Channel 3 TV’s production of Si Phaendin (Four Reigns) Part I by Paul Trafford

Si Phaendin (Thai สี่แผ่นดิน) by M.R. Kukrit Pramoj is a defining work of Thai culture, originally produced as a series of newspaper columns in the early 1950s.  It’s a form of historical fiction that conveys aristocratic life adjusting to change during four reigns from Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) through to Rama VIII (King Ananda Mahidol).

Chulalongkorn, Queen Saowapha & sons (photo credit quod.lib.umich.edu)

Chulalongkorn, Queen Saowapha & sons (photo credit quod.lib.umich.edu)

We follow the fortunes of the central character, Phloi (alternatively spelt ‘Ploy’), initially as a young lady brought up in the Inner Court of the Grand Palace under the tutelage of a princess, before leaving this sheltered existence to set up household life and family outside.  Many of the attitudes to culture and tradition, especially of older generations of Thais, can be better understood through this novel. It has been rendered in English as Four Reigns by ‘Tulachandra’, published by Silkworm Books some passages are translated verbatim, but others are summarised, quite often omitting conversations, and in some cases there is a re-ordering, so it’s quite liberal!

M.R. Kukrit also wrote dramatic works so he knew about performance and the narrative lends itself to theatre; hence in Thailand there have been many productions on stage and screen. In particular, there have been several TV productions that extend to dozens of episodes, generally following the text closely.  (Google Translate is quite reasonable for getting the gist.

Si Phaendin (credit: thaiticketmajor.com)

The cast of Si Phaendin: The Legend Musical (credit: thaiticketmajor.com)

With Four Reigns in hand, there’s an opportunity for students of Thai language to practise listening and observing many facets of Thai life as told through this the story.  Such is its reputation as being of public service that the Channel 3 TV production has been made available on YouTube, all 79 episodes. The actors speak clearly and, what’s more, the online version even omits all but ‘ticker tape’ advertising!  Of course, we can’t cover such a mammoth series in one or two blog posts, so here we shall explore a selection of scenes that highlight encounters with Farangs (Westerners) or Farang culture and their respective influences.

But before delving into the story, let us introduce the theme tune, which is indicative of the nostalgic tone towards times gone by. The lyrics were gleaned from another YouTube post.

With the help of a Thai family friend, an approximate translation is:

“People have life and a body,

having been born [human],

whether as a woman or a man.

The great benefactor,

more than any other, is the realm.


It is the land for living beings,

dependent on each other and living together.

Whoever is like the land

is kind to life from birth to death


In times of suffering that come by,

they say that in such distress it is like

our suffering visits the body;

when the body is in distress, our suffering is nearby.

[Yet] we can be happy, however we are.


When times are good, we are well

and in times of distress, this should ease.

Your benevolence is great and long-lasting;

our duty is to repay the realm.”

<repeat last 2 verses>

Now we come to the scenes.  We’ll introduce them as a series of themes, roughly in chronological order, with references to TV episodes in parallel with chapters and page numbers in the Silkworm edition of Four Reigns given in square brackets [].

The first intimations of Western influence appear in the form of various customs and objects that have been introduced by King Chulalongkorn.  Regarded as one of the greatest Thai monarchs, he made considerable effort to engage with the West, travelling widely through Europe around the turn of the 20th century and sending many of his children to be educated there, leading to significant modernisation.

The royal visit to Europe in 1897 is given as a backdrop in Si Phaendin at a time when Phloi is more absorbed in other matters; as narrated at the start of chapter 8, the elders of the court are sceptical:

“… Now it was being whispered in the Inner Court that His Majesty Phra Chao Yu Hua would be leaving for Europe!  Many elderly people refused to believe it.  It was unheard of, they said; no Thai king had travelled to that remote continent, it was not traditional, not according to royal custom…”

It’s depicted a bit differently in Episode 7 of the TV series, where we see Phloi and her close (and mischievous) friend, Choi, attending to Sadet, the princess, in her quarters.  It’s presented as a dialogue, where Choi seeks confirmation from Sadet about the plans for Phra Chao Yu Hua (the king):

We see a few material results of these encounters, which by and large don’t flatter the Europeans!  For example, we see Phloi offering a box of cigarettes to Sadet, but she becomes annoyed when she sees only two compared with a full box the day before [Ch. 8, p. 106]:

(How times have changed!  The smoking has been censored – was that in the original series or in the upload to YouTube?)

Yet, there was significant and useful technology and ‘know-how’ that could be learnt from Farangs.  On one occasion Sadet enlists Phloi to help her sort through a collection of old photographs [Ch. 10, p. 121].  This is depicted in Episode 9:

Not included in the English translation, but presumably in Si Phaendin, Sadet explains that some were taken by Farangs because in those days there weren’t people around who knew how to do it, but then the Farangs came to teach.

(Phloi is not very attentive as she is distracted by romantic thoughts.)

