Thailand

The Rise of Bangkok’s New Districts #GlobalCities2015

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Cyberworld Tower, Rachadapisek, Bangkok

The rise of the ‘new districts’ is a trend that is happening across the world, and is discussed in our latest global publication Global Cities 2015 Report, http://www.knightfrank.com/globalcities  but whilst staff retention and attraction are also central to a company’s decision making process in Bangkok, the emergence of Bangkok’s new districts is also being driven by other factors.

Bangkok has a scarcity of prime development sites, and as such prices are climbing. In fact prime development sites in Bangkok topped the region in our recent Knight Frank Prime Asia Development Land Index, where Bangkok saw the largest increase at a stellar 18.2% in H1 2014. http://bit.ly/1t4ilNG

As occupancies climb to over 90% in the city’s high rise office towers, eyes are being cast towards locations that were previously shunned by larger firms. Facilitated by improved access via mass transit and advancing rents, locations such as Rachadapisek and Rama 9 have become increasingly popular, both with developers and occupiers who enjoy abundant retail, quality buildings, and convenient access, without the CBD rental premium.

Today more than ever technology and mass transit has made office locations less about being convenient for clients, and more about being close to where staff live and play. So perhaps it is only natural that locations such as Thonglor, Ekamai and Phaholyothin, which were once primarily regarded as high net worth residential locations, have become fashionable with young entrepreneurs who shun suits, ties and traditional office towers for jeans, coffee, and collaborative co-working spaces.

This trend looks set to continue, Bangkok has almost 200kms of mass transit routes under construction or being planned to complete over the next 10 years, and as it does, our notion of what makes a Bangkok business district will have to adapt.

To quote from our Global Cities report “the challenge for the Global Cities is balancing the conflicting demands of accommodating the new wave of firms, and their workers, in the same highly sought after districts”.

If you haven’t already followed that link to the report, I urge you to do so, its free and makes for a fascinating read with unique insights into the future of our work, and our cities.

Grab it at the link below:

http://www.knightfrank.com/globalcities

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How I kept my New Year’s resolution part 2

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The thing about setting a resolution to lose weight is that it requires a change in lifestyle, which as I mentioned in my last post is harder than giving up smoking.

The 5:2 diet worked for me though, but after about 4/5 months I reached a plateau. At this point I had already lost about 6-7 Kgs, but I knew that I had to do something.

I didn’t want to throw away another gym membership and I needed an activity that I could do any time and any where.

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My super sister Sarah inspired me to go back and give running a try. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this but like me she also wasn’t very active but she turned that around by following a training program on her mobile phone app called C25K, which stands for from the Couch to 5 kilometers. Her transformation was incredible and incredibly inspiring.

It is designed for people  just like me, (and perhaps you?), people who have done no / very little exercise for a very long time. I had been inactive for over 10 years, unless you count lifting pints at the pub as activity… I knew that getting back in shape was going to be an effort.

I downloaded an app called Runkeeper and embarked on the beginner 5Km course, because it started with a 2.4km walk. Yup, a walk, and very gradually over the course of 8 weeks it escalated into a 5km run. Not every activity is a straight forward run though, some are what the call fartlek runs / tabatha runs/ which are basically interval training runs.

But what on earth does that mean? Well it starts with a brisk walk for 90 seconds, and then you jog for 60 seconds and repeat that 8 times or about 20 minutes. As the course progress the rest periods shorten and the run intervals lengthen and speed moves from a steady jog to a fast run. This builds your strength. The program also has some runs labelled purely as 45 minutes. In which the goal is to run/walk for 45 minutes, just so that you get used to moving and being active for that duration.

I like Runkeeper because it has great integration with my withings wifi scale and I have a real soft spot for convergence so I want my gadgets/ tech to work nicely together, which thankfully the fitbit / withings / Myfitnesspal / runkeeper and my Pebble smart watch all do!

