‘Jet-set monk’ given 114-year jail sentence national August 09, 2018 12:38 By The Nation
Wiraphon Sukphon, known as Luang Pu Nenkham while he was a monk, was on Thursday sentenced to 114 years in prison for fraud, money laundering and violating the Computer Crimes Act.
He will, however, serve no more than 20 years, the maximum period allowed under the law.
The judge at Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek Criminal Court also ordered Wiraphon, 39, who was already being held at Bangkok Remand Prison, to repay 29 fraud victims a combined Bt28,649,553.
He was convicted of using his status as head of the Wat Pakhantitham forest monastery in Si Sa Ket between February 2009 and June 2013 to attract donations to build what he described as “the world’s largest Buddha statue” in jade and gold, as well as for other projects.
He solicited donations in person and via his website.
Ultimately 29 donors sued him for the money they’d given him.
The judge said Wiraphon had taken advantage of people’s faith and misused the donated money to buy 10 luxury cars and live extravagantly. The Civil Court earlier ordered assets worth more than Bt43 million confiscated.
He was sentenced to three years in jail term on each of the 29 counts of fraud, totalling 87 years.
On 12 counts of money laundering he was sentenced to 24 years.
Another three years’ prison time was added for violating the Computer Crimes Act.
Wiraphon still faces another trial in criminal court for allegedly raping a girl under 15 over whom he had unofficial custody in 2000-2001. A source at the court office said that ruling would come in October.
Wiraphon, extradited from the United States in July last year, was known as “the jet-set monk” after a video circulated in 2013 showing him aboard a private jet holding a Louis Vuitton bag and wearing brand-name sunglasses.
Another clip showed a man who looked like him lying beside a woman, although Wiraphon maintained it was not him but his brother.
In a typical conversation about Bangkok's gastronomic glories, the area of Sri Yan and Ratchawat often flies off the radar.
But for gastronomes -- veterans or wannabes, old-timers or youngsters and deep-pocketed or budget-concerned, it's almost impossible not to fall in love with this humble neighbourhood in Dusit district so blessed with culinary abundance.
Commonly, the area simply refers to a specific 2.5km-long section of Nakhon Chaisi Road. The section stretches between two local fresh markets: Sri Yan Market (on the northwest side) and Si Ratchawat Market (on the southeast side).
But it's not just the plentiful food or convenient inner-city location that makes the area appealing. Beneath its mouthwatering façade lies authentic cooking skills and well-preserved recipes as well as genuine local custom and grace. No matter how fast and fashionable other food scenes in the city have evolved, that of Sri Yan and Ratchawat always remains prudent and homely.
Here, visitors may find an astounding number of specialities that seem to have long disappeared from the modern-day lifestyle.
Look rok, or steamed egg and minced pork sausage in pork intestine, is one of the age-old delicacies to be easily found here. You might want to try the rarely-found yum naem khoa thord, or sour and spicy salad of fermented pork, crispy rice ball and herbs, from quite a few popular vendors along the road.
While old-fashioned Thai desserts offered from street-side hawkers are such as candied breadfruit, candied casava, khanom chak (flame-grilled, palm leaf-wrapped coconut pudding), grilled Silver Bluggoe banana, khanom babin (pan-baked coconut pikelet), pla krim khai toa (sweet and salty rice-flour noodles in warm coconut cream), khao tu (deep-fried rice flour cookies) and khanom khrok (pan-baked rice-flour cup custard).
Another factor that helps make the culinary expedition there even more impressive is value for money. Most treats are inexpensively priced, generously portioned, and, most important of all, offered amid heartfelt cordiality that may be hidden behind an expressionless face of locals.
Following is just a very short list of food shops in Sri Yan-Ratchawat area that are really worth checking out. Parking, at public car park or on the street, is hardly an issue especially on weekends.
Hor Mhok Mae Boonma Nakhon Chaisi Road, near Sri Yan 1 Call 081-582-7345 Open daily except Monday, 8am-4pm
An old lady culinary master, widely known as Mae Boonma, has operated a street-side stall selling fresh-off-the-stove hor mhok (red curry pudding) since 1992.