And the narrative describes how at times this knowledge challenged existing belief systems, particularly astrology.  In Episode 20 [Ch. 18, pp. 248-9], there is an account of the sightings of Halley’s comet, which orbited the Earth in 1910.  Prem, Phloy’s husband, wakes her up to take a look:

For most Thais such a sight had major astrological significance, striking fear into the hearts of the superstitious, particularly in relation to the monarchy.  Hence Phloi wonders anxiously, “What’s going to happen?” Prem, who has been keen to ingest Western knowledge, tries to reassure her, “Probably Nothing … I’m told by people who study farang textbooks and know about these things that it is a natural phenomenon, though a rare one.  Even so, I can’t help feeling uneasy either.”

A bit later, he adds some detail, explaining that it orbits every 75 years .But it’s only the subsequent announcement that King Edward VII of England has passed away, that Prem and Phloi feel relieved.  Their reflection is typically Thai: Prem reports he’s gone to heaven … and must have accumulated much merit that even Thais could see the sign.  Phloi wonders why this should be so, at which Prem explains that Britain has many colonies – India, Burma, etc., so they need an astrological sign for the whole world [Ch. 18, p.250].

In a later scene, Phloi experiences very severe labour pains and becomes unconscious [Ch. 20, p.270].  The Thai midwife seemingly is unable to help any further, so Prem brings in a Farang doctor, who saves her life. Four Reigns describes that when she comes to, she first sees a beard!  But the TV series only shows the scene downstairs with Prem woken up by the baby crying before the doctor (who does have a beard!) comes into view to give the news: he congratulates on the birth of a girl, but this is the last child that Phloi can have (Praphai):

Being English he’s served a nice cup of tea!   (As he’s not a native speaker and has just a bit part, this is probably not easy for the actor.)

In addition to scientific knowledge that resulted from contact with Europe came industrialisation.  One of the key areas of modernisation was transportation, which developed very rapidly.  Thus we come across the humble bicycle [Ch. 12, p.151].  Naturally, the privilege is first granted to royalty, so Sadet has a go, gamely assisted by Choi, but she doesn’t find it easy, so she then hands her bike to Choi.

Phloi herself is subsequently the recipient of her own bike which comes via her brother Pho Phoem – “one of the best makes (German, you know)”, he grins.

He’s rather coy about how he came by it (it’s not something he could afford) as it’s a delicate matter; Choi eventually gets him to admit that it’s from Phloi’s (at that time unwanted) suitor, Prem.

Then there’s the railways, described in the preceding chapter, p. 135.  At the instigation of the British the first surveys were carried out in the late 19th century, but the Thais were wary of undue influence so Germans were also brought in as a counterweight and very soon the railway network was brought under State control.  (For historical details see: Peter Sek Wannametthee’s PhD thesis (1990)

So His Majesty the King is seen taking the train from Hualamphong for the trip to Bang Pa-In, the famous floating palace towards Ayutthaya:


However, that train is anachronistic by about 50 years!  On screen we’re seeing the Pacific 824 made by the Japanese following the end of the Second World War.  It’s still very popular for outings on special occasions.

But perhaps the most significant addition (because Thailand’s railway network never grew very much), was the motorcar.   Zooming ahead to the reign of Rama VI (King Vajiravudh), Prem is a keen member of the king’s entourage and embracing just about any innovation and finding an excuse for often expensive and odd fashions.  Thus, in Episode 22 [Ch. 19, p. 262], we find Phloi in conversation with her brother Pho Phoem, flush with his newly awarded title of ‘Luang’. She hears a horn and asks, “What’s that sound?”.  Venturing outside, she sees her husband arrives in a newly acquired chauffeur-driven car.   Phloi asks if it belongs to her husband.  Conscious that it might not be approved, he insists “It’s ours.”

(That’s another anachronistic prop: I’m no expert, but it looks more like a 1930s (Austin?) model, but the period in question is just before start of WW1, i.e before 1914.)

For more insight about Si Phaendin and its adaptation check out Paul Trafford’s blog.

Pete Thongjure: Thai-American Actor

Pete Puntakarn Thongjure was born in January 1968 in California, USA. He is a famous half-Thai actor and model. His family moved back to Thailand when he was six years old. He is the eldest son of the famous actor and rally car driver Pinyoo Thongjure.

Pete Thongjure

Puntakarn Thongjure (photo: SaReNIE, sharerice.com)

‘Pete’ Puntakarn Thongjure (photo: SaReNIE, sharerice.com)

Thus, it does not come as a surprise that Pete started acting early in his childhood. What is more, his three younger siblings are also well-known in Thailand. Perhaps you’ve heard of Saifar, NamThansod and NamPoung (Honey) Thongjure.

He first did some Thai TV commericals when he was a kid and soon other opportunities arose. Thus, Pete also got into acting and appeared in his first movie when he was only seven and a half. Hence, at the age of nine he was already co-hosting the show “Pao-ying-shoob”. At the age of 11, he was a popular actor in TV series and movies. However, when he was 13, his parents sent him back to the US for his further education. Today, Pete has been in the Thai entertainment industry for over 30 years and he is still going strong.

