From Bangkok to The Hague, what do diplomats do in their free time?
Mr Nissana Thaveepanit, Minister Counsellor for Commerce, Royal Thai Embassy and his family.
By Roy Lie A Tjam.
Having had the pleasure of meeting with the Minister Counsellor for Commerce at the Royal Thai Embassy in The Hague, Mr Nissana Thaveepanit, on several occasions, Diplomat Magazine Editor Roy Lie-A-Tjam took the opportunity to find out more about what diplomats do with their leisure time when serving abroad.
A diplomat’s job
As head of the Thai Trade Centre, the Minister Counsellor has a close relationship with his team. Together they oversee Thailand’s trade interests in the Netherlands and are responsible for promoting Thai products in the Benelux region. The Office of Commercial Affairs does this by organizing several large- and small-scale interactive presentations throughout the year. These events are organized all over the Netherlands, and provide opportunities for the Minister Counsellor and his team to meet (local) business people and better understand Dutch consumers.
Living in the Netherlands
Nissana and his family have been in the Netherlands over a year now. Nissana particularly enjoys the tranquillity of his newly acquired town of The Hague and proximity to the beach. Among the first things he and his family noticed was the open-minded and friendly attitude of the Dutch people.
Besides promoting Thai commerce, Nissana makes time for leisure. One of the many perks of the Netherlands is that museums are child-friendly, and Nissana enjoys visiting them with his wife and two children, who are 3 and 7 years respectively.
Another activity Nissana enjoys is visiting local Thai restaurants. Authentic Thai food reminds him of home, and sometimes he is able to combine cuisine with work by taking delegations to Thai select restaurants.
Many diplomats try to maintain some of their old habits when posted abroad, finding a club to practice a sport they love or a seeking a place frequented by kindred spirits. Nissana appreciates football but also loves cycling, reading, photography, and golf. You can’t beat the Dutch when it comes to cycling, he adds, joking that they always overtake foreigners no matter how hard they peddle.
As for reading, Nissana focuses on (mostly local) political-economic subjects and history. The Minister Counsellor needs to keep a close track of the economic developments in the Netherlands, as well as in the EU more broadly.
Room for improvement
Nissana notes that one of the issues faced by diplomats and other expats is that there is no proper English daily newspaper in the Benelux region. The FD (Financieel Dagblad) used to carry an English business section some years ago, but no longer.
He adds that there is also ample room for improvement in the professional and personal interaction between diplomats from different parts of the world; regular interaction among young diplomats in particular is often along regional lines.
Doing business with the Dutch
The Minister Counsellor of Commerce perceives doing business with the Dutch as pleasant and straightforward. The Dutch are trustworthy people, somewhat direct but always agreeable. Thailand and the Netherlands have been trading partners for over three centuries. Moreover, many Dutch nationals visit Thailand and vice-versa annually. This facilitates mutual understanding ease of doing of business.