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

February 2014

Contact us: missfu@clubsanook.com

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 Bangkok ProtestsMadness in Bangkok: "Civil Unrest"

You have probably seen reports of demonstrations in Bangkok on TV news broadcasts lately. Yes, there are ongoing protests in Bangkok and other cities in Thailand However, they do not resemble the "red shirt" demonstrations of three years ago in any way. There has been violence but it has been caused entirely by those who support the current caretaker government.  First of all, there is no danger in visiting Bangkok, unless you participate in the protests, which we do not recommend. The photo on the right was taken more or less in front of Purple Dragon's office, one block from the Lumpini/Silom/Saladaeng protest site. Nobody in the office feels threatened or unsafe. Douglas lives two blocks from the Rachaprasong rally site (there are now four major protest sites in the city). While it is somtimes noisy, it is mostly very benign. He has to travel or along side two or three sites a day in order to get to work. He has asked me to remind you to kill your TV, since the network and cable news coverage you are seeing tells only about 5% of the story. He has been writing more thorough posts in his blog for more than one month. It is lengthy,  so you will not be able to read it in a couple of minutes. You may not agree with how he sees things.  If our really, really want to know what is going on, Read Douglas' Blog, which reflects his personal observations and does not represent the opinions of Purple Dragon Ltd.. Sorry, but the blog cannot be accessed from some countries and you will be asked to register to read it.

Low Season Specials Already?

It's only February but we are getting a head start on low-season specials for 2014. We are looking for ways for you to save money, not only during the "green season" (around June through October) but from March through the end of 2014. So far we have special deals from:

    Club SanookMember Specials  The Caravelle, Saigon
    Club SanookMember Specials  The Legend, Chiang Rai
    Club SanookMember Specials  Luang say Residence, Luang Prabang
    Club SanookMember Specials  The Novotel Peace, Beijing
    Club SanookMember Specials  The Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi
    Club SanookMember Specials  The Rachamankha, Chiang Mai
    Club SanookMember Specials  Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Siem Reap
    Club SanookMember Specials  Raffles Le Royale, Phnom Penh
    Club SanookMember Specials  Sareeraya Resort, Koh Samui
    Club SanookMember Specials  Shinta Mani (both locations), Siem Reap
    Club SanookMember Specials  Tubkaak Resort, Krabi

We will be adding more special every week, so check back from time to time. We have ways foryou to save money during high season, even if you are not sure of your plans yet. We even have a way for you to travel at Purple Dragon's wholesale cost for the rest of your life. If you are a Member and have not found your way to our Members' Specials page, it's time you paid a visit.

More About China

This the second of a two-part spotlight on China. To see the first part, see our October 2014 newsletter. Although not on our website we have regularly offered custom programs for those who want longer trips. These are not permanently to our website because we have not been able to find gay tour guides guides in these places. That will change in time. Here are more suggestions:

Near Hong Kong: Guandong, Shenzen and Guangzhou

Guangdong is a prosperous province along China's Southeastern coast. It is home to two major cities that are attractive for both business and leisure travelers:

Shenzen is a mega-city of skyscrapers on the Pearl River Delta and the closest major Chinese city to Hong Kong. There is not much of historic importance to see here. Many attractions here have a kitschy only-in-China theme park ambiance. "Window of the World," for example, allows you to visit Bangkok's Grand Palace, the Tower of London, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House, and Niagara Falls all in one day.  Shenzen might make an interesting overnight trip from Hong Kong. There is plenty of gay nightlife, saunas, clubs, and meeting places.

GuangzhouGuangzhou (nee Canton). Farther up the Pearl River Delta is Guangzhou, which dates back more than 2,000 years. It is a major sea port and commercial center with one of the best developed public transportation systems in Asia. There is so much to see and do here that it deserves an edition of Bulletin from Bangkok all its own. There are street markets, religious buildings of all kinds, parks, museums, galleries, and good examples of slowly-disappearing ancient, historic,and colonial architecture. Large sections of the original Song- and Ming-Dynasty city walls still remain. You'll also find Starbucks, MacDonalds's and plenty of things that appeal to gay visitors.