Over 30 years in the entertainment industry: Pete Thongjure (photo: dara.wirelessscale.com

Over 30 years in the entertainment industry: Pete Thongjure (photo: dara.wirelessscale.com

He was in a number of popular movies and Thai TV series. His first drama was the lakorn ‘Ubattihed’ with half-Thai actress Katarina Glos.

For instance, he starred in the classic ghost story ‘Mae Nak’ (2000) on Channel 7 and he was in horror movies like ‘Bangkok Haunted’ (2001), ‘Lizard Woman’ (2004) and ‘Fan Mai’ (2010) starring alongside Thai movie star Ananda Everingham.

An interesting alternative movie produced by Pete Thongjure is ‘Province 77 Los Angeles’ (2003). He also starred in his movie which is about Thai immigrants in Los Angeles. There is a place called ‘Thai Town’ where most of these immigrants live – hence, it is also referred to the Thai 77th province. The movie draws a grim picture of a Thai family in LA whose restaurant is in danger of being confiscated for unpaid taxes. What is more, it seems hard to maintain traditional Thai values in the environment where gangs rule but finally the family unifies again. By the way, the soundtrack to the movies is by the Thai rap band Thaitanium.

Province 77 movie starring half-Thai actor Pete Thongjure (photo tambon.blogspot.com)

Province 77 movie starring half-Thai actor Pete Thongjure (photo tambon.blogspot.com)

Nevertheless, Pete maybe regarded as a rarity the showbusiness being an actor who is introvert and does not like to talk much about himself. He enjoys his privacy and loves quiet and peace. In his view, keeping his privacy has been vital in maintaining such a long career.

The racing driver and actor (photo: Pete Thonchua Fanclub, FB page)

The racing driver and actor (photo: Pete Thonchua Fanclub, FB page)

His proudest acting achievements are his action TV series whom Pete enjoys very much. Nevertheless, he is a passionate racing driver and loves fast cars like his father. Hence, he also has a reality show about his racing career. He loves race driving because it requires precision and concentration. Thus, racing is like meditating since the mind has be stay focussed and quiet.

Today, Pete is father of three children and a true family man. His wife is Wilailak ‘Jeng’ Tongchua. Hence, we may say that Pete Thongjure is truly a versatile actor with a long career and also a popular racing driver.

Yours, Sirinya

Paula Taylor: Thai-British Actress

Paula Taylor is a popular half-Thai actress, model and presenter born in January 1983. Her real name is Punlapa Margaret Taylor but in the entertainment industry she is known as ‘Paula Taylor’. Her father is of British descent and her mother is Thai-Chinese.

Paula Taylor

Paula Taylor, Thai-British actress*

Paula Taylor, Thai-British actress*

She was born in Bangkok but then her family moved back to Australia where she grew up in Perth until the age of nine. Eventually her parents divorced and thus Paula moved to Brisbane. She is very comfortable and happy with being a luk kreung because she claims to have had the best of both worlds.

In her teens, Paula went to visit her family in Thailand. That was when she got into contact with the Thai entertainment industry. At the beginning of her career, she did some modelling, appeared in TV commercials and acted in small Thai movies.

Paula Taylor*

Paula Taylor: Thai-British actress, model and presenter*

After being discovered by TV producer Tanawat Wansom and becoming a media personality, she also starred in the Thai romance comedy film ‘Ruk Jung’ The Memory (2006) in the role of Jaa. Thus, she became well-known not only as a TV hostess but also as an actress.

Hence, in 2011 Paula had her Hollywood debut in the Thai-American supernatural thriller ‘Hellgate’. She had the role of Som Mathews starring next to William Hurt and Cary Elwes. What is more, she was also in a number of music videos like for instance ‘Mark mai’ by Bie the Star.

Before this Hollywood movie, she participated in ‘The Amazing Race Asia 2’ thus gaining more popularity in other Southeast Asian countries. Thus, for instance she has also appeared on the Philippine TV Sunday variety show. In addition, today she also produces videos giving some make up tips for a daily look, for example.

Paula lives in Thailand now and still does Thai TV commercials and television guest appearances. In 2010 she got married to Edward Buttery who is of Anglo-Chinese descent. She has two children, a daughter born in 2011 named Lyla Jane Buttery and a son called Luca Christopher Buttery born in 2015.

Paula Taylor and her daugther Lyla Jane*

Paula Taylor and her daugther Lyla Jane*

Hence, Paula has also done a few videos with her daughter. Like this charming video, where she prepares cupcakes with the little ones. It really seems fun and Paula is enjoying herself in the role of a mother. What is more, today she also runs a clothing line for children called ‘Paula and Baby’.

