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The Birds & Bees and Cabbages & Condoms

By Kevin Cain

There is a different air about the Birds & Bees Resort of late. A fresh broom has swept into the resort with new management now in place. Khun Tonie the manager and Khun Krisada Saengchaiwuttikul at the helm have an aim to streamline service levels whilst still maintaining the excellent quality at one of Pattaya’s most iconic resorts.This will not be a particularly easy task as the total site is actually on a massive 25 Rai site.

For those who are not already familiar with Birds & Bees Resort, it is a Pattaya institution that has been around for over fifteen years and in keeping with this month’s theme of “Traditional Thailand” offers fine examples of traditional Thai architecture, fabrics and of course food. The resort is nestled in tropical rainforest, contains 59 luxury rooms a spectacular swimming pool overlooking the glorious Hu-Kwang Beach,a school,an organic garden, the famous Cabbages & Condoms restaurant and a dozen or so rabbits roaming around the place !.

Sipping coffee in the wonderfully designed and multi tiered Cabbages and Condoms restaurant, Khun Tonie explained that little will change in the way that the most of the popular features are operated. For example, the extensive menu featuring Thai as well as western dishes will remain and the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner to all, with breakfast just for residents.The vegetables and herbs for most of the dishes are grown in the resort’s own organic garden along with delicious fresh fruits and quality meat and fish are delivered daily. and the immaculately attired staff in traditional Thai dress, walk about with beaming smiles. In fact Khun Tonie smiled when he said that the 250 seat restaurant was becoming more and more popular with Asian parties and advised our readers to pre-book before arriving for dinner.

Of course there are serious overtones to the actual name Cabbages and Condoms as the reason for the brash openness with displays of Condoms on dummies at the front of the restaurant’s reception and within counter tops is for education. When the owner Dr Mechai Viravaidya took his stance to make Thailand aware of HIV and AIDS, and the need for sex education for the masses, he was fighting against tradition and Thai etiquette. In fact the work Dr Mechai Viravaidya has undertaken for the people of Thailand is stupendous. The list of foundations and associations he has been instrumental in forming for the benefit of mostly poor income families is incredible. Dr Mechai Viravaidya has devoted a significant portion of his latter years towards youth philanthropy and education and his Mechai Viravaidya Foundation has been the tool to deliver this.

Even at the Birds & Bees Resort, if you take time out to take a leisurely stroll after dinner past the walkways with the light hearted themes with wooden boards dispensing humorous words of wisdom,you will notice a building at the entrance of the organic gardens. This is a school, ecologically constructed, with bamboo being the prime construction material. Since its inception the school has received many accolades both nationally and internationally.

Young students can study, stay, and eat here completely free. Many of them go on to take employment with the organisation and in fact twelve alumni are presently working at the Resort. The students all come from underprivileged backgrounds and travel from all over Thailand to attend. The school has attracted many sponsors, as corporate businesses have realised the good work that is being done, and the benefit of good education for all.

This is not the only school that Dr Mechai Viravaidya has been involved with, as the Lamplaimat Pattana School was the first, followed in 2009 by the Mechai Pattana School. The ethos is quite revolutionary offering free, private education to rural children in the Buriram province. The objectives being to produce strong leaders, together with responsible community members. In face Birds & Bees Resort in Pattaya was opened to fund the costs of the Mechai Pattana School and you will notice that there are several donation boxes dotted around the grounds so diners, visitors and guests can all help this most worthy of causes.

If you look closely visitors are invited to take a small information pamphlet at reception. There is a quotation in the back of the booklet which describes exactly what Birds & Bees Resort is all about;

Both resort and restaurant were created as a business for Social Progress to provide financial support for education, democracy, environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention and other basic needs for the poor in rural Thailand. Our profits will be dedicated to establish and operate a secondary school for underprivileged children in Buriram province, Northeast of Thailand.”

This statement perfectly encapsulates the purpose of this most wonderful of resorts. Either taking a holiday or dining with friends you are not just experiencing fantastic service, delicious food, incredible surroundings and fun activities. You are actually contributing to the aid of others, people who do not have the basic privileges that you take for granted.

Birds & Bees and Cabbages & Condoms is a wonderful institution, and proves a point that welfare of others can still be achieved whilst having a marvellous time - and don’t forget on your next visit, spare a few baht for the donation boxes !