Whether it's a weekday or weekend, crowds of local gluttons are always seen eagerly waiting in front of her piping hot steamers, set on a footpath, for the pungent chilli-rich delicacy made with fish meat, egg, coconut milk and red curry paste.
The mixture is poured over a selection of vegetables, most commonly bai horapha (holy basil leaves), bai yor (noni leaves) and cabbage, laid in banana leaf baskets before being steamed until the fish is thoroughly cooked and the curry develops a custard-like texture.
Pla chon (snakehead fish) is a conventional and most popular fish choice here. However, there are also pla krai (clown featherback fish) and minced pork on offer as alternative meat options.
An ordinary serving of hor mhok is priced at 20 baht. A large basket that consists of a whole fish head or belly fillet costs 50 baht.
This old auntie also makes some of the most scrumptious thod man (deep-fried fish cakes), which are so tasty they need no dipping sauce, at 5 baht per piece, and khanom jeen nam ya pla chon (fermented rice noodle with minced fish curry and fresh herbs) at 25 baht per order.
On Saturday and Sunday, also worth trying is the weekend speciality of charcoal-grilled whole cat fish accompanied by caramelised fish sauce, crispy garlic and shallots and blanched florets and young leaves of sadao (neem tree) at 120 baht per set.
Sakhu Sai Moo vendor
Nakhon Chaisi Road, near Sri Yan 1 Open daily except Monday, 8am-4pm
Aficionados of sakhu sai moo (steamed tapioca balls with pork stuffing) need to search no more.
Next to Mae Boonma's fish curry pudding stall is a vendor selling some of the best sakhu sai moo in the city.
The bite-size delicacy features translucent, glistening and glutinous balls, which reveal a savoury-sweet filling made with minced pork stir-fried with finely chopped sweet pickled radish, ground peanuts, coconut sugar, shallots and coriander root.
Sakhu sai moo is always offered along side khao griab paak mor (steamed dumplings with very delicate cloth-like skin) because they share the same filling. Both delicacies, hardly found offered by fast-paced modern-day vendors, are cooked on a thin white cloth stretched over a pot of boiling water and sold fresh from the steaming heat.
Accompanying the soft delicacies, priced 25 baht per order, are crispy fried garlic, fresh green lettuce and bird's eye chilli pepper.
Khanom Babin shop
812/8 Nakhon Chaisi Road, between Sri Yan 1 and 2 Call 065-724-2365 Open daily, 6am-6pm
Being the nitwit that I am, I often felt very sorry every time I passed by this shophouse selling khanom babin (Thai-styled coconut pikelets) for it always had no customer in sight.
But recently, I decided to step in and place my order with the vendor who's busy making the miniature pancakes on a griddle.
I was told to put my request in the queue and return two hours later.
For dessert buffs in the know, this nondescript, open-front shop is the destination should you wish to savour the old-fashioned sweet snack made with rice flour, coconut cream and grated coconut flesh.
Instead of using mature coconut, the vendor opts for the flesh of the young fruit, which offers a springily soft, and not stiff, mouthfeel. The coconut is sourced only from coconut orchards in Sam Phran district, Nakhon Pathom province, treasured for its sweet, highly fragrant fruit.
With a crispy crust and chewy centre, khanom babin here is not overly sweet and best enjoyed when warm. It is priced at 30 baht per a box of six pieces. Placing advance order by phone, even for a single box, is highly recommended.
Guaytiew Moo Sri Yan
828/6 Nakhon Chaisi Road, next to Krung Thai Bank Call 02-243-3747 and 02-243-1839 Open daily except Wednesday, 7.30am-5pm
This 70-year-old shophouse joint adjacent to Krung Thai Bank is among the neighbourhood's most original eateries.
Operated by a team of gracious, old and slow-moving ladies, the shop serves up classic pork noodles with typical ingredients of sliced pork loin, minced pork, pork liver, fishball, crispy deep-fried wonton and look rok sausage.
All-time best sellers are bamee tom yum, or yellow egg noodles seasoned with lime juice and chillies, and look rok with dipping sauce.
Prices range between 40-60 baht per dish. Service is heartfelt and genial though may be sluggish.