Finally, I think that Paula Taylor is an admirable, successful half-Thai actress who is also a devoted mother. What more could one want? 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(*all photos in this post, credit: Paula Taylor FB page)

Queen Suriyothai & The White Elephant War

Every Thai person knows about the White Elephant War of 1563 and the role that Queen Suriyothai played in this context. The King of Burma learned that the ruler of Siam, King Maha Chakkraphat, owned seven white elephants. The white elephant was considered a symbol of prestige and royal power. Thus, the Burmese King was envious since there were not any white elephants in Burma at that time and he decided to have one at any cost.


Ayutthaya Queen Suriyothai Monument (photo credit: Peerapong Prasutr, wikimedia.org)

The Ayutthaya Queen Suriyothai Monument (photo credit: Peerapong Prasutr, wikimedia.org)

Therefore, the Burmese King demanded three of King Chakkraphat’s white elephants. The ruler of Siam, however, refused. As a consequence, the Burmese king led his army to Ayutthaya, the capital city of Siam. From the wall of the city King Chakraphat and Queen Suriyothai watched the Burmese soldiers invading the city.

Beautiful Queen Suriyothai (photo credit: madmonarchist.blogspot.com)

Painting of the beautiful Queen Suriyothai, source unknown (photo credit: madmonarchist.blogspot.com)

They were deeply worried because there were so many enemy soldiers. Thus, the King decided to let them attack the city and then defeat them. Queen Suriyothai was eager to go into battle with her husband but of course, the King disapproved. Nonetheless, the Queen was determined, and when the King went into battle, she remained at his side.

Painting by Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs, depicting Queen Suriyothai (center) on her elephant putting herself between King Maha Chakkraphat (right) and the Burmese prince (left). (photo credit Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs, wikimedia.org)

Painting by Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs, depicting the Queen (center) on her elephant putting herself between King Maha Chakkraphat (right) and the Viceroy of Pray (left). (photo credit: Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs, wikimedia.org)

She watched the King lead his war elephants into the heat of battle. He was duelling with the Burmese Prince when the Queen saw her husband’s body weave with the sway of his elephant. It was obvious that the King would soon be killed. However, Queen Suriyothai courageously spurred her elephant between the elephants of the royal warriors and was killed by the fatal spear intended to kill her husband.

Suriyothai Monument constructed in 1991 in the area called “Tung Makham Yong” in Ban Mai sub-district, PhraNakorn Si Ayutthaya district (photo credit: Peerapong Prasutr, wikimedia.org)

Suriyothai Monument constructed in 1991 in the area called “Tung Makham Yong” in Ban Mai sub-district, PhraNakorn Si Ayutthaya district (photo credit: Peerapong Prasutr, wikimedia.org)

Hence, King Maha Chakkraphat’s life was saved but he wept for his brave wife and did not stop the war. In four months, however, the Burmese were forced to withdraw their forces and the King of Burma did not succeed in capturing a white elephant.

Queen Suriyothai has become a very popular female historical figure in Thailand. Because of her bravery, boldness and self-determination, she is also regarded as a great feminist. Even though, in history she is only known from three lines in a chronicle, her story was filmed. Thus, ‘The Legend of Suriyothai’ (2001) directed by H.R.H Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol became very popular in Thailand similar to ‘The Legend of King Naresuan’. In 2003 ‘The Legend of Suriyothai’ was also release in the USA and edited by Francis Ford Coppola. Since nearly nothing is known about the historical Suriyothai, her story in the movie was mostly invented.


Finally, we may say that the story of Suriyothai and the White Elephant War has intrigued many generations of Thai people. In addition, the Queen may also be regarded as an early feminist with good reason.

Yours, Sirinya

(Reference: Marian Davies Toth, Tales from Thailand. Folkore, Culture, and History, 2nd ed. 1982)

Nadech Kugimiya: Thai-Austrian Actor

For some years now, half-Thai actor and model Nadech Kugimiya has been a popular face in Thai media and the entertainment industry. Hence, he is famous on Channel 3. I think there is hardly any Thai teenager who does not know him. As a devoted reader of my blog, you may know that I have dealt with him shortly in my article about Nadech & Yaya. Nonetheless, there is of course a lot more to say about him seen individually 🙂

Nadech Kugimiya

Nadech (photo credit: Nadech Kugimiya FC, FB page)

Nadech (photo credit: Nadech Kugimiya FC, FB page)

Nadech, nicknamed Barry, was born 1991 in Khonkaen and his original name was Chonlathit Yodprathum. He is considered to be of Thai-Chinese and Austrian descent. At the beginning of his career there was some confusion about his origins and background because people generally assumed that he must be part-Japanese because of his last name ‘Kugimiya’. What is more, he also has the appearance of a Japanese manga character with his light complexion, thick eyebrows and doe eyes 🙂


However, Barry was brought up by his aunt Sundarat and her husband, the Japanese Yoshio Kugimiya. Nadech adores his Japanese foster father and this is the reason why he himself claims to be half-Japanese, even though he is not. However, Nadech does not know Japanese but speaks fluently in Thai and Isan dialect.