I can not say that my return to running has been easy or painless, it has not. I have had a few overuse injuries trying to push myself too far or too fast too quickly, and to top it all I had terrible running form, which resulted in black toenails and some patellar tendonitis (aka sore knees)

After a bit of research i learned that my running shoes were likely a size too small, and were not designed for someone weighing close to 100kgs but it was not until I visited Frank Elford Sports in Plymouth, England who carried out a gait analysis that I learned just how poor my posture was and that I had a case of over-pronation , which means that my ankles roll outwards when I run. The good news is that the right type of footwear with a lot of support can help to correct this.

I learned a good rule of thumb during this process which I think is worth sharing, which is the quieter you tread the better you run. Your feet shouldn’t be slamming hard into the ground, you should be looking to glide over the terrain as silently as possible.

Long story short I took their advice, took things more slowly, brought a new pair of running shoes, and have been injury free ever since. I joined the excellent guys and girls over at http://www.meetup.com/Bangkok-Runners/ and even participated in a few fun 5km runs, and recommend anyone interested in joining some fun races to check them out, or, if you want to go it alone, websites like http://www.jogandjoy.com list most of the upcoming runs throughout Thailand.

This year I have resolved to make more progress in my running and general fitness. My weekly schedule will be Sunday run, Monday gym (upper body, eg arms, shoulders, back, chest and core), Tuesday run, Wednesday Gym (lower body i.e. legs and core), Thursday run, Friday beer (because to be sustainable I only have to adapt not totally change!), and finally Saturday run, now the following week I may switch it and go Monday, Wednesday, Friday run and have a rest on a Saturday, because you know sometimes I have stuff to do.

The important thing is I am able to keep a  fitness schedule because its flexible enough to live with for a sustained period. The big excuse was that I never had time. But I made time, I went to bed earlier and went running early in the morning, before work.

Sounds awful I know, I get it, but with enough repetition any activity can become a habit, even exercise. it doesn’t take long, for me it was perhaps a month or so (a bit like giving up smoking) and then I found that it made me feel better throughout the day. I regretted any run that I missed, but most of all was the impact it had on my weight-loss, which was significant, and to be frank the compliments that I started to hear again were pretty welcome too!

Running helped me. It may, or may not be right for you, perhaps you prefer walking, cycling, or swimming. But it doesn’t matter what you do, so long as its cheap and readily accessible because those two conditions, for me at least, eliminated any excuses that I had not to do it. Then making a schedule, in my calendar, meant that I kept to it.

My advice, if you are looking to get fit for 2014, the first point of call should be to examine your excuses for not exercising as objectively as possible, write them down, and determine a solution for each.

Good luck with whatever your resolutions are and I wish you all the very best for a happy, healthy and safe 2014!

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Fishing with kids

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I am the father of a wonderful four year old boy, and this past Sunday a few friends , brought our little ones along to Pilot 111 for a half day fishing.

Fishing with kids has several challenges. Not the least of which is the fact that they have an attention spam approximately equal to your target species.

This means that its important to be sure that they are always doing something. This is why lure fishing is, in my opinion the very best way to get them started.

At first we removed all of the hooks from their lures, and set the kids a challenge with the reward being to attach real lures, with hooks and the possibility to catch a fish!!

The challenge sounded simple enough: ” Cast the dummy lure far out straight ahead, three times in a row”.

So for the first half of the morning we found a quiet pond at Pilot 111 and got to work to teaching the little one’s the finer art of casting. We chose the Asian redtail catfish pond, which also happens home to some rogue barramudi and striped snakeheads. The fact that it doesn’t have any overhead cables, very few obstacles and is rarely fished played a big part in that decision.

It was great fun to see confident kids boasting about their casting prowess (before they had ever actually tried) meet reality, and then watching as they went from over confident, to humbly dropping the lure behind their backs, and asking for or just accepting assistance.

After a few helping words, it was wonderful to see huge smiles from their sense of achievement as they made their first ever good cast, or even just managed to cast the lure into the water.

After a few hours most of the kids succeeded in their challenge and were rewarded with a nice shiny lure with real sharp and pointy hooks, which all were keen to explore. Thankfully none of them stabbed themselves, but more than a few shirts got hooked!

My little one took a little while longer to get the hang of casting, at just 4 he was the youngest of the group, who were at least 7 years old and up.