Yen Ta Fo Hongteh Open daily except Monday, 8am-3pm and 3-10pm 3 Ruam Chit Road Call 02-669-0110 and 089-673-9051
If your preferred choice of noodle dish is yen ta fo with the works then I recommend that you head into a pedestrian alley in the back of Nakhon Chaisi Road on Ruam Chit Road.
There, a spacious open-air shop under a canvas roof, called Yen Ta Fo Hongteh -- or the Emperor's Red Noodle -- offers a classic recipe of noodles, fish balls, crunchy brown squid, deep-fried tofu, pork blood jelly, morsels of crispy pork cracklings and bright-green flash-blanched green morning glory plus look rok sausage.
The dish, whether you have it with broth or in "dry" version, comes in generous portions and is perfectly flavoured with sweet and sour reddish-pink aged bean curd sauce and needs no extra seasoning.
Side entrées to complement the noodles are deep-fried pork wonton, deep-fried look rok sausage and crispy fish skin. The noodles and other entrées are priced between 40-50 baht per dish.
Guaytiew Nuea Big Su Open 7am-5pm 1232 Nakhon Chaisi Road Call 02-241-4192
Nakhon Chaisi Road boasts quite a number of shops selling beef noodle soup, a once common local fare that is now rarely found in most parts of Bangkok.
Among the area's most famous vendors is Guaytiew Nuea Big Su, or Big Su's Beef Noodle.
What makes it standing out is the quality of beef and the flavourful intensity of broth.
The broth is a result of long-simmering and has no strong hint of Chinese herbs. While options of beef cuts range from lean beef loin slices, braised beef chunks, beef skirt, briskets, liver, tongue and meatballs.
A regular order is priced at 70 baht while a special costs 100 baht.
One Star Roast Duck
Open daily 6am-8pm 955/6 Nakhon Chaisi Road, near Thanachart Bank Call 02-241-2506
The stuffy one-unit shophouse eatery is always packed with fans of roasted duck; barbecued pork loin; and crispy pork belly, served over a choice of rice, bamee (yellow egg noodles) or wonton (dumplings).
The roasted duck here exhibits mahogany-coloured skin and juicy meat laced in salty sweet dark brown gravy.
The red barbecued pork is lean but still retains a pleasing succulence and flavoursome taste. While roasted pork belly is offered in decent morsels with crispy bubbling golden skin intact.
Average price is 50 baht per dish. Service is quick.
Open 9.30am-3.30pm 955/20 Nakhon Chaisi Road Call 02-241-2096
Three never-empty, always-sizzling extra-large pans clearly indicate the popularity of this shoddy-looking food joint.
Opened since 1971, Sawasdee Ratchawat is indeed one of the most famous restaurants in the area. It serves up pad Thai noodles, hoy thord (mussel pancake) and khanom phak kad, (radish cake), all equally treasured by locals of all ages.
Ordinary padThai costs 50 baht while a special order with river prawn is priced 100 baht. Crispy mussel pancake costs 50 baht, gooey oyster pancake 120 baht and khanom phak kad, featuring steamed radish cake stir-fried with egg, bean sprouts, Chinese kale and dark soy sauce, is priced at 50 baht.
The restaurant may look stale and stuffy at the front but there's a breezier dining area in the back. Car park spaces for customers are available behind the shop.
Sate Khas Senayan, or simply Senayan restaurant is a very popular chain of Indonesian restaurant one can find in most shopping malls in Indonesia. It serve a variety of authentic Indonesian food and is popular with their "sate", sate is pronounced as "sa-te", in Malaysia and Singapore it would be spelled satay.
The famous Bintang beer
Kangkong stir fired with garlic and Belacan. In Indonesia belacan its known as Terasi, while in Thailand its known as Kapi.
Grilled tilapia with chili
Special rice set known as Nasi Bakar Jambal is basically rice with condiments wrapped in banana leaf and then grilled to give off the fragrance of gthe banana leaf and condiments in the rice.
Comes with fried chicken, assam (tamarind) soup, tofu and tempe
As Jakarta traffic jam is horrendous most of the evenings I have dinner in the hotel rather than getting stuck on the road for more than an hour just to travel 10km. Have been dining by the pool of the hotel and its really nice, food is great and lots of wine.