Barry (photo credit: women.sanook.com)

‘Barry’ Nadech Kugimiya (photo credit: women.sanook.com)

Barry was discovered at the age of 16 and has been working as a model, actor and singer since then. Up until today, he has been in numerous Thai commercials and on magazine covers. For example, he was in commercials like Trident chewing gum with actress Pachrapa Chaichua, Shokubutsu shower cream for Men, Samsung Monte 3G, Yamaha Fino, Baoji shoes and Lays with Thai-Norwegian actress ‘Yaya’ Urassaya Sperbund.

What is more, he was the first brand ambassador and brand presenter for Thai Air Asia. He was also a surprise guest flight attendant serving snacks to the delighted passengers in 2014 🙂

Nevertheless, Barry is not only a ‘pretty face’ – he has been studying Communication Arts at Rangsit University. Hence, most recently he has presented his short film ‘Mr. Peter’s Project’ which is a work to complete his B.A. at Rangsit. The film is concerned with the Nan’s forest conservation. Hence, Barry’s aim is to raise an awareness of deforestation. Here is the film, though only available in Thai.

Nadech has been in numerous TV series and films since 2010 when he debuted in Ngaorak Luangjai.  Furthermore, he gained  popularity with his work in the series 4 Hua Jai Haeng Khun Khao (Duang Jai Akkanee or Akkanee’s Heart). He played the character of Fai Akkanee Adisuan starring alongside Urassaya Sperbund.

Nadech & Yaya in Akkannee's Heart (photo credit: iheartlakorns.com)

Nadech & Yaya in Akkanee’s Heart (photo credit: iheartlakorns.com)

What is more, he was in Gamerai Gamerak or Love Game Evil Game as “Saichon/Charles Makovich” and in The Rising Sun series also starring alongside Yaya Urassaya. He had a very popular role in Sunset at Chaophraya (Khu Kam, 2013) playing the Japanese engineering officer Kobori who falls in love with a nationalistic Thai beauty called Angsumalin. He also sang the song to this movie.


Hence, it does not come as a surprise that he also won Best Actor from Starpics Thai Film Award for his role of Kobori in Sunset at Chaophraya. This is really well-deserved!

Finally, we may say that Nadech Kugimiya is certainly one of the hottest luk kreung actors in Thailand at the moment. With good reason, he can be called Mr. Everywhere because he is frequently spotted on magazine covers, in television commercials, billboards and soap operas. You cannot escape Barry, thus you must love him 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

The Legend of King Naresuan (History & Movie)

The story of the Black Prince dates back to the historical Ayutthaya period. Prince Naresuan (in Thai: Ong Dam, องค์ดำ) was born 1555 in Phitsanlunok, Thailand. His brother Ekathotsarot was called the White Prince. In contrast to his brother, he was more lenient and less rigid. Naresuan was captured by the Burmese and thus raised with the Burmese royal princes, among them Crown Prince Mingyi Swa, in Pegu. Naresuan was an intelligent boy who was educated in the style of early modern warfare by the Burmese.

King Naresuan

King Naresuan in Ayutthaya (photo credit: Peerapong Prasutr, wikimedia.org)

King Naresuan memorial in Ayutthaya (photo credit: Peerapong Prasutr, wikimedia.org)

The legend of King Naresuan has been filmed and directed by HSH Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol in six parts from 2007 till today, starring Wanchana Sawatdee as Naresuan. The 6th and last part will be featured in August 2015. The first part released in 2007 deals with the Black Prince’s childhood.

When the Black Prince was a young man, the Burmese King trusted him to such extend that he gave him permission to train an army of captured Thai soldiers. The Prince affectionately called his men Naresuan’s Wild Tigers. Thus, the Wild Tigers became increasingly powerful and one day they defeated the Burmese army returning triumphantly back to Siam. Soon after this event, the Black Prince became King Naresuan of Siam thus reclaiming sovereignty. This is mainly what the second part of the film series is about.

Hence, his first major challenge was with the Burmese who were his former hosts. A giant enemy force of Burmese soldiers threatened the border between Siam and Burma. Naresuan ordered his people in the north to withdraw and burn their rice fields. The farmers thus fled to Ayutthaya and the new king turned every able-bodied man into a soldier.

To both Siam and Burma, the war was very painful. However, neither army would give in to the other. One day, King Naresuan’s war elephant was startled and hence ran madly into the enemy lines. When the dust from the elephant’s hoofs cleared, the King realized that he was facing his enemy, the Burmese crown prince.

The King was surrounded by a large force of enemy soldiers. The Burmese prince could have ordered his death but instead accepted Naresuan’s challenge to a duel. This is the Elephant Battle in which the two opponents fought with swords and spears from the back of the elephants. The legend tells that when the Burmese prince urged his elephant forward, Naresuan swung his sword and wounded the prince who soon died from the injury.