I equipped my boy with a rod rated for 5-10 lb line and a Shakespeare E-Z cast spincaster reel preloaded with 8lb line to which I attached a Texas-rigged Berkerley Powerbait plastic worm, of the stinkiest variety I could find, in this case one meant for salt water fishing.

I did this because it enabled him to be fishing even after he wandered away as he left his lure out, so he could still effectively be ‘dead-sticking’. Which is exactly what happened.

We got a bite, and moments later my boy was desperately trying to reel in a fish. But it soon became very apparent that he wasn’t going to manage to bring this one in on his own, it was as you might be able to appreciate from the pic below, simply far too strong for him.

After an electric fight that seemed to take forever, with several dashing runs, (and next to no drag on his reel!) the end result was an 8lb Asian redtail catfish.

Soon afterwards, now excited with “having caught a fish” my son’s attention returned and he set about casting again. Then one final time he cast his lure and as he reeled it back in, yet another 8lb redtail catfish took the bait and screamed off.

This time he had cast the lure, reeled it in and set the hook. I still had to land it as it too was making the same scintillating runs that made suspect it may have been the same fish. But for me and in my mind it was this second redtail that counted as his first, and will do so until the day that he can reel one in and land one himself.

I can honestly say that catching these redtails with my son, on this light tackle was just about the most fun I have ever had fishing.

At the end of the morning our group caught lots of fish (redtails, barramundi and a few giant snakeheads) and proved to the kids that fishing games on the iPad are not nearly as much fun as doing it for real, and we dads got to spend some real fun quality time with our kids. (Both boys and girls I hasten to add)

Fishing with kids is rewarding for all involved. The children learned new skills, which they applied to challenges that they met head on, and achieved their goals, and all whilst having great fun, outdoors.

Patience is certainly needed to teach them, and they need constant supervision at the water’s edge. But remember this is not your fishing trip, its theirs. But the time you get to spend with them and the joy you get from sharing in the pride they take from their achievements is worth every moment untangling lines, removing hooks from clothing, etc. (just about!)

My speech to the RICS on the AEC’s effect on Thailand’s industrial property markets

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800px-flag_of_asean_svg

I recently was asked to share my thoughts on how the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 will affect the Thai industrial real estate market at the RICS ASEAN conference held in Bangkok earlier this month (edit:July 2012)

What follows is more or less the transcript of my speech.

The AEC certainly seems to bring about a sense of optimism, perhaps it’s the free flow of skilled labour and the opportunities it will bring? I think so long as barriers such as language and culture can be overcome, skilled workers will seek out opportunities and better pay.  For example, accountants can demand much higher salaries in markets such as Singapore and Malaysia where they can command almost three times as much.

After the formation of the European Union their share of the global FDI inflows rose from about 30 percent in the 1980s to about 50 percent in the 1990s and has until recently remained there since.

The formation of the AEC, which aims to create a single ASEAN market and production base, is also expected to lead to greater economies of scale that would improve its competitiveness and make it more attractive to foreign investors.

Industrial properties caught up in the ever growing realms of global production networks, are at the forefront of globalization and as such this is the sector that we expect to be the most directly affected by the formation of the AEC.

To assess how much FDI will come to Thailand and affect the real estate sectors here I think it’s useful to understand how Multinational Manufacturers select which country to invest in.

Knight Frank helps firms to do just this. In our experience firms have four major criteria that they use to assess and select a country for investment; Cost, Capability, Market Access, and Risk.

Cost is perhaps the most obvious and accounts for about half of the total weighting in the firms’ decision making analysis.

They seek to reduce set up costs and so look for markets with the lowest capital expenses, (such as land acquisition & construction costs),

They seek out the lowest operating costs (wages, utilities, rents, taxes etc). and it is in this category that they account for the impact of investment incentives from governments and developers.

After which firms look at the depth of capability that the country has to offer its manufacturing operations.

The Quantity and quality of the Human Resources: their skills, qualifications, productivity, and standard of English.

They require world-class infrastructure, in the form of roads, rail, ports and the access that subject locations have to these transport modes.

They seek data on the interruptions and availability of utilities: water, power, natural gas

They prefer markets with established production networks: where an agglomeration of efficient suppliers, competitors, support institutions and service providers are present.

