshop and a convenient way to reserve a room at your favorite hotel.

Current Member Specials include free nights at three hotels in Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), two hotels in Chiang Mai, and one of our Krabi resorts, plus discounts/freebees in Cambodia, China and Vietnam.

If you are not yet a Club Sanook Member, we hope you will join today. Membership is free and it takes only about three minutes to join at

About This Newsletter

You are receiving this newsletter because you are a former guest, because you have asked for information about our company, or because you have registered as a Club Sanook Member. Our list is very private. We do not share it with anyone. However, If you do not wish to receive future email from us, we will remove you promptly at your request. Just remember, points you may have accrued in our Club Sanook program will be lost.

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Purple Dragon
 is proud to be a founding Member of the Thai Alternative Tourism Association