Yangtze River & Three Gorges

Yangtze River and Three Gorges remain destinations we are not interested in offering. The river has become an environmental disaster. According to one official newspaper in China, about three tons of sewage pour into the river every minute. (Official newspapers cannot be relied upon for accurate reporting, so the figure is probably much higher.) Considering the overnight stay that may be required at the beginning and/or end of a cruise, the entire trip can take up to five days. There are so many more wonderful things to see in China, that we believe most of our guests will find their time is better spent seeing things of greater importance.

In the next newsletter. Maybe: The Silk Road. Or maybe not.

TorsoDisease du Jour: Vaser

High Definition Vaser is the next generation of liposuction technology that can do incredible things in the right hands. Vaser does not "suck" fat out--it causes fat cells to implode with ultrasound waves, and the fat is drained away as a liquid through small "canulas" (tiny tubes).

"Dr. R" is a rock star among cosmetic surgeons in Thailand. Want six packs? He can actually sculpt them with Vaser by removing fat in selected areas of the abdomen. He can use Vaser for male breast reduction, then give you permanent pecs with an injectable filler.

Vaser is minimally invasive and does not require a hospital stay or significant down time. Some patients even describe it as "comfortable," "like a hot stone massage." It is safer than traditional liposuction, which also destroys blood vessels and nerve tissue, which results in pain and an extended recovery time, and can lead to serious complications.

Before & AfterVaser can be used on the abdomen, upper torso, buttox, love handles, arms, and thighs. Because the VASER leaves elastic skin tissues intact, the skin retracts like shrink wrap over the new muscle contours. This gives superior definition to the contours the surgeon has just created, for  more attractive results

The best results with Vaser comes from plastic surgeons who are also part Michaelangelo. That's what makes Dr. R. a rock star. But it's not for everyone. (You need to be fairly lean and reasonably fit.) If you are considering improvements to your body, you can get an evaluation with Dr. R for just 600 baht (about $18.50, 13.50 Euros, $11 pounds, or 56 Polish Zloty). Just send us an email and with your preferred date and time and we will do the rest: info@purpledrag.com. If you go ahead with the procedure Dr. R. recommends you get credit for your 600 baht.

This boutique hospital also does practically any other kind of plastic surgery (full face lifts, eye lifts, nose jobs, tummy tucks),  "lunchtime" (minimally invasive) procedures, liposuction, and even sexual reassignment. Using Purple Dragon's medical tourism referral services does not increase the cost of procedures you do, it helps to assure us that you are in good hands. People who pick a clinic by Googling "facelift Bangkok" will probably not be very happy with the results.

Been There, Done That: Decorate YourselfDouglas gets more tattoos

This is a regular feature in Bulletin from Bangkok for people who 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.

While this is not for everyone, a surprising number of our customers have shown some interest in getting a traditional tattoo in Thailand. These go beyond mere decoration--they are considered magical amulets displayed on the skin to attract luck or exhibit enlightenment. They are usually administered by a monk--one dot at a time with a sharpened piece of bamboo. (Angelina Jolie got a few of them here from a prominent monk/tattoo artist.) We found an amazing shaman in Samut Prakan, on the outskirts of Bangkok, who lives in house that looks more like a Buddhist religious shrine. He is amazingly adept and gentle, and chants and recites magic spells while he works. It is not exactly painless, but most people find the traditional method more comfortable than modern buzzing electric machines. If you are brave and want to have a cultural experience that few visitors get to experience, we will be happy to organize the trip with a driver who knows exactly how to find the place, and one of our guides, who will explain everything that will happen, including pre-tattoo rituals.

Talad Rot Fai ("Railroad Market"), which we featured in our October newsletter, has been kicked off land owned by the railroads and has moved so far away that is practically half way to Cambodia.

Cruise Bali to Singapore in Suite Style

Cruise RouteThere is still limited space on Atlantis Events' all-gay cruise from Bali to Singapore March 15-25, 2014. You can sail aboard the luxurious all-suite Seabourn Odyssey, which has a capacity of only 450 lucky passengers. You can expect five star cuisine and plenty of entertainment. The cruise makes an overnight stop in Phuket, where you have time to take in the local nightlife. Prices range from $3,799 to $8,999 (for the Owner's Suite that features dining for four, a seprate bedroom and a guest bathroom). There are also Penthouse Suites with private verandas, two flat screen TVs and a fully-stocked wet bar for $6,999. Prices are for one or two people and include wine, Champagne, cocktails and gratuities! Space is limited, so let us know so we can grab a cabin for you. We can also arrange for pre-cruise hotel and sightseeing in Bali, and post-cruise Singapore accommodation and tours. Members who book through Purple Dragon earn 200% Purple Bonus Points.