The King thus declares an armistice while the Burmese soldiers removed the body of the slain prince from the battlefield. It seemed that the King admired his opponent whom he had been forced to kill. Thus, on their battleground he built a memorial chedi to honour the Burmese prince Mingyi Swa, his childhood friend.  This fight took place on 25 January 1592 at Nong Sarai field in Suphan Buri.

Don chedi memorial, Suphanburi Province, Thailand (photo credit: Heinrich Damm, wikimedia.org)

Don chedi memorial, Suphan Buri Province, Thailand (photo credit: Heinrich Damm, wikimedia.org)

With their crown prince killed, the Burmese had no one to lead them and thus they lost heart for battle. In consequence, they withdrew their forces and for a while the Burmese and the people of Siam enjoyed a time of peace. King Naresuan died in 1605 at the age of 49.

Finally, I must confess that I’m not such a great fan of historical movies because I often find them too strenuous. In particular those movies that deal with a lot of fighting and warfare. However, is was very much interested in the story of King Naresuan, thus the movies came in useful for me 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

Kimberly Ann Voltemas – Thai-German Actress

Kimberly Ann Tiamsiri Voltemas, born in 1992, is a popular half-Thai actress and model. She has a Thai mother who is from Chiang Mai and a German father. She is the youngest of four siblings, her sister is called Jennifer and her brothers are Thomas and Daniel. She is nicknamed Kimmy Kimberly which is also her stage name.

Kimmy Kimberly

Kimberly Ann Voltemas*

Kimberly Ann Voltemas*

Kimberly entered the Thai entertainment industry as a teenager in 2009. At first, she did some modelling and was featured in several music videos. As an actress, she debuted in Channel 3’s most popular TV series called ‘4 Huajai Haeng Koon Kao’ (4 Hearts of the Mountains).

Kimmy Kimberly*

Kimmy Kimberly*

This TV series was aired in 2010 and Kim played the role of Nam or Thipthara who is a warmhearted and compassionate doctor. In this movie, she acted alongside other well-known young luk kreung actors like Nadech Kugimiya and Urassaya Sperbund.

Acting in the role of Nam is this series has gained Kim many fans in Thailand and all over Asia. In addition, she has been constantly improving her acting skills, thus becoming an accomplished actress. Kim’s manager is Noom Piyachart and together they have succeeded in establishing her a fine reputation in the entertainment business.

In 2012, Kim acted alongside Prin ‘Mark’ Suparat in the roles as Cha-Aim and Khun Tam in the remake of Punya Chon Kon Krua 2012. Hence, both actors became very popular as an onscreen couple (‘koo jin’). Since then they have frequently been paired in series and modelling 🙂


In fact, Kim has been much praised by her fellow actors. Hence, she may be regarded as a young actress in high demand. Even acclaimed actress Ann Thongprasom thinks highly of Kimberly and her talents. Ann is of the opinion that Kim might one day replace her as a princess of Thai entertainment. Furthermore, she finds that Kim very much resembles herself and thus can even identify with her. Consequently, Ann also holds the view that Kim might reach same level of success as herself. Great compliment! 🙂

Hence, Kim has already starred in the series ‘Ab Ruk Online’ in which actress Ann Thongprasom is also in. Further, this TV series features her partner Prin ‘Mark’ Suparat and acclaimed actor Peter Corp Dyrendal. In fact, up until now Kim is the first and only younger generation actress who has been in three out of five lakorns produced by Ann Thongprasom. These are ‘Punya Chon Kon Krua 2012’, ‘Ab Ruk Online’ and ‘Piang Chai Kon Nee Mai Chai Poo Wised’.


Furthermore, Kim has been the cover-girl of several magazines and has also featured in a lot of TV commercials like this one for United Almond, for instance.

Summing up, we may claim that Kimmy Kimberly is one of the most aspiring and promising actresses of the younger generation in Thai entertainment industry. She is not only popular with her fans but also with her fellow actors 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(*photo credit: Kimmy Kimberly, Official FB page)

‘Yaya’ Urassaya Sperbund: Thai-Norwegian Actress

If you are into Thai popular culture, you certainly know the lovely Thai-Norwegian actress and model ‘Yaya’ Urassaya Sperbund. I have dealt with her shortly in my post about ‘Nadech & Yaya’ because they are the most favourite and desirable couple in Thai media today. However, there is a lot more to say about the young actress seen individually 🙂

Yaya Urassaya (photo credit: Lostinheaven, sharerice.com)

Yaya Urassaya (photo credit: Lostinheaven, sharerice.com)

Yaya Urassaya – Her Story

Yaya (ญาญ่า) was born in 1993 to a Thai mother and a Norwegian father in Pattaya. She was discovered as a model at the age of 14 but when she was younger, she claimed to have been like the ugly duckling. Thus, for some years she had to wear braces but that is in the past. Today, she is a gorgeous and amazing actress famous in Thailand.