The next category that they look at  market access, where they seek the lowest lead times through close proximity to their customers or suppliers in the local or regional markets

Then finally, risk is considered. In our conversations with manufacturers the biggest risk that they seek to mitigate before all else, is the security of their intellectual property.

Before they invest they will look at the willingness and effectiveness of government to provide written IP protection commitments.

They will then consider other risks such as government stability and the frequency of natural disasters.

I have read this week that some are concerned that demand for industrial estates in Thailand will fall after 2015: I don’t share that view. Investments continue to flow to Thailand despite rising land values and wages, in fact Thailand already finds itself in the position where it has become difficult to compete on cost with countries like Cambodia Laos Myanmar and Vietnam. The sunset of the Thai garment industry is a testament to that.

For firms whose sole driving force is cost, and only require low or semi skilled labour the CLMV nations will look increasingly attractive as their physical and legal infrastructure and linkages with ASEAN improves.

But, this will take time, and whilst cost is important, from a manufacturers perspective, the other criteria (capability, market access & risk) when taken together are given just as much weight in their decision making analysis, and it is here that Thailand competes today, and not just with its ASEAN neighbours, but on the world stage, against such countries as China.

To attract more manufacturing FDI after 2015, the challenge then for Thailand will be the same as it faces today: to compete higher up the value chain.

It is not reasonable to expect to turn back the clock and compete against CLMV on costs, so implementing well thought out policies designed to upgrade the industrial infrastructure and human capital will be vital. But it certainly won’t hurt to reduce expenses either.

One of the stated aims of the AEC is to create an integrated and harmonized customs landscape to promote the Free Flow of Goods.

It will take time to iron out the kinks, but improved logistical linkages with the member states of the AEC should reduce the transportation costs of goods and raw materials, boosting ASEAN competitiveness.

So as countries invest in infrastructure and create new trade routes, we can expect to see demand for integrated-logistics space increase at strategic transport hubs, but

We believe that most of the growth will be organic, increasing in line with manufacturing FDI centered close to existing industrial hubs, however we may also expect to see some growth in distribution centers as more ASEAN made products find their way to the Thai market.

BUT I don’t expect 2015 to bring about rapid change.  We have been moving towards the AEC since 2006.  Its effect is already being felt; it seems that every week another firm announces an investment that positions them for future growth due to the AEC.

Last year Thailand’s biggest export destination (24%) and its second biggest supplier (after Japan) was ASEAN itself, and as the ASEAN economies continue to mature, and the inter-industry linkages deepen, the opportunities should grow too.

So the three key takeaways that I’d like to leave you with today are:

  1.  The AEC increases competition for all and therefore creates opportunities both at home and abroad.
  2. The impact on the industrial real estate sector is already being felt today, and the growth will continue as we move towards 2015 and beyond
  3. But it is the implementation of policies to upgrade infrastructure and human capital that will be vital if Thailand is to capitalize on all that the AEC has to offer.

So how about you? How do you feel the AEC will affect your country / market / business?

Fishing the Gulf of Thailand, part 1

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As I have mentioned before sea fishing  is in my blood. I love the feeling of developing my sea legs, the smell and taste of the salt in the air.

The serenity of a still ocean  and the power the sea holds when she turns against you, it demands respect, but is awesome in its beauty.

However, I think there is something besides that romantic claptrap that more gifted people than I have written about endlessly before.

To me its about being with friends and making new friends, sharing stories and laughs. The fishing as always is almost secondary to the whole experience.

The boats I charter  on the East coast of Gulf of Thailand typically set off from one of two spots, Pattaya’s Bali Hai Pier or Bang Sare. In the past we have also had speedboats pick us up  at the beach and take us out to our boat in the Gulf, in the area marked ‘fishing zone’ in the pic above.

The Gulf of Thailand is fairly shallow, with much of it being not more than 20-50 metres (wikipedia has the mean depth as 45m which is about right).  As such the many species of fish found here don’t tend to grow very large.  I believe that its shallow warm waters could serve as a nursery for some pelagic species because I have hooked small dorado (3-10kgs) , blue marlin (30-100kgs)  and sailfish (20-80kgs) here, which get larger the further out you go.