Pot Pouri: A Cheaper Way to "Fly," New Bangkok and Koh Samui Hotels! Flight Simulator

Take-Off and Landing Thrills.

In our most recent newsletter we wrote about how you can try your hand at piloting a 737-800, even if you have no experience. It is hardly arcade ride, but an incredibly sophisticated training device used by airlines around the world, and identical in every detail to a real 737 cockpit. The place where our customers love to go for these adult thrills has recently added a new "aircraft" to its hanger. It is the pilot's half of the flight deck with three projection screens where the wind screens would be. While this "cockpit" has no walls, what makes it special is its hydraulic platform that responds to the controls. When you ascend or descent and/or tilts right and left in response to the controls. The hydraulics help the pilot to feel more engaged, so after a minute or two you forget that you are not in a real 737.

The best part of this new piece of equipment is that the cost is significantly lower than the two-seat flight deck. You can fly this baby for just 15 minutes at a time if you like. We think it is great for those who want to perfect their skills at landing and taking off, and  others who may want to concentrate on use of instruments, like flight plans and the auto pilot. And if it has been your life-long dream to crash into the International Terminal at Newark or Big Ben, this is your big chance. To reserve your time at the controls, it only takes an email. Captain's hat not included, but we know where to get one.

A trio of hotels form Purple Dragon's "Value" and "Standard" hotel options. While they are the least expensive hotel options Purple Dragon uses:

Ivy Sathorn and Bally Studio Silom are our two new "budget" hotels. Aside from their economical price, they are pretty different.

Ivy Satuorn is a new condominium-style hotel located on a side street between Silom and Sathorn. If you plan an extended stay but do not want to break the bank, this is a treat option.

D Varee Diva Bally Silom (a.k.a. "Bally Studio Silom") is a surprisingly-slick, new, contemporary hotel as close to Silom's gay nightlife venues as you can possibly get. It  has just 53 ensuite rooms with flat screen TVs and WiFi and a coffee shop on the premises. It's located between Soi 2 and soi Thaniya, just steps from BTS/Skytrain.

Glow Hotel is our new "Standard" hotel. It's a favorite for trendy LGBT visitors because it's hip, economical, and well located in the Trinity Complex just off Silom Road,  within a 100 mete walk to the Chong Nonsi Skytrain Lebua Viewstation. As a Glow Hotel guest you can expect contemporary decor, a gym, a great breakfast, free WiFi, a pillow choice, LCD TV (with cable), mini bar and a DVD player, a jogging track, a roof-top pool, as well as basketball and tennis courts and a spa.

The Lebua Hotel is housed in Lebua State Tower, with its distinctive golden dome, the second tallest building in Bangkok. It's a great hotel for foodies since The Tower is  home to several high end al fresco restaurants including Sirocco, where dinner will set you back "more than my first car," as our MD put it. (You can have a drink and admire the view.) Lebua is a five-star,  all-suite hotel with stunning views of the Big Mango, particularly the Chao Praya River. Every room has a balcony. You will also enjoy their gorgeous roof-top pool. Its location, where Silom meets the river is close to practically everything you will want to do in Bangkok.

Hotel G SuiteThe Pullman Hotel G on Silom Road is an oasis of urban chic is just close enough to Silom nightlife, yet comfortably distant. From the contemporary decor to one of Bangkok's best hotel restaurants, you might not want to leave. You will love the fresh decor and great views from the hotel's superior rooms. The Deluxe rooms and G Suites are very contemporary and dressed in white. What we liked best, though, were the G Suites, which have a large party space with a wet bar. If you plan to entertain during your stay this is the place to be. The hotel can provide a bar tender and free flow of libations for just the two of you or as many friends as you like to invite. A colorfully-decorated cube with many drawers on the chase lounge in this room caught our attention. Douglas could not wait to pry all of the drawers open, and found a wonderous supply of "amenities" that are not normally found in average hotel rooms, yet should be considered essential for those who enjoy fun. But you have to bring your own handcuffs.

