Listen: Shannon Bennett, Thailand, Managing Director discussed on Radio Surgery
"Latest episode of in there have been done that I am your host professor Barry goldsmith and I'm your host Shannon Bennett tonight we have with us even cara Brock the managing director for Asian trails Thailand to welcome to the show we've thank you very much Shannon and actually a government name spot on did I really. I was I was I was honestly a little nervous about you so your name is is Belgian right yes yeah so my first name is YVHS Y. V. E. S. and my surname is fun kind of books so it's a combination of a French and Dutch name of that usually is a very common in Belgium and pretty unexpected for the managing director of travel agency in Thailand exactly exactly I don't know how I ended up there I took a long way around but I've been living there now for five years so okay I've been in Bangkok for five years so what was your what was your trajectory from Belgium to Bangkok well I initially when I finished university in Belgium and majored in political and social sciences and added that monsters as well in journalism I actually ended up working in Barcelona after my studies as a DJ so not not particularly relevant to the degree no not really not really but then actually I think that was also my first exposure to the tourism industry as I started doing and a group some Belgium to Barcelona for music festivals. and then later on I am I received a job offer when the season in Barcelona was over I received a job offer from IBM and based in Johannesburg South Africa that's a big change a huge change this big change of scenery so I moved to Johannesburg where was giving customer service training to people from all over Africa to service the European corporate accounts which they had them I did a four year moved to Cape Town where I had a similar job offer from shell but then I realized when I'm in such a beautiful country with such amazing wines and foods why the hell am I working for a big corporate side do something that's really more in line with what I enjoy myself which is food and travel right so I set up a culinary travel company in Cape Town doing forty towards food and wine stores in the winelands around Cape Town along the Western Cape along the garden route in South Africa and while I was doing that I started expanding through friends of mine and and Belgium who are chef specialize in Asian food actually started doing trips to Southeast Asia. well that's another big jump exactly exactly and then I was it was two thousand and twelve when I and really the business to Asia really started picking up quite a bit. and my supplier at the time in in Vietnam offered me a position with them in two thousand fourteen men at the time I I really wanted to live and experience working in Asia so I moved from Cape Town in summer to hunt only in winter which was another big shock I spent a year in Hanoi and initially thinking I would be there just for a year and moved back to Capetown which I really love and but then I went to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as it's known as well and I met my wife and how that'll keep you in a place exactly told my one year contract and it turned out to the income as a contract for life with my wife so I'm based in in Asia now spends and three years in Saigon and then in two thousand fourteen I moved to to Bangkok. up to tell me I've been to Bangkok. twice I let a press trip there in two thousand it's a fascinating city what are your favorite sites in in Bangkok what do you recommend other than restaurants as a local as long as a local okay now and I think what's really for me really unique about Bangkok in them when I compared to a lot of other cities big cities and and and Southeast Asia that it's it's it's become a very modern and trendy contemporary city but it still has I mean the cultural heritage remains really intact I think in Bangkok so a lot of the local communities that you find off the beaten track away from the main tourist sites that's actually some of my favorite parts how welcoming these communities to outsiders to tourists are expats photo very open they're very open I mean we at at Asian trails we do a lot of these. when we try to do towards of course the kinds that want to see the main sites later grandpa as the temple of dawn the temple of the reclining Buddha and so forth and but what you're really known for and I think that's also in line with what the classical scapes is doing is really bring people to have authentic local interactions to really have an immersive experience within the destination and for this we we we we have a lot of contacts with these local communities there's a place called bouncing up and and Bon actually means a village in Thai so within Bangkok yet actually have little villages are little communities and some of these the the way the people live and the way the the scenery looks is is almost like you're stepping back in time thirty forty years and you have a totally unexpected experience far away from the big shopping malls and and grand palaces in Bangkok are these nestled within the city like like burrows are they outside like suburbs well it's actually something in between I would say so geographically the actually part of the city. but the community is a give you an example you have a community called called bond bart on co correct the bridge call means island and this is an island in the middle of the trial prior river in Bangkok because it's an island their little bit cut off from the rest of the city and when you go there I mean your ride your bicycle there's no cars on that island and they're famous for the the pottery skills and you even have a little artisanal beer manufacturers so this is a interesting story it's a an army general and whose abyss a big cross beer aficionado so he produces his own cross beers on that little island and this is exactly one of the really unique unexpected local experiences that that we can offer there as well it sounds like hi Williamsburg. yeah it's a bit like that yeah. which Williamsburg cook I was sorry brokerage in your or for us okay I mean the craft beer the fact that everybody's on a bicycle that it's a little culturally insulated from the rest of the city it just sort of minded me being that it's on island can we assume that a lot of those little towns that you recommend little villages are are near or with Klong set the canals exactly exactly so a lot of the I think that a lot of the most interesting sight seeing an experience that you can have in Bangkok is actually for me just two parts does the Chinatown area of Bangkok which is culturally extremely interesting and it's it's full of vibrancy exciting callers street food and you have all the temples you have the different. the different cultural influences so you have the tie local influence but also the Chinese influence there and then at the same time also the Khlong area or the canal area around signed or along the main