Sport is excellent though with the following species usually showing up for a fight (we catch and release all bill fish, the rest we eat), what follows is a selection of species caught on my last trip out back in April :

King Mackerel (tastes great!)

King Mackerel and Pompano

Pompano

The skipper described this as a Jack fish.. not sure myself

Barracuda

Charter boat prices in the Gulf of Thailand  usually cost in the region of THB 10,000 – 20,000 a day. Various  listings can be found at http://www.siamfishing.com/boat (its in Thai, so open it in google chrome if you are not a Thai reader for a semi usable translation ).

Suggested fishing tackle: most boats will provide what you need, so you will not need to bring anything, unless you really want to.

Personally, I use a 15Kg class roller tipped boat rod (Shimano and a sturdy spinning rod (both are less than 6ft long). My reels are loaded with about 300 yards of 65lb braided line to 10m of clear monofilament leader on spinning reel (Shimano Baitrunner 6500B) and 550yards of 65lb braid with 20m of 80lb mono on my Shimano Tiagra 16 which is probably over kill (unless we luck out with a sailfish or small marlin, in which case we stand a chance of bringing it along side the boat!)

I have used 30lbs monofilament before and you would probably be okay with 25lbs. Basically anything that you’d use for taking catfish at Bung Samran should serve you fine at sea, but note that rods longer than 7ft can be cumbersome to use on a boat (especially if you have a fish try go directly under the boat. Most of the time we’ll be fishing live squid off the surface, so no need to worry about lures etc. I have a few though, but most rigs will be very simple, a weight leader, swivel and hook, and sometimes just straight to the hook or lure. Regarding hooks, I have gone for live bait hooks, of sizes about 1/0 – 4/0 .

In addition to my tackle, I’ll be bringing along the following:

  • One short-sleeved and one long-sleeved (light weight) T-shirt (the latter in case of too much sun)
  • A good sun hat can not be overstated (My hat in these pics is a Tilley and I love it, I can not recommend these hats enough)
  • Sunglasses – polarising lenses are good for fishing live baits to Dorado and active King Mackerels
  • Sandals / flip-flops  (the decking can get seriously hot under bare feet in the midday sun)
  • A towel and toiletries (most have a shower on board)
  • Leave your swimmers at home! The current’s dangerously strong where we go fishing.
  • Water resistant sunblock [SPF 50]
  • MP3 player / playing cards [Top Trumps !] (for the downtime when we travel between spots, I will bring a book too, but sometimes I can find reading at sea to bring on nausea so audiobooks are good)

On that subject, seasickness. I don’t usually have any problems but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

For details on how to prevent it I suggest checking out these sites  http://www.seasickness.co.uk/ http://fishinkona.com/seasick.htm

Take sea sickness pills at least one hour before you step on the boat, preferably earlier, most manufacturers suggests one hour but if you get ill the pills may be the first to go, so I’ll take one just after lunchtime on the day I leave.

If you are out there and already feel bad and need relief ginger works well (take it in any form, but candied maybe the easiest)

That’s it for tonight, look out for a new post which will delve a little deeper into tactics, seasons and baits for Charter boat fishing in the Gulf of Thailand.

Kanchanaburi hooked my soul

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Fishing places like Bueng Samran certainly offers plenty of action, but as any angler worth their salt will tell you catching fish is only half of the experience.

It’s about getting in touch with nature and for that man-made stocked lakes for me have their place, they are great fun, but they do fall a little short.

When I got back into fishing in Thailand, about 10 ish years ago, it was at stocked fishing parks, but after the bug came back and bit me hard I realised I was looking to recapture the feelings of those mist laden mornings at the lakes on the St Germans Estate near Liskeard in Cornwall or PADCAC’s private lake at Cadover Bridge on Dartmoor.

So I took it upon myself to buy and attempt to read Thai fishing magazines, to find some more natural spots, and it was in one of those magazines that I heard about the fishing to be had in Kanchanaburi, specifically on the Srinakarin Dam.

Srinakarin Dam

Srinakarin Dam is Thailand’s second largest body of freshwater spanning tens of thousands of rai. It is HUGE. Set amongst the Srinakain National Park it is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including wild elephants (roads actually have signs warning of wild elephant crossings!), and locals have told me that the National Park also forms part of the territory for some of Thailand’s wild tiger population.