Yaya (photo credit: women.sanook.com)

Yaya (photo credit: women.sanook.com)

Even though she grew up in Thailand, she could not speak much of Thai language in her younger years because she went to an International School, had predominantly American friends and at home she would talk English to her father. Later when she worked with Channel 3, she had to learn Thai in order to be able to speak the language properly.

Nevertheless, Yaya is a Thai girl at heart and her mother also taught her Thai mannerisms and politeness. What is more, she is a Buddhist and went frequently to the temple with her mother as a small girl.

Yaya (photo credit: Volume 183, NadechYaya at Pantip.com)

Yaya (photo credit: Volume 183, NadechYaya at Pantip.com)

She is a self-confident model and actress today but when she talks she sometimes appears to be shy. However, Yaya smiles and laughs a lot. Hence, it is really surprising that she actually wants to become a lawyer or a politician. Being an actress was not her first career choice but of course she is happy with that too 🙂 In fact, she is now one of the highest paid actresses in Thailand! In the following clip, she talks about her upbringing and her career as an actress. This is really interesting!

Hence, Yaya has been in numerous commercials and she is also frequently spotted as a cover girl on glossy magazines like Volume, Image, Mistine and WE, just to name a few.

As far as I know, she has been in about 13 dramas up until today. In TV series, she is frequently paired with Nadech Kugimiya, for instance in The Rising Sun. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that she has already won many awards for her dramatic ability. For instance, she was titled ‘Popular Leading Actress’ by the Mekkhala Television Awards. Her most famous series is ‘Game Rai Game Rak’ starring as Nang Fah (Fahlada) alongside Nadech Kugimiya.

In her second series called ‘Torranee Ni Nee Krai Krong’, she also starred with Nadech. In this film she played the character of Nong Nee (Darunee). Yaya herself also recorded the theme song for the series ‘Torranee Ni Nee Krai Krong’ which is called ‘Ar Karn Ruk’ (Symptoms of Love).

What is more, she also was in Thai-French singer Chin Chinawut’s music video ‘My bad habit’. Hence, she is also a skilled dancer and a talented singer as demonstrated in the first clip, in which she sings a duet with James Ji.

Finally, we may say that Yaya Urassaya is an amazing, versatile and promising young luk kreung actress. With good reason, she is so popular and has millions of fans 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

Mario Maurer: Thai-German Actor

Mario Maurer was born 1988 in Bangkok to a Thai-Chinese mother and a German father. He is also known as Nuttavut Maurer and his nickname is ‘Oh’. He has an older brother called Marco with whom he performed some Electro-Hip Hop music. They formed a Hip-Hop Duo named “PsyCho & Lil’Mario” in 2007. You may watch an example of their music here. However, even though Mario has done some singing, he does not regard himself as a singer.

Mario Maurer

Mario (photo credit: TAT Kunming)

Mario (photo credit: TAT Kunming)

Mario was discovered as a fashion model at the age of 16 when he was approached by a modelling agent at Siam Square. Since then he has been working as a model for magazines, commercials and videos. Today, he is a well-known luk kreung actor and model in Thailand who has been also studying Communication Arts at Ramkhamhaeng University.

He became renowned as an actor starring in the movie The Love of Siam in 2007. This film, written and directed by Matthew Chookiat Sakveerakul, became very popular. It is about a gay romance between two teenage boys. This movie may be regarded as a pioneering film on this subject. Mario was praised for his dramatic abilities and considered a mature actor in his role as a homosexual young man. Hence, in 2007 Mario won the Best Actor award in Starpics Thai Films Awards and was also nominated in Bangkok Critics Assembly and Star Entertainment Awards.

Mario Maurer (photo credit: men.kapook.com)

Mario Maurer (photo credit: men.kapook.com)

Mario did not intend to become an actor but once he entered the Thai entertainment industry, he gained popularity quickly. Still, he has remained down-to-earth and surprised at this own fame 😉


Thus, in 2010 he became even more famous starring in the movie First Love which is also known under the title Crazy Little Thing called Love. This is a charming romantic comedy about young people falling in love for the first time. This film has become very popular because it deals with topics that nearly everyone has experienced in his life and thus can identify with the characters.

What is more, Mario has done a lot of acting in Thai drama series. For instance, he was in The Rising Sun (Roy Fun Tawan Deard, 2014), a series with a Japanese setting. In this drama Mario (Onizuka Takeshi) starred alongside the young well-known young actors Nadech Kugimiya and Yaya Sperbund.

Mario and Nadech in The Rising Sun (photo credit: asianfuse.net)

Mario and Nadech in The Rising Sun (photo credit: asianfuse.net)

In particular, Mario became even more acknowledged as an actor starring in the popular horror comedy Phi Mak Phra Khanong. In the role of Phi Mak, Mario acted alongside the lovely actress Mai Davika Hoorne as Mae Nak. In fact, they make a charming film couple and have also done some modelling together.