Hotel G Amenities While exploring Hotel G we found intriguing hidden spaces for relaxing and porch swings in the lobby, and intimate curtained enclaves where you can almost literally hide, while enjoying a cocktail overlooking the lobby.

You don't have to spend $800+ for dinner in a rooftop restaurant with a view in Bangkok like our boss did. (We have not let him forget that bit of entertaining and he is now restricted to restaurants with no table linens). Hotel G's top-floor Scarlet Restaurant has a splended French-flavored dining room with both outdoor and indoor seating. You'll love the view, the price, and the amazing wine list. Asked for the baked chocolate dessert and/or the creme brulle at the end for a very happy ending.

Sareeraya Resort VillaSareeraya Resort Hotel & Spa: Fancy a beach holiday in a tropical beach paradise? The hotel we have used the most in Koh Samui became not very nice after all. So we dumped them in favor of something much, much nicer. After a lot of looking we found Sareeraya Resort Hotel & Spa nicely situated on Chaweng Beach, surrounded by lush tropical gardens that make you feel miles away from the nearby shopping and restaurants.

Sareeraya offers just villas and suites, and Purple Dragon uses almost all of them. There are only 30 suites--many with sea views and some with private jacuzzis. Twelve spacious private villas have sea views and their own plunge pools. The hotel has a large infinity pool for those who like to do laps. Two couples can share the enormous 300 square foot "Presidential Villa" that is the closest to the beach and has a living room and private pool. Concerned about prices? Look at Member Specials located near the top of this page and you may achieve financial Nirvana.

Leave Your Footprint, Earn 100 Points!

One Member recently wrote: "Why do you insist I do this every month? What is the point of this?"

First of all, it is hardly every month. We published only two newsletters in 2013 (this one was supposed to be Miss December, but I got sidetracked).

We do not insist on anything. Club Sanook Membership is free. Producing this newsletter takes a lot of time so all we ask is that Members read it. Most of the people who leave our footprint comment that they really enjoy it. Why should we send emails to people who never read them? We have about 6,000 members. Our email software takes about nine hours to send newsletter notices to everyone. I have to sit here and monitor the entire process because TOT (Telephone of Thailand - the government body that controls all  internet and email traffic in the Kingdom) has crappy domain name servers. They are often overloaded and if our mailing is unsupervised we end up with a couple thousand unsent email, which adds several more hours to my work day. We have removed about 2,000 members who have never left a footprint since August 2011 and have never been a Purple Dragon customer. We assume that they send our email directly into the trash without opening it. So why should we waste our time on people who are not interested and may not even remember joining? It takes about 30 seconds to leave your footprint. If that is too much to ask, let me know and I will gladly delete your Membership. -- Obediently, Miss Fu, Membership Secretary and Newsletter Editor.

Happy Ending: Darika's Queen for a Day

Queen for a DayDarika, Darika, Darika. What an imagination she has! With "Darling Darika's Tasteless Virtual Greeting Card" app about to appear in the iTunes Store, she has moved on to her next tasteless project: "Darika's Queen for a Day."

Darling DarikaJust between you and me, have you ever wondered what it might be like to "dress up?" As in a frock, a bra and high heels? We suspect that many guys--even if they aren't gay--are very curious, although they would not go to Wallmart or Marks & Spencer in their home town to buy lingerie or try on shoes. Darika also suspects that small groups of friends might even enjoy doing this together. So Darika is creating a unique fantasy nightlife experience in Bangkok, where glamorous gals with a bit of designer stubble on their chins are not at all unusual. She will have an outfit made just for you and accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. You'll get a glam hairdo and professional make-up. If you like, she can arrange for some eye-candy to escort you around for the evening, or even paparazzi and screaming fans if you want to go the Lady Gaga route. It's your fantasy, so tell her what you dream about and she will make it happen: darika@darlingdarika.com. There will be a website soon.

Want Darika's new greeting card app free? If you have seen her Facebook page you already know it will be as special as she is. If you have an iPhone or iPad you can get a free copy as soon as it is released by test driving the latest Beta version. All she needs is your UDID (Unique Device identifier)a 40-digit number that belongs to you and you alone. The fastest way to extract it from your device is to use Safari to visit www.whereismyudid.com. It will discover your UDID number and allow you to send it to yourself or Darika (see the address above) by email.

Purple Dragon pioneered gay Asian travel

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No animals were harmed in the making of this newsletter.

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