Purple Dragon Club Sanook
Bulletin from Bangkok
The newsletter of PurpleDragon Ltd's private travel club.

May 2015

Contact us: [email protected]

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It's Over: Martial Law Is a Thing of the Past

"Are the bars still closing at ten?" the caller from New York asked. A friend in California asked: "If I am seen talking to a Thai person will I be followed or interrogated by the police?" A recent email from the Netherlands asked "What happens if I do not get back to my hotel before curfew?"

General Prayuth Chan-OchaGood God, where do people get the idea that any of the above happens in Thailand? This is the Land of Smiles, not North Korea. You can probably blame the news media. But you don not have to worry about it anyway since Thailand's state of Martial Law was brought to an end at the end of March.

Thailand's politics are pretty complicated. While it is practically impossible to present many real facts in a 40 second story on the evening news, we wish the media would say absolutely nothing. There are no demonstrations here. No tanks in the streets. No secret police are following tourists around. Even the police have become nice since many of their top leaders have been thrown into prison for corruption. Bars are open until 02:00 (or sometimes later). There has not been a curfew for about ten months. You can talk to anyone you like without being arrested. You can still enjoy an afternoon on a sparkling beach, taste the world's best Pad Thai in a sidewalk restaurant, take in the kind of show you probably can't see at home, shop 24/7, have your fortune told at Wat Pho, and even witness an entire outdoor market disappear in two minutes to make way for a commuter train. So why are you staying home?

"Douglas is Ignoring Me"

If you have recently sent him email that has not been answered, here's why....

During the last week in December Douglas' notebook computer had what he called a "senior moment." In the blink of an eye it forgot about one third of his email and decided never to connect to the Internet again. And so began a saga he would just as soon forget. Over the New Year holiday getting a computer repaired was next to impossible. So he reloaded drivers, scanned for viruses, and began to deal with 200 emails a day with his iPad. The folks who made the computer decided that, even though he was willing to pay for help, they were not interested in helping. So he moved to a "retired" notebook that had problems of its own and had to be completely reformatted. After three and a half months he has a like-new notebook that seems to be working fine.

We are sure that some of our customers are unhappy because they have not been answered. Douglas has remembered quite a few of them and has since reestablished contact. He's also backing up his data just about every day. If he owes you an email, please remind him that you are waiting: [email protected]

Quad Biking in Angkor WatPutting Adventure Into the Adventure

Purple Dragon is changing some of its packages to make adventures even more adventurous! We are starting with our Angkor Adventure four-night trip. In addition to seeing the best of Angkor Wat, you also get a day in the countryside to rev up your testosterone. After an early breakfast it's off to the edge of Angkor to spend the morning flying through the treetops of an old growth forest like a modern-day Tarzan. This zipline adventure features 21 tree-top platforms, ten thrilling ziplines, and four sky bridges spanning hundreds of meters through the forest. After lunch near Ta Phrom you spend the afternoon on quad bikes seeing local villages up close. exploring hidden Angkor-era temples, and getting as dirty as you want to. The route takes you through 45 km of jungle, hidden temples, the Roulos Group of temples, kids playing, and farmers at work in their rice paddies. You'll be back at your hotel at the beginning of happy hour for a refreshing dip in the pool.

More on Marriage...

Gay Wedding at The Metropole, HanoiIn the last edition of this newsletter we told you how Vietnam was inching ever closer to being the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, leaving Thailand in the dust.

Out in Thailand, our national English language glossy monthly magazine, has a story in their April edition about how same sex marriage almost became a reality in Thailand. According to the story, hearings took place in parliament a little more than two years ago. Legislation was drafted to give same sex couples a mechanism to register domestic partnerships and enjoy the same rights as married heterosexual couples. Sadly, parliament was dissolved in February 2014 by then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The entire constitution went out the window three months later when her government was deposed in a coup. There is no functioning elected parliament because there is no functioning constitution that provides a framework for elections. There is, however, an appointed legislative body and a prime minister who has his own TV show.

The Law Reform Commission of Thailand has since taken up the challenge of drafting new legislation to legalize LGBT domestic unions, but they have no plans to submit it as a citizen-initiated bill to the non-elected parliament. In other words, it will not be until after elections that this matter will go forward in Thailand unless Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha (pictured at the top of this page) uses his limitless power to declare it. Chances of that happening are mighty slim, but you never know. The good general is full of surprises.

Member Goodies 

Here is a quick look at special deals just for Members:

* Stay at Shinta Mani (the third best hotel in the world and the best in Asia, according to Tripadvisor and CNN) in Siem Reap/Angkor Wat and get one free night for every two you stay. You can find our Angkor Wat packages here: www.purpledrag.com/cambodia/siemreap.htm

* 10% off Hanoi during October 2015. Choose any of our Hanoi programs, stay at the Sofitel Metropole during October 2015, and reserve and pay at least 30 days in advance and take a 10% discount.