A single story fishing hut on Srinakarin Dam

The reservoir’s sunken trees is home to a great many different species, but when I fish here I target two; the ferocious predator the ‘Snakehead’  (Pla Chadoh) and the Hampala Barb or Jungle Perch (Pla Chon).

Light spinning tackle is the name of the game, fishing entirely with artificial lures. The two species require a different approach, although in both cases  I have frankly had more success going after Jungle Perch who favour a silver or golden spoon fished mid-water, whereas the Snakehead is another beast altogether, and am yet to bring one of these to the bank.

Snakeheads are a highly aggressive predator, and have even been rumoured to attack swimmers who stray too close to the nest, whose tactics I will cover shortly.

Fishing Khouen Srinakarin  is an absolute pleasure for the senses. This is especially true during rainy season, when the surrounding mountains and forests are a wonderful deep, lush, emerald-green, and the rains wash bait off the steep banks and into the water.

My first trip here saw me and two friends (one of whom would later become my wife) hire a floating house… Yup, quite literally, a two-story house built on a raft, floating on the reservoir. Now, whilst the accommodation can only be described as basic, it was very comfortable, and what it lacked in luxury it more than made up for in novelty value.

On waking at the crack of dawn on our first morning, I can recall getting out the golden spoon out and started casting into the lake for a good few hours before my friends awoke.

This time in the morning , was incredible, the mist was rolling in off the surrounding mountains and was just hovering over the water in what was perhaps the most serene setting I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

As the sun rose higher and the temperature climbed (it can be quite chilly over night in Kanchanaburi)  the fish started to bite. It wasn’t long until I had hooked my first Jungle Perch of the trip, and woke everyone up! They are gorgeous creatures, a wily, fast, fish, who put up a decent scrap on light gear. Silver / gold scales with red fins they bear a close resemblance to a roach or rudd, although a fair bit bigger and a lot more predatory in nature.

But as time went on  the action died down,  we made breakfast and upped anchor towed the entire house to a different spot on the lake and  tried our luck at various locations throughout the day (the convenience of a floating house!)

Fishing at the Dam really only sees any good action for the two hours before and after dusk and dawn. So as the sun started to settle down, we left the house and opted for a small boat with a guide, who took us to various little nooks and crannies to try our luck at spinning again. Spoons saw yet more  action with Jungle Perch, but not satisfied with just Perch catches I decided to try for Snakehead.

Fishing is best two hours before and after dusk and dawn

Snakeheads give away their position with bubbles at the surface,  usually on the fringe or in a hole of a weed bed. To target them the locals use surface lures in the shape of a frog with a large propeller at the nose. They are designed to be retrieved a good speed where the prop creates lots of surface noise and disturbance which provokes an attack borne out of aggression from the fish instead of hunger.

Sadly, whilst we did get some incredible strikes we were not lucky enough to land any snakeheads, on this first trip, although one cruelly slipped the hook at the side of the boat.. but the one which got away though was not even of a size worth any more pixels or bandwidth..

I have been back and whilst I can usually get into Perch I have still not cracked the riddle of the snakehead but one day it will be mine!

I do however have a good cure for those who blank at these spots which i want to share with you all.

Heck even if you don’t blank, or don’t even fish on your trip back home from Kanchanaburi stop by at the Moo Baan Dek Village School, play with the kids, buy them some ice creams and leave a healthy donation, and walk away with your spirits lifted.

Here’s a few pics of my last trip there:-

Nothing quite as sad as a broken slide at an orphanage

The great thing about these kids is that fun is always around the corner

Find them Moo Baan Dek on Latya-Srisawat Rd., Kanchanaburi 71190 Siam (Thailand) and visit their website   http://www.ffc.or.th/mbd/ where you can also make a donation.



Here there be monsters!

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These days when you speak to most foreign anglers about fishing in Thailand you’ll likely think of the Bangpakong River, home to the almighty  freshwater stingray. I haven’t tried for one myself but I have seen these things on TV.  Check one out here:

Now whilst I have not been fishing for Stingrays (yet), I have fished what is probably the best known angling spot in Thailand, and one of the most famous fishing parks in the world, Bueng Samran.

