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Celebrity is such a huge part of life in the west and every paper and magazine is full of images of people that we know, or have at least heard of. But how many of us can say the same about Thailand. Probably the only famous names we are familiar with are ex prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, tennis player Paradorn Srichaphan and Thaksin Shinawatra.
Well here are a few more internationally acclaimed Thai’s
Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Palme d’Or winning film director
Aprichatpong directed “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”, a surreal tale of reincarnation. During his acceptance speech on receiving the “Palme d’Or”, he said he would like to “thank all the spirits and all the ghosts in Thailand, who had made it possible for him to be there.”
Dr Krisana Kraisintu – Magsaysay Winner and Dedicated Public Servant
From Koh Samui is world renowned as “the gypsy pharmacist” who received the 2009 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. She has devoted her life as a scientist to helping victims of disease, especially HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Thawan Duchanee – Master of Contemporary Asian Art
Thawan Duchanee is one of the foremost representatives of Thai and Asian art. Thawan developed a unique style of artistry using black and red tones, based on the styles of traditional Buddhist art to explore the darkness lurking within humanity. Thawan received the Artist of the Year gold medal from the Siam Architects’ Association and was named a Thai National Artist in 2001.
Somchai Songwattana – Flights of Fashion
Somchai Songwattana is an art director, fashion designer and the colourful entrepreneur behind one of Thailand’s leading fashion houses, Fly Now, as well as many other related business spin-offs and labels.
Thongchai Jaidee – Solid Support for Thai Youth and golfer
Currently ranked No. 46 in the world, earning him a spot in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Thongchai Jaidee is Thailand’s top professional golfer, with a creditable 12 wins on the Asian Tour and quarterfinalist at the World Match Play Championship in 2010.
Somtow Sucharitkul – Took Thai Opera to London
Among his most outstanding productions was an operatic rendering of the Thai ghost story “Mae Naak”. Shown at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, it was the first performance of a Thai opera anywhere in Europe. His production of this classic tale featured outstanding interpretations of rhythms and costumes.
Charin Yuthasastrkosol – World’s Oldest Performing Ballerina
Born to a noble family in Thailand, Charin Yuthasastrkosol got into the world of performing arts in her childhood. This 71-year-old woman amazed the world when she was listed in the Guinness World Records in 2006 as the oldest performing ballerina. A more astonishing fact about her is that she only began learning ballet at the age of 47.
Khaosai Galaxy- The Greatest 115-pounder Ever
Khaosai Galaxy is Thailand’s greatest boxer ever, quite an achievement in a country where boxing is a national obsession. haosai’s fame extends well beyond the borders of his native country. As WBA superflyweight world title holder for seven years, Khaosai is widely considered one of the greatest champions of boxing of all time. He remains the only Thai boxer inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and ranks No. 19 on Ring Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time.
Wisit Sasanatieng – New-wave Thai Filmmaker
Wisit Sasanatieng is the Thai director and screenwriter who brought Thai film into the limelight of the international film arena. His feature film debut “Tears of the Black Tiger” is the first Thai film ever to be screened officially at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regards Program, where it won high praise from critics for its stylized use of pastel tones and conspicuous violence, and was purchased for distribution in many countries, including Miramax Films of the United States.
Prayudh Payutto – UNESCO Prize Winner, Intellectual and Author
Prayudh Payutto is a well-known Thai Buddhist Monk, who was awarded the prestigious UNESCO Prize for Peace Education. He is universally recognized as an intellectual and prolific writer, while being hailed as one of the most brilliant Buddhist scholars in Thai Buddhist history.
Dhanin Chearavanont – CP’s Man with the Midas Touch
In Thailand, Dhanin Chearavanont is most famous for chicken feed, the product that coincidentally made him Thailand’s richest man. Internationally, the chairman and chief executive of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) is well known as one of the first Thais to invest overseas on a large scale, particularly in mainland China.
Tata Young – Singer
Tata Young is one of very few Thai popular singers to make it to the top in the international world of pop as well as in Thailand singing in her native language. “Ready for Love” reached number one in some local radio markets in Indonesia while ‘My Bloody Valentine” reached the Indonesian Charts. In 2010, Tata changed her image once again and participated in a concert in memory of Michael Jackson. She continues to perform on a regular basis, particularly at charity fundraisers, and works actively as a model and brand ambassador.
Porntip ‘Bui’ Nakhirunkanok – Miss Universe
Porntip Nakhirunkanok aka Bui Simon first came under the spotlight as Thailand’s “Miss Universe” but has since shown the world that besides beauty, she possesses drive and compassion, establishing the international charitable foundation, “Angel Wings” and bringing hope to countless people in need.
Chaleo Yoovidhya – Founder of Red Bull
Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya is the founder and C.E.O. of T.C. Pharmaceuticals in Thailand, manufacturer of energy drinks, who co-founded “Red Bull”, the world’s top-selling energy drink.
He was one of Thailand’s wealthiest businessmen. Based on his own formula for “Krating Daeng” – a popular energy drink in Thailand and throughout Asia – Red Bull indicated international sales worth US$4.4 billion in 2009.
“Hugo” Chulachak Chakrabongse – Thai Rocker Hits International Charts
Born in 1981 in the UK and a great grandson of King Chulalongkorn, Chulachak Chakrabongse, aka “Hugo” is a Thai-Russian-British singer, who spent his childhood days in Thailand and the UK. With his “cute” Western look, he rose to fame as a presenter for the “Dutchmill” TV commercial spot during his school break from the UK around the mid 90s.
Hugo is the first Thai artist to take a debut international album – Old Tyme Religion – to the Billboard Heatseekers Album Chart, with two hit singles – “99 Problems” and “Bread & Butter”.
Sonia Couling – Multi-talented Model and MTV Star
A familiar figure in both Thai and international media, Sonia Couling has been the face behind MTV Asia, countless product advertisements, magazine covers, television programmes, feature films and much more, and remains in demand as a multi-talented and multi-faceted celebrity.
Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth – Combat helicopter pilot
Born to a American father and a Thai mother, Tammy is a former Veterans’ Affairs official in President Obama’s administration and was an Army “Black Hawk” helicopter pilot in Iraq, where she lost both her legs in combat in 2004, when her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Tommy Tang – The “Godfather” of Modern Thai Cuisine
Creative, visionary and inspiring are words commonly used to describe Chef Tommy Tang, one of the most highly respected Asian chefs and culinary experts in the United States and the man that brought Thai and Pacific Rim cuisine to the world