* 10% off Chiang Mai. Enjoy any of our Chiang Mai packages between now and the end of September, stay at the luscious Rachamanka Resort and save ten percent if you pay within seven days of making your reservation. You will find all of our Chiang Mai programs at www.purpledrag.com/thailand/northern.htm

Like to Save $$$? 2015 High Season Gift Certificates Available Now

Purple Dragon has a clever benefit for Club Sanook Members who want to save money but who have not yet made up their minds about future travel. If you have decided you want to make a trip to our part of the world some time in the next 18 months but have not chosen a destination or firmed up dates, you can buy a Gift Certificate and give it to yourself!

For the sixth year in a row we are offering Club Sanook Members an easy way to save on future travel, even if they are not sure where or when they will travel. You can buy gift certificates in denominations of $1,000 to $10,000 at a discount. You can use them during  October 2015 through March 2016. You do not have to use Purple Dragon's gift certificates as gifts--you can use them yourself to take up to 16% off (or 18% if you pay by bank transfer) anything Purple Dragon offers except for airfares, India, Bhutan or Nepal. You can begin making your plans whenever you like, as far in advance as you like. You can even pay for a portion of the cost by redeeming points you have already earned. To learn more see our Member Specials page.

Medicine for Nepal

Are in Bangkok (or are on your way to Bangkok) and have antibiotics or pain medication that you don't need? Please drop by our office and we will see to it that it goes to good use. We are operating a collection point for medicine that will be hand-delivered to Nepal. We are also collecting hotel amenities (new toothbrushes, little soaps, shampoo, etc.) since there are now many homeless people who would probably be very happy to be able to brush their teeth and bathe. You can find a map to Purple Dragon's office here: www.purpledrag.com/contact.htm

Great New Stuff

Several months ago we parted company with Bangkok's Sukhothai Hotel after a 15 year relationship. (There were good reasons for us to move on.) We looked carefully for a new option for our guests who demand a higher level of comfort and quality and ultimately chose The Hansar. We admit The Hansar is a yet a household word. It's only a couple of years old, so give it time. The location is a leafy enclave of lavish conds just off Rachadamri Road, only five to ten minutes by taxi from Silom/Surawong nightlife, Central World Plaza and Siam Center/Siam Paragon shopping mega-malls. The Hansar is an all-suite hotel so rooms are spacious. Some rooms have balconies and many have great views overlooking the Royal Turf Club. You can see more photos if you click here.

The Hansar

Muay Thai Meets Las Vegas. We all shed a tear when the Lumpini Muay Thai boxing stadium closed a couple of years ago. Another boxing venue remains in West Nowhere and operates only four nights a week. Recently, a new show called "Muai Thai Live" opened in the new Asiatique entertainment venue along the Chao Praya River. It's a modern indoor theatre with air conditioning and professional lighting. Unlike Lumpini Stadium, there are no clouds of cigarette smoke or beer bottles on the floor, and no betting. The "show" portion of the evening is a five-act martial arts fantasy tribute to Thai pecs, six-packs and bulging arms set to traditional Thai music. Once your imagination is stoked up the boxing matches begin. They 're real--not rehearsed, so blood and gore are possible, though not likely. All in all it's a fun evening that will give you a peek into one corner of Thai culture. There are good restaurants nearby. Allow plenty of time to get there on weeknights since it's in traffic hell. For tickets contact Purple Dragon. If you really want smoke, beer bottles and betting, Purple Dragon can help you with that, too.

Fan Mail For Our Guides

We think our guides are probably the best in the business. Even though we never get to meet most of our customers, they come face to face with our local staff, who are also Purple Dragon's ambassadors. We have always received kudos from our guests for the past seventeen years so we have decided to start to publish some of them in this newsletter. If you have recently traveled with us and think one of our people has been especially outstanding and you want to tell us why, we invite you to send your fan mail to me: [email protected]. (preferably a hand-written note and not an email). Here's a very recent letter that our #1 Phnom Penh guide received. We are really proud of the extra effort he puts into taking care of our guests. If your guide is a copy of Lonely Planet, he probably won't give you much personal attention.

Share This Newsletter With a Friend

No "footprint" this month. But if you enjoy reading this newsletter and have friends who might enjoy it as well, please share. We have made it easy by semi-automating the process.  Just click here to send an email. (We will not receive a copy.)

The Demise of the Points

Purple Dragon and Club Sanook have offered a Purple Points loyalty program for the last several years. It is a huge amount of work yet nobody seems very interested in it. So we are going to save ourselves about 2o hours of work every month. Effective 30 June 2015 we will no longer keep track of points except for Diamond Members. For Basic members, any unexpired points will vanish on 30 September. For Diamond Members who have paid for their membership, points will not expire. If your membership has expired, you can rejoin as a Diamond Member. To join again or to upgrade your Membership please go to www.clubsanook.com/upgrade.htm


Phnom Penh

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Copyright 2015 Purple Dragon Ltd. All rights reserved.
No animals were harmed in the making of this newsletter.

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