This man made stocked lake on Navamin Soi 42 was established in March 1983. Its come a long way since then but  is still nothing very pretty to look at, its rectangular surrounded by huts which are available for rent (highly recommended due to the electric fans!!) but its not its scenery that made this place famous. The fact that they serve you beer, and food to your hut / spot is great, but still doesn’t justify its fame (although the  Naam Tok Moo is highly recommended!)

Its certainly not the vicinity, as its located in the heart of a nice yet decidedly fringe residential area approximately 30-45 mins to the North East of the city centre. (The map is on their website below)

No, what made this little pond famous, is what lurks beneath the surface.

In fishing circles you see, the name “Bueng Samran” has become synonymous with monsters (and arm ache). Its home to over 10 IGFA world records. Its stocked with Giant Mehkong Catfish to over 200 KGS (yes that is not a typo  KGs not Lbs!), Araiparma Giga to similar weights and over 9 ft in length, and Giant Siamese carp all amongst a population of over 50 different species.

The fish density here is such that you are guaranteed to catch a fish (you quite literally get your money back if you dont!) and its entirely feasible that you’ll bring in say 4-5 Pla Sawaii in a day almost all of which will be over 15-20Kgs , although much, much, bigger is very, very possible.

So how to catch em?

Your's truly, battling a Pla Sawaii at Bueng Samran

If you are on a day trip here I’d suggest homing in on the catfish (Pla Sawaii).  It should go without saying that you’ll need strong tackle, 30-50lb class rods, seriously dont go too much lighter than this if you like your rods..

As for line I suggest a minimum 25lb mono-filament although I throw on 65lb braided line on mine. On the subject of reels for casting I prefer fixed spool reels and have a pair of Shimano Baitrunner 6500B’s (which are superb) one loaded up with 65lb braid and one with 25lb mono. I know many prefer to use multipliers but I have never got used to distance casting with them, use whatever works for you, just so long as its got some guts.

An average sized Pla Sawaii

So how about bait? I hear you cry.. well the best bait is… bread.  Yup these enormous fish eat bread crusts. Put some crust on your hook and serve it up in a softball sized breadflake  baitball. Be sure to add some coconut milk and groundbait mix to it and get it into a doughy malleable consistency, not too wet though otherwise it will just fall off.

A tiddler

These bait balls are packed on to a spring like coil which sits just below your float, fished at about 1-2m depth. You cast the whole lot out to the middle, sit back and wait. But be sure to keep your rod within arms reach and set the drag to allow the fish to run as you may not need to wait for long!

If  this all sounds a bit daunting, please don’t be put off. I have personally never used a fishing guide. When I started fishing here 7+ years ago it was relatively unknown in farang circles, and there were no English language reference sources so I learned how to catch from the staff at the lake.

They are very friendly and very helpful, they will help to mix up the groundbait, bait your hook and heck some will  even try and cast it for you. (but thats not fishing you have to get your hands dirty!)

There is tackle for hire at the lake which costs  THB 1000 to hire, but now we get on to the sticky bit.

There is double pricing in force at this lake, yup we lucky foreigners get to pay more than the locals, for both rod and hut hire.

Personally I could care less, I’m prepared to pay what I think its worth. This place is unique. What would you pay for a shot at a world record? Plus I have seen the amount of investment that they have put back into the lake from when I first fished it some 7 plus years ago, and it really has transformed itself.

My friend's sons caught their first fish that day

For more information on this incredible place, visit their website at http://bungsamran.com/en/

Also if the thought of doing this alone puts you off, and your pockets are deep enough check out guides such as the following:

http://www.anglingthailand.com/

http://www.fishsiam.com/fishing-holidays/fishing-for-chaophraya-catfish-bungsamran-lake-6.html

http://www.megafishingthailand.com/content/view/85/95/

Also feel free to ask questions below and I’ll try and answer the best I can, have fun and tight lines.

Next time: I’ll be discussing some more natural freshwater spots, where the only guarantee you’ll get from me is great scenery.