river the child prior river which hosts a lot of these local communities is are these can I'll still used for industry the way that they originally were yes they are they are they are yeah because I've I've heard you very discussing before the show that they're actually filling some of them end so I'm wondering what what sparked that change and how many of them were losing as the years go by hopefully no more alright filled in what like Canal Street in New York. it was a literal canal yes years ago I guess I should have even more even before I was born. so what's really interesting there is when you go into these these canals and you can really see the local way of life and the way that people are living there is so far remotes from what I see in my neighborhood in the central Bangkok which is very modernized of course so you can imagine what an experience it must be for people traveling from the west to Southeast Asia and have an experience like this right in the middle of a multi million dollar and highly populated area such as Bangkok and actually Bangkok is is the most visited city in the world for the last three years in a row I didn't know that they have about twenty one million visitors a year I think New York has around forty million and so you can really imagine also what traffic is like in Bangkok. well yeah let's talk a little bit about transportation in Bangkok if you go as a tourist how do you get around well there is a moderate the monorail is exact wonderful then I have no idea. yeah you will get. yeah but what's really important and that's for us as a as a travel agency there really crucial is how we plan our trips mean depending on the time of day three mile wide could take you an hour so well I guess it's also similar to to Manhattan it is yeah but I mean we also have you know the trains at the three miles it might just be worth while walking if it's going to take that long. then you have the veteran in Bangkok which is always a very hot and humid so the long walk so not always a viable true true we've got yeah we've got the monorail we've got just two lines of monorail which are expanding now into a large enough for there's a subway as well and but then we use a lot the river and the little canals as well to get around so yeah the canals and going to these little islands do you have to is there just ferry that goes back and forth how do you get to these little communities well you can use the public ferry so there's a public ferry services well it's kind of like a a bus on the water Michael let like Venice exactly yeah okay okay so it's all pretty accessible you can go visit these communities that is so in a day you can have this crazy metropolitan neon lights experience but also the super local off the great experience yes exactly and that that's really what I liked about bank of these contrasts I find is a very tight shopping experience besides all a lot of people now get ugh Taylor's to custom make clothes because has now cheaper and bad cop than it is in Shanghai but if you want to shop a lot of people don't realize that there are people in boats and some of the clones in towns around of Bangkok in which they actually sell goods from their boats and other people come in other boats to buy it's really a mercantile canal business as well I'm am I right exactly right exactly right you have the floating markets which are famous in Thailand action Saudi stage of the very the very common but especially in Thailand I think it's it's one of the iconic things to do and to see when you're in Bangkok so you have a couple of really authentic local ones inside the city limits the most popular one which is the most stores the one as well that's a little bit outside of the city is about an hour and a half drive outside of the city and but then you have others but further away even which are a bit more authentic I would say. these merchants stay in Bangkok they come back every day or is the market a little different. most of them they're based outside of Bangkok from the communities around Bangkok but it's really a very important part of of local culture as well means to such an extent last year the opened up the the newest shopping mall in Bangkok so people in Bangkok Thai people in general they're crazy about shopping you will find some of the most amazing shopping malls in the world right there in Bangkok and one of the latest additions is called the eye can see I'm it's on the child prior river judicial setting and but the whole ground floor of the shopping mall has been made into a floating market so you have only one of the vendors and the boats you have an air conditioner in mall the best of both possible actually so you have the street food stalls you have the deep the fruit and vegetable vendors you have a little souvenir shops with this all in the beautifully air conditioned shopping malls with it's very convenient very accessible as well to visit so as someone who lives there how frequently do you use these markets well I tried to avoid the shopping malls as much will not that one specifically but do you do your grocery shopping and like a western grocery store do you get your pro we do a little mix of different kinds of of of food we buy in different places so usually folder fresh fruit and vegetables we go to the local markets okay so it is it is very authentic still if the locals are still using outdated indefinitely definitely. so you I assume have learned a lot about Thai culture and Bangkok itself while living within the city is there anything that the average person might not know about that you want to share well I think what's what's. one of my favorite parts in Bangkok you know it's it's soo hoo city as I mentioned S. was not very easy to get away and to get a little bit of nature when you're living in Bangkok you do have a couple of of parks but the really interesting places called bunker Chow so this is the place is actually a different province but is just across the river it's a band in their child prior river it's it's also known as Bangkok's green long and and in this area of the actually have a zoning regulations that no building can be hired and three stories so actually the whole area there the whole community there it looks like you're back in the nineteen fifties or nineteen sixties in Thailand and there is jungle walkways there's rice paddies and that's a fifteen minute drive away from really the rights that right in the center and the the bustling shopping area of Bangkok why no more than three store is is it to preserve the views it's his own regulation yeah so they they actually have a very well known temple there and in the past and you still find that in other parts of Southeast Asia as well and that no buildings could be erected higher and then the most important temple in that region now in Bangkok that doesn't apply but in this province yes but in this province that still applies but the basements can be as deep as as you want exactly exactly it's."