Mario and Mai Davika on Volume magazine 180 VOLUME WONDER 9 Cr. Volume Magazine

Mario and Mai Davika on Volume magazine 180 VOLUME WONDER 9 Cr. Volume Magazine

Mario has had versatile roles. For instance, he had the leading role in the erotic drama ‘Jan Dara the Beginning’ (2012) and ‘Jan Dara the Finale’ (2013). In these movies he is Jan Dara, a boy whose mother died giving birth to him and who is thus hated by his sadistic father Luang Wisnan. Growing up with his Aunt Wad, his stepmother, he struggles to reconcile his guilt and longing with different women in his life. In the second part, Jan Dara wants to find out who his real father is and wants to take revenge on him.

Most recently, Mario has been promoting Amazing Thailand with TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand). They have produced a series of very nice clips that really makes you want to go to Thailand immediately and try all the things that Mario does 🙂

Finally, we may say that Mario Maurer is a bright and promising young half-Thai movie star. He has already starred in a variety of different roles and I must say that he cuts quite a figure in each role that he plays 🙂 I’m curious what his future movies will be!

Yours, Sirinya

Thai & Lao Culture in ‘Sabaidee Luang Prabang’

Sabaidee Luang Prabang (Good morning, Luang Prabang, 2008, directed by Sakchai Deenan) is a romantic drama movie starring Thai movie star Ananda Everingham who is of Lao-Australian descent. The special feature of this film is that it deals with the relationship between Thailand and Laos. What is more, it is also the first Thai-Laotian commercial film since 1975. In my view this is a special and beautiful movie because it shows the amazing landscape in Laos.

Sabaidee Luang Prabang

Sabaidee Luang Prabang, Sorn (Everingham) & Noi (Pallawong) (photo credit: nationmultimedia.com)

Sabaidee Luang Prabang, Sorn (Everingham) & Noi (Pallawong) (photo credit: nationmultimedia.com)

The plot of the movie is relatively simple: Sorn (played by A. Everingham) is a Thai photographer visiting Laos. There he falls in love with his lovely Laotian tour guide, Noi (Khamlek Pallawong). The film features and focusses on several tourist sites in Laos and points out the differences between Thailand and Laos. This contrast is already depicted in the trailer to the movie.


In fact, the film is shot primarily outdoors, thus using a kind of road movie approach. The settings in Laos contrast sharply with Bangkok because the latter is presented as a hectic metropolitan city whereas life in Laos appears to be more calm and harmonic. In addition, the Laotian scenery is green, pristine and unspoiled by modernity.

Ananda in Luang Prabang*

Ananda in Luang Prabang*

The first part of the movie presents the protagonist Sorn as a small creature surrounded by the city skyline in Bangkok. However, in Laos, Sorn experiences an easy atmosphere of small towns where people have a simple lifestyle and are still connected with their local traditions.


Luang Prabang, which is also a world heritage site, is the central motif of the movie. Hence, it appears in the film title and it is the place where the protagonists move around at the end of the movie, showing the natural and historical sites of the town.

Ananda plays the photographer Sorn*

Ananda frequently plays the role of photographers*

Thus, the audience gets the impression of Laos being a place unspoiled by modernity compared to Bangkok city. What is more, the untouched towns stand for a kind of utopian space where everyone lives in contentment. Even though the settings in Thailand and Laos are opposed to each other, the movie also stresses similarities between Thai and Lao culture.


For instance, the title of the film points out a similarity but also a difference between Thai and Lao language. In Lao, Sabaidee Luang Prabang means Hello Luang Prabang whereas in Thai it will rather say I’m fine Luang Prabang or in interrogative sentence ‘How are you?‘. However, although the literal translation of the title is not identical in Thai and Lao, the word ‘Sabaidee’ is understood as a greeting in both cultures.

Amazing sky in Luang Prabang, an unspoiled place*

Amazing sky in Luang Prabang, an unspoiled place*

What is more, there are many tourism elements in the movie that seem to encourage the audience wanting to go to Laos. For example, every time Sorn and Noi move from one town to another the caption will be shown ensuring that the audience knows where the place is. Sometimes it is also explained in the movie how to get to the respective places.


In addition, since Noi is a tour guide she often explains about natural and historical places to Sorn who is a photographer and thus captures the beautiful scenery on his photos. Thus, the film title and the intact scenery shown in the movie make it to a kind of ‘tourism film’.

Hello Luang Prabang (photo credit: viki.com)

Sorn & Noi (photo credit: viki.com)

In a nutshell, we may say that even though the plot is simple, Sabaidee Luang Prabang is a great film, admirable for its beautiful presentations of local Lao landmarks. Indeed, it can be called a ‘tourism movie’ because the viewer feels inspired to explore the natural scenery of Luang Prabang, Laos. In addition, the role of photographer Sorn seems to be tailor-made for Ananda Everingham 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

*photo credit: Ananda